Poor Man’s Tahini Sauce

If you love falafels, but, like me, the price of tahini for the tahini sauce sends you stumbling backwards a few steps in the grocery aisle, you might want to give this recipe a try.

It has the essence of tahini sauce, without having to pop out of the store for a couple of hours to sell your plasma to buy tahini.

Poor Man’s Tahini Sauce

makes about a cup

1 cup plain yogurt

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely minced

2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 sprig parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

salt to taste

Blend all ingredients and chill for about an hour for the flavors to meld.

If you need one, here’s my recipe for falafels.


Preserved Lemons


Preserved lemons add a clear lemon flavor to all kinds of dishes, from tagines to couscous to stewed chicken or fish.  They aren’t difficult at all to make, and they can add a touch of exotic flavor to everyday dinners.

To make it easy on myself, I start with a 2 lb bag of ordinary lemons.  My bag contained 10 lemons. Use organic if you can find them.

1. Scrub and dry.  Roll on a counter to release the juices.

2.  Cut into the center of the lemon, all the way to the other side, without cutting through either end.  Make your cut extend to about half and inch from either end.  Sorry about the jagged thumbnail.  I have gardener’s hands.

3.  Rotate the lemon 90 degrees and make another cut like the first one.  It will look like this from either end:

4.  Squeeze the juice from the lemon.  Do this to all the lemons.

5.  Put a teaspoon of kosher or sea salt in the cavity of each lemon:

6.  Place a tablespoon of the salt in a quart jar, preferably with a wide mouth.  Pack the squeezed lemons into the jar.  They should all fit if you squeezed them well.

7.  Strain the collected lemon juice into the jar, pushing the lemons down to squeeze out the air pockets.  You should have enough lemon juice to cover the lemons completely.

8.  Cap and leave the lemons at room temperature for three weeks.  Turn the jar upside down occasionally to distribute the brine.  The lemon rind will soften and be ready for use after the three weeks are up.  Refrigerate at this time.  To use, remove the amount you need for your recipe and replace the jar in the fridge.  The lemons will keep for months.

Roselle and Quinoa with Basil Pesto

Waiting and waiting for the roselle in the garden to bloom.  It seems like it’s taking forever.  Meanwhile, I’ve decided to use the delicious, tart leaves while I’m waiting.  They taste a lot like sorrel, tender with a nice, slightly sour tang.  Nutritious, too, with a healthy dose of vitamins C and A as well as calcium and iron.  Quinoa is a good source of protein, magnesium (good for the heart), and the amino acid lysine which fosters tissue repair and growth. I love the crunchy pop and nutty flavor of quinoa as well.


roselle leaves

Roselle and Quinoa with Basil Pesto

Makes 2 large, entree-sized servings or 4-6 sides

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 1/4 cup boiling water

2 cups coarsely chopped roselle leaves (alternately, use mesclun, spinach, sorrel, or other piquant salad greens)

1 med. apple, chopped

1 small to medium red onion, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

juice of 1 lime

extra-virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Basil Pesto (see recipe below)

Rinse quinoa in cold water and strain through a fine sieve.  Add to boiling water in saucepan.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit, still covered, for 5 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, combine the chopped roselle, onion, apple and raisins together in a large bowl.  Add the quinoa and the lime juice and a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Toss all together until well blended.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Plate individual servings topped with a dollop of pesto.  Garnish with extra basil, if desired.  Store extra pesto (if there is any) covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/3 cup walnuts

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until a slightly textured paste consistency, scraping down sides as needed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.



Real Cinnamon

I’m feeling a little snookered.  What I’ve always thought was cinnamon is something called cassia.

On the right is cassia, what I’ve always known and loved as cinnamon sticks.

On the left is cinnamon.  Thin and brittle, unlike the thick, woody cassia on the right.

Most ground cinnamon is actually cassia, too.  Kroger Co., for example, reports that all of its cinnamon sold is cassia.

What’s the difference, besides the fact that they come from two different plants?  The taste is somewhat different, with true cinnamon having a milder and less bitter taste than its imitator.

What got me investigating is that cinnamon has been getting a lot of buzz because of its medicinal qualities.

If I was going to try and increase the cinnamon in my diet, I wanted to be using the right stuff.

While it’s tough to separate the science from folklore sometimes, here are some of the things cinnamon is purported to be good for:

  • lowering bad cholesterol
  • weight loss
  • assisting in blood sugar control in Type 2 diabetes
  • reducing arthritis pain
  • strengthening the immune system
  • relieving indigestion

The cinnamon is often combined with honey which also has many followers for its health benefits.

Of all the things out there supposed to be good for you, this has got to be one of the most delicious.

I don’t suppose they had cinnamon honey buns in mind when they recommended it for lowering cholesterol?

No-Fail Homemade Mayo

Oh.  My. Gosh.  Homemade mayo is amazing!  I mean, just LOOK at that picture!

NOTHING like store-bought mayo.  NOTHING.  If you’ve never had fresh mayo, you haven’t yet begun to live, my friend.

Ivory’s No-Fail Mayo Instructions

1 egg yolk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 pinch salt

1/2 to 3/4 c pure canola oil, divided

1.  Dependable mayo is about two things:  warmth and the SLOW addition of oil.  So, fill you bowl with REALLY hot tap water and dump in your yolk.  Let sit for a few minutes for bowl and yolk to warm.  (To pasteurize your egg first, see instructions at end of post.)

2.  Drain water and set bowl on something non-skid.  Whip for a sec till it’s  lil’ bubbly.

3.  Add lemon and salt.  Mix well.

4.  Place 1/4 c of oil in a small container.  Add ONE TEASPOON of oil, whip until you can’t see it. Takes 10 seconds.

See that oil?  Don’t add any more until it’s gone.

5.  Continue ONE TEASPOON at a time until you worked through the entire 1/4 c.

6.  Refill container with another 1/4 cup oil and repeat process adding 1/2 T at a time.

Should look a bit like this.

7.  If want it thicker, add oil by Tablespoons until the consistency is how you want it.  If you go too far, it will start to ball up and clean the sides of the bowl.

Mold-able mayo? Not good

8.  Use immediately or refrigerate.  Will keep a few days or more.


  • If you want to pasteurize your egg yolk before you begin.  Set up a double boiler (or do the janky mason jar on glass ramekin like me).  Begin heating water on medium.  Put some water in the cup…like an inch.  And gently drop in your egg.

  • Heat until the water containing the egg is at least 130 degrees F.  Don’t go above 140 or your egg yolk will cook.  Try to keep it around that temperature for a five minutes.
  • To warm your bowl, dip in pan and dry.  Then continue above instructions at step 2.