Cooking with Google

Today was a “look in the kitchen cupboards for stuff you haven’t used in forever, then Google said item and the word ‘recipe’ so you can finally use it up” day in my household.

I found a package of potato flakes, even though I never make instant mashed potatoes. The Great Google brought me to a potato flakes discussion on, and about halfway down there was a gnocchi recipe. “Hmmm, I like gnocchi,” I thought. I made one batch and it was so delish that I decided to just use up the whole potato flakes package right then. There were six cups of flakes left, which meant hextupling the recipe.

(Okay, so hextupling‘s not a word, but it should be. We’ve got doubling, tripling, quadrupling. English is a productive language, and if it has single words to mean “making something two/three/four times the size,” there’s no reason it shouldn’t have one to mean “making something six times the size.”)

While I enjoyed the rare opportunity to hextuple something, I discovered that once you get two-thirds of the way through boiling a hextuple batch of gnocchi, you just want to be done with it. Maybe if you were listening to Charles Dickens’ Bleak House while making the gnocchi, it wouldn’t start to get tedious; but  you’re just listening to Nicholas Nickleby and it’s just not the masterpiece that Bleak House is.

Once you’re done, though, it’s very pleasing to pop one gnocchi after another into your mouth. It’s better than eating donuts. And what satisfaction to have quarts and quarts of gnocchi in your freezer, instead of a box of potato flakes in your pantry.

The gnocchi was the final of several pantry-raiding recipes I made today.

To wit: I found a bottle of whole cardamom pods in the neglected tea section of the pantry. (The reason the tea section is neglected is that I have a strong preference for Earl Grey, but none of the teas there are Earl Grey. And I drink so much coffee that tea has become a bit of an afterthought.)

The cardamom pods triggered a thought. This morning, I had decided to move a bit of the tea out of the pantry and next to the coffee maker. That way, when I am tempted to make afternoon coffee, I might make tea instead. (Drinking an afternoon coffee is no sin – at least if it’s done before 3 – but it’s not very thrifty when you’ve got lots of tea in your pantry and only a third of a pound of coffee beans in the freezer.)

But the reason I don’t usually drink plain tea is because plain tea is boring. So I put two and two together when it was time for my second dose of caffeine. I made black tea and threw in a cardamom pod and a clove. Voila – chai. It was much better than plain English Breakfast.

And then there were the psyllium husks. Psyllium husks sound like a good idea when your doctor tells you about them, but frankly, a teaspoon of psyllium husks in a glass of water is a really unappetizing way to start your day. Not as bad as starting your day with a fistful of Tums, but not as good as a mimosa, an omelet, or even a bowl of plain oatmeal. So there it was, the half-full jar of psyllim husks that I really could not imagine myself drinking.

I thought, “Could I bake something with this?” and then I thought, “I can’t be the first person to have asked myself this question.” And Google revealed the truth of that latter sentiment.

Most of the people who have thought about baking with psyllium  appear to be on the Atkins diet, and most of the recipes that they come up with sound atrocious. (See this one for example.) But thank goodness other healthnuts are also into psyllium. The second result to come up in my Google search was psyllium cookies from Fran’s House of Ayurveda.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That sounds disgusting.” But that wasn’t what I was thinking. I was thinking, “Hey, this recipe also calls for nut butter and liquid sweetener, which means I can make a dent in my oversupplies of honey, molasses and tahini!” (Fran notes that “Cooking with honey goes against Ayurvedic recommendations because honey is a living food,” but that didn’t bother me, because I think Ayurveda is hogwash. Besides, where does she think all the plant ingredients in the cookie came from? Dead foods?)

So I made the cookies using the variations of tahini for the nut butter, honey with a smidge of molasses for the sweetener, and canola oil for the olive oil. I also added a half teaspoon each of ginger and – it goes without saying – cardamom.

And you know what? They actually taste pretty good. Not as good as the flourless peanut butter and chocolate cookies I also made today, but better than the chocolate-sunflower seed brownes. They’d be better with dried cherries in them, but I can try that some other time. There’s still psyllium left in that jar.

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