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Sorry for the recipe hiatus of late. Life has been lobbing lemons at me with an elephantine sling-shot. Back to recipes shortly, but in the meantime, check out this fascinating article from Science Daily about a research study published in this week’s Nature that shows a link between a healthy gut and a healthy you. The key is fiber (no new news), but the interest is in the mechanics of it all. Apparently the bacteria in your gut luh-uh-uhhhhve their fiber and if you heap it generously upon them, they will shower you with their one-of-a-kind, artisanal immune-boosting boosters resulting in a happier, healthier, less-sick you. So don’t deny your small fry the glory of gritty grains! (and fruit. and vegetable matter.) Gimme some roughage. Mm.

It’s been more than 10 days, but forgive me. I vacate. (Did I just turn vacation into a verb? Yes, I did. I kind of like it…) By now my little olivinas are brining happily and approaching deliciosity. But I have not revealed how they got from tasteless snoozefest to their current state of yum. So let me divulge.

Ingredients for Brining Homemade Olives

Ingredients for Brining Homemade Olives

Once the olives are cured of their bitter madness, it’s time to add back some flav-ah-flave. It starts with a basic brine that can be spruced up to your heart’s content with lemon, garlic, fresh herbs, dried herblinas, food coloring (what? ew – totally kidding), hot hot peppahs, gin, vodka, you name it. If you’re unhappy with what you come up with, the beauty of brine is that you can always change the flavor. Either add more of the same to bump up the flavor, add new spices to change the flavor, or if you’re totally disgusted by your first creation, dump the existing brine and start over. Brining is more of an art than a science, so if you feel moved to add 5 cloves of garlic rather than 3, by all means, knock yourself out.

Once brined, the olives need to be stored in the refrigerator. They will be ready to eat in about two weeks. Typically, the longer they sit in the brine the better they taste, but let’s be honest; who can stand to wait longer than 2 weeks!?

Basic Olive Brining Recipe

  • 3 ¼ c. water
  • ¾ c. white vinegar
  • 5 T salt

Some of my creations in past years:

Homemade Olives A la Gioco:

  • 1x basic brine recipe
  • 2.5 lbs cured olives (will fill 1/2 gallon jar)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 T fennel seeds
  • 4 whole dried chili peppers
  • 2 star anise
  • rind of 1 orange
  • 1 T black peppercorns

Homemade Speecey-Espicy Olives

  • 1x basic brine recipe
  • 2.5 lbs cured olives (will fill 1/2 gallon jar)
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 10-20 whole dried chilis
  • 4 cloves garlic

Lemony Snicket Homemade Olives

  • 1x basic brine recipe
  • 2.5 lbs cured olives (will fill 1/2 gallon jar)
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 cloves garlic

Herbaceous Homemade Olives

  • 1x basic brine recipe
  • 2.5 lbs cured olives (will fill 1/2 gallon jar)
  • 5ish sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 T black peppercorns

Where to buy fresh olives:
For the past five years, I have bought my olives from Penna, a family-run business in California. While you’re at it, check our their Olivasecca – amazing dried black olives the likes of which you’ve never tasted. You can also follow them on Facebook and they’ll keep you up-to-date on when olive season starts and ends.

Other posts in this series:

  1. Blather on about the greatness of home-cured olives and order freshies
  2. T’aint no lye: Curing olives without the nasties (hint: use water!)
  3. Brining is the key to olive happiness. Oh, the places we’ll go! (you are here)

I just read this in the New York Times:

To finish off the Smiths’ ground beef, Cargill added bread crumbs and spices, fashioned it into patties, froze them and packed them 18 to a carton.

The listed ingredients revealed little of how the meat was made. There was just one meat product listed: “Beef.”

Smith’s hamburgers have breadcrumbs in them and they are not listed in the ingredients! Not that I am a hamburglar, but you’ve got to think that if one company is being dishonest in their labeling, that a few more are. Yikes. I guess those celiacs who call the company to inquire about ingredients aren’t so paranoid after all. Sigh.

Gluten-Free Noodle Omelet

Gluten-Free Noodle Omelet

I can’t remember exactly how or why it occurred to me that noodles would be good in an omelet, but it happened one night and I’ve never been the same since. HA! The drama.

Truth is, I often find myself with half a pot of leftover noodles, having gobbled up the sauce in an imprudent way. And although I appreciate the merits of a bowl of plain noodles as a vehicle for olive oil and cheese, cold rice noodles just don’t cut the mustard. So sauceless leftover noodles tend to languish in my fridge… that is, until the glorious advent of the noodle omelet. Noodle omelet! Sounds fun, doesn’t it? I feel funner just saying it.

Noodle Omelet

  • ~1.5 – 2 cups leftover Tinkyada brown rice pasta
  • 5 eggs
  • a pat of butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • salt & pepper

Heat up your pasta in a large non-stick pan with the butter and olive oil. In a medium bowl, crack the eggs and beat with 1/4 t. salt. When the pasta is warmed through, spread it evenly across the bottom of the pan and grate the cheese on top (as much or as little as you please). Grind some black pepper on top (be generous – it adds kick). Slowly pour the eggs over the noodles taking care not to dump them all in one spot. Cover and turn the heat to medium. Cook until the eggs are no longer runny (unless you’re a soupy omelet person) and the pasta has formed a crispy crunchy bottom. Oh lordie, take me now!

On a whim I busted out the gluten-free flour today and started to make a loaf. Inspired by the ease of The Bittman/Leahey no-knead wonderloaf, I wanted to throw something together, give it a grand sweeping mixmix (for dramatic effect more than anything else), and then get on with life and leave it to work its magic. The gluten-free gods were smiling on me b/c it turned out surprisingly well. Future tweaks will make it positively badass.

A very respectable gluten-free loaf

A very respectable gluten-free loaf

Gluten-Free Wonderloaf To Be

  • 2 c. tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 2 T ground flax seeds
  • 1 1/4 t. dough enhancer
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. active dry yeast
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 T olive oil
  • non-stick bundt pan*

Directions: Do you have a coffee grinder dedicated to spice grinding? If not, it’s well worth the $20. Anywhoo, if you do have one, measure out 2 T of flax seeds and grind them finely. If not, I believe flax seed meal can be found at fancy pants grocery stores.

Where were we? Put 1 cup of the tapioca flour and all the other dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water and stir. Let sit, covered, for 3-4 hours and watch with glee as it rise, rise, rises. Then grease a non-stick bundt pan with the olive oil. Add the remaining 1 cup of tapioca starch to the dough and stir to incorporate. You’ll end up deflating it, which is kind of heartbreaking, but you’ll make up for it soon enough. Spoon the dough into the greased bundt and let rise for two hours in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let it cool for a few and then pop it out onto a cutting board. Admire your handy work. Celebrate by tearing off a chunk and dipping it in olive oil. Live fully once again!

* I chose to use a bundt pan b/c I thought it might offer a little support in helping the dough rise and not collapse in the middle. Worked well, but the bread seems to have enough structure that it might not be necessary. You definitely need a pan with walls b/c the dough is too soupy to rise like a traditional loaf, but I might try a springform pan next time to see how I fare.