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I don’t think we’ve mentioned before where the inspiration for the name of our blog, Milk & Sugar comes from. Throughout our entire lives, and to this day, a very simple ritual we both share is the drinking of tea–traditionally for the Stroebe sisters the tea of choice is Earl Grey or Constant Comment– with milk and sugar.

Nothing but coffee will do in the mornings, but the rest of the day I consume vast quantities of tea. As I’ve gotten more into baking (and hosting tea parties) I’ve started incorporating tea into my treats. This cake is my most recent creation. I don’t actually use the tea in this recipe, but I’ve borrowed that unique flavor combination of orange and clove that will always be Constant Comment to me. Tasty , but not too sweet or overwhelming in flavor, this cake is perfect eaten for dessert, breakfast, or in the afternoon nice cup of tea. Enjoy!

Constant Comment Cake

2 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour ( I don’t recommend using whole wheat flour for this recipe)

3/4 cup  sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon  salt

3 eggs
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup milk or almond milk

2 tablespoons fresh orange zest (from about 2 whole oranges)

2 teaspoons ground cloves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In one bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Beat eggs in a separate bowl, add milk and olive oil, then blend with wet ingredients. Stir in zest and cloves.

Pour into a greased pan–any you like, I used a large loaf pan here. Sprinkle the top with a few pinches of sugar, and just a dash of clove.

Bake until golden brown, and when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack and enjoy with a cup of tea.



I’m really busy with travel and work these days, so meals have become simple, quick, and in big pots so I can eat leftovers for several meals. So the next few posts will be less recipes and more meal ideas for those times when cooking healthy meals may seem a bit daunting. There’s really no need eat boring or unhealthy foods when you’re really busy (or broke)!

This is another meal that I eat quite often, as it is simple to make, really inexpensive, and delicious so I’m happy to eat the leftovers for days. I have to credit my good friend Caitlin Rueter, who I often stay with in NYC. She makes this all the time and although she  apologizes for the simplicity of the meal, I always enjoy it and crave it again and again.

Did you know that lentils and brown rice cook in the same amount of time? This was a great discovery for me–you can pop both raw (cleaned and picked through) lentils and brown rice into a rice cooker and not have to think about them at all. Meanwhile, cook any sides or toppings you would like and you have several filling, nutritious, and very tasty meals with about as much work as it would take to make a box of mac and cheese.

Caitlin’s lentils, rice and greens

  • Rinse, and pick any stones from about a cup of lentils (I used brown, you can use any you like, French lentils are great, red lentils would result in a more creamy texture)
  • Add lentils and approximately the same amount of raw brown rice (I like long-grain,or Jasmine) to the pot or rice cooker
  • Use the proportions of 2 parts water to 1 part rice/lentil mixture
  • Cook as you would rice
  • Go do whatever you have to do for about half an hour
  • When the rice and lentils are just about done, thinly slice about half an onion, and a little garlic if you like
  • Sautee onion in a few glugs of olive oil, and a couple generous pinches of salt. Add some chile flakes if you like
  • When the onions are translucent and slightly brown, add finely sliced greens or any other vegetable (still damp from rinsing)
  • Sautee until tender-crisp, add more salt to taste, and squeeze a good amount of lemon/lime juice on top
  • Serve vegetables over lentils and rice, with more lemon and your favorite hot sauce

You could use any vegetables you like here–spinach, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, or just let the onions get a little crispy, add a handful of chopped fresh parsley, chives, or cilantro, and leave it at that. Don’t forget a big squeeze of lemon or lime juice before serving.

For a side dish/dessert, I sliced some ruby red grapefruit onto which I drizzled a little bit of real maple syrup.



Every other week or so I will cook a big pot of beans or lentils, and a big pot of rice, and eat that in various forms for several days in a row. This is one variation I make quite often, and don’t seem to get tired of: black beans, steamed brown rice, steamed kabocha pumpkin and kale, topped with cojita or feta cheese, and a good salsa. It’s like the inside of a veggie burrito.

There are myriad variations and extra additions, including: minced cilantro, espazote or onion, chopped or sliced tomatoes, avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted tempeh or tofu, sauteed or roasted mushrooms….

Cooking dried beans from scratch is easy, so cheap, and also allows you to control the amount of salt (and to eliminate other preservatives often found in canned beans). Pick through dried beans to make sure there are no small rocks mixed in. Soak over night if you wish, then cook in plenty of water, with a bit of salt, a bay leaf, and a chunk of onion if you like. Set on high until boiling, then turn down to the lowest setting, cover, and allow to cook for an hour or until tender. Then add any seasonings you like ( I like to add some cumin and a couple hot dried peppers). The only tip is to not add anything acidic (such as tomatoes or lime) until after the beans are cooked, as the acid will prevent them from cooking properly.

I usually just steam the rice, but sometimes I will sautée the rice first with a bit of garlic and chile powder in olive oil before steaming.

Enjoy, and let me know if you come up with any of your own variations!


Here are a few things I’ve made recently that would be good additions to any holiday meal: an extra spicy, whole wheat gingerbread, a delicate and moist persimmon cake recipe that doubled as  persimmon chocolate chip muffins, lots of kabocha pumpkin simply roasted in olive oil and salt until super tender and caramelized, and an autumn salad with spinach, red quinoa, pumpkin seeds, apple, and feta.

spicy gingerbread


1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 ts. baking soda

1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon fresh ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground if desired

1 tablespoon orange rind

3/4 ts. salt

1 egg beaten (or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed in 1/4 cup warm water)*

1/2 c. turbinado sugar + extra for topping

1/2 c. molasses (use a fuller flavored  “robust,” un-sulfered or unfiltered molasses if you can)

1/2 c. boiling water

1/2 c. olive oil


preheat 350 degrees

combine dry ingredients into one bowl. in a separate bowl, mix wet in ingredients. combine, then add boiling water last, stirring until smooth.

cook in a loaf pan, cake pan, or whatever you prefer. Bake until golden, coming away slightly from the sides of a pan, and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Serve alone, or with lemon curd, lemon or vanilla ice cream, or fresh whipped cream. Also wonderful lightly toasted with coffee or tea and sliced oranges for breakfast.

*note: substituting flax seed for egg will make this recipe vegan. the result is just as delicious, but does not hold together as well

persimmon cake/ persimmon chocolate-chip muffins

adapted from bon apetit

note: this recipe results in a lightly sweet cake or muffin. If you would like a sweeter result, use 1 cup of sugar and/or top with a delicately flavored icing, glaze, or sweetened whipped cream (vanilla, orange zest, and/or nutmeg would be wonderful additions)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
  • 4 large, very ripe Hachiya persimmons
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • chocolate chips (optional)
  • chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour muffin tin or loaf pan. Tap out excess flour.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
  • Scoop persimmon flesh from skins into a blender. Purée until smooth. Mix with wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips or nuts if using
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, cake pan, or muffin tins.  Bake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  • Let bread cool in pan for 20 minutes. Unmold and let cool completely on a wire rack.

caramelized kabocha pumpkin


  • kabocha pumpkin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt


preheat oven to 400 degrees

cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and cut in thin slices or small chunks (more cuts means more caramelized edges!) drizzle generously with olive oil (about 1/4 cup for an entire small pumpkin) and salt. toss to coat.

roast until very tender and edges are lightly browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes

optional additions: sliced onions, fresh black pepper, hot chile flakes, a couple teaspoons of maple syrup and/or french mustard drizzled over squash for the last 5 minutes

Autumn Salad

makes one large salad


6 cups baby spinach, or mixed greens

one firm, sweet/tart apple, like a Pink Lady or Gala, cored and sliced thinly

pumpkin or squash seeds, roasted with olive oil and salt at 400 degrees until golden brown

1/2 cup crumbled feta (or ricotta salata, or fresh goat cheese)

1 cup leftover quinoa (any variety, I like red the best for salads)

your favorite vinaigrette or mix together 1 tablespoon french mustard, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of your favorite vinegar, black pepper, and a tiny pinch of sugar until emulsified

Toss greens with most of the dressing, leaving a couple tablespoons to drizzle on top. Arrange quinoa, apple slices, seeds, and cheese on top on dressed greens. Drizzle with remaining  dressing and serve.

I just finished packing for a road trip to LA–the second one I will be taking in as many weeks.  I take long trips for work or pleasure pretty often and have learned to plan ahead by packing myself lots of healthy food and snacks for the trip. If possible I like to cook or bake a few things to take with me, but even if you don’t have the time, that doesn’t mean you have to rely on fast food!

Airports, truckstops, and gas stations are full of expensive food that is often ultra-processed, and full of sugar, trans fats, salt, and preservatives. Plan ahead by packing a bunch of healthy snacks that are easy to transport and eat on-the-go. This can not only save you money, but you will also arrive feeling so much better than if you either don’t eat enough or eat junk food the whole day!

When I take my next trip to NYC in the winter I will write a post about what I bring for the plane. For now, here is a list of what I will be bringing in the car with me for the trek to socal in the morning:

  • several bottles of flavored sparkling water stay hydrated by drinking something other than coffee once in a while, and avoid the temptation to drink soda by sipping a variety of flavored seltzer water
  • lots of fruit! oranges and apples travel especially well and you can keep them in the car for several days without worrying about them going bad. The fiber and high-water content of these fruits keep you full and hydrated, and they satisfy your sweet tooth, helping to avoid the candy available at every rest stop and gas station
  • homemade baked goodies for this trip I am bringing Michelle’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and mini-loafs of her apple cinnamon bread
  • a quart or large jar or bottle of organic, 1% milk in a cooler or cooler bag. I’ve learned the hard way that gas stations often only carry powdered “whitener” (whatever that is) to add to coffee, so I bring my own milk. I really don’t mind drinking crappy gas-station coffee as long as it is not full of awful chemicals
  • tea bags–assorted black, herbal, and green tea. You can get hot water almost anywhere on the road
  • crackers and cheese or hummus-my favorite are Ak Mak whole wheat crackers with pre-sliced part-skim mozzarella.

Happy Travels!

This flatbread is really a vegan pizza. I love making homemade pizza–it is such a satisfying way to use leftover fresh or cooked vegetables I have in the fridge. Sometimes all the cheese is too heavy for me though, and I would rather pile up the crust with vegetables, herbs and sauce. (Side note: despite many tries, I really do not like vegan cheese.)

I have found that hearty, chewy vegetables such as mushrooms and eggplant are wonderful on vegan pizza or flatbreads–giving great texture and making the dish more hearty. Your favorite cheese can certainly be added on top of this flatbread, but try it without; you won’t miss it, I promise!

Kale and Eggplant Flatbread

makes one medium pizza


whole wheat pizza dough (make your own favorite recipe–I bought mine from Whole Foods)

1/2 of a small eggplant, sliced very thinly on the bias

1 cup kale, washed, dried, and chopped finely

1/4 cup+ your favorite tomato or pasta sauce, or chopped seeded tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, finely minced ( I used rosemary here)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

red chile flakes, to taste (optional)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional-but delicious and full of B vitamins!)


~one hour before you want to eat, set out dough to rise in a warm place

preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, preheat your stone in the oven

spread thinly sliced eggplant on a surface, and lightly salt while you prepare other ingredients

prepare other vegetables–mince herbs, chop the kale and tomatoes if using

stretch out your dough to the size of your stone

when the oven is preheated, take out the stone and immediately prepare your pizza: place dough on the hot stone, then spread out a thin layer of sauce, followed by the eggplant slices, herbs, chile flakes, chopped kale, then nutritional yeast. If desired, place a few dollops of sauce on top of the vegetables.

Cook in a hot oven in the uppermost rack for ~12 minutes, or until the edges are a deep golden brown. Drizzle with a bit of good extra virgin olive oil before serving.


The beginning of fall weather and a trip to Half Moon Bay resulted in the idea to alter my favorite gingerbread recipe to include roasted pumpkin puree. The puree not only adds nutrients and fiber, it also creates a wonderfully moist, almost silky texture. Three kinds of ginger and a good amount of cinnamon make the bread nice and warming, perfect for dessert on a cool night with whipped cream, ice cream, or–as our Grannie always served gingerbread–with lemon curd, but also delicious lightly toasted for breakfast or afternoon tea.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

1 small pumpkin (or your favorite winter squash, except spaghetti squash) roasted until very tender-results in about 2 cups pumpkin puree

1 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 ts. baking soda

1  tablespoon each ground ginger, and fresh grated ginger

1/4 cup candied ginger, finely diced

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated if at all possible)

1 ts. salt

1 egg or 1 tablespoon of flax meal in 1/4 cup warm water

1/2  cup brown or turbinado sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup boiling water

1/2 c. olive oil

2+ tablespoons sugar for topping (optional)

2+ tablespoons rolled oats for topping (optional)


Cut your pumpkin into large chunks and roast face-down on a baking sheet or aluminum foil at 350 degrees until very tender (save the seeds and roast them too!) Allow to cool before you begin to mix your batter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine roasted pumpkin flesh (omitting skin), egg, sugar, and oil in a food processor and blend until smooth

Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the wet ingredients. Add molasses and gingers. When all ingredients are combined, add the boiling water and stir until combined.

Pour batter into pan of your choice (I made mini-loafs and a larger loaf, but muffins or a cake pan would work well)

Sprinkle with sugar and oats before baking, to create a caramelized crust, if desired.

Bake about 30 minutes for a loaf or cake, 10 minutes for muffins. Watch for the sides to turn dark brown and pull away from the sides of the pan, and test with a toothpick–insert into the middle of the cake/muffin and wait for it to come out almost completely clean.

If using the topping, set oven to broil for 2-3 minutes at the end to caramelize sugar.

Cool on a rack.