Sunday, March 28, 2010
We're on week 4 of no processed sugar. I admit to falling off the wagon each and every weekend, but I'm ok with that, because it's been a pretty big change over all, and I feel like it's sustainable, but more about that later.
I'm a breakfast lover. So is J, I'm pretty sure it's one of the things that keep us together. Whenever we prepare for a trip, we think about the breakfast that we're going to eat. If we're staying in a hotel, breakfast included is a must have. Hotel Tivoli in Lagos, Portugal is our all time favourite hotel breakfast if you were wondering.
If you've ever read the side of a cereal box, you know that sugar is always an ingredient. That includes Shreddies and Cheerios btw. My breakfast over the last four weeks has been of the pita with peanut butter, banana and honey, or hot cereal variety. What's missing from these delicious things? Crunch.
So, I decided to take a shot at making my very own crunchy cereal with no processed sugars. I started with quinoa. Remember to rinse your quinoa before you cook it, friends! 1 cup rinsed quinoa, 2 cups water, some unsweetened shredded coconut and cinnamon, all in a pot, bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover to simmer until all of the water is absorbed. Once this was done and cooled a bit, I put it into a bowl with more coconut, a bit of sucanat, dried cranberries and chia seeds. This mixture went onto a cookie sheet and into the oven at 350, for 1 hour, stirring every so often.
What I didn't like about this: It was hard to get consistency. I had individual burnt pieces of quinoa, and then big chunks that were still pretty soft. I'm thinking I might try and cook the quinoa in apple juice or add some apple sauce to up the overall sweetness. I put it on my oatmeal the next morning anyway, with some strawberries. I give this attempt a big ol' meh.
I decided that I wanted to make cookies, with all natural sugars of course. My friend over at Alilstrange has got my hooked, absolutely hooked on edibleperspective.com. I love this girl and all of her food and activity adventures. I decided to try the recipe that she posted for molasses cookies.
Off to the neighbourhood hippy supermarket I went to get some organic sucanat. This supermarket is a whole new world for me, and I'm loving it. Sucanat is the contraction of Sugar Cane Natural, or non-refined cane sugar. The juice is squeezed out of the cane, then dried. The result are sweet little grains that kind of look like sand. It's not a processed sugar, so it fits nicely into Jent.
I got home, and was planning on making half a batch of the recipe, only to realize that I only had a quarter of the flour called for. Oops. A quarter batch(ish) it is:
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sucanat
2 tbsps molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Cream the butter and sucanat together until soft and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and molasses until just combined. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together before adding them 1/3 at a time into the wet. Roll into little balls and place on a cookie sheet with a couple of inches space between, and bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes.
These cookies were so yummy. With no processed sugar. I'm totally going to make a full batch next, you can find that recipe here. J, and our neighbour españolo A enjoyed these, and agree on the 5 oslos given.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I didn't make this, but I have to post it because I'm so excited. This is the sample wedding cake that we tried today, by Mary Mary Culinary. We found out a couple of months ago that this fellow kettlebell-er bakes. We just happened to be in the market for a cake baker for our wedding!
Our dream wedding cake, which was discussed way before a date was ever set, is carrot cake. J had never had carrot cake before he met his future wife, and I'm pretty sure that when I made carrot cake for the first time, it sealed the deal for him. After the first cake, he asked me to make one so that his family could try. Carrot cake became a legend among his entire extended family, and shredding carrots became a hobby for me. Birthday? Christmas? Carrot cake.
Today turned out to be the perfect wedding cake tasting day for us. Cousin B came around and we got to eat cake and drink coffee. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon? Hopefully it's given her lots of brain power to give her an extra kick through her paper writing season.
The cake had two layers, with a thick cream cheese icing in the middle. The outside is meringue, blow-torched to give it that toasted look. I think we're going to have to switch out the toasted look idea and just do a swirly cream cheese icing, as the survival of the meringue in August is questionable. But it was amazing, I asked her to confirm the cake for our wedding day before I finished my slice. mMm!
Aaaand...we're back! After the last entry, I was inspired to incorporate more meat into our meals. I came across this recipe for a soup with chorizo. Chorizo is a Spanish sausage, it's dark red, comes in mild or spicy, and can be found in the deli section of your supermarket. In Spain, I didn't learn about chorizo as mild or spicy, more like good, and bad. Both ends of that scale are extensive in Spain. Here in Canada though, it's pretty standard, and I'm a fan of the spicy variety.
Chorizo is one of Spain's favourite foods, typically you'll find it as a tapa, in paella, and on the bbq. Surely, there are many other unique ways that "pueblos" pride themselves on preparing chorizo. Kind of like today's recipe: chorizo soup.
What went in the pot:
2 red onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups of veggie stock
2 tbsps cornstarch
1 red pepper, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 zucchini, sliced
150g of chorizo, sliced
1/2 can of red kidney beans
1/2 cup 18% cream
First, the onions and garlic went into the pot with some olive oil on medium heat. While this stuff was creating a beautiful aroma in my kitchen, I mixed the cornstarch with half a cup of the veggie stock. Stir all of this together for about 2 minutes, then add the rest of the stock. Add the red pepper and potato, bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and let simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
At the 25 minute mark, add the zucchini, red kidney beans and chorizo, and let cook for 10 more minutes. When you take the cover off at the end of the 10 minutes, you'll likely be hit by an aroma that makes you want to dive right into the pot, my eyes were like saucers. Finally, add the 1/2 cup of cream, and you'll get a really nice colour.
I was a fan of this soup immediately. The spiciness of the chorizo was really nice with the cream, and you could really taste the red pepper. I'm so excited for lunch tomorrow. Leftovers of course!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
It's lunch time. In my office, I'm known to eat my lunch way before anyone else. Which means I have the beef in beer that I made last night digesting in my belly! De-li-cious it was! The meat was tender and falling apart, the flavours complemented one another perfectly, and I wished that I was at home instead of eating out of a microwavable container so that I could go back for seconds.
There was one part of the recipe that I left out yesterday: dumplings. I love dumplings, but when it came to making them, I was a dumpling virgin. At first I thought about leaving them out, then my adventurous side pushed me forward. As I looked at the recipe for the dumplings, I realized I was ignorant to yet another ingredient: suet. Trusty old Google let me know that it's raw beef or mutton fat. Um, can I substitute that with vegetable oil? Here is the version I came up with, if you're a dumpling connoisseur, please don't try this at home, you'll likely search me down and give me a smack for this attempt:
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Mix that up and roll it into little balls. When your meat has been in the oven for an hour and a half, drop the dumplings in, recover and let cook for another half hour.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
It's been about 4 months since I've blogged about soup. You want to know what happened? We overdosed on soup. Most people who know me in person know that I often take things on with gusto, "souping" was one of those things. The closest thing to soup that I've prepared over the last few months has been chili.
So why the sudden unexpected return? Beef in Beer with Herb Dumplings, the dish that's in my oven at the moment.
My mum, the ever supporter of my dreams, who often has the keen eye of how my direction will change, got us some cookbooks for Christmas. We've been making some of the recipes ever since (minus the soups), this beef dish being on the list for the week. I'm not a big fan of meat. It doesn't gross me out, I wish I ate it more, I feel awesome after I eat it. It's just not my favourite food. But, in an effort to keep the iron levels up around this house, I try.
This recipe called for braised beef. I didn't, and don't know what this is. So I bought a nice looking piece of meat that I knew I wouldn't be doing it any shame by cutting it up into cubes. This is how the unexpected return began. I didn't look at how much beef it called for, and started cutting up the carrots that the recipe called for, 8. When I realized that my ratio of carrots to beef was going to be ridiculous, I consulted the called for amount and actual amount on hand of beef. Oops. What on earth was I going to do with all of these chopped carrots?! Immediate thoughts:
1. Feed them to the dog, he's enjoying the few pieces he's snacking on now.
2. Make a very carroty Beef in Beer dish.
3. Make a soup.
We'll get to the chosen option later.
So here is how I went about preparing tomorrow's lunch:
In pan, with a couple of tablespoons of corn oil (American cookbook anyone?) soften 1 large onion, with a decent amount of carrots. While this is going, add your cubed beef (about a pound) to a bag that has 4 tbsps of flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Spin this bag closed and *shake*. Remove the carrots and onions from the pan, and put the beef in, turning until all is browned. Re-add the carrots and onions to the pan, along with:
-a can of Guinness
-the rest of the flour mixture that you shook the beef in
-a bay leaf
-1 tbsp thyme
-2 tsp brown sugar
Bring that to a boil. If you're like me, you don't have a casserole dish that you can transfer from stove top to oven, so I put all of this into a pyrex dish and covered with aluminum foil before putting it into the oven pre-heated to 325f.
I haven't tried this yet, but will update later with how it turned out. Based on smell, it's amazing.