Welcome to my crazy world of real food cooking ...

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. -- Michael Pollan

I wish I could take credit for that because I think it sums up how we should eat. Simply -- eat stuff that really is food, instead of stuff that is food like substance. The supermarket is almost entirely food-like-substances, and, my friends, you should probably never ever eat them.

Fortunately, there is a world of deliciousness out there, and it can all be had in a way that not only doesn't harm your health, but in a way that benefits you hugely.

I think it's important to eat stuff that satisfies you, that keeps your blood sugar stable, and that gives you stuff your body really needs to run optimally.

But baby, it's gotta taste good.

I really like getting experimental in the kitchen. I love cooking, I love layering flavours, and I love coming up with really super yummy food. I have very strong opinions about what constitutes food, and there are a lot of things I won't touch in the kitchen. Bottom line? Pretty much everything I make is ridiculously good for you even if it tastes decadent. Although there are occasional big fat cheats ... but even those stick to real food, my friends.

For food that is usual gluten free, usually free of cane sugar, usually super low on the glycemic index, full of protein, fiber, flavour, and excellent energy, join me and Alice down the rabbit hole.

Every recipe on this blog is my own original effort and idea, so please pass 'em on, giving credit where credit is due.

Many thanks, and come back often. I'm really glad you are here!

:)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Sushi!-- Makizushi Nori Rolls





Two nights of sushi. We're big fans of sushi here. My son loves sushi, but I cut his in half. My husband loves sushi, even if it's avocado. I love sushi because I don't have to try to encourage anyone to eat their dinner. It disappears in just a few minutes. We are currently enjoying our sushi with leftover vegetable soup, and a spinach salad with baby tomatoes and a mild yogurt dressing. (A few tbsp of whole milk organic yogurt, a dash of apple cider vinegar, some salt and pepper, and a 1/2 tsp of honey.)




Sushi is very easy to make at home. I'll confess that my Japanese boyfriend's mother taught me how to make sushi rolls back in their home in Tokushima during the New Year's holiday of 1994/1995. (domo arigato gozaimasu, Hirose San!)  And I don't really remember what she taught me. So I just make it up as I go along.

It's important to have rice that will hold together, or else your sushi will just fall apart. Many people use sushi rice to this end, but I just use a very short grain brown rice, cooked of course without any oil,  because that reduces the stickiness.

Seasoning your sushi rice is a matter of preference. I used to use rice vinegar with a little organic cane sugar, and some sea salt. These days, I use a little apple cider vinegar, and skip the sweetener altogether. You can buy commercial preparations of 'sushi seasoning', that already have the salt, sugar, and rice vinegar combined, by authentic companies such as Marukan. However, it's okay to make your own, or just add a little this and that until it tastes right to you.

You need to have some sheets of nori for making makizushi (literally 'rolled sushi'), as well as your choice of fillings cut into strips. Avocado is a perennial favourite around here, although we've used rehydrated marinated dried mushrooms, sweet potato, strips of egg, carrot, cucumber, squash, and even spinach (cooked and squeezed out).


Sushi rice ingredients:

1 cup of uncooked (very short) short grain brown rice
2 cups of water
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 -2 tsp sugar or honey (optional)


directions:

1. put the rice, salt, and water in a pot, and bring to a boil.
2. Turn the heat down, and cook for about 40 minutes.
3. add the vinegar (and optional sweetener if using) and stir to combine
4. set aside to cool


sushi ingredients:

6 sheet of nori
1 avocado cut into long strips
1 mini cucumber cut into long strips
1 small carrot
cooked rice


directions:

1. Spread approximated 1/2 cup of rice on a sheet of nori, on the upper 2/3 or 3/4 only
2. Lay your ingredients of choice across the nori, just towards the bottom of the rice
3. If you like, you can spread a little wasabi across the rice before putting your ingredients on.
4. Roll up the nori, using a piece of parchment paper or a proper bamboo roller (I don't have one), squeezing gently as you go, from the bottom.
5. Cut the rolls into discs using a very sharp chef's knife or a bread knife (I prefer a bread knife -- the serrated edge really helps)
6. Place the pieces on a plate, a serve with soy sauce and wasabi
7. For children, it can be helpful to cut each disc in half, because nori can be a little chewy.

Let me know what crazy fillings you come up with. The sky is the limit!









Sometimes it's hard to wait for dinner to be ready ... 




Just like mama used to make :)


Monday, 27 December 2010

Vegetable Soup -- a light supper on the 25th of December

'


We don't really celebrate Christmas. We don't really celebrate anything specifically. I'd categorize us more as 'equal opportunity feast attenders'. A couple years ago, we started a tradition of breakfast on the 25th with family and friends, anyone who might be around and at loose ends, and who might enjoy a fun relaxing hangout with decent folk and decent food. It sort of lasts all day long, with people nibbling breakfast until early to mid afternoon, after which, along with anyone who is still around, we roll ourselves out the door for a stroll around the neighbourhood to admire the decorations.

After the stroll has sufficiently revved our appetites and chilled our bones, we return home for a bowl of hot soup around 4 or 5 o'clock. Then, anyone who hasn't yet left, leaves, and we pass out -- our son exhausted because he skipped his nap, and we adults exhausted because we've been going non-stop since 5 in the morning ...

Anyway, the soup this year was a big hit, and I thought I'd share the recipe with you. It's a pretty simple vegetable potage, and seemed to be just what we needed for a light meal.

I made it in my crock pot, although conventional stove top cooking in a covered pot would certainly be just as good. One nice thing about the crock pot -- I could just lift the entire crockery 'tureen' out of the metal sleeve once it had cooled to pop it in the fridge until needed. Yes, I made this a couple of days ahead. And I would urge you to make soups a couple of days ahead when possible -- the flavour is best after a day or two. 


ingredients:

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp finely mince garlic
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1/4 cup finely diced celery
2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 tsp sea salt

2 tsp coconut oil
2/3 cup finely diced asian sweet potato
1 cup cooked chickpeas
3 cups water
1 tbsp bouillion powder (Sunshine Harvest)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 tsp sea salt


2/3 cup green peas (I use frozen organic -- defrosted)
2/3 cup broccoli, cut into small bite sized pieces (about 83 grams) (I use frozen organic -- defrosted, but you can also use lightly steamed broccoli)


directions:

1. saute the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery with the sea salt and the coconut oil
2. when the vegetables are fully cooked, either add them to the crock pot and then add the chickpeas, sweet potatoes,  and water, or add the next ingredients to the pot you used for sauteeing.
3. Add the water, sweetpotato, chickpeas, bouillion seasoning, sea salt, and apple cider vinegar. Cover the crock pot, and let it do its thing.
4. when the sweet potatoes are fully cooked, turn the heat off and add the broccoli and green peas.
5. The soup is now finished, and will be best when eaten at least a day later.
6. I made 3 times this recipe because I have a very big crockpot, but it should work well in any quantity.
7. Enjoy!



Saturday, 25 December 2010

We Feasted ...



Well, like many I'm sure, we feasted today. It was good fun, good friends, family, and a beautiful day all around. I've got the pictures to prove it, as well as a really nice recipe for vegetable soup. Stay tuned ... because I'm just too tired to tell you about it tonight! Many huge thanks to my readers, and happy happy holidays to all.

The Infamous Spicy Crackers

Vegetable Soup
 
Blueberry, Hemp, Flax, Pecan, and Almond Baby Cakes

Savoury Spinach Baby Cakes

Coffee Cake Baby Cakes

Gingerbread People and Flowers

Cinnamon Rolls

The festive table, complete with baby oranges, tamari almonds, a christmas tree, a chanukiah, an antique Turkish lantern, and a remembrance candle ...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Cauliflower Fried Rice


I am continually (not continuously) reading about health -- how to optimize it, how to reduce risks of ill-health, how to be healthy, how to feel great -- and the roll food plays in our health. In a very real sense, food is our most powerful medicine, and we can do a lot to augment our quality of life by eating properly. To my chagrin,  the vast majority of information about food and health is woefully outdated, and based on economics rather than fact. And as for cutting edge information on food and health, you have to weave and duck to dodge the shovels full of horse-manure and abject quackery. There's a lot of bad science out there.

Unfortunately, I am rather lazy and have a terrible memory, so I cannot direct you to all the studies and articles and good science out there. However, I would advise you to do your own research as much as possible! Don't take anything anyone tells you (and that includes me) as 'truth' until you are able to satisfy yourself that the information makes sense based on what we are able to know. We don't always have the whole picture, and sometimes make conclusions based on what we think is a complete image, but is really just a fragment.

That being said, I have come to certain conclusions about health and food. I think a lot of what we eat leads to systemic inflammation throughout the body. I think  a lot of what we eat costs us more than it gives us. I think most of what we can buy in the supermarket is frightening and dangerous. I think it's time to throw away most of what we 'believe' about food and health, and start again from the basic building blocks of wholesome ingredients. As Michael Pollan puts it: Eat foodNot too much. Mostly plants.

You may have noticed that I eschew grains for other options. Not that I boycott them entirely, but I like to  use them with dedicated moderation. Most of my baked goods are largely, if not entirely, flour from nuts instead of from grains. My research has shown me that in general grains contribute to inflammation in the body, even whole grains. As does cane sugar. Sugar in general. In addition, sugars and carbs tend to be very easily stored as fat, while fat is more easily burned as fuel. Go figure. (She says whilst stuffing the freshly baked heel of a loaf of bread in her greedy mouth).

But many people, my boys included, seem to need some grain in their diet. I think it's a really good idea to figure out what foods you yourself do best on, and to respect that by eating in a way that your body is truly asking to be fed.

You'll notice that this recipe includes some short grain brown rice, but the mass of it is actually cauliflower. And it tastes great. And if it were just for me, I would have skipped the rice entirely and just used cauliflower chopped into rice sized pieces.


ingredients:

2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 medium carrot, sliced and diced
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw almonds
3 cups lightly cooked cauliflower (you can steam it or saute it in coconut oil), cut into bite sized florets
1 1/2 cups cooked short grain brown rice (or your fave)

2 tbsp organic tamari (or other soy sauce)
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp maple syrup
5 drops sesame oil
5 drops lime juice
1/4 tsp ground ginger

3 eggs


directions:

1. saute the carrots and nuts in the coconut oil until nicely cooked
2. add the cauliflower and seasonings, and fully heat
3. add the rice, and fully heat
4. once the seasonings have been fully incorporated, and the cauliflower and rice are hot enough, add the  eggs, and stir gently, until the eggs are fully cooked
5. serve with a side of steamed broccoli (or our favourite, sauteed over low heat in coconut oil and tossed with a little sea salt and pepper)

This will probably serve 3 or 4 ... :)



Saturday, 18 December 2010

Yummy Muffins -- Saturday Morning Muffins, Again



We are so lucky. We have an aunt and uncle who visit on Saturday mornings, and now that our music class is over, we're going to a gingerbread house making party. Fun! We're bringing muffins ...

These muffins have two kinds of seeds in them, two kinds of nuts in them, some raisins, a few different flavours, and are wholesome and tasty.


ingredients:

1 1/2 cups organic whole milk
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 xl organic eggs

1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp organic ground vanilla bean (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tbsp carob powder

1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts)
1 cup pecan meal
1 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup kamut flour

1/2 cup organic thompson raisins


directions:

preheat the oven to 345

1. lightly warm the milk and coconut oil together to melt the coconut oil
2. mix in the coconut sugar and the eggs
3. add the vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, carob powder, ginger, and all spice
4. add the hemp hearts and flax meal
5. add the pecan meal and almond flour
6. add the baking soda and mix well
7. add the kamut flour and stir lightly until just mixed
8. add the raisins and stir lightly until just mixed
9. scoop the batter into 24 prepared muffin cups and bake at 345 for 25-30 minutes in the upper half of the oven (until the muffins spring back when lightly poked
10. share with your friends, enemies, and frenemies






We had a great time at the gingerbread house making party. Here is our creation. My son was the mastermind behind the decorations. The shaky construction is all me. :)






Friday, 17 December 2010

Pancakes -- The Best Pancakes in the World :)


We love eating pancakes for dinner. These pancakes are great because they are super moist, very flavourful, and very nutritious. We sided them with broccoli that had been tossed in coconut oil, and topped them with organic whole yogurt and maple syrup. Yummy.

They starred in many a breakfast over the course of the last year, most notably our big Dec 25th breakfast blowout with all the lost lambs who had no where to go ... They were equally well received on many Sunday mornings with friends and family. Try 'em, you'll like 'em.


ingredients:

2 eggs
2 cups organic whole milk
1 cup pecan meal
1/4 cup flax meal
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup kamut or red fyfe flour (or another whole grain flour of your choice)


directions:

1. beat eggs and add milk
2. add flax meal and pecan meal
3. add sea salt and baking soda
4. add kamut flour
5. allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before using (or can be refrigerated over night)
6. heat up a skillet (I've cooked them on a ceramic pan or on a cast iron griddle) and coat it lightly with coconut oil
7. depending on what size of pancake you want, deposit the appropriate amount of batter on the heated pan (we make anywhere from silver dollar to pancakes that use 1/4 cup of batter at a shot)
8. cook them for 1 or 2 minutes per side, turning when the bubbles come out on the first side.
9. keep the pancakes warm in the oven while you finish up the batter ...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Sugar Cookies -- lots of flavour, but no sugar


A couple of days ago I posted a recipe for sugar cookies made without sugar and without any grain flour. To be honest, these gluten-free cookies remind me a little of short bread cookies -- they have that kind of texture. Today I decided to make a sugar cookie without sugar, but in these I used some whole grain kamut flour in addition to almond flour. The texture is delicate and almost fluffy. They are pleasant and simple. Just the right kind of cookie to go with a cup of tea. And they partner well with the vanilla bean cookies from the other day -- different, yet charming in their own unique ways. The sweetener I have used is a clear, raw agave. I personally find cane sugar, whether organic or not, tastes great but disagrees with me. Agave is extremely sweet, so you need less of it, and I find it doesn't give me the headaches and racing heart I can get from cane sugar.

These aren't as sweet as the ones made with coconut flour and the reason for this is simple. Coconut flour absorbs so much liquid that you need very little of it, so that all the flavours and sweetners in the confection have much more potency. With these cookies, we are using twice as much flour, thus the potency of the sweetners and flavours are cut by half. If you followed this ramble, then it will be no surprise to you when I say the two cookies are different than each other.


ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup clear agave
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1 tsp finely minced orange zest (optional -- or lemon zest -- or go crazy and try lime)

1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean
1 tsp cinnamon (I used ceylon cinnamon)
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup kamut flour


directions:

1. lightly melt the oil and combine with the agave
2. add in the vanilla and lemon juice
3. mix in the eggs (and zest if you are using)
4. add the sea salt, vanilla bean, and cinnamon
5. stir in the almond flour, followed by the baking soda
6. add the kamut flour last, and stir until fully combined
7. as with any recipe using a flour that contains gluten, try to stir it as little as possible, and work it as little as possible. This will prevent the gluten from 'activating', and limit the toughness that will ensue. All you pie pastry makers out there know what I'm talking about ...
8. wrap the dough in parchment and put it in an airtight container. Refrigerate until fully chilled.
9. divide the dough into quarters, and roll each piece between two pieces of parchment
10. cut with your favourite cutter, and place on a lined baking sheet
12. this recipe will fill two baking sheets
13. bake for a total of 14 minutes in the upper half of an oven that has been pre-heated to 345. If you are baking 2 sheets at once, switch their positions halfway through.
14. once the cookies have come out of the oven,  remove them from the baking sheets to cool on a cooling rack
15. store in an airtight container




Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies -- Sans Sugar, and Gluten-Free



I always really liked sugar cookies. I liked the simple, vanilla redolent flavour, I liked the light texture, and I liked the cute shapes. When we were teenagers, my friend Jennifer and I made a huge batch of sugar cookies that we cut by hand into fantastic shapes and decorated with bright amazing colours of icing. We then took the whole batch down to Sick Kids hospital to give to the kids. A nurse confiscated them and promised they'd be distributed to the kids who were allowed to eat them. To this day, I have my secret doubts, and am at least halfway convinced that there were a lot of doctors and nurses grooving on the psychedelic effects of our beautiful creations. They were gorgeous, and back in the 80's, we all still believed sugar was good for you ... :)

Keeping with the theme of 'holiday' type cookies, I wanted to come up with a recipe for a sugar cookie that includes no sugar, and can be enjoyed without qualms. Like the gingerbread people of a couple weeks ago, these ones are also gluten-free. I'll do a not gluten free but still healthy alternative later on.

Coconut flour is an interesting flour. It absorbs water so prodigiously that you need much less of it than you would another flour. In fact, it could probably be used for disaster clean up following flooding ... I find the texture of cookies made with coconut flour improves after a couple of days, and then is really great, and keeps well for a number of weeks, even. In addition, coconut flour is very high in protein, with a good amount of fiber, won't spike anyone's insulin, is gluten free, and doesn't have the same inflammatory effects that many people experience with grain flours, even whole grain.


ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup agave
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean (this is more or less optional, because it's a bit more esoteric, and the cookies will be nice without it, too)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut flour


directions:

1. warm the oil to melt it
2. mix in the agave
3. mix in the eggs
4. add the vanilla and lemon
5. add the sea salt and vanilla bean
6. add the almond flour
7. add the baking soda
8. add the coconut flour, and mix well
9. wrap the finished dough in parchment, put it in an airtight container, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (this will make it easier to work with)
10. divide the dough in half
11. roll half the dough between 2 pieces of parchment until reasonably thin, and cut with your favourite cookie cutters and transfer the shapes to a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet
12. amass the scraps and repeat until the dough is gone.
13. repeat with the second half
14. you should fill two baking sheets. The number of cookies will depend on the size of the cutters ...
15. preheat the oven to 300, and bake the trays for 20 minutes in the upper half of the oven. After 10 minutes cooking time,  switch their positions halfway through.
16. After 20 minutes total cooking time, shut the oven off, and leave the cookies in the oven for another 10 minutes.
17. After 30 minutes total cooking time, remove the cookies from the oven, and leave to cool for a few minutes.
18. remove the cookies to a cooling rack.
19. store in an airtight container.
20. these cookies keep really well, and in my opinion improve with age, and are at their best after a few days after baking



Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Banana Pecan Muffins -- Drumroll, please



We have a banana problem here. That is to say, my son and my husband both eat bananas, but there is a rather narrow window of ripeness in which they find them palatable. Well, perhaps not that narrow, but we seem to miss it without even trying to. Not as frequently as we used to, but we do miss it. I guess summer is worse, when the bananas ripen so quickly and suddenly. 

Needless to say, perhaps, I found myself with 3 very ripe bananas on hand. One was so ripe that it didn't even need to be mashed with a fork. It just mashed itself when I gave it a mild glare. The other two were reduced to chunks by fork, but you get the picture.

This recipe works best with bananas that are in the very ripe to extremely ripe category -- when the skin has thinned, and the golden hue is flecked liberally with brown -- for optimal sweetness and flavour.

These muffins have been tested and tried by many friends and family members, and seem to be well received even by the picky eaters among us.

And without further ramble, here's our infamous banana pecan muffin recipe. To dress them up, you can press a half pecan onto the top of each cup of batter before baking (ooh, and perhaps a tiny sprinkle of coconut sugar), but I chose not to today. Just not feeling fancy ...!



ingredients:

3 (or possibly 4) very ripe bananas
1 cup milk 
1/4 cup of extra virgin coconut oil
2  eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground vanilla (optional)
2 cups of very finely ground pecans
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup kamut flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)


directions:

preheat oven to 345
1.     mash bananas extremely lightly, so that they are chunky. Set them aside
2.     lightly heat milk and coconut oil, combine
3.     add eggs
4.     add vanilla extract
5.     add pecan meal
6.     add salt and cinnamon (and ground vanilla)
7.    add baking soda and bananas and stir well
8.     add flour and mix until just combined
9.     divide batter evenly into 24 prepared muffin cups
10.  bake in preheated oven at 345 for 30 minutes


Saturday, 11 December 2010

Apple Muffins -- Saturday Morning Muffins with Friends


Saturday Morning came again, as it does every week, bringing with it our last music class, good friends, my beloved aunt and uncle, and yummy apple muffins, not necessarily in that order.

I was in the mood for apple, which seems to be one of those things that almost everybody will enjoy. It may not be a favourite  -- there really are die hard chocolate lovers out there -- but it seems to be enjoyed with gusto by very nearly almost everybody. Except our friend Kim who thinks fruit in baked goods is just wrong and very very mean.

Anyway, these apple muffins went over very well, and were enjoyed by all demographics. They are lightly sweet, extremely moist, chock full of protein, and neither fancy nor demanding. Kind of wholesome and reassuring. Hopefully, everything an apple muffin should be. And lovely with a cup of tea, dear friends, and a beloved aunt and uncle.


ingredients:

1 1/2 cups organic whole milk
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup clear agave
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 XL organic eggs

1 1/2 tsp ground vanilla (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp sea salt (I think I would add an extra 1/4 tsp next time)
3 tsp cinnamon
a touch of black pepper
1/4 tsp organic orange zest (optional) finely zested and minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts)
2 cups almond flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup kamut flour 

1 large organic royal gala apple finely chopped (approx 2 cups)

1 small organic royal gala apple cut into quarters and then thinly sliced (optional -- for topping the muffins)


directions:

preheat the oven to 345

1. lightly warm the milk, and add the extra virgin coconut oil to melt it
2. stir in the agave and the coconut sugar
3. beat in the eggs
4. add the vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, sea salt, black pepper, and orange zest
5. mix in the flax meal, hemp seeds, and finally the almond flour
6. stir in the baking soda, mixing well
7. add the kamut flour, and stir lightly until just combined
8. add the finely chopped apple and mix gently until just combined
9. scoop the mixture into prepared muffin cups
10. bake at 345 for 30 minutes

makes 24 muffins

The hemp seeds give these muffins an extra richness and a moist, delicate texture. 



Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Baked Vegetable Stew -- Nemesis to the Rescue



peasant food, anyone?






Ah, Nemesis, my old friend. I always enjoy cooking with my enameled cast-iron casserole. The metal holds the heat so it cooks the food in addition to the heat of the oven cooking the food, and the enameled finish cleans up easily. It's also pretty. And really, really heavy.

I decided it would be fun to experiment with this cooking pot, but I think this recipe would work equally well in any large casserole. Or even a dutch oven, provided it was oven safe.

I made a rather large quantity, because I was working with some rather large vegetables, and hey, I'm lazy and don't want to have to cook again for a couple of days. Plus I like stocking my freezer with meals  that just need to be heated up. But this recipe can easily be halved.

I whipped up a loaf of bread that rose while the casserole was in the oven,  and then baked on the same temperature. I personally am a big fan of fresh bread and vegetable stew, but if you're not, you could always eat it by itself, with quinoa, with rice, whilst tap-dancing, on your balcony, or with Parisian spies dressed in Versace.

The bread recipe I used was the same as from my post for Very Good Bread. It's our favourite, and seems to be pretty much idiot-proof, which means I don't screw it up even when my mind is on other things and I make mistakes.

So, if you are a fan of vegetable stew and fresh bread, you might like to eat like we did tonight. It was very tasty.


ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup cashews
1 tsp sea salt

2 cups Du Puy lentils
1 tsp sea salt

4 medium sized carrots, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 large sweet potatoes, cut into cubes (about 4 cups)

1 acorn squash, cut into cubes
1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp herbe de provence
1 1/2 cups water +1/2 cup left over tomato sauce (or 1 and 1 or 2 and 0 or 0 and 2 etc.)

300 g package of organic frozen spinach, brought to room temperature


directions:

1. preheat your oven to 345
2. put the coconut oil in your pot or casserole, and put it in the oven for just a few minutes as it's preheating to liquify the oil
3. put the onion, garlic, cashews and 1 tsp of salt into the oil, and stir around
4. layer the 2 cups of lentils next, and sprinkle with another tsp of sea salt
5. layer the carrots next
6. layer the sweet potatoes next. I used my fabulous purple ones, as you can see in the picture
7. layer the squash next, and sprinkle the 3rd tsp of sea salt on top.
8. sprinkle 1 tbsp of herbe de provence on top of the squash
9. pour your water or water and tomato sauce or pure tomato sauce mixture over the squash
10. put the lid on, and put the casserole in the oven
11. bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 345, depending on your cooking dish
12. when it comes out, stir in your room temperature spinach and put the lid back on, but don't return to it to the oven
13. put your bread in the oven to bake
14 serve the stew with bread, baby tomatoes, and carrot medallions. Or a side salad. Or a slightly sardonic smile.

This tasted very good, and is one of those dishes that will also improve in flavour by the next day. I'm definitely going to jar some of it for future meals when I don't have the ingredients or time to cook from fresh.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Stuffed Pasta Redux ...



These savoury little cuties have been cooling their heels in the freezer since I originally made and cooked  (half of) them on November 6th. They boil up from frozen in just 15 minutes, so that's dinner on the table in a hurry -- even without prior planning. And if you keep sauce in there, too, then all you have to do is take credit, smile, and find something else to do with all the time you didn't have to spend on dinner ... 

For the complete recipe and step by step instructions, please see the November 6th post.

YUM.


Monday, 6 December 2010

Short Grain Brown Rice -- How I cook short grain brown rice

The adorable chubby grains of a short grain California brown. Calrose, anyone?


My mother always admonished that the rice didn't like to be looked at while it was cooking, and we were forbidden to ever remove the lid from a pot of rice that was cooking. The Japanese also aver it's imperative never to open the pot and release the steam while the rice is cooking -- it will interfere with the perfection that can only ensue when ritual is followed to a 't'. 

Now, I'm not much of a rule follower, as you might have surmised from my crazy cooking. And to be honest, I always hated rice. However, now that I've moved beyond the white parboiled rice of my childhood, I've found a little more virtue to the grain.

I've bought a cheeky little whole grain basmati from the Indian market up the street, black Thai rice and red cargo rice from the awesome Asian market near the Docks, a fabulous deep garnet red long grain rice from the Bulk Barn, purple rice, and many many varieties of whole and brown rice, both long and short grain. I've found my favourite, for flavour and texture, is the California short grain brown rice, or even Calrose. The grains of our California brown are so short they are nearly round. The rice itself has a pleasing flavour, and the grains keep a tender yet chewy texture that is pleasant and works well with the dishes we make.

One of my secrets for perfect rice is a little oil in the water. This not only elevates the rice in flavour and texture, but it also helps keep the rice from boiling over. When I make rice for sushi, I don't put oil in it (this would also prevent it from clinging together properly), and I've notice it can build up enough starch in the water for a boil over if making a large quantity at once ...

So, here is how I make rice that turns out perfectly every time, despite my bad habits and rule breaking behaviour.


ingredients:

1 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups filtered water
1/4 - 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 - 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)


directions:

1. put all the ingredients in an adequately large pot
2. put the pot on an element, put a lid on the pot, and turn the heat up to high to bring the water to a boil.
3. once the water reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, and set the timer for 40 minutes.
4. after 40 minutes, check the rice. All the water should be absorbed. If not, give it another couple of minutes.
5. turn off the element, and take the pot off the heat
6. this recipe is tasty by itself or as a side dish or a bottom layer ...
7. double or triple the recipe and have extras for whipping up such goodies as fried rice. 



Sunday, 5 December 2010

Fried Rice -- rice with egg, cashew, almond, broccoli, and carrot (eggs for dinner ... Again.

I bet you wish you were me right now ... 


I don't know about you, but sometimes my imagination sags, lags, and flags, and I have no idea what to make for dinner. Okay, I'll have to admit it happens on a pretty regular basis, especially as the day wanes and the meal approaches, and I've given it no thought, and we've been busy all day, and out ... And suddenly, I have to make something out of 'nothing', something that will be palatable to a 2 1/2 year old as well as two adults (one of whom I swear has the taste buds of a twelve year old).

It can be very helpful to keep some basics on hand at all times if you are like me: nuts, uncooked rice, dry lentils (or canned -- canned beans in general are handy, but choose labels that eschew Bpa in their can linings) fresh carrots (they keep very well for months at a time), organic eggs, organic frozen vegetables such as broccoli and spinach etc. If you are not remotely like me and you manage not only to plan a fancy gourmet meal for every night of the week as well as execute it, keep the house tidy, go to work, and keep your temper with your husband and child, then I am in awe of you and I will only say keep up the good work.

Last night was one of those 'I don't know what to make' nights after a fun family afternoon. We went over to Allan Gardens (and found the Christmas flower show opening -- what a great job they do all year  round, but their festive decorations and dozens of kinds of Poinsettias are lovely too).






So, this is what I came up with. Ready in a hurry, delicious, belly filling, and healthful.


ingredients:

2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 medium carrot (approx 1/2 cup), thinly sliced
1 small onion (approx 1/4 cup), finely chopped
1 cup steamed broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces (in this case, toddler bite sized)
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw almonds

2 cups cooked brown rice

organic soy sauce (1 or 2 tsp, or to taste)
2 drops of sesame oil
(some fresh ginger, finely minced would be nice, too)

2 eggs


directions:

1. saute the onion, carrot, almonds, and cashews in the coconut oil with a little soy sauce. You can cover to hurry along the cooking process. You'll want to soften the carrots, fully cook the onions, and cook the nuts (a little)
2. once they have been fully cooked, add the rice with a little more soy sauce, (and fresh ginger if you're using) and fully heat.
3. once the rice has been fully heated, add the cooked broccoli and fully heat
4. add the eggs to the pan. Gently mix these into the hot rice mixture on low heat, slowly cooking until the egg is fully cooked.
5. enjoy with a side of steamed broccoli and baby tomatoes (do you sense a theme? my son's faves right now)