Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nut-Free Pesto

Just got my tonsils removed, and I cant eat yet. So what do I do? Make tons of food! Hey at least I get the pleasure of watching people enjoy the food, and pretend Im eating it too (my diet is composed of yogurt, applesauce, and ice cubes) I just canned what has to be my best salsa to date (which I plan to post later on), and tonight I made nut free basil coriander pesto, and made a quick tomato pasta with it. IT SMELLED SO GOOD.

I like  to torture myself. It took maybe 10 minutes for the pesto, and ten minutes for the whole dish to come to finition, so there is no reason for anyone not to be able to make these. And the best? Most of the ingredients came from a farm 10 minutes away from me. DOUBLE AWESOME!

Basil Coriander Pesto
A bunch of fresh basil
A bunch of fresh coriander
1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
a pinch of sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lemon juiced (about 2 tbsp, throw in the zest if you want more zing)
1/4 cup olive oil

If you dont have a food processor that has a pour hole, give everything but the oil a whirl until you have the desired consistancy, then add the oil. Whirl away until you have something that looks like this:

I like mine still a little leafy (not that I could eat it!!), but mix more for a uniformly creamy texture

So there's your super quick pesto. Now to make it into a meal. Ready for the most complicated dish you'll ever make? First, get some pasta boiling, then cut up a few mushrooms and a couple fresh Roma tomatoes and saute them. Then, when the pasta is al dente, stir in a little or alot of the pesto, and top with the tomatoes and mushrooms. Then delicious end.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Food Culture

So, like any good foodie would do, I always use the travelling excuse to dive into new foods that I would probably not try at home. If Im going to spend money on eating out, might as well be extraordinary things I cant find or make at home. I love to go to places and say to them, just bring me whatever it is you eat. I havent been lucky enough to go overseas yet, but Ive learnt that food can be completely different even if you live just a few hours away.

My parents gave us a vacation to Isle-Aux-Coudres for our wedding gift, which is maybe 5-6 hours away, and in the middle of the two coast lines of Quebec. And coastline doesnt mean anything to me but beautiful views and extremely fresh sea food. But what I also discovered, was their love for fresh food, and best of all, how they dont talk about eating seasonally and locally, they literally live it. As a local told me, they import all kinds of fancy food for the city folks, but they what they got in their earth and in their water (and by fancy foods, we were talking about asparagus). The hotel had their huge herb garden right in their front yard, and their menu changed every day to include whatever was freshly caught that morning and what was available.

This is the first meal I had on the island. I looked at the menu of the only restaurant not in a hotel on the island (which houses about 1000 people), and saw full of unfamiliar names, closed the menu and asked the waitress to bring me whatever it was that she would suggest I try. The fish are called perlans (which I cant for the life of me find the translation of). Tiny fishes, they roast them then fry them with a spicy batter, and then serve it as you see. To be honest, I had an issue getting over the tails, fins, partial heads and spine still being attached, in fish that grosses me out. Once you get over that, its delicious.

Lunch we had right before going on a whale cruise. CHECK OUT THE VIEW. This was a shrimp and citrus salad. What I didnt know, was that there would also be flying fish eggs on the plate. Both of which, the eggs and shrimp, had been freshly caught and extracted the morning of. The waitress even pointed out the fishing boat that had delivered them. And the price of this most excellent dish you ask? A ghastly 12$. Im sure that could run easily upwards of 25$ in the right place downtown.

There is a miniscule SAQ where non locals can get their alcohol should they need, but there is a cider press house on the island where practically all locals get their drinks from. They make all kinds of alcohol, and grow every single fruit they use in it. They had  selection of hydromels as well, using honey from their hives. I tried the mistelle au pommes-poires (a sort of light pear apple cider) which was absolutely delicious, but I found out I was allergic to it (as I sometimes am to alcoolized fruit liqueurs). Later on, I tried non-alcoolized mout de pommes gelees, where they pick frozen apples, cook them down and press them. Fantastic!

I wish we could have had more time and more meals, but we ran out of both much too fast! Definetly going to explore the coastline of Quebec again!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

breakfast of champions!

Sourdough flax waffles!

With butter and maple syrup, strong coffee and Jesus of Nazareth 2.

A hit! The baby devoured them.

I basically used the High-Fiber Sourdough Waffles recipe from King Arthur Flour, with a few changes:

For the sponge, I used 2 c whole wheat flour - I opted for bread flour, as the recipe is yeasted, so this made sense to me - normally I use pastry flour for waffles, so this really opened up a whole new world of waffles to me!

Instead of maize flour I used flax meal (about half meal and half whole, really).

Instead of sugar I used xylitol.

Instead of sourdough starter, I used 1 c of Artisan Bread in 5 dough I had in the fridge, a basic whole wheat batch - I knew it would do the same leavening job, and it already had an aged flavour. (For other AB5 folks who like sourdough flavour but not the work of maintaining a sourdough starter, just leave out your dough overnight instead of for 2 hours; it will give it all more time to ferment and develop those nice sour alcohol flavours.) I was concerned that because AB5 dough is stiffer than sourdough starter, the liquids in the recipe would be thrown off, but it was a non-issue; the batter/sponge consistency was perfect.

Instead of buttermilk I used a mix of kefir (about 1 1/4 c) and milk (about 3/4 c), knowing the yeast and kefir in the sponge would ferment the milk overnight, and knowing that even failing that the whole sponge would definitely be acidic enough to react to the baking soda in the morning on just the strength of the bread yeast and the kefir fermentation.

(Geeze, I should just write a new recipe, eh!?)

And of course, I used real butter when mixing it together in the morning, as I would insist you do as well!

It was totally delicious and filling, it photographed well, plus it was a soaked/fermented food. really, what more can you ask of a recipe??

Friday, August 17, 2012

seafood grill a la Sam

Sam brought us marinated squid and salmon on Wednesday along with our produce basket, it was incredible. I say that as a generally hesitant seafood-eater.

In the marinade, there was, oh, coconut milk, garlic, mint, cayenne, and what else, Sam?

We also had bread, salad (largely from the produce basket), kombucha and super-simple tropical wine.

For "dessert" (eg Sam's appetizer) we had zucchini brownies. And Sam brought wonderful yogurts to share. It was good times.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I made an elasticized seersucker punch bowl cover specifically for our kombucha, to keep out dust and flies reliably - we started our first batch 2 weeks ago, so I took it down today to check it out and bottle it.

Ooo! What you see here is the new SCOBY with bubbly things on the surface of the kombucha, and the one we started with - kind of a ripped circle on the bottom half of the bowl - below that.

A close-up of the SCOBY!


New batch, decaf, half plain black tea, half chai, up top there - second from the right.

We like it! This batch was quite sweet, perhaps because the mother SCOBY we used was a bit worn-out? I figure we'll let this batch sit 3 weeks and see how it is. We had to add vinegar to our first batch to acidify the solution, to keep out undesirable pathogens - normally you just use a bit of mature kombucha, but we didn't have any - so I was afraid it would taste vinegary. Not at all! It was wonderfully tart and sweet and a bit fizzy. Hooray!

Sandor is the man when it comes to fermentation:

Atwater Market

This guy with the lobsters was being filmed for some TV show, presumably - we stood around and watched him say "And as for biting, check out these bad boys!!" about five times. Being an actor must be tiring.

Ginger beard!!

What a welcoming sight.

Hello, lovelies! Tomatoes and hot peppers - two loves of my life.



And more berries! Everybody is swimming in berries these days. If only we could afford Atwater Market prices, haha. I'm still waiting for Maxi's $1/pint sale... hoping I don't let the summer fly by without buying any, foolishly waiting for a price drop that won't happen (it did last year but what do I know about berry crops?).

TOMATO VINEGAR! I was amazed obviously.

And by the way, I updated the freakin layout!! Summer is going to be with us for a while longer so let's squeeze all the sunshine and good food out of it that we can, yes? And post about it on our suitably-laid-out food blog :) (As I explained on my main blog, our camera is back in action!)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Parisian Potato Fail

So, I haven't really cooked in a while. Not that I did not want to, it is just that every weekend (aka Thursday to Sunday) for the last three weeks we have been staying with my in-laws.  When we get home Sunday night, our fridge is usually empty and I ask Dominique to run out and get a few things, just enough to last 3 days.

So tonight, our third night back in OT I decided to cook up some little round potatoes that I purchased at Farm Boy. I thought, "Oh, well they're so small I could just fry them up in the frying pan." Wrong. They did not cook like regular small potatoes. Epic fail. It ends up they were parisian potatoes, which need to be boiled before roasting. Oops.

My brain only associates boiling potatoes with mashed potatoes (which I seldom enjoy). My sister loved mashed potatoes and I was forced to eat them a minimum of twice a week. Such suppressed childhood memories have given me potato-boiling-aversion as an adult. That and it just takes so much more effort and needlessly dirties another dish.

Next time my little french patates, I'll get you right.

pinterest magic & toddler ice cube box lunches

If you're like me, you pin things on Pinterest with the intent of using them (recipes, how-tos, etc.) but rarely use anything within, say, 4 weeks of seeing it - by which time you've more or less forgotten about it. So, like me, you may know just how satisfying it is to actually use one of those ideas!

One such great idea I discovered though Pinterest is detailed on this blog post - primarily about the author's daughter's second birthday party, but also with many pictures of the adorable toddler lunches she compiled for the kids in ice cubes trays. Basically you choose a bunch of finger-foods and arrange them as pleasingly as you can in there and off you go! Great for little ones; they love variety and can be picky and so on. Reading the entry originally, I thought, this should probably have more protein, and possibly less sugar.

Today for Ambrose's lunch I thought, what the hell, if I don't do it now I'll never try it. So we did! I used cheese cubes, yogurt (not a finger-food but whatever, unless it's at a hectic party I think some non-finger-foods are safe), pecans, almonds, tofu with Bangladeshi sauce, baby kale, carrot dimes, pickle chunks, grape halves, cucumber slices, kohlrabi slices, organic multigrain cereal with no sugar, zucchini brownies, green pepper chunks, raisins, and some plain fusili pasta with butter.

There comes a point about halfway through preparation where you think, I cannot possibly fill each and every gap (a standard tray has 16 cubes). You rummage feverishly through the fridge, and something magical happens. You take a second look at things. "Yes," you think. "We'll use the wrinkling kohlrabi." You find the grapes hiding behind the chicken stock. You decide there's no such thing as too many greens. And before you know it, you're done!

The great thing about it is that even if they don't eat it all, or even touch some of the compartments (and really, what toddler would eat the whole thing in one go?), you can just pop it in the fridge for later!

My rule of thumb was to make at least a third of my choices protein-rich and limit sugar to two compartments (the zucchini brownies had sugar, the cereal had no technical sugar but it did have crystallized molasses, basically the same thing). Other things you could include might be popcorn (preferably organic, home-popped), chicken, beef or pork strips, lentils, roasted chickpeas... The sky's the limit!

And my next realization was - this is great for adults!! Cynthia, I was thinking of you! Adults take just as much delight in variety and cuteness of food as children do, as is evidenced by the explosive food content on Pinterest. Who could resist sitting down to a delightful variety like this for a snack? (In fact, what prompted my reflection was an anticipatory wariness of Tony coming home and eating the whole thing, lol!) Especially those of us who are dieting - each cube is so small that if you limit borderline foods to 2-3 portions, and if you use at least a third of the cubes for protein-rich snacks, and be sure to include some strong flavours (like sour & salty pickles, mm!) you won't be tempted to eat the whole pan of brownies. No, you'll be quite satisfied with what you have! You could always make a tray or two ahead for you and your husband before you know you'll need it (before sitting down to watch a movie, or whatever - when you have the energy and detachment to make good choices for when you've slowed down and gotten hungry!).

Happy snacking!

Monday, August 6, 2012


Ah, that lovely word. Ive had a fight with my weight since I was 12 and I discovered what eating your emotions meant. Fuck the waistline, I need to smile and get over it, whatever it was at the moment. I learned, after constant exposion, to take all those looks and glances, those <jokes>, and shoot them right back at people. I made the fat jokes before anyone else had the time, so noone could see that words (especially that one) did affect me, even after all this time. I hated those skinny bitches and made more humilating remarks about them and their dimunitive intelligence (because skinny had to mean stupid, for some reason) than they could possibly make about me, effectively turning the tables. I nurtured my ability to think fast with a disparaging comment, and cultivated my knowledge about everything in order to always be superior in some way. Im happy being fat and if you dont like it, thats not my problem. A bit like this girl, really. Scary isnt it?

Since then Ive matured a bit, and come into my own philosophy about the overweight/obese crisis in the world. Ive noticed a very strong distinction between Canadians and Americans through my trips. Up north it seemed like our mentality was completely different than our southern neighbors. I have always known I would lose weight or live my life trying to lose it, known that my health, rather than my weight was the ultimate issue, however both were inextricably tied. Down south, I felt like in order to prove that every body is beautiful, they glorify being overweight, turn away from striving towards health and strain towards acceptance of something which really shouldnt be eagerly embraced with open arms. Which had the effect of completely turning me off, rather than making me feel normal, which is what Ive always anticipated.

And through that realization, getting older, learning more about myself and my body, about food, and developing my food philosophy, Ive always known that one day I was going to win this battle against weight. No matter if at 15, 25, or 35, one day I was going to be healthy. The other I took a trip to Chapters, and bought this beautiful vegetarian cookbook (for 2$!!) as well as a couple of Biggest Loser books (which, btw, the show completely inspires AND motivates me). I want this, I want to get healthy, show people wrong when they tell me Im fat for life. I want to get healthy for my kids, so I wont shiver in fear should my daughters say 'I want to be exactly like mommy when I grow up!'. But most of all, I want this for me.

Do you have views towards the overweight/obesity epidemic? Have you ever fought a battle with weight? Do you have any tips?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

chicken broth discovery

It's been awhile since I've bought a whole chicken to roast for meat and make broth with the bones and leftover meaty bits, and since then, I've read you should add some vinegar at the beginning. This is supposed to help leach the minerals out of the bones. In fact, I learned that soon after I made and canned my last batch of chicken stock, so I was eager to try it again. I *think* it was on Kitchen Stewardship, but in a brief perusal the other day I couldn't find which entry it was mentioned in - she has a few on making chicken stock.

So anywho - it worked way better than I expected. Check out the video!!

 Normally I bring it all to a boil, then let it simmer 24 hours, let it cool, then use a strainer to scoop out bones and such. I rest it on the brim of the pot and pick out the bones, and then scrub them with my fingers to get off any meat. The bones just crumbled! There were still some shards that had to be thrown out, but it was maybe 5%-10% of the total bone mass, it was incredible! With enough soaking and rubbing it just turns to mush. Woah! Imagine the difference of mineral content with all that marrow and bone matter! I didn't even use that much vinegar - maybe 3/4 c added to about 5-6 L of water with the chicken. Try it!

I also put two small handfuls of kelp meal in there, with the orange, onions and carrots and salt the chicken had roasted with, along with extra onion and lots of garlic and a good amount of crushed chilli pepper. Tony had some with supper the other night and he liked it; cooked, the vinegar taste is very subtle-to-absent.

The resulting stock is quite thick and dark; normally my jars of stock have meat gathered at the bottom and the rest of the broth is a transparent yellow, whereas these are like an opaque beige. Can't wait to use them!