Saturday, December 7, 2013

Exam Time Crunch Time

For those of us who are examin',

Some exam tips (cough shameless self-promotion) from my up-and-coming blog, 

Any and all tips, critiques, and general discussion are welcomed!

And if you must ask what this has to do with food, I linked Julia's oatmeal recipe and Amy's breakfast casserole as make-ahead food suggestions. I'm savvy like that. 

Happy Examing Everyone! 


Concerned Cat will make sure you keep your eyes on your books, and off the interwebs.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

November Noms

I was studying at the library and starved for food, and a friend passed by and shared half her sandwich with me--God bless her. But I couldn't conceal my confusion. It was a frozen sandwich.
I was unaware that you could buy whole, frozen, baguette sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper.
They go directly in the microwave. Parchment paper on.
I worry about this world that doesn't have time to fix itself a sandwich.
Matt took me to another Middle Eastern eatery in town. The Palestinian owner plays old school Egyptian music from black & white movies of the '40s.  Obviously, I loved the owner. The food was fabulous and fresh.
AND he offers free tea while patrons wait for their food!! So cute. It's a fragrant, heavely, pink-coloured sage tea. I have yet to find out what makes it pink...  

SO not paleo. Finally went out for brunch at the hippie breakfast place down the street. Real maple syrup! Real coffee! Real food! HUZZAH!
 I asked for creme fraiche and the waiter said they don't normally have any...but then he returned with a ramekin FULL OF KEY LIME CREME FRAICHE leftover from a special from the day before! HEAVEN. 

More real food in Chicago, at a NY/Jewish inspired diner with REAL smoked meat and lox that they fly in from NYC. Smoked meat hash with scrambled eggs and 3 cheeses. Fluffy and so, so, Montreal I could cry. 

...but their challah sucked. It was stale and dry. 

carrot and pomegranate salad

someone was really, really mad at me. But the milkshake was great. 

TURKEY TAILS! I/Matt took this scary picture for my Grandma,
who didn't believe turkeys had tails.
She kept saying "habibti...turkeys don't have tails. you bought the ass."

Quails marinating in yogurt and syrian spices.

Quails aren't in demand here at all for some reason. I'd be met with dumbfounded looks at grocery stores when I'd ask where the quails were. I was at the Soulard Market in St. Louis this May, and I asked the bird farmers (? they aren't really butchers...? What would we call them?) if they raised any quails. One stall told me to come back around Thanksgiving, and one told me to come by the following spring. EVEN then they don't raise them! Weird. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kitchen Monday Video!

So that was a couple of hours ago, and things are a bit tider now. The new menu is also up:

Featured are paleo naan (it'll be my first time, so I am very excited to try them and report back here  they're even vegan!), chocolate tart (for the crust I use 1/2 c hazelnut flour, 1/2 c shredded coconut, and 1/4 c white rice flour, and replace the water with yogurt), and stuffed onions (mine will have beef).

I also mention breakfast bars in the video - mine are based on Irish Oat Cakes, but with no wheat (obviously), more eggs, and other variations (no sugar, but with dates, or bananas; cinnamon; tomorrow will be squash and spices and a bit of honey). I make them in the afternoon/evening and they keep nicely. With gluten-free baking though it's always better to replace any water called for with yogurt or vegetables or fruit or something.

Now for a gratuitous tart shot:

Have a great week!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole

Is in the oven... It smells so good!

1 spaghetti squash, roasted (did that before work today), peeled, seeded and drained (it needn't be dry, just drained of excess liquid)
8 eggs
About a cup of mixed grated cheeses - ours was parmesan heavy
Parsley, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper
1/2 c to 1 c tomato sauce

Mix it all in a bowl, slide into a buttered lasagna pan and bake at 425 F for an hour or something (not sure yet how long it takes, but from about 15 minutes in it will start to smell amazing).

Easy grain-free vegetarian meal for work days... Done.

Monday, November 4, 2013

meal plans & highlights


This is the past two weeks; I am sitting down with this entry in part to figure out the coming week.

HIGHLIGHTS: Millet, fennel and feta salad was AMAZING. I cooked about 1 c of dry toasted millet, added 200g feta, 1 bulb of diced and cooked fennel with garlic, hum maybe some other things, spring onions and chickpeas, anyways it was wonderful. I wanted to eat the whole bowl:

The other highlight was the popover. It was based on this recipe, but ours ended up having raddichio, bacon, feta, and maybe that was all (...Tony cooked that night, I'm pretty sure he didn't use the planned zucchini, but I am not totally certain). It was an omnomtastic experience. It was our first popover experience and I don't even know why. It will happen again.

Actually I should also mention the third feta highlight - feta and berry muffins with oats. Yeah, they ruled. The texture was a bit weird, but that was a gluten-free issue; the flavour combination itself was awesome.

We are out of coffee, in other food news. Sad times.

Good times:

That was cheeseburger night.

We lost power this weekend so tonight is pizza night and the rest is TBD. What are you eating this week?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happier Foodie Times

While I wait for new dosage to kick in, I think a post is in order following my last depressing one...

real deal lemonade stand in Indiana in August 

See that excitement? Cause that caeser has HAM AND OLIVES! 

Double cheeseburger. For $5. Welcome to 'murica. i think it was bigger than my whole face.

Sun-dappled garlic at the market this fall. This guy maybe had 30 varieties.

bamia (stewed okra and minced meat) for lunch. hea

FOUND: fake butter and fake cream at breakfast place. that's all they had. RESULT: deprimée.

veggie spiral slicer disaster. don't buy this one.

i have no words. 
Love and fried plantains make a Saturday-night cameo

I miss being here. New Brunswick.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Food on ADHD Meds

Some of you may know that I finally got my ass to an assessment clinic this month, after years of suspecting that I might have ADHD.

I'm currently on 10 mg of Ampehtamine, or generic Adderal. Life on medication has been a rollercoaster this week, what with experiencing my first real blow of depression, getting back shitty grades, and my car getting wrecked about 2 minutes minutes from my place. But thanks be to God, I have clothing, a roof, and food in my fridge.

"Your appetite will decrease...people use this as an appetite suppressant," My doctor told me Friday as he wrote up my prescription. I lol'ed at him and said "I run a foodie blog with friends. I don't really believe anything can do that to me."

I'd researched side effects, so I knew it was used for that. I was CERTAIN, just CERTAIN, that there was no way anything, any drug, any person on the wet 'n' wild face of this earth, could ever take away my love for food, the holy delerium of tasting a farm-fresh egg, the visual appeal of leafy green veggies (ESPECIALLY RAINBOW KALE LADIES, I MEAN, SERIOUSLY, THAT IS JUST BEAUTY EMBODIED) the natural highs of a well-marinated steak or whole fish grilled to perfection.

This morning, I got up to get ready for my exam, and I could barely get myself to open the fridge door.

My body and brain recoiled as I fought the ludicrous urge to leave the house without eating.

Eat? Seriously? Gross. Wait--you're serious. You're trying to open that fridge. You must be insane. 

I laughed nervously and swore out loud. I used to WAKE UP in the morning just so that I could eat eggs. What the hell was going on?

"Food just doesn't taste real good...." related a friend of mine who is on different medication, Concerta. The thought of food tasting like ash sounded ridiculous at the time.

just not that into you.
But today, I've experienced something heartbreakingly sad. It's not just an appetite-suppressant. It's actually more like an appetite-repulsant.

I reluctantly took out a steamed sweet potato, heated it up, maple syruped it, cinammon, nutmeg, the whole shebang. I tasted it. It's not that food tastes like ash--but more like I recognize the taste, this is "supposed" to be yummy, but my brain is not receiving signals that this should be pleasurable. I process more of the texture than I do the happy feeling of "MMMMMM." I taste cinammon, I taste sweet potato, I taste nutmeg, all very sharply, but at the same time, it's like my taste buds are too busy reading magazines on the toilet and they're like "Oh, hmm, cinammon. What, you want a fucking parade? Get a life."

So I fry an egg. Anything more than one egg feels stupid. I taste it. It's from a farm, it tastes like a real, farm-fresh egg. It doesn't taste like ash. But it doesn't feel good or bad. The act of 'eating' was annoying to my body. I wonder, is this what individuals with anorexia feel like?

Brain: K I get it. Can we get over this eating thing now? 

I'm not hit with the euphoria I usually feel. I'm not comforted by flavour. I don't have memories of warmth, satisfaction, laughter. What's the point of food, then?

I gulp down the egg and force another two spoonfuls of sweet potato. I've made coffee, but I don't really care for it. Come to think of it, around this time in the morning, my house is usually fragrant with the deep, earthy scent of freshly-ground, freshly-brewed coffee.

 But today, even as my coffee brews, I can't smell anything.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Family birthdays

Both my mom and step-father have their birthdays in September, a few days apart form each other. So for the sake of simplicity, we have one supper to celebrate all three events, hosted by me. The weather and leaves being so beautiful, I decided to carry the autumn theme inside as well, and my sister and I worked together to create an autumnal feast for our parents.

My sister worked hard on the decorations while I took care of the food. I printed out a menu and she basically did the rest, down to making little individual place cards. It was quite charming and I just loved working in tandem with her, usually were so busy in our respective lives our interactions seem to be like a gust in the wind, strong but unexpected and quickly over. It was really nice to be able to work with her towards a common goal as simple as making supper for our folks.
For the menu, this is what I made: Roasted butternut squash/apple/sweet potato soup, roast beef with garlic/peppercorn crust, mashed potatoes/carrots, and steamed vegetables. For desert I made a carrot/apple/raisin cake with a caramel rhum sauce topped with slivered almonds and thin apple slices. Im going to share the soup recipe, it is the easiest thing to do ever, gluten/dairy free, and paleo approved.

I roasted a medium butternut squash, three medium sweet potato and two onions at 350 for 1.5 hours. To do so simply cut the squash and taters in half and lay face down on a pan that has a couple of teaspoons of e.v.o.o. criss crossed on it. I added the onions 45 mns before done time. The squash and potatoes are done when you can stick a fork easily in them without any force. Let cool, then scrape into a blender with a cup of vegetable broth. Blend until smooth.

I added the puree into veggie stock, maybe 1.5-2ltrs of it, as well as 1 cup of applesauce I made. It was too liquidy so I cooked it down until it was the desired thickness. Added some cinnamon and powdered ginger (Im sorry I didn't measure).

Then right before serving, I grated some nutmeg on the top. It was very fragrant and delicious, and perfectly autumnal.

Monday, September 30, 2013

French Kids Eat Everything: Book Review & Reflections

In a nutshell, I totally loved the book; her writing is compelling and colourful, the approach she advocates was for me a fertile mixture of common-sense and crazy, and it dealt with my favourite subjects: food, parenting, and anthropology. Be still my heart! Now I am going to throw a bunch of quotes at you and show you some pictures of how I totally reorganized the dining room after having read it.

p. 37
"Philippe and Janine [her husband and mother-in-law] scanned the menu [posted outside her daughter's school on the first day], clucking cheerfully at their favourites. But the list struck me as ludicrous. Beets? Fresh fish? This sounded like a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant, not food for five-year-olds. And certainly not for my five-year-old.
     'Um,' I said hesitantly, 'something seems to be missing. There's only one choice every day.' I was thinking of school cafeterias back home, where kids always had a choice, although one that was often admittedly dubious from a nutritional perspective...
     'Everyone eats the same thing, bien sur!' replied my husband [a native Frenchman]. I had already learned that the phrase bien sur ('of course') usually implied I had unknowlingly committed some sort of social blunder, about something that seemed blindingly obvious to the French.
     'But what if the kids don't like what's being served that day?' I asked. This question gave rise to odd looks from the parents shepherding their children through the school doors.
     'They go hungry!'"

p. 71-72
"Suddenly timid [a guest at the first dinner party she attends after having moved to France], I turned quietly to Virginie. 'Where I come from, only a few people are interested in gastronomie. Why is it such an obsession for the French?'
     'It's a pleasure, but not an obsession!' she said, laughing.
     'Good food was democratized a long time ago,' added Sylvie, overhearing us. 'It's because of the French Revolution: the aristocrats no longer had a monopoly on the best food and the best chefs. The revolutionaries made French food culture accessible to everyone.'
     'Not just that!' interrupted Hugo. 'It's economic! Paris was Europe's first big city with a middle class that had enough income to eat at restaurants. Cooks couldn't depend on aristocratic patrons any longer, so they opened restaurants and that to compete for customers and public opinion. French food is about capitalism and competition leading to better food for everyone!'
     'Actually, it's about religion,' offered Sylvie. 'Catholic countries always have been more interested in food. French gastronomie is like a secular communion, like a sacrament or a ceremony.'
     By this point, I was completely lost. Maybe I was misunderstanding the word 'gastronomie'. For me, it meant elaborate, expensive, indulgent meals that had little to do with what interested me about food: nutrition, health, and price. ...
     'It's part of French culture,' someone else chimed in, 'that children should learn to eat well!' This got the most enthusiastic nods.

"From the French point of view, the world is made by adults and for adults. Few concessions are made to children. Their children dress like little adults: mostly pastel and matte colors, and no more pink on the girls than you would see on their mothers. The furtniture in kids' rooms is usually a miniaturized version of adult furniture (no princess loft beds with slides, thank you very much, and no princess potty thrones either). Children are expected to be quiet (tranquille) in public. They are not placed on a pedestal and are not expected to be at the center stage in a gathering."

p. 92-93
"Fischler's work on adults also confirmed my impressions. Americans tend to be anxious about food and to identify health, nutrition, and dieting as key issues they associate with eating. The French, on the other hand, almost never mention any of these topics when asked for their thoughts about food. Rather, they talk about pleasure, tasty food, socializing, culture, identity, and fun. In one of the most revealing studies, Fischler showed a picture of a chocolate cake to both American and French people and asked them for the first word that popped into their head. For Americans, the most common word was 'guilt'. For the French, the most common word was 'celebration'."

p. 139
"Back in Vancouver, the little kids we knew grazed constantly. They snacked at school and after school. They snacked at after-school events, sports practices, at the park, and at almost any gathering lasting more than about fifteen minutes. They snacked in their strollers and cars. ... Snacking is so widespread - and so ingrained in North American parenting routines - that I had just taken it for granted. I brought snacks with us to everywhere we went..."

p. 144-145
"'When I first arrived in Vancouver, it seemed so rude!' [Celine, the author's French friend who'd lived years living in Canada] exclaimed, when I got her on the phone. 'First of all, someone is eating alone, in front of you, and not sharing. And they're often standing up or walking around. The French feel uncomfortable seeing someone eating if they're not sitting down. And I couldn't believe how messy it was!' ...
     And another thing Celine said intrigued me. 'Americans have no self-controll!' she kept repeating. This, again, reflects French views: people should show self-restraint when it comes to eating. This means that treats are rare, should be eaten only occasionally, and should be savoured. Moreover, it means that food should be eaten only at mealtimes, and only at the table. In breaking all of the French food rules, Americans were guilty of demonstrating a lack of self-control. For all of these reasons, the American approach to snacking seems both slightly bizarre and vaguely repellent to the French. ...
     Feeding children in France often feels like taking a train in Switzerland: it's always on schedule. In their daily routine, French children, like their parents, eat at the correctly scheduled time. ... Just as important, French children do not eat at unscheduled times. But scheduling meals does not mean (and is not viewed as) deprivation. The French anticipate eating. They have mastered the art of making food delicious at all times, and they themselves regularly indulge in it. The same is true with the gouter [the 4:30 PMish after-school snack children get; everybody eats supper at around 7 PM or 8 PM], which is associated with many cozy rituals...
     We'll just have to have really delicious snacks, I thought. Suddenly, this didn't seem like such a bad idea after all."

p. 161
"These meals taught me that pleasure (le plaisir) is the most important goal for the French when they're seated around the table. The French children I met seemed to know this intuitively. This was confirmed when I looked up surveys of French children's eating habits. In the biggest one to date, the following statement got the highest 'agreement' out of kids:
     The most important thing is to enjoy your food."


What challenged me most in the book was snacks. I was already down with most of the other food rules, such as avoiding emotional eating, sitting together as a family to eat, choosing real food, etc., but the snack thing was tough to wrap my head around. I realized by the end of the book that I really did know it was truly wiser than my pro-snack approach; after all, when I started weaning Ambrose my first step was to limit milk before mealtimes, because I knew that if allowed to nurse freely, he'd eat less, and be hungry at bedtime, requiring more milk all night, and on and on. The French approach is all about creating delicious, nourishing meals, and ensuring that nothing disinclines the children from eating well at those meals. So we've stopped giving Ambrose snacks and I don't even let him have fridge milk before supper. No more bed time snacks, no more almonds at night. And you know what? He eats more! Why am I so surprised?? Carefully cultivating the right degree of hunger before a well-prepared meal is essential to make sure that meal is enjoyed!

What I concretely applied at home involved a reorganization of the whole dining room. I wanted the table to be the center of our home life, a beautiful little oasis, I wanted our dining room to be beautiful and tidy even if no other room was. But stuff always ended up on the table, and aside from getting baskets, I couldn't think of what to do about it. The book motivated me strongly to find a solution, so I put together a book shelf my mom had given us, and tah dah! We now have a shelf for books being read, mail, and other papers and things that otherwise would end up on the table. We also have a place to put our bags, and I brought our table cloths and candles onto that shelf for easy table beautification (these were formerly in the bathoom and living room, respectively). And it looks awesome! After a few days, I decided to integrate the no distractions rule more fully and moved Ambrose's play kitchen to the living room, bringing in his little table, for which I made a tablecloth as well. This worked well, as he's gotten used to enjoying a little table at preschool and will sometimes complain that our table is too big for him.

It's going really well! Toys and things drift in, so I tidy the room a couple of times per day, and so far the family's clear-the-table instinct is not quite as strong as I'd like it to be, but it's definitely improved the ambiance at mealtimes. Knowing the room is beautiful is encouraging in my efforts to create lovely meals (as, conversely, knowing it's a mess makes the task of cooking seem like a pointless chore). Ambrose is really enjoying the candle-lighting ritual, and had learned to wait until we've prayed before eating. Lovely!

I very much want to take a vacation in France, bien sur, and I very much recommend the book if you need some motivation to integrate your vision of the good life with the reality of your space and time management, and especially if you are caught in a snacking-pickiness-bad sleep cycle with your kids! Vive la bouffe!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

gift economies & a sense of community

I forgot to blog about this last week (things have just been busy, so busy, too busy; as of next week I'll have more free time) but I decided to fold up the zucchini patch and give away what I harvested that day. We already had four or five in the fridge. All of them were taken save one. I would like to live in a neighbourhood where this was common. I have a street neighbour who puts out potted plants for free (which is where I got my ficus, and my hibiscus, and my oregano, if you've kept track). It makes me happy. We need to do more of what makes our neighbours happy. We need to be that change. This is my baby step.

Monday, September 23, 2013

rainbow cake!

So fun!

I've had this recipe pinned forever, and we decided to make it for Ambrose's birthday party. We got a car this weekend, visited our dear friend Carolina, Brazilian coffee-maker extraordinare and juicer-owner, and juiced a bunch of fruits and veg for dyes, then had a little peach juice party. Just juicing was good fun! We want one now!

I greased all the pans but didn't flour them, so they generally didn't cooperate well in coming out. Still, the whole process was really neat, the cake tastes great (we slapped it together for family sampling), and it really doe slook gorgeous, even though my purple layer looks kind of gray. Whatever! Rainbows and clouds (cream cheese and yogurt, no sweetness at all, just a bit of nutmeg) and rain drops (edible silver ball bearings)!!! So much cuteness!

I have to make more spinach juice and make a new batch of cakes, lined with parchment paper this time, and freeze them for thawing and assembling Saturday, the day of Ambrose's party. Yee haw!

Recipe note: I don't have 5.5" cake pans, so I used a multiplying factor of 1.45 on all ingredients to translate it to 8" dimensions. The flour combo was 40% ground almonds, 60% white rice flour. As usual, no lab gums. Delish! I also used an extra egg yolk with the carrot juice for the orange layer. Next time will use more beet juice.

lined up for duty! my faith in the blackberry juice faltered so I also bought grape juice. not a good idea actually.

look how frothy and abundant the beet juice was!!

Beating the dry ingredients - my kitchenaid mixer needs to be repaired, so I actually had to use a hand mixer. Weird! Also notice how white it is!! I bought white sugar for the first time in... ever? for this cake.

dyes mixed into the batter portions

"look at all the fascinating colours!!" he said.

Ambrose was delighted with the colours, and we had a lot of beet, so I used tiny amounts of beet juice to dye his yogurt (and a few cups of milk) pink.
mixed. notice how similar the blueberry and blackberry/grape look? They do look distincitve when baked.

tah dah!

It was fun. I need to get silicone cake pans. I don't know how I can go back to eating regular cake, now.