Friday, February 27, 2009

Book Review | Whitewater Cooks

Whitewater Cooks
is the cookbook put out by Shelly Adams who runs the Fresh Tracks Cafe at Whitewater ski hill near Nelson, BC. It includes many recipes from the cafe as well a few others she's come up with. This is one of my all time favourite cookbooks for three reasons.

3) It's really pretty, great inspiring photos, nice layout. Makes you want to just sit around and look at it.

2) The food? It's really really good. As in I actually cook more than one or two recipes out of it.

1) The best thing about this cookbook is that it's local. Everyone I know who loves to cook in the area has this cookbook. Or at least really wants it. We sit around and talk about the muffins. The veggie burgers are legendary. It's part of the local food culture, and I love that.

If you can get your hands on this baby, here are my favourite recipes:

- The Glory Bowl - It's a rice/tofu/salad thing. Best dressing every. My supper tonight.
- Tabbouleh and Chickpea Salad.
- Whitewater Veggie Burger. We had this for dinner last night. I couldn't believe how good they are. We were in awe. Better than beef, and I do love beef.
- Whitewater Marvellous Muffins. My copy falls open to this one. I especially love making them with dried cherry, dark chocolate and pecans...mmmmm
- Whitewater Granola Bars. Best bar ever. Chewy toasted deliciousness.

So go get it! Buy it local if you are lucky enough to be a Kootenian, but otherwise you can get it on amazon. It's also a great cookbook if you're vegetarian, it has meat recipes, but a lot of meatless ones as well.

She has a new book coming out tomorrow, so I'm on the watch for it!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thoughts | Busy Lives vs. Slow Food

When I explain to people that I am making all my food from scratch (usually as I'm feeding them crackers or muffins. I'm a compulsive feeder...I'm channeling my Mennonite grandmother at an early age here.) they usually wonder how I make the time. Well the nice ones ask how I do it. Some people just say "Oh it must be nice to have time to bake your own bread!". This makes me craaaazy. I work full time, it's often 6 days a week. I do freelance illustration and graphic design at home. I don't just sit around cooking because I'm bored! But before I give you any time management things, here's two things you should know about me.

- Making good food is a priority for me. There is not a whole lot in my life that is more important to me than food. I love to eat it, and it is the fuel that makes my body run well. It makes my husband happy. When I end up working a ton I sometimes don't vacuum...or get to the laundry mat as soon as I'd like, but I do cook. It's just more important to me.

- I love to cook. Even when I'm tired, I just love to create food and eat it. I like the challenge. It's like being crafty/artistic...and it tastes good (99% of the time anyway).

Okay, so here's some tips:

- Meal plan. For me this helps a lot because I work funny hours. Sometimes I need a supper that I can make in 20 minutes. Sometimes I have all day. Sometimes I can prep in the morning. Often I make supper to take to work and leave Craig's in the fridge. You get the picture.

- When you have some free time, use it. If you know you have a day off (my days off are not the same every week) or a few hours at home, plan to bake your bread or roast a chicken or something else that will help you make it through to the next day off. Yes I often go a month or two without two days off in a row.

- Plan for leftovers. If you are making something that reheats well make 2 or 3 times what you need. I am all over left over stir fry (but I haaaate leftover pasta...uck) and I always make a ton. I serve us and at the same time put up to 4 servings in the fridge in containers. It's the same amount of work and you don't have to cook the next day. Ditto for pizza, steel cut oats...lots of things.

- Multi-task. I'm baking bread right now. I shower while I'm cooking steel cut oats. Most slow food in not labour intensive, you just need to kind of be hanging around.

- Have a few really fast meals tucked up your sleeve. There are meals that I can make in just a few minutes, with whole ingredients. I'll try and post some soon. Find a couple you like and keep the ingredients around for emergencies. My favourite right now is sausage and cabbage stir fry. Yum yum.

It's really just about being moderatly organize and just deciding that you're going to do it. Sometimes we are eating toast at 5:30 because supper just isn't happening until 8:00. But to us, real food is worth having to be flexible. I'm lucky to have a husband who is excellently supportive in my foodie endevours. :)

Do you guys have any tips on time management and speedy whole food cooking?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Omelettes for Everyone!

You can thank my adorable Sister in law for this link. Man, I want me some backyard chickens. If only I had a backyard.

Recipes | Seedy Crackers

One of the hardest things about cutting out processed foods is snack time. Granola bars and crackers were pretty much always in the cupboard until January. And while it might be healthier to just eat an apple...well sometimes you just want crackers! My favourite crackers are the Seed Celebration crackers from the Shoppers Organics line. So I decided to make something similar.

I started with the Parmesan Cream Crackers recipe from Bitten (you should watch the video where he makes these, it's very amusing). I made these once before using all-purpose flour. This time I used half AP flour and half WW pastry flour. They turned out really well, so next time I will use 100% WW pastry flour.

1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp poppyseeds
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup (plus maybe a bit more) cream

1) Heat oven to 400. Get a cookie sheet ready and dust it with flour.

2) In food processor pulse flour, salt, cheese and seeds to combine. Add butter and pulse until it's crumbly. Add cream while running the machine at a low speed a bit at a time until it forms a ball.

3) Flour your counter and roll the dough out until it is very thin, 1/2 cm maybe.

4) Transfer to the baking sheet and score the dough into cracker sized rectangles.

5) Bake for about 10 minutes, until it's lightly browned. Let it cool and then snap apart into crakers.

6) Serve at room temperature or store in a sealed container or tin for a few days.

I also made a version with no seeds and Nostrala cheese. Mmmmmmm. We love us some crackers. This is a very quick and easy snack to make, and they keep decently well (as long as you don't eat them all the first day!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tips | Winter Salad

Eating seasonally and locally doesn't mean no salad in the winter! We can get hot house lettuce here and I top it with homegrown sprouts, grated raw beets and feta. With a green tea vinegrette tonight. The raw beets are sooo good on it, nice and crunchy and sweet.

I hear that some people get local hot house peppers in the winter. Our hot house peppers come from Mexico. Seriously? Can anyone explain that to me? Grocery stores are a mystery to me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Recipes | Warming Winter Vegetable Soup

If you are going to eat seasonally in this part of the world, it's best to try and love root vegetables. There's a wonderful variety and I'm been experimenting with all the ones I can get my hands on. This recipe came about when I came home with celeriac and didn't really know what to do with it. It has a mild celeryish flavour which is nice in soups when celery stalks are out of season.

This recipe is vaguely based off of Jane Spice's Spicy Parsnip Soup. It was my starting point at least.

Carrots - 2 large or three medium
Parsnips - also 2 large or three smaller
1 medium Celeriac (also called celery root)
Olive Oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp whole coriander or 1/2 tsp ground*
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 quart (1 litre) chicken or vegetable broth.
Salt and pepper


1) Peel and cube veggies. (cut the bottom of the celeriac off first if it's too tendrilly)

2) With a slosh of oil in the saucepan cook the shallot for a couple minutes until starting to go transparent. Add garlic and spices and cook for a minute or so until fragrant. **

3) Add vegetables and broth to pot and simmer until veggies are soft.

4) Puree or mash (I use an emersion blender). Salt and pepper to taste.

5) Enjoy! So good with biscuits or fresh bread. Serves 4.

* I really like whole coriander for some reason. I like the little pods. I grind them with the other spices with a mortar and pestle before I throw them in.

** I totally forgot to do this step this time around. I just chucked the shallots/garlic and spices in with the broth. Still very yummy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Experiments | Paneer/Ricotta/Day Cheese?

So today I made cheese. As I was a cheese making virgin I started with what is apparently the easiest cheese in the world. Which is pretend Ricotta. Apparently (and I know this from all the blog posts I've scouring to learn how to do this) real ricotta is made from the whey after you make mozza. I did not make mozza, so this is made out of straight milk.

Here's some excellent blog posts about how to make it:

Homemade goat milk ricotta by Kittbo (this is what I followed. Only I didn't milk a goat first.)

The Garden of Eating (hee hee) has excellent photos in her explaination.

Discovering Ricotta over at Bitten got me started on all this.

I used 2 litres of whole milk and two cups of buttermilk. That made maybe 2 cups of cheese. It really is as easy as they say, and really is that yummy. I will be making this from now on whenever a recipe calls for ricotta or cottage cheese.

We just ate half of it with jam. Mmmmm

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tips | fun rice in the cooker

Tonight for dinner? Szechuan beef and beans over rice.

We don't eat white rice anymore. I tried to let it down easy and only have it for "emergencies" But it turns out that I had a lot of them and would just eat the white rice and never have time to make brown. So I just stopped buying it. And now I have to remember or else I just don't get rice. It's working out well.

I like to buy one bag of Lundberg Farms organic brown jasmine (so much yummier than brown long grain) and a small bag of Shaol Lake wild rice and mix them. It's more fun than straight brown.

I use the rice cooker and I've found that it needs a bit more water than white rice does, otherwise it turns out extra...chewy. I usually cook up 1 1/2 scoops of rice and fill it up to the 2 scoop line with water. So if it were stove top that would be 1/2 cups of rice to 4 cups water. And a bit of salt of course. It take a bit under 45 min I think (I'll time it for you next time I make some). This mix is fantastic in everything I use rice for.

Have fun with rice! Ditch the overprocessed whiteness! Save it for sushi.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recipes | Breakfast Shake

This is what I have for breakfast most mornings. I am so not a morning person. In fact it's pretty useless to try and have a conversation with me if I've been awake for less than an hour. A fact my husband is slowly realizing (you's only been six years...). So making or eating food that early? Crazy talk. My tummy isn't awake enough yet. Yet's still hungry.

I lived off slimfast chocolate royal shakes for 5 years, by the way. Then I decided to stop eating processed food. Then I decided to stop eating bananas (because really? They're not from here. Also, I want them to not become extinct). And everyone knows fruit shakes need bananas, right? Wrong. I know there are a million and one ways to make shakes and that really no one needs a recipe, but this is what I do:

In my magic bullet cup I add:

Maybe a half cup of yogurt. Usually Island Farms Raspberry. It's my favourite so I always have it around. Vanilla is good too. It has to have some milkfat to it and it has to be sweetened.

A handful of frozen fruit. This brings me almost 3/4 of the way up the cup. I froze peaches, raspberries and strawberries this summer and just ran out (boo!). So I'm buying frozen canadian strawberries at the moment. The frozenness is key here. This is what makes it nice and cold and nice and thick. So you don't miss the banana.

Fill it up with milk. I just upgraded to 1%. Will it make me fat? Only time will tell.

That's it. No extra sugar. Sometimes I add a splash of vanilla.

Blend. Best enjoyed with a straw.

Also, I did this before I got the Magic Bullet. But I always over-measured and ended up with a lot of shake.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Inspirations | Eleni's NYC

Look at these sugar cookies by Eleni's NYC! I thought I was a half decent cookie decorator but obviously...there are levels I was unaware of.

(via Black*Eiffel)


Welcome to my new blog! Cleverly disguised as an old blog by my moving posts from my other blog over. My food posts were threatening to take over my creative life blog. And my Twitter. And Facebook. Also I talk about food all day at work.

Clearly it was time to start a foodie blog.

My set-up is not the best for taking photos inside. In winter. At night. But so be it, you guys will just have to bear with me until more money/spring comes my way.

Blame Kait, she wanted to know how I live off root vegetables.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recipes | Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Here's my recipe for sandwich bread. I decided to start making my own sometime around Christmas and haven't bought bread since. I had some flops, but this version is working well and tastes great. I had some criteria for it:

- It had to be 100% whole wheat. A lot of sandwich bread recipes are half white. A lot of whole wheat bread flour is half white. I say no.

- It had to taste yummy. Obviously.

- It had to be moist and rise well. Many of my early attempts met the first two requirements but didn't rise much.

This is what I came up with. It's a variation of this recipe. I'm making this as detailed as possible, to give beginner bread makers confidence. I'll give you the how to first, and then explain it later. With footnotes. Eeeexcellent.

3 cups warm water
2 packages or 4.4 tsp active dry yeast*
1/3 cup honey
6Tbs vital wheat gluten**
4 cups whole wheat flour***

3Tbs butter, melted (you can also use olive oil)
1/3 cup honey
1 tbs salt
3-5 cups whole wheat flour

1) Get a big bowl and add 3 cups of warm water. Not hot, you'll kill the yeast, feel it on your wrist. Add the yeast, 1/3 cup honey, 6 Tbsp of gluten and 4 cups of flour. Stir to combine. It will look something like this:

2) Cover it with a damp tea towel**** and let it rise in a warm place for about half an hour or until big and bubbly. My warm place is next to my radiator. You can also put it in the oven with the light on. If it's cold it'll take the yeast a longer time to get to work.

Big and bubbly:

3) Mix in the 3 tbsp melted butter 1/3 cup of honey and salt. Here's where it gets tricky if you've never worked with yeast. You need to add the right amount of flour. Start with 2 cups and start kneading it in. Keep adding flour a bit at a time as you go until it is still a bit moist but not too sticky. You will figure this out with a bit of practice. Some people turn the bread out onto a floured surface to knead. I don't know why. I just knead in the bowl. If you've never kneaded bread...I dunno, look it up on youtube? Pretty much you just keep pushing it around and folding it over. This might take...10 minutes? You will be done kneading when the bread feels smooth and elastic. So they say. You'll notice that it feels different.

Another way to tell is to take a bit of dough and stretch it into a square between your fingers. If you can make a little window transparent enough to see light through without the dough breaking, it's done. Try doing this with one hand and taking a picture with the other hand. I dare you.

4) Either wash your bowl or switch bowls at this point. Put a bit of olive oil in the bottom of the bowl and grease it. Then put the dough in and give it a turn before flipping it over so the greased side is up. This helps prevent it getting a skin as it rises.

5) Cover with a warm, moist towel again and let it get back to rising. It rises until doubled. Or until you poke it with your finger and it the hole doesn't fill back in.

6) Divide into three equal parts. Take each part one at a time and throw it repeatedly onto the counter/table as hard as you can. This is good fun. And great for working out your anger issues. Oh, and for getting out air bubbles.

7) Preheat oven to 350.

8) Grease***** three loaf pans. Use steel. You'll hate yourself if you use glass. Trust me. Form three loafs. You kinda flatten the bread, then fold/roll the sides over to make a loaf shape. Pinch the bottom together and put it in the pan.

9)Cover and rise again, until the dough is about an inch over the top of the pan. If you over-rise at this point they can collapse in the oven.

10) Bake for 25-30 minutes until nice and brown. Also until the bread sounds hollow when you tap the bottom of the pan. I haven't mastered this. The hollow sound I mean, but that's what they say. (I hijaked a third to make cinnamon buns...there should be three loaves)

11) Turn the loafs out onto a cooling rack and wait until cool to slice. I always end up cutting the crusts off and eating them hot because I love them sooooo much. But if you wait it's easier to slice. Apparently cutting into it too early disrupts the loaf structure. So don't be like me (but it's soooo good).

12) Enjoy! I recommend pre-slicing and freezing two loafs as the shelf life is shorter than store bought bread. Because we didn't add any weird chemicals.


* I buy my yeast in a jar and keep it in the freezer so that it stays good for longer.

** Vital wheat gluten is extra protein. Whole wheat flour has less protein than white. This is why it doesn't rise as well. The gluten helps the yeast along and makes it rise better. I get an inch more rise at least with the gluten and a fluffier texture. Cheating? Kind of. But so is yeast if you think about it. I buy mine at the health food store and keep it in the fridge. Add 2 Tbsp per loaf. My mom swears by using vinegar, by the way. I can't make it work...I've heard that it works better with sugar and I prefer honey.

*** Your flour is very important. As in, don't buy a huge bag until you know it works for you. It has to do with the grind, and the type of wheat and a bunch of things. Here is what I use and love. It's what my mom and gramma both swear by, and they are more knowledgeable than me by far in these matters. We get it from Cosco.

**** You should have a tea towel just for bread, cause it can get oil stained and such. Some people swear by potato sacks (which you can buy at Canadian don't need to get potatoes :P) and some people use plastic wrap. But I say boooo to plastic.

***** You can use Pam. But I think Pam is for weenies. It's only fat free if you spray for 1/3 of a second? And has propellant? Aerosol? Use olive oil with a pastry brush. Barely takes any. Or use your butter wrapper. That's what it's for.

That's all! (and maybe too much, but what can you do?) My main recommendation is not to be scared, just give it a go. If you fail...well...try to eat it while it's still warm. Even doorstop worthy bread is good with butter when it's still warm. Let me know if you try it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Night Pizza

As you may have figured out by now. I'm big on food, and I'm big on making it from scratch. I've especially been focusing on perfecting bread recipes lately. I'll share my whole wheat sandwich bread recipe with you later, but tonight is Friday. And Friday night at my house is Pizza Night.

We love pizza. Craig would eat it everyday if I let him. When I started doing Pizza Night I often bought shells or used pita's just to save time. I started doing real dough in October sometime and while it was yummier, it took a long time. Like, two three hours to get to dinner, and that doesn't work every Friday.

Last week I found the perfect solution. I've been using the Homemade Thin Crust Pizza recipe from The Kitchn. I love this crust, it's really fast because it doesn't need to rise, and it's fairly foolproof. You don't need to understand yeast breads to pull it off. Most importantly it's super yummy and doesn't get soggy. Easy pieces to hold in your hand.

Tonight we had pizza with homemade pesto sauce, sundried tomatoes (courtesy of my mom), little panfried chicken bits, frozen spinach and farmer's cheese. I don't know exactly what farmer's cheese is, but it's replaced mozza as my favourite pizza cheese.

I usually whip up the crusts while Craig prepares all the toppings. It's a fun night in the kitchen. And now we must do dishes.

Inspired? Go forth! Make pizzas!