All posts by Steph.

I love food. I am not a good cook. I have a distinct fear of cooking for others.

Monthly Mélange: January 2010

Noodles!!

Here’s a rundown of some of my culinary highlights of January 2010. If there’s anyone out there reading my blog, feel free to comment with your own rundown of the month!

How did January 2010 taste?

Monthly Spice
Herbes de Provence
. I had never bought it before, and my mom (who isn’t as insane about herbs and spices as I am) recommended I try it. So good! I think the timing was perfect, too, because the lovely woodsy taste works well in the winter, when you’re trying to create comfort food. Usually a blend of herbs like lavender, rosemary, thyme, savory and basil, it creates a nice balance between deep, woody herbs and lighter, leafier ones.

Mystery Ingredient
Ginger! It does a body good! My husband came down with a cold, and I made up my usual concoction of ginger, honey and lemon (more about that next week). I used a LOT of ginger this time, and he seemed to like it… so much so that I needed to make another batch the next day. Off to the grocery store I went, in the pouring rain I might add, to procure another PILE of ginger.

Party in My Mouth
Lindt just came out with a new Intense Blueberry dark chocolate. So good! Not as dark as I would like (‘Intense’ is a little misleading). A little disappointed to see other fruits in the ingredient list, like apple and pineapple, along with blueberry. This makes me wonder if the ‘blueberries’ in the chocolate are the kind of frankenblueberries (reconstituted-blueberry-flavoured-“fruit”-substance) that you find in breakfast cereal. Boo! That said, it tastes really good, and has a little crunch from almond slivers. On the fence, but just about to fall into the pit of denial, which is full of yummy, yummy chocolate.

I Made This!
I think the best thing I made from scratch this month was…. not sure, but my husband said it was mussels. Like most things, I started by looking at a couple of recipes and mostly used them to get an idea of the cooking time and what order things should go in. Then I did my own thing with the seasoning. Should I be offended that the best thing I made didn’t involve all that much difficult stuff? It’s not like he told me the best thing I had made was toast. Now THAT would be offensive.

Shameful Secrets
I am addicted to Skittles and Jelly Belly jellybeans. OK, the jellybeans aren’t that shameful in and of themselves… they are fantastic!! The problem is that I eat them until my stomach hurts. That, and they are in no way part of the ‘whole foods’ thing I’m trying to maintain, they aren’t especially natural, and I SIMPLY CAN’T STOP EATING THEM! I blame my recent bad behaviour on my friend Matt, who likes to hit the candy store after lunch. I had been doing so well!!

… and with my stomach torn to shreds, we head into February.

Have a great weekend!

S

A Life of Spice

This is my spice drawer.

Thinking about my cooking.

I’ve already admitted that I’m not a good cook, but I think I might be good at adding herbs and spices.

I have more spices than any rational person should have, but I do use them! I’ve been trying to grow herbs for years – only being able to successfully grow a basil plant on my balcony after I moved to a new home this year (lack of sunlight = weinerbasil). My recent move also brought me some excitement in the form of a “spice drawer”.

In my old apartment, my spices were strewn all willy-nilly around the kitchen. I had two revolving spice racks, a narrow shelf on top of the stove, a masala tin, and other little pockets of spice. During the move, we were trying to figure out what to put in all of the drawers when my mom suggested I have a spice drawer. My jaw dropped, my eyes lit up and a wee tear trickled down my face… ok, that last one was made up. You get the picture – I was ecstatic. I hadn’t thought of that possibility, and now I could have all of my spices at my fingertips.

Masala Dabba
I still kept my masala tin – that thing kicks butt, and is a sign of a true spice fanatic.

I’ll be featuring different spices from my collection every once in a while, and I’d love some feedback about new things to try!

Cheers,

S

Found Favourites: Playgroup Granola Bars

Playgroup Granola Bars

To start things off, I’d like to share a recipe from my now defunct recipe database, that I found many years ago. I’ve pretty much stuck to the original recipe, except that I use dried cranberries instead of raisins, and I often add things like quinoa flakes, hemp seeds, flax seeds, etc. to the mix.

I can’t say I’ve ever been able to cut them into 24, as the recipe suggests, but I probably make them too big.

These are yummy and filling, so go easy!

Original Source: Allrecipes.com – Playgroup Granola Bars
(actually, I first got this from someone on Live Journal, but I can’t seem to find the original recipe… It’s basically the same, except the wheatgerm wasn’t in the first one I tried.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, wheat germ, cranberries (or raisins), chocolate chips and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges.

4. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be to hard to cut.

Servings: 24 (depends how you cut them)

A New Start to the Affair

It started with the loss of my recipe database – one that I’ve kept for the last 10 years.

I’ve relied on it for access to a number of recipes I’ve collected, modified, and loved. Now it’s gone.

Tonight, I watched the movie Julie & Julia, and had a forehead smacking moment. I blog. I run a blog system. I help others to blog. DUH! A blog is actually the perfect replacement for my poor old database, which I often used to house more than just recipes.

Thus I have started a new blog, for myself, and I hope to maintain it and pay a little more attention to it than some of my other attempts at blogging. I figure this one should fare a little better – I’m addicted to food, I enjoy cooking… and I’m in need of some motivation to become a better cook. I am not a great cook. I can make things that taste pretty good, but I’m lacking in some of the basic skills. I have spices beyond belief, but can’t poach an egg.

I will not be de-boning a duck any time soon, so don’t worry that I’m just stealing the Julie & Julia storyline. You will find that meat is not on the menu, for the most part, as I generally do not eat it.

This blog will be a way to rebuild my recipe database, to track my trials (& errors) with new recipes, and to set some culinary goals.

Anyone who knows me is probably wondering why I didn’t do this long ago… I use food as examples in everything I teach, I talk food, I live food.

Cheers!

S