Coconut bread

Here’s the thing; George and I are both creative people and we will always find an outlet for that creativity in some form or another just like anyone else. For me it once came out in writing and lately it’s in using my phone to take pictures while I’m out and about. George primarily lets his creativity out with music (did you know you can buy the album he did with his friend James over here?) but in recent weeks he’s been channeling it into food.

He makes delicious suppers, many of them in the crockpot, which is something I appreciate since it then translates into a supper for me the next day at work. He’s been making good use of the bread machine too, baking up fresh bread a couple of times a week. However, his latest endeavor has been to make coconut bread like his mother makes and it’s just as delicious as it sounds.

Here’s the tasty recipe:

Coconut Bread

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup of butter or shortening
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup milk (you can add up to 1/4 of a cup more if it’s too dry)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Sift flour and baking powder, and combine with sugar, coconut, and spices. Add in the butter or shortening, and use two knives or a pastry blender to combine. Add milk and mix gently.

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Curried Sweet Potato and Carrot soup

My shift at work is somewhat awkward as far as meal times are concerned. I leave at a few minutes past 11 each morning to catch a bus that gets me downtown roughly 45 minutes before I’m due to start. Because of this I eat my breakfast – usually two pieces of toast with peanut butter – at 10 am.

The problem is I then don’t get a break until about 2:30 or so, and that’s too long to wait before eating lunch. If I tried that I’d be shaking and having a low blood sugar crisis. On top of that, I only have 15 minutes for my break, not giving me time for more than a quick snack.

(We don’t discuss the fact that I eat “supper” at 4 or 4:30, which means I am then a raging, starving stomach on legs by the time I arrive home at 9:30.)

To avoid the hunger crash due to my lack of a proper lunch time, I take advantage of the fact that I’m so early for my shift by heading to the lunch room and eating before work starts. I’ve brought sandwiches and I’ve brought cheese and crackers, but my absolute favourite is to bring hearty, filling soups with some bread or crackers on the side.

The best soup of all is the one George has made for me a few times. It’s filling, it’s the perfect winter soup because it warms you from the inside out, and it’s absolutely delicious.

soup

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half

Place the sweet potatoes, carrots, onion, curry, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and ginger into a crock pot. Add the broth. Stir carefully to mix well. Cover and cook it on low for 7 to 8 hours.

After that time frame, puree the soup one cup at a time in a blender and return to the crock pot. You can also use an immersion blender but I think the blender works better. Add the maple syrup (the real deal, not the CRAP imitation stuff) and half-and-half. You can add extra salt and pepper now to taste as well. Stir, cover, and cook on high for an additional 15 minutes to heat through.

It is so very good. It’s not ridiculously spicy but when you eat it the curry really warms you up quickly. It’s my favourite lunch to have after a cold or rainy commute to work.

Enjoy!

Chop chop

A few days ago I saw an intriguing recipe that required a large food processor. I have a smaller one that works really well for chopping up onions, garlic, and peppers for stuff but it wasn’t big enough for the recipe and it doesn’t have the multiple blades, so I sent George a link for a food processor saying that I’d like to get it at some point. I also have some grand plans to chop up a metric ton of vegetables for stir-frying.

And so today I was pleasantly surprised to get to come home to that very food processor!

It’s a shame that it’s not quite the weekend yet because I won’t have time to play with it until then but it is only a little longer. Then I can try out the recipe I saw (basically it’s a raw food recipe that uses cauliflower to imitate mashed potatoes), and I also want to try out a recipe in the manual for potatoes au gratin. I can make pizza dough in there too with the dough blade and that would be fun to try.

I’ve got a few ideas already but what’s your favorite thing to do and make with a food processor? Please share!

George’s curried beef recipe

By popular demand (*wave*) here is George’s curried beef recipe. It’s also very delicious with cubed chicken breast, we just happened to have beef this week. We usually alternate depending on what’s on sale at the time.

- 1 lb ground beef (lean is best)
- 1 large green pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- Garlic cloves to taste, minced
- 1 can chick peas, drained
- 1 can kidney beans, drained
- Curry powder (we use a Jamaican curry powder, nice and zingy)
- Cooked rice (I love it on brown rice but it’s also good on basmati which is George’s favourite)

In a large pan or wok, heat a bit of oil then toss in the onions, beef, pepper, and garlic cloves. Sprinkle with about a tsp of curry powder. Cook them all right through, then drain any leftover fat. Return pan to burner and add in chick peas, kidney beans, and more curry powder, at least another tsp worth, if not more. We really like curry here.

Let simmer for a bit while you cook the rice. Serve the curried beef over the rice with or without hot sauce. George always adds hot sauce from Barbados to his, I like mine without (I save the hot sauce for chili).

Nom nom nom

(Shown with potatoes instead of rice, which is also really good too!)

It is delicious, it really is, but as is often the case with spice-driven meals, it tastes even better as leftovers once the seasonings have really sunk in overnight in the fridge.

Enjoy and let me know if you try it!

Complicated eating

Anyone who knows me even reasonably well knows that I love to eat. I adore food, and lots of it. On my first day of training the instructor asked us what was meant to be an uncomplicated “get to know each other” question by having us say what our favorite food is. Stumped, I said, “well, almost all of it.” After the laughter stopped I clarified by saying I don’t have a favorite because I love (good and authentic) Chinese food, Mexican food, Italian food, seafood, and the list goes on.

One of the complications with my current schedule is that it runs through a couple of meal times. I eat my breakfast at home at 10 am and I can’t really eat it any earlier than that or else I’ll be rooting through my bag for a snack by the time I’m on the bus. I get to work right around what is normally considered lunch time, I have a really early supper time, and then I’m usually starving once I get home.

The solution for me is to pack a ridiculous amount of food each day. I feel like a goof with my bag full of things to eat but it beats hitting the over priced and unhealthy nearby fast food places.

As I said I eat my breakfast at home which is almost always two pieces of toast with peanut butter. Prior to that I drink my coffee around 7:45 while getting the kids fed before school. I pack some form of sandwich for my lunch (usually cold cuts, but today I had leftover pork tenderloin in my sandwich, yum) which I eat after I arrive at work while reading in the lunch room. At some point, usually a half hour in to my shift I pop one of those microwavable Campbell’s soup in a cup things in to heat up and I can then drink that at my desk while I work (I’m partial to the garden tomato flavor). I have to have that or a yogurt at that point because one sandwich just isn’t enough. That usually gets me through to my break at which point I have a yogurt or granola bar.

I usually bring leftovers for my supper, only buying something if there weren’t any leftovers to be had. Today was one of my favorites. On Saturday night we had tacos and there was plenty that didn’t get finished up. I take a container with meat to reheat, a container with chopped lettuce and tomatoes, a container of grated cheese, and a little container with sour cream. After heating the meat in the microwave, I toss in the rest of the ingredients and break up a couple of hard taco shells over the whole thing, mix it up and eat a taco salad.

It’s stupidly delicious. It’s embarrassing how much I’m looking forward to having the last of it tomorrow.

I don’t normally eat anything on my last break, especially since I discovered the amazing massage chair in our lounge (I mean I knew it was there, I just didn’t know how incredibly well it works) which I tend to use at that time. That’s fine but I’m usually really hungry when I get home, at which point I make the kids’ lunches and then root through the kitchen for something to eat.

I feel like all I do all day is eat, but it’s working so far.

What do you like to take to work for your meals?

Going vegetarian for Meatless Monday

The more that I improve my overall health (yes I’m still doing yoga every day) and the more I learn about digestion, meat, and the factory farming industry, the more I like the idea of vegetarian meals. The thing is, I know that it’s not a change that I can make overnight because the truth is that I do love meat.

Luckily for me I also do love vegetarian foods so when my friend Kathy told me about Meatless Monday I was on board. The basic and fairly obvious idea is that one night a week meat-eating families forget their usual burgers, roast chickens, or meatloaf and eat a meat-free dinner.

I went one better and actually went meat-free all day. In fact I had two meat-free days in a row. Both days I ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast and both days I had veggie and cheese wraps for lunch. On Sunday we had macaroni noodles with tomato-alfredo sauce (and salad on the side – I am ALL about salads lately). For Meatless Monday I made Cheesy Vegetable Pasta.

Cheesy vegetable pasta

It’s not 100% healthy because the sauce is made with a canned soup but other than that it’s delicious, easy, and definitely vegetarian. It’s not vegan of course, but I love cheese and yogurt too much to go vegan without a fight.

-1 1/2 cups dry macaroni noodles (give or take)
-2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (I’ve used fresh too but frozen is just convenient)
-1 can cream of celery soup (I used reduced sodium)
-1/2 cup milk
-1 cup (or more) of shredded cheddar cheese
-1 tbsp prepared mustard
-Garlic powder to taste

Cook noodles and add vegetables in last five minutes of cooking time. Drain. Stir in remaining ingredients, mix well, then heat through. Serve with additional cheese if desired.

I add pepper to mine and George adds hot sauce. We also added some grated parmesan cheese.

It worked out well. I asked around on Facebook and got tons of great recipe ideas from vegetarian or veg-friendly people but if you have a favorite vegetarian meal to suggest I’d love to hear it!

Happy Yanksgiving!

Okay, so it’s not a turkey and it’s not homemade stuffing. There’s no cranberry sauce (tragedy!), no gravy, no pigeon peas & rice, and even worse there’s no pumpkin pie (*sob*).

Yanksgiving

Still, if you’re going to have a “Yanksgiving Dinner” because you just can’t take it anymore after hearing all your American friends cover their blogs and Twitter streams with turkey talk… well, it ain’t half bad. Especially when you consider it’s technically just a plain old Thursday up here.

I hope all of the people below our border had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Turkey envy

Ah yes, ’tis that time of year again. It’s that time where every single email and website (and now Twitter account) seems to be talking turkey and although we already had our Thanksgiving last month up here in Canuckistan, I want another one because the turkey conversations are making me crazy with hunger.

Besides, our Thanksgiving gathering was on the smaller side this year so we had chickens instead and it was GOOD because my mother-in-law doesn’t know how to cook anything that tastes anything less than delicious, but ohhh turkey. I’m looking forward to Christmas dinner, let’s put it that way!

Last year I had what was dubbed by someone out there in Internet-land as a “Yanksgiving dinner” and I think I just might have to do it again. Looking over my meal plan for the week we’re supposed to have chicken legs on Thursday but I think I’ll have to thaw out one of our whole chickens in the freezer and I’ll roast up one of those with some baked potatoes, stuffing, and vegetables.

Then I can stuff myself silly and moan about how full I am just like everyone South of the border.

Late night cravings

I’ve heard that a lot of people who are trying to lose weight have had a lot of success by simply not eating anything after 8 pm. This is inconceivable to me because I get so hungry at night that it’s not even funny. I’m a big fan of chips as a snack but I’m also happy with cheese and crackers or making a cup of tea to drink with some cookies.

Tonight there is NOTHING in this place for me to eat. Well, obviously that’s not completely true. It’s not like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard or anything. What I really mean is that there’s nothing here that is the least bit appealing to me.

I did have a waffle because it was something sweet to have with my green tea (which I drank to try to tame this damn explosive cough – alas, it has not worked). It was completely unsatisfying though. I do have some dark chocolate but strangely enough I’m not in the mood for chocolate tonight.

What I really want is some of my grandmother’s baking powder biscuits which I haven’t made in, oh, at least a year now. I’m craving them so badly right now but it’s almost 11 pm. It’s not exactly the time to be baking something up, you know?

I think I’ll have to make them tomorrow (and put some cheddar cheese on the grocery list because a nice slice of cheese on each half of the biscuits is delicious). Still, that doesn’t help me right now. I guess I’ll have to go root through the pantry and the fridge to find a little something or other to help me out.

What do you like to snack on at night?

Chocolate + salt = DUDE

So here’s the thing. I love salt. This is easily proven. All you need to do is watch with amazement and perhaps disgust at the way I can polish off a whole bag of chips in one evening. I’ve often joked that an excellent gift for me would be one of those blue salt licks that people put out for deer.

I also love chocolate. I’m not too picky. While I prefer dark chocolate, I will just as gladly eat milk chocolate. Plain chocolate, chocolate with fruit in it (Cherry Blossoms), with peanut butter, with mint, with orange, with caramel, whatever. The only thing I really don’t like is chocolate with nuts.

So. Love salt. Love chocolate. The thought of them together was really appealing until I tried chocolate covered pretzels and those were just… ugh. Not my thing.

Then along came Lindt.

Oh my love

I had heard and heard about this chocolate bar and was curious about it but also reluctant because of the pretzels. Then the other day several of my friends were talking about it on Twitter and going on and one about how amazing it was. I asked George to keep an eye out but he had no luck at the convenience store or the grocery store.

Last night I had to go to the pharmacy and they have a pretty good selection of the Lindt bars so I checked while I was there and they did indeed have it (and for just over three bucks, which is pretty good for these!). Naturally I snatched it up and I gave it a try.

Wow. It’s so good. It’s just barely dark chocolate so it’s not too strong. The sea salt is very subtle. The combination is incredible. Every once in awhile I’d bite down on an actual grain of salt and that was even better.

They only thing that could be done to improve this would be if it had just a little more oomph in the salt department and some bigger grains in there. Still, it’s amazing and it’s right up there with the chili cherry bar they make.

(This probably reads like a review, but alas, Lindt didn’t send me a bar to try out. I never would have bothered if it hadn’t been talked up so much, which means I’m a sucker for marketing!)