Monday, October 22, 2012

Thankful Day 1

I have been having a tough time blogging. I log in, start writing a post, then half way through decide I just can't. I don't want to blog to complain, I want to blog to entertain (ha! A rhyme!) . So because my heart is usually sad and I spend so much time thinking about what I don't have rather then appreciating all that I do have, I would like to start blogging about things I am thankful for. I hope that by focusing on the good things in my life and how fortunate we are, how fortunate I am, I can let god take over my heart and experience the joy that my heart has been missing. The joy that surpasses all understanding.

So today, I am thankful that we live in Canada.

Last night, Gary and I went and watched Argo. It's a new movie in theatres based on a true story of American hostages in Iran in the 1980s I believe. We both decided it was the best movie we have seen in a long time and were also appreciating over and over how lucky we are to have been born in a country filled with peace. We did not choose to be born in Canada or to live such a blessed and easy life. We were given these opportunities and jobs and everything we need to survive and much much more. I keep thinking back to a twitter hash tag that I see once in a while #firstworldproblems. First world problems. Basically, they are menial things that we all complain about, (too many clothes to fit in the closet, having to do laundry, air conditioning made my house too cold, I actually have to cook food because all the prepackaged stuff is gone. You get the picture) I have posted a pic or two on Instagram and someone has commented with that hash tag. While it is kind of a joke, I always feel guilty because I can be such a complainer about things that just don't matter. Nobody cares that I don't want to wash my windows. I have a great house, with lots of windows. They need washing so suck it up and do it. Appreciate what you have. Take care of it.
I can be very ungrateful of many things in my life. Today I will be grateful I live in Canada.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Whole Grain Summer Berry Cobbler

Cobbler is one of my favorite desserts. Totally. I think I could create a whole recipe section based completely on my cobbler variations.

I know in the last post I was talking about all the things I can not eat. Cobbler is definitely one of the things I can not eat. Or at least not very often. Indulging once a week or once every two weeks is probably the max.

Anyways, today I was craving hot sweet fruit and a crispy biscuit crust. I knew I needed to make a cobbler, even if it meant giving it away the next day. Which is what I fully intend on doing by the way. Before bed I'll wrap it up in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge where it can hang out till I can find a happy home for it in the morning.

This cobbler is a little different then normal, because I used all whole grain flour and a bit of whole rolled oats. I also cut the sugar down a bit. Not that I could tell at all, it was still the sweetest thing I have eaten all week!

This kind of dessert is great for a last minute party or potluck offering. You probably have all the ingredients in your house and almost any fruit can be substituted in for the berries I used here. Get creative! Blackberries and peaches? Strawberries and rhubarb? Plums? You get my drift.

Top a generous serving with ice cream and you will be in everyones good books.

Warm up and top with yogurt (or heck, ice cream again) for breakfast and your husband may give you funny looks, but really, whats better then dessert for breakfast? Yeah...nothing.

Whole Garin Summer Berry Cobbler
( adapted from The Joy Of Cooking )

1 cup Whole Grain Flour
1/3 cup Whole Rolled Oats (any kind would work, but thats what I like)
2 tbsp Sugar
2tsp Baking powder
5 tbsp Cold and Hard butter or margarine
1/2 cup Milk

6-8 cups Fresh Fruit, cleaned and cut appropriately, I used 4 cups blueberries and 3 cups raspberries
3 tbsp Cornstrach. This makes your fruit thicker and jam-like, if your fruit is super juicey add an extra tablespoon
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon  (optional...I did not use it this time..)

1. Combine fruit with cornstarch and sugar and cinnamon if desired.
2. Pour into an 8x8 or 9x9 square casserole dish and set aside for a minute.
3. Turn oven on and preheat to 375 degrees F.

4. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium/large bowl.
5. Cut in butter till course crumbs form and no large butter chunks remain.
6. Stir in milk and quickly combine to make a cohesive dough. If the dough is super wet still, add 1 or 2 tbsp flour. Dough will be sticky.
7. Using two spoons, scoop little balls of dough and drop over the top of the fruit. There should be enough dough to almost entirely cover the top of the fruit. There will be tiny holes between dough. That is ok. You can smooth out dough with a angled spatula if you really want.
8. Brush dough lightly with milk and sprinkle 2-4 tbsp sugar over the top. This gives it a nice crunch.
9. Bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes. Check at the 45 minute mark. Cobbler crust should be browned nicely and slightly crunchy. Fruit will probably be bubbling around the edges of the pan. Yum.
10. Cool 10 minutes on the counter and serve warm with ice cream, yogurt, whipping cream or by itself. Also great cold or reheated the next day.

(To reheat, either microwave individual portions, or pop the whole pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes)

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I have not blogged for a bit and to be honest even starting this post is a struggle.

 I have had a huge diet change and many personal challenges that I am dealing with daily. So when I comes to blogging, a pretty personal snapshot into my life, I am at a tricky spot. How much do I share? And how can I keep blogging if I don't share? My blog is real me and it's tricky to just take my heart out of it and pretend things are just going on like normal. Also, I rarely bake anymore and we are eating some pretty weird meals lately. The other night we had baked tilapia, Gary had potatoes, but I had creamed cabbage and raw carrots. Weird.

 Anyways, I have decided to share a bit and then maybe post meals I eat and maybe also steer away from food a bit and find other things I can write about.

 Basically, for health reasons, I have been instructed to follow a low glycemic diet. Which allows me to eat almost all vegetables, fruit, and protein but no sugars and very specific carbohydrates. I can not eat any potatoes, rice, refined grains(rolled oats, flours, etc), and no sugars. The trickier it is for my body to extract the energy, the better.

 The glycemic index measures how long it takes for the sugars from the food to spike your blood sugar levels. All food is rated somewhere on the glycemic index any where from 1 to 100. "low" glycemic foods fall below the 55 mark. There is also a calculation to figure out glycemic load, but it is kinda tricky and I have not totally figured it out yet. Luckily for me, there are a huge amounts of online resources and lists of foods and their glycemic indexes online. I check different things almost daily.

 A typical daily meal plan looks kinda like this

7:30 Breakfast: 1 cup low-fat unsweetened yogurt, 2 tbsp holy crap chia seed cereal with whole buckwheat and hemp, 1 cup berries, 2 tbsp flax meal. 500ml Water.

10:30 Snack: apple slices with cheese/ natural peanut butter/ small handful of nuts. Water.

12:00 lunch: 1 slice Whole grain rye bread( soo heavy, but rye is the lowest glycemic grain), 2 slices natural ham, cheese, 1 egg, 1/4 avocado spread on the bread topped with egg, ham and cheese. Tomato, raw veg with hummus. Water.

2:30 snack: puffed quinoa cereal (treat!!) with milk. Pear. 5 almonds. Water

6:30 dinner: chicken bbqed, Green salad topped with hummus or Taziki instead of dressing. Roasted zucchini and broccoli. Water.

Later dessert?? Yogurt with no sugar added granola(super treat!) that same quinoa cereal, no sugar added ice cream with fruit and seeds. Usually if I had A sweeter 2:30 snack, I would not have a desserty choice.

 I also drink a lot of water. I try for 2l a day. Today it was probably only 1L, but yesterday I drank 3. I peeded a lot. I do drink coffee too. Iced usually, with cream and agave syrup to sweeten it a bit.

If you know anything about the low glycemic diet and have helpful tips, please share them! I am learning and experimenting and can use all the help I can get.

My heart is totally not in the kitchen like it has been. I don't feel the same passion for cooking or baking. Or, actually I do, but it's hidden by my frustration with not being able to enjoy any of it myself. How do you cook and bake and make wholesome meals and just cook without potatoes or flour or sugar or pasta or rice or bread? I used to just open my fridge and pantry, pull things out and make a pretty respectable meal. Now I have to plan and make salads and soak beans all day or whole grain cereals over night. Low glycemic food is not convenience food. You can't just throw together a supper. Unless its eggs. I am sick of eggs.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fool Proof Roast Beef and Right Living

Today at 11:30am I decided I was going to cook a big family dinner. My two close cousins were coming into town, I had a free afternoon and a roast thawed and ready in the fridge. It was super last minute but everything just worked!

(dinner for 9 please and thank-you)

I spent the morning at the Yarrow Plant Sale with my mom, sister and grandma and then invited them over for coffee and cake and cookies ( ahem yes at 10am) and to come look at my gardens. Also, my mom did my dishes and picked a bunch of pretty blooms from my garden for my kitchen! Lovely.

(These are all from my yard! So fun!)

(garden touring)

(Thank-you Momma!)

Until recently I have not had a green thumb. Not even close! I have actually killed everything I have tried to grow in my house except a Christmas cactus which can go a very long time without water and still come back to life. Early this spring I planted basil and lavender seeds in small containers in my house. To my surprise 99% of the seeds came up and are now living happily in bigger pots! The lavender will take a good year longer till I will ever see flowers. Talk about patience.
I also have spent hourssss weeding and pulling out buttercup ( ahh I HATE buttercup!) from my mostly overgrown rental house gardens. They are now looking pretty good and healthy! I just hope we get to stay here all summer so I can enjoy all my work! I actually am starting to feel knowledgeable in my gardens and really loving being out there on gorgeous, sunny days. I have planted a very small veggie garden of brussle sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, sugar peas, swiss chard, tomatoes, dill, summer savory and mint. Ok that list doesn't make it seem small..but its like... four or six plants of each and the garden plot is verrry tiny. The herbs and tomatoes are in pots on my porch. Ohh yes and 12 strawberry plants!
Also, I am helping Jill plant her gardens (and to share in the harvest) at my mom and dads house. We expanded the previous garden so we could plant more potatoes and zucchini and cucumbers! Today we worked on weeding a insanely overgrown smaller garden where we hope to plant corn, pumpkins and squash.

Its great gardening with Jill because she knows sooo much and, as a bonus, I get to spend time with my sister. Jill went to UFV and got her horticulture certificate? diploma? I don't know...two year program thing. Anyways, she knows a lot about all sorts of gardening things so she it a great person to be learning from.

(Matching garden boots)

(Jam cat in the row of peas)

(Essie painted nails permanently caked with mud...also this is probably not good for my wedding rings)

After spending many hours in the gardens today, I made a super great dinner for my cousins, sisters and mom and dad! We had roast beef, roasted potatoes, roasted broccoli and zucchini chunks and a fresh salad. (wow so much roasting going on). It was a super easy dinner to feed so many people! (nine in fact). I did have help from everyone though. For dessert we had left over chocolate sheet cake, ice cream and vanilla sugar strawberries.

(easy, delish dessert)

(tossing broccoli and zucchini)

(medium- cooked roast)

Fool Proof Roast Beef
      While this does occupy your oven for quite some time, it also lead to a great, hands off dinner!

2-3lb Roast thawed and brought to room temperature
              (today I used a sirloin tip roast, but I have also used a prime rib roast and a rib roast with success!)
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
3 tbsp Olive Oil

*any spice combo would do, this is my favourite right now* 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Mix together herbs in a small bowl.
2. Rub roast with olive oil then, while your hands are still slimy, rub herbs liberally into roast. Use all the herbs and cover the entire roast.
3. Place roast into a roasting pan fat side up ( if possible) and place in heated oven for 1 hour.
4. After an hour, turn heat off but leave roast in the oven for an additional hour this hour should end about 1 hour before dinner to be served.
5. If you do not need your oven, leave roast in oven till 30 min before serving time. Turn heat back on at 375 degrees F and heat till warmed through. Let sit on counter 10 minutes covered with foil, before slicing. With a three pound roast this should be about medium rare. If your roast is closer to two pounds decrease waiting in the oven time to 1- 1 1/2 hours.
6. If you do need your oven, remove roast from oven and immediately cover roasting pan. Wrap in a towel or place somewhere to keep it warm as long as possible. 30 minutes before serving place back in oven till headed through. Let sit on counter ten minutes covered with foil, slice and serve.

*cooking longer during the second heating time will result in a more well done cut of meat. Mine was in for 45 minutes and was medium-well done*

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Best Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Today I went to cycle fit (or some people call it spin class). I have been going since January once or twice a week. Its is a major cardio workout. Every time I tell Gary I have never sweat so much in my life. Except that one hot yoga class. That takes sweating to a whole new level. I was literally drenched.

I know. This is totally the best way to start a cookie post...talking about sweat. Appetizing.

The thing is, I need to work out. Often. Daily if possible.

I also bake daily. That means I eat baking daily. Spin Class is necessary.

True life.

I am soo tempted to make croissants right this moment. It is an all day commitment. And I don't even like croissants.

I just drank 20 ounces of chai tea and ate two of these cookies, and an apple dipped in natural peanut butter. I am a snacker. Speaking of snacking, I totally need to go to Trader Joes asap. They have the best snacks eveeerr.

The Best Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
(Based on Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies from Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1) Cream butter and sugar together till light
2) Add salt, vanilla and eggs and mix for three minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl after one minutes
3) Mix flour and baking soda together. Add half the flour and mix till combined. When just combined, add the rest of the flour.
4) Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
5) Roll into heaping tablespoon sized balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.
6) Bake in a 350 degree oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes ( mine were perfect after 12 minutes) . Let cool 2-4 minutes on the cookie sheet then cool completely on wire racks.

Options: Add nuts (2cups, decrease oatmeal to 1 cup), Add orange zest ( 2 tsps), Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cloves with the flour. Doing all these additions will create the same cookies found on Smitten Kitchen. I prefer mine much more plain so I didn't do any of them!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Birthday to ME (and my sister)

Today, April 18, is my 22 birthday and because I am a twin... it is also my sisters birthday.

 Happy birthday Jill!

This is Jill (annddd me). She is so awesome and a great gardener and can bake like nobody's business. She also likes flower patterned shorts and to embrace messy hair and Harry Potter is totally her thing.

 Last night we went to see hunger games because I have been dyyyyinnngg to see it. This was her third time! What the heck! By the way, Jill told me we could only go see it Tuesday night. Why? Because that's cheap night and " there's no way I am paying full price when I can go on Tuesday for so much cheaper!" I have lost that extreme frugalness apparently. Thankgoodness she still has it!

Because I love food, specifically sweet, homemade food, I decided yesterday that on my birthday I am going to eat good food.

Last night I searched through the blog Joy The Baker  to find exactly what I was going to eat for breakfast. I chose joy's blog mostly because she shares my love of making dessert into breakfast. How can you go wrong eating chocolate cake for breakfast?
Answer- you can't.

 But because I am trying to eat better. ( ahem no cake for breakfast) I decided to go with orange and chocolate scones and rice pudding.... Totally healthy I know!

Some people really don't like rice pudding, I on the other hand love it.
I could eat it everyday.
Preferably with only a few raisins and maybe a touch if cinnamon here and there.
But, to be honest, I have never met a rice pudding I didn't like.
The newest way I have cooked it is kinda like risotto... The rice is cooked in milk with sugar. Ummm sooo good!! There are also crock pot variations, oven baked variations, left over rice variations, custard variations. The list goes on.

Anyways I am sure you don't really care about the numerous ways to make rice pudding... Especially because this blog post is actually about the chocolate orange scones.

Oh man.
They are just so good!

Orange Chocolate Scones
Recipe from Joy The Baker

1 1/2 cups Flour
2 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Orange zest
2 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
6 tbsp cold Butter
1 large Egg Yolk
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk (or soured milk)
1/2 cup Semi-sweet or dark Chocolate chips

Move oven rack To upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix together flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Cut butter into dry ingredients until butter chunks are very small and mixture looks coarse. I like to use my pastry blender, but you can use your fingers equally well.

In a small bowl combine egg yolk and buttermilk and beat till combined. Add to dry ingredients and stir with a fork till moistened. Add chocolate chips.

Use your hands to bring dough together, kneading a bit so it holds together easily.

Place dough onto a lightly floured counter. Flatten till 1 inch thick. Cut into four squares. I like to make eight smaller scones so I then cut the four large scones in half.

Bake immediately on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet at 425 for 12-15 minutes.

Best eaten the same day they are baked.

Also, after scones are shaped, you can place them on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid then transfer to a plastic bag and keep in the freezer for a quick breakfast treat!. Then when you are ready to bake them, preheat oven, place scones on a cookie sheet and bake from frozen. They may take just a few extra minutes to bake.

Freezing scones is always a good idea if you can not bake immediately. Even if your just waiting for room in the oven. Putting the scones in the freezer even for 15 minutes, helps to keep your butter cold (for flakier layers) and slows down the baking powders rising action (higher, more even rise of the scones in the oven) .

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sunday Morning Baked Oatmeal

Happy Tuesday!

Weekend breakfast in my house is generally nothing special. Almost always Gary has to milk and I stay in bed too long and then we are running around like crazy people to get to church on time. Once in a while though, I pull myself together and make bacon and eggs or french toast. There was even a few fantastic mornings when I would wake up to the smell of bacon and pancakes! Gary was actually cooking breakfast! Whhhaaatttt???

Yeah, that happened 3 Sundays in a row. I was impressed.

In actual fact, Gary loves breakfast, specifically bacon and eggs "sunny and runny" with toast and on a good day a few slices of french toast.

Well, this weekend I made baked oatmeal instead

This is baked oatmeal. If you haven't tried it, you should! Its great to prepare the night before and then throwing in the oven before you get in the shower. This is just a basic recipe that can be made even better by adding fruit, spices, nuts, or peanut butter. Yum!

Baked Oatmeal
Recipe adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook

3 1/2 cups Oatmeal
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Coconut (optional)
1/4 cup Oil
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Apple Sauce
1 cup Milk

Mix together ingredients in order given. Pour into a greased 8x8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. This is also great reheated and eaten for many days! Top with milk and sugar.
To make this oatmeal even better try topping with fruit, nuts, coconut, peanut butter, and what ever else you can think of!
* You can also mix all the ingred togther and keep in the fridge then bake in the morning. I like to crumble up the cooked oatmeal in my bowl before warming up with milk and sugar.