Posts from — February 2016
February 24, 2016
Here she is. At the beginning of this month we finally welcomed the third and final act to our family circus – Bonnie Matilda. Only five days late (her sisters were much tardier) she came tumbling into the world at a generous 4.3kgs. That’s 9 pounds, 7 ounces for people like me who weirdly prefer imperial measurements. She is as healthy as a little bear, coos and sings in her sleep (as though she smuggled a miniature clarinet into her crib), smells delicious and feels like velvet.
February 17, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, I have met my salad dressing match.
It’s not cultured or exotic or terribly exciting, and it’s not even photogenic (hence the atmospheric picture of bowls), but it is DELICIOUS, and I cannot urge you enough to make it. Now. Seriously. I can only describe it as perfectly satisfying and complex–the umami flavour is off the charts (hence satisfaction) and the salt-factor, for those who like things a bit salty, is well-balanced.
The other half of this salad situation is the salad itself, which I will describe here a little and you can go in whatever direction you like. Just know that I think this salad needs three categories of ingredients: grains, vegetables and seeds. Which is sounding pretty doable, right?
Your base layer should be a warm mix of cooked grains, like quinoa, spelt berries, or a rice blend, or a mix of some of these, plus lentils if you want to add protein. I use a quinoa/sprouted brown rice blend that I make in my rice cooker for the week and use for this salad every day. I heat this layer if it’s cold from the fridge because that’s how I first tasted it, but if you don’t mind cold grains, do your thing.
Secondly, your veg layer. I use: shredded kale and lettuce (romaine), shredded carrots and beets, sometimes diced avocado and sometimes diced cucumber. Sometimes also sliced green onion.
Lastly, the seeds–I favour sunflower here. (You could also go nuts; cashews are great, or even peanuts, though they will more heavily influence the flavour of the salad.) But pepitas might work well too; I’ll get back to you on that.
–You can also add cubed tofu, or if you’re so inclined, cooked chicken or other meat. Or chickpeas. Mmmm.
And once you’ve got your bowl layered, it’s time for the magic part.
So here it is–the recipe that changed my salad days forever. It’s a huge batch, but we had no problem finishing it within a week, and it keeps in the fridge for quite a while. If you’re not sure you’ll love it, make half. Some people don’t use as much oil as the recipe calls for, but I’d advise trying it this way first. And of course, add more of anything to taste as you go.
Adapted (a little) from Whitewater Cooks Glory Bowl Dressing
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 tablespoons water (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups neutral oil, like grapeseed
2 tablespoons tahini paste
Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth, reserving the tablespoons of water until you’ve tasted the dressing to see if it’s needed–it just thins it a little and softens the flavour. Pour a few glugs over your salad and mix it all up. Refrigerate leftovers in a jar.
February 10, 2016
“A bach (pronounced ‘batch’) is a small, often very modest holiday home or beach house.”*
This summer we were lucky enough to score ourselves a bach holiday in Scandretts Bay, about one hour’s drive north from Auckland. Four nights, right on the water, in two simple dwellings with bunk beds, linoleum floors, formica tables, cupboards reserved for old books and board games with dice missing and mismatched furniture sourced exclusively from garage sales and secondhand stores. Getting the booking for eight adults and our three associated kidlets was essentially a lottery win as the baches are managed by the Auckland Regional Council who maintain a complicated booking system which defies logic and leaves ninety per cent of interested parties bereft. On the day that bookings for summer opened (six months earlier, in winter) my Mum was lined up outside the council offices at the crack of dawn and I was at home, on the phone, listening the soothing sounds of nineties pop music, the same three tracks on repeat.
Finally, I got an answer from a real, live person and the booking went something like this “Scandretts Bay! Any time in December or January! We don’t mind which baches! We don’t care how many days!” Time was of the essence as other customer service reps were booking at exactly the same time. The woman I spoke with looked up option after option, with many a “Oh, that might work! Oh no, it’s just been taken.” Finally, after much problem solving, we had our four nights. I promptly called Mum who had been less lucky. By the time she got to the counter just a few minutes later all the available bookings had vanished. That we’d secured two whole baches for four whole days was cause for much whooping and cheering.
February 3, 2016
Glorious citrus. It’s that time of year over here: beautiful, ripe, fragrant oranges, tangelos, mango and blood oranges, grapefruits and sweet limes in abundance on the store shelves. No, they’re not local, but they’re…kind of?…in season. In California. Anyway, I can’t let a January go by without at least thinking of making marmalade, though, admittedly, sometimes the thinking is as far as I get. And if it’s turning into that kind of January, I always take the lazy way out and make whole orange muffins, a recipe given to me by my friend, Anna.
And they’re great–tangy and light, moist with raisins and easy to whip up. Trust me to stuff some of those flavours into a cookie and then try and make them gluten-free. What?
These are not refined, elegant cookies. They’re granola-esque. Squat and burly. Maybe a little bit lumberjack. Bear with me if that descripton made you think of beards and sweaty plaid shirts. I decided to nix the raisins this time in favour of chocolate chips, because when is that NOT a good idea? There’s one of my new favourite flours in there too–pumpkin seed flour. High in protein and fibre, and that gorgeous green colour. And while you’ll see a bowl of chopped walnuts in some of the photos, I haven’t included them in the final recipe because they took the cookies to a lumberjack extreme and I didn’t think we wanted that. Not this time, anyway. There’s half a whole orange (sounds like a contradiction but it’s not) and enough coconut to give the cookie a nice chew. Homely, perhaps, but tasty business for a wet January in need of some sunshine.
Whole Orange Cookies with Coconut and Chocolate Chips
Adapted, sort of, from this recipe
*Note that you’ll need GF oats and other ingredients to make it truly gluten-free. That’s not a concern in my house, so I don’t worry so much.
1 cup oat flour (you can blitz rolled oats in the food processor if you don’t have the flour on hand)
2/3 cup pumpkin seed flour (you could try this too, though I bought mine pre-ground)
1/2 cup panela sugar (or brown sugar, though brown will make the cookies slightly sweeter)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt (if using table salt, use less)
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or more if you like your cookies loaded)
1/2 a whole orange, chopped roughly
1/4 cup grapeseed oil, or other oil
Preheat your oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Mix the oat flour, pumpkin seed flour, baking powder, salt and coconut in a bowl. In a food processor or blender (the former will work better), grind the chopped 1/2 orange until it’s fairly smooth. There will be bits of rind and that’s okay. Add the egg and oil to the orange and blend. Pour the wet ingredients from the food processor over the dry ingredients and stir to combine evenly. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Let the cookie dough rest in the fridge for about ten minutes to firm up a little. Form the slightly chilled dough into balls and place on the cookie sheet about an inch apart. They don’t really spread, so no worries about crowding. Press down gently on the cookies to flatten them a little.
Cook for between 14 and 16 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through. My oven runs a little cold, so keep an eye on your cookies, as they could brown more quickly than mine do. Leave the cookies on the sheet for a few minutes after removing from the oven–they fall apart if you try to lift them off right away. Once slightly cooled, move to a rack and cool completely. They’ll lose any tasty crispness if you store them in an airtight container, but they’re enjoyable regardless. This recipe makes about 12 cookies, though, so you may not have any for tomorrow.