Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Honey Baked Beans

Who knew that I would have to sift through rocks, twigs, and dirt for a half an hour just to get a bowl of pinto beans? Actually, I knew. I knew because I did it last year at this time and vowed I would never to it again. That's until I made the recipe for baked beans that came with them. Divine.
The beans are from Cherryvale Organic Farm. I never thought about how pinto beans were grown until I had the Zen experience of picking through them. They must be grown in a rock quarry.
So, in honour of our first 100-mile meal, I decided to make something special. I pulled out the recipe from last year, took out some sausage to thaw...and watched Mike's cold-hearted feeling towards my latest adventure thaw a little too. He really liked the beans last year. Then, I found the still-point in my mind as I stood over the sink, rummaging for beans. Again, too much time on my hands?
It's so worth it.
Here's the recipe.
Soak 2 1/2 cups of pinto beans overnight, drain
1/2 to 1lb of sliced bacon or ham (I'm trying sausage because I must have thought an army of people who like sausage would descend on our home in the near future)
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of honey (I'll be using honey from Logan Apiaries)
2 tsp of dry mustard
3 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Cover soaked beans with 3 quarts water ~ bring to a boil ~ lower heat and simmer until beans are tender (30-35 min) ~ drain beans in a colander placed over a saucepan to save cooking liquid ~ pre-heat oven to 300 F ~ Put the beans in a large baking pan with a lid and mix in pork, onion, and garlic ~ measure 2 cups of the cooking liquid, stirring in the honey and spices ~ pour liquid over the beans ~ stir and cover ~ bake for 2 1/2 hours ~ I put loads of cheese on top for the last 30 minutes.
And the recipe ended with this quotation:
"If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live."
Albert Einstein
I guess we won't be able to use the mustard, ginger, salt, or pepper...not so local.
I thought of making super slaw to go with the beans but hesitated. Cabbage and beans? Sounds like trouble.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bananas for Bento

Okay, anyone who knows our family will know that our boy has struggled with food textures for a long time. He's also crafty, cagey, and conniving when it comes to eating. He loves food, but strategizes at every turn to make eating take less effort. He doesn't want to bother with the tiresome chore of chewing so he gags on just about everything. Strangely, he does like crunching (potato chips!) and seems to be able to manage raisins just fine. Yet, he will hold his spoon limply, gaze up at me and say, "Feed me please, mommy." Meanwhile, his little fingers reach towards a car he snuck to the table. Oh, it's been quite a party.

A rogue blueberry causes my son to retch like a cat with a hairball. A piece of potato, not smoothed to his liking, may result in a table covered in vomit. Oh yes! But place a piece of chocolate in his hand, and all texture issues vanish as his mandibles churn the morsel to a digestible paste in no time flat. And the chocolate. It must be from Cooke's Fine Foods. No cheap chocolate for this boy. I made the mistake of giving him a piece of chocolate from the grocery store. He bit it, held it up, and said, "I want the chocolate from downtown." In other words, he wanted the five dollar chocolate bar (with maple sugar crystals) I bought myself once as a treat. He's a culinary tyrant.

Anyway, my husband and I saw this bento box at Rainbow Foods in Ottawa. There's nothing like buying something to make parents feel like they've gained control of a situation. So, after seeing an article in Mothering Magazine about Bento boxes, I convinced a scowling Mike to spend the $20. I must admit that I didn't think it would change anything. But it has! His Highness seems to like the way it compartmentalizes his food and with the help of our caregiver, he's eating many more textures. Consumerism triumphs again. At least it's a company started by moms. It's called "Laptop Lunches."

So...I kind of enjoy making his lunch now. Tonight, I used my little cookie cutters (that are great for making gluten-free animal cookies) and cut his cheese into animal shapes. There's a lidded section for his soup and then I can top it off with granola bar, raisins, and crackers. Some of you may think I have too much time on my hands. I don't. That's the problem. Bills go unpaid, dishes unwashed, laundry unlaundered, but my son has hippopatamus-shaped cheese. I've never been good at prioritizing. But golly, I have fun.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Business of Building

Nothin' like two hard-workin' boys.
That foundation will be finished in no time with a little plastic shovel.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Home-Made Cards

Since my son first expressed interest in art, I've rarely had to purchase a greeting card. Whenever I need a card I just tell him whose birthday it is and off he goes. Of course, I tend to "supervise" a little too much sometimes.

So, it was lots of fun to have a helper over the other day to make birthday cards for Jim and Krista.

I figure that he's making the art anyway, so we can save paper by transforming it into cards. Last year, he even made the wrapping paper for his cousins' gifts.

With our 100-mile diet just a few days away, I thought I'd get a head-start. I roasted a chicken so I can make stock tomorrow. Then, I'll make a batch of squash soup. I think this is going to be a lot of work!

I apologize for the unfortunate view of the chicken. Martha Stewart would have turned the bird the other way and her herb sachet would be wrapped in pink gossamer rather than hanging out like the dog's breakfast.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Granola Bars for Crunchy Folk

I've told so many of my friends that I'd pass along my granola bar recipe. The problem is, I don't have a recipe. I was just looking for a way to make gluten-free granola bars and tweaked some older recipes. Eventually, I just stated eye-balling the ingredients until I had the right texture. I keep meaning to pin down exact measurements but I'd probably never be able to make them again if I did that.

In a large sauce pan, cover the bottom with honey.

Add about 2/3 cup of nut or seed butter. I've used almond, cashew, walnut, sunflower, pumpkin, and tahini. They all work.

Melt the two together on low heat. Don't boil.

Add a tsp of vanilla.

If it's too lumpy, I add a bit of olive oil or coconut oil.

Then, add any or all of the following:

brown rice crisps
gluten-free oats
shredded coconut
chopped raisins (apricots and prunes are also good)
seasame, sunflower, and/or hemp seeds

Stir until all ingredients are coated with honey and nut/seed butter.

Press into a square pan and chill.

You can also sprinkle chocolate chips on top when it's still warm.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Next Column

Watch out for my next column in The Brockville Voice: "Down and Out After Putting Up."

It's about canning tomotoes. Seriously.

Monster Truckasana

I've been trying to get back into yoga. My boy used to love copying my movements. He had the sweetest little downward dog. But now that he's too cool for me, he just pretends he's a monster truck and "drives right over" me, crushing my cobra. How did we go from om shanti to slam downs with the Eradicator?

I succumbed and drew him a picture of The Gravedigger. I was ordered not to forget the skull. My boy, who was once Beatrix Potter's biggest fan, has fallen in love with aggressive, obnoxious, gas-guzzling monster trucks...with skulls. Notice the pink crayon?

At least, at my urging, there's still moments like these.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How Industrious!

On the weekend...

Mike's new maple floors

fall colours

the last of "the summer supper"

my first solo adventure into canning (hence the wine)

winter convenience food

there was more paint on the boy than on the paper

gluten-free, sugar-free banana muffins

Is it Monday yet?


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chard Pesto

I'm experimenting with pesto. It's raw, easy, freezes well, and has many uses. I can also get the bulk of the ingredients locally--there must be an olive grove around here somewhere! I didn't have a lot of basil on hand so I substituted a bag of garden chard. Here's my list of ingredients. I didn't include measurements because I had to keep tweaking the consistency.

garden chard
olive oil

Blend together until smooth. Pour over cooked pasta (or spread onto pizza, etc). Freezes well.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Looking Back...

After finishing my YA novel (despite the presence of a publisher...yet), I've been snooping back at the book I started a few years ago and stopped at page 150. Even if my recent novel is never published, I've learned a lot...about finishing, in particular. So, I've re-visited the opening of my first attempt. Here it is...

The last time Sarah saw Lobsang, a dead cow lay on the median. Driving down Ring Road towards Tribhuvan Airport, the taxi driver swerved to miss it, angering the dust and causing pedestrians to scatter. Touching his right hand to his forehead, the driver subtly recoiled. They continued on as, on the dashboard, a figure of Baby Krishna jerked in rhythm to the spiralling Hindi static on the radio.

In the early morning haze, the streets slowly stretched and sighed, preparing for the bustle of the day. With a belch of black smoke, an overflowing bus lurched forward, a young boy reaching out the back to pound his palm on steel. Vendors perched behind their wares: tiger balm, hair clips, cigarettes, and colourful posters of Hindu deities. One woman turned her roasted corn, letting the smell dominate over the exhaust and sewage. Men in ties hurried along with briefcases while women cradling lethargic babies begged at their ankles. As the taxi slowed to let an aggressive Tata truck pass, Sarah smiled at Lobsang. He rested his hand on the seat beside her, his hand of callous, and sinew, and bone. So close to her own.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Prana Sauce

I found a great recipe for raw tomato sauce. It's from Kris Carr's Crazy, Sexy Cancer Tips book.

Put three pints (or so) of small, sweet yellow tomatoes in a blender.

Add a few cloves of chopped garlic, a handful of basil, and a pinch of sea salt.


Pour unheated over cooked pasta.

Perfection in two minutes!

I froze three small jars and made a meal from this amount. This raw food approach saves a heck of a lot of time! However, I've read that tomatoes are the one vegetable (fruit!) that actually becomes more nutritious with heat.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Dessert

I'm always looking for ways to reduce refined sugar in our diets while still enjoying rich desserts. I discovered this recipe in the spring and have made it about ten times. I used it at Kieran's birthday party to make homemade "Dunk-a-roos" with gluten-free arrowroot cookies. So, it's a nice dessert because it can be placed in martini glasses to look fancy or be served at a kid's party. I found this in New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant. If I haven't conviced you to make this yet, it only takes about 10 minutes.

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 pound ricotta cheese
1 tsp pure vanilla
honey to taste (1/3 cup approx)

Blend the melted chocolate, ricotta, vanilla, and honey in a blender until smooth. Chill before serving.

Soooo gooood!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blanchin' Beans

This is my latest food project. These beans are from Clover Gardens near Athens. They are sooooo good fresh but I wanted to freeze some to have later. So, like with the corn, I boiled them quickly (about 1 minute) and then plunged them into ice cold water to stop the cooking process. After I drained them, I put them in ziploc freezer bags. Last year, I found they were great in soups and casseroles during the winter.