Monthly Archives: March 2010

Warm Up

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As I type this, I am sitting under a giant duvet, in my winter jacket, shivering. On paper, spring has arrived… nature hasn’t been informed yet. In light of this awkward in-between-seasons season, I am posting recipes that warm you up but don’t make you think of winter. The Curried Butternut Squash Soup is excellent and very easy to make. The Carrot Muffins actually taste like real carrot muffins. You won’t notice that they are gluten, dairy, and egg free. It has been a good week of kitchen experiments, so I will post more recipes soon.


RECIPE: Curried Butternut Coconut Soup

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 medium onion

2 stalks celery

3 teaspoons curry paste (I use Binyani)

1 medium butternut squash diced

5-6 cups chicken/turkey/vegetable broth

2 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3/4 cup coconut milk

Saute onion, celery, and curry paste in the grapeseed oil until onion is soft. Add squash and broth. Bring to a simmer and cover for about 30 minutes. Stir in maple syrup, coconut milk, salt and pepper. With a hand blender, blend until smooth (1-2 minutes).


RECIPE: Carrot Muffins

Whisk together:

1.5 c. g-free flour *

1.5 c. spelt flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1.5 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 nutmeg

1/2 salt

Cream together:

1 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. oil

2 egg replacers

1 mashed banana

1/2 c. apple sauce (optional)
1- 2 c. grated carrots

1/2 golden raisins
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix well. Add the carrots and raisins and stir well.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.


*RECIPE: Gluten-Free Flour Mix

1 part buckwheat flour

1 part millet flour

1 part brown rice flour

1 part sorghum flour

1 part arrowroot or tapioca starch

1 part oat flour

1 part amaranth

I’ve made my own mix of gluten free flour. It seems to work very well in any recipe that calls for flour. Make a batch and store it in a air-tight container, so that you always have some on hand.

If you don’t have any of these flours, you can buy them at bulk or health food stores. I recommend checking out the bulk stores first, as you can often find them for much cheaper. Feel free to change the flours and quantities. I often invent new blends and they usually turn out very well. A good rule of thumb is to have equal parts fine flour (white and brown rice, quinoa), thick flour (oat, millet, sorghum buckwheat), and starch (tapioca, arrowroot, potato).

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Good Morning Omelette

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RECIPE: Swiss Mushroom Omelette

3 cloves garlic

1 small yellow onion

2-3 tbsp. grapeseed oil

1-2 mushrooms

3 eggs

salt

pepper

herbs-de-provence

Swiss cheese (I used one pre-cut slice)

  • saute the garlic and onion in grapeseed oil until soft
  • add the mushrooms and continue sauteing for a minute
  • whip the eggs a bit with a fork while adding salt, pepper and herbs de provence (a couple pinches of each)
  • pour the eggs over the sauted veggies and cook on medium-low heat for a minute
  • place slices of Swiss cheese on top and cook until the egg is firm and cheese is melted (about 6-7 minutes)

Boots or flip-flops?

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Spring feels like it is peeking around the corner. Despite our many years of experience, most of us seem to forget that the beginning of March does NOT mark the beginning of spring. Warm weather in March tempts us into putting away our toques and winter boots and taking out our skirts and flip-flops. Of course, as soon as all the winter garb is safely tucked away, a blizzard hits. I will not be sucked in this year.

We started pruning the apple trees today. We are hoping to get them finished in the next couple of weeks so they will have a better yield come harvest. (As I type this I’m laughing a little to myself, because I almost sound like I know what I’m doing. Do not be fooled. I have absolutely no idea how to be a farmer.)

After an hour of perusing a seed catalogue, I have highlighted all of the herbs, fruits and vegetables I would like to grow this summer. Now that I know what I want to grow, I just have to learn how to grow it all. I already have some recipes in mind, so I’m excited to get started. This brings me back to my qualms with March. I am falsely being led to believe that winter is over which is getting me excited for my vegetable garden. Let’s be reasonable though, it is March 9th… I have a good two months of waiting ahead of me… so in the meantime… I am going to work on recipes. I will post regular recipes as well as allergy friendly recipes (which are vegan and free of the most common allergens such as milk, wheat and corn).

RECIPE: Homemade Potato Wedges (allergy friendly)

4-5 medium potatoes (cut into wedges)
5 tbsp. sunflower oil
9 cloves garlic (finely minced) *if you have trouble digesting garlic, see note at the bottom

3 tbsp. tapioca starch (you can use any starch, including corn starch if you would like)
1/4 tsp. red chili pepper powder 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

  • pre-heat oven to 350
  • cut potatoes into wedges
  • boil potato wedges for 2-3 minutes
  • coat potatoes with oil and garlic
  • in a small bowl combine starch, salt, and peppers
  • sprinkle starch mix over the potatoes and stir it all up
  • lay wedges in a single layer on cookie sheet
  • bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway through

* for those who have trouble digesting garlic: my sister-in-law (a chef who can’t digest garlic) told me to  remove the green centre to make it easier on the stomach – cut the garlic in half, pull out the green bit, and use the rest of the clove

*click images to enlarge

My time in Haiti…

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Everyone has become acutely aware of Haiti since the earthquake in January. My husband and I were no exception, so when the opportunity arose for us to go to Port-au-Prince with a disaster relief team, we took it. We found out that the trip was a reality on a Thursday night, one week later we were vaccinated, and one week after that we were on a plane to the Dominican Republic.

We flew into Santo Domingo and took a bus into Haiti. Popey, the Dominican man who drove our bus, is the most talented driver I’ve ever seen. The state of the roads, traffic, pedestrians, and goats that would have caused even the most mature drivers to crash, didn’t even faze this man. He delivered us safe and sound to a church in Carrefour (just a few minutes outside of Port-au-Prince) where we were greeted by a group of men from the church as well as neighbourhood children. We set up our tents on the roof of the church and became acquainted with the area.

We spent our days with Haitians whose homes had become too dangerous to sleep in. While cleaning up debris, smashing damaged cement, and building new walls out of old bricks, we were given a glimpse into the lives of our new friends. We were often met with mocking faces and negative attitudes from the surrounding neighbours, however after an hour or so their smirks would turn to smiles and they would eventually pick up a pair of gloves and join in. As we worked together, each side began to trust the other more, and friendships started to form.

A Haitian man told us that if we could travel all the way from Canada to help his country, than he could help as well. He spent the next 3 days with us working on homes. On our last day, we went to his home. His whole house was demolished by the earthquake. What was once a yard, was now filled with broken cement, rocks and debris. We broke down the remaining cracked walls, removed debris, and leveled the ground so he could put up a tent. Most of the people we met were sleeping under a tarp next to their broken down homes until they could put up something more permanent. Despite having next to no materials, these makeshift shelters were welcoming and felt like home.

Thursday was our most difficult day. It was spent breaking down a man’s home and cleaning up the debris, as usual, except this was the first time we knew that there were people under the debris. An 11 year-old boy was running by the house when the earthquake happened and was killed as it fell. The owner of the house also lost his one-month old baby in the quake. The man was so grateful for our help that he was almost brought to tears. It really affected us to hear his story because it made the deaths a reality. The earthquake stopped being a news story and became personal.

We spent our evenings relaxing with members of the church we were staying at and playing with kids who lived nearby. The kids haven’t had school since the earthquake, so they were usually waiting for us to get home to play games, sing songs or kick a soccer ball around. Most of these kids lost a parent or sibling in the earthquake and are trying to adjust to their new life. Life is not easy for these kids, but they are extremely resilient.

When walking around the neighbourhood, the children ensured we were safe and protected us from cars and mopeds that zoomed by. It was the first time in my life that I trusted a 6 year-old more than I trusted myself. This proved to be a wise attitude to take on, as the next day I was saved yet again by a little kid. While digging through the rubble I uncovered a scorpion, and as I looked at it in fear, the little boy beside me whipped a rock at it and killed it instantly. The kid looked up and smiled at me as I laughed at the irony of being so well taken care of by kids.

We travelled to and fro in a Land Rover Defender. Sometimes we sat on top, sometimes we all squished inside. We drove around for an afternoon with 15 people in a vehicle that fits 9. I would never do that in Canada, but for some reason, it was fine in Haiti. I also would not usually sit atop a truck while driving up steep, narrow streets surrounded by merchants on either side.

Life felt strangely normal while we were there, and it is only now that I’m realizing how abnormal it was. I’m sure this will continue to happen all week, so I will continue to write about my time in Haiti as the stories come up.