Saturday, January 31, 2009

Breakfast and Biola

I am so bummed I haven't gotten a chance to post sooner. Thing is, there really isn't anything to talk about, or anything that is "blog worthy." But I need to force myself to write something.

Now I am back at school. I have successfully completed my first week of classes. Most of my courses are the same and my schedule has the same basic structure to it. I am taking Biology and Chemistry again, no, not because I failed them, but because it is a two-part class. You have to take both CHEM 105 & 106 and BIO 111 & 112. Yup, I am taking two sciences at the same time! It was really fun last semester, (well not really), but then again it wasn't horrible. Nothing I can't deal with, it just means that I have to take less genED classes, and that means that I have to take some courses over the summer if I want to graduate on the four-year plan. That doesn't really bother me. I think it will be good to have another university experience at home.

Being at school also means that I will not be posting recipes frequently. I don't have the time or the resources to do any baking. Hopefully I will be able to do some things (which I will have to at some point to keep my sanity) but it will not be often. I downgraded my meal plan from 20 meals per week to 12 meals per week, which has been great. Breakfast is always in my room now, which I love. I have some of my own pots and pans and now I can cook some things myself. I also got this great steamer basket from Whole Foods (now I know it's cheaper elsewhere, oops) so I can steal some spinach, peppers, broccoli, zucchini etc, from the cafe and STEAM IT! Now I can also make my own oatmeal and quinoa. On Wednesday night I made some sauteed red onions and snow peas :) My diet shouldn't be so limited now. It also helps that the grocery store is an easy less than a mile walk down the street. I wish it was a VONS and not a Stater Bros. because I have a VONS card and VONS has much higher quality produce. Albertson's is also an easy walk down the opposite direction, but it's more of a hike.

I tend to eat a lot of bananas here. They are really good for my muscles and they taste like bananas, YUMMY. I have one for breakfast typically every morning, that is of course, unless my roommate H hasn't stolen one, which she confesses to me later. I think she currently has a banana debt of 2? That's fine, her banana stealing has not kept me from having my morning banana yet.

As for my muscles? Most of you know that I am trying out for the varsity volleyball team this FEBRUARY. Around the end of February I will be trying out. I am so excited but so nervous and scared of failure. God give me strength! Ever since I decided (and of course talked to the coach) I have been training hard. Running, weights, sprints, stairs, jumps, wall sits, pushups, you name it. If it's good for volleyball, I am probably doing it. All of this training makes me a little sore, yay for building muscle, and I am sure my intake of bananas helps. The potassium in bananas is what muscles need, though there is more potassium in spinach then there is in bananas!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bread.

I was away at school on Thanksgiving and I didn't get to bake my own gluten free baked goods, like pumpkin bread, stuffing or apple pie. The only baked good I had was a pumpkin bread my Mom sent me. The recipe I chose for her to make was less than stellar (I think I made over a wheat version into a GF version from online) and when I came home I vowed that I would make an amazing gluten free pumpkin bread.

I am blessed because it worked on the first try! I took my mom's REALLY good recipe and went to work. I am pleased with it. The texture is amazing and even my Dad (who is quite the texture Nazi) said so. This bread is not very sweet, so if you like your pumpkin bread very sweet, just add some more sweetner.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bread.
    adapted from my Mom's recipe

    4 cups  gluten-free flour blend (I used a mixture of brown rice, white rice, arrowroot, potato starch and a little cornstarch)
    1/4 cup  maple syrup
    1/4 cup  runny honey
    4  happy eggs
    2/3 cup  cold water
    3/4 cup  unsweetened organic apple sauce
    1/4 cup  organic coconut oil
    1 - 16 oz  can pumpkin puree
    2 tsp  stevia powder
    2 tsp  xantham gum (acts as a binder)
    2 tsp  baking soda
    1 tsp  each of: baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
    1/2 tsp  cloves

To make your gluten-free pumpkin bread:
  1.  Combine both wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls.
  2.  Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix well.
  3.  Pour equally into greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until tooth pick comes out clean.

-Update: 1/1/09- This is a dairy free and sugar free pumpkin bread recipe. I am planning on making another version that has REAL butter and sugar sometime this month.

-Update: 5/11/13- See my most recent paleo/primal version here. I also notice that I did not include yeild amount for this recipe. I believe it makes 2 regular sized loafs.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Almond Milk and Almond Meal.

I've always wanted to make my own almond milk and today I finally did it! I found a recipe in Cherie Calbom's famous smoothie book for almond milk, so I decided to give it a try. My mom loves to use this book often for smoothie ideas, and I highly recommend it! This almond milk is not anything like the storebought version. It actually tastes like fresh almonds, and has a natural thickness to it. Since it doesn't have preservatives, it has no funny taste, doesn't last forever in the fridge. So drink up :) Use it in smoothies, homemade hot cocoa, tea, and as liquid in baked recipes.

Homemade Almond Milk.
    adapted from Cherie Calbom
    makes about 4 cups

    2 cups  organic raw almonds
    2 1/2 cups  water
    1/4 cup  organic maple syrup
    2 tsp  almond extract - source
    1 tsp  vanilla extract - source
    1 tsp  unrefined sea salt

To make your almond milk:
  1. Place the almonds and the water in a bowl to soak overnight.
  2. The next day place them in a food processor (with the water) and grind until smooth.
  3. Add the other liquid ingredients. Blend some more. The mixture will not be totally smooth; it will be a liquidy almond meal consistency.
  4. Next take a cheesecloth (I found mine at Bed Bath and Beyond) and scoop some almond mixture into it.
  5. With clean hands, squeeze into a wide mouth bowl. Repeat until all the almond mixture has been squeezed out.
  6. Place in a glass jar and refrigerate. Use for making smoothies, oatmeal, your favorite recipes or drinking plain. Use within 7 days. Enjoy!

After straining out the liquid almond milk, the leftovers make wet almond meal/flour! I spread mine out on a cookie sheet with parchment paper to air dry. Then I put it in a oven that was still a little warm after I had baked something. After it was in the oven for an hour or so, I placed it into a plastic container for storage. You can also freeze it for later use! I've used my leftover almond meal in cookies, brownies, and banana bread. Yum!

PS. Make sure you use THIS kind of cheesecloth; all others I've tried are inferior and DO NOT separate solid from liquid since the holes are too big! I once bought a similar "natural cheesecloth" at Whole Foods while on vacation and it was a big mistake. I couldn't make almond milk at all!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Buffalo Bean Soup and Classic Cornbread

This past week and a half has been filled with lots of baking (several snow days have kept me inside) and now I am finally getting around to posting it all.

Since being home we have eaten dishes with lamb, turkey, beef, pot roast, and most recently, I have been experimenting with buffalo. I especially thankful for all this lovely variety at protein, since when I am at school my protein choices are limited.

Sometime back in my childhood I remember going to some restaurant somewhere up in Northern New Hampshire, maybe North Conway? where I had my first taste of buffalo. Buffalo is different than beef in texture, taste, fragrance. The way it browns in a hot pan as you break it up with a knife is different than beef. The ground variety is less stringy. Brown both side by side in a pan and you will see what I mean. When they both cook up, the mountainous curves and bumps of the buffalo meat looks uniquely different than the beef. The taste of buffalo is so mild, and not at strong as beef.

That was, however, my first and last taste of buffalo for a while, until now. As I have become increasingly willing to experiment and I have demonstrated that I am capable of cooking (3 years working in foodservice really helped) my mom has let me go wild in the kitchen.

Well, maybe not wild.

But this soup is wild- wild on taste. It took my Dad one bite to declare, "This recipe is a keeper. I hope she wrote it down so we can make it again!"
Music to my ears!

Buffalo Bean Soup
serves 4 to 6 people, or less with leftovers

1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
1 pound grassfed organic ground buffalo meat
1/2 pound grassfed organic ground beef
1 half vadalia onion - diced
2 1/2 cups beef broth (I used Imagine)
2 1/2 cups water
1 can lightly drained corn
1 can lightly drained adzuki beans
1 can baked beans (be sure this is GF)
1 half vadalia onion - diced
1 orange bell pepper - diced
1/2 cup baby carrots - diced (use more or less depending on how much you have or how much you like carrots)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp: black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt
dash oregano, thyme
2 mildly heaping tsp arrowroot + water

To make your soup:
1. Place soup pot on the stove top. On medium heat, brown onion with coconut oil then add the buffalo and beef cook through. Do not drain off the fat- this is very nourishing!
2. Add the beef broth and water, diced pepper, carrots, onion, can of corn and both cans of beans. Add spices.
3. Let cook on medium heat, stirring often for about an hour. Cook for 30 minutes longer or until peppers, carrots and onions are soft.
4. Serve with cornbread.

It is very moist as cornbread should be, but it is not a super cakey gooey cream cornbread. Those types of cornbreads made with lots of dairy and creamed corn are not typically what cornbread is really about. This cornbread has a nice crumb, a balance of corn and textures of the other flours with a hint of sweetness. Next time I may try adding a whole can of corn so there are actual corn kernels.

Classic Cornbread
adapted from this website

1 cup stoneground cornmeal
1/4 cup uncooked polenta
3 Tbsp almond flour
1 Tbsp brown rice flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup white sorghum flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp: xantham gum, salt
2 REAL eggs (from grassfed chickens)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (Pacific) or raw whole milk
1/4 cup coconut oil - melted (Spectrum Organics) or grassfed butter
1/4 cup organic maple syrup

To make the cornbread:
1. Combine the wet and combine the dry in 2 separate bowls.
2. Add the wet to the dry and mix well.
3. Pour into a 9 X 9 X 2 baking dish.
4. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, give or take depending on your oven.
5. Cut into squares. Serve with Buffalo bean soup.
6. Optional: make a mixture of 3 parts agave, one part honey. Microwave/zap for 30 seconds or until warm and fluid. Serve in a little pitcher for drizzling over cornbread.

My family and I ate this for dinner. It was a lovely feast for three. And we have leftovers!