Well, lots of homemade goodness (well, yumminess) this weekend. We didn't make it a "home food only" weekend as we sometimes do, but we made sure all our "junk" was homemade.
It started with juicy pear bread on Thursday.
This was yum. Not quite a replacement for my favourite banana/date/walnut bread, but it will feature again, I believe. Thank you Fit Bride for pointing me to this recipe, and suggesting some mean substitutions.
On Friday night, we scoffed down some pasta at our favourite local Italian, then hurried home to watch Season 3 of How I Met Your Mother. AWESOME!
I took a break part way through to make Belgian Biscuits, using this recipe from Taste.com. Ever since seeing them on someone else's blog, I'd been craving them. Plus, I thought it would be fun to make roll out cookies instead of teaspoon-dollop cookies.
I don't know whether Belgian Biscuits are big in other countries. Certainly it seems as if they're a European/British treat, not a North American treat. Basically, a Belgian Biscuit is a spicy, gingerbread man-type, sandwich cookie, stuck together with raspberry jam and iced with simple white frosting and a dust of coloured sugar. The predominant spice is mixed spice, but they also have plenty of cinnamon. They're delicious!
I also had a great time making them, although I had to get creative with no rolling pin- and I didn't even have any empty wine bottles (what is the world coming to?) It's been far too long since I rolled out cookie dough over and over again, punching out shapes and re-rolling the edges. Love it!
My icing was yuck (butter not as fresh as it could have been) so we ended up eating them un-iced. I'll have to find something to do with the bag of coloured sugar in my cupboard....
Anyway, these were delicious, and have gotten spicier with each passing day. HoBOO win!
We really lifted our game on Sunday night. And by we, I mean Phil. No longer content with baked goods, he ventured into the realm of the ultimate junk food main. Yep, fish n chips!
Believe it or not, this was the first time I'd ever eaten homemade battered fish. Actually, we cheated a little and used sweet Fogdog beer batter mix, which we stumbled across while browsing the Auckland fish market for finds (we also came across a yellow tomato and bought that too).
Next time (well, next time AFTER we finish the packet), we'll have to make it truly from scratch.
Phil did the honours while I worked on some evidence.
...and before you could say Jack Robinson, I was served up a plate of juicy fish , tasty kumara and potato chips, and fresh organic asparagus. Spring meal WIN!
We rounded out our indulgent homemade Sunday night with Lemon and Vanilla Cheesecake from the Healthy Food Guide. Again, 100% made by Phil and, again, 100% delicious. This one is definitely on the "entertaining" list!
What's on the menu for next week? Just you wait and see...
Well, HoBOO week one is over and done, and baking for HoBOO week three has begun.
(That was an eniterely accidental wee rhyme, and I'm not going to take it any further).
Dessert in the weekend was molten chocolate marshmallow cake (see below) and it was To Die For. I used muffin pans instead of ramekins. Partly to keep the serving size down, and partly because I have no ramekins in my apartment!
The recipe was easy to follow, absolutely delicious, positively decadent, and not TOO bad on the calorie side either (by my calculations, our servings were 281 calories each). Definitely going in the "entertaining" file!
One of the best things about these cakes was that they needed no accompaniment. Of course, I'd have liked to dip into the dairy milk chip ice cream, but the gooey marshmallow totally made up for the lack of smooth, creamy ice cream.
No picture- we devoured them too fast. But pretend they look like this (but a lot messier, and with the marshmallows slightly too big for the muffin cups and exploding through the chocolate):
On Sunday evening I baked our snacks for the week. (Well, as it turned out, I baked our snacks for Monday - Wednesday! Baking doesn't last long in either of our houses!)... da da da DUM:
These were great! I was a little disappointed at first, as I had in mind a flat, chewy cookie (yeah, despite the TWO teaspoons of baking powder in the recipe... smart I am) and these were more like the puffy "oaty" biscuits my mum used to make than a traditional oatmeal cookie. But Phil loved them, and once I accepted that they were not supposed to be what I expected them to be, I loved them too. Will definitely be made again!
On Wednesday, after eating all of my share, I emailed the husband to ask if he had any left so I could get a late picture. But sadly, he had scarfed his down too. Sad face.
I didn't have any HoBOO set backs. I had a near miss on Tuesday night, when I spied some leftover tinned pears and a Fresh n Fruity 100 cal chocolate mousse that EXPIRES DURING HoBOO. My chocolate wanting side and my waste-averse side teamed up to try to convince my HoBOO side to cave. But my HoBOO side won in the end and I had a cookie instead.
What's your favourite home-baked treat? Anything I should try in HoBOO week two??
Reading Holly's blog awhile back, I came across some key principles by Michael Pollan in a recent speech. Number (4) on Holly's list stuck out:
Eat all the junk food you want if you make it yourself.
Well- that's a challenge if I ever saw one!
Since Jenn and I have been baking more recently and trying to buy less junk, I knew I could count her in. And Phil's a sucker for a nutrition bandwagon, so he was a sure bet.
So, it's time for "no junk unless you made it yourself October". That didn't quite have the right ring to it, so we enlisted the help of facebook, and a helpful friend supplied us with Home Baked Only October, or HoBOO for short (that's right, the kids can call you HoBOO).
This means no candy, no chocolate (except in baking), no chippies, no hot chips, no bought biscuits, cakes, or icecream, well- basically no bought baking.
But to make it a little easier, we can have all the homemade brownies....
We saw these at Nosh awhile ago, but they only had Pink Guava on special, and to be frank, it wasn't that tempting. But then we went back, and all of the flavours were on special. Hopefully that's not because no-one liked them, cos I hope these stay in stock! Frozen pineapple juice and coconut milk, they're like a teeny weeny pina colada in squeezy form, and for only 68 calories! Phil loved them too, and I'll even pay full price for them next time.
Having seen these on all the cool kids' food blogs, I just about had a heart attack when I saw them advertised in this month's Healthy Food Guide! Low fat potato based chippie substitute? Yes please! I couldn't see them in my local supermarket, so I found the website and begged them for details of suppliers (and free samples!) Unfortunately, the esteemed manufacturers of pop-chips must not have thought this blog, with its readership of 3, was quite the place to market their new product, and no sweet samples have been forthcoming.
But I did find them. It's hard to beat good old Victoria Park New World for new products, specialty goods and plain ol' variety. Even if I am still mad at you about the plastic bag thing.
The first flavour I tried was Ready Salted Romance, and they're bloody good. Crispy, crunchy and salty. More like Pringles than my favourite Bluebird chippies, but definitely better than the other "healthy" chip products on the market. And lower cal too- 528 kj for the serving.
The Saintly Salt and Vinegar (opened with Phil last night) are good too- they'd would be great with dip (that lovely Country Goodness one), but wouldn't replace bluebird for a chippy and cheese sandwich (oops... and you thought this was a healthy eating blog!). Not quite as awesome as the ready salted, but still a win.
I'm yet to try the Symphony of Sour Cream and Chives- but will let you know!
Not new to most people, but new to me. I used it in place of a whole wheat tortilla or a pita in my current go-to lunch (carrot, peanut and raisin salad with spinach and hummus). It wasn't bland, and the texture was lovely. A great weight-loss bread, but I probably need a bit more in my lunches at the moment!
So, there you go. Three great products we've tried recently. I'll try to make this a habit!
Of course I sent off my submission. And I won't go through that unless it's published. If it's published :), but one of the questions did get me thinking, and I'm going to talk about that.
What’s the best thing about healthy eating?
I answered along the lines of, "the best thing for me about healthy eating is that it has encouraged me to be creative." I didn't even realise as I was writing that I was totally copying Ms Nutritionista herself, because it's Just So True. I don't know why, but trying to focus more on eating healthy, whole food has made me miles more creative with my meals. I've tried new ingredients, new combimnations, new methods.
This has led to (or is the result of) less waste. I'm less concerned about whether things "go", and am getting much better at dumping piles of random veges into salads, stews, sauces and stir fries, and thinking about creative ways to use what I have before buying more.
Anyway, I digress.
The other side effect of eating healthy and the resulting creativity, the one I want to talk about, is the mental satisfaction I get from creating something ("creating" in the sense of "building" rather than "inventing")- and the reason I want to write about it is that it led to a bit of a Eureka moment.
The time is 9-something on Monday night and I've just got home from work, bloody hungry, and struggling through the door with a heavy swimming bag, backpack full of running gear, handbug bulging with empty pottles and extra work, and two bags bursting under the weight of $50 worth of groceries (side note: $50?!! Seriously?!! I don't even eat meat!) I stumble in, cast my eyes around the messy house, think about my tasklist and take a deep, deep breath.
Then I pour myself a wine, whip up a "marinade" (really more of a gloss, or a rub),slice and draine tofu, chop fresh veges, empty the dishwasher, baste and bake tofu, stir fry veges in leftover sauce, make bircher for the morning, and whip up a batch of no-bake pb cookies. Phew!
And then, even though it was nearly 10pm, and my house was still a mess, and I was still looking at a pile of documents the size of my lounge, I felt in control, I felt relaxed, and I felt proud. Both the tofu* and the no-bake cookies were new things, and both worked out brilliantly.
This is probably more a story about me being a neurotic type A control freak than about eating healthy, but the realisation that for me it wasn't just the healthy meal that was worth the extra effort (I know, I know, baked tofu, brown rice and veges is hardly gourmet cuisine, but it's harder than a frozen meal or a grilled cheese!), it was the experience of creating itself. I think that little piece of inconsequential knowledge will help me through the next few months.
*I've eaten tofu plenty, and cooked it before, but I've never quite nailed it, and baking it was new.
This morning we tried quinoa flakes for breakfast for the first time!
We'd had breakfast quinoa before- red quinoa all cooked up with cinnamon, almonds and blueberries, but I have to say it was only a 6 out of 10 for me. And it takes more than a 6 to make it onto my highly competitive breakfast rotation!
But Phil's a grain nut, so when I saw quinoa flakes nestled among the baking grains, I decided to give them a go. Nothing like super food for the most important meal of the day!
We googled a bit for a how to, and followed the advice from this site. Basically, you cook them up like porridge and add, well, whatever the hang you want.
I put out a selection of toppings, including craisins, raisins, frozen blueberries, banana, zapped apple, cinnamon, AB, agave and raw almonds and we went nuts. I opted for apple, blueberry, cinnamon and AB (and agave) and Phil substituted almonds for the AB (word of advice- I won that battle).
It took a couple of mouthfuls to get used to the fact that it wasn't porridge, but once I got over that hurdle, it was bloody nice! Am tempted to try it with my other favourite porridge combos, like banana/walnut, date and AB, and pear and blueberry.
I'll also be on the lookout for ways to add the flakes to baking, and maybe to some homemade muesli (granola or bircher).