Sometimes at international breakfast bars there is "Muesli". It's cold oats that have been soaked usually in milk and yogurt. I love this stuff! I am an addict really for this. The problem is, I don't know how to make it. Usually there are no real specific directions on the quantities with which to soak my oats overnight. Plus, I wanted to try this with rice or almond milk since I'm trying to cut back or sugar, dairy, and meat. I tried it last night and was actually very happy with the results. So, here is my first try batch ratio list.
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
This is the "base" meaning this is what I put in the fridge overnight, covered in a glass jar. In the morning I mixed in 1 Tbsp. raw almond butter, one banana, 1 Tbsp. of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 Tbsp. of ground flaxseed, and a sprinkling of raw unsalted sunflower seeds.
It was good BUT for many readers, this just might not be sweet enough. A person could probably put in some honey to sweeten it. Next time I might mash the banana instead of just chopping it so that the sweetness of it can be better spread out in every bite.
Again, this was my very first trial run but it went well. It was simple simple simple and fantastic for the Summer. No need to heat of the kitchen with this recipe! Some other things I may try is mixing in some applesauce and cinnamon instead of the above combo. Once I get my hands of some chia seeds I may try that as well.
Everytime I've gone off to the Reformhaus, I've been a little too nervous to venture through what they offer. I live in a fairly small village so it's a small little Reformhaus but the lady is as helpful as she can be with her limited English and will most likely order anything that she doesn't carry. So, what is a Reformhaus you ask? A Reformhaus is a health food store...basically. If the choosy pallet can't find it at the local "frou-frou" grocer, it may be found at a Reformhaus.
Recently I've been on a little eating adventure. Getting the weight off of me has been challenging to say the least. Deciding to stay kosher I think was the beginning of diving into a more sensible diet in general. The idea that I might have the power to say "no" to foods is very appealing to me. That I can conquer the voice inside of me that says, "you're not the boss of me" is a common goal of mine.
Many healthy vegan recipes that I'd been looking up called for Nutritional Yeast. I had absolutely no idea what this stuff was but decided to look into it. I was intrigued and well, wanted to give it a go. But where oh where could I get something as exotic as nutritional yeast?! I'm fortunate enough to be able to order some things online from US venders but honestly, I tend to have a short attention span and an "I WANT IT NOW" mantallity. So, I wondered if I could get something like this out on the economy. Enter Toy Town Germany another really fantastic source of information. Nutritional yeast here is known as "Edelhefe" the one I purchased at the Reformhaus was Dr. Ritter Brand. For a picture of the box, click here for the company webpage.
I did a little price comparison and it's fairly comprable to the American Bragg's brand of flakes. Bragg's is about $5-$6 for a 4.5 ounce (about 127 grams) canister of flakes. Dr. Ritter Brand is 3 Euro for a 125 gram box. So, for vegans looking for it in a pinch, they can pick it up at their local Reformhaus.
Christmas and Hanukkah always bring joy to our house whether or not we are ready for it! This season, I got the super bug. What I thought was a brutal cold that my son brought home from daycare, turned out to be a trip the ER and a diagnosis of Broncitus, Strep, and Pnuemonia all in one. For serious. I really didn't think I could get all of them at one time. This was one of those times I really have to swallow some humble pie and admit that mommy genes alone could not defeat the plague that was festering inside of me.
My children bless there hearts have been locked inside all during winter break with a sick mother. They've been great boys really well behaved. I knew I had to throw in the towel and go to the doctor when my eldest started making meals for him and the younger one. In a way, we were fortunate that this happened over the holidays. We have so much wonderful family that spoils my children they didn't really want for much. They were very much entertained with all their new stuff.
By the end of the first day of my diagnosis, I could not be in bed. Codeine be darned! So I whipped out my brand new cast iron dutch oven and put it to work. I seasoned it the first day and also put together my first No-Knead dough to bake. I was just chomping at the bits to do this. Apparently, this is the easiest way one can actually have artisan style bread right out of their very own oven. My first dough was a white bread and it turned out heavenly. Really, I never ever would have thought something that wonderful could have come out of my own oven. Of course I took pictures and facebooked about it. If I'm not anything else, I am annoying about my accomplishments! I really believe though, that my outward pride is really more shock that I could actually produce something like this.
My next home made invented recipe was a little more adventurous. I decided to pick what I thought was organic whole wheat (translated to whole meal flour) and white flour, and this stuff called organic sour dough extract from the baking isle. The German baking isle is pretty exciting. All different kinds of flour I can play with. I thought that I would write about my first adventure though. For all the nay sayers out there, yes, I could just buy my bread here at the local bakery. They do have very very good bread here. HOWEVER and this is a big one for me, there is really something special about making it myself. The smell, the time, the work, the mess. Everything involved just makes eating the finished product that much more rewarding. Now, I move away from my preachy self and list my recipe:
350g wholemeal flour
150g white flour
15g sourdough extract
325-375ml warm water
So, this fun youtube clip will help you visualize all the steps involved. Thanks Margie!
Mix ingredients until "shaggy". More water or flour may need to be added for desired consistency. Don't worry if it seems gloppy. I swear, that's okay.
Cover in the same mixing bowl over night (12-18 hours). Covered with saran wrap or just a plate.
Turn out glop dough onto a floured surface
flatten a little and then "fold over" twice
Preheat oven with cast iron dutch oven inside to 450-475F (I set my oven to 225C)
top with some flour and cover on the cutting board for 15-20 minutes
Shape dough into a ball. Lay a tea towel out and sprinkle a nice layer of corn meal on it. Place ball of dough onto the towel, top dough with cornmeal, and fold the towel over the dough. Let sit for another 15-20 minutes.
By this time, your dutch oven should be piping hot. Carefully remove it from the oven and open the lid
Sprinkle the inside of the dutch oven with corn meal. Open the tea towel and treating it like a hammock, flip the dough over into the dutch oven.
Place the lid on and put the dutch oven back in the oven.
Bake the dough covered for 30 minutes
Remove the lid from the dutch oven and bake for another 15 minutes
Now it's done....well, almost. Place bread on the cooling rack for an hour....ya, I said an hour. Try to hold back the drooling or urge to pick.
For my first experiment, this turned out really well. I still am a little unsure as to what sourdough extract is. I tried talking to Uncle Google about it, but alas his answers were not very clear. I'm a little perplexed. Is it just for flavor or does it serve a purpose to helping the bread rise? Also, I have a feeling I probably used more yeast than I maybe needed to? I would love love love feedback from someone out there in cyberspace!
This is one of my most favorite soup recipes. It's about as simple as it gets. There are a couple variations but this is my "tried and true". I swear when I make this for company, they think it's so much more complex and fancy than it really is.
2-4 Very large carrots sliced (If they are organic DON'T PEEL THEM)
2 Yellow onions peeled and sliced
1.5-2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2-1 Tbsp. Salt
1-2 Tbsp. Sugar
Creme Fraiche, Sour Cream, Greek Yogurt, or heavy cream
In a medium to large pot, melt butter and sautee onions and carrots until onions are translucent. If there's more time, caramelize the onions a little.
Pour water over carrots and onions to cover.
Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or, until the carrots are soft.
Pour this mixture into a blender (Usually, it takes 2 batches) and pulverize.
You may need to return this to the pot, add more water for desired consistency and reheat.
Serves about 4. (2 cup serving size)
Dallop desired cream into soup and stir. This goes fantastic with a frittata or quiche. If one isn't concerned with blending meat and dairy.....chicken broth can replace the water, salt and sugar. Any type of broth will do but I recommend something pure, natural, and delicious! One could also blend using a food mill. I think using the blender adds a little more creamy texture to it.
Recently my adventures in Kosher cooking led me recently to a little conundrum. Gelatin.
A few months ago, I was headed to Friday evening services for Shabbat. Ours is a very very small congregation. Everyone tends to bring a dish for after services to nosh and socialize. I thought I would bring marshmallows with strawberries so, I emailed the Rabbi to let him know.....FAIL! Turns out that regular run of the mill marshmallows are not kosher. Neither is run of the mill JELLO. A person may say, now wait a minute Nicki, JELLO has a "K" on the box. Doesn't that mean it's kosher? Unfortunately no. You see, manufacturers can put that fake K on anything that they like. It can be highly confusing for someone just diving in to the world of Kosher.
Gelatin is made from the hooves, hides and extras of animals. For non-kosher gelatin this could mean, pork and non-kosher meat. My kids love Jello and marshmallows. Sigh....this was not good news for our household. It took me a little research but, I was able to find Kosher marshmallows. These are great and they do the trick for s'mores. But, that didn't help me with the Jello part.
By making my own gelatin, I'm able to know exactly what is in it and I can lower the sugar amount too. (For diabetics or people watching calories, try using or experimenting with Stevia) Here's the recipe I used from mama natural:
2 cups 100% juice
2 Tbsp. gelatine
In a saucepan warm a half of a cup of juice
Add gelatine and mix all the lumps out until it's all blended.
Pour the rest of the juice in saucepan
Take off heat and pour into a 2-3 cup size glass container
Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or, just over night
White grape juice so far has been our favorite. They turn out like "jigglers". So, kids can just pick them up to eat. Joshua really really loves Hawaii layer jello dessert. I'm going to try and put together a recipe that's all natural and can replace the original. I'm thinking coconut milk might work? Also, I'm looking forward to making gluhwein jigglers.
After a few Jello recipes, it occurred to me that I could try homemade marshmallows. I was looking in one of my Martha Stewart books and saw peppermint marshmallows. What a great treat to hand out this time of year! My first attempt was chocolate marshmallows.
2 cups sugar
8 Tbsp cold water
2 Tbsp gelatin
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Confectioners sugar & cocoa powder
In a small bowl mix some confectioners sugar and cocoa powder together (I did 2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar and 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder)
Sprinkle this mixture into an 8"X8" square pan to coat all sides.
Place gelatin into 8 Tbsp cold water, mix and set aside. (It may solidify. Don't worry, it won't ruin your recipe)
In a saucepan over medium heat, add sugar and 1/2 cup water. Heat until blended.
Add gelatin mixture to saucepan and bring to a boil.
Pour into a standing mixing bowl (not plastic...it will melt!) and let cool for 5-10 minutes
Mix in salt, vanilla, and cocoa powder.
Set mixer to medium or high. Just fast enough that it will pump air into the mixture but not fast enough for it to splatter everywhere.
Mix for 10-15 minutes. As the mixture cools, it will become more solid. The mixer can be turned up higher if preferred.
Scrape mixture into the prepared square pan
Let them cool for quite a for a few hours
Cut the cooled marshmallows into 1.5" squares.
Roll them into left over cocoa powder and confectioner sugar mixture
There you have it! A great dessert after a meat meal! Next I'll be looking into homemade rice crispy treats using homemade marshmallows....wish me luck!
A little disclaimer, I'm pretty sure that mama natural would not condone using the white devil....ahem, I mean "sugar" but I have to say, to my credit, I changed the original corn syrup recipe and used all sugar instead. Plus, I used Florida Crystals Sugar. This brand of sugar is Farmed in Florida and processed the same day. For more information click over the Florida Crystals and it will send you to the company webpage. The only thing that I did not do is use good cocoa powder. I recommend using Organic free trade cocoa powder and I'm going to try and find that in the future.
The internet can be like the black hole for me. I check out one youtube clip and the next moment, I find it's been an hour and I really don't know where the time has gone. Sometimes the journey through the black hole can be rewarding though. Recently I came across the Mama Natural channel. On one of her recent videos (click on her name above to view) she mentioned coconut rolled dates. Now, I don' know if this is the absolute same thing as what is in her video but, I think it's pretty darn healthy all the same. Coconut date rolls are a middle eastern treat. Mainly they tend to be served with tea. Off of this recipe, I made my own out of what I had in the pantry. Now, next time, I think I'll give almonds a try like the original recipe but the walnuts worked out great. The honey may not be necessary for everyone. For me, I felt it helped make the mixture adhere more.
5 oz. dates
1/4 cup walnuts
1-2 tsp. honey
unsweetened coconut (maybe 1/4 cup for this recipe)
Place dates and walnuts in the food processor and pulverize them together. This may take a few minutes. You'll know it's done when the chunks are for the most part gone and you can rolls the "paste" into balls or rolls. If it's not happening, the honey helped. Just put a little bit at a time!
Roll the "dough" or "paste" into rolls or balls.
Pour coconut onto a dish
Roll the formed balls or rolls in coconut to coat
Now, mama natural claims these taste like fudge. I'll leave that up to the taste testers out there in internet world. For me, it's not completely like fudge. (I don't know if it's humanly possible to duplicate fudge and still be healthy.....) but the texture really is phenomenally close. Honestly, that's what I crave the most when I'm craving brownies or fudge....the texture. That oooey gooey rich loveliness. This combined with the sweetness really does the trick. I can eat a whole bunch of them and not feel totally guilty. With no chocolate or dairy this really could turn into a family (or mommy) favorite! Completely parve (kosher for passover too) and vegan. Healthy walnut fat for the brain and date sweetness for energy makes these the perfect after school snack (seriously, my eldest loved them).
The above is sorta a joke and sorta not. Corn has a bad rap in some circles (and I'm not talkin' crop circles here). There are a lot of reasons as to why this is but, hey, I'm gonna stick to the "everything in moderation" rule when it comes to corn. Corn really has a rich history.
Where I'm from, we purchase sloughhouse corn during the Summer. White sweet and wonderful strait off the grill. So sweet it can be eaten raw.
Unfortunately, here in Germany, corn isn't such a smash hit when it comes to consuming it off the cob. It's hard to find fresh corn. I've heard too that the French think America's fascination with eating corn is odd. It's used for animal feed (or, fish food) in a lot of cases over here.
Because it's so hard to come by fresh corn, I'm using frozen corn in this recipe but it's still really good, light, and easy!
16 oz. bag of frozen corn
1 medium to small red onion (diced or minced)
A hefty handful of cilantro (about a cup minced)
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 limes ( or, about 1/4 cup lime juice)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Place corn in medium size bowl with onion, jalapeno, and garlic. In a separate bowl, combine lime juice, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Chill in the fridge for no more than 24 hours (after that amount of time, we are getting to the "mush" danger zone) Before serving stir in cilantro.
A couple side notes. If cilantro is hard to come by or too expensive, coriander spice can be added instead. It also saves the chef from having to add fresh at the last minute before serving.
This corn salad makes a great side dish with carne asada style steak, on top of a white fish, or even chicken. For a whole vegetarian meal, add a can of drained rinsed black beans before chilling. Maybe some sort of cheese can be added as well (cubes of cheddar or hardish queso cheese?). But, if cheese is added, one may need to add that before serving to avoid slime cheese effect. Place a hefty spoonful on top of lettuce greens. YUM!