Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 1 - Melissa's Muesli


Green Tea (not caffeine free, but as close as I am going to get)

Melissa's Muesli

1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup apple sauce
6 chopped pecan halves
4 chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon pumpkins seeds
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine well and refrigerate over night in a sealed container. Eat!


Rye Wasa Bread with almond butter
Cucumber slices


Mixed pecans, rasins, dates, pumpkin seed and cacao nibs


Red Onion Soup
Rye Wasa Bread with peanut butter
Dried Apricots dipped in chocolate (my sugar splurge)

Blackberry tea with honey and lemon

Bottom line: Not perfect, but I didn't spend a cent!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

February: Frugal and Free

I've decided to declare February a month dedicated towards "getting on top of things". In particular, I am going to focus on my health and my finances.

I haven't been feeling particularly well lately. I've been tired, my allergies are acting up as things start to bloom and I have developed HORRIBLE, EVIL tinnitus in one ear. In order to combat these issues, I've decided to a bit of a diet cleanse. I am not sure if this will help, but it certainly can't hurt. So, for at least 2 weeks, I will be FREE of:

* dairy, wheat, refined sugar

* eggs

* caffeine (Dear Coffee, I miss you already. I love you always, Espresso Girl)

I will also continue on with my goal of eating as locally and organically as possible.

On top of this, I am going to attempt to be FRUGAL and buy absolutely nothing for 30 days unless I really and truly need it. No magazines, no petit vanilla bean scones, no beautiful home decorating items from my favourite store. December and January are killer months for me financially. Not only do I have Christmas to contend with, but professional dues, cat sitter fees, RRSP repayment, and house insurance are all due. I need a frugal month to help me get on top of things again.

This financial and dietary cleanse will be hard, but I know I will feel so much better when it is done. And, I am going to work hard to make it fun too. I am looking forward to trying many new recipes and spending my free time using up my old fabric scraps on quilting projects.

Wish me luck!

The Weekend Homemaker

My kitchen was very busy last weekend. I made almost everything that I planned and used up most of my food box!

In my food box, I had received: spinach, carrots, apples, potatoes, yams, rosemary, garlic, onions, sunflower sprouts, pears, oranges and lemons.

I used the oranges and lemon (plus an additional bag of Buck Brand organic oranges) to make this Citrus Pudding. Strange, but true. I was planning on eating it without whipped cream, but it was so bitter that I had to stir in some cream. Very, very orangy!

Of course, I also made my Baked Vanilla Pears. For, what would weekend of cooking be without baked pears?

I used the rosemary, red onions and yellow onions to make my stand-by Rebar Red Onion Soup. I freeze this soup in serving size portions and, when topped with some baguette slices and gruyere and broiled in the oven, it makes a delicious winter meal.

I also made my favourite chocolate chip cookies. These cookies bake up chewy rather than crunchy or cakey. Yum!

I made a simple cheese pizza to use up some leftover cheese and pizza sauce that had been hanging around my fridge.

Lastly, I did not yet around to making my planned cashew cheese, but did make this Sweet Potato (I used yams) Hummus and have been eating it for lunch all week. I wish I had not added quite so much garlic (my poor coworkers!), but it was otherwise delicious and is a definite keeper.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What's Cookin'?

Here's what's going down in my kitchen this weekend as I prepare for the next two weeks:

* Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
* (Vegetarian) French Onion Soup
* Sweet Potato Hummus (to be eaten with pita and vegetables)
* Pizza
* Warm Spinach Salad
* Chocolate Chip Cookies

And, it's 4:00 on Saturday and I haven't gotten started yet!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Weekend Homemaker

I think I spent about 80% of last weekend in the kitchen. My box of fruit and veggies had arrived on Thursday and needed dealing with. It contained: lettuce, carrots, parsnips, rainbow chard, sunflower sprouts, a lemon, apples, pears, potatoes, onions and beets. I also acquired spinach, basil and white wine (and cheese!) after a pizza night with the girls on Friday. I had to get to work and convert all of my colourful goodness to something edible (and freezable) as soon as possible!

Our pizza night started off with a lovely green salad with lettuce, sprouts, shredded carrots, shredded beets and pumpkins seeds. I always have trouble eating up my lettuce fast enough so I was glad for help! On Saturday morning, I roasted up my favourite Vanilla Pears and then I got to work on the rest:

The Rainbow Chard became . . .

The potatoes where chopped, boiled, tossed in lemon oil, oregano, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven. I don't eat a huge amount of potatoes, but this is my absolute favourite way to eat them when I do!

I used carrots and onion slices as a "rack" to roast a chicken on. Handy and delicious!

The final plate of goodness for dinner on Saturday night: roasted chicken, roast carrots and onions, balsamic chard and roasted potatoes.

On Sunday, I baked buns. This recipe has taken over as my favourite. All yeast bread recipes are pretty much the same so I don't know why this one is so good. It just is. I replaced one cup of white flour with whole wheat flour.

I also made Apple-Parnip Soup (taking care of most of the apples and all of the parsnips).

And I made basil pesto with the leftover pizza basil. This went directly into the freezer.

Last, but not least, I made two chicken casseroles using the leftover chicken from the roast. I made it the first time with spinach (also using up leftover wine and onions) and, it turned out so well, that I made it again with broccoli. This recipe is easy, tasty and super flexible.

At the time, I was wondering if spending almost my whole weekend in the kitchen was really worth it. But now, having spent a week without having to prepare meals, I know that it is. With the addition of frozen borsht and perogies, a few eggs and a couple of bowls of yogurt, I had plenty of food for last week, next week and maybe more.

This weekend? Shopping!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Confession

I have a confession to make. I seem to no longer be a vegetarian. I have been a "non-mammal eater" for about 20 years and was inspired to become a lacto-ovo vegetarian two years ago after reading Kathy Freston's Quantum Wellness. As, I have mentioned previously, I did eat local, free range turkey on special occasions but, aside from that, I never expected to be a meat eater again. In fact, I was even considering veganism.

Despite my desire to be a vegetarian, I came to conclusion that it wasn't quite working for me this past December. I have had increasing acid reflux over the past few years and had no idea why. I was continually lowering my fat intake and avoiding acid reflux culprits such as fried and spicy foods. I was popping tums constantly, but it still kept getting worse.

But then, for Thanksgiving, I ate turkey and the reflux went away. I didn't make the connection though - theoretically, a vegetarian diet should be good for reflux - and I continued with my regular diet. Then, in early December, I ate some Thanksgiving leftovers I had frozen. Again, the reflux went away. I returned to my vegetarian diet, the reflux returned. I made the connection. Finally.

Now, if acid reflux was nothing more than a bit of discomfort, I might have continued on with my meat-free diet. But, it isn't. Nope. So, I decided to return to an omnivore diet. And, once I made the change, I was relieved. I do feel a bit odd standing in the butcher shop and, at 34, I have realized that I have no idea how to cook meat. But, I feel comfortable with my decision. I still plan to eat primarily vegetarian meals and I am going to do my best to purchase non GMO, organic, local, free range animal products. Animal welfare is an important cause to me, but I don't see it as oppositional to meat eating. It just requires a little extra time, effort and money to make sure that what is good for me, is good for animals too.

In any case, as soon as I made the decision to become a meat eater again, all I could think was "steak". This was a shock to me as I think I have maybe eaten steak once or twice previously in my life. But, I went for it. I bought a cast iron frying pan, a lovely steak from the butcher and I made Nigella's Sake Steak with Rice. I didn't have to pop a tums for at least 36 hours following and I felt this strange feeling of fullness for at least a day (secondary bonus!). And, it was good.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Polish Feast

After spending Christmas with my parents, I retuned to home for my annual "week of nothing". I always intend to relax and rest during this week, but it usually ends up being a time for doing all those bits and pieces I usually don't have time to do . . . writing letters, painting doors, reorganizing closets and, this year, making a Polish feast.

My maternal grandfather was a Polish immigrant, but he died when my mom was young and she was raised by her very Scottish mother. I never really thought about this too much (in fact, I didn't even know I was part Polish until I was in my twenties), but I've become more interested in culture and food over the past few years. And, when one of my co-workers raved about her Hungarian Christmas Eve feast one day, I began to wonder what my family would have eaten, had Polish traditions been maintained. And so, I decided to give it a try and make myself a Polish dinner for New Year's Day.

I started with an unbelievably fuchsia coloured borsht. If anyone out there has vegetable adverse little girls, I think that this pink soup would be a hit!

Next, I made perogies. I was worried about the labour intensity of this task, but they were actually kind of fun to make.

First I made the dough.

Then I stuffed each pocket with a mixture of potato and cheese.

And then I ate them. Yum!

Lastly, I made makowiec, a sweet poppy seed cake. This recipe had quite a few steps, but it came together really nicely and I enjoyed the process.

To me, this dessert is more of a bread than a cake, but either way, it is delicious. I love poppy seeds and macowiec is certainly a way to get your fill!

I am not sure if I will make borscht again (I prefer my beets in their non-soup form), but I plan to keep homemade perogies and poppy seed cake in my repertoire. Food is so much more nourishing when it comes from a history and not from a box!