Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

This is my photographic response to a recent photo challenge by The Daily Post. I like taking photos, especially for this type of challenge. I find it leads me to see the world differently. And seeing the world differently is something I always find enriching.

Moving from Utah to Massachusetts in 2011 (this is Wyoming, our first day of travel).

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Steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast: something besides a smoothie for breakfast for the first time in at least six months.

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Yes, there’s oatmeal in there. It’s nestled under the applesauce, almonds, and blackberries.

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Chocolatey Figgy Smoothie

Last week at the grocery store, there were figs. They looked so good that I bought them and brought them home before I remembered that I don’t really like figs.

They sat in the fridge for days while I hoped that someone else in the family would open the door, say, “Ooo! Figs!” and scarf them down.

After nearly a week, I finally looked up figs online to get some serving suggestions. All of the articles about eating figs were predicated on the idea that figs are really awesome and yummy, which really didn’t help me out. I needed something in which to hide my figs and make them palatable to me, if not to the rest of my family. All of the articles also made it clear that figs last only a few days in the fridge, so I needed to act fast.

I remembered a yummy chocolate smoothie recipe I’d made years ago. I looked up the recipe in I Am Grateful by Terces Englehart and Orchid. It called for dates and nut milk, too, neither of which I had right then, so I decided to wing it, buoyed by the assurance that adding figs to a smoothie was not, in fact, unprecedented.

I threw a bunch of stuff in the blender, and when I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted quite yummy. And between the caffeine in the cocoa and the laxative properties of the figs, this smoothie really got me going. So to speak.

I put figs in my smoothie this morning, too, without chocolate and with greens. It was fine, but not awesome. If you really want it, I’ll share that one, too. For now, here’s the chocolatey one.

Chocolatey Figgy Smoothie

yields about 4 cups

Ingredients:

3 black mission figs, washed

3 strawberries, washed

1 banana, peeled

soy milk or other non-dairy milk (about one cup)

2 T raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa, for a stronger flavor)

1 t vanilla

1 rounded scoop lecithin granules (optional. I like using lecithin for the silky-smooth texture it gives my smoothies)

5 ice cubes

Place the figs and strawberries in the blender. Pour soy milk over them until it reaches the “1 cup” line on the blender pitcher. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 30-60 seconds until smooth.

Huevos y Espinicas Rancheros

On my not-crazy diet, I’m supposed to eat a boatload of green veggies every day. I’m also supposed to eat lots of beans, and because I’m nursing I’m allowed to eat a small amount of animal protein each day (in the form of eggs or fish).

Tonight we decided to have eggs. But because of the need for leafy greens, I decided to have green eggs. And because of the need for beans, I decided to add black beans. And by that time it was near enough to huevos rancheros, I decided to just make a ranchero sauce and heat up some stone-ground corn tortillas (I’m allowed to have small quantities of corn).

I combined two recipes from Feeding the Whole Family in a kind of culinary Flintstones-meet-Jetsons (follow the links above for the recipes). I layered on a plate: warmed corn tortillas, green eggs, black beans, and ranchero sauce.

It was very pretty, so I took a picture of it.

And it was darned good, too. My husband didn’t even put cheese on his, so you know it must have been tasty.

(Light) Green Smoothie

I’ve been drinking green smoothies for a while, but I’ve always been a little afraid of the “greens” part. I usually end up putting more fruit in it than I put green stuff, to the point that my smoothies are 5 to 6 cups in volume and don’t generally look green at all.

During this two-week period on my not-crazy diet, I’m supposed to eat more veggies and have my fruit intake be no more than 30% of my total veggie intake for the day. This combined with the fact that I’ve not really been enjoying my smoothies and there’s just too much smoothie to drink has led me to contemplate less fruity smoothies.

The key, it seems, is grapes. I was surprised that grapes were even allowed on my not-crazy diet since they’re so sugary, but since they’re allowed, I’m going with it. It seems that grapes provide a sweetness that counteracts any bitterness from the greens.

This morning I had a smoothie that I found quite pleasant, and I thought I’d share it with y’all. There’s still a lot of fruit in it, but less than I usually use.

What’s in it:

~1 cup nut milk (almond-walnut)

5 leaves curly kale

1 pear, halved, seeds removed

1 orange (cara cara navel, peeled and halved)

1 handful of red grapes, no stems

This is what it looks like:

The nut milk makes it more of a light-green smoothie than a typical dark-green smoothie, but it’s a pretty color and I like the creaminess. And it doesn’t taste like kale!

Spanish Omelet from my Spanish Grandpa

One of the reasons we visited Florida this month was to visit my paternal grandparents. I always love visiting Grandpa, and not only because it’s such an odd sensation to see someone who’s almost 86 years old with the same mannerisms and patterns of speech as my 60-year-old dad. Grandpa is from Spain, but he was born in Indiana. As I understand it, things were heating up Spanish Civil War-wise, so his parents made it a point to give birth to US citizens. This proved to be a great benefit when Grandpa was thirteen and staying in Spain became unwise and US citizens were evacuated. (According to Grandpa, when they were waiting for the boat, he met a fellow who said his name was “Ernesto” and that he was from Oak Park, Illinois. Grandpa’s pretty sure “Ernesto” was Ernest Hemingway.)

For decades, Grandpa refused to talk about Spain or even to speak Spanish. Then into his 70’s, this started to change. He started telling about his family and about his time in Spain, during which one side of his family turned against the other. (This was in response to my husband’s question about why Grandpa’s never returned to Spain.)

While my dad was growing up, Grandma and Grandpa had a restaurant across from Timken Rollerbearing in Canton, Ohio. They benefitted from the lunch crowds that came in during each shift at the factory.

Grandpa still works seven days a week at a club in Sarasota, walking the grounds from 7 to midnight every night, a total of about 5 miles each evening. It’s universally accepted among those who know him that this is what keeps him so sprightly. Grandpa does not look nearly 86 years old.

Grandpa’s something of a low talker. Grandma says, “For someone who can’t hear, that man talks quieter than anyone I know.” Between that, his accent, and his circuitous storytelling style, it isn’t always easy to follow all of the details of what Grandpa’s saying. But I’ve pieced together a family history for him that I like and that makes sense to me, so until I find out something to change that (like when my Grandma said Grandpa was a twin, and then Grandpa said, “Oh, that. My brother was born seventeen months after me and we looked alike, so everyone thought we were twins.”), I’m sticking with the version I have. Family histories are remarkably difficult to assemble.

Luckily, I was there when he made the Spanish Omelet, so I was able to observe him in action rather than just listen to the story and hope I understood him right.

Spanish Omelet is very easy. It’s very much a wing-it type of recipe. I’ll see if I can talk you through it.

Ingredients:

potatoes (I used 5-6 small russets. That was too much. Maybe 2-4 would be more reasonable, depending on how big an omelet you want)

onion, about one medium, chopped

eggs (I used 5. That was about right for the amount of potato I used)

olive oil

salt

pepper

First, cook your potatoes. Grandpa’d already done that before we arrived. I think he microwaved them. So that’s what I did, using the “baked potato” setting on the microwave. Then I peeled them and mashed them up, like so:

I ended up using only about two-thirds of these potatoes.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a skillet (enough to coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of oil). I used a 10-inch non-non-stick skillet so I could be sure the omelet got well browned. Add the onions and saute until translucent.

Add the mashed potatoes and some salt and pepper, and saute for a minute or two more, stirring well and adding more olive oil as the potatoes suck it up.

In the meantime, beat your eggs well in a separate bowl. Add some salt and pepper, beat again, then pour the eggs over the potato and onion mixture. Mix the eggs in with the potatoes gently. Babysit the skillet and pull the egg in towards the middle with a rubber (silicone) spatula, keeping the forming omelet in a mass in the middle of the pan.

You’ve got to kind of use the Force to know when to flip this baby over. You want it to be firm, basically cooked through (the top will be raw still, though), and browned on the bottom. This takes several minutes. You can kind of tell when the browning is happening by the smell. Slide your rubber spatula under the edges to loosen them, and you’ll get an idea of the firmness of the omelet. At some point, you just need to make the leap and flip it.

Here’s how:

Take a large plate and invert it over top of the omelet in the pan:

Very carefully, flip the omelet and the plate over so the plate ends up on the bottom and the skillet ends up on top (with the omelet on top of the plate and under the skillet). Put the skillet back on the heat and gently slide the omelet back into the pan from the plate:

Then just put this gooey plate in the wash while the other side of the omelet browns. This will take a couple of more minutes. You might need to add more olive oil at this point, just lifting the edges of the omelet to get the oil underneath. When you’re pretty sure the omelet is cooked through and the other side has browned, slide it onto a clean plate to serve (or you can flip it again to make sure it’s brown on the underside).

Cut the omelet into wedges and serve. Grandpa served his with some cold ham. That was tasty. He said that chorizo, sliced thin and added with the onions, was a really good addition. This had been my plan with this omelet, but chorizo seems to be one of the items that’s not in every Utah grocery store. I’ll need to make a special trip to get some, though, as chorizo sounds awesome with this.

Grandpa also says this is great leftover in a sandwich. We didn’t have any leftover, so I couldn’t say.

I can’t speak to the authenticity of this Spanish Omelet, but as my Grandpa’s Spanish and he said it was a Spanish Omelet, I’m going with it. Much like I do with our family history.

Breakfast today: Teff!

What was that? I thought that said you were having ‘teff’ for breakfast.

Yes, you read that right. Teff.

That’s not really a word. You just made that up.

Not only is it a word, it’s an “ancient grain of Ethiopia.” It’s the smallest grain in the world (about the size of a poppy seed) and it’s also gluten-free. It’s high in iron and protein and fiber and yumminess. It comes in ivory or brown. The brown is darker in color (as you might have guessed) and has a slightly stronger flavor than the ivory.

What does it taste like?

I think it tastes kind of nutty. My daughter likes hers with just salt in it. My son and I like ours with frozen or dried fruit. Today I had frozen blueberries and a touch of maple syrup in ivory teff. It’s also good with chopped dates and walnuts, especially the stronger-tasting brown variety.

Where on earth do you buy teff?

I’ve found it at Whole Foods, but since it’s become a staple for us, I now buy it in bulk through Azure Standard. You can also buy it online.

OK, then, how do I make teff?

Teff is totally easy to prepare. It’s a 1-to-3 teff-to-water ratio. So, to make three servings, boil 3 cups of water in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of teff and stir. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. The teff at the bottom of the pot will thicken first, so be sure to bring that up when you’re stirring.

Faux Pep Mo

My friend Lynn posted a very provocative Facebook status this morning:

Life is better with a homemade peppermint mocha made from leftover candy canes and chocolate chips. Even if it is decaf.

After acquiring more details, I was on my way to making one at my house, too.

 

Satisfaction.

 

Here’s what I used:

3.5 scoops of ground dark roast coffee (I used decaf)

water up to level “5” on the drip coffee maker

1 handful chocolate chips

1 peppermint candy cane

1 smidge of coconut milk (full-fat? Yes, please!)

While the coffee’s brewing, put the other ingredients into the coffee mug you got your spouse for Christmas but which you get to use while said spouse is at work. Pour the coffee over top and stir to melt/dissolve/yummify. Chug before your kids realize you’ve put candy in your coffee and ask to share.

Lynn added sugar, but I found mine sweet enough without any additional sugar.

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New Year’s Pancakes

According to the Cynthia Lair on the cookusinterruptus blog, the French believe that eating pancakes on New Year’s Day promotes good luck and health for the coming year. I didn’t know this when I set the grains to soaking last night, but I’m pleased that the thing I was planning to make anyway might bring us good luck. They certainly were yummy. (Well, except for the first one from the pan, which tasted like the tacos we had last night. I’d washed the pan, but it retained the flavors. The tacos were good, just not great with syrup.)

Ben’s Friday Pancakes from Feeding the Whole Family. I forgot to take pictures before we ate, so here is what was left of the baby’s portion.

Ben’s Friday Pancakes

reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008) www.cookusinterruptus.com

See the comments on the link below for Cynthia’s suggestions about substitute grains. Apparently you can use corn meal, too. Good times.

2/3 cup steel cut oats

1/3 cup raw buckwheat groats

1 1/4 c liquid (Cynthia uses 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt and ¾ cup water. I used rice milk)

1 egg

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Combine oats, buckwheat, yogurt and water in blender jar.  1 ¼ cup milk* can also be used. Cover and let soak overnight or 6-8 hours in the refrigerator.

Put blender bowl on base.  Add remaining ingredients to grains and blend until smooth.  Add a little water if needed. Preheat an oiled griddle or skillet.  Pour about ¼ cup batter onto griddle and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden.  Repeat until all batter is used.  Keep finished pancakes warm in the oven while you finish.

Prep time: 15 minutes plus 8 hours soaking time

Makes 6-8 pancakes

*Any milk, cow, goat, rice, soy or nut, can be used.  I also like using a combination of yogurt and water to soak the grains.

via Cookus Interruptus – How to Make Ben’s Friday Pancakes – Fresh Local Organic Whole Foods.

Breakfast for Dinner

We waited all day for the snow to start.

I don’t know why, but something about waiting and waiting for snow made the day just drag on and on. That and the even-more-futile-than-usual task of trying to clean up the house. Entropy just got the better of us. I gave in, quit trying to clean, and helped my daughter cook up some pink play dough.

My daughter kneading pink homemade play dough.

We rallied in the evening, though. It helped that my husband brought home three bars of Chocolove Almonds and Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate (Whole Foods got me hooked on it and then didn’t carry it for weeks). One bar (3 servings my foot) gave me enough energy to do dishes and make breakfast for dinner while my husband and the kids were upstairs watching Curious George. It was the first time I’d made either of the recipes I used (both from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair), and they turned out to be the perfect thing for dinner tonight. Nothing like leafy greens to give a mommy back her energy.

Breakfast for Dinner: Green Eggs (No Ham) and Healthy Home Fries from Feeding the Whole Family

One was Green Eggs (No Ham). I cooked the eggs a little more than the recipe called for (I like well-cooked eggs. When I get eggs that are the least bit runny, I have the same reaction Napoleon Dynamite did when he tried the egg-laden orange juice at the chicken farm). What was nice, though, was that the addition of the little bit of rice milk in the eggs when I whisked them up along with the moisture of the spinach at the end of the cooking process kept the eggs moist and fluffy even though I browned them like I always do. The kids even liked them. My daughter said, “Mmm! Spinach! My favorite!” I’m guessing you could substitute chard leaves if spinach is not your favorite.

The other recipe was Healthy Home Fries. I used russets rather than red potatoes because that’s what I had on hand. It was a simple but very satisfying accompaniment to the eggs. I ate them with ketchup.

I’m still thinking about decluttering and making plans for next month’s resolutions (I’m planning to take some kind of class as part of January’s “Explore” theme, but I can’t decide what to take), but I’m trying to give myself a break from all the decluttering talk.

So, have yourself some yummy breakfast for dinner (or breakfast for breakfast). You’ll need your strength to tackle all of the post-holiday decluttering and re-stashing of decorations. Unless, of course, you celebrate holidays on the Orthodox Christian calendar, in which case you still have another week to go, and you’ll probably need your strength to get through the run-up to all of the celebrations to come, but you won’t be able to eat the eggs because you’re fasting. If this is your situation (or if you’re vegan full-time), Cynthia Lair’s book has a recipe for Tofu Vegetable Breakfast Burritos you might like to try. Have I mentioned this is my favorite cookbook?

Green Eggs (No Ham)

reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008) www.cookusinterruptus.com

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes 2-3 servings

4 eggs

2 T water or milk

1/2 t sea salt

1 T butter (I used olive oil)

1 c baby spinach leaves (I used ~1.5 cups cut-up grown-up spinach leaves)

1/4 grated cheese, optional (my family made these into burritos with cheese, but I didn’t cook it in)

Whisk together the eggs, water, and salt in a bowl. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the butter; when it melts, add the eggs.

Using a heatproof rubber scraper, gently stir the eggs as they cook, lifting the curds from the bottom of the pan. When the eggs are nearly cooked, add the spinach and the cheese, if desired. Cover briefly (less than 1 minute) to wilt the spinach.

Remove from the pan when the eggs appear light and fluffy, but still shiny and wet (I think I’ve already made it clear that mine looked dry and lightly browned when I removed them from the pan). Serve immediately.

Healthy Home Fries

reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008) www.cookusinterruptus.com

Prep time: 25 to 30 minutes

Makes 4 servings

6 red potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, cut into half-moons

1/2 t sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Place potatoes in a steamer basket and steam 7 to 10 minutes until tender.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add steamed potatoes, salt, and pepper. Flip potatoes occasionally until browned on both sides. Serve warm. (My family added them to their burritos with the green eggs and cheese. I ate them with ketchup.)

Cinnamon Rolls and Ugly Eggs: My Morning in Pictures

My husband took the kids to the playground and then out to lunch in advance of the snow storm this afternoon. I dedicated my alone time to preparing and eating food and getting dough on the camera.

First, I made Ugly Eggs. My preferred breakfast is one that I can make with whatever I happen to have in the house. Ugly Eggs fits this definition well because you can put pretty much anything in it. I’ve used peppers (both sweet and hot), mushrooms, asparagus, beans, potatoes, kielbasa, breakfast sausage, pepperoni, chopped turkey lunchmeat (not all at the same time).

If you, too, want to make Ugly Eggs, saute some veggies and meat together in a skillet. For this morning’s Ugly Eggs, I used 1/2 bell pepper, 1/2 small onion, and some chopped up leftover ham. While the veggies and meat are cooking, whisk up three eggs with some salt and pepper. When the stuff in the pan has begun to brown, pour in the eggs. Keep agitating with the spatula until they’re done to your liking (I like my eggs slightly browned, but I seem to be in the minority). Spoon into a bowl and eat with a fork (if you’re me) or a big spoon (if you’re my husband). If you’re neither me nor my husband, I suppose you can make up your own mind about what sort of utensil to use.

Some people put cheese on top. I do not.

Inspired by the decadence of my Ugly Eggs, I decided to make GF/CF cinnamon rolls. You can find the recipe I used here: Living Without – Cinnamon Rolls – Recipes Article. I didn’t have sweet rice flour so I used millet flour. I think next time I make these, I’ll try using the King Arthur multi-purpose GF flour. I ground my rice flour myself, but it wasn’t quite as fine as I would have liked. It didn’t stop me from devouring half of the cinnamon rolls within a couple of minutes of taking them out of the oven, though.

And now, the visual record of my food adventure this morning (as I try out the slideshow function on WordPress):

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