Current Happenings

Plains & Pastures Bike Tour (2013)

I'm so proud to live here! Fredericton folks are just AMAZING!!!  Thank you one and all!!  My team raised over $2000.  The support was humbling.  What a great place to be!!!

Mind you, the journey isn't about me - it's about people who fight this horrible disease on a daily basis.  If you're reading this now, I hope you'll come back and sponsor me in the ride next time. 


Bike for Breath

Many thanks to everyone and their generosity.  The amazing people in my life supported me to the tune of $377.  Some days it is just great to be here!   (Fall 2012)


Entries in Food (12)


More pancakes ..... getting closer.

Today was a refinement on yesterday's pancakes.  Cinnamon and nutmeg definitely improve the overall flavour.  Adding a spoonful of cream makes quite a difference in the cooking: it stayed like jelly for a lot longer than expected.  Using butter added more flavours and a LOT more colour to the outside of the pancake.  Texture was nice and fuffy.  Those are all good things.

Taste?  See now there's the rub.  I'm not a big fan of pancakes.  (Never have been.)  In order for this to make it as a staple food in my bikebag there's going to have to be an improvement somewhere.  Perhaps I need to think about what could be spread over the top: blueberries & yoghurt maybe?  What about something absolutely crazy like using curry in the pancake then top it with yoghurt and mangos?  I dunno.  I sense another several experiments happening over the next few days.


Another Pancake Experiment

Today was a morning where everybody else in the house was still sleeping.  AHA thought I, this is a good morning for another pancake experiment.  

I need to make a bike-portable breakfast that is easily heated up when I get to work.  Since it will be post-exercize, there’s logic to having some carbs in it to assist with muscle repair.   Carbs?  The enemy?  Yes - Carbs.  You need a small amount of carbs to stimulate a small amount of insulin.  You need a small amount of insulin because another effect of insulin is for building, or in this case, rebuilding muscle.   So I need carbs, along with good proteins.  Sounds like a pancake to me!

Remembering the last experiment, I knew I liked the taste of almond and coconut flour so I put a teaspoon of each in a bowl.  Next came some whey powder for extra protein, and lastly, 2 eggs.  Scramble it all and fry it.

The result was highly encouraging.  For starters, it LOOKED like a pancake and flipped like a pancake in the pan.  To my way of thinking it tasted pretty much like a regular old bland pancake.  That’s WHY you have maple syrup eh?  It makes them taste decent.    

So.... now that I know the process works and that a teaspoon of each flour is a good amount, I’ll try adding a little bit of cream, and maybe some nutmeg and cinnamon to the next one.  With luck that will address blandness, and maybe use a bit more butter in the frying process which would probably also improve the taste.

Of course, by the time this one was ready this morning, the stragglers started appearing in the kitchen to make their pronouncements.  It was decreed that they might travel better on the bike if they were frozen.  BRILLIANT.  I could make a batch of them on the weekend, and just grab one out of the freezer in the morning.  PRESTO.  Breakfast to go.....   So we’ll try making a couple for the freezer tomorrow and see how that goes.


Balancing Acts and Fruit Smoothies

This journey get highly entertaining by times.  Very few people think like I do it seems.  What a hoot.

Some people seem to like having a menu plan, and specific recipes all laid out for them.   They create a grocery list from that plan, and that’s that.  A whole order of planning magnitude above me.  That would drive me nuts.  What happens if you can’t find one of the ingredients?  What if the ingredients happen to be royally expensive in the winter?

That just doesn’t work for me.  I have a general plan, and good notion around the range of things that MIGHT work.  Then I juggle them.  It depends on what’s left in the frig.  It depends on what the sales were that week.  It depends on my mood or how hot the weather is outside.  That’s why I use the nutrition app to keep track of things.

People tell me that I rely on the daily number-crunching too much.  Usually the people who say that to me are also the same people who faithfully follow some diet with a name and a marketing budget.  What’s the difference?  I substitute stuff on a whim and measure it.  They’re all  hidebound in somebody else’s version of the utopian food plan.  To my way of thinking it’s a draw.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.  I had an avocado that needed using, some leftover sweet potato from supper yesterday, and some applesauce that is close to code.  Blueberries are super healthy, which makes four healthy fruits/vegs.  Yoghurt is fermented, coconut milk is good for you, and whey protein is highly digestible.  All in all, this is a power-packed smoothie and a really quick lunch.  It’s also HUGE!  This much food needs a beer stein to hold it all.  At 600+ calories, it’s not quite 1/3 of my daily 2000 target, which means there’ll be some room for snacks later.

But in terms of menu planning, the whole concoction reflects what’s leftover from last grocery day and not somebody’s pre-planned recipe in a menu.  In total, those four fruits/vegs brought the carbohydrate total up to 36 grams for the meal.  They also contain fibre, which is indigestible so in truth the net carbs in the smoothie was only 24 grams.  However, at 24 grams that is fully HALF my daily carb target.      

What this means is the other two meals will have to include lower carb fruits like raspberries, and lower carb veggies like asparagus, broccoli or spinach.  By definition it means that higher carb squash or cantaloupe won’t happen today.  Ordinarily there wouldn’t be applesauce AND sweet potato in the same smoothie, so different choices could happen later.  But today is leftover lunch day - roll with it.

Some people get frustrated by my answers.  They ask what I eat and I tell them my shopping list and then name a free app (myfitnesspal) to track it.  That’s how I think.  That’s how I plan.  That’s how I eat.  My number crunching app has been a major plank in the platform to date, and at 135 pounds melted away, there are few who criticize my system anymore.


Comfort food: Chicken Liver Pâté

I like to think I’m not a picky eater.  Alan is wrong to accuse me of it.  I’m NOT picky.  I just know what I don’t like.  ((He says “nearly everything” and that’s how that particular fight starts ...... ))

The Coop recently sourced some chicken livers.  They are apparently rare commodities.  Who knew?  I thought EVERY chicken had one but the friendly guy in the meat dept. tells me they’re actually hard to source.  So when I saw them just before Easter, I grabbed several packets.  Why?  For liver pâté of course.  What else?

The notion of what else brings a smile to my face.  Growing up on a farm, you had your own chickens for dinner and you wasted nothing.  All the edible bits of organ meat from anything were used in main dishes if you had enough of them, or chopped up in gravies if you only had a few, like from a single chicken.  In the warm and fuzzy glow of selective memory, it’s comfort food.

That smile gets a wry little quirk to one side when I think of my summer in Quebec City.  I didn’t have a steady job, and not speaking french all that well at the time, I couldn’t seem to land one either.  So I kept on being a student (it kept the student loan from coming due).  Unlike many other places, Quebec City has a thriving nighttime system of free, open-air concerts.  And extremely unlike anywhere else, the liquor laws are different.  So the starving student that was me would go for the free concert, and when it was over, she would fill up grocery bags with empty bottles and cans (all that could be carried walking home).  Bottles were heavy but bigger refunds, cans were light but only a 5 cent refund.  Cans were taken to a grocery store with a machine to crush them & spit out your refund receipt. Then you took that receipt and bought groceries: chicken livers and onions were both extremely cheap.  Chicken livers now evoke warm and fuzzy memories of music from the likes of Paul Piché and Marjo.   

What does one do with a pound of chicken livers?  Lots of things, but in my mind none of them for a full pound of it!!  So I cooked a mess of garlic & onions, and then all the liver.  Then I minced it all together in the food processor and folded it into a dish.  My plan was to take smaller amounts of the liver pâté base at a later time, adding different ingredients and spices in different batches.   So far so good.  The base worked out quite well, and tasted fine.  Unlike beef liver, chicken liver isn’t really all that strong and the flavours of the onion & garlic come through nicely.     

However, the smaller-batches-later concept, doesn’t work for all scenario’s.  Most spices need cooking to spread evenly throughout the mixture.  Part of that has to do with the heat itself, and part of it has to do with the gelling that happens when it’s cold.  Spices like curry for example would add a nice flavour (had it been warm).  It’s really hard to mix that spice in well enough when it’s cold.  Pockets of curry in your mouth are distinctly unpleasant.  So: lesson here?  If you’re doing cold run batches then make sure you’re adding things you don’t mind tasting in “chunks” like tiny bits of fresh chives or something.  Other than that, resign yourself to washing another set of dishes to make small warm batches of new flavours.  Even more annoying, resign yourself to putting it back in the frig to set up all over again before you can use it.


To be or not to be a pancake.

Cooking in this house is at best a chaotic affair.  Everyone thinks a different way, plans a different way, and has completely different preferences.  That’s just the beginning...... then there’s style... and expectations.... and criteria.... OMG

This level of finickiness just doesn’t work for me.  In truth, cooking is seriously boring and pointless.  You waste all this time to make it look pretty, and then just chew it all to bits, mix it with spit and down the hatch it goes.  I mean really: it’s just cooking!!  And that’s how you start a fight in this house ....

My partner in crime is a chemist.  Chemists work in places where mistakes make things blow up.  So he’s quite particular about mixing things, and measuring things, and following recipes.  Me?  Not so much.  For example, my notion of a cup of flour involves whacking the measuring cup on the side of the bin until it looks like it’s full.  Him, well now this calls for a properly settled & over-full cup to be precisely levelled across the top with a butter knife.  OH Puullleeeezze

Then there’s the ingredients.  I look at recipes like “suggestions” and he looks at it like "scripture".  I keep telling him he’d have starved to death if he’d been in Vanuatu with me.  We were advised to take a few favourite recipes with us, and then adapt them with in-country ingredients.  “ADAPT” was indeed the operative word.  You learned to attempt a recipe if you had 2 of the 10 ingredients from home.  Most often the two ingredients were things like Salt and Baking Powder.  I mean really.  IMPROVISE!!!!

So this morning I was allowed to “have my way”.  We have a lovely antique cookbook passed down from his family.  That’s what we’re trying to do aren’t we?  Get back to cooking with real & wholesome ingredients like our grandmothers right?   I looked at the basic pancake recipe and started substituting ingredients.  I mean really, it's just pancakes!!

Flour: No more grains.  Use almond flour & coconut flour instead.  Eggs: check.  Oil: Macadamia.   Salt: check.  Baking powder: check.  Milk: Use coconut milk.  Mix.  Cook.

Let’s just say things didn’t turn out as expected.  My daughter’s pronouncement was something like “That ____ is not pancakes”.  The chemist said “That’s interesting”.  And I thought “Tasty”. 

I really liked the flavour.  Now the fact that it looked more like couscous than a pancake didn’t bother me none whatsoever.  I’m thinking this would be great in scrambled eggs: add some body & texture, not to mention a great snifter taste of almond, macadamia and coconut.  What’s the problem???

Needless to say, I am overruled since it doesn’t look like pancakes, and pancakes must look like pancakes.  It doesn’t cook like pancakes and since it isn't the same chemical reaction going on, it can't be pancakes.  It doesn’t even taste like pancakes.  Therefore it is not pancakes.  Nohow.

Me?  Pancakes schmancakes.  I’ve just discovered a way to improve scrambled eggs.  Nifty-taste, grain-free, low-carb and healthy-fat scrambled eggs to boot!