DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

Sometimes, you just want to eat something now. I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.” (For other FitP recipes, see “Categories” at right).
     
 kalesaladclose.jpg

Well, since my back is still a bit sore, I’m opting for a “flash in the pan” today.  Hmm: sore back. . flash. . .does that make this a “flash-back”? (Ouch.  Sorry–that one hurt even more than the back injury!). 

We ate this salad the other night along with my newfound amore, nutroast (don’t tell the HH).  This is one of my favorite salads ever, and even The Girls  love it (without the onion, of course).  Oh, and there’s no strain whatsoever on your back when you mix this together.

(“Yes, Mum, this is definitely a keeper.  But what do you mean, nutroast is your new amore?  What about US? Aren’t WE at the top of the list???”) 

My only experience with green leafy vegetables prior to my year at nutrition school was the archetypal (and, oddly, newly resurrected) iceberg lettuce.  In fact, my dad still eats a salad of torn, waterlogged iceberg, chopped woody tomato, and sliced, wizened cucumber pretty much every day for lunch.  Is there any wonder I never thought to branch out?

Then, throughout that same year, I kept hearing rumblings about these mythological creatures called “green leafy vegetables.”  Armed with mighty stems; dressed with undulating green fronds;  festooned with ruffly, bi-colored leaves, these creatures seemed like a veggie version of fabled videogame heroes.  I’d read paragraphs in our textbooks and stare, entranced, at the photos, but couldn’t remember ever having tasted any. 

But wait; I did remember coming close, as a teenager when I’d visit my best friend, Sterlin.  As nerdy adolescents, we bonded over the fact that neither of us had a boyfriend throughout high school.  We’d regularly spend weekend sleepovers at each other’s houses, blabbing and gossiping and avoiding homework (and cursing the fact that neither of us had a boyfriend), until the wee hours of the morning. 

Since my mother, my sisters and I were always baking something or other, sleepovers at my house involved chocolate chip cookies, brownies, apple cake, my mom’s famous chiffon cake or my then-favorite cookie,  Chocolate Shadows (a monstronsity of chocolate, peanut butter and mint, from the Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook). When we bunked at Sterlin’s house, however, our  2:00 AM munchie raids inevitably led us to her parents’ near-empty freezer, where we’d find. . .boxes of frozen spinach.  I have no idea why they were always so well stocked on spinach, but since that was all we could find, that’s what we ate.  Sterlin would pull out a box, heat it up in the microwave (hers was the first family I knew to have one), and we’d munch on soggy, unevenly heated, spinach. 

Needless to say, the highschool freezer exploits didn’t exactly increase my desire to sample kale, collards, chard, or the like. But once I did discover leafy greens, years later, I was instantly smitten.  I ended up trying every green-leafy recipe I could find, and seemed to love them all.  And I daresay, this is one of the best. 

When I mention that this salad uses raw kale, I’m often met with resistance.  “But isn’t it bitter?”  I’m invariably asked. 
Well, let’s get one thing straight: buying a lottery ticket and having the guy at the kiosk check it, tell you it’s a loser, then cash in the $5.6 million jackpot himself–that’s bitter.  Bending down to pick up your dog’s water bowl and ending up spending almost two weeks in bed with an excruciating back problem–that’s bitter. Dating narcissistic Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants) for three months, then having him dump you for his ex-girlfriend before you can break up with him–that’s really bitter (but am I bitter?  Why, no, no of course not, don’t be silly!)

But kale?  Nope.  Not bitter. 

This dish is well-known in the “living foods” community–so much so, that I’m not even sure to whom I should attribute it.  But a couple of years ago, I attended the Vegetarian Awakening conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan (what a fabulous experience!  Imagine my elation: three entire days, knowing I could eat every single thing available all weekend!), and one of the chefs there, Chad Sarno, demonstrated this salad, so I’m going to credit him.  There are multiple variations floating around on the Internet as well.

This salad is so quick and easy, you will not believe how delicious it is.  It contains only 5 major ingredients (with optional add-ins). And because it’s so green and healthy, chock full of antioxidants, minerals, Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, I’m submitting this recipe to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging event, originated by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen and this week hosted by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook.

Raw Kale and Avocado Salad

Kale, with its frivolous ruffles, is like a perky vegetable tutu. It’s often referred to as the “Queen of Vegetables” for its amazing nutritional profile. 

TO VIEW THE RECIPE FOR KALE AND HEARTY SALAD, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

[“We adore this this salad, too, Mum–it’s OUR new amore! Thanks for sharing.”]

TO VIEW THE RECIPE FOR KALE AND HEARTY SALAD, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

Nut Roast Extraordinaire

April 14, 2008

nutroastwhole.jpg 

Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

* * *

The first nut roast I ever made–or ever tasted–was for the romantic Valentine’s Day dinner I cooked up for the HH and me this year. Well, let me tell you, the specific holiday notwithstanding, it was definitely love at first bite (of the nut roast, that is–shame on you for thinking otherwise!  Besides, after eleven years, love for the HH had already been firmly established; no biting there for some time, now). 

And now, Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe has decided to host a blogging event, A Neb at Nut Roast, to honor that venerable dish of nuts, veggies, and spices; that meal-in-a-brick; that loaf to beat all loaves: the Nut Roast!  As soon as I read about it, I knew I had to come up with something extra special.

When I first baked up the Valentine’s Day roast, I dutifully followed Johanna’s original recipe; and while it was delicious, that wouldn’t do on this occasion. As I concocted my recipe for a main course consisting primarily of nuts, I felt quite vindicated by the process.  You see, in recent years, I’ve been told countless times by friends and family alike that my atypical dietary habits are, in their opinion, a little nutty. Finally, I can confirm that they are, indeed, correct in their assessment. 

It seems some of my friends and family just can’t get past the fact that I don’t want to eat anything from fast-food restaurants any more, or that I don’t want to use little packets of “seasoning mix” for my salad dressings, or that I don’t want to pig out on May Wests and Twinkies these days (Oooh.  Scratch that last one.  I really, really DO want to pig out on May Wests and Twinkies, but just can’t because (a) they spark a sugar-high gorgefest, in which I consume more in one sitting than any human should eat of them in a lifetime; (b) they cause me to me feel woozy (as opposed to tipsy, which can be pretty nice, come to think of it) and unwell; and (c) they are able to stay “fresh” for unnaturally long periods of time–say, 17 years–making me wonder whether they are animal, vegetable, or miracle-gro.)

I’m sure most vegans have shared this experience:  you’re invited to a big bash–some kind of holiday dinner, rite of passage affair (such as a wedding or bar mitzvah), or any other festive event.  The host(ess) acknowledges your “bizarre” dietary preferences and even makes a genuine attempt to accommodate.  When the rest of the gang sits down to a four-course dinner of pâte en croûte, oxtail soup, bacon, shrimp and scallops Bordelaise, and Wasabi Beef Wellington, you are the lucky recipient of a plate heaped with steamed broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and green beans. Oh, and if you’re lucky, a white dinner roll. (Well, at least it wasn’t a paper plate).

Okay, rewind and play that scene again, only this time omit wheat from the picture.  Not even the skimpy little roll, this time!  So despite my friends’ best efforts, I rarely get to socialize with them over dinner these days. (I do have to commend them for effort, though. )

This nut roast just may upset the status quo, however.  It’s a toothsome, meaty and hearty dish that can be enjoyed by virtually anyone.  For omnivores, it offers an appetizing flavor in a package resembling meat loaf.  For vegetarians and vegans, it offers a mouth-watering serving of protein that will leave you satiated. In fact, it was so tasty, so hefty and satisfying, that the HH, a tried-and-true carnivore, enjoyed it immensely and asked for seconds. I found it even more appealing the second day, after the flavors had melded and developed a bit.

Before cooking up the loaf, I began by leafing through my various cookbooks from the UK and Australia (since nut roasts seem to be much more prevalent there–we tend to favor patties and burgers over here in North America), just to see what the generic ingredients tend to be. As Johanna noted, most nut roasts contain a combination of nuts (duh), breadcrumbs or flour, and, most often, eggs and/or cheese. 

nutroastmeal.jpg Since eggs and dairy are out for me, I realized I was setting myself a tougher challenge than first anticipated.  What the heck, I decided, why not go whole hog (“whole tofu”?) and make it even harder–why not attempt to create a delectable, enticing, egg-free, dairy-free and GLUTEN-FREE nut roast?  Why not, indeed?!

Okay, so I was feeling a little nutty myself by that point (which, truth be told, is not that rare an occurrence). My head still reeling, I set to chopping (carefully) and processing (attentively).

If I thought I liked nut roast before, I have now developed eternal, till-death-do-us-part, adoration. This oblong object of my undying affection was robust, with a perfect combination of savory, herbed, and “meaty” tastes in a dense, slightly grainy and moist loaf with a crisped exterior.  Solid without being stiff, it easily maintained its shape when sliced; and the flavors were much enhanced by an evening in the fridge. 

I imagine you could also shape this into patties and use it for burgers if you were so inclined. We ate it with a simple kale salad, but you could, of course, serve it with the more conventional mashed potatoes and gravy for a divine meal–one you’d be comfortable sharing with just about anyone, no matter what their dietary preferences.

Nut Roast Extraordinaire

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

nutroastslice.jpg

This nut roast provides a filling, satisfying main dish to a special meal (or any meal).  The Brazil nuts and added wine contribute to the robust flavor, but if you prefer, feel free to substitute other nuts, or vegetable broth for the wine.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this second entry, I’m focusing on Quinoa. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the last entry on quinoa.]

The moment I decided to present a Lucky Comestible series about quinoa, I simultaneously decided I’d have to include at least one baked goodie.  I know what you’re thinking:  “Now, Ricki, haven’t you already included a recipe for said baked goodie?  After all, you did post about Almond-Quinoa Muffins before the involuntary GBR, didn’t you?” 

Why, yes! Yes, I did. However, technically speaking, muffins are a “baked good,” not a “baked goodie“–the latter term reserved for dessert-type treats, such as cakes, pies, cookies, tarts, or bars.  I wanted to see if I couldn’t turn quinoa into something at least quasi cake-like, despite its elevated whole grain status–something worthy of the term, “dessert”–something that even skeptics like Johanna or Wendy (who mentioned on Johanna’s blog that quinoa reminds her of worms!) could enjoy. 

So, even though personally, my favorite use of quinoa is as a base for salad (where its true essence can shine through), I let my mind wander back toward baking.  And while so doing, I remembered that, in actuality, quinoa is not really a grain–it’s a seed related to beets and leafy greens such as spinach or chard.  Well, okay, I’ve already used spinach in a previous baked goodie, so that didn’t deter me at all.  And even if my quinoa creation didn’t turn out as decadent as a molten chocolate cake, I figured I could still whip up something with both a great nutritional profile AND a sweetness rating high enough to please the kids as an after-school snack, or to serve unexpected guests, with a steaming cup of green tea.  (“And don’t forget, it’s also good enough as a special treat for your sweet and devoted Girls, Mum! We LOVE apple-quinoa cake. . .”)

Since we already had a bag of Macintosh apples withering away on the counter, I started there.  I imagined that a lightly spiced batter would work well with the sturdy taste of quinoa, which can sometimes be a bit domineering in a crowd. For some reason (perhaps because quinoa itself is gluten-free), I decided the bars should also be celiac-friendly. 

What I ended up with was a light and moist cake, studded with raisins and sunflower seeds alongside thin shreds of apple and grains of quinoa.  The cake is slightly chewy, slightly crunchy, with a tender crumb and pleasing spice.  And because it’s fashioned from leftovers of both quinoa and apple, I thought it would be a perfect submission to the Leftover Tuesdays event, hosted by Project Foodie

Mum, you disappoint us.  Raisins?  You know we can’t eat raisins.  But maybe you could pick them out for us. . . ”

 Apple-Quinoa Cake

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

Next time you cook up some quinoa and find yourself with leftovers, try this great snack cake. Without being excessively sweet and boasting sunflower seeds, two fruits and two whole grains, the cake is nutritious enough to eat for breakfast, though still light enough for dessert.  The subtle apple and trio of spices is a tantalizing combination–you may have to stop yourself from having more than one piece!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

[Warning: this post contains material that some might find offensive.  That’s right–I’m going to be serious for once.]

 

Last evening, the HH and I went out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary (eleven years since we met—can it be possible??).  Actually, our true anniversary was last Sunday, but given the unexpected GBR that had me stuck in the house, we deferred until yesterday (sort of like we did with our Valentine’s Day dinner, celebrated on February 16th—guess we’re just wacky that way).

 

As we always do on this milestone date, we splurged and went to our favorite restaurant (something we do about twice a year—any more, and we probably couldn’t afford regular food!).  Even though it’s outrageously expensive, the place does deliver, and consistently: great menu, great service, great atmosphere. It’s never a problem to find a meal that suits my dietary restrictions (there’s often a tempeh option!), and even if there’s nothing suitable on the menu, they’ll whip something up on the spot—and it’s always absolutely spectacular (how does a starter salad of Belgian endive stuffed with puy lentils, candied pistachios and dried cranberries, topped with a pouf of lentil sprouts and misted with a light champagne vinaigrette sound?).

 

As usual, I enjoyed the meal immensely; as usual, I ended up consuming too much (how does a heaping plate of fresh potato gnocchi—nothing at all like my own feeble attempt a few weeks back—graced with a saporous, light and meaty wild mushroom sauce and laced with caramelized leeks and occasional hints of thyme sound?). 

 

Well, everything was fine and dandy while we were still celebrating, cleaning our plates and draining our champagne flutes, feeling pretty good about our decade-plus-one status.  But then, this morning. . .

 

Ah, this morning.  

 

 

When I first started this blog, I designated Sundays as “Progress Tracker” day, when I’d weigh-in (at the Workout Club), then record my weight as I lost it. Which means that this morning was weigh-in time. Needless to say, I haven’t been to the club since I hurt my back; but worse, today’s eye-opener was that my weight has now surpassed the original number when I started the blog!

 

 

Do I capitulate, and remove the “diet” from the blog’s title?  Do I keep mum and pretend that the pounds are melting away when they’re not?  Do I forget about the whole thing and just eat whatever the heck I want??

 

No, I decided, I can’t do any of those. Besides the fact that I am still a firm believer in the notion that healthy eating, even without counting points, calories, or carbs, will eventually lead to natural weight loss and health, I don’t feel good this way. I am still able to remember those days when I maintained a healthy weight, and how everything–from walking up the stairs, to getting out of a chair, to playing Frisbee with The Girls, even to pulling on my socks in the morning–was so much more free and easy.  And so, even before the anniversary dinner yesterday, I had decided that some drastic measures are in order.  Time to get some help with this quest of mine. Time to call in the Big Guns.

 

As serendipity would have it, I received an email from my friend and former teacher at nutrition school last week. She’s offering a nine-week course called  ClearBeing Total Health, aimed at one’s overall lifestyle. I registered immediately! The plan focuses on more than just diet alone, and that’s exactly what I need.  I’m also hoping this will be the necessary impetus for me to renew the habits that were already so natural when I studied nutrition a few years ago. 

 

Best of all, this approach is totally compatible with the kinds of food I’ve been highlighting on this blog. The only difference is, I’ll be eating less of them.  In fact, this may actually be the first time in my life I’m looking forward to starting a “diet.”

 

Wish me luck!  I’ll be keeping you posted.

 

 

 

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thank you for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new home of Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we?  Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”

It’s a truism when discussing the era of flower children and Woodstock to say, “If you remember the ’60s, you probably weren’t there.”  When it comes to the 1980s, however, those of us who lived through it are more likely to lament, “I remember it all–if only I could forget!” Still, the Era of All Things Excessive (also known as the “Me” Decade) did have its touchstones.   

Let’s see: if you (a) know what a “social X-Ray” refers to; (b) can name the performers who sang “Ebony and Ivory“; (c) own one of the original Cabbage Patch Dolls; (d) know where Expo ’86 took place; and (e) have seen the only movie in which Julia Roberts was actually any good, then you, like I, were most likely cognizant of the 1980s–like it or not. 

And yet, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for those times.  I mean, how can anyone forget the heady 80s, with their typical Yuppie motto of “More is More”?  As a PhD student on her own in the Big City of Toronto, it was in the 80s that I finally became comfortable perceiving myself as an “adult.”  Working as both a don in residence and a teaching assistant at university, I supported myself while studying and carrying on an active social life, as only someone in the early throes of adulthood can do. With a built-in social network (three of my close friends from childhood had already moved here years before) and PhD seminars filled with interesting new classmates (as well as the occasional crush), I was happy to spend my time memorizing Beowulf by day, then taking on the town by night. 

80s urban professionals were regularly amused by showy sportscars, massive parties, both private and public (raves made their appearance in the 80s), big hair (remember Boy George?), big fashion (ah, yes, Amazonian shoulder pads) and even bigger earrings.  I recall encountering a colleague in the hallway at work one day, feeling pretty snappy, bedecked as I was with a pair of my favorite gold-wire earrings. He took one glance my way and sniped, “Wow, how’d you get those hamster wheels to stay attached to your earlobes?”. 

Ah, yes, pretty much everything from the 1980s was excessive and self-indulgent.  And the food?  Oh, my, the food. . . .

The 1980s were epitomized by everything rich, from Gordon Gekko to Double-Chocolate-Hazelnut-Caramel-Cream Cheesecake.  Foods were elaborate and multi-layered, and nobody ever worried about saturated fat, cream, too much red meat, organic, or whether the tiramisu was made with whole-grain ladyfingers. No one had ever heard of Omega 3s, let alone ingested them, and restaurants were just getting their fingers wet with the new food architecture that mandated aesthetics over taste.  In those days, I’d spend hours cooking and baking for dinner parties, multiple courses and desserts that could, on their own, drain the stock of an entire dairy farm for a day.  

One of the best-selling cookbooks of the time was The Silver Palate Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.  Two regular New York gals who’d made a name for themselves by operating one of the most successful little gourmet shops in the city’s history, these women finally collaborated on a cookbook and were instantly rewarded with an overwhelming, almost cult-like following. 

Like most of my friends, I possess a well-worn copy of the maroon and white-covered tome, its edges fraying a little and pages splotched with grease stains.  From the side, my book appears to have donned a jagged, fringed winter scarf, as little strips of sticky-notes, marking recipes I wished to try, peek out from almost every page.   One in particular, Chicken Marbella, was cooked so many times that I had to replace the sticky note on more than one occasion.

Well, for some reason, while I lay supine in bed for ten days, my mind kept wandering back to that darned Chicken Marbella.  Maybe I was a little delirious; maybe the muscle relaxants brought with them delusions of poultry; or maybe I was just ravenous since I couldn’t get up to feed myself, subsisting on the meager, dried-out muffin the HH left on the bed each morning before he trotted off to work.  Whatever the catalyst, I craved that dish.  So, as soon as I was up and about, I pulled out my trusty copy of The Silver Palate, and set about adapting.

The original recipe turned out to be slightly different from what I remembered (in my idealized version, it was aromatic with a variety of Moroccan spices, rather than the lone oregano it does contain), but it was still alluring.  Certain that quinoa would partner perfectly with the other ingredients, and after a little tinkering, I came up with this recipe.

I must tell you, this was astonishingly good.  Next time, I’ll begin with a little more quinoa and chickpeas, as the original marinade was aimed at 4 chickens (I’ve adjusted the recipe, below, accordingly). As in the original dish, the unconventional combination of baked prunes and olives is spectacular, and the quinoa provides a perfect base to soak up and then showcase the flavorful marinade. Even if you’re not normally a fan of prunes, I think you will enjoy them here.

I love this dish as a main course casserole, but the HH still yearns for the chicken and prefers this as a side dish.  He ate it, sighing, wishing aloud that if only we’d met in the 1980s when I was still throwing elaborate dinner parties with dishes like Chicken Marbella or some excessively rich cheesecake, he could have sampled the “real” recipe.

But of course, that would never have happened.  Even if, by some weird karmic commingling of our (then) diametrically opposed lifestyles, we had actually met back then, the HH would have taken one glance at my bouffant hairdo, while I took one glance at his erstwhile “business associates,” and we would both have run screaming in opposite directions. It wasn’t until the end of the 90s, after having both matured considerably, that fate ultimately brought us together with a coup de foudre. . . followed, inevitably, by our current calm, somewhat predictable, and rather domestic existence. 

Amazing, isn’t it, what changes just one decade can bring?

With its fragrant oregano, olives, and prunes, this dish is my submission to Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi.

Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes

Adapted from this original recipe in The Silver Palate Cookbook

Slightly sweet, slightly salty, and warmly spiced, this dish is a delectable treat.  Because it is rather rich and filling, if served as a main course, a simple, light salad would be the perfect accompaniment.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this second entry, I’m focusing on Quinoa. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

You guys are too funny!

I would never have guessed that my silly little comment about quotation marks at the end of yesterday’s post could spark so many witty comebacks.  Well, quotation marks be damned! Now that I’m officially *back,* I’ll just have to reach waaaay %back % into my punctuation quiver and pick out a few other sharp marks and symbols.  And so, right ++BACK++ at ya! 

For now, though, I must hold myself >bAcK< and will no longer tap my spinal woes as a source of humor (though the original Spinal Tap, on the other hand, provides its own endless source of punny laughs).  And now, let’s get back  to today’s Lucky Comestible!

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’re likely already familiar with my penchant for breakfast foods.  The morning repast is, unequivocally, my favorite meal of the day.  So how could I go through five different recipes featuring quinoa and NOT include at least one targeted breafast dish? 

I’ve already covered a baked good with the Almond-Quinoa Muffins; today, I’ve repurposed Lisa’s amazing Quinoa and Oatmeal Croquettes recipe for a breakfasty-sweet usage rather than the delectable savory meal (smothered in a rich mushroom sauce) that she originally wrote about. Luckily, the recipe is super-easy and employs ingredients I already had on hand, so I was able to whip these up without having to head to the supermarket, which would have undoubtedly strained my finances patience relationship  (Oh, just SAY IT:)  BACK .

I’ve always thought of croquettes as somewhat pear-shaped orbs that sit under a thick slathering of creamy sauce.  As a kid, my mom sometimes made chicken croquettes, which involved grinding, mixing, and shaping the mounds of seasoned chicken before rolling them in breadcrumbs and baking them, after which they were doused with à la King sauce (ie, canned cream of mushroom soup) that had a handful of frozen peas thrown in. Representative of the times, but hardly worth the effort, I always thought.

When I saw Lisa’s recipe, I was a little surprised at the form of these croquettes. Like that iconic fast-food hamburger, they were square rather than round; and like the proverbial bank heist-without-a-hitch, they were almost too easy: simply cook up, spread in pan, then cut into shape.  I suppose I could have used a cookie cutter to approximate a rounded shape, but why bother? Who said croquettes have to be round, anyway?

What I like about these little darlings is that the quinoa is very evident–not a co-star, but the main attraction.  The oats, while present, don’t really determine much of the overall flavor; rather, they seem to bind the croquettes together instead. The mixture reminded me very much of a polenta in texture and preparation; but the taste was, to my mind, very well suited to breakfast.

 And so, still limited by the few ingredients I actually had in the house after the GBR, I pulled out some homemade cranberry preserves as a topper and set about heating these in the griddle for breakfast.  I was very well rewarded with a nubby-textured, moist and chewy croquette highlighted by the occasional crunch, courtesy of sesame seeds sprinkled over top.  The slightly sweet, slightly tart jam was the perfect accompaniment.  These would also be divine with maple syrup, I think.  Oh, and mushroom sauce (as Lisa suggests) too, of course.  

 

Quinoa-Oatmeal Croquettes

from Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen

 

Quick, hearty, and substantial, these are the perfect breakfast bites.  If you’re in a hurry, you can even wrap them up and take them along.  And, as Lisa suggests, they make a great base for a savory sauce, too.

1 cup dry quinoa

1 cup rolled or steel-cut oats (I used rolled oats)

3 cups water

1/4 tsp. sea salt

sesame seeds, as needed

olive oil, as needed

If desired, rinse the quinoa to remove the bitter outer resin (I didn’t bother, as I assume most quinoa these days is pre-rinsed; but if you want to be safe, go ahead). Place in a glass casserole or pan along with the 3 cups water, cover, and soak overnight in the fridge.

The next day, grease a 9 x 9 inch square pan with olive oil or nonstick spray.  Pour the mixture into a medium-sized pot and stir in the sea salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until it has the consistency of a thick porridge, about 25-30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Refrigerate at least 20 minutes, to let the mixture cool and firm up (I left it for about 4 hours).  Cut the mixture in to cubes of desired size (I cut the contents of the pan into 20 small cubes).

Lightly oil a frying pan with the olive oil, and fry the cubes on both sides until golden brown and crispy on the outside.  Transfer to a plate and serve with fruit preserves of your choice.  Makes 4-5 servings.  Will keep for 4 days, covered, in the fridge.

Other Posts in this Series:

Lucky Comestible II (1): Quinoa Salad with Buckwheat and Cranberries

Lucky Comestible II (2): Almond-Quinoa Muffins

Lucky Comestible II (3): Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes

Lucky Comestible II (5): Apple-Quinoa Cake

Other Quinoa Recipes:

(Got a quinoa recipe?  Send me the link during this Lucky Comestible week, and I’ll add it to the list!)

 

 

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

*Or, It’s a Long Road “Back”

*Or, Things You Think About While Lying Flat on Your Back for Ten Days

Well, I may not be completely “back” just yet, but I am at least vertical once again–if only for a couple of hours a day.  YIPPEE!  Talk about an ordeal. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone, nosirree.  Not even the nastiest bully from grade school.  No, not even the most loathed former boss.  Not even the rudest clerk at the video store.  Or even the most reviled ex-boyfriend (He of the Black Leather Pants).  Yes, it was that bad!

And I am thrilledl to finally return to the world of blogs and blogging!  It feels like eons since I’ve written on (or even looked at) this site, or any of the other blogs out there I so enjoy reading. I promise to catch up on them all over the next week or so.  But before I even begin to write about my unanticipated interval of Great Bed Rest (aka Grevious Back Relapse)–or GBR, I want to share a recipe I discovered as soon as I returned here:

Blogger Twice Marinated in Wet, Salty Broth

1) Get Ricki to hurt her back, badly. Result: first marinade in wet, salty broth (also referrred to as Crying Jag Number One).

2) Get the HH to write a short note explaining her absence (no easy feat, considering the blog-shy HH).

3) Have Ricki return to the blog about 10 days later, read the parade of amazing, supportive and sympathetic comments from readers and other bloggers. Result: second marinade in wet, salty broth (also referred to as Crying Jag Number Two).

4) Allow Ricki to marinate for about 5 minutes before she returns her attention to the blog.

5) Accept her heartfelt gratitude for your wonderful, generous outpouring of good wishes, which is appreciated beyond words.

6) Wrap carefully and store in a safe place.  Will last indefinitely.

In other words, THANK YOU ALL for your comments and kind thoughts while I was away! I have missed you all, and am very, very happy to be “back.”

And so. . . what the heck happened, anyway??

Well, the official diagnosis is a one-two punch of, first, a bulging disk (sometimes erroneously called a “slipped disk”), followed almost immediately by an inflamed facet joint (the latter occurring due to an overly strenuous exercise regimen prescribed by a zealous physiotherapist, only ONE DAY after the original injury! Definitely a no-no).

I had thought the initial pain was pretty bad, but the second injury catapulted it into the realm of “no adjectives available.”

It’s true, the HH and I have no children, so I never had the experience of childbirth as a reference point for that particular brand of agony.  Nevertheless, I can only attempt to express the depths of physical torment inflicted by this back attack:  for the first three days or so, each time I even ATTEMPTED to get off the bed, I would be overcome with an immediate draining of blood from my face and I’d begin to black out. If not for the deft and sturdy embrace of the (relatively) strapping HH, I would have surely ended up in an unconscious heap on the floor.  And though he’s not especailly musclebound, the HH was, thankfully, still strong enough to lift my mumblemumbleundisclosednumber-pound frame back onto the bed.

[“I really hated it when you were sick, Mum.”]

As it turns out, the word “vacation” in this blog entry’s title, above, is not merely a euphemism.  You see, here in Ontario, colleges run year-round, offering three full semesters (including one through the summer months).  I happen to be one of those weirdos trailblazers quirky teachers who prefers her holiday in the winter, and who teaches all summer. Given my oft-declared abhorrence of winter, being able to curl up by the fireplace, hunker down, and just do nothing when the snow makes its unwelcome appearance is a privilege I truly appreciate.

And while I did spend the last 10 days or so lazing around, reading, sleeping as much as I felt like (more than I felt like, actually), and being waited on hand and foot (I am eternally in your debt, Oh Great HH), it was not, by any stretch of the imagination, akin to a “vacation.” Being stuck in bed with nothing to do but follow the aimless peregrinations of my (painkiller-enhanced) thoughts did, however, allow me to formulate some interesting observations.

Here’s what went through my mind as I contemplated my lot over the past fortnight or so:

  1. Never begin an exercise routine for a sore back the day after you first injure it.  Never.  NOT EVEN IF THE ZEALOUS PHYSIOTHERAPIST TELLS YOU TO.  You will regret it.  You will rue the day.  So, never!
  2. Dogs are strange and wonderful creatures, and I love them more than ever. Throughout the Great Bed Rest, every day and all day, Elsie and Chaser held vigil at the foot of my bed. Not quite close enough for me to touch them, but close enough so that I knew they were there. Eventually, we three began to sigh, heave, and sleep along the same diurnal pattern, until the HH came home.  (“Um, don’t mean to hurt your feelings or anything, Mum, but we were actually just worried that we might not get fed any more–not that we weren’t concerned about you, too, of course.”)
  3. When you are stuck in bed, staring straight up at the ceiling for over a week, the stucco finish begins to look strangely like snow.
  4. When you are stuck in bed, staring straight up at the ceiling for a week and the stucco finish begins to look strangely like snow, the actual snow outside will melt, and so when you finally get up again, it will be spring!
  5. The HH is one helluva good sport.  Can’t cook worth a dime, unfortunately, but nevertheless one very sweet guy. He took care of daily housework and chores, walks for The Girls, feedings (theirs and mine), hairwashing (mine), as well as other less appealing ablutions. He came home from work at lunchtime each day to ensure I had food and a break, and also to confirm that the house hadn’t burned to the ground in his absence (an outcome I would have been helpless to prevent, in any case).
  6. Finally, I came to the clear realization that this GBR would never have occurred at all, had I not gained all the weight I’ve been earnestly trying to lose since I began this blog. And so, this latest episode has prompted a reaffirmation of my resolve:  I must get healthy! 

It’s with renewed determination that I return here to focus on all three: DIET, dessert, and dogs.

And, of course, all of you.  Thank you all for continuing to visit, for reading, and for commenting (I love hearing from you!). 

And while the latter part of the Lucky Comestible posts will have to wait until I can stand a bit longer, I’m looking forward to scanning my files and posting about some previous exploits in the kitchen as the back continues to heal. 

Yes, it’s great to be “back”!

(Oh, and I promise never to write the word, “back,” in quotation marks, ever again.)

[“Glad you’re feeling a bit better, Mum!”]