Im FReE

December 10, 2008

elsieconeless

Mi Mum tuk off th kone becuz i wuz so sad. **

Now Im happee I playd with Chsr tody. But she bits my ear maybee i shud put th kone bak on.

Thnks for asking abut me.  Wht grate blog buddys yu all are.

xoxoxoxo Elsie

**Also becuz i kept hittng th wall and got stuk on the stairs.

Advertisements

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE 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 fourth entry, I’m focusing on Coconut. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]

Well, folks, it’s been quite the day here at the DDD household.  This post may be a tad longer than usual, so relax, don those fuzzy slippers, curl up by the firewall, and read on. . .

The day started out almost like any other, except that the HH, suffering from a bout of the flu, was at home.  Knowing he needed something substantial and nourishing–and fearing I might be felled as well–I cooked up a huge batch of stick-to-your-ribs, nutrient-dense, thick and creamy Baked Oatmeal.  So far, so good.

As is our habit, the HH and I ate our meal at the table, as The Girls waited in the wings (really just across the floor), like so:

Once we were done, as usual, we offered The Girls the leftovers.  In this case, it amounted to about 1/4 cup (60 ml.) cooked oatmeal each.  I scraped the oatmeal into their bowls, set them on the floor, and the enthusiastic slurping began. 

“Isn’t it cute how they hoover it up?” I mused absentmindedly to the HH.

“Yep, they really seem to like that apple-raisin combo,” he remarked.

“Ha, ha, yes, the–the WHAT?!!  Apple-raisin??!!!  RAISIN???!!!!”  How could I have missed them?? HOW COULD I BE SO IRRESPONSIBLE???!!!! RAISIN. Oh, no. . . . . . 

I swooped in to whisk the bowls out of reach–but alas, too late.  They’d both eaten several mouthfuls of raisin-infused oatmeal!  Now, as any of you with dogs already know, recent media reports have warned that raisins–for some unknown reason–can be highly toxic to dogs, sometimes causing nausea, renal failure–or worse.  Horrors!

In a panic, I called the vet to see what to do.  My mind was already reeling with unspeakable possibilities. “Bring them in immediately,” she commanded. 

And so, a few moments of carelessness led Ricki to spend half her morning chewing her nails in the vet’s office, waiting for The Girls to upchuck a few mouthfuls of cooked oatmeal, apples, and raisins. 

Thankfully, everyone came through just fine (though to tell the truth, I’m probably still a bit traumatized–but that might just be because of the size of the vet bill).

Well, after the Ordeal of the Raisins, I was in no mood to crack open a coconut, so we’ll forgo that demonstration today.  I do, however, have this yummy coconut-rich Cabbage T’horin for you, as the first entry in the Lucky Comestibles: Coconut series.  (And no dogs were harmed in the making of this side dish).  

*   *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Coconut, like coffee, chocolate and wine, is a perfect example of culinary atavism: hailed as a boon to health in one generation, scorned in the next, then revived as a “health food” yet again decades later.

Given a bad rap in the past because of its high saturated fat content, what we think of as coconut, that white “meat” that’s most often eaten shredded and dried, is actually the nut of a fresh, green coconut fruit.  In recent years controversy has developed over whether or not coconut oil is or is not good for us.  Apparently considered a panacea in the tropical countries where it’s naturally abundant,  coconuts have been touted more recently in North America as well, to treat a variety of medical problems. 

In nutrition school, we learned that the saturated fats in coconut, unlike those in other foods with a high sat fat content (such as meat or butter), are considered “medium chain fatty acids,” which don’t increase cholesterol levels or contribute to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular issues.  In fact, most of the studies previously done on coconut oil focused on hydrogenated varieties, and hydrogenation renders any fats unhealthy

Some researchers also believe that coconut oil is useful for a plethora of ills, including fungal infections (caprylic acid, derived from coconut, is a primary alternative treatment for candida yeast overgrowth), viruses, parasites, digestive disorders, and a wealth of other conditions, as well as helping to prevent heart disease and promote weight loss (though I’ve never been the beneficiary of this last characteristic). 

One thing that’s indisputable is its place as first choice when you’re seeking an oil to cook with on high heat.  Because of its saturated status, coconut oil is the oil least damaged by heat, which makes it great for frying (even though I know you never fry foods, right?) or baking.  And because it’s solid at room temperature (as long as your room is below 76F), coconut oil makes a great butter substitute, and can be used interchangeably with butter. At the organic market where I used to sell my baked goods, one of the vendors was known to eat it off a spoon.  I never quite achieved that lofty accomplishment, but do use it for stir-fries and baking.  

Fresh coconuts also confer health benefits, through the coconut “water” (the liquid inside the coconut fruit–not to be confused with coconut milk, which is made by boiling the meat of a coconut). I had the opportunity to drink some fresh coconut water extracted from one of these green coconuts a few years back when in nutrition school.  An incredibly healthy imbibement, the liquid from a fresh young coconut is said to have the same electolyte balance as our blood, so it’s a wonderful energy drink (which, according to Wikipedia, can actually be taken intravenously!) .  I must admit I wasn’t a fan. Apparently, coconut water is now being sold already flavored, so I may give it a try.

As to coconut milk, well. . . is there anything richer tasting than full fat coconut milk?  It’s the base for my soy-free vegan whipped cream (the recipe for which is being tweaked daily, with the goal of perfection by the time it appears in the upcoming cookbook) and many a creamy sauce.  I love it in desserts and use it in baking as well when I can, although again, you don’t want to overdo the sat fat. 

Finally, there’s the coconut itself.  Fresh coconut meat is unparalleled in flavor and texture, but practicality does take over most of the time when we’re cooking or baking, and dried is a fine substitute.  I’ve used freshly grated coconut meat on only a handful of occasions in cooking.  Generally, I prefer unsweetened, as I’d rather have control over the amount of sweetener in my foods (and shredded coconut is often sweetened with white sugar).  This way, as well, you need buy only one type, as it’s suitable for both cooking and baking.  For the recipes in the Lucky Comestibles series, I’ll try to include coconut meat, milk, and oil (and leave you to try fresh coconut water on your own).

Today’s recipe, the first one I made from my new cookbook, Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon, features shredded dried coconut.

According to the book, this dish hails from Kerala province in India, the very name of which means “Land of the Coconut Palms” and where “almost everything contains coconut.” I think this T’horin is testament to that sentiment–I mean, how often would you consider combining coconut with your cabbage?  And yet, it really works.

Try this out for a quick, easy, and incredibly tasty dish. Unlike many dishes with cabbage, this one stir-fries it without the addition of very much liquid, for a crisp yet fully cooked result.  I thoroughly enjoyed it as a side with dinner–and was sure it never came anywhere near the drooling mouths of The Girls.

“Thanks, Mum, we appreciate that. . . we’re still feeling a bit woozy from that weird breakfast you gave us.”

Cabbage T’horin

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

[Now, why would I place chopsticks in a photo of an Indian dish, you ask?  Beats me; just thought they looked nice somehow.  I did eat the T’horin with them, though.]

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

The Universe is Random

October 5, 2008

I’d planned to begin posting the next Lucky Comestible (coconut) today, but as it turned out I was completely wiped out after participating in the local (and first annual) Totally Fabulous Vegan Bakeoff yesterday.  The event, sponsored by the Toronto Vegetarian Association in honor of World Vegetarian Day, hosted 30 entrants (of which I was one) to participate by presenting baked goods in four categories.  Sorry to say I didn’t win any prizes (I entered my vegan butter tarts). My entry was well received by the audience and judges, but fell far behind in the looks and presentation department (okay, maybe not the prettiest dessert, but how could they not appreciate such patriotism??).  I was truly amazed at some of the elaborately decorated baked goods!  Still, it was great fun to participate and also sample some of the other entrants’ delicious baked goodies.

Well, since I don’t have a new food post for y’all just yet (tomorrow, I promise!), I thought I’d FINALLY catch up on memes and thanks. 

As I said, I didn’t win anything at the bakeoff, but I WAS awarded this “Kick Ass Blogger” award by Giz and Psychgrad over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen.  Thanks so much, both of you–I am honored to be a recipient (at least it was “kick” and not “big”!)

And now, the much neglected, ostensibly (but not) forgotten, fun-loving memes! Months ago (or was it longer?), I was tagged by Lisa at the lovely and delicious My Own Sweet Thyme and then Tinker from the entertaining and informative Tinker Culture for a “Six Random Things About You” tag.  (And I do apologize, ladies, for taking this long to get to it!)

Here are the rules for the meme:

Tag Rules:

  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Post the rules on the blog.
  • Write six random things about yourself.
  • Tag six people at the end of your post.
  • Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

I’ve done a couple of similar tags before, and I always find myself to be pathetically meme-challenged.  It’s not that there aren’t many random facts about me, but just not that many of interest to anyone but the HH or The Girls. Forgive me if certain themes are repeated. . . here goes:

Dog Theme:

1) The first dog we had when I was a kid was a boxer named Princess.  I was about four at the time, and while Princess was very sweet and loving, I realize now that she had a few dominance issues.  Apparently (according to my mom), every night, I’d go to sleep with Princess draped across my feet at the foot of the bed.  In the morning, my mom said, she’d enter the room to find Princess comfortably sprawled over the entire bed while I was asleep. . . on the floor.  (Strangely, I still love dogs–but could that have anything to do with our training The Girls to stay off the furniture?).

Fashion Theme:

2) I own lots of costume earrings. Like, lots.  My mom never left the house without earrings on, and I must have inherited that tendency; I feel naked if I’m not wearing any. I love costume jewelry because that way I can own earrings to match virtually every piece of clothing.  (Another major advantage of earrings, of course, is that they always fit you, no matter how much weight you gain). 

I’ve got plastic earring in every stripe of the rainbow; multi-colored, floppy cloth earrings; feather earrings; black with silver, black with “gold,” black with any color you can imagine; dangly, stud, hoops, and even fish-shaped earrings.  The only real gold earrings I own were given to me by the men in my life (doesn’t that just make me sound so. . . promiscuous worldly? Okay, that accounts for 2 pairs of earrings. . . but still.)

3) I still possess several items of clothing from high school.  Oh, sure, that may not seem very significant to those of you in your 20s or younger, but I’m talking decades ago.  I still have the first pair of Lee overalls I ever bought, complete with my own embroidery flowers in an oh-so-Love Child sort of pattern.  I’ve got a blue woolen mini skirt that I snagged at Value Village when I was an undergrad, and though I’ll likely never wear it again, I can’t part with it because it’s such good quality and I so love it.  I’ve got a wildly printed tunic-shirt that I still wear (!!) just because I adore the crazy flowery pattern so much.  And I’ve held on to all the hand-knit and hand-sewn stuff I made over the years, as well as a few sweaters mom knit for me, for the obvious sentimental reasons.  Why keep all these clothes, you ask?  Well, anyone whose weight has ricocheted as wildly as mine has knows you never throw away good clothes–who knows when they might fit you again?

Physical Quirks Theme:

4) I’m near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other.  Apart from glasses that make one eye look slightly larger than the other, this quirk of nature allows me to grow old a little more gracefully, as I don’t require reading glasses just yet, since my near-sighted eye can actually see better these days, while the far-sighted eye allows me to continue to see everything else.

CareerTheme:

5) One summer, I worked as a telephone salesperson selling frozen sides of beef. The company was called Hunk ‘N Chunk Freezer meats, and I had to cold call (frozen call?) people and ask if they wanted to purchase a year’s worth of pre-cut cow.  The boss started me off at 5 cents commission (yes, five cents) per sale.  By the end of the week, I guess I’d exceeded his expectations, as I was raised to ten cents per sale.  I ended up quitting after 2 weeks when another job I’d applied for, secretary for an insurance company, came through. My Hunky boss (in fact, he actually was hunky) did subsequently invite me to his family’s Sunday dinner, however, which turned out to be a blind date with his son (I guess I didn’t exceed his expectations–no gifts of jewelry ever came of that meeting).

6) During my first year in Toronto as a grad student at the University of Toronto, I was lucky enough to nab a position as don in the girls’ residence (after the interview, the Dean told me she just “had to meet someone who worked at a place called Hunk N Chunk Freezer Meats” because that meant I “must have had a good sense of humor.”)  In exchange for being a sort of elder cousin on the residence floor, I was afforded the privilege of free room and board–in downtown Toronto (approximate monetary value in today’s dollars: $572,683.47 per month).  I loved the gals with whom I shared the floor that year, and always felt as if I got the best end of the deal.  I could walk to classes simply by strolling through the appropriately majestic Queen’s Park and came to know the city first-hand by living right in the midst of it.  It also gave me the unique experience of living in centuries-old historical structure (if you don’t count the haunted house my friends and I camped out in that one summer in high school).

I know the meme rules suggest that I pass this along to others, but rather than choose specific people, I’m going to leave an open invitation to anyone who wishes to participate.  We bloggers love to learn a little more about each other beyond the food–so go ahead and pick your own six things! 🙂

Tomorrow:  Coconut!

Pre-Blog Entry Blog Entry

August 14, 2008

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.” 

Just poking my head in now that I finally see an end to all this work.  I wish I could tell you I’ve been away so long because I’ve been galavanting in Europe, or galavanting in Australia, or even galavanting in the Muskokas–but nay. Sadly, I’ve just been entangled by a monstrous pile of assignments to mark. 

Have you seen the movie The Brother From Another Planet?  Well, right about now, think of me as that brother, at the instant he tumbles from the sky and lands on Earth. 

It’s sort of like that spacey feeling you get after shopping in a huge mall for hours at a time. You know the one:  you’re moving at breakneck speed–say, during the holidays–and you’ve been searching all afternoon but still can’t find anything for Aunt Miranda or cousin Sheila or baby Pookie. And then you finally realize you haven’t eaten in, like, four hours and your legs are weak and the air is somehow thinner than usual and it’s definitely time to sit down. 

Or how about that numb feeling you get when you’ve been sitting in the dentist’s chair for an hour and half while s/he goes spelunking in your molars repeatedly, asking you all kinds of questions which of course you can’t answer and your jaw is stiff as a rusty hinge and your saliva’s been sucked out of your mouth through a plastic tube and you no longer feel anything because the entire lower left quadrant of your face is frozen? 

Or perhaps it’s that stunned feeling you get when you’ve been arguing with the Customer Service Rep at the credit card office for more than 30 minutes in a vain attempt to find out why there’s an extra $472.06 charged on your card–which you never spent, certainly don’t recognize and don’t particularly wish to pay for–and now your throat is getting sore and your voice is getting hoarse and you simply can’t believe how dense this person is being and you’re beginning to despair that you may never see an end to this struggle (or ever see that $472.06, again, either)? 

Well, after almost three weeks (three weeks??  Where does the time go??) of absence from this blog and almost 300 assignments under my belt (it’s a pretty wide belt, in case you hadn’t noticed), that’s just about how I feel.  But since yesterday was exam day, our term is now almost over–and next week, I plan to return here, refreshed and eager to share. 

Well, The Girls are almost as excited as I am for my return to blogging–after all, this means they’ll reprise  their starring roles here at DDD, as well:

[“We’re so glad to be the center of attention again, Mum! When do we get to eat something?”]

In addition to all the marking, I’ve been devoting lots of thought to my dietary habits, inspired by Kathryn and her “31 Days to a Better Diet” series.  So there will, once again, be some changes in what I eat for a while.  I’m also excited to share news about a project I embarked on just about a year ago, even before I began this blog.  And I’ll have a book review as well–it will be a busy week!

I’ve sorely missed blog “chatting,” hearing from all of you, sharing recipes and leaving comments at all of the blogs I read.  Looking forward to getting back in the swing! 

Until then, have a great week, everyone. 🙂

Ten Photo Meme

July 17, 2008

I must say, I never expected my little apple butter sauce to cause such a stir (no pun intended–oh, all right, pun intended).  It always amazes me which blog entries elicit a strong reaction while others, like Andy Garcia, might be on par with their (more popular) contemporaries, but for some reason still don’t garner the recognition I think they deserve.  I’m glad so many of you liked the idea of apple butter in a BBQ sauce on tempeh.  (And now the pressure’s on to create some other ostensibly innovative or creative recipe for my next blog entry. . . . collard cake? Turnip pasta? Eggplant cookies ?–oh, forgot, I actually did create that one).

Well, I’ve got nothing on the cutting board at the moment, so I’m afraid it will have to wait just a bit.

You see, I’ve been spending a lot of time at my computer recently, working on that pile of papers and online course work.  Mostly, I’ve been feeling frustrated because (a) the pile seems to be expanding of its own accord (sort of like my waistline); and (b) I’ve been spending less time focused on blogging as a result.  I’ve also been feeling a bit creeped out, as it happens, since our landlord is having the exterior of the house painted, and every time I glance toward the window to catch a thought or a glimpse of the sky outside, I’m confronted with a close-up of a man’s paint-splattered face, as if our window were a giant flat-screen TV right beside my desk. 

Well, a couple of days ago I was tagged for a meme by the lovely and talented Holler of Tinned Tomatoes.  As it turns out, I’ve already prepared and consumed my salad (twice!) for Holler and Lisa’s upcoming No Croutons Required Event; unfortunately, I haven’t yet had time to write the blog entry about it.  Instead, I decided to focus on some earlier blog photos to send Holler’s (and your) way.

The meme asks for your “top ten” blog photos.  As I mentioned in my comment to Holler, I had to laugh at that request.  As someone who knows nothing about photography and owns the cheapest camera possible (okay, a disposable might be cheaper), I never really focused that much on how I photograph the food; it’s only recently that I’ve begun to think, “hmmm, a better camera sure would make blogging easier.”  For now, a new camera will stay on the birthday wish-list.

I wondered how to select ten, when it was so hard to choose even one that I really liked. “Do I choose the top ten in terms of page hits? Or the top ten in terms of aesthetic appeal?  Or should I emulate Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe, and choose the ten photos that meant the most to me?” I decided to go with Johanna, who always seems level headed and whose logic I like.  

And so, here goes:

10) Spiced Cauliflower Soup

I usually take photos of food close up, partly because I have an extremely small surface area of the kitchen table that attracts full sunlight, and partly because the rest of my kitchen usually looks like the post-cyclone scene in The Wizard of Oz  and I’d be mortified if it got into a photo (unless, of course, I decided to show it to you myself , as in this blog entry). The cauliflower soup photo was the first time I’d consciously attempted to “style” a shot, and the feedback about the photo was so positive, I will always have a soft spot for this one.

9) A Year, Anew

flutesnewyear.jpg

Poor quality photo from a neophyte blogger, but this pic of four of my champagne flutes on December 31, 2007 has sentimental value.  Ever since I moved into my first apartment as an adult, I’ve collected individual, unique champagne flutes, and many were received as gifts (in fact, one of the first gifts the HH ever gave me was a handcrafted pewter-stemmed flute). Each glass has its particular story or background, even if the story is, “I found this for 25 cents at a garage sale!”.  I’ve sampled champagne from each and every one of the 21 in my collection, and they are all my favorites. 

8) Butterscotch Mousse Pie

This photo is dear to my heart, both because the recipe is from the first cookbook I reviewed on this site, and also because the book itself was the prize for a contest I won. I loved the actual pie as well (hmm–should really make that one again), and I know that Nava liked the photo, so it means a lot to me.

7)  Mint Smoothie

In real life, the drink in this photo was a plain, dull, swamp-like olive green. . .not the most appetizing color for a food photo. But somehow, wrapping that napkin around the stem of the wine glass elevated the smoothie to something elegant and even romantic.  And since the taste of the drink was truly sensational, I was glad I could make it seem more appealing.

6) Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes

I love this recipe.  This was a dish I re-vamped from an old recipe, one I found in a cookbook I’ve had forever.  The HH and I feasted on this tagine many times over the winter, and I was happy to see that readers liked it, too. When I look at this photo, I can almost see the rich, sweet-and-savory sauce and the multiple layers and flavors in the casserole.  Comfort in a bowl! 

5) Old Reliables: Salads You Can Count On

Strangely, though I’m not really a salad person, I love this photo.  And the salad isn’t even dressed in it!  But I think the simplicity of the veggies and the bright colors allow the purity and beauty of the fresh food to shine through.  When I know I should eat salad and don’t feel like it, I just look at this photo.

4) Chaser Photo: If Vodka is an Elsie, then Beer is a Chaser

chaserhotgirl.jpg

This is my favorite photo of Chaser on the blog.  This photo of her as a pup was taken on a very hot day on our old deck, after the little tornado had leapt across the lawn, nipped at the water hose, chased balls, eaten some grass, growled at Elsie, shredded a rope toy, and tried to chew the plastic chair leg before her.  She finally stopped to take a break and pant a bit–and I snapped the photo. I think the impish nature is encapsulated in her lolling tongue, the mischievous glint in her eye, and the end of her collar askew.  Is she cute, or what?? 

3) Elsie Photo: This iz not a blg entree

elsietyping.jpg 

This is my favorite photo of Elsie on the blog.  The HH and I still erupt into paroxysms of hysteria when we see this.  I was taking a break from blogging at the time, but Elsie simply couldn’t resist updating all of you.  Notice that she types with a mini dog biscuit at the ready, beside her left paw.  Really, she is such a remarkable dog!

2) French Toast Soufflé with Summer Berries

This was one of my favorite recipes I’ve made so far.  Besides the intense purples and pinks being so visually appealing, the soufflé itself was easy to make and came out delicious–light, fluffy, moist, sweet (but not too sweet), fruity, and all around irresistible.  I caught this photo after the HH and I had each enjoyed a huge serving and would have liked more.  

1) Avocado Mayonnaise

I think this recent photo is my favorite so far (if you exclude the dogs’ photos), mostly because of its simplicity. I love the contrast of the green on the red, the fact that there are basically only 2 colors in the photo, and that the grounds of pepper are actually sharply visible (my cheap camera performs, for once!). I also loved the taste and texture of the mayo, and it’s become a staple recipe in our house. In fact, it makes me want to go and have some right now.

After selecting the photos and reading through this entry, it suddenly struck me:  THERE ARE NO PHOTOS OF CHOCOLATE HERE!  Astonishing, truly.  It’s not that I no longer love chocolate or that it’s slipped from Number One Food Spot in my esteem.  No; it’s just that I haven’t been able to adequately capture its magical essence in any of my amateur photos.  Gives me something to shoot for in the next 200 or so blog entries. . .

I’m not going to tag anyone specific, but I will say that it was a fun challenge to come up with the selections, so if you’re interested, please share!

The Girls love the glorious sunshine and heat, but spending too much time frolicking outside can take its toll. . . .

[“Oh, Mum, I just adore summer–especially getting sprayed by the garden hose!”]

[“Really, Chaser,  how puerile. Personally, I prefer to keep my distance from the hose and hang here by Dad’s foot.”]

[“Ooooh. . . maybe I have overdone it, just a bit. . .just need to rest here a minute under the patio furniture. . . “]

[“It IS beginning to feel rather hot out here about now, I  must admit.”]

[“Ah, thanks for letting me in, Mum. It’s much better here in the house, on these cool ceramic tiles. . . “]

[“Zip it, Chaser, I’m trying to sleep. “]

Ths iz not a blg entree

March 8, 2008

Ar mum is dung doo doo ng duing fine shes werking hard. she mises th blog and hoeps to bee back sune.

we mis it to.

x o  Elsie + Chaser

PS pls give us fud.

elsietyping.jpg