Stationary Drifting


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Eating: Apple Cider Caramels (more from homemade holidays)

apple cider caramelsI LOVE smitten kitchen, I’ve posted stuff of Deb’s many times (like here, here, and here). The recipes she creates are low maintenance, usually from things I have around the house (depending on if I have groceries at that particular point), and always delicious. I had the pleasure of flipping through her cookbook a while back and lemmetellyouwhat. Its amazing. I can’t wait to get my grubby little kitchen hands on it.

I made these Apple Cider Caramels as part of my homemade holidays challenge. My step-dad is a hard guy to buy for but he does love candy because he can’t eat chocolate anymore. They went over well, he was touched I made something for him and happy with the gift. Their fanciness to time ratio is awesome. People are pretty impressed by all the individually wrapped and handmade candies, though I think it took me less than 2 hrs to make and all with common ingredients.

These were straight forward to make, even without investing in a candy thermometer. Mine turned out a little soft so maybe I need to reduce them down a little more next time. They were ridiculously delicious though and much appreciated in my house and my mom’s. Mars was a little sad that I didn’t make any for him so I snuck a few in his stocking.


Homemade Lip Balm

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I’ve tried my hand at making lip balm a couple of times now and I think I’m getting better at it. I really love my homemade lip balm because its a great gift for just about anyone and it can be easily adjusted to make whatever quantity and heaviness (its winter so it needs to be thick right now).

I am constantly losing lip balm so one of the reasons I really like this is because I can have lip balm everywhere that’s natural and works well for literally less than a dollar a container. This recipe is a combination of several I’ve found around the internet and some adjustments I’ve made myself but I think the base for my recipe came from Mountain Rose blog.

I bought my ingredients from little shops around my neighbourhood. Most of it is organic. I’ve you’re trying to find some online, I have never ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs but all the bloggers I follow highly recommend it so you could check it out. I’m not affiliated with Mountain Rose at all, just passing on the info.

xmas gifts for my family. Also my favourite mix so far.

xmas gifts for my family. Also my favourite mix so far.

Here is my method.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp jojoba oil (I’ve also used apricot oil, I’m sure others would work too)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp beeswax
1 tbsp shea butter (optional)
1 tbsp/4 wafters cocoa butter
20 drops each of essential oil (I’ve used combinations of mint, vanilla, coconut and grapefruit – though not all at once! Usually just 2)
10 drops vitamin E oil (optional but recommended. It works as a preservative)

Directions:

  1. Mix jojoba oil, coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter and cocoa butter in a larger mason jar.
    • Shea butter and cocoa butter can be both put in or one of each. I like the shea butter because it soaks in fast and the cocoa butter for longer conditioning and also because it hardens the mixture.
  2. Put mason jar in a pot of boiling water and allow to melt, shaking occasionally. A lid loosely put on the jar keeps water out of the mixture and melts it faster.
  3. Once melted remove from water and stir in essential oils and vitamin E oil.
  4. Pour into containers and allow to harden overnight
    • this is important because otherwise it will be ridiculously soft, which is especially annoying when its in a tube.
  5. Label and date
    • always label and date. Even if this is the only time you made something you won’t remember the exact proportions and you will want to be able to adjust or replicate it later on. Also, its generally a good idea to use up the product within a year since there are no strong preservatives.

Tips:

  • For lip balm tubes, make sure to overfill so that they have a nice rounded off top. Otherwise they are pretty extremely concaved.
  • More butters and less oils makes it thicker and last longer
  • I still don’t have great essential oil ratios down. Mine are only lightly scented.
  • This amount usually makes about 10 containers of either lip balm tubes or small balm pots.

Note: I am not a herbalist or a medical professional of any kind. I’m sharing this information because I want to write about it, not because I know that it will be healthy for everyone. Please do not take this as medical or health advice. If you plan on taking herbs or using any recipes posted about here, make sure you take all necessary steps to make sure all ingredients are safe for you to use.

 


Eating: Marseau Makes Meat (& cheese)

Marseau and I have come to an unspoken understanding about making food. I made big things occasionally (big meals, baked goods, soups to be frozen) and some staples (humus, bread) and he makes the in between meals. The delicious every day lunches and dinners. I like this set up a lot because it means that we eat well every day and have lots of yummy treats and snack foods. Plus it plays on our strengths, particularly mine of having bursts of energy around big projects and then sinking into cooking apathy. The decision on both our parts to stop eating out so much and start eating good, well-balance, homemade foods has been a good one. I feel a lot healthier, I eat better and more often, we save money, I feel nice and home-y when there is something delicious smelling cooking/baking away in the kitchen.

Sometimes we reverse our method though and Marseau cooks a huge meal. The kind that leaves me in a food coma and feeling so good. That guy can cook his ass off and knows his way around the spice shelf like no one I’ve met before.

Here are some of my favourites from the past little while.

The Stay-Home Date:

Pepperoni, spinach, hot peppers and cheeeeeese.

cheezy goodness

One day the other week we decided to have a stay home date. The kind where we make a delicious meal, drink some wine from the SAQ not the dep, and converse, maybe watch a movie on netflix in bed. A cozy night where we glory in the fact that we now live together. On this nights menu was homemade pizza. We took a stroll on over to Milano’s (the Italian grocery store in the neighbourhood) and got ourselves some of their pre-made pizza dough and some fresh sliced pepperoni that is so delicious it melts in the mouth. Living on the edge of Little Italy has its perks. Coupling that with spinach from the market and Silvie’s homemade pickled hot peppers we were on a pizza roll. It baked up so delicious and greasy, Marseau was adorable and insisted on serving me every slice I went back for and seasoning it himself with oregano and other good spices.

The Soul Food Night:

Featuring fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, garlic butter string beans and biscuits (that we didn’t eat because I eff’d them up)

one of the only shots I got because I was too busy eating. nom.

Marseau was missing the food back home in Philly, as well as the rest of home, so late one Friday night we decided to do up a soul food feast. Marseau was in charge of the fried chicken (breast not wings because I don’t like wings and he loves me that much), and the mac’ n cheese. I had the beans and the biscuits. Besides the small fire in the oven we caused when the oven and pan decided they couldn’t handle all the amazing mac n’ cheese deliciousness going on, Marseau cooked his ass off and prepped one helluva meal. I, on the other hand, didn’t really keep up my end of the bargain. I tried a new recipe from one of my healthy cookbooks for the biscuits (note to self: never try and make healthy biscuits again) which were too dense, barely rose and not buttery enough. Also as a result of the above mentioned small oven fire I had to take my dough over to our neighbour Jackie’s house to bake them and then proceeded to burn the bottoms of every single one. Total biscuit fail. Marseau doesn’t trust that I can make good biscuits now and I’m determined to prove that normally I make delicious ones (I made another batch this week that received a B grade. What a jerk)! On the up side Jackie joined us for the feast and we all laid around comatose for a good while after that. The beans were good too by the way, really garlic and butter-y just how I like them. Too garlicy for Marseau though, and I left him to cook them while I left to burn the hell out of the biscuits. Like I said, I really didn’t hold up my end of the deal on this dinner. I like to think I was a good conversationalist during it though…

I took almost no photos because I was too busy cooking and then eating. We had barely any leftovers, and what we jealously guarded from other people (no guests!) still only lasted one day.

Upside: we’re thinking of holding Soul Food Sundays as a fundraiser for our wedding! Must perfect biscuit recipe soon….

Burgers for the hell of it:

Cheeseburger (cheese INSIDE the burger) with maple glazed caramelized onions, chips and salsa, beer

caramelized onions are our new favourite garnish for everything

I don’t think we had a reason to make this big meal besides the fact that we were both craving protein and had the desire to eat our faces off (again). We were trying to pretend we were excited to make some sort of healthy rice and bean with veggies dish but as soon as Marseau proposed burgers I was down.

Marseau did up these thick, delicious burgers with lots of spice and (like the genius he is) put the cheese INSIDE the meat so that when they fried up the cheese melted ON THE INSIDE! I never thought of doing that, its crazy good. He also started a now household obsession for caramelized onions. These ones were a maple glazed version that added an amazing, sweet-ish tang to the spicey burger. Topped with lettuce, tomato, spicy mustard and the mayo/ketchup staples these monsters hit the spot like no other. They were so big though that it was hard to eat the chips and salad that went along with them.

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I’m stupid lucky to have this wonderful guy and amazing cook in my life, though I’m pretty sure he’s trying to fatten me up. With food like this though I’m more than happy to let him!

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I have some other food related posts coming up since I’ve been baking up a storm lately. Also a couple of knitting/craft ones. I’ve been really behind on my Small Things and 52 Themes projects so I’m going to try and catch up with those this week. Maybe I’ll do a personal post or something different soon too…I don’t know, my enthusiasm for blogging wanes slightly when I have a lot of work to do. These days I’m marking a ridiculous amount of undergrad papers and I feel like all my brain cells are being stolen. That said I do really like this space to write so keep checking back. I’ll have more rambling and hopefully somewhat interesting posts up here soon.


Recently Made and Eaten: Flatbread!

I made Smitten Kitchen’s Rosemary Flatbreadfor the first time a couple of weeks ago and we have been obsessed ever since. The dough pulls together really fast, under 10mins, and requires no kneading whatsoever. Just mix, roll out, bake for 8mins and enjoy! We’ve been snacking on it with my humus, using it for sandwiches and fighting over who ate more of the warm, salty, rosemary goodness. Highly recommended. I made it without changes to the recipe at all, though I do tend to roll them a little thicker and bake less so that they stay soft-ish instead of cracker-like. Also, I’ve found that spreading olive oil all the way to the edges before baking helps keep the thin edges from burning.  Anyway, go check out the recipe. I’m going to roll out more tonight.

one negative note: the dough separates if left too long so its hard to make ahead of time.

this time I made a triple batch

rosemary deliciousness

all rolled out and ready to go. Also check out my new rolling pin! Its the first one I've ever owned and its so.great. No more rolling with jars, glasses, hands!

crispy goodness

flatbread, humus, avocado and mint tea for dinner


Things recently cooked/baked/blended and enjoyed

My cooking bug is coming back. I think M and I take turns, one of us cooks and cleans until we are tired of it or think that the other one does nothing and then we switch. Either way I’ve been happy in the kitchen again lately and have been making lots of yummy (and a few meh, but I’m not going to showcase those) things.

this hung in my mom's kitchen forever, now it hangs in mine (I think my aunt might have made it, I should ask...)

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A yummy vegan apple crisp.

The recipe came mostly from Doris Encyclopedia.

it didn't last very long...

A is for Apple Crisp:

6-7 granny smith apples (I used apples that came in my food box, they were red, possibly royal gala and worked great/are delicious)
1/2 cup of butter (I used earth balance)
1cup of sugar (I used cane sugar)
3/4cup of flour (I used brown pastry)
1teaspoon of cinnamon

I also added about a cup of chopped almonds for some crunch. I chopped them really fine so that they mixed in well and cooked a bit.

Cut up apples really thin. Put 1/2 the apples in a square pan and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar. Put in the rest of the apples (i placed in thirds and sprinkled after every one, including the last). It will really fill up the pan and if you don’t cut them thin they won’t fit.

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients, aside from the apples, then sprinkle them on top of the apples. Bake for 1 hour.

It doesn’t taste the same as buttery apple crisp but it’s still really delicious. M and I have been eating it for breakfast lunch and dinner.

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Bread!

Corrie send me this recipe for no knead bread a little while ago and I’ve been making it often ever since. It’s so easy and so good, I’ve sworn to never buy shitty grocery store bread again, and to rarely pay out the high prices for bakery bread. I do need a better pot than my cast iron pan though. Note: I use half white all purpose flour and half brown. It makes for more dense, less airy bread but it’s better for the body.

also didn't last long. I make this several times a week

Artisan bread

3 cups of white flour
1/4 teaspoon of yeast
1 1/4 teasons of salt
1 1/3 cups of water

Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in bowl. Add the water and mix with a spoon for less than a minute until you get a sticky and lumpy ball of dough. Add a touch of water if it’s too dry. Cover the bowl and let it sit in a warm place for at least 12 hours of rising (I tried 24 hours and…well, you’ll have to try yourself, but you won’t be disappointed). That’s right. Just leave it. Don’t knead it. The little fermenting bubbles will do all the work for you.

After the initial rise, scoop the dough onto a heavily floured piece of parchment paper (having the paper on a tray makes it easier to move). Pull the edges of the ball so they fold over the top and meet in the middle. You’ll do this 4 or 5 times so that all the seams of dough are on the top. Now flip the floury ball over so the seams are hidden (flour on the hands also helps).

Preheat your oven from 425-475 degrees F with one of those inside. The lower temp gives a softer tan coloured crust while 475 gives a crisp and chocolaty crust.

After the loaf has risen for about an hour, grab the four corners of the parchment and gently transfer the loaf and parchment to the preheated casrole dish with a lid ( the round white ceramic dishes with the blue flowers work great, I think it’s called corning wear) and slide it into the oven for 30 min with a lid and then 15 minutes without. Eat fresh or cooling on a rack for an hour does help you to get the biggest bubbles.

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His and hers humus.

I can’t believe how easy humus is to make, I will never ever buy humus again. M doesn’t like stuff in his humus so I usually make a big batch of plain, pour half into a container for him and then add the stuff I like. I forgot the olive oil in this batch but this is generally how I make it.

mine is on the left. M is mad now because mine is more delicious and his is gone

M’s humus:

2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 can of the chickpea water
Several cloves of garlic
A few tablespoons of tahini
A glug of olive oil
Salt and pepper.

Throw all into the blender and blend until smooth.
I’ve been experimenting. My blender needs enough liquid that it will turn over but the humus needs to not be too liquidy. Hence the imperfect measurements.

K’s humus:

All of the above plus:

A big handful of cilantro
Cayenne and paprika to taste.

Blend until smooth or, in my case, until the spices are well mixed in and the cilantro is chopped up really tiny in the previous humus mix.

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Cantaloupe Coconut and Ginger Smoothie

I like to get something good in my belly first thing in the morning but when I first wake up I hate eating. Too sleepy. Drinking is okay though so I’ve been making myself smoothies almost every morning since I brought my blender home from my mom’s last fall. It’s so great and fresh and makes me want to face the day even more than coffee does. It’s also a great way to sneak in tons of ginger which keeps the winter sick germs away (I have a really terrible immune system).

i drink all my smoothies in jars. I just like it better

This is what I threw in the blender today:

Half a cantaloupe from our food box
1 organic banana from the market
About 4 strawberries from the market (the last from my grocery adventure last week)
A big chunk of ginger from the market, peeled and chopped (to avoid too many ginger strings)
A quarter cup ish of coconut milk
Filled to the top of the fruit with fresh pressed apple juice from the market.
A generous amount of locally made organic plain yogurt from the market.

Blend until its smooth and enjoy immediately. I put the other half in a jar and stuck it in the fridge for later, or for tomorrow.

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I like doing nice things for my body. As M said last night as he was snacking on bread and humus, it’s so cool to be eating all homemade things. Which is a big shift for the two of us since we both used to be chronic eaters out.