Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cinnabon - Cinnamon Rolls

After making Taco Pizza earlier this week, it dawned on me I could use the same dough mix for Cinnamon Rolls! Imagine my excitement and how pleased I felt with my idea.

Even though there's half a batch of Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies and a batch of mostly flopped Eclairs to be eaten or morphed into something else, I just felt the need for Cinnamon Rolls. Yummy, gooey, hot, sweet, melt-in-you-mouth goodness.

As I type, the Cinnamon Rolls are rising in a warm oven {Not quite double their size}. The frosting is made and my taste buds are anxiously waiting. Yes, I tasted the frosting, to make sure it will serve it's purpose atop the baked rolls. If all goes well, I'll be able to reminisce in my happy memories of enjoying Cinnamon Rolls and it will be a new sweet treat for Patrick, as he's never tasted Cinnamon Rolls before - so deprived!

My Great Grandmother's Cinnamon Roll recipe wasn't at my finger tips, so I decided to "loosely" follow Copy Kat's Cinnabon recipe. I've always enjoyed Cinnabon and while in Vancouver would trek out at lunch or for an afternoon break to enjoy a scrumptious Cinnabon. My friend and former colleague, Greg, was such a sport when I got a hankering for Cinnabon, Banana Split Blizzard....

Speaking of my Great Grandmother; she's the only one I ever met. She was German/Russian and spoke very little English. My mother enjoyed some of her recipes so much, one weekend mom picked Great Grandma up, brought her to our house and proceeded to work with Great Grandma (GG) to document her recipes. One of those being Cinnamon Rolls. Mom, stood beside GG and before GG could throw the handful or pinch of ingredients in the bowl, mom would measure the ingredient, write it down and preserve the recipe.

Honestly, I've never made Great Grandma's Cinnamon Rolls. I'm afraid of yeast, much like I'm afraid of custard. So I think while I'm in Colorado, I'll spend time with my Grandma Lauer and my Aunt Pam to learn the secrets of yeast doughs and custards-not-from-a-box. If I figure either out and shed the fear, I'll be sure to post about it here.

For now, it's time to turn up the flame on those Cinnamon Rolls, not sure I can wait much longer to see how they taste.

And the wait is over....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back in the Kitchen

So, I'm back in the kitchen. It's a nice feeling, although there are still a a few ingredients I'm steering clear of. Like onions and garlic.

In the last few weeks, I've been making foods I remember from my childhood. Comfort foods, I suppose, something my Irish mom tells me happens when you're expecting. All of a sudden, your body only wants those foods you enjoyed when you were younger. So far her words haven't been too far from my experience as I've made Chicken Chalupa, Tuna Tetrazzini, Pork Chops and Creamy Rice, Grandma Lauer's Dill Dip, among other things. It's amazing what the right food + an iron supplement + the 2nd trimester can do for a persons hunger, nausea, and starvation feelings!

One of the foods I've really had a hankering for is Donuts. As it turns out, Ireland, like Canada, is really not hip on Donuts. Sure you can find a Jelly Filled or Chocolate Glazed at Tesco; however, these just don't really cut-it when you've tasted Hostess Donettes or Dunkin Donuts, a Chocolate Raise Glazed from Safeway, heck even a fresh of the belt Krispy Kreme. Yes. I admit, I LOVE Donuts and with that love comes a discerning taste bud.

When you want a Donut, this is not an easy void to fill. My parents are wonderful, FULL STOP. A few weeks back they sent us a care package with Coffee for Patrick and Chocolate Covered Hostess Donettes for me. The Best Before Date gave us about 3 days to polish off the two bags of Donettes and lets just say there wasn't a crumb left at sunset on the third day.

All that aside, I found a recipe for Chocolate Eclairs on the Copy Kat Recipes website. I'm thinking, this fancy Donut, just might do the trick until I can get myself to a Dunkin Donuts!

So, I'm going to give these babies a whirl, turns out I have all the ingredients in the press, even a can of whipped cream so we can have two versions. Chocolate Eclairs with Homemade Custard and Chocolate Eclairs with Whipped Cream. I think it will be a calorie-filled day in Hog Heaven. I'll let you know how they turn out!

Now go find yourself a Donut Shop and enjoy a Baker's Dozen for me!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grandma Lauer's Recipes

A handful of years ago, while I was still living in Vancouver, I worked with my Grandma Lauer to collect all the recipes she's made over the years into one place, a cookbook for all of her kids and grandkids, even great grandkids who love everything she makes.

At the time, it made perfect sense to put these recipes and some of her favourite quotes onto disks that I could share with the family at Christmas. Personally, I was happy with the idea and the result and consider myself the lucky one in that I got to bond with my Grandma through something we both enjoy - food, plus I have the original notebook with her hand writing and all the notes back and forth.

An email from my Aunt Pam, earlier today, got me thinking that I would like to introduce Patrick to one of Grandma's Jell-O salads for the upcoming 4th of July. Alas, it's one of a handful of recipes we forgot to include. The first recipe I noticed that we omitted were her famous Dunk Pancakes. Something she makes for any of us that show up for breakfast, if you're extra lucky sometimes she'll have homemade sausage from her sister Rose. I justified this omission in a rather selfish way - figuring it would be a wonderful way for my family to connect with Grandma, instead, most still show up expecting this special treat and some never visit at all. Another recipe we left out of the mix is her Dill Dip. What makes this dip unique is that it has Beau Monde and Worcestershire Sauce. Again I had a justification for leaving this one out, as she submitted it for the Lauer Family Cookbook and lucky me, I have a copy. All this aside, I have no written account of her Jell-O Salad, one I have happy childhood memories of. Sometimes pink, sometimes red, sometimes orange, but always with this lovely, marshmallow-like layer on top! Perfect for a summer picnic and for my Irishman who is not familiar with many of the dishes I enjoyed growing up in the States.

Thankfully, Grandma Lauer is still alive and cooking! If only she were on email, it would make it easier and cheaper and quicker to get the recipe. Instead, I've just sent an email to Mom, to relay the request to Grandma. Which makes me wonder if any of my cousins take the time to make any of Grandma's recipes or if they simply take for granted that she will always be in her kitchen cooking for all of us. Ah well, I have the love and appreciation to carry on her tradition of sharing her love through her cooking and baking.

We were able to work together in the kitchen, for the first time while she visited us here in Ireland. It was a truly special time for her and for me. On this occasion we enjoyed the Chocolate Swiss Role Cake I like to make (not one of her recipes). And on another occasion she made me Stiff Cocoa, a hot drink she used to serve to her children with buttered toast. They enjoyed it like a soup (of course, one more recipe not included in the cookbook).

I suppose, at the end of the day, that's why books go through so many revisions and reprints. Although, in this case, I'm not sure we'll do a re-write, so instead, I'll just keep adding these uncovered recipes, as I find them, to my notebook and look forward to sharing them with the people I love and in-turn with anyone interested in this blog.

Thank you Grandma, for all the love you've given me, for sharing your love of food and for taking the time to share your recipes with me. I couldn't ask for more.

Sure hope Patrick likes Grandma's Jell-O Salad - stay tuned for the verdict!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Staple for Anyone who loves Mexican Food

My parents and grandmother visited us last week. It was a fun, food filled week and it sounds like they all went home a few pounds heavier! That's my idea of a good holiday.

While they were here, my Irish mother introduced us to a few new stores in Galway City Centre. One being an "international" farmers' market. Amidst many familiar and some new fruits, veggies and root veggies I spotted a basket of green chilies - similar to those roasted on the roadside in Colorado and New Mexico and other states influenced by Mexican food and culture. It was difficult to contain my excitement as I paid 2 euros for 8 smallish green chilies - and to think at Wal-Mart in Colorado I could buy 8 cans of already roasted and peeled chilies for the same amount. Ah well, to introduce Patrick to one of my favourite Mexican food experiences, the price is worth it!

I know, i know, Green Chili is really a New Mexican food; but in Colorado, I was raised that most foods/restaurants that served chips and salsa, burritos and margaritas were Mexican Food. So bare with me.

Anywho, I've just peeled the meat from the skin of my roasted green chilies and I've got my aunts recipe in hand, which is really quite simple and I'm ready to cook up some homemade Green Chili to pour over our burritos this evening.

If you love Green Chili as much as I do, try my Aunt Pam's recipe, it's simple and delicious

Cube about 1 lb. of pork, I usually pick up cheap pork chops.
Brown the meat with a bit of flour, with salt and pepper in a little oil. Once browned and crisp on the outside:

Add a can of chopped tomatoes and 1 - 2 cans green chilies (in my case, I'm adding the meat of 8 smallish green chilies)

If the sauce is really thick, add some water.

Add cumin to taste. Allow the Green Chili to stew for about 30 - 450 minutes and enjoy with your favourite Mexican food dish, or with a handful of good tortillas chips.

That's it! Enjoy this Mexican Food Staple and be sure to share it with your loved ones.

All the best from Ireland!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ready. Set. Go!

As I type, there is 1 day, 15 hours and 46 minutes until my parents and Grandma arrive in Ireland! Pretty exciting considering they were supposed to be here a month ago and couldn't fly due to the giant plume of ash from Iceland. Now that plume of ash is being pushed far enough north and east that their flight will be able to touch down at Shannon Airport on Friday morning.

All excitement aside, it's time to get ready for their visit. The house is in order: beds are dressed, towels are hung, mementos made, bogs and floors are clean. This morning I layered Ice Cream with homemade apple jam, blackberry jam and honey - that's in the freezer. All that's left to do is bake Crackers, make an Apple and Blackberry Crumble, and prepare the Fish Pie. These things I won't prepare until tomorrow, so they'll be near enough to fresh for Friday.

Crackers are easy enough and great to have for snacks with crab or smoked fish and cheese. I stumbled upon a recipe this past winter and have adapted it to be my own. I make the recipe similar to Soda Crackers and usually add an extra teaspoon of soda, seasoning and a bit of bran. They're so tasty and I usually can't stop eating them when they're fresh from the oven. I have found, (maybe it's our oven) that the crackers take a bit longer to bake, which is usually no bother, so long as I don't forget and burn them. I'll bake these in the morning.

While the crackers are baking and since I'll have the oven on I'll prepare the Crumble, only thing is I don't have Bramley Apples which equates to less tart. No bother. Crumbles are a beautiful reminder of summer and they're handy enough to make. If there's any left, I'll have to take a bit down to our neighbour Eileen. She enjoys my baking nearly as much as Patrick and considering she gave us a bag of turf, it's the least I can do to show my gratitude for her kindness and friendship.

Last dish to prepare is the Fish Pie. I have to say, I'm not 100% on board with the idea of "Fish" in Pie. I have this phobia of fish in any "broth" or "sauce", something about the juices makes me cringe. Nevertheless, Patrick has ensured me it is very good and I will learn to love Fish Pie as much as I love him. We'll see!!! To ease me into this new dish, I'll be doing minimal prep work which entails slicing the veggies for the pie and making the mushroom sauce that everything will be mixed into. I'll get this all ready once I've finished the Crackers and Crumble. Once Patrick's home from fishing, he'll assemble the pie. To keep the meal light and easy on our visitor's stomachs we'll have a light salad with the Pie and save room for the Crumble and Ice Cream.

What I didn't mention is that Patrick will be making up a big dirty frying, traditional Irish Breakfast, when we arrive home from the airport. That' should be a wake up to the taste buds and will certainly require a bit of fresh air and exercise before we get to lunch or dinner. Sure hope grandma is up for the experience!

However it all turns out, we've got a great week to look forward to! Stay tuned for recipes, pictures and posts about my families time in Ireland.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Day to Bake Scones or Welsh Cakes

I learned a few weeks back that our neighbour will turn 78 this month (May); the important detail I did not learn is, what day her birthday is... She said something along the lines of, it's not important for you to know what day my birthday is.

So me being a baker and someone who enjoys acknowledging others birth days, I am left with a small conundrum.

1. Do I forego the celebration altogether?

2. Do I bake a birthday treat and take it to her when it suits me?

Or 3. Do I dig deeper to find out when her birthday is?

I've decided I'm going with option 2, to resolve this conundrum. Part of the motivation in my choice comes from the fact that I learned last Wednesday (from one of her daughters) that she loves Scones.

So today, I will bake Scones with Sultanas or Welsh Cakes. They're similar, it's just the first is baked and the second is cooked in a dry, hot skillet.

Actually, the more I think about it, the idea of turning on the oven and baking Scones sounds more appealing. So there's my final answer.

I'll be baking Scones with Sultanas today, here's the recipe I'll follow, it's from a dear friend in Vancouver

Cinda's Scones

Preheat oven to 425F/220C

In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients with a fork
2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c butter, cold (cut in until crumbly)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c milk (more if needed)
1 c Sultanas*

*Variations for ingredients you may want to add
1 c grate cheese
1 c glazed fruit, chopped fine
1 T orange rind, grated
3/4 c yogurt in place of milk

Pat dough onto a floured surface in 2 - 6" rounds, cut into wedges and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar and bake for 15 minutes. This recipe makes about 12 scones.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Real Flop - Peach Gallette

Some days are better spent somewhere other than the kitchen! OK, maybe not an entire day; but instead the amount of time I spend making something when it ultimately FLOPS, that's the time that would be better served somewhere other than the kitchen! Some things should simply be skipped. For me, that would be homemade custard or any variety!

Last night's dinner was comprised of Blackened Fish Tacos and leftover Pasta Salad. The Tacos were D-lish, the salad an extra filler and then I thought we'd end the meal with a lovely Peach Gallett and that's where the story goes South!

For anyone unfamiliar, Peach Gallette is a fruit pie with custard baked in the middle, only my custard was more like scrambled eggs. Uach! Patrick and I suffered through the dessert wishing we'd simply enjoyed the peaches in a bowl. The sad truth is, this isn't my first attempt at making a "custard" dessert. In fact, it's my third attempt and as I put the first bite into my mouth I could hear my own voice repeating in my head, "don't ever make custard-anything, again!"

Why didn't that voice pop into my head the moment I started mixing the egg, sugar and milk together (the second and third time)? I really should know better; however, I guess it's the hopeless optimistic who believes, if I keep trying different recipes I will eventually achieve success with a custard dessert.

As I mentioned this being my third attempt and third recipe the only conclusion I can draw is, maybe I need an electric mixer to get everything to "stick" together or one other conclusion, I CANNOT MAKE CUSTARD DESSERTS! Either way, I figured if I wrote a blog about the sad experience then maybe I would commit to memory what I am not ever going to do again - make custard desserts. There, that should be well ingrained now!

So on to better adventures, I've got plenty of tortillas leftover from last night's dinner which will be perfect to start our Saturday morning with Breakfast Burritos - something my dad used to make for our family on weekends, when we were growing up. Mmmm, the only ingredients missing will be Pace Picante Salsa and American-style Bacon. Now I'm getting hungry and I just finished breakfast. Aah, well, my food, my life!

Last night's dishes are calling my name, as is the laundry, the weeds on the curb and probably something else that needs cleaned. Off I go!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lots Going on in the Kitchen

There's a whirlwind in the kitchen. It all started when I decided to make Mushroom and Carrot salsa. It's a tasty dip that I was introduced to at a Mexican Restaurant in Boulder, Colorado last year. It's a great place to enjoy great Mexican food and a cerveza frio.

Now that I'm in Ireland, as I've mentioned before I have to create my own Mexican food if I want to eat it. Not too big of a deal.

It's days like today I wonder how I get anything done. From t-shirt bags to laundry, making beds to making salsa. I sit here, wondering what transpired to get me to this moment. Queue the salsa, a bit like most thoughts do in my head this one has run wild leaving me with sliced lemon and grapefruit rind in a sauce pan waiting to be transformed into marmalade.

What started as Mushroom and Carrot Salsa (now ready to enjoy) has now turned into Lemon and Grapefruit Marmalade (Thanks Aunt Teresa for the reminder/idea). As it turns out, the rind of the lemon is of little use in the salsa; however, I hate to throw it out and luckily, my Patrick really enjoys marmalade. And so, I'm just a few steps away from homemade Marmalade!!!

Now you're probably wondering how I make both, the salsa and the marmalade. Well wonder no longer, here's my recipes.

Mushroom and Carrot Salsa (serves 2)
1 medium carrot, diced tiny
2-3 medium mushrooms, diced
1 handful fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
Juice from 1 lemon, a bit of the skin too if you like
Lowery's Seasoning salt, to taste

Mix all ingredients together and let set in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips. Yum!

Lemon and Grapefruit Marmalade (enough for 1 smallish jar)
Rind of 1 lemon, slices thin
Rind of 1 grapefruit, sliced thin
Sugar equivalent to amount of fruit

Cook lemon and grapefruit in a saucepan until rind is tender and juice has cooked out of rind and pulp. Add sugar and bring to boil this can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on your pan and the heat (usually medium to medium high). Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue to boil for 10 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness you prefer*.

* You can test the thickness with a chilled teaspoon. Dip the cold spoon in the mixture and allow to cool away from the heat. Tip the spoon to test how runny the liquid is.

When ready, pour the contents of the saucepan into a sterilized jar or other heatproof storage container and place in the fridge once it's cooled. The marmalade will last longer than it takes to consume it!!!

Anywho, back to the marmalade at hand!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday May Day - Bank Holiday - Stretching the Euro

It's supposed to be a nice day today, weather-wise. I'm hoping to get out to finish painting the gates - not sure that's going to happen, we'll see if the rain comes....

Last night, Patrick made BBQ Chicken and baked potatoes; I made a salad. We started with a few fresh crab claws. Decided to skip making dessert and picked up a pre-made chocolate swiss cake roll instead. The crab was lovely, the chicken and potatoes - beautiful, the salad was new and different and the dessert although tasty had a really funny smell about it. All in all, it was a wonderful Sunday evening meal.

This post is not so much about a "recipe", as it is about my experiences with "stretching our euro". Before dinner we were "skyping" with my parents and one of my grandmothers. Dad had taken a bit of time to share some of my blog posts and facebook photos with Grandma L - which was an immediate conversation starter as she has cooked and baked all her life. Probably where I get it from. Nevertheless, she couldn't get over the presentation of the food and more so how little we spend on such delicious food. She can't wait for Patrick's cooking when they arrive in 12 days!

Where we live, there are no Wal-Marts, no Dunnes stores, no "big box" shopping centres and certainly no big business. In the words of a former colleague, we live "up the backside" of rural Ireland. That said, we/I go shopping once a week at a Tesco about 30 minutes from home. If I forget any ingredients the next closest village is Kilkee about 15 minutes away and let me just say that if it's sour cream or ricotta cheese I forget - well - there's just no substitute close by, so we're likely to go without or simply modify the recipe which is what happens more often than not. I digress.

Back to the case in point. A few weeks back, following a delicious meal of Black Bean and Spinach Burritos, we decided to figure out how much it costs to eat "so well" each day. Reason being, winters are like hibernation around here where you spend as little, in this case money, as possible. Coming full circle to the conversation with Grandma, she's spent her life cooking with minimal ingredients and not focusing so much on presentation. So, here's 5 things we figured out about our food habits.

1. We can survive on less than 8 euros a day (that's less than 11 dollars). That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, 1 coffee each, 3 teas (2 for Patrick, 1 for me) and a sweet treat. That's about 240 euros each month and 2,200 euros each year.
2. We have about 4 vegetarian meals each week. I can buy 4 different kinds of veggies for less than 5 euros.
3. If we buy 1 whole chicken I can stretch this into dinner, lunch and soup. One chicken or other meat product costs about 5 euros.
4. We catch and freeze as much fish and shellfish as possible during the summer months. As fish would cost 5 to 15 euros each week in the store (for one meal). That's a savings of about 520 euros each year. Plus, we're able to use this fish to barter with friends for vegetables and fruit.
5. I buy "mark down fruit" to make jam, jelly or sauces which costs less than buying a jar of the equivalent (unless I buy the uber cheap, fully loaded with sugar and preservatives brand which is usually less than 1 euro). We save all our glass jars for canning (things like mustard, mayo, pickles) - all of these jars will reseal when treated like true canning jars. A savings of about 78 euros a year.

To further the euro stretching-fun, we've planted many fruits and veggies in our back garden, in hopes of off-setting our food costs. For about 200 euros, we planted 2 apple trees,1 pear tree, 1 blueberry bush, Potatoes, Onions, Shallots, Garlic, Squash, Tomatoes and a handful of herbs. We're anticipating a savings this year of roughly the same amount we spent to get started. The trees and berries will continue to produce for years to come and we'll be able to harvest seeds from what we've planted for next year, further reducing the cost of fresh produce not to mention increasing the joy of watching something grow which is priceless.

All this aside, there are days when I feel seriously challenged to create something new or at least slightly different. How easy it would have been in my previously life to hop in the car and drive straight to the nearest restaurant or fast food joint, spending a minimum of 25 dollars each time I "didn't feel like cooking". Today, these days are the days when Patrick steps in and cooks up a lovely traditional meal of bacon and cabbage or smoked fish with steamed veggies. I get sick when I think of how much money I used to spend eating out or grabbing a quick cup of chai.

A few years ago, my mom taught me to ready labels. I stick with a lot of the same ingredients each week (balancing new seasonings to change the dynamics). If I do buy something pre-made, I look for a short ingredient list and try to steer clear of the words I can't pronounce and the overly processed sugars. As it turns out, most of the veggies and things we enjoy are on the "healthy" list. Things like broccoli, dark leafy greens, fish, chicken; by sticking with the same ingredients it makes it easier to know "what" we're putting into our bodies.

The Internet is my friend, especially when I can open 20+ tabs (addicted to tabs) - I reference hundreds of thousands of recipes and experiment as I go making my own version, bookmarking my favorites - most of the time it works and sometimes it doesn't (I can think of 3 meals in the last 6 months that weren't anything to blog about and I'd sooner forget). Plus, when I get comfortable with a recipe, that's when the fun begins; I can start shaping it to be my very own!

At the end of the day, our life revolves around "good grub". An adventure in the kitchen is just as fun as an adventure outdoors and to have the knowledge and piece of mind to stretch our euro in the healthiest way makes all the difference.

Time to get out and enjoy this day! Keep smiling from your liver and laughing from your spleen!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Two Great Dinners

What a nice week. April wrapped up with a few good days of fishing for Patrick a night in Galway with my Irish Family and a head start on a few house projects, not to mention two really great dinners.

I realize this blog is just as much about sharing the food I love as it is about keeping track of the recipes I want to re-create, so there's a selfish side and a show-and-tell side too (I never had anything really cool to share on show-and-tell day in school).

I spent the better part of 10 years wanting to make really good homemade pizza and also spent the better part of 10 years, actually most of my life searching for the best place to eat Mexican food. It's taken me all that time and a handful of countries, to arrive in a place where, if I want to enjoy pizza or Mexican food, I better make it myself or get use to my four choices for dining out - Curry, Chinese, Local, or the Chipper. I say no thanks to eating out, and instead enjoy the adventure of creating food in a wonderful kitchen also coined Our Sunset Diner.

So today, get your pens and paper ready or turn on the printer, because I'm about to give you the ingredients to make my pizza and one variation of Mexican food.

Pizza and Salad
Crust (I am no good with yeast and stumbled upon this yeast-free dough which works pretty well)
My variation follows
2 cups flour
1/2 cup bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup warm water, maybe a little more or less

Mix dry ingredients together, then the oil, and last the water. Knead for a few minutes and let it rest on a clean work surface under the bowl you just mixed the dough in.

Meanwhile, prepare your toppings
Chop or slice about 1/2 to 1 cup of any toppings you like (we enjoy mushrooms, wafer ham, peppers, onions, olives and sometimes garlic)
Set out about 1 to 1/2 cups shredded cheese (we use a white cheddar), more or less depending on your cheesy preference
About 1/4 to 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (I keep a jar of our favorite spaghetti sauce on hand), again depending on your preference

Now, roll out your dough on a floured surface. I roll it to a nice thin 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch thickness and place it in a nice, big pan. Spread the sauce and sprinkle all the toppings evenly, lastly cover with cheese and bake for about 25 minutes in a preheated oven of 400F/205C. Allow the pizza to rest a few minutes before serving.

While the pizza is in the oven, whip up a nice, refreshing salad. I rarely buy salad dressing and instead mix a few ingredients together based on whether I want something sweet or savory.

Garlic Ginger Vinaigrette
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon Demera sugar

Mix all ingredients together and set aside while you mix the salad of
1/2 head of butter lettuce, torn or chopped
1/4 English Cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup crumbled salad cheese or Feta

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix well serve on the side with the pizza.

Next on the menu, is Vegetarian Tacos and Cheesy Pearl Barley
I started my Mexican Food Adventure with a recipe from my Sister in Law for Spinach and Black Bean Burritos. This Adventure quickly took me down a road of new experiences and along the way I found a great recipe for homemade tortillas which beat the price in the store of nearly 4 euros for a pack of 8 tortillas, eek!

I've pointed as many people as I can to this blog about Mexican Food, there are some great recipes for those of us that can't walk into our favorite Mexican restaurant. For the purposes of this recipe, we're focusing on her recipe for tortillas and then of course leaping to my version...
2 cups flour
1/2 cup bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or Olive oil
3/4 cups warm milk

Like the pizza dough, I mix dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients. I don't always use all the milk (which I keep for a mugga tea later), Generally mix the dough with enough milk so it holds together and is not too wet. Knead the dough for a few minutes and allow to rest on a clean work surface under the bowl you just mixed the dough in. Allow to rest for about 20 to 30 minutes, meanwhile preparing other ingredients. After the dough has rested, separate into balls about 1" round, and allow to rest under the bowl again for another 10 minutes.

When dough is well rested, roll each ball on well floured surface and set aside, preheat a dry skillet at medium high heat. Cook each tortilla on the dry skillet for about 30 seconds each side. Watch for bubbles as they tend to burn and cause uneven cooking. Keep the tortillas warm between two plates.

Vegetarian ingredients
I soak over night and then cook for about 2 hours, about 200 grams of beans, any kind or you can simply buy a can of beans and rinse them well.
I made smokey beans last night, which were beautiful, to do this
I put the beans in a deep pan, added
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 small onions, sliced
6 mushrooms, sliced
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup liquid smoke
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together and cook over medium heat until mushrooms and onions are tender, set aside and keep warm.

Cheesy Pearl Barley
I cooked about 100 grams of pearl barley, then drained nearly all water off when cooked
I added about 1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces yellow cheddar
1 ounce feta

Once the barley is cooked, add all ingredients and heat on low until cheese is melted, set aside and keep warm.

The last bits are just finishing touches, and for me ingredients are difficult or expensive to come by so I make all my own, you can buy yours or do as you see fit.

1 can stewed, crushed, Roma tomatoes
2 small, roasted red chilies, de-seeded and de-skinned
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and allow to rest.

Last, mix sour cream and shredded cheese together. Chop lettuce and half of an avocado. These will be your taco toppings.

Now to put it all together. Spoon the bean mixture into the tortillas and cover with salsa, lettuce, avocado, and cheese. Spoon up the Cheesy Pearl Barley and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Evening with my Irish Family

Patrick's parents live outside of Galway. Truth be know, Patrick is a Galwegian, making us both blow-ins out here on the Loop Head Peninsula. We love life out here, although getting out of West Clare for a night can be just what the mind and body need. In my case a bit of fresh air to reintroduce creativity and productivity.

Eileen, Patrick's step mom is great! In the midst of caring for her horse and others' horses, teaching classes, among other things, she always strolls in, whips up dinner and before you know it we're all full and well into our drink and wonderful conversation. Tonight will be no different; she's already informed me that dinner is in order and if I'd like to bring dessert, that would be appreciated. Heck, that's the least I can do for a wonderful meal and evening away.

Anyway, you ask me where am I going with this post. And here it is, my point, I've decided to make an apple and sultana crumble. Which is an excellent dessert to post in this blog. It's quick, always a real hit and at the end of the day, it's nearly impossible to screw up.

For today's crumble, here's what I did.

7 small apples, peeled and sliced (I used JonaGold since that's what I had on hand)

I place the apples, about 1/2 cup sultanas, a knob of butter, about 1/4 cup of sugar (brown or Demera are my favorite) and loads of spices in a medium saucepan and cook on medium heat until the apples are tender.

At this point, remove the pan from the heat and pour into a pie plate or similar baking dish and allow to cool a bit.

In a small bowl, mix together the following ingredients until crumbly
1 3/4 cups oats
scant bran
scant flour
handy sprinkle of Demera or brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 to 3/4 cups butter or other vegetable spread

Crumble the topping over the apples and bake in a preheated oven 375F/190C for about 30 minutes or until the crumble on top is golden and the apples are bubbly.

Serve with ice cream, cream , or whipped cream.

This is a delicious, mostly healthy, and quick dessert. It's great to take up to Galway, since Patrick's dad has a Gluten intolerance. I can omit the bran and the flour and still make a tasty crumble that everyone enjoys.

Hope you find a quick minute to enjoy a fruit crumble soon!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blackened Cod... it's what's for dinner

Yesterday was beautiful! I spent a bit of time outside transplanting and planting seeds for our "fish box" garden. If all goes well, we'll have tomatoes, potatoes, onions, shallots, heaps of garlic, spaghetti squash, beets, carrots, pears, apples, blueberries, strawberries, and a nice variety of herbs. Not bad for two people that don't want to spend their days in the garden. And since our washer is still broke, it was a perfect, breezy day for all the laundry I washed by hand to dry on the line. The garden was filled with songs from all the birds and at one point I even heard one singing that sounded a bit like how my grandpa used to whistle.

While I was having loads of domestic fun, Patrick was out fishing yesterday. He's still getting a few velvet crab, but mostly brown crab and a handful of lobster. I've figured out the best and most fun way to learn about his day is to ask if he found anything fun and unusual in the pots. It opens the door to a broad conversation, generally leading to what the water was like, whether the crewman sang while he worked, how the boat operated, if they spotted dolphin or if the seagulls had to be kept at bay from the bait. Last night, was no different. Although I did walk down to the pier to meet Patrick after his day at sea, so the conversation started while he was cleaning a small cod on the deck.

Imagine my excitement when I realized the fish was cod (first of the year) and would be the main coarse for dinner! Immediately my mind trailed off to the ingredients at home and what I could prepare that would be light, tasty and full of summer flare. To my delight, I created a lovely blackened cod with brown turmeric rice and mango salsa. It was simply divine at our Sunset Diner.

When we got home, I began rummaging through the fridge and press to find the ingredients necessary for our dinner. Of course, I never stray too far from the hundreds of thousands of recipes online; usually paying attention to cook time and basic ingredients. I knew straightaway that I needed a recipe that used mango since I had about a quarter of a mango that really needed to be used up.

In case I haven't let on by now, I believe I am the queen of turning leftovers into delicious meals and stretching ingredients as far as they will go. In the case of the mango, it had seen 2 salads and was a side with pancakes. It's final destination was the salsa for the cod.

So, rather than keeping you waiting, here's my recipe for Blackened Cod with Brown Rice and Mango Salsa

Prepare your favorite rice, while boiling sprinkle in a handy amount of turmeric and a bit of salt.

Salsa, mix all ingredients and set aside
1/4 ripe mango, diced and scrape away any pulp from the seed
1 kiwi, diced
1/4 english cucumber, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1/8 cup cilantro, fresh or dried (I used dried, since our coriander isn't ready for harvest)
1 small red chili pepper, oven roasted and peeled from the skin, diced
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Rub for the Cod
2 fillets cod

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon chili seasoning
1 tablespoon Tabasco Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
a handy sprinkle of salt
(black pepper would have been nice; however, we're fresh out)

Mix all the ingredients together and rub on all surfaces of the cod, set aside and heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan on medium heat. When the pan is hot, place the cod, skin side up on the pan and fry for two minutes. Flip the cod and fry for an additional two minutes. Finally, grille the cod in it's pan in the oven for about five minutes. Make sure to use a frying pan that has an oven proof handle or wrap your pan's handle in foil and don't get it too close to the grille.

When everything is ready, dish out the rice, place the blackened cod on top of the rice and spoon a handy mount of salsa onto the fish. I recommend enjoying in a room, on a patio, wherever the sun is shining and make sure you have plenty of beer or water because this dish is spicy!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Taste of Ireland

What a great weekend, we just enjoyed! My family was supposed to visit us last week; however, the Icelandic volcano kept them in Colorado. My brother's trip which was scheduled in the middle of my folk's trip went on as scheduled and so we enjoyed a few short days with him.

We enjoyed plenty of food, wine, beer, hill walking, sight seeing, wildlife viewing, visiting and even managed to find a Trad Session on Friday night in Kilkee.

Chadd arrived as scheduled on Thursday. Patrick was out fishing, so I made my way to the Shannon Airport to pick my brother up. We made our way back to the house, I gave him a quick tour, then went down to the village for lunch and a pint at The Long Dock. I love the feel inside the Long Dock, it's cozy, like the whole pub is a "snug" and the food and Guinness are pretty good and as local as you can get without enjoying a meal at our Sunset Diner.

After our lunch we strolled into the square and I introduced Chadd to our Post Master, the first person I met when I arrived in Carrigaholt last June. Our village isn't very big, even though it is considered a "Large Village" by the County Council, so Chadd's quick tour ended with another pint inside Keane's, the first place I enjoyed a pint when I arrived last June.

When we were finished we made our way back to the house for afternoon tea and finally met up with Patrick who brought home fresh crab claws and mussels.

I could continue to describe many of the details while brother was here; however, this blog is about food, so I'm going to change the format and give you highlights from our dining experience.

We started with fresh crab claws and a fruity salad of mango, apple, kiwi, cucumber, onion, spinach and butter lettuce with an apple and poppy seed vinaigrette followed by baked Pollock with mushrooms, onions, green peppers, leeks, and a few knobs of butter accompanied by baked potatoes. For dessert I made Toffee Bread Pudding which was heavenly.

We started Chadd's first full day in Ireland with a Full Irish Breakfast which included: 1 poached egg on toast, bacon, rashers, white and black puddings, beans, fried mushrooms and tomatoes before setting out on a tour of the north side of the peninsula.

Chadd enjoyed his first "99", although is was sans the Flake, in Kilkee and also enjoyed a pint and a bag of crisps at The Lighthouse Innon the bay in Kilbaha. Before returning home for homemade crab cakes and mussels. For dinner Friday night we had a bit of a BBQ and enjoyed chicken on the grille and homemade potato salad. We finished out evening with Banoffee Pie that was even more heavenly than Thursday's night's bread pudding.

We finished the evening in Kilkee at Fitzpatrick's for a Traditional Irish Music session.

I think we all agreed when we woke up Saturday morning (mind you, we didn't get to sleep until 3:00 am) that we were full from all the previous meals and drink... that didn't stop me from making us Apple and Banana Pancakes with a bit of fruit on the side. I think we rolled to the College Bay for our walk to the Battery.

Chadd got a taste of rain Saturday afternoon, but not before Patrick gave him a tour of the Fiona David, Patrick's boat. When we got home, we enjoyed a hot mug of tea, the last of the BBQ chicken and potato salad then nibbled on the treats Chadd picked up in Heathrow - Chocolate and shortbread.

Patrick's parent came down from Moycullen, outside of Galway, to meet my brother and spend the evening with us. We had a great evening, as the rain cleared and the sun came out just in time for us to enjoy dinner at our Sunset Diner. On the bill, I made us Crab and Lobster salad and Patrick made Bacon and Cabbage with mashed potatoes and boiled turnip. We sweetened the deal with the last of the Banoffee Pie, a cowboy cookie and chocolate.

The conversation was great, and different and carried us well into the night. A little after 11:00 pm, Chadd, Eileen (Patrick's step mom) and I walked into the village for a serving of Curry Chips from our local chipper. As Chadd was informed, Curry chips after a night on the drink is considered an Irish delicacy! I'd say they weren't as good as something Patrick and I could create in our kitchen - it was worth the experience anyway.

Chadd flew out Sunday, mid-day from Shannon, which made for a whirlwind morning getting ready and eating before departing. We had leftover mashed potatoes so Eileen showed me how she makes potato cakes and Patrick made us a big fluffy omelette after he and Chadd washed and dries the pile of dishes from the night before. It was a great food finale to Chadd's expected-unexpected visit.

All those highlights behind us now, I'll leave you with Eileen's Potato Cake Recipe, perfect and easy for any morning.

1 onion, chopped small
1 clove garlic, minced
Any amount of mashed potatoes (we had about 3 cups)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt and pepper, a handy sprinkling of both
seasoning of your choice, Mixed herbs, Curry powder, Aromat, whatever you like

Preheat a frying pan to medium/medium high with a little oil. Fry the onion and garlic in the heated oil, until tender.
Meanwhile, mix last four ingredients together in a bowl and add onion and garlic when cooked through.
Next set out about 1/2 cup of flour to coat your hands before forming the mixture into cakes (any size you like).
Fry the cakes in the hot oil for about 3-5 minutes, on either side until golden brown.
You can enjoy them straightaway or keep them warm in a moderate oven.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Expected-Unexpected Visitor

Wow, it's 6 o'clock. I'm up. The birds are up. The sun's not quite up. And the house is too peaceful to do anything other than sit in front of the computer.

We expected my family to visit us this week; however, due to the Icelandic volcano activity my parents' and grandmother's flights were cancelled. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your view. My brother's flight, last night out of DC, was not cancelled. As I type he should be preparing to land in London and in a few short hours he'll be in the car with me driving back to Carrigaholt.

Just last night I was enjoying steak and lobster, Surf and Turf where slices are made in the steak and lobster slivers are inserted just before you put the steak on the grill. This is something Patrick and I have dreamed of enjoying together for a very long time and now it is muted by the surreal feeling surrounding my brother's expected-unexpected visit to Ireland.

Usually, when I've seen Chadd in the last 10 or so years he's been with his family - some of my favorite people in this world, and this time, it's just him. Plus, I don't think he's ever stayed at "my home". I've stayed at his a handful of times and enjoyed great company, great food and one heck of a schedule. With four children, there's a lot to be said for any "free" time a person can make or find. Not to mention, there's so many "firsts" we'll get to experience together...

being in Ireland together
enjoying our first Guinness or whiskey or Irish Coffee, in Ireland, together
Driving my brother around, on the right side drive, left side of the road and in another country
blah, blah blah

You get my point. Who can think of last night's dinner when the days ahead have a new air of excitement about them.

All this excitement, and I only bought messages for Patrick and I for the week (messages are, in fact, groceries or they can also be a shot of liqueur or similar in your coffee or tea). In this case they're groceries. Heck, we don't even have any messages for our drinks! What's a person to do...

And so, we figure out why it is I am awake before the sun and before Patrick. My mind is working through all the food possibilities.

Pollock tonight, Bacon and cabbage tomorrow, BBQ chicken Saturday. And then of course we've got breakfasts and lunches in between. Maybe a Traditional Fry tomorrow, Pancakes Friday, an Omelet Saturday. Oh and I can't forget to serve him crab claws - one of the foods I love most about Ireland, especially since my fisherman brings them home for me.

Did I mention dessert? I was thinking of bread pudding to use up the last of the Tiger Bread or possibly Banoffee Pie, think Chadd would enjoy that one. Luckily I have Cowboy Cookie dough in the freezer, so those can be baked for treats.

Now to move this growing list from my head to paper.

Imagine, I'll be back here on Sunday afternoon to post of the short weekend with my brother, food we enjoyed, drink too. Stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mexican Style Zucchini Pizza Pie

When I was growing up, my mom would make food we (my brother and I) hardly ever enjoyed eating. From rabbit, to liver and onions there were many dinners my brother and I didn't want to eat.

However, for as many unappetizing dishes that she made, she made equally as many tasty dishes that I enjoy to this day. Taco salad, Nine bean soup, and this dish that was like beef stew only it emphasized potatoes and a can of green chilies. Heck there's even dishes my mom claimed to make often, that I can hardly recall, like the Zucchini Pizza Pie.

Not like your usual pizza, this one has a "crust" made from shredded zucchini (courgettes as they're called here) and egg, baked before being topped with browned ground beef (mince) and onions, tomato sauce and cheese. Just thinking about it, sounds a bit like a finger food you might enjoy at a shower or dinner party. Nevertheless, when the pizza ingredients are all layered together it is baked again and the result is a bit like a lasagna or better yet a gluten-free pizza.

All food memories aside, yesterday I was struggling to come up with an appetizing menu for dinner. Our weather's been so lovely it's hard to want to make hardy foods we enjoyed through the winter. I was hoping for something light and trying to incorporate the leftover "ranchero beans and chicken" from the previous nights Mexican Style Salad. I thought we'd cleared most of the food from the freezer, except when I opened the "Veggie and Fruit" drawer I spotted something green under the bags of sloe berries and blackberries. Upon digging it out - I realized I still had two packages of shredded zucchini - this ingredient instantly changed the direction dinner was heading in.

I flipped through our family cookbook and stumbled upon my mom's Zucchini Pizza Pie and figured this would be a good test to use the zucchini and leftover beans. For this blog, I'll provide my version and mom's original recipe. So interesting how you can twist the ingredients to make a tasty dish.

Original Recipe - Zucchini Pizza Pie

1 1/2 lbs shredded zucchini (courgettes), with all water drained out
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, fresh or powder
1 lb ground beef (mince), browned
1 medium onion, chopped
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Oregano
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup olives, sliced

Brown beef, drain liquid and add in chopped onion. In a bowl, mix zucchini with 1/2 cup of each cheese (reserve other cheese for topping), and 2 eggs. Press into greased 10" x 15" pan and bake at 400F/205C for 10 minutes. Mix the tomato sauce into the browned beef and onions and spread over zucchini crust. Arrange the peppers, mushrooms, olives and any other toppings you like, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

My version of mom's recipe

1 cup shredded zucchini
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Mix above ingredients together and press into greased pie plate of similar baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F/205C.

Reserve 1 cup ranchero beans (or you could use 1 can of refried beans)

1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (or tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon chili power
1 tablespoon cilantro
Mix above four ingredients together and set aside

1 medium onion, chopped
Any other veggies, chopped, about 1/2 cup each
1/2 cup of thinly sliced cheddar (or shredded)

Once the crust is out of the oven, spread the ranchero beans over the crust. Arrange any veggies on top of the beans and spread the tomato mixture over the veggies. Last cover with a thin layer of cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

I served our "pizza" with chunky swedes (parsnips) fried into chips. A nice light alternative to the usual potato version we enjoy.

All in all, the dinner was a hit! We would have had enough for lunches today; however, Patrick and I polished that baby off! And I would certainly make the dish again. Heck, the zucchini is so versatile you could make a light, healthy pizza with any twist - Indian, Thai, whatever you fancy.

Happy creating and eating!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our First BBQ of the Year

We enjoyed our first BBQ of the year last night. It was a beautiful evening with the birds singing in the hedges, the smell of our freshly cut grass and the aromas of veggies and chicken on the grill. Our senses were full before we ever sat down for dinner.

I buy one whole chicken every week. We decided Sunday nights are our nights for a big dinner. Patrick usually roasts chicken and veggies and steams more veggies and mashes potatoes, makes gravy - the works. However, with the warmer temperatures, roasted chicken is less appealing. So last night, for a change, Patrick BBQ'd our chicken instead. He started by quartering the chicky. He then marinated it in a concoction of BBQ sauce,vinegar, soy sauce, chili seasoning, salt and pepper before precooking it in a moderate oven. To finish the bird off, he crisped it on the grill with kebab'd veggies of mushrooms, onions and green peppers.

Before Patrick got to the cooking, we went in to Kilrush for a few messages, stopped off in Kilkee to visit with some friends and pick up a few beers and a "99" before taking the Coast Road back to Carrigaholt. A 99 Flake is a lovely soft-serve ice cream cone. Usually Patrick and I will treat ourselves and share a cone. Yesterday I got my very own!!!

When we got back to the house, Patrick took on the lawn, one his favorite things to do. Honest. He really enjoys mowing the lawn. I helped by taking the clippings from him and then got the chance to mow a few rows in the back garden. Great fun and a pretty good appetite builder. A couple that mows together, grows together!

After the garden was tidy, Patrick started the grill and I whipped up a salad with butter lettuce, tomatoes, apple and a dressing which I made with some of the home made apple and cranberry jam I made last week, vinegar, poppy seeds and cranberry juice.

We were a bit busy on Skype with my parents and the chicky and veggies were a bit more crispy than Patrick intended (just like I like chicken - charcoaly). Nevertheless, dinner was beautiful at our Sunset Diner; sunset included.

All in all it was a perfect Sunday and tasty first BBQ of the year!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Porridge Pancakes

Since I started making pancakes from scratch, I have lots of fun incorporating extra ingredients. From bran, to oatmeal, to apples and bananas I find my pancakes turn out so much better, more tender and tasty. And of course, I get to control the ingredients which is something I like to do.

Today, I added a slightly new ingredient. Porridge. Our nephew spent a night with us last week and I made him porridge for breakfast. He only ate half of what I prepared so I put the rest in the fridge until this morning when the half-a-bowl became part of the batter. I also added in bran. The result was the ultimate tender pancake. Now I wouldn't go to the trouble of making porridge to add to my pancake batter; however, when Patrick makes it for himself, now I will be inclined to sneak a half-a-cup for pancakes the next morning!

The recipe I use is a variation from one I stumbled on a few years ago at, called Good Old Fashioned Pancakes. I was still living in Vancouver and a few friends and I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather, a friend's sun deck, breakfasts together that would be more quaint and less expensive, plus, no wait time at the local greasy spoon. The result was a new found love for pancakes, so here's the recipe to get you inspired and the extras I like to add in....

1 1/2 cup flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar *can substitute with your favorite fruit
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter

I mix all the dry ingredients together in a large measuring cup (makes it easy to pour the batter into the pan), followed by the egg, melted butter and the milk. If the batter is a bit thick I add water to the preferred consistency.

Now here's when it starts to become my recipe.

I put my favorite pancake pan on the cooktop and turn it to medium high. I add the butter, usually a handy knob to the pan and let it melt before pouring it into the batter. I use a piece of paper towel to wipe the butter around the pan which is usually good enough to cook through all the batter. I also place two plates in a moderate oven and use them to keep the pancakes warm until they're ready to serve. Or Patrick's method, which is pretty genius, is to place a plate over a saucepan of boiling water, keeping it just at a boil. As the pancakes are done, lay them on the plate (this is perfect for any food that you want to keep warm).

The ingredients are the next part that make the pancake recipe my own. And these include, but are not limited to the following:

1 banana mashed
1 apple pureed
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 or less bran
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup porridge
1 teaspoon cinnamon or other spice
1 teaspoon flavoring, like vanilla, almond or hazelnut
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Any of the above ingredients can be mixed in, to your taste. An I find when I make the pancakes with the extra bits they're a nice treat to carry with you when you're on the go. Pretty healthy and hardy too, especially with a fruit, bran, oat mixture.

I suppose the final touch is topping the pancakes with homemade jam. So far, I've used blackberry and an apple cranberry, both were delicious and heck use the syrup and butter too while you're at. It's the best way to start any day!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Baking Soda or Bread Soda as they say in Ireland

I have a family cookbook. It's filled with loads of recipes, even repeats that I will probably never try. There are a few passed down through the generations and even tips and hints and substitutions for the kitchen.

One of my favorites is the use of baking soda (bread soda) in "acidic" sauces/dishes to tone down the acidity, therefore making it less likely that the enjoyer will experience indigestion.

I've tried this little trick in spaghetti sauces as well as curry dishes and have found it to help. Tonight I am trying a few pinches in the sausage gravy I've made to accompany the homemade biscuits. We'll see if it helps?

Based on the tip in my families cookbook, I usually mix in about a teaspoon when the sauce is nearly ready to serve. It's amazing the difference it makes, especially with tomato-based dishes.

It's worth a try and easy enough to add a little bit until you find the amount you're most comfortable incorporating.

Starting Today...

I spend enough time on the internet these days and I don't even have an office job anymore. I'm self-employed, self-creating and enjoying every moment life offers me whether it's on a plate, the sunset at our kitchen table or any other form unrelated to food.

I've decide it's time to branch out, personally, from my facebook and etsy related online activity in order to highlight the food I create and enjoy. Most of the treats I create are sweet in nature and take on new ingredients from the original recipe and some, tried and true recipes need only be enjoyed with the people you love.

Follow me, as I begin to formally document my life on the Loop Head Peninsula and the culinary delights I enjoy!