Carrot cake, without carrots? 

So this is not a recipe exactly… but the other day I decided to experiment a little. I was thinking that it would be nice to make a carrot-like cake. How hard can it be to make it without carrots? 


So far the first attempt was quite satisfactory, though I do now wonder what carrot cake would taste like without the spices, and whether this is comparable.

How did I replace the carrots? Sweet potato.

How did I come up with this idea? Sheer insanity. 

They have the same consistency, right? Occasionally they even come in similar colours! Though this time I used a Japanese white sweet potato (it’s what I had), next time I’ll try orange. I may also try cooked mashed sweet potato in the pancake batter too, instead of banana, so as not to muddy the flavour.

No recipe yet, though. I took my standard pancake batter, and threw in fistfuls of grated sweet potato until it looked decent. Then I mixed sugar and butter, spread on top, and baked at 350 until the toothpick came out alright.


The Verdict? Sweet Potato Cake… tastes like cake. Oddly it now has little flecks of green in the cake (I’m guessing something about being refrigerated brought out some of the blue in the purple peel?). But definitely edible.

The more vegetables, the healthier, right? Plus… I have a bunch of dehydrated sweet potato that I’m not fond of. I hear a dehydrated carrot mistake was the source of the original carrot cake recipe… so perhaps there is hope for a useful outcome to my dehydrated potato chunks. I hope!!!

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Cocoa(not) SNICKERDOODLES 

The other day I stopped by a small natural food pantry on my way home from work. A friend had insisted she’d found safe all-purpose flour for me there, but as it turns out it had traces of nuts. Which explained some hives.

I digress. I chose to force myself to look around and see what else they had… and they had Coconut Flour from Earth’s Choice!

So I decided to try it out in a recipe I adapted from what was my favourite cookbook as a child, the Treasury of Creative Cooking. It has gold pages, which obviously makes it better. If you want to make it gluten free, be sure to use GF oats, and check with your celiac to be sure that oats are not a problem for them (some celiacs are sensitive to oats, others not).

Cocoa(not) Snickerdoodles

Heat oven to 375F. Grease your cookie sheets or add Parchment, or silicone mats.

In a large bowl, beat:

1 cup butter, softened (bet this would work with coconut oil too!)

3/4 c brown sugar (I just used raw sugar)

3/4 c granulated sugar

Add in:

1 large banana

Mix well.

Slowly add:

2 c uncooked rolled oats 

3/4 c white rice flour (I had a bit less)

3/4 c coconut flour (I had a bit more)

1/4 c dry milk powder (next time if I’m baking for my lactose-free colleague I’ll try adding more coconut flour instead of more lactose…)

1 tsp baking soda

Mix it all well, you should get a large glob. This dough is perfectly safe to eat as is… and is an excellent addition to ice cream. I expect it’d be amazing coated in chocolate, if you can have that sort of thing (maybe someday!!!). 

Before you bake them, put 2 Tbsp of white sugar and 2 Tbsp raw sugar in a bowl. Roll the dough into 1-2″ balls, and coat in the sugar mix. Put them on your cookie sheet, and press flat. Mine didn’t spread, but the original recipe calls for 2″ space between. 

Bake 8-10 mins (375F), until firm in the centre. Put them on wire racks to cool. Then hide them from the children. And from yourself.

Enjoy! 

Marshmallow #Fails

When you are substituting a TON of ingredients in recipes… Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. 

Just in case you think I’m some sort of innate cooking genius… I burned eggs as a child multiple times. And bacon. And water. A lot of what I know comes from failures, so this month I thought I’d share one of my MANY failures of last year. This one was one I ate, and enjoyed. There were a few (dehydrated yogurt & fruit leather for example) which were so inedible I just had to compost. And some, like grapefruit toffee… which I made myself eat over a month or two because I’m that stubborn. 

This past summer the attempt was MARSHMALLOWS! So far it’s resulted in some very sweet, not very marshmallow like confections. I can’t use gelatin because of the sulphites, and agar is very far down the list of things to try next when I have no hives. Chocolate is MUCH higher.

But anyways, I found a recipe that used icing sugar and corn syrup, and substituted golden syrup… and i think the recipe wasn’t well tested. I tried it twice in small batches with complete failures. Delicious failures, mind you.


I tried it later at different temperatures, and it looked a lot more like marshmallows… smooth… but was basically just sugar fudge. With no flavourings.

So. All that to say: If you have a marshmallow recipe that doesn’t use gelatin or agar… please let me know!

Or if you know how to MAKE gelatin that might work too. 

Beans, Chard, and a dash of adventure

I made some awesome pumpkin seed soup again a few days ago (I’m sick. Again.), but I somehow bought too much chard and so tonight I contemplated how to use it up. I decided to look online for some non-soup alternatives, and ran across this recipe which also uses canned beans. A bonus when you’re figuring out how to reduce your crazy grocery bill (cooking from scratch is SO expensive!). 

You might initially think: um. WHAT is THAT? Or it may remind you of Dr.Suess and some things that should not be green. But there comes a point with allergies where a girl gets a little stir-crazy eating the same flavours day in and day out. I was beginning to think I’d tasted all the variations in flavour possible from the list. Nope!!! This is actually pretty good!

Without further ado, I give you: Green Fritters

You’ll need:

– chard, cut up (I just used the leafy part from one bunch, and fried the stems for another meal)

– a can of beans (I used white northern)

-flour of some kind (I used white rice, about 1/2 a cup-a cup)

-salt. 

– butter.

In a large bowl, using an immersion blender, blend the salt, rinsed beans and chopped beans together. (I did this in a blender. It was less successful). It will make a mixture that is pretty liquidy.

Then you add the flour in small amounts until it’s stiffer and more like the consistency of waffle batter (or stiff peak egg whites).

Put some butter on low heat in a frying pan, and drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, frying it slowly and flipping it until you end up with a fritter that is firm all the way through. 

Good luck!

TOAST

Confession time… up until about a month or two ago I was still using a shared toaster. I know, I know. Russian Roulette. After a few too many toast-related hives I finally gave up at stopped. 

Guess who is really awful at toasting toast with an oven? Me. Guess who hasn’t made toast in a while ? Me.

Imagine my jealousy when I saw my mom had a toaster bag!!! Bought in my city, no less, but gifted from a friend so she had no idea where to find it. 

But after some sleuthing (and interrogating a Santa who found some for my sister…) I found the truth. In Ottawa, turns out toaster bags of two varieties are available at “Ma Cuisine”! YAY! 


I was a bit skeptical at the plastic… but… seems to have worked!!! Guess who is now a happy camper full of toast? Me.

The List

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally people ask me for a current list of what I can eat. Used to be I had a card… which all my friends & family had on their fridge. Now it’s a lot longer.

So… I’m going to try and keep this up-to-date. If you’re looking to cook for me, please read this post and the list first. And talk to me- I often like to give an in-person orientation and help with cooking the first time I come over.

If your first inclination while reading this list is to swear repeatedly on my behalf… Join the club. It includes me, and multiple professional chefs. You are always allowed to gracefully back out of cooking for me. I get it, I really do!

Treats:

From scratch: See anything below.  Basically if I didn’t make it or buy it, it’s a HUGE treat. Especially pineapple. Or purple Sweet Potatoes. Or bison. 

Pre-packaged: Enjoy Life Chocolate, (I am particularly fond of the dark chocolate chips, but all of their baking chocolates are fine. Sadly the chocolate bars they make aren’t) Earth’s Choice Coconut Chips, Super Seedz Pumpkin Seeds (Sea Salt or Naked Flavours only), Popcorn Kernels (any brand, they can be popped in a microwave without any other ingredient needed!).

Fruits:

Must be fresh, or dried/frozen by me. Must not be covered in seran wrap or cellophane. You’ll want to buy it whole, and cut it up carefully (see the post above). 

From Scratch: Banana, Kiwi (golden is AWESOME), GrapefruitOrange (not a huge fan), BlueberriesPineapple (can’t eat it at home, my sister’s allergic- so it’d be a HUGE treat for me)

Packaged/Processed: Um… Haven’t found anything safe yet.

Vegetables:

Must be fresh, or dried/frozen by me. Must not be covered in seran wrap or cellophane.

From scratch: Corn, Sweet Potato (LOVE the purple ones),  Beans, Peas, Beets (LOVE the golden and chioggia ones), Cooked Chard (LOVE swiss chard), Winter Squashes (Pumpkin is iffy. Avoid.)

Processed/ Packaged: Earth’s Choice canned organic beans, Bryson Farms frozen corn, Bryson Farms frozen squash, Mill Creek Farms Pre-shelled Peas.

Grains/ Starches/Flours: 

Generally, if it’s packaged… the company MUST be called to verify how they make the product. They are legally allowed to have up to 10 PPM sulphites without labelling, or it could be cross contaminated. I usually call from the grocery store… or I take a picture of the UPS code and phone number so I can call later. I ask “Is it AT ALL possible this product, or the ingredients that are IN this product, could contain sulphites? Could there be any cross-contamination with salt, pepper, or other fruits, vegetables, or nuts?” They usually balk… Some will have no clue about allergies (Mr.Christie), some will be absolutely fantastic (Lundberg, SuperSeedz), and some will escalate the questions to specialists, write down your phone number and get back to you a week or two later (PC).

From scratch: Yuca/Cassava/Tapioca 

Processed/Packaged: Rooster brand Jasmine Rice (I trust most brands of rice), Mr.Ben’s 10 minute parboiled rice, Quaker Oats (Quick Oats, Large Flake Oats), Only Oats brand (all products), Post Shredded Wheat, No Name Brand Puffed Wheat, Wheat Flour from a safe mill (Ottawa Valley Grain Products, Manotick Stone Mill, Delta stone Mill), Rizopia Brown Rice Pasta, Dimpflmeyer Light Rye Bread, Lundberg Thin Stackers Unsalted Rice Cakes, Club House Minute Tapioca, Earth’s Choice Coconut Flour, Cuisine Soleil Tapioca Starch, Against The Grain Purple Corn Flour/Meal, No name brand Popcorn Kernels (I trust all brands of plain kernels so long as label says “popcorn” only)

Dairy:

I am mildly lactose-intolerant, so this year to minimize my digestive symptoms, I cut lactose significantly. But not completely- making my own lactose-free butter is a lot of work and not necessary. Someday I may try to make cheese… we’ll see.

From scratch: I’m allergic to hay and a lot of animal dander… so I’m pretty sure any raw dairy would be a bad idea for me! I do, however make my own ricotta cheese frequently, with Marukan rice vinegar, Natrel LF 10% cream, and Madison D’Orphee Sea Salt

Processed/Packaged: Natrel Lactose-Free Milk (all sizes), PC brand lactose-free PLAIN yogurt, Liberte lactose-free PLAIN greek yogurt, Natrel Lactose-Free Salted Butter, Natrel Unsalted Butter, PC unsalted butter, Natrel Lactose Free 10% Cream, Glengarry Cheeses “Fen” Cheese (vacuum sealed at factory please; cheese stores may contaminate).

Protein:

Cannot be packaged in seran wrap/cellophane, or have one of those little absorbent sponges under it. No spices of any kind. If speaking to a butcher, ask “is there ANY chance of cross-contamination with spices, or fruits, or vegetables, or nuts?”. Some will ask you to return at the start of their day so that they can be sure the equipment has been thoroughly washed.

From Scratch: As long as it’s not pork (sulphites… who knew?), all other meat is fine IF it is packaged correctly. Directly from a butcher they usually wrap it in butcher’s paper (which is ok), but please ask them to use that paper for weighing (and to wipe off their scale before using it!). Otherwise they use a thin sheet of suspicious looking plastic. I usually just go to the farmer’s market for very special occasions and get bison, venison, or elk.

Packaged/Processed: 

The expensive, but safe stuff: New Zealand brand lamb (no spices), O’Briens organic beef (anything from them is safe), Blue Goose Organic Chicken (any of their chicken is safe), Beretta (any of their stuff is safe)

The cheaper, and still safe stuff: PC Prime Portions Chicken Breasts (sold in a plastic bag, with individual portions inside), Loblaws’ Ground Beef in a tube, Loblaws’ Beef Rib Fingers (boneless… so easy!), Exidor Rock Cornish Hen, Noble Chef Rock Cornish Hen. 

Non-meat Protein: SuperSeedz Unsalted Pumpkin Seeds, Earth’s Choice Unsulphured Coconut, Earth’s Choice canned Beans (Including Chickpeas!), Mumm’s Adzuki Beans, Whole Foods Market 365 Black Chia Seed.

Spices and other Staples:

See above about things from packages… For most recipes you can just omit the spices, and it’ll still be pretty close to the original. More than close enough for me!

From scratch: Ginger! I also have a few herbs that I grew in my garden. The soil may have sulphites. Or I might be mildly reacting to them. Either way, can’t eat them yet. boo.

Packaged/Processed: Lantic Pure Superfine/Fine Sugar, Lantic Raw Sugar, Wholesome Sweeteners (I haven’t tried their coconut palm agave syrup or brown sugar yet, but their molasses, icing sugar, and raw sugar is all fine), Maison D’Orphee Fine Grey Sea Salt (it’s in a white and blue package. Salt is hard to find without sulphites!), No Name 100% pure Corn Oil, Olive Oil (probably any brand that’s pure, I haven’t called any since I rarely use it), Maison D’Orphee Coconut oil, Marukan Rice Vinegar, No name Baking Soda (again, i trust most brands of baking soda), Lyle’s Golden Syrup, Lundberg Brown Rice Syrup, Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

 

 

Peanut Soup- without Peanuts?

Today is day 22 of being sick. I’m getting better, my doctor assures me… and at least I can clear both my ears again! I made lots of chicken soup earlier this week, but today I decided to try a family recipe/ cures-what-ails-you: West African Peanut Soup.

It’s also a great recipe for harvest time, when you are suddenly faced with WAY more leafy greens than you could possibly cope with. Or way more vegetables, period. As per my usual, I substituted most of the original ingredients, and took out some of the ingredients I couldn’t have. So feel free to add back in the onion, garlic, ginger, pepper, cumin and thyme… And play around with it as much as you like- amounts are HIGHLY variable! Here’s what I did, and it’s AWESOME. Plus it only uses one pot. YAY!

Pumpkin Seed Soup

  1. In a food processor, blend about a cup of pumpkin seeds until they start to stick to the walls of the food processor. If you kept going, you could make this into pumpkin seed butter… but that’s not necessary for this recipe.
  2. Pour a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil into a large soup pot. Add in the pumpkin seeds and stir.
  3. Throw in a few cups of beans (these can be cooked, canned, or fresh beans), several beets (or tomatoes, like the original recipe), several cups of squash (I used butternut, cubed into smaller squares), two (or three) sweet potatoes (also cubed).
  4. Cover with broth or water (about 4-8 cups), and boil/simmer until very soft- about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Add a couple cups of corn, 6-10 cups of leafy greens (can be pre-cooked or raw- I used chard), and salt (plus other spices if you can) as desired. I also added a cup or so of cubed cooked chicken that I had on hand. Simmer until everything is hot, and the greens have wilted. Enjoy!

If you end up with more than you can eat at once, this is a soup that freezes and reheats well, and makes a lovely gift for friends who might be feeling under the weather as well!