Of the many fond childhood memories I carry, that which I often reflect on is afternoon tea time. Afternoon tea in New Zealand (and I suppose the UK too) is a meal. It’s a 3 o’clock sit down, with a tea for the adults and an afternoon school ‘snack’ (as they call it here) for the kids. It’s a time to debrief about the day, take a break and refuel in order to make it through the following three hours until dinner time.
Here in Canada, Jesse and I have continued the morning tea (10.30am), afternoon tea (3pm) and evening tea (8pm) ritual whether we are at home or at our workplace, whether its tea, coffee or a shake. And although it’s a little out of place here (“you have a set time for your snacks??”) it works perfectly for Jesse and I who struggle to go 3 hours without our next meal, and if we took the ‘snacking’ route we would probably find ourselves nibbling. All day.
My favourite afternoon tea as a child was crumpets. Returning home from school to warm, toasted crumpets, smeared with butter and drizzled with honey, the sweet syrup dripping through the holes and down the sleeves of my school uniform. The crinkle of the plastic Golden wrapper (which always tears), that distinctive soda flavour, the deep cavities for the honey or jam to nestle in.
To make crumpets from scratch is incredibly satisfying. It is a super simple recipe, no waiting, kneading or resting as the batter is instantly activated by the mixing through of baking soda. Throw spoonfuls onto the hot skillet and watch them rise and bubble. Because I have a sourdough bubbling away, requiring emptying and feeding, I figured I could use all sourdough starter instead of yeast as I usually would when making these. It worked, but they didn’t bubble as much as expected. Mind you – the sourdough flavour is well worth the lack in bubbles.
Recipe from The Fresh Loaf
1 1/2 cups leftover 100% hydration starter (straight from the fridge works best)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Mix it together and watch it bubble!
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray crumpet rings (or egg poaching rings) generously and place on skillet to heat. Pour in enough batter to fill rings, about 1/4 inch thickness. As bubbles begin to form, remove rings and repeat with remaining batter. (Bubbles may need a hand popping with something sharp). Flip and toast briefly on other side.
Serve warm with honey or whipped blueberry butter (recipe below)
Whipped Blueberry Butter
1/2 cup blueberries (frozen)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
120g butter, room temperature
Heat until blueberries have thawed and softened. Bring to a simmer and let cook (about 5 minutes) until thick and syrupy. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, beat butter until smooth and creamy. Add cooled syrup and beat until combined. Toss through some fresh blueberries and serve alongside crumpets.
A makeover of the popular Chocolate Quinoa Cake takes it from a good picnic cake, to a classy evening dessert. The addition of peppermint extract within, and a dark peppermint ganache frosting adds a depth and sweetness, making these quite the treat.
I topped mine with cacao nibs and mini candy canes from my David’s Tea but outside of the festive season I would vouch for fresh mint leaves. Oh for the change of season where this snow can melt away and the garden can flow with mint and other herby greens..
Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes
From adapted from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood
Makes 15 cupcakes
2/3 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp peppermint extract
¾ cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup raw cane sugar (or white)
1 cup cocoa
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Cover, cook for 10 mins. Turn off heat and leave for another 10 mins. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Lightly spray a 12- muffin pan with baking spray.
In blender combine milk, eggs, peppermint. Add 2 cups quinoa and the melted butter and blend until smooth. Add sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the blender and blend until well mixed. Pour into muffin pans and bake for 20 -25 minutes until knife inserted in centre of a cupcake comes out (fairly) clean.
Peppermint Chocolate Ganache Buttercream
Makes enough for 12 cupcakes
125g butter (salted)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
100g dark chocolate, melted
2 tsp peppermint extract
dash milk as required
a candy cane, crushed (or fresh whole mint leaves)
Thoroughly beat butter until smooth and fluffy. Add icing sugar and cocoa and beat until smooth. Pour in cooled melted chocolate and peppermint extract and combine, adding milk as necessary to make easy to spread on cupcakes. Top cupcakes with cacao nibs and chopped candy cane (if desired).
I have the fortune of working for an organisation that values wellbeing. Not only is my role to love and serve some of the neediest in our community and aid them in their employment, but through the organisation my health concerns are also well taken care of. Each morning on arrival at work I beeline for the Pure North booth. Here I have access to any vitamin, fish oil or supplement I could possibly dream of (if I were so inclined), alongside a Green Juice – powdered greens and pumpkin seed protein mixed through orange juice.
Pretty ideal straight after the early morning workout, or for a mid morning pick-me-up.
As employees we are also offered free bloodwork assessment and a program for a daily pack of vitamins and supplements. I jumped at the opportunity to get things checked out (why not?) but was rather surprised to find that my ‘healthy body’ could still benefit from taking 9 pills and 8 D3 drops a day. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t bode well with my idea of a healthy, natural, wholefood diet.
Having grown up in a household rather cynical towards supplements in pill form (the joy of having a doctor and a nurse for parents!) I am certainly hesitant to get involved in the supplement program. Articles such as this one which recognizes the risks of long term vitamin supplementation and this one which questions the necessity in a well nourished population – of which I most certainly am.
As my mother always said, supplements mostly lead to expensive pee. And this (questionably reliable) article discusses this further..
Nonetheless, I do like the concept of incorporating more greens into the diet (or, gosh, should we be wary of this too!?). So I requested from Pure North a small pack of the Pure Synergy Superfood powder so I can make these green juices on the weekend too.
Instead of using only the sugary juice of the orange I like to incorporate as much whole, fibre-filled fruit as possible – a whole orange, a whole apple and a good handful of spinach. This is a meal in itself – load up the ginger and it’s sure to fight off any cold during this sick-season.*
*Not scientifically proven.
Super Green Smoothie
Recipe adapted from Oh She Glows
Being highly fibrous, dark greens (the spinach and the Superfood Powder) will absorb liquid in the body leaving you with some uncomfortable bowel movements. If you normally maintain a low-fibre diet (as most in North America do) you will want to ease into high-fibre greens by beginning with only 1/4 teaspoon a day and ensure to keep well hydrated.
1 cup spinach or kale
1 large Gala apple (or other sweet apple), roughly chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 Tbsp powdered greens (spirulina or Pure Synergy Powder)
1 tsp honey, to taste (I used 1/2 tbsp or so)
Protein powder, optional (pumpkin seed protein recommended for this one)
water as necessary
Place all ingredients in blender in order listed. Whizz until blended, adding water as necessary to loosen. Throw in some ice cubes to cool and thicken if desired. Serve with slices of fresh, cool cucumber.
Bananas steal the show in our home. If it’s not banana oatmeal of some sort, it’s a banana chocolate shake or a decadent mini banana caramel cake. Although I would rarely consume a whole, fresh banana these days, they do manage to appear in something I eat everyday.
Full of potassium (which does a fine job at relieving muscle soreness) and packed with the exact carbohydrates and glycogen I like after exercise, bananas will never be shunned in our household, regardless of how many 5 Food To Never Eat ads are thrown my way..
Every so often we splurge on our favourite banana ‘icecream’. This concept blew our mind – instant icecream!? Made entirely from whole, natural, nutritious ingredients? It got us through the super hot, twentyfour-hour-sunlight summers in Norman Wells and will surely be a staple during Calgary’s hot summers.
This combination is inspired by the popular Ben & Jerry’s icecream flavour (Tip Top is yet to introduce this awesome combination) of banana, fudge chunks and walnuts. I’m a bit of a coconut fiend so threw in some toasted threaded coconut aswell.
Go and throw some bananas in your freezer. You’ll be thankful tomorrow night.
Nutritious Chunky Monkey ‘Icecream’
Inspired by Healthful Pursuit
2 large bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
2 tbsp almond (or peanut) butter
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
dash milk (or almond ‘milk’)
1/4 cup raw walnuts
long threaded coconut
2 rows of dark chocolate from a good quality block (not optional)
Place bananas, almond butter and coconut in blender. Blend until smooth – add milk as required or leave to allow bananas to soften slightly.
Heat a skillet over moderate heat. Place walnuts and coconut onto dry skillet (no need for oil) and toast until golden on both sides.
Spoon banana ‘icecream’ into serving dishes and top with the cooled nuts and coconut along with coarsely chopped chocolate. If required, place in freezer to firm up before serving – it melts quickly!
A simple low fat, high protein meatloaf that tastes OUTSTANDING. Turkey and apple make for an excellent flavour combination, with the apple providing sweetness and ensuring moist meat. Being a bit of a meatloaf hater, this one definitely swayed me. It’s a simple, tasty solution to transporting flavour-packed protein to work for lunch – I like to slice the loaf into individual portions and freeze, ready to take to work alongside some roasted kumara and steamed greens.
Turkey & Apple Meatloaf
500g ground turkey (breast or dark meat)1 granny smith apple, grated
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp paprika (I prefer smoked, de La Vera)
1/3 cup egg whites
1/4 cut rolled oats
1/2 cup tomato sauce (aka ketchup)
1 granny smith apple
fresh herbs, chopped
Mix together turkey, onion, garlic, paprika, egg whites and rolled oats. Grate the apple and squeeze out most of the juices. Add the grated apple to the mix along with 1/4 cup ketchup. Press into a lined loaf pan (I managed to squeeze it into an 18x9cm tin). Combine the apple juice with the remaining ketchup and spread over the top of the meatloaf along with some fresh herbs.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and, if desired, brush with a little more ketchup. Return to oven for another 20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the centre reads 165˚F (or 74˚C).
With such little time together these days (thanks to continuous overnighters from the Airline) Jesse and I bathe in our quality time together and shared meals. The joy we get from sitting down to an early evening glass of wine with some quality cheese..
Living in a gourmet-food-center of Calgary (Inglewood) we have a huge range of outstanding cheeses at our fingertips (with an extensive sales pitch and plenty of samples at the local groceteria to aid our decision). Sometimes, at these wine-and-cheese occasions, we include crackers, but only when we can get our hands on decent ones. Raincoast Crisps by Lesley Stowe (Vancouver) have become well popular in Canada. We first tried them at a dinner party in Norman Wells and, like the rest of the country, were pretty keen on them.
Because we are not ones to buy store bought anything (and because this blog is essentially called homemade in Spanish), I was stoked to find they are easily made at home.
With a stash of these on hand we are well equipped for an unscheduled sit down and catch up, for those rare occasions in which we find ourselves at the same place at the same time.
Almond, Cranberry & Rosemary Raincoast Crisps
Barely adapted recipe from fellow Calgary blog, Dinner with Julie
These freeze well, both before and after baking. I like to make two loaves, slice one and bake into crackers, and freeze the other. Alternatively I’ll make all the crackers and freeze half of them – both methods work great. The slight sweetness of the crackers mean they are great on their own too. Note: The loaves are much easier to slice thinly when very cold. I recommend cooling overnight, then freezing for 30 minutes or so before attempting to slice.
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk (or milk with a dash vinegar)
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seed, ground
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, sugar and honey and stir. Add the craisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and mix until blended.
Pour the batter into two 8”x4” loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Reduce the oven heat to 300° F and bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden.
On this particular occasion, instead of buying our usual soft (or blue) cheese, we worked with what we had. Which happened to be a 600g tub of dry curd cottage cheese (has anyone else made the mistake of buying this for its outrageous protein content and non-existant fat/sugar content, only to find it’s horrible on its own and barely purees without becoming gritty? No? Apparently I’m not the only one.). Eager to find a use for this, I simply whizzed it with a splash of natural yogurt, a few springs of cilantro, a squeeze of lemon juice, a handful of baby spinach and some chopped spring onions. Quite an impressive hit of protein before even starting on the meal.
Like most working couples, dinner in our household is more about meeting the need for quick and easy, wholesome meals than it is about cooking a decent and ‘blog worthy’ dish.
More often than not it’s a matter of clearing out the fridge. A soggy potato starting to discolour combined with a fresh bulb of fennel can really make for a cracker meal. A scoop of natural yogurt (always, always in supply in our fridge) easily transforms into a tzatziki for beef wraps, raita for curry or a creamy dressing for latkes.
While we’re not ashamed to admit to the occasional pancake dinner, I’m adamant that these are a step up, and therefore surely blog-worthy. Latkes are a Jewish fried potato pancake, commonly part of a traditional Hannukah feast. The addition of fennel lends a lovely aromatic, licorice flavour to the traditional potato latke, combined with chunks of salty feta and a smattering of plump sweet raisins. Inspired by the common orange-fennel salad, a splash of fresh orange juice turns yogurt into the perfect dressing. These are super quick to whip up and clean up, and definitely fill the void for some hearty fried food this winter*.
*New years resolutions, say what?
Fennel & Feta Latkes with Raisins & Orange Yogurt Dressing
Serves 2 (makes 4 latkes)
1 large (or two medium) potatoes, peeled
1/2 fennel bulb, cleaned
1/3 cup egg whites (or 1 egg)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp raisins soaked in boiling water (optional)
2 Tbsp feta, crumbled
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs (or flour)
pinch salt & freshly ground pepper
Heat a large frying pan over medium/high heat.
Using a box grater, grate potato and fennel. Place in a sieve lined with paper towels and leave to drain. Meanwhile, whisk together egg whites (or egg), garlic, raisins, feta and breadcrumbs. Squeeze out as much liquid from potato as possible, and transfer to bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix together and season well. Pour 2 Tbsp sunflower oil into pan and heat (until it splatters when flicked with a little water). Pour in about 1/3 cup mixture and arrange into a pancake. Continue with batter, as many as fits on a pan. Cook until golden on each side. Remove from pan and let drain on paper towel.
Orange Yogurt Dressing:
1/4 cup natural yogurt
an orange half, squeezed
fennel fronds, finely chopped
salt & pepper
Mix together all ingredients and serve alongside latkes.