This blog is mostly going to be my little place to talk about the novel I am writing. Which is why I stole a quote from one of my favorite tv shows, as this novel I am writing, I plan to finish, and at times.. it feels like an impossible thing. Also this is to journal my move to the UK, and starting my own business as an Indie Yarn Dyer

Recipes

This makes me very happy. (And a recipe for homemade almond milk)

 

Yeah… I started this “diet” on Monday, October 1st 2012. (The fact that it was the first of the month was pure happen-stance. I was just waiting for the Monday after the mother in law went home, as I knew I couldn’t escape carbs right then.)

For those who are interested in what I’m doing, I’m doing the Keto Diet. Which is basically High Fat, Low Carb. Don’t worry, I’m not just eating bacon and fried eggs.

I have lost 6lbs since Monday (as I write this, it is Saturday.) That’s nearly half a stone for my UK friends. Or nearly 3 Kilograms for my friends in other countries.

This makes me exceedingly happy. I can see the difference in my face, my collar bones, and just the rest of me in general.

The weekends are the most difficult for me on this diet, because it’s generally when the hubs and I would make pancakes, or would get a pastry while out doing the shopping.

I’ve found many good resources for Keto Friendly baking, unfortunately I don’t as of yet have the supplies to start baking. Eventually I’ll get everything I need.

This is the first time in my life (adult life I should say) that I’ve started having almond milk. I made it myself even. I made it thick on purpose, using the information I gleaned mostly from this website: Almond Milk Recipe – Latte di Mandorla from Sicily and also this one: Raw Almond Milk

Now here is how I actually did it, and my thoughts.

I put the raw almonds (which I thankfully didn’t have to remove from the hard shell like Anita (Italy) did) in a bowl and poured boiling water over them. I let that soak for 30 minutes.

I then peeled the skins off the almonds. I was expecting this to be such a chore, as a previous coworker (from my stint at British Airways) came in one day with a tub of peeled almonds and complaining how her hands were so sore, and her skin so dry from peeling the almonds with her mother. I think it was these comments that truly put me off making my own almond milk for so long. Let me tell you, that was stupid. These almonds were so easy to peel! Just simply pinch your thumb and index finger on the fat end of the almond and they quite literally pop out of the skin! Occasionally they might stick in one spot, but this was not a bother at all.

Here is where I deviated from Anita in Italy, and went to Sweet Freedom. I put the whole almonds in my blender, added 2.5 cups of water and let it rip. Sadly, I am coming to hate my blender. It’s a cheap one we purchased from Asda, to tide me over, but the truth is… I hate it. Every single time I try to blend something in it, no matter how little or much liquid I have, it always comes out the top.  This is unbelievably frustrating, and I cannot wait till I someday get my Vitamix. (Hell, I’d even settle for having my Ninja back.. I never had overflow problems with that! I don’t think I can get a Ninja in the UK though…)

So once I felt that it was ground up enough (not that I could really see), I poured the liquid through a fine mesh metal strainer that I have into a bowl.

I then transferred it into a clean bottle I had, and then popped it in the fridge. Voilà!

Here is what I would do differently: I would stick with Anita in Italy and mostly dry grind the almonds up first. That way I all of the almonds actually got ground up. I discovered after I had set the almond meal to dry that there were still some pretty big chunks of almond left.

I think I would also sweeten it, as I did not.. I am trying to decide how I want to sweeten it whilst staying in the diet. I don’t know if Xylitol would work or not… Though I do have some Sugar Free Chocolate Syrup that I made (xylitol) that I have added to a cup full of the almond milk, and that was quite yummy… so who knows. I’ll try experimenting. (I’ll post the chocolate syrup soon.)

So even if this diet doesn’t last, it is doing very good at making me start making things from scratch again. I love doing that, I love knowing I have complete control over what myself or my family puts in our bodies.

This makes me happy.


Kale Pestummus!! No, it’s not a new holiday.

Kale Pesto Hummus Fusion.

I realize my last post was all about me and a new diet. And then you heard nothing from me. Yeah… it didn’t go so well. I just am not one of those people who can go without carbs for any long amount of time. I was raised to respect fresh bread, and yes, I am one of those people who could happily live off of just a bit of fresh baked bread, a bit of cheese and nothing else. Honest.

I am not calling my attempt a failure, as I learned a lot about my body and what it can and cannot handle, and also how it will react to various things. I am taking what I learned, and I am still using it to create a modified version that will work for me. Mainly, I’m going to try to keep my carb and starch count down, and eat more and more veg. Yes I know that isn’t a ground shattering revelation, but there you go. I also know that from a genetic standpoint, I need to keep an eye on my sugar levels… but I also know that I cannot deny myself a sweet when I want it. If I deny myself, I will only think about it, and nothing else and the urge will become overwhelming and I will then binge. I do think I am going to follow someone else’s idea of not allowing myself a sweet (in any form) until I eat something healthy, as a way of seeing if the craving will subside.

Right now I have an absolute craving for GREEN. Which I figure can’t be a bad thing at all.

Today, I made a not-quite-hummus,not-quite-pesto concoction that is really good.

It was inspired by Oh She Glows’s High Protein Oil Free Pesto

I had been really wanting to make it, but sadly didn’t have all the ingredients.

I did however have Kale. Now my exposure to Kale has always been very limited, even though I’ve always WANTED to be on the Kale bandwagon. Now I do believe I can be.

Eating Kale raw isn’t bad, it’s just not that great. I’m a supertaster and thus the bitter is a bit too much for me. It isn’t enough that I am put off from eating Kale raw, it’s just I don’t know if I could have a whole bowl.

I sautéed the Kale with three cloves of garlic in a tiny bit of olive oil. Okay, I probably used more olive oil than I normally would have, but thats because I kept adding more Kale to the pan and needed a wee bit more to sauté the new leaves. And also, my definition of using a lot of oil is a teaspoon, yes one teaspoon. I really do not use much oil when cooking. My oil use will be even further reduced when my new Pampered Chef Oil Spritzer arrives. (I’ve been wanting one for years and finally decided to take the plunge. I went with a Pampered Chef one as I’ve actually USED one in the past and liked it, and the ones on Amazon didn’t get great reviews. I figure go with what you know, and it’s not that ugly either. And for the record, No I have not received any compensation for my comments about the Pampered Chef Spritzer. – Ugh this new rule of disclaiming is tiresome.)

Enough gabbing. On to the recipe. I was really trying to come up with a clever name for the Kale Pesto Hummus Fusion. Even put the call out on Facebook for naming assistance, sadly most of my friends are all in the US, so they aren’t quite as quick to respond as they used to be. You’ll just have to deal with my only slightly clever naming. I am a writer after all, but today my muse called in sick. Hmm Kale Pestummus does sound like a holiday greeting… or maybe it’s just me.

Some of the other name suggestions were amusing… Humsto? Pestum? Humto? Hummsto? Pummsto? Kalesto? Kaleummus? One friend piped up that Pestummus sounded like a Greek God, so it got her vote. It amuses me, so it’s got my vote as well. Huh, guess my muse didn’t call in sick after all.

Kale Pestummus

1- 500g can Organic Cannelloni beans (Navy Beans)

2-3 good handfuls of Kale (most likely about 1 cup if packed really tightly)

3 cloves garlic

dollop olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

Sauté the kale, and garlic in the olive oil till the kale is wilted and the garlic is brown. (Well you really don’t have to brown the garlic, but I did it to mine)

Put mixture into food processor with beans, lemon juice, and water. Blend till nice and creamy.  (I had to do this in two steps and also use an immersion blender because my food processor is tiny and only allows about a cup of contents. But if your food processor is big enough you should be able to do everything all at once.)

EAT!

I spread some of mine on toast and topped with cottage cheese, and it was… SO good. And look how wonderfully green it is.


Well that wasn’t so hard…

I realize I haven’t posted in a while.

I’ve been off my game, in depression, lacking my mojo.. whatever you want to call it. I’ll make no other excuse than that, and will promise to hopefully blog more often.

Today I made Chocolate Chip Meringues.

They are yummy

I’ve never made them before. A few weeks ago, Mother of Mine made some, and though they were good (don’t get me wrong, they were VERY good)… they were hollow. Which is not what we were expecting.

I decided then that I was going to attempt to make some Meringues myself and follow some tips I found on the web.

So when Mother of Mine made some Chocolate Bread Pudding the other day, which only needed the egg yolks.. I had 6 egg whites sitting in the fridge waiting to be used. So as to not let them go to waste, today I set out to do what I had decided on doing a while ago.

I used up every gram of sugar in the house (as most recipes call for only 2 egg whites, I used 6.. so I had to effectively triple whatever recipe I was using)

They were not hollow, but they didn’t rise very much. Next attempt, I will change the bake time/heat ratio and perhaps try the cream of tartar that I left out this time. But these are very good, and could easily be used to make yummy sandwich type cookies.

And not hollow. VERY yummy.

Now, I did not follow any one set of instructions…  The measurements I used are in parenthesis, but if you don’t want to make that many, use the first number.

Preheat oven to 175 F

2 egg whites (6) (Make sure they are room temperature)

1/2 cup sugar (1 1/2 cup)

1/4 teaspoon salt (3/4 tsp)

1 teaspoon vanilla (3 tsp)

1/2 cup chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup toasted nuts (walnuts or pecans) – optional

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and vanilla. Beat gently until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in chocolate chips. Pipe or scoop out onto parchment lined baking sheet. (I used a 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon as my scoop and gave each meringue 2 scoops because I wanted to make sure I’d get them ALL in the oven at the same time.)

Bake for 3 hours. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN.

I’m serious, under no circumstances should you open that oven.

After the 3 hours are up, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. Simply turn off the oven and reset the timer for an hour.

They need to sit untouched in the oven after baking for at least an hour. But you can leave them longer if so desired. What I would do, is bake these right before you go to bed. Then you won’t be tempted to not let them sit that last hour.


Clean Caramel Popcorn

That is an oxymoron of course.. but that’s how it goes.

Today I was craving popcorn. I decided I also craved sweet. So I went to my obsession over at Pintrest and searched for a pin I thought I pinned a while ago.

 

I was wrong, it wasn’t on Pintrest, but I did remember where I had seen what I was looking for.

I personally made it with both Raw Honey, and a dash of Clover Honey. And I used Chunky Peanut Butter. I like the chunks.

And I do think that if I were to make this again, I would use less honey and more Peanut Butter. I liked the bits best where the peanut butter was the dominant flavor.

It was good… would be better with those changes.  Though since it was a craving, I think I should have just gone with my plain old airpopped non buttered non salted popcorn… Cause I do believe that is what I was actually craving at the end of the day.

 

 

Clean Eating Caramel Popcorn by The Gracious Pantry

Ingredients
1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
8-10 cups popped popcorn

Directions

Tip: Things move pretty quickly, and you are dealing with boiling sticky stuff so read through this first so you know what to expect and do.

1 – In a smallish pot, warm the honey on high heat. Bring it to a boil.

2 – Let it boil up in the pot about 1 inch. Remove from heat.

3 – Stir in nut butter with a whisk and whisk until smooth. You should be able to pour it.

4 – Pour over the popcorn and mix with a spoon. The mixture is hot, DO NOT MIX WITH YOUR HANDS. Unless you want a trip to the emergency room, and to not be able to work with your hands for a while.

Let it all sit and cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Because I could…

I could say it’s a result of the stress I’ve been under the past couple of weeks.

I could say it’s because I have been marginally good when it’s come to my sweet intake the past few days.

I could say it’s because I won’t have anything like this for a while again.

But the truth is… I did it because I could.

 

So I had myself a bowl of Cookies and Cream Ice Cream (Blue Bell since it just came to Colorado Springs, and Mim had never had it. Being of Texas myself, I have of course had it) topped with a chocolate chip cookie.

I made chocolate chip cookies today for this weekend. I like to feed people who are helping me out, and I’d rather myself have homemade cookies than store bought ones.

I couldn’t find my usual recipe from Martha. So I am trying one of her other ones. I think this is the same recipe I used while I was in England… I thought that they were my usual recipe but I guess not.

When I was in England I blamed the difference on the butter/chocolate chips.  I am not fond of the chocolate chips I had in England (Milk chocolate. BLEGH! Give me Semi Sweet or Dark!) and the future Mother In Law does not keep butter in the house. (She runs Cardio wards in hospitals. I personally would rather have the real butter and take care of my heart in other aspects.)

My French Grandmother would roll in her grave if she knew I had used fake butter to bake with. But that is another time.

Today I used real butter, and had proper chips. The recipe I used is still different than I’m used to, but it is quite yummy in deed. Nice and cakey. Almost too cakey.

Today I also made myself some hummus. Made it for the first time. Used a mortar and pestle even. I did use a blender, but  as my blender is a tiny thing I decided to help it out by premashing the garbanzo beans.

I think the hummus was a success. It was nummy.

Next up will be to make different flavors, and also to make Edamame Hummus.

Pictured above is also some English Muffin bread that my mum made. It is always a yummy success.

For dinner Mim made crustless Quiche and I must say that I much prefer crustless Quiche to regular Quiche. I’ve never been fond of most pie crusts, and Quiche was not an exception.  I think from now on I’ll be making this version as I am fond of Quiche, but always am disappointed with the crust.

 

I’ll post the recipes up but today you are just going to get the cookies.

 

And the next time you most likely hear from me will be after Denver’s first ever Anomaly Con. I am quite excited. It’ll be my first time selling anything from The Asylum in a public setting. I will also be harking my scribblings. Yup, as an author. (Well, it’s my artists table that I’m paying for … so it’s not quite being there officially as an author.. but hey, my Asylum.. my rules!) Yup, Aether Horizons will be at the Con. I’m quite excited. It will make me feel all official like.

 

Martha’s Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  2. Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges and set in the center, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

 


Happy Birthday Sis!

Look at what I did the past two days….

Today is Mim’s 30th Birthday. Which mean I’m shortly behind her. (2 years, 5 months to be exact)

I decided to make her a whimsical cake since it’s her 30th. She doesn’t care or freak that she’s now 30 like some women. I don’t know how I’ll react when it’s my turn.

This is a 3 layer chocolate and white marbled cake with The Most Amazing Triple Chocolate Frosting. (Can I coin that name?)

The recipes I used, are here:

For the chocolate cake I used: “The Best Chocolate Cake by I Am Baker”

For the yellow cake I used: “The Best Yellow Cake by Smitten Kitchen”

I have to admit I’m not happy with the Chocolate cake. It tasted good, don’t get me wrong.. But it was very liquidy. Which did not work for my goal. I was afraid of adding more flour to thicken it up. (It was just about perfect until I added the coffee at the end. That made it far too liquidy) You can see in the photo the difference between the two batters. The chocolate one is fine if you are not trying to make a chessboard checker cake like I was. (I also got chocolate cake batter ALL over me)

 

Thats a lot of cake batter. O.O

3 cake pans ready to go in the oven. You can see the idea happening here. Sadly though the chocolate bled into the other sections due to its much more liquid consistency.

 

Here they are all baked up. So sad, you can see how they didn’t stay defined. It was the chocolate’s fault. I could already tell that they weren’t going to checkerboard at this point.

 

Frosting the first layer.

 

Put on the second layer. Did the same for the next layer.

Crumb coated all three layers together. See, it’s messy. It’s not perfect. It’s fine that way. This just means I won’t get crumbs in the frosting.

I decided I wanted crumbs in my frosting. So I mashed up a whole bunch of Oreos. Kept mashing till the frosting in the Oreos mixed into the crumbs and became a part of it.

Sprinkled the crumbs all over the cake. Decorated with M&Ms.

I learned a lot doing this cake.

1) If making a checkerboard cake, the batters MUST be consistent. As you can see in the first photo, my cake came out marbled instead of checker board because the chocolate drooled into the other sections.

2) I am NEVER putting cookie crumbs on the sides of a round cake again. That was a bitch and a half and I nearly lost the entire cake. I ended up doing it by doing exactly what I told James he shouldn’t do. I took my frosting blade (which since my offset spatula is tucked away in a moving box with my piping tips, I was just using a regular butter knife) and dipped it in the crumbs then frosted the sides of the cake more.

3) Put M&Ms on the cake before putting the crumbs. That way they stick and you don’t have to cement them on with more frosting like I did.

4)I should have leveled the layers. I didn’t care enough to do it. This cake was for fun. Not to showcase my baking prowess.

5) If you haven’t had sugar in nearly 2 months, making a cake (ie: licking the spatula, beaters, fingers etc) and eating a slice of the cake will introduce so much sugar into your system that you feel like you are going to go into a diabetic coma. Yeah… I haven’t gotten much done today due to that. Ugh, even my sweat smells like sugar to me now!

Now onto THE BEST TRIPLE CHOCOLATE FROSTING… by ME!

I needed to improvise as I ran out of baking chocolate!! Oh noes!! I’ve had this container of baking cocoa for years, and I’ve finally run out.

I’m also going to let you in on a secret. In my freezer is coffee. It’s not my mothers. It’s mine. I’ve carried it for years, needing only a pinch at a time. Whether I’m making Klah (yes, I’ve made this drink many times. Used to drink it at work on a regular basis. I’m a dork.) or something like this frosting.

 

The Best Triple Chocolate Frosting EVAR! by Erin Gallagher

Adapted drastically from Smitten Kitchen

3.5 oz Trader Joe’s 70% Dark Chocolate Wedges (Came in our Christmas basket from Merlin and Jennifer!!)

.2 oz Unsweetened Baking Cocoa (I used powder, but you can do the equivalent in the brick form if you want. But make sure you do the math, I’m not going to do it for you. Or don’t do the math if you want it just that much more dark with the bitter chocolate)

2.3 oz Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate

3 sticks Unsalted Butter (so 1 1/2 cups)

3 teaspoons instant coffee made up in 1/4 cup boiling water. (Or 1/4 cup Fresh brewed coffee)

Splash of Vanilla

Confectioner’s Sugar until you reach desired consistency.

Melt the Chocolate Wedges. Mix everything. Lick the beaters when you are done. You know you want to. I won’t judge.

 

So the original recipe called for 6 oz dark baking chocolate. Like I said, I ran out of my cocoa powder, hence this adaption. It also called for like 4 cups or so sugar. I didn’t bother measuring mine. I never do. I just add till it feels right, and most importantly tastes right.  I also apparently didn’t even remember the milk at all. It didn’t deter from it.

This makes a very fluffy frosting. I was honestly worried about not having enough because of having 3 layers of the cake, and then needing to coat the outside. I had PLENTY. There is still some in the bowl many hours, and many finger fulls (from all of us) later.

 

Now because of how liquidy the chocolate cake was, I ended up with lots of extra. Apparently I forgot to snap a photo, but I ended up with 2 smaller cake pans worth (I’d say the cake pans are like 5 inches… I think. I don’t know. Mom bought them in England). Seriously. I baked a total of 5 layers of cake yesterday. I kid you not.

The two smaller cakes are wrapped up and in the freezer. No photo for you!

Mim had to go to work on her birthday, but this morning before we had cake, we watched Spaceballs. It’s a bit of a family tradition as I requested it for my birthday as a child. I mentioned a yearning to watch Spaceballs and so she opted for that as she was queen of the remote for today. Then we watched Life on Mars cause thats how we role.

I was supposed to do a photoshoot today, but due to a timing snafu that didn’t happen. Tomorrow instead.

I’ve spent the day activating my new smartphone. I’ve finally said goodbye to Verizon. I wish I had done it sooner because now I’ll have more money for myself each month.

Speaking of my new phone.. this photo was taken with it. Sorry for the poor lighting.. it’s 8pm and I’m not getting up to get my camera, nor turn on more lights in the house. Also I had a puppy sleeping in my lap.

The mark is where I branded myself while baking. I while I was preheating the oven I had forgotten that I had left a cast iron skillet in there, and in that skillet was a long handled metal spatula. So I took those out of course. About 5 minutes later I was reaching across the counter for something way in the back, and I accidentally brushed up against the end of the spatula. Yup… I branded myself. The day before my photoshoot. (So this was yesterday)

Yeah. It hurts. Neosporine to my rescue. I don’t know what I’ll do in England without it. Seriously it’s the top on my “Please send me in a care package” list.

Alright. Time to go make dinner. Tomorrow is the photoshoot, as well as a dye day. I haven’t been able to dye the past couple of days and so I feel like I’ve gotten nothing done. (I’ve gotten other things done, but not physical dyeing)

By the way… it took me all day to do this post. Kept getting distracted by other things.