BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Monday, April 28, 2014

Party like it's 1999.


This weekend Brad ran the TC10K, Nikolai and I ran the 1.5 K and Uliana pulled a few all nighters.  So we are all a bit sacked this Monday morning.  

Nikolai is particularly tired as he shares his bedroom with Uliana who, for some reason, has turned her crib into a dance floor. Every night we put her to bed and she decides to party like it's 1999.  

She also has become a fiercely determined participant in EVERY activity. "No no no no no", "mine" and "Lula" (her version of Uliana) have become the sound track to my life.  And though it is hard to redirect Uliana, dress her, feed her, or do anything with her around... I have to remember that her personality will probably serve her well as an adult. She also REFUSES to be photographed, so it's been a few weeks since we've been able to get a picture of her smiling face. I do wonder what we have in store for us as she's only 16 months old... I'm just glad that she already has a fantastic vocabulary, and I always know exactly what it is that she wants.

Here are some photos from Nikolai's t-ball game this weekend. Brad decided to volunteer as a coach this year!  




Saurkraut in a Mason Jar
I'm on a fermentation kick lately, and saurkraut is my favorite.  Mainly because it's incredibly easy, the kids love it, and being homemade means it's full of probiotics!  I'm hoping that regular doses of probiotic foods might help Nikolai's digestive system cope with all his food intolerances. 

Cabbage naturally has lactic bacteria, which is why it's so fermentable!  

To make a single 750 ml mason jar worth of saurkraut:

1. Grate one medium head of cabbage. (This is done easily with my beloved Salad Master, but you could use any mandolin or grater.)

2. Toss cabbage in 1 tsp of pickling salt. (You could use up to 2 tsp of salt.  You could also use less salt, but it's not as much fun.)  

3. Add your other flavors at this point. (I've given some ideas below).

3. Pack it into a mason jar and beat it down with a spoon to squeeze as much into the jar as possible.  Leave about 1" of head room.

4. Top with something to keep the cabbage weighted down. (In the photo, I've used small jam jars on the purple kraut, and the core of the cabbage for the green kraut).

5. Loosely cover the jars to keep out pests. (You could use cloths, but I just float the metal jar lid on top.)

6. Store the jar at room temperature and out of direct sunlight for at least 3 days, but up to 7 weeks.  

7. For the first 3 days the kraut will bubble and form liquid.  You will want to place your jars on a bowl or plate, to catch any juice that might bubble out of the jar.  After the first day the cabbage should be completely submerged by it's own liquid.  If it isn't, then you will need to top with water.  But try tamping the cabbage down first as it shouldn't be necessary to add extra liquid.

8. Keep checking your kraut every few days to make sure that the cabbage is fully submerged.  If mold grows on the top simply scoop it off and keep fermenting.  (I have made quite a few jars of saurkraut, and this has never happened to me).

9. Keep tasting it with a clean fork. The kraut is finished when you like the flavour.  Just pop it into the fridge to stop the fermentation process. 

Flavours:

-Adding a cup of grated apple, fennel, cranberries or carrot (in my purple kraut) will sweeten the kraut.  
-Onion or garlic are a savory addition.
-For a spicy kraut add hot pepper slices.

You can also add whole spices for flavour:
-2 bay leaves and 5 black peppercorns (in purple kraut).
-1 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp mustard seed and 10 juniper berries (in green kraut).
-2 tsp of mixed Indian curry spices
-1 tsp dill seed

Feel free to experiment! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tea for two and two for tea

Since my mom and Claire were both coming for the weekend we decided to throw Uliana a tea party! This was in lieu of a birthday party, but  was none-the-less a party for her friends and a chance to celebrate Uliana.

Furthermore, I decided it was a good opportunity to rid my cupboards of flour, sugar and other things we're not eating much of anymore. Though I am proud of my efforts, I probably will never again attempt to make petit fours (pictured below) nor raspberry macaroons!  But it was a group effort as Brad made custard filled choux puffs, and Claire made the tea sandwiches.  I spent 3 weeks sampling various grain free scone recipes, and eventually came up with my own (see below).

It was a non-stop weekend of springtime fun for the kids that included an Easter party at the coop.  It was a great way for us to really get to know our neighbors.  In addition to a BBQ and egg hunt, there were two pinatas filled with toys!

Almond Scones

Here is my grain-free scone recipe.  It went through at least four iterations before I finally perfected it into something that was not too moist, nor two crumbly.  This scone can be sliced to top with butter, jam and cream.  Or you can finish them off with all your usual add ins (raisins or berries are both popular around here!)

Mix together 1 1/2 cup almond flour, 4 tbsp potato starch, 2 tbsp arrowroot starch (or tapioca starch), 2 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Then blend in 1/4 cup butter, 1 tbsp honey and 2 eggs. The dough will be wet and sticky. At this point you could also add all sorts of different flavour additions (1/2 cup dried fruit, chocolate chips, orange zest, grated cheese -though not all at once!).  If you are adding fresh fruit, expect the scone to bake for longer to account for the extra moisture.

If you wanted to cut shapes out, then pat into a 3/4 " thick disc and refrigerate until firm. Otherwise you can just cut the disc into wedges, or pat into small rounds by hand. You can brush the tops with some beaten egg to brown if you like. Bake at 350 F for about 15-20 min until firm and starting to brown.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's all happening at the zoo

Spring is here! Our time is spent warming up in the sunshine as we rediscover the wonders of James bay.

How could we possibly stay indoors? The ocean is demanding that we search for sea glass and build driftwood castles. The garden is pleading to be planted. The playgrounds need children to make them feel validated. And the baby goats at the petting zoo are bored without children to race around with.

So I am going to jump right to a recipe, and accept the calls of the sun that is already warming up my deck.

Simple Seedy Crackers
This is a variation on the popular raw food crackers.  Only these crackers aren't raw... giving them a satisfying crunchiness.  While these aren't difficult to make they do take time.

Place 1 1/4 cup flax seeds, 2 tbsp chia seeds and 1/2 cup ground flax seed in a bowl with 3.5 cups of water. In a second bowl place 1/2 cup sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, and cover with water.  Allow both bowls to soak for at least 6 hours.
Drain the water off of the pumpkin and sunflower seeds and add them to the flax seed mix. (The flax seed mix will be a goo-y mass that forms the base of the crackers).  Stir in 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp soya sauce, 1 tsp salt and any other seasoning you desire.  We added 2 tbsp of mixed herbs (rosemary, thyme and oregano).  Diced garlic would be nice too.  Or if you aren't sulfite free... you could use powdered garlic and onion.
Then line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (wax paper won't work) and spread the mass of seeds as thinly as possible.  Bake at 250 for around 1 hour, then leave to set in the warmed oven until firm (it could take longer depending on your oven).  Break it up into cracker sized pieces and enjoy!