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Milking my Coconut Milk Cans

Hi Society!

When I went through my pantry to assess its content, I noticed a bunch of coconut milk cans. I had bought them because they were on sale and because I was convinced that my husband and I both liked coconut. Turns out I like coconut milk and oil (not shredded coconut) and him: nothing! Coconut milk in curried or butter chicken is soooo delicious… but he also doesn’t like curry. Difficult man. Don’t get me wrong. I still force him to eat it. I keep pretending that I forgot he doesn’t like it. I also pretend the same with spinach.

I was going to write a post about chickpeas this morning (mostly because we had this amazingly simple italian classic soup yesterday) but this morning, I found a recipe combining chickpeas and coconut milk and I just had to go in that new direction instead.

Someone else posted 17 Absolutely Delicious Ways to Cook with Coconut Milk. There, I found recipes for creamy soups (potages en français) which I’m probably going to use. I currently only have one small sugar pumpkin (which made its appearance in this post) and I bet it’d make a tasty soup! I also found recipes for convenient slowcooking, puddings and other desserts, and even whipped cream! Cool. You can also, of course, make coconut milk ice cream (this post contains 30 different recipes!).

Finally, coconut milk screams, not for ice cream, but for thai food. Here’s a recipe I love.

Thai Shrimp Noode Bowl (from frame>by>frame, quick & easy) 

For 4 servings, you need:

  • scallions
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 200 g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 2 Tbsp peanul oil
  • 1/2 C peanuts
  • 1 fresh sliced Thai chile (or not if you don’t like spicy)
  • 1 crushed lemongrass stalk (I use lemongrass powder to taste)
  • 1 3/4 C fish or chicken stock
  • 1 C coconut milk
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (I use 2 Tbsp because I like it!)
  • 350 g peeled shrimp
  • salt and pepper
  • cilentro to garnish (I use parsley because of my difficult husband)

In my words, diagonally slice the vegetables. Cook the noodles according to the package (usually just resting in a covered hot bowl of water until tender). Fry the peanuts in the oil for 1-2 min and set the peanut aside. Stir-fry the veggies for a couple minutes. Add chile, lemongrass, stock, milk and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the shrimp (cook until pink if using raw), add noodles and seasoning. Serve hot with garnishes.

Happy cooking!

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Overnight Bread Recipe

Hi Society!

Self-sufficiency, for me, includes breadmaking. Not only is it nice to save some cash and to know exactly what is in your food, but what’s even better is the taste of freshly baked bread! I use a few different bread recipes; most of them require at least a few hours of your day (prepping, proofing, baking). Not everyone has time (or wants to take the time) to labour in the kitchen for a loaf that is bound to disappear quickly. This overnight bread recipe is the solution! Bonus: it even has a mild sourdough taste 🙂

Before going to bed, mix together in a large bowl:

  • 3 C flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp traditional yeast
  • 1 1/2 C warm water *

Next, go to bed.

When you wake up, put a dutch oven or big pot with its lid in your oven and preheat it at 450 F. Meanwhile, shape the dough in a ball, adding flour to remove the stickiness. Let it sit in the same bowl it was in and dust a little flour on top of the ball. When your oven is ready, remove delicately flip over the bowl containing the dough in the hot pot. Put the lid back on and put the whole thing in your oven for 30 min. At the 30 min mark, remove the lid and keep baking for another 15 min. Take everything out, let your loaf cool over a rack. Eat for breakfast!

*About the warm water: you want your water to be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not too much to kill it. I was once told that if you can count up to 3 before you have to take your finger out that’s the right temperature.

I also encourage you to wing this recipe and play with different flour types. You might have to adjust the amount of water. Have fun making something nutritious and delicious!

Crockpot Yogurt

It’s unofficially the end of summer: Labour Day is here. I feel I’m being ironic right now, writing this post on the day celebrating the Toronto Typographical Union’s win on reducing work hours. But then again, this is not my job 🙂

I recently started thinking about my personal consumption of goods and I’ve developed an affection for multipurpose items that I already own. Today, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite slowcooker use: yogurt-making!

I haven’t invented the principle. You can surely find many recipes online. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the last 2 years. No need for fancy cultures. All you need is:

  • 1 L milk
  • 1 Tbsp probiotic plain yogurt (room temperature)
  • slowcooker
  • thermometer
  • towels

You can choose to make more or less yogurt. The reason why I like this quantity is because I use a square candy thermometer that I lay flat in the bottom of my crockpot and I like the convenience of being able to read the dial without moving it. Simple laziness. I personaly use 1% or 2% milk but you can use skim or whole too. This recipe works for previously frozen milk.

Instructions: Pour milk in slowcooker. Heat on high until it gets to 185F. This should take approximately 1.5h. Carefully let the milk stay between 185F and 199F for roughly 15-20 min to increase thickness of final product. Don’t let it go over that temperature otherwise you’ll get weird runny watery milk instead of yogurt. Unplug the crockpot and set dial to warm up (this might be useful later). Let the milk cool down to 110F. Long way: simply remove the lid and wait. Quick way: if you can remove the ceramic part of your slowcooker, remove lid, and put the pot in an ice bath (to decrease the chance of breaking your pot, make sure the water level is equal to the level of liquid inside). Once you reach the 110F (not more than 119F, not less than 100F), whisk in your yogurt. Put the lid back on, put the pot in the metal frame if you need to and wrap the entire thing in towels (I use two). Place your bundle somewhere it won’t get disturbed, preferably draft-free. You want the mixture to incubate at roughly 100F for 6-8hrs. The longer you let it, the tangier the taste will be. Worried the temperature has dropped too much? Plug your crockpot for a few minutes to warm up the liquid a little (this is why you want to have previously turned the dial to keep-warm mode before wrapping it). After the prefered amount of time has passed (6h for me), unwrap the slowcooker and give it a little shake, just to confirm you have a nice ferm content. Successful? At this point, you can either put the pot directly in the fridge or strain the content in a cheese-cloth-like fabric to get a thicker yogurt (30 min of straining will give you greek-like yogurt, 12-24h: cream cheese). Store in glass jar(s) in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Unsuccessful? Bake something like bread of muffins with your watery non-yogurt mixture. This happens. Be more careful with temperatures next time!

What to do with the whey (yellow-ish byproduct of straining)? More baking! Substitute water or milk in a bread (or muffins, etc.) recipe. It will give it a mild sourdough taste. Bonus: extra protein! Do I need to keep buying probiotic yogurt to start my homemade yogurt? Nope! Simply freeze a Tbsp of your freshly made yogurt and use it thawed in your next batch 🙂 I recommend freezing at least 2 starters in case something goes wrong with a batch. It happens. Don’t like plain yogurt? Stir in fruits, jams, honey or maple syrop!!!

There are many other ways of making yogurt without a yogurt-maker. Try one and amaze yourself!

Do you use your slowcooker to make something unusual? I’d love to hear about it!

Adding Sunshine To Your Life Through Sunflower Seeds

Hi Society!

Sunflower by Luethy
Sunflower by Luethy

Sunflower seeds should be part of your diet for the following reasons. Rebecca Wood wrote in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia (my food bible) Sunflower by Luethy that they ”contain more protein than beef and 20 percent fat, most of which is unsaturated”. She adds that they are a ”good source of calcium, phosphorus, and iron, as well as vitamins E and several of the B-complex vitamins, they also contain the amino acid arginine and a trace of fluorine, which may explain the claim that they are good for the teeth. They are also rich in the cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.” Cool, eh?

I am obviously interested in this food because it has many proprieties. But also because I happen to have a ton of them in my pantry. In this post I’ll share a few recipes that I plan on trying to use them up. I’ll let you know how they turn out!

  • Sunflower Seed-Crusted Orange Roughy. Except I’ll probably end-up using a different fish for the simple reason that I doubt I can find it where I live. I might also substitute the panko breading just because I don’t buy those things. I might make a homemade alternative from old breadcrumbs.
  • Tai Chicken Pasta in SunButter Sauce. I intend to make my own sunbutter though. I found two great recipes on From The Grapevine. One’s for the sunflower seed butter and the other is for sunflower seed tahini.
  • Banana and Sunflower Seed Cookies. No foreseen substitutions.
  • Savory Kasha Loaf With Sunflower Seeds. The recipe is originally from Men’s Health but I haven’t yet been able to access the instructions. No worries. I’ll just wing it!
  • Sunflower Seed Beet Pizza. This recipe is found in Brendan Brazier’s Thrive book. I have done this vegan recipe before. It’s pretty good and very easy to make. Here are the ingredients for the crust: 2 C ground sunflower seeds, 1 C grated beet, 1/4 C coconut oil (hemp oil can be substituted), 1/2 tsp parsley, sea salt to taste. Simply mix them together and firmly pat on a pizza pan. For the toppings, leave it to your imagination!
  • Sunflower Seed Pâté. Recipe also by Brendan Brazier. Bonus: it’s raw! Process the following ingredients in a food processor (redundant a little?): 2 garlic cloves, 2 C sunflower seeds, 1/2 C walnuts, 1/3 cup hemp oil, 1/4 C orange juice, 1 tsp sea salt. I might substitute the hemp oil for coconut oil just because I like substitutions…

Have fun cooking!

Sardines For Everyone!

I love sardines because eating them is environmentally friendly and healthy for you. I read on David Suzuki Foundation‘s website that they are “rich in calcium, protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy minerals”. Pretty cool! I also love them because sardine cans are very affordable. I usually wait for sales and buy them when they are $0.77 per unit. You can never have too many sardine cans, right? Well, my pantry seems to disagree with that last statement. I love sardines.. but I don’t really love eating them… I usually feed them to my dog Shiloh because she deserves a healthy shiny coat.

As I mentioned last week, though, I’m planning to start eating from my pantry in order to save some money and reduce the stockpiles (of sardine cans, among other items) I have accumulated over the last years.

If you don’t have a dog (of if she’s currently on an hydrolized protein diet because you suspect she might have a food allergy), here are a few recipes to use them up. Warning: You might end up liking them for real.

Sardine Fish Cakes (recipe from Chef Michael Smith‘s Fast Flavours: 110 Simple Speedy Recipes cookbook)

For 6 large (8 small) cakes, you’ll need:

  • 2 baking potatoes, cooked until tender
  • 4 cans of sardines, drained and mashed
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 C wheat germ or any flour (I personally grind my own flour made of ancient grains like Farro and/or Kamut)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter

In my own words, combine cooked potatoes, mashed sardines, sliced green onions, egg, mustard and pepper. You’re looking for a texture that will hold together when you shape the cakes. You can add flour to the mix to reach the desired consistancy, a small amount at a time. Shape the cakes and evenly coat in wheat germ/flour mixture. Add oil and butter to medium-high hot skillet. Brown cakes for 4-5 min on one side, flip them and cook for an additional 3-4 min. Ready to be eaten with your favorite tartar sauce and a garden salad!

Beer-Batter-Fried Sardines and Limes (Gourmet recipe found here)

For 1-2 servings, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 C light coloured beer
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 3 cans sardines
  • 1 lime
  • enough vegetable oil to deep fry

In my words, heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high until thermometer indicates 375 F. Meanwhile, whisk beer, salt, and flour together. Carefully dredge and fully cover drained and dried sardines in the batter. Delicately drop small batches of sardines in the hot oil  and fry while stirring for 2-3 min or until golden brown. Transfer fried sardines onto paper towel. Fry lime wedges for 30 sec and transfer onto paper towel as well. Serve hot with your choice of sides. My husband loves fish and chips and didn’t notice he was eating sardines hehe.

*Frying oil can be reused for more frying and then upcycled into a homemade candle. I haven’t tried the candle thing yet but am planning to.

I think mashed sardines could also be great in paninis! Will have to try 🙂

Any other canned sardine recipes you like, Society?

Eating Chez Eve’s Pantry – Step 1

Hi Society,

Earlier this week I went through and wrote down all the food I have in my freezer, fridge, and pantry. I found quite a few gems! In order to save some money on our future grocery bills and reduce the strange stockpile I have accumulated, I’m going to plan meals to mainly eat from my pantry. Some of you may know this as a pantry challenge. My attempt is and isn’t a challenge. I do have a goal (save money at the grocery store, eat what I currently have) but I don’t (yet) have parameters like a deadline, a number of meals in mind, a specific allowed grocery budget or even a specific number of pantry items needed per recipe (think the TV show Chopped)… although all of those sound fun! The first step is to find recipes to use the ingredients I have.

Some ingredients are easily associated with recipes. For example, I can use part of the 2 lb+ pearl barley I have to make vegetable barley soup. The French lentils I have? I will probably make (frozen) salmon over a bed of lentil (I have a great recipe which I might even share with you soon – you’re welcome, society!). The gazillion walnuts, you ask? I’m planning to use part of them in this Fondue Parmesan recipe I found last night. And in banana bread, of course. Tuna cans? What can’t you make with tuna cans? The 1/4 C pine nuts I’ve been holding hostage? A mini pesto recipe! I’m a fairly creative person but the following ingredients might require a tad more head scratching:

  • sardine cans
  • pinto beans
  • cashews
  • navy beans
  • almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • red lentils
  • dried mushrooms
  • red chili beans (other than chili?)
  • black bean noodles
  • wheat bran
  • oat bran
  • buckwheat (kasha)
  • farro
  • kamut
  • 1 C steal cut oats
  • 2 C gluten free flour
  • psyllium husks
  • 1/2 C bulgur
  • 1/2 C pecans
  • 1/4 C millet
  • seaweeds (dulse, wakame, and a strange unknown one)
  • potato starch
  • pearl couscous
  • coconut milk

The next steps will be to share the recipes I found and report on how they turned out as my project progresses. Feel free to help out if you think of a way to use one or more ingredients I just listed.

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