Wednesday, April 28, 2010


For some people meatloaf is a comfort food.  My comfort food is cottage cheese and noodles.  It is a dish  that my mom made when I was young and to this day I still like eating it.

Making meat loaf is not a difficult recipe to follow.  Actually meat loaf can be made using a variety of ingredients and its components can be broken down into several parts: ground beef; vegetables such as onion, celery, corn, peppers, carrots and peas; spices; and binders such as eggs and bread.  Other additions can include shredded cheese.   I made the following recipe using bison.  


2 pounds ground beef or ground bison
2 slices of bread
½ cup milk
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ cups frozen corn niblets
2 eggs, beaten
several dashes of Worcestershire sauce
several squirts of ketchup
salt and pepper to taste


In a bowl, tear the bread into pieces and add the milk.  Let it sit for several minutes.  In a large bowl, add all of the ingredients together including the bread and mix well.  Place into a large casserole dish at 350 degrees F and bake for one hour.  Serves 6 to 8 people.   The following pictures shows the meat loaf being mixed in the bowl and in the large casserole dish before going into the oven.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I don't buy leeks on a routine basis.  It is not that I don't like leeks, it is just that I don't use leeks for many recipes.   Leeks are related to garlic and onions but have a much mild, sweeter and sophisticated flavour. They can be used to enrich soups or stews and they go well with potato and with cheese.  I recently purchased some leeks at a local organic market for a great price and this prompted me to make a soup.  The soup turned out wonderful and is a keeper. 


2 large leeks, sliced thinly
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp flour
7 cups of water or chicken broth
2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into small slices
1 celery, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp thyme
1 tsp dried dill or 2 tbsp fresh dill


In a large soup pot, saute the leeks in oil on medium to low heat for 5 minutes.  Don't brown the leeks.  If they are sticking to the pot, add a bit of water.  Add garlic and celery and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute longer.

Add water/broth, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper and thyme.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes.  Puree half of the soup or use a potato masher to mash the vegetables.  Add the dill and adjust seasonings to taste.

Adapted from Meal Lean i Yumm

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I like the taste of lemon and use it in a variety of recipes - from fish to chicken to salads to desserts.  Cranberries are also a welcome addition to recipes and I tend to have both the whole frozen cranberries in the freezer and the sweetened dry berries in my cupboard.   The dry berries get used in salads and oatmeal or simply eaten on their own while the frozen berries are used in loaves and in making sauce to go with poultry.

The following recipe is low in fat and can be low in sugar if you use splenda.  When I made this recipe I used sugar.


1 tbsp lemon rind
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar or splenda
3 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup frozen cranberries

Lemon Syrup:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar or splenda


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl combine rind, flour, baking powder and soda.  In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, margarine and applesauce; beat until light ( a few minutes).  Add dry ingredients, lemon juice and yogurt.  Add the cranberries.  Combine until everything is blended.  Place batter in a non-stick 9"X 5" loaf pan.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Combine the lemon syrup in a pyrex cup and microwave until piping hot.  Poke holes all over the top of the loaf with a skewer or a toothpick.  Slowly drizzle hot syrup all over the top of the loaf.  When cooled, remove from the pan.

Adapted from Meal Lean i Yumm

Sunday, April 18, 2010


We have all read about the importance of eating breakfast and that people who don’t eat breakfast can have a harder time dealing with weight control.  They have a greater risk of gaining weight.  When you eat does matter in terms of controlling your weight.  People who eat breakfast tend to eat fewer calories later on in the day.  There is the saying that goes “eat breakfast like a queen, lunch like a princess and supper like a commoner”.   

I recently read an article in the Globe and Mail (April 7, 2010) that has reported findings on some research work done that has found starting your day with a high fat breakfast and ending off by eating a lighter supper can counter weight gain and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome.   Metabolic syndrome is when a person has the body shape of an apple (large waist circumference) plus two of the following - high levels of the bad fats in your blood, low blood levels of the good cholesterol, high blood pressure and elevated levels of fasting blood glucose.  With this condition, you have increased risks of a heart attack and developing Type 2 diabetes. 

The research was done on mice so the results have to translate to humans.  But much good research does start off in mice so I don’t discount the results.  What the researchers found was that eating a high carbohydrate breakfast or a high fat meal at supper caused an increase in weight gain and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.   The researchers have hypothesized is that the first meal you eat at the start of the day programs your metabolism for the rest of the day.  Turning on fat metabolism at the start of the day helps the body burn different kinds of food more efficiently later on in the day.   A carbo rich breakfast such as cereal and toast could impair our ability to burn fat later on in the day, but a higher fat breakfast would enable our metabolism to be more effective.   This thinking is a bit opposite to how most of us eat.  We tend to eat a high carbo breakfast that is low in fat and during the course of the day we increase our fat and caloric intake with each meal.  We eat breakfast like a commoner, lunch like a princess and supper like a queen. 

What kinds of foods should you consider that would increase the fat content of your breakfast meal and help with weight gain?  You would need to include cheese, nuts, seeds, peanut or other nut butter, an egg that includes the yolk or smoked fish.   For breakfast I do include a protein source that has some fat.  For example, scrambled egg whites with melted cheddar, a scrambled whole egg and egg whites with some melted cheese, a smoothie that includes flax seed, melted cheese with tomato on toast, oatmeal with melted cheddar cheese mixed in (learned that one from my dad) and oatmeal with chopped walnuts.

An easy way to think about dividing your meals up so that you don’t eat a light breakfast and a heavy caloric supper is to divide your calories up for the day.   To do this you have to know initially the caloric value of the food you are eating and that is not hard to do, as there are many Internet sites that provide caloric values along with fat, fiber, carbohydrate and protein content.  If you map out some sample meals, this would give you an idea of your caloric intake and what changes you should be considering.   If you follow the weight watcher’s program, dividing your points up for each meal would give you guidelines for trying to consume more of your points for breakfast and lunch and not consuming more points at supper versus lunch.   I am sure you all have ideas or thoughts on this blog topic and comments are welcome!

Friday, April 16, 2010


For the past few summers, the DH and I have picked strawberries and saskatoon berries (not all at the same time) at a U-Pick farm close to where we live.  It is not hard to pick a couple of ice cream pails of fruit when you don't have to walk far in search of saskatoon bushes.  For those of you that have never tasted saskatoons, they are similar to blueberries but are more tart, they have a bit of a tougher skin and can be smaller in size.  After cleaning and drying the strawberries and saskatoons, I place several cups into a freezer bag and put them into the freezer for future use.

I tend to use the frozen fruit in muffins, smoothies and pancakes.  Sometimes I will defrost part of a bag of fruit and add some of this fruit to a bowl of yogurt.   The biggest challenge I sometimes have is remembering all of the fruit that I have stashed away in the freezer as I don't always use up the frozen supply before the new berry season has started.

For the following recipe I used a photo of the batter to just give you a different view of the recipe.  Of course I used saskatoons.



1 cup milk or buttermilk
1 egg beaten
¼ cup canola
¼ cup applesauce
1 cup wheat bran
1 ½ cups flour (whole or white or combination)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup blueberries or saskatoons


In a bowl, combine the milk, egg, oil and applesauce.

In a second bowl, combine the wheat bran, flour, sugar, baking powder and soda.   Add the wet mixture and berries to this  second bowl.   Mix until combined.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.  Depending on the size of your muffin tins, the recipe makes 12 to 18 muffins.

Instead of the applesauce you can use molasses.
To create a lemon flavour, you can add 1 ½ tsp of grated lemon rind and 1 tbsp of lemon juice.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I first tried this recipe while visiting my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  What was interesting about this recipe is that you use the papaya seeds in the dressing.  They have a bit of a peppery taste and I would have never thought of using papaya seeds in a salad dressing.  As you only need to use 2 tablespoons in this recipe, I froze some of the remaining seeds for future dressings.  I liked the taste of the dressing and would use it on other salads.  This recipe makes a lot of dressing and you can store the extra dressing in your fridge for using with other salads.

I got exposed to what fresh papaya really tastes like while visiting Costa Rica a number of years ago.  The papaya was different than the varieties purchased in a climate where papaya doesn't grow.  The fruit was fresh and the colour was more of a rose hue than the fruit that I buy at home.  In Costa Rica, I would squeeze fresh lime juice onto slices of papaya.  I still find this to be a delicious way to eat papaya.  


1 head romaine lettuce or other varieties
1 ripe papaya  - medium size
1 large avocado, peeled and sliced into cubes
red onion slices or a shallot, chopped

Papaya seed dressing
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar  or 1/4 cup agave
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp papaya seeds
1/2 cup white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
pinch of salt

Wash and dry lettuce. Tear into bite-sized pieces and place in salad bowl. Halve and peel papaya. Scoop out seeds and save 2 Tbsp. of the seeds. Slice papaya into chunks. Combine dressing ingredients in a blender until papaya seeds have the appearance of ground pepper. Store dressing in refrigerator. Just before serving, add papaya, avocado and red onion slices to lettuce. Pour dressing over salad and toss.  Serves 6-8.  Leftover salad dressing can be kept in the fridge and used for other salads

Adapted from the Best of Bridge, volume 1

Sunday, April 11, 2010


When you go out to eat at a restaurant, does your waiter/waitress write down your meal selection on a pad of paper or do they rely on their own memory?  In the olden days, the waiter/waitress would remember by memory what you ordered and go into the kitchen and scribble it down on a piece of paper for the cook to keep track of all of the food orders taken in the restaurant.  This practice still goes on but instead of scribbling it on paper, the waiter will go to a computer screen and enter the food orders from the respective table which then goes to the kitchen.  Some people are saying that waiter memory is on the decline for a number of reasons.  The food orders are getting more complicated as we customize the way we want our particular dish to be cooked or deletions and additions made to the side dishes; people are going out in larger groups; and, some of the newer generation of waiters are not as comfortable with memorization.

I am amazed at times with the memorization skills of waiters as I usually tweak my food order and ask for the salad dressing on the side, or ask for the meat to be cooked a certain way or ask for a substitution.  But not all waiters rely on memory which I am grateful for.   For the instances where they relied on memory and got the food order wrong, the dish then needs to go back to the kitchen for the necessary adjustment.  This can be frustrating if you are pressed for time or are dining with a group of people who feel it is impolite to eat while you wait for your food order to come.

Studies have been done on the memories of veteran waiters and it has been found that constant memory practice expands the brain's memory function.  Retaining the ability to memorize is important because as we age, we start to forget or have what I call 'that middle aged moment'.   Game companies have been developing memory games designed to keep us thinking and working on our ability to retain numbers and sequences.  I know some people who avidly work on puzzles, brain teasers and number games to keep their minds active and sharp.   It is important to challenge your mind and work on retaining numbers and sequences.

On this point of memorization, I think that chip and computer technology has affected the memorization skills of all of us.  Having a calculator to do multiplication, subtraction, addition and division has impacted our ability to do math in our head.  We also don't have to remember numbering sequences and we have become less comfortable with memorization.   Knowing that your memory is impacted as you age, what are you going to do to keep your memory sharp?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


As part of my weekly weekend routine, I make a big pot of soup for the week.  What I like about the following soup is the combination of carrot, sweet potato and broccoli.  You could make this soup without broccoli or instead of broccoli add cauliflower.  I used a hand blender to puree part of the soup.  



2 large onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive or canola oil
3 carrots, chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 red or orange pepper, chopped
4 cups of broccoli, chopped
7 cups chicken bouillon
½ cup red lentils
2 tbsp fresh dill or basil or 1 tsp dry
1 cup skim milk, soy milk or water
1 tsp butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste


In a large soup pot, sauté the onions and celery in the oil for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the carrots.  If the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pot, add a little bit of water.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer.  Add the broccoli, potato, sweet potato, lentils, herbs and bouillon.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Using a hand blender or a blender, puree about half of the soup.  Add the milk and margarine.  Season to taste.  Makes about 10 servings.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I started a no knead bread yesterday morning and baked it this morning using a recipe from a cookbook by Nancy Baggett .  The cookbook is called Kneadlessly Simple and is all about no-knead breads.  I don’t have her cookbook yet and found this recipe on her website:

The recipe is different than the one I have posted in an earlier blog.  It uses more flour, therefore it is a larger loaf and it also calls for beer.  I used a 12 oz can of pale ale.  The bread that I made is outstanding.  I think it is one of the best loaves I have made.  It has a great crust, the inside is pale, a few holes in the dough, it has a wonderful texture and taste.  Before baking it I sprinkled sesame seeds on it and while I love toasted sesame seeds they do scatter all over the counter when you are slicing the bread.  As I have a convection oven, I reduced the cooking time.  I also kept everything in the same bowl after mixing everything together and let it rise in the large plastic bowl that I use for no knead breads.  After covering the bowl with plastic wrap I then cover it with a dish towel.  I used my red Emile Henry dutch oven for baking the bread.  I kept the lid on for the first 23 minutes and then took the lid off for the remaining 21 minutes.  If you are unsure if the bread is cooked, tap it with a wooden spoon and if it sounds hollow it should be done.  Nancy Baggett’s cookbook has a number of interesting recipes that I would like to try.  

Here is the recipe:

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Scant 2 teaspoons plain table salt
3/4 teaspoon rapid rising, bread machine or “instant,” yeast
1 12-ounce bottle well-chilled pale ale or beer
2/3 cup ice cold water, plus more if needed
Vegetable oil for coating dough top
1/4 cup sesame seeds or poppy seeds, or a blend of seeds for garnish

First rise: In a large bowl thoroughly stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Vigorously stir in the ale and ice water, scraping down bowl sides completely and mixing until the bubbling subsides and the dough is thoroughly blended. If it is too dry to mix together, gradually stir in just enough more ice water to blend the ingredients; don’t over-moisten as the dough should be stiff. If necessary, stir in enough more flour to yield a hard-to-stir dough. Turn it out into a well-oiled 3-4 quart bowl. Brush or spray the top with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If desired, refrigerate the dough for up to 10 hours; this is optional. Let rise at cool room temperature (about 70 degrees F) 12-18 hours; if convenient, vigorously stir once during the rise.

Second rise: Using an oiled rubber spatula, lift and fold the dough in towards the center all the way around until mostly deflated; don’t stir. Brush and smooth the dough surface with oil. Re-cover the bowl with nonstick spray-coated plastic wrap. Let rise using any of these methods: for a 1 1/2- to 21/2-hour regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature; for a 45-minute to 2-hour accelerated rise, let stand in a turned-off microwave along with 1 cup of boiling-hot water; or for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered, 4 to 24 hours, then set out at room temperature. Continue the rise until the dough doubles from the deflated size, removing the plastic if the dough nears it.

Baking Preliminaries: 20 minutes before baking time, put a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees F. Heat a 4-quart (or similar) heavy metal pot or Dutch oven or a deep 4-quart heavy, oven-proof saucepan in the oven until sizzling hot (check with a few drops of water), then remove it, using heavy mitts. Taking care not to deflate the dough, loosen it from the bowl sides with an oiled rubber spatula and gently invert it into the pot. Don’t worry if it’s lopsided and ragged-looking; it will even out during baking. Very generously spritz or brush the top with water, then sprinkle over the seeds. Immediately top with the lid. Shake the pot back and forth to center the dough.

Baking: Reduce the heat to 425 F.Bake on the lower rack for 55 minutes. Remove the lid. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the top is well browned and a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until the center registers 208 to 210 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Then bake for 5 minutes longer to ensure the center is baked through. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the loaf to the rack. Cool thoroughly.

Makes 1 large loaf, 12 to 14 portions or slices.

Friday, April 2, 2010


One of my DH's nostalgic foods around Easter time is hot crossed buns.  Most of the buns we have purchased in the past years from bakeries are not what I would call exceptional.   Since I like making bread I decided to make hot crossed buns and found this recipe from one of the internet sites that I frequently visit.  The recipe is from Simply Recipes  - hot cross buns.

I made a few variations to the recipe.  (1) I did not have currents so I used a combination of chopped mixed peel and raisins. (2) I used 2 tsp of allspice instead of the mixture that is suggested in the recipe.  (3) I made the frosting to use in painting the cross but it wasn't as thick as it should be so I decided instead to glaze the tops of the buns.  The following photos show the buns ready for their second rise and after they came out of the oven.   The buns turned out wonderful and are really delicious.  They are not very sweet, have enough raisins and peel and are not strongly spiced.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I don't always have cabbage in the fridge.  I buy it in spurts.  I use cabbage mainly for soups and salads.  I have made cabbage rolls but I could never roll the cabbage and make the roll as tight as some of the cabbage rolls sold in the local stores here.  I decided to stick with the cabbage rolls made locally and sold in stores.

I like cole slaw and grew up eating cole slaw made using a vinegar base versus a mayonnaise base.  I do prefer a vinegar base as I find some of the commercial brands that are made with mayonnaise use too much mayonnaise.  I make a variety of cole slaws that include apple, celery, chopped nuts and carrots.  The following recipe is a simple recipe and uses rice vinegar and sesame oil in the dressing.  I made this recipe using the food processor and finely grated the cabbage and carrots versus using a coarse grater.  I also used a bit more carrots as I like to have lots of carrots in the cole slaw.  I don't use all of the dressing as I don't like the cole slaw to be marinated in the dressing.  The leftover dressing is stored in a small container and placed in the fridge where I will use it as salad dressing for other salads that I plan to make during the week.



½ medium head of cabbage, grated
2 carrots, graded
3 green onions sliced or ½ small shallot, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar or splenda
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste


Combine cabbage, carrots, onions and garlic in a mixing bowl.  Combine oil and rice vinegar in a 2 cup glass measuring cup.  Microwave on high for 45 seconds.  Pour hot dressing over cole slaw and then add sesame oil and mix well.  Serves 4 to 6 people.  Keeps in the fridge for several days.