Spring fling for a foodie

This was dinner:

plated stuffed salmon on rice with cucumber and sauce

Stuffed Salmon with Shrimp and Scallops over rice

I make no apologies.  It was delicious.  :)  I combined it with a nut-spice milk roughly following a recipe from my Indian food cookbook, using milk, dates, nuts, milk kefir, sugar and ground spices (anise, fennel, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg…maybe something else…).  A little wild and sweet but tasty.

I’ve been on a “foodie” kick lately.  Been getting recipe books from the library…and reading them.  Call me a food nerd.  ;)  Lately I’ve been enamoured of Lemon Curd (this is my all time favorite lemon curd recipe).  Mnnn.  Adding homemade lemon curd to my other new obsession, variations on rice pudding, is just SO Gooooooood….topped with a little granola, it’s breakfast!  Or in a parfait cup, with yogurt and granola:

lemon curd yogurt granola parfait

Parfait with Lemon Curd, Granola and vanilla Yogurt

Speaking of parfait cups, meet my new cup.  We were at a garage sale and I found this baby just waiting for me.  Only one…eh…I’m the parfait nut right now so we only need one!

Parfait cup has been busy:

chocolate chia rice pudding in a parfait cup

Chocolate Chia Rice Pudding

This was a fantastic experiment that worked!  But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to repeat it.  I tried to make a smoothie with almond milk, dates, cocoa powder and protein powder.  Even with vanilla almond milk it was blah.  So I blended in leftover chocolate birthday cake.  Not exactly healthy – we’ll call it a dessert.  ;)  It was a bit thick because I added in a small amount of chia (trying for the ice cream shake consistency) and the kids weren’t really into it.  So that night when I was making more rice pudding (my standard Rich recipe, but with Harvey’s Bristol Cream instead of whiskey) and I turned up short of rice to match the amount of custard, I got a little wild.  Since the rice pudding was soupy anyways, I added the leftover chocolate cake smoothie.  That made it way soupy so I added the rest of my chia (ha, see, I have NO idea how much I used here!) and stirred well and left it overnight.  I was so thrilled to find it all nice and thick and perfect in the morning!!  It tastes super by itself but when I warm it and throw a few mint chocolate chips into it, it’s absolutely decadent.

Now, it may appear like I’m the only one who cooks on this blog.  Not so.  In general, Nathan is the dinner cook unless I’m feeling wild and creative like tonight.  So I snapped a pic of a dinner this week to prove it:

pork steak cooking

I was pesco-vegetarian for 6 years so cooking red meat like this, where the blood comes out, still turns my stomach a bit.  So this kind of cooking is usually reserved for Nathan, who has pretty much mastered it. :)

Every week we drink green smoothies but I don’t post about it often.  I just finished reading a juicing book though, and it’s encouraged me to branch out a bit.  I’ve been using our garden fresh spinach and kale to juice, and even got brave enough to add some golden beets recently.  The book suggested a few more that I’m not sure I want to add yet – romaine lettuce, bok choy and watercress to name a few – but I’m encouraged to try to brave it out a little.  Now that our mint and lemon balm plants are well established, I’m throwing some leaves in every time.  Yum.

The only problem in reading up on this juicing movement is that I have become aware of a whole other range of juicing appliances.  Often called “cold-press” it’s a form of juicing that uses pressure instead of centrifugal force.  I want one.  Here’s one that gets good reviews….may have to start saving up (our Breville centrifugal one is still going strong after almost 8 years but this is making a strong argument for cold-press):

Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer – Black and Chrome

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World Flattening

While this blog is not usually a social commentary, sometimes I feel like making some social observations.  This morning is one of those times.

Standard stats put the numbers of LGBTX people in North American society at 3%.  Some even go so far as estimate 10% (assuming for large numbers of those “in the closet” still).  Either way, a LGBTX person has grown up and lives in a society where they are not “normal” (where normal is defined as applying to the general majority of people involved).  Interestingly enough, current numbers also place active practicing Christians in NA at the same percentage – 3%.  From my observation, both subsets, LGBTX and actively practicing Christians (I’m going to call this just “Christian” from here on out), attempt to deal with the situation by changing society to be more like them.  They attempt to flatten the waves of difference by imposing their own values, behaviours and ethics on their world at large.

This is strikingly easy to see for the LGBTX group in the media.  Whereas when I was growing up (just a few years ago😉 ), it would have been utterly shocking to see two men or two women kiss on a tv show or movie, nowadays almost every show has at least one character and “gay” kissing is almost normal.  This is the result of an active lobbying movement of the LGBTX segment and it has been very successful.  As a result of this active movement for social change, being “gay” is becoming and has become far more “normal” (although stats show no change in LGBTX numbers) – so actually, it is far more “accepted” than before, not more normal.

Christian subgroups go about changing society in different ways, but one obvious one is the Christian pro-life movement.  This morning I woke up to news that Oklahoma passed a bill criminalizing the act of performing an abortion on a woman.  Where it goes from here is up in the air (state vs federal law will surely come into play) but it’s still an obvious attempt to make society obey the morals of Christians.  To “normalize” the belief that babies still in the womb are human and therefore ripping them from their mothers’ womb and tearing them limb from limb is an inhumane monstrosity.

As is obvious from this blog, I am a Christian (actively practicing the beliefs I hold to be true about God, life, the person of Jesus Christ and my own nature).  And here’s the thing.  The Bible does not teach Jesus’ followers to go around changing their world so that their differences become normal.  It teaches that 1) Jesus is the light of the world, 2) without Jesus the world is in darkness, 3) believers in Jesus have his Holy Spirit inside them, 4) the Holy Spirit inside someone is like a lamp – the fire inside shines out of the imperfect clay and brings light to their surroundings.  Christians are called to be lights to their world.

Now I’m not going to address the whole “people will know I’m different by my actions without me needing to tell them why” issue – save that St. Francis, unlike popular belief, taught the complete opposite of the saying commonly attributed to him – that we should let our actions tell people about God and only use words if necessary.  The absurdity of this can be seen in this Christian satire post: “Man feeds the hungry at all times, uses food if necessary.”

The fact is, Christians’ Holy Word commands them to shine their lights before men so that they will see and be drawn to God.  The Bible says that all people are in utter rebellion to God and stand in danger of God allowing them to experience the natural consequences of this rebellion.  Hell.  I’ve never quite understood why people object to Hell and say that if God is really nice why not let everyone into Heaven?  Well, let’s think about that.  Let’s take your standard atheist.  He or she spends their whole life voraciously denouncing the existence of the Christian God, rejecting any call upon them to follow this God’s laws, and going their own way entirely.  Heaven is said to be being in God’s Holy presence…eternally.  Would you _want_ to be in the presence of your greatest enemy, having “lost” so to say, and being forced to watch their victory….forever?  Sounds like….Hell.

Shining a light into a dark place does not mean turning the whole place into a carbon copy of you.  Have you ever noticed how a flashlight brings a dark room into very sharp relief?  Light in the darkness makes very clear lines – this is one thing, this is not that thing.  Being light in the darkness means that Christians should be different from their surroundings.  Not trying to flatten out their worlds’ differences so that they can feel more “normal” but showing the world that it is lost and needs a Savior.  You know what?  I would love it to live in a culture where I wouldn’t even need to argue that a baby is human.  That murdering a human child is, well, murder.  I believe every human is made in the image of God in some way and that trying to snuff out that life is an affront to the God who made it.  I would love to have that be “normal” instead of what is normal now.  Where a giant corporation is _proven_ to be murdering children and then _selling_ their body parts for profit…and the “justice” system instead charges the journalist who documents it!  Nauseating.

But I can’t make everyone else agree with me, and in fact the Bible never tells me to.  It tells me to tell the world that it is broken.  And that God, who created it perfect, cares so very much for this broken world that He sacrificed _Himself_ to fix it, heal it, and make it clean and perfect again.  That’s some pretty awesome news.

Right now, most days, me being light looks like…well….me being the mother of six kids.  All of them are precious and lovely and amazing and the world would be a worse place without them in it.  Our family may not be “normal” but it is shiningly different from everyone else around us it seems! (at least, from the constant reactions ranging from surprise to disgust that I get here in Canada….haven’t been called a “breeder” yet but many people have implied it and some have been downright ….explicit about their disapproval of my fertility).  And while it is difficult being different, I know that’s the plan.  No matter how broken a lamp is, the light inside will always shine out.  We don’t have to try to make the world flatter.

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Mother’s Day loving it

Today is mother’s day. I broke with tradition and made dinner myself (Nathan is a loving husband who makes dinner and lunch every Sunday so I can rest). Basically I went on a rice and beans backbone but it felt like a gourmet meal!  So easy and cheap and yummy!

Dinner was a layered baked dip: beans and taco meat mixed topped with, Nathan’s latest onion flavored yogurt cheese mixed with cottage cheese and sour cream, cheese, green onions and olives. Eaten with chips, salsa and guacamole. Mnn. We ate it sitting on our lawn chairs outside. Then dessert was a new recipe. I wrote it up here – Fusion Rice Cendol Dessert. Everyone wanted seconds or thirds! And finally a little marshmallows roasting over the firepit. After an afternoon lazing in my hammock I must say it was a perfect Mother’s Day.:)

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Oh No, Mommy’s Experimenting Again!

Yup, that’s the actual cry my children were making before lunch today.  Not the most encouraging thing to hear!

Today’s lunch was supposed to be salmon cheese melts.  Except the toddler grabbed the crescent roll tube from the fridge, managed to pop the metal top off (how?!), and got the top half of the dough dirty! And then one of the three cans of salmon tasted like cat food!  Grr.  So the salmon got experimented with, to see if I could salvage the flavor (green curry, mustard, chopped onions and garlic and cilantro, and an avocado.  It was passible, but barely), and I experimented with the dough.  I made crescent roll triangles, spread with salmon paste (I was using the food processor to save time), sprinkled with frozen grated cheese, and covered it with another dough triangle.  I sealed the edges as best as I could and baked.  It was pretty good, if I do say so myself!  Of course, after each child scarfed one down, I heard no recanting.  And they’ll complain just as loudly the next time I experiment. 😉

They loved dessert though.  And it turned out well enough I might even put it up here.  Super simple.  Almond agar-agar in small dessert cups, topped with prepared lemon pie filling.  Very pretty, and tasty!  Just the right blend of sweet and sour.

Tonight Nathan took my prepared chicken broth with sauteed veggies and added pork meatballs, made with eggs and a gluten-free (GF) breadcrumb mix.  It was awesome!  We served it over basmati rice and almost every child wanted seconds.  Except one.  Of course.  There’s always one.  LOL.

meatball soup

Meatball soup

In other news, I couldn’t resist buying more plants.  So I’m going to have to dig up the sickly azalea from the garden to make room for the carrots and parsnips.  I’m going to have to use containers for the cucumbers, butternut squash and pie pumpkins (saved from last year’s garden! Win!).  I also couldn’t resist some carnations.  Carnations have got to be the most misleading florist flower EVER.  They smell NOTHING like their garden counterpart!  A real carnation smells like a little bit of heaven, sweet and spicy and delicious.  The store bought flowers smell like a fridge!  I have to believe nobody else knows about this travesty or there would be carnations growing in every yard!

We were forced into some more spring cleaning today.  Allegedly our kitchen countertops are getting replaced by the rental agreement tomorrow.  There’s not much wrong with them but apparently they charged the last tenant for damaging them so we get new ones.  The current ones are purple!  To match the purple floor.  Not joking.  :)  So we had to find room for all of our kitchen appliances.  We have a ridiculous number of them according to my mom.  But hey, two cooks, 3 meals a day for 8 people…they’re labor-saving devices. 😉

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How my garden grows

small container garden plot
It’s done, I’ve planted all that I can fit into my garden.  And added some pretty flowers.  :)  Silver bells may not be there but we’ve got shells and pretty maids a plenty!  And toddler boy (aka Mr. Destruction) and a diggin’ dog so that’s why the fencing and containers.  I’ve done large, feed-your-family gardening and small in a box gardening.  This is where I’m at right now.  See, this area tends towards dry summer conditions, which they call a drought (ha, go to California and see what that really means!  I mean, really, in a place where it rains 9 months of the year you can’t call 3 dry-ish months a drought!).  And our interesting landlords made us sign a special provision that we wouldn’t try to use their irrigation….ya.  So every single thing in the yard must be watered by hand.  So in the fall I “rescued” the dying out of the rest of the yard (everything in this pic that is not a sprout) and planted it by the back door here.

Now I’ve filled it as much as possible with food plants.  Spinach, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, sugar peas, onions, leeks, romaine lettuce, strawberries, pumpkins, and a few herbs: mint, rosemary, dill and lemon balm.  Plus some flowers to brighten it up – I wintered a few flowers in my kitchen bay but only two survived.  I hope to have lots of bushy plants to update with in a few months.

I like the idea of companion planting but don’t follow it too much beyond spreading my onions around.  What I do for weeds is plant things as close as possible to each other so they will hopefully overgrow the weeds soon.  I’m happy to report that the “mulch” on top is actually my composted chicken bedding that we carefully brought here from our last move (another rental provision was giving up our chickens, so sad, I can’t stand store bought eggs anymore!).

I love living on Vancouver Island and enjoying my spring planting a month before the rest of Canada. 😉


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Variations on a theme (Rice, that is)

I am, like everyone I suppose, a cyclical creature.  I go in surges.  Lately, I’ve been on a massive rice pudding surge.  I am just loving it!  I’ve put up my general Rich Rice Pudding recipe here but have been playing around with it too.  I’ve discovered adding in some cooked pudding mix works well, my latest attempt with that was for “Turtle” flavored rice pudding – butterscotch mix, plus homemade simple caramel and chopped pecans.  Mnnn.

Caramel Pecan Rice Pudding

This is like “Turtles” – Caramel and Pecan!

I’ve also found adding black Thai rice makes for purple rice!  This is a 1:3:1 mix of black Thai, Basmati and quinoa:

Purple Rice with Thai black rice, white basmati and quinoa

Purple Rice!

But my mainstay, that is my go-to dessert most nights, is regular rice pudding with a handful of chocolate chips thrown in when warm.  I really like mint chocolate, and find even a small handful of mint chocolate chips takes my rice pudding into decadent (dark chocolate chips work too):

Rice pudding with chocolate chips

Chocolate Chips Make a great flavor addition!

I’m just going to assume that a bowl full of rice with an egg heavy cooked custard and a few chocolate chips is better for my waistline than the equivalent of ice cream.  And it tastes just as great!

My original flavor was Rum Raisin, achieved with rum or rum flavor and raisins, with a splash of cinnamon.  Super good.  But I’m a chocolate lover primarily so most nights that’s my topping. :)

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Tropical home-sickness

While I don’t mind living in the further reaches of the Northern hemisphere, I’m a tropical girl at heart.  So when it gets bad and I long for the tropics, I find myself buying tropical fruit.  Never a cheap option, but this time of the year it’s “cheaper” than normal – these mangoes were only $1 each instead of $3 each.  I found some guavas on sale too, that smelled just lovely and reminded me so much of Maui, so I bought them and decided to make jam.  See, with our family, fruit just doesn’t last.  If I want to enjoy a flavor for more than a day, I have to can it.

That’s why my jam recipes on here are so tropical; take my Stawberry Guava jam or my Golden Banana Kiwi jam.  This time, I decided to make (regular) Guava, Mango and Banana jam although I used some juice that had golden kiwis and mangosteen in it too, and of course there’s always the apple juice. :)

Tropical guava, mango, banana jam on toast

I love mangoes, always have, always will.  It was heartening to see that I’ve passed that on to my kids at least.  As I was peeling the mangoes to put into the jam I had all the kids surrounding me waiting to suck the last goodness off the mango seeds or skins.  Mmmn.

Now I can wait a bit longer before giving in to the tropical fruit aisle at the store. :)


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