Posted by: itstrichy | August 17, 2009

Here we go falaffel-ing

A few years ago a friend and I adapted his family tradition and started hosting fondue parties for our friends at Christmas time.  Anymore it seems to be about the only time all year that we manage to all get together.

What does that have to do with falaffel?  Well, it was my first experience with the stuff.  Do you remember it PTY?  :-)  She attempted to fry falaffel in the oil we had for cooking our meat.  In short it was quite a failure as the dough came apart as soon as (if not before) hitting the oil.  Fondue forks didn’t help, and even when armed with a slotted spoon I don’t think we got the remnants out.

I’ve just recently developed my own affinity for falaffel but there is no where to get any, especially good stuff, with under a half hour drive (one way).  Most people who have tried making them even from box mix said it was a disaster so I haven’t even tried.

But when I saw Barbara post her recipe for making them from scratch I had to try it.  She’s cooked in restaurants and really knows her food.  She gives good history and does lots of research.  I figured if anyone knew how to do it, it would be her.  I had to start soaking the chickpeas 24 hours ahead of time and that was probably the hardest part…I had to plan well in advance, which I don’t generally do for meals.  But once the soaking was done.  The rest was easy.

And it worked:

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Aren’t they pretty?

And as a testament to how easily they went together, here’s my oil after cooking them all…still clear & very few crumbs.  (As a note, I actually used my electric fondue pot because it is small & had a thermostat for consistent oil temp.)  Because the oil was seasoned from all the falaffel flavor, I fried a few shrimp in it too because that’s what we usually do at the fondue party.  Yummmmmm.

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I made naan because I like falaffels in wraps with hummus & tabbouleh (which I also made from scratch).  I LOVE this bread, but it is full of gluten so I didn’t get to eat any.  Instead I had teff pitas which are actually pretty darn good.  Here’s our spread, minus my pitas.

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I just had some more for lunch and the falaffel reheats quite well even in the microwave.  I thought it might get too soggy but it was still a bit crispy on the outside.

If you’re up for a new adventure, I totally recommend this recipe!!

Posted by: zebe912 | May 16, 2009

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake

This comes from one of my favorite (pre gluten free) cookbooks “The Eating Well Diabetes Cookbook”.  While neither my husband or I have diabetes, it runs in our families and I liked subbing lower GI recipes when I could.  Now gluten free baking has taken over.  Since an aquaintence was asking for healthier cake recipes, here’s another suggestion.

Cake:
1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans
20 oz crushed pineapple (drain and reserve 1/4 cup juice)
2 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar, sucanat OR 3/4 c splenda for baking
3/4 cup non fat buttermilk (or sour some milk with lemon juice)
1/2 cup canola oil (applesauce could be subbed here if desired)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated carrots
1/4 c unsweetened flaked coconut (find at a health food store)

  • Preheat oven to 350 & grease a 9×13 pan.
  • Toast nuts in a small baking pan in the oven or in a skillet on the stove.
    Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • In a large bowl whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and juice in a large bowl.
  • Stir in pineapple carrots, and coconut.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix just until blended.
  • Stir in the nuts.
  • Spread evenly into greased pan.
  • Bake cake until the top springs back when touched or a cake tester comes out clean. This should be 40-45 minutes.
  • Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Frosting:
2 TBSP (aka 1/8 cup) coconut chips or flaked coconut
12 oz reduced fat cream cheese softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar or splenda granular
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • Toast coconut in the oven for 5-10 minutes in a 300* oven. Stirring occasionally.
  • Beat cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.
  • Spread over cake and sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Posted by: zebe912 | May 16, 2009

The healthier cake…an exploration of recipes

A few ideas for fruit based cakes…more coming soon.

Paradise Apple Cake (IBS Friendly if not also gluten intolerant)

1 1/2 c white sugar or sucanat
3 c flour (sub 2/3 cup with coconut flour for extra fiber)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
3 medium apples (peeled, cored, thickly chopped)
6 egg whites
1/2 c chopped nuts

  • Preaheat oven to 350.
  • Coat an angel food pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl sift 1 cup of the sugar with flour, cinnamon & baking soda.
  • In a small bowl, mix applesauce and vanilla together and set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat eggwhites until soft peaks.
  • Slowly add remaining 1/2 c sugar and beat until the whites hold glossy peaks.
  • With clean beaters combine the applesauce with the flour mixture and then fold in apples and nuts. Slowly fold in the egg whites until no white streaks remain.
  • Pour mixture into prepared angel food pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean.
  • Place on rack to cool and then carefully un-mold.

Apple Pudding Cake

4 cups chopped apples
2 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups sugar or sucanat

Mix together and let stand for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 9×13 pan. After apples have rested, add:

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Posted by: zebe912 | April 17, 2009

Maple Medley

I haven’t posted in ages. I just haven’t felt anything was that blog worthy. I cook, but I haven’t really done anything exciting. Until now.

For easter I made a tiny little ham in the crock pot since our family celebrations were all early this year. I was all set to do a honey glaze until I realized that I’m a maple fan and maple sounded like it should go with ham as well or better than honey does. So my little 1.5 pound ham went into the crock pot with some OJ and maple syrup. 3 hours later it was some tasty ham. Although, I wish I had soaked my ham in water longer. The thing was mega salty and that just spoiled the maple flavor (almost) for me.

Fast forward to today. I had a butterflied pork chop to cook up. I finish splitting one of these and end up with two smallish servings (probably the actual suggested size for pork).

In a saute pan I added 3 TBSP Pineapple Orange Juice (what I had on hand, OJ would work fine) and 6 TBSP dark maple syrup (again what I had open, but the darker the syrup the more flavorful it is) and about 1/2 TBSP of mustard (Dijon is better but I only had a yellow & stone-ground so I did a bit of each).

I let this heat up, stirring over low to melt together, put salt & pepper on my pork and placed it in the pan. I left it on that side until I saw the pinkness going away on the side of the meat. I flipped it over and let it finish cooking.   Occasionally I spooned some of the syrup mix onto the top of the pork.  Since I didn’t keep this covered and I cooked on low, the sauce pretty much reduced itself and was ready to go when the pork was.

I served it with gluten free spaetzle and steamed broccoli. YUM!!

Posted by: zebe912 | March 22, 2009

Remember Me?

I really don’t have any excuse for not posting other than that I’m lazy. I have photos in the camera and notes on a recipe or two that could be posted. But removing the photos from the camera, loading them, and putting them into said post is what tends to hold me back. I just had having to keep track of memory cards & card readers, and hoping that they all end up back where they need to be for next time.

I’ve really just been uninspired. My energy is low and I need warmth & sun here asap. The weather is trying so I’m trying to be patient. My emotions don’t seem to want to follow suit.

I didn’t realize that at some point I had transferred my Mardi Gras baking photos, so I’m going to post them below. I’ll put the recipes here as soon as I track them down. Oops.

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Beignets

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King Cake

Posted by: zebe912 | February 21, 2009

Potato Leek Soup

I haven’t posted in forever. I’ve been cooking dinner, but I haven’t been creating anything of interest. I haven’t been baking much at all either. However, I’ve been wanting to try potato leek soup for a while and found an organic leek at the market so that got me moving. It is really cold, snowy, & windy today so its the perfect day for this soup. I found two recipes on allrecipes to start from and then made it into this:

4 large potatoes, peeled & cubed
1 large carrot, sliced & diced
1 leek, rinsed & sliced
2 TBSP butter
~2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup diced ham (or you could cook up bacon)
1/2 cup milk or cream
salt & pepper to taste

Place carrots & potatoes into a pot and boil with the chicken broth. Add salt & pepper to taste. Melt butter in a frying pan and saute’ the leeks for 5-10 minutes until tender (it depends on how you slice them). Once potatoes are tender, mash about half of them or puree with a hand blender. Add the cooked leeks, the diced ham, and milk. Stir and heat through. Adjust salt & pepper again to taste. I added a bit of shredded cheese to my bowl & let it melt. That was yummy.

If you don’t eat dairy, this would be nearly as good without the milk and you could saute’ the leek in your oil of choice. For texture you could add a bit more broth with the leeks.

One of the recipes I looked at cooked bacon (instead of the ham) in the fry pan and then sauteed the leeks in that oil. It sounds really tasty to me, but we don’t have any bacon and I’m not going out in this wind!

Posted by: zebe912 | January 1, 2009

08 Review

I’m copying BB and doing a year in review.  It should be an interesting exercize to see whether my year was really as rushed and boring as I remember it.  So let’s see:

January 2008: 
I changed blog hosts to the current url, and renamed by blog.  I continued my trend from 2007 of trying to use all whole grains, reduce sugar consumption (often with splenda) and did lots of cooking and baking.

February :
I made lots of comfort food and even posted a poll about favorite comfort foods for the winter months. Fellow bloggers assisted in choosing a name for my sister’s baking blog, I did taxes!, and I posted about the food DH cooked for Valentines Day.

March:
I did a couple of meme’s, baked some terrific cinnamon bread, and continued life as a newlywed cooking and baking normal yummy food. I also posted a poll about favorite easter candies. Peanut butter eggs seemed to be the winner.

April:
I traveled to Chicago to meet up with fellow JKnotties, and it may have been the highlight of 2008. Both my sister and I made WildType themed cakes (the place she works). I learned to make really yummy homemade graham crackers, just in time to find out I needed to go GLUTEN FREE! So I overhauled my kitchen and tried to regroup.

May:
My youngest sister graduated, I got to make her a cake, and tried gluten free cupcakes for the first time. I didn’t blog much because my cooking/baking took a big dive with trying to learn about gluten free flours. Not much came out worthy of blogging.

June:
I posted twice, and once was a repost of someone else’s blog. Yikes. I danced in a recital with my sisters, and had one success in the kitchen, making gluten free waffles. We also left for vacation at the end of the month.

July:
We continued our vacation in PA, DC, and Baltimore. I spent a couple of days working at church camp. My gluten free endeavors continued to be frustrating, so I barely posted at all. Our first anniversary occurred in the middle of the month.

August:
Somewhere over the summer, I realized that I really needed to cut out refined sugars (also fake sweeteners) as well as the gluten. So once back from vacation, I started experimenting with “sweets” that would meet my cravings, but not cause the sugar blues. I finally started to get my feet under me with the gluten free flours and sugar substitutes.

September:
My birthday was spent in the mountains of California working at a retreat center. Before that, I traveled to the San Diego area to visit some JKnotties for a mini get together. Back home we went to an apple orchard early enough for me to get the macs that I like, and I baked a lot of GF apple pie.

October:
I started in on the comfort food early in 2008, with a post about Shepard’s pie. Since it doesn’t use a crust (like pot pie) its easier for me to make because there aren’t any conversions. I succeeded in making GF/RSF canolli and caramel to go on even more apples. We carved pumpkins and I started making a hat for Halloween.

November:
I posted about the cloche style hat that I made from a felted sweater. I figured out gluten free spaetzle and discovered my #1 gluten free hint: never use only one type of GF flour in a recipe. It’s just a disaster waiting to happen. I rediscovered a wine I love, and got to make a fun baby shower cake for a friend. Finally I start to feel like I know what I’m doing in the kitchen again. My family actually tastes the food sometimes now.

December:
DH had his birthday, complete with an ice cream cake roll that I apparently forgot to post (oops). That was not gluten free. I had baking day with my sisters, and despite a HORRIBLE drive back home, finally made some treats that I could eat (GF, RSF) so that I wouldn’t cheat and eat theirs. I also posted about Toy Safety legislation that needs to be revisited soon because it could put tons of work at home moms and small businesses OUT of business. I also agreed to serve as director for a senior high work camp in New Orleans in July 2009.

And that brings me to today. January 2009. I’m not ready for it. I think I’m still stuck back in about March or April of ’08.

Posted by: zebe912 | December 14, 2008

Ready or not, here I come NFR

I think most of my readers know this already, but it seems significant, so I’m posting anyway.

As of Thursday, I decided to serve as volunteer director for a high school work camp in July. It’s a week long, and we’ll be rebuilding homes in the New Orleans/gulf coast area. This is through my church, and I haven’t ever done anything with them on the national level before.  I tend to be more of a church camp girl at the state-wide level.  I love my Brethren Heights!

But my youngest sister served in our Brethren Volunteer Service for a couple of years during college, and I’ve always kicked myself for not doing the same. Now that I’m married and working, that isn’t an option until either unemployment or retirement strikes.  A couple of years ago I trained to participate in Children’s Disaster Services as an emergency childcare provider, but have never actually been “deployed.”  So until the time that they need me, and I can actually go, I’m doing the next best thing and volunteering a week to go and put some good karma into the world.  Hopefully I’ll serve as a positive influence on some high school kids at the same time.

I haven’t done a work camp type thing in a very very long time (I think 1995/6-ish).  I haven’t worked with high school students in a long time either, at least not ones in the mainstream education system. Another one of my duties is to lead or coordinate the worship portion of the schedule. Other than leading one campfire vespers last summer, I haven’t done any of that in quite some time either. My faith skills have taken a bit of a beating lately. So I’m definitely in need of some bulking up spiritually. But then, perhaps that is exactly why this opportunity landed in my lap. A nudge from above?? Who knows.

So I question my skills a lot and I just hope that I can step up to the plate and meet the needs of the group. I know it is in me somewhere, but it feels pretty well buried. I also remind myself that it is only a week. I also have two other coordinator type people who will be helping me. One, I know through email, and through aforementioned sister. The second, I’ll meet in a month or so, hopefully.

But for those of you who pray, I’d appreciate the thoughts for all of us involved in this camp.  The kids start registering after new years.  For those of you who are more into sending good vibes… those are good too ;-)

Posted by: zebe912 | December 10, 2008

A funny sight

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This black lump on our floor is my husband. The cat might be in there too. This is B’s favorite place and way to sleep: on the floor in his giant sleeping bag. I find him like this probably at least once an evening.

But what I find funny is that all of his birthday presents, which were under the Christmas tree, seem to have curiously crawled over to keep him company. His birthday isn’t until this weekend, and he’s been bugging me because he can’t tell what’s in the boxes by shaking them. (Well, gee, at least finally I figured out how to pack them right!) He sure is silly.

Posted by: zebe912 | December 6, 2008

NFR: Toy Safety conundrum

With all of the recent reports of lead and other scary chemicals in toys, many of us were relieved to hear that measures are being put in place to further limit these nasty chemicals getting near our kids. But apparently, the proposed revisions have gone totally overbored. What, the US government going from one extreme to the other, you must be kidding. ::eyes rolling::

Anyway, many parents have come to rely on small local suppliers who they trust, to get toys, diapers, clothes, etc. But the new rules may put most local suppliers out of business. Review this summary to see how you can help keep some local businesses open!

Urgent News Regarding Toy Safety Law
Greetings!
Over the years I have grown my business due to the support of you, my loyal customers. I have worked for years to provide a product line that you know is safe, unique and made of high quality items. I have consistently dealt with suppliers who are known for high standards and safe materials.

Right now I am calling on you for a different kind of support. Right now my business and many other businesses like mine are in jeopardy. I would not normally call on you in this fashion but this information is very time sensitive and the Children’s Products Industry (clothing, toys, gifts, diapers, etc) needs your help.

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production violated the public’s trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

While we all applauded efforts by the federal government to tighten the safety standards for toys, we all got much more than we bargained for. The law that was passed extends to all products directed to children 12 years of age and younger, and includes such things as clothing & toys and much more, with very few exceptions or exemptions. That wouldn’t be so bad, but there are a few requirements that, if left as is, will force most small businesses (and many medium & large sized businesses) out of business….including retailers, and work at home moms.

How this affects retailers and manufactures:

1. Existing Inventory: The law states that any affected product that does not meet the new standard (with the exception of phthalates) cannot be sold from the shelves after February 10th 2009. The problem is that the law includes many new items that have not been under a previous regulation, and have not been tested. To test these items now, on the retail or wholesale level is prohibitively expensive, and/or simply not possible. So it is very difficult to confirm compliance (although most items in most companies would be compliant), and at the same time, penalties for selling anything that doesn’t meet the standard are very stiff. The options for anyone with inventory are not pleasant.

2. 3rd Party Testing by SKU: The law will require 3rd party testing in the future for each sku (or style). The large pair of jeans have to be tested separately from the medium size of jeans…even though all materials are the same. This makes testing prohibitively (impossibly) expensive. There are other ways to form a testing regimen and be just as satisfied with the results.

3. Markings: All products manufactured after August 12th, 2009 must have markings on the package and permanent markings on the product indicating where, by whom, and when the product was made. Large corporations can afford purchasing multiple dies to do this. Small companies cannot. European companies with limited sales to the USA likewise cannot.

4. Complexity: The law is extremely complex. Needlessly so. It is requiring companies to hire lawyers just to get a grasp of what is required of them. Also, the requirement of including certificates of compliance of each product shipped, with each product is overly burdensome. Electronic certificates has been approved, and will help, but even then there is a substantial cost to the additional administration—which does very little, if anything, to improve the safety of our toys.

5. Frequency of Testing: We are still trying to get a clear grasp of this. However, it is very possible that each batch must be tested/certified. This is fine for large companies running 10,000 or 100,000 pieces per batch. For small manufacturers, with small runs, it multiplies the enormous cost from point #2, even higher.

What this means is small, innovative companies that typically make niche products, will be forced out of business, or forced to narrow their product range and sell to the mass market. Product availability and selection will diminish. We will be primarily left with imported plastic toys from China. Yes, quite ironic isn’t it.

URGENT Action:
The Subcommittee that put this law together is meeting to review its implementation on Wednesday. We need to send a message to them to revise the law or its implementation in ways that will maintain the integrity of the safety standards, but will not decimate the children’s products market. Here are the details of the meeting:

The Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing on Wednesday, December 10, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled “Implementation of the CPSIA: Urgent Questions about Application Dates, Testing and Certification, and Protecting Children.” This is an oversight hearing examining implementation of Public Law 110-314 (H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)). Witnesses will be by invitation only.
The staff briefing for this hearing will be held on Monday, December 8, 2008, at 4:00 p.m. in room 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.

Here is a link to the list of Committee Members. Please contact your Representative of Congress. If any one of these Representatives on the Subcommittee is YOUR representative, PLEASE be sure to call & email them to voice your concerns about the provisions in the law as they affect you and the children’s products industry in general. Please do this today and Monday. Here is the contact information at the CPSC…please contact them with your concerns too.

Here is a link to some suggestions for talking to our representatives from WAHM Solutions.

What else can you do? Pass this on in your blogs, your parent groups, your local community lists, among your friends. There is much misinformation in the market, and it is up to us to warn consumers and colleagues of the pending disappearance of the natural & specialty toys we have come to rely on in the recent years. Sign petitions, and pass the link on to friends.

This is a critical time to raise our voices and be heard. Please do not say it can wait until next week, or after Christmas. Important issues that affect us will be discussed in a public way next week…NOT after Christmas.

What else can you do? If you are a crafter join the Handmade Toy Alliance, join the online community cpsia-central and become informed & involved. Contact the media, discuss this in forums and in your own online communities. It isn’t just our businesses that are at risk, it is the very nature of the toys & products our children & grandchildren will have access to in the future.

Please pass this on!

Thank you for your time and your continued support. I know that you are as passionate about your children as I am and this new law affects ALL of us.

Sincerely,
Molly Ging
Owner – The Little Seedling

http://thelittleseedling.com

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