real food. real life.
I need to be honest.
I'm just a home cook, posting meals I make at home online, for whoever to read.
Everything I know, or seem to know, I've learned myself. I ask questions when I'm around good cooks. I watch a lot of cooking shows. I read a lot of cookbooks. I pay attention to how things are made. That's it. Nothing fancy.
It started with a need to better the food I was putting into my body. I could continue to struggle to find things in the store, spend copious amount of money on organic, just to fulfill a diet without without dairy, soy, and refined sugars. And let's be honest, if I could did that, it probably would be hard and frustrating, and I've probably give up. Eat the things my body doesn't digest well and live with it. I could live a life without things, purely because I couldn't eat one of the ingredients. Or, I could stop whining and find out how to cook things myself. Make things so I could eat them, and everyone would want to eat them, because they tasted good. Make things that you don't even miss the dairy or the soy or the sugar. And possibly make things without other common food allergens so more could enjoy them.
Well, through all that, it then it turned into a way to save money. Because by making stuff on your own, you actually learn that you can spend less and make more. The more basic and natural the ingredient, the better things taste and more you can do with it. And the easier it is to cook with it. So, then, it turned into a way to find easy way to cook things from scratch, using regular ingredients, not fancy flours or sugars, so that anyone could try it, any day of the week. Just plain old ingredients. Not condiments. Ingredients.
Sometimes I feel like an odd-ball, looking for ways to make everything myself instead of buying it already made. Even if it means screwing up a bunch of batches before figuring it out. Essentially spending a ridiculous amount of time in the kitchen and, in some cases, spending more money learning how to do it than it would have cost to just buy the package. I love it.
But why do I put myself through it? Why do I sit here, uploading millions on photos I took before I allowed my family to dig into a meal, keep record of how I made each thing, and post it online for someone, anyone, to read? I mean seriously, I sit here and think sometimes - I don't even know what I'm doing! Who's going to take advice from me?
I've had no professional training. Not in cooking, Not in blogging, Not in writing. Nor in photography or website design. But yet, day after day, I keep going. Cooking, snapping pictures, reading recipes, posting. Assuming someone might appreciate it, maybe?
Well, I'm starting to look into the blogging world a bit more, discovering how to build an audience and all that jazz. It'll be a journey, for sure. I hope at the end of it, I still love it. I love the challenge every week of trying something new. Recreating favourite meals. Health-ifying a classic. Motivating others to give things a try. Hoping others take to the kitchen without fear. So, I hope that sticks. I have no idea who reads these, if anyone aside from myself! (I use my site all the time to look for inspiration for meals. ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously.)
Anyway, the honesty in the post all came about because seriously, a couple years ago, I had no idea what Baba Ghanoush was. And then, I thought you could only buy it in stores, never make it at home. I've thought that with many things. Well, as you can guess, not anymore. Here's another one of those things, where yes, I spent more money and time figuring out how to make it than it would have cost me to buy it in the store. But hey - I controlled the ingredients, I learned something new, I could easily replicate it again and again, and the best part, I found a use for eggplant that most people enjoy. :)
There were lots of ways to make this online. Mainly on how to cook the eggplant. If you have a grill, apparently you can get better flavour by charring the outside first before roasting. I could have used the broil feature on the oven to do that, but I wanted to see if I could eliminate that step and just roast the heck out of it instead. Well, to me, it tasted fine this way. And was super easy. Which I'm sure grilling is, too. But, well, I eliminated a step and made this a super easy recipe, anyone could follow it, I hope.
Again, let me remind you all - I have no real idea what I'm doing. All I know is from experiences on my own in the kitchen and in my life. If you eat as much from the Earth as possible, your body will thank you. At least, that has been my experience. The more processed, the more packaged your food is, the less your body recognizes what to do with it, often not digesting it well or storing parts of it in your body (fat). That's what I believe anyway. It could be totally wrong. But it makes sense to me and It works for us. We don't count calories. We don't eat gluten-free. We don't focus on proteins and carbs and all that. We just try to eat as much from the Earth, and close to home, as much as possible. When you do that, you end up eating lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, natural sugars, you get what I'm saying. We enjoy treats often - don't get me wrong. Healthy does not mean starving or depriving ourselves in this house. Probably every day we have something sweet or salty. Yum. But everything, well close to everything, is made with regular, natural ingredients, making it easy to eat and usually guilt-free. Love yourself and love what you eat. My advice for the day.
Okay, I'll stop rambling now. Let you get to the reason you clicked on this.
2 medium Eggplants
1/4 cup tahini (Sesame seed butter)
3 cloves garlic
Juice of half lime
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch sea salt/pepper
What to do:
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Cut the eggplants in half from top to bottom. Poke the skin a few times with a fork and then place them, skin side up, on a large baking sheet/pan. Drizzle a very small amount of oil over the skins and rub over the tops. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the skins blacken and deflate, and flesh is really soft.
2) Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the skin by scraping out the flesh into a food processor.
3) Add all other ingredients to the food processor and blend away! Pulse until combined and smooth. Taste test and add more salt, or perhaps even a bit of cumin, if needed/wanted more spice.
4) Scoop into a container and drizzle a bit of oil on top. Cover and refrigerator. For best tasting baba ghanoush, let sit in the refrigerator about 3 hours before serving to let the flavours mix well! Enjoy with pita or crusty bread, fresh veggies, whatever. Yum!
I don't even know what else to say.
I can't believe I just tried doing this now. We should all be doing it!
The push I needed to finally get to it was the millions (exaggerating slightly...) of garlic Lee grew this summer. There was a lot of it and the bulbs were a bit small. Kind of annoying to peel, chop, and mince up for cooking. A while ago, I remember watching a video on roasting garlic and how you just 'squeeze' out the garlic. I thought this would be a much easier way to use these garlic bulbs. I had no idea just how amazing this would turn out.
So ammaaaaazing. The house smelled so good. And no one was here but me to enjoy it! Not even Hannah. She was off trying out day care for a morning while I stayed home, twiddling my thumbs hoping she wasn't crying the whole time. So, to the kitchen I went. Roasting garlic. All alone. Roasting and smelling amazingly sweet, not bitter at all, garlic. And then eating roasted garlic. Alone of course.
It was very easy to do. Just need your garlic bulbs, some tin foil, olive oil, and a pan to set it on in the oven. Nothing fancy.
The result? This creamy, smooth, buttery-like garlic. You actually do squeeze it out. Like toothpaste. However, ha, funny, you might want some toothpaste after devouring this tasty stuff... Breath and all... But seriously, so good. Great as is - on toast or crusty bread - or used in cooking. I've added it to soups, sauces, stir fries, marinades, rice, and steamed veggies. It's a strong garlic flavour without the bitter bite of garlic, it's more sweet. And, it kept in the fridge in an airtight container for almost 2 weeks!
Give it a try. You won't be disappointed.
Total Time: 40+ minutes, depending on the bulbs!
Whole Garlic bulbs - as many as you like!
Pinch Sea Salt
What to do:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Take out a baking dish/tray and lay a large piece of tin foil on top.
2) Chop the tops off of the garlic bulbs so you expose each clove a tiny bit at the top. Place each bulb, exposed side up, on the tin foil. They can touch each other, doesn't matter. Drizzle olive oil over top of each bulb and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
3) Fold tin foil so it covers garlic bulbs and create a little packet. Fold edges over so air doesn't escape. Keeping in baking tray, place in oven, middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or longer, checking at the 40 minute mark. You are looking for the garlic to look slightly golden but most importantly, soft to touch.
4) Once it's ready, take out, uncover, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then, carefully, take each bulb and squeeze from the bottom up. You should find the most amazingly smooth, buttery garlic you've ever tasted!!!
5) You can use it right away, on toast, in sauces, on veggies or meat. Or, you can store in your refrigerator for a week or 2 and use in all of your meals! It's delicious. Enjoy!
Hannah's napping. Must eat sweets.
Anyone else like this? I can't eat it when she's around or she just wants it. All of it. If I want to savour something, I've got to save it till nap time. Plus, it makes nap time even more sweeter. Yum.
Well, this time I had forgotten to have something made up. I know. What's a parent to do! Tragic city over here. It was quiet in the house and there wasn't a scrap of something sweet to eat! Panic.
Just whip something up, you say?
Problem is, Hannah's room is right off the kitchen in our little home, which has made baking and cooking a tricky endeavour when you're trying to keep that toddler sleeping! I swear she can even hear me walking around the house. She's the queen, alright...
Well, here's a solution. Chocolate Nut Freezer Fudge. No loud noises required. Ready (hopefully) before nap time is over. (eek - bite my tongue... I mean, stop thinking it! That child can read minds I tell you!! :)
Here is a simple treat that pulls together easily and just require a bit of melting, stirring, smoothing, and placing in the freezer. Relatively quiet, if you can move swiftly around the kitchen. Which I can fully appreciate now. Never realized how loud I was in the kitchen before, I tell ya!
Oh, it's versatile, too. Use whatever nut or seed butter you have on hand. And the toppings are optional/variable. As long as you have the butter, the sweetener, the cocoa powder, and the oil, you're good to go.
Give it a try, folks! Enjoy!
Chocolate Nut Freezer Fudge
Total Time : 5 minutes + Freezing 30 min - 24 hours
2 heaping tablespoons natural nut butter of choice (peanut butter here!)
2 tablespoons sweetener of choice (maple syrup here!)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of sea salt
Handful of unsalted raw nuts & unsweetened shredded coconut to sprinkle on top
What to do:
1) In a small saucepan over medium-low, melt together all ingredients except nuts/coconut toppings. Stir together until evenly combined and smooth.
2) In a parchment lined brownie pan, pour/spatula in the chocolate mixture and spread evenly. Sprinkle with coconut and nuts.
3) Pop in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Cut into square and enjoy or leave in the freezer until ready to enjoy. Or do what we do - leave in the freezer and sneak a square every now and then when you're craving something sweet. Usually once Hannah goes to nap!
We really cooked these things. From scratch. On weeknights. And we even had time to do the dishes.
They have real, simple ingredients that you'll find in your cupboards. They're healthy and delicious. No lies.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment below!
Here's a pic of me and my babies. Just because.
A Bit About Me...