Monthly Archives: October 2011

Lentil butternut squash soup.

There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about this soup. I make variations over this kind of red lentil soup quite a bit in the winter, with carrots or whatever veg I have lying around. It quick and simple – lentils do not require presoaking, and the split red ones, like these, are the quickest to cook. But it’s been a while since I have made one now, and it came to mind as a good solution to my current problem.

I seem to be allergic to something, but I can’t quite figure out what it could be. I’ve gotten quite  unwell from eating the food in the cafeteria at work several times in the past few weeks. Typical food intolerance symptoms – fatigue, brain fog, upset stomach. Simple solution, while waiting for a more comprehensive solution involving a doctor and some investigative work: stop eating the food from said cafeteria and bring my own lunch.

Enter the soup – a quick, low-effort way for me to make three proper lunches I can bring this week! I took some shortcuts, taking advantage of the fact that I had frozen caramelized onion and garlic.

  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 small butternut squash, diced
  • about 1 caramelized onion
  • 1 roasted elephant garlic
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or other oil
  • 1 tsp mild madras curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2oo ml coconut milk
  • water
  • 1 low-sodium stock cube
  • salt
  • pepper
  • some paprika

Defrost the pre-caramelized onion and garlic and add to pan with some coconut oil, or fry some fresh onion and garlic for several minutes. Add curry, paprika and garam masala and fry for a minute or two more.

Deglace the pan with the coconut milk and scrape off bits. Stir in the lentils and the butternut squash and the low sodium stock cube (crumbled). Add water to cover, approx. 2 cups. It should look like this:

Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer until all is tender, approx 20-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Voila!

 

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Lactose-free mac and cheese with veggies.

I had various left-overs in my fridge, but what I really wanted today was mac and cheese.. And, as I mentioned, I have decided to cut out lactose. Thankfully there are options..

Mac and cheese, step by step

  • cook pasta (I happened to use gluten-free pasta – it’s what we have around)
  • cut a small butternut squash in half, remove seeds, pierce all over with fork, microwave on high for about 4 minutes (until soft)
  • make a roux from 1.5 tbsp each olive oil and flour (rice flour for gluten-free)
  • stir the roux as you add lactose-free milk
  • If you have frozen portions of caramelized onions, like I do, defrost one
  • add onions and mashed butternut squash to the sauce
  • add some lactose-free cheese (old-school traditional hard aged cheeses should all be lactose-free, I used some “goat parmesan”)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • add pasta
  • enjoy!

Lazy weekend.

This past week was just grueling. So this weekend I am making up for it by taking it very easy and hanging out with friends. Yesterday, the co-op where I live (maybe that’s not the right term) had its biannual “dugnad” – a very Norwegian thing which doesn’t translate well. It means everyone gets together to clean up the communal areas. So I raked a bunch of leaves in front of the building. Otherwise it’s been laundry time – slowly going through my delicates. The new laundry machine seems to have a good delicates program. As you can see – not the most interesting weekend.. But I have done some cooking too!

Chia breakfast cereal (gf)

In Toronto, my husband often eats this chia cereal from Ruth’s Hemp Foods. This is a homemade approximation. Gluten-free, good vegan source of omega-3, plenty of fiber.

I soaked 2 tbsp chia seeds with some goji berries in some lactose free milk, and then 5 minutes later I sprinkled in some pumpkin seeds, some buckwheaties and some coconut. Not bad! However, I do think for next time I will get some hemp seeds and cut down on the buckwheaties.

Homemade oat milk (gf, v)

So I have this feeling that maybe I am not handling lactose too well any more. These things can happen as we age, and given that I have consumed very little lactose for several years now, I am wondering if I have become more sensitive to it. I eat much more milk products here in Norway than i did in Canada.

So I have decided to cut out lactose for a few weeks and see what happens. In that context, I have been curious about homemade milk alternatives. Especially because oat milk is generally the one I prefer, but the storebought varieties are not gluten-free (which obviously is not an issue for me, but for other members of my household).

So yesterday I made gluten-free oat milk according to this recipe from Affairs of Living. I did not culture the milk, but still the results were really quite thick (and the milk has not separated, I guess because it was cooked). I think it would perhaps be better for cooking than drinking, so next time I won’t add stevia (I only added  a little bit, and it isn’t too sweet). A pretty fascinating process, actually. I got a nut milk bag recently, which I strained the milk through. It was more work than I expected, though.

Here, the oats and water are simmering away. After putting it through the blender and the nut milk bag, I poured it into this rather decorative bottle 🙂

Tamarind!

My exciting grocery find of the week was this tamarind for cooking. I used some for a simple chickpea curry with coconut and tamarind.

And finally, this week’s latte art

I have to say it is rather hit or miss still whether I get this right, but anyway, I am starting to make rather decorative, though somewhat abstract, lactose free cappuccinos.. This is really one of the reasons I am cutting just lactose and not dairy altogether, because there is no way I can get cappuccinos right with milk alternatives….

Lemon rosemary beans.

Living in a country where groceries are really quite expensive, and temporarily living with a friend who now works for the Ministry of Environmental Protection, I have been thinking about some small ways to cut both food costs and waste.

So last week, when our pot of fresh rosemary was getting quite sad-looking, we did something neat instead of throwing it out – namely drying the rest of the still-green rosemary leaves in the microwave. Super easy! Instructions from The Kitchn. I will definitely start doing this when fresh herbs in my fridge or on my counter start to look sad, as it only takes a few minutes. The only dreary part is drying the rinsed leaves before zapping them in the microwave.

So what to do with this dried rosemary? I’ve also been thinking that I should cook my own beans, rather than using canned ones. It’s a pretty obvious thing to do – but I keep forgetting to pre-soak etc.. Yesterday I did remember, and I bought some organic dried white beans which I left to soak overnight. I took my cue from Affairs of Living and largely followed her recipe, but more or less halved it.

  • approx. 1 cup dried white beans, soaked overnight
  • one onion
  • lots of garlic
  • dried rosemary
  • some dried “Fines Herbes” brought from France
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced thinly
  • water

The beans were left to soak overnight, approx 14 hours, which is less than she recommended, but quite standard for beans. This morning, I whizzed the onion and garlic in my food processor (why chop if you don’t have to?) and mixed in with the beans and some olive oil in my Dutch oven. I blended in some of the dried rosemary, and also added some dried herbs I had brought with me from France (Fines Herbes from Monoprix; parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil). I mixed in salt and pepper, and covered with thin lemon slices. Finally I added water until it almost reached the top of the beans.

The Dutch oven went into the oven at 350F/180C with the lid on. I checked it after an hour, and I realized why the recipe said to use tin foil with holes to let steam escape, because the beans were very wet at this point. I left the lid ajar on the Dutch oven and put it back for about another hour. At this point they were cooked through, but not mushy. Really tasty beans!

Revival.

So it’s been a little dead around here lately. There are a few explanations for that.

  1. I moved continents and started a new job.
  2. I (by which I mean my husband..) broke the lens on the DSLR camera.
  3. I bought a new smartphone with a decent camera and then promptly lost it.

So I have been busy and camera-less. Yesterday, I finally got around to hauling the DSLR to a photo place. In a total fluke, the guy working there was an old friend whom I haven’t seen in years. Turns out the lens was kaput – a pin inside had broken and the zoom no longer worked. I trusted my friend when he said it was not worth fixing – it would have cost more than a new lens. Given that I was unhappy with it anyway, and had been dreaming of buying a f 1.8 50mm prime lens to take better food pictures, that’s exactly what I did.

So hopefully this will mean more blogging and better pictures!

I have some white beans soaking which I will cook later, but so far all I have made is a lactose-free cappuccino. I recently got a used Gaggia machine and Isomac grinder, and I am slowly getting better at latte art..!