Archives for posts with tag: Cooking

Over the last few weeks I have made a conscious effort to change my diet. I have been nourishing myself with good food, learning which foods I have sensitivities to, and talking through the entire process with a supportive group of people all doing the same thing. I have lost about ten or so pounds, have lost inches from my waist, and feel like a zillion bucks. How much is a zillion? It is a lot.

The supportive benefits of this experience are untold. I am energised and educated. I am empowered. I have not done this alone; I would not have known where to find trustworthy information. My friend (and yours!) Tammy the Clinical Herbal Therapist has spent years in research and educating herself on this, as well as other health-related subjects. How fortunate we are that she can help us!

I am currently at the stage where I can reintroduce foods into my diet. Who would have thought a yellow pepper would suddenly be so zingy? I have a sensitivity to peppers. I will, therefore try to eliminate them from my diet. Easy to figure this out!

Having learned new recipes over the last few weeks, old standbys that I had been accustomed to buying and eating daily are surprisingly simple to replace. I didn’t think that I could live without cheese. This is one of the things that I will soon be re-introducing. I am looking forward to the experiment, and hope that I am not sensitive to cheese. However if I am… I will still be able to feed myself!

I have learned something new: Organic pumpkin seed butter is my friend.

I wholeheartedly recommend the next Nourishment series, starting up this upcoming Monday the 16th of April. Email Tammy at Fleurbain@gmail.com to register, or for more info.

-Natasha Henderson Montreal

Recently, circumstances conspired so that I had the means to create a new recipe, using ingredients I don’t usually have on hand. I had a package of thawed smoked salmon (thank you, friend who moved and cleaned out her freezer into mine!) The other day I noticed that goat’s cheese was on sale at my local supermarket. I had some fresh dill-infused olive oil leftover from a salad dressing from a few nights ago. Grape leaves are easily available at my local Community Gardens. Naturally, thinking of these ingredients, I made some Altered Dolmades.

I have never made a dolmade before, but from my fully adequate experience in eating them, I know they usually have rice inside. I am trying to eat fewer carbohydrates, so I thought to replace the rice with cheese. Yes!

rolling up the yumminess

So, here is a delicious treat to fix up in very little time. Please note everything is changeable, and you can add anything you want (hot peppers, olives, capers, other cheeses, little bits of bacon…) If you like your rice, you could mix some cooked brown or white rice into the cheese mixture. One thing I really wish I’d had for this was some lemon. I would have squirted it overtop before baking…

*Cheese mix: 1 tube of goat cheese (I used “herbed”), two sprigs of green onions chopped up fine, two tablespoons of crushed almonds, a sprinkle of salt

*Olive oil/dill mix: a couple of sprigs of Dill, settled into a small bowl (about 1/4 cup) of olive oil, and a few grinds of pepper. (Please note in the photographs, I’d used too much oil. Try about 1/4 cup, or even a little less.)

*1 small packet of wild smoked salmon, thin slices

*about 20-30 grape leaves (smaller ones, still clear and bright in colour and translucency)

METHOD: I laid out the grape leaves so that about four to six of them were on my work surface, overlapping. I then took a piece of the fish, and rolled it around a spoonful of the cheese mixture. Then I blobbed a little more of the cheese mixture onto the outside of this fish-tube, and rolled it up in the grapeleaves.

I used a little casserole dish to lay them out in. Once then were all there (I had enough to make about six dolmades) I drizzled the olive oil/dill overtop.

I used the leftover oil afterwards for yet more salad dressing.

BAKE in a moderate oven ’til done (about half an hour? or more or less… everything is edible raw so you can’t undercook.) When I say done, I mean the smell is unbearably delicious, and the grapeleaves are very dark.

If I’d had any leftover grapeleaves, I’d have simply added them to my salad.

I’ll be doing this one again!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

A very simple, easy and delicious (oh yes, and nutritious) salad was my fast lunch today.

lunch today!

 I used prewashed, organic arugula greens from my local grocery, accompanied by delicious stuff I had in my cupboards. I “mixed” it all on the plate I ate off of. It took about a minute to make lunch, and about three to eat. My kind of fast food!

*Take a handful of arugula

*sprinkle with your favorite crumbly old cheese and almonds

*drizzle a couple tablespoons of organic olive oil on top

*throw on some ground pepper and dried dill

Ready!

Delicious!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

It is 29°C, there is a strong wind and all the plants in the garden are suddenly crying.  You could say that we have some heat.  The transition from blah rain to all of this warmth is a little exhausting. I am now inspired to experiment with coconut milk and frozen fruit.

Want something sweet and refreshing on a hot day?  Try this!

instant ice cream

600 g of mixed frozen fruit (I used a 670g mixture of mango and raspberry today.)

1/2 can of organic coconut milk

1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)

a couple good glugs of vanilla

1.  So easy!  Put everything in a food processor and blend until very smooth.

2. Put into neat little individual containers.  I was able to make seven 125ml containers.  Chose containers that will be easy to navigate with a spoon.  Allow to sit for a few minutes at room temperature if you are going to enjoy this straight from the freezer.

ready to go!

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

Today’s the day… time for an early harvest of my tiny sprouts! I know I could grow them for two or three more days, but I am anxious to give them a taste. Tonight they will find their cute little way into a mixed salad.

about to leave their glass home for the free-living lifestyle of a salad

I will immediately “plant” more in the jar. In a day or two I’ll start another jar’s worth of sprouts, so that I will have sprouts ready every couple of days.

little pals, eager to nourish? I hope so

In the future, I’ll have two or three different sorts of sprouts, and do this staggered method of germination and harvesting with all of them. I’ll refine the system, and try to set it up to look nice, too.

I love sprouts! Gardening you don’t need to put on shoes or a coat for…

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

creation during a previous workshop

The brains behind Fleurbain, Tammy Schmidt CHT and Natasha Henderson BFA, are pleased to announce an exciting new service: Customised Workshops.

Combine these two women’s talents for an inventive and innovative experience that is tailored to meet your needs. For groups, clubs, corporate teams, or just a gathering of friends, Tammy and Natasha will craft a unique workshop with the greatest of expertise and care.

Tammy is a Clinical Herbal Therapist with an extensive knowledge of herbal remedies. Outside of her clinical practice, she excels in creative Green ideas for the home, bath, and beauty. Let’s not forget that she is brilliant in herbal/cooking fusion! Tammy will encourage you to grow and create while you learn.

Natasha is a graduate from the Emily Carr Institute of Art in Vancouver, with experience in teaching painting, felt-making, crafting, and general creativity to groups of adults and children alike. Natasha is an empowering instructor who invites the potential in every student.

Fleurbain will come to your location for workshops, or we can meet in our central studio location. It’s up to you.

in the midst of cooking/herbal infusion

A very few ideas for your workshops: Herbal bath treatments and notebook making; Team-building mural painting with a herbal tea session; Puppet-making workshop for kids or adults; Painting with herbal pigments; Informative nature walk while drawing from nature; City-scape walks, seeking nature in an urban environment; Crafting workshops with groups. Check out the two-day experience we hosted recently, in which we steeped herbalism and crafting together to create a unique Spa Weekend.

creative learning through activity

The sky is not even the limit… Give us an email at fleurbain@gmail.com to see what we can do together. Please provide dates and location desired for the workshop, as well as a rough idea of number of participants, their ages, and the purpose or reason for the workshop (eg team-building, fun event, educational, etc).  We will put together a package customized for you and your group.

Please note that we are in the Montreal area.

From a Scottish recipe book: stock made from s...

Cock-a-leekie! All of a sudden, I see this method everywhere!

Nigella Lawson is a woman who knows food, and she’s not afraid to show her love for it.  In the last few weeks I have discovered a great recipe from her latest cookbook called Kitchen.  Beyond being tasty, this recipe has made my life much less complicated.

It is her mother’s Praised chicken.  In the last while, I have made this recipe once a week.  It gives me enough soup stock and chicken to make tasty soups and salads all week long.  Long ago, I remember someone from Saskatchewan telling me this is a great way to cook chicken because it made a delicious and clear stock. I thought that roasting chicken is the best way, so I never bothered with this other method.  Well, years pass, and I now see that I have been missing out on something both great and efficient.  Both the soup stock and the left over chicken are delicious.  AND most importantly, it saves me time by making a stock and cooking a chicken, all at once.

What I do each week goes something like this.  I enjoy the chicken as a hot meal on the first day.  Within the same hour of preparing the chicken, I distribute the stock into individual portions that I can reheat during the week.  I then take apart the chicken (by far, my least favourite job!) and put this in individual jars, so that I have portions ready for any kind of salad.  The rest is a matter of finding a little lettuce and a few veggies, and then I am set for the week!  Truly, this is fast food.  And it is affordable, even if I buy an organic chicken.

Earlier this week I also discovered a similar recipe in the New York Times.  It is a saké steamed chicken with ginger and scallions.

So, with many of my lunches being ultra-healthy and fast, it seems to make for a really nice week.  And as a bonus, I feel that I can relax when I decide to go for a small treat at my favourite café.  With balance, living is very beautiful.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

not seaweed. not white rice.

Last night I really wanted to eat something cute for supper, while at the same time using up things from my pantry and freezer. I don’t know why I felt compelled to eat something cute, but such is life. I decided to make “sushi” out of brown rice, potatoes, eggs, frozen spinach, and a bit of avocado. I like normal sushi, but I don’t have seaweed (though I like it) nor did I feel like making and eating white rice (though I’d have eaten it gladly if someone else had made it) and I didn’t have wasabi nor pickled ginger nor soy sauce. Oh, and I don’t have a sushi mat.

Having recently been inspired by making “fake sushi” out of felt, I thought why not use my own ingredients to make edible, fake sushi? Something formed like sushi, that looks (possibly) a little like sushi, but certainly isn’t sushi…

To start, I boiled up some brown rice… about a cup or so. While it was finishing up, I added in two small, sliced potatoes. This was to make a starchy mash. I boiled this for a few minutes, then just covered and let stand for about ten minutes.

chopped up, rolled fake sushi is ready for the oven

In the meantime, I also boiled a few little frozen-spinach pucks. You could use about a half block of frozen spinach, if that is how your frozen spinach is sold to you. Once it had loosened, I placed it in a casserole dish. Then I cracked a couple of eggs into this dish, and stirred it around with the spinach. I pressed this down with a fork (yes, and my hands too), then popped it into the oven (about 350 F) for fifteen minutes.

I used this spinach/egg combo as my “seaweed”. I took it out of the oven, loosened the base with a spatula, and let it cool a little. Then I spooned some of the smushed-up potato/rice blend onto the half closest to me. On top of that, I laid out some thin slices of avocado.

Next, I rolled up this “sushi”. I popped it back into the oven. I cooked it for about five minutes in roll format, then took it out again to slice it into little rolls. I then placed them flat in the casserole dish, and baked an additional thirty minutes or so.

edibly delicious

This was quite delicious, however it honestly could have used a little sauce, home-made ketchup, or chutney. For a very late Monday night meal it did, however, completely fill the bill! Leftover mashed potato/rice and avocado worked deliciously scrambled into eggs the next morning. For the breakfast mash I added a large amount of chili powder and pepper, and this was so good that next time I will try this blend in the “sushi” too.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Raw (unrefined, unbleached) sugar, bought at t...

sugar

Over the years I have learned that the amount of sugar we eat in North America is not normal, nor is it helping us.  To change this and scale back on the sweet stuff will require a good amount of determination and some experimentation.

Gary Taubes states in his book, Good Calories Bad Calories, that sugar consumption for the typical American was less than 15 pounds a year in the 1830’s.  That is 10 times less than North Americans typically consume today.  The amount of sugar consumed by North Americans grew to 100 pounds in the 1920’s and to 150 pounds (including high-fructose corn syrup) by the end of the century.  Obesity and diabetes rates go up as the amount of sugar available to people increased.  Deaths due to diabetes also went down in times when people were rationing sugar consumption, such as during World Wars I and II.

When I first read this, I really began to question the foods I think are normal.  It was one of the first times I thought that the abundance of ready made, extra sugary delights is not normal.  And I finally understood that if I eat the same amount that North Americans typically eat, then I will be subjecting myself to the same risks for obesity and diabetes.

How might someone “survive” on the amount of sugar that was available to people in the 1830’s?  How much is this per day anyways?  It is around 18 grams a day, a little over a tablespoon.  That includes what is in jams, breads, cereals, preserves, sauces, seasonings, drinks and the usual sugary deliciousnesses of cookies, cakes, etc.! Perhaps this even included medications, since these used to be preserved with sugar.  And if you consider that on special days such as birthdays and holidays, there might have been highly sweetened celebratory treats to be enjoyed. This would mean that the daily amounts would be even less to compensate for these sweet special days.  Perhaps on some days people consumed no sugar.  Imagine!

I have yet to be able to consume less than 15 pounds of sugar a year.  At some point, I would like to try this and see what happens.  I know it is a good idea and it would be good for me.  At this point, I keep the less than one tablespoon per day idea in mind.  I know this is not an easy thing to do.

What if I were to grab my pen and paper, walk through a typical grocery store, map it out and then colour all the aisles with products containing sugar? My hunch is that I would end up colouring every isle except for parts of the produce and meat section.  My point is that it is not likely an easy thing to stay away from products containing sugar.  In the end, I find that it is important to try.

And, that leads me here.  My wacky, very low sugar hot chocolate.  This is a drink that is somewhat like a latté.  Creamy, flavourful and fun.  It is not sugary, but it is still really special and it will make a nice treat.

Hot chocolate, my way

(makes 2 servings)

2 cups of almond breeze unsweetened chocolate non-dairy beverage

1/4 cup organic coconut milk

1 heaping tablespoon fair trade cocoa powder

1 stick of cinnamon

3 cardamom pods, cracked open

1 tsp licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

1/4 tsp cayenne


Carefully bring to a gentle boil and then simmer the above ingredients, in a covered pot, over the lowest heat for 20 minutes.

Strain and add 20 g of  fair trade 85% cocoa chocolate bar.  Stir until it is completely mixed and pour a cup for yourself and a friend.

* I usually leave the spices in the pan and strain the hot chocolate as I pour a cup.  This way, the spices infuse for a good long while.  Yum.

** I can make this the fast way substituting the whole spices with powders of 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp licorice and 1/4 tsp cayenne.  This leaves out the simmering and infusing.  Just heat and serve.

ingredients for a great cuppa hot chocolate

Some of the reasoning behind the recipe.

Cinnamon adds a sweet taste and some have shown that it helps regulate blood sugar.  Cardamom gives me joy!  Licorice is very sweet tasting and it is also an adaptogen that helps normalize adrenal function.  It is often used as a formula harmonizer.  Cayenne acts as a neuro-stimulant and it is also an anti-inflammatory.  All of the spices used will aid in digestion.  The combination of chocolate and spices in this drink energizes me.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

a pan of these lovlies, ready to pop into the oven for a quick appetizer

One of the quickest, easiest things to make with savory, sweet, salty, or miscellaneous ingredients is a plate of mushroom caps. True, you do need some fresh mushrooms, but besides the necessity of that one ingredient, pretty much anything else you have on hand can stuff them. I love how the natural moisture of the mushroom comes out, stewing whatever is stuffed in them into a little pocket of taste. When I was a child, it was an old standby in our house to have mushroom caps as an appetizer: Mom would use orange cheddar and a “seasoning salt” to fill them. I’ve been trying out a few different options, lately.

mushroom caps stuffed with hot peppers, hot peppers stuffed with mushroom stems

Some of my personal favorite combos are:

-any sort of pepper (green, jalapeno, spicy, etc) with a drop of cheese on top and maybe garlic too. Sprinkle on some black pepper and any range of herbs such as oregano or basil or rosemary or dill or…

-the stems from the mushrooms mixed in with tomato and a bit of honey and/or soy sauce or any other type of “sauce” you like and have. Or skip those sauces and mince up some olives.

cheese and black pepper. Any type of cheese.

salsa of any type, with or without leftover vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes.

bok choy with spicy chilli pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

sour cream and broccoli and paprika.

rosemary and goat cheese.

leftovers… any type of leftovers that can fit into a mushroom.

even in the heat of summer, these are worth turning the oven on for

Really, most any mixture works. I normally would “see what I have” then adjust my plans accordingly. I like to mince the ingredients up finely, then stir them together and spoon into the ‘caps. Sometimes, though, I don’t. This is a great type of recipe: there really aren’t any rules. Alright, one rule: if you use cheese, put it on top. That way it will melt and be a sort of “lid” for the rest of the ingredients in your little mini-casserole dish.

Cook at about 300-350 degrees ferenheit, for about 20-30 minutes… ’til “done”!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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