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community, cooking tips, dinner, diy, recipes

Mussels of a Different Sort

The first time I ever ate a mussel I was at a Movenpick restaurant with my parents. I was a pretty adventurous eater for a 10 year old, but even I was skeptical at first of the dark shelled, black tounged, revolting looking creatures in front of me. But once I tasted one, I was absolutely hooked (not a pun cuz technically mussels aren’t hooked, come on now). I must have eaten 3 whole bowls of the things…at the cost of my obliging parents. Belated thanks, guys!

The only thing better than the first time I ate a mussel, was the first time I ate a PEI mussel. They are impressive in size alone, but the flavour is what really sets them apart. My favourite preparation is the no frills version they serve at the Lighthouse restaurant near West Point beach. Here’s my interpretation.

PEI Style Steamed Mussels:

1. In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, add 1- 2 cm of water.
2. Discard any broken or open mussels.
3. Bring water to boil along with: 

  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, diced

4. Once the broth has reached a boil add mussels immediately.
5. Steam until mussels open, 3-5 minutes.
6. Serve as is, with some bread for dipping. 

Hot Tip: Ditch the fork & use the mussel shell as a utensil. Not at all hip, but totally fun to do. Swearsies.

Am I the only one who has a passion for these bottomfeeders? Give ’em a try & tell me whatcha think!

coffee, cooking tips, diy, recipes

hot town, sweat’n in the city

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area you experienced an early taste of summer yesterday. The good parts: short skirts, popsicles & sunshine. But also the not-so-good: smoggyness, muggyness & sweatyness. Oh the sweatyness

So naturally today I’m sharing one of my favourite iced coffee creations with you. This is a somewhat unique preparation that I stumbled upon one day when I was almost out of coffee and almost out of tea…you see where I’m going with this. In the end I loved how it turned out and have made it time and time again to keep cool while satisfying my fiendish caffeine addiction all summer long.

Tea Infused SpICEd Coffee

I used a 6-cup french press & a 1 quart  mason jar for this recipe.

  • 9 scoops of coursely ground coffee (or 1.5 times your usual amount)
  • 1 ginger teabag**
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • ice
  • dairy or non-dairy milk of choice
  • sweetener (optional)
Directions:
  1. Add coursely ground coffee, cinnamon & the contents of 1 ginger teabag to the bottom of your french press and stir to combine. Add water as usual and brew for at least 5 minutes.
  2. As your coffee is brewing, fill a large mason jar 3/4 of the way with ice.
  3. Once coffee is brewed, pour over ice. Add in your sweetener of choice at this point. If you are using granulated sugar, pour hot coffee directly over individual spoonfuls rather than mixing it all in at once. This will help the sugar to dissolve.
  4. Top off coffee and ice mixture (which will have mostly melted at this point) with your preferred milk.
  5. Pop in the fridge and enjoy with a little extra ice whenever your coffee urge hits.
**I’m sure you could use lots of flavours to infuse your coffee – chai, vanilla rooibus or fruit teas like cherry, pomegranate or blueberry all sound tasty to me. I would avoid anything with notes of citrus.

 

 

diy, healthy treats, recipes

DIY: 5 Minute Jam (Sugar-Free)


Some of the happiest moments of my life were spent  hunched over a bubbling cauldron of sticky sweet strawberry syrup. When I was a kid I used to spend every summer with my grandparents in Prince Edward Island and once each year we’d all make a special trip out to the u-pick strawberry fields. I was always given the task of actually gathering baskets upon baskets of berries (which I relished since it meant I could save and eat fruit at about a 1:1 ratio). Then we’d all return home and I’d spend the rest of the afternoon assisting my grandmother as she sterilized mason jars, measured out ingredients and meticulously scooped off bubbles of pectin from the simmering pot.

Well I am in the city now. Its still months away from strawberry season. And I hardly have 5 minutes to cook dinner let alone 5 hours to make one measely preserve. But that didn’t stop me from creating my own take on homemade jam: bafflingly simple, naturally sweet and guaranteed to make you smile.

Ingredients:

  • 5 dried figs (stems removed)
  • 1 pitted medjool date (or 2-3 smaller honey dates)
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1 cup of water
  • a few drops almond extract (optional but delicious)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

1) Tear dried fruit into smallish pieces and add it along with berries and water to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave fruit and water on high for approximately 2 minutes until figs feel soft and berries have thawed.**

2) Scoop out berries, dried fruit and approx 1/4 of the liquid into a food processor. Pulse until smooth adding more of the liquid as needed. Once your mixture has reached the consistency of a sticky paste, add in the cinnamon and extracts. Pulse again until combined.

**I do this mainly for speed but for a raw version, skip the microwave and soak ingredients overnight.

Makes about 3/4-1 cup of fresh jam. Store in a small glass jar in the fridge for about a week. Adding a little lemon juice will preserve it a little and increase its staying power but you may need to compensate by adding an extra date for sweetness.

Compare this jam to classic Smuckers after the jump.

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budgeting, diy, recipes

DIY: Buckwheat Cornbread

Delicious and naturally gluten free, buckwheat is actually not made from wheat at all. Its actually a fruit seed closely related to rhubarb. Who knew?

This recipe is closer to dense cornbread than sandwich bread, but don’t let that scare you off. A hearty piece of this makes the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of soup or an epic salad. Or a thin slice makes a delicious snack smothered in nut butter or smokey bbq sauce and hummus (best combo).

Adapted from The Edible Perspective

Buckwheat Cornbread

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons buckwheat flour (grind raw buckwheat groats in coffee grinder)
  • 1/2c + 2T cornmeal (I threw this in the coffee grinder too so it would be more like a flour but I don’t think it actually did anything!)
  • 2 eggs OR 1/2 cup egg whites OR 4 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk/soymilk/cow’s milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2t baking powder
  • 2 tbsp mashed sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon oil (or whatever you have on hand, I used sunflower)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (cane sugar, sucanat, etc.)
  • 1 small squeeze of honey OR a teensy pinch of stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cajun seasoning (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease bottom + sides of a 9×9 square pan or line with parchment (I used a normal bread pan)
  2. Stir together ground buckwheat flour, millet flour, (if using add flax with the dry mix too), baking powder, sugar, salt + pepper in a medium sized bowl
  3. In a separate bowl combine water, milk, egg, honey (if using), mashed sweet potato + oil.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry and stir until just combined.
  5. Pour into greased pan, and evenly spread.
  6. Bake for about 42-46min until golden brown.
Hearty, cheap & homemade. SWOON.
diy, recipes

DIY: Smokey BBQ Sauce

  • 1 glug of olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • a few cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground chipotle spice (smoked paprika would also work)
  • a few dashes liquid smoke (I use a vegan variety)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cups veggie broth
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • a couple dashes of hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey OR 1/8 -1/4 teaspoon stevia extract
Directions:
Sautee onion and garlic in oil until soft and fragrant. Add in other ingredients and simmer about 20-30 minutes until it thickens into a nice sauce. I like to blend at the end so flavours combine even more and there are no bits of onion, but this is optional. Make sure to taste at the end and add extra sweetener/hot sauce/smoke until its perfect for you.
**If the mixture doesnt thicken to your liking, just add a little cornstarch mixed with water