Archive | January, 2011

I can’t eat what now?

31 Jan

I went to a Chinese doctor/herbalist/acupuncturist to see if they could help me get rid of the eczema that I developed last summer. It was an interesting experience. The doctor seemed like a sweet lady, but spoke no English, so a translator sat with us.

She asked me a series of questions, and put her finger on my wrists one at a time.

“Are you hands and feet cold often?”

“Yes, all the time”

“Do you have joint pain?”

“Yes, constantly.”

“Is your face warm a lot?”


Funny how she could determine all of that by just looking at my wrists, tongue and face. She prescribed me some herbal concoction to drink twice daily for three weeks and when I come back, she’s going to test my blood.

She said that she thinks I have some auto-immune problems, which makes sense, since my cold allergy was first misdiagnosed as Lupus and I’m allergic to everything.

Anyways, the point of this post…the doctor also gave me a list of things to avoid eating:

– Fish/shellfish (ok, fine)
– Red meat (not a problem, I rarely eat it)
– Alcohol (enh, kinda sucks)
– Spicy food (BRUTAL)
– Sweet stuff, ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE (she circled it AND starred it)


It’s almost here…

28 Jan

I finally caved and bought a real camera. It’s a Canon EOS 550D. It means that I’ll be able to take better photos of my food and hopefully Foodgawker will end it’s awful habit of rejecting my submissions.

Mind you, I’ve only submitted three so far.

The pain.

The pain.

Now I’m going to need to learn how to work the camera…

Rolled Oats? Psh, you must be joking!

11 Jan

Curse the day when oats started becoming pounded and processed! I was recently introduced to Irish Steel-Cut Oats, and I won’t ever go back to the flat stuff. Never, I say!

I will gladly sacrifice the 40 minutes cooking time (for three days worth of breakfasts) for it. I will gladly pay more to never, ever have to eat the gloopy, starchy, clumpy gray matter of my youth.

So, let me tell you about my take on THE BEST PORRIDGE EVER.

Oats in their purest form!

1 cup Irish Steel-Cut Oats (also called “pinhead” oats)
2 cups of coconut water (available in most health food shops)
2 cups water
1.5 tsp sea salt
Maple syrup (to taste)
Non-dairy milk (to taste)
Pomegranate seeds

1. Bring the waters to a brisk boil and then sprinkle the oats in while stirring
2. Stir often for 5 or so minutes until the starches start to release and the oats get a bit thicker
3. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes (stir a few times) – then add the salt and stir
4. Simmer for 10 more minutes…
5. When oats are creamy and all the water is absorbed, stir in about 1/2 – 1 cup non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened almond milk), drizzle over maple syrup (to taste), a dash or two of nutmeg, and some pomegranate seeds

Dream Porridge, hellooooooo....

And here’s what the coconut water we get here in Amsterdam looks like:

Thanks to Roger Ebert for tweeting about this!

1 cup of oats yields about 3 breakfasts for me. Keeps well in the fridge for a few days; just microwave for a couple minutes and voila – instant oats 🙂

Cardamom, Coconut and Maple Challah

4 Jan

One of my resolutions for 2011 is to bake more bread. This will be a lot easier this year after the purchase of my Kitchenaid mixer.

This bread is my most successful to date…but I’ve only attempted it twice so far (brioche = FAIL, white soda bread = edible but not amazing).

I used Rachel Allen’s recipe for Cardamom Bread and modified it quite a bit. I was a bit worried when the description called this an “eggy” bread, and to add “eggs” to the mix, but only listed one egg in the ingredient list. Most challah breads call for three eggs, but since I was adding maple syrup too, I ended up using 2 medium eggs.

Another tip. If you, like me, have a terribly drafty house/apartment/igloo, I suggest putting your dough in a warm oven to rise. You can do this after you’ve cooked something and turned the heat off, or, you can put it on the lowest temperature possible for 15 minutes, turn it off, and then put your bowl o’ dough in.

I’ve also used a warm dryer before.

Cardamom, Coconut and Maple Challah

125 ml + 175 ml warm water
75 g unsalted butter
50 g + 1 tsp white/caster sugar
1.5 tsp dried yeast or 15g fresh yeast or 7g sachet of fast-active yeast
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp freshly ground cardamom seeds (from apx. 28 pods)
650 – 700g plain flour, sifted

1. Butter/oil or silpat a baking tray
2. Place 125 ml warm water and butter in a saucepan and bring to the boil. When butter is melted, pour into a large bowl to cool
3. In a measuring jug/pyrex, mix the teaspoon of caster sugar with 60ml of the warm water and the yeast and allow to stand for 5 min until frothy (I do this even with quick-acting, though you can skip it if you want)
4. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, the 50g sugar, the maple syrup, coconut and the salt. Add the remaining warm water and mix until blended
5. When the butter mixture has cooled but is still warm, add the yeast mixture, the egg mixture and the ground cardamom to the bowl. Stir until blended.
6. Add 650g flour to the mix and transfer to a mixer if you have one. Use the paddle attachment to mix until flour is incorporated. If you don’t have a mixer, mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated.
7. If you have a mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead for 10 minutes. If the dough isn’t slapping around the bowl after 3-4 minutes, add a bit more flour until it stops sticking to the bowl. If you don’t have a mixer, knead by hand for 10 minutes. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky
8. Place dough in an oiled/buttered bowl, and cover with cling film or a clean tea towel. Put in a warm, draft free place for 2 hours or until doubled in size
9. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius or 356 farenheit
10. Knock back the dough into the bowl and turn it onto a lightly floured surface to knead a few times
11. Separate the dough into three equal balls, and roll each ball with your hand into a tube that’s about the length of your forearm; braid and tuck ends under
12. Place on baking tray and cover with a clean tea towel for 20-30 minutes or until doubled in size
13. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Take it out of the oven and carefully lift the loaf, if the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, it’s done
14. Rub with butter (you can also add maple syrup here), dust with flour, and voila.

Fresh from the oven

I recommend smearing it with your favourite jam…this is the strawberry freezer jam I made in the summer:

...I really need to get a digital slr!


Resolutions – I’m making them

3 Jan

I hate New Year’s Eve more than I hate Dutch bureaucracy and ham. I hate those two things a lot.

This year, I hated NYE because we had a mass exodus of our friends leaving Amsterdam this year…it was particularly felt on a ra-ra party night. Luckily, our friends that decided to stay in Amsterdam (for now) had us over for a quiet night of curry and booze and fireworks on the rooftop terrace. My kinda friends!

I decided to make resolutions this year. Here they are:

– Get out of overdraft, finally!
– Learn how to take better photos of my food (so foodgawker stops rejecting me)
– Watch significantly less TV so that I can:
– Read more books
– Listen to more music
– Finish my creative projects
– Master InDesign and improve my Photoshop skills
– Start Dutch lessons
– Become a masterful baker of bread!**
– Get enough craft-stuff going so I can sell it on Queen’s Day (a massive city-wide party/yard sale in April)

** It’s currently just past midnight and I’ve got a cardamom coconut maple challah baking in the oven! It smells GOOOOOOOD! Photos coming!