Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cranberry Upside Down Skillet Cake (Vegan and Low Sugar)

Hello people.  How have you been?  My apologies for being so slow to add content these last few weeks.  I've been busy busy taking care of the gym, running, studying fran├žais, making my debut as a back up dancer in the Montreal Burlesque Festival (what? see photo below) and planning my wedding (it's going to be vegan, don't tell my family!).  It drives me a little crazy not to be able to work on more food projects, what with the market being in full swing and all.  But what can you do?  Seasons come and seasons go.  Part of the beauty of trying to eat locally grown produce is that you appreciate it all the more, knowing it'll only be around for a handful of months when it's at its peak.  Peaking right now?  Cranberries.  $2/pound at Jean Talon.   I had a chance to pick some up and make this cake yesterday, and couldn't be more pleased with the results.

I've actually never used fresh cranberries before.  My family was a cranberry-sauce-in-a-can kind of family.  Plop a big cylinder of canned cranberry jelly on to a plate at Thanksgiving, slice it up and call it good.  So what was I to do with these lovely cranberry gems?  Internet searches came up mostly with sugar overloads and heavy use of the usual boring cake ingredients; white flour, eggs, butter...yawn.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thai Inspired Cucumber Peanut Salad

This concoction was inspired by a recipe in Sanjeev Kapoor's How to Cook Indianwhich was featured by Heidi Swenson on  Must give credit where credit is due.  My contribution was to take it in a Thai direction by changing the dressing, axing the coriander, adding a whole bunch of Thai Basil, and serving it up next to some jasmine rice.  I also played with the ingredient ratios.

I had the privilege of serving this recently at a, how shall I say it, stimulating Burlesque Workshop led by BonBon Bombay, and The Lady Josephine.   We made pasties.  My life will never be the same.  I also got to serve this to a young friend on her 21st birthday yesterday.  Warms me heart.  While both occasions were lovely, neither was particularly conducive to food photography, so please forgive my poorly lit "money shot." 

Stevia Lime-Aid, Party of One

Alright people, there is nothing fancy to see here, just a make-it-in-30-seconds drink.  I often find myself getting into trouble in the middle of the afternoon when I'm not actually hungry, but somehow how end up eating for sport.  I don't know how it happens.  I go into the kitchen to look for a pen, and emerge two hours later dazed, confused, peanut butter in my hair, hummus in my teeth, dinner appetite spoiled, afternoon obligations shirked, it's crazy.

I'm convinced that this usually happens because I'm just friggin thirsty.  Today, in an attempt to stave off the demons, I made this delightfully refreshing drink, and thought I'd share it with you.  For those of you who haven't heard of stevia yet, it's a perennial shrub, otherwise known as sweetleaf or sugarleaf.  Depending on where you live, you can probably grow it in your back yard.  It's wonderfully sweet and has been used for centuries in other parts of the world, but only recently in the US.  There's some pretty juicy controversy on the topic, mainly about the FDA banning it because of pressure from the sugar industry.  Shocking! (Google it for yourself, there are too many interesting articles for me to pick one to link to.)

Stevia is beautiful because it can be used in its natural state, it's cheap, it doesn't force anyone to produce a cash crop for foreign consumers at the expense of being able to grow food for themselves, and, probably most excitingly for most people, it's non-caloric.  What?  That's right, it's a natural plant that doesn't require refining, doesn't spike your blood sugar, and doesn't get stored as fat in your system.  Yes, please.