Saturday, December 17, 2011

NoSugarVember: Could You Go a Month Without Sugar?

When Natalie's suggestion of NoSugarVember popped up on Twitter, I was already four weeks into a no-sugar experiment. In October I had decided to avoid sugar and sweeteners of every kind, including fruit. I had been reading a lot about sugar over the past six months and becoming more and more convinced about the merits of quitting sugar. October had not gone well, though, since I had been sick for two long weeks, spent a week on holiday, and celebrated my birthday. I felt no regret about eating sugar on my birthday, obviously, but the other slip-ups were demotivating.

Discovering #NoSugarVember on Twitter encouraged me to get back to my sugar-free experiment. (I didn't follow Natalie's guidelines exactly since I already had a routine established, however broken. For example, I did not eat any fruit, but did allow myself milk and vegetables such as sweet potatoes and corn, which have some sugar.) It was a month of great success, for the most part.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sunrise Breakfast

For my birthday this year I got the most amazing present - a sunrise breakfast with my husband as part of our holiday to Bali, Indoneisa. We were staying at a hotel with beautiful beach frontage, and he arranged for us to have a sunrise breakfast on the last day of our stay. The day before it happened, I found myself wondering, What would be served at an intimate table for two at sunrise?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Edible Gift: Hot Chocolate on a Stick

I like to give small gifts to my colleagues at Christmas. I usually want to thank about 40 or 50 people at work who have contributed to my year - fellow maths teachers, office staff, and friendly colleagues. I'm on a budget, so 40 bottles of wine is ruled out as a gift idea! But handmade gifts are usually reasonably cheap to make. They involve a bit more time, though. And people are grateful for something handmade because they realise that it took time to make.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Sugar-Free Experiment - and Pumpkin and Almond Loaf

The more I read about sugar, the more convinced I am that I should give up sugar. So I decided I would during October and November, as an experiment. I wanted to see if I would have more energy and fewer cravings. Don't dismiss the idea of quitting sugar! Read on to find out more.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Visit to a Tea Plantation in Yangshuo, China

I recently accompanied a school trip to Yangshuo, a town in an agricultural area of southwest China in the Guangxi province. Together with 48 students and three other staff, I climbed, biked, hiked, and kayaked through the gorgeous rural scenery and walked through bustling, dusty chaos of the town. One highlight for me was a visit to the Qi Xian Feng Peak tea plantation, on a hilltop outside the town. We had a tour, picked tea, and drank tea in the traditional way. I even got to pour the tea for the group!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just Food by James E. McWlliams - Examining Food Miles

Do you know where the food you eat comes from? Is it produced near to where you live? Is your food produced in a way that is energy efficient?

When we stop to think about it, we generally agree that we want our food supply to be sustainable and ethical. When we lived in the UK I subscribed to a brilliant organic fruit and veg box from a local farm that was delivered weekly. I had milk delivered by my local milkman and I tried to shop either at the farmers' market or by choosing British foods at the supermarket. Since moving to Hong Kong, though, I have had a few problems with buying local food.

I wrote before about buying milk in Hong Kong - there were no good options for me. In the months since that post my husband and I have still been trying to find good quality milk. A lot of the time we resort to milk that is flown here from great distances: Australia or the US. This troubles me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekend Links #25

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--The University of California at Berkely has been running a course this semester called Edible Education. All the lectures have been videoed and are available online for free. Listen to lectures by Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, and others.
--A review of the film Toast, about food writer Nigel Slater's childhood (from Lettuce Eat Kale). I am very much looking forward to seeing this.
--Ten tips to manage mindless eating (from Casual Kitchen). What strategies do you have (or need)?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Ideas

All the Americans around me are getting excited for Thanksgiving this week! Here are a few ideas for Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Business Cards for Simply Cooked

I have ordered some new business cards today using the superb service from Moo. The card stock they use is heavy and glossy and the print quality is excellent. I have used them before and loved the results. Last week I ran out of Simply Cooked cards so I decided that it was time to order new ones with rounded corners. And I am thrilled that this time they include QR codes!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks - Recipes with Tea

I have been a proud Daring Cook for several years and it is my absolute pleasure to host the group this month! This month I challenged the Daring Cooks to make a savoury recipe with tea.

I have always enjoyed learning new skills and trying new recipes with the Daring Cooks. They are always so inventive, so I gave them free rein to make one of my three recipes (below) or cook any other recipe with tea. They were able to choose to use black, green, or herbal tea. And there were so many great ideas! I am very grateful for the chance to host the Cooks and thrilled to enjoy what they came up with.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chickpeas

This month for the Secret Recipe Club I have been assigned to the lovely blog Cooking with Chopin, Living with Elmo. Ginny, who writes it, has two young boys and the recipes are simple but inventive. I immediately fixated on her "sneaky" chickpea chocolate chip cookies. Ginny says that she likes to sneak in some healthy stuff to her baked goods, which is exactly what I love to do. But only if the taste is still good. In fact, I like my cookies to taste like cookies first and healthy second. Which is what these amazing chickpea-stuffed cookies were.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spiced by Dalia Jurgensen

The subtitle of Spiced reads, "A pastry chef's true stories of trials by fire, after-hours exploits, and what really goes on in the kitchen". With a recommendation by Anthony Bourdain on the cover ("Great insider stuff and a valuable addition to the annals of first-preson culinary history"), I have to admit I was not expecting great things from this book. First, because I dislike Bourdain and find him unnecessarily abrasive. Secondly, I quit sugar early in October, so pasty chef tales didn't seem like a good idea. But in the spirit of trying new things, and since Spiced by Dalia Jurgensen was the Kitchen Reader pick for October, I ordered a copy and gingerly picked it up. It turns out that I was engrossed in Spiced after the first chapter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10 Ways to Encourage Conversations and Comments on Your Blog

I recently sat in on an enlightening twitter chat about gaining comments on your blog by following along with the hashtag #blogchat. The discussion included some very thoughtful and experienced bloggers, as well as lots of newbies and everyone in between. We were talking about promoting conversation on your blog. Here are some of the ideas I found most useful. (There are certainly lots of things for me to learn!)

1. People will comment when there is something worth talking about. Try posting about topics you know your readers will find interesting and want to talk about. Invite them to respond by asking "What do you think?"

@Stevefogg I think that conversation can only happen if the blog post is something worth talking about

@Jenica704 Creating talkable content means knowing your audience.

@patricksplace I encourage people to disagree. Things are much more interesting that long as everyone is respectful.

@samfiorella Ask yourself: Is your blog an answer blog or a conversation blog?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simply Cooked's Facebook Page

I'm thrilled to announce that Simply Cooked now has a Facebook page. Those who like the page get to see updates in their news feed and interact with other readers. Please head over there and check it out!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

8 Strange Potato Chip Flavours That You Might Not Want to Eat

I have been travelling in Bali recently. (More about that in another post, including the Balinese cooking class we went on!) In Asia I have learned that the flavours people consider normal in snack foods vary around the world. For your pleasure, I have been snapping with my phone in grocery stores when I see unusual flavours!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Weekend Links #24

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--A useful post about speeding up weeknight dinner preparation (from The Kitchn). There are lots of good ideas in the comments.
--Why you should be making your holiday cookie dough now, and freezing it (from The Kitchn, again!).
--Mark Bittman takes on the common statement that "junk food is cheaper than cooking at home" (from the New York Times). What does it cost to feed a family of four at McDonald's and at home?
--I want to get a copy of Ruhlman's Twenty - a new cookbook whose thesis is that there are twenty basic techniques to master to be a good cook. The book includes 100 recipes and lots of photos for each technique (from Michael Ruhlman).
--Furthermore, there are almost 200 cookbooks coming out before Christmas. Here's a list of most of them (from The Eater). It includes one Hong Kong book (Hong Kong and Macau Magic) and a culinary history of Canada (Canadians at Table). I bet the list has a holiday present for every foodie.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spicy Split Pea Dip

As part of this month's Secret Recipe Club I was assigned the blog Ilke's Kitchen. Ilke is a lovely Turkish lady who has moved to the southern United States. She writes recipes for Turkish food and other dishes that she makes at home. I was engrossed by her inventive ideas, beautiful pictures, and engaging stories.

I made this split pea dip to form part of a casual tapas meal with friends. It's smooth yet chunky, kind of like the best hummus you have tasted. It's got a spicy edge but not sharp. It's a simple recipe that I'm bound to adapt again.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin - and Sweet Potato Pancakes with Preserved Black Beans

Dear Laurie Colwin,

You are everything I want to be in a writer. Thank you for your book, Home Cooking. As I was reading it I couldn't help circling inventive words and jotting exclamation points in the margins at your turns of phrase. I wish I could craft opening lines like this one:
As a child, while my sister busied herself mooshing the chocolate candies to see which had the best centres, I was happily licking the salt off the pretzels and leaving their sticky bodies on the rug.
And I wish I had the guts to use your words to tell some people that I think your stuffing tastes like sawdust flavoured with sage and it has the consistency of lumpy library paste. I think they might take notice!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Frozen Banana Cream Pie (Sugar-Free)

I am coming closer to giving up sugar. I have been like a toddler throwing down a toy and then crying for it back again. Every time I get close to making a decision to quit sugar I start to binge eat it. For example, at work I keep a stash of chocolate fingers as rewards for students. On Wednesday afternoon I brought them into our office after everyone else had gone home. I set them on my desk and ate twenty, at least. I know because they were individually wrapped; there were two handfuls of wrappers to throw out after I was done.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Links #23

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--I would definitely get these glass food storage boxes if I lived near Crate & Barrel. Glass is better for your food (no plastics leaching into your lunch).
--All about quinoa, which I learned is actually a seed and not a grain (from Peru Delights).
--Sarah Wilson has written a book about her journey to quitting sugar, which includes an eight week program to do it yourself. This might be the final push for me, hmm. Trouble is, every time I get close to doing it, I go on a sugar binge.
--I started eating sardines recently. (So far it's been just the canned version.) They are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Here's a list of the omega 3 fishes (from Readers Digest). By the way, sardine recipes will be gratefully received. :)
--An article about cultured meat and the environmental, health, and welfare issues behind meat eating (from Small Bites).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Broccoli Recipes: Best of the Blogosphere

The first edition of best of the blogosphere contained eleven stunning and inventive carrot recipes. Next is broccoli, beloved by many, hated by a few. I've listed the best broccoli recipes here, including char-grilled broccoli below (by Deeba at Passionate about Baking). What can you do to make broccoli a favourite in your family? Try out some new ideas - no plain steaming here! And I hope you will leave an idea or link in the comments to your favourite broccoli dish.

--A raw broccoli salad with Asian dressing. And advice about which veggies you should and shouldn't eat raw (from Choosing Raw).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pan-Crisped Devilled Eggs

I really enjoy getting to know new bloggers. My favourite hobby is hopping around from food blog to food blog, leaving comments and looking at all the great recipes and photographs. This month I had the privilege of meeting Debbie from The Friday Friends as part of the Secret Recipe Club. Her food blog covers savoury and sweet recipes, with some books thrown in for good measure. I found this recipe for pan-crisped devilled egg salad on her blog and was intrigued.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Strawberry and Nutella Muffins (Whole Grain Baking)

What could be better than strawberries and Nutella together? These whole wheat muffins are stuffed with strawberries and each one contains a dollop of smooth chocolate and hazelnut spread. I adapted this from the wonderful blog Two Peas & Their Pod; the main difference is that my muffins are whole wheat; theirs use white flour. To accomplish this without drying out the recipe, I added some orange juice. It's indiscernible at the end, but it keeps the whole grain flour moist. And the acid in the juice means there's no need for buttermilk, which is good, because it's too complicated for me to buy here in Hong Kong.

These muffins were set upon with eager hands just after baking. If you don't have Nutella, what else could you use? You could just put a square of dark chocolate in each muffin, halfway up the cup. Or peanut butter, perhaps?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Weekend Links #22

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--An analysis of the recent media coverage of Bill Clinton's veganism and other nutrition in the media (from Small Bites).
--A five part series about food photography by Gourmande in the Kitchen caught my eye, thanks to my brother sending me a link. I love the pictures which show balance in food photos, seen in part two.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

How ironic, that in August I have been eating alone so much more frequently than usual. I ate a lot of airline meals while travelling alone for over a month; airline meals are described in this book as eating alone in a crowd, at the world's only tables designed for one. And now Anthony is away on a two and a half week trip and I am eating alone at home. While eating these recent solitary meals, I have been reading Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone, edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler. It is our August Kitchen Reader book, chosen by Anni of anjeme.

Whether by misanthropy or necessity, we all often find ourselves eating alone. The essays in this collection cover those who eat at restaurants solo, and those who fix food at home. There's a fair amount of discussion about why we tend to find eating alone especially uncomfortable. Restaurants, first of all, are not at all designed for a single eater. They revolve around the idea of company, mostly. One writer in this book (author Steve Almond) goes as far to say that all eating should revolve around others: "Eating alone isn't natural.... I happen to believe that humans were born to feed each other." But quite a few writers celebrate the idea of eating alone, whether in public or private.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Whole Wheat Courgette (Zucchini) Buns

If this blog had a different title, it would probably be: For the Love of Veg. I do love everything about vegetables. They are so versatile and tasty. I try to fit vegetables into everything. This month's Fresh from the Oven challenge was perfect for me: bread with vegetables. I made these hole wheat courgette rolls and I want to make them many more times in the future.

However, I had a major mishap along the way; shall we say it was an extreme case of "user error"? It was my own fault. My buns were much too big for the pan I had prepared, and as a result they didn't bake as quickly as expected. But I was too intent on following the recipe directions and I took them out of the oven only half baked. Sadly, I didn't notice this until an hour later, when they were cool. What was I to do at that stage?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Red Spinach Pancakes

I'm home alone for a little while as my husband has left on his summer holiday. He is going to the UK for a wedding and to see his friends and family. I, meanwhile, am here in Hong Kong, working again. The beginning of the school year is busy, and I am spending late nights at work. I don't have much time for making meals. And now that Anthony is gone I don't feel as much motivation, either! Producing a big meal seems a waste. Instead I'm eating simple things such as these vegetable pancakes.

With the hubby away, I also like to try out new vegetables. Check out this vibrant red spinach.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Weekend Links #21

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback. This time, the links are heavily recipe focused. What new recipes have caught your eye?

food reading links:
--Do you need to tweet, check the internet, and fiddle with your phone/computer/tablet while on holiday? Dianne Jacob offers some thoughts. (Bonus: baking tips and pictures from an amazing baker's kitchen.)
--An article about how to blog like a journalist, based on a talk given by Fiona Beckett at the UK Food Blogger Connect conference (from Food & Wine Finds).

recipe links:
--This tempeh stir-fry recipe looks easy and delicious. The post also explains why you should choose tempeh over tofu (from Healthy Green Kitchen).
--A recipe (a method, really) for dried cranberries (from
--Strawberry pizza with goats' cheese and walnuts (from Not Martha).
--MKF Fisher's instructions for how to fry the perfect egg: it's extremely easy to do (from The KitchenMaid).
--Pink and white marbled cupcakes, fittingly called "blushing beauties" (from Spoonful of Delight). There is a tiny bit of beetroot puree in the pink batter.
--This Indonesian shredded fruit salad is made with rose apples, jicama, pineapple, and green mangoes. The dressing is lime, sugar, tamarind, and chilli. I can't wait to try it (from Mochachoclata-Rita).
--Here's a video of 15 minute ice cream, made in a zip lock bag. (Have you seen this before? Am I slow?)

off-topic links:
--"How do I know if I have enough ideas for a blog?" Daniel at Quick Writing Tips gives a good answer and also some great advice for cranking out more content.

What engrossing things have you seen around the internet?

Or tell me... What is your best blog post these last two weeks?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mango and Ginger Smoothie

This was a nice, cool, creamy drink for a summer afternoon. I was home alone, working and puttering around. I paused for a break, drank this smoothie, and sat on the couch, gazing on the sparkling sea outside.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chickpea and Carrot Salad with Japanese-Inspired Carrot Dressing

When I go food shopping I try to always pick up something new (to me). Otherwise it can be much too boring to go shop for food time after time. I recently came home with a little bottle of shichimi togarashi, a Japanese spice blend made with seaweed.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

weekend links #20

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--I am always looking for ways to have space for more cookbooks in my kitchen. This post on kitchen design (from The Kitchn) has a photo of a brilliant shelving solution.
--Some nutritionist talk that it's best to avoid (from Small Bites).

recipe links:
--A recipe for eggless mayonnaise that uses silken tofu instead (from Foodista).

--Raw and sugar-free banana cream pie that looks incredible (recipe and image from Spoonful of Sugar Free). I have already made this once and the crust twice.
--Lime and garlic topped sweet potato fries (from This Mama Cooks!) sound like winners; I would make these and leave out the agave nectar since I think sweet potatoes are deliciously sweet enough.

off-topic links:
--How to create an emergency document (from Lifehacker). This is on the list of grown-up things you really should do. Along with learning to poach an egg and invest for your retirement.
--A useful post on how to start organising when life is total chaos around you (from The Organizing Junkie).

What engrossing things have you seen around the internet?

Or tell me... What is your favourite blog post (of your own or someone else) these last two weeks?

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen is an easy-reading, fluffy novel about Josey, a young woman who lives with and looks after her aging, cantankerous mother. Her daily excitement is to day dream about the handsome mailman as he arrives with the mail. This book is chick-lit to the core! The Sugar Queen was our July Kitchen Reader selection and was chosen by Karen of Shortbread.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ginger and peach muffins (whole grain baking)

I think peaches may be my favourite summer fruit. And summer is the perfect time for eating juicy peaches in every way possible! How about these ginger and peach muffins? They are made with oat flour and whole wheat flour.

Monday, July 25, 2011

carrot recipes: best of the blogosphere

Carrots are my favourite vegetable. They are ridiculously cheap, very versatile, and oh so tasty. I love their crunch and sweetness. For about three months this year I had a daily Google alert for blog postings with carrot recipes. I am pleased to report that there are some fantastic carrot recipes out there! (And I promise that none of them are carrot cake.)

This stunning image is from the Babble recipe below.

--Inventive carrot and maple souffle (from Reluctant Entertainer).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

aubergine fries

Aubergine (eggplant) has a slightly odd texture, don't you think? When it's sauteed or roasted I find that it can be a squidgy: the skin squeaks on my teeth while the innards give way in a ballooning mush. So in my quest to find a different texture for aubergine I came upon these fries. Success: these aubergine fries are not mush-like at all.

Monday, July 18, 2011

creating blog community -- and party pinwheels

How do you increase community connections on your blog? This is a key question for successful bloggers. We try to create a feeling of camaraderie here on our blogs and recently I have felt very much befriended and involved with others on the web. One strategy that has helped me was joining blog events like this one, the Secret Recipe Club. My assignment this month was Jam Hands, written by Ali. She uses some incredible methods for improving the community on her blog--simple ideas that are effective, too. (Oh, and she makes some mighty tasty party pinwheels.)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

weekend links #19

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--All about the quest to improve airline meals (from the Guardian). I'm eating a lot of these this month.
--Criteria when shopping for props for food photography (from Still Life With). Prop shopping has become a favourite hobby, much to my husband's consternation.
--Nathan Myhrvold's TED talk about his cookbook Modernist Cuisine. It's the only cookbook I've ever heard of with differential equations. It illustrates and explains the physics and chemistry behind types of cooking, with photographs of food in the act of being cooked.

recipe links:
--I am utterly taken with the idea of a peanut butter beef burger. This is actually a link to a restaurant review, so now I need to find the recipe for such a thing (from Suzie the Foodie).

--I am seeing bacon recipes everywhere at the moment, both sweet and savoury. For instance, bacon slices dipped in balsamic reduction and chocolate (from My Cup of Creativi-tea), a bacon swizzle stick for Bloody Mary cocktails (from Tastes Better with Friends), and bacon cinnamon rolls (from Jam Hands). The picture above of bacon swizzle sticks is used with permission from Tastes Better with Friends.
--There is a chance I might like avocado made into a dessert, since, you know I do like beetroot brownies. I think this avocado and grapefruit cream sounds interesting, or how about this chocolate avocado mousse? (Both from Cooking Books.)

off-topic links:
--I fancy me some Ctl-Alt-Del coffee mugs (from Shareables).

What engrossing things have you seen around the internet?

Or tell me... What is your favourite blog post (of your own or someone else) these last two weeks?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

buckwheat spätzle--German pasta

Spätzle is an easy pasta to make which uses flour and eggs. The imperfectly shaped pasta are moulded by hand and can be called "rustic"!

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for spätzle and fresh egg pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

whole grain onion flatbread

Possibly the easiest flatbread ever, and also 100% whole grain. Just whisk together, let it rest while the oven warms up, then pop it in. Simple.

Now, equally easy: describing something as 100% whole grain when it is, in fact, all whole grain. Or saying that a colleague gave 100% effort when they did actually do so. Why do some people say that they gave 110% effort?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

snapshots around my kitchen

I will soon be leaving home to go on a four week trip. This will be a really long time away from my husband and my kitchen. I will be able to talk to my husband on the phone and Skype, but, sadly, you can't chat over Skype with your kitchen. I have realised that I will miss it--even though I frequently berate its tiny size and many limitations. Here are a few shots from around my kitchen.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

weekend links #18

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--"What does a 2000-calorie diet look like?" from Eating Well. This is an informative article. But don't assume that the pictures are representative.
--Where can I get myself a ginger beer plant as a pet? It's like a sourdough starter but for ginger beer and it sounds intriguing (from The Guardian)!
--Here's a Channel 4 Food article about the best bread blogs, and it features our very own Fresh from the Oven! Neat-oh.

recipe links:
--How to make pizza dough with vegetables instead of dough: use potato or cauliflower (from LRX Cuisine and Your Lighter Side). I think you could also use spaghetti squash or onions in a similar way.

--Seared watermelon slabs (pictured above): a summer appetiser. Intriguing idea (from Herbivoracious).

off-topic links:
--We all know the two main components to managing our weight and health: eat healthy food and exercise regularly. The third essential behaviour is not as obvious: get enough sleep (from LifeHacker).
--Beautiful photographs of icebergs, including a video of an iceberg rolling (from TED).
--Mellissa at A Fit and Spicy Life recently provided me with some important wisdom about being more authentic and less "perfect" online. Good on her for her transparency; her humble cheeriness is very affirming.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

apple cake (whole grain baking)

Birthdays are a time for a big celebration! This blog and my day-to-day eating habits are both 95% healthy; but there are times when a treat is in order. This cake still has a few healthy features, as you may spot, but it is very sweet and definitely celebratory!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton is an expertly written memoir. In it, Hamilton gives insight into her fond childhood memories and her long wanderings before becoming a New York restaurant owner. It was our June Kitchen Reader selection, chosen by Aileen of Pharma Foodie.

Usually our Kitchen Reader books make we want to rush into the kitchen and start cooking. With this book, I was strangely uninspired to cook. Instead I found myself happy to contemplate the ideas of family and belonging, and to contact my brothers more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

sea bass with raisins and saffron

"The first bite is with the eyes," my husband teases--and this is an ugly dish. I freely admit it, this pasta and fish combination do not look as good as they taste. This Nigella Lawson recipe looked a lot better when she made it! But the four of us ate it and agreed that it wasn't "ugly in the mouth". It certainly looked terrible while it was still in the pan....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

weekend links #17

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--Does being a food blogger lead to a book deal? An article from The Guardian exploring the idea of bloggers versus "expert" book writers.

recipe links:
--Pizza dough made with white wine; what an interesting idea (from Suzie the Foodie)!
--Four new ways to drink gin and tonic (from The Kitchn). G&T is my favourite after-work drink. I think the lime and cilantro version might be enjoyable.
--This cottage cheese and mint flatbread sounds exceptionally easy to make (from Lite Bite).
--Chocolate chip cookies that are gluten- and sugar-free (except for the chocolate chips)--sweetened with bananas (from Gluten Free A-Z Blog).

off-topic links:
--I've been researching camera handbags. I really want a girly bag for my camera and laptop. VeraLana posted a great list of women's camera bag options. At the moment, I'm leaning towards an epiphanie bag called Clover.
--An article about the correctness (or lack thereof) of meta-anaylses of scientific studies. If you read only one article about scientific studies, this is my suggestion (today, anyway!).
--Why we find things annoying and how to cope (from Sarah Wilson). An insightful and funny article.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

creamy potato salad - but with no mayo!

I do like potato salad as a side dish, but I hate the mayo-laden monstrosities I sometimes see. Yet there is something comforting about a forkful of creamy potato that I find irresistible. So I developed this recipe to fill the spud-shaped hole in my belly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

rainbow salad with corn, carrots, and tomato

This salad is so brightly coloured you almost need sunglasses to look at the picture above! This gorgeous salad is my part of the Secret Recipe Club. All the blogger participants are assigned, secretly, to one another. This month I have been enjoying the food blog It's Yummy to My Tummy, and I've chosen a recipe from Heather, the mother behind the blog, to recreate here. She called it Shamrock Salsa, but I saw it as more of a side dish salad. I've renamed it in honour of its full spectrum of bright colours.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

cucumber salad with garlic and mint

Cucumber is fresh and crunchy, the perfect accompaniment to roast meat or grilled fish; it also belongs stuffed in a lamb kebab. I am attracted to recipes like this one because I adore the thriftiness of mundane vegetables such as cucumber. (I find myself gravitating towards all the dull vegetables: carrots, cucumber, and broccoli, for example. I like to think they can be exciting, too. Psychology, anyone?)

Monday, June 6, 2011

lime and goji berry quick bread with white chocolate drizzle

I am pleased to be participating in the Paper Chef cooking challenge. It resembles a lot of our daily cooking conundrums: looking at a disparate group of ingredients and wondering what to make. The Paper Chef challenge assigns four randomly picked ingredients and food bloggers try to make something out of them.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

weekend links # 16

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--A list of cookbooks recently published by Hong Kong chefs (from Asia Tatler).
--Graph: money spent on food vs. ability to cook (from Indexed).
--I recently missed Lima Bean Respect Day. I wish I had known! Think of the themed events I could have planned! :( Keep ahead of the game with this calendar (from Wellness News).

recipe links:
--Spiced coconut spinach (from 101 Cookbooks). This recipe is from a cookbook I actually have. Therefore I can see that I will be making it soon!
--Almond-based yogurt (from Small Bites). I already make my own yogurt but I never thought of trying this. And so I am intrigued.

off-topic links:
--I have been trying out the to-do list software from Remember the Milk. You use tags, location, and searchable lists to keep organised. So far, it's working.
--I've been reading about ways to improve employee satisfaction (from Not that I have any employees. Just because I'm curious.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Salt by Mark Kurlansky--and roasted vegetables with pink Himalayan sea salt

Fortunes have been made and lost over salt; did you know? History is full of the intrigue and economics of salt. Except for in the last hundred years, salt has been one of the most important commodities made and traded around the world. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky chronicles the thread of salt making, buying, and selling through the ages. I read it this month as our May Kitchen Reader selction, chosen by Stacy of Little Blue Hen. Over the course of nearly 500 pages, he covers most of the world for all of recorded history. Read this book and you will have at your fingertips salt trivia for every occasion--including some fascinating tidbits. As a starter, do you know how the word salary is related to that for salt?

Monday, May 23, 2011

lamb kebabs and pitta bread

These minted lamb kebabs convinced me that if I have to choose cuisine from just one region of the world to live on, it would have to be Middle Eastern. When Asha (from Fork Spoon Knife) announced that this month's Velveteers challenge was to make Middle Eastern street food, I was extremely happy. The fresh mint with lamb, on a soft, fresh pitta, with fresh cucumber salad and juicy tomato, topped with yogurt--it's all so fresh!

Monday, May 16, 2011

cauliflower soup: the secret recipe club

I am taking part in a wonderful new blog event: the Secret Recipe Club. Each participant is assigned another blog: this month I have received Jeanette's Healthy Living, a blog that is new to me, but has quickly become a favourite. As part of the Secret Recipe Club, I have been enjoying reading Jeanette's blog, and trying out her cauliflower soup, made with two ingenious ingredients you will never guess!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

weekend links #15

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. I welcome your ideas and feedback.

food reading links:
--Seven ways to eat more veggies (from Stonesoup).
--Is Sugar Toxic? (from the New York Times)
--I'm now following the cooking adventures of Minh, who is learning about his Vietnamese heritage through the kitchen.
--Chinese and Thai cooking classes (in English) by Martha Sherpa, offered in Hong Kong.

recipe links:
--The master bread recipe from the folks behind Artisian/Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (from Kitchen Explorers).
--Chocolate cake made with aubergine (eggplant), a recipe from the book Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood (from her blog). The book is all about baking with vegetables. Sounds great!
--Make ahead this falafel mix and pitta bread (from The Kitchn). Then shape and cook on your chosen weeknight.

off-topic links:
--I've discovered a blog called Healthy Motivation that posts pictures, mostly, that make me want to keep trying to be more healthy. Some of the bodies of the women pictured are amazing!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Five Clever Ways to Use Leftover Rice--Including Brown Rice Pie Crust

My fridge always seems to be filled with a revolving collection of leftover rice. No sooner have I managed to incorporate the remains into a new meal, the shelf refills with more. My husband loves rice so much he sometimes begs for it, and all this leads to eternal remnants. Do you have this problem? Thought so! Let's chat about ways to use up that rice!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

brown rice pancakes

Perhaps tonight you will cook rice for dinner. The leftovers (there always seems to be a bit of rice left over!) will go into the fridge. Then tomorrow morning you have a craving for pancakes for breakfast. Well, you have hit the jackpot with this recipe! It uses cooked rice to make a very satisfying breakfast.

My Life from Scratch by Gesine Bullock-Prado--and whole wheat cream scones

April's Kitchen Reader selection is My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time by Gesine Bullock-Prado, chosen by Shelley of My Little Chickadees. Although I ordered this book in the first few days of the month, delays meant that it arrived on the 28th. Fortunately, it's a slip of a book, and very easy and enjoyable reading. A few epic bus journeys later and it was finished off. My Life from Scratch is a memoir by the sister of Sandra Bullock, who found herself hating her Hollywood job in the Bullock sisters' production company. She finally decided (with her sister's blessing) to leave the glitz for small town Vermont, where she set up a pastry shop. This fascinating book had some magical portions, but also left me unsettled.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

hot cross buns (whole grain baking)

While cleaning through my stored boxes in my parents' basement a couple of years ago I found this little book. My mother had found it at a thrift store and then tucked it into my boxes for me. It's a treasure. It has a selection of Easter breads from around the world, accompanied by charming line drawings, and background stories.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Broccoli Cornbread Muffins

I do love making muffins--those little bite-sized morsels. Sweet ones are good as snacks or breakfast, and savoury ones are great with soup or salad for dinner. These beautiful muffins are golden cornbread on the outside and bright green broccoli on the inside. They would be a great side dish for a luncheon; I can imagine a bit of a surprise when friends bite into them!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

five ways to become a no-excuses runner

This is a picture of me after my morning run yesterday--still red-faced and wind swept. I have been inspired to begin running over the last few months and I've really been helped by other bloggers, including Tina, the food and fitness blogger at Carrots 'N' Cake. Over on my personal blog, I've written about five ways to become a no excuses runner. Please hop over and see what I've learned so far.


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