Monthly Archives: January 2012

Quick Update

Almost two weeks ago, I started a new job at an engineering firm. A lot has happened since then:

  • I had to redo my petroleum safety course as well as H2S Alive. H2S is nasty stuff that can kill you very easily if you’re not careful.
  • I’ve started working on a gas plant expansion. It’s pretty neat and a very large project, so making the schedule for it is kind of crazy (especially when you don’t know how long things generally take.)
  • I’ve had my work computer crash and lost some work, which I wasn’t impressed with. At least it was only 1.5 weeks of work instead of months. Lesson learned: save everything to the network!
  • We celebrated two different friends 30th birthdays. Mr. Bean is next, so soon it’s time to start scheming about what to do for his.
  • I threw a baby shower for one of my very good friends. It was really cute and everyone seemed to have a good time, so I’m pleased with that. Some pictures of decorations and stuff will come later!
  • I haven’t taken very many photos at all – I’ve been focusing on work, eating, exercise and sleeping, so there isn’t much brain power left for creativity at the moment. Maybe now that the baby shower is over it will get better – I don’t want my camera to start catching cobwebs!

What have you been up to over the last week and a bit?

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Hi Ho It’s Off to Work I Go!

This morning I start  my new job! I don’t know where the time went as it seems like yesterday I announced that I had a job! I’m equal parts nerves and excitement but I’m trying to go in with an open mind and a “I want to learn and do my best” attitude.

As for these photos of the moon, the other night as I was walking home from the train, I looked up at the moon and was blown away. I tried to take a photo with my phone and was sorely disappointed, so the moment I got home, I broke out my camera, zoom lens and tripod.

For others who use their phone cameras a lot, are you happy with the quality of photo they take or is my technique lacking? (Which is quite possible because I got my phone recently and I haven’t used it very often as I usually forget that I have it. haha.)

What’s new and exciting in your life?

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Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free: Healing Chicken Soup

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been flirting with a cold – one day I’m feeling fine and the next like I hit a brick wall. Ugh. Whenever I was sick as a kid (or teenager … or even as an adult, really), my mom would recommend eating homemade chicken soup. There really is something about it that makes you feel just a little bit better and makes your head a little bit clearer when you’re sickly! I remember a few months after I started dating Mr. Bean, he got really sick, so I went over to his house and fed him chicken soup. I don’t remember exactly, but I can pretend that it made him feel much better! (Probably having a doting girlfriend feed you soups helps, too.)

Luckily for me, this soup also works perfectly for this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free challenge, hosted by Maggie at She Let Them Eat Cake, themed “Foods that Heal.” While I don’t really know that much about nutrition or what foods promote healing of the gut or whatever, I do know that chicken soup helps when you’re feeling sick and still tastes great when you’re not!

The biscuits probably aren’t terribly healing, but I love biscuits with chicken soup! This isn’t the first time I’ve made chicken soup and biscuits but this soup uses leftover roast chicken and the biscuits are my adaptation of both biscuits from my mom’s recipe book and from the Joy of Cooking. I think they are still quite light and fluffy and you don’t have to grate the fat into the dry ingredients. (I found that just clumped up anyways, so I was really no further ahead.) Plus, there’s no rolling, so it literally takes about 20 – 25 minutes from start to finish depending on how much they need to cook. I’m definitely going to be making this meal with the leftover soup that I froze once I start working!

Homemade Chicken Soup

Chicken Carcass with some meat left on it – ideally free range organic, but do the best you can
Water
Parsley (and other spices if desired)
Veggies (I used: mushrooms, carrots, celery, peppers, peas and corn)

  1. After you’ve roasted and carved you chicken, place the carcass in your slow cooker. Add enough water to mostly cover the chicken. Add spices like parsley, bay leaves, etc.
  2. Slow cook your chicken soup until the chicken starts to fall apart. I probably let it cook for a full 18- 24 hours. I love cooking soup in my slow cooker as I don’t have to worry about leaving the stove on.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the carcass, bones and meat and place on a plate to cool.
  4. Pour liquid through a sieve into a large pot. If there are any meat chunks left in sieve, feel free to add to soup stock.
  5. Bring the pot up to a boil. Chop up the veggies and add to the soup.
  6. Once the chicken is cool enough, pick off all the meat and put in pot. Discard bones and pour any liquid through sieve into the pot.
  7. Once the veggies are cooked, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve up and enjoy!

This recipe can make a TON of soup depending on the size of chicken and how much water you add. We ended up freezing some for future use in old glass mayonnaise bottles with a piece of wax paper under the lid. Remember to leave ample space for the soup to expand as it freezes so you don’t end up with broken glass in your freezer!

You could add noodles if you want, but noodles and biscuits are too much starch, so no noodles it was!

Gluten and Egg Free Biscuits (can be dairy free, too!)

1 c. brown rice flour
1/3 c. sorghum flour
2/3 c. tapioca starch
1 tsp. xathan gum
1 tbsp. + 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
4 – 5 tbsp. dairy free margarine
3/4 c. + 2 tbsp. almond milk (or other dairy free milk)
1 tsp. lemon juice
Additions – grated old cheddar cheese (Mr. Bean’s favourite), currants, garlic, chives, parsley, etc

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the milk and lemon juice. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  4. Measure in the fat into the dry ingredients and work it through with your fingers until it’s pea sized.
  5. Add in the cheese (or whatever) to the flour mixture.
  6. Using a fork, mix in the milk. The biscuits should be quite wet and sticky but still a very soft dough.
  7. Spoon dough onto cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes (depending on the size of biscuits) until they start to turn golden brown and they don’t squish when touched.
  9. Remove from oven. Wrap biscuits in a towel on a plate or basket and serve immediately.
  10. Enjoy with butter/margarine (Mr. Bean’s favourite) and dip them in the soup or with honey (my favourite).

What’s your favourite”healing” food for when you’re sick?

Shared at: Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Hearth and Soul Hop and Allergy Friendly Fridays.

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Top 11 Recipes of 2011

First off: Happy New Year! I hope that you had a fabulous New Years!

When I think about it, I’m quite happy with most of the recipes I have tried and posted in 2011. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and expanded my repertoire – from making food for the Daniel Fast I did last January to lots of vegan baking and learning more about raw “cooking” through April in the Raw.

I also feel like I improved my food photography – I made the conscious decision to focus on taking photos of the finished product instead of taking photos all throughout the process like I have previously. I felt particularly inspired by Jenn of Jenn Cuisine and by Dario of Food Pixels, especially in the idea of creating an environment for your food instead of just photographing the food by itself.

I’m looking forward to trying even more new things and hopefully continuing to improve my photography!

Now onto my top 11 recipes of 2011 based on page views. Most of them I’m pretty happy with how they turned out and I hope that you will, too!

1. Vegan Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake – I made these for Easter dessert with Mr. Bean’s family.

2. Strawberry Cheesecake Raw Cake Pops – made for the raw cake pop challenge. I actually got in the top three! 🙂

3. Vegan, Gluten and Refined Sugar Free Pecan Pie Bars – a perfect healthy alternative to traditional pecan pie.

4. Gluten and Refined Sugar Free Raspberry Bars – made just because. My brother asked for them for his birthday because he liked them so much.

5. Raw Tropical Carrot Cake with Cheesecake “Icing” – my submission for “April in the Raw” and it opened my eyes the world of raw cooking – it’s not all corny like in Raw Rose’s cookbook!

6. Mostly Raw Gluten Free Vegan Coconut Tarts with Berries – another (mostly) raw dessert. They are best served cold!

7. Vegan, Gluten Free Potato Bread – for a while I thought that I could save money by making my own bread (and you can). This bread was absolutely delicious and worked really well. I stopped making my own bread as I just didn’t have the time or inclination to do it every week or so.

8. Vegan Gluten Free Blueberry Birthday Cupcakes with Cashew Icing – made for Iris’s birthday food challenge. The icing was particularly delicious!

9. Vegan Polenta Pizza – one of my meals on my Daniel Fast. It was fabulous and I think I should make it again (except with some more protein so it sticks around for longer!)

10. Vegan, Gluten and Soy Free Chive Garlic Cornbread – I just felt like making a variation of the egg and dairy filled cornbread that Mr. Bean likes to make. It was super tasty and quite nice looking!

11. Vegan Banana Almond Flour Pancakes – These pancakes were tasty, but I really need to remake them as I need to find some way to get almond flour and bananas to set without eggs. Any suggestions?

There you have it – the top 11 recipes from 2011 by popularity! I’m quite pleased with pretty much all of the recipes I shared this year and I’m looking forward to trying lots more in 2012!

It’s hard to say what my absolute favourite recipe of all 2011 was. I think the recipe I’m the most proud of are the raw cake pops as I essentially created the coating all by myself and they were amazingly tasty! (For the record, I LOVE raw cashews. They are pretty much my favourite nut.)

What’s your most favourite recipe you made this year?

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