Monday, February 29, 2016

The Scone Ranger

I love scones with fruit in them and could happily eat one every day.  But many of the recipes have some various assortments  of butter, lard, eggs AND cream and many of them also lack whole grains. I always use lard instead of Crisco which is really horrible for your body, but I was trying to make something overall lower in fat.

This version with whole wheat pastry flour makes a very tender whole grain muffins that's wonderful with blackberries in it. Even better each scone is only 275 calories! (with butter) Whole whest pastry flour is milled from soft white wheat, and regular whole wheat flour is milled from hard red wheat. The whole wheat pastry flour has a lower protein content and makes very tender whole grain baked goods.  So if you have someone that doesn't "like whole wheat" or you want more whole grain nutrition try using the whole wheat pastry flour instead of whole wheat all purpose flour.

Blackberry Scones

 This recipe is vegetarian but you can also easily make it vegan with two simple substitutions. 

  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour I like Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can use 2 cups of whole wheat flour if you can't find the pastry flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons raw cane sugar (turbinado) 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of cardamom or nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (or Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks)
  • 1 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen, but if using frozen chop into smaller pieces so they don't make the batter too cold so they cook evenly)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt  (don't use non-fat as it has extra sugar)
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk  (almond milk)
For topping: 2 Tablespoons of whole oatmeal and a pinch or two of raw sugar

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 425 F and spray a baking sheet with some non stick spray

Combine dry ingredients in a medium to large bowl and whisk to blend.

Slice butter (or Buttery Sticks) into small chunks and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter  (or knife and fork) until it looks like very course meal and doesn't have noticeable clumps of butter.

Gently stir whole fresh or chopped frozen berries into the dry ingredients.

Combine yogurt and milk in a small bowl and blend well with a spoon.  Add vanilla and stir. 

Gently mix  the milk/yogurt mixture in the dry mixture with a spoon, using your hands to knead the last bits of flour into the dough.  Don't overwork.

Pat dough onto prepared pan into a circle that's about an inch high.  Cut into 8 slices and gently separate.OR pat into individual rounds after dividing the dough into six pieces.  Remember the less you work the dough, the more tender they will be.

Pulse oatmeal and sugar in food processor or regular blender and sprinkle onto the tops.

Bake  15 minutes or until they are light brown.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

You Don't Climb Mountains on Raman Noodles.

I used to eat meat free just on Mondays - now I do it several times a week. It saves me a lot of money on grocery bills and is healthy when the vegetarian meals are based on real food and not white flour pasta and neon colored cheese (though I do have my box mac and cheese fix once a month).

Having a number of bean/grain dishes on hand that everyone likes is good for both the budget, not to mention being easy to store long term in emergency supplies (you could easily replace the fresh onion and garlic with dried or use a tiny bit of the Indiana spice known as "Hing" (Asafoetida powder) which you can find at HerbStop and Spices, Inc.

The following dish may not be particularly photogenic but it's one of my favorites, and about 25 cents a serving if you buy your food and spices in bulk.

Dal Bhat - a staple in the Nepalese diet, and something you will likely see for both lunch and dinner in that region It's filling, high in protein and stays with you for hours.  It's something I pack for lunch several days a week as it's cheap, surprisingly delicious and very filling, and I can eat it cold or hot depending on where I'm at.

Makes 6-8 servings

2 cups rice
4 cups water

I make mine in my all purpose steamer, 40 minutes and it's perfect.


1 sweet onion chopped
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons minced garlic (or 3 cloves of fresh garlic)
1 cup dry lentils (any variety)
3 cups water

1 -  14 1/2  ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1 teaspoon and it was wonderfully hot but not painfully so when paired with the rice)
1/2 teaspoon coriander (if you have it, I've made it with and without)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Start rice cooking.

In a Tablespoon  of olive oil, saute onion and garlic (or Asafoetida powder) in a large fry pan on medium heat for a couple of minutes (you want the onions soft).  Add lentils and dry cook two minutes.

Add water, cover and cook covered on medium for 15-20 minutes.

Stir in spices and tomatoes.  Cover and cook covered  20-25 minutes - until lentils are soft and the liquid has been absorbed (medium heat or just enough for a gentle simmer/steam).

Serve on rice with a squeeze of lime juice.  It is often  garnished with cilantro and chopped red pepper but I usually serve mine with just the lime juice to save time and $$.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I'm still doing a smoothie as a meal replacement every couple of days.  So far, this is my favorite. I'll make up several days worth and just keep in the fridge, giving it a quick whir in the blender before pouring.

1/2 cup frozen blueberries.
1 scoop VEGA brand Vegan Plain Protein Powder (or vanilla).
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
a small handful of baby spinach
water as needed to get the consistency you like (I add half a cup per serving)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mongolian Barbecue!

I don't eat out much in restaurants.  Why?

(1)  I LOVE to cook
(2)  It can be expensive and
(3) at the end of the work day, and on my days off I prefer being home (20 years as a professional pilot before switching careers,  I'm pretty much burned out on any travel) and
(3) I usually get more food (and sodium) than I need, and it's tempting to eat it.
(4) at home I know exactly where my food came from, the garden familiar and the cow raised on a local small 4H farm.

We get Thai every couple of months, and we occasionally  walk over to the local Irish pub when the weather is nice where  they have a really good menu with homemade soups and salads as well as traditional pub fare (mmmm curry fries with peas).  At work we have a contractor staffed deli on site that has 2 homemade soups every day (one vegetarian) and a salad bar (in addition to tasty, less healthy choices) so most work days I get a soup and/or salad or pack a cheese/veggie sandwich on Dave's Killer bread with some carrots and an apple and biscuit (cookie).

But there was one restaurant in Indianapolis where I'd go with my best gal friends each month when I lived there and we'd eat and we loved it.  I didn't realize it was a chain - and was SO happy to find they are located in Chicagoland, including one only about 10 miles away.

 bd's Mongolian Grill for the all you can conquer buffet.  The picture here is a mural at the Indiana restaurant which honors a nearby historical train station.  It always made us smile.
There is a big buffet of meats and seafood, pasta and vegetables (plus a salad bar).  You can get all you can eat or just one bowl (which for me was plenty).  You load your selection in the bowl (the egg is optional as a binder for the stir fry) and then there are a TON of different sauces and spices to add. I went for the Mongolian Ginger sauce with some extra cayenne pepper with goes in a separeate little bowl for the chef to add at the end.
It's all cooked up on a big grill with only enough oil to keep the food from sticking..  If you are veggie they will clean off the grill and cook yours in a meat free area, you just have to ask.

It's fun to stand at the round counter around the cook area and watch it being prepared, it's quite an art form.  The restaurant in Indianapolis was always spotlessly clean and they kept the ingredients very fresh.

I had tofu, corn, bean sprouts, onion, pineapple and broccoli.  As my side I had brown rice which comes in a little bowl so you can share.  In addition to the rice on the menu, they have little tortillas if you want to make a no yeast wrap. This was ultra delicious and filling with not a lot of calories!  I can't wait to go back again, now that there is one near by.



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Restaurant Breakfast Minefield


You know how it is when you got to a breakfast restaurateur  Hug stuffed omelettes. plates of bacon and sausage and pancakes and buttered toast..

You know what.  YOU are the customer.  Ask for what  you want , no butter, egg whites only, fruit instead of pancakes.  Most restaurants that want your repeat business will allow you to substitute fruit for a side, usually for an additional charge, but it's one I'm happy to pay.  Others will offer up a lower calorie/lower carb menu options - you just may have to look through the menu closely.

Case in point, Egg White omelette with a little veggie pasta sauce and lower fat Italian cheese, with fruit and  un-buttered English muffin with a dab of jam.

Not totally low cal, but better than anything on the menu and really tasty.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Toadstool Soaps - A Long Hair Shampoo Review

As part of my getting healthier plan I'm also switching over to more natural products for skin and hair care.  Since our skin absorbs more than we expect of the products we apply - where it ends up in our bodies, I want to use ingredients that are natural.  It's been hit and miss on some things, especially shampoo, as so far, the oil based ones natural ones I tried left my hair feeling really weighed down and "gunky".

My hair is long, and I add highlights and  Aveda color to disguise the little grey that I have.  At 57, I wish I had enough to just let it GO grey but as my husband laughingly says "your hair is as stubborn as you are". Plus, I have lots of hair, but it's really thin and fragile and with an oily scalp which is not good combined with some heavy duty moisturizing shampoos.  So mediocre shampoo means either harsh cleansing that breaks my hair or a  very pricey salon" moisture" shampoo that feels good at first but usually means I have to wash every day with the oily scalp as by day two, it just looks greasy.

I pretty much resigned myself to what I had to pick from.  Then I met my best friend for lunch.  I hadn't seen her in several months as she had been caring for elderly parents in another state. I did notice how soft and shiny her graying hair looked and soon found out why when she presented me some belated Christmas gifts which included some bottles of shampoo and leave in conditioner from


These products are amazing stuff. Cheryl, a veterinary technician by day, has over  9000 five star reviews of her products at Etsy and I can see why. The shampoo left my hair squeaky clean without being dry and stripped and the conditioner left it feeling like silk.  Plus, I was able to skip a couple days shampooing last week when it was so bitterly cold, and my hair still looked soft and fresh, not oily.

The ingredients in the shampoo are simple: coconut oil, cocoa butter, saponified olive oil (saponification makes oil which isn't water soluble, into soap that is water soluble), vegetable oil, 100% raw honey, lemon juice (for shine), potassium sorbate (mild preservative) and fragrance (optional).

The simple containers are reusable and recyclable, great for your hair, great for our earth.

She makes dozens of different scents, as well as unscented.  At $9 it's actually a bargain because
(1)  I used half the amount of shampoo I'd use of the cheap drugstore stuff, to get the same lather
 (2) the leave in condition takes just a teeny amount to be applied to your towel dried hair.
AND
(3) I can get in and out of the shower faster now, not having to  let the conditioner do it's thing before rinsing it out which saves hot water and $$ and means less dry skin in the winter months.

My hair hasn't been this soft and shiny in years, and I like that I can have unscented or scented. Today I'm wearing Samhain Night, which is Cheryl's husband's creation and can best be described as an Autumnal harvest scent, clove, pumpkin, leaves and the smell of a crisp cool night.  My husband came up close for a hug and said "you smell good!" and I wasn't wearing any scent but the shampoo/conditioner.  It's a noticeable scent up close but it's in no way "don't wear to work" strong and would layer really well with her other products.

In addition to the two bottles my friend gave me, this and a sweet orange chili pepper fragrance, I've also ordered a couple different scents, some of her roll on essential oil perfume and some body cream.

I can't wait to get them, especially my Fairy Dust fragrance (description and photo from Cheryl's website)

FAIRY DUST- This scent has it all going on !! There are notes of mango, raspberry sorbet, sugar, coconut and champagne bubbles mixed with a bit of tulip and freesia combined to make the most interesting fragrance that is just WONDERFUL. New Must Try. ;-)
So, if you're looking for some wonderful, all  natural products for skin and hair, don't look all over town, just take a peek under a toadstool.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Getting your Veggies In - Korean Pancakes

Adding veggies to breakfast is as easy as a pancake. A Korean pancake that is. Use pre-shredded carrots if you'd like to make prep time less but it's still fairly easy to whip up, especially if you have a food processor to help with the chopping.

Korean Pancakes

To  make an even lighter, crispier version, use cake flour instead of all purpose.
Pancake batter

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cold water
1  egg  (or equivalent vegan egg substitute) whisked before adding
3/4 teaspoon salt

finely chop or julliene:
1/2 cup carrot
1/2 small zuchhini 
Green portion of a small bunch of green onions
half of a red or green pepper

1/2 cup  of shredded hash browns thawed and patted dry (I left out today, but it makes a nice addition)

For the sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce (I used the reduced sodium kind)
2 and 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
dash of hot red pepper flakes
teaspoon of honey (or sugar for vegan version)
slightly less than 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (more than 1/4 but less than 1/2)
warm in the microwave for 30 seconds to blend the sugar - whisk and warm again for another 30 seconds  prior to serving.

Mix up batter by combining flour and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly add the cold water, then the egg, whisking JUST until combined.  You want to avoid over-mixing which creates gluten, which affects both texture and toughness.

Let rest while you chop the veggies, then gently add them to the batter.  If this is your first time making these, make them on an oiled griddle as small  individual pancakes.  It takes some practice to make a 10 inch one in a skillet and flip as you see in the restaurants (and they do not have the same texture as typical breakfast pancakes, so you'll want to practice with smaller ones)  The first time I tried to do a couple pan sized ones we had "scrambled pancakes" and found the small ones are just as tasty, with leftovers freezing well to make a great little light lunch.

Cook about 4 minutes each side, pressing down on it slightly with a spatula as it cooks. Flip when the edges are dry and and they are lightly browned.  Makes a nice light breakfast for two of you with leftovers.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Not your Typical Shells and cheese

I love macaroni and cheese made with pasta shells as they trap all of the sauce.  That's NOT a good idea while watching calories.  But I wanted pasta the other night, and threw this together.  It had a wonderful taste and was much lower in fat than most pasta sauces. I think it would also be good on spaghetti squash, "zoodles" or on cabbage, sauteed until limp.

Brown 1 pound ground turkey breast or use a package of Gardein "beef" crumbles with:
a small handful of diced onion or celery
a teaspoon of olive oil.

Drain and add:
1 jar of Raos brand marinara sauce (my favorite jarred sauce at the grocery store)
a heaping teaspoon of minced garlic (optional)
a heaping teaspoon of dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilis (or fire roasted tomatoes), undrained.

Heat to a simmer, then reduce heat to low to blend while you cook half of a box of the shells. Taste, adding a pinch more red pepper if you wish or salt and pepper to taste (with canned or jarred ingredients I do NOT add salt, but salt and my relationship is pretty much "we can just be friends").

Serve  in a soup bowl over the large shells (bigger than the Velveeta shells and cheese ones), which may be in the "gourmet" pasta section.   The shells are perfect as this is a very "saucy" sauce and the shells just cradle that, holding in all the liquid to mix with the dollop of fresh low-fat  Ricotta cheese on top, that you stir in to make it all creamy.

My husband was laughing at me for calling it "more saucy". (He's an engineer, I'm a science type". He said "you mean less viscous" to which I replied.  "Yes, Les Viscous, the little brother of the punk rocker Sid Viscous".

Silliness aside, it was a great supper and made enough for three meals for the two of us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pasta Shouldn't Hurt - a Lighter take on Fettuccine

I love fettuccine Alfredo.  But it doesn't like me much, between the dairy, fat and calories it's more like OW-fredo.

But what to do with my fettuccine noodle?  How about a lighter  fettuccini dish, with a simple white wine sauce and herbs. As for the wine type, do NOT use anything labeled cooking wine - if it's not fit to drink, I don't want to use it in cooking. Pinot Grigio is good if you are pairing this with fish.  If you're making a vegetarian dish and pairing it with salad or side vegetables use a Sauvignon Blanc.

The sauce is very light, infused with wine, not cream, but the crushed red pepper, sage, and basil give it a nice little zip.

 Fettucini in white wine sauce (serves 4-6 as main or side dish)

Start with 3/4 of a small box of pasta. (about 3/4 lb dry).  While that cooks -

Saute 2 generous teaspoons of minced garlic in two Tablespoons of olive oil  until softened.

Add 1/2 cup white wine, 1/4 teaspoon Jane's Krazy Salt (a lower sodium salt/herb blend, or just use table salt) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil, cooking until liquid is reduced by half.

Add a pinch of crushed red pepper, a pinch of sage and  2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, reducing heat  to low and letting butter melt.

Remove from heat and whisk in 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of lemon juice.

Toss with 1/2 cup  parmagiano-reggiano cheese, some torn fresh basil and additional crushed red pepper, if desired.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Thai'm for Soup

I LOVE Thai food and could eat it almost every day.  But it's often full of date sugar and when you're getting it at a restaurant you don't know how much oil they are using or what type.

So other than going to our local place for their spring rolls or takeout on nights we both end up working unexpectedly late , I make my own now.

Today's recipe  - a coconut milk soup known as Tom Kha Gai.   I have about 3 recipes for this and combined elements of all of them to get a version that's easy yet complex in taste, with a rich mouth feel to it.  This version is Vegetarian and makes for a filling, light supper for two with enough leftover for a lunchtime bowl the next day. It's fairly high in fat (about 23 grams per serving) if you use the full fat coconut milk) but coconut oil, unlike  other saturated fats is good for you.  I eat some virgin (avoid the refined type) coconut oil every single day, either in cooking or in smoothies and I have a total cholesterol of 105 and bad cholesterol of 29, even eating non factory farm meat or eggs on the weekend. My doctor says for someone post menopause in their late 50's those are incredible numbers.


You can make this with vegetable stock or vegetarian "chicken" broth. I prefer the "chicken broth" taste to it.  Yes, you can make your own that's really delicious and made from just veggies.   The recipe is at the Oh My Veggies blog.

http://ohmyveggies.com/vegetarian-chicken-stock/

Or you can get lazy like I did last night and just use a couple of cans of Amy's no chicken chicken soup and strain off the protein bits (tofu) and noodles to have for lunch another day. If you're watching sodium, simply use some veggie stock flavored with herbs such as basil. A note: there are some vegan "chicken" bullion products out there, but many of them contain MSG.

The only thing I had to buy special was the lemongrass seasoning which I didn't use before and fish sauce. Lemongrass looks like little dried sticks of grass and was found with the general spices in the grocery store.    Fish sauce is not vegan, but it's a must for Thai cooking in my household, not knowing of a vegan substitute, and is used in place of salt in a lot of cooking in that part of the world.
I used the Red Boat brand which is gluten free and made from simply freshly caught black anchovies and sea salt.

I will give a disclaimer here.  Outside of the occasional tuna salad sandwich with lots of may and pickles, which I do NOT eat for my health,  I do NOT like fish, unless it's breaded, deep fried and dipped in tartar sauce and is served as a side dish to beer. So I am not going to be enamored by something that tastes "fishy".  This doesn't, it just gives a richness to the dishes that is wonderful (including the stir fry on the top picture which we made for company).

I bought mine on Amazon, and it will last about a year after opening.
The veggies all sunk to the bottom but with a little fresh basil - a wonderful bowl of soup.

So - ready for an adventure?

You will need
2 cups of broth
1 can of light or full fat unsweetened coconut milk (you will note on opening that the fats in the coconut milk will solidify and look like Crisco  Just put it all in the pan and it will melt as it heats).
1 Tablespoon finely minced sweet onion
1/2 of a small jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine
1 stalk lemongrass cut into four pieces
7 slices of peeled, fresh ginger (sliced very thin)
3/4 cup of mixed vegetables (I use baby peas, tiny pieces of carrot and a few sliced mushrooms)
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat broth and  coconut oil until a gentle boil.  Reduce heat and add onion, jalapano, lemongrass and ginger and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.  Add vegetables, cover and simmer until the veggies are soft (about 10 minutes if the carrot pieces are very fine.).  If you wish to add a few pieces of Tofu for extra protein, add it with in here before the simmer.

Stir in sugar, fish sauce and the lime juice and remove from heat.  Let sit for a couple of minutes for the flavors to blend, then, using a slotted spoon to remove the ginger and lemon grass pieces which float to the top as you stir.  Serve with a little fresh cilantro or basil if you like.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Rise and Shine - On the Go Protein

I don't travel all the time like I used to in my last job, but there are still some business trips that have me on a plane.  I have low blood sugar (something that popped up when I hit menopause early at age 42) and find that if I don't get enough protein, I feel really crummy. If I skip meals or eat a carb heavy meal without adequate protein, I actually will get lightheaded and very nauseous. Add to that I eat meat-free 75% of the time and I'm dairy sensitive (but for small amounts of low fat cheese and plain yogurt) and it's harder to find snacks and meal replacements that work for me.

So I've been looking and trying various protein and meal replacement and snack bars. Due to busy days I usually have one "portable" meal of a fruit/nut bar that I can eat quickly at my desk while on my job or working on the next book.  My favorite  for incredibly good taste and omegas continues to be the
sometimes adding a container of Icelandic yogurt to it if I'm having it as my breakfast meal replacement.

After reading some review of the protein bars out there, I decided to try one of the top rated vegetarian/vegan (they have both, depending on sweetener and protein source type) bars - RISE, and ordered an assortment of flavors. They're made with only a few natural ingredients.  For example - the lemon cashew contains just cashews, coconut nectar, pea protein and lemon extract.
They look like big erasers but are actually much softer and easy to eat,  much less chewy than the "Quest" brand bar, which is very popular and had a TON of variety but had sugar alcohols to keep them low carb that didn't agree with my stomach.

If you eat "clean"  and like me, have a fussy stomach, you may really like the Rise  bars.

Rise have "Breakfast" Energy" and "Protein" bars.  The breakfast and energy bars were the best tasting of all of them, but I was going for high protein for a travel food.

The Rise protein bar had protein ranging from 14 - 20 grams, which is really good.  Sugar was a bit higher than I'd like to see, but it was all natural sugars and not sucralose which you see in other popular protein bars such as Quest. Fat was high, but it was from the nuts - and that's a good kind of fat.(note - they manufacturer them in a peanut free facility)

My favorites were a tie -  the cacao banana and the honey almond, both of which were gluten free and vegetarian. They have whey protein but whey doesn't have the issues for the dairy sensitive that you'd think as why protein isolate contains less than 1 percent lactose so the whey, with the honey sweetener, was easy to digest for me.

The Vegan Lemon cashew had the best taste (it was like soft, yummy lemon shortbread) but it had slightly less protein then the others so I'll rate it #2 .
Do check the ingredients - at least one of the flavors is sweetened with agave syrup. Some folks don't digest that well (I'm one of them).  One of the original medical uses of the plant the agave syrup comes from was a constipation remedy so I'll let you figure that one out..

The snickerdoodle was a pass for me personally, as the cinnamon flavor paired with the whey protein just tasted a bit odd to me but if you love cinnamon that may be your new favorite, as would the sunflower cinnamon.

Calories range from 260-310, a bit high for a snack for a female that's fairly sedentary but quite workable as a meal replacement. So on an airplane, when I needed a jolt of protein and had no meal options it would be great.

Overall - as a meal replacement on a daily basis, I think  I'll stick with my daily wheat free and vegan Alpsnack, with a yogurt and a bottle of water, but if you are an athlete or travel where you need a clean, healthy punch of protein in a simple to tote package, the Rise protein bars are  worth trying. I ordered mine direct from Rise company at  https://risebar.com/

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I'm a Little Teapot

I had gotten in the habit after a stressful work day to come home and sip a glass of wine with my husband.  Then I noticed a couple pounds creep back on.  Empty calories will do that to you.

So now I make a pot of tea when I get home and reserve alcohol for just the weekends.

My husband, the birthday fairy, got me a great tea set late this summer..  It even came with a little checklist.  Being a former airline pilot, I know about checklists.
This will be a perfect way to wind down without a lot of extra sugar and calories.
The electric pot is for heating water quickly and to the perfect temperature for tea.  With it came a ceramic "Brown Betty" tea pot from England, made as they were centuries ago. The "Brown Betty" origins go back to the end of the 17th century and to the birth of the British ceramic teapot, although in 1700 an ordinary small unglazed teapot made from Red Clay from the Bradwell Woods area in Stoke-on-Trent was a luxury item costing about 12 shillings.

During Queen Victoria's reign, tea became a symbol of Britain's' greatest period of expansion and stability.  Every home owned a teapot, eve if it was the basic Brown Betty, tea no longer being a refined, upper class beverage, but a basis of a whole meal.

With the lovely little four cup teapot, came some scone mix and an assortment of loose leaf tea including vanilla chair, pumpkin spice black, English breakfast, Assam, Darjeeling, caffeine free Rooibos, traditional black tea and Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu-erh.  All from the English Tea Company.  Since I have a Scottish great great grandmother he put the Scot flag in there (otherwise, I'm mostly English, from the Kent area and German.)
With that, we opened up a package of Biscuits from my favorite, the Brits Store in Lawrence, KS. (Wonderful people to do business with):

http://www.britsusa.com/

OK, just one biscuit.  But it was a very soothing ritual, one I'm going to repeat.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Filet O'Faux

I love fish sandwiches, but you just don't know where your fish came from and how polluted the water was.  Plus the deep fat frying isn't the best for you.  So I figured if I got a craving for fish I'd have to pass.

Not any more.

My favorite faux "meats" Gardein brand  (which is actually made out of food ingredients not made in a laboratory) has added a fish fillet.  It's not particularly low in fat, but it's low in calories and sugar and has ingredients you can pronounce as they are made out of real food ingredients, not chemicals.  But doing a "burger" is one thing, I was a bit aseptically that it would taste like fish.
It DID - and pan sauteing in a TINY bit of extra virgin oil oil left a nice crisp crust.  two filets have just 180 calories and 9 grams of protein.  I made an extra for my husband to try (he originally opted for a sandwich) and he agreed that it tasted like fish. Even better, it has a texture that looks and feels familiar.

Ingredients? - well my formerly favorite fast food fish sandwich has the following:

Pollack, wheat flour, water,  modified food starch, yellow corn four,  bleached wheat flour, salt, whey, dextrose, dried yeast, sugar, cellulose gum and spices prepared in oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid as well as Dimethylpolysiloxane (mmm, yummy)

Ingredients in the Gardein "fish" filet?  All recognizable including sea salt, wheat gluten, organic cane sugar, carrot fiber and tumeric.

There are 3 servings per package and I found them on sale for $3.19 per package at my local grocers, so it's a pretty economical lunch. (next time, a different veggie than baby mutant ninja carrots, but it added some color to the photo).