Sunday, December 16
I first heard about pumpking oatmeal on the Weight Watchers Core board. It always sounded really interesting, but sadly, involved a can of pumpkin, which I cannot get here in Norway. That is one of the most challenging things about being away from Texas. No Kroger. No Piggly Wiggly. No Whole Foods. No canned pumpkin. I have seen canned pumpkin on occaision, but I just can't bring myself to pay over 6 dollars for a can of it. I don't care if it is Libby's. This past Thanksgiving, one of my culinary triumphs was a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch. In looking for a recipe, I learned that the kind of pumpkin you choose is very important. There are pie pumpkins, and these are NOT the ones you carve up at halloween. So, as usual, I bundled up and went on a search. Here, pumpkin is called 'gresskar' and it has a beige outerskin and it's brilliant orange on the inside. I quickly found it, and luckily they cut it for you and sell it by the kilo, so you don't have to buy a whole pumpkin. They had some at my local Turkish store on the corner, big chunks wrapped in saranwrap, vivid orange:
Good enough, I thought, and I bought it. Thus began my love affair with pumpkin oatmeal. If you like pumpkin pie, you will LOVE this breakfast, if you don't, well, you won't.
Here is what you need:
2 to 4 cups of cooked plain oatmeal
2 cups of fresh mashed pumpkin OR 1 can
can of fat free evaporated milk
nutmeg, cinnamon, splenda
handful of raisins
handful of walnuts
So take your fresh pumpkin, (if you have a can, just skip all of this part), cut it into chunks, boil it until it is soft, take the skin off and mash it in a bowl:
To this pretty orange mash, mix in your egg, the milk, the spices and the splenda. You are just making pumpkin pie filling, but instead of pouring it into a pie crust, you will pour it into oatmeal.
Once you have your piefilling made, add it to the cooked oatmeal, stirring well to combine. Throw in your raisins and walnuts and voila:
Seriously, this is soooo good! I usually make a big batch and just heat up a little every morning for breakfast. Oatmeal is a great choice for anyone with bloodsugar issues as it is fairly low on the Glycemic Index. I usually have an egg with it as well to get a good balance of carbs and protein and it always holds me until lunch.
It truly is a bowl full of LOVE:
Thursday, December 13
This was the best I could come up with: Melted raspberry dark chocolate and crushed almonds:
I think if you look close enough you can see the vanilla bean:
They were packed into cookie tins to await their 'tin mates', who will be born sometime this weekend.
Ah, the life of a marshmallow.
Not too shabby.
Monday, December 10
Marshmallows are one of those things that NEVER would have occured to me to make. I don't know why. I just always thought they came out of a machine. Ignorant, perhaps, but that was my thinking.
Well, my curiosity was peaked. I knew then and there that I HAD to make marshmallows. Really, just to say to someone: 'Oh, I made a batch of MARSHMALLOWS the other day!'
Before we go further, I just want to post a warning here. Marshmallows are part of that group of foods I like to refer to as 'diabetic disasters'. Here at the beautiful diabetic, I try to post recipes that are good for diabetics, that are well balanced and will even out your bloodsugar over some hours. This is NOT one of those recipes!
Where there are marshmallows, there's trouble.
So, without further ado, marshmallows:
Martha Stewart's Marshmallows (of course SHE would have a marshmallow recipe)
2 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar (for dusting)
Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let it stand 30 minutes:
Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.
Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
(Ok, it got tricky here. I don't have CANDY thermometers lying around. I have a normal thermometer and a doggy thermometer. So, I interpreted the directions to read 'Bring it to a hard boil and remove it from the heat' Seemed to work just fine):
With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high:
beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.
This is the MOST exciting part about making marshmallows so far! Look at how GORGEOUS that is:
Generously dust an 8 x 12-inch glass baking pan with confectioners' sugar. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust with confectioners' sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out.
Ok. So I did all of that. I kept uncovering them to look at them. I wish you could see them in person. They are SNOW white and have vanilla bean specks in them. I couldn't wait to get home from work today so we could take them out of the pan and turn them into proper marshmallows. Now, suprisingly, Martha really dropped the ball here on the instructions. How does one, A) get the marshmallow slab OUT of the pan and B) once said marshmallows are out, how does one cut them up?
Christopher and I debated about these things and eventually found out that A)Just work a knife around the edges of the pan and lift it out and, B) the best way to cut them was using a pair of household scissors. So, I cut the slab into long strips and then the strips into cubes, and Christopher rolled them in powedered sugar as they dropped to the counter. Covered in powdered sugar we took a moment to absorb the absolute GLORY of the moment. We had MADE marshmallows:
And to make things even MORE perfect, a few years ago, I had bought an antique marshmallow tin:
You have to smile when you read their slogan.
'The Original FOOD'
Sunday, December 9
LOISIANA HOT SAUCE????
I was positively GIDDY.
The low sodium soy sauce I have been asking for AT LEAST 2 years to no avail.
And the Salsa Ranchero is a new one for me as well.
Really, just a beautiful day.
Sunday, December 2
For those of you who aren't familiar with Migas, they are perhaps one of the most perfect things you can have for a weekend brunch. I am talking about the Tex-Mex kind of Migas. Not the Spanish kind or the Portuguese kind OR the Mexican kind.
The TEXAS kind.
The beauty of Migas is that you can literally use ANYTHING you want to make them. So, my migas may not be like any you have had before, but they are dang good and all of our Norwegian friends are ALWAYS impressed when they have the occaision to eat them. They are, in essence, breakfast tacos made up of leftovers. That's all. Nothing fancy.
so, yesterday, I made an attempt at making 'pulled pork'. I was inspired by Jenny over at the Use Real Butter blog and on Friday night I made a rub and proceeded to give my hunk of pork a rub massage. Put it in a ziploc and let it marinate overnight. The next day, I put it in the oven on low heat for about 7 hours. It turned out great, but I think you can get the same result by boiling the heck out of it in some tasty broth for a couple of hours. Just sayin'.
So my migas today consisted, essentially, of:
pulled pork, eggs, onions, cilantro, tomatoes and some other stuff. You can make migas with chicken, beans, anything!
Most migas also have corn chips or corn tortillas, but I didn't have either of those things.
So, introducing my migas!!!
Here is the leftover pulled pork:
I grabbed a handful and threw it into a skillet to heat it up and get it a bit crispy on the edges:
Then I chopped up an onion, some garlic, cilantro and proceeded to cook it in a little bit of olive oil with some cumin, chili powder, sea salt and crushed chili:
Saute it until it is good and soft, translucent if you will, and then add a can of crushed tomatoes, or use fresh if you have them on hand:
Stir it all together, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes and move on to the eggs. Break some eggs into a bowl and whisk them with salt, pepper and a splash of milk. Next, pour them into the skillet with the pork and scramble them:
Then, add your tomato mixture to the eggs:
Stir it all together and serve immedietly:
I like mine in flour tortillas. I add a little reduced fat cheese and sourcream, chopped onion, cilantro and the ever present, Louisiana Hot Sauce:
And I am in absolute heaven:
To me, this truly is a PERFECT meal. And lest we forget, pretty dang healthy as well. Low fat and a good balance of protein and carbohydrates to keep that blood sugar level!
Saturday, December 1
Norwegians are also a bit like parrots I think, when it comes to language. They have a remarkable ability to adapt and mimic the accent of whatever kind of English speaking person they happen to live with. My husband speaks American english and has a slight Texas accent. My friend Stine, she is living with an Australian guy, and she sounds Australian. Another friend has a British boyfriend, and yes, she sounds British. It's quite remarkable.
Even though their English is remarkable, there are the occaisional faux pas.
Many Norwegians will ask if you want to have a beer, but it sounds like 'bear'.
They often pronounce v's like w's: 'I have wiking blood in my weins'
My mother in law and my friend Kristina both say 'I am going to the cabbage this weekend' when they MEANT to say, 'I am going to the CABIN this weekend'.
Instead of asking 'Are you at work?' they will say 'Are you ON work'.
Cute little things like that!
Which leads me to the title of this post.
One of my favorite norwegians called me one day and she and her boyfriend were having a debate. He SWORE that they were called 'Russel Sprouts', she SWORE they were called 'Brussels Sprouts', so, as is natural, they called their American friend to settle the debate. I laughed so hard! And joyfully informed my friend that she was correct and her boyfriend was wrong. But ever since then, I have called Brussels Sprouts, Russel sprouts, cause it just makes me SMILE.
I roasted some the other evening. If you have never roasted them before, they are delish. So creamy and good. Take some Russel Sprouts and trim off the ends and the outer leaves, toss them in a bit of olive oil, garlic powder and sea salt:
Preheat your oven to about 425 and pop them in for 30 to 40 minutes, shaking the dish every now and then to cook them evenly. They will be a bit crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside:
Best dang Russle Sprouts ever!
Friday, November 30
Tuesday, November 27
For example, about 1 year ago I went through a phase where I was addicted to Carnitas and I needed tomatillos to make said Carnitas.
HA! Good luck with that one. Let me tell ya, there aint no Fiesta supermarket here in Oslo!!
So, I finally convinced the owner of the Turkish market, where I buy all of my fruits and vegetables, to order a case of tomatillos from Spania! I told him that they would sell well and if they didn't, I would buy the case.
I NEVER should have offered to buy the case. The case came, but buyers didn't. That little special import cost me about 294 kroner per KILO, which translates roughly to ABOUT 30 dollars for 2.4 pounds! Let's not discuss how much I had to pay, but lets just say I made some expensive green salsa and it froze beautifully! Thus began my love affair with green salsa and all things made with it.
I am CONSTANTLY begging the owner to order some La Costena brand canned and bottled goods. Great product that ranges from chipoltes in adobe sauce to salsas verde and ranchero. THREE years, I have been begging, and thus far have gotten can after can of nacho jalepenos.
Well, I was in there doing my shopping about a month ago and I turned the corner, or rather, shimmied sideways through the tight aisle, and my world went into slow motion. There before me was an entire 2 shelves FULL of La Costena products! Yes, by some miracle of GOD, the little Turkish store on the corner started carrying the La Costena brand!!
I wasn't sure if I was hallucinating or not, it was like an oasis in a desert. Would the jar of tomatillo salsa be there if I reached out for it?? In that moment, I truly felt like crying! I was filled with such joy over a jar of salsa verde!!! I snapped up 4 bottles then and there and did one of those run/walk things all the way home, eager to make my salsa safe, lest someone try to steal it off me.
So, anyway. Chili Verde. Here is what you need to make it:
1 jar of salsa verde
2 cups of broth (I used homemade turkey)
jalepeno (however spicy you want it)
some garlic, cumin and salt
chicken or pork (I used turkey cause I have TONS left over)
1 can of white beans
1 can of white corn
Basically this stuff:
Throw it all into a stock pot and bring it to a boil! The longer it cooks, the better it tastes, but it can be done in 30 minutes if you need it to be!
Look at all those pretty green things! See the bottle of salsa verde? AKA Tomatillo Nectar??
And to make it HEARTY and to raise the fiber level, which helps regulate blood sugar levels, I added a half cup of quick Barley:
That will also thicken it up a bit and help it stick to your bones!!
That's it! You're done! Ladle it into bowls, garnish with guacamole, cheese, sourcream and cilantro, and you are good to go:
That's good stuff kids.
Monday, November 26
Sunday, November 25
First, I made a REAL pumpkin pie. And by real, I mean REAL:
Isn't that orange color unbelievable?? So, I boiled said pumpkin and mashed it up like so:
And ond hour later, I had this little beauty:
I couldn't believe how orange it was! It was so delicious as well!
The pumpkin pie was actually somewhat healthy as well. Cut out all white sugar, used 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of Splenda. Delish.
My next favorite was to die for. I could have had JUST these and been perfectly content:
I let those suckers rise THREE times! Made them with spelt flour. They were so good. Piping hot from the oven, with some organic butter...oh my:
So, that is that. My two favorite things from Thanksgiving this year. Now we have about 2 kilos of turkey meat and I made about 2 gallons of broth out of the poor little turkey carcass.
It was a quiet evening, only 4 of us, but it was important to me. When you are so far from home, you sometimes get a feeling of losing touch with who you are, you forget the little magical things that define you in relation to your homeland.
All I know is that thousands of miles away, that turkey, the dressing, the greenbean casserole, the gravy and the dinner rolls, those pumpkin and pecan pies, made me feel, at least for one night, that my kitchen, could be any kitchen in America. And for that, I am thankful.
Thursday, November 22
So, my darling viking called me and said 'Honey, you got a sussy in the mail!'.
(For those of you who aren't familiar with a 'sussy', it's a little surprise, something given for no particular reason or event, just a little gift to say 'I am thinking of you'. I've not heard the term outside of Texas, and only twice outside my own family. I digress.)
And anytime one comes in the mail, it is especially exciting! So, I was totally curious and told him 'open it! open it!!!' He said 'OK' and then I just heard silence...and then I heard 'ummmm'.
Of course I am full of child like anticipation on the other end of the phone line and said 'WHAT IS IT? WHO'S IT FROM??' And he said......
'It's your old defibrallator!'
REALLY? Seriously?? I couldn't believe it! Who sends a used defib in the mail??? For those of you who don't know, I have Long QT Syndrome and I had an operation in May to replace my old defibrallator, it kept turning off, which TOTALLY defeats the purpose, so it was retired and got sent to America for testing and diagnostics. I suppose some kind hearted individual must have decided I would like it for a keep sake. So, if you have never seen one before, here it what it looks like:
From the side, it's as wide as a Zippo lighter:
And, it can fit in the palm of my hand:
The more I thought about it, the more I just can't believe that this is my actual device that lived inside me for 5 years! I mean, why would you send something like that in the mail??? Is it even legal? Used medical equipment? Can I sell it on Ebay? These are NOT cheap!!
It came with a note in Norwegian that bascially said: 'Dear Kathryn, we thought you might want a souvenier! Your friends at St. Jude'.
In conclusion, I think it MUST be an advertising piece or something, like a paper weight. So, that's my show and tell.
Tuesday, November 20
I think it's good though, as it's allowing me to reconnect with my long dormant creative side. Cooking is one thing, but cooking and taking pictures of what you created...now THAT is art.
So, today, I saw a picture of pot pie and I was taken back in time about 2 decades. I remember those frozen Swanson pot pies. Crust on the bottom and on the top. Oh, I LOVED those things! And like last nights chili, I just HAD to have chicken pot pie, or I might DIE. I knew without a doubt that I would NOT be finding any frozen pot pies here in Norway, so if my life depended on pot pie, I was going to have to create it myself. I also was in a pinch as far as the dough was concerned. This pot pie craving was unplanned, so no pie crust had been prepared. I had a faint recollection of seeing Sara Lee croissant dough nestled between the fishcakes and pickled herring at the grocery store (I know, don't ask), so I hopped off the subway headed to the store. And sure enough, there it was. A can of Sara Lee croissants! You have to laugh at the randomness of that. So, I had my crust. It wasn't ideal, but it would do. I actually boiled a chicken carcass just yesterday, so I had a really rich chicken broth just begging to be used. Chopped up some shitaki mushrooms, carrots, celery, shallots and a potato and sauteed them in a bit of olive oil and a few spritzes of butter flavored cooking spray. Added a couple tablespoons of spelt flour and then added the chicken broth and a cup of milk and some chicken. It got really thick and bubbly. I Seasoned it with salt, pepper and tarragon.
Meanwhile, I got a muffin tin and lined 6 muffin holes (what are those called???) with the croissant dough. Filled them up with the aforementioned mixture and topped them with the extra bits of dough. Threw them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or so and was greeted by these little beauties:
This is what it looked like in the bowl:
For all of you watching your waistlines or bloodsugar, this is actually a pretty healthy recipe! The croissant dough has 6 grams of fat per triangle, and the rest of the filling is decidedly low fat! Good protein and full of veggies!
I think I put Swanson to shame!
I do believe I am content.
Monday, November 19
And I am talking about the kind of dark you don't get in Texas. This is the kind of dark where the sun is officially SETTING at 2.30 in the afternoon and it's totally black by the time you walk to the subway at 4.17pm.
This time of year I tend to be more homesick than usual. When I am homesick, I self soothe by cooking. Today I had one of those ridiculous cravings for chili. The kind of craving that says 'if I don't have chili, I might DIE'.
I am totally into the photo blogging thing lately. We got a new Canon 300D and have fun playing with it. I was inspired by my new favorite website: http://www.tastespotting.com/. If you are a foodie, you MUST see that site. Complete and utter food PORN. Anyway, I got ants in my pants to start taking pictures of my food, or for my husband to start taking pictures of the food as I was making it. I feel like it is fulfilling a creative need I have. So anyway...Introducing the Chili:
First, you gotta have the right spices. I use chili powder, crushed chilis, cumin, sea salt, celery salt, cayenne pepper and oregano-
Then I chopped up some onion, green bell pepper, 2 small tomatoes, 2 chilis (I couldn't find jalepenos...I know...so sad) and got some tomato paste and some kidney beans ready. Now, many Texans will tell you that no decent, self respecting Texan would EVER add beans to chili, but I like them, so I do:
Stirring it all, and I don't have a picture of this, but I bought a really STRONG bottle of stout and added it as well. A good strong beer can add such an amazing level of depth to chili. And this one did not disappoint!
There are countless ways to eat Chili. I prefer a chunkier chili, and my favorite way to eat it is spooning it into homemade flour tortillas! So, as the chili simmers for about an hour, I made some tortillas. It sounds harder than it is actually! Here is the recipe I have been using for a few years now:
Use this time to go and stir the chili or something. Then put your cast iron skillet on the stovetop to start heating up.
When your 20 minutes are up, divide the dough into 8 balls. Then grab that old rolling pin that you never thought you would EVER use and start rolling:
I'm lucky cause I have oak counter tops, so it feels very bakery like. My tortillas are rarely perfect circles, and unless you have perfection issues, it is no problem at all. When it's flat, throw it on the skillet:
When it starts to get little bubbles, flip it.
Keep them warm, stacked on top of each other in a kitchen towel:
Ready to eat? Spoon the chili into a bowel. Garnish with whatever garnishes you like. I use cheddar, a little sour cream, green onion, red onion and Louisiana Hot Sauce (I should say Texas Pete, but honestly, Lousiana is just better).
I always get a sense of accomplishment after I have created something that reminds me of home. I get a goofy grin as the familiar smells fill my apartment in this little corner of Norway, and suddenly I don't feel so far from home.