Friday, September 26

Accidental Souffle

I am loving living la vida low carb, y'all!


I am learning that my body feels amazing the fewer carbs I eat. That sucks for all the things I love like cakes, cookies, pasta, toast (not bread, toast), BEER...I could go on and on.

However, I really am not craving any of those things at all. I mean, how could I when I am drinking heavy cream in my coffee, scrambling my eggs in butter and eating slices of aged gruyere without any guilt?

My blood sugar is like that of a NORMAL person for these last 2 weeks, and I really can't wait to go to the doctor again and get a new A1c test.

So, a lot of you know that I am not a good recipe follower. I'm just not. This is especially true with baking. And baking is not something you wanna be half assed about. It's chemistry and amounts are important! But alas, I always get carried away and tend to throw things together. I am blessed in that MOST of the time, the things I bake turn out well, however there are times when I am met with surprise.

Like the other night.

I was attempting to make a low carb cheesecake. I perused the recipe on my mac and then went to the kitchen and proceeded to wing it.

I mixed together cream cheese,ricotta, eggs, vanilla, cream, some splenda and lemon juice. Poured it into ramekins and placed them into the oven.

I went to check on it and instead of a compact dense cheesecake, I saw this:

Look at how they raised up!!!! I had accidentally made souffle!!!! One of the most notorious things to make!!!

I have to admit, I was feeling quite smug about them. They were just so light and airy!

If any of you reading are accomplished bakers, you probably know what happened as soon as I took them out of the oven. Yes. Total collapse.

So, I won't sully this blog with an after photo.
Instead, let's focus for a moment on the one glorious moment when I, Kathryn, had made a gorgeous souffle:

Almost perfect.

Wednesday, September 17

From berries to mushrooms

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you are aware of my obsession with PICKING things. One of my fondest childhood memories I have of my father is picking dewberries in Texas. Big, black and juicy berries that we turned into cobblers later on. As a result, I am extremely nostalgic when it come to berry picking as an adult. Especially since my father died.

Well, if you like to pick things, Norway is the place for you! I was in AWE when I first moved here.

I remember so clearly the day I discovered my gift. Or as I like to call it, my 'berry eye'.

We were driving down the highway in Norway my first summer here and I suddenly saw tiny bits of red flashing by. Instinctively I knew it was something that could probably be picked. I yelled at Christopher to STOP!!! Why?? he wanted to know. I think I saw some berries, I said!!!!!

There was an awkward silence.

He didn't share my enthusiasm. Apparantly in Norway, they DO NOT stop their cars and pick berries alongside the highway. Well, we do in Texas, and my future husband graciously stopped so I could go and inspect what it was I saw.

I popped out of the car and trotted back to where I spotted the red bits flashing by, and my instinct was correct! There before me were wild raspberries!!!! Now, maybe wild raspberries aren't a big deal to you, but up until that moment, I had never seen them before. I guess I thought they were just born in my local Kroger produce section.

I picked with abandon, and at that moment, I was hooked.

Since that day, my berry eye has grown in strength.

One time up in Lillehammer, I spotted the elusive and somewhat mythological 'cloud' berry from the road. I swore I saw tiny dots of yellow in the field. I don't think anyone in the car really believed that I did, but again, they stopped to humor me. Sure enough, we stumbled into a field of golden cloud berries!

They all respect my gift now.

My berry eye has now started evolving into a mushroom eye. I'm not so good at it yet. My friend Vibeke took to me to the forest a few weeks ago to train me in the ways of mushroom picking. We were after chanterelle mushrooms. She showed me what they looked like and gave very strict instructions NOT to touch anything I didn't recognize! Assured that her friend from Texas understood the rules, we began our mushroom hunt.

I wish I could explain how excited I get about even just the THOUGHT of picking things. The hunting and finding. I literally had butterflies in my stomach as I was walking through the forest scanning the ground for my quarry. I was starting to get discouraged because I wasn't finding any EDIBLE mushrooms. However, the ones that will shut down your kidneys in 28 seconds were EVERYWHERE!

Then suddenly, I stumbled upon these gorgeous, kidney friendly mushrooms:

I had a surge of excitement course through me! They were everywhere!!!! So, I contented myself with hours of happy mushroom picking! This was my take for the day:

That is about 4 POUNDS of Chanterelles! The brown kind.

This past Saturday, we got the dogs and went to the forest again and this time we found some of the beautiful yellow chanterelles:

They look like flowers! But this one, this one set a record:

It is as big as my hand!!!!!

So, those were my picking adventures this week.

It's amazing that something so simple can bring me such JOY.

Monday, September 8

Beans, beans the magical fruit

Let's start here, shall we:

Ah, cake. Good old fashioned chocolate cake. Kind of.

In following the South Beach diet, I have been trying to find some suitable desserts to curb my occaisional sweet tooth while keeping my renegade blood sugar under control. You may be thinking that chocolate cake is NOT on the South Beach diet, nor is chocolate cake a choice diabetic treat.

Both keen observations.

So, what was a desperate, dieting diabetic to do?? I wanted to make a cake that was sugar free, butter free, OH and FLOUR free as well. So what is the secret ingredient? As you may have deduced from the title of the entry:

YES, beans!
NO!!! You are not hallucinating!
Stay with me til the end! Let me explain!

For years I have heard about 'black bean brownies' on Weight Watchers, but I turned my nose up at them. I had no desire to try them, mainly because it sounded disgusting. But once I started focusing on my blood sugar and overall health a few weeks ago, I stumbled on a recipe for black bean brownies again.

I admit I was feeling a little adventurous and probably a bit woozy and punchy from lack of carbohydrates, because suddenly the idea of brownies made from beans sounded like a good idea.

I plotted my course and bought my ingredients. I was determined to conceal my baking from the husband cause I didn't want him to know what was going into his dessert. It was quite the clandestine production, and I think I was most excited about 'tricking' Christopher into eating cake made out of beans.

I kind of followed the recipe, but added some things (like instant coffee) and tweaked amounts of things (like adding more baking powder for a more cakey result, and tripling the amount of vanilla).

I started by draining and rinsing a can of black beans:

I rinsed them good and long, put them in a mixing bowl and to that added 3 eggs:

To that, I added 4 tablespoons of good baking cocoa, 2 tablespoons of oil, a pinch of salt, 3/4 of a cup of Splenda, 2 heaping teaspoons of baking powder, 2 to 4 teaspoons of instant coffee and a tablespoon of vanilla extract:

I used my stick blender to process it until it was smooth and looked like actual cake batter and poured it into a greased round pan:

Then I smoothed it with the spatula:

I popped it into the convection oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and took this out:

Here is where I get a little excited. It smelled like cake. It looked like cake. It WAS cake. To be honest, I was a bit dumbfounded. I am not sure what I expected, but it wasn't for it to be this realistic! With high hopes, I cut it into squares. It had a very spongy and light texture. Bravely, I took a small bite, and folks, the heavens opened up above me.

When I tell you that I have never been so surprised with the result of something I made in the kitchen before...I mean it.

I was totally SHOCKED. It wasn't just GOOD, it was delicious. It tasted like chocolate cake! Granted, not the worlds best chocolate cake, but for a sugar, dairy and flour free cake, it could kick some serious ass in a 'healthy' cake competition.

I took a square to my husband and could hardly contain my giddiness, which in turn made him very suspicious. I couldn't stop giggling. He tasted it and said 'It's good, why are you laughing?' To which I replied, with smug glee, 'Guess what's in it!!!" Of course he couldn't and when I practically shouted 'BEANS!!!!!', he couldn't believe it either!

So, I am on a bean cake crusade! I took a ziploc bag full of bean cake squares to work and made my co-workers eat them.

They are so trusting of me.

Each time a person ate them, I repeated my annoying routine from the night before: 'Guess what's in them????, BEANS!!!!!'. By the afternoon, I had my spiel down. After a bite was taken, I would say: 'Ok, these are sugar free. Dairy free. No butter. and, oh, no flour.' That really got people's attention. They would usually say 'What are they made of??' and that was when I got the whole 'BEANS!!!!' thing in again!

Seriously friends, TRY THESE!!

Because there is no sugar, my blood sugar reacts well.
Because there is no flour, my blood sugar reacts even better!

They are high in fiber and protein and low in carbohydrates.

They are magic.

I promise.

Tuesday, September 2

When Chicken and Dumplings is the ONLY solution

Well, once again we got screwed out of a decent August here in Oslo. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful I don't have to suffer through Houston summers, but after months of darkness and cold, I do look forward to the WARM Oslo summers. It's been known to reach a balmy 85 here, but the last few years have really been c-r-a-p on the weather front.

Anyway, me and the hubby came down with something on Sunday. Not sure what it is exactly, but it seems that 'everybody' has it according to several people I have talked to. So that makes me feel a bit better cause I hate to suffer alone.

Everytime I get sick, I always get crazy cravings. Usually it's macaroni and cheese or some sort of baked good, but today it was good old chicken and dumplings. Also, it seems to be mandatory that I don't have what I need on hand to make said craving so I have to go to the grocery store. So I sat on the couch for about 55 minutes trying to talk myself into running down 4 flights of stairs and walking to the store. Did I really want chicken and dumplings that bad??

Turned out that, yes, I did want chicken and dumplings that bad.

I finally got to the store, and please believe me when I tell you that I was not looking my best. I looked like I just rolled out of bed for the first time in 2 days and put my husbands clothes on to come to the store, which isn't far from the truth.

I have an uncanny ability to sense when I am being watched, (which led to unfortunate paranoia after seeing Silence of the Lambs and that crazy serial killer with the night vision glasses, but I digress) and I felt watched.

I turned around and there was this somewhat dissheveled middle aged man staring at me. To quote Juno, he wasn't the brightest bulb in the tanning bed, but still, it was kind of creepy. I moved to go around him and he said:
"Du er en vakkert kvinne' with so much passion in his voice that I almost laughed right there.

Translated it means 'You are a beautiful woman' and if I had made ANY effort towards my personal hygiene and appearance over the last 48 hours, I may have possibly believed it, but again, I am sick and I was not looking well. Hollow eyed and ratty are two descriptions that come to mind immediatly.

I thanked him and quickly moved on, but he kept following me and asking if I needed help finding anything as this was his usual grocery store and he knew were most things were.

I wonder if I hallucinate some of these situations.

Anyway, while I was pondering the randomness of life sometimes, I saw this:

It is so exciting to find new things in Oslo! Bisquick!! Of course the box only has about 3 cups total in it. Products here are like the premature babies of their American counterparts. They started carrying Bisquick about a month ago, and we all know that Bisquick makes some rocking dumplings. As the sick often do, I wandered aimlessly around the store for about 45 minutes, and in that time I got my Bisquick, a chicken, celery and carrots and 2 sodas.

Finally got home, threw the chicken in a pot with celery, onion and garlic:

After it boiled for awhile, I took the chicken out and threw in the carrots and deboned the chicken and threw it back in. Next I mixed up some Bisquick and dropped it in by the spoonful:

Then covered it and let it cook for about 15 minutes. Finally, I ladeled it out into a big bowl:

It really is the ultimate in comfort food. And since I am being 'responsible diabetic' these days, I was worried about how the carbs in the Bisquick would affect my bloodsugar, yet two hours later, I was at 130!

Score for the Bisquick!!!