eat all the things

Dear Internet,
One of the duties I’ll be taking over when I become writer in residence of Throbbing Manor is food prep and cooking, so this weekend seemed like a good time as any to start oozing into that roll.
At some point in my life, I’ll learn how to be a better food photographer.
This weekend, however, is not that weekend.

Shredded broccoli and carrot salad.
Shredded broccoli and carrot salad

First up on the list was to find and make some kind of cold salad with broccoli as an ingredient to complement the sausage and peppers we were having for dinner. We had purchased a small broccoli head last week and it was starting to wilt in the fridge, so it needed to be used ASAP. I found this broccoli stem and carrot slaw recipe that ticked all the boxes and let me use up a few items that were getting close to be past their peak.
I had no idea what a cornichons (mini gherkin) were, I cut the mayo nearly in half, used half a white onion instead of a whole red, and we ended up adding a few dashes of salt to amp up the flavor. Instead of a Granny apple, I used a Pink Lady and I didn’t have Dijon, but used brown mustard instead.
While the salad turned out to not to be a good choice as a complement to the meal since the sausages were spicy,  it was still a delight. We noted the flavors of the salad and the meat were dueling it out on our tongues and as a stand alone, the salad would be delish or as a side to more toned down meat like chicken. We both liked the different flavors, the salad’s crunch, and my substitutions worked really well together, making this salad fairly flexible.
granolabark
No-bake granola bark

While the broccoli slaw chilled in the fridge, I turned my attention to this no-bake 5 ingredient granola bar recipe I had recently discovered. I was drawn to the recipe because we already had all the ingredients and the idea that the bars could be formed without baking was greatly appealing. The lack of added sugar was also a big plus. I added in a dash of shredded coconut to the recipe for added flavor and added dried apricots to the mix as well. Apparently I didn’t press the mixture hard enough into the pan because after 20 or so minutes in the freezer, they came out more like bark than bars. TheHusband declare he loved it,  and it’s something we can always make again since we normally carry all the ingredients in the house. We’re keeping the bark in the freezer to keep fresh and to nibble. Next time I’ll just need TheHusband to come down and use his manly strength to press the bars more firmly.
Vegan nutella

Lastly, I made another batch of vegan nutella. While it is super easy to make, I still hate de-skinning the hazelnuts as the skin bits get everywhere. Regardless, my toast this week will be partying hard with this on top.

««««»»»»

While I’ll more than likely never get beyond as a very amateur cook, there is definitely something to be had for eating something knowing, “I made this.”
xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 1999

Recipe: Vegan Nutella

The ingredients
The ingredients

Dear Internet,
Truth be told, I’ve been pretty lax on the dairy restrictions around these parts lately because having a dairy allergy is akin to a death sentence. If you don’t live in a vegan friendly area, you’re pretty much fucked in the shopping and eating out arena as  (mostly) everything has some sort of dairy-based ingredient in it. Thanks to my BFFs at VeganGR, GR has a growing vegan-friendly restaurant and food scene. But I am not vegan or vegetarian, I’m just allergic to dairy so I cheat.
A lot.
Let me clarify that “cheating a lot” business. I mean that I won’t eat ice cream, but if a product has whey or lactose in it (crackers, chips, etc), and it’s not within the first five ingredients, I will eat it. If I am out to eat and an item has butter in or on it, I will eat it. I’ve been known to imbibe in a pizza or two and eating 2 Benadryl directly after ingestion.
Except cheating is becoming problematic. Before I could get away with having a pretzel stick here and eat eggs cooked in butter there, but the longer I keep cheating, the more compounded my reactions get. Finally, I’ve decided I’ve had enough of the constant heartburn, hives, lips tingling, stomach issues, and so forth. I have resolved no more cheating, and if I want something, I have to find or make a dairy free version of it.
One of the hardest things for me to replace is Nutella. It’s chock full of skim milk and they use milk chocolate. When I find dark chocolate variations of hazelnut spread, milk or whey is almost always involved. I’ve had a variation or two that seemed to be dairy free, but the flavor was off. I figured this was going to be one of the few foods I had to give up forever.
The answer is: No. Not true.
I discovered this particular recipe a few years ago, but I was afraid it was going to be a failure like previous veganization experiments. I once tried to make vegan cheese and it was a science project. Yeah, I’m super hesitate about making vegan Nutella.
But this recipe, this recipe was easy. It had five ingredients, only required toasting of the hazelnuts and the use of a food processor. If I could get the roasting out of the way, as I’ve been known to burn bacon cooked in the oven, then I could totally do this.
I ordered already roasted hazelnuts from Nuts.com and waited for their arrival as I had everything else in stock. Once the nuts arrived (along with my personal mixed trail mix – yum!), I went to work.
First, I measured 2 cups of hazelnuts.
2 cups of hazelnuts
2 cups of hazelnuts

And since they were already roasted (smart thinking Lisa!), I dumped them into a clean kitchen cloth and rubbed the skins off.
Rubbed off hazelnut skins
Rubbed off hazelnut skins

After I got 98% of the skins off, because you won’t be able to get them all off, I dumped the lot into the food processor.
hazelnutsfoodprocessor
Hazelnuts 98% skinned in a food processor

According to the instructions, when you start grinding the little bastards, first it goes into a meal, then into a ball, and then thanks to the heat and friction, it becomes butter in about 5 minutes of constant food processing.
Okay, I said to myself, I can do this. So I set the timer for five minutes and started processing.
My nuts went from nuts to butter in 1:30. One minute. Thirty seconds. I did not even get the satisfaction of the ball that would bounce around on the blades for a bit. Now the reason that I think they went almost immediately into butter is because the nuts were probably roasted with a bit of oil on them, so combined with their own natural oils, they liquefied pretty quickly.
After the nuts went into butter, then you dump in the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and the cocoa powder and continue to process until it was thoroughly mixed.
[insert photo I forgot to take of the processing of the rest of the ingredients.]
Now the recipe also calls for up to 1/4 cup of veg or nut oil added to liquefy a bit more if it was too thick to stir. I decided to use 1Tbsp of veg oil and go up depending on the results, and even that was way too much. But since it is living in the fridge for the next month or two (or week, if we end up devouring it), the cold will definitely thicken it up.
End result?
IT'S ALIVE!
IT’S ALIVE!

It bloody tastes like fucking Nutella.
I am a domestic goddess. Nigella, eat your heart out.
So a couple of notes:

  • If you buy your nuts already roasted (smart thinking!), you may find yourself not in the need of the oil
  • If you do use an oil, do not use veg, use a neutral oil instead. TheHusband, who has super human taste buds, claims he can taste the “rancid vegetables” from the oil
  • Jessica Su, the author of the recipe, put together another version (on the same page, but farther down) that does not use confectioners sugar. Her reasoning is that as confectioners sugar contains cornstarch, the first recipe seems a bit chalky in taste. We did not find that to be true, so feel free to mix/match between the two recipes she offers
  • If you order from nuts.com, a 1lb bag of roasted, unsalted hazelnuts should make two batches, a pint per batch
  • I use Hershey’s Special Dark powdered cocoa since it does not contain milk derivatives but any powdered cocoa will do

Recipe

2 cups whole raw, roasted, unsalted hazelnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 1/4 cup neutral  oil (grapeseed, coconut, something along those lines)

  • Remove the skins from the hazelnuts by putting them in a clean cloth and gently rubbing on them until the skins come off. You can also toss them in a bowl. If some skins are left on, that’s okay.
  • Dump the skinned hazelnuts into a food processor and process until they become butter. Time may vary, but it should go from whole nuts to meal to a ball of mass and then into butter. Stop and scrap down sides as needed. Process until you have a nice butter formed
  • Once the butter has formed, add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla and process until thoroughly mixed. Scrape sides as needed.
  • If the mixture is too stiff, start adding the neutral oil, 1/2 Tbsp at a time until desired spreadability
  • Transfer deliciousness into a pint glass, cap tightly and store in fridge for 1-2 months
  • You may need to mix it before using

xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. I snuck downstairs a few hours later and the Nutella was divine! I was eating gobs of it with a spoon and had to stop myself from devouring the entire jar.
 

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 20132003, 2003

god did the detroit hustle

St. George and the Dragon by Paulo Uccello (1397 - 1475), via Wikimedia Commons
St. George and the Dragon by Paulo Uccello (1397 – 1475), via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Internet,
My beloveds, I am deeply apologetic about the timing of today’s post. There were rumors around campus yesterday if the snow fell as much as the forecast was predicting, the college may be closing on Friday. Today was to be a short day for me, my two major appointments concerning food, so I decided instead of wrestling with fates on who was to be the victor, I stole the show and took the day off as an early vacation day.
On my first full day of freedom, I woke fairly early considering no alarm had been set and read in bed for awhile before the dog started getting antsy about going outside. TheHusband, whose been home on his holiday since Tuesday, snored gently to the tune of the whirring of the stand fan by his side of the bed.
I had told my office mates, well anyone who would listen, I was not planning on leaving the house for at least a week. One of them thought I was crazy — “I would go nuts,” she declared melodramatically, “If I stayed inside longer than two days!” No, not me. I even bought new yoga pants to celebrate. Not having to deal with asshole Michigan drivers swerving on rivers of snow, not having to beat feet around campus making meetings, not getting my pant leg tugged by staff and patrons on fixing something. The semester had been rough leading up to this point, I am desperate for a recharge and relaxation. And the opportunity to wear yoga pants and sports bras until they shred.
Today marks the 43rd day of a daily post from me, something I’m still a bit of a peacock about. I’m hovering at about 40K words during that period, or roughly about 1K words a day which is pretty close to NaNoWriMo lengths. I have been most excellent in keeping myself steady on this writing business, last week I had finished a few short stories and a few poems in addition to my daily writing here. I’m finding I am scribbling everywhere about everything, thus I decided during my holiday break to finally take a serious stab at writing a novel.
I have attempted, drunkenly stabbed at, stumbled towards writing a fiction novel since my early ’20s. I have outlines, characters fleshed out, half chapters finished of chaos and mess. Some of it is quite good, some of it also quite terrible. But I could never really get over that hump about getting my shit together and finishing the damn thing. Any of them. Ever.
If you’ve perused my writing page, you’ll see a couple of ideas I had been toying with at the time when I had thrown up the page in the summer of 2012. Of course I did not plan to spend most of that summer drugged on pain killers, which lead to spending most of early spring in the same situation, coupled with being on/off my bipolar and ADHD meds. While I am not trying to judge myself too harshly for my overly ambitious state of mind then, well, forgive me. It’s hard.
I came to the conclusion a few weeks ago I am coming at this finishing a novel business from the wrong angle. Once I started sorting out my technique, things as they tend to do, started to flow. The fruits of putting myself into a small challenge, writing and posting everyday, has been the catalyst for many minor and major life changes. I’m prioritizing my time better, I’m finishing work projects not at the last second but more often than not with time to spare. I feel more confident about myself, which is both a weird feeling and vaguely hysterical. I always knew I would be good at this, I just had to prove it to myself. I now have something tangible to look at and go yes, this is true. I can do this.
Where were we? Oh yes, so I was thinking the time is finally ripe to take one of my ideas and inseminate it with coffee, tea, spice cupcakes, and pug sweat. Last year  I opened the door to people to preview my work as I go and I am going to do it again for this project. If you’re interested in joining, here are the details.
It should also go without saying that I’ll be writing about the whole process, etc etc here so be prepared for that onslaught in the upcoming weeks.
Also be prepared for a lot of food posts as well in the next few weeks. TheHusband and I are huge, HUGE fans of Mark Bittman and to deter the habit of always going out for food, we’re going to be cooking / baking all of our food from Bittman’s cookbooks while we’re home for the holidays. Since I’m handling a lot of the baking and breads, I wanted to document the process. Plus who doesn’t like good food and recipes to share?
I have also not forgotten the Making Happy project, but now that the semester is finally over and I can breathe, it should be easy to start up.
Good night and don’t hog the bed!
x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe:

On the occasion of giving thanks

Our table
Our table. From front: Cornbread & Sausage stuffing, Kale & Chard salads, roasted root veg, and roast beef.

 
Dear Internet,
Thanksgiving, as a holiday, has always been a source of conflict in our house. There is, of course, the idea of thanking the fates for all the bounties the year has given us and then there is the history of the day, which is steeped in blood, violence, and deceit. We’ve started approaching it more as a “Let’s make a fabulous feast and have people over for cards!” as our tradition rather than dwell on the historical origins.
Here is this years menu, along with recipes:
Beef roast marinating in Guinness.
Beef roast marinating in Guinness.

After slow cooking for 8 hours.
After slow cooking for 8 hours.

Meat: Guinness marinated, slow cooked roast beef
Instead of turkey (which both of us are eh on) or ham (which TheHusband is not a fan of), we opted to make a slow cooked Guinness marinated roast beef just like the meat pies of the same name I usually make, except minus the crust. We marinated the beef for nearly 48 hours before slow cooking it for about 8.
This year, the beef was good but on the dry side. We decided it was because we used a janky slow cooker which we’re now discovering has terrible heat element and thermostat control. We’ve decided next time, whether as a stand alone dish or for the meat pie itself, to use Mark Bittman’s techniques for making pot roast from his How To Cook Everything
I should also add that in the three years since I first published the recipe, much has changed with how we prep and cook the beef. Namely, there is no dried onion soup mix or cornstarch involved. TheHusband, when we make this meat pie, now makes the gravy via a roux from the beef drippings and caramelizes the onions instead of relying on dehydrated spices.
Cornbread and Sausage stuffing.
Cornbread and Sausage stuffing.

SidesCornbread & Sausage Stuffing
It’s a well known fact nothing can come in between me and my carbs. This is TheHusband’s take on a Whole Foods recipe of the same name, except we take the corn bread recipe found on the container of corn meal, double it, and use the same pan the corn bread cooked in as the baking dish for the stuffing. He also doubles the meat, and adds carrots for color and flavor. By far our favorite part of the meal it has now become the default staple when we do big meals like this.
Kale_and_chard_salad_with_almonds_and_lemon_garlic_dressing.
Kale and Chard salad with almonds and lemon/garlic dressing.

Sides: Lemon Garlic Kale Salad
This recipe was pulled from the New York Times’ essentials for a 2013 Thanksgiving and came out a dud. It looks super pretty, but tasted of oil slicks. The dressing, which I prepared as directed, was the culprit. Given I had double the greens requested, and made the dressing to a T, we ended up having more than double of the dressing left over after giving the greens a good toss. The olive oil and lemon juice looked emulsified but tasted strictly of oil even though garlic cloves steeped in the concoction for roughly an hour. The recipe doesn’t give precise directions on what you should be looking for or how long the garlic was to steep, so I worked with what I had.
Next time we make this salad, we’ll use the same greens/almonds mixture, but with a different vinaigrette.
Sides: Mashed potatoes
TheHusband used russets which he smashed using goats milk and vegan butter. They came out delicious and ultra creamy.
Sides: Roasted root vegetables
Sweet potatoes, carrots, and kohlrabi were slow cooked in the oven for about an hour under a brown sugar glaze TheHusband whipped up for the cooking process. TheHusband was meh on most of the veg, only liking the glaze and the sweet potatoes, while I adored the whole concoction. Next time we make this dish, we’re going to change out the kohlrabi and add in turnips and another veg for color and flavor and keep the glaze.
Chocolate pecan pie (before baking).
Chocolate pecan pie (before baking).

Deserts: Chocolate Pecan Pie
The pie crust held up remarkably well using vegan butter (Earth Balance) and but the caveat is I should add is I should have rolled the crust thicker to the size as it shrank when it was pre-cooked before I added the filling.
Per the instructions listed, the pie was to bake 30-40 minutes until it jiggles and then pull out to cool completely. After 35 minutes, the pie was a’jiggling and was set aside to cool for an hour before being placed in the fridge to chill for about five hours before it was cut.
Turns out the pie had not finished cooking and the middle, even after chilled completely in the fridge to hasten the thickening process, was like runny black blood. TheHusband didn’t care for the pie, declaring it too chocolatey and sweet, which is odd since I used bittersweet chocolate not only for the chips but also for the cocoa powder. But I do have to agree the chocolate, even with the pecans, is overpowering. May make this again in the future, but modified to taste. The crust recipe, however, is a definite keeper.
We love trifle so much, we even have its own designated bowl.
We love trifle so much, we even have its own designated bowl.

Deserts: Trifle
The tradition to eat trifle for major dinners and feasts is a long standing one in TheHusband’s family, one of which he introduced me to when we got back together and one he has been in charge of making.  Upon finding out my allergy to dairy a few years ago, the entire concoction is now artisanal with nothing coming pre-packaged except the cake mix, which we found saves a lot of time when we have so much else to prep for other courses, and of course the fruit, none of which is locally instead at the moment.
Trifles are layers consisting of cake, custard/pudding, whipped creams, and fruit of some sort. We usually do a yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding/custard, fruits striking the fancy, and of course the whipped cream. As nearly each component is lengthy for prep, we usually start assembling the ingredients a few days before the event it is to be eaten. (And if TheHusband had his way, all he’d eat is trifle for every meal.)
For the pudding/custard layer, TheHusband makes it from scratch using the following technique:
Throbbing Manor custard 
8 egg yolks, whisked together
4 cups of goats milk
3-4 Tbls Tapioca (optional, for texture)
2/3 cup of sugar
3-4 Tbls of cornstarch to thicken
Guts of a vanilla bean

  1. Using a whisk, combine milk, tapioca sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat on stove top. Allow milk to scald (heat to the point when tiny bubbles form around edges of pan). Whisk occasionally to prevent cornstarch from clumping on bottom edges of pan.
  2. Remove milk mixture from heat,
  3. Mix a few tablespoons of scalded milk mixture into eggs using whisk, then introduce eggs/milk mixture into remaining milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
  4. Immediately return pan to heat and whisk gently until custard thickens, another two or three minutes. Do not allow to boil.
  5. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla.
  6. Cool completely before eating. Should be refrigerated at least 12 hours before assembling in trifle.

I personally found the above a little on the thin side after it was assembled in the trifle, and TheHusband agreed. He said he’d probably up the cornstarch to get it to thicken more.
Throbbing Manor coconut milk whipped cream
1-2 can of full fat coconut milk
Sugar/Vanilla to taste (optional)

  1. Refrigerate the can of coconut milk for at least 10-12 hours (we like it after at least 24). Several hours before you need to whip the cream, place metal bowl in freezer to chill.
  2. When you’re ready to whip the cream, open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the firm layer coconut cream that has risen to the top of the can and put it in the chilled metal bowl. Do NOT scoop out any of the water left in the can, you want just the solids. You can use the leftover water for drinking/smoothies/whatever.
  3. Mix on high speed for 3-5 minutes using a hand mixer or mixing stand. You want soft peaks to form as you whip.
  4. Add in optional sugar/vanilla during the end stages of the whipping
  5. Keep unused mixture in the metal bowl and keep in fridge to re-whip before using again.
  6. For the trifle, we used two cans of coconut milk

 
And there you go. Now you know why we are so fat. Happy holidays!
x0x0,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2011, 1998

Recipe: Slow Cooked Moroccan Stew

[donotprint]
Dear Internet,
Alright Internet, I’ll get straight to the point: It’s over 90F. It’s going to be hot for days. You want something to eat but you don’t to cook (and this is taking into consideration you’ve already ate your vodka infused freezy-pops and drank enough slurpees for a million brain freezes) and you don’t want to have to keep making a meal every day.  Enter slow cooked Moroccan stew:

MS-ingredients
The ingredients.

Okay, I fudged. There is some cooking, but not a lot. Like 10 minutes. Tops! It won’t hurt, I promise, to turn on your stove.  (Just don’t forget to turn it off when you’re done.)
TheHusband and I have started our split schedules this summer – he is working up north and tending to cabin, while I work down state during the week before heading up to him on the weekends. When we left a few weeks ago to head up north, we cleaned the fridge and pantry out of anything that could possibly rot while we were gone. I knew coming back I’d have to do a small shop for the few days I was in town and that I’d need to do this every week.
MS-pan
Onions, peppers, squash!

The problem is: I don’t cook. Well, I can cook, but when TheHusband is much better at it than me, I don’t see the point. On the flip side, as part of my BECOME SUPER AWESOME project is learning the fundamentals of cooking. While I haven’t gotten there yet (the year is still young…), this exact situation I’m in now is the reason why I wanted to learn the fundamentals of cooking so that I’m not grazing on veggies and hummus for all of my meals for four days.
You can almost smell the cinnamon from here.
You can almost smell the cinnamon from here.

Enter Twitter. And Davey. Davey posts he has/is making a nomilicous slow cooked Moroccan stew and did any one want the recipe? I said sure! In addition to sounding delicious, the idea of making a one pot meal, that I didn’t have to watch, and could be eaten over the course of many days appealed. Bonus points: I had 90% of the ingredients already and shopping this week was a breeze since it was essentially chocolate, a box of a cereal, and sugar free Red Bull.
[/donotprint]

Slow Cooked Moroccan Stew

Adapted from Davey.
Vegetarian. Dairy Free. Gluten Free.
Prep time: 30-60 minutes
Cook time: 4-8 hours
Ingredients
2-3 Tbsp EV Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini, cut into small chunks
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried chili flakes
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried ginger (or you could use fresh ginger)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans of diced tomatoes (Chopped will also work.)
2 or 3 Tbsp of lemon juice
1 Tbsp of honey
Good handful of raisins or currants
1 cup of dried apricots, cut into bite sized chunks
1 apple, chopped
1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
4-6 medium potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup red wine (sweet or dry depending how you want the stew to go) [OPTIONAL]
Instructions

  1. In a pan, heat up the oil and add onion, pepper, zucchini. Cook on med-low heat until veggies soften and the onion gets a little carmalized.
  2. Once veeggies have softened, add cumin, paprika, chili, cinnamon, ginger, and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, honey, raisins/currants, and stir well. Simmer for a few more minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
  5. Turn the crock pot on low and line the bottom with apricots, chick peas, potatoes, apples, and carrots.
  6. Add the mixture from the pan on the top and stir well.
  7. Add wine, and stir again.
  8. Cook on low for 8-10 hours OR on high for 4-6.

Serves 6-8. At least.
Serve with rice (any flavor), couscous, pita chips, or fresh torn up baguette for sopping.
Notes

  • Davey doesn’t give amounts for some things, like he just has “potatoes,” so the amounts listed above is what I used.
  • He recommends pre-cooking the carrots, potatoes, and chick peas BEFORE going into the pot. This seemed like overkill since they would be slow cooking for hours so I opted to skip that part.
  • The only ingredient I omitted from his version is mushrooms as I hate the damn things.
  • I added red wine, upped the amount of a few spices, salt and pepper, swapped veggie oil for olive, used red potatoes, yellow squash for the zucchini, and added an apple.
  • Davey also notes it freezes and reheats well, which makes this a great dish to make if you want something super delicious that you don’t mind eating several days in a row or for a potlock.
  • I marked this vegetarian and not vegan since it contains honey and to stave off controversy.

End result: It was damned delicious. I had two bowls for dinner last night, using pita chips to scoop up the bits. There were enough leftovers to serve me for over a week. Since I got heavy handed on the honey and wine, it was slightly sweeter than I would have liked but overall I loved it.
[donotprint]
x0x0,
Lisa
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This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2012

The meat eating vegan

Chocolate.1
The last several weeks have been rift with various life changing events. In no particular order:

  • I was extended the position of Systems & Web Librarian at Grand Rapids Community College (where I had been adjuncting since February), of which I accepted. Yay hookers & blow!
  • I was diagnosed with a moderately severe milk protein allergy.
  • My car is dying – it needs to be replaced.

Each of these are fraught with their own pluses and minuses – the milk protein allergy, however, is the most poignant. Why? Remember several years ago when I was diagnosed with massive amounts of sensitivities and allergies to a variety of foods from across the spectrum? What I never really explained is that the testing was done by naturopath and it was done using Electrodermal Diagnosis. In short, my allergies were “diagnosed” based upon the changes of electrical changes when current was pumped through me. So that list that I provided of over 100 different allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities? Turns out they were patently false.
Now before you begin rolling your eyes at me at how naive I was to think that electrodermal diagnosis would even work or you know, the obvious case of BAD SCIENCE, I just want to point out that I was DESPERATE. I had just gotten insurance, I picked a local GP who turned out to be a naturopath who made the suggestion of the electrodermal diagnosis. I was sick of feeling, well, sick all the time, randomly throwing up for no reason and heartburn that would take an elephant down. When I went on the naturopath suggested food elimination diet, namely removing gluten, some diary and tomatoes, I did feel better. But it wasn’t constant even when I was good. So I began to cheat and cheat a lot.
As time when on, TheHusband and I started using my body as an experiment and the biggest thing we noticed is that when we went out to eat, processed food made me ill while the same variation of food cooked by TheHusband, was fine. So we figured, at the very least, I could not tolerate some preservative that were being used in restaurant food, no matter how local or fresh it was. And gluten? Every single loaf of gluten bread I baked gave me no distress whatsoever and I never had symptoms after eating gluten products, so that diagnosis made zero sense. After recently throwing up after finishing a pint of ice cream, TheHusband made me head to the doctor as he was getting tired of the one off throwing up gigs and my buying of Pepto in bulk. He figured it was an ulcer and I also had them do a blood test for allergies as well. I got the news while I was sipping on coffee laced with death (half’n’half, natch) that I had a level 2-3 milk protein allergy. 2 Allergy spectrum works on a level of 1-4, with 1 being more or less intolerant and four meaning death.3
So yes, I’m bearing down on 40 with a speed that often takes my breath away and I have an allergy that is typically associated with babies and kids. Because when you google “milk protein allergy,” almost all the information is geared for toddlers and kids. The irony is not lost on me at all.
So what’s the difference between being lactose intolerant and having a milk protein allergy? The former is typically categorized with gastrointestinal distress while the later can run the rampart of skin rash, hives, anxiety, vomiting – the list goes on. There is no magic pill for me to take, where those who are intolerant can tolerate some levels of dairy or get lactose-free (not necessarily has to be casein or whey free) products. I can’t. I have to ABSOLVE FROM IT ALL. I called my docs and got it confirmed I have to also stay away from goat and sheep milk based products for the moment to let my body heal. And by ABSOLVE FROM IT ALL also means any products processed with milk or milk by-products which runs the gamut from the obvious (cheese, sour cream, yogurt, etc) to the non-obvious (toothpaste!). Even store bought bread has traces of whey in it, which makes it even more awesome that I’ve been baking our bread from scratch for months. And if I’m with TheHusband, he won’t even allow me to purchase items that have zero milk product ingredient but “may contain trace of” since the product was produced in a factory that produced a product containing dairy.
There has been a lot of melodrama in my head about this – like the desire to want to motorboat a loaded bake potato and I look at cheese plates online lasciviously like how I used to stalk Joaquin Phoenix. I’m often caught drooling in the grocery store in the artisan cheese aisle, quickly wiping the drool before anyone catches me. I make cow eyes at TheHusband when he eats ice cream. Now, I know there are vegan replicas of almost every animal product on the market. TheHusband and I had swapped dairy out in various forms on and off for years, so going to soy milk and soy butter was not that big of stretch for us. But cheese? Sour cream? Ice cream? I don’t care what most vegan folks say, 99% of the replacement products to replicate sweet, sweet cow milk TASTES OF ASS AND BALLS. Yes, I’m aware of brands like Tofutti but their sour cream was meh and So(y) Delicious! fudge marble ice cream was nothing like it’s cow milk counterpart. I know the taste, texture and consistency may not be EXACTLY the same, but it should be in the general ballpark. So far, I\’m finding that to not be true.
So, according to Alice, I’m a megan – a meat eating vegan. I still consume eggs and meat, but have no dairy unless it’s artificially created and I won’t touch tofu with a ten foot pool. (And that is because I have not met tofu cooked in any way that was even remotely palatable to me.) What has been amazing about this whole dairy free thing is that how many of my physical problems were wrapped up into this allergy. In the last several weeks since I went dairy free:

  • My rosacea has almost completely cleared up.
  • I’ve had almost no panic attacks or panic attack symptoms
  • I’ve slept better, with better energy
  • Rashes/breakouts on my back and legs have almost entirely cleared up
  • I don’t feel like my stomach is full of knives
  • My arthritis has subsided quite a bit

Will I end up talking about this more on my blog? Probably because it’s hard to find dairy free blogs and websites that don’t get the super preachy HIPPIE VIBE thrown at you. Not consuming milk proteins is not a personal lifestyle choice, for me it’s a medically necessary one and I can do without the vegan hypocrisy when reading about a dairy free lifestyle. I cry at the thought that I’ll never eat a gooey, tasty, dripping with grease slice of pizza ever again.
1. Reverse Richard Brautigan.
2. I’ve also got an allergy to mold, which makes sense since I have an existing allergy to penicillin but I’ve never wanted to motorboat mold before so it’s not that exciting.
3. Not really, but sounds way more dramatic.

To: Consume: Recipe – Guinness Steak Pie

Steak Pie! [I started writing this post Sunday morning, with the intent of having the text finished while the meat was simmering in the slow cooker and adding photos as the meal progressed during the day. I discovered, however, when looking for photos from past meals to add to the post that I had NOT uploaded half of my photos from my trip to Scotland. I spent a better part of the afternoon color correcting and uploading five days worth of images to Flickr, from a trip taken 4.5 years ago. Considering I also just recently uploaded the remaining photos from my 2008 trip to England, at this rate, I’ll get the rest of the honeymoon pics up in 2013.]
In the early summer of 2006, several friends of mine and I travelled to Scotland for two weeks of Scottish bliss. Nearly every night during our stay, we would top our day off with a trip to Haymarket Pub, New Town, Edinburgh and after the pub, a trip to the local fish/chips/pizza/kebab/burger/chicken place.

haymarket2

At Haymarket, our home away from home away from home, we flirted with the staff, taught the bartenders how to make black’n’tans and lemon drops and ate at least one meal there a day. Our favorite meal, by far, was their Guinness Steak Pie served with mashed potatoes and peas.1 Darcee and I were so enamored of the meal that upon our return to U.S., we set to work on figuring out the recipe. The summer of 2006, in my itty, bitty kitchen on Norwood Ave., during an incredibly hot summer in which I also did not have A/C, we worked out the recipe and after a few tries, found an ingredient list that works.
In the nearly five years since our trip, I usually make Guinness Steak Pie once a season and usually timing it with a birthday or some sort of celebration. The meal, due to the cost and amount of beer and meat involved, can be fairly expensive2 and because the process can take several days, also very time consuming. To make Guinness Steak Pie, thus, involves planning and giving up your kitchen to a higher good for a few days. In the end, it is totally worth it.
Also during those five years, I have been the only person who has known the recipe from start to finish. I’ve hoarded the recipe close to my chest like crazy lady because it was a great trump card to entice people to visit or woo them if we just met. Plus it was also my “thing”! Everyone has a “thing” and mine was/is Lisa and her Guinness Steak Pie! When TheHusband and I started dating again, I wooed him with Guinness Steak Pie. When he would return to home to California after visiting me, he apparently bragged to his roommate about the deliciousness that is Guinness Steak Pie. Said roommate would ask for the recipe, TheHusband would ask me for it, I would say no and then TheHusband and I would get into an argument about the ideas behind freedom of information. He argued, and I do agree with, that information should be freely available.
Unless it’s Guinness Steak Pie and in that case, the rest of the world can go fuck itself. 🙂
Over the course of the last few years, as TheHusband and I would argue back and forth on this topic, I realized that hoarding the recipe AND then claiming to be a proponent of freedom of information was getting a bit ridiculous, so I decided that I would publish the recipe the next time I made it. And to be fair, I did parcel out the recipe to friends outside of the continental U.S., if that counts, which to me it does.
The pie can be cut into four large pieces or six normal sized pieces, served with mashed potatoes and accompanying gravy and a veg on the side. We recommend the veg to prevent scurvy. So here we are. Links in recipe to images on Flickr illustrating that step. Also consider this a rough draft of the presentation of the recipe since it’s done from memory. Corrections/edits will be notated when necessary. Please email or comment with suggestions/additions.
Guinness Steak Pie
Ingredients (Makes 1 pie.)
3lbs of beef roast
2 bottles of Guinness Extra Stout
1 packet of dried onion soup mix
2 Tbls corn starch
Water
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Pastry dough for top/bottom crust
nRed skin potatoes
Butter
Sour cream
Milk
Veg (to prevent scurvy)
Step 1
Marinate beef roast in liquid from 2 bottles of Guinness, in the fridge, for a minimum of 12 hours. Recommend using a gallon sized bag and double wrapping the bag to prevent leaking. Meat should be submersed in the beer for best results so make sure meat is laid flat on the shelf.
Step 2
After minimum time marinating, transfer meat and beer into slow cooker. Add enough water to the beer mixture to cover the meat. Then add 1 packet of dried onion soup mix to the mixture. Turn slow cooker onto low for minimum of 8 hours. See notes for additional options.
Step 3
nOne hour before meat is done (minimum 7 hours), pull pie dough out of fridge to warm to room temperature. Clean and cut red skin potatoes for cooking. Transfer potatoes into a pot, with water to cover, onto stove.
Step 4
Preheat over to 400F.
Turn heat on under potatoes on stove to bring to boil.
After minimum of 8 hours, turn slow cooker off.
Line 9″ deep dish pie plate with bottom crust.
Pull roast from slow cooker onto a plate and shred. Pile shredded beef into pie plate.
Step 5
Pour liquid from slow cooker into a pot.
Turn on medium heat.
Add cornstarch to water to form liquid consistency then add to gravy mixture on stove.
nHeat until gravy thickens.
Step 6
Cover meat pie with gravy. Please note there will be EXTRA gravy left over, so you will not use it all.
Add top crust and vent crust, then put into pre-heated oven for 15-22 minutes until crust is golden.
Step 7
While pie is baking, potatoes should be done. Mash redskins with butter, milk and sour cream.
Heat up veg of choice (to prevent scurvy).
Step 8
Pull pie out of oven and let sit a few minutes.
Cut into 4-6 pieces.
Serve with mashed potatoes, veg and gravy.
Enjoy.
Notes

  • The magic minimum time for marinating the meat is 12 hours. More is better, less doesn’t work as well.
  • The minimum slow cooking time is 8 hours on low, or 4-6 hours on auto then on low for remaining time. I’ve had it hang out in the slow cooker for up to 10 hours on low and have had great results, but minimum is 8.
  • 3lbs of roast will fill a 9″ deep dish pie plan with room for gravy.
  • I’ve made the pie with expensive AND cheap cuts of meat, with the same results. It was pointed out to me that the idea of marinating meat is not only to flavor the meat but to tenderize it, therefore cut of meat is irrelevant.
  • We’ve done pie dough by hand AND pre-made. Both work equally well.
  • The pie will keep in the fridge for a few days, but does not freeze well.
  • You could alternately put the cornstarch in with the meat while it’s slow cooking and make the gravy that way instead of doing it separately.
  • I also should note that a vegetarian friend has made this, swapping the beef for portabella mushrooms, and said it came out deliciously awesome.

1. I have yet to find a reasonable explanation for the Scots and their obsession with peas as evident by their serving it at Every. Single. Meal. The exception to that rule seems to be peas were of the mushy variety, of which I was able to track down cans of here locally in the summer of 2009.
2. This time around, roast was running at about $4/lb so it was $12 USD for the meat and $9 for the beer for a single meal, not including other ingredients.

To: Consume – Shark Cake!

Shark Cake!
Shark Cake!

Our friends/pub quiz masters Eric + Lauren are moving from the Detroit area back to their hometown at the end of the month, so Kristin and I wanted to do something special for them before they left but we were not quite sure what that something would be. In the end, she and I decided to make & present them with a Shark Cake! from a recipe we found on Parenting.com due to their, specifically Lauren’s, love of sharks. A few hours, some sugar and candy, food coloring and a simple pound cake and viola! A beast that borders on more on Domo Kun rather than scary, blood ripping terror of the high seas, but it’s the thought that counts.
We presented the cake to them last night at Pub Quiz, with the quiz master cum dj played “Don’t Stop Belivin’” as Kristin and I’s procession and presentin’ music. We haven’t heard from either Lauren or Eric today, so let’s hope it’s because they are overcome in a sugar coma and our baking skillz didn’t accidentally kill them.
More food porn is located here.

To: Consume: Recipe – The Throbbing’s Granola Mix

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The Throbbing's version of granola.
The Throbbing’s version of granola.

I had not realized finding a granola recipe that we liked would be that difficult – it’s oats, nuts, dried fruits and whatever else is thrown in the mix. How fucking hard can finding a decent recipe be? Apparently, damned difficult: Finding a recipe that doesn’t depend on granulated sugars, preservatives or some form of artificial sweetening (even from the supposed “all natural” recipes) to sweeten it up proved to be a tricky task. Also, the timing for baking it was also odd as many recipes had super high temps for long periods, instead of a more moderate temp. The super high suggestions nearly ended up near scorching the oats and nuts.
The following is the cobbled mixture with the base nod to Alton Brown’s Granola recipe plus experimentation. We totally love this version and it’s become a staple over these last few weeks. We hope you enjoy it too.
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The Throbbing’s1 Granola Mix
Ingredients
3 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of slivered almonds
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of sweetened coconut
1/4 cup molasses (You can use maple syrup or double the honey instead.)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup of oil (I flip between vegetable or sunflower)
Cinnamon (to taste)
1 cup of chopped dried dates
1 cup of chopped dried apricots
1 cup of golden raisins
1 cup of raisins
Directions
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together oats, nuts, seeds and coconut. In a smaller bowl, mix together molasses, honey and oil. Combine the liquid mixture with the dry mixture, making sure the dry mixture is evenly coated. Spread, evenly, onto sheet pans. Sprinkle cinnamon liberally on the mixture.
Cook for 30 minutes,stir and add more cinnamon as needed. Rotate pans in the oven and then cook for an additional 30 minutes. Total cooking time is 1 hr. After cooking, let granola cool for a few minutes before transferring into big bowl, then add dried fruits and additional nuts. Mix until evenly distributed.
Notes:
1. Our oven is electric as well as crappy. 250F for an hour seemed to be perfect – anything longer (or at a higher heat) and the whole mix just started getting scrochy.
2. I’ve had same luck with pre-treating the pans with a spray oil as I have not pre-treating the pans before distributing the mixture: stickiness to the pans abounds. Mileage may vary.
3. All the ingredients are organic or local or preservative free or a combination of the above. Dried fruits do not have additional sugar added to them. The molasses used was organic, though arguments about “natural” could ensue.
4. To: Experiment: Swap out the nuts and dried fruits with whatever you’d like as the base of oils/oats is excellent to work from. It’s sweet but not overly sugary. Add 1/2 – 3/4 Tsp of salt to the mix if you want to make it a little more sweet’n’salty.
5. Update 09/02/10: After more experimentation, discovered that cinnamon liberally sprinkled on the mix and baking the cinnamon in adds a wonderful flavor to the granola. Recipe has been updated.
1. Throbbings is our last name nom de plume, as discussed here.
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To: Consume: Craft THIS!, Martha

farlsammich
Roma tomato, fresh moz on spelt farl.

Last night I was busy making farls and finishing up a hat I was knitting, all while whilst wearing an apron.
The prior night, it was me prancing around the kitchen making homemade granola and hummus. While wearing an apron. And nearly every night it has been the same image: Me in the kitchen brewing up some witchy potion while wearing an apron.
I’ll let that image settle for a bit because if you know me and the above image seems fucking ridiculous to you because Lisa without coffee, cigarettes, and some processed food living in the fridge, you would typically be correct. I’ve run into the bathroom numerous times in the last few days to make sure my ears didn’t suddenly sprout pearl earrings and my tattoos were still in place. My hair was still twisted up in Lisa-poofs and my piercings were all present. I am slowly turning into Martha Stewart’s bastard punk rock daughter.
But to be fair, this isn’t a new development – it’s been going on for quite some time.
granola
Granola made with oats, apricots, banana chips, almond slivers, raisins, cashews and dates.

In the fall of 2006, I was having problems with digesting food – meaning that regardless of what I was eating, hardly anything was coming back out (to put it politely). For example, I was physically ill in the sense that eating pizza really heavy on the sauce meant I was up later in the night throwing up or having rot gut. If the pizza was light sauce, I had terrible heart burn. I used to have a cast iron stomach! Why was this happening? In the late summer of 2006, after numerous days of no bowel movement, I took myself over to the ER to find out what the hell was going on. They couldn’t find anything wrong with me, gave me a extra strong laxative and recommended a local nutritionist who diagnosed that I had some sensitivity to nearly 100 different types of food.
In the last four years, I’ve alternated between being really good and being really bad with my food. That whole discussion is worthy of several blog posts in themselves, but it’s been awful for the last few months after we came back from our honeymoon. Not only have I been randomly sick (again) but the weight is not coming off, rather, it’s packing back on. Justin was also gaining weight and feeling overall of crap. Deserts from Pronto! and Astoria tastes FANTASTIC going down, but later? Not so much. In fact, most restaurant/processed food gives me issues in some form or another, not always immediate it eventually does happen. Based upon Justin’s prior experience when he was training for half-marathons and my food issues, we decided to implement the following as of last week:

  • No sugar (including raw, brown, white, and fake sugars). Honey/Stevia/Agave/etc are allowed.
  • As little gluten as possible.
  • No foods listing HFC as an ingredient.
  • No pasta, no store bought bread.
  • Little to no meat.
  • Heavy on fruits, nuts, whole grains, veggies, cheeses.
  • If I want to eat something, I have to find a lisa-happy version. Bread, for instance, has been replaced with Spelt farls which I can tolerate amazingly well.

I’ve been taking photos all week of the food we’ve been eating and uploading them to Flickr. And nearly every single thing we’ve had to eat this week has been made from scratch, with fresh goods (organic if available) with my own little hands. While what we’re eating is pretty simple, it’s amazing how much of our appetites have dropped since we’re not eating (as much) crap as we used to. We’ve also started doing mat Pilates every morning for 30 minutes into our daily routine. While we don’t think of this as weight loss or diet gimmick, but as a 180 lifestyle change, we’re still keeping track of our weight, making adjustments as needed.
The first week weigh-in, I lost 7.5lbs while Justin lost nearly 3. Where as it was pretty common for me to have some kind of “issue,” ranging in varying degrees of bloating/nausea/heartburn, this is the first week in a long time I haven’t had that. And I’m not terribly concerned about the huge weight loss either, because it’ll adjust itself in the next week or two.
It’s not so awful to be Martha Stewart’s punk rock daughter – as long as the only pearl necklaces are the ones given to me by my husband1, I’ll think I’ll be just fine.
1. I don’t have to explain this one to you, do I?