25 Jun

sourdough pretzels

Matt and I have a house sitter for the next 10 days since we are going to be on our vacation to Boston, New Hampshire, and Montreal. (A big shout out to Sophie, Elina, and Daisy who gave me lots of suggestions of places to eat and things to see in Beantown). I thought it would be a nice gesture to make some food for him to eat while he’s watching our house. Matt made him a big Muffuletta, and I cooked up a pot of my famous (yeah, you heard me: FAMOUS) Potato Leek Soup. I also made him some delicious sourdough pretzels!!

I’m loving on sourdough lately. With my breads, pizza dough, and cake, everything I’ve baked in the past few weeks has been with my beautiful sourdough starter– my new refrigerator pet is getting lots of love and attention. And I’m turning into a CARBIVORE!

Sourdough Pretzels
(Recipe adapted from here)

Yield: 20 pretzels, about 4 to 5 inches across

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups fed sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 quarts of water + 3 tbsp sugar for the water bath
  • coarse salt

Directions

Measure the fed sourdough starter into a bowl.
In a separate bowl mix the butter, sugar, and salt to the cup of warm water.
Add the water mixture to the starter.
Add 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the rest of the flour. The dough will be very stiff.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, turn over, and cover. Let set for 2 hours to proof.

On a clean surface break of pieces of the dough about the size of a large egg. Roll each piece out with the palm of your hands until it is about 18 inches long and about 1/2 inch in diameter. Twist into the shape of a pretzel.
Let the shaped pretzels proof for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of 3 qts of water to a rapid boil and add in 3 tbsp of sugar.

When the pretsels are proofed drop as many pretzels as will fit without touching into the water and cook about 30 seconds after they have risen to the top. (Or longer, if you like a chewier pretzel.)
Remove to a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.

Bake in a preheated 425*F oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and cool on wire racks.


Matt and I are going to be taking some on our road trip too (a road trip is not a road trip without snacks!) to go with our homemade larabars and a host of other dried fruit, nuts, cans of tuna, etc…

I probably won’t have computer access while I’m away so I will see you all in a week or so for a recap of my vaca. I’ll miss keeping up with your blogs 🙂

I’m also going to miss my little Bagigis

http://gamereviewwiki.com/bikinibirthday/2010/06/22/day-159-rosemary-sea-salt-larabars/
23 Jun

day 160: chocolate pudding mask

I have terrible skin. I can’t remember not having pimples. My acne peaked probably in grade 10 (as did my weight, but that’s another sob story for another rainy day) and I endured Accutane for 8 months to be “cured” from zits. Well, I wasn’t cured but my skin did improve a lot. I still get pimples though. All. The. Time.

After doing a 3 week elimination diet (no dairy, no red meat, no gluten, no seafood) that my naturopath recommended, I discovered that my skin doesn’t like dairy and hates crustaceans. It’s unfortunate that my tongue doesn’t feel the same way.

That result was eye-opening, yet thoroughly explained why my acne was so bad as a teenager when my dietary staples were a daily pint of ice cream and obscene amounts of cheese (did I mention I was obese?). It’s particularly hard for me to stay away from dairy, but I’ve been doing quite well lately by cutting out my daily yoghurt/cottage cheese and by eating my bread with avocado or tahini instead of butter. I definitely do notice the pimples creeping back whenever I decide it’ll be no big deal to slather my homemade bread with butter or to reach for the cheese tray.

I do love my skin though and (aside from the occasional dairy) I do take good care of it. I put oil on my wet skin right after a shower to lock in moisture. I moisturize my face and body regularly. I stay out of the sun whenever possible and wear sunscreen regularly. I have cleanser, toner, body butter, day cream, night cream, and hand salve that I use regularly just to try to keep my skin feeling smooth.

Lately I’ve been intent on buying products that score well on the Cosmetic Safety Database that are free of fragrances and phthalates and other concoctions of cancer causing chemicals. When I went to Chicago a few weeks back I fell in love with Mojo spa in Wicker Park and went on a tiny shopping spree there buying up soaps and creams.

Mojo Spa, Chicago

(source)

I’m now flirting with the idea of making some this stuff for myself in my kitchen, with real ingredients.

Here is my first foray into the world of homemade body care. It’s not an anti-acne mask, but it is very smoothing and nourishing (and it was fun to make!).


Moisturizing Banana Coconut Face Mask
(from Making Love in the Kitchen)

1 ripe banana
1/2 avocado
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs  coconut oil
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tbsp coconut flakes
1 Tbs cocoa powder

Puree together until smooth.


The oils in avocado penetrate the skin quickly and provide moisture and vitamins. Bananas are known to soften the skin and create a glow. Both cocoa and coconut have anti-oxidant properties that prevent free radicals from damaging the skin’s collagen and elastin. And, of course, coconut oil also moisturizes the skin. Almond meal provide a source of Vitamin E while gently exfoliating the skin and absorbing excess oils.

  • Moisturizing – avocado, banana, coconut oil
  • Glowing – banana
  • Exfoliating – almond meal, sugar, coconut flakes
  • Firming – cocoa, coconut oil
  • Nourishing – almond meal, avocado

I found that after leaving this on my face for 10 minutes my skin felt tingly, tight, and very smooth.

Confession: whatever leftovers that I didn’t use on my face, I ate! It was delicious.

22 Jun

day 159: rosemary sea salt larabars

I’ve been dying to make my own larabars after reading Clotilde’s recipe at Chocolat et Zucchini. I’ve seen lots of other bloggers do it since. I wanted to make them so that Matt and I can take them on our upcoming road trip.

We plan to do some hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Particularly, we’re going to be staying for one night in Greenleaf Hut at the treeline of Mt. Lafayette. The “hut” is more like a cabin with co-ed  bunks and no showers, but I’ll stay anywhere that a free hot breakfast and dinner are served.

We’re also going to be hiking Mt. Washington which is the highest peak in the NE United States and is known to have the most unpredictable weather patterns in North America. Yikes!

So, my point is, that it’s important that we have some non-perishable and high energy snacks ready to go for our hiking adventure. Enter the larabars.

I wanted to make a deluxe version and, for me, herbs = luxury. So I headed out to the herb garden for some inspiration.

Rosemary. Perfect!

This version is cranberry flavoured with a hint of rosemary and sea salt. It’s fantastic!

Rosemary Sea Salt Larabars

  • 200g honey dates
  • 50g raw almonds 
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • a dash of sea salt

In a food processor, combine all ingredients until the nuts are chopped up and the mixture comes together. Form with wet hands into a bar shape. Wrap individually and refrigerate.

21 Jun

day 158: binge weekend

I might have gained 10lbs this weekend with all the amazing eats I had. I don’t know for sure because my scale and I broke up, but by Sunday night I was undoing the button of my pants. THAT’s saying something.

It was a bad weekend… but oh so good!

Between celebrating my cousin’s wedding shower, my dad’s birthday, and Father’s Day with both my dad and my father-in-law I was stuffed silly!

I don’t have a lot of pictures because, frankly, I devoured most of the food. Oh the gluttony! On to the food:

I skipped the cake at the bridal shower to binge on the delicious Lebanese desserts that I only get to have a couple of times a year. My cousin’s aunt makes some awesome desserts and cookies that I always look forward to eating.

Case in point:

These are like mini-pancakes stuffed with clotted cream and they are served with a sugar syrup. It’s funny because I was craving these after Joumana just recently posted a recipe for them. I love Lebanese desserts because they are so light and refreshing.

Saturday night we hit up the annual Carrousel of Nations which is a festival scattered throughout Windsor that showcases the food, music, and dance of several local diasporas.

I wait all year for the Greek village. Souvlaki? Devoured. Not a trace of evidence left behind.

Sunday we celebrated my dad’s birthday and Father’s day (he always gets shafted like that). I decided that I was going to make a cake for him.

Just to be clear, I don’t bake cakes. I bake bread.

This is my sister. She bakes the cakes. And decorates them. (She’s ambitious)

…Anyway, I stumbled upon a recipe for Sourdough Chocolate Cake and with my recent sourdough bonanza I figured it was a good bridge between bread baking and cake baking. (Plus my sourdough starter was starting to feel lonely and neglected in the fridge all week)

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that this cake looks hideous but it tasted so good. It was super moist and perfectly dense—my sister said it actually tasted a bit like a Tim Hortons chocolate doughnut. The recipe is definitely a keeper (although the frosting ended up turning out like a glaze that I spread on the inside of the cake. I used an alternate frosting recipe for the top).

I ate a big piece (and then snuck another one when no one was looking :S )

Weekends are just another one of my downfalls! I’m really going to need to watch what I eat this week, since I’m getting dangerously close to my Bikini Birthday!

P.S. Check out the Glass Dharma Straw giveaway @ Making Love in the Kitchen

18 Jun

day 155: progress report

My 8 Weeks to Awesomeness is going awesomer than last week. But, as I mentioned in my break-up letter, my scale lies. It told me I lost 3lb this week, but I’m doubtful.

There are only 6 weeks left until my birthday.

Let’s see how I’m stacking up with my goals:

Calories:

Goal: 1500 cal
Avg this week -> 1610 cal

  • That includes Saturday too, so I think it’s pretty good. An improvement on last week.

Macronutrients:

Goal: 40% protein, 40% carbs (mainly before and after my workouts), 20% fat
Avg this week -> 21% protein, 45% carbs, 34% fat

  • Yikes, not nearly enough protein this week.

Exercise:

Goal: Keep doing what I’m doing – weightlifting 4x per week; yoga 2x per week; cardio 4x per week
This week ->
Weightlifting: 2 upper body and 2 lower body days
Cardio: 4 cardio sessions @ 150 min total (all 4 were morning cardio sessions too!)
Yoga: twice this week

  • I think I did pretty well with my normal exercise routine, but exercising is not usually a problem for me since I like doing it.

I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and maybe check in with the scale again next week to see if it was being honest.


I love this ad. It makes me wish I lived back then.

Could you imagine the outrage if this ad ran today with the line: “There’s no excuse for being fat”? I think there would be an outcry.

Now, if only I could wear a swimsuit like hers for my birthday. No bikini wax or weight loss required! (…and it has a schnazzy belt!)

17 Jun

The Break-Up

Dear Bathroom Scale,
I think it's about time we sit and have a talk about our relationship.
We've been together now for a long time but I'm slowly starting to see our relationship for what it
really is and I think I deserve better. You are unreliable and you lie to me constantly; sometimes
you tell me what I want to hear even when I don't believe it's true and other times you just to put
me down. In spite of this abuse you somehow still have such a powerful hold over me that I keep
coming back to you day after day. Sometimes multiple times a day.
What you say to me on any given day defines my happiness. It has the power to make me feel beautiful
or ugly or frumpy or stunning, and that's something I can't seem to decide for myself without your
input. I'm not content until you tell me that I'm light. I want to feel beautiful regardless of what
you say to me and that's something I just can't learn to do with you dominating my life as you do now.
I've had enough of this and it has to stop. I am breaking up with you. I will always think fondly
of you and I hope we remain friends. Maybe we can keep in touch and even catch up on a weekly basis.
But this relationship has overwhelmed me and I think it's best we go our separate ways.
Love,
Samantha
16 Jun

day 153: meatballs

Last night’s dinner was an endeavour to say the least, but 3 hours in the kitchen was well worth it when I finally was able to sit down and enjoy it.

Let me back up to the beginning.

With weightlifting, yoga, tutoring, shopping, visiting grandparents, coaching, etc… Matt and I never seem to be home at the same time between the hours of 5 and 8 pm. So in the Menzies kitchen the answer to the question of “what’s for dinner” is often hidden in little clues that we leave in the kitchen. Sometimes he’ll prep a dish before he leaves and I’ll finish it when I get home. Other times I’ll come home to a strategically-placed open cookbook. This was the case last night.

I strolled into the kitchen after last night’s workout with a dish in mind: beans. But the evidence pointed in a different direction: meat. Specifically meatballs.

Cooking Tip: It’s a good idea to read through a recipe BEFORE starting your prep work. Had I known what was involved in this recipe I would have said: “He can make his own fucking meatballs!” and settled on cereal for dinner.

I started with the sauce. Wait, what? I need to make a basic sauce to use in meatball the sauce? Shit.

So first I had to make tomato sauce from scratch.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes (although I let the unused portion simmer for another hour)

Meanwhile, while the sauce simmered away on the stove I moved on to the meatballs:

Meatballs before going into the oven

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 15 minutes

Then on to the meatball sauce.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Pour the sauce on the meatballs and it’s time to eat. . .just kidding.

I thought I was done until the book reminded me that these babies have to bake for another hour!

Baking Time: 60 minutes

These better be some damn good meatballs! I’m hungry!

20 cloves of garlic chopped,
5 onions diced,
2 hours of cooking,
And 1 hour of baking

Yield: Best. Meatballs. EVER.

We finally sat down to eat at about 9:00pm. It was worth the wait. I couldn’t stop eating them.

…oh and Matt like them too 😉


Turkey Meatballs
(loosely based off this recipe)

Ingredients – Meatballs

  • 2-1/4 c. bread crumbs
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of crushed chiles
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper

Ingredients – Meatball Sauce

  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cup tomato sauce (wait until you have some already made)
  • 3 red onions, finely sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 c. white wine
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450deg.

Lightly mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl.

Form the mixture into golfball sized balls.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.

Reduce temperature of oven to 375deg.

Meanwhile for the sauce in heat the oil on high heat in a saucepan to almost smoking.

Add the onions and garlic and cook until lightly browned.

Add the rosemary, tomato sauce, and the wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce on top of the meatballs, cover, and bake for 1 hour.

14 Jun

day 151: home work

Today I got to work from home which means I got to

Wear my favourite “shoes” to work

Work from my favourite office,

with my favourite co-worker

And I got to cook myself a proper lunch!

Grilled Chicken on Spinach Salad with Tahini Dressing

Tahini Dressing

1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
2 fresh sage leaves
splash of water (to thin it out to a desired consistency)

This is the life!

11 Jun

day 138: amazing maca

I gained 3 lb of fat since the last time I went to the naturopath… but I guess that makes sense since I had lost 3 lb of fat on the 3 week cleansing diet that she put me on to determine my food sensitivities.

Net loss = 0

Actually I had a net gain, because I’m retaining water. But let’s disregard that.

My naturopath recommended that I get a blood test to learn more about my thyroid function, my B12 levels, and other things. She also put me on some Maca to promote energy and Evening Primrose Oil to increase my progesterone.

Evening Primrose Oil is supposed to increase my progesterone levels but seems to be a bit useless based on what I’ve read. It seems like the only thing it really does is relieve eczema (which I don’t have). I will take it though and see if I notice any changes.

I’ve heard people talk about Maca and how it’s super, but I don’t know what it does. So I googled…

The first article I found at the Discovery Health Channel was titled: Maca – Peru’s natural Viagra

Evidently it’s “a legendary sex-enhancing root passed down from the Inca”. LEGENDARY. I was intrigued.

During the height of the Incan empire, legend has it that Incan warriors would consume maca before entering into battle. This would make them fiercely strong. But after conquering a city the Incan soldiers were prohibited from using maca, to protect the conquered women from their powerful sexual impulses. Thus as far back as 500 years ago, maca’s reputation for enhancing strength, libido and fertility was already well established in Peru.

According to Meghan Telpner’s Healing with Superfood tutorial :

Maca is a potent herb that can regulate the endocrine system which consists of glands that produce hormones necessary for essential body functions. The herb maca has been found effective in increasing a person’s energy levels, encouraging growth and stimulating metabolic functions. The nutrients found in maca fuel the system and encourage hormone production.

I’d like to take it and report on any results to you, but I probably won’t. I’m not really interested in discussing my concupiscence with the blog world. E-mail me if you’re interested and we’ll discuss.

10 Jun

day 137: progress pt 2

So I mentioned on Tuesday that I would weigh-in on Thursday. Here it is. I had to avert my eyes.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!

This is actually exactly the same as I was last week, but 1lb more than the last time I weighed in.

Damn. I was hoping for a 1lb loss. I am not a happy camper right now. I guess I’m going to have to tweak my calorie intake.

Today I was pretty diligent about my food intake. I had to be because I was so embarrassed about what I saw on the scale this morning. I ate 1470 calories and got 121g of protein (which about one third of my calories).

I’m even more embarrassed because I have an appointment with my Naturopath tomorrow morning. YIKES! I’m nervous and worried because I’ve done terribly at following the diet that she provided me and I think I’m in worse shape than the last time I saw her 10 weeks ago. My fingers and toes are crossed.

Maybe I can attribute the weight gain to too much of this:

SOURDOUGH

Since I made sourdough starter last week, I’m on a bit of a sourdough bonanza. I made this loaf (which I wholeheartedly did not expect to rise) that ended up turning out amazing!

I have a loaf of a Poilane style miche rising on my counter as I speak, a sourdough pizza dough in the fridge, and plans to make a sourdough chocolate cake this weekend.

Bread is my weakness.