Monday, March 5, 2012

Let Us Talk 'Exotic' - Coloured Cauliflower

I thought this was the best place for this posting as this is not your normal cauliflower! I found these beauties around the Christmas season in 2011 when all the kind of more odd, weird and exotic type foods come out to temp the eye of the near-by shopper into their wonders.

Well these did just that for me. I know that cauliflower is just a good for you as almost any other kind of veggie and fruit. They are high in vit C and manganese, they even contain Omega-3 fatty acids! (new fact to me!). They are also a great source to lots of B class vits! But with that said, remember the golden rule in food and eating... everything in moderation. They say to limit your intake of this veggie to not more then 4 or 5 servings a week as it has purines which are broken down by the body making uric acid which with too much can in turn lead to getting gout.

With that said, look at these beauties! Purple and Orange Cauliflower! I LOVED purple and just feel for these the instant I found them! Don't worry about too much about how to cook them as there are LOTS of ways to cook cauliflower from roasting to sauteing to even just boiling or steaming it. I personally like the roasting and steaming methods best but I also like to mash it and make kind of a mock potato pancake type dish (again will post recipes I'm sure).

The colour on these beauties aren't just skin deep either, it runs all the way through. Perhaps not as deep as the colour on it's outside but it just looks so pretty when cut up and ready for cooking. I boiled mine at this time and I have to give you one small piece of advice, if you boil these kind of cauliflowers, so them separate! Especially if you have a purple one in there! The colour DOES bleed into the water and thus my orange coloured on turned a really weird colour. That is a reason I didn't post a recipe or anything with these... just sharing some more exotic stuffs with you all! I mean what is better for a gluten free diet then going to the basic things that are naturally gluten free?! 

General Talk - The Day Of A House Wife

What is there really to be said about being a house wife. In it's way there are lots of benefits such as keeping almost any hours I want to being able to go about my daily life mostly as I wish to but there are also down sides of it such as knowing that I MUST do certain things by a certain time such as dishes and cleaning. That there are going to be tough days just as there are going to be very easy days. There are going to be times where my wonderful husband is not always that wonderful just as there are going to be times where I'm in such a bad mood that any one best keep a 4 block distance from me.

Would I change the life I have? I will honestly say yes... but not really in ways I think you would expect. The first of these changes is that I don't want to simply be *just* a house wife. I changed this at the end of 2011 and now work for a wonderful Mom & Pop run business (even though they are only about my age to be honest!) as someone they can rely on when they need someone to come in at a drop of a hat (a lot of people don't have this luxury in their real lives) when someone falls ill or the business is just so busy they need an extra hand not to mention some more stable hours that I will receive well soon I would suspect... as soon as the weather becomes a bit more stable.

What else do I want to change? I want to move and we're working on that too. Well I'm not the only one that wants to move, my husband wants to as well but it's me that really has to work on this one as it'll be some where between 4000 and 5000 euros to move with. We want to move into a house, villa or bungalow. Something NOT attached to another building or other apartments as we are now. Some where perhaps just on the outside of the city where rent is a better deal and the area is quiet. We moved where we are now almost 10years ago but at that time the area besides the street was quiet. There was a baker next door, a fish monger in the shop that is part of this apartment building (not to mention they were the owners of the building!), there were no apartments next door and my mother-in-law, even as annoying as she was, lived under us. Now a days there is a dance cafe next door where the baker use to be, there have been at least 5 different shops that have come in and out of the shop in this building, mostly turkish, from butchers to bakers and to now a what seems to have died cleaning business.

I want to move into a place that has a backyard where there is a place for me to dig up and make a veggie garden out of. I want to plant and grown my own carrots, zucchinis, radishes, tomatoes and more if I can. I don't know if I have a green thumb or not as I never have had a chance but if I have one at all, I want at least that chance to find out. If it doesn't work, I will simply re-plant the area with grass seeds or put down sow... but I want at least the chance to do that!

And really the last thing I wish to change is to have a car again. I loved driving when I was in the states, just for the sake of driving but now a days I simply need a car. I should say I feel I need a car. My husband would gladly disagree because it's another expense but he isn't home experiencing my every day life where a car would save a LOT of time that goes wasted right now on waiting for buses or other transportation and it would allow me to go out to places farther away that I don't go now because I don't like long bus rides. Such as the fact that my laptop needs to be repaired because the hard drive is failing but the place I would like to get it done is a 30min bus ride away both directions... by car I can do it 30mins total and at my own pace/direction.

Among all of this... they are not things like wanting better/bigger things. They are simply changes that I wish to make. I hope along with the move though that I end up with a bigger kitchen. Right now it's so small that hubby and I can't work in it together unless it is 100% clean, dishes are totally put away and there is nothing at all on the counters. Otherwise it's him looking on from a chair in the living room. I also want some more well luxury items to me at least, perhaps some would see them as needed items, but simply I want a dish washer, a washing machine and dryer and this seems odd but I want a kitchen sink with a sprayer and garbage disposal! Yea odd I know but still, they are things I feel would make my life easier in the kitchen that I must spend my time in for even the sake of my health.

So here is a photo of one of the small corners of my kitchen. You might get to understand why I believe that it would be nice to have a bigger kitchen. The photo below is just the left side of the counter space I have. It is between a wall, recessed into a storage room area and has my stove/over on the right of it. The rest of the kitchen is kind of like this as well. The right hand side of my stove is the home of my microwave (cabinets are too low to hook the micro on it to open the counter I'm sad to say) and just next to that going to the other wall houses other counter top things like a couple of rolling pins and a mini deep fryer (used by the hubby for those few little items that aren't gluten free that he still likes to have). It then turns a corner where I have a bit of a bigger open area of counter top then it goes into my sink. I love my sink because it's a big double sided sink with an additional metal sheet to the right to put a dish drainer on. Then a bit more of an open counter where we do most of our prep work. All in all, it's not a 'bad' kitchen but it is rather small and lacking in counter space.

My dream kitchen is to have one of those new flat stove tops built into an island counter in the middle of my kitchen with enough room around it for say my husband to sit with a news paper to keep me company or even to help with some prep work like slicing apples or peeling potatoes. That to be had with an oven built into the cabinets some where at body height rather then having to bend over all the time to get to the floor style ones. Will this happen? I doubt it but a women can dream can't she??

Anyhow, this is my life right now. These are the things I wish I could change. Some will change, some will always be dreams. What does YOUR most used spot in your kitchen look like??

The left side of my kitchen. It recesses into the wall, cabinets line the top, wall to the left with places to hand my aprons, oven mitts and kitchen towels (trash can is some where against that wall too) while as you can just make out a frying pan on the stove top to the right of the photos.

In this corner 99.9% of the time houses a basket that has an assortment of tea along with misc frying pan/kettle lids (back far corner), in some shape or form there are eggs (in this case it was from a 30 count cause I was baking/cooking so much), next to that just almost hidden will be a load of (ewwww) gluten filled bread for my husband (you can just see the peek of a white plastic bag which holds fresh baked bread along with a multi coloured plastic of a pre-made bread for back up times). From the middle to the right house my most used cooking items... spices (almost all grinders of some sort... black pepper (2 kinds in this photo), rock salt and sea salt, seaweed mix, 3 or 4 pepper mix, garlic pepper, lime pepper (really good on fish!), normal table salt, olive oil, garlic oil (yes I LOVE garlic!), box of corn starch and last but certainly not least a bottle of Tamari sauce (gluten free style soy sauce... remember normal soy sauce DOES have gluten in it!). There is also from time to time a bottle of Sherry sitting there (the dark wine bottle looking thing) because I use it in egg foo young (will post a recipe sometime I'm sure) along with the gravy to go with it.

Oh and lets not forget the big huge 1 litre plastic containers that line the middle of this photo. These are my top 5 most used spices! Oregano, Basil, Garlic, Chicken Seasoning Mix and Cinnamon. There also happens to be another of these litre container in the left most cabinet (just barely seen in this image) that contains parsley as well as I add it to a lot of soups. Never mind the apples in this corner though, these are not a regular here, I just happen to be preparing for some sort of dessert so that was the best place to put them for storing for the moment!

Do you have a 'corner' like this in your kitchen? Come share it!

Recipe - Creamy Garlic Potato Soup - Version #2

This post had been started well over 2 months ago and all that I wrote is very much in the past now. So much in the past that it originally mentioned about how I had gotten an unexpected call while out trying to do some grocery shopping from my 'new employer' which I was hired at on the *VERY* last day of 2011. That was about 3days into being told 'your hours might not start until March sometime when business hours are longer and we get busier'. Well needless to say I've put in more hours in the last couple of months then I think any one expected and I've been LOVING it!

The only real things I regret is that I haven't been here nearly as much as I want or need to be and that I don't/haven't been cooking properly or as often. I hope to change that a bit. There have been signs in the air of spring coming from hearing my wonderful birds chirping around 5am in the morning on the nice days to the other afternoon having a wonderful snooze next to my husband in the middle of the afternoon, waking to being comfortably warm and then a bit later hearing the wonderfully familiar sound of the local ice cream truck coming out of hibernation. Ok weird signs to some people... most look for the first sign of blooms on the trees or the familiar 'I saw my first robin today!' type thing but for me the above tell me that it's going to be spring soon and I can't WAIT! I miss my spring/summer fruits and veggies and well I'll admit it, the prices that come with them.

Today has taken my spring feeling away though. Although it's not bad temperature wise, it has been raining pretty heavy since I'd say about 5am. It sounded wonderful though, so wonderful that I slept until almost 10:30am which is very rare for me lately!

With the weather what it is today lets get onto the soup.... now this soup is another version of my Creamy Garlic Potato Soup Version #1. I don't have end results as I'm sure from the link above you can get the idea from it, there are 2 differences to this one though and that is it has no chunks of potatoes (although you can just as well do that too if you wanted it!) and it uses elephant garlic cloves instead of cheating with garlic puree.

 4 to 6 large starchy potatoes, skinned and cut into small chunks
 4 cups water (give or take a bit, this isn't rocket science)
 2 chicken broth cubes
 2 tbs olive oil
 1 small onion, finely chopped
 2 cloves elephant garlic or 5 cloves regular garlic, roughly chopped
 1 cup light/low fat milk
 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
 plenty of fresh cracked pepper


As said this is not rocket science, make sure your potatoes are cut into about 1/2inch pieces. Boil them in plain water until really soft. Strain and set aside.

In the pan that you just boiled the potatoes, take some paper towels to it and dry it a bit. Put it back on the burner and add about 2tbs olive oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent and soft.

Add the milk and add water until you have your pot about 2/3rd full. I'm using a 3 quart/litre pot for this. Add the 2 chicken broth cubes and bring to a light boil... basically hot enough to melt the cubes. Add the reserved potatoes to the pot CAREFULLY! The potatoes will make the liquid splash. To prevent this, spoon the potatoes in and I do mean actually spoon them in. Take an over sized spoon like one you would serve with, grab a good spoonful of potatoes and dip the spoon with the potatoes into the mixture. I learned the hard way that trying to just dump the potatoes in at this stage just hurts as the mixture is very hot by now and the milk is even hotter.

Add potatoes but remember to leave a bit of room so that you can puree without over flowing your pot and enough room to add the cheddar cheese while still being able to stir. Once the potatoes have regained their heat which won't take too long, remove from heat and simply take a stick blender (or if you don't have one, use a normal blender and do the mixture half at a time) to it until there are no potato chunks left.

Return to a very low heat, add the cheddar cheese and pepper (add pepper to taste but I would suggest quite a bit since your trying to bring the pepper taste out over the garlic, potatoes and milk which all mellow out pepper taste quite a bit). Use a spoon to stir the cheese in until well melted.

Serve in mugs. This is a perfect grab a cup, sit on the couch with your favourite blanket and your book or TV and just sip away. And there you go. A nice rich, creamy, garlic potatoes soup that takes not a whole lot longer then it takes to boil the potatoes themselves while saving you from all the crap that pre-made soups have in them.

I'll get ending photos of this one when I make it again, which I don't think will be too far away if this weather keeps up!

Tip - My first photo shows a dish of sour cream. You can add a couple tbs at the end after melting the cheddar in for a bit richer texture/taste.