Favorite Things: Filled Pancake Pan

ebelskiver, filled pancakes

Hi! Welcome to a new category on fig&fennel: Favorite Things. If you have something you’d like me to review, send a message and I’ll happily do it!

This coming weekend, something shocking, terrifying, unspeakable is happening…I am turning 30. I don’t know why this birthday is weirding me out so much. When other people say they’re 30 I think, wow! young! When other people say they’re 40 I think, wow! young! But for whatever reason, I’ve had a bit of a hard time over the last couple of months reconciling it all. But now that the week is here, I’m feeling a bit better about it. What more could I possibly have wanted by 30? (ok I can tell you, counter space). I’ve tried hard to replace my freak out feelings with gratitude, which is always easy to do with Sexy Husband treating me like I’m perfection and Picky Princess entertaining me with her 4 year old wit, and Foodie Baby’s cheeks. It also helped that my mom took me for some hardcore birthday shopping today! My mom is amazing. She is honestly the most generous person in the world. I’m sure of it. If you like her socks, she will peel them off her feet for you. SERIOUSLY GENEROUS. And fun. So we went shopping. One of the treasures she bought me is this Filled Pancake Pan! Such a super fun gift, and of course I will make SURE that the whole Village benefits from it. Filled pancakes are regular pancakes that are…filled. You can fill them with anything and they turn out to be cute little round pancakes that seem almost like a donut. Amazing. We invited neighbors over to try it out tonight and they worked perfectly and were a total hit! These little treats are traditionally from Denmark and are called Ebelskiver.

Today I filled them with: Nutella(Sexy Husband’s second love), blueberries, apples cranberries and cinnamon, cheddar tomatoes and basil, goat cheese and dill. So everyone picked whichever kinds they wanted and we had our fill. I think they would be amazing with lemon curd, chocolate, ham and cheese, really the options are endless!

I followed the recipe that came with the pan and they were light and eggy. Next time I’ll experiment a bit with different flours and fillings. But if you are a regular breakfast/brunch connoisseur, or know someone who is, consider this as a great gift! We got this one from Williams Sonoma as you can see HERE.

Essentially, you heat the pan, pour in a tbs of batter. Plunk a tsp of filling in the middle, top with another tbs of batter, and then use a chopstick to flip it over to brown the other side. So easy and fun.

Happy Breakfast!

batter, then filling, then batter

here they've been flipped and puffed

Think Fresh: Homemade Christmas

dried citrus slices

There are some things I really really love. My Family. My Sweet Little Girls. Pretty Things. Cooking. Christmas. (just to name a few, top of my mind tonight). This year I thought I would combine these particular loves and make Christmas a little more homemade. I have nothing against glitter and wrapping paper, and enjoy the collections of glass ornaments I’ve accumulated. But I’ve always wanted to decorate a tree with all natural, homemade things. Happily, it turned out to be exactly what I’d hoped for! Picky Princess helped me make most the decorations. What she didn’t help with, my girlfriends stopped by for fudge and popcorn stringing. I intended to make crafty little things,with natural products. It wasn’t until I decorated the tree that I realized that everything we made was…edible. I shouldn’t be surprised. I guess that’s where I’m crafty: in the kitchen. We made popcorn strings, cranberry strings, dried citrus slices, cinnamon stick ornaments, salt water taffy garland and peppermint wreaths.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s good to be reminded that we don’t need more. We don’t need more stuff, bigger toys, more glitter, more commercialism. We have each other. We have simple and beautiful things around us. I think this is the message of Christmas to me this year. Out of the very very ordinary, God did something utterly magical. Shepherds and sheep, simple people and a stable.  And out of OUR ordinary families, ordinary talents, ordinary lives…well tonight anyway, with my Loves in front of our tree…it felt magical.

peppermint wreaths

cranberry strings

cinnamon sticks

salt water taffy garland

Picky Princess stringing cranberries

pretty tree

Local Fare: Silk Road Spice pt 2

Colin and Kelcey

You remember my Farmers Market BFF’s? Colin and Kelcey from Silk Road Spice Merchants? Well here’s an adorable pic of them from their big Grand Opening this week! They put on such a classy event, red carpet and all! They prepared some AMAZING food, featuring some of their many many many spices. Check out their blog for some great recipes. Sexy Husband and I went, had a lovely visit, great prosecco, delicious food. I literally teared up when I realized that I didn’t have a pic to post of Kelcey’s shoes. They were that gorgeous. sniff sniff.

Just a reminder you can check them out at the Calgary Farmers Market until Dec 23. Then you have to stop by the store in Ramsay, until they reopen the market in Feb. Do it. Preferably on a Friday or Saturday when there are scones. Also, stay tuned for a guest blog post by Colin!

I don’t go a meal without using their spices. Last Night: chili with smoked paprika and 4 color peppercorns, spiced pear cake with Saigon Cinnamon.

some of the delicious food

IronSister Says: Ph Balance

Acid/Base Balance:

Alison and I were recently talking about our opinions regarding conventional medicine and holistic medicine.  Personally, I believe in both, I care about both worlds.  I work in acute care; I see the need for medicine, diagnostic imagining and procedures that may be very taboo to a Holistic approach to healing.  I believe this is a luxury we have in the Western world, something that we should be very thankful for and not take for granted.  But Holistic healing is extremely important and helps us to not overuse the luxuries of western medicine, such as medicating when we could be preventing.   I do not believe we need to medicate absolutely every ailment that we face, and the key to optimal health is prevention.  Nearly all of our greatest risks are preventable; sadly, our health care system is utterly exhausted by so many sick individuals who could have easily prevented their illness.  Of course, this is not always the case, there are times when disease cannot be prevented, leading us to the real need for health care. If you follow this blog, chances are you are probably interested in living/eating a healthy way. This is preventative medicine!

As a Respiratory Therapist, I spend a large amount of time analyzing the gases in our blood, which determine and effect our pH, leading to a number of disease processes.  Ventilation care is often determined and adjusted based on blood gas values.  The pH of our body is a massive determining agent in our care, our chances of survival in an acute event and our recovery; this is probably something that few people are familiar with.  Of course, in an acute event, our natural ventilation drive is adjusted subconsciously, and therefore we have no control over our acid/base balance, however from a nutritional view point, there are many lifestyle factors we can consider to control our body’s pH.  In Nutrition school, I remember spending an exceptionally large amount of time learning about the essential need for our acid/base balance in healing. This topic is following me through my Respiratory studies, equally as essential to healing but looking at it from a different angle.  This makes me believe that this is an important topic for our health.

pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity of a substance on a scale of 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral and 0 totally acid and 14 totally alkaline, in between are varying degrees of acidity and alkalinity.  Human blood should be 7.4 (7.35-7.45), slightly alkaline, even slight changes are not compatible with life (less than 6.8 and greater than 8.0).  My medical physiology text book says that only slight changes in hydrogen ion concentration (which determine acid/base) from the normal value can cause marked alterations in the rate of chemical reactions in the cells, some being depressed and some being elevated.  Basically this means that our survival depends on our blood remaining in the slightly alkaline state of 7.4, when our blood becomes slightly acidic, our body will buffer this acid with alkalizing minerals from other tissues, these minerals include potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium.  After these minerals are oxidized, they will become carbon dioxide which is eliminated through our lungs and kidneys.  Among a list of problems, this process is very fatiguing to our bodies and will likely leave you with a mineral deficit that must be replaced through our diet.  In a crisis situation, this is not helpful.

This brings me to the topic of how are diets can relate to our acid-base balance.  Due to the increased availability of produced, refined and processed foods, our whole grain consumption is decreasing.  Fruit and vegetable consumption has decreased by 45% in the last 5 years while fat, salt and sugar consumption has increased by 100% in that same time period.  Diets high in meat, fat and refined products will constantly push our body’s pH towards the acid state, whereas fruits and vegetables are the body’s main source of minerals or alkaline elements.  Regardless of whether we are acidic (more common) or alkaline, stimulating our bodies continuously in either direction will eventually exhaust the body systems, changing its functions in order to adapt to new situations and eventually leading to degenerative changes.  This makes me think back a few weeks ago when we talked about our excessive protein intake, likely changing your body to an acid environment, definitely not optimal for health.  Some symptoms that can be associated to even a slightly acidic environment include: fatigue, stomach pain, allergies, insomnia, water retention, migraines, arthritis, alternating constipation and diarrhea, and pain upon waking in the morning.  In general, fruits and vegetables are alkalizing and meats and grains are acidifying, however, here are a few more examples:

Acidic foods: Bread, eggs, fish, flours, grains, meats, most nuts, oatmeal, rice and shellfish.

Alkaline foods: Almonds, fruits, vegetables, beans, berries, millet, and potato

With that said, studies have shown that whole grains when chewed thoroughly can become alkaline by mixing with the alkaline salivary enzyme, however, will leave an acid residue if not chewed thoroughly.  Also, acidic fruits like lemons and oranges have an alkalizing effect on the body because their acid is burned off by the body in the cellular respiration process.  The tendency of our western diet is towards high acid forming foods and therefore a pH shift towards an acidic state.  It is likely that the majority of us could benefit from increasing alkaline forming foods in our diet, and conveniently these foods tend to eliminate processed, refined foods and excess fats.  For many other reasons, that we’ve already looked at, this only contributes to a far better way of eating anyways.  If you do live in an acidic state, you can also benefit by increasing your alkaline food to return your pH to normal and create a healing environment for your body.

Obviously this is all a bit scientific and tedious. But a commitment to educating yourself on how best you can care for your body, will help you prevent many diseases down the road.

 

Recipe: Scalloped Potatoes

scalloped potatoes

In my quest to make the holidays healthy, not full of food that leaves you sluggish and 10lbs heavier…I’ve been working on some typical family favorite holiday foods, trying to rework them. Truth be told, while there may be an issue in my family with lots of desserts around the holidays, it’s not usually our large meals that are unhealthy. Between my vegetarian sister and my ultra-ridiculously committed healthy parents, our entrees are usually things like stuffed acorn squash, roasted veggies, and homemade soups. Nevertheless, I think most people are trying to fit in family favorites without having to buy an “expanded” wardrobe. I whipped these up the other night and it was a really delicious side dish. It provided the satisfaction of warm and crispy cheesy potatoes, without a fraction of the fat. I also subbed in zucchini for half the potatoes so it was a great way to get in some veggies. Give them a try!

Scalloped Potatoes

Potatoes – one large potato per person is a pretty safe estimation

1 large zucchini

4 tbs crumbled goat cheese

coarse sea salt

fresh(or dried rosemary)

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 375. Thinly slice potatoes and zucchini. Layer half the potatoes around a large baking dish. Sprinkle with 2 tbs of goat cheese, salt and rosemary. Layer zucchinis. Sprinkle with 2 tbs of goat cheese, salt, rosemary. Cover with remaining potatoes. Top with parmesan cheese. Bake until top is browned and potatoes are soft, about 1 hr. If you find the top is browning too quickly and potatoes aren’t soft yet, you can cover with foil and then remove to brown the top. Enjoy!

I’m Inspired By: Samaritan’s Purse

I’m sure most of you have seen the shoeboxes all over the place: red and green, filled or available for filling, with toys for kids all over the world who wouldn’t otherwise get presents this Christmas? Well Operation Christmas Child, a campaign organized by Samaritan’s Purse does the most amazing job with the Shoeboxes. Our church collects them, our favorite coffee shops collect them, then the boxes are delivered to the OCC warehouse where they are checked over to make sure they are full of safe fun things for kids, then taped up and sent literally all over the world. For the last few years, we’ve had Picky Princess help us fill a couple of boxes with toys and stickers and candy. This year we wanted to be a little bit more purposeful in our commitment to community activism. I know it’s always so much easier to be motivated and engaged in social justice issues around Christmas, but we really are going to try to plan something every month, where we go and serve the people in our community, or through an organization internationally. It’s an act of gratitude, that we have been blessed and so we bless others, an act of community, that we support those who need the support. It’s something we hope to deeply embed in the DNA of our little family. So last night we volunteered at the warehouse. What an incredible operation they have going! Completely machined by volunteers, we set up assembly line style, checking boxes, filling boxes, taping boxes, packing boxes. It was so fun! About the fastest 3 hours of my life. I stood at the the tape and was literally the last person to check and touch the boxes that will be transported and opened by a child somewhere around the world. I was quite teary thinking about this and imagining a 4 year old somewhere far away, no less loved than my 4 year old, no less deserving than my 4 year old, no less gifted and amazing than my 4 year old. To think that this shoebox may be their only gift this year, to think that their parents who adore them cannot provide for them presents and rituals of a special season, an afternoon of baking cookies, apple cider. I don’t know…it makes me sad. And grateful.

Anyway. Get involved. Find a shoebox, fill a shoebox!  Here’s a pic of us by a crate of shoeboxes.

elves

Think Fresh: Cocoa

chocolate almond muffins

It’s pretty much the best news of all time, chocolate is good for you!  I’m sure you’ve read reports on the benefits of cocoa. I’m not talking Kit Kat bars, sadly, I’m talking real, cocoa powder, high quality dark chocolate. Cocoa is high in antioxidants, and surprisingly high in all sorts of important minerals: iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, copper, manganese…and it’s super high in fibre! We usually associate chocolate type things as unhealthy, and really, the way chocolate is usually used IS unhealthy. But we don’t need to shy away from using cocoa, especially if we sweeten it with natural products such as honey.

To prove my point, here is a fantastic recipe I whipped up today. Seriously, I impressed myself with this one(after a long string of lame dinners this week, perhaps it didn’t take much to impress myself). These are MUFFINS. Not cupcakes, although it’s hard to believe it. Which means that they are not super sweet like little chocolate cupcakes would be, so don’t be shocked when you bite into these healthy little treats.  This recipe is completely clean and healthy and sugar free. They are decadent and seem indulgent, without any of the guilt. These muffins will impress, so…make them!

Chocolate Almond Muffins

Makes about 12

2 cups spelt flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3 heaping tbs cocoa powder

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup almond butter

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup milk

sliced almonds to garnish

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Dump wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until JUST combined. Scoop into silicone or paper muffin cups. Garnish with sliced almonds.  Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.  Serve warm!

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