Recipe: Beet Soup

beet soup

A friend of mine is home, sick, recovering from surgery, and not allowed to drive. Not fun. Something about feeding soup to sick friends makes me happy. Maybe they don’t even want soup. But I forever feel the need to make them soup anyway. So on this quiet, super snowy day, I am enjoying the smell of soup on the stove, the way I have to squint my eyes out the window because the white is so bright, and the peace that comes with turning concern in the heart into gifts in the hands. Enjoy!

Beet Soup

2 tbs butter

1 large garlic clove

1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

2 cups beets, finely chopped(I quartered mine and then put them in a food processor)

4 cups water

1 tsp coarse sea salt

2 tbs chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup whipping cream

Directions: In a large heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, celery, carrots and stir to coat with butter. Allow to soften while you chop beets. Add beets, water, salt, and dill and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour. Pour in whipping cream. Serve.

Cookbook Preview: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

This post is dedicated to my fabulous blog friend Danielle in Vancouver, who has discovered a new love for Brussels sprouts and was looking for recipes. I happen to have the YUMMIEST Brussels sprouts recipe ever and it also happens to be in the cookbook, so: Cookbook Preview! Photos courtesy of Kristy-Anne at Up & Away Studios.

My dad, who is the healthiest man alive, loves all food EXCEPT Brussels Sprouts. Growing up, it was the only food that seemed to me like even grown ups think is DISGUSTING. They looked like awful little green brains and I refused to eat them. Then, we were visiting some family last year in Toronto. And my cousin Alex made this dish for us. I should title the recipe: Brussels Sprouts Are Not Disgusting. In fact they are amazing. And everytime I make this recipe, I hoard as many of them as possible. One of my favorite recipes of all time.

Enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts

approx 2 lbs of fresh brussel’s sprouts, halved

1 large sweet onion, sliced

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup vegetable stock

3 tbs apple cider vinegar

1 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped

1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds

salt and pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400. Parboil brussel sprouts, drain. Combine sprouts with onions and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in oven until golden and a bit crispy, approximately one hour. Combine herbs, stock and vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Put sprouts on a serving plate and pour stock mixture over them. Add sunflower seeds.

Local Fare: Organics Delivered

Best of Season Box

Something very exciting happened to us this week. The door bell rang and a friendly man delivered a big box of organic produce. Isn’t that great!? A dear friend of mine gave me two weeks of produce deliveries as a thank you for watching her son. I’ve been saving them for this month when the beloved Farmers Market is closed. They are called “Best of the Season” boxes, so you never know quite what you’re going to get. This week mine had a bunch of romaine lettuce, a bunch of spinach, a bunch of collards, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams(yes those are two different things!), bananas, mangoes, oranges, apples, grapefruits and a cucumber. All organic and all in perfect condition!

It was out of my normal cooking style to have to cook something based on what I have, not what I’ve chosen, but so far this week it’s worked out great! I don’t think I would use a service like this full time because a)I LOVE to grocery shop myself, I need it for the inspiration, and b) I usually have a specific idea of what I want in mind. I do know that this company in particular does provide you with the option to order specific things, and I know there are other grocery delivery options out there! But I will definitely use them for times like this, when my cooking mojo is diminished and the fun of opening a big box of surprises is motivating!

If you would like to check it out, you can find Organics Delivered HERE.

Recipe: Cheddar Scones

cheddar scones dough

The deep freeze, the closed Farmer’s Market, the grey of January: All factors that have contributed to a dramatic LOW in my cooking inspiration! I’m embarrassed to admit we’ve been eating a LOT of cheese quesadillas, steamed broccoli, and sliced apples. But you know what? Spring always comes. A Truth I cling to. Anyway, this freezing Monday morning brought a teensy bit of inspiration so here is a new and yummy recipe for you to try. This took about 5 minutes to prep, 15 minutes to bake, so easy easy easy! Enjoy!

Cheddar Scones

makes 12

2 cups multigrain flour (you can use whole wheat or spelt)

1 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

generous pinch of chili flakes

1 cup shredded old cheddar

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup cream

1 egg

Directions: Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together all the dry ingredients, including cheddar. Drizzle olive oil over the flour mixture. In a measuring cup, whisk together the cream and the egg. Add the cream and egg to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined. Turn out onto wax or parchment paper and pat into an 8 inch round circle. Cut into 12 pieces and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 mins.

voila

Thoughts On: Kindness

I don’t really consider myself a “New Years Resolution” type of girl. Generally I think that if something needs to be changed, or I want to try something, I just do it. Right then. Even though I say this every year, somehow some kind of New Years Inspiration always seems to find me. I don’t go out looking for it. I don’t usually deeply ponder what the next year of my life should be like(I do this early in Dec when my birthday seems like a crisis every year!). But when it comes to inspiriation, when I am looking the least, I am finding the most.

I have a number of friends who search for or choose a word to identify with for the year. Kind of like it’s “their” word to live out for the year. Such a nice idea. Usually my inspiration for the year doesn’t come in a word, but this year it did seem to find me in a quote. I don’t know where it came from. My mom said it to me and doesn’t know where she heard it originally. So if the quote belongs to someone who is still alive and who stumbles upon Fig&Fennel, my deepest apologies for not crediting you properly.

Here is what has struck me as deeply important for 2011.

“Kindness is greater proof of love than the most passionate of vows.”

I just love this. I am prone to grand declarations of how deeply important something is to me. I am prone to grand gestures in general: big dreams, the chasing of mystery, the world brushing my fingertips.

Much greater, much deeper, much more loving; to be prone to kindness.

In 2011, I will take hold of the tiny opportunities for kindness to show my love. I will value the simplicity of this: if you need love, and I need love, and kindness is the bridge, then let’s sit there a while.

I know that I’ve been made to love and embrace the extravagant. And truly I have no desire or intention of abandoning this Truth. But on days when I can’t go out and save the world. There will be kindness. Probably in the form of muffins.

Recipe: Barley Lentil Salad

Curried Barley Lentil Salad

Usually, the simpler the food, the better. The Standard American Diet is built on foods that are as far removed from their natural state as possible. Food that is highly processed, taking natural products, refining them, coating them in fats/sugars/salts/additives/preservatives and then packaging them pretty. We all inherently know that this isn’t a healthy way to eat. How can these products compare with food as close to its natural state as possible, blueberries off the bush, carrots out of the dirt…

It can take a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve re-trained your taste buds to enjoy the taste of natural food, you will soon discover that fresh food is naturally healthy AND delicious. You will start to notice the slightly offensive sweetness of processed salad dressings, the saltiness in store-bought cookies…

This salad came up today in my experimenting. I wanted to see if I could use food, as natural as possible to make something delicious for dinner. I just sampled it, warm and it’s so yummy. So you can eat it warm or cold. We’ll be eating it as an entree, but would make a great side dish as well!

Barley Lentil Salad

1 cup dried green lentils

1 cup pot barley

2 cups raw chopped cauliflower

1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

2 tbs almond oil(or olive oil)

dash of sea salt

1 tsp curry spices(I used 1/2 tsp Turkish Baharat and 1/2 tsp Tandoori Masala)

Directions: Prepare the lentils and barley. I simmered mine separately until just tender. It actually took almost the exact same amount of time so I don’t see any reason not to simmer them together. Drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Serve!

tip – make sure to rinse the dust off the barley well. If you use pearl barley(which is more refined) it cooks quite quickly so don’t combine to simmer with lentils.

Recipe: Orzo Tuna Nicoise

orzo tuna nicoise

This little recipe was whipped up last night, as I stared into the fridge, glanced over at the clock and realized something had to be made in about 15 minutes times, stared back into the fridge, glanced back at the clock etc. My whole cooking life has been thrown off with the temporary closure and relocation of the Calgary Farmer’s Market. My little routine has been rocked and now I can’t seem to keep track of the produce in my fridge. For whatever reason I keep buying spinach and tomatoes. At least we like spinach and tomatoes but every night this week I’ve had to find new ways to do things with spinach and tomatoes!

Tomorrow, we are going to check out the new Kingsland Market. A lot of the vendors from the CFM have moved there so I hope to see some familiar faces. It’s January, it’s cold, not the peak of my cooking inspiration anyway. I’m missing the vibrancy of the Market and looking forward to it reopening.

Orzo may just be my favorite of all pasta. I have a really yummy asparagus orzo salad recipe in the cookbook. The kids LOVE orzo because it’s cute and little. This recipe is delicious hot(supper), lukewarm(snack after supper), and cold(lunch). I made it literally in 15 minutes with the odds and ends in the fridge. If you need a super quick dinner this week…give it a try!

Orzo Tuna Nicoise

1. Prepare the orzo. I used about 2 cup uncooked orzo pasta, which turned into enough for entrees for 4 people. Once orzo is cooked, al dente, drain and dump into a large bowl.

2. Add in one can of light flaked tuna, 1/2 cup crumbled feta, 2 chopped hard boiled eggs, 4 cups fresh spinach, 1 large sliced tomato, 2 tbs capers, handful of chopped fresh dill. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine. Serve.

 

I’m Inspired By: Bikram Calgary South

3 months ago, I stumbled upon Bikram yoga. I’ve been curious about hot yoga for a while, but thanks to one of those Living Social Deals, I signed up for 20 classes for $20. This was, without a doubt, the best $20 I have EVER spent. Bikram Yoga has changed my life.

I’ve worked out my whole adult life, in various levels of intensity. The last almost 2 years have been my super-fit years, running quite a bit and finally for the first time really committing to long term health and exercise. IronSister got me into running, which was amazing and I loved it and, in typical fashion, overdid it enough to be looking for a little change this fall. I will definitely run again, but I am enjoying the little focus switch.

I don’t know if I found the yoga or if the yoga found me, but I can tell you this: I have NEVER experienced anything like it. The 90 minutes in the hot room are intense, challenging, and empowering every.single.time. I’m just finishing up my 3rd month of practicing regularly, about 4 times a week and in some ways I feel so so new at it(which I am) and in other ways I feel like it’s a deeply valuable and solidified part of my life.

Bikram Yoga is a series of 26 postures, 2 breathing exercises, 90 minutes in a room that is heated to well into the 40 degrees and high humidity. The hot room makes you detox(which I can assure you I feel every single molecule of sugar detoxing out of me, motivation to rarely eat it!). Literally the sweat pours off and soaks the towel over our mats. In the 3 months, eating healthy as I regularly do, working out only 4 times a week, I have noticed a more dramatic change in my muscle tone, strength and flexibility than ever in my life.

I cannot recommend this enough. If there is a Bikram Yoga Studio near you, you should try it. Even better, if you live around here, then you should stop by Bikram Calgary South!! This is the yoga studio I practice at. The people here are AMAZING. Seriously the instructors are amazing, inspiring, cheerleading, super fun people. They make everyone feel important, like it’s THEIR pleasure to have us there. It amazes me every single time. Lindsay and Morgan, the owners are just so incredible. Lindsay is a yogi goddess, and Morgan is about the friendliest most personable guy I’ve ever met. I’m not sure if he treats everyone who walks in the door like his best friend, or if they ARE his best friends…Heather is so sweet I always feel a little sad to leave her when the 90 minutes are over…Hillary could be a professional cheerleader as she rah-rah’s you through the intense work out…Annie is so calm and peaceful, it’s always easy to breathe through her class…Liana is so motivating and attacks the classes with so much energy, absolutely catching…Anne-Brit always seems to get the best out of me, partly because I’m terrified of her and partly from motivation that yoga has given her the body of an olympian.

Honestly, these people are my friends, whether they know it or not. I am deeply inspired by them. I have learned to be able to take 90 minutes, leave my stresses in the cold hallway, focus on breathing, on moving, on listening. I am stronger. I am happier. I am healthier.

I am grateful.

Recipe: Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

oatmeal chocolate chip dough

The house is very very quiet. Picky Princess got new skates for Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa, so she and Sexy Husband are out in the chill skating. Foodie Baby is sleeping upstairs. The peacefulness brought a deep sense of….cookies. They were begging to be made!

My Little Family has been overwhelmingly gracious about being back to a life full of healthy food. I’ve barely heard a peep this week about meals featuring lentil salad, roasted kale, and bok choy. I know the peace will end soon; with pink cheeks begging for hot chocolate, giggling girls, piano practicing and the singing from the Studio that NEVER ends.

And I will greet the madness with…cookies.

chewy and easy

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 3 dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup coarse raw sugar(demerara) use brown sugar if you prefer

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup spelt flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup oats

handful each of shredded coconut, pecans, chocolate chips (measure carefully ;)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined. Drop by teaspoon full onto baking sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes. They will be slightly golden on the bottom, and chewy in the middle.

How’s that for easy?

Foodie Baby approves

Think Fresh: Winter Salad

Sauteed Mushroom Salad

I am full of inspiration for salad all summer long. I could eat it three times a day and I never seem to run out of creative combinations for fresh summery greens. In the winter, however, I don’t want to eat salad. I do, because it’s healthy, but I just do. not. want. to.  But I’m kind of tired, this week, of the same roasted veggies I’ve been eating, or the same raw chopped veggies. I also had the dark and heavy realization this week that it is a LONG time until summer(this always hits me at some point, usually the first week of January). So I thought I would combine some of the comfort of warm roasted food, with the health of piles of raw spinach. This salad was delicious, flavorful and felt a bit gourmet. I will proudly serve it to guests later this week!

If you are needing some winter salad inspiration, give this one a try. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to have a dressing. The garlic/olive oil/cherry tomatoes/mushrooms have enough flavor, and the balsamic drenched sourdough croutons are hearty enough, that nothing more is required. Enjoy!

Sauteed Mushroom Salad

Makes enough for 2 as an entree or 4 as a side.

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cloves of garlic, minced, and 1 tsp of coarse sea salt and a pinch of chili flakes. Add 2 cups of halved small white button mushrooms and 1 cup of cherry tomatoes. Saute until golden(as we’ve all learned from Julia Child, don’t crowd the mushrooms if you want them to really brown).

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, put 2 cups of coarsely torn sourdough bread. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a bit more sea salt. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, stirring once.

On a large bed of spinach, dump mushroom mixture and hot croutons. Garnish with shredded parm and serve! The combo of cold spinach and hot mushrooms is delicious!

 

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