Did I Ever Tell You about the Time . . .

I once tried to make my own rice flour without a mill.  It was a spectacularly bad decision.  It was Easter weekend, which, in Belfast, means almost everything is closed for at least three or four days.  I really wanted to make quinoa cookies, and I needed rice flour.  I’m not known for my patience, so I wouldn’t wait until the following week.  I did have brown rice and a food processor, so, hey!, how hard could it be?

It turns out, making flour without a mill is hard.  Huh.  Who could have known?!  I stood in front of the processor, scraping the sides, pushing it down, yelling at it, mumbling at it, pleading with it.   THREE HOURS (yes, I’m that stubborn) LATER, I had a cup of flour.  You can’t tell me it wasn’t worth it.  You also can’t ever, ever tell me to do it again.

Rice and Quinoa Cookies

I made piles of these cookies just to prove a point (to myself)

I made piles of these cookies just to prove a point (to myself)

1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup tahini (or peanut butter)
1 cup brown or white rice flour
3/4 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Mixing bowl
Baking sheet
Various measuring cups and spoons
Wire cooling rack
Paper towels

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

Combine honey, brown sugar, butter, and tahini in bowl and mix until creamy.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Drop teaspoon-size balls of batter onto baking sheet and bake about 14 minutes. They spread out pretty far so space them well.  Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack with a layer of paper towel to completely cool.  They are great with greek yogurt because they lack the heavy richness of other cookies.


Apple Affair

After time apart, I have been reunited with an old flame. The last time I saw him, I knew something wasn’t right, but I just didn’t know how to fix it. I spent a long time staring at him from across the room, too nervous to approach. I finally got up my courage this week, walked right up to him, and said “I need you.”

And I did.

With three pounds of apples to peel, core, and slice, I really did need him.

My poor apple peeler. When we moved out of our old house, I had to break it apart in order to fit into the original box. (Yes, I keep original boxes because I am convinced I will never stop moving.) Somewhere along the way, the springs came undone, and, when I went to reassemble it, I couldn’t get them back on. I tried to force them into place, but I was afraid of breaking it. I left him, looking lonely, in his cubby on my gadget shelf.

I got it into my head this week that I needed to make apple butter. I hadn’t had apple butter in years, and the idea of it made me a little nostalgic for autumn in Georgia. If you haven’t been to the Georgia Apple Festival and you like apples, maybe, you know, you should. It’s gorgeous at that time of year, and, if it’s possible to make something out of apples, you’ll find it there.

I looked up a bunch of pictures of similar apple peelers online and reconstructed it.  It wasn’t hard, but it took a few deep breaths (and maybe a bit of muttering under them).  Eventually, he was good as new.

Apple butter in a slow cooker is super easy. Your house will smell delicious for the entire day, too. My father-in-law came over and immediately asked what I was cooking because it smelled “like Christmas”. That’s never a bad thing.

Spread this on anything.

Spread this on anything.

Apple Butter

3 pounds of apples (I used Gala; it was about 9 medium apples)
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (use plain white sugar if you don’t have vanilla sugar ready)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Apple peeler – or patience and a knife and vegetable peeler
Various measuring cups and spoons
Immersion blender
Slow cooker
Bit kitchen spoon

Dump all your ingredients into the slow cooker. Stir well, cover, and cook on low for 10 hours, stirring occasionally.

Use the immersion blender to puree the mixture. Make as lumpy or smooth as you like. I like mine very smooth and glossy. Be very careful — I rarely say this, but consider eye protection for this step — if it splashes up, it is thick enough already that it will retain heat and sit and burn you. You might be guessing that I’m speaking from experience here. Ow.

Turn heat up to high and cook uncovered for 1 hour to thicken. Remove immediately to a heat-proof jar or container. Store in the fridge once cooled.

I think you could wrap a ribbon around it, give it away, and have a friend forever.

I think you could wrap a ribbon around it, give it away, and have a friend forever.

Guest Post at Domestic Mamma

Today’s a special day here at sydneylikesfood because I have written my first guest post on another blog!  I feel very important, indeed.

Go check it out at Domestic Mamma (and get a special recipe I considered keeping for myself).  Tell Vicki I sent you.  She’s a cool lady, especially to let me take over her blog for a day.

Yes, there is a typo in the ingredients list.  Ignore the word “cup”, and we’re golden.

The Worst Thing in My World

The worst thing happened.  The absolute worst.

My oven broke.

I had just preheated it to bake potatoes, and the electricity went out.  CB found the breaker and reset it, and the oven started happily whirring again.  I popped the potatoes in, set the timer, and went about the rest of dinner.  You’d think I’d have felt it when I got the potatoes out of the oven — you’d think — but I was so flustered trying to get everything to the table that I didn’t even notice.  It was already warm from preheating when I put them in, but they were so not cooked.

It turns out that something in the heating mechanism snapped or burnt or whatever happens when it stops working, and it tripped the breaker.  Until the landlord gets on fixing it — and they usually try to fix everything themselves, and unsuccessfully at that — I’m thinking it won’t happen for a while.

Until then, I suppose I will be making entirely slow cooker and stove top recipes.  At least those guys haven’t crapped out on me yet (except half the stove.  Oh.  I forgot about that.).

Running on More Than Empty

I did it. I honestly wasn’t sure I would, but I did it.

I ran 5k.

If I’m honest, I’ve never run 1k before this year.  I’ve never wanted to run before this year.  Despite all the nay-saying — entirely in my own head — I got myself up on Sunday morning and ran 5k for Cancer Research UK.  The most amazing thing is that I only felt like dying a little bit along the way!

As soon as I woke up, I knew I wouldn’t get far without a green smoothie.  I’m not a morning person, which is primarily due to the fact that I don’t believe in sleep.  I used to average about 3 hours of sleep a night, and I never felt worse for wear for it.  After cutting out gluten, I added about an hour a night.  After my nasal surgeries, I added about 30 more minutes.  I still have difficulty actually falling asleep, and my anxiety gets the best of me when something important is happening the next day.  It was no surprise when I was staring down the clock at 2am, only 8 hours before the race was scheduled to begin.

Why a green smoothie, though?  Well, I learned a lot in the 30 day challenge, especially about what my body needs.

  • Fruit sugars are important fuel because they are unprocessed and unrefined.  They feed your cells to keep you moving.
  • Hydration is desperately important in physical activity.  Even if you’re like me and don’t sweat much, your body burns up moisture and releases it through your breath, as well.
  • The fibre in the greens and whole fruit keep things moving in your system — the last thing you need is to feel a big lump in your belly as you’re running!
  • I put a banana in almost every smoothie, and the potassium it contains helps to prevent and repair muscle tears, cramps, and spasms.
  • Chia seed and flax meal are easy additions to add protein to maintain muscles.
  • Coconut water as a base lends more than just water as it is high in electrolytes, which combat dehydration.  Choosing one with added sodium means that it’s a bit more processed, but studies have shown that it hydrates at the same level as sports drinks.
  • You need calories to burn as you run.  They might as well be from real food sources.
  • Green smoothies taste good.

Fuel in and shoes on, my mother-in-law picked us up to drive to the Stormont Estate, the home of the Northern Irish Assembly and the 5k.  They didn’t release a course map, so I did not expect that big hill in the front would actually be part of it.  Equally, I didn’t know that the gorgeous paths through the woodlands trail would be included.  I’ve never run on loose gravel, in mud, or up a giant hill, so there were a lot of firsts in that day.  I didn’t exactly have a good run time, but it was more a matter of showing myself I could do it at all.  It’s a success in my book.