Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the month “June, 2011”

Well, the idea was a good one…

So much for my list haha. Sam caught some sort of virus and was vomiting most of Thursday and part of Friday. He seems to be better today, but is still sleeping. At least he did not wake up in the middle of the night throwing up all over his crib. If he does well today, I will take the boys swimming tomorrow. Poor guy.

Arancini

Arancini from Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense Guide by Bay Books

I also call this recipe “Fried Cheesy Rice Balls,” which I know seems like a mouthful, but I could not for the life of me remember the actual name. A note before beginning: This recipe is time-consuming as the mix needs to be refrigerated. It actually worked out well as it complemented my leftover Chickpea Curry perfectly. I also discovered that it can be reheated in the oven and be even better than it was freshly fried. My cheese did not get very melty with the frying, but melted to perfect melty goodness after some time in the oven (approx 15 minutes at 425 F).

This would also be a very easy recipe to transform into a vegan dish. I think it would be super nommers if a garbanzo bean were in the center. Or garlic. Maybe both. Mmmm.

Cooked on: May 7, 2011

Servings: Makes 20

Cost: Inexpensive – I already had saffron on hand, so this was super in expensive.

Skill level: Intermediate. Be sure to follow instructions.

Ingredients

a large pinch of saffron threads
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) dry white wine
750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) vegetable stock
100 g (3 1/2 oz) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp thyme
220 g (7 3/4 oz/1 cup) risotto rice
50 g (1 3/4 oz/1/2 cup)grated parmesan cheese
100 g (3 1/2 oz/2/3 cup diced mozzarella or fontina cheese (I think a stronger cheese would be better – feta or some sort of goat cheese)
70 g (2 1/2 oz/3/4) dry breadcrumbs
vegetable oil, for deep-frying

1. Soak the saffron in the wine and leave to infuse. Pour the stock into a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and keep at a gentle simmer.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Saute the onion and garlic over low heat for 3 – 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the thyme and rice and stir until the rice is translucent. Add the saffron wine and stir until all the wine is absorbed. Add 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) hot stock and stir constantly over medium heat until absorbed. Continue adding more stock, 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) at a time, stirring constantly for 20 – 25 minutes, or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy. (It doesn’t matter if the rice becomes a little glutinous – it will actually stick together better.)

3. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan, then spread out on a tray covered with plastic wrap. Leave to cool, the refrigerate overnight to firm up.

4. Roll a small amount of the rice mixture into a walnut-sized ball. Press a hole in the middle with your thumb, push a cube of mozzarella inside and press the rice around it to enclose it in a ball. Repeat with the remaining rice and cheese, then roll each ball in the breadcrumbs, pressing down to coat well.

5. Heat enough oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan to fully cover the rice balls. Heat the oil to 180 C (350 F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. Cook the rice balls in batches, without crowding, for 3 – 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and leave for a few minutes before eating.
(3 – 4 minutes seemed too long to me as they started to blacken if left in that long. This is why my inner cheese did not melt, but I wanted them to look appetizing as well as taste appetizing. It is possible my oil was too hot. I did not have a thermometer that went up that high.)

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Final verdict: This is a delicious recipe. It takes patience and time, but is great if you have both. I reheated these for a Mother’s Day brunch and they went over extremely well.

Getting back into the groove.

I have slacked on my exercise. I am working on getting better at not doing that (slacking I mean). I worked on a weekly schedule that will incorporate classes & use of weights at my gym with my running. I have determined not to beat myself up if I can not keep this schedule. Things happen. Like the kids not waking up until nearly 10am today. I depend on them to wake me up by 8am hehe. This meant that I missed the morning yoga class. I had hoped to make it up with this evenings yoga class, but the youngest is still napping and that class starts in 25 minutes.

To help me make it more real, I am going to write out my schedule here:

Sunday: Swimming (this is the one day the gym does not have child care, so I have designated Sunday as family swim day.)
Monday: 8:20 am Running, 9:20 Body Pump (I did this class for the 1st time this past Monday… I still can’t bend my legs very well.)
Tuesday: 5:05 pm Body Attack (I missed this class yesterday because I could not bend my legs)
Wednesday: 9:30 am weight machines, 10:30 am yoga
Thursday: 8:30 am Run, 9:20 am Body Vive
Friday: 3:30 pm Weight Machines, 4:30 Body Step
Sat: 9:00 am Run

As of my last check-in with my complementary personal trainer thing for joining the gym, I lost 4 lbs and a little more than 1 inch in the month since I started my gym membership. I felt pretty encouraged by this since I felt I had not been working out as much as I could have been. I missed a full week due to being sick and Sam has been so crabby lately that I can’t get in a full workout without the child care people coming to get me. I will be über happy when those FOUR top teeth finish coming in.  Poor baby.

Sam’s doc requested metabolic and genetic testing to figure out what is going on with him. The metabolic results showed he has a B12 deficiency, which could actually explain some of his weakness. Everything else in that test came out normal, which means that muscular dystrophy has been ruled out. It could take about 2 more months for the genetic tests to come back. He is now scheduled for an MRI in July. I am not looking forward to that one.
He has been in occupational therapy for 2 weeks now and seems to be improving with that. She (the therapist) also shows us all kinds of playtime exercises to do at home.  So, I pretty much play with him during my free time, do his stretches during diaper changing and nursing, and my husband works with him before and after work.

Now, to rant on things people ask me:

Q: “Do you hold him too much?”
A: No. If any baby in the history of mankind has been held too much, I would like to see it. I held and snuggled my older son waaay more than I do Sammi and he physically developed at a faster rate than normal. This is not to say that I do not hold Sam, I am just so busy with another kid and with forcing Sam to exercise that I just can not hold him as much as I would like to. I cherish our nursing times since that is when I can hold him and not make him work his arms and legs (the stretches are quick and he can just rest while I do them). I hate this question with a passion and I get it constantly.

Q: “Don’t you force him to hold up his head?”
A: This is a dumb question. It doesn’t piss me off as much as the above question, yet, but it is getting there. To answer seriously: yes, yes I do force him to hold up his head. I do that because he does not have the muscle tone needed to get his head up on his own.

Q: “Do you let him lay down too much?”
A: WTF. Do you want me to hold him or not hold him??? He has a lot of tummy time, so I guess he is laying down a lot… exercising. I stopped using devices that allowed him to lay down and do nothing when he was 4 months old: baby bouncer and swing (that was all I had for him in that category). I sold them and bought a Bright Starts Bounce Bounce Baby. My hope was that he would look up at the toys and reach for them more. Sometimes he does, but mostly he stands in it with his head resting on the ledge. It’s pretty pitiful.

I guess I get annoyed with the questions people come up with because I feel as if he/she is attacking my mothering skillz. I know I am a good momma and I know I shouldn’t let these things bother me, but they do. There is a level of insecurity where I have to wonder if his lack of muscle tone is due to something I did or did not do. Logically, I know this is not the case, but there is still that worry in the back of my mind.

 

King Arthur Flour Company Super Bread

This has been one of my favorite bread recipes. I’ve tried it a few times and only had it fail once due to old flour. This comes from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook:

Super Bread

When days have begun to shrink and you’re up and off before the dark and chill have really let go, you begin to think of how to pack some warmth into breakfast and lunch, some that will fire your engines and keep them running all day.  Here’s how to pack all this into a loaf of Super Bread.  (This recipe was developed by Brinna Sands when she was in her “bread as the ONLY staff of life” phase.)

When you make bread with milk as the liquid, you will create something that gives you two kinds of energy.  The first is protein.  Whole proteins are divided up into lots of little parts.  Wheat has some of those parts and milk has others.  When you put them together, you make a protein as complete as any you find in meat but with vegetable fiber replacing the fat.  Everybody needs some protein.  If you are growing you need a lot.  Protein helps you develop a healthy body as you grow and it also provides a form of energy that burns long and slow.

The second kind of energy comes from carbohydrates in the wheat itself.  Carbohydrates burn hotter and faster than protein and provide you with a “jump start” and the “overdrive” you need to breeze through a busy day.  We all need more of this second kind of energy, especially when we’re very active.

What else can you add to make this a really SUPER bread?  An egg or two will boost the protein.  Stone ground wheat flour substituted for some unbleached white adds extra vitamins, fiber, and heartiness.  Soy flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, wheat germ and bran, available at your local market or health food store, create variety and extra nutritional wallop.  Dark, unsulfured or blackstrap molasses as the sweetener adds iron and an irresistible flavor, and helps the bread retain moisture or freshness.

Because the bread contains essentially no fat, you will find that it gives you a maximum amount of energy with a minimum number of calories; it will satisfy your hunger, provide excellent nutrition, plus, if you’ve ever made a loaf of bread, you know what that will do for you.  No wonder bread is called the staff of life.  The flavor of this bread is developed by making a sponge, so read through the recipe first to plan your timing.

2 cups liquid (this can include 2 eggs which count as a liquid)

1 to 4 tablespoons sugar (white or brown), honey, or molasses

1 tablespoon or packet dry active yeast

¾ cup nonfat dry milk (optional, but increases the protein)

1 to 1 ½ cups of the following, your choice: cracked wheat; oatmeal, steel-cut oats, triticale; wheat, barley, rye or other flakes; cornmeal; wheat germ; wheat or oat bran, soy flour, etc.  You can also use a blend of these,  (If you’re using soy flour, start with ½ cup and increase the amount next time if you like the flavor.)

2 cups King Arthur Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour

1 tablespoon salt (or less if desired)

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

The total amount of flour you need will vary.  To produce a loaf with good volume, use at least 4 ½ to 5 cups of wheat flour, either unbleached or stone ground whole wheat.  Wheat is the only grain that contains gluten, the amazing protein that causes a dough to capture carbon dioxide bubble produced by the yeast, which creates the “rise.”  The other 1 to 1 ½ cups can be a combination of any of the dry ingredients mentioned.

Making the Sponge:  Dissolve the sweetener and yeast in your liquid.  (When measuring your liquid, keep in mind that if you’re planning on adding eggs, each one counts as about ¼ cup, so subtract that amount from the total liquid.  Don’t add the eggs to the sponge.)  Stir in the dry milk, any whole grains, and the whole wheat flour.

Cover your sponge with plastic wrap and let it sit in a cool place for anywhere from 1 to 12 hours.

Making the Dough:  Stir down the sponge, add the salt and beat in the eggs (if you choose to add them).

Stir in the remainder of your flour, except for ½ cup, which you’ll sprinkle on your kneading board.  (If you use a liquid sweetener, such as honey or molasses, you will need to use a slightly smaller percentage of liquid or a bit more flour.)

When your dough begins to hold together and pull away from the sides of the bowl, turn the dough out onto the floured kneading board.

Kneading:  Turn the dough out onto the floured board, and knead until it begins to feel as if it belongs together, about 3 or 4 minutes, adding only enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you.  Let it rest while you clean and grease your bowl.  Continue kneading the relaxed dough until it feels smooth and springy, another 3 or 4 minutes.

Rising:  Form the dough into a nice ball; place it in the greased bowl, turning it so the top is lightly greased also.  Cover it and put it where it will be warm and cozy (no drafts).  Let this rise until it has doubled (when you can poke your finger in it and the dough doesn’t spring back at you).

Shaping:  Punch or knock the dough down, turn it out onto you floured board and knead out any stray bubbles.

Cut it in half, form 2 loaves, and place them in two lightly greased bread pans (4 ½ x 8 ½-inch pans make high, well-rounded loaves; 5 x 9-inch pans will make shorter, wider loaves)

Baking:  With either of the following methods, the longer baking time produces crustier bread with a slightly drier interior.

  • Full Rise.  Let the loaves rise until they are doubled (about an hour).  About 15 minutes before you want to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Place the loaves in the preheated oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes.  This method makes the lightest loaves.
  • Partial Rise.  Let the loaves rise for only 30 to 40 minutes.  Place them in a cold oven, set the temperature to 400˚F for 15 minutes and lower it to 350˚ for a further 20 to 25 minutes.  This method takes a little less time from beginning to end and avoids the possibility of the bread dough rising too far and then collapsing.  The bread itself won’t be quite as light, but it will still be very good.

 Storing:  Once the bread is out of the oven and cool, wrap it in an airtight plastic bag.  You can freeze it at this point and it will be “oven fresh” when you thaw it to fire up another day.

There isn’t much you can buy commercially that can compare with a loaf of the Super Bread you make at home.  Once you’ve experimented a dew times, you’ll find combinations that you or your family particularly like and maybe some they don’t.  (The rather large amount of brewer’s yeast added to one batch several years ago didn’t get past the kids.)  You will discover that you can get an amazing amount of nutrition into an amazingly tasty loaf of bread.

Chickpea Curry

Chickpea Curry from Vegetarian Cooking: A Common Sense Guide by Bay Books

Cooked on: May 6, 2011

Serves: 4 (I think it would serve more than 4)

Cost: Inexpensive.

Skill level: Novice. Be sure to follow instructions.

Ingredients

1 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
2 onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 cans (15 oz/425 g each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
400 g/14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp garam masala (this took me a little while to find, but definitely add this to your spice rack!)

  1. Heat the ghee in a saucepan. Saute the onion and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
  2. Add the chili powder, salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin, and coriander, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas and tomato, then cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the garam masala. Cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Serve hot.

I think a curry recipe is a must in any diet. They are usually very easy and require cheap and simple ingredients. This particular recipe is absolutely delicious. It was perfectly spicy in the sense that while you could taste some slight heat, it was not overpowering. It was really very easy to make and probably cost under $15. The recipe claims it has 4 servings, but this fed my husband and me for a week.

Chickpea Curry with a side of Arancini:

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