Archive | healthier choices

Apples, Windfalls, and an Apple Butter Recipe

There’s an old apple tree in our backyard. It provides much-needed shade from the scorching hot summer days, and blushing apples with a hint of lemon in autumn.


If you like apples as much as we do, I’m sure you’ll understand how we try to harvest as much edible fruit possible, while leaving some for the birds for their pre-winter and winter snacks. Last year we started using a nifty apple picker attached to an adjustable Mr. Long Arm pole and it has changed the quality and quantity of fruits we harvest. Apple-picking has turned into an annual Olympic pole event of sorts, requiring a strong back, precision individual-fruit picking, and lots of practice and patience, with tasty rewards.


Our backyard Spencer apples, a variety which is a cross between a McIntosh and Golden Delicious

Once we hear the regular Thud! Thud! Thud! of fruits landing on the plant boxes, concrete tiles and ceramic table (eep) under the apple tree, we know it’s time to get a-picking. This process takes us at least two weekends to do. There’s only a small window of time between good-weather harvest days and Vancouver’s endless days of rain in the fall, so we were lucky to have time to do it when the skies were blue and the ground was dry.

A glimpse of our late summer skies at sundown.

We had another bumper crop this year, but sadly, our spray-free tree has fallen prey to the codling moth, which means half of the apples were infested. We tried to make the best of what we got.

P1130181-600g 1

We let the little fella have this one to himself.

It felt like such a waste to throw out the damaged ones, so after sorting the apples, I got rid of the unusable portions and washed them thoroughly. The first chopped batch went into making some apple juice and non-alcoholic cider, which is just the apple juice cooked with mulling spices.

Fresh apple juice.

Fresh apple juice that resembles beer.

Some apples were sliced and went into pies. Of course.

Apple pie.

We love apple pie.

Then the chopped ones went into making apple butter. I have never heard of it until I met my dear friend Kristina. One September day in San Francisco we found ourselves sharing a room together for a food bloggers conference. Before that, we knew each other only through our blogs, twitter and email exchanges, but we hit it off and talked like old friends that day. She mentioned that she and her husband made apple butter to give away on their wedding day, and I thought that was so special to make that for wedding guests. I made a mental note of it, but I only started making it last year when we were up to our eyeballs in apple supply.

Spencer apples

Our perfectly imperfect backyard Spencer apples, which are a cross between a McIntosh and Golden Delicious

What is Apple Butter? Apple butter is basically caramelized applesauce. It’s a smooth and luscious apple spread that’s made with apples, spices and a little bit of sugar. It’s important to use flavourful apples. Ours has a nice complexity of sweetness and tartness that really comes together when cooked for a long time, adding to to the sweet caramel finish of the butter.

Last year I made it over the stove and ended up overcooking it and left me with apple leather. After many hours of stirring and checking, it didn’t not end as well as I hoped. This year I cooked smarter, with a slow cooker, which really made it such an easy experience.

Apple butter with Skyflakes -- North American (or German) meets Filipino crackers

The end result was a a smooth and luscious spread that you can eat with toast, crackers, cheese, and whatever you fancy. My favorite combination is saltines, Oak Manor Organic Vintage Cheddar from England, and apple butter. I could live on that for days.

Oh, and by the way, your house will smell amazing while the apple butter cooks.


If you’d like to make your own apple butter in a slow cooker, this is roughly the recipe I used when I used my 4-quart Crockpot:

Makes approximately a liter of apple butter


  • About 4 lbs (OR enough to fill 3/4 of the slow cooker pot) of ripe apples (the more variety, the better), washed, peeled, cored and chopped to 1-inch chunks
  • 1 3/4 cup apple juice, unsweetened (preferably fresh)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (not fresh)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (don’t add the pods in the pot, use it for your jar of sugar instead) OR 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Place all the ingredients except for the vanilla bean in the slow cooker pot and stir. Cover and turn on to the low setting. Cook for 8 hours, stirring occasionally with a spatula, making sure to scrape the sides–after 2 hours, then after 4 hours wold be good.
  2. Using a stick blender, pulse the apple mixture a few times to your desired smoothness or chunkiness. Stir in bean seeds and cook for another 2 hours or so until you get to the thickness you like. If the apples are really juicy, it may take up to 12 hours to cook. Do remember that it will still get a touch thicker during cooling as well.
    When is the apple butter done? Take a teaspoon of the apple butter and drop it on a small plate. The butter should stay in a mound without any liquid accumulating around the edges.
  3. You can either can it or just store in clean jars or containers. They freeze beautifully and will keep from 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.What about adding sugar? The apples used will dictate how sweet the apple butter would be. If it needs to be sweetened to your liking at the end of the 8-hour slow cook, add half of what you think it would need. A couple of tablespoons of sugar should be enough. It shouldn’t be too sweet.


Posted in fruits, healthier choices3 Comments

Simple and Easy Corn and Pea Soup

The last few days have certainly felt like a cold tap on the shoulder reminding me that summer is almost over. Yesterday morning I found myself reaching for a wrap to keep me warm while I checked on our vegetable garden before work. [I hate transitioning from zombie-like mode to work mode when I’m cold.]

While I like eating corn and peas fresh (they’re sweet!), it’s comforting to have them in a steaming bowl of soup to welcome the change in season. And that I did. I’ve been cooking less on the grill and utilizing the kitchen stove again — another indicator of the cooling temperature in the evenings.

Fresh peas from the farmer's market

Fresh peas from the farmer’s market

We’re so very lucky to have an amazing array of fresh ingredients throughout the year, and it’s not hard to make wonderful dishes from them with just a few additions.

Fresh peas and shucked Okanagan peaches and cream corn

Fresh peas and kernels of peaches and cream corn from the Okanagan

Continue Reading

Posted in healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, soups, vegetables, vegetarian3 Comments

Go-To Light Sesame Ginger Dressing for The Salad Impaired (Like Me)

I’m salad dressing combo-making inept.

I grew up in a culture and age where salads were mostly either made with vinegar + salt + pepper or mayo. I don’t remember salads being a big part of our meals in Manila when I was young. We had our double starches (rice, bread and noodles — any combination of those) to go with the main courses. Fresh or steamed vegetables were dipped in sauces like vinegar with anchovies, soy sauce and calamansi (my favorite), or mayo and ketchup. I have a very good taste memory, but without any childhood recollection of taste combinations, I’m at a loss in a salad-inclusive North America. I even avoided volunteering to bring a salad to potlucks. It stressed me out just to think about it. [It still does.] I would gladly make you pie or cake. You can just see my deer-in-the-headlights look.

One of my cooking-related goals this year is to get in there, try as many dressings/salads (sorry, friends and family), and make some more until I can whip them together with ease. I have a 50% failing rate as far as my own rating system goes–I’m hard on myself, but that helps me keep improving. I still have a lot to learn.

P1120151-g 3

We’ve been enjoying the summer bounty from our local farmers markets. Here I used shaved carrots, radishes and a variety of tomatoes.

This dressing I’m sharing today is not one of those failures. This is my go-to recipe over the past year, my saving grace when my mind is blank at the end of the day and we have some beautiful vegetables to eat fresh. It’s a light sesame ginger dressing that has been well-received during family dinners. If we can make the kids eat a few bites of veggies, it’s considered a win.

It tastes similar to the light dressing that comes with the house salad at a Japanese restaurant. If you like that, you will love this. There’s just enough boost of flavor, but it lets the vegetables shine. It’s good to start with some lovely produce.

Continue Reading

Posted in appetizer, dressings and sauces, featured, healthier choices, quick & easy, raw, salads, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

There’s no getting around the too-lazy-too-cook-for-oneself bug when you’re at home for lunch on a hot summer day, or any day for that matter. I’ve heard it many times from friends who live alone: how do you get motivated to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Look no further than your local grocery store or farmer’s market and get what’s in season. That is my dirty little secret. I can admit to eating bananas or ants on a log (i.e. celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries) when I’m really pressed for time and need sustenance.

I had this for lunch last week and I felt much better about eating it than reaching out for a bag of chips. Hey, it happens.

This is as simple as it gets:

  • Peel and slice fresh peaches (or just slice nectarines)
  • Crumbled creamy goat cheese over the quarter moon slices
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of honey
  • Eat!

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

Posted in breakfast, brunch, cheese, cooking for one, dairy, dessert, fruits, gluten-free, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, raw, snacks, vegetarian, wheat-free0 Comments

Cherry Clafoutis | This Ain’t No Pitted Party

New year, new recipes to conquer. I love trying something new. I’ve been on the lookout for a genuine Black Forest Cake recipe so I can compare it with the bastardized version I grew up with and I found one in a German cookbook I found at the library late last year. For some reason I thought I would need fresh cherries when I saw them at the market. Rarely do I buy fruits that are out of season, but I felt compelled to break my own rules sometimes for the sake of baking expeditions. When I got home and looked at my recipe again I guess I only needed bottled sour cherries! I was left with a rather expensive bag of cherries.

What to do…what to do with more than a pound of cherries? And they weren’t sweet enough to enjoy eating.

I turned to Twitter and sure enough my ever reliable friends had a lot of suggestions. In the end, the cherry clafoutis won.

Chef John pointed me to his video recipe and insisted I leave the pits be. Ken sent me the recipe he uses (from Martha, I believe) and it for pitted cherries, vanilla bean and kirsh (love). I created a compromise clafoutis: using whole cherries with kirsch custard, AND baking a small dish with pitted cherries to test if there really is a different. I also followed John’s method of pre-baking a layer of custard to keep the cherries from sinking down to the bottom of the pan. Brilliant!

Light, fragrant, mildly sweet bites of fluffy custard with fresh bursts of cherry goodness. And I have to say, the unpitted cherry owned the pitted cherry clafoutis by a landslide. Forget for one moment that you will bite into seeds. It’s a tiny price to pay for the great flavor.

Oh, and by all means, please use fresh vanilla beans if you can. Absolutely divine.

I can’t wait to bake more! Shall we make a pact and get ready to bake clafoutis come cherry season? Next time, I’ll take Barbara‘s recommendation and try Julia Child’s recipe. I’m also counting on the Tartine recipe I have from their book as well!

   Get the recipe for the Cherry Clafoutis

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, healthier choices5 Comments

The Mummy Diaries, Part 2: Baked Sweet Booh!tatoes

And I’m back for more #GreatHallowTweet. BOO!!! Do check out my fellow ghoulish frighteners in crime on the left sidebar (look for the pumpkin!). Get some inspiration from them this Halloween season — trust me, they have lots of wonderful stuff for you!

As for today here at Gourmeted, I bring you: Mummified Sweet Potatoes! Yes, it’s all about the mummies. I love the cute side of mummies. I love wrapping things, especially gifts. I like wrapping food in crunch. I like wrapping, period. Wrapping means surprises, and I sure do love those.

Goodness, do I sound drunk from sweet potatoes? Perhaps.

This Halloween snack was borne out of necessity almost. Deep fried sweet potatoes with sugar were my favorite after-school snack, an indulgence I get 8 times out of ten when I beg our helpers to make them for me us. When you’re a kid, you get a lot of things for free, with a smile, too. These days, my taste buds (and hips) aren’t too fond of deep fried, but the fact remains that I have never successfully baked sweet potato fries or wedges that are crispy on the outside as the deep fried goodness. They become limp faster than burn my mouth from fresh-out-of-the-oven sweet potatoes. [Never do that, promise me, please.]

These were incredibly good and addicting.

Enter Phyllo Dough, which in my book, will always pack a crunch when you need it! You see, there’s a bit of a phyllo-mena here in the household. I’ve been on a filo kick lately because they are so darn handy with food, be it sweet or savory, snack or main meal. It’s a perfectly sane idea to keep a box or two in the freezer, just as you would do for butter. What, you don’t do that? :)

This sweet and healthy snack is easy to do, all you need are:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 t0 3 tablespoons of brown or demerara sugar (depending on how sugary you want it to be)
  • 2 sheets of phyllo dough. for every medium size sweet potato

You can double this recipe, just use the 2 butter, 2 (or 3) sugar 2 phyllo ratio and you’ll be fine.

Oven is preheated to 400°F and potato pieces are baked 10 minutes, turned, then baked for another 15 minutes. Easy enough, right? The construction is the tricky part, but I was able to do everything under an hour, including the baking time and even while shooting photos. Once you get into the groove, there’s no stopping the mummy production line.

Here’s how I did each piece:

Cut the sweet potato into wedges or a-little-fatter-than-fries size (half an inch x a quarter inch is perfect) and place in a bowl.

Lightly brush half a sheet of phyllo dough with butter, fold, then butter the exteriors, and cut into 16 strips. Sprinkle or rub each strip with sugar.

Use the remaining butter to toss the wedges in.

Fold each phyllo strip in half, lengthwise, and wrap around each piece of sweet potato.

Just tuck the beginning of the strip by overlapping after the first turn.

Tuck the end underneath the strip looping before it.

Just a little push would do. The tine of a fork could help, too. And there you have it, one mummy!

Place on a baking/cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

And bake for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 400°F.

Turn each piece, exposing the caramel-y side and bake for another 15 minutes.


For bulkier pieces, wrap them twice with phyllo for that extra crunch and finger-food stability if you’re serving it for a party.

The good news is, the crunch of the phyllo stays for hours. Mmm!!!

Posted in appetizer, baking, experiments, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, snacks6 Comments

Pan-Fried Eggplant with Lemon-Soy Sauce Dip

Hmm…so much for Fuss-Free Fridays! How about Too Lazy Tuesdays? Hahaha.

I used to be a picky eater as a young child. It’s not that I won’t eat vegetables or that I will only eat burgers (McDonald’s burgers were actually a rare treat because it wasn’t a place we .). The thing is, when I likes something in particular, could you just please cook it for me everyday until I tire of it? I had a lot of phases: fried chicken, corned beef, Mah-Ling, Spam, tomatoes, green beans, peas, broad bean, mung beans, etc. My blood was also half soy sauce and calamansi juice because I will dip almost anything in that sauce. Take for example, one of my favorite Filipino dish,  Pritong Talong (PREE-tong Ta-LONG; talong = eggplant; prito = fried). It’s as simple as what the name suggests: Fried. Eggplant. No salt. No pepper. Just wash, cut, and fry in oil.

Our Philippine eggplants are long and slender, similar to the Chinese and Japanese ones, and they’re cut in half lengthwise and crosswise, leaving you four pieces per eggplant. You can also use the much plumper variety, American globe, for frying, just cut them across, about a third of an inch in thickness.

Now depending on who’s cooking, it can be very oily, and that’s one thing I avoid. The older I get, the more naturally averse I am to oily food. What I do instead is to fry them in little oil and then steam by adding a small amount of water, just like when you cook potstickers.

The Method: Put enough vegetable oil on a frying pan, just enough to coat it. Heat on medium. Place eggplant slices (about 1/3 of an inch thick) sliced side down and cook until it it begins to turn brown on the edges. Flip to the other side, and wait until the edge starts to brown. And then quickly add about a tablespoon of water per slice of eggplant in the pan and quickly cover the pan until all the water evaporated. Transfer eggplants onto a plate. Coat pan with oil with every batch of eggplants cooked.

The sauce is just soy sauce with calamansi juice, lemon or lime juice. The salty and tangy sauce with the slightly sweet eggplant is a match made in heaven. Filipinos are huge rice eaters, and the fried eggplant is one of rice’s concubines. Give me plain steamed rice with fried eggplants for breakfast and I’ll be happy. Unless you make me some Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette), which I also love. I’ll be posting about that soon!

What about you — How do you cook your eggplants?

Posted in Asian dish, Filipino dishes, fried, healthier choices, vegetables, vegetarian6 Comments

Oats, the many things I could do with you!

I love oats. I grew up eating sweetened oatmeal topped with Nido powder milk. One of my earliest childhood memories in the kitchen was baking oatmeal cookies with my grandma. I eat it raw. I’ve also been known to eat it with asparagus. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I went so far as making it congee-like and topped with my all-time favorite viand, the (Filipino) adobo.

That's not a pond of oil, it just looks like oil from this angle. Whoops.

I’ve turned into a heathen in the world of adobo because its appointed wife is a bowl of steamy white rice (or garlic fried rice). How could I defame such a cult-following of adobo lovers?

The reason, my friends, is that I’m dead serious about improving my health and losing weight. I packed on so much weight even I couldn’t believe it. This is what the 30’s does to you, I guess. I was joking that I got an early 32nd birthday gift. There is just no room for error in food choices and laziness (with regards to physical activities). To remedy that, I run almost every other day (depending on how my body is, if I’m too sore I don’t run) using a modified Couch-to-5K running program (it’s 12 weeks instead of 9), and have gone to Bikram yoga since the beginning of June. I run and do yoga on Sundays. So for all that hard work, I am more careful of what I eat. Since I got back from my carefree vacation, it’s been tough to think of what recipes to post here because you might think I am going nuts with the healthful turn of events. I mainly stick to eating fresh fruits, and just one meal with rice a day. Woe, my beloved rice!

So, anyway, back to oats. It’s like my almost-guilt-free ally in all of this. In the morning, I eat a steel-cut oats porridge, a little sugar, and skim milk powder (gotta have the powder there) for breakfast. Sometimes I would eat it with something savory, such as chicken adobo. [Again, my apologies to my Filipino roots.] It does curb my hunger pangs. Honestly, I can put almost anything in it. I prefer steel-cut oats because it doesn’t turn into complete mush and I still get those solid (rice-like) bits when it’s not overcooked.

The result after a month of proactively living healthy? I lost 10 pounds (!!!), I feel the best I’ve ever felt in a year. It didn’t come without a lot of ‘work’ though–it took 4 months for my metabolism to get back to into gear. Effortless metabolism doesn’t come free anymore in my thirties. Ouch.

So, uhm, how do you keep healthy fellow foodies, food bloggers, and food lovers? Any tips?

Posted in healthier choices8 Comments

Quick & Easy: Endives with Lox & Cream Cheese Spread

Here in Vancouver, we are quickly shifting into summer and it is getting HOT. I don’t know if it’s because of this that I am suddenly lethargic, but this has to stop soon because I have a lot of things to do! That includes our newsletter (which is looking more like June would be the next) and the roundup of the virtual Tea Exchange party I hosted. My apologies, dear participants!

Going along this lack of energy theme, I could (figuratively) barely lift a finger to prepare anything that requires cooking these days. I feel like my body’s battery is mimicking the iPhone’s. Ha ha. I haven’t baked or cooked in a while. Perhaps all the eating out has contributed to my body blues? In any case, quick and easy isn’t so bad…

I got the idea to make this from Danielle’s Home-cured Salmon Spread & Endives. She made home-cured salmon, while I used up some leftover lox. And I didn’t follow the quantities of the recipe, I just glanced at the ingredients and made a quick mix of chopped lox, walnuts, cream cheese, a drizzle of lemon juice, a few wisps of lemon zest and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Serve that in crisp endive leaves and enjoy it with a glass of wine or fresh ice tea…mmm. They make a good summer combo.

It’s the easiest thing to make and it was surprisingly filling. Again, there’s no (strict) recipe required, only your imagination and an openness to taste.

I love being inspired by other people’s recipes, especially from food blogging friends. Although we don’t see each other that often (or most of the time, have never met in person), we could share the same feast.

Do you have any other no-cook recipes (or recipes that require little cooking)? Please share!

Posted in appetizer, healthier choices, quick & easy, seafood, snacks, vegetables13 Comments

Steel Cut Oats with Asparagus and the Merits of Uncomplicated-Yet-Still-Good Meals

Simple. Healthful. Delicious.

I’m talking about sliced asparagus topped with fried pancetta, on a bed of steel cut oats.

Who needs a recipe for something as easy as that? (Some do, if only for the methods, and I will happily oblige at the end of this post.)

People underestimate the value of their taste buds and instincts in the kitchen. I know that too well having been cooking-challenged for most of my life. I didn’t even bother to cook, because I (and everyone else) knew I was incapable. I was the one family members would silently worry about because I had no interest in spending time in the kitchen. Part of the reason for that was because cooking was not only a daunting chore, I was also afraid of the judgments to be made with the way I cook and the end product of my rare culinary attempt. The thought of cooking anything that does not provoke victorious gasps among meal partakers was just too much to bear.

So what changed? As much as I cannot stand to watch Rachel Ray these days, I used to like her pre-pre-Oprah…in her $40 A Day days when extended cable was my friend. Then I caught a few episodes of 30-Minute Meals when it started, when I had Food Network on all day, like…all day. Finally in September 2006, I found the very first recipe in my twenty-something adult life that, for some crazy reason, made me try cooking. It was..drum roll…Rachel Ray’s “You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta [The name of the dish still make me cringe]. Perhaps, I didn’t have to hide under the kitchen sink when asked who wasted all the ingredients with that kind of cooking. It was actually quite good, now that I looked at my blog entry then (not here). I enjoyed it so much that I cooked it again with linguine with sliced beef sausage and ham:

Yes, this is the actual photo I took of the 2nd dish I cooked, back in October 2, 2006 (thanks to Flickr and my blog archive, I don't have to commit everything to memory). It's inspired by Rachel Ray's "You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta."

I’m much more confident in my cooking these days, and can make something out of whatever is available. The kitchen and I, we’re like bread and butter now. Cooking and baking relax me, like meditative symphonies, and the outcome is something that others can enjoy–everyone’s happy.

Ms. I-Don’t-Cook, I am no more. Good-bye to the days of subsisting solely on someone else’s cooking, or making reservations for dinner so I can have my crème brulée fix. Today, I’m the one who misses cooking at home when I travel. I’m the one gently encouraging to friends and family to try recipes, because cooking good food could be so very easy AND delicious. It doesn’t take a magician or a day of labor.

And it took Rachel Ray to inspire me to get out of my (non-cooking) shell.

Recently, she and Jamie Oliver have been called out in this article as advertising and marketing “on behalf of the processed food industry.

Jamie, for one, has promoted real food for the longest time. Both their recipes can be really quick, but they are a far cry from Hungry Man and Lean Cuisine dinners. Quick and easy meals may raise the eyebrows of food snobs, but the bottomline is:

Rachael Ray and Jamie Oliver bring people to the kitchen.

Jamie’s Food Revolution has stirred interest in the school lunches of America, and the way people eat in general. People need to start somewhere, and if these two can bring people home from the takeout/drive-thru line and out with their pots in front of their stoves and to the dining tables, then so be it.

A lot of us in the online food blogging circles take the time to cook, because first and foremost, we already love to cook. I have to constantly remind myself when I write and post recipes that, not everyone is like me. It is so easy to get tunnel vision when you live a certain lifestyle, are comfortable, and have time to ruminate on the good things in life, or how you could be less busy to make meals, but…

People do get busy. And tired. And lazy on some days. I don’t have kids, I don’t have any obligation to cook for anyone or attend to anyone, I work from home, and YET, there would still be days when I am just too swamped with work, too exhausted, and too famished to cook. I speed dial the pizza place. Or I take some French bread, slice some cheese, rinse some fruits, open a bottle of wine and call it Joy’s Awesome Dinner. There would be week-long stove lulls in favor of eating out with friends and re-heating take-outs, meeting work deadlines or riding over the lazy days. I’m sure you’ve had that. I can’t imagine what it must be like for parents who both work and have kids, and no sitter.

And then, there are so many people who don’t know where or how to begin cooking. And this could be for a variety of reasons: they never cooked, they don’t like cooking, they couldn’t care less about cooking, didn’t grow up around people who cook, etc. I  grew up with good food and family and household help who cook, and I was lucky enough to have learned the basics in school, and we even had meal-planning as part of our Home Economics subject. We even had to come up with our own recipe! It was a drag then, I admit. University was a cooking write-off, limited to a one-range stove to make breakfast, boil water for ramen, re-heat take-out, and make the occasional leche flan.

If you told me 5 years ago that I have to learn cooking for my own good, I would have brushed you off (and something worse that’s for your imagination). I wouldn’t see you eye to eye. Someone who loves to cook take joy in even talking about food, while someone who doesn’t would think the food lover needs to shut up about the juicy, garden fresh tomatoes already. Try to feed someone some good, simple, home-cooked meals and at one point or another you could get a conversation going about how easy it is to make and they could make it, too. It’s a process. You can’t push it, but you’ll just have to try and it’s not a chore for you because it’s something you love to do.

I used to avoid cooking at all costs. I progressed from a kitchen miser because of an inspiration. Oh, love! My approach to food is romantic at its very core. I’m not trying to make people cook or bake if they really don’t want to. I would love for people to appreciate good food, if not love it. Food is not only physical nourishment, but a body of more than the sum of all its ingredients–with it comes conversation, momentous occasions, a time to pause and relax, a wink, a smile…memories!

Of course, not every meal could bring butterflies in your stomach or be imprinted on your mind, but it can be enjoyed…alone, with company, to celebrate something, to banish a bad day, or seal a good one. Food can be that good. And it doesn’t have to be complicated, such as Asparagus with Steel Cut Oats.

Here’s the “Un-Recipe” for 2 vegetarian loving eaters, or 3 to 4 people enjoying this as a side dish:

For the asparagus: Wash about 450 grams of medium asparagus spears to make 2 cups, sliced. Slice diagonally, about a third to a quarter of a centimeter in thickness. In medium heat, melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large frying pan until froth starts to turn brown. Saute asparagus for a few minutes until the bottom of the pan is almost dry. Add a tablespoon of water and allow to steam. Add 3 more, evaporating in between additions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Eat as is, with rice, quinoa, or with cooked steel cut oats and top with some fried-till-crisp pancetta or bacon for flavor.

Cooking steel cut oats (also called Irish or coarse-cut oats) as a stand-in for rice: Place 1/2 cup of steel cut oats with 1 cup of water in a small pot and cook in med-high heat. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes or more, until you reach the doneness you prefer (I like it really chewy). Add water by the tablespoons if needed. I typically cook it like this when I am going to eat it for something savory. For breakfast, I go with the 1:3 oats to water ratio.

Do you have any favorite dishes that require no recipes? I’d love to know, so please share them in the comments!

Posted in healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, vegetables7 Comments