Flapjack

According to Wikipedia, “Flapjack is a name for two different sweet foods. In the UK and Australia, it refers to a tray-baked biscuit, and in Canada, the United States, and South Africa, it refers to a form of pancake.”  This may explain why, when we offered some to our friend Denise last night, she was a little bemused.  It also explains why, when I needed to concoct some for my British-raised husband this week (hankering after a taste of home) I needed to go to a BBC recipe website.

Not having grown up in the UK, I don’t really have the childhood association with Flapjack that Akira has… and so it was not really in my baking repertoire.  But, since it turns out to have precious few ingredients, and appeared relatively easy to create, I was prepared to give it a go.

It is really quite Autumnal out now, and so the thought of wonderful wintery pies came upon me at the supermarket this week… especially the ubiquitous North American Pumpkin Pie… so I purchased a pie plate with this in mind. It seemed to be the perfect thing in which to make this small batch of Flapjack.  Sure, there were lots of little irregular pieces when I cut it up, but it crosses the Flapjack boundaries and has the appearance of a large, sticky, oaty pancake!

Flapjack Pie

I’m not altogether sure that this is the perfect Flapjack recipe… the ones I ate in the UK were largely commercial, or baked in the big kitchen at the boarding school where I worked.  They seemed a little more cakey, this was quite sticky – maybe a bit much honey (I did have trouble measuring it, on reflection). So I will keep trying… but this is what the BBC recommended:

Flapjack

100g/3½oz unsalted butter, melted
50g/1¾oz caster sugar
50ml/2fl oz clear honey, plus extra for drizzling
200g/7oz oats

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.  Line a baking sheet with greasproof paper.
Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together.
Spoon the flapjack mixture onto the greaseproofed baking sheet, and place into the oven to cook for 10 minutes.

Remove the flapjacks and transfer into the freezer for five minutes to set and firm.
Once the flapjacks are set, remove from the freezer and cut into chunks.
To serve, place onto a serving plate and drizzle over with honey.

I didn’t bother with the extra honey by this stage as it was sticky enough – here is a slice waiting for Akira to come home:

Waiting for Ak

He gobbled most of it up by bedtime, and took a few remaining slices into the office today.  So, a nostalgic-food success.

Rice Fritters

Yesterday was another stormy day in St Louis – I do love those thunder storms, the lightning is AMAZING.  It meant that I missed going to the farmer’s market in the morning to stock up the fridge, so there was a dearth of vegetable options for lunch.  Then I realised that I had a bowl of cooked short grain brown paella rice in the fridge that needed using up.  I was inspired earlier in the summer by Rose Elliott’s New Vegetarian Cooking to consider doing more varied things with rice and grains.

One nice easy option was to mix the rice with some shoyu, chop up some green onion and garlic and bind it all together with peanut butter, then make up little fritters that I shallow fried in a little oil.  I had a little salad leftover from dinner last night… starting to look a little wilty I’m afraid… that I drizzled (well, dripped really) some balsamic vinegar over, and that was lunch.  The rice I had made about 10 fritters, so some in the freezer for later in the month when Akira is away for a week presenting at a Neuroscience conference in Chicago.

Quantities are all estimated here, I am really just going on the spirit of Rose Elliot’s suggestion, as I think it is more fun to just freefall with something this easy and tasty!

Rice/Grain Fritters

2 C cooked rice or some other grain (try bulghur, kibbled wheat, quinoa)

1-2 T Shoyu

3-4 T Peanut Butter

2-3 Green Onions, chopped

2 cloves Garlic, chopped fine

Mix all together and form into medium sized patties.  Shallow fry in a little oil until the patties acquire a little colour.  If you want to firm them up a little, then bake for 10mins after frying.  But these are pretty tasty straight out of the pan.  Taste great with some Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce, go well with a green salad.

My food photography is about as basic and homegrown as my cooking and as limited as my resources and my camera… apologies that this is not stunningly shot, but I hope it gives you the general idea.  I was hungry, and had four of these patties, but 2-3 will be sufficient!  Hope you enjoy messing about with grains.

Rice Fritters

Home Grown…

Last time I posted a recipe, I looked back later on the post and realised how lazy and contrary my cooking had become… In principle, I am all for food that is fresh, locally sourced, organic where possible (and this is not always possible on our reduced budget) and tasty.  I am not a big foodie, and I do tend to have to be quite pragmatic about how I cook – especially since I am cooking for a vegetarian and a meatatarian on a daily basis.  But somehow, in the midst of all the trying to stay afloat that comes from being new parents, I went far too far down the ‘just-rip-open-a-can-and-throw-it-in-the-pot’ route for my own liking… and as tasty and simple as the Vege Chilli recipe is, it has gone off the menu for a while due to an over-reliance on canned goods… well, until Winter sets in at least!!

So, with weight loss, freshness and variety in mind, I have been spending a bit of time lately with some vegan and vegetarian cookbooks from the library… and may delight you with some of my experiments in the near future.  I also found a 20-min recipe book for Akira to trawl through, and have been trying out some things he was keen on too… so we are eating a little more imaginatively, AND a little more healthily.

This is the brightest and most alive my kitchen window has looked in a long time:

Window Garden

For the first time ever, I have managed to keep a basil plant alive for more than a few days!  This is an organic Purple Basil and in the pic, it is post-harvest from this morning’s trimmings.  I decided, after it had thrown out even more flowers (that I nipped in the bud), that it was time to really try more than just a few leaves.  I took off 2 C of  lovely leaves, rinsed them and then made some tasty fresh pesto to toss our pasta in this evening for dinner.

Pesto & Pasta

2 C loosely packed Basil Leaves

1/4 C grated Parmigano

1/6 C (approx 14g) Pine Nuts

2 sm Garlic cloves

1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pulse the first four ingredients in a food processor (if you don’t have a mortar and pestle… this is better, but I don’t have one) several times until roughly chopped.  Then add oil slowly as you continue to pulse. Consistency should remain fairly coarse.

Cook pasta per packet (tonight it is large conchigli shells… and I cooked about 250g so there would be leftovers for lunch tomorrow).

Saute a few extra veges to add to pasta (tonight I sliced mushrooms, pre-cooked some asparagus spears and chopped up a green capsicum) and then toss altogether with the pesto.  For the carnivore in our house, I also chopped and fried up some little skinless chicken breast pieces and then added them to some of the pasta when adding the pesto.   We also ate this with some tasty fresh rocket salad, just lightly drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Light and flavoursome dinner a la Genoa!

Pesto Pasta

Vege Chilli mmmm

Just recently I finally came out the other side of six months of eating to stay awake and felt rather lame that I was still carrying around the post-baby spare tyre that I resolved to rid my self by summer to be ‘bikini-ready’.  Sigh.  But I am not entirely without resolve and will power… so thanks to WW, I am on the slow road to a slimmer me.  Not a moment too soon.

Tonight Akira has gone out to watch the penultimate stage of the Tour de France with a couple of friends at the local bike shop, so I made some yummy vege chilli to eat in his absence at dinner.  We’ve eaten a lot of chilli in our house since coming to the US and finding it a bit of a dietary staple. Thankfully I have figured out how to make it so that one portion is roughly 3pts, and then I add a tiny bit of cheese and sour cream and loads of salad and it is a tasty low-cal treat.

No photos tonight… will take one and add it later… but here is the recipe.  Am unlikely to post too many recipes in the near future as cooking has become rather utilitarian in the face of my weight loss resolve.  But here is the chilli, for what it is worth:

Vege Chilli

1 Bag (340g) Vege Mince (I usu use Morningstar)

1 tin (340g) Chilli Beans

1 tin (430g) Fire Roasted Tomatoes

1/2 tin (200g) Whole Kernel Corn

Pasta sauce to taste (usually about 100g)

Lots of lovely chopped veges like mushrooms, green and red capsicums and anything else you fancy.

The mince usually needs to be sauteed, and I pre-saute the chopped veges.  Then I just throw in everything else and let it bubble about for a bit then separate into four portions.  A quick easy dinner for any time of year.

Summery Saturday Afternoon

Outside it is an evil 35degC and we are struggling to keep the house cool enough for Kazuo.  Shame really, as this is the kind of weather I would enjoy if it was just me… trips to the pool, getting hot and then loving the feeling when you could cool down.  But our wee guy just gets limp or cranky… and in either case I worry about him since his homeostatic mechanisms are really not up to this kind of brutality from the weather.  I keep saying we need to move to a milder climate… Aotearoa for instance…

Foolishly, since it is so hot, I decided that the mushy bananas that had been festering on the shelf all week really could not go another day, and since I made enough chilli last night to last a week, I had time to do something about this while Kaz was sleepng and they really needed to be converted into something.  Not really the day for baking… but at least muffins only take 15mins to cook, so hope we cool down again soon!

I made Banana Choc Chip muffins, using the basic Muffin recipe in Alison Holst’s Meals Without Meat and just gestimating the quantities of banana and choc chips.

IngredientsWhile the butter was melting, I measured the flour, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl.  Then I added an egg and the milk to the melted butter, mashed up the banana and mixed them all together with a liberal handful or two of choc chips.

Muffin MixIt doesn’t pay to over mix, as Alison warns, and these muffins came out really light and fluffy as a result of a light hand I think.

I have been nursing my muffin tray along, and although I don’t feel good about the overuse of paper, I do find that if I make muffins in patty pans, then the clean up is easier, and they do well in lunches… So I spooned the mixture into a dozen patty pans in the muffin tray.

Patty PansThis morning we went out for coffee and I managed to go to the local farmer’s market and get the veges without Kazuo having to sit around in the blistering heat in his stroller.  Whew!  I picked up half a watermelon and we have just enjoyed a slice of it with the muffins… Akira came in from biking out to return our cable box on his new bike just dripping, the heat is really no good for anyone!  So melon and lemonade were essential for re-establishing temperature equilibrium!

Afternoon tea at ours:

Afternoon TeaBanana Choc Chip Muffins a la Alison Holst

2C Flour

1/2C Sugar

4tsp Baking Powder

100g Melted Butter

1 Egg

1C Milk

2 Mashed Old Bananas

3/4C Choc Chips (or thereabouts)

Bake for 15mins at 440degF

Makes about 12

Rainy Monday

So, after getting up at 5.30am with Kazuo this morning as he decided that was a good time to be awake, I discovered a grim, grey, rainy day that is set to be wet ALL day… how very English, and atypical for St Louis! So we drove Dada to work and then came home to think of some ways to pass the time.

What better way than to concoct some hearty minestrone-style soup? I say ‘minestrone-style’ as I usually just make this up as I go based on what is in the cupboard/vege bin.
Kaz in The Kitchen

So my little helper took up his vantage point in the bouncy seat (nearly too too big for this now!) and managed to keep his equilibrium until the last ingredient had been added and I could leave the soup to simmer for a while.

I have to admit to making use of a few canned shortcuts in this soup:

Soup ShortcutsAnd today I used some Vegan Vegetable Boullion Cubes that were really a bit too salty.  But it is something I can whip up quickly, and last for a week’s lunch breaks.

I used a few brightly coloured veges from the fridge:

VegesAnd started by sauteeing all but the broccoli to soften them up, then added some mixed herbs:

SauteeAnd then I threw in all the canned goods (though only used half the can of corn) and the vege boullion and a handful of pasta for a little texture:

Add the Canned StuffThen I left it all to simmer for about 15 – 20mins, checking now and then to make sure that there was still enough liquid.  We managed to have some tummy time and a bottle before it was done.  And then I gobbled up some for lunch once Kazuo was in bed.  Mmmmm…. just what was required on a rainy afternoon.

Soup

Rainy Monday Soup

Feeds 1 Person 5-6 times…

1 14-15oz  can each of Pinto Beans & Chopped Tomatoes

1 6oz can of Lge Olives

1 7oz can Whole Corn

2C Vege Stock/Boullion

1/2C Dried Pasta

Chopped Fresh Veges to taste:  Today I used 5 lge Button Mushrooms, 1/4 Red Pepper, 1 sm Head of Broccoli, 2 stalks of Celery, 3/4 med Courgette, 1 med Carrot.

Enjoy!!