FOOD, My Story

Caper Crusader

Yes, you read that right ‘Caper’, not ‘Caped’

It was approx a year ago that I tried capers for the first time.

I like salmon, but I am not a big fan of eating it smoked so have never ordered it with it’s often paired garnish of capers.

If I’d seen them at the grocery store or on a buffet some time, I don’t remember. If it was mentioned I remember thinking that I didn’t really know what they were but they were probably some sort of sea creature (haha – I’ve since learned my Mom thought this too & where I had most likely picked the idea up from when I was a kid).

My sister-in-law Jen was eating them and going on & on about how yummy they were and how they are a powerful anti-inflammatory.

I asked her where they came from (to her amusement I did admit I thought they came from the sea) she told me they are a pickled rose bud of some sort.

I tasted them, they were good! But I didn’t really ‘get into them’ until approx 4 months ago. I don’t know why, but I just started eating them….all the time. A few with breakfast, a few at lunch, maybe a couple with a snack and a few alongside dinner.

The first jar I bought was quite large and it said to consume within 8 weeks of opening. I thought for sure they were going to go bad as I couldn’t possibly eat the whole jar in 2 months. To my utter amazement, I consumed that jar in 2 weeks!  And I’ve been going strong every since. I even bought 2 jars while visiting Jen last weekend and made it through 1/2 of 1 of them (the 2nd jar was purchased for her enjoyment as they are one of the better brands I’ve encountered).

And here is why I believe these Little Capers (pickled plant buds) are actually Big Crusaders on inflammation….

You may not remember that I started this blog and focusing on whole foods cooking, not only because I enjoy it, but because I have Multiple Sclerosis. It is my goal to do as much as I can to live better with a chronic condition.

And so, how have I been feeling? Less Tired!!

Now I go through phases of extreme exhaustion, but no matter what I am always tired; more tired than the average person my age (who is usually doing more than me; working or aspiring to a new career and often not, also raising a family). So when I notice an increase in mental clarity, less napping, an increase in the ability and want to do things (I’ve been able to do some volunteer work again!), I take notice.

So what have I been doing lately?

Yup eating Capers. I know things usually don’t end up being just one small thing, but I can’t think of anything else. I’ve been drinking too much coffee, eating out, eating on the fly, feeling stressed, and trying to keep adding in more things to do. I am always conscious of pacing my energy to avoid running into trouble (relapses) as this has been my experience in the past, and hopefully delay possible physical disabilities. Fatigue & Stress have been the two biggest factors impacting how I feel and how often & severe relapses occur.

So yeah, maybe it’s the Capers…but what the heck is in them to even warrant this type of thought?

Capers are a great source of two powerful anti-oxidants: Rutin and Quercetin. I am not going to go on about their properties or why they work on inflammation; you can google search or library browse with the best of them, but they are real and they really do work.

Jen had said they are pickled rosebuds which is really close to the truth. A caper bush is also known as a Flinders Rose. Before the flower bud can actually bloom, the buds are collected and either pickled in brine or stored in oil (I haven’t been able to find them in oil just yet).

As these plants are grown in hot climates, there is currently not one in the garden this year (haha) and thus I am unable to share a picture of my own plant, nor a picture of a jar of them at the moment because I finished my last jar at breakfast this morning!

I encourage everyone to try them and if you already have, please share some of your recipes with us as I have just been eating them on the side for now 🙂

 

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FOOD, Meal Planning, Soups

2 Days & 2 Pots

Our Wedding Anniversary was earlier this month.  Our anniversary always makes me think about the weird ‘thing’ we have with the number 2.

Mine & my husbands’ birthdays are exactly 2 years, 2 months, 2 weeks & 2 days apart!

Keeping with the theme of the # 2, I cooked soup in these 2 pots for 2 days in order to stock the freezer before fall/winter for the 2 of us

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DAY 1

Pureed Borst Soup

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Curried Carrot Soup

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The Borst soup is from http://www.honeyandvanilla.com and basically consists of a lot of chopped beets (fresh from the garden!), some chopped carrot (fresh from the garden!), yam, celery, red cabbage and onion (1/2 a medium one – fresh from the garden!) with 2 cloves of garlic and vegetable broth to cover all of it. I’ve showcased this soup in a previous blog post.

The Curried Carrot Soup was created & by me and consists of a lot of chopped carrots (fresh from the garden!), 1/2 a medium onion (fresh from the garden!), 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 a cup of lotus seeds, 1 large can of full-fat coconut milk, vegetable broth of cover and the following spices for taste: 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground turmeric, 1/8 tsp garam masala, 1/8 tsp of mace, a few shakes of ground coriander, paprika and salt & pepper. I’ve also showcased a similar carrot soup in a previous blog post.

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Cooking the two kinds of soup at the same time was a great way to save time & energy as there was a number of same ingredients for both that needed to be chopped (yams, carrots, onions, garlic, celery)

Day 2

Potato Leek Soup

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A double batch of this soup & those 2 pots were full  again!

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This soup is also from http://www.honeyandvanilla.com. Mine has a lot of leeks, 1/2 a medium onion (from the garden), garlic, celery, cooked chickpeas, a lot of potatoes (also from the garden) and vegetable broth to cover. It has also been showcased in a previous blog post.

Using the containers I purchased from Amazon, I filled 3 of them using the beet soup (and a container for the fridge), 3 of them with the carrot soup (with a glass container full for the fridge) and 10 of the potato / leek soup.

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Thank goodness for my trusty ‘Stove Stool’ so I can sit while cooking to decrease the work.

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If I were in my 20’s I might call it a ‘Bar Stool’, but today it is so much more!

Adding them to the freezer, in addition to the previously frozen beef bone broth, tomato soup, and squash & yam soup, the 2 of us are well stocked for a Nourishing fall/winter to come 🙂

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FOOD, Food Preservation, Sustainable Living

Storing The Hot Peppers

 

I had all these beautiful hot peppers grown for the ‘Hot Lover’ in the house, but I knew there would be no way he could eat all of them while they were fresh.

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However, I am not a great ‘preserver’ in the sense that I do not make pickles, relishes or salsas.

But I did not want to waste these easy to grow mixed hot peppers.

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After washing them, slicing them open to remove the seeds, I cut them in 1/2 and arranged them on food dehydrator trays.

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I was thinking that If it worked for the parsley and basil, and if I can buy dried chillis in the store, then it should work right?

And the answer….?

Yes!!

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I used 2 pieces (therefore 1 pepper) in a homemade chilli this weekend and they added so much flavour! Not hot, although a little ‘warm’, it was perfect!

This is a 500 ml jar filled, and only needing 2 pieces / recipe, I’m sure it will last until this time next year when another batch is ready.

Here’s to a little internal heat this winter to keep us warm!

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FOOD, Soups

Buttercup Squash, Yam & Red Lentil Soup

With only 2 small butternut squash ready from our plants, I planned a soup with them as soon as the stems dried.

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Nice & dry, I cut them in 1/2, scooped out the seeds and placed them in a glass baking dish in the oven @ 350 degrees with approx 1 inch of water.

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Meanwhile, I peeled 2 large yams and diced 2 cloves of garlic and 1 small onion. I also set 1 cup of red lentils to cook in 2.5 cups of water.

When it was all ready, I heated a large pot, melted 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and started to sweat the onions & garlic

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Once they were translucent I added the chopped yams for a few minutes, stirring well…

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Next, I added the broth and simmered the yams…

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Once the lentils were cooked, I added them to the pot as well…

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Not too long after all this was completed, the squash was cooked and I scooped out the flesh and added it to the pot as well…

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Stirring it all together…

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I left it to cool and then using a blender, blended until smooth and placed it back in the pot where I added salt & pepper to taste…

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It tasted fantastic!!

I had a little bowl – sorry no picture – and then placed it in these containers (from Amazon) to freeze.

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We will be able to enjoy this thick warming soup over the winter and look forward to the cold temps to come.

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00N2TADOY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Recipe:

1 tbsp of coconut oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 small onion

2 small buttercup squash

2 medium/large yams

1 cup of cooked red lentils

enough broth (vegetable or chicken) to cover and for desired consistency

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FOOD, Soups

More Tomato Soup!

We had our annual family picnic this weekend. We bought another local basket of tomatoes because I only had a few ready, but then a bunch more ripened and my sister-in-law brought some tomatoes from her garden. We were once again flush with tomatoes.

So a double batch of Tomato soup was created, this soup was just slightly done different than the last.

First, we did not peel the tomatoes this time. Instead, I just chopped them up and put them into the pans (with garlic, chives, fresh rosemary and olive oil) and baked them. This time, I baked them for 30 mins

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And because it was a double batch, I added 1 full cup of cooked red lentils instead of the 1/2 cup. I also used a jar of strained tomatoes instead of tomato puree with basil. This was done because it was a little less in price and because we added our own dried basil and parsley

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As before, the soup was cooled, pureed and stored in the fridge for lunches this week.

An easy, creamy (despite the lack of cream) and thick warming soup; it almosts makes me long for fall!

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FOOD, Soups, vegan

Double Batch Beet Soup

With an abundance of beets from the garden right now and a hater of pickled beets, a soup seems like the only appealing way to ensure they do not go to waste.

Beets, yam, carrots, celery, onion, red cabbage

Washed really well but, not peeled the vegetables were chopped, sauteed until fragrant, and then simmered in vegetable broth. Once cooked they were pureed and, honey, apple cider vinegar and dill were all stirred in.

What could be easier?

For the original recipe, please see http://www.honeyandvanilla.com

It turned out to be a Beautiful Pureed Purple Beet Soup!

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FOOD, Soups, vegan

Tomato Soup

Our tomatoes all looked Blight Bound but, after hacking as much plant away as possible, a decrease in watering and, the addition of more soil & plant food we were happy to find some of them ripen.

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This picture shows well the two types of tomatoes we planted despite our earlier mistake of not labelling. The ones on the left are Rosso Sicilian. They would probably be bigger if the plant had been smaller and they were able to mature instead of more plant growing.

The type on the right is Italian Heirloom and have really tough skin. Our gardener friend Judy, her tomatoes are the same this year. It might possibly be from the heat and lack of rain this season but we’re just speculating.

Despite the delay in ripening and the tough skin we were happy when we cut them open…

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…they smelled amazing!

(On a side note, we’ve finally had some rain – over 5 inches this past week!)

Just before these red rubies were picked, though, I bought a basket of Norfolk Farm tomatoes at our local grocer.

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So, what does one do when they have an abundance of something?

Yup, make soup!

I’m sure you’ve all hear the old saying…”when the world gives lemons, make lemonade”, ?

After washing, I scored a small ‘x’ in the bottom of each of the tomatoes

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While waiting for a pot of water to boil to ‘cook’ these tomatoes, I well-rinsed a half cup of red lentils

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and set them to cook in 2 cups of water.

When the water for the tomatoes boiled, each was placed in for approximately 2-3 mins.

Removing the tomatoes and allowing them to cool on the cutting board you can see how the ‘x’ scored continued on and how this made for easy peeling of the skin

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I did this with all of the tomatoes in the basket, but for mine, I cut them up without peeling. With the two large tough-skinned ones, this was easier because I had already cut them in half and, the little ones were just too small.

In addition to the cut-up tomatoes, I added 3 cloves of garlic, 1 cup of chopped chives, 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and a 1/4 cup of olive oil.

This baked at 35o for 15 mins; the comparison pictures are below. There would have been no harm in cooking them longer.

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Placing this mix into a large pot

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I added the cooked lentils

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And a jar of Tomato Puree with Basil

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Stirring it together, I let it simmer for another 10 mins and, after letting it cool, I used the blender to puree it together.

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Thanks to our friend Chris for making me my first ever homemade tomato soup which, inspired this recipe.

 

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