Categories
Cooking food recipes

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Friday is Fry-day in our home. I like making fries on a Friday. I have no idea why or even how this happened. It just began as a pattern and stuck. The fries are pretty simple; they are frozen oven fries so I just follow the instructions on the package. 

SPICY BBQ CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS (in the oven)

For the sauce, we use an adapted version of Barbecue Chicken Legs by The Pioneer Woman

1 tsp onion powder

1-2 tbs tomato paste

1/2 cup no-sugar ketchup (or regular ketchup) 

1 tsp garlic powder

3 tbs white vinegar (more or less to taste) 

1 tb Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp molasses (optional) 

2 tbs chipotle adobo sauce or 2 tsp ground chipotle powder

1/2 tsp mustard powder (optional)

1/4 tsp smoked paprika powder (optional) 

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, heat gently and stir until throughly mixed. This bubbles and splashes a bit. Not gonna lie. I sometimes make double and freeze half. 

For the drumsticks – makes 12:

Olive Oil

Sprinkle of salt and pepper

Rub olive oil over the drumsticks and then sprinkle them with some salt and pepper.

Bake at 425F for 25 minutes, flip them and bake for another 20 minutes.

Add the sauce, cover with foil and bake for 3 minutes. 

You can broil them after this for a few minutes to get them charred a little if you want while basting them with a little of the sauce. I’m lazy so I usually don’t! I dip my fries in the excess sauce. I just LOVE it. 

This also works as a wing sauce. Just FYI.

Categories
Cooking diet food humor vegan

Wake Up Smoo-Teas: The Caffeinated Smoothie

SpaghettiBolognese (8)

Skip the bloggy bit and SHOW ME THE RECIPE!

I’ve written about my love of smoothies previously. I have two a day. One at 6:30am before I get on the bus to work and one at 4pm before I get on the bus home. I find they are filling but don’t make me feel stuffed. They’re the perfect light breakfast for me as eating a full breakfast and going on a 1hr bumpy bus ride don’t really mix all that well. The afternoon one keeps me sated enough to last from afternoon snack to dinnertime. And again, no throwing up on a bumpy bus ride home. #win

The addition of tea came about because in the mornings I liked to have a cup of tea and a glass of water and a morning smoothie. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever woken up at 5:20am and tried to stuff that much liquid into your body and then jump on a bus but…let’s just say it works out well for no one. 

No. 

One. 

Moving on. 

It’s been a year of these smoothies and I looooove them. I have the same thing, every morning. I thought I would get bored but I didn’t. It became a habit. The day we ran out of bananas one Friday and I couldn’t make my smoothies, I didn’t know what to do. Do I just drink the tea? Do I put the tea with the strawberries? Am I going to miss my bus? I’m going to miss my bus. I gotta go. 

30 minutes into my bus ride, I was tired, hot, starving and had a migraine. 

Now we buy 15+ bananas a week. 2 a day for me. 1 a day for The Canadian One. #potassiumoverload

Oh except when I have my period, I crave vodka and bananas….and only one of those I can consume at work.

I have to eat the third banana at home.

I’m kidding. 

I’ve lovingly named these Smoo-Teas…get it? Cos it’s a smoothie AND a tea….Nevermind. 

Smoo-Tea for One

(Double ingredients for 2…and so on…#math) 

Black or Green Tea cooled. I usually brew mine in the evening and cool it overnight in the fridge. I use Barry’s Original Blend Irish Tea my brother sends me in the mail. I’ve also used orange pekoe tea (Tetley) and green tea. 

1/2 cup of mixed berries (I buy frozen berries, I’m lazy) 

1 Banana

An approximate shot glass of Orange Juice 

I also add a shot of Kombucha when I have some, chia seeds when I remember or GF oat flour when I have some lying around after a cooking session 

Throw everything in a blender. 

Blend. 

Drink. 

OR put into mason jar, bring to work, consume at your leisure. 

Do you say lee-jure or leh-jure? Genuine question. It’s like my continuing Pap-er-us v Pap-i-rus debate. (Card-shop people will get that!) Like….WHICH IS IT?!! 

Also, if anyone is curious about the Kombucha I use when I remember to buy some, I like this one. I’m going through their cocktail flavours since my boss got one free at an event and, by poxy, it became mine! (THAT’S MY TREE IN THE BACKGROUND!!! I OWN A TREE!!!) 

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Categories
Cooking diet recipes vegan

Vegan Chickpea Curry Soup

Vegan Chickpea Curry Soup(Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free)

I always try to keep chickpeas on hand. I buy dried chickpeas in bulk, soak 3-4 cups of them overnight and then rinse them and boil them for 1.5 hours the next day. Once cooled, I freeze them in 2 cup measurements in Ziploc baggies. Then, whenever I want chickpeas, I just defrost a baggie and boom, the chickpeas are ready to go. I throw them into curries, soups, sprinkle them over our salads, mush them up to make falafels or roast them until crispy and snack on them. Sometimes when it’s just a soup, however, I’ll skip the defrosting step and just dump the baggie of frozen chickpeas into the hot liquid and allow them to defrost while cooking. 

This recipe was more of a what-do-I-have-in-the-fridge type of meal more so than something I set out to purposely make. It was late, I needed something for lunch the next day and wasn’t feeling venturing out in the snow to the grocery store for supplies. I’ve since tweaked it and cooked it many times since and we now frequently take it to work for lunch. 20160405_180903-2

1 tbs coconut oil

2 cups chickpeas

2-3 tomatoes, diced

1 onion, diced

1-1 1/2 tbs Yellow Curry Powder

1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup of water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp each of ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Salt and pepper

  1. Fry the coconut oil over a medium heat with the onions and garlic until fragrant.
  2. Add curry powder, ginger, ground coriander, turmeric and garam masala (and cayenne if using) and stir. 
  3. Add chickpeas and tomatoes and stir for 1 minute. 
  4. Add coconut milk and water and bring to the boil. 
  5. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add more water if you think it is too dry. 

Serve with alone or with rice. 

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This refrigerates well however the coconut milk will solidify a little in the fridge so be sure to heat it up before eating it. It is also freezer friendly. I separate it into 2-person portions in Ziploc baggies, label and freeze flat. 

More Recipes: 

Irish Stew

Lucy’s Mum’s Chilli Con Carne

Spaghetti Bolognese 

Categories
Cooking diet food lactose free recipes

What We Ate This Month: January 2016

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“Are you on a diet? This one looks less like cake.” – says the lady in the department next to mine, meaning well when asking if I wanted something from the tray of desserts she was toting around offering people.


This is probably the question I get asked the most. I decline food. I’m a decliner. I decline chocolate. I decline cake. I say ‘no thank you, I’m full from lunch’ to a vast array of cute and delicious looking mini treats that will make me tremendously ill due to my food intolerances.

This particular time, when asked if I was on a diet, I did my usual giggle and said, ‘No, of course not!’

One of her co-workers looks at me. 

“I can’t have dairy, chocolate, gluten, eggs or soy…so basically anything fun!”, I explain. 

He laughs and tells me there’s leftover Starbucks coffee in the kitchen, I should go help myself to some of that.

The second most asked question I get is, ‘Wait, so what DO you eat?!”.

THIS post is an attempt to answer that question.

I keep a meticulous track of our food. What we eat. What’s in the freezer. What food we have in the house and what I plan on doing with it. At the start of each month I do an inventory of our pantry and freezer and then everything I can make with the food and then everything I want to make that month. I have rarely, if ever, walked into a grocery not knowing what I needed, what I was going to use it for and which day I was going to use it. However, since the month and the meals are ever evolving sometimes the monthly plan changes and I swap meals around, get tired and resort to a simple stir-fry or pull something from the freezer that’s already cooked.

“Do you want 3/4 of a white onion?” – text from my neighbour offering me leftovers. 

I declined. Politely. I didn’t want to say ‘I’m not scheduled to need an onion until Wednesday’. 

We eat pretty simply and cheap. Healthy by proxy of disease and intolerances. Convenience is a big factor for me too. After working all day, I’m no more interested in creating a gourmet meal than I am in running a 25K marathon. Below you’ll find a list of the meals we ate in January first followed by further explanation of each dish. You’ll see a lot of meals doubled which just saves me time. Eat one now, eat one the following week and no cooking.You’ll also see a lot of stew just because I like to throw on a pot of stuff when I get home from work and then leave it to simmer away while I do other things. 

January 2016: What We Ate This Month

January 1st 2016: Loco Moco with Rice

January 2nd 2016: Spaghetti Bolognese

January 3rd 2016: Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Pineapple and Rice

January 4th 2016: Beef Stir-Fry and Rice

January 5th 2016: Irish Stew

January 6th 2016: Sausage Stir-Fry and Rice

January 7th  2016: Fricot

January 8th 2016: Chicken Drumsticks and Fries

January 9th 2016: Turkey Chilli and Rice

January 10th 2016: Loco Moco with Rice

January 11th 2016: Ham, Potatoes and Vegetables: We bought a baked ham for $5 on sale at the grocery store – we actually bought 4 of them and froze them – and we baked it. It took about 1.5hrs in the oven and required zero supervision from me. We had it along with mashed potatoes (with unsweetened cashew milk and dairy-free butter) and boiled carrots tossed in dairy-free butter and parsley. 

January 12th 2016: Leftover Ham, Potatoes and Vegetables – as above.

January 13th 2016: Chickpea & Sausage Stew with Rice

January 14th 2016: Meatballs and Pasta: Meatballs and Pasta: For the meatballs, I used this recipe and for the sauce, I used this recipe. 

January 15th 2016: Steak and Fries: We grilled up steaks along with baking frozen fries and had them alongside some peas. We also had Chimichurri sauce. We tried Chimichurri at The Keg when we were gifted $100 to spend there by The New Roomie and decided we would try make it at home. We bought some Argentinian Chimichurri mix from The Silk Road, Calgary, followed their instructions and spooned it over our cooked steaks. It’s been a staple ever since. 

January 16th 2016: Spaghetti Bolognese

January 17th 2016: Indian Butter Chicken Curry and Rice – From a packet, Asian Home Gourmet Indian Butter Chicken, except I substituted dairy-free butter for the butter and coconut milk for the yogurt. 

January 18th 2016: Meatballs and Pasta: For the meatballs, I used this recipe and for the sauce, I used this recipe

January 19th 2016: Beef Stir-Fry and Rice – For this one we tried a package sauce I bought at Co-Op. I would not recommend it.

January 20th 2016: Sausage and Pepper Pasta

January 21st 2016: Chicken Vindaloo Curry and Rice

January 22nd 2016: Chicken Drumsticks and Fries

January 23rd 2016: Sausage and Pepper Pasta

January 24th 2016: Eat Out: Fatburger – We had a Groupon. I had the lettuce wrapped Fatburger and a lemonade. 

January 25th 2016: Steak, Potato and Peas: Same steaks as January 15th, with mashed potatoes (with unsweetened cashew milk and dairy-free butter) and peas. 

January 26th 2016: Irish Stew

January 27th 2016: Eat Out: I was home late after being at a leaving party for a manager at work so we had Safeway Roast Chicken and McDonald’s Fries.

January 28th 2016: Chickpea and Sausage Stew with Rice

January 29th 2016: Beef Madras and Rice

January 30th 2016: Pork Chilli and Rice – I added some ground chipotle powder and some jalapeños. 

January 31st 2016: Eat at Friend’s House: We had Smashburger, who have the BEST website for people with food allergies. #fact.

*A note about rice: We have a rice cooker so for just the 2 of us eating, I throw in a half a cup of rice and let it cook away by itself while I’m preparing the rest of the meal.

*No, I am not sponsored by The Silk Road Spices, Calgary. I just really like their spices!

January 1st: LOCO MOCO

This is a Hawaiian dish The Canadian One fell in love with back in April when we were off in Oahu getting married (more on that another time). It’s basically white rice nestled under a hamburger and a fried egg and then covered in brown gravy. The versions he tried, and there were multiple over the week we were there including our wedding night dinner, also contained fried onions. The one at the Dole Plantation had the hamburger smothered in beef chilli which is the one I tried and loved.

Just to go back to the fact that he ate this on our wedding night.

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Wedding Day!

We had, originally, booked a table in a fancy restaurant for the evening of our wedding. It was just to two of us so we figured we’d splurge on somewhere nice. However, the night before our wedding, we ate take out on our hotel balcony from a place opposite our hotel called Chai’s Waikiki Hawaiian Fusion. It was cheap, tasty, I could walk there and back in heels and there was a lot of food. I had the Grilled Hawaiian BBQ Chicken with Pineapple Salsa, Salad and Rice and he had the Loco Moco. The following day, we decided we wanted the take-out again and so we cancelled our fancy restaurant booking and headed to the take-out place in full wedding outfits, got our food (both getting the exact same orders from the night before), ate it on our balcony and then blew our fancy restaurant money on overpriced, colorful cocktails at the bars downstairs. It was glorious.

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Moving on. 

A quick Google for Loco Moco recipes lead me down a rabbit hole of similar-yet-slightly-different variations of the dish so I came up with a kind of hybrid version. Since I can’t have dairy, gluten or egg, I used my own trusted recipe for hamburgers.

RECIPE: BURGERS / MEATBALLS

Previously, I covered how to make pork burgers and meatballs here. This recipe uses basically the same concept of same ingredients, different foods. If I’m making a big batch of this, I will usually use a combination of ground beef and ground pork but if I’m just making two burgers, I’ll use only ground beef.

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To make what’s in the above picture, I used:

1kg ground beef

1kg ground pork

1tb garlic powder

1tb onion powder

A big squirt of tomato ketchup, BBQ sauce or some other kinda burger sauce – I used burger sauce I had in the fridge.

A large handful of breadcrumbs

4 tb of milk – I used unsweetened cashew milk…and I measured with a shot glass. So it was like 2 shots of milk but start with 1 shot and add as needed. 

Salt and pepper – just shake as much as you want in

Mix together. If it’s too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it’s too dry, add more milk. Shape into whatever you are making: meatballs or hamburgers.

The recipe is pretty fluid. Sometimes I don’t add garlic. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I add paprika. Or chilli powder. Or oregano. Or nutritional yeast. I experiment a lot with different flavours. Sometimes I’ll just use ground beef and nothing else. 

Then I’ll cook the meatballs, cool them and freeze them in batches of 12 in the freezer. I make sure to bake at least 40 as a few invariably get eaten during the packing-into-the-freezer-baggie process.

RECIPE: LOCO MOCO – Makes 1 Meal for 2

Loco Moco is basically a bed of white rice with a hamburger nestled on top, a egg on top of that, fried onions sprinkled on the egg and gravy poured over the whole thing. Its beauty is in its simplicity. Cooking for more, add more burgers, rice and eggs. Easy. For two people, you will need: 

2 hamburgers

2 eggs

White rice

Sliced onions

Gravy – I guess any kind of beef gravy will do, I have my own recipe below. 

Usually I’ll make the white rice and some fried onions (slice onions, fry them in vegetable oil until crispy and golden) first and then I grill the burger. I leave the egg and the gravy to last. 

The gravy is a little more intricate: Add to pan (if you used a grill pan or frying pan to make the burgers, use that and scrape up all the lovely burger bits) 1 cup of beef stock, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (which is not always gluten free but has never harmed me so I just gloss over it), salt and pepper. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take off heat. Mix 1 tb of cornstarch with 2 tbs of water and add to pan. Return to heat. Whisk whisk whisk until thick. If you want thicker, add more cornstarch/water mixture, if you want thinner, add more water and whisk.

Construct Loco Moco: Rice then burger then onions then egg (if using) then pour gravy over it and then eat.

Glorious.

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January 3rd: SWEET & SOUR MEATBALLS WITH PINEAPPLE AND RICE – Makes 1 Meal for 2 with leftovers

Sweet & Sour Anything is a difficult thing for us to eat. With The Canadian One being diabetic, the classic versions of Sweet & Sour sauce I kept coming across all contained sugar and sugar and sugar and pineapple juice, and that’s just not quite going to work for us. I found a nice recipe in The Joy of Cooking and set about adapting it as I had half a can of chopped pineapple leftover and I wanted to use it up. The only meat I could find to mix with is was the meatballs which I’d left out from the day before’s burger/meatball making bonanza to make with pasta sauce then changed my mind when I saw the pineapple in the fridge.

I love pineapple.

Sweet & Sour Anything with Pineapple and Rice – Adapted from Joy Of Cooking

For this recipe, I immediately started to see what I could sub out that was high in sugar. First to go was the actual sugar in the recipe. It called for 1/2 cup of sugar so I substituted a tablespoon of Splenda. For the 3/4 cup of pineapple juice I simply added 2 tablespoons of pineapple juice and froze the rest from the can. I added ½ cup of diced onion, 1 tb of No-Sugar Ketchup and cut down on the chicken stock and vinegar as there were just two of us.

1 cup chicken stock

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 tb no-sugar ketchup (or any ketchup) 

2 tbs pineapple juice

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/3 cup white vinegar (or less to taste)

A sprinkle of salt

3-4 slices of pineapple, diced

1 tb cornstarch + 1 tb of water

Add a little oil to the pan. Fry onion for 2-3 minutes stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn. Next you can add whatever raw meat (diced chicken, pork, beef) you are using and fry until lightly browned. If you are using cooked meat like meatballs or leftover chicken or ham, skip to the next step.

Add green pepper and stir-fry a little more. 

Next add all the other ingredients except the pineapple and cornstarch.

Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add pineapple and cooked meat if using. 

Simmer for 10-15 more minutes.   

Remove from heat. Whisk the cornstarch and water together and add to pan.

Return pan to heat and stir until thickened.

Serve over rice. 

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January 4th / 6th / 19th: STIR-FRY

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Stir-fry is my go-to when I’m feeling lazy. It’s quick, easy and I can use up a bunch of veggies from the fridge all in one shot. I usually throw a half a cup of rice in the rice cooker before I do anything so at least that is on and requires zero attention from me. For my beef stir-fry I use thinly sliced beef, different colored bell peppers, sliced onions and carrots cut into little sticks. If I think I may be making stir-fry in the week, I usually cut up all the veggies at once and store them in little Tupperwares in the fridge so I can just throw together a stir-fry at the last minute. 

And by ‘last minute’ I mean, I have woken from a nap to discover there is nothing defrosted and it’s 7:45pm. 

For the beef, I buy a huge round of beef from Costco and cut it up. I get four steaks, four baggies of stew meat and 2 baggies of stir-fry beef. To get it so thinly sliced, I cut the beef into thinish slabs and lay them out on parchment paper. Very carefully, I then balance the parchment paper on a tray and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes. One it’s frozen, I take it out, slice it up nice and thin, portion it back into separate baggies, label and refreeze. This way it will defrost super quick, cook super quick and be table-ready from the freezer to the plate in 30 minutes.

For the stir-fry on the 4th, I used a Chinese 5-Spice Sauce (below) and for the Beef Stir-Fry on the 19th, I used an Asian Home Gourmet Szechuan Sauce I picked up at the Co-Op. I recognized it from living in Korea and couldn’t remember if we liked it so figured we’d try it again. We didn’t like it and I now remember why we only ever had it that once. 

For the Sausage Stir-Fry two days later on the 6th, I used the same veggies as the Beef Stir-Fry as I had halved the bell peppers and onions for the first stir-fry and wanted to use up the other halves before they went weird in the fridge. And the onion smell each time I opened the fridge served as both an inspiration to cook anything stir-fry and a reminder to buy a new baking soda thingy for the fridge. I also used two smokies we had in the fridge and sliced them up into half-moon shapes. 

The sauce for the one on the 6th, however, is the best part. For this one, I made my homemade stir-fry sauce: Spicy Stir-Fry Sauce. OK, so the name is a little obvious BUT it IS soy-free, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Just to be clear, I know I can’t have dairy and have been told to limit or eliminate gluten from my diet. The soy is on the fence. The whole saga is documented here but for the sake of argument, I basically eat something that may have soy in it, if it makes me sick, I don’t eat it again, if it doesn’t make me sick, I do eat it again. It’s a very simple process. I’ve avoided tofu and soy sauce anyway just to limit them but I can tolerate soybean oil and the teeny bit of soy that’s in some foods. For the soy-free ‘soy sauce’, I use this recipe. I make a large batch and then freeze it in an ice-cube tray for later use.

RECIPE: SPICY STIR-FRY SAUCE 

3-4 tbs soy sauce or not-soy soy sauce

2 tbs white vinegar

1 cup of beef / chicken / vegetable stock

1/2 tb Splenda

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tb minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder

1 tb Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp onion powder

1-2 tsp Sriracha

2 tsp cornstarch

I sometimes also add 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika or ground chipotle powder just to give it a little more of a smoky flavour. 

Throw all the ingredients EXCEPT the cornstarch into a bowl/jug/something to hold it all in and mix it about a little. I put it all in a mason jar and shake it. Works like a charm. 

RECIPE: CHINESE 5-SPICE STIR-FRY SAUCE

1 tbs Chinese 5-spice powder (I use this one

½ – 1 cup of beef stock (depending on how saucy you want your stir-fry)

2 tbs soy sauce or not-soy soy sauce

1 tb cornstarch.

RECIPE: BASIC STIR-FRY – Makes 2 meals for 2 sometimes with leftovers for the next day

Oil

1 cup of sliced chicken/beef/tofu/pork

2 carrots, sliced into sticks

½ each of 2 different colored peppers, sliced (or just one colored pepper. Red is nice. Or green. Orange is kinda cool. But not yellow. I’m kidding. Any colour pepper you’ve got is fine. It’s a stir-fry, not a painting.)

1 onion, sliced (try keep all the sliced veggies the same-ish size) 

The instructions for all the stir-fries are pretty much the same.  

Fry a small bit of oil in large frying pan or wok, if you’re feeling fancy and happen to have one. I use vegetable oil or canola oil. 

Then fry up some sliced onion and garlic, add the beef or chicken or whatever meat you are using. Fry until browned, continually stirring. 

Add the carrots and peppers and stir-fry for maybe 5-6 minutes.

For Chinese 5-Spice Stir-Fry: 

Add Chinese 5-Spice powder and stir-fry for 1 minute, stirring consistently.

Add beef stock and soy sauce / not-soy soy sauce. Bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 more minutes.

Mix cornstarch with 2 tbs of water. Remove pan from heat, add cornstarch mixture, return pan to heat and stir until thickened. 

For Spicy Stir-Fry Sauce:

Skip over the ‘add Chinese 5-spice powder’ step and just add your sauce mixture from the jug/bowl/jar and bring to boil then simmer for 10-15 more minutes. I usually simmer until the rice cooker beeps and the meat is cooked. 

Mix cornstarch with 2 tbs of water. Remove pan from heat, add cornstarch mixture, return pan to heat and stir until thickened.

For the package stir-fry sauce, follow the instructions on the package. Obviously. 

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January 7th: FRICOT – Makes 4 bowls of soup

The Canadian One would constantly talk about a soup his grandmother would make him called Fricot. I wasn’t until recently that we realized it was not written how it was pronounced, ‘Fricko’, it was actually ‘Fricot’, a traditional Acadian stew. As a result, the misspelling made it difficult to work out exactly what goes into it other than his memory of turkey and potatoes. The Canadian One’s cousin eventually gave us an idea of what went into it and through trial and error after each holiday with leftover turkey, the Quest for Fricot began. Of course, NOW we have looked up a recipe and realized it is very similar to the one we came up with and are rather proud of our little version. 

2 cups cooked and shredded turkey or chicken

1 cup carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

2 tbs butter

3 potatoes, diced

4 cups chicken stock

1tsp each of dried sage, thyme, marjoram

Salt and pepper

1 tsp garlic, crushed, optional but I like it

Melt butter in large pan. Fry onions and garlic a little until soft. Toss all other ingredients in. I throw in some Silk Road All-Purpose Blend sometimes. Just a tablespoon. Bring to boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours. I usually just put it on while I’m doing other stuff in the kitchen like watching Scandal on my iPad or Instgramming pictures of my cats. We serve it with buns or bread. 

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January 8th: CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS & FRIES – Makes enough for 8-10 drumsticks

Friday is Fry-day in our home. I like making fries on a Friday. I have no idea why or even how this happened. It just began as a pattern and stuck. The fries are pretty simple; they are frozen oven fries so I just follow the instructions on the package. 

For the sauce, we use an adapted version of Barbecue Chicken Legs by The Pioneer Woman

1 tsp onion powder

1-2 tbs tomato paste

1/2 cup no-sugar ketchup (or regular ketchup) 

1 tsp garlic powder

3 tbs white vinegar (more or less to taste) 

1 tb Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp molasses

2 tbs chipotle adobo sauce or 2 tsp ground chipotle powder

1/2 tsp mustard powder (optional)

1 tb Splenda (optional)

1/4 tsp smoked paprika powder (optional) 

Sprinkle of salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, heat gently and stir until throughly mixed. This bubbles and splashes a bit. Not gonna lie. I sometimes make double and freeze half. 

For the drumsticks, we rub oil (usually olive oil) over the chicken and then sprinkle it with some salt and pepper and bake at 425F for 20 minutes, flip it and bake for another 20 minutes, then add the sauce, reduce heat to 350F, cover with foil, bake for 5 minutes, flip and kinda spoon the sauce over it (or use a brush if you have one) and bake for another 5 minutes. 

I dip my fries in the excess sauce. I just LOVE it. 

This also works as a wing sauce. Just FYI. 

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January 9th: LEFTOVER TURKEY CHILLI  – Makes 2-3 meals for 2

We had a LOT of turkey leftover from Christmas dinner. It being just the two of us, and given my penchant for buying large turkeys on sale and stuffing our freezer with them, it leads to an extraordinary amount of leftovers. And let’s be honest, after eating nothing but turkey for 2-3 days over the holidays, you’re done. You need something else. Like a steak.

Whenever there’s a large turkey cooked, I (meaning not me at all, The Canadian One) cuts off enough meat for 2 dinners and puts it aside and then cuts off all the rest of the meat, and I slice it, portion it out and freeze it. I would make stock out of the carcass however my current pot is not large enough and into the trash the bones go. 

This chili came about because during a month-end freezer inventory, I found a small baggie of frozen sweetcorn and a baggie with a cup of cooked kidney beans in it. Coupling that with a tin of chopped tomatoes, an onion and the remainder of a sandwich baggie of frozen tomato paste, we had ourselves a meal.

Vegetable or coconut oil

1 cup cooked turkey

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup cooked kidney beans

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 tbs of tomato paste

½ cup of sweetcorn

2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

A sprinkling of red chilli flakes or diced jalapeños (optional)

Heat oil in pan or pot. Add onion and garlic and fry until softened. 

After that, I usually just dump all of the rest of the ingredients into the pot, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. I’m sure there is an actual order I should be adding these all to the pot but in the interest of time and ease, I don’t seek it out.

This, incidentally, would also work as a slow-cooker recipe. Probably fry onion and garlic, add to slow cooker along with all the other ingredients and then put it on low for 6 hours. If anyone tries that, let me know. 

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January 13th: CHICKPEA & SAUSAGE STEW WITH RICE – Makes 2-3 meals for 2

This was more of a what-do-we-have-in-the-fridge type of stew more so than a gourmet-fancy-follow-a-recipe type of thing. I buy a lot of dried chickpeas, soak 3 cups of them overnight, boil them the following day and then freeze them in 1 cup baggies in the freezer to add to whatever I want. 

For this I laid out all the ingredients I could find on the table and came up with the plan to toss everything into a pot and hope for the best. I like all those things separately, there was no reason I could think of as to why it wouldn’t all work together. 

1 cup chickpeas

2 smokie sausages, diced

1 can of whole tomatoes

Some tomato paste, it looked like about a tablespoon. It was a frozen square. I feel like when it melted, it was about a tablespoon. I just threw it into the pot frozen. 

1 onion, diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced aka bashed with a frying pan until small 

1 red bell pepper, diced. It was actually 3/4 of a bell pepper because some of it had gone a little soft. 

2 tsp mild chilli powder

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup of chicken stock

Red chilli flakes and chopped jalapeno peppers

Frozen sweetcorn, a handful

I fried up the garlic and onion in some oil and added them to a large pot. Then I basically threw everything else into the pot and brought it to a boil. Then I simmered it for about an hour with the lid on. 

You can also make this without the sausage. Obviously. 

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January 21st: CHICKEN VINDALOO CURRY AND RICE – Makes 1 meal for 2

This curry is HOT, I’m not gonna lie. The first time I had it, I put a lot of curry powder in it and had to add a little coconut milk to mine to mellow it out a bit. 

1 tb Vindaloo curry powder (I used The Silk Road’s Vindaloo curry blend) Add more or less to taste. I suggest the first time you make it, use less and then build from there. 

2 chicken breasts, diced (or meat/vegetables of choice)

2 tomatoes, diced

2 tbs tomato paste

1-2 tsp red wine vinegar (to taste)

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 cup water / stock

Blend the tomato paste, curry powder and vinegar into a paste and marinate the chicken in it in the fridge for an hour or so. I sometimes just gloss right over this step if I feel like it. I mean, we’re the ones eating it, if we don’t mind, who cares? If you DO mind, however, please do marinate it for a bit in the fridge. 

Fry up the garlic and onion until soft in a little oil. I use vegetable oil or coconut oil. 

Add chicken mixture and fry, stirring, until the chicken is browned on the outside. 

Add tomatoes and water/stock to pan. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Serve with rice. 

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January 23rd: SAUSAGE AND PEPPER PASTA – Makes 2-3 meals for 2

This is a recipe I got from CrockPot Diabetic Recipes but adapted it for use on the stove and not the slow-cooker. 

I kept the basic ingredients the same except I used Mild Italian Pork Sausages and not the chicken sausages called for in the recipe.

4 mild Italian sausages (or any sausage, really)

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced (again, I just whack it a few times with a pot until it’s all small)

1 large can of whole tomatoes

A mixture of sliced peppers (red, green, yellow, orange) making up about 2 cups, if you have them. If not just slice up 2 different coloured peppers. 

1 tbs dried basil

1 tsp red chilli flakes

Salt and Pepper

Remove the sausages from their casings, cut into little balls and fry in a frying pan with a little oil until browned. Tip into a large pot. 

Add onion and garlic to the frying pan and fry until soft. Tip into the large pot. 

Add all the other ingredients to the large pot. Stir it around, bring to boil, cover and simmer for an hour. 

Serve with pasta. 

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 January 29th: BEEF MADRAS AND FRIES – Makes 1 meal for 2

This requires marinating overnight. Unlike the earlier curry, I’ve never skipped over the marinating of the beef. Also, I usually serve this with rice but lately we’ve been having it with fries…and here’s why:

We had a friend visiting from Chicago a few months back and, as you do when friends come to town, we went out and got drunk, returning home at 2am…ish, starving. I threw some fries in the oven and located some leftover Beef Madras from dinner earlier in the fridge.

I heated it up, poured it over the cooked fries poutine-style and we ate it with a side of Sriracha and tomato ketchup. Now, you may be scrunching up your nose at this, but it was the best thing we had ever tasted and we felt like geniuses. It just worked. We have no idea why.

We later tried it again, after not consuming copious amounts of beer and vodka and it still worked. It was glorious and thus a new, unusual dish was born. 

You, of course, can serve this with just plain rice and not the fries, ketchup, Sriracha combo….but if you’re feeling adventurous, I urge you to try it. 

1 cup of stewing beef – I say 1 cup. I have really no idea how much it was. About 1 1/2 handfuls, I would guess. 

1 onion, diced

2-3 tbs madras powder (I used this one)

2 tbs red wine vinegar

2 tbs tomato paste

1 cup water

Mix the madras powder, tomato paste and red wine vinegar together, add the beef, squish about and make sure it’s all nice and mixed and then marinate overnight in the fridge. 

The next day, fry up the onions in a little oil and then remove from pan. 

Add the beef and curry mixture to the pan along with 1/2 cup water. Simmer gently until the water is almost gone. It will take maybe 5-10 minutes. 

Add the onions and the rest of the water to the pan. Bring to a small boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour, adding more water if it looks like it’s drying out. 

Serve with rice…or, as discussed, the fries/ketchup/Sriracha combo. Think about it. 

Report back if you’ve tried it. 

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Categories
comedy entertainment food funny humor random

Lemme Tell You How I Ended Up Owning An EpiPen

Settle in, friends, this is a long story. Get yourself some snacks and wine. I’ll wait here.

Ready?

© Depositphotos.com/Subbotina
© Depositphotos.com/Subbotina

Ok, so I can’t eat chocolate. I know! When I tell people that, they’re all ‘WTF’ and ‘OMG I’d die!’ but in reality, I’ve known this for eight years so I’m pretty over it by now. Struck down with debilitating migraines at 21, chocolate, mature cheese, red wine and pink wine were all axed from my diet, eventually after rounds and rounds of the ‘is could be this’ game. Slowly, I got over it. Declining red wine at parties, accepting then regifting boxes of chocolates from friends, carefully calculating how much chocolate I could tolerate (the tiniest amount), eating some (way more that I’m supposed to) and lying on the floor in pain holding a pillow over my face like I was practicing to suffocate myself (this actually doesn’t help a migraine).

And then came May 2014.

Ah, May, the month when pizza got taken away from me forever. And ice cream. And Starbucks Frappucchios. Less than a week after the Caramel Ribbon Crunch returned and Frappy Hour kicked off.

Here I am with my last ever Frappy less than twenty minutes after my diagnosis. You can’t see it, but there’s also a Buttermilk Blueberry Muffin there too.

IMG_1038

You know, I feel like May was one of those months I’ll look back on a half a year down the road and think, ‘wait, what?!’

So I had this lactose intolerance test…no wait, lemme go back a bit because it’s important to understand why I was having this test.

All this stupidity kicked off 18 months ago, just after we moved here, when I started to get weird pains in my right abdomen.  Nothing crazy. Just run-of-the-mill, oh-that’s-probably-just-period-pains…in my right side…when I’m not on my period…OK, fine, when I look back on it now it was perhaps not as not-weird as I initially thought and I shoulda really thought ‘appendix’ and not ‘right-sided period pain’. BUT I’d just spend five years living in Korea being ill Every. Single. Day. so this pain was a welcome break after a sea of cramping pain, nausea and diarrhea every single day. Did I mention it was every single day? They couldn’t figure it out in Korea. I had tests. And more tests. And blood tests. And an endoscopy. And took drugs. And more drugs. And antibiotics…for months at a time…and destroyed my immune system…and still, I didn’t get better. Until one day, 3 weeks into living in Canada, I realised I wasn’t sick every single day anymore. I was sick maybe one day. Out of 21. It was suggested it was soy and / or sesame causing my illness and eating a western diet I was just naturally avoiding these. I test this theory out, I had some soy sauce. Next day I got ill. Soy was eliminated from my diet. But yet I was still getting this weird side pain and random cramping/diarrhea every so often with no discernible reason.

So fast-forward a year later, May 2014, and I’ve had the pleasure of five abdominal ultrasounds, three pelvic ultrasounds (there’s a difference boys, Google it), a CT scan which really does make you feel like you’ve peed. Funny story, the male doctor who did my CT scan told me I had ‘women’s problems’ and needed to see a ‘women’s doctor’ without going into too much detail other than a scientific explanation as to how eggs are released from ovaries and then discharged me and sent me home. I was livid. I was more livid that I thought possible. A few weeks later I saw on the news my doctor’s house had sadly burned to the ground.

My friend wrote to me to ask if it was me.

It wasn’t. And no one died.

After one of my super fun 6am blood tests!
After one of my super fun 6am blood tests!

Following on from that, I’ve had too many blood tests to count (I have fantastically healthy blood apparently), a HIDA scan ( – where one is LITERALLY strapped down to a table unable to move while being injected with a radioactive tracer and put into a scanner machine for an hour…AN HOUR…), two colposcopies, a hysterosalpingography ( – it was so painful I don’t want to relive it by talking about it – I sweated through the hospital gown I was wearing it was so painful – although I’ll give credit to a girl at work who warned me to take the full day off and not attempt to come to work after), took pointless antibiotics, had an argument with a gynecologist who refused to do a laparoscopy for endometriosis despite it being the only reason I was referred to her in the first place. This was after a six month wait to actually see her. She referred me to the Regional Fertility Center to get the laparoscopy done ignoring the fact that I was showing zero fertility problems and back on a waiting list we went to see a doctor there.

I got misdiagnosed with IBS after one appointment with a family doctor and changed clinics, got jabbed in the butt with an injection (“This will hurt.” – my nurse), experienced morphine for the first time, had a lactose intolerance test, a celiac test, a test that involves the collection of…um, bodily waste…and putting it into a very small (WTF?!) tube…TWICE! It was so much worse that this. Honestly, you have no idea how ridiculous your life has gotten until you’re asked to collect poop that has not touched water and put it into a small tube…the first time I was all ‘is this something I really want in my Google history?’ and the second time I was all ‘I got this! Gimme the test tube’. And I thought that time in Korea when I had to stick a cotton swab up my butt was bad. And then finally it was all capped off with an eventual laparoscopy and some endometriosis removal by the fertility clinic. The Canadian One had some fun wheeling me around the hospital in a wheelchair after the surgery.

Yay...still probably slightly sedated in this picture! But happy, despite the stitches in my stomach and the inability to walk! Woo-hoo!
Yay…still probably slightly sedated in this picture! But happy, despite the stitches in my stomach and the inability to walk! Woo-hoo!

So, lemme get back to the lactose test. For weeks beforehand I’d maintained I was not, under any circumstances whatsoever, absolutely, positively NOT lactose intolerant and this test was a GIANT. WASTE. OF. MY. TIME. I told everyone. I told friends. I told Facebook. I had to get up early. I had to fast. I had to drink a stupid drink and get four blood tests and live at the blood clinic lab on a Saturday for three hours with all the other impatient, annoyed people. IT. WAS. POINTLESS.

Then the results came back.

I’m lactose intolerant.

First thought: ‘Pizza!’Pizza

First thing I said to my doctor: “But…pizza…”

I also have endometriosis but let’s not dwell on that, it’s the pizza thing that really hurt.

Now, I’ve realized when I tell people I’m lactose intolerant they think ‘oh, you can’t have milk’. No. No no. I can also not have cheese. Cheese. CHEESE. Cheese is on pizza.

I cannot have pizza.

Or Starbucks Frappucchinos. I mean I do realize that this is not really a problem in the grand scheme of things. The Canadian One is diabetic and gave up everything and eats lots of salad.

Although, looking back, May was also the month my friend discovered she has an extra rib in her body that’s been causing her an incredible amount of pain so in hindsight it could be…no, no, the pizza thing is so much worse.

I love pizza.

Now, since May, I’ve learned how to make my own pizza. Lactose free. With no cheese. The first time I had no cheese pizza, I didn’t get ill, I didn’t throw up (I’ve done that twice literally in pizza places, never put two and two together), it was glorious and it was the way forward.

Ta-da! Whole-Wheat Lactose-Free pizza with tomato, onion, garlic and Buffalo chicken!
Ta-da! Whole-Wheat Lactose-Free pizza with tomato, onion, garlic and Buffalo chicken!

Homemade Pizza Sauce
Homemade Pizza Sauce

Despite all this, none of these tests has actually solved the pain-in-right-side problem just the stomach cramping / illness side of things. I was still in pain. And lots of pain. I couldn’t walk properly, pick things up, carry heavy objects or stand for long periods of time without pain. It was causing stress, headaches and sleeplessness not to mention despair as no one could figure it out.

At my next doctor’s appointment in June, my doctor suddenly asked if I’d ever injured my back. I told her about moving to Canada, how I ended up in the hospital my second day in Ontario with back pain suspected to be kidney pain. I told her how I’d taken antibiotics. That sometimes my back hurts periodically but I’ve always been told by many doctors that it would go away and to wait. That ‘patience is the key’ and ‘here, take these Percocet’. Here I am my second day as a Canadian paying for healthcare as I was in the wrong province:

Here I am, pointin' at my hospital bracelet!
Here I am, pointin’ at my hospital bracelet!

My family doctor suddenly had a theory and a friend who she thought could help me. I immediately left her office and called her friend who said she would see me 48 hours later. I turned up promptly at 5:30pm for my first meeting with my physiotherapist, a lovely, brilliant, funny Irish woman who’s so full of smiles and optimism you just want to kidnap her and take her home with you. After a 10 minute conversation and medical history, she announced she knew what was wrong and how to fix it. I must have looked skeptical because she went off and got a medical book and showed me diagrams of what happened to me and why I’m in pain. I almost cried.

When moving here, I’d torn and damaged the muscles in my back with the twisting and turning and carrying of heavy boxes (for weeks beforehand as we moved twice before we actually left Korea) and bags (as we moved here, with a stopover in Ontario) and it was all compounded by the fact that I sat at a desk all day and it was causing referred pain my lower right quadrant.

Within an hour of physio involving massage, electrotherapy and ultrasound therapy I felt a billion times better. Better than any of the painkillers, heat pads or muscle relaxants ever did. This little AMAZING Irish woman had found and solved my 14 month-long problem in less than two hours. Well, not solved, I still see her every two weeks and follow a strict daily physio regime, but we are on our way. And my pain? Ohhhh my pain. That spends its days either being non-existent or it comes along and I know exactly how to get rid of it in a timely manner. No more afraid to stand at concerts. No more oh-my-god-the-pain-is-so-bad-I-might-die days. None.

So, at this point, I bet you’re thinking, so where does the EpiPen come in?

Blue to the Sky, Orange to the Thigh...and NOWHERE else, this isn't Pulp Fiction
Blue to the Sky, Orange to the Thigh…and NOWHERE else, this isn’t Pulp Fiction

August 4th, the Monday holiday in Canada, I was at work as I’d volunteered to do overtime in lieu of a day off and a day and a half’s pay – not a bad compromise for working one day. Things were going fine. We were a little busy but not overly so and I was working on some online courses I had on the go in my spare time. Lunch rolled round and I took my homemade lunch out to the couch to eat alone. I usually never eat alone but it was a holiday day and there was maybe twenty people in the building. My lunch was rice, tomatoes, white beans, sage, beef sausage from Safeway and onion. All food I’d have previously many times, except the sausage, which I’d only ever had once before. After the first two bites, I started sneezing uncontrollably. My eyes felt itchy and like they were on fire and my ears felt hot. I suddenly realised I was having trouble breathing. I was wheezing. I text The Canadian One to tell him what was happening and while waiting for his reply, I went to pee because 1. I needed to pee and 2. I was fairly certain this wasn’t going to end in anything other than a hospital trip and so I didn’t want to need to pee that whole time. As I left the bathroom, I got dizzy. Really really dizzy. And my breathing was slowing. I began to realise I might be dying. That this was it. I was going to die alone on the couch at work surrounded by strip lighting and my half eaten lunch and lonely fork. I called The Canadian One who told me to go find my supervisor as at this point I was struggling to talk. In hindsight, that’s what I should have done first before calling him but anyway…

I bolted back to my supervisor’s desk, flailing about in a panic, explained I was having an allergic reaction and was marched over to the manger on-duty’s desk. I sat, wheezing, not allowing them call 911 as I felt it was ‘too dramatic’ but as we were right next to a hospital, I agreed to being driven there by the manager. I was making weird wheezing noises but my throat had stopped closing at this point, although my nose was blocked and all puffed up at the back. I called The Canadian One who was with our vet neighbor and both got in the car and headed to the hospital to meet me.

An hour in the ER and, although I had yet to be seen by a doctor, I was feeling fine but couldn’t talk properly. I was diagnosed with an allergic reaction, (obviously) given two Benadryl (which knocked me out) and was told to follow-up with my family doctor.

Honestly, you should have seen her face when I went back and explained all this to her.

I would later be diagnosed with a mystery ‘preservative’ allergic, issued an EpiPen for safety and made see a dietitian as all my foods were being taken from me and I was running out of things to eat.

My Family Doc: “Do you know what an EpiPen is?”

Me: “Yes, I’ve seen the ads on TV.”

Doc: “Ah, yes, with the little girl.”

Me: “Yes…but I’m not allergic to anything. I’ve never been allergic to anything.”

Doc: “Yes, you are. You’re getting an EpiPen.”

And so I did. I got two.

For more information on food allergies or anaphylaxis, check out Anaphylaxis Canada or Anaphylaxis Campaign UK. The Canadian site has the option to sign up for a Food Allergy Alert service oddly enough sponsored by where I work!

For more information on living dairy-free, check out Go Dairy Free for hints, tips and recipes. Also I recommend Daiya as a preferred cheese alternative, although it does take some getting used to and also almond milk for coffee is quite nice if you are also soy-free. My addiction to Veganaise soy-free ‘Mayo’ is outta control too. It really is so much better than mayo! And Earth Balance produce a really good line of vegan alternatives.