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Thursday, November 13, 2014

DIY Organic Sprouts

OK, we all know and love them, but did you know how easy it is to MAKE them?

Like, I'm talking germinating sprouts yourself, at home.


Well... the answer to the question you never cared about, is VERY easy.

I was at my new favourite grocery store the other day, and stumbled across this product:

They've advertised them as a 'sandwich booster', which is great, but you can use these for a variety of other dishes as well, including salads or even stir-fry.

Anyway, all you need is the sprouts, a small jar, some cheese-cloth, and an elastic band.


Seems like I'm MacGyvering these a bit, doesn't it?  Well, it really isn't hard.

Look at how excited those guys are!  They are literally bursting through.

You essentially just rinse the seeds, drain them, and then keep them 'moist' for a few days.  And, like you'll remember from elementary school, they don't even need sunlight to germinate, so I did these in my dark (oh, so dark) kitchen.

Then, three days later...


Heh heh heh.


And that was just a tiny spoonful.  This bag of sprouts is going to last me quite a while!

Anyway... pretty cool, right!

Monday, November 10, 2014

DIY Vegan Granola Bars

I love granola bars.

I always have.

I practically lived off of them in my childhood.

However... finding a good granola bar - even these days - can be quite a challenge.

I mean, even the manufacturers claiming to be super good, like Kashi for example, still put so many unnecessary ingredients in there.

Again, as always it seems, it comes down to the difference between 'all-natural' and 'actually healthy'.


I like to make my own granola bars; I've done it a few times, and it is DEAD easy!

These ones today, however, are special, because they are not only super healthy, all natural, all organic, and extremely minimalistic, but they are also 100% vegan.

So, let's get to it!

First, and (I can't stress this enough) most importantly, is the vegan marshmallows.

If you can't find vegan marshmallows, then give up on this recipe.  I mean, you can use non-vegan marshmallows, but do you know where gelatin COMES FROM?  DO YOU!?!?!  Ugh... I'm not even a full-time vegetarian, but I can not stomach gelatin.

Anyway, back to these delicious vegan bars.

I got these vegan marshmallows from a store called Ambrosia, which I admit I never knew existed until recently, but I am super glad I've found it!  It's a great store!

Melt these puppies in a pan with a generous scoop of coconut oil.  You can use any kind of oil you want, but remember we're trying to make these really good.  

Actually, a secondary goal of mine with these was to actually make them as HIGH in calories (like, still good calories, here) as possible, as I wanted these to be a meal replacement on those days when I'm just in too much of a hurry to eat properly.

Enter the coconut oil.  A 'healthy' oil, but one that IS high on the calories.

When the marshmallows start to get liquidy, just stir in your granola.

These marshmallows are ready to incorporate some granola.

For the granola, I chose two packages of PC Blue Menu granola.  

The first, a mixed berry one:

The second, a banana nut one:

These packages are actually remarkably decent.  Their ingredients were simple, and all good.  They did have some sugar, but again I wanted these literally to pack some energy.

Anyway, all of that gets stirred in.

This is the ONLY hard part in making these bars.

But oh man is it hard.

You have to have some serious hand and wrist strength to muster enough will to keep stirring this until it's ready.

I probably could have added more coconut oil, but whatever.

It worked.


Now just grease (again, with the coconut oil) a medium-sized pan:

And then pour in the mix.  

It's all lumpy at first, but here's a trick.  Grease the back of a wooden spoon (again with some coconut oil) or sturdy spatula, and firmly smooth the mix down.  After a minute or so, you should have a nice, level, attractive looking granola square.

Now cover this and let it set in the fridge (or at room temperature, it just takes longer), until it is wholly solid.

Then, it's just choppin' time!

Truly, you can cut these into any size or shape you like.

Myself, I went with the more traditional, rectangular 'bar' shape.

After wrapping them in plastic wrap, they're ready for storage.

And store they can.  For quite some time.  Although mine rarely last that long as, in addition to being a great emergency meal, they are also quite delicious!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sandwich Chaud au Poulet

So... most Canadians will recognize this dish.

Certainly most Québécois should.

It is, after all, one of the signature dishes at St. Hubert.

What is St. Hubert, you ask?

A very nondescript, yet very prevalent, chicken-centric family restaurant in Québéc.

I mean, if you've never been, you should go.

Anyway... I'm not saying that the Hot Chicken Sandwich thing is exclusively theirs, but I will say that their version is actually done quite deliciously.  And it is the one that comes to my mind, at least, whenever I think of a Hot Chicken Sandwich.

Here's an image that I swiped online, but because I'm up-talking their dish, maybe they'll let it slide?
Doesn't that look yum-town?  

Just for juxtaposition's sake, I'll show you the end product of my version here.

Doesn't quite look the same, does it?

Well, it didn't taste as good, either... but it was still seriously yummy.

OK.  So... I followed a recipe for this one... sigh.  I know!  I'm sorry!

This is one of only a handful of times I can ever recall doing so.  And you'll see that there are some things in here which I shuddered at putting in (like ketchup?!)


It actually starts out kind of promising.  With the making of an actual, authentic roux... but - as you'll see - it quickly gets... trashier.

So, traditional roux, melt some butter...

Add some flour...

Whisk for a few minutes until nice and golden.

This recipe called for the following dry ingredients:  dry mustard, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, and chili powder.

Some crazy mix.  And it made my roux decidedly pasty.

Now, to this, we're going to add some beef stock.

And already it looks like a really smooth gravy.


But, here's where it gets shady.


and worcestershire:

That's it.

That's the 'chicken sauce'.

As for the other aspects of this dish... I had leftover chicken.

Of quite high quality.  I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that this is maybe a little better than most of the chicken served in these dishes commercially.


The peas were easy to cook up.  I steamed them.  I can't abide boiled vegetables.  Steaming is as far as I will go to cook a green vegetable (literally... I often don't even like doing that...).

And then some french white bread.  Not a good rustic artisan kind, but instead the cheap trashy kind.  This is trash food, after all.

Then it's just ASSEMBLAGE:


Incidentally those are just fried potatoes, not french fries... but what are you doing looking at those, anyway?  


So... not as good as St. Hubert's, but a pretty good home-made facsimile, I'd have to say.

And still quite delicious!