Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cognitive Development - Really?

Studying for early childhood, I came across this scale in my textbook. It's logical. It's accurate. It's correct. But it opened my eyes to how kids see things.

You know how kids are more 'cavemany' than adults? This definitely proves that. I remember reading somewhere that babies under six months are the only ones to understand the whole Schrödinger's Cat theory thing. This charty thing kinda enforces how children think so much less scientifically and more based on really basic stuff that we should all just worry about.

Also, have you ever read one of those reports like 'Chimp completes an IQ test' which say that they have the brain of a two year old or a five year old or thereabouts. You notice how that doesn't go above about a six or seven years old?

Maybe we're not meant to mentally develop too much more than teenage years. Which is when we're really meant to be having babies. ENOUGH THINKING for now! Back to studying!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

My Right Hand Needs a Holiday

It's nearly exam week - the biggest exams of the year, where we're tested on the whole year of stuff. I better be writing more notes than what I will be writing in the exam, or my hand will die...

Time of high stress is when you mostly want to go on holidays, so in the time that isn't really spare but I procrastinate in anyway, I've been doing a bit of reading and thinking about health. Ok, obviously, but more so in the aspect that maybe diet isn't the most important aspect as to how you develop, age and die. I especially loved the NY Times 'The Island where People Forget to Die'. Google it if you want. I'm going to Ikaria one day.

I was watching some sbs show while packing up slices of banana bread to sell and a cook was up in some mountains in a traditional tribe area in Thailand and made some meat thing that was put in a bamboo tube, topped with a banana leaf, and put in a fire to cook. And as I watched him lovingly and rustically creating this age old dish, I realised that the reason why we love recipes is the fact that they're passed down through generations, like a story. And it has a story of instruction to keep you alive, but there's a side that comes from that tribe, or from that family, or from the heart of the one showing you how to make it.

Recipes aren't instructions for making something to keep you alive.

Recipes are special stories that provide you with love in your heart to make you thrive, physically (the food) and emotionally (the love).

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Sweet Potato Souffle

It was one of those mornings where you don't want to get up for an hour.

So I didn't.

This brekkie (or meal for any time, really) is perfect for one of these types of mornings, ie, when you have time for it to cook but you're not bothered to physically do much. It's really simple and you could do it with your eyes closed - which is the state you're in to start with!

I based this recipe on a brekkie I tried one day. It was meant to be 'warm sardine and sweet potato dip' but the temp was put up too high for it to just 'warm up' so it turned into a souffle! Sardines have never tasted better! But the cucumber I was meant to use as the dip-holder tasted really boring in comparison. Anyway...

Grab your prebaked sweet potato and mash it up in an ovenproof ramekin or bowl.

Whisk an egg and mix it in. If you're feelin' fancy, dust in some cinnamon too.

In the same fancy manner, smooth out the top and pop it into a preheated oven and go back to bed for half an hour after all your hard work.

I tried to make some roasted macadamias to go with it...

and ignoring the fact that it's unstable and expensive I roasted them in macadamia oil. Like goes with like, right?

But... um... I spent too long doing nothing while waiting for my souffle to cook.

I put a little maple syrup on top of the souffle when it had about 7 - 10 mins left, but it didn't make all that much difference.

Take the souffle out of the oven and go back to bed for another ten minutes. It's hot. Believe me. And it's going to stay hot for a while.

Top with whatever you fancy. I spooned on a bit of kefir and tried some of my little bombs of burnt nuttiness.

NB. I only called it a souffle because it rose. Don't assume it's puffy and airy and doesn't weigh a thing. Take a scoop and see how almost puddingy it is!

Sweet Potato Souffle

Serves 1

1 1/3 cups baked sweet potato
1 egg
cinnamon (optional)
maple syrup (optional)
something creamy like yoghurt, kefir, double cream or coconut butter (or ice cream?!), for serving

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Mash the sweet potato in an ovenproof bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, then add to the sweet potato.
Mix until combined, and add cinnamon and/or maple syrup if using.
Place the bowl in the oven and bake for 20 - 30 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Serve with creamy topping.

This might be better with coconut flour to make it less dense, and maybe some baking powder to fluff it up. And maybe some baking paper too...

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Carrot Cupcakes

I made up a batch of carrot cakes to get me through prelims. There was a heap left so I made a bigger cake out of it. And writing this now, I've realised that I completely forgot to add the dates... Oh well.

Five years ago, I asked mum once for a carrot cake for lunch (back when I had no idea what 'health' was) and for probably the rest of the year, I'd always get a not-too-fluffy, not-too-dense carrot cupcake with maybe not enough nuts and a load of sugary cream cheese icing. I only wanted a batch of them.

So after so many lunches of getting utterly bored of orange cake and becoming sickened by the cloyingly sweet and creamy icing (I can still remember it...) I gave up on the humble carrot cake. I haven't had one in five years after all the trauma I had from the monotonous lunches.

But I wanted to make a cake today and we had a bag of carrots in the fridge, ready to start being more bad than good, so carrot cakes it was. And mum got mini cupcake tins, so my cupcakes HAD to be little. I didn't care if it ended up being little crumbles of carrot shreds and macadamias.


On another note, I didn't create this recipe, so I'll pop LIBK's recipe here and say that I substituted the nut butter with regular cow butter (because you can never have too much butter) and put in some roughly chopped macadamias, fresh ginger and finely dessicated coconut (which didn't add to the flavour at all). And I lined the big baking tin with coconut oil, with the smear of my fingers. Oh, and I left out the dates, which I suggest you don't do. Not that they're awful, they're just not ultra sweet.

Roasted Head of Cauliflower

I found this idea back when I was new to the entire 'healthy' bandwagon. On one of those vegan or vegetarian blogs (I can't remember), they had a recipe as a joke for a 'roasted head of cauliflower' mocking a 'roasted head of (insert animal here)'. And I'd remembered it because the post was funny, how she had to 'sacrifice this head of cauliflower' and it was a big joke and yaddah yaddah yaddah.

For once, we actually got an entire head of cauliflower (as opposed to half of one) and we had people coming over so I asked nicely if I could make a roasted head of cauliflower. No one knew what the hell I was going on about so I made it anyway.

We eat a lot of plain, boiled veggies, so this was fine to us, but if you like a bit of spice in your life, toss on some Indian spices like cumin and... whatever else they use. And use ghee for that matter too. I used tallow on it and it didn't really work because a. the fat hardened before I could baste the head and b. the cauliflower went cold at the table and when we went back to have some more of it, it had a funny mouthfeel due to the hard fat on top.

Roasted Head of Cauliflower

Serves 8

1 head of cauliflower
3/4 cup oil of your choice
herbs and spices (optional)

Place your head of cauliflower in a steamer and cook until as cooked as it would be if you blanched it. (I did this by putting it in a strainer over a pot of boiling water).
Take it out, drain it, and put it in the fridge uncovered for a few hours so that it is dried out somewhat and isn't so wet.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (180 burns the top, have a look at the pictures).
If using herbs or spices, mix them into the oil.
Place the head on a roasting tray and brush some of the oil onto all of the outside of the cauliflower.
Place it in the oven for 15 - 25 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, take it out to baste it with some more of the oil.
Serve hot and with a large knife, and cut it like a cake.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Nut-Free Schnitzel

As a child, one of my most favourite meals was chicken schnitzel. I had it just about every night. I had it so often that mum and dad gave up with the whole flour and egg thing, and skipped just to the breadcrumbing. So then my grandmother's lovingly made, non skimped chicken schnitzel was a million times better.

The other day, I had an epiphany for a paleo remake of schnitzel, and I wanted to see if I could remake it. I made up a big batch of chicken tenderloins and an eggplant round (to test it out) and lovingly made my non-skimped, paleo schnitzel.

Afterwards, I laid my big chickeny breast schnitzel and the lone breaded eggplant on a bed of shredded and boiled TO PERFECTION Brussels sprouts (they looked so good that even my brother asked if he could 'try the lettuce') and ladled on some of my LINK slow and perfect meat tomato sauce. And it was DIVINE. It looked like heaven too. It seems to be the best meals I don't take photos of.

So I tried to recreate it with the eggplant. I got an eggplant, sliced it up, salted it, let it sit out for a day and a half (the longer, the better!) and got around to making a big batch of eggplant schnitzel.

I laid out my bowls of arrowroot, egg and coconut and the dunking commenced.

The still-wet eggplant rounds were dusted in probably too much arrowroot...

Then covered in egg (sometimes it didn't want to stick)...

And they were given a coating of finely desiccated coconut to schnitzel them up.

There's my first one.

Once I'd made all of them, I glugged out some olive oil (honestly, I suggest using a much more stable oil like tallow or coconut oil, because they ended up tasting very PUFA-y) into two frying pans and plonked them in once the oil was hot.

Back to replicating my perfect tomatoy dish that I made last time, I got a ladle and ladled out some of my pumpkin soup and put it in a pot, and then got a ladle of the worst osso buco of my life (osso buco + water = my hopelessly failed attempt at broth, I had no bones available) and popped that in the same pot. Of course, it wouldn't be the same solanine taste (duh, there's no tomatoes in basic pumpkin soup) but I wanted the same sort of rich, thick, vegetable-creamy (you know what I mean?) ladle sauce to spoon over my schnitzel like a parma. I heated it up, tasted it - still tasted boring, but oh well - and poured it lavishly over the breaded eggplant.

The photos accurately depict the meal's tastiness.
Before Sauce:

After Sauce:

As you can see, the eggplant schnitzel was the ultimate STAR OF THE SHOW and the pumpkin-osso buco-bleugh sauce just ruined it.

You know what also ruined it?

The fact that mum ate the rest of them.

Chicken (or Eggplant) Schnitzel

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts (or 2 large eggplants)
2 cups tapioca starch, tapioca flour or arrowroot
3 eggs (you can go with 2 but it's better to have more)
3 - 4 cups finely desiccated coconut
Stable fat, for frying

If using chicken breasts, cut each breast into three or four equally sized sections (about the size of a tenderloin). If using eggplant, cut into rounds, lay on absorbent something and sprinkle with salt. Let the butter juices leach out for at least 30 mins. Pat down with some more, dry absorbent stuff.
Place the tapioca/arrowroot in a bowl, crack the eggs into a separate bowl, and pour the coconut into a third bowl. Whisk the eggs until combined.
Dip the chicken (or eggplant) pieces, one at a time, into the tapioca/arrowroot, covering the piece. Then dip into the egg, covering the piece, and then into the coconut, then place on a separate plate or dish. Continue with the remaining pieces of chicken/eggplant.
Heat up the fat in a deep frypan. Fry each piece in the fat until cooked on one side, then turn and cook on the other side. Take it out once it is golden brown. Repeat with the remaining pieces until all are cooked.
Serve with vegetables, homemade mayo, melted cheese or some delicious sauce (don't ruin it with a bland sauce!)

NB: Once it's cold, the chicken schnitzel goes a little gummy between the chicken and the arrowroot, so I'm yet to work out a substitution - probably coconut flour. In the mean time, just eat it while it's hot! Not that it's incredibly inedible being a little gummy, it just doesn't stick to the chicken as well.