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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Dutch Apple Pie :)

There's a few birthdays coming up in our bi-cultural (half-Dutch) home, and, hands-down,  Dutch apple tart is the birthday treat they always want and truly appreciate! Well, at least the 'half' whose birthday is coming up who's Dutch and the other one's birthday who's got a great affinity for her better-Dutch side ;). Did you get that? Good, because I didn't! I'm Italian! I prefer ricotta pie or Italian rum cake any day!!

As I've been making Dutch Appel Taart for the past 28 years and could probably make it in my sleep, which, hot oven alert, I never would, for the life of me, because I don't follow a recipe anymore when I make it, I can't seem to delineate a recipe for 'jullie'. So I have found one that I'm linking you to that is VERY close to the one I think I follow:

Just some comments as I peruse the recipe link -- I sometimes use brown sugar for the dough and other times I use regular granulated, even caster sugar -- it's whatever I have in the home. And I also don't use 1/2 cup sugar for the dough -- usually more like 1/3 cup. It doesn't seem to make a big difference that I use whatever sugar I have around and a bit less than this recipe calls for (well, so far, so good!). I also like to add dried cranberries or Craisins in place of raisins, but I've been known to use raisins if no Craisins are lurking in the cupboard.  I do have to mention, it is important to use the right kind of apples -- Goudrennet or Granny Smith work best -- apples that are not too sweet, not too tart. But, don't tell anyone -- I have been known to use whatever apples I know I need to use up before they go rotten -- no matter what kind they are. So, the inside of the pie ends up being a bit softer than it should -- no one's complained yet!! (They better not!). I often add chopped walnuts or pecans, too. I'm also not too fussy about how I lattice the top-- I only know that it's important to keep plenty of breathing space for the apple mixture as the tart bakes -- never to cover it fully or tightly as one would do with an American apple pie.  No matter how messy it looks when I lattice, it always bakes out to look fantastic -- well -- considering that I always lightly dust the top, after the pie cools a bit, with sifted icing sugar or 'poedersuiker'. Oh, and if I have any egg left over, I actually just pour that over the apple filling after I've filled the tart with the apple mixture and BEFORE I lattice the top and, of course, before baking! I also don't necessarily sprinkle semolina on the bottom of the crust -- breadcrumbs or even some of the self-rising flour or even rolled oats (so healthy of me, yes?!!)will do just fine. But, if I have semolina in the cupboard, I use it.

 And here's what it looks like -- one I've baked earlier ;)

Really, check that recipe link out and make this soon! It's an easy 'pie dough' to make as there's no intricate rolling involved! You just need to press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pie tin. You can roll it first, if you want to, but it's not necessary. Same with making the lattice -- you can roll the dough first, then make the strips, but, honestly, I just press it lightly on my floured board and then make strips -- works fine! I also like this recipe because it doesn't require SO much sugar and it uses real butter -- hey -- sometimes it has to be butter! I've made it with margarine, too, but calorically, it's the same, so why not use butter, I say! It actually works better with butter. PLUS -- this is a treat -- remember?! Not something we eat habitually. Whoops -- the RD in me had to get that in :( While we're on that subject, you can add low-fat vanilla yogurt or even fat-free plain Greek yogurt :( on the side instead of the usual whipped cream (slagroom), vanilla custard, or vanilla ice cream :)

Enjoy! :)

Tot Ziens!
xo MJ

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The wisdom in happiness

One of my great kids just sent me this article:

It's so cool having one of your children caring enough about you that they want you to know what's up in the world re: how to be happy.   

THAT makes me happy! :)

I do agree with points made in the article -- alot of it is true,  
especially being thankful and spending more time with people you WANT to be around, not people who make us feel bad about ourselves.  But, through the course of my life, it's become abundantly clear that it's sometimes necessary to spend time with people who make us feel bad. So,  I've learned to really try to see as much of the good in these people as I possibly can -- well, as long as I have to be with them. For years, I just put up a front and cried in secret or comfort ate while still thinking how mean or nudgy they were to me. Now, I just try to accept people the way they are. I'm not going to change them nor will confronting them really change them or what they think of me. But I CAN change how I feel about them or how I feel what it's like being around them and how it affects me.

And that's what I wrote back to my daughter. She answered me that this was a really wise comment and she will work on doing this, too.  

THAT made me happy!

I also told her to make a nice cup of  hot tea and to stay warm!

These are the beautiful moments that keep me going!

xo MJ

Monday, 6 January 2014

Cupboard Soup: Nutrish&Delish!

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of going to the shops and spending money. OK, that's code for not having money at the moment to shop--ha! Even though, I was frugal and sensible on my food shopping and splurges over the holidays, I still ended up cooking and baking more than usual. I like to do both, but I was determined to not gain my hard-earned lost pounds over the feast days, thus, I chose to not overdo stocking up on too many ingredients to make and bake too many rich meals and treats. The family didn't even notice! They were just as happy, if not more appreciative of the couple specialties we DID enjoy and we are so thankful to start the new year feeling healthy and ready to keep up the momentum! With both my husband and myself having a genetic predisposition to obesity, and thus, my children having that double-whammy legacy (sorry, guys!), we all really have to work at it in this house! Being an RD, I take on the extra responsibility of trying to set a good example. I always tell my children, too, that we have to look at the positive aspects of our reality -- that is -- we are the chosen -- those who MUST be careful and selective about our food intake and, in the end, we choose wisely and most deliciously and really appreciate and enjoy eating, food, treats, etc, and keep all in perspective. Do my kids buy it? Well, they get it, for sure, but they feel screwed -- haha! Like it did me, I think it will take another 25+ years for them to truly appreciate how ahead of the curve and our time we all are! Yep, real visionaries -- trendsetters -- that's us!

So, this morning -- the day after the particularly long holiday break, imo, I'm snooping into my fridge and cupboards for my usual Monday morning inventory check before I head out to the grocery store, and I see the following:

1/2 of a 500g bag of dried yellow split-peas (so, about 250g dried split-peas -- these are the kind Indians make dhal with)
3 carrot sticks
3 celery sticks
3 small onions
5 wandering cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
8 small vine-tomatoes
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves

and I get to thinking, "Why go shopping? With all this cornucopia in the home ;), I'm making Cupboard Soup!!"  OK, I didn't call it 'Cupboard Soup' at that moment, but I did soak the split-peas for a couple hours (it says this was not necessary, but I still do it to rinse off some of the excess starch anyway), put them in a soup pot covered with cold water (about 1 1/2 liters -- you can add more or less depending on whether you want a thick or 'soupy' soup), bring to the boil, lower to a gentle boil for 10 minutes (to 'de-gas' the split-peas) and then add a bay leaf, and lower further to a simmer for about an hour. At this point I added an organic chicken stock-cube, but you can add any stock you want (or stock gel or best to add is homemade stock, if you have it!). I chopped up the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and sauteed them till soft (about 12-15 minutes) in olive oil, chopped up the vine tomatoes and roasted them in a hot oven till slightly charred, and then mixed the softened vegetables and the tomatoes into the split-peas while simmering and simmered for another 20 minutes. While the soup was simmering this extra 20 minutes, I tipped in the 1/2 bag of baby spinach leaves (they were pre-washed, otherwise, I would've washed them), chopped and added the parsley, seasoned with salt&pepper to taste, and also added about 1/2 tsp of dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried oregano. And.....Voila! I have tonight's meal -- Cupboard Soup! I usually sprinkle some fresh-grated parmesean cheese over before serving and, for those of us in the home who want it ( I want it, but I forego it as I am 50+ and have to watch my carb intake -- lucky me!!), a toasted slice of whole-grain bread or a whole-grain cracker or two and the meal is complete!

And the best part -- I didn't spend a red pence today!!!! Bring it on, Tuesday ;)

Happy HEALTHY New Year, Everyone!

xo, MJ, RD