Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Homemade Lentil Soup with Smoked Bacon (also in vegan version)

We are a family of soup eaters. Even in the summer my kids demand soup. The longest we ever went without was perhaps two weeks. And that was during a heat wave. We have our favorites so it seems to me like I keep making the same couple of soups over and over. 
Well this is one of those that only gets made in the winter, and no matter how big a batch I make it never seems enough.

I have altered this recipe a bit so it can easily be prepared as a vegan dish. The choice is yours.

Lentil Soup with Smoked Bacon
 Prep time 10 min Cooking time 60 min Servings 8

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 tblsp. Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. of Himalayan salt
6 cups of water (if you are cooking with bacon) or 4 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups water or 4 cups of water (you do not want your soup watery!)
6 thick slices (about 0.5 cm or 1/4” thick) of smoked bacon Or 1 cube of organic vegetable stock
1 tsp. marjoram
1 cup of picked, rinsed split lentils (yellow, green, mixed – your choice)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onions, carrots and celery. Cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes until onion is translucent. Stir occasionally. Add garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add salt and marjoram. Stir. Add water.

Bring to boil. Add lentils. Turn heat down to medium-low. Simmer for 40 min. Cooking times will vary depending on pea size.
Put bacon in the soup about 15 min after the peas.

I like to use mixed lentils

When the soup is ready take the bacon out and slice thinly. Use for garnish.

Anyone else shares the soup love?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Homemade Lemon Curd

I have never made it before now. I have never made lemon meringue pie. I cannot believe it since I absolutely love everything lemon. 

start wit Meyer's Lemons

I first came across recipe for lemon curd a few years ago, on one of my long time favorite blog  Pigtown-Design. 

When I have recently picked up a bag of Meyer’s lemons I immediately thought that they would be great for making some kind of preserve instead of juicing like usual. Meyer’s lemons are sweeter than regular lemons. 

zest and juice them

I quickly looked up Meg’s recipe and here is my first ever, most delicious Lemon Curd. I will use it as a filling for little tattletales. After all, the evenings are long and cold and a cup of tea deserves some company.

and there you have it!


Yield 750 ml of curd

3 tablespoons of lemon zest (you will need about 6 lemons)
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
11/3 cup of sugar
4 large eggs
1 ¾ sticks of butter
1/8 teaspoon salt

Beat the sugar and butter in a bowl using hand mixer. Add eggs one by one. Mix in between adding the eggs. Add lemon juice and zest. The mixture will look curdled at this point.
Pour it into thick bottomed pan and heat up over low-medium heat stirring occasionally until it becomes smooth. Do not let it boil. Increase heat to medium and cook stirring constantly for about 15 minutes until mixture thickens.
Remove from heat. Strain into jars. One large one in my case. Cover immediately to prevent skin from forming. Curd will thicken further as it cools. Refrigerate for up to a week after opening.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Corn Decoded

I meant to write about corn for a while but a recent comment from a blogger made me finally do it. The comment was absolutely innocent, simply stating that the author does not eat corn product. That is fine. I personally do not eat a whole lot of it but cannot say that go out of my way to avoid it. However I try to buy Organic corn or products, like chips, made with organically grown corn. The reason is that organically grown corn is GMO Roundup Ready  free. At least it should be. That also means that it does not get heavily sprayed with pesticides.

When I was looking into GMO free corn products I came across research stating that only about 4% of corn is actually of GMO variety. It mostly is types of corn used for oil and feed for farm animals and pets but also being added to various processed foods. Which means that is added to almost anything and there is no escaping GMO corn, unless you cook and bake absolutely everything from scratch, which I do not.

I like the grilled corn in the late summer, tortilla chips and popcorn to snack on and I wonder how much that affects my health. Not every single cob or chip I ate had organic origins and considering the abundance of corn byproducts in everything does it really make sense to go organic route?

Corn is an ingredient in more than 3,000 grocery products according to this website.

The more I read about corn and especially it’s GMO variety the less I knew. Some people claim that corn is not rich in nutrients but when you look at mineral content it has magnesium, selenium, manganese and iron in 25 -50 % range of RDV  I think it is quite good actually. It is also rich in fibre. Mind you, one serving is a cup.

Corn is not rich in protein, carbohydrates and vitamins and has high glycemic index. When a diet is mostly grain based that means that our bodies are deficient in many essential microelements and omega-6 fatty acids. That can lead to health complications like cancer, depression, obesity, allergies, autoimmune diseases such as lupus and arthritis, diabetes or asthma. Also farm animals raised with corn and soy meals (also GMO) are lacking in minerals. Consuming their meat means not getting enough nutrients from that source either. 

Corn is also a host to 22 different types of fungi, some of them give out dangerous, potentially lethal, mycotoxins. You can find a lot of interesting information on both corn and effect it has on corn fed animals, here:

As to avoiding corn altogether, see to what lengths the author of this post had to go to succeed http://www.commondreams.org/views/2013/07/28/bad-seed-health-risks-genetically-modified-corn

 I will give you a little expert on where she found corn based products:
“Back in 2011, though, I was desperate enough that I was willing to try the diet Mansmann recommended. After all, how hard could it be to give up corn? The answer was: way harder than I imagined. Corn was my Waldo, popping up everywhere: in tea bags, juice, and cheese culture; it lined my “to go” coffee cups and plastic bags of frozen vegetables; it coated my store-bought apples and was on the bottom of restaurant pizza—almost everything my family used, no matter how piously natural and organic, had corn in it. It came under the guise of dozens of names like “xanthan gum,” “natural flavors,” “free-flowing agents,” “vitamin E,” “ascorbic acid,” “citric acid,” and “cellulose,” to name a few. Almost daily, I’d find a new culprit. “Damn, this toothpaste is full of corn!” Then: “Wait, our dish soap is made from corn!” Or: “Oh my God, iodized salt has dextrose in it!”
Not to mention the corn that is fed to animals whose meat and eggs I ate, whose milk I drank. “

There is a lot of conflicting information out there so it is entirely up to us, the consumers to do as much research as possible and draw our own conclusions. I find it quite hard to do, not being a biologist or geneticist or even an MD. Rats!

So I am sticking to organic when possible and will pay more attention to what products are made with corn flour and contain corn derived additives (since they most likely come from GM corn). 

At the end of the day it all comes back to BALANCE. As long as we are aware of what’s on our plates, where it came from and making sure that grains and grain product do not make a base for every meal I think we should be fine.
Even super grains like Chia should not be eaten in large quantities on regular basis.

Non GMO shopping in Canada
Non GMO shopping in USA
Source of information on GMO’s

What are your thoughts on GMO Roundup Ready corn?