Book Cookin: Oliver Twists’ “Please sir, can I have some more…mango coconut overnight oatmeal”

It’s November. The nights are getting colder, dates are getting shorter and the memories of summer (such that it was), are getting hazier by the minute. Time to break out the classic books and comfort food.

In this Book Cookin post, I’ll be making overnight oatmeal, a.k.a. gruel, a la Oliver Twist.

…Maybe not exactly like Oliver Twist. This is less of a gruel and more of a creamy oatmeal…with mangoes and coconut…and we can eat as much as we like.

Regardless, overnight oatmeal is a pinterest staple, usually made with organic almond milk, laced with chia seeds and served in a charming ribbon-adorned mason jar.

…Show off.

But, if you downgrade these expectations just a little bit, then word on the street is that this little breakfast trick can be a god-send for early mornings.

Overnight Oatmeal: The basics

Ingredients:

1 part Rolled Oats

1-1.5 parts milk (any type)

Pinch of salt

Instructions:

Stir ingredients together and let sit in your fridge overnight. In the morning, eat as is, or heat in the microwave to taste. And despite what the internet will have you believe, tupperware works as well as a mason jar.

Modifications:

Try adding any combination of the following before refrigerating:

Yogurt (1 part, any type/ flavor)

Chia seeds, flax seeds, or whatever “miracle seeds” everyone is subscribing to these days.

Cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, honey, pumpkin spice

Fruit (any fruit- Bananas, berries and apples are especially good)

Peanut butter, Nutella, Jam, Pie filling

Oliver Twists’ Coconut Mango Overnight Oatmeal

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 heaping tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar (Or, just use sweetened coconut. Also I’m sure a tsp of sugar or honey would be just fine as well)
  1. Combine ingredients in single serve containers
  2. Let chill overnight (covered)
  3. In the morning- Heat (optional) and eat!

This was actually super delicious and easy. Obviously because I heated it, the time savings were minimal. However, I usually opt for a more time consuming breakfast because oatmeal is for poor orphans and my morning deserves better. But with doing this, I was actually really pumped to eat oatmeal, and the “deciding what to have for breakfast” time was saved!

Some other Dickens- inspired combinations (remember, any milk will substitute fine 1:1, and chia seeds are always optional):

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cooking Thursday: James and the Giant…Peach-Brie Quesadilla!

*Suggested soundtrack for reading this post: “Peaches” by The Presidents of the Unites States of America*

..oh and “Hook” by Blues Traveller, for no real reason.

It’s August in Ontario and that means one thing: Fresh Produce. Also enjoying the last days of a short summer…and of course the CNE, back to school and Sunflowers are EVERYWHERE, which is great.

Let’s try that again. It’s August in Ontario and that means many things. Among them, Fresh Ontario Produce. Everything is fresh and all of my favorite things are in season. Therefore it is of the utmost priority to EAT ALL OF THE GROWING THINGS! Because in a few short months we are back to that miserable hell wherein everything shrivels and dies and all of our fruits and vegetables are from tins or frozen or flown in from Chile at the low low cost of 6$/Kg.

My favorite August treat is a fresh peach…or strawberries..or garden fresh salsa, yellow wax beans or sweet summer corn with garlic-basil butter.

Let’s try that again. One of my favorite treats are fresh peaches. Peaches alone or in cakes, pies, tarts, salads, pancakes or smoothies. If given half the chance, I would live inside a peach. Which brings me to this Book-Cooking Thursdays’ Recipe: James and the Giant Peach and Brie Quesadilla (with honey lime dipping sauce).

 

I hope that everyone is familiar with the Roald Dahl classic “James and the Giant Peach”. If not, be sure to pick up a copy. A classic heart-warmer from the man who brought us other pander-free childrens classics such as Matilda and The BFG. James and the Giant Peach is the story of a young boy whose parents were eaten by an escaped rhinoceros. He was then sent to live with his spinster Aunts who, naturally, subjected him to mental and physical abuse. One day, young James finds himself the owner of a magic potion, but then spills it- all over a peach tree. The tree then sprouts a house-sized peach along with human-sized insect inhabitants. Eventually (Spoiler Alert!), this peach is used as both an escape vehicle for James and his friends and a home in which to live happily ever after. A fantastic read-aloud chapter book for kids or a nostalgic re-read for you! So, give it another (or a first) read, and then make yourself up some delicious:

James and the Giant Peach-and-Brie Quesadillas (with honey-lime dipping sauce)-Yields about 4-6 servings

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice (note: if you mis-read this as “2 tbsp”, you’re still okay)
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest

Quesadillas:

  • 1 cup of thinly sliced, peeled, firm peaches.(Preferably slices that come from a house-sized, but uninhabited, peach.)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 oz. Brie cheese, thinly sliced (In theory, I should have used half of this, as I am only making 2 servings. In theory. But in theory, communism works. So 3oz of Brie it is.)
  • 4 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • chives for garnish
  1. Whisk together the first 3 ingredients and set aside for the dipping sauce
  2. Combine peaches, chopped chives and sugar, toss gently to coat.
  3. Heat a large, non stick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Working quickly, place 1 tortilla in the pan, arrange 1/4 of the peach mixture and brie on half, and fold the other half over with tongs.
  5. Let cook about 2 mins, then flip and cook the other side 1-2 mins. Remove and keep warm.
  6. Repeat with the other tortillas.
  7. Garnish with chive strips and serve with dipping sauce

Enjoy!

Book Cookin’ Thursday #7 (Or Not): Regular Chocolate Pie

So, heres the thing. I had a plan for the last week to make a chocolate pie using a recipe LOOSELY derived from “Minnys’ Chocolate Pie” (also known as “Revenge Pie” and “Eat my Shit” Pie) from Kathryn Stocketts’ “The Help”. The recipe and the book sat on my desk for a week, I just could not get motivated to make this pie or write this post. For those of you not familiar with the book (shame on you!), it takes place in 1962 Mississippi, and is the story of a white, privileged, 22-year old who sets out to write the story of black Mississippi housemaids and the prejudice they endure. It is a fantastic book and everyone should read it. There is also a movie, which is actually very good if you’re not the reading sort (double shame!)

But about this pie. Minny, one of the maids, gets her revenge on her very cruel former boss by baking her a very special chocolate pie. I had intended to make a similar pie (without the special ingredient), but I just couldn’t do it. Even knowing that my pie would be a simple chocolate pie, my stomach churned at the very thought of a replica revenge pie. So not only is it not Thursday, this is NOT a recipe from a book.

This is my recipe for regular chocolate pie. Regular. Chocolate. Pie.

From:FoodandWine.com

1 packaged pie dough crust, such as Pillsbury How much do I love when recipes call for something pre-made? A lot. That’s how much.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Ease the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively Oh sure, “decorative”.

2. Prick the crust lightly with a fork. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes longer, just until the crust is dry but not browned. I have no pie weights. If you also have no pie-baking accessories from 1872, just bake it and squish it down if it starts to puff up.

3. Wine. From now on, step 3 will always be wine.

4. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla and salt until smooth.

5. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but a little jiggly in the center.

6.Cover the crust with strips of foil halfway through baking.No

7. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely (somewhat. Then realize that cooling is what keeps the pie from being liquid. Let it cool completely in the fridge, and cover your mistakes with whipped cream.) before cutting into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.

Verdict: Extremely sweet. See-through-time kind of sweet. But pretty tasty, especially with copious amounts of whipped cream!

 

 

Book Cookin Thursday #6: Katniss’ Favorite Lamb Stew with Dried Plums

 

I love food and am a total believer in foods’ power over mood and circumstance. When something bad (or good, or neutral, or nothing at all ) happens, I’m all over it with the appropriate menu. Food can make anything better. Even facing certain death in a kill-or-be-killed arena where you are being sent to atone for crimes committed by your ancestors. Apparently.

“What’s impressed you most since you arrived here?” I rack my brain for something that made me happy here. Be honest, I think. Be honest. “The lamb stew,” I get out. Caesar laughs, and vaguely I realize some of the audience has joined in. “The one with the dried plums?” asks Caesar. I nod. “Oh, I eat it by the bucketful.”

And, so this week for Book Cookin’ Thursday, We will be making Lamb Stew with Dried Plums from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.
..or rather, the “No-Hunger Games”, if this stew works out!

* pauses for laughs*

Anyone?

Fine, all puns aside, the recipe I used is from the website notquitenigella.com , and you can find and follow it along here. She has some great pictures of every step in the recipe, and modifications for pressure cookers and stove top methods.

Let’s Cook! May the odds be ever in our favor.

Serves 4

  • 1 kilo, 1 inch diced lamb neck (also called scotch fillet-you can also use lamb fillet, diced leg or shoulder).
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain or all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 cups beef or lamb stock
  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 500g/1 pound small chat potatoes roughly the same size
  • 1/4 cup pitted prunes (am I the only one who didn’t know that prunes are dried plums?)
  • 1/4 cup Turkish dried apricots (Ah yes, the finest turkish dried apricots that the No Name brand makes…)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh lemon thyme (or use thyme and add some lemon zest)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup ginger beer
  • Salt if needed
  • Serve with: wild rice, regular rice or Paddy’s potato scones

Step 1 – On a shallow plate, mix the flour, salt and pepper and dredge the lamb pieces shaking off any excess.

Step 1a– Regret leaving the prep work for this recipe until after work, especially when “after work” is midnight. Lousy evening shift. 😦

Step 2 – Heat your cast iron pot or a frying pan on medium to high heat and brown the lamb pieces in the oil in three or four batches. Then add the garlic and onion and stir until the onions become translucent.

Step 3- If using a slow cooker: Add the stock, sugar, carrots, potatoes, prunes, apricots, rosemary, lemon thyme, bay leaves and ginger beer to the lamb and onion mix. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Taste to see whether salt is needed
Okay, I’m pretty tired, but I did not see sugar ANYWHERE in the ingredients list. What kind of sugar? How much sugar? I am adding no sugar, and I  do NOT appreciate deception when I’m trying my best to be good and follow the recipe.

Step 4– Clean up after yourself, because if memory serves, J HATES it when he goes to bed after cleaning practically the whole house only to then waking up to an unholy mess his wife made after work. It’s like his least favorite thing, aside from K-Os and people who don’t stand up during the national anthem.

Step 5- Watch an episode of Nashville, eat a handful of Ritz crackers and a Cheesestring and fall asleep

Step 6- Cook, add some salt and LOTS of pepper when you realize you added a bottle of ginger beer instead of a cup and therefore the stew is very sweet.

 
Verdict: Sweetness aside, this was actually pretty tasty. Make sure that you only add a cup of ginger beer and then I would actually recommend this. I’ve never prepared lamb before, because I didn’t know how, but this was easy, healthy, filling and yummy! Would I choose it as my last meal before entering the arena? No, but I would make it again! Success!

 

Book Cookin Thursday #5-Little House in the Big Woods Molasses Snow Candy!

When I was little I loved “Little House on the Prairie”. Like, REALLY loved it. I loved the books, I loved the show, I loved my rose-patterned pioneer replica bonnet, loved it. When I was 10, one of the little museums down by the lake had a “Little House” exhibit, and it was one of the best days of my young life. Laura Ingalls Wilder was my Hannah Montana.
One of the things I really loved the most was all of the DIY, making fun out of nothing. Inspired by Laura and company, I made my own paper dolls (with a good amount of success, although I doubt the pioneers had Cheerios boxes to use for the dolls), attempted to sew bedding for my dolls’ cradle (with decidedly less success) and collected buttons for a button string (not as fun as advertised). One thing I never got to do was make any pioneer food.
In the book “Little House in the Big Woods”, Laura and Marys’ favorite winter treat was Molasses Snow Candy.

Ma boiled molasses and sugar together until they made a thick syrup, and Pa brought in two pans of clean, white snow from outdoors. Laura and Mary each had a pan, and Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams onto the snow.They made circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things, and these hardened at once and were candy. Laura and Mary might eat one piece each, but the rest was saved for Christmas Day.

I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but we’re got a little snow to spare up here so Book Cookin’ Thursday #5, we’re making Snow Candy, pioneer style! I got this recipe here.

Ingredients:

1 cup molasses
I cup brown sugar
Fresh, clean snow (or crushed ice) I can’t speak to how clean the snow is in Toronto but..it’s white, so I’m going with it.

  • Boil the molasses and sugar together in the large pot until the mixture reaches the “hard crack” stage on a candy thermometer, or until a spoonful dropped into cold water forms a hard ball and cracks. Remove the syrup from the heat. I KNEW candy thermometers were a crock!
  • BE VERY CAREFUL. THE SYRUP IS EXTREMELY HOT AT THIS STAGE. Don’t tell me what to do, “Little House-Big Fun” blog…
  • Scoop fresh, clean snow (or crushed ice) into the shallow pan. Dip up a spoonful of syrup and dribble it onto the snow. It will harden and become candy. Lift the candy off the snow and onto a clean towel to dry.

Starting out: So, right from the outset, this isn’t looking good. Molasses has very much the same consistency as cough syrup. But maybe the brown sugar will do the trick? 

Halfway through: This smells awful, and everything that touches it is instantly ruined because boiling molasses is natures’ ultra-glue. Good for waterproofing birds nests and removing stains from the forest floor. Did you know molasses can remove rust from cars?

Verdict: Remember those little candies, that were wrapped in orange and black and always the last thing to be eaten from your Halloween haul? You’d get into late November and figure that they were better than no candy and you’d try one, and they were AWFUL? Turns out, that’s molasses candy. Tastes terrible. Sticks to EVERYTHING. Googling “How to remove molasses from dishes” is no help.

DO not make molasses snow candy, unless you like those awful Halloween candies.

 

 

Book Cookin’ Thursday #4: Prison Cheesecake

(Yes, yes, it’s not Thursday, but let’s all just pretend. It was a long week at the ol’ day job!)

There are certain universal truths about any large gathering of women. There will be gossip. There will be long lines for the bathroom.

There will be pot lucks.

My day job, which is predominantly women, actually seems to have some things in common with the womens penitentiary that Piper Kerman describes in her biography “Orange is the New Black”*; a lot of negativity, there are certain people you don’t want to piss off, English-speakers are the minority, news spreads faster than wildfire, the furniture is from 1982 ( the magazines in the lobby, however, are from 2007), but we do eat very well.  At least every month there is a massive pot luck, and everyone has a specialty, something they always bring. Feeding each other is a part of the bonding experience for women, it seems. This is true wherever you are; in girls dorms, at work or in a womans penitentiary.  So today, I’m making Pipers’ Prison Cheesecake. Maybe it will become my go-to put luck dish and I can stop being assigned to salad duty.**

*Obviously without the sexual harassment, constant threat of abuse, isolation from loved ones and metal bars.

**Probably not, I make really good salads…and they don’t trust anyone under 50 to cook any main dishes 😦

“Orange is the New Black”-Pipers’ Prison Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 pats of margarine
  • 1 six-oz. package of Graham Crackers, Vanilla Wafers or Oreos (I used graham crackers, about 12)
  • 6 oz. of Coffee Mate
  • 4 cups of vanilla pudding
  • 1 ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 round of Laughing Cow cheese (8 wedges)

1. Steal the margarine from the dining hall, melt in microwave and crumble cookies into a 1-quart Tupperware dish that you’ve bought from the commissary or borrowed from your bunkie along with the margarine. Mix well and press firmly into the bottom of the dish. Place in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. Your crust is done. I just got mine from the fridge and I assume that a “pat” is like a teaspoon?

2. In a separate dish, squash Laughing Cow cheese into as smooth a mass as possible. Mix in part of the lemon juice and continue to blend. Try to work out the lumps. Mix in pudding and continue to blend, add more lemon juice to taste. Blend until filling is as creamy as possible, then gradually mix in Coffee Mate. Some people double the Coffee Mate; this seems overboard to me. When mixture is smooth & thick, pour over the crust. Start with about a half cup of lemon. I only used a cup altogether and it was REALLY lemony. So taste periodically. I also split the difference and used 1.5 times the amount of coffee mate. Also the vanilla pudding was sugar-free, so I threw in about a tablespoon of sugar.

3. Chill in your plastic washbucket filled with ice under your bed (or in a refrigerator if the part of the prison where you work has one you can slip it into), for at least 4 hours. Eat. Obviously I used the fridge. I thought about using a basin on ice for authenticity but I already have the reputation as the messy one in this marriage. I don’t think hiding cake under the bed will help my situation.

4. Enjoy!

I’m a bit of a cheesecake snob, so being that this was no-bake I wouldn’t say that this is great cheesecake.  But you know, it really was a nice no-bake cheesecake dish. Smooth and creamy

Make this cheesecake literally ANYWHERE!
Make this cheesecake literally ANYWHERE!

but it held its form when served in slices. I really liked it, I’ll probably make it again, maybe top it with some cherry pie filling…and if I ever get thrown in the slammer I’ll make friends so fast with this pot-luck favorite!***

***Not true. I’m totally getting shanked on the first day.

Book Cookin’ Thursday #3: Three Broomsticks’ Butterbeer

I feel calm…but maybe that’s the rum.

Butterbeer, served hot or cold, the drink of choice for the hardworking wizard students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And today, it is the drink of choice for Kerry and her very good sport husband J!

In case you’re not fluent in Potter, butterbeer is a slightly alcoholic drink favoured by wizarding children (only house elves really get hammered on butterbeer, don’t worry). Today it can be found at Universal Studios, and they are VERY careful with their recipe. Its not even on pinterest! So after having no luck with google-ing “official butterbeer recipe” at work for 45 minutes, I landed on a website that had taste-tested all of the unofficial recipes, and comparing them to the real one (This is where I would normally make a joke about nerds not having a life, but today I went to 5 stores to find clear cream soda to make butterbeer for my blog so…I will not make that joke).

The winner, according to the internet, is the Huffington post version , and I will be making the cold drink (it can also be served hot, like a hot toddy).

Butterbeer made its first appearance in the 3rd Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban, it generally costs 2 sickles (about 60 pence). And it is magical!

I’ve written out the recipe below, Be sure to note my changes (in red) so you can taste exactly what’s going on in my mouth right now! Deliciousness!

Servings-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  • 1/2 tsp of rum extract (or just use real dark rum…and more like a half shot per glass)
  • 4 bottles of clear cream soda (save yourself the trouble and just go to a grocery store with an international aisle. They are the ONLY people in the world to stock clear cream soda)
  • Wand optional

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees. If you don’t want to buy a candy thermometer, because that sounds like something out of Willy Wonka, just boil it until it looks like its doing something new. About 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Set aside to cool slowly to room temperature. Then get bored with that and put it in the fridge to finish cooling, but make sure to stir it often so it doesn’t solidify.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled, add the rum extract. Rum. And forget to add it here, add it at the end. As long as it is added before the cream soda, you’re fine.
  4. With a hand mixer, make the topping: Blend with an electric beater the rest of the cream and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture.
  5. Divide up the rest of the brown sugar mixture into frosty mugs (Toronto Maple Leafs beer steins). Pour a quarter of the cream soda into each glass and stir to combine, then add the rest of the soda. Top with the whipped topping.

Mischief Managed!