First up, I am totally cheating on this month’s theme – there’s nothing really multicultural about this post other than I had coconut “bread” (it was really cake in loaf form) at one of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle, a Cuban-inspired coffee place in my old neighborhood (their Con Leche is a dream). I don’t usually buy treats at coffee shops – a slippery slope of pastry eating, as far as I’m concerned – but they had samples sitting out and Brandon was weak (or smart, depending on how your frame it). I like coconut just fine, but this “bread” was everything that’s good in the world, in loaf form. Tender, moist, sweet without being cloying, and packed with coconutty flavor.
I came home and immediately started googling – and really any Cuban coconut bread recipes I found were actually for a very slightly sweetened bread, but not actually cake, which is what this recipe is when we’re being honest with ourselves (which I’d prefer not to be). So then I got realistic about what I was really eating (a dessert that we will frame as a great brunch treat) and found this recipe from another blog. A few minor tweaks to make it a bit more like the one I had at the coffee shop, and ya esta!* We have coconut “brake” (that would be a combo of “bread” and “cake”).
* “it is done” in Spanish – Cuban Spanish is spoken by 90% of the entire population of Cuba
Last year was a fun blogging year for Strudel and I. By continuing our monthly themed posts that we started in 2015, we are continuing to try new recipes and enjoy sharing them with all of you.
In 2016, July was our most popular month with classic desserts such as Arlene’s Apple Pie and Boston Cream Pie. We had 25% more visitors than 2015 from 77 different countries! Next to the United States, our top three visiting countries were Canada, Brazil and Hong Kong. We even had a couple of visits from our friends in Vanuatu. I hope they saw my post about how much I love their coffee! Our top viewed post for 2016 was the Protein Biscuits, everyone must love Kodiak Cakes as much as we do!
To kick off this new year, this month we have decided to focus on foods from various cultures that we love to eat! I knew right away I wanted to make something using plantains from either Cuban or Puerto Rican cuisine.
I was fortunate enough to travel in France in October, and after nearly two weeks of butter, pastries, and coffee, we hauled ourself on a discount flight back to Seattle on Iceland Airlines. The flight was very inexpensive – for which we were extremely grateful for – and absolutely no-frills. It was a long flight and we weren’t able to pack food ahead of time, so had to pay for an airplane meal.
Besides junk food and Icelandic yogurt, they only vegetarian option was this salad. I was a little grumpy about eating a salad (very possibly a withdrawal reaction to the lack of butter or bread in this meal) – but, surprisingly, it ended up being *delicious* and filling (not my usual expectation of an airplane meal). It was so good, in fact, that I took a photo of the ingredient list so that I could re-create the salad at home.
Three things in particular made this salad so great: it was a little spicy, a little pickled, and a little sweet. So much good stuff! With December being healthy lunch month here at S&S, and now that my various medical complaints have healed, this seemed the perfect time to do some salad experimentation.
Unfortunately for all those around me, I am in the midst of suffering mightily – I’m doing an excellent job of fully investing, emotionally, in my current state of self-pity and lethargy. Also, I don’t have a new recipe for the blog this week.
My reasons – for both the self-pity AND the lack of a new recipe – are fairly stupid, but you know – so it goes sometimes. While Streus and I usually trade off posting on the blog, this month she took the first two weeks, at my last-minute request. I was very happily in Hawaii for a week at the beginning of this month, so blogging would have cramped my vacationing style. The photo above was taken during a lovely hike near Waikoloa.
Upon returning home, Brandon and I jumped back into work (appropriate) and then about a week after getting back – end of this past week – we both got sick (inappropriate and rude). Along with the nasty cold I’m suffering under, I also managed to – no other way to describe this – burn the shit out of the roof of my mouth. Pre-illness, I went to happy hour with some colleagues and despite the warning, “watch out, the artichoke dip is hot, we just took it out of the oven” I immediately shoved it into my mouth (I was hungry!). As the (mediocre) appetizer savagely seared my tender palate, I decided I didn’t know the people I was with quite well enough to frantically spit the dip out, so I stupidly left the food in my mouth. I literally could feel the blisters forming on the roof of my mouth. So, in the present moment, I’m sick, plus putting almost any food in my mouth is pretty painful. Cooking is about the last thing I’m in the mood for. Also important to say – manners are stupid and that’s the last time I make that mistake.
Saying that, I do need food for lunch week, so I’ve just made a batch of Broccoli Quinoa Casserole, since it’s both soft, to accommodate my pathetic mouth, and healthy – which I need in this season of sweets. I’m also going to roast a bunch of veggies, which will be soft, and eat only once they are entirely cool.
Until next week, my friends, we salute you with shave ice!
For the past six months I have been buying wonderfully flavored salmon frozen on cedar planks. My grocery store carries Cedar Bay Cedar Planked Salmon in three flavors (yes, I’ve tried them all) and they quite frequently go on sale. They make cooking up salmon on the grill super easy (yes, there is snow on the ground and I still use my grill).
I generously seasoned the bell peppers with my new favorite pepper, the Bourbon Barrel Smoked Black Pepper that I used in this and this recipe recently. This recipe made three lunches for me for the week. Easy. Delicious.
Strudel and I decided to do something a little different for December. In years past, during this month you’d see us post our favorite holiday recipes, like that which brought us together, Chocolate Babka or Cheesy Flaky Rolls. This December we’re bringing you healthy recipes to balance out all of the sugar and butter and flour you are likely consuming along with us this holiday season!
First up, El Verde Bowl! I feel extremely lucky here in Colorado to live close to several Protein Bar locations. If you live in Colorado, Chicago or Washington D.C. you should visit a Protein Bar STAT. If not, lucky for you I have re-created one of their bowls called El Verde Bowl. This bowl is a perfect meal before a few Christmas Cookies! Packed with healthy hemp, quinoa and chicken protein sources, it is filling and tasty!
I visited Armenia almost 10 years ago and became fascinated with this fruit while there. Armenians believe the fruit symbolizes fertility. They make a wonderful wine of pomegranate and depict the fruit in their art and dishware.
While in Armenia, one gentleman told me a tall tale of a lost Armenian surviving for an entire year with only one pomegranate by eating one seed a day, he was adamant that every pomegranate has 365 seeds! A quick google search suggests many more seeds than that but to be fair I have never counted the seeds in a pomegranate!
I couldn’t help myself when Costco was selling 6 packs of these huge red orbs last week. I have successfully eaten three but I’m starting to wonder if I can really eat the other three before they start to dry up. As I pondered how I could turn pomegranates into a homemade gift, the lightbulb went off. Who wouldn’t love their own little bottle of pomegranate molasses? As I searched on my favorite site, Food52, for recipes I could give with the cute little bottles of pomegranate molasses, the possibilities were endless! Add the molasses to dark chocolate truffles or drizzle over your favorite roasted vegetable!
The first time I had Nutella, I was 19 years old and living in Israel for the year. The whole “desserts that pretend to be breakfast foods” thing that food companies push was a non-starter for my parents, so growing up, my breakfasts mainly consisted of grape nuts or puffed rice cereal with raisins for “sweetness.” I wasn’t thrilled about this at the time (on my first solo grocery store trip as a college freshman, I remember binge buying peanut butter Cap’n Crunch), but I get it now… I’d prefer to learn to start my days off with healthy food so when I do decide on a sweet breakfast, it’s a special treat.
So, enter Nutella. I still have no idea why it’s considered a breakfast food, but Bless America, somehow it’s accepted. Since I’m not a big fan of processed foods, making my own seems an even more acceptable way to allow it in my mornings. It turns out it’s a snap to make, and *perfect* for packaging in small jars to keep one on hand for myself and give a few others away to friends and family.
In the spirit of homemade gifts I discovered yet another wonderful use for my pressure cooker…
Making simple syrup!
Pressure cookers make life easy, you might remember when I made homegrown roma tomato sauce with my pressure cooker. You might also remember when I had tons of crabapples in September. With all of the crabapples that I didn’t feel like coring, I dumped them in my 6 quart pressure cooker (about a pound of them), covered them with water and experimented with cooking them. It was a successful experiment! So successful I repeated the experiment with apples from my friend Heather’s apple tree as well as Palisade Peaches!
Happy Daylight Saving time! And a very happy November to you, as well. Here in Seattle, we’ve far-too-easily stepped into fall; we didn’t get much of a summer, so fall actually feels a little more palatable – now, my expectations are that it won’t be too warm or sunny – this way, when it is actually nice outside, it feels like a bonus (unlike our summer, which was lackluster, and I kept feeling cheated).
With the holidays coming up next month(!), Streus and I figured we’d get ahead of the situation and start posting some of our favorite homemade gifts. You know, the sorts of things you can make in batches and give to people you really like – it’s thoughtful and less expensive, two qualities I hold dear in my gift-giving planning.
As I’ve blathered on about before, I have extremely prolific apple trees that I perpetually feel challenged by/guilty about utilizing to it’s fullest potential. I was *thrilled* to discover another recipe that allows me to use a bunch of apples in a way that both honors the apples, and uses them up!