Thursday, February 07, 2008

the Project Spectrum "diet"

With Fire as the first of the Project Spectrum themes this year, I knew I wanted to do some cooking. At Christmas I got two new cookbooks to add to my shelf full, and I wanted to try some new recipes. Inspired by in-depth yet engaging information, fresh ingredients, and exciting flavors in Super Natural Cooking (my new most favorite food book), I had already planned to re-vamp my pantry and add to my repertoire of usual vegetables. When Sarah of Bella Knitting (Caryatid on Ravelry) suggested a PS Elements "diet," much of it was right along the lines of what I had been thinking anyway.

One of Sarah's goals for the Fire months is to bake her own bread rather than purchasing it. I would love to do that, but realistically, it's a little too ambitious for me. We're happy with our favorite dark whole grain bread, but we do bake other things regularly - pancakes, muffins, and quick breads especially. Mina loves to help in the kitchen, and she especially loves making pancakes. We make a couple of big batches each week to keep in the refrigerator at all times and heat them up as needed. It's the most perfect way I can think of to get a toddler to happily gobble down a variety of whole grains and fruits. Mina has been known to request "pancakes and peas" for dinner, and I accommodate her. Her food requests always make me giggle, and she's got great taste for a two-year-old, so I generally let her have what she wants.

These pancakes were my official "Thing" for the day on Monday. I modified a recipe to remove the processed ingredients and replace them with 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 3/4 cup spelt flour, 1/4 cup wheat germ, raw demerara sugar, and organic milk and eggs. I do use real eggs and dairy in my baking a lot of the time, although most of what I make can also be easily made vegan and I keep a box of Ener-G egg replacer on hand and have found that it works just as well as eggs. Pancakes are incredibly forgiving, and once you know the basic proportions of ingredients you can sort of do whatever you want. Anyway, these ones came out hearty and filling without being too dense. Whole wheat pastry flour is lighter in color and texture than standard whole wheat flour, so these weren't heavy like you might expect. This was my first time using spelt flour, so the flavor was new to me. Spelt is apparently a type of wheat. I don't know much more about it than that. We usually like our pancakes fairly plain, with just butter or sometimes some fruit. But these ones really called out for some pure, full-flavored maple syrup (of which we had none). I even thought at the time that spicy or smoky maple syrup would have tasted good. Is there such a thing as chipotle maple syrup?

My other PS cooking so far was a new recipe for me, from Super Natural Cooking (of course) - Roasted Tomato and Paprika soup. Very fiery sounding, isn't it? Not only was the recipe new, but the method of preparing it was new. Usually for soups I just throw everything in a pot on the stove and simmer it. For this one, you roast the tomatoes, red peppers, onions, and garlic in the oven, puree it afterward, and then mix it with the broth and paprika. I think this one would have been outstanding had I had 1) tomatoes in season that actually had some flavor, and 2) smoked paprika like the recipe calls for, rather than regular paprika. It came out a rich red-orange color and pleasant flavor, but definitely did not live up to my expectations. (Although the house did smell wonderful from the roasting garlic and red pepper.) I didn't get a picture of this one as it was night time, and my kitchen is quite dark. You can see in the above photo the orange countertops. The floor is also dark orange-red clay tile, the lighting is yes, photos in the kitchen usually come out orange.

I have more Thing-a-day goodness to post. I've decided that instead of going chronologically it makes more sense to group like things together so that I can label them and find them again later. Next time will likely be more of the art journal. I promise knitting after that - I finished my Gretel on Monday night, and I have a sweater that is just missing sleeves. Hopefully the weekend will be favorable for a photoshoot.

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