Emily: Olivia puts up with a lot from me. While she’s been visiting for the past week and a half, I have done things with her that she would not otherwise dreamt of doing.
Olivia: Like spend good money on seeing a Nicholas Sparks movie. Or ordering a made-up-in -Emily’s-mind drink at Starbucks. And I’m positive I’ve never gone through so many orange lights in my life.
Emily: And then there are the things we are only able to get the gumption for when we’re together. I don’t think either of us would have made carrots into heart shapes for chicken soup, alone. Or made sidecars, complete with glasses rimmed with sugar and lime rind, on a weeknight. Maybe the most fun are the things we both enjoy doing alone, but become genuinely squeal-worthy when we’re together.
Olivia: Such as our obsession with checking off recipes in our cookbooks. Or our obsession with cookbooks at all, for that matter.
Which leads us to....
Jamie Oliver Meal 1.0
The cookbook, scored for $14.99 (original price $49.99): Happy Days with The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver.
The theme, inadvertently: Italian.
1) Shrimp with Chili, Parsley, and Garlic on Ciabatta Toast.
Our favourite recipe from the evening. Surprisingly simple and flavourful. Add a salad and double the recipe to make it a delicious meal all on its own.
2) Classic Penne Carbonara
Technically delicious, but we both found the visual of runny egg yolk at the bottom of the bowl a bit of a mental hurdle. If we made it again, we’d reduce the egg mixture and maybe cook it a bit longer. Nonetheless, you can’t go wrong with bacon, so try it.
3) Cannoli Siciliana
(canolli biscuits with ricotta-pistachio-chocolate filling)
We hate to criticize Jamie, but we have to wonder if he ever actually made this recipe or served it to anyone. The cannoli were really crispy, the filling was delicious but difficult to squeeze out of the bag (became a 2-person job just to fill the cookies), and the raspberry sauce drizzled over top created a quandary: is it, or is it not, a finger food? Knife and fork are impossible, but fingers are downright messy. It was still delicious, and the next day we omitted the raspberry sauce and enjoyed the cookies again.
Favourite moments of the ordeal (besides eating...and check-marking)?
Olivia: Emily speaking aloud to the non-present Jamie Oliver in the grocery store, as if evoking a patron saint.
Emily: the hypocrisy of eating half a box of Viva Puffs in the car on the way home from the grocery store, and then enthusiastically cooking this meal as if we care about fresh herbs and fine ingredients.
Emily: I’m incredibly thankful for friendship. But it’s one thing to bond over browned butter and vintagey dishes and singing along to the country station. It’s another to be stretched and encouraged by each other - and what I really love about Liv is not the way she will literally tuck me in at night if I ask, or say “me too!” about how I feel, more times than I could count, but it’s the fact that she points me to Christ. There is true joy in the kitchen while we cook Jamie Oliver recipes, not just because we both enjoy chopping parsley and frying bacon, but because there’s love of Christ in both our hearts.
Olivia: Right on and back at’cha.
That’s dorky, but truth.
Thanks for reading (and sorry for the ridiculous photo quality)! Recipes on request.
Ok, so first I want to clear a few things up. I do not have allergies. Our family does have some intolerances and I do choose to limit my intake of certain foods due to health concerns. I do get flustered when people go out of their way and to a lot of trouble to make a meal that conforms to all of my dietary needs, although I really appreciate it! I do get sad inside when people who know of my restrictions choose to serve me a giant plate of pasta, with a big bowl of ice cream for dessert and offer no alternative. I avoid certain foods when I can, but I also make exceptions (which is why it is totally ok to include some off of my lengthy list of no-no's in a meal you may prepare for my and/or my family). However, you won't find much glutenous food in my home, nor will you find many eggs, a stick of butter, or a jug of milk, or your normal white sugar. Instead, you will find the most "horrific" ingredients such as: gluten free flours and nut flours, things like coconut oil, flax meal, almond milk and nuts and seeds.
BUT, I have take it upon myself to try and prove to those that may shy away from such ingredients (ahem, Andrew) that you can you make yummy treats to break up that steady diet of fruit and veggies and to help you feel just a little guilty. :)
I adapted this recipe to work for our family's dietary needs, although I did include the refined sugar from the original recipe this time. Next time, I hope to replace it completely with more friendly sugars. :)
Maple Glazed Donuts
2½ cups (350g) all-purpose gluten-free flour, plus more by the tablespoon (9g)
1½ teaspoons xanthan gum (If your g-free mix already has xanthan gum in it, you can omit this)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (I didn't have this, so I left it out)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
cup (50g) sugar (Normally, I would have subbed in coconut sugar for
this, but I decided to use the bad stuff, since I was making these for
my husband and didn't want to push my luck. ;)
2½ teaspoons quick rise yeast
½ teaspoon fresh finely-ground nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
c of water with 2 tbsp of ground chia and flax seeds. I let that soak
for a bit and thicken up the water. (I am going to try using 3/4 cup of
pumpkin someday for another flavour of donut)
9 ounces almond milk
4 tablespoons of coconut butter
Oil for frying-- I use coconut oil
1 cup (120g) confectioner’s sugar
4-6 tablespoons almond milk
1 1/2 tsps maple flavouring.
In your mixing bowl, place 2½ cups flour, the xanthan gum, if you're using it, salt, cream of
tartar, baking soda and sugar. Whisk to combine well. Add the yeast and
optional nutmeg, and whisk again to combine well. Add the vinegar and the chia/flax misture, and mix well to combine.
a small saucepan, heat the milk and coconut butter,
stirring frequently, until the butter is melted and the milk begins to
simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool a bit
until it reaches about 110 degrees F.
Add the melted butter and milk in a slow, steady
stream as you stir until the liquid is absorbed by the dry ingredients. The dough
will be very wet. Slowly add 1 to 2 more
tablespoons of flour, 1 at a time, mixing well in between additions
until the dough comes together more. It should still be wet and sticky
if you touch it with your hands, but it should be easy to scrape it off
the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula. You may not
need both tablespoons of flour.
the dough out onto your rolling surface using some extra gluten free
flour to make sure it doesn't stick. Flour your doughnut cutter well
and cut the dough into doughnut shapes. Place the donuts on baking
in a warm, draft-free spot and allow to rise until about 150% of their
original size. The dough should mostly rise vertically
rather than spreading horizontally too much.
a large, heavy-bottom stock pot, heat at least 2 inches of oil to about
350 degrees F. Once the oil reaches temperature, fry
doughnuts and holes in the hot oil in small batches, about 1 minute (or
less) per side, until golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted
spoon and drain on a wire rack lined with paper towels.
the glaze: Put your confectioner's sugar in a bowl. Add half of the
milk and maple flavouring and mix to combine into a thick paste. Add the
rest of the milk to make a nice glaz-y consistency. Dip the whole donut
right in the glaze and then transfer to a wire rack to set..
uncovered at room temperature for the day. Gluten free donuts really
only taste great for about 24 hours. Any longer than that and they dry
And....enjoy! I'm proud to say that my husband really did
enjoy them, despite their free-ness of gluten and dairy. :) Mission
I almost decided to not to post, today, because Liv had already done so. And, by the way, blows any meagre contribution of mine out of the water. Please notice her fantastic blue skinny jeans in the background of the the picture. And her L.L. Bean boots. How can I compete with them?
But, then I decided that if I didn't sit down and blog NOW, I might run out of ambition.
Hence the confession. I'm a failure as a blogger. Yeah, you didn't need me to tell you that. I honestly have very good, even grand, plans. But, the time is never right, or I'm not in the mood, or something else happens, or the horrible monster that is technology brings me to a stalemate.
So, yes, I'm a failure as a blogger.
And while I'm on the subject, I also happen to be a failure in a lot of other ways. I'm a failure when it comes to crafty DIY projects. Picture taking? Not even going to try, man! Cooking? Only with a lot of prayer and tender care.
Maybe it's just part of becoming a noticeable individual, but it's truly laughable to see the enormous gap between my goals, and the reality. I have always strived to be a finisher and not just a beginner. And I do pretty well at that, I must say. But, sometimes my finished projects aren't as great as I imagined.
So, I think I'm going to be such a great nanny for a week - make amazing meals, reorganize bookshelves and clean closets, do fun crafts with the kids (despite my phobia of glue and paper bits), and look amazing while I do it. Really, I end up crying on the couch with a sore throat and an exceedingly bad attitude. Did any one say epic fail?
I spend a year working on a novel. And it turns out to be a rather dweeby little manuscript that can easily be read in an hour. No piece de resistance there, that's for sure.
I want to be the chatty, compassionate, dazzling conversationalist who has people in stitches over the dinner table or has people crying on her shoulder at church. Yeah, that's just laughable.
So, yes I'm a failure in more ways than one. Public opinion would agree. "What is this single young thing doing with a couple of part time jobs and exceedingly strange passion for the local church, when she could be going to university, travelling, and making something of herself?"
I'm comforted they said the same sort of things about Jesus. Talk about epic fail - dying on a cross when you're supposed to be the saviour of the world. "King of the Jews." Don't you see the irony?
Life's ironic, isn't it? It's good not to take yourself too seriously. Giggle when you burn your supper, and smile through your tears when you scrape your knee, and know you're not alone.
"For when I am weak, then I am strong." Let's take comfort in that, okay?
"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamites. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Cor. 12: 7 - 10
Today I ordered seeds for my garden. It's February. Honestly, in Canada, I think they should call it Wishingforspringuary. I'm longing for the warm soil and unmistakeable scent that tells us Spring has arrived...when I walk like a crazy woman around the yard looking for little green shoots. Every year it is the same...a Winter full of good intentions, a Spring full of busy enthusiasm, a Summer of growth (the weeds) or lack thereof (the vegetables) and a mess in the garden come Fall, when I walk like a crazy woman around the garden looking for the survivors of a summer of Weedageddon. I mean...I had whippersnipped around my vine plants in that part of the garden just to FIND them, it was so bad. It's a miracle I have any harvest at all...I really do marvel at it. It's time for the painful, honest, truth. I am a terrible gardener. I start seeds tenderly indoors only to put them out too soon and kill 6 weeks of work. I love my raised beds. They are three and a half feet high...I love them. I can grow anything in them and keep them weeded and pretty. Did I mention I love them? (I could use at least another 6 of them, babe, if you're reading. ;) When it comes to the other parts of the garden, I am lazy. I've come to a shameful realization this past year that my life, brain, heart, is pretty much a shambles when it comes to anything I really have to work at. I work so hard at pulling the weeds and getting rid of the bad stuff, the clutter, the bugs, the ugly...that it's easy to forget WHY. Gardening ought to be about promoting the beautiful, the healthy, the vibrant. It does involved, pulling weeds, getting rid of the bad stuff, the clutter, the bugs and the ugly, but the focus is on nurturing what is good. And so during this month of Wishingforspringuary, it's a good time to think about nurturing the growth of the fruits of the Spirit, to focus on the positive, to prepare for the battle of Spring, Summer and Fall..and to be content to rest in the arms and the grace of the great Gardener. And to be thankful, oh so thankful, that our meager harvest is covered by the holy righteousness of Christ.