What’s Good This Week

As part of a flurry of some sort of reverse nesting instinct, in my final weeks of stay-at-home-working-mom time I’ve been going all Kon Mari on our apartment. 

Part of it is an urge to be better organized and put the chaos of the past year behind us, and part of it is that I know if I don’t do it then Paul will, and that will be a disaster. Married ladies, I hear your mmmhmms from all around the world. 

As part of this initiative I’ve been getting rid of baby crap left, right, and center, and am therefore reminded of what a bottom of the barrel scraping part of the world the Facebook Marketplace is. For real, people.

No, I will not negotiate the price on something that’s already a tiny fraction of the new price. No I will not deliver. No, I will not lug a deconstructed baby gym to a subway station in your neighbourhood. For the love of all things good and pure, I’m considering pulling it all down and just donating to charity instead. Not worth it. 

The big boy and I constructed a parking garage for his vehicles.

I think I mentioned to you guys that I’ve been working ahead on content, so I’m now elbow deep in pumpkin and Thanksgiving recipes of all kinds. Last week I re-tested my ancient recipe for Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Pie and took step-by-step process shots as well as new “hero” shots of the pie. 

I’m happy to report that the recipe held true! It’s always kind of a gamble with older recipes as my recipe testing protocol wasn’t quite as, err, thorough as it is now, but this one came out just great. The pie is sweetened with only dates and a tiiiiiny bit of maple syrup that I’m not really sure is even needed.

If you’re looking for a killer healthy pumpkin pie recipe, I recommend checking it out! Just ignore the terrible old photos for now, please.

Anyways, originally I posted the pumpkin pie recipe with a ginger cookie crumb crust, but since it’s a naturally sweetened pumpkin pie I decided that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so I made a whole-grain spelt flour pastry crust instead. I even read a bunch of tutorials for how to make the edges look pretty, and settled on this spoon chevron technique.

I hate blind baking pie crusts, but this one actually behaved for once, which was a relief. But! When I took the pie out of the oven after baking the filled pie, the chevron impressions had weakened the edges and half of it cracked off the second I touched the pie.

To make matters worse, once the pie cooled a huge crack split down the middle. I sent a picture to my friend Sarah and she said, “your pie has a vagina!”

Disaster!

This pie was most definitely up to snuff for taking any Pinterest-worthy photos, I had to do some problem solving. Sarah suggested baking another pie in the evening so I’d have a fresh pie to use for hero shots in the morning (the process shots were already done at this point) but I really didn’t feel like making another pie. 

I decided instead to try and fix it. I had a good amount of pastry left over, so I went on an epic walk around the city to try and find some leaf-shaped cookie cutters, but came up empty. After standing in a baking shop with a set of star-shaped cookie cutters in my hand, I remembered I already have stars with my Christmas cookie cutters so went home empty handed.

And then, in the morning when I was about to roll out the pastry it suddenly dawned on me that Niko has a ton of different shaped cutters in his PlayDoh set, and low and behold, I found an acorn!

So Niko and I cut out dozens of tiny spelt flour pastry stars and acorns to bake. After I dropped him off at school I used a sharp knife to surgically remove the broken crust from the edges of the pie, and then I used a hot off-set spatula to fill in the crack in the middle of the pie. 

Then, I painstakingly arranged the pastry cutouts around the pie to form a new crust and cover up my repair job. Here’s the result:

So I was able to set up a photo shoot and get my hero shots after all. You’ll be seeing them in another couple of weeks, but I wanted to tell you this “behind the scenes” story so that when you see the elaborately staged and styled photos you’ll know what’s underneath them: a pie with a vagina. 

The point is that when we just see beautiful photos on Pinterest and Instagram, we can lose sight of reality. I sure as shit don’t style beautiful food when I’m feeding it to my family, but I absolutely do for the blog because food blogging is hella competitive and beautiful photos are what capture people’s attention. 

But just remember that all is not perfect in the real world. If I’d just been feeding that pie to my family I would have left it as is, broken crust and crack and all. Also remember that you can fix stuff. No need to cry over cracked pie (is that a thing? let’s make it a thing.) just bust out your kid’s PlayDoh cutters and cover it up! 

Fancy photos coming soon!

I just treated myself to a couple of new cookbooks. It’s been far too long since I bought any, especially since I can claim them as a business expense! (Related: My Favourite Healthy Cookbooks)

I bought Ottolenghi Simple which is the sixth Ottolenghi cookbook in my collection, so obviously I’ve got a thing for him. This is a great addition, though! I love books like Plenty and Plenty More, but Simple is a welcome departure from his notoriously complicated recipes. 

What’s great about this book is he defines different kinds of simple recipes. Is it simple because you’ve made all of the components in advance? Or simple because you can grab groceries on your way home and have dinner on the table in 20 minutes? 

We tested this book out last night with two recipes; the first, a Semolina Gnocchi recipe that Niko helped me make, and the second a fried kale and broccoli dish that I’d like to revisit with some tweaks. 

This is definitely a cookbook I’ll be spending some time with, and if you’re looking for a new cookbook with simple dinner recipes to add to your collection, I’d recommend grabbing a copy. 

I also bought a copy of Desiree Nielsen’s new book Eat More Plants. Desiree is a Vancouver-based dietitian who specializes in gut health and anti-inflammatory diets, which is the subject of this colourful cookbook. 

I haven’t had much time to get into it yet, but a quick flip through the book has me marking dozens of recipes to try out. I’ll report back once I’ve tried some. 

Lastly, I bought Bee Wilson’s new book The Way We Eat Now, which is on strategies for eating in a world of change. I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one, although I must admit that I’m tragically behind on my 2019 reading goal, so it’s likely this one will gather dust for a bit. 

What are you guys reading these days? Do you still buy cookbooks, or do you mainly get your recipes online? Both answers make me happy, it’s just interesting to know!

Making semolina gnocchi together!

And lastly, a picture of Odin, because I just can’t even with this hair. It’ll be so, so sad when it finally decides to lay down!

ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK

We kicked this week off with one of my favourite healthy granola recipes: Maple Apple Granola! This stuff is sweetened with unsweetened applesauce and a bit of maple syrup, and is clumpy and crunchy and delicious. 

sunny overhead photo of two bowls of apple granola casting shadows on a grey background

Next up, a quick and easy weeknight dinner that’s almost too simple to call a recipe at all, Creamy One-Pot Pasta With Peas. All that stands between you and this tasty meal is one pot, six ingredients, and 20 minutes, so get at it! 

two bowls of pasta with peas on a grey background with a small bowl of frozen peas to the side

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I put together this Guide to Protein For Vegetarians and Vegans? Well in that post I said that newer research is suggesting that the daily protein recommendations have been underestimated, and we should all be aiming to get more. So I put together two high-protein vegetarian meal plans so you can see what it looks like to get 75grams of protein per day on a vegetarian or vegan diet. 

spicy hummus spread on a tortilla and a plate of vegan wrap fillings to the side

And lastly, Instant Pot Apple Butter! You guys, this stuff is sooooooo good, and it doesn’t contain any added sugar. Just the sweet natural sugars from the apples, cooked down into velvety smooth apple butter goodness. And of course, I’ve included stovetop instructions for those of you who don’t have Instant Pots. (But FYI, Amazon has the Instant Pot I have on sale $30 off right now, so maybe you want to change that?!)

WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL

You’ll always find the top 5 recipes (like Mung Bean Curry and Chia Fresca) over in the sidebar. Here’s a look at what else is trending this week, according to Google Analytics:

1. Turmeric Latte Mix. This stuff is on fire right now, and rightly so!

2. No Sugar Banana Bran Muffins. Always a lunch box favourite. 

3. Curried Cauliflower Chickpea Wraps. Yassss!

4. Homemade Pumpkin Purée. ‘Tis the season!

5. Slowcooker Chickpea Curry. Yum!

Comment of the week

Longtime reader Alice left this comment and 5-star review on my recipe for Spicy Pickled Onions:

Same star rating AGAIN! I can’t stop making these tasty zingers! Going this week for a day of Bridge with good friends. This is my contribution to the lunch – it will go with ANYTHING. So good! and the recipe always turns out – never fails!

Yes! Glad you love these pickled onions as much as I do, Alice!

a jar of pickled red onions on a grey surface with red onions in the background

WHAT’S GOOD AROUND THE WEB

icon of globe with text "what's good around the web"1. You want to eat healthier. Your partner does not. Here’s how to handle that

2. It’s time to ditch the shame around trash foods

3. Do you really need to worry about expiration dates on food?

4. Hmm, really? Vegetarians and vegans may be at higher risk of stroke

5. Let’s make a point of knowing where our chocolate is coming from, mmmkay?

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Maclean nash says

    Oh my goodness! Thank you for sharing the “behind the scenes”! I know a lot of hard work goes into recipes, testing and photos but WOW! That sounded a bit like a gong show! It looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try it this season!

    Keep on being awesome! Thank you for all you do!

  2. Claire says

    I am definitely more of an internet recipe user over cookbooks. I like that I can print out a recipe, give it a try, and decide if I want to keep it or not. I find with cookbooks that I tend to go back to the same handful of recipes, but don’t typically cook through a book. I usually try some recipes and don’t like them, but can’t get rid of the undesirable recipes without tearing apart the cookbook. I find it easier to keep a binder that I can mix and match. In the spirit of Kon Mari, I don’t like to have books on my counter that I don’t really use.

  3. Lolly says

    I love the feel of looking through cookbooks, but with a couple of exceptions make maybe 1 or 2 recipes from each. So I’ve started borrowing them from the library instead to get my fix

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