Looking back – and forward – at my food posts

This week, I’m combining my Thursday and Friday blog posts – the post-downsizing/writing aspect that I focus on every Thursday, and the “food day” that I’ve created on Fridays.

When I started blogging in July, Tuesdays and Thursdays had a very specific focus for me: to help me figure out what was next in my life, and to keep a hand in the writing world. Friday, “food day,” was more for fun. In its own way, it was a coping tool too. For me, cooking and food are creative and nurturing – just what I needed after losing my job. In August, I added “Chocolate Sunday” to the mix.

Lately, I’ve been wondering about the type of recipes I’ve been posting. Do they reflect the way I really cook? Are they healthy? Do I like them? Have I included them for the right reasons?

This morning I looked through the recipes on my blog, and for the most part, I’m pleased.

Before I started blogging, I’d thought about writing a cookbook for my kids, so that they would have my recipes in one place. In the meantime, I’m posting to this blog.  Maybe I’ll turn it into a cookbook some day.

I didn’t start with a list of criteria for recipes I would include in my blog. But, based on my analysis this morning, I’ve listed my food blog recipe goals for 2014. They reflect what I’ve already been doing, more or less.

1. For the most part, recipes should reflect the way I actually cook and eat. Mostly meat-free, mostly dairy-free, using “real” ingredients, not overly complicated to prepare.

2. My favourite recipes have included fruits and vegetables, sometimes in new combinations for me – like salmon stir-fry with asparagus and cremini mushrooms, green bean and pineapple salad, and fruity fennel salad. I want to do more of that.

3. I plan to continue including other ingredients that have health benefits – nuts, seeds, spices and certain grains.

4. More family recipes if I can find them. I want my kids to have them, and to know their history. I believe other people are interested in them too. My post about my grandmother’s camisbroit got more hits than anything else I’ve written.

5. Travel-related food stories and recipes are part of my repertoire too, whether I make them once in a while or on a regular basis. I started my chocolate blog with a recipe for brigadeiro, a lovely souvenir of a trip to Brazil and the celebration of a friend’s birthday there. But they’re too sweet for me to make on a regular basis, plus I’m lactose-intolerant (sweetened condensed milk is a key ingredient).

6. It’s sometimes a challenge to come up with healthy recipes for chocolate. I think the criteria for chocolate recipes is that they have to be fabulous, healthy and/or interesting. Ideally, all three!

Feedback is welcome. Best for 2014.


Chocolate Sunday – Sorbet!

Earlier this week, I thought I might start this post by writing that I made a chocolate sorbet this week, and that it had no right to taste as good as it did.

I planned to use the Cuisinart recipe for Dark Chocolate Sorbet, which I’d made several times before. You wouldn’t guess from the rich, chocolatey taste that it’s both fat-free and dairy-free.

It’s easy, too. Just simmer water, brown sugar and cocoa powder for three minutes, strain (although my friend skipped that step and still had good results), add vanilla, chill, and let your ice cream maker do the rest.

So I was confident about the end result when I started to make it. But I used a small pot on a dual burner that I usually use for large pots. burner controlI didn’t make the mistake of using the large-pot part of the dial, but because high and low settings are reversed on the small-pot part of the dial, I lowered the heat from medium instead of raising it to bring the chocolate mixture to a simmer. It was heating for longer than it should have and I don’t think it was supposed to thicken the way it did on the bottom, plus I didn’t get the temperature high enough to do a proper simmer. However, the mixture looked and tasted fine, so I proceeded with the recipe.

I chilled the heated mixture and put it in the ice cream maker as directed. It was only when I checked it after the recommended 25 to 30 minutes that I realized the mixture wasn’t thickening the way it was supposed to. I had kept the container in the freezer before using it, so that wasn’t the problem either. I gave it another five minutes, and another, and maybe even longer.

Disappointed that my “foolproof” recipe hadn’t gelled, I put it in the freezer anyway. Even if it wasn’t good enough to serve to company, maybe I could use it for a fruit dip. Or comfort food, in a an emergency.

sorbet & berries

Chocolate sorbet and fresh-picked backyard blackberries

The next afternoon, when I was preparing dinner, I decided to see what had happened to my chocolate soup. Lo and behold, it had turned into chocolate sorbet.

I served it for dessert. It really had no right to taste as good as it did.