What to do with frozen blueberries

I had lots of good reasons for buying frozen blueberries whenever it was that I bought them, but I didn’t end up using them until this week.

blueberry muffinsReasons like…

1. Fresh blueberries can be expensive.

2. The frozen ones were organic and Canadian.

3. Blueberries are good for you.

4. Even though I buy fresh blueberries all the time, we go through them quickly.

But it kind of defeats the purpose to buy food, and not use it. I decided to use the blueberries to bake something that would be good with a cup of tea. I googled blueberry cakes and muffins, and the first few recipes I found didn’t appeal to me – or if they did, I didn’t have the right ingredients. So I turned to my well-used copy of Norene Gilletz’s MealLeaniYumm, and I’m happy to say that her recipe for blueberry muffins is also online (scroll down once you click on the link). Her recipes are always good!

I didn’t bother with the streusel topping, and I used gluten-free flour (a cup-for-cup type). Aside from that, I followed the recipe pretty much as she wrote it. I included the optional orange rind in greater quantity than Norene recommends. I think it adds a lot of flavour.

The muffins are moist and tasty, even better on Day 2.

I learned a few things as well.

1. There’s a trick (or two) to using frozen berries so that they don’t stain the whole batter. I rinsed and dried mine as per the instructions on the King Arthur flour website.

2. Yahoo! answers recommends dusting the frozen berries in flour first, which is also recommended in the recipe. So my bases were covered! In addition, I banged the still-sealed bag on the counter a couple of times before I opened it, to break up the berries.

2. I realized after I started making the recipe that my baking powder was well past its expiry date. But, thanks to bakingbites.com, I now know that you can test baking powder for freshness by adding a teaspoonful to warm water. Magic!

To my great surprise, the mixture bubbled and fizzed even though the baking powder was best before… a year ago. I went ahead and used it, but I think it’s time to get a new container.






Red Lentil Soup

With minus-double-digit weather outside, and a sore throat that’s lasted a full week, it was an easy choice for me to decide to make red lentil soup a couple of days ago.

It’s definitely a winter soup, thick and warming. Sometimes I like to purée it with an immersion blender, but this time I was happy to leave it chunky. It wasn’t very pretty, though, so I’m just including a picture of the vegetables.

vegs for soup

I have three go-to red lentil soup recipes, but this time used them only for inspiration. I referred to them to make sure my proportions of lentils, water and vegetables were on target.  The recipes I usually use are the Lemon-Lentil Soup from The Organic Kosher Cookbook, by Aviva Allen; Red Lentil, Vegetable & Barley Soup from MealLeaniYumm! by Norene Gilletz; and Lentil Vegetable Soup from Simply HeartSmart Cooking by Bonnie Stern.

This is the version I came up with a couple of days ago, inspired by my favourite soup recipes and the ingredients in my kitchen:

Red Lentil Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery

1 1/2 cups baby carrots, cut in pieces

1 yellow squash

2 cups red lentils, rinsed

8 cups of water

basil, oregano and thyme to taste

2 tbsp. fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

1. Sauté onion and garlic until just starting to brown.

2. Add the rest of the vegetables, and stir together.

3. Add lentils, water and spices.

4. Bring to boil, then turn down heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

5. Add parsley, and cook five more minutes.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy! (It’s even better the next day.)

Chocolate Sunday – Do you believe in chocolate?

Last weekend, I ran into cookbook author and Canadian Jewish News contributor Norene Gilletz at a wedding. I’ve joined her Facebook group and have been posting links on it to my food-related blog entries. We’d only met a few times, but when I re-introduced myself, she knew right away who I was. “Chocolate Sunday!” she said.


Double fudge euro tarts are one of the decadent chocolate treats for sale at Loblaws on Carlton St., in Toronto’s former Maple Leaf Gardens.

Of all the blog posts I’ve written, the “Chocolate Sunday” entries seem to be the most popular.

I’ve spent the last couple of days at a social media workshop at Ryerson University, where the instructor, Kris Alexander, told us, among other things, that “everyone has something they believe in.”

He urged us to think about our ideas – whether it’s a business or product we want to promote, or in my case a subject I’m blogging about – before focusing on which social media platforms would best serve our needs.

So I’ve been thinking about chocolate, and about blogging on the subject of chocolate. I have new ideas now about how to develop that theme.

And I found myself wondering in the middle of class, do I “believe” in chocolate? I hadn’t actually thought of it in those terms, but I found it to be an interesting question. Here are some reasons why I’m enthused about chocolate:

1. A decadent chocolate truffle is an affordable indulgence, compared to – say – a new outfit.

2. Dark chocolate has antioxidant effects.

3. Chocolate contains contains phenylethylamine, a “mild mood elevator,” according to Psychology Today online.

4. Chocolate has all kinds of positive associations, from the comfort implicit in a snack of milk and chocolate chip cookies, to the chocolate factory scene in one of the top episodes of the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy.