Saturday, 23 June 2012

Five Things For Friday: Food Edition


My goal

Canning season is starting! Here in Britain, summer is a bit of a misnomer, but the fruits are still ripening and you can always buy food from the supermarket if your garden isn't producing.

I managed to score a great deal on a box of 50 pears and 50 apples - all for £5. The pears were very ripe, so I canned them immediately. 

This is my first try at canning foods, and I'm doing it without sugar. My ultimate goal is to have a pantry stocked to the brim with lovely foods that we can eat during the winter months. Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to grab a jar of home-canned peaches off the shelf instead of running to the store for fresh fruit? No added sugar or preservatives, just peaches in a bit of lemon water. 

I'm hoping the sugarless preserving actually works. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for the next 5 or 6 months in the hopes that the food doesn't taste bland and we don't end up with botulism....!


Like these, but not cut by steel

I'm not a big fan of oatmeal. I've tried to like it, and have added all sorts of things to it to make it more palatable, but the mushiness just gets me down. I start out strong, and get through half a bowl until my resolve crumbles and I'm seriously regretting ever cooking it in the first place.

Also? All those people who say that oats fill you up until after lunch time must have been eating a different sort of oatmeal / porridge than I have ever eaten, because I get hungry really fast after eating a bowl. (Although maybe it's because I can never force myself to eat enough...?)

However, I had never tried oat groats before. Oat groats are the whole grain, before being cut (as the picture above), rolled, steamed, sliced or ground. 

I've eaten whole wheat and enjoyed it, and thought that oat groats might be similar in taste and texture (update: not really similar in taste, but cooked grains are slightly chewy). I managed to purchase a 5kg bag at a reasonable price, and went to it.

You have to soak the oat groats overnight and boil them for about 20 minutes the next day. 

They are delicious!! I eat them savoury, with a bit of melted butter, salt and even hot sauce or soy sauce. I might try them as a mildly sweet pudding, similar to rice pudding, with bananas as a sweetening.

I have a tub of cooked oat groats in the fridge, and just spoon out a portion for breakfast. Yum! Wholesome, sugarless, and easy. Perfection.


I couldn't find a free stock photo of cornbread

We are reading the Little House books, and thoroughly enjoying them. One of the aspects of the books that most interests me is Ma's cooking. There are all sorts of strange and wonderful foods described in the books, and it makes me feel like I have a lot to learn! The first book mentions that Ma grew up in a city and didn't live in the wilds until she married Pa. Wow! How did she know how to preserve all her foods like that? I am very impressed.

The other night I decided to make a Ma-inspired meal, based around cornbread. The last time I made cornbread, the kids were not particularly interested. (I don't blame them; I always find it so dry.) But this time, they gobbled it up! They were so excited to eat the same foods that was talked about in the books.

I need to locate a book that talks about other kinds of food. The joys of eating beans and lentils, maybe?


A good addition to your food storage, if the kids will eat it

Speaking of lentils, my family aren't huge fans. I don't remember eating them as a kid, and don't really have an idea of what to do with them.

But the best way to learn is by doing, so I've become brave and started adding them to my soups. This is how I've gotten my texture-hating son to eat lumpy soups: I spoon out a smaller portion into a different container and use my hand blender to whisk it up into a smoother soup. I give him a toddler-sized amount in his bowl (he will invariably say "That's not enough!", thereby setting the stage for him to want to eat it) and tell him this is the more smooth version and he can try the lumpy version later, if he wants.

The last time I used this method, he not only had two servings of the smooth soup, but ate a few bites of the lumpy soup as well! Ever so gently, his palate is extending. One of these days he will eat those home-made beans. I am determined.


Not my granola, but looks tasty
I've also made some granola recently. In my efforts to steer clear of store bought, sugar laden breakfast foods, I'm planning on getting the kids used to eating homemade granola.

I made the mistake of adding dried fruit to the mix, and while the kids enjoy eating dried fruit on its own, they don't enjoy it in their cereal. Unless it's expensive dried fruit, like blueberries or mango!

The recipe was from a website that I don't have bookmarked, so I can't provide a link. However, I will type it out here, with my own modifications. It originally called for a lot more sweeteners than I used, which probably helped it clump up like store-bought granola. Mine isn't clumpy at all, so it's more like muesli. But tastier; I think muesli tastes like dust....

Simple Home Made Granola

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbs vanilla
8 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or other nuts (I used mixed chopped nuts this time)
1 cup of desiccated coconut
2+ tsp cinnamon (I was very generous with this amount)
1/4 - 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup dried fruit (I used a mixture of apple, raisins and peaches, cut into tiny pieces)

1. Heat oven to 350F/175C
2. Mix oil and honey in a saucepan, warming to combine
3. Mix all dry ingredients, except fruit, in a lightly oiled, large roasting pan (I used a giant disposable turkey roaster with high sides, which worked beautifully)
4. Pour the honey and oil mixture over the dry ingredients, stir until coated.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, bake for 10 minutes more.
6. Remove from oven and add dried fruit. Stir and let cool completely.
7. Store in airtight container.
8. Makes 10 cups.

This post is brought to you by Women in the Scriptures, and her Friday blog hop!


Emma-Jane said...

Just wondering, I know very little about canning, but why do you particularly want to avoid sugar? Are you not a fan of the sweet taste, or concerned for teeth or potential weight gain? The shops seem to be so overladen with artificial sweeteners in products these days that I'm usually relieved to find something that does have just sugar in.

Raisin4Cookies said...

The reasons are numerous, actually! Sugar is addictive and causes lots of problems in the body, with weight gain at the bottom of the list (for me).

I really ought to do a post on it, but I'll give you a quick run-down: sugar messes with the body's homeostasis of calcium and phosphorus. It makes the body highly acidic, which causes it to pull calcium out of the bones to remain in homeostasis. (source:

I personally have a strong addiction to sugar. I used to laugh about it, but when I read an article about drug addiction and saw the same behaviours in myself with regards to sugar, it really opened my eyes. I don't eat sugar anymore, in jams, desserts, etc, but am still trying to get away from sauces, cereals, and other pre-packaged foods. I really ought to cut back on the sugars in fruits as well, but it's a slow process. If I try to change everything in one fell swoop, I will be miserable!

As it stands, I had withdrawal symptoms for a while, but now I'm fine. I vividly remember the *taste* of cakes and chocolate, which is enough to satisfy my desire for it. Weird? Maybe. But it works for me. :)

Heather@Women in the Scriptures said...

I love granola so i will have to try your recipie, esp because the one i have been making lately is super unhealthy, sob. Also i dont know if your family would go for it but i use lentils as a meat substitute in tacos and other mexican dishes. I just cook them and then brown them with onion and taco saesoning and them but them in our tacos with cheese and refried beans and tomatoes. Might be worth a try.

Raisin4Cookies said...

Oooh, I like the idea with the lentils! I will definitely give it a try. Thanks for the tip.