Chia Seeds: Not Scary

I’m trying to eat healthier these days. 

I’ve looked into a lot of weird diets – paleo, keto, blahblah, eat less carbs, stop eating bread. In all my reading, I’ve come across some awesome recipes, some less than awesome recipes (avocados in breakfast shakes? HUGE no. Dat grease though. ugh) and a few new foods that I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise. In combination with exercise, I definitely FEEL better than I did a year ago, which is pretty important.

Regarding the new foods front. Maybe you, too, are trying to get healthier but you, like me, have the terrible affliction: a monster sweet tooth. My sweet tooth, particularly my affinity for chocolate, could probably fell a lesser human. It’s not good.

Enter the Chia seed.

These little bitty seedies look like this. You buy them in a bag at Whole Foods that looks like this. (You can probably buy them elsewhere, but Whole Foods is convenient for me, so…) They’re a bit on the pricey side – usually like $8 a bag or so – but that bag will last you for weeks, so it’s worth it. 

You can do stuff like toss them in smoothies or bake them into bread – they have a TON of fiber and healthy fat and don’t taste like much, but I feel like that doesn’t quite use them to their full potential. The cool thing about chia seeds is that they can absorb 12 TIMES THEIR WEIGHT IN LIQUID. They turn from these little black pellets into a cool gelly substance that’s reminiscent of pudding.

Hmmm….pudding?? We can work with this.

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What to Cook When You Don’t Know What to Cook: Colcannon

Colcannon is wonderful. It’s cheap, it’s filling, it’s quick, and best of all everything in it keeps well so you can just have the stuff on hand.

 

Here’s what you need:

– 3 large mashing potatoes (most grocery stores have potatoes sorted into “mashing”, “boiling”, and “roasting”. Any potato will work, really, but mashers are best for this)

– 1/2 an onion, sliced pretty thin

– 1/4 to 1/3 of a green cabbage, sliced into ~1/2″ strips (1-2 cm)

– 1/2 cup milk, cream, or milk substitute (almond milk or cashew cream are my recommendations)

– butter or oil

– salt

– pepper

– a big pot

– a pan

– a wooden spoon

– a potato masher

 

Here’s what you do:

Cut up your potatoes into cubes, like 6-8 chunks per potato, put them in a big pot. Add enough water to cover the potatoes, then add ~1 teaspoon of salt. Put them on medium-high heat (7-8 usually) until they boil.

This is a good time to slice your onion and cabbage, if you didn’t do it beforehand. Put a pan on medium-high and melt a tablespoon of butter or oil in it, then add your onions and cabbage, and put a whole bunch of pepper on them. Move them around with a wooden spoon until everything is floppy and a little brown, then turn the burner off and move the pan.

Check your potatoes. They’re done when you stick a fork in one and it breaks apart super easily. Once they’re done, drain the water from the pot, add the dairy/substitute (and a couple tablespoons of butter if you’re not vegan), then mash. Once mashed, add your onions and cabbage and mix with the wooden spoon.

It is food, eat it.

 

Here are other things you can do:

– add chopped bacon, sausage, ground beef, or leftover meat to the onion and cabbage business

– swap the cabbage for kale

– leave out the onion, and instead boil sliced leeks with the potatoes

 

I eat this on the reg, largely because it’s easy and tasty. I always have potatoes, onions, almond milk, and butter around, so I just have to pop down to the store to grab a cabbage to make it. Then I’ll usually make coleslaw with the rest of the cabbage.

Happy cooking.

♡ Kit

 

 

Adventures With Cooking: SideKicks Creamy Bacon Carbonera

Hey folks, Doogie here. We at Fourth Line Cook are not all what you’d call “experts” in the field. Some of us are learning, just like you, and even the most experienced among us will make a wee mess from time to time. So, we thought sharing a few of those stories would ease the tension surrounding learning to cook. None of us is truly alone in the field of culinary embarrassment.

Knorr SideKicks are among the easiest thing in the novice chef’s arsenal. The recipe is right there on the box or bag, and usually involves microwaving at most four ingredients: water, milk (sometimes), butter/margarine (which I personally omit), and the contents of the packet. They’re pretty much made for busy people with short attention spans and/or limited skills. You would think they’d be impossible to screw up, but as the saying goes, nothing is truly idiot-proof if you have a sufficiently talented idiot.

Now, when I’ve made certain SideKicks dishes in the past, I’ve covered them with a paper towel because when the water evapourates, it will spray the spices all over the microwave, leaving a heck of a mess. However, when making the Creamy Bacon Carbonera – or, I suspect, any of the ones with milky sauce – it’s perhaps for the best to leave your bowl uncovered. I discovered this rule of thumb tonight when, after returning to my microwave after its twelve-minute odyssey, I found 3/4 of the cream in my Creamy Bacon Carbonera all over the glass dish within. It appears that the milk-water combination had evapourated, saturated the paper towel, and used it as a wick-like conduit to spread all over the bloody microwave.

While I was ultimately able to get enough of the flavour out of the surviving cream to get the idea, it was clearly not the culinary experience I’d been seeking, not to mention the fact that the noodles were still a touch hard, no doubt because their protective juices had forsaken them long ago. It’s a bit of a tragedy, really, as it was smelling like a solid hit as I bounced around the kitchen waiting for it to finish heating up. So, let this be a lesson to you: if the SideKicks packet says microwave it “uncovered,” then dammit, microwave it uncovered. You might have a slight mess on the top of your microwave but it’s better than losing half your meal to the laws of physics.

(The hilarious sequel to this post will be when I reprise my Creamy Bacon Carbonera experiment to find that it still makes a goopy mess all over the microwave when it’s uncovered. Because the gods of cooking are cruel bastards.)

How to Start Cooking

For our inaugural post, I thought it would good idea to get into how to start cooking in the first place if home cooking is not already a part of your life.

My most important advice is this: start small.

Like any change in your life, it’s good to ease in and take incremental steps so that you don’t overwhelm yourself and flame out. If you don’t cook at all, just start with one meal a week. At first, cooking will be a bit of a time commitment, so one meal a week will allow you to schedule your cooking for a day when you’re not coming home from work tired and starving.

Secondly: start with food you know and like. Experimentation is awesome, but there’s nothing quite like making food you really enjoy eating to help encourage your new hobby. Ask family or friends how to make that thing you like, or search for a “from scratch” version of a convenience meal you enjoy.

Thirdly, remember how low the stakes are. The worst thing that can happen from this process is you make some food that is gross. Not a big deal! Try and try again is definitely the cooking motto, and with each mistake you really will learn.

Happy cooking!

♡ Kit