It’s been cold here for the past week or so, overcast and windy with the occasional bit of rain, and it’s made me crave winter food. Thick stews and soups, carbs and meat. This isn’t making the turnaround from pesto easy, but I’ve found a couple of healthier solutions. I came across a recipe for apricot glazed chicken drumsticks and knew I wanted to try them. The picture on the recipe reminded me of these chicken wings my mom used to make that I loved. We called them sticky chicken due to the fact that every part of you that came into contact with them became sticky. Bits would get stuck to your teeth, your face and hands were a mess and using a paper towel to clean up was out of the question.
After the success of the apricot drumsticks, and the fact that I had another 8 drumsticks in the fridge, I wanted to try my hand at the sticky sauce. Unfortunately it was still the middle of the night in Moscow so I had to find a recipe I thought might be comparable. While they were still delicious, they were nowhere near the perfection of the other recipe. My mom has since sent me the sticky recipe, which originated with my Auntie Lini, but after two rounds of glazed chicken, I needed a chicken break.
I, like my father before me, am not a banana lover. I don’t dislike them as I did when I was younger, but they are still not something I go out of my way to eat. So when Fraser bought bananas at the store last week…well, they were destined to go bad. The solution to this was simple and is probably the real reason bananas exist in the first place: Banana Bread. And we had three perfectly overripe bananas. My mom thinks the trick to perfect banana bread is fully rotten bananas, and since I grew up eating hers, I can vouch for the validity of this. My mom used to buy a bunch of bananas and let them go bad and then freeze them. This way you can pretty much make banana bread whenever you damn well please, which should be very often. She sent me two recipes, one she has used and one from her friend Helen in Moscow. Since Helen’s recipe called for sour cream, which I happened to have, and my mom had vouched for it, I decided to try it out. I’d say it was a successful venture as the loaf was half done by the time we went to bed and gone by lunch the next day. I now have six bananas slowly rotting on my counter awaiting their true purpose.
As the cold continued and my pasta cravings intensified, I came across a lower calorie and lower fat version of eggplant parmesan. Instead of breading and frying the eggplant, you roast it in the oven, and use the low fat versions of the cheeses. I made a basic tomato sauce for this and let it simmer on the stove for an hour while I prepped the eggplant. After slicing it up, you want to salt the eggplant and then let it sit out for at least 30 minutes so as to extract some of the moisture. Then you lightly brush it with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes in the oven. You layer your tomato sauce, eggplant, ricotta mixture and mozzarella in a baking dish and top with leftover mozza, parmesan and I added some breadcrumbs for a crunchy crust. I thought it was an excellent substitute for lasagna or the traditional eggplant parm, even though I burned my tongue once or twice.
My mom has been telling me about this tea called golden milk for a while now and yesterday I finally gave it a try. It’s an Ayurvedic drink mainly made with turmeric and milk. Turmeric is believed to be an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant, digestive aid, memory aid and a blood purifier, among other positive things. The recipe my mom sent me includes a number of other ingredients that have health benefits as well. The tea is a neon yellow colour due to the turmeric and is quite delicious, and at around 5pm I realized I’d hardly eaten anything all day and was not very hungry. When reading about some of the ingredients I discovered that virgin coconut oil, while higher in saturated fats than other oils, is a strong appetite suppressant ( and I’d put a tbsp of it in the golden milk). Not all fats are bad fats, and coconut oil keep your body feeling full for longer.
With golden milk, you bring all the ingredients to a boil and then simmer on low for 10 minutes. These include fresh turmeric, ginger, peppercorns, raw honey, coconut oil, a non-dairy milk (I used almond milk), water and a cinnamon stick. After this I went on an internet search of different ways to consume turmeric. I found a variety of juices and cleanses and decided to take different parts from different ones and make up my own recipe. I hauled the juicer out of the closet and after cleaning and re-assembling it, went to work. My recipe is a rough estimate of what I did since I wasn’t measuring. I put about four 1-2 inch pieces of turmeric, three 1-inch pieces of ginger and three lemons through the juicer. After not using a juicer for years, I’d forgotten how much fun they are, and pulverizing my ingredients was great entertainment. I then added around a tsp of honey and another of coconut oil, a dash of cayenne pepper and cinnamon, peppercorns and a bit of hot water and whisked this all together for five minutes or so, making sure everything was dissolved. I then added this glass of concentrate to a water jug and then filled it with filtered water. I poured a glass over ice and was pretty impressed with the result. It was quite lemony, which I love, but not too strong in one flavour or another. I think there’s room for improvement, but for now I’m quite happy with my new health drink!
Helen’s banana bread:
Sift 1 and 2/3 c flour with 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp salt. Combine 2 eggs and 1 c and 2 tbsp sugar, beat until fluffy, then slowly add 1/2 cup of oil. Mash 3 1/2 bananas and add 2 tbsp sour cream, 1 tsp vanilla and 2/3 c chocolate chips, stir to combine. Add to the egg mixture and the fold this into flour. Pour into a loaf pan and bake for 45 to 1 hour at 350 degrees.