Monday, September 17, 2012

Oat Flour Waffles & Real Maple Syrup

Hello again friends. Bet you didn't expect to see a new post this week, eh? I don't blame you. But things are really starting to calm down. One thing is for certain, a wonderful (and grueling) fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is over. Our Ladies Social turned out great.
Dressing in style at the Ladies Social
But with that over, I was able to get another relaxing chore day at home with my husband this weekend. And we started the day right by sleeping in before I made us waffles. But these aren't your everyday kind of waffle. I made the mixture myself and with oat flour verses all purpose.
Waffles = Om nom nom
So why oat flour you ask? Well, in our attempt of getting to a more natural/traditional/hopefully healthier diet, I'm trying to replace nasty uber-processed ingredients with items in mother nature's pantry. Normally it's as easy as using olive oil instead of canola. But processed sugar and flour appear to be awful on the body since those lack any kind of nutrient. So those two are on the top of my list of figuring out replacements.

Nutrient-speaking, oat flour is a great substitute for all purpose flour. Oat flour contains more protein, dietary fiber and calcium. Also (depending on if it's from gluten-free oats) the flour can be gluten free. Oats in general are a great way to help your heart and reduce your cholesterol, so it seemed logical to try to implement more into my baking. And I have a lot on hand since I use it for our dog biscuits. Also, if you have a food processor- you can make your own flour.
This is not homemade, but here's an idea of it's consistency
BUT I have to warn you that oat flour is not the exact same as all purpose flour. Since I've incorporated it (and Amish butter) into my cooking, I've noticed a distinct consistency difference- mostly for the better. But the waffles (and other baked goods) are more moist and dense. It's still delicious, but keep that in mind when you try to replace your own baking ingredients.

So Sunday morning, I decided to attempt this waffle recipe, but changed a few things. So here's what I did:
- 1 1/3 c Oat Flour
- 4 t baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 3 t sugar
- 2 t cinnamon
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1/2 c butter, melted
- 1 3/4 c 2% milk
I pretty much did everything that recipe called for, just added my own flare and ensured at least one meal that day didn't contain processed flour. It turned out great. The only thing I would note is that I had to put my waffle iron on a lower heat and baked longer. That's because the oat flour is so thick, it took awhile to cook all the way through. But after a few lame attempts, our last two turned out perfect. It's always nice when an experiment turns out delicious, right?
Oh, and while I'm on the topic, I'm going to bash fake maple syrup for a moment. It's unnatural. It's unhealthy. And most importantly: it. tastes. gross. I was raised on only have real maple syrup on my pancakes and waffles. I've tried the fake stuff (normally when we go out for breakfast) and I can't do it. In fact, I normally smuggle a small bottle of real syrup. I know I'm a syrup snob. My husband has made that fact known for years; but if the taste alone won't convince you, here's something to think about: normally, fake syrup contains mostly high fructose corn syrup. With that, it normally doesn't have any nutritional value. And while I wouldn't say you should go chug a jug of Canadian maple syrup, the real stuff does contain manganese and zinc, which can boost your immune system. Both generally have the same calorie count. Real maple syrup is mostly made up of sucrose, with a little bit of fructose and glucose.
My Smuggling Bottle
And in case you actually take my advice and go looking for syrup, here's a tip: in Canada & the U.S., a product can only use the phrase "maple" if it has a high amount of real maple syrup. It's going to be more expense, but your taste buds will love it.

So the moral of these waffles is to try to replace all purpose flour with oat flour in your next baking experiment. And use real syrup next time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Preparations To Fill Your Spice Rack

Hey again, folks. See? I didn't disappear. Life has just been very, very, very... busy. As many of you know, this blog is normally written over the weekend. And frankly, I haven't had a free weekend for... weeks. I even had a few things this weekend, but Sunday was easy enough to get something together.

So, my favorite half of the year is coming up: autumn and winter. I know I'm crazy, and I've said it multiple times, but I LOVE colder weather. There's also the harvest and festivus season to look forward to. Hopefully in a few weeks it will even be hoodie weather.

Anyways, we had one day this weekend to tackle our neglected yard and start preparing for the harvest season. Over the next few weeks, I will start drying more herbs and prepare oil out of what is already dry. It was our basil's turn this weekend. Frankly, I should of started this couple weeks ago. For a couple weeks, the basil looked like it's lived life to its fullest...  or whatever a plant does to do that.
Basil gets to dry in our basement
Drying herbs are pretty easy, especially when you have the luxury of a basement or attic. With a shovel, slowly pry out the plant, saving most of the root system. Shake off as much dirt as you can then simply hang it upside down in a dry place. We chose the basement right above the dehumidifier. After awhile it will be nice, crunchy, and perfect to be broken down for my spice cabinet.

Crunchy basil from last year
Soon we will do the same with the oregano, some sage, and mint. I'm also working to figure out what all I can do with peppermint. But that's for another day.

Another thing we've had to do is say goodbye to some of our beloved plants early. We've had a difficult summer thanks to the drought. Already lost the squash & zucchini plants. On Sunday we said goodbye to a pepper plant. Soon we will say goodbye & give our thanks to the other pepper and tomato plants.

Throughout the weeks, I'll get back on track of sharing my musings, promise. Summer travels are wrapping up and I'll have plenty to show when it comes to harvest time. Soon enough it will be October, which is my favorite month of the year. Who knows, I may bring back my dedication to the great pumpkin.

But before October, next week is a special night for me. September 14th is the Ladies Social for the American Cancer Society. It's the first fundraiser I've really been involved in. Please stop by the event's website and if you can, donate a few dollars. I lost a grandfather to cancer, and my husband's grandfather has kept an amazing fight against it. Help us find a cure & help patients. Thank you.