How to make homemade microwave popcorn in two easy steps

On Tuesday evening this week, I pushed back my chair and closed my laptop with a sigh after putting the first two thousand words of the cookbook down on virtual paper.

I was ravenous; there is something about transferring a small part of yourself into writing that leaves one feeling mentally drained. Satisfied, but peculiarly empty.

I thought of the quickest snack possible and tipped a quarter cup of popcorn kernels into a paper sandwich bag. I slid it into the microwave and exactly two minutes later was wolfing down popcorn. A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of melted butter was all I needed to transform it into a gourmet treat.

With a glass of apple cider and my popcorn, I tiptoed upstairs, past the rooms housing three sleeping children, and to our loft, where Danny was still awake.

How to make homemade microwave popcorn

“Two thousand words”, I said, as I sank onto the bed with a groan. “Do you know what this means? I’ve started.”

Through mouthfuls of popcorn, I offered every cliche I could think of related to beginning. I’m out of the gate. I’m off and away. I’ve set sail.

Danny didn’t seem quite as struck as I was with the magnitude of my commencement, but he hadn’t witnessed my internal sluggishness leading up to this point. I have been busy, ohmyyes, but busy with everything except writing a cookbook.

The pantry has had a rigorous clean out and restocking. My kitchen stove has been deemed slightly above useless and a replacement has been researched. I’ve taken a roll call of the pots, pans and casseroles in my kitchen and made a list of missing members. A kitchen timer has been procured, as well as two thermometers – meat and candy. One must be precise when recipe testing for a cookbook.

I’ve even ordered a quilted table runner from New Zealand, for goodness sake, although that -maybe, just maybe- was a random Etsy impulse buy. It’s as though I’ve been nesting – only this baby is words, photos and recipes.

In retrospect, I see now that it all had to be done (except for the table runner, perhaps) before I could start the book in earnest. Like decluttering an old work desk before sitting down to compose a new piece of writing, I’ve been organizing both my thoughts and my kitchen.

Here’s hoping the gears are sufficiently oiled and all the moving parts will function as a whole as I embark on this project.

For now, I offer a bowl of popcorn, easily made, free of preservatives, and popped in your microwave.

[Read more…]

Our October Unprocessed recap & my favorite links

More often than not, I am in a hurry when shopping for our food, and on a recent outing to the market, I was rushed enough to grab three avocados and toss them in a bag without hardly glancing to note their condition.

Before I could turn away, I felt a hand clamp down on my arm; an elderly lady with soft grey curls and piercing eyes had stopped me in my tracks. Leaning in closely, and not dropping my gaze, she vehement admonished me: “Il faut choisir avec amooooour.” (you’ve gotta choose with love) and sternly launched into a description of how an avocado should look and feel when ripe.

I was so startled by her hand on my arm, that I could only murmur “Oui.” and move on with my basket. But by the time I had rounded a few corners, I was chuckling to myself over the encounter, tickled pink over her surprising ardor. So what if the supermarket lady happened to be a bit of an avocado evangelist and invaded my personal space? I always love witnessing someone passionate for whole foods.

In fact, that kind of passion is similar to what the October Unprocessed online community demonstrated this past month. We brought whole foods into the spotlight, cheered each other on via Twitter parties, mulled over serious food for thought, and daily nourished our families with real food. It was most fun and inspirational.

Today I’ll share a little of what we gleaned from the challenge, as well as a handful of my absolute favorite recipes and articles from Unprocessed participants.

[Read more…]

A recipe for (unprocessed) Dark Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake

Now that we’re well into our challenge of no processed foods for the month of October, the cravings have kicked in something fierce. It may surprise you to know that sugar does not top my list of sought-after ingredients, instead it is cheese that is sorely missed from my diet. I’ve penciled in a wine & cheese for early in November; here’s hoping I can hold out until then.

So what is keeping the sugar cravings at bay? Well, a maple pumpkin pie has helped (recipe coming soon), honey in my coffee, homemade syrups on my morning pancakes, and this, this marvelous dark chocolate beet cake.

[Read more…]

A simple guide to cooking dried beans

I’m starting off the week with a big batch of home cooked pinto beans. Later I’ll add them to soups or chili, stuff them into toasted campfire burritos, or fold them into a soft egg scramble for a breakfast tortilla wrap. And that is just the beginning of the bean goodness.

If you usually tend to open a can of beans, I want to walk you really quickly through how I cook mine from dried. I think once you try it, you’ll be converted.

Not only is it more affordable (especially if you buy organic canned beans), but you can control the amount of added salt and, well, like most homemade versions of pantry staples, the taste is far superior to anything that comes in a can.

[Read more…]

Planning for the October Unprocessed challenge (Pumpkin Spice Granola)

If I could sum this post up in five words, I would say, in true Joy the Baker fashion,

October Unprocessed. Get into it.”

However I feel I owe you at least a little background, followed by a look at how I’m gearing up for the annual whole foods challenge. The motivation? That has to come from you, but if you are already a regular reader of this blog, I’m guessing that you would be totally down with this challenge. (There I go again with the Joy-isms.)

What is the Unprocessed Challenge?

Andrew of Eating Rules is a terrific guy with a fantastic message about healthy food. His goal behind the October Unprocessed challenge is to try to get as many people as possible off of processed foods and eating whole, healthier foods during the month of October. The thought behind this goal is to show people that they will ultimately feel better after the challenge – and hopefully be inspired to improve their long term eating habits.

What are the ‘rules‘?

“Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients.” – Andrew Wilder.

Sounds do-able, right? After all, we’re already on the whole food track here at Simple Bites.

You may remember that we cut our teeth on October Unprocessed for a week last year. There was the menu plan, and the follow-up recap of the week, highlighting a few of our favorite recipes. I also wrote a guest posted for Andrew and shared Seven Ways to Survive October Unprocessed with Kids, which I’ll be putting to practice again this year.

This time around I’m feeling better equipped for taking on the whole month. We’re feeding a baby real food, after all; that is even more incentive to keep our diet unprocessed. Sure, Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up in October, but both this naturally sweetened apple pie and this rustic maple pecan pie are unprocessed, and as long as we have pie, we’re all set.

[Read more…]