Unprocessed Week Recap (Recipe: Cream of Potato-Leek Soup)

To say that our week of eating only unprocessed foods went by without much ruffling of feathers would be a fair statement. If you remember, we had pledged to one week of ‘hard core’ unprocessed eating and the entire month of October as ‘soft core’, meaning we might indulge in chocolate chip cookies or hot cocoa once in a while.

Saturday wrapped our week of serious wholesome eating, and today I’ve brought you the highlights from that week, with a few recipes and tips for beating the cravings.

If you are smack in the middle of October Unprocessed and need a little inspiration for the week ahead, or just want to improve your diet in general, then hit the jump.

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The Beauty of Foil Dinners and My Essential Camping Kitchen Tools

Sunburned, sleepy, and more-than-a-little sandy, we are home from our family camping trip. I’m pleased to report it was one of our better excursions as nothing major was left behind (save for our Bodum; but there are ways to get creative when making coffee), the bugs were few, and we had a lovely campsite near a small beach.

Fortunately, the rain stayed away, despite some violent thunder crashes that sent Noah scurrying back to camp from wherever he was exploring, and as I sit down to type these words I can hear the skies opening up. No matter now, as my boys are fast asleep in their own beds and there’s a roof over us all. Let it rain.

I find the weather always directly effects how much food we consume during a 60+ hour camping trip. If the sun is shining and we are busy hiking trails or swimming, food takes a backseat until about six pm, when we regroup around the fire pit and devour a hearty dinner. If it’s drizzling or cold, much time is spent stoking the fire and eating our way through provisions. Either way, food is always an important part of a camping trip, I think we can all agree on that!

Here’s a recap of our menu, plus a recipe for our favorite dish of the trip.

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A Virtual Easter Dinner (vlog: Potato Rosemary Strudel)

Potato Strudel. I know, I know, it sounds weird, but can you please forget about the Swedish apple dessert momentarily, because I’m really excited to share this gussied up potato side dish with you.

Potato strudel was one of the first dishes I learned to make back in my early days in the professional kitchen. I was seventeen, and every evening, my chef and mentor, George (of the focaccia fame) served up slice after slice alongside expertly grilled New York steaks. After I watched him make the strudel a few times, I started recreating it at home for my family and it quickly became our go-to potato dish for holiday meals.

Thinly sliced potatoes, flavored with fresh rosemary and tossed with sour cream, are wrapped in puff pastry and baked until the potatoes are creamy and the pastry crisp. As trite as the expression is – what’s not to love?

Don’t let this sophisticated potato presentation lead you to believe that this strudel is a lot of work. I’ve purposely created a vlog to show you how easily it comes together. Just watch and learn! [Read more…]

Eat Well, Spend Less: My Top Five Frugal Meals (Recipe: Lentil Shepherd’s Pie)

Welcome back to another post in our Eat Well, Spend Less series. Last week we talked about Homemade Substitutes for Grocery Staples, and today I’m bringing you some of our ‘cheap eats’.

How fortunate that some of our most frugal meals are also our favorites.  Our family’s love of legumes definitely helps. Meat – especially organic – is one of the ingredients that quickly drives up the cost of a meal, so we aim to eat vegetarian meals three or four times a week.

Four of the five thrifty meal suggestions below are vegetarian, and most would adapt easily to be vegan; in particular, today’s recipe: Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping.

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Tips for Perfect (and flavorful) Mashed Potatoes

Written by Cheryl Arkison of Backseat Gourmet

Thanksgiving is my all-time favourite holiday. I love autumn immensely, and without the attachment of religious significance it seems like there is less pressure to perform on the holiday. Rather, it is a gathering of souls, all around a table.

In my university days we started a tradition of hosting friends for Thanksgiving, dinner for those of us too far from home and/or too poor to get there. It carried on through grad school and afterwards. Even now, we seem to gather with friends more so than our immediate families. It was always a classic feast, fueled by wine, stories, and laughter. Comfort and peace too.

Regardless of the company, when the Thanksgiving turkey arrives on the table there isn’t a single person who thinks, “Hey, I wish I had a baked potato to eat with that.” No, we all want a pile of mashed potatoes with a pool of gravy to accompany our turkey. Dan Quayle jokes aside.

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