Yet Another New Kitchen Toy

I’m pleased to report that we finally got some snow here in Memphis last week. Unfortunately, we got a layer of ice under it, but it still looked pretty.

snow day at Cammy's house

Because it rained (hard!) in the hours before the temps plummeted, the streets couldn’t be treated with brine which meant they were a mess. Memphis doesn’t currently have any snow removal equipment, so if the roads are a mess, they’re going to stay a mess for a while. Especially if the temps are in the teens and twenties. Brrrrr.

snow and ice Memphis

Yep, a MESS. On the bright side, I had a full choice of lanes in which to drive.

You’re wondering what was SO IMPORTANT that I had to get out on these messy roads, aren’t you? Well, I’ll tell you. Better yet, I’ll show you:

ninja express chopper

Target had this Ninja Express Chopper on sale for $19.99, and I just happen to have a fistful of Target giftcards. (It also helped that this Target is only a couple miles from my house.)

Now, I have a food processor and a Vitamix, but they’re both cumbersome to set up for small jobs. The processor has too many parts, and the Vitamix is heavy. I thought this little Ninja cutie would be perfect for chopping nuts or veggies. Or, more immediately, grinding oats. That’s what started all of this: a need to grind oats.

In my Coming Attractions post, I mentioned wanting to make Scottish Oatcakes. And I did, using the last of my steel cut oats to do so. (Yes, I know the recipe calls for Scottish oatmeal, but I didn’t have any so I made do.)

My oatcakes turned out pretty good, so I decided to try them using some of the three pounds of rolled oats I have in the pantry. Only I needed to grind up the oats which meant I was going to have to drag out the food processor and the blade and the top and hook it all up…just to grind up a measly little two cups of oats.

And then a miracle happened. I was flipping through the Target weekly ad and saw this mini-chopper ON SALE!! It was meant to be! Except then it snowed and iced. After about 10 minutes of serious internal debate, I decided that I had some sort of Divine Intervention going on, which meant I’d probably be safe driving the 2+ miles to Target.

Was it worth it?

oats in the grinder

This took about 15 seconds to assemble and another 15 seconds to grind. Definitely worth it to me.

Now I just have to decide which appliance on the shelf has to go so that I can be in compliance with my one-in, one-out rule. I’m thinking my old avocado green blender will go, considering I haven’t used it in…oh, 4 or 5 years. :)

But what about the oatcakes?

oatcakes with steel cut oats and rolled oats

I don’t think my McKibben relatives would be disappointed in my efforts. The ones on the left are the steel cut version, with the ones on the right being the ninja version. I followed the Bob’s Red Mill recipe for ratios. Both are tasty, but the ninja oatcakes are softer and crumblier. Or maybe I didn’t bake them long enough. We’ll see what happens with the next batch.

I will definitely be keeping these on hand. On their own they’re kind of bland, but adding even the teensiest bit of topping to one makes it wonderful. So far, I’ve been using a schmear of orange marmalade or apple butter, but I think they’d be dee-lish with peanut butter or any other nut butter.

Oh and speaking of butter, in the near future I’ll be experimenting with replacing some of the butter called for in the recipe with applesauce. I like butter as much as the next person, but this seems like a lot of butter to me. It tastes a little heavy, if you know what I mean. (On the positive side, the fiber and the fat make it very filling!)

At some point, I’ll try subbing coconut oil for butter. Or maybe coconut or peanut flour for the whole wheat flour. Or any number of combinations. Tinkering with this recipe will keep me busy for quite some time. Better this than the Victoria Sponge Cake, I think. :)

Between the Ninja chopper and my new-to-me ice cream/fro-yo maker, I hope to have quite a few interesting culinary adventures this summer. More chopping than ice cream-making though. LOL



Coming Attractions…Maybe

I have found a bright spot in this seemingly endless cycle of grey and rainy/icy/snowy days, so bright that I find it difficult to turn away.

The Great British Bake Off

The Great British Bake-Off has been around for a few years, but I only became aware of it earlier this year when our local PBS station ran a delayed version of Season 5 as a lead-in to Downton Abbey. I was hooked with the first episode.

If you’re unfamiliar, GBBO features amateur cooks competing each week through 3 challenges: a signature bake, a technical challenge, and a show-stopper finale. Judges Paul Hollywood (so handsome!) and Mary Berry (so charming and elegant!) choose one “star baker” for the week and also send one person home. Although it might sound a bit like some of the cooking competitions here in the U.S., it’s nothing like a U.S. show. No screaming, no scheming, no drama, no flashy sets–in fact, the competition is held in a huge tent in the countryside. The contestants, hosts (so funny!), and judges all seem to genuinely care about one another. Plus, the grand prize? A glass dish. Engraved. That’s it. It’s all quite refreshing, I tell you.

Side note: There was a spin-off Great American Baking Competition a few years ago, but the resemblance stopped with the name and the tent. The U.S. prize was $250,000. *sigh*

Anyway, I found previous seasons on You Tube and have been working my way back through the seasons. The more I’ve watched, the more I’ve been inspired to flex my baking muscles. Here are a few of the recipes from the show (or as close as I could find) that I’m eager to try my hand at:

Scottish Oatcakes – More of a cracker than a cake, this recipe was featured in a flat bread challenge. I’m hoping these will be tastier than the Wasa Wafers I usually eat. I know they’ll be cheaper.

Pavlova – The meringues I’ve made end up on top of pies, not as the base of a dessert. I like the linked recipe for the yogurt whipped topping idea.

Banana Tarte Tatin – What could go wrong with bananas and puff pastry? A lot, if I’m making the puff pastry. LOL I’ve never made a puff pastry and might stop at one, but I should at least try it. (The linked recipe is from one of the season 3 GBBO contestants–one of my favorites.)

I stopped the list there because I don’t have much room in the dietary budget for baking. Or so I thought. As I was browsing Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, I found a long list of good breads for freezing and some recipes that look promising. (I do better at portion control if the portions are in the freezer. :) )

And then today at the library, I spotted these two books:

baking cookbooks

In a neat full circle thing, 100 Great Breads was written by none other than Paul Hollywood, one half of the judging team of The Great British Bake-Off! I’m eager to try a few of his recipes too. I haven’t even looked at the King Arthur book, but I’m sure I’ll find something interesting in there too. Probably a lot of somethings.

So many recipes, so little time.

Fortunately, this baking itch has neatly coincided with my winning a lifetime supply of stevia from Lori‘s Heart Healthy Weekend.

Now Better Stevia

I’ve been using a stevia/sugar blend, and I’m eager to experiment with making my own blend. And I have 10,088 tries to get it right!

I’ll probably do more reading and bookmarking than actual baking (not a bad thing), but I’ll be sure to share any results with you. Here’s hoping the theme isn’t of the “Don’t Let This Happen to You” variety.

What’s the last thing you baked?



Product Review: Simple Health Global Food Scale

It’s embarrassing to admit this, but when I first started this “healthier living” endeavor, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what made up a normal serving of most foods. I couldn’t have told you what a 4-oz. serving of chicken looked like or whether or not I was eating 3 ounces of potato or 10 ounces. (Back then, I can assure you I was probably eating closer to 10. :) )

With that in mind, one of the first and most valuable tools I bought for myself was a food scale. I don’t use it all the time, but I do weigh new foods/recipes or do a “portion check” now and then. On the rare occasions I do any baking, the food scale is invaluable for measuring, especially dry ingredients.

simple health global scaleRecently I was offered an opportunity to evaluate the new-scale-on-the-block from Simple Health Global (not an affiliate link). Even though I already had a food scale, I confess I was attracted by the strawberries prettiness of this one.

After putting this scale through its paces for a few weeks, I’m happy to report that it’s a winner.

Pros:

  • lightweight but stable
  • easy to use
  • clear platform, wider (6″) than my previous scale
  • measures in pounds, grams, or ounces
  • tare function! (scale newbies: this allows you to put an empty dish on the scale and zero out its weight before putting your food in)
  • accurate (as compared to my previous scale, but I suppose they could both be equally incorrect)

Cons:

  • the indicator for ounces, pounds or grams is so teensy, tiny I had to get a magnifying glass to see them
  • the marketing photo is somewhat misleading as the scale does NOT come with fresh strawberries

Live Action Shot
simple health global in use

Oh, how my portion estimating skillz have improved! I grabbed what I thought was a half-serving of cashews and came pretty darned close. I had to eat one cashew to get it down to the intended 15 grams. :)

If you are in the market for a food scale, the Simple Global Health Food Scale is definitely one to consider. If you’re in the market for one NOW, click the image with the strawberries (or HERE) and enter TIPPYTOE for a 20% discount. (This is not an affiliate link.)

Question: If you could design the perfect food scale, what features would it it include?

Disclosure: I received a scale at no charge for evaluation, but I did not receive any compensation for my opinions. For the record, I also did not receive any strawberries.