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Chocolate Milkshake (Light Version Available)

12 Mar
Two chocolate milkshakes garnished with chocolate syrup swirls.

Two chocolate milkshakes garnished with chocolate syrup swirls.

  • 1 cup mlik
  • 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
  • 1.5 cup vanilla ice cream

Serves two. Adjust quantities to suit your own preferences.

1. Add all ingredients to a blender.

2. Whiz on high until thoroughly combined.

3. Pour into two tumblers and drizzle a swirl of chocolate syrup on top as a garnish.

Healthier version: replace half the amount of ice cream with frozen yogurt, use skim milk, add a banana and/or a handful of frozen fruits (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc.).


Hot Cocoa

20 Nov

Hot cocoa.

The following recipe makes one mug of steaming hot cocoa.

  • 1.5 cup skim milk
  • 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar (brown or white)
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a tiny splash of pure vanilla extract
  • a few marshmallows for extra sweetness

Milk with cocoa powder, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon simmering in a pot.

  1. Add all the ingredients (except for the marshmallows) into a pot and bring to a boil. Stir often as milk burns rather easily.
  2. Pour hot cocoa into a big mug.
  3. Add in a few marshmallows.
  4. Sprinkle a tiny amount of  cinnamon on top of the marshmallows.
  5. Let cool for a few minutes before taking the first sip.

Fizzy Lemonade

28 Aug

Homemade fizzy lemonade.

  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups carbonated water

1. In a tumbler or jar, combine the lemon juice, honey and carbonated water. Stir well.

2. Feel free to adjust the quantities of lemon juice, honey and water to your own preferences.

Two lemons and a jar with honey.

Fizzy lemonade.


23 Nov

A 946mL carton of plain Kefir, $3.99 (CDN).

I would describe  Kefir as a drinkable yogurt. Kefir tastes a lot like plain yogurt and has a thicker consistency than milk.  I enjoy Kefir as a richer and more flavourful alternative to drinking a glass of milk or soy. It is also packed with healthy bacterias, vitamins and minerals. I often have it with savoury phyllo pastries (such as tiropita, spanakopita, or burek) or mixed with cereal, fresh fruit and/or granola.

Kefir is more common in Europe than here in North America and it usually isn’t available at a regular grocery store.  This bottle was purchased at a specialty store (Vincenzo’s) that supplies foreign products and brands.  If you’re looking to try new foods, Kefir is an unique, healthy, versatile and inexpensive choice.

Blueberry Strawberry Smoothie

25 Aug

Blueberry strawberry smoothie.

  • 2 cups of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 3 tbsps of honey (a little more if you like your drinks on the sweeter side)
  • 1/2 cup of strawberry or vanilla yogurt
  • 3 cups of skim milk (add less if you like a thicker consistency for your smoothie)
  • a blender

Frozen blueberries and strawberries in a blender.

Place the strawberries and blueberries into the blender first.  They are the hardest items to breakdown and should be closest to the blade.  Add in the honey, yogurt and milk, then pop the lid on and  blend until the mixture is smooth. Open the blender lid, give the mixture a good stir with a long spoon and blend once more for a few seconds.  Serve immediately with a straw.

For alternatives, try different combinations and/or additions of frozen fruits such as mango, peaches and raspberries.

Homemade Beer

8 Jul

A glass of cold golden homemade beer (homebrew). Behind the glass is the bottle the beer came from.

Many of the supplies needed for making your own beer can be purchased at Canadian Homebrew Supplies.  The following recipe makes approximately 60 bottles of beer and requires two hours to prepare with an additional 10 days for the fermenting process.

  • 2 packs (1 oz each) of Willamette Hops
  • 1 pack (1 lb) of caramel malt
  • 3 grain bags about 6 by 8 inches in size
  • 1 bag (4.25 oz) of Wyeast;  the yeast needs to be activated ahead of time. Please read the package for instructions on how and when to activate.
  • 2 packs (3lbs each) of Briess Amber, (essentially this is dry malt extract and acts like sugar)
  • water
  • sugar
  • food processor, blender or coffee grinder
  • 1 large (enough to hold 30 or more liters of liquid) sterilized barrel with lid.  This will be used to store the beer as it ferments for 10 days.  TIP: Ensure the barrel and lid is completely sterilized.  Using bleach to sterilize works well.
  • 1 large (enough to hold 8 or more liters of liquid) stainless steel or aluminum pot
  • a big stirring spoon

After ten days have passed, the following will also be needed:

  •  bottle capper
  • approximately 60 sterilized beer bottles and corresponding sterilized bottle caps
  • sterilized tube for siphoning
  • clamp
  • corn sugar (dextrose)
  • bleach

Two packs of Willamette hops, $2.99 each

The inside of a package of Willamette hops.

A 1lb bag of caramel malt, $2.29.

A 6-by-8 inch grain bag, $5.99 (or there abouts).

A package containing billions of yeast cells, about $10. This bag was activated three hours before.

A package of Briess Amber which essentially behaves as sugar, $12.99.

In a metal pot, bring 4.5L of water to a boil and then turn down the heat so the water is at a gentle simmer.  Pour one pack of the hops’ pellets into a grain bag and close securely.  Place the bag into the simmering water and steep for 20 minutes.  The water will turn a moss green.

A bag of willamette hops steeping in 4.5L of gently simmering water.

In a coffee grinder, coarse chop the caramel malt.  A blender or food processor should work too.  Remove the hops’ grain bag, draining any excess liquid still lingering in the grain bag and in a new grain bag, pour in the crushed caramel malt, close securely and place in the liquid for 15 to 20 minutes.  The water will turn a golden shiny brown.  Before removing the bag, squeeze out any excess liquid.

A grain bag filled with caramel malt steeping in liquid infused with willlamette hop.

Gradually, add both bags of the dry malt extract.  Stir continuously while adding the malt extract and ensure there are no lumps in the liquid (which now has a special name, wort).

While the dry malt extract is being added, stir continuously until there are no lumps in the liquid.

Pour in the second bag of hops into a new grain bag and close securely.  Place the bag into the wort and steep for 15 to 20 minutes and once the time has passed, remove the bag but before doing so squeeze out any excess liquid.

In the large barrel, add 18.5 L of cold tap water.  Add to this the wort and then pour in the package of yeast.  (Do NOT add the yeast directly to the wort.  It will be too hot and will instantly kill all the yeast.) Give it a good stir, put the lid on and store for ten days in an out-of-the-way room temperature spot.

Wort containing yeast which will ferment to make beer. This will take ten days.

After ten days, the wort is now beer.

Once the ten days have passed, the beer can be siphoned and stored into individual beer bottles.  This will take approximately 2 hours.  To begin, sterilize all the beer bottles and caps.  The easiest way to do this is to submerge the bottles and caps in a tub of water with a generous amount of bleach added. Soak for a few minutes and then thoroughly rinse the bottles and caps.

To each bottle, add precisely 3ml of corn sugar. Now the bottles are ready for their beer.

A bag of corn sugar (or dextrose) which was purchased at Home Hardware for $5.99. One bag lasts quite some time. Substituting with regular sugar is possible but not advised.

To remove the beer from the white barrel, use a tube to siphon out the beer. Once the beer is flowing in the tube,  set up a system that will make distributing the beer easy and efficient for yourself and fix a clamp to the free end of the tube. The clamp makes distributing from bottle to bottle much easier.  During this process, some of the beer will inevitably spill.

Just a note:  do not siphon out to the very bottom. An unwanted sludge will have formed at the bottom which should not enter into the beer bottles.

Setup of siphoning system for distributing beer into individual bottles.

The clamp controls the flow of beer.

After the bottles have been filled, cap each bottle and ensure a complete seal has formed over the opening of each bottle.

A bottle capper purchased in the 70s.

The filled bottles will need to sit at room temperature for at least tens days during which time the beer will carbonate.  Once the time has passed, chill the beers before serving.

A BIG thanks to Michael Dunphy for sharing his homebrew recipe.

Strawberry Smoothies

19 Jul

Strawberry Smoothie

  • 2 cups of frozen strawberries
  • one (ripe) banana, peeled
  • 1/2 cup of strawberry or vanilla yogurt
  • 3 cups of milk
  • a blender

Place the frozen strawberries in the blender first.  This is because the frozen strawberries are the hardest item to blend and therefore should be closest to the blade.  Break up the banana into thirds and place into the blender.  Add the yogurt and milk.  Blend and mix once with a spoon between blending.  Serve with a straw since the smoothie can be quite thick.

This recipe makes two large drinks or four small ones and goes well with a breakfast meal or as a snack.   You can also substitute the strawberries with frozen mangos, peaches, raspberries or blueberries.