Saturday, May 29, 2010

Need Food? There's An App(le) For That

I've always found it rather funny that now, with the plethora of technological advances we've witnessed in the past 50 years, our society in general is more helpless than ever. Our microwaves no longer just have a "popcorn" feature - they now pick up sensory cues from the item inside, deciding on their own when your food is perfectly done, or they can scan the UPC code on the packet and make the executive decisions as to how long and what power level it will bombard the food with radiation for optimal performance. On iPhones, you can download "apps" for everything - from the convenient (if strictly unnecessary) to the absolutely inane. Do we really need to have "8,500+ Drink & Cocktail Recipes" at the touch of a button?  


I hope it will never come down to the day where we are incapable of even getting dressed and brushing our teeth without some device stepping in to do it for us. What would really happen to us then? I mean, just in my own experiences teaching others how to cook, or even when I mention baking my own bread, I'm met with stares of amazement and the question: "why would you want to?". Well, I know why I value knowing how to cook - even just the basics - because it shows that I can still do things for myself. I don't need to be told 47,000 ways to order a steak in Japan, or have my fridge put my menu together for me based on an internal inventory scan. My head is (for the moment at least) still screwed onto my shoulders and I still know how to look for the answers to my questions rather than demanding instant gratification from a composed block of plastic and metal. The whole becoming-reliant-on-technology thing is really starting to make me think of that Simpsons episode - and I personally don't want to wake up with a neighbourhood kid chewing off my arm because that was the nearest "good eats" in town (or maybe they'd be looking for a toothpick, I don't know!).

It doesn't have to be complicated or even all that showy when you're cooking for yourself and your family. I mean, unless you're expecting company that demands a massive armoured guard, an honestly put-together bowl of short ribs on rice, or a platter of sliced teacake and a hot pot of coffee, speak volumes more about your feelings for those you serve than the fanciest dinner out at a gazillion-star restaurant. As a better cook than I (and yes, I do love Ms. Ray) once said "anyone can pick up the phone and make a reservation". Even if you are cooking out of a box or jazzing up leftovers, you're showing drive, initiative and a willingness to put yourself out on the table (literally) for all to see.

I regularly take long and varied journeys in my kitchen, most often (and recently) in the quest to use up the odds and ends of things that lie in all the nooks and crannies of the pantry. When I had all those apples to contend with, I did the most expedient thing at the time by making some super-delicious, all-natural apple butter. Good stuff, for sure... but that was 22 pounds of apples - and there isn't enough bagels, baguettes or pork loins in Canada to use all of it up in a timely fashion. So I stuck some in the freezer, which worked for a while until our freezer got full. Hmm. Okay, then. Having already pawned off several jars of the stuff to others, the only other logical thing to do was bake with it.

It turns out that apple butter, if sufficiently thick and rich enough, makes a brilliant substitute for the mashed bananas in banana bread. Really, it makes sense - I mean, apple butter is basically mushed up whole apples - so I'm not surprised it worked. What I was surprised by was how well it worked - not only did my loyal fans (*ahem, thanks Mom and Marlene*) pronounce it delicious, the kids did too. And they picked a slice of Apple Butter Bread for snack over Starbucks donations - even when they couldn't instantly look up what exactly it was, or what the "bits" in it were comprised of (in this case, simple kasha filled that role)!

So for that home-cooked dinner tonight - do you have an App for that? Or do you have an appliance?

Super - Natural Apple Bread
Serves 12
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp maca powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
4 oz silken tofu
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup oil
¾ cup apple butter
2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup kasha (toasted buckwheat kernels)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flours, maca powder, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, combine tofu, cream cheese, oil, apple butter and milk. Puree until smooth.
  4. Stir puree into the dry ingredients, then fold in the kasha until just combined.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, cool 30 minutes in the pan before unmoulding onto a rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 281.3
Total Fat: 11.7 g
Cholesterol: 6.6 mg
Sodium: 29.5 mg
Total Carbs: 40.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 4.8 g

1 comment :

SteelCityFlan said...

This is such a brilliantly written post. I agree with everything you say about our lack of common sense and our need for instant gratification in everything...great post and great blog :)