the taste space

Bulgur and Grape Salad with Nuts and Cranberries

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on October 22, 2010

Some doctors treat patients, and others go into research. The insane do both. I don’t know where I want to fit in just yet.

A positive point for research is that a discovery can help thousands or millions of people, whereas as a solo practitioner, you help one patient at a time.

It is kind of analogous to food blogging.

I can cook something at home and share it with friends and family. I have affected only a handful of people. But when I blog about it, it can reach to the furthest depths of the interspace. People from around the globe can read and try the dish to their own tastes.

While I love reading reader comments, I also really enjoy that instant gratification from sharing food with friends. Especially when it is new for them. Considering how little I repeat recipes, it is likely new for me too! A bit of Russian roulette.

Case in point: this salad. I shared it not once, but twice, with friends from out-of-town. It was fun to introduce my summer salad sensation, coarse bulgur. However, they misheard me the first time and thought I said “Booger salad”. Yes, my friends, I am serving you booger salad. From my childhood cookbook, which also included recipes for barbecued worms and muddy caterpillar hotdogs (I am not making this up, that’s what I did as a kid).

Thankfully there is no mud and no insects were harmed in creating this bulgur, I mean booger, salad. It is a light and bright salad, with lots of vegetables (spinach, bell peppers, broccoli), satisfying nutty pan-fried chickpeas with a crunch from both the almonds and sunflower seeds. A special sweet crunch comes from the red grapes. The balsamic-lemon dressing pulls everything together along with the base of coarse bulgur.

I adapted the recipe from Unsweetened Cocoa, who was inspired by Fine Cooking.

This is my submission to Blog Bites 8, featuring one-dish meals.

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Fruit, Nut & Seed Power Bars

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on September 15, 2010

My last post was written a while ago… one of my many recipes from the draft folder. And while these fruit, nut and seed bars were made later in the summer as well, I am writing this post after biking the double imperial century ride from Ottawa to Cornwall and back.  The big kahuna. The grand finale.

And I did it!!

It was such an amazing feeling to accomplish such a feat, especially since I only started long distance cycling this year. If I can do it, anyone can! :)

What was more amazing during this ride, though, is that I learned how great it is to cycle in a group. Usually I bike with 1-2 other people, but we just have fun while cycling, stopping when we want, etc.

This was different.

My Dad and I joined the Touring 1 group for the Imperial Century Route (160km). The posted average speed was going to be 23-26 km/h.  I usually get around 23km/h which is really not that fast but I can’t seem to do any better. I can do 26km/h average when mainly downhill…. but not when I factor in going back uphill! Hills are my weakness.

So there were 6 of us in the group.  Totally not a beginner group (um, what kind of beginner would be cycling 320km??). A and T were both older gentlemen who enjoy cycling and were along for the ride. Strong cyclists but always reminding us to have fun! H was going for a ‘hat trick’ award. This year, she had already cross-country skiied 160km over 2 days, ran a marathon, and once she did the double imperial century, she was all set! Her friend L came along for the ride – but she had only done the shorter routes before. My dad has done the Cornwall and Kingston rides for 10 years, so he’s very strong.. and then there’s me!

It is mainly flat, but I found it quite windy. Being in a group of 6 (3 pairs), we rotated routinely, and were able to draft off of each other. The hills at the end had me struggling a bit, especially when I fell out of formation but the group would wait at the top and my Dad would try to deflect some of the wind off me. Once you lose the group, it is even more hard to join up again!  We left at 0800 and arrived in Cornwall at 1600. Not bad at all. I was very pleased! 165km. 4 breaks, including a longer one for a flat tire. Average speed 26.1 km/h.

We lost and added a person for our return ride. T wanted to do the 120km and J joined us from the faster group. There were 60 people doing this ride and we were the only group doing the 160km back. We had 1 other person, biking solo, pass us, so most people picked the 120km back.

Anyways, we got the hills over with at the beginning and the route was mostly the same but it did change in some places as well.

In the end, our stats were: Left at 0730. Arrived at 1430 (imagine that!!) with 4 breaks. 162 km. Average 26.6 km/h!  By 124 km, our average was 27.0 km/h! But it rained the last 30km, so we slowed a bit.

The group was really fantastic. Very encouraging and never dropped me despite being the weakest in the group. In fact, they were great about whisking me along. I felt a bit like Lance Armstrong as people tried to figure out where to position me in the group to capitalize on my strengths. There was a LOT more wind this time and sometimes it helped us! Our max speed was 39km/h which we got on a flat.

In conclusion, it was a great end of season trip. While I won’t be putting away my bike just yet (I hope to keep commuting until December, at least until the snow arrives), I am also not entirely sure where to go from here. I am considering investing in a nice road bike, but we’ll see.

Now about these bars! I spotted them at Enlightened Cooking. They were a nice change of pace from the date-heavy bars, with a citrusy burst from the orange juice and the apricots. The seeds and almonds provided a nice crunch as well. They were a bit more moist then some of my other bars this year as well.

This is my submission to this month’s Sugar High Friday featuring bite-sized desserts.

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Peanutty Energy Bars

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on July 30, 2010


So how many food bloggers find recipes in cookbooks and then google to see if someone has already typed up the recipe? Me me me! That’s one thing I love about old or popular cookbooks because you can usually already find the recipes online without typing them all out. Imagine my surprise when I was googling for “Peanutty Energy Bars” from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook and I found them posted on Epicurious! With some great reviews, to boot!

Epicurious explains that these bars won a prize at the 2001 Plains Peanut Festival Recipe Contest and I must admit that part of the draw to these energy bars were the peanuts. I had a flop of a peanut butter granola last week, so I was looking for some peanut power redemption.

These were good, almost akin to a filling, complex rice krispie square with the puffed rice, oats, peanut butter and the added fixins like peanuts and dates. It is incredibly adaptable, switching the nuts, dried fruit and nut butters. They packed well with my on my cycling trip but I found the bars to be a bit big, so next time I will cut them into smaller pieces.

The bars were great to make in the summer as they are no bake, just a nuke in the microwave, but a bit tricky to mix together because you have to work fast before the warmed liquids cool. Quite a bit didn’t mix together for me (=leftover breakfast granola) but the stuff that stayed together was yummy. Other than working fast, it also helps to use a huge microwave safe bowl for your liquids.  Adding the dry ingredients to the wet facilitates easier mixing.

Other energy bars on my hit-list to try:

Homemade Cliff Bars by Enlightened Cooking
Chocolate Brownie Power Bars by Enlightened Cooking
Easy Whole Grain, Fruit & Nut Energy Bars by Enlightened Cooking
Fruit, Seed and Nut Power Bars by Enlightened Cooking
Paley’s Energy Bars by Runner’s World
Banana Bread Larabars by Oh She Glows
PB&J Larabars by Teens Eat
Apricot-Oatmeal Bars by Eating Well


This is my submission to this month’s Microwave Easy Cooking featuring Favourites, 365 Days of Microwave Cooking and to Cookbook Sundays.

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