Friday 20 January 2017

Why I steam, How to steam?

Why  do I steam my  baby's  food?

Well, I do  so because  it is not only easy,  it also retains the moisture and does not dry out the food, as can be so easily done when you only want to warm up  5 tablespoons worth of food. Does it take longer .... YES!  but  it is  generally  a healthier  form of  cooking  than say a microwave, and it also retains  a  lot of nutrients as  it doesnt get  "washed" away  which you can get with  boiling.

I have an electric steamer , so its  quite easy for me,  but what if you don't,  or what if  there is no reliable electricity to use the  electric steamer?  Well, there  is a   more manual approach  to it and most meals  take only about 30 mins to re-heat,  maybe up to an hour if you are  cooking from scratch.

Pot steamers come in different forms, a  few of them are listed below

  1. The stackable  pot/steamer sets that  many  people have but  have never used the steamer  attachment ( yes we are all  guilty, the steamer bit is  still very shiny and we  sometimes use it  to wash   carrot, cabbage and  green pepper  at Christmas/ Easter when we want to make  fried rice or salad

Single layer  steamer attachment. 
Multi- level steamer attachment
Basically water  goes into the  bottom  pot  and the perforated  pots/ bowls   are stacked over it  with the food  to be steamed  and covered.

     2.    The mesh  baskets you can insert into a  pot. Now I know most people use this for deep frying  but yes it does have  another  purpose and can  work very well as  a steamer.  

basket  attachments:  the  one in the middle is mostly used in combination with a  deep  pot  for  deep frying

You just  suspend  over your  pot  as usually and rather than fill with oil,   you  just partially fill with  water to below the  mesh and  voila!


 3: To even the  humble colanders that you can suspend over your  pot!

This ( picture below) is came with my  pressure cooker, it is essentially a food separator but i can also use it as  a  steamer in this configuration.

Iplace the   little  angles in the bottom of the pot  to  elevate the   perforated  bowl and add some water

Place the mesh bowl on the  angles and  place whatever I need to cook  in it.  I either use a plastic  bowl with a cover  or a  glass jar with a cover.  just  make sure  the water is below the perforated  bowl. 

Cover tightly and   put on the  hob or stove for the water to  boil.

Do I steam only baby food?

Of course not!  I use my steamer  for  other  food stuff.  I haven't  boiled yam or plantain or  potatoes in like 3 years  and i  don't think i can,  without it turning into  pottage,  i steam all my  veg - carrots, broccoli, beetroot, etc.  i also steam  fish and  chicken, and you can also steam rice, eggs, or  beans  basically anything that can be  boiled, can be steamed.

If you are  steaming food in containers, make sure there is a bit of  liquid in it.

For things like carrots,  potatoes, yam and  other veg, simply place in the veg in the perforated  bowl for the  steam to  cook directly.

For  meat, chicken of fish, make sure you  wrap in foil before you  do place in your  steamer  - keeps it super moist! also make sure it is completely defrosted   as well if it has been frozen.

Friday 13 January 2017

Mixed Fruit Paste Sweetener

Mixed Fruit Paste Sweetener

I mentioned in this previous post about  making a sweetener with  dried fruits for cereals.  well  what I did was to blend a few dried  soft fruits. So into my  food processor  i have some apricots, dates, raisins and sultanas. You can get this in the baking section of your supermarket or market.  

Now, i would say  that you may want to chop the items a bit with a knife before  putting in the  food processor, as after a while it  does form it into a ball. 

After  blending, store in an air tight container.  if the fruits were  straight from the pack  it should last  a while ( about a  month or two).  however if you washed any fruits like the dates for instance, make sure that they dry off properly before you blend. 

To use the  paste, simply take a bit  into the plate and  add a bit of warm milk to  break it up.  add your  cereal and  the remaining milk and serve. 

You can use any fruit combinations  you like,  however if you are adding any nuts, make sure your little one has no allergies to  the nuts.  Also you may want to blend the nuts first into as fine a powder as you  can, before you add the remaining dried soft fruits. 

I have so much fruit paste, now  i am  looking for what else i  can use it for. if i think of anything i will let you know. 

hmmn.... thinking i may make some morrocan inspired lamb sauce with  couscous or perhaps mix with some milk, mashed bananas and  baby rice;  or  maybe even do a  sort of  steamed  pudding kinda like  Christmas pudding)  now where did i stash that bottle of brandy?!!!

If you try this,  do  let me know how it comes  out.