Magic beans

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - KAREN BARN­ABY

I never used to be a big fan of vanilla. It was prob­a­bly be­cause I had only fake vanilla for many years. Even when I re­al­ized that there was real vanilla ex­tract avail­able, I found it odd and cloy­ing. When it was called for in recipes, I didn’t use it. I did use it pro­fes­sion­ally, be­cause that’s what peo­ple ex­pect in cer­tain baked goods or desserts such as creme brulee.

Choco­late was my pre­ferred flavour, with­out vanilla.

I con­tin­ued to ig­nore vanilla dur­ing the ex­plo­sion of vanillaw­ith-seafood, vanilla-with­cauliflowe­r, and vanilla-with-rice dishes dur­ing the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Years ago, a friend’s hus­band who was work­ing in In­done­sia gave me a very large bag of vanilla beans. I stuck it in the freezer. You may be rais­ing your eye­brows at this. You see, my house­hold does not eat baked goods or desserts. I only bake or make sweets when I need to for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, for a recipe, or for writ­ing pur­poses.

Back to the vanilla beans in the freezer. The beans stayed there for a few years un­til I needed vanilla beans for a prawn dish I was teach­ing. I tried one of the prawns dur­ing the class and it blew me away. It was sul­try, beck­on­ing and in­tox­i­cat­ing. The vanilla flavour formed a big, sweet bub­ble in the part of my brain that holds the notes on flavour and scents.

I took a bean, split it, stuck it in a con­tainer of ri­cotta cheese. Another one went into a batch of yo­gurt. I chopped and roasted yet another one with chai-spiced sweet pota­toes. I put one into a jar of salt, and another into a bot­tle of vine­gar. I con­tinue to use vanilla in savoury dishes. Even if I choose not to use it, I’ll still open the jar of vanilla and in­hale deeply.

“I re­mem­ber call­ing Ko­rey on the first day of school two years ago. I told her about my idea, and she ba­si­cally said, ‘No way,’” Phillips says, laugh­ing.

With three chil­dren and a hus­band who play hockey, Ko­rey Kealey knows all about liv­ing in are­nas. The founder of Kitchen Kon­nected and En­er­jive was leery at first about get­ting in­volved in a cook­book after see­ing the amount of work and money in­volved in cre­at­ing one.

But Kealey ad­mits she couldn’t re­sist Phillips’ con­vinc­ing plea to help other fam­i­lies de­liver yummy, healthy meals that chil­dren will eat.

The Ul­ti­mate Cook­book for Hockey Fam­i­lies fea­tures more than 70 recipes from 27 hockey and skat­ing pros, in­clud­ing Erik Karls­son, P.K. Sub­ban, Dany Heat­ley and Re­becca John­ston.

“This is a com­bi­na­tion of ev­ery­thing I love: recipe de­vel­op­ment, food styling and photograph­s, and nu­tri­tious meal plan­ning,” says Kealey, who spends about f ive nights a week shut­tling her chil­dren to area rinks. “If peo­ple take one thing away from this book, I hope it’s to in­spire kids to eat and make bet­ter meals.”

The pair asked moms, dads and wives of the pro­fes­sional play­ers to share their favourite recipes, and re­ceived an ar­ray of dishes that they dili­gently tasted and made at least twice. Each recipe comes with a photo of the pro, in­struc­tions, nu­tri­tional stats, serv­ing in­for­ma­tion and handy tips.

Recipes in­clude Cap­tain Steve Yz­er­man’s Lasagna, Kyle Tur­ris’s Top-Shelf Al­fredo, Mike Fisher’s Slap- Shot Spaghetti Casse­role, Bobby Ryan’s Comin’ in Hot Sweet Sour Chicken, and Ja­son Spezza’s Shootout Sea Bass. Tessa Virtue’s World Cham­pion Chili made the cut, as did Gram­mie (Jamie) Salé’s Chicken Soup, Cap­tain Cassie Camp­bell’s Slow Cooker Cac­cia­tore and Chris Neil’s Neiler’s Take­down Veg­etable Soup. Daniel Al­freds­son has two en­tries: Power Play Meat Sauce and Al­fie’s Swedish Meat­balls.

“When­ever we had din­ners at Bibbi (Al­freds­son’s wife) and Al­fie’s house, they’d serve the team Swedish meat­balls,” says Phillips, who has a ki­ne­si­ol­ogy de­gree and once played com­pet­i­tive hockey.

Popular desserts in­clude Luke Richard­son’s Buck­eyes (peanut but­ter balls with choco­late), Zdeno Chara’s Rocket Rice Pud­ding and Liam’s Choco­late Chip­pie — Kealey’s real-es­tate agent hus­band’s de­li­cious recipe for choco­late chip cook­ies.

“Nu­tri­tion wasn’t a pri­or­ity when Chris first started play­ing hockey,” Phillips says. “The role of nu­tri­tion in sports has come a long way in re­cent years. Play­ers started ad­vo­cat­ing for them­selves, but ev­ery­one seems to be on board now.”

The cook­book is di­vided into four parts — Ul­ti­mate Fuel, Ul­ti­mate Per­for­mance, Ul­ti­mate Hy­dra­tion and Kitchen As­sist — and is full of help­ful tips on such things as gluten­free eat­ing, hy­dra­tion, meal plan­ning and what items to keep on hand in the pantry, fridge and freezer.

Cana­dian Tire, a spon­sor and one of the out­lets sell­ing the book, is donat­ing 100 per cent of its pro­ceeds from sales to Jump­start, a pro­gram that as­sists needy fam­i­lies with hockey fees.

“We didn’t do this to be­come rich,” says Kealey, who es­ti­mates they’ve spent more than $100,000 to pro­duce their book. “Once we break even, I’ll sleep eas­ier. I’ve al­ready got our sec­ond book writ­ten in my head.”

De­tails on where to pur­chase the Ul­ti­mate Cook­book for Hockey Fam­i­lies, which sells for $20, can be found at Hock­ey­food.com. The savvy duo also have ac­counts de­voted to their book on Twit­ter, Face­book and In­sta­gram.

Nick Foligno’s Five-Hole Salad

snack. 1 large cooked, cooled chicken breast, diced or shred­ded 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped green onions 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped cu­cum­ber 2 tbsp (30 mL) may­on­naise (more, if needed)

Sprin­kle dried thyme

Sprin­kle dried dill

Dash salt and pep­per

1 large ripe av­o­cado

1. In a large bowl, com­bine chicken, green onions, cu­cum­ber, may­on­naise, spices, salt and pep­per. Stir well, add mayo if needed.

2. Slice av­o­cado length­wise and re­move pit. Place scoop of chicken salad in hole left by pit, let­ting it over­flow a bit.

3. In­stead of a spoon, use En­er­jive quinoa crack­ers, whole­wheat crack­ers, or cel­ery sticks for scoop­ing up the salad.

Make-ahead tip: Have cooked chicken ready in the fridge or have the en­tire chicken salad mixed and in the fridge, ready to add to the av­o­cado.

Philly’s Blue-LineCan­non Smoothie

This pow­er­house smoothie will def­i­nitely im­prove the shot (can­non) from the point (blue line). The frozen fruit is a nat­u­ral sweet­ener that also makes the smoothie very slushy and de­li­cious.

1/2 cup (125 mL) wa­ter

1/2 frozen ba­nana

3 pieces frozen mango 4 frozen straw­ber­ries 1/2 cup (125 mL) plain Greek yo­gurt 1 scoop Pro­gres­sive Phy­toBerry pow­der 1 scoop Pro­gres­sive VegeGreens pow­der 1 tsp (5 mL) Pro­gres­sive OmegEssen­tial liq­uid Wa­ter, to cover

In a blender, place in­gre­di­ents in or­der listed. Cover and blend on high speed un­til de­sired con­sis­tency.

Vari­a­tion: For a smoothie that’s “pretty and pur­ple” or “brutish and bruised” (de­pend­ing on who you are talk­ing to), sub­sti­tute 1/4 cup (60 mL) frozen blue­ber­ries for the mango.

Tip: Adding the wa­ter first helps pre­vent pow­ders from clump­ing or stick­ing to the blender con­tainer.

Roadie’s Ham Salad

1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped ham 1/2 cup (125 mL) shred­ded car­rots 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped cel­ery 2 tbsp (30 mL) minced green onions 3 tbsp (45 mL) Big Rig Ranch Dress­ing or may­on­naise

In a medium bowl, com­bine all the in­gre­di­ents. Cover and re­frig­er­ate for up to 3 days.

Tip: Use your food pro­ces­sor or high-speed blender to speed up the chop­ping.

Liam Kealey’s Choco­late Chip­pies

Th­ese are a favourite of Ko­rey’s hus­band, Liam. Make a dou­ble batch: one for im­me­di­ate en­joy­ment and one for freez­ing as ready-to-bake dough balls.

1 cup (250 mL) but­ter, soft­ened 3/4 cup (180 mL) light brown sugar, lightly packed 3/4 cup (180 mL) gran­u­lated sugar 1 large egg 2 ¼ cups (560 mL) all-pur­pose flour 1 tsp (5 mL) bak­ing pow­der

1 tsp (5 mL) bak­ing soda 2 cups (500 mL) semi-sweet choco­late chips 1. Pre­heat oven to 375 F (190 C). Line a bak­ing sheet with parch­ment pa­per.

2. In a large bowl, us­ing a hand mixer on medium-high speed, cream to­gether but­ter and sug­ars un­til light and fluffy. Add egg and beat on high speed for 1 minute. Add flour, bak­ing pow­der, and bak­ing soda. Stir un­til just com­bined. Stir in choco­late chips.

3. Place one heap­ing ta­ble­spoon (about 20 mL) mounds of dough onto pre­pared bak­ing sheet. Bake on mid­dle rack for 10 to 12 min­utes or un­til golden and firm to touch. Let cool for 5 min­utes on bak­ing sheet, then set on wire rack to cool com­pletely. Store for up to 3 days in an air­tight con­tainer, but th­ese are best right out of the oven.

Make-ahead tip: You can freeze this cookie dough to have on hand for on-de­mand cook­ies. Form the dough into balls and then freeze on a bak­ing sheet. Once the balls are frozen, you can trans­fer them to an air­tight con­tainer for easy freezer stor­age. To bake from frozen, just pull out the amount you need and bake as usual, adding a cou­ple min­utes to the bak­ing time.

Peter Bat­tis­toni/Post­media News

Flavour­ful, fra­grant vanilla beans split open to show seeds inside.

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