3 Sushi Sauce Recipes – Dynamite, Eel, and Mango

3 recipes posted in as many days! I’m on a roll!

In truth, the recipes I’m posting this week are all in lead-up to a big post I plan to make next week, which will be referring back to all of them. It’ll be a fun one! Anyway, *this* post is all about sushi sauce.

We love making sushi at home. While we do tend to stick to a certain few items (Tuna and/or salmon, usually with avocados, cucumber, and/or mango), sometimes we like to branch out and have a bit more fun with it – especially if we’re feeding more than just us.

These sauces are super quick and easy to make, and can make the spread a little more polished and impressive, when entertaining. While each has a roll or two that they’re traditionally served with, it can be fun to play around with, finding new roll combinations that taste amazing.

The Dynamite and Mango sauces are gluten free by default, to make gluten-free eel sauce, just be sure to use a gluten-free soy sauce.

Dynamite Sauce

This is a very versatile sauce. It’s a great drizzle for “spicy” rolls (and can be used to mix in with fish to make spicy filling), but is also great to give a kick to any roll

½ cup mayonnaise
2+ tbsp Sriracha hot sauce

Whisk together ingredients until well combined and uniform. Taste, add more Sriracha if you like. Chill until you’re ready to use it.

To serve, spoon sauce into a pastry bag or a sauce bottle (pictured). Cut the tip off the pastry bag (if applicable), squeeze sauce over prepared sushi, as desired.

*****

Mango Sauce

We love this one over tuna based rolls and vegetable based rolls in particular

1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large ripe mango
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

In a small saucepan, whisk together vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring just to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature.

Peel and seed the mango. Chop mango flesh into chunks, place into a blender with cooled vinegar-sugar mixture and vegetable oil. Blitz until very smooth, chill until you’re ready to use it.

To serve, spoon sauce into a pastry bag or a sauce bottle (pictured). Cut the tip off the pastry bag (if applicable), squeeze sauce over prepared sushi, as desired.

*****

Eel sauce

Traditionally used for eel rolls, this sauce is great on any roll that has a robust or complex flavour. For big fans of eel sauce, it works on almost anything – but can overpower the flavour on rolls with more mild fish

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweet wine)

Combine all three ingredients in a small saucepan, whisk well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, and simmer gently until sauce volume has reduced to about 3/4 cup. (If you boil it hard, you will end up with a caramel, not a sauce!)

Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer to fridge and chill until you’re ready to use it.

To serve, spoon sauce into a pastry bag or a sauce bottle (pictured). Cut the tip off the pastry bag (if applicable), squeeze sauce over prepared sushi, as desired.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Chicken Satay Recipe – Gluten Free

Chicken Satay is one of those dishes that is SO close to being gluten-free… but isn’t.

The soy sauce included in both marinade and dipping sauce renders restaurant satay inedible to most with gluten issues. It’s such a small thing, yet ends up meaning that most restaurant-made satay is off limits.

So, if you’ve got to make it at home, best start with an amazing recipe! This is one of the recipes from Beyond Flour 2.

“The chicken stays nice, tender, and juicy from this marinade, and the dipping sauce is perfect for it – It compliments the chicken so well, and is amazing on its own – I feel like I could just take a spoon and eat it by itself. I could live on this.” – my husband’s view on it.

The sauce can be made ahead, or just as you’re grilling the chicken. I like to serve the sauce hot, but it can also be served cool if you like – you’ll just want to thin it with a little extra chicken stock, as it thickens when cold.

Chicken Satay

Serves 2-4 people

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast

Marinade:

1 cup Coconut milk
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp Gluten-free soy sauce
1 Tbsp Lime juice
1 Tbsp Light brown sugar, packed
2 Garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tsp Curry powder
Salt and pepper

Sauce:

1 cup Coconut milk
1/2 cup Peanut butter
1/2 cup Chicken stock
1 Tbsp Lime juice
2 Tbsp Light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp Curry powder
2 tsp Gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp Fish sauce
1 tsp Pepper flakes
1 Garlic clove, pressed or minced

Cut chicken breasts into relatively uniform strips, about 1.5″ across. Place in a bowl for marinating (Ideally with a lid), set aside.

Whisk together all marinade ingredients except salt and pepper, taste. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Pour marinade over chicken strips, gently turning to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together all sauce ingredients. Bring just to a boil, turn heat down, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Soak wooden skewers in hot water for 30 minutes, before threading with chicken strips. Spray grill with nonstick spray, grill until cooked through- juices should run clear. Serve hot, with sauce

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gyoza / Potstickers Recipe

Gyoza… what is there to say about gyoza?

Done right, these are supremely addictive. Yes, they’re supposed to be an appetizer, usually served 3-5 pieces per person… but I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve made a meal of them. (No, I’m not admitting to how many constitute a “meal”, either!). They’re ingredient-intensive and a bit of work, but SO worth it!

I love gyoza with a ton of flavour, so I developed this recipe with that in mind. The filling can be made a day ahead, just keep it well chilled. Finished gyoza can be frozen before frying/steaming – just be sure to allow them to thaw completely before cooking.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free recipe for Gyoza, look no further than my first gluten-free cookbook, Beyond Flour.

(Fun fact: The photos you’re looking at in this blog entry are actually of the gluten-free ones!).

Homemade Gyoza
Makes about 40

1/2 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1-2 Tbsp grated ginger
5 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed chilies
1/2 tsp tsp sugar
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped/shredded
Gyoza/potsticker wrappers (about 40)
Sesame, olive, or vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine cabbage and salt, stirring to evenly distribute the salt. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes – this will draw the moisture out of the cabbage. Once time is up, squeeze as much water out of the cabbage as you can, discarding the water. Place the squeezed cabbage back into the mixing bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients – aside from the wrappers and oil – to the bowl, and mix thoroughly. I like to use my hands for this – does a much better job of distributing everything than any mixing spoon will!

Cover and chill until ready to use.

To Assemble and Cook:

Roll filling into tight 1″ balls, placing one in the middle of each wrapper.

Use a finger/pastry brush dipped in water to moisten the edges of each wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling, creating a half circle. As you do this, try to push out as much of the air from the inside as possible – excess air can cause them to burst.

If you have a dumpling press, use it to seal and crimp the edges, or pleat the edges like this:



If you don’t have a dumpling press, you can fold and crimp the edges freehand. (It’s fussy though!)

Heat up 2 Tbsp vegetable, olive, or sesame oil in a frying pan – I prefer to use nonstick for this – and arrange a single layer of gyoza in the pan – not touching each other, frill side facing up. Cook until bottom side is nicely browned.

Alternatively: If you like your gyoza extra crispy, arrange them on their sides in the pan. Cook until the first side is nicely browned, flip and brown the other side before proceeding.

Once the bottom is browned to your liking, pour 1/3 cup of warm water into the pan, and quickly cover with a lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes without removing the lid.

After 2-3 minutes, remove the lid and allow Gyoza to continue cooking until all of the water has cooked off. Repeat in batches, as necessary.

Serve hot, with Gyoza sauce

Gyoza Sauce

1/2 cup Gyoza sauce
1/4 cup Rice vinegar
1 tsp crushed chilies

Stir ingredients together, refrigerate til serving.

Extra crispy – fried on both sides

Traditional – Fried on bottom

Symbols Matter, Words Matter – Autism Acceptance Month 2017

Well, it’s just about April … so I guess it’s time for my yearly rant about it. I’ve actually got a few mini rants this time around, all basically connected.

The other day, a sponsored post came across my Facebook feed. As an intentionally vague description, it used stolen artwork to associate the puzzle piece “Autism symbol” with a popular piece of pop culture, for commercial gain – not even linked to ANY non-profit. It was gross and appropriative on many levels… and then I read the comments.

… Where to even start with this?

First of all, props to all of the Autistic people in the thread who tried to speak up against it, while being wholly drowned out by non-Autistic people. It can be hard to speak up for ourselves, in the face of being outnumbered by many. I will never understand why some NT people have such a need to shout down Autistic people speaking up on Autistic issues.

A few issues to discuss here, as a result:

1. If you are not Autistic, you do not get to police how Autistic people address themselves.

This is a HUGE issue when it comes to identity-first vs person-first language. Autistic people tend to prefer identity first language – “I am Autistic”, “They are Autistic”, etc – VS person-first language – “She has Autism”, “He is a person with Autism”, etc.

Identity-first language acknowledges that this is who we ARE. We’re not inflicted with some disease, that we don’t need a “cure”, etc. Person-first language distances the autism from the person, and is associated with the view that it’s a disease. You have a cold, you have cancer, you don’t “have” autism. Autism is our Operating System, it’s tied up in to our personalities, our senses, the way we think, the way we experience life. It’s not some *thing* you can just take away.

I get so tired of seeing neurotypical people “correcting” Autistics on their choice of language. “You’re not ‘autistic’, you’re a person with autism!” is never an acceptable thing to say to anyone, period. That goes double when THAT is the response to an Autistic person explaining why something that NT people are doing is problematic.

Hell, even if you are Autistic, you don’t get to police the language that Autistic people use for refer to themselves. Some – not many, but some – Autistic people prefer person-first language. Many don’t. Let people address themselves the way they see fit, and have some respect for their choices.

2. If you are not Autistic, you are not Autistic.

This is an issue both on a smaller, individual level, and on a societal level. So often, we will see NT people in Autistic spaces, speaking over Autistic people, because they are related to an Autistic person. Relation does not equal authority, and it most certainly does not grant some sort of divine permission to speak OVER Autistic people.

On a societal level, this is a problem when it comes to issues of representation. So often, parents of Autistic people are looked to as “consultants” in matters of Autism (note: matters of Autism, specifically. NOT matters of being a parent to an Autistic child).

Under no circumstances is a neurotypical parent of an Autistic child an expert on what it is to be Autistic, nor should they be the sole voice when it comes to things like consulting for the creation of an Autistic character in the media. With so many actual Autistic people out there who are more than willing to consult on such things, there is really no reason for an NT parent to be consulted at all. There are, after all, Autistic parents of Autistic children out there!

Right now, this is the issue we’re seeing with Sesame Street’s new Autistic character. While they apparently did consult with Autistic people, they also consulted with Autism Speaks and NT parents “for balance”. This is probably a big part of the reason that all of their marketing uses person-first language, much to the disgust of basically every Autistic person who has said anything about the whole thing.

When you are specifically talking about women’s lives, you do NOT need to consult men “for balance”. When you are talking about black lives, specifically, you do not – AND SHOULD NOT – need to consult white people about it, “for balance”.

When you reach outside the actual community for such input, you are taking agency away from those actually impacted by the portrayal being discussed. There are far too many Autistics that are willing and able to educate and/or fight for proper representation, to keep them silenced in favour of NT people.

Autism Speaks – an organization almost universally despised by those it purports to represent – tends not to have any Autistics actually involved with the organization… go figure.

Autistic Self Advocacy Network, on the other hand, is vocal about “Nothing about us, without us”.

3. Let’s talk about the puzzle piece. Again.

This is a subject I’ve ranted about before, but let me try to condense this down into a shorter form.

The puzzle piece was around before Autism Speaks, though it is HIGHLY associated with them. The idea that we are a puzzle to be solved is dehumanizing and offensive to a lot of us.

The accompanying “Until every piece fits” may sound pleasant enough to the average neurotypical person, but you have to remember – your experience is not ours. You may hear that and think “yes! Autistic people should fit in!”. We hear it, and our thoughts are usually elsewhere. A few examples:

– ABA “therapy” (Which has left many Autistics with PTSD), other compliance therapy (Which could/should be considered torture, in many cases) and many other ways that many Autistics are forced to “fit”.

– The knowledge that the organization most associated with that phrase/image is also one who is big on researching in-utero markers for Autism. Yes, they want to employ eugenics against us. Much like words matter, context matters. Knowing what history knows, that phrase would sound an awful lot less warm and fuzzy if you heard Hitler saying it, wouldn’t it?

– There’s the issue that the puzzle piece – usually done up in primary colours – is infantilizing. These days, people are more likely to be diagnosed in childhood, but it’s not a childhood thing. There’s a lot of erasure of adult Autistics in the community. When it comes to “awareness”, support, etc, many Autistics feel that we are forgotten once we age out of childhood. When it comes to any online discussion involving Autistics, adult Autistics are frequently discounted or ignored entirely. We don’t become Neurotypical once we hit age 18, you know! To have such a “childish” symbol associated with us is a reminder of that whole issue.

– The very fact that we shouldn’t NEED to fit. Society benefits from the Autistic mind in so many ways – where do you think we would be right now, technologically speaking, without Autistics? You would not even be on the internet right now – it would not exist – and able to read this rant, if not for the many, many people on the spectrum who made the internet happen. It’s not logical to benefit from our brain differences, while simultaneously carrying on about how we should be just like you. Diversity is important, on so many levels. Even beyond just representation… but I’ll spare you the tangent about evolutionary biology. For now 🙂

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. We are UNIX minds in a Windows world… and the analogy works on many levels.

ANYWAY.

While the puzzle piece and phrase may sound positive to well-intentioned NT people, they can have MUCH darker connotations to those of us on the spectrum.

All of this, and I still see NT people shouting down Autistic people who try to explain how problematic the symbol is. We shouldn’t have to look past the dark, creepy overtones to the symbol and phrase, just because they make neurotypical people feel good. That’s not how this works.

Awareness vs Acceptance

It’s 2017. We’ve been around for a very long time, and we’ve even been known for a long time. It’s time to move on from “awareness” in April.

I’ve noticed a very clear divide in the hashtags used by Autistic people, and by non-Autistic people in April. We tend to use #AutismAcceptance”, while those not on the spectrum tend to use #AutismAwareness. Words do matter, whether it’s this set of two options, or the earlier discussed identifying language.

This April, please reconsider your words. Please reconsider the use of the puzzle piece. Please consider NOT “Lighting it up Blue” – an Autism Speaks initiative – and consider one of the alternatives, being promoted by actual Autistic people to combat the “Light it up Blue”.

A few hashtags to follow on Twitter, or to use to search for further reading:

#ToneItDownTaupe
#REDInstead
#DontLIUB
#BoycottAutismSpeaks

Just now, I see there’s a new movement.. To use #AutismAppreciation. I like it!

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I think it’s about time for my yearly viewing of X-Men: The Last Stand.

Marie

PS Here are some of my previous posts on Autism.

Explaining Autism: Interoception, and Something Other Than Pain

Autism Awareness Day – A Few Thoughts from My Spot on the Spectrum

Autism Speaks Does Not Speak for Me

Interacting with Autistic Children: A Guide for Charity Appearances

Aspergers: You Can’t Cure “Awesome”

Earl Grey Pie – Happy Pi Day! (Gluten-Free)

It’s March 14 – 3/14 – and first thing this morning, my husband rolled over and wished me a Happy Pi Day. You know, his favourite “holiday”.

Well, first thing that came to mind was a long string of expletives – for the first time since we’ve met (and I’m including the year following the tornado that destroyed – among other things – our kitchen!), I’ve completely forgotten about Pi Day. IN my defense, I’ve been swamped with development for More Than Poutine. This month has been ALL about developing recipes for Canadian junk food; most recently, that’s meant snack cakes. There is sugar everywhere, I can’t picture having added a pie in on top of everything.

… but I didn’t even post anything about Pi Day, leading up to today, on any of my social media. Not even so much as a share of my big “Pi Day is Coming, Are you Ready?” master list of Pi Day stuff. Kinda feeling like the worst wife AND worst nerdy blogger ever – I really dropped the 4/3πr^3 on that one!

Thankfully, his workplace is taking care of his pi day needs that I so woefully neglected, but I still feel bad. So, as my mea culpa to the universe, I will share my Earl Grey Pie recipe now! This recipe is one of the many fabulous gluten-free recipes in Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking, so if you’re gluten-free, or know someone who is, you should definitely check it out 🙂

If you don’t need this to be gluten-free, feel free to substitute a store bought pie crust, or one from of your favourite recipes. My go-to is my Great-Uncle Tom’s Pie Crust Recipe.

This is an elegant pie that isn’t cloyingly sweet – the Earl Grey flavour comes through well, and is really well suited for use in a pie!

We served it for some friends, and one of them – Derek – was almost in tears as he declared that “Everything is perfect with the world” after the first bite. When another friend joined us later, He told her that when she tries the pie, “The gates of heaven will open, and you will see everything”.

So. That happened.

I hope you enjoy this pie as much as Derek did! (And everyone else, really… his reaction was just amazing though! )

Gluten-Free Earl Grey Pie
Makes 1 pie

Crust:

1/2 cup Light buckwheat flour
1/4 cup Sorghum flour
1/4 cup Sweet rice flour
1/4 cup Corn starch
1 Tbsp Granulated sugar
1 tsp Xanthan gum
4 oz Cream cheese
1/4 cup Cold butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Large egg
1/4 cup Cold water

Filling:

2 Large eggs
1/2 cup Granulated sugar
1/3 cup Corn starch
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Milk
1 cup Heavy cream
3 Earl Grey tea bags
2 Tbsp Butter
Whipped cream, for serving

Measure flours, corn starch, sugar, and xanthan gum into the bowl of your food processor, blitz to combine. Add cream cheese, butter, lemon zest and egg, blitz a few times until mixture resembles gravel.

Stream in cold water as you run the food processor, just long enough to start to bring it together as a dough – you may need to use a little more or less water. Do NOT over-process it!

Remove dough from processor, knead lightly to bring it together as a ball. Wrap in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C), lightly dust your work surface with extra corn starch. Roll your crust out to about 1/4″ thick. Line a pie pan with the crust, trim the edges of the crust to only slightly longer than the edge of the pie plate. Use your fingers to crimp/ruffle the edge of the pie.

Use a fork to prick some holes on the bottom of the crust. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes. Once chilled, bake pie crust for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool to room temperature while you prepare the filling.

Whisk eggs together with sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Add cornstarch and salt, whisk until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring milk and cream just to the start of a boil. Remove from heat, add tea bags, steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing out excess liquid back into the pot. Bring cream up JUST to a boil once again.

Measure about 1/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, and stream slowly into egg mixture while whisking. Continue streaming liquid and whisking until it is completely incorporated, and mixture is smooth. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of hot cream.

Remove saucepan from heat, pour remaining egg mixture into cream mixture, whisking constantly. Once fully incorporated and smooth, return to heat. Turn heat to medium-low. Continue whisking mixture constantly, cooking until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat, stir in butter until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Spoon filling into prepared crust, cover with plastic wrap. Chill until set, about 3 hours. To serve, top with whipped cream.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Interacting with Autistic Children – A Guide for Charity Appearances

If you follow me on social media, you may know that I recently joined The Royal Sisterhood, a member of Costumers for a Cause.

CFAC is a local nonprofit which brings costumers together to volunteer their talents for local charities, to aid and enrich their fundraisers and other events. Dressed as princesses, superheroes, and more, we do appearances at events such as charity walks, Children’s hospital TV programming, and more.

Prior to joining The Royal Sisterhood, I was involved with another division of Costumers for a Cause, doing appearances as Superheroes/ villains, along with my husband. (I went as Beast, he would usually go as Magneto or Loki, all from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

At a TRS meeting yesterday, my friend Sara did a great presentation on gender inclusiveness while doing charity appearances. With an Autism Walk coming up, I asked if the group had ever discussed interacting with Autistic children. I have seen some pretty bizarre things with regards to Neurotypicals interacting with Autistics, after all.

After sharing a few thoughts on the matter, I was asked to write up a bit of a guide. I went home, brainstormed with my husband, and here we are! While this was written specifically for a group of Princesses, we thought that it was good advice for those doing charity appearances in general, so decided to post it here.

All dressed up as “The Fairy Godmother”,
prior to a charity appearance.

Interacting with an Autistic Child

1. Don’t force eye contact.

Eye contact can feel very threatening/intimidating to some, and far too intimate to others. If it’s obvious they don’t want to make eye contact, talk to their shoulder or their chin. Just because they’re not looking at you, doesn’t mean they’re not looking at you… if that makes sense. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to look you in the face.

2. Do not touch – even a fist bump or high five – without asking first.

Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to touch you, or shy away from you physically.

3. Talk to the autistic child first, not their parent.

For example, ask the child if they want a hug, not the adult if it’s OK. If it turns out that the child needs the adult to communicate for them, the adult will step in. Asking the adult first is a sore point in the community.

4. Be mindful of sensory issues.

Avoid or go very light on perfume, etc when attending an Autistic event. Be mindful of the fact that loud voices (loud to us, not to you!) can be very startling.

Of particular note for princess events: The high, very girly princess voice and accompanying laugh can be difficult/painful, especially in groups. If you are in a group of two or more princesses, try to keep laughter subdued.

5. Know your audience.

Autistics are very, VERY literal. There’s a fine line between staying in character, and offending the children. Many of us have no ability to suspend disbelief, and some of the things said to enhance “character” can come off as lying, or as mocking the Autistic child.

For example, if you say “I just came from Arendelle…”, an Autistic child is likely to process it something like: “Arendelle doesn’t exist. Is she making fun of me? Does she think I’m stupid? What am I supposed to say to that?”.

It can be very awkward and uncomfortable. If at all possible, avoid making definitive statements about the fictional world you’re portraying (I know, this is super counter-intuitive, for showing up in character). For this reason, various figures of speech can also be confusing and make things awkward.

6. Speak very clearly. Enunciate!

Many Autistics also have sensory processing disorders, which can be exacerbated by busy environments like the charity walk. When you hear EVERYTHING going on around you, it can be very hard to pick out a certain person talking, even if right in front of you.

Please don’t be offended if you’re asked to repeat something, or if you are misunderstood. Also know that many rely on reading lips, even if they don’t have a hearing problem. Try to face in their general direction when talking to them, even if eye contact is an issue.

7. Give plenty of time for a response.

Autistic children can take longer to reply than neurotypical children. If you’re sure they heard you, just have a bit of patience in waiting for a reply. They’re processing! Also, know that long pauses may feel really awkward to you, but aren’t necessarily to Autistics. Autistics can enjoy your quiet presence, and don’t necessarily need nonstop conversation. Social cues are not our strong point!

8. Ask about hobbies, BUT…

… be prepared to have your ear talked off. If you get an Autistic child talking about an area of special interest, they can go on and on. It can be hard for them to tell when the other party is not interested, or the conversation should move on. Be ready to be very, very patient!

On that point, know that when the conversation has ended, be clear that you are ending it. Don’t hint around that you have to move on, just be clear and honest that you need to meet others, etc. Again, social cues!

9. Do not take anything personally.

I’ve touched on this with a couple of other points, but it should be expanded on. For one thing, Autistics can be very frank with you. There’s not usually a lot of sugar coating, more just saying what’s on the mind. It can come off rude, but is usually not ever INTENDED to be rude. These can fall into observations or questions about physical appearance, etc. Try to roll with things, even if something hurts a bit.

10. Watch your wording.

Please avoid the use of “high functioning” or “low functioning” to describe an Autistic person. Don’t compare an Autistic to a non Autistic, or use phrases like “For an Autistic…” (“You’re so friendly/empathetic/well spoken for an Autistic”, for example). Though it likely won’t come up, it needs to be said: Don’t use “cure” language.

Additionally, know that – much like gender pronouns – How you refer to an Autistic is important. Many/most Autistic adults prefer identity-first language, ie: Autistic person, Autistic child, etc… while many non-Autistic people seem to think that person-first language is most appropriate: “Person with Autism”, “Person who has Autism”. Many of us see “with” or “who has” to be offensive, as it usually accompanies the idea of us being “inflicted” with something, that it’s something separate from us, and/or is a temporary/ “curable” thing. Autism is our Operating System, it’s who we are.

If an Autistic person tells you what their preference is – identity-first or person-first – please respect it. Also: Please don’t ever say “suffers from Autism”.

11. Tone matters.

You don’t necessarily need to mimic how the parent talks to the Autistic child. Some parents of Autistics are… less than ideal in how they treat their kids, and can talk to them like they’re babies and/or idiots. Aside from issues mentioned above (eye contact, enunciation, literal speech), you shouldn’t feel the need to talk any differently to an Autistic child, than you would a neurotypical child. As an example, nonverbal children are often looked at as stupid or lesser-than, and are frequently talked down to. The fact that they don’t speak *doesn’t* mean they don’t understand, or aren’t intelligent. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known are non-verbal.

12. Know that every Autistic is different.

Some of these tips won’t apply to everyone. For some, every single one will. You will likely meet Autistic children who “pass” for neurotypical.

*****

As a bit of an aside – this isn’t so much about dealing with Autistic children, as it is a bit of information about the Autism community, culture, etc…

April is coming up, and with it… “Autism Awareness Month”. Every Autistic adult I know dreads this month, as the promotion and observance of it tends to be hugely offensive to Autistic people. I’ve written about it Here, Here, and Here. I’d encourage anyone planning to do Autism charity appearances to read through those posts.

The TL;DR:

1. Autism Speaks is a horrible organization, on so many levels. Most Autistic adults and many parents of Autistics are horrified by their campaigns and treatment of Autistics. Please consider NOT supporting A$, and look to alternative organizations. I tend to recommend Autistic Self Advocacy Network, as it is “Nothing about us, without us”

2. As an extension of #1, the puzzle piece and “Light it up blue” are very much Autism Speaks symbols, and as such are pretty offensive to a many Autistics. For more information/perspective, I recommend Goggling such things as “Don’t light it up blue”, and “Autism Speaks doesn’t speak for me”.

3. The #ActuallyAutistic tag on social media – particularly Twitter – is a good read if you’d like to hear what Autistic people have to say.

A few members of The Royal Sisterhood

Reuben Buns – Recipe

About a week ago, I decided to treat my husband to a batch of my Buffalo Chicken Buns. Cooking with wheat flour is a rare occasion in this house… partially because breathing it in makes me miserable for a day or two, and partially because the cleanup (allergens!) is such a pain.

This weekend, I took advantage of having procrastinated on that cleanup, to finally make a recipe I’d thought up for him, and hadn’t gotten around to actually *making*. Going on the theme of a cinnamon bun inspired savoury roll, this one is based on one of Porter’s favourite sandwiches: The Reuben.

The dough is flavoured like a rye bread, while still being soft enough to be appropriate for this application. The filling consists of traditional Reuben fillings: Corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese, and the finished bun is drizzled with Thousand Island (our preference) or Russian (traditional) dressing.

As he’s not able to eat beef or pork anymore, I had to substitute fake pastrami from The Herbivorous Butcher, which worked well for his needs.

It’s a fun – and convenient – take on a sandwich. One batch of this made his work lunches for the week, all individually wrapped and ready to go. Unlike sandwiches made ahead, these do not get soggy, so long as you drain the sauerkraut well.

In other news, development and photography for More Than Poutine is coming along very well! We have just a little more than 3 weeks left in the campaign, and we’re working on our first stretch goal – adding more recipes. Be sure to check it out, back the campaign, and share it with your friends!

Reuben Rolls
Makes 6 giant buns

1 3/4 cups warm – not hot! – water
4 tsp yeast
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Rye flour
2 Tbsp Caraway seeds
2 tsp salt

2 cups finely shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 lb corned beef
1-2 cups WELL DRAINED sauerkraut

Stir yeast and brown sugar into warm water, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, caraway seeds and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine. Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
(OR: mix it in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes or so!)

Once dough is fully kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Once dough has doubled in size, roll out on a floured surface. Aim to make it a large rectangle, say 15 x 20″ or so.

Scatter half of the cheese across the rolled dough, avoiding the very edge of the rectangle. Evenly layer corned beef over cheese, again avoiding the very edge. Scatter drained sauerkraut over meat, top with remaining cheese.

Starting with one of the shorter edges, tightly roll the dough up. Generously grease or spray a 9x 13″ baking pan.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 6 even rounds. Carefully place each roll into the pan, spacing them evenly.

Cover pan with plastic wrap, allow to rise one more time – about an hour. While waiting for the buns to rise, heat oven to 375F.

Once final rise is over, pop the pan in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and perfect.

Allow to cool for a few minutes, if you’re patient. Serve hot, preferably with a drizzle of Thousand Island or Russian dressing! (Hey, the whole idea was themed around cinnamon buns, may as well continue that thought in serving them!)

Creamy Creole Soup with Gluten-Free Cornmeal Dumplings Recipe

I’ve mentioned before that I get really “If you give a mouse a cookie” about things.

Home decor? We went from “Need to tile the bathroom” to “let’s tile a subtle Fibonacci sequence into the wall” to “.. and Pi on this other wall!”, to… 159 digits of pi tiled into our kitchen backsplash.

Costuming, cooking, whatever. I’ll have a simple idea, and by the time I’m done with it… Yeah.

So, when we were grocery shopping one morning, one of the things on the to-make list for photographing Beyond Flour 2 was cream of shrimp soup.

… But then I wanted some kick.

… And then I decided to do it Creole. Oh, that needs a deep dark roux!

… So of course I had to add andouille sausage.

… Also in the mood for dumplings. Let’s go with cornmeal ones!

Came home, developed the recipe, had it for breakfast. Teetering on the edge of a food coma now… Ooh, it was SO good. No longer anything resembling cream of shrimp soup… But SO much better!

This recipe is VERY adaptable. Since creating it, my husband has developed an intolerance for beef and pork… so we use poultry-based Andouille sausage. Sometimes we can’t find that, so we use a turkey based smoked sausage coil. Sometimes we’ll swap the shrimp out entirely, and replace it with a couple lbs of chopped up chicken breast (We brown it in the olive oil, before browning the sausage). Chicken or vegetable sauce can be swapped in for the shrimp stock. Sometimes we skip the dumplings altogether!

No matter which way we go with it, this is a creamy, delicious, VERY satisfying and addictive soup.

Creamy Creole Soup with Gluten-Free Cornmeal Dumplings

Makes about 6 servings

1 lb Andouille sausage
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 green pepper
1 medium onion
3-4 stalks celery, Star Trekked
4 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Tomato paste*
4 cups shrimp stock
1/2-1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp black pepper
½ tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp thyme
Salt, to taste
½ cup butter
½ cup White rice flour
2 cups Heavy cream

2/3 cup Light buckwheat flour
1/3 cup Millet flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp finely chopped green onions
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tsp Tapioca starch
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Shortening or butter
3/4 cup Milk or buttermilk

1 lb raw shrimp, deveined and shelled

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Slice the skin of each Andouille sausage, emptying the meat into a large pot. Break it up into bite sized chunks, and drizzle the olive oil over it. Cook over medium high heat until sausage is well browned.

Add pepper, onion, and celery to the pot, saute for 2 minutes or so. Add garlic and tomato paste, continue cooking until tomato paste is browned and fragrant. Add stock and spices, stir well.

In a small pan, melt butter. Add rice flour, whisk until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until this roux turns a nice mahogany colour. Slowly and carefully, add heavy cream – it will sputter at first. Whisk mixture as cream gets added, continue whisking until smooth.

Add cream mixture to main pot, stirring to fully incorporate it. Turn heat down to medium and keep at a simmer while you prepare the dumplings:

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flours, cornmeal, green onion and parsley, tapioca starch, baking powder,and salt. Measure shortening/butter into the same bowl, and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork(s). The idea is to work it in until it’s evenly distributed throughout, in very small pieces.

Add milk/buttermilk, stir just until dough comes together. Don’t over stir or beat it. If dough is too crumbly, add a small amount of extra milk.

Add shrimp to soup pot, stir gently. Immediately drop rounded tablespoons of dumpling dough into boiling soup. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes WITHOUT LIFTING THE LID. Serve hot, garnished with parsley if desired.

* Note: My original recipe – as published in Beyond Flour 2 – called for a whole 12oz can of tomato paste. I’ve since decided that I like it even better with a little less tomato paste. You can use the full 12 oz if you’d like. Just a head’s up: Photos represent the 12oz usage… making this recipe with 1/4 cup of tomato paste results in a more … subdued… colour! 🙂

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

BIG NEWS for International Book Sales!

Hey everyone,

So, this post has been a long time coming, and may get a little convoluted, so bear with me…

As you may know, if you’ve ordered a book from me to be shipped overseas… mailing anything over 1 lb (ie: all my books) gets obscenely expensive.

I can’t help that – my shipping prices are based on shipping tables from USPS, taking weight and destination into account. They’re actually out of date, because I get lazy and frustrated when the prices go up, and haven’t changed them for the last two price changes. I just eat the cost difference and grumble about it.

Well, great news! Through my publisher, I’m now able to send orders to their printers in Australia and the UK, for direct shipment from those countries! This option is also there – in some cases – for surrounding countries. New Zealand, for example, can be shipped to from Australia for less than half the price that I have to charge! (Economy shipping, though. Premium is insane for Australia-> New Zealand.)

Throughout every test order I’ve inputted, it is coming out *monumentally* cheaper, and should even be a little quicker… even with the print processing time.

The “convoluted” comes in with pricing. Right now, my pricing is straightforward, using the aforementioned shipping tables. When shipping directly from one of the overseas printers, though, I don’t actually know what the price is, until I put the order in with the printer. There is a handling fee that varies based on order, taxes, etc. Using one of my cookbooks as an example (one
they were using for all test runs), sending a book to an Australia address is $15.54 AUS (about $11 USD), rather than the $23.XX USD that book currently costs me to ship.

That’s for premium, trackable shipping, btw – and tracking is something that is *obscenely* expensive – when it’s even available – for USPS overseas. Economy (non trackable) is about $3.50 AUS cheaper in this instance.

As another example, it recently cost me $34.50 USD in postage to send 2 books to a customer in France. Shipped from the UK printer, that comes down to $8.26 USD in shipping!

Unfortunately, because things are varying wildly… it’s not something I can build a shipping table for, when it comes to my shopping cart setup for ordering.

SO.

From what I’m seeing, the best way I’ll be able to do this is to use the printing-abroad option from my publisher, send directly from them, and just refund the difference through Shopify, my credit card processor. When you place an order, it doesn’t charge your card until I process the order manually, and it gives me the option to refund, partial refund, etc at that time… so the amount charged should be the actual, cheaper shipping cost.

It’s a little messy, I know… but better than getting stuck with paying the price for shipping from the USA, I would imagine! Bonus for not having USPS handle them (don’t get me started on the HUNDREDS of dollars of books they destroyed/lost during my last Kickstarter shipment!), and not having to deal with customs!

Now, that’s addressing retail customers.

Another really nice thing about this set up is that I’m now FAR more able to handle direct wholesale orders abroad, at least in the UK, Australia, and nearby countries.

I handle wholesale orders a little differently – The interested company tells me what titles and amounts of books they would like, I input the order, and give them the total. In this case, it will work the same as it does with my domestic wholesale orders, it’s just far more reasonable to DO so, given the ability for much cheaper shipping.

SO!

In summary:

If you are in the UK, Australia, or any of the surrounding countries and want to buy my books directly from me, go ahead and do so as-is. Hold your breath when you get the initial shipping total, yes, but just know that it’s not the actual amount. When your order is processed, it will be for the correct amount, to be shipped from either the UK or Australia.

If you are in the USA, UK, Australia, or any of the surrounding countries and would like to carry my books in your store – awesome! Shoot me an email, and I will give you the link to our wholesaler page. Get back to me with book titles and amounts, I will price out your order and send a custom invoice to pay online. It will ship from whichever country makes the most sense, in your case.

Woo!

Whether you’re in the USA or not, looking to be a retail or wholesale customer… welcome aboard! Feel free to email me with any questions you may have, and I look forward to doing business with you!

Ravings of a Canadian Expat: Christmas Oranges

I was going to start this entry out with something like “This time of year, the topics of discussion in groups of Canadians living away tends to turn to food…”… but let’s be real, at least 80% of what we talk about in Canadian groups is food.

Foods we miss, foods we’re now cooking because we miss the source material, how COMPLETELY inferior American chocolate is, griping about how corn syrup is in everything here and makes stuff – soda, certain candies, etc – taste weird, etc. I don’t remember us being particularly food obsessed when I still lived at home, but man… take a Canadian out of Canada, and food is the great bonding experience.

Recently, I noticed that “Christmas Oranges” don’t really seem to be a THING in Minneapolis. Like, you can buy Cuties or Halos, but there doesn’t seem to be a culture of … well, them being particularly “holiday”.

When I was a kid, we’d get one in the toe of our Christmas stocking, and it usually ended up being my favourite part. I LOVED them!

As I grew a bit older, holiday season meant buying crates of Mandarin oranges. They were the same oranges I’d have as a kid – sold in boxes, imported from either China or Japan, and individually wrapped in green paper. There was always at least one completely moldy one in the bottom, but the rest were *gold*.

I would buy several 5lb cases at a time. At least one would end up consumed within a day or two – I’d crash on the couch with a book, and snarf ungodly amounts of oranges. I’d buy more than one case, as it was usually insanely cold (I’m from Winnipeg), and I liked to have enough to last me a week or so.

… December is the month where I am least likely to come down with scurvy… By a longshot! In addition to snarfing oranges by the case, I also enjoy to make things from them, such as:

Candied Orange Peels

Cuties Mead

Cranberry-Cuties “Christmas” Wine

Cuties Marmalade

I even juiced and zested a bunch of them to make a Cuties mousse last New Years.. Oh, it was amazing.

Anyway, I digress.

This past week, I decided that I NEED THOSE ORANGES. Cuties and Halos just don’t cut it, I wanted a bit of *home*.

My first stop was a group for local food bloggers. I explained what I was looking for, and a few people weighed in with suggestions.

I should mention that part of the problem with looking for oranges like I knew back home, is that when it comes to this sort of thing, oranges suffer from the same sort of thing that Sweet potatoes / yams do. Different products are sold as the same thing, the terms are used interchangeably, and people have wildly different ideas of what is meant when you say “yam” – and, in this case, “Mandarin orange”.

One blogger commented to say that it sounded like I was describing Satsuma oranges, and that she knew they sell them at a local coop. She then mentioned that they’re more abundant in January (not the case, back home!) – so I had to make sure that she wasn’t thinking SUMO oranges (another addiction of mine). She wasn’t, so I called The Wedge coop, and grilled their produce guy.

HE agreed that I was talking about Satsumas, but then referred to them as being “more tart”. What a let down – I never would have described Christmas oranges as being tart!

I posted a quick note about my mission to a couple expat groups, and asked for info on what they remember of the oranges back home.

I got in my truck and headed over there anyway, because when you need a mess of oranges, you NEED a mess of oranges. I was surprised to see that they had several types of oranges that looked good… so I bought a few of each. I bought a whole bag of Satsumas – I know myself, and if they were even close… a bag wouldn’t be enough!

As all of this was going down, the threads were blowing up – Us Canadians are VERY passionate about our Christmas oranges, as it turns out!

As it also turns out, the whole “oranges going by multiple names” thing got further complicated by regional differences in what constitutes a “Christmas Orange”.

People from everywhere except Atlantic Canada agreed – sold in boxes, with almost everyone specifically referencing the green tissue paper. MOST people agreed that they were imported from China and Japan, though a few pockets of Canadians apparently got theirs from Morocco! I’m 90% sure I’ve never seen an orange from Morocco, so I found this fascinating. We all knew them as “mandarins”.

On the East Coast, “Christmas Oranges” are sold in smaller, wooden crates, usually with a red plastic mesh holding them in. There is no green tissue paper, and they are known as “Clementines” – not Mandarins. From my time in Newfoundland, I was familiar with them. They were definitely different from what I knew back home: A bit harder to peel, not as juicy, smaller, and rounder. Still tasty, though!

Anyway, back to the mission.

I noticed that all of the oranges at The Wedge were from either California or Florida, and I remembered that basically all of the oranges I’d seen anywhere in Minneapolis tended to be the same. I guess there isn’t a big market for imported oranges here?

I decided to follow up on another suggestion, and headed to United Noodle – a large Asian grocery store. They would for SURE have Japanese or Chinese oranges, right?

Nope. Neither did Sun Foods, another large Asian grocery.

What they did both carry, however, were Halos. Halos are fine – and they’re actually pretty close to the Atlantic Canadian idea of Christmas oranges, packaging aside – but I really wanted my Mandarins!

So, I ended up with 6 different types of oranges (as well as “Limequats”, which had absolutely nothing to do with anything, but fascinated me nonetheless!), and wanted to do a comparison. Aside from the Halos and the last “Mandarins”, all of the oranges – and Limequats – were purchased at Wedge Coop.

Of course – if it hasn’t been obvious from this blog post so far – take my findings with a grain of salt. Due to the nature of naming conventions, there’s a good chance you could buy something that is called the same as one of these, and have it be something completely different. For that reason, I am including as much identifying information as possible!


Table below is pictured in order, left to right

Photo Sold As Details
Kishu Mandarin Tiny – about 1.5-2″ in diameter! Very easy to peel, loose skin, very little pith – which rubs off easily. Good balance of sweet and tart, leaning slightly towards the tart. Fairly juicy, seedless. Expensive, but fun. (They were obviously not Christmas oranges, but I couldn’t resist!)
Halos Halo is a brand name, not an actual variety. They’re very similar to Cuties, which we tend to prefer but haven’t seen in a while. Like Cuties, the variety of orange depends on the time of year. According to the Halo’s site (here), these were Clementines. Makes sense, given how similar they are to the Atlantic Canadian “Christmas Orange” – also sold as Clementines. These were not as easy to peel as I was looking for – skin comes off in small chunks. Also slightly more tart, and had no seeds. Readily available – it was all they carried in the Asian markets! Clementines also tend to be more spherical than what I was looking for.
Sunburst Tangerine This Florida orange was very smooth and shiny – a stark contrast to the rough, dimply skin of most of the other varieties. It was VERY difficult to peel by hand – probably better to slice. Thin, hard skin, with pith that is very attached to the segments. Has seeds, tastes like a pretty basic orange (not “Christmas” orange).
Algerian Mandarin These are called “Algerian”, but were grown in California! They were purchased at The Wedge, and is one of two oranges that were labelled as being Mandarins (not including Halos, which refer to their oranges as Mandarins on their site). This had a medium-thick skin that was very easy to peel, while not actually being loose/separated from the orange inside. It had a fair amount of sticky pith – harder to remove than some varieties. Tastes right, but the sticky pith is annoying. No seeds.
California Satsuma This was the “ugly” one of the lot – irregular, kind of squat shape, with very dimply, loose skin… AND IT WAS PERFECT. Very easy to peel, medium thick skin, only a small amount of pith that detaches from the segments very easily. Absolutely my favourite, and the closest to what I remember “Christmas”oranges being. Very plump and juicy segments, and among the sweetest of those tested. No seeds.
Mandarin After paying about $4/lb for the Satsumas, I saw 3lb bags of these “Mandarins” at Hy-Vee… and they looked very much like the Satsumas, just slightly larger. These were also very easy to peel – but had much more pith. Also has the thickest skin of all. The flesh isn’t has juicy as any of the other varieties, and has a gigantic grain to it. Has seeds.

So, as you can see… not only can the names be confusing (“Mandarin” was used for three wildly different oranges, none of which was what was referred to as “Mandarin” back home… which is “Satsuma” here!), but appearances can be deceiving, also: The Satsuma and second type of “Mandarin” looked VERY similar!

I’d asked this on my Facebook page, may as well as here too – the replies were FASCINATING (here):

1. Were “Christmas oranges” a thing where you grew up, and/or where you are now?

2. If so, what exactly does that mean to you? What was the actual orange called, what did it look like, was it easy to peel or not, how was it sold, where were they grown, etc. As much detail as possible, please!

3. Where was/is this (state/province, etc)

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!