Sunday, 21 December 2008

Souper Sunday and a Product Review

Here we are burried knee deep in snow, higher in the drifts and snowbanks, on the first day of winter. It was a balmy minus 5 today, after our severe cold alert yesterday, and the blowing snow has kicked up again.

Time for a little soup, don't you think? Carrot soup with harissa, to be exact.

I enjoyed this recipe, although I found the amount of liquid to be more than what was needed. I also more than doubled the spices. Otherwise it would be a fairly mild soup. I had some harissa left from my tajine last week and loved it in the soup. Served on the side, people can spice it up how they like. I did add a little chiffonade of baby spinach, for colour.

Carrot Soup with Harissa - Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pound carrots, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 tbsp white rice
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
7 cups vegetable stock (or chicken)

In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, bay leaf, parsley, and rice; cook to soften the onion, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the spices, 1/2 tsp salt, and some pepper and cook 5 minutes longer. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and puree with an immersion blender.
Garnish with harissa.

I made this soup with some cheddar and scallion cornbread, but wasn't thrilled with the recipe. For a better recipe, click here.
Feeling souper? Join Deb from Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays, see her site for details.

Product Review

Oral B Electric Toothbrushes

Ok, I am a nerd.

Writing online, I get offered the odd product to try. Some I do and some I don’t – depending if they have anything to do with my life and/or interests.
But when I was given the opportunity to try new electric toothbrushes, I was excited. What does this have to do with food? Well, maybe not much – although with the red wine, coffee and desserts we love so much – having a good toothcare system isn’t a bad thing!
The main reason I was excited was personal though. I have way too many teeth packed in my little mouth – yes I said little mouth, don’t snicker! I didn’t have the good sense to have my wisdom teeth taken out when I was young and the occasional pressure from my closely packed teeth, coupled with my fun habits of clenching and grinding, leave me with aches in my jaw and gums.
The thought of a toothbrush that would massage said abused gums? Oh yes, that’s for me.
I got to try two different products from Oral B. The fancy bells-and-whistles Triumph with Smart Guide and the less fancy, but more affordable, Vitality Pro-White.

Oral B Triumph with Smart Guide – teaches you how to take care of your teeth.
It is shareable as it has a built-on container for extra heads on the charging base. I think you would not want to share with too many family members, maybe good for a couple. The coloured rings on the extra heads are at the bottom, and not visible until you remove them from the storage case.

Whe wireless timer times your toothbrushing session to two minutes – the recommended time. I didn’t realize that I tend to brush my teeth for far too long. The timer is divided into quadrants, 30 seconds each. After the 30 seconds the toothbrush gives a little stutter to let you know to go on to the next quadrant. At the end of two minutes a smiley face appears on the screen. If you go on too long after that, it winks at you. If you stop the toothbrush, it will suspend the timer for up to 30 seconds and continue when you press on again. The timer reverts to being a 12 or 24 hour clock when not in use, which I liked.

There are different modes, regular, gentle, massage and polish – as well as many different kinds of heads you can buy. There are 12 different kinds of replacement heads available, I am sure not all toothcare aisles will carry all 12, but not all 12 are for each product - you will have to read the back of the packaging. We bought a set of 3 gentle ones for $18.99 Canadian, so just over $6 each and they are good for 3 months each. I have seen the others for as high as $29.99 for 3 at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

There is an indicating timer to let you know when to replace the heads but it won’t be much use if you are switching between heads like we are.
The Triumph can hold a charge for two weeks of regular, one person use and comes with a travel case.

It has a sensor to let you know if you are brushing too hard – good for hubby. Apparently many people brush too hard and that is a large contributor to gum loss.

The toothbrush took a little getting used to, I was changing modes when I wanted to stop the first couple of times, but I got used to it fairly quickly.

Hubby and I had different opinions about how deep it went between teeth. As I was the primary tester, I got the flossing head and I loved it. He has been using the regular gentle head and, although he loves it, thinks it doesn’t get deep enough between his teeth. He also has less teeth than I do, spaced further apart, so our experiences are different. *Interesting to note, too, that he is the one who has been brushing too hard. You really do learn a lot about your brushing style with this product.

Oral B Vitality Pro-White
This one is a little more streamlined. Has a rubberized grip, is easy to hang on to, and not as bulky as the Triumph.
It came with a polishing cup for whitening, as well as the oscillating action for regular cleaning. Obviously, if you replace the head with a different one, the cleaning mode will change.
It is far less expensive than the Triumph, but seems as powerful. This one doesn’t teach you how to brush, but it is a good toothbrush. A good value for the money, I think.

For both of them I learned pretty quickly to put the toothpaste on and put it in my mouth before turning on or the toothpaste will fly off!
Both felt powerful and felt like they cleaned much better and deeper than manual toothbrushing.
One drawback for some - they each resemble a weapon without the head on them, there is a metal spike that the head fits on. I wouldn’t suggest this product for children or dangerous criminals, but think it is a great product for adults, many of us who complacently think we are doing a good job on our teeth.

I found that I have been more excited about brushing my teeth, I don’t know if it is more the novelty or the nice, clean, massaged feeling I am left with – but I like it.

For more info go to
*One interesting fact - when I worked in a department store in a previous life, the electric toothbrushes were one of the hot items for theft in the holidays. Go figure.