Thursday, July 19, 2012

With Age Comes Wisdom

Back in March I'd started the following post:

"Last week I wished an old friend a happy 40th birthday. In the subsequent conversation he'd mentioned that 40 is the new 30 and I'd noted that it was excellent news as that would make me 24 again.

Since then I've been reflecting a bit on my life at 24 and trust me when I say that's enough to depress you. I was a trainwreck at 24. After a lousy breakup (that in hindsight wasn't nearly as much his fault as I made it out to be at the time) I had moved back into my parents house..."

I think I stopped writing it because I don't have the words to describe my 'then' in a way that wouldn't make my 'now' seem lesser than it is.

My life today is wonderful.

Life then was chaotic, filled with drama, love, hurt, a lot of alcohol, and not all that much common sense. I moved out, moved back home, and moved out again. Some friends make great roommates and sometimes living with a friend can cost you a friendship. I changed jobs a lot, dated a little bit though I always found ways to get out before things got serious. I lived with one of my best friends for 3 years, enabling each other to make poor choices with the safety net of a constant place to sleep at the end of it all. ended a friendship that had started before I was old enough to drive.

I love my husband, I'm planning a career change, I'm looking forward to be moving into a condo that we bought at summer's end, we're planning to start a family together. These are all amazing things and I cherish them but when I reflect back on my 20's, events and happenings seem vivid and thrilling in ways that current life just doesn't.

Maybe when I'm 44 the events of these few years will be brightly coloured and will glow in my memories the way that the past does now. I look forward to finding out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


tap tap tap.

Is this thing still on? I suppose I meant to update, but life gets in the way, and my camera sucks, and I'm really really good at making excuses. For example, earlier today I made a to-do list and now I'm updating this blog, rather than actually to-do-ing. Things on the agenda for today:
  1. Wash dishes
  2. Take out trash
  3. Vacuum house
  4. Wash scrubs (by hand since our washer crapped out)
  5. Sort through paper on desk
  6. Clean bathroom
Perhaps I should add 
7. Update blog and 8. Drink coffee to the list and then I'm already well into the day. 

I suppose I'm being to hard on myself. It is only 8:00 am on my day off. I'm working the entire long weekend (the joys of hospital employment), but the weather is supposed to suck so I'm not missing out on much. 

I need to get the rest of the garden beds amended and planted in the next week or so. I've planted the shallots and onions, and potted the tomatoes (though they're still inside) but I need to get the potatoes into the ground, not to mention the carrot, beet, squash, bean, and lettuce seeds.

Rhubarb is ready to harvest and I'm making up more chutney this year. It was really popular with friends and has become my favourite burger topping. I might do a double batch due to friend requests. One of things I'm going to miss most when we move is the garden, especially the rhubarb and raspberries.

Right, yes, we're moving. The Mister and I are building a condo across town as the mother-in-law is returning from living in China. Size-wise we'll be downsizing (quite a bit) but we'll make up for that with living in a new space, with new appliances, and air conditioning. It's going to be awesome. Two bedroom, two bath condo with a great kitchen (and fantastic upgraded appliances) . Can't wait, we should be in late August, early September.

Okay, okay, time to get shit done.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Soft and Yummy Granola Bars

We eat a lot of granola bars 'round here. But the cost for ones with actual ingredients adds up quickly when you're going through a box or two a week. Now I make them here, and it's so damn easy (plus you get to get your hands dirty :)

2 1/4 cups porridge oats (they're like regular oat flakes but have bran and wheat germ plus flax seeds)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup stuff (any combination of chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes)

Preheat oven to 325 and butter a 9x9 square pan.

Dump all ingredients in large bowl. Mix well (which is so much easier with your hands than when trying to use a spoon).

Press mixture into pan and bake for 18-22 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then slice. Leave bars in pan until fully cool.

Makes 10 good adult size bars. If making for kids, you could cut smaller.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August Spice Rack Challenge - Cumin Spiked Salsa

I like cumin. I use it quite a bit in my Indian and Mexican cooking. But I've been on vacation out in BC (drinking copious amounts of wine, okay moderate amounts). I then got home and promptly forgot about the challenge in the midst of sorting out life (the husband was laid off just before we left for our trip). But today is challenge deadline day and I'm not backing out yet. So a quick and easy salsa sounds perfect.

6 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 shallot, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced (optional, since my hubby dislikes)
1/2 lime
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1 - 2 tsp ground cumin (depending on taste)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix and taste and adjust seasoning if needed. (Tip: taste using tortilla chips as to accurately gauge salt amounts, people often forget about the salt on the chip when making salsa or guacamole and can over-salt as a result)

Serve fresh.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Strawberry and (Stolen) Rhubarb Pie

Mmmmm strawberry rhubarb pie. This one was born when we had some ill-gotten rhubarb, a frozen pie crust and some frozen strawberries. I may have been drunk the first time making this because when I read a recipe for rhubarb sour cream pie I decided to sub strawberries for sour cream and it would all turn out well...which it did.
I tinkered with it a few times after to come up with the following.

I,of course would never advocate stealing of rhubarb...but I swear it makes the pie taste better.

4 cups rhubarb (acquired by nefarious means) - cut into 1" pieces
2 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen) - sliced
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 9" pie crust

Preheat oven to 425.

In a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat, cook everything but crust (obviously). Stir often (pay close attention if you are also intoxicated), cooking until mixture thickens.

Pour mixture into pie crust and bake 10 minutes. Remove from ove, and lower temp to 350. Bake another 30-35 minutes, until pie is set. Chill on wire rack.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge - July Basil

I had such great intentions for basil. I love basil. And then we went away to Edmonton last weekend and I forgot to add water to my Aerogarden. The we got home and my basil was dead. Shriveled and sad. I was all set try this fabulous appetizer that consisted of placing a basil leaf or two on a wedge of peach, then wrapping the wedge in Serrano ham and lightly frying it to warm through. Doesn't that sound delicious? Except I killed my basil.

Now technically I made pasta sauce this week that had basil in it so I did still cook with basil...but there's no picture.

The sauce I made was comprised of:
8 roma tomatoes - quartered
1 red bell pepper - rough chopped
1 onion - diced
1 zucchini - grated
1 carrot - grated
6 or 7 cloves of garlic - halved
a splash of olive oil
1 tbsp dried (cry) basil)
1 tsp oregano
a sprinkle of chili flakes
salt and pepper

I cooked it down for about an hours, then took it off the heat, blitzed it with my immersion blender and dumped it on some pasta. I have some left in the freezer to make a vodka sauce later on.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June Spice Rack Challenge - Raspberry Mint Cooler

This was almost the month that I quit the Spice Rack Challenge. Not because I'm getting tired of it but because one of my best friends has a mint allergy so severe I was seriously contemplating quitting just to avoid bringing it into my house.

We were once out a a club together I and I watched her throat start to close up after a shot that didn't contain any mint simply because there was cross contamination from a bottle of peppermint schnapps.

In addition to my fear of killing someone, my husband is not a huge fan of mint and so I figured a beverage would be best. If he doesn't like it, I'll drink it all.

All that on my mind I set out to make a mint product that touched very little of my kitchen ware and I used only metal to ensure that the oil from the leaves didn't seep into any plastic aside from the pitcher which I'll not let Pat drink out of.

Raspberry Mint Cooler -from Allrecipes by Patricia Kile

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
1 packages frozen sweetened raspberries, thawed
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate
3 cups cold water
Crushed ice

I halved the original recipe and it fills my 2L pitcher. It is quite potent however. I've been enjoying it cut with club soda, about 50/50. My husband, as predicted, doesn't like it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May Spice Rack Challenge - Broiled Coriander Chicken Thighs

Seriously? It's already May 19th? Where the hell did that come from,and yet, still three months until my BC vacation...sigh.

As I have only until tomorrow to get this recipe up and I'm going to a local brewery after work tomorrow I needed to get cooking today. The first recipe I googled for was the one I used (though I did read a few more before deciding that the first one was best. I didn't have green onions or a lime, but lemon juice worked just fine.

Broiled Coriander Chicken Thighs (By Pam Anderson at

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
Vegetable oil for coating
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. ground coriander
2 Tbs. fish sauce
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1/4 lime
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens

Adjust the oven rack to the position closest to the broiler and set the broiler on high. Coat both sides of each thigh with just enough oil to get the seasonings to stick. Sprinkle each side with salt, pepper, and a portion of the coriander, rubbing the seasonings into the meat. Mix the fish sauce and sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

Lay the thighs flat on a broiler pan and broil until they’re opaque on top, 3-to 4 minutes. Remove the thighs from the oven. Without turning them, brush them with the fish sauce mixture and return them to the oven. Continue to broil until the thighs are spotty brown and cooked through, another 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate; pour the pan juices over the chicken. Squeeze lime juice over the chicken and sprinkle with the scallions.

I served them with roasted new potatoes and lemon garlic broccolini...mmm!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cheese and Stuff Quick Bread

So last week was Ty's birthday and we did up a big cheese plate for nibbles. Leftovers are to be expected but we had even more than I thought. Plus Ty is now off dairy for a bit and my parents have gone to Europe and asked me to bring the last of the food in their fridge home, which of course included cheese as well as some veggie odds and ends.

Speaking of cheese, our rotary grater broke (well one piece did) and when I contacted the company to ask if I could buy a replacement piece, they told me they would send a whole new grater free of charge. Thanks Fox Run brands!

Right, back to the loaf...

Well we had a bunch of cheese, and Ty wasn't eating any so I needed to bake something with it, preferably that I could freeze. I was originally thinking about cheese scones but then drifted to quickbread. After double checking my solid to liquid ratios this delicious taste of using up stuff was born.

Cheese and Stuff Quickbread

1 3/4 cups whole wheat bread flour
1 cup grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar and local gouda)
2 tbsp white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely diced white onion
1 1/2 tbsp fresh dill
1/4 tsp granulated garlic (or 1 fresh clove, minced)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 F and grease an 8x4 (or 9x5) loaf pan.

Combine first 8 ingredients in medium bowl and mix well. Combine egg, milk, and oil in small bowl and beat together. Add we ingredients to dry and stir until just combined (do NOT overmix). Pour mix into loaf pan and bake for 35 or until a tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April Spice Rack Challenge - Dill Batter Bread

All right, spice rack challenge time.

April is Dill and I have it growing fresh in my Areogarden. Did you know that you actually need more dill when fresh than dried because the flavour is more subtle, unless of course your dried dill is years old and then there's no flavour at all.

A few years ago one of my friends gifted me a copy of the Joy of Cooking, the 75th anniversary edition. I was pleased with the gift, but it has sat on my shelf now without me really using it. I'd flip though it for a specific recipe now and then and then use one from elsewhere. The other day however, I watched an episode of Anna and Kristina's Grocery Bag where they tested reviews from the book.

It inspired me to get out the book and have a serious read through it. I decided to try the Portuguese Greens Soup along with Dill Batter Bread and oh my, were both delicious. The recipe for the bread is listed below.

Dill Batter Bread - from the Joy of Cooking
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour (I used a whole wheat/white blend)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill (or 1 tbsp dried dill)
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg

Mix yeast and water in bowl and let stand 5 minutes.

Combine all other ingredients ASIDE from cottage cheese and egg. I mixed mine in my stand mixer. Add cheese, egg, and yeasty-water. Mix on low speed (or by hand if you don't have a stand mixer - you poor poor soul) until it comes together. Add additional flour or warm water if needed.

Swap to dough hook and knead about 10 minutes on medium-low until dough is smooth and elastic. Oil dough and trasfer to oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise somewhere warm) until doubled (1-1 1/2 hours).

Grease 9-x loaf pan. Punch down dough, form into loaf and place in pan seem side down. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise about 1 hour.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Remove loaf from pan and cool completely on rack.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

When you have a great crop of zucchini (or a coworker shares from their garden with you a good way to handle excess zucchini is to grate and freeze it in the quantities you typically bake with/use it for. Just flip through your recipes and determine if you need 1 cup, 1.5 cup, or 2 cup portions. I measured mine and then plopped portions in Ziplock bags, flattening the packages out for stacking. I froze 6 cups in three portions for baking throughout winter though you could also add a package to soup or stew for some extra veggie nutrients.

Recipe Adapted from Baking Illustrated
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
1/2 cup canola (or vegetable) oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 ts baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Set aside.

Grate the zucchini, using a medium sized grater (If not pulling yours from the freezer and thawing it.) Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla until well blended (about 2 minutes). Fold in the grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.

Makes one loaf.

Corn Chowder and Cookies

Last week Ty decided to take on a few nights worth of dinner (okay two, but he'd planned on three and is making his planned meal for that night tomorrow). His first night cooking he made this corn chowder.

It was delicious.

Later that evening I made Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies using a recipe from Tasty Kitchen that I forgot to save. They were quite good considering I forgot to add the cup of brown sugar to them. The only sweetness was a 1/2 cup of white sugar and the chocolate chips. See, I made them healthy without even

Today has been laundry, repotting seedlings, and baking a chocolate zucchini loaf. Picture and recipe to follow.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Spice Rack Challenge - Spicy Indian Chicken Curry

The March Spice Rack Challenge was cardamom.

For a household that has 34 different containers of spices plus several blends or seasoning mixes you wouldn't think that I would need to buy stuff for the spice rack challenge. But my cardamom was both powder and OLD so I hit Superstore for a new stock of pods. (By the way, if you're in Canada and use a lot of spices that are also commonly used in Asian cuisine, it's all about superstore...huge savings!!!!)

Ty and I love Indian food so it seemed a logical idea to make a curry of some sort and it was off to allrecipes where I found a recipe to use as a base.

6 chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, finely diced
1 can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste (I mixed up what I assume this is in my mini food chopper)
2 tbsp curry powder
2" piece cinnamon stick, broken up
8 whole cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
15 (I grabbed some) whole black peppercorns
2 tsp coriander seed
red pepper flakes to taste

Toss the chicken, onion, oil, and garlic ginger paste into a pot and let cook on medium heat for 5ish minutes.

Meanwhile dump all lumpy spices into some cheesecloth and make a little bundle so you aren't chomping down on a seed every bite you eat. Add the bundle, the bay leaves, the curry powder, and the pepper flakes to the pot along with the coconut milk and some chicken broth.

Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Check seasoning (Here I actually added about a half tsp ground cinnamon and 1/2 a chicken stock cube to amp up my flavour.)

(You've now added everything except the bell pepper)

After the 30 minutes has passed, toss in the bell pepper and cook 10 minutes more. The broth and milk should have thickened up into a nice sauce.

Serve with basmati race and/or naan bread.

Cheesy Garlic Mushroom Orzo with Italian Sausage and Mixed Greens

(Please forgive my horrible image quality here. I was in a hurry)

Standard chez hates Orzo
1 cup orzo
2 cups chicken broth or stock
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Brown orzo lightly in butter over medium heat. Add chicken broth, cover, and reduce heat to low.
Cook covered for 15 minutes. When all liquid has been absorbed stir in basil and Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 healthy side portions.

**Add In**
1 1/2 cups diced button mushrooms that were sauteed in butter and 4 minced cloves of garlic.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dinner Tonight

Roast chicken, potatoes and apples...
Served with green salad...
Strawberries for dessert...