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Archive for the ‘Eatings’ Category

granola sunday

In Doings, Eatings on September 27, 2011 at 10:04 AM

need breakfast?

Last weekend I returned from a trip to my hometown, Vernon, British Columbia, to my lovely adopted family keen to make granola. Although I’m more inclined to gobble down cereal and milk than sweet granola and yogurt, I couldn’t resist getting in on homemade baking.

I also couldn’t resist staying up until 1AM creating this video.

So, if you want to see the chihuahua tricks, or if Natalie has inspired you to wear neon, or if you want David’s enthusiasm all over your granola, or if you want to know more about Rebar and their cookbook – for goodness sake, leave a comment.

CBC with folks, crepes with Sam

In Doings, Eatings on July 16, 2011 at 10:28 PM

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It’s been raining all day. The Folk Fest was full of happy hippy Vancouverites. Like ducks in water. My gig as an Ambassador for our national broadcaster was very easy. Like singing with the choir. No preaching required.

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What better, after a day of sharing griefs about federal budgets and smiles about programming, than to enjoy some crepes with my sister?

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First we started with the savoury: sautéed mushrooms and zucchini with cottage cheese (me) or garlic Harvarti (Sam). Matched with a wee glass of Sleemans and a green salad.

Second round was dessert: caramelized bananas, nectarine and strawberries. What wonders a bit of real butter does! We split the last pancake, dolloped on creme fraiche, and sipped it all away with citrus mint tea from Davids Tea.

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Digest and blog. Happy Saturday!

crepes with cam

In Eatings on November 13, 2010 at 11:06 PM

Back in October, when I was spending far too much time in the windowless office and thus ignoring this blog, I was fortunate to have one of the best mornings of my life. Wow, you say, that’s quite a statement. Oh, it is. And it was! Inventive food, table drawing, a large window with perfect lighting, and superb company. I ask for little else.

Having done no planning apart from “I’ll text you in the morning when I wake up”, we winged the menu. Cam arrived with a sampling of apples recently purchased from the UBC Farm Market and the best Concord grapes, in three different shades!

We took stock of my fridge and pantry. Some cheese, some cinnamon, eggs and milk. “Crepes!” I cried and raced to the book shelf for the recipe for my father’s staple dish.

As many Saturday mornings as I can remember being kid, my dad would cook breakfast. Nothing fancy, he’d say, just some rolled-up pancakes. That’s what we called ’em — rolled-up pancakes. Then he’d reach into his memory and tell me about my Oma making him pancakes with soup for dinner when he was a kid.

While I whipped up the crepe batter (2 eggs, 1.5 cups of milk, 3/4 cup each of all-purpose and whole wheat flour), Cam prepared our apple stew. He added no sugar that I saw, just three types of apple, cinnamon, and whatever other spices he found in my cupboards. I think it really is texturific when the skins are left on the apples before stewing!

We tried the first crepe with just the stew and some grated gruyere. Savoury, yes. Good, yes. But not exactly what we had in mind (if coming up with a dish on the spot constitutes having something particular “in mind”). A factor was missing. We pondered. We smacked our palettes.

Something nutty?

Something garlicy?

But of course — hummus!

So into my food processor we dumped a can of chickpeas, dollops of tahini, some lemon juice, garlic and water from the peas. Blend to a state of cream. And the result?

I wish I could show you the video reaction from Cameron as he assembled and consumed the first combination of these flavours. The natural sweetness of the apple mixed gently with the nuttiness of the gruyere and garlic of the hummus. Paired with strong cups of milky coffee and sharp, juicy grapes, the two of us doodled away across my kitchen table.

A morning I continue to savour.

the biodynamic Braeburn

In Eatings, Learnings on October 31, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Put the words “bio” and “dynamic” in front of an apple and tell me that the first image into your mind isn’t one of a fleshy, mutant-red ball of energy. I’m thinking something with a cape that can leap off tall buildings. That can self-replenish itself and save me from regular trips to the doctor. Am I right, I ask, am I right?

Well, no, not really. I mean, if I was to create a graphic novel, the Biodynamic Braeburn would be the right kind of a hero (or even a villain if I gave it a mustache). But in this case, I put down my Pilot pen and picked up the utility knife for a new kind of apple.

You see, this is no ordinarily-grown apple.  “Biodynamic” is a sustainable farming system that goes beyond the organic, holistic methods of manures, composts and no chemicals, and will actually follow an astronomical sowing and planting calendar. That means, this apple was grown according to the stars!

And my first bite of a celestial apple would be thanks to a soccer teammate, Amy. Upon dropping me off at home after our Sunday game, she hands me the bright, solid apple that had been cradled in the cup holder between us. “Here,” she reaches it out to me, “you have to try this.”

I cup it in my hand, barely managing a grip on the mass of it. “What kind is it?” I inquire.

“It’s a biodynamic Braeburn. It is THE BEST APPLE I HAVE EVER TASTED.”

Now, you can’t just make that kind of remark without reason. I opened the car door with my new gift and promised Amy a thorough review and comparative opinion.

Once inside my apartment I set the apple on my kitchen counter, it radiating its health amongst my browning bananas and bowl of Golden Auroras I’d picked up from Davison Orchards at Thanksgiving. My standard market fruit, my common nutrients, were aweing in the Braeburn’s shadows.

This fruit, I silently declared, deserves a special consumption. A proper chop and dice, when my palette was fresh and no other flavour had hit my tongue in 8+ hours. Yes, indeed, this Braeburn would be tomorrow’s breakfast.

I woke at 7:30am and had to double-check my alarm clock radio with my phone because the sky was still so dark. Our system of ‘keeping’ time says “Wake!” despite the body’s preference to hibernate.

But I was soon snapped out of my grizzly state. “The Biodynamic Braeburn!” I exclaimed and bounced out of bed. This would be a morning of firsts.

There it still was, looming at me with that red skin, bolding me down as its inferior. I sliced it with a satisfying chop of the knife and removed the core. I couldn’t even sit down at the table — the anticipation had me perched at the edge of my counter!

Oh, the tartness, forcing me to sip on water between bites! Oh, the crispiness, the acoustic crunch produced as I masticated away! And the juice, oh so juicy, making me lick my fingers as it ran away. Each area of the apple seemed to be a slightly different degree of tart-sweet ratio. The skin – bitter. Immediately beneath – slightly sweeter.  And it’s texture – papery?

I diced half the remaining fruit into my breakfast (a slop of banana, Kashi cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt and milk). I’m not normally keen on Braeburns. I’m more of a Spartan- or Ambrosia-type of girl. Crisp but sweet, is how I like it. Yet the immense tartness of this biodynamic gem blended well with the natural sweetness of the dairy and banana.

I wish I could tell you where exactly Amy had picked it up. All she could recall is that the farmer’s name is Walter and his farm is somewhere in Creston. “I should know more facts,” she texted me, “but all I really care about is the food.”

Here here, Amy!

raid the cupboards and make something

In Doings, Eatings on October 9, 2010 at 6:50 AM

“Do you guys want to grab a hot chocolate, or…something?”

Andrea, Cam and I had just walked out of one of my favourite locales, the Museum of Vancouver. Grant Lawrence had just entertained us with snipits from his new book, Adventures in Solitude, along with music from his cute, nervous and highly talented wife, Jill Barber (her swooning, nasally voice stops me in my tracks), and some kids from Said the Whale. A range of ages filled the audience, enjoying Grant’s somewhat Stuart Maclean-esque story telling, what with all the minute, human details of his six-year old nausea experiences on the way to the one of many ferries to Desolation Sound.

Then we wandered through the museum’s current Home Grown exhibit and got all inspired to make something. So instead of dropping dosh at a cafe, I invited my good friends home to have some tea and baking fun!

We raided my cupboards for ingredients — huzzah for a can of pumpkin, it’s time to prepare for Thanksgiving!

Cam and I raced to find a great blog recipe for pumpkin scones and I have to say, I’m glad Cam won. Bread & Honey offers an easy, sweet recipe that is delicious even without the icing. We just modified it slightly, leaving out the nutmeg and cloves (I need to stock up my baking spices) and used some of my endless — you got it — buttermilk.

Pumpkin Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 large egg

  1. Preheat oven to 425*F. Pull out your baking sheet and oil or parchment-line it if necessary.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor (or your good ol’ hands!), cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
  4. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
  5. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 14-17 minutes (depending how powerful your little, aging gas stove is). Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool. Or tuck in immediately!

“I remember all the shit I use to consume when I worked at Starbucks,” Andrea reminisced as we tucked into our freshly-baked scones.

“Yeah, there’s no need for them to pack thousands of calories into one baked good when all you need is flour, butter, an egg…all whole, simple ingredients,” pondered Cam.

We all nodded in agreement, our delightedly full mouths too content to allow otherwise.

Have a great Thanksgiving, folks.

this pie’s for you

In Doings, Eatings, Thinkings on October 5, 2010 at 11:59 PM

For Cam,

who questions as much as I do.

We are ok as we are — I promise.

Tuesday evenings are turning into a ritual, ever since Fox and CBC unknowingly scheduled two of my favourite shows on the same night, back to back. Glee and Being Erica have initiated a girls’ evening of dinner, drinks and drama (and high school show tunes, of course).

Tonight was my night for the recipe. On the weekend I had picked up a leek and some crimini mushrooms (so sick of the standard white mushrooms, I am). I’ve been picking from my idea bank based on the first that comes to mind. And I had pie on the brain.

Memories of hearty steak-and-ale renditions enjoyed while spending winter breaks in Southwest Wales must have influenced this craving, as did the taste of Cam’s vegan shepherd’s pie still lingering in my kitchen. Plus, the orphan roll of puff pastry in my freezer was singing to me.

It no longer had to suffer, for tonight we had pie! Here’s what you do for…

Mushroom and Leek Chicken Pie

These measurements are based on a standard Google search for the above title. Brianna and I tweaked it to fit our pie plate, and dealt with a lesser quantity of puff pastry quite well! So take this list and quantity of ingredients with a grain of salt. Or actually, don’t add salt. There’s enough in the chicken broth.

3 large chicken thighs
1.5 cups finely sliced leeks
1.5 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
tbsp olive oil
tbsp butter
tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth
lots of ground pepper
heavy teaspoon of dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
sheet of butter puff pastry
an egg, beaten

  1. Take chicken thighs. Chop into pieces, fry for about 5 minutes in the heated oil. Remove, but leave the oil in the pan.
  2. Throw in sliced leeks for 3 minutes until soft; remove. Then do the crimini mushrooms for 2-3 minutes, letting them breathe and lose some liquid.
  3. Place both veg in pie plate with chicken.
  4. Into remaining oil put a tablespoon each of butter and flour. Blend until creamy.
  5. Stir in two cups of chicken broth until a gravy forms. Pour over the chicken and veg.
  6. Cover gently with a sheet of butter puff pastry. Curl hanging pastry edges over the pie plate.
  7. Glaze with the egg. Make light score marks diagonally across the pastry (this will help it puff up during baking).
  8. Bake at 400*F for roughly 30 minutes, until that darling is golden brown.

Serve it hot with some steamed broccoli and equal helpings of red wine and television.

give me blueberries!

In Eatings, Makings on August 4, 2010 at 9:00 AM

This weekend I visited my hometown, Vernon, British Columbia, and stayed with the family of my travel companion and best friend, Jennifer.

[What a stellar weekend. Really. Those few days in the Okanagan were exactly what I ordered after the last three/four weeks of long work hours. Oh, and my new iPhone sure was a handy toy for the occasion. But that’s another post.]

The morning after we arrived, Jen’s mom (and my former volleyball coach), Barb, sourced a muffin mix from Vernon’s Nature’s Fare in efforts to accommodate Jen’s gluten intolerance. Barb also made a batch of gluten-full lemon blueberry muffins — the same recipe I stole from her after I sampled their brilliance one teenage day before our daily walk to school.

Barb's gluten-free lemon blueberry muffins. Dunked in butter and sugar!

Though I drool over the wheat flour version, I have to say, Jen’s muffins appealed to me more. The texture of the brown rice–arrowroot–tapioca flour combo was delicious when smothered with butter. I apologized to Jen for gobbling a handful of her batch. But they were just so amazing!

Every morning we ate our full of those teeth-staining delights. Yet when I returned home Monday afternoon, I only craved more! So I stocked up on blueberries from the grocer and checked my cupboards for cornmeal — the most texture-adding ingredient I could think of that wouldn’t require a trip to an unknown health food store or the cost of my arm. (It’s ain’t cheap being a celiac.)

For this Martha Stewart recipe, I substituted the ‘expired’ milk in my fridge for the called buttermilk. I also used regular granulated sugar instead of the coarse ‘sanding’ sugar. I would recommend baking them a little less or perhaps turn the oven down a bit to 375 instead of 400. However, any smidgen of dryness can be countered with a good dollop of butter!

Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

Makes 12

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk, plus about 2 tablespoons for tops
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (about 1/2 pound), picked over and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse sanding sugar (optional)
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Lightly coat a standard muffin tin with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and orange zest, if using.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg yolks, and butter. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until just blended. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until just stiff. Gently fold whites and blueberries into the batter until just combined.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup three-quarters full. Bake 12 minutes. Remove from oven; gently brush tops with buttermilk, and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired. Continue baking until tops are golden and a cake tester inserted in a muffin center comes out clean, 6 to 8 minutes more. Let muffins cool slightly, about 10 minutes, before turning out of tin.

craving muffins

In Eatings, I like on July 11, 2010 at 11:59 PM

coming home to Mom

In Eatings, Feelings on July 8, 2010 at 11:30 PM

Maybe it’s because we live on opposite sides of the Georgia Straight that I don’t think it’s such a bad idea leaving out a spare key for my mother. I’ve heard grumbles from young men about their nearly next-door mothers crashing their bachelor pad, bearing home-cooked meals and clean laundry. Such complaints are a dream to me and I was certainly grateful to come home to my mom this week.

Vancouver has been hot the last few days (though not as humid as Toronto, I hear). Mom knew just how to handle it. I arrived home off the bus to cold Mike’s Hard Lemonades in the fridge and fresh ingredients for a very seasonal salad.

Into a big bowl I tossed….

mixed salad greens
fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
some red onion, thinly sliced
pecans, chopped
crumbled goat’s feta (less salty than cow’s milk feta)
green pepper, sliced
chickpeas

Tossed with a balsamic-honey-olive oil dressing and paired with a slice of super-seeded Cobs bread, we feasted!

The following day, after a cruising cycle around Stanley Park (could we pack anymore people onto English Bay’s beaches??), Mom did what moms do best: spoil their children. This particular spoil was a trip to Whole Foods. Yep, that heavenly, posh, over-priced-but-worth-it-for-the-experience grocery store. We took our time perusing the salad bars before filling several boxes (rest assured, they were decomposable) with veggie pakoras, prime rib chilli, macaroni and cheese, and, oh right, vibrant grain-n-greens salad. This time we sat on my little deck to feast!

Despite the heat, my mother insisted on making caramel corn. And I wasn’t going to stop her. (I just stayed out of the oven-heated kitchen.) This is a bit of different take on her original recipe. She was experimenting, hoping for a real caramel coating. Be warned: This stuff may put you in a buttery coma.

Mom’s Buttery Caramel Corn

1 cup popcorn kernels
3 tbsp canola oil
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
small can sweetened condensed milk

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-ish heat in a pot with a lid. (Did you catch the italics? Lid = vital. No lid = popcorn everywhere but your mouth.) Pour in the kernels and cover with the lid.

As the kernels start to pop, shake the pot continuously so that nothing burns. (You may want to make the popcorn in two batches if your pot isn’t large enough.) Dump all that popped corn into a big bowl (and try not to eat it all, sheesh.)

Next, use the same pot to melt the butter. Mix in the sugar, let it melt, and bring to a boil. Keep it stirring. Once the two have mixed thoroughly, stir in the sweetened condensed milk. Let this simmer for a good few minutes.

Meanwhile, turn your oven to 350*F and line a baking tray with aluminum foil and either spray with Pam or oil it with a pastry brush. When the caramel is ready, pour it over the popcorn and mix to coat. Spread this all out on the foil-lined baking tray and pop into the oven for about 12 minutes. Make sure to pull it out every 6 or so minutes to turn the popcorn. The idea is to get the caramel a bit crispy all over.

Let the corn cool in the pan and break into large chunks. Store in an air-tight bag or container if you haven’t devoured it all (And likely burnt your tongue because you just couldn’t wait, could you? I don’t blame you.)

I was raised on sugar

In Eatings on July 2, 2010 at 11:45 AM

If you need a potluck hit, these’ll knock your friends flat. From an addictive sugar high.

I present to you a take on almond roca — another recipe from my mother, the woman I blame for my, not one, but four sweet teeth.

Yesterday I put out a couple containers of this delicious stuff at our Canada Day potluck, introducing it as crack in sugar form. I let my friends’ curiosity take it from there. I’m going to toot the Wagner horn here: As the evening went on and we all stuffed our faces with a collaborative dinner spread like no other, I’d hear a random ‘OH (chomp) MY (chomp) GOD’ and ‘Dis is ah-maaaazing’ and ‘Saltine crackers? In this?

Yes, my friends. Saltine crackers, when covered in caramel, create a wicked flaky pastry. I’ll have to introduce you to another shockingly easy and show-stopping recipe where saltine crackers are hidden amongst pudding, whipping cream and cherry pie filling. You’d think it layered pastry amazingness. (Again, another Mom recipe.)

For now, have a go at these and tell me if you don’t eat every last crumb. Because if you don’t eat every last crumb, you should be given a prize for sugar restraint.

Mom’s Almond Roca

1 pack Saltine Crackers
1 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup (or more!) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (or more!) sliced almonds

Line a lipped cookie tray with aluminum foil. [Don’t skip this step. Trust me. Caramel is like cement. Should you forget to line your tray with foil, you will be in for a sour hour.]

Lay out the saltine crackers on the foil; no overlapping necessary. You can break a couple in half to fill the ends of the tray if necessary.

In a saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Keep stirring! It’ll bubble into an aromatic caramel.

Pour the caramel onto the crackers and spread out evenly. Pop into a 350*F oven for 8-10 minutes and keep an eye on it — the edges will burn if left in there too long. You’re just letting the caramel caramelize even more (heck yes).

Remove the pan from the oven and dump the chocolate chips all over and pop back into the oven for 30 seconds. When those choco-chips look glossy, get ’em outta there and spread it all around. Sprinkle the almonds on top and let solidify. If you can’t wait to try it (it’s hard to have patience when sugar is involved), put the tray in the freezer to speed up the process.

Once The Goodness is hardened, lift it from the tray and peel off the foil. [See what I mean about the foil? Vital.] Use a large knife to chop roughly into large chunks of happiness. Best to keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge. You know, so it doesn’t get gobbled up immediately.