Category Archives: Uncategorized

excuses for no excuse


In all honesty there is no excuse for my not writing once a week, I missed last week even though I DESPERATLY wanted to get on here and type my tiny little heart out however my day job amped up AND my business amped up at the same time not to mention the family stuff and plain ol fatigue.

I do have several things to write about (if I haven’t already mentioned my hand), I did attempt this Friday night when I was waiting for a very old and dear and VERY pregnant friend for coffee. In which I was using the tiniest keyboard I have ever used which makes my fingers look like sausages and I am constantly pressing the wrong buttons then as she walked in the door I too quickly closed the page and thus my painstaking hard work and tiny words were lost in the underverse of the internets. (insert LONG sympathetic sigh here).

Finally here I am several days late explaining why I am so late. The other factor is, I almost have to be in the mood (which I am so often in the WRONG situation) and of course my best ideas strike right when I am stressed and in the middle of something VERY important. I am glad I was never commissioned for anything like Michalangelo was, I would never get anything done. The ceiling of the Sistine would be a sun dyed white to date. Alas I am here and I am writing that counts for something right??? As mom always said “No excuses”  and in all honesty there is no such thing as a good excuse. The fact is I should have remained committed to both blogs and wrote my heart out no matter the hour in the evening. So my dear flakies I apologise for my absence.

Well my nights in the kitchen have been interesting to say the least, I nearly sliced off my hand, I screamed and swore at pizza dough and I burned my face off 3 times in one week. It was BAD, for some reason most of the fam didn’t mind what I called “epic fails” they liked the extra heat in my dishes and no one died so that is a good sign too. In nearly slicing off my hand the knife skills I was teaching myself went by the wayside, I was attempting at halving a butternut squash in half to stuff with vegetarian chili luckily hubs was there to point out I was about to cut my hand off, and in a nasty way because I also discovered cutting a squash, let alone 3 of them, is really tough business.

I have since learned from my dear facebook friends (who occasionally are a wealth of knowledge when they aren’t being absolutly hysterical on thier status updates) that if you ask the produce department very nicely they will go and cut the squash for you.

I learned that one cannot substitute chipotle chili powder for regular chili powder, it doesn’t even subsitute when you halve it. Whenever one sticks it in the dish it will end up burning my face off (for spicey heat wimps like me).

Be wary of zests and how much you put in. I’ve experimented with lemons, limes and now oranges (the latter being the WORST) and always pay special attention to just how much fresh zest to put in the dish. I recommend that when orange zest and sweet potato are to be mixed with sour cream AND butter just to ignore the orange part…. and maybe the sour cream. I can’t describe what happened in my mouth though I don’t think anything can be as bad as a durian. (Apologies to those who love the durian!)

When making your favorite soup, don’t make it if you don’t have what you need to give it actual flavor, I ended up with beans in slightly flavored water which wasn’t appetizing at all.

Did I mention DON’T **&(^*^&%$ with orange zest?

So always make sure your knives are sharp, cut away from yourself, don’t stick your hand under the blade. Don’t mess with orange zest, its more punch in a teaspoon than Brock Lesner. To burn your face-off add copious amounts of Chipotle Chili powder to recipes that call for regular chili powder. If there are no parmesan cheese rinds, fresh thyme, or rosemary about, skip the soup (if it is a veggie or light chicken flavored one).

And the best part, make time for your friends, tell the ones you love them and say something positive to yourself and someone who needs it. Which in my experience is everyone.

Happy Eating!

what the *beep* is an abodo? And other mysteries.


This is something I have been wondering for about a year. I know abodo is a pepper and it is most likely “burn my face off hot” I am wondering this as I have upteen recipes calling for abodo chillis or abodo chilli powder or chillis in abodo sauce.

As I go through cookbooks and see this ingredient I usually sluff it off and either put it on ignore, replace it with a chipotle chili powder, regular chili powder or just a jalapeno or red pepper. In small town southern Alberta it seems hard to find some fancy pants ingredients that are probably available in every grocery store states side no matter what the location.

Think of me with a pursed lip or mouthing “what the ******************???!!!” I narrow my eyes at the word and I bite my thumb at it. Abodo! Pah!

Now is the time for an answer, i am tired of the question mark hanging over my head and making fun of me behind my back. I must put an end to this mystery. I just googled it and discovered I just epic-ly failed on the spelling of the word…. ADOBO. (Which being a designer by trade reminds me of Adobe which is completely unrelated). I must say I am quite embarrassed though I don’t think I will be making that spelling mistake again. I have scoured the local shelves for this item and there are none to be found, I’ve  searched the shelves in the city too and still no luck. I am thinking unless there is some chilli store opened up I may never try this for myself. (This also reads as “I am too cheap to pay for shipping and handling for ordering speciality food“) Or else I am completely blind and it is available at the local WalMart however I do doubt it so. So far my omissions or substitutions are making up for the lack of adobo-ness in my dishes.

Adobo aside there is something else that has been nagging at me “smoked tomatoes” another mystery ingredient that is constantly eluding me. I’ve looked for it in the fresh produce, the pasta aisle, the soup aisle, jarred veggies aisle , the mexican aisle and other ethnic food areas of grocery stores. I’ve been wanting to try something like this as it sounds delicious. I have half a mind to don my mad scientist gear & buy some liquid smoke then add it to a tin of crushed tomatoes however I have a hunch it won’t produce near the same taste (and how does one create this upon not eating it) or flavor experience. Speaking of smoke, how does one liquify a smoke???? That must have been quite a process. Either way it is impressive one can buy such an item. The change from what was available in the 80’s when my mom was shopping compared today is a HUGE change (pancakes in a spray can?!).

Smoked tomatoes must be a rare species, I can almost hear David Attenburough narrating the life and times of the endangered “smoked tomato”; Maybe it occasionally takes an adobo chilli lover! The flavor offspring! GASP! A moment truely unique in the fruit and spice kingdom and gives a whole new meaning to “blended families.” Sadly the life of both the smoked tomato and adobo pepper are doomed to be short. Plucked from the vines, torn away from each other, processed in a distant foreign factory &  thier lives end caged within a tin can. They secretly hope a human (LIKE ME) will pick it up and put it out of its misery in a delicious taco recipe to be devoured by thier waiting and hungry children. If there were such a can of deliciousness I would have picked up 4 as I need one for tonights dish “Turkey Chili Shepherds pie topped with sweet potatoes“.

Sounds delicious doesn’t it, well the adobo and smoked tomato have snubbed me. I will have to make do with what I have available for now. If anyone wants to start an adobo & smoked tomato Alberta invasion, send them my way!

Happy Eating.

 

Breaking Boundaries and an introduction to Josephine.


I find I keep marking the opening to my posts as “It has been a while since…” which must be getting a bit tiresome.

I apologise, I do not have set writing days in my calendar, with the life I lead I take time where I can get it. Let’s face it I do put a lot more on my plate when I am eating and in life which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am a full time parent to 6 kids, a long distance grannie, I have a full time career complete with a 1.5 hr commute. I’m a business owner (and co-owner of another company with hubs) I read, I write, I cook, I spend time with my family, visiting with friends, I recently started up crocheting (though all I did was crotchet myself into a circle) and of course I am also enslaved by a very cute feline.

Have I mentioned I am not 30 yet?? LOL Yes I have one grey hair, and I named her Josephine, we chat, we do coffee, Josephine and I are close, for a human and her grey hair.

So in short on the “un-busiest” of days I am busy.

Regardless I am forever breaking my own boundaries in food whether it be trying a new ingredient, a new dish, a different cooking style or sampling something I have never tried before. I am a bit obsessed with food and I do get really panicky in the kitchen, most people seem natural and at ease whilst cooking away, in my house it is a bit of a gong show. I’ve written before of the interesting language floating out of the room and some of the interesting food that has landed on our families plates and once “tweeted” about my encounter with a durian candy. So when I “break my boundaries” I do it in great fear, always and it doesn’t stop when I turn the burner off, I continue to worry about it LONG after it is done. I probably come across as a complete nervous wreck half of the time and a wild crazy gypsy woman the other half (have you heard me cackle?? I took lessons from mom).

Where do I begin breaking these boundaries? It starts with a recipe and then completely screwing it up by accident or on purpose and serving the end result. So it starts with me and ends with the family, and luckily so far they still love me, will still sit down at our table and eat my (or our) food. I’ve started introducing more meat free dishes into the weekly menu, I find that meat gets too much of the “celebrity status” during the big shows and I want to kind of prove that veggies (or legumes), lentils and playing with herbs can make something amazing. So far no complaints, and NO leftovers which has shocked even me. Mostly I’ve been serving up soups: Caterpillar Soup, Ginger Carrot Soup, Tomato and bean;  I made vegetarian calzones and those were a HUGE hit and now I am looking for the perfect vegetarian lasagne!

My most recent discovery has been the turnip, wow is it ever good? The smell and flavour of fresh ginger and I ate a parsnip raw which was pretty good too. Sounds like pretty plain stuff but to me it was exotic having been grown up on wholesome British/Canadian/Maltese home cookin. Mom tried to get me to try things as a kid and as far as I can remember I wasn’t happy about it, then again, what kid is? Next on the trials is going to be butternut squash, there is this macaroni dish I have been itching to try.

Now I challenge you to pick one thing out of the produce aisle you have either never tried, cooked and give it a shot! Let me know how it goes!!

Happy Eating!

 

ps- as for the durian candy, the aftertaste stayed with me after I ate, into the evening, into the night. And I kept burping it up. I suppose I should mention I didn’t even EAT the candy, I spat it out after 5 chews!

Oh my Gawd I forgot the garlic!!!!


Today was the kind of day that dragged for me so in the darkest part of the day and at the time when time seemed to pass its slowest I started searching for inspiration for dinner (part of which the inspiration to write about my adventures came from) I knew we were having boneless skinless chicken breasts but how to prepare them. There were dark thunderclouds outside, the wind had started to pick up so I decided I wanted something comforting, homey, yet daring.  So onto my favorite sites I went and discovered this on Rachel Ray, it was called “Quick Chick-in-Wine with Brie-Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes”. I read it over…..twice and printed it out, along with chicken about 5 other ways (from sweet, to spicy to very exotic.) The feeling I actually got from this was french country with a taste of home, so I renamed it

 “The Snobby French Chicken is drunk on wine and the potatoes married the Brie aaaand the apples, a saucy pair! “.

Things from the Kitchen you will need:

  • Cutting board, sharp knife, Skillet, small saucepan, large pot,a spoon, a fork, a bowl, stove, oven is optional, blender or food processor.

Things from the grocery store/market/pantry/Gods of the food universe:

  • 2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken boobs (or thighs, or both! I used just boobs….. 7 of them)
  • 1/2 bottle white wine (doesn’t have to be fancy, I used a delicious Piesporter from my parents wine room…. made by them and of course between hubs and I we finished off the other half…. I digress)
  • 2 lbs of Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered, skins on.
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup of cream (I used half and half as I had NO idea what kind to get, whipping cream, buttermilk and so forth and I also used the whole 500 mL because I didn’t want to waste)
  • 1 Golden delicious apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  •  2 lbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Slices of  butcher/deli cut bacon, chopped (I used the whole package which was about 8-10 slices)
  •  Flour (for dredging)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped (I used 3)
  • 2 carrots, chopped (I used 3)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sprigs of thyme, stripped and chopped (I put in about 1 tsp of fresh chopped thyme)
  • 1/3 pound wedge of Brie, cut up small (I had NO idea what a 1/3 of a pound wedge was, my phone was dead so I had no converter so I guessed & picked up a 200g package)
  • Crusty warm bread

Preparation:

In bowl add chicken and pour wine over top, set this aside for later.

Put quartered potatoes (with skin on!) in large pot cover with water and bring to a boil over med. heat. Once cooked: drain, mash and set aside.

In small saucepan combine apple and cream, put on stove on med heat for about 15 min.

Drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil into a skillet and cook chopped bacon until crisp, once done remove and set bacon on a plate.

While the bacon is crisping, cut up chicken into bite sized pieces, reserve the wine it was sitting in, then dredge lightly in flour (I forgot to do this)and toss into the skillet the bacon was cooking in, brown the chicken.

As the chicken browns chop up the veggies.

Once the chicken is brown put aside, drizzle the skillet with the 2tbs of olive oil add veggies and herbs cover and sweat them for about 5 minutes, remove the lid, add about 2tbs of flour stir it in, cover for about a minute, then stir in the reserved wine and chicken simmer together until the sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through.

Take the apple and cream from the stove into a food processor or blender with the Brie Cheese and blend until smooth. Add this to your mashed potatoes and combine.

Serve chicken with wine over the Brie mashed potatoes.

So this is the dish I made, after a long full day at work, a 35 minute commute back to town, popped off at the grocery store while hubs went to pick up baby, then off home to put this all together.

Together we worked like mad scientists working on some evil experiment, were there mistakes made??? OH yes, first of all I still haven’t gotten used to figuring out the proportions for a meal that serves 4 into a meal that serves 6.5. It makes things rather complicated as well as I had no converter on hand at the store (I downloaded this really handy conversion app onto my andriod phone, I can convert ANYTHING!!!) so I had no idea what amounts of things I needed, like the brie cheese wedge, the recipe is from the states so they have imperial units compared to Canadian metric. Then I didn’t know what kind of bacon to get so I picked up what looked like a 1/2 package compared to a full package. I forgot to tell hubs to dredge the chicken in flour, I also didn’t stir in the flour properly nor did I have enough for the amount of wine I used (I am a liberal kinda gal). For the potatoes I picked up 4 lbs of them little things and was chopping away and thought well  I will leave some out, which was about 5 extra mini potatoes….would that make a difference? I thought??? Nnnnaaaaah…. well it did, I used a whole package of cream in my apple brie combination and instead of adding it slowly to my mashed potatoes I oh so inelegantly dumped the lot in not realising this was making a large amount of lumpy mashed potatoes. So it was more like mashed potato soup. Since I finished the potatoes before the chicken was done i turned on the oven to about 250 degrees, stuffed the pot in there and wrapped up my french bread in aluminum foil and plopped that in there to while we waited……. and waited………and waited……and waited….. for the chicken to be done. While it lay there simmering in the skillet I stopped in the middle of the ktiche, my eyes got this “deer in headlights look” I looked directly at hubs and said “OH MY GAWD I FORGOT THE GARLIC!!!!” A glorious “s” word swear and scrambling to the spice cupboard I pulled out the garlic powder and sprinkled it on. Back to waiting we went……… Finally I swore, poured myself a glass of wine and said “Its done” The carrots were hard, so was the celery but was the meal delicious….. HECK YES, was it fancy?? well the ingredients were, my presentation?? not so much.

Lesson learned? yes lots… add stuff slow to the mashed potatoes, don’t forget the garlic, figure out the amounts BEFORE heading to the store, remember the more stuff you add (like 7 breasts as opposed to 4) it steals heat from the other things in the pan so add more cooking time, don’t stress, always improvise.

Other lesson from the day (an important one.) Don’t open your package of yogurt and then shake it up. Shake it THEN open it. I had the honor of wearing pineapple yogurt complete with stains for most of the day. It was a shining moment indeed.

More adventures to come. Happy eating!