Tag Archives: Throwback

Down to the wires


Having a gourmet dinner last night (and by gourmet I really mean canned spaghetti and creamed corn) gave me some “food for thought.” As of late I have been stressing, shopping, cooking, stressing, adding, subtracting and then adding in some more stress over the big day coming. I keep telling myself “everything will be fine, don’t worry so much” and then my insecurities get the better of me.

Here is the main reason I am so stressed out. It is the first time I will have ever cooked for 17+, not to mention a BIG holiday. My nerves are shot and I am getting glitchier as each day passes, not to mention the big TO do list has very few check marks on things completed (don’t get me started on the gifts OR the stocking stuffers…even the stockings themselves!). I am still pondering how I am going to fit 17 people around a table that will fit 12 plus a highchair. Not to mention the plates, cutlery and dishes being served. I guess now is the time to announce that I don’t even have a menu planned out. All I have in my deep freeze is a turkey, and I don’t even think it is big enough. I bought the turkey when I thought we would be having 12 people for dinner even though I KNEW that we would have a minimum of 15. I must have filled my brain with extra air that day. I will probably make it up by Barbequing some ribs and putting something in the crockpot (well I should say “hubs will barbeque some ribs” as he is the master of the ribs in our house)

Talk about “flying by the seat of my pants“, I do this so often I have to wear long johns. I am definatly NO goddess in the kitchen and despite being marginally organized, nothing in the world have gotten me to get my act together for this Christmas. Thankfully I am cooking for family and they are much more forgiving than any food critic, foodie or celebrity chef (side note: I
most recently criticized a catering job for not cooking their vegetables long enough, the potato salad tasted like engine oil & the bean salad tasted like diesel exhaust) however their (the families) opinion is paramount in my world so I really do want to watch them enjoy dinner rather than make the “mmmm” face whilst stifling the gag reflexes.

All this makes me realise how much my mom went through when she put on Christmas dinner and then Boxing Day dinner for the extended family. I always liked Boxing Day dinner because mom, her sisters and their families would bring all their left overs to the hosting families house and it would be samples of everyone’s cooking, baking and other goodies and as a “win-win” it helped decrease the amount of left-overs in everyone’s fridge so there wouldn’t be turkey sandwiches for the next week. Plus it also meant another gift from “The Aunts”, in our family they are famous for their woollen creations which are treasured. As a teenager it gave me extra time to look moody and sullen however once the deck of cards came out for the family game of “Combination Rummy” all bets were off and within no time it was a table full of smiles and laughter. My fondest memories of my Nana always “chanin’!” suits mid-game thus sending my Granddad into a bit of a tizzy as he was always trying to help her out and count cards at the same time. Playing cards after dinner was always such a treat, something I am hoping to bring into my own family tradition.

This time of year always pulls me closer to home, reminds me of Christmas baking, Christmas cooking and Christmas bells softly ringing inside my head as I mozey about my day.

I’ll have to write down what I end up serving and the final result of all my stressing. I am thinking it is all going to turn out fine. I just need to relax.

HA who am I kidding?! I looked like a crazed banshee whirling about the earth without a week’s sleep!

From my family to yours “wishing you all the best this yuletide season

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Concerning Caterpillars, a cooking success and where some recipes come from…


My mom told me a story the other day over a soup I made that reminded her of being a little girl. The soup I made for the family and took over to my parents place reminded me of being a little girl, how much I hated it when mom made that soup and how much I crave it now as a grown up (or at least most days I am). It also reminds me of the first time I threw up because I think it was what we had for dinner that night….. which could also explain why I hated it so much.

Anyhow my mom came from a home where Mondays there was a little more food in the house and come Friday, dinners were made with whatever was left from the week. Hence soup made from fresh ingredients straight from the garden, to the cutting board and into a pot into what her mother called “Manestra” or as most know it as “Minestrone.” Like me mom didn’t like the soup all that much though for entirely different reasons, her mom put in many of the ingredients below, celery, carrots as well as cabbage all from the garden. Sometimes there were other additions to the soup which my mom and her sisters discovered on their own like noticing that celery when chopped looks like caterpillars and sometimes that spoonful of celery really wasn’t a spoonful of celery, it ended up being a spoonful of caterpillars thus beginning my mom’s distaste for the soup which as time passed on became a soup that became a reminder of home, being a little kid and being with her mom, dad and siblings.

And so I learn of this tale over a warm bowl of my own version of the soup, greatly enjoyed and has now nestled a little corner of my heart where I have warm loving thoughts of being a kid, sharing in our heritage, memories of my mom and nana all wrapped into one cozy and delicious package.

Happy Eating and Enjoy

Caterpillar Soup (Minestrone Soup)

Kitchen Gadgets required: Stove/hot plate, large pot, cutting surface, and knife, can opener, grater (unless cheese is purchased grated and a vegetable peeler if you have one.

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to your “heat” preference)
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 medium sized onions chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip chopped
  • 2 celery ribs chopped
  • 2 small-medium sized zucchini diced (I took the “skin” off too)
  • 2 stems fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can of 9 bean mixture (I used great value) rinsed
  • 1 15 oz can of Alymyer Italian Stewed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 boxes of Campbells Organic Vegetable Soup Stock
  • 2 cups shell type pasta
  • Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • Flakey Butter Buns

 

Heat the large soup pot over med-high heat add Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 2 tbs) red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, carrots, parsnip, celery, cook until they start to go soft about 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, add rosemary, bay leaf and zucchini until they soften. Add the beans, tomatoes and stock, put on the soup lid & bring to a bubble.

Cook soup for 8 minutes @ a rolling simmer add the pasta and cook until el dente’ (approx 7 minutes). Remove pot from heat, take out rosemary twigs (leaves will have fallen off while cooking) and bay leaf.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve with flakey buns and sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Serves 5 with seconds and maybe thirds.

*optional – cook the soup with the rind of fresh parmesan cheese to create a cheesy taste, remove prior to serving.

Rocks or weapons…..


 A Throwback back to 2007.

It was my dad’s birthday and I wanted to surprise him with something special, so I picked out the “Death by Chocolate” cake recipe from “Clueless in the Kitchen” where I also found a recipe for icing from scratch.  Awesome, I gathered all the ingredients to make the cake into cupcakes and baked the afternoon away, my condo smelled like a sweet bakery and dang was I getting proud. I was really excited to impress my parents with not just baking cupcakes but baking EVERYTHING from scratch!! I decided to make the icing bright blue because I thought it would make an awesome contrast to the dark chocolate as well as be more exciting than just plain ol’ white icing.  So the icing wasn’t just blue it was electric kool-aid Technicolor blue; how awesome was that??? I’ll tell ya…. It was Quasimodo awesome!!!

I was so excited to have these cupcakes done and was so pleased with the colour of my icing I quickly got to work icing everything away. Right away the icing started falling off my super warm cupcakes and was making a strange blue/green/yellow icing pool on the plate. “Eff” I thought to myself, so I called mom and told her I made something for dad but it wasn’t turning out “pretty looking” she assured me it would be fine and to come on over with whatever it is I made. I gathered the gooey mess and drove on over to their place.

We celebrated with a quiet lunch and for dessert were to be the cupcakes.  I put one on each plate; the three of us sang “Happy Birthday.” Dad needed a cup of tea after lunch so he set to making a cup of tea to go with the cupcakes. Mom set to getting the muffin wrapping off the bottom of the cupcake, not only was it stuck it seemed cemented to the cupcake, while she struggled away with the paper wrapping she dropped it onto the plate and it made this huge “THUD” it sounded like it nearly broke the plate.  All of us burst out laughing, the cupcakes were heavy as rocks and could easily be used as weapons instead of a tasty dessert.  I struggled for about 10 more minutes trying to get more of the paper off my own cupcake (between laughing fits) before I finally gave up and announced a complete failure.

I think the plate had a larger dent in it than my ego at the end of the day, and I don’t think it will be a birthday I will forget in a long time.