Oh right it’s a new year!

Because I have spent nearly my entire working life in the service industry I have very different (often negative) associations with almost every holiday on the calendar. There is nothing like seeing people come to near fisty-cuffs over the last baguette at the bakery or witnessing families who have clearly spent way too much time together freak the hell out on the poor holiday hire who has very politely informed them that their level of membership does not allow 15 guests and it also expired 3 years ago. The stuff I’ve seen is enough to make me weep for “society” and to seriously consider relocating to a very remote cabin in a very remote part of the world with a very large dog, an even bigger gun, my books, loom, spinning wheel, yarn…you get the picture.

Of all the questionable behaviour and annoying habits/traditions of the Holiday Season, the one I do try to hold to is the New Years Resolution. Perhaps it’s a bit of residual who knows what from my years as an active pagan (I lapsed into a comfortable solitary practice years ago when the kids arrived as getting out with a newborn is like mounting an expidition to Mt. Everest) but there is something very nearly electric and palpable about a new year! I get the same excitement and anticipation at the beginning of a new school year. It’s the combination of a fresh, new start and the heady scent of possibility that I look forward to.

My first resolution is always: Start as you mean to go on! This can be harder to keep than you think! After that my resolutions vary depending on what I want to accomplish and improve over the year.

For 2012 I’m going to look inward (in a sense) and return to some old practices that served us well but fell to the way side. Two of my resolutions that I’m most excited for are my decision to improve my textile/craft skills either by challenging them or taking a course and to fill the holes on The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred list.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

It shall be fun to complete the list and I have a very dear friend who will probably quite willingly assist me with #37, #45 & #73…

Wish you all a very happy & safe New Year and hope that you too were able to start as you mean to go on.

 

 

The post that got ate!

Right, I had this lovely post all about those two recipes I have been beta testing but I guess the blog was hungry or something (th epost was about foodstuffs) because it disappeared into the ether!

Anyhoo…let’s get down to business. Here are the results of the original recipes (complete with links to the ACTUAL recipes!)

Mayan/Aztec/Mexican Hot Chocolate:

Recipe courtesy of one of my Girly Crushes:  Adrien  at Hello Yarn.

Results:

Used a bar of 85% Lindt cocoa, the grocery had them on sale 2 for 5$. According to Chris not enough chocolate and too much heat. Abi said it was tasty and warmed her belly then grabbed her throat claiming too spicy! in a very dramatic fashion. BTW this is a kid who would rip apart my bag at 18 months of age if she caught the slightest whiff of the Samosas they sell up at Warden Subway Station AND still has a serious weak spot for Wasabi Peas so make what you want from her reaction. Liam was in bed at the time of tasting so he has yet to weigh in. I agree that it needs a bit more chocolate so I’m going to use two bars with the next recipe but am going to keep the spice at the same level.

Chai Tea MixL

Recipe is at Cakeyvoice.

Results:

My parents brought my back a few jars of instant tea from their last trip to visit the family in Cornwall, (although my Dad still insists that I asked for “instant cheese”) so I could make the full recipe. It was alright but as instant tea is hard to find in Toronto I decided to make a spice blend that could be added to your existing cup of tea. The coffee whitener and CoffeeMate were dropped as I don’t care for them and I used icing sugar (it dissolves better in the liquid). I need to dial back the ginger and am going to experiment with vanilla sugar to give it a bit more flavour.

Beta Testing

My plan this year is to have as close to 100% Handmade Holiday as possible. I figure I’ll come in at the 75% mark as there are a few people on the list who are just not suited for handmade gifts, they are the people for whom gift cards were invented.

Since I didn’t get serious about my holiday knitting until November only a few people are getting something hand knit, the others are going to get a little treat bag of yummyness. This now requires some testing to figure out what’s the yummyness is going to be. Abi helped me mix up some Aztec Hot Chocolate and a batch of Chai Tea mix this evening which is going to be tested and tweaked over the next few weeks.

The chocolate mix was the first tested, it needs a bit less spice (it’s a nice heat for me but I have a higher heat tolerance than most) and more chocolate.

I’ll let you know how the Chai mix does in the next day or two.

Results from the Beta Test

This time I’m going to remember to give you the links to the recipes I used.

Mayan/Aztec/Mexican Hot Chocolate:

Recipe courtesy of one of  my girly crushs Adrien at Hello Yarn.

Results: according to Chris too much spice, needs more chocolate, Abi says “Yummy, it makes my belly warm” followed by “Too Hot!!!”. I will state that this child who used to ransack my bag for the spicy samosas I would buy at Warden Station now finds black pepper too spicy. I had such hopes for her gastronomic future. Liam was unavailable for comment as he was in bed and as far as I’m concerned the spice is right (but I have a high spice tolerance and am not a good spice-o-meter) and yes more chocolate is needed. I grated up a bar of Lindt 85% chocolate and am going to add a second (there was a 2 for 5$ sale at the grocery store so I figured “why not?!”) to the batch tonight. Will post an update in the next few days.

Chai Tea Mix:

Recipe courtesy of Cakeyvoice.

Results: I have majorly tinkered with this recipe, primarily because I can’t find instant tea anywhere around me. For this (and a few other things) I mourn the loss of Marks & Spark’s. However I have made the recipe exactly as it’s written once! My parents brought me back some instant tea from their last trip over the pond to visit the relatives, my Dad however misheard my initial request and to this day insists that I wanted “Instant Cheese”. And he says he dosen’t need to get his ears checked?! It was good as it stands but I don’t like coffee whitener, it leaves a weird greasy feeling on the roof of my mouth and I hesitate to call it a food item.

Anyway back to my mods: for this batch I only used the spices, icing sugar and the powdered milk. Since sifting the lot together I have upped the powdered milk to 2 cups and will need to dail back the ginger to 2-3 teaspoons. For future recipes I’m going to make some Vanilla Sugar which will give it that little bit extra that is presently missing.

It’s not yucky, it’s YUMMY!!!!

That was Abi’s reaction to lunch yesterday. I refrained from making a variation of “yeah it’s amazing what happens when you ACTUALLY TRY a new food!”

This is what I served:

(please excuse the fuzzy photo, our camera is old and on it’s last legs!)

Barley Risotto with shitaki mushrooms and kale, topped with goat cheese. It’s my new favourite comfort food! I love meals like this, it’s a one pot meal with minimal prep that can be used as a side dish or as a meal all on it’s own and I’m not strapped to the stove as there is a certain amount of “set it and forget it”.

Two of my cookbooks have variations of this recipe, Super Natural Cooking has more of a traditional risotto version and The Family Table has the slightly simpler version I made for lunch. Both versions are dead easy the only real difference between the two is that The Family Table recipe dosen’t have white wine and you can walk away while the barley cooks, so there is not standing at the table and stirring your risotto into creamy submission.

BTW, The Family Table is a Canadian cookbook written by two dietitian mums and has great advice about cooking healthy, tasty and rather speedy meals for the family. It is also full with some crazy practical advice for raising good eaters and how to deal with picky eaters in a way that dosen’t make meal times a horrid experience for all involved!

Located: That odd smell in the Kitchen.

My kitchen had an odd smell develop over the past few days and for the life of me I couldn’t find it. I had pulled out the stove and scrubbed down behind and underneath it, rooted through the drawer unit and cupboards but just couldn’t find it until today.

I had pulled out the potatoes to make this recipe and that’s when I found the funk. Deep in the ‘tater bin one of them had gone off and was starting to take a few others down with it. The whole lot have been taken out to the compost. Now I need to go get some more potatoes because I really want to have that salad!

On the hunt for a Recipe

I’ve been working at trying to eat a lot healthier. My first step was resuming a weekly veggie and fruit delivery, this time I went with Wanigan. Once a week the nice delivery guy bring me a local harvest box and every other week I have an all fruit box delivered as well.

The Local box is great, and consists of seasonal fruits and veggies from Ontario farmers. As it’s seasonal I have been cooking a lot of root veggies, for a chunk of the time I was just simply making roasted veggies, that is now getting old so I’m hunting down new and exciting ways to cook up the beets, carrots, rutabaga, potatoes and parsnips that arrive each week. This is where I’m so happy to have websites like 101 Cookbooks.

I’ve got some beets roasting and they will be used in this recipe, which will be part of tomorrow’s dinner and some of the potatoes will be used for this cheesy spoon bread. Now I just need to find recipes for the parsnips and carrots and pounds and pounds of onions…

The Square Root of all Evil

My veggie delivery has been quite apple heavy of late so I decided it was time to partake in the art of Pie.

I settled on an apple cranberry streusel topped number I found at FoodLand Ontario and preserved my sanity by buying frozen pie shells. Normally I would make a crust from scratch (my pie and crust skillz are legendary, my boss at the Bakery was convinced I had some secret Pie knowledge from growing up on a Farm, the reality is I just REALLY like Pie) but this was a spur of the moment thing so it was just easier and with Abi wanting to “help” I had visions of the Pumpkin Pie Incident my Mum and I had when I was her age.

But I digress, Pie making was afoot!
Abi helped me to grind up the cinnamon and decided that she was the official cranberry taste tester…I wasn’t fast enough to get a picture of the face she made. She helped me to measure the ingredients for the streusel and mix it.

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Our final results:

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I baked off one (there are still two pieces left) and froze the other for an out door plant dye fest when things get a bit warmer.

Since this was a success I think Abi and I will be doing some more pie making in the future.

Dumpling Making Machine

I had a cabbage that would have made way more slaw than I could reasonably eat so I split the difference and made some Gyoza’s.

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I had some left over barbeque pork in the fridge that I chopped fine and mixed with 1/2 the cabbage which I had sliced thin on my mandolin added in some garlic and green onion as well as a few splashes of soy sauce, sesame oil and some mirrin. I laid them all out of the cookie sheet to freeze over night and I’m going to transfer them to a zippy bag for better storage.

Party in my Tummy…

(this if from Yo GabbaGabba, Abi’s all time favourite tv show, we sing this to get her to eat stuff she isn’t too keen on)

I’ve been a bit busy in the kitchen lately…
Tortilla Soup:

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This recipe was my base and then I proceeded to tinker to get it to my liking. I subbed in ground beef for chicken (it’s what I had in the fridge) used a blend of canned adobo and jalapeño chilies for the heat and instead of deep fried tortillas I used tostadas. To convert for a vegetarian diet simply use veggie stock and upping the beans and vegetables (I used frozen) and obviously drop the meat. It’s very yummy and freezes well.

Baked doughnuts!

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Here is the recipe. These babies are super yummy…almost too yummy! Especially when they are fresh out of the oven! I was a bit impatient and didn’t let them rise as much as I should have so they were a bit dense but still so very yummy…Will definitely make again! A huge bonus to this recipe is that it’s kid friendly as there is no deep frying involved, Abi helped me to measure out the flour and do some kneading. Unfortunately I did kill my hand mixer in the process…dough hooks exist for a reason.