TB’s friend is getting married in two weeks. The boys wanted to plan a weekend in Vegas, but the groom was in a car accident and long flights just weren’t an option. So they did Vegas in Van-city.  Friday night was boys night out… suits, cigars, scotch and other things…. tonight is a poker tournament and a big BBQ.  I offered to make a cake in the theme.

This friend is pretty picky when it comes to flavours. He doesn’t like creams, custards etc. Normally if I was to make a cake, I would want to add flavour through the filling. His preferred filling was chocolate chip mint.  Mint as a filling reminds me of the 80′s – probably because as a kid I LOVED it and always wanted icing to be flavoured with it… and now, no interest. So the cake itself is not too interesting. The decorating worked out ok. I used chocolate fondant dyed black, and then regular fondant in green for the felt. All the pieces are edible (except for the playing cards).  The picture is a little fuzzy, but I didn’t think to bring a camera, only had my phone. Still, for something whipped together Friday night for Saturday, I was pretty happy with it.   Congrats to J & T. Hoping they have a long happy life together.


The sun was out. The rain held off (finally). I wasn’t in class. And so the garden finally got finished.  TB and I have agreed to keep the garden as a shared project between us. Really it means that I plant, weed and harvest and he waters it during the super hot weeks in the summer. I’m looking forward to the freshness that will be on my table in a few short weeks.  I’ve added a few extra flower beds this year in front of the usual leafy greens, opted out of peas and added way more tomato plants than in the past.


So if all goes correctly the following will be part of  a summer/fall harvest:

  1. tomatoes: big boy, green leprechaun, cherry, yellow heirloom, purple heirlooms
  2. beans: red long, green stringless
  3. rhubarb
  4. pumpkin
  5. squash
  6. pickling cucumbers
  7. early carrots
  8. sweet beets
  9. swiss chard
  10. kohlrabi
  11. strawberries
  12. a variety of lettuces
  13. herbs: rosemary, cilantro, basil
  14. And lots of flowers: dahlias, lobelia, poppies and sweet peas
Looking forward to posting a picture of the garden in full bloom sooner than later :) And maybe, just maybe some recipes.

It has been 207 days since I last blogged.  It’s hard to explain really.  I can’t really  blame it on the fact that TB and I broke up, or that I didn’t have enough space in the kitchen anymore.  It was kind of like the spark had gone out of cooking or baking.  Once I got into it, I would enjoy it, but really, I could barely find a way to get into it.  Dinners for a while were…interesting.  Popcorn and an apple, anyone?  With the spark gone, and being incredibly busy with school and work, there wasn’t really anything to put up here.

But I’m trying.  I’m trying to make at least a few meals a week that are reminiscent of the old me.  The side benefit of this is that I actually have meals for lunch at work; their healthier and help with the much needed fiscal responsibility which is my renewed goal for 2011.  A few weeks back I made pulled pork that was versatile and delicious; and then there were carrot and pineapple muffins with a coconut cream cheese icing, treasure hunt muffins (chocolate chips, blueberries, banana and peach muffin – sounds like  lot, they were oddly good!) chicken, shrimp and sausage jambalaya, and then tonights meal of a simple honey glazed roasted chicken, and planning on chicken pot pies with the leftovers.  I am feeling moderately consistent.

The mains I have made lately thrive on slow cooking.  There is something satisfying about facing delayed gratification, waiting for the aromas wafting from the kitchen to reach an almost intolerable desire to want to go check on it, again. These meals have also been traditional and simple in their approaches.  Somehow, over the last few weeks of slow and steady I have convinced myself that if I can work threw some old standbys then I may be on the road back to the kitchen…I’ve kind of missed it.

Honey Glazed Roasted Lemon Chicken

1 – 5lb chicken
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon
1 head garlic
3-4 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Honey Glaze

2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp chicken juices
2 tbsp hot water

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven at 425F
  2. Remove any giblets from the chicken
  3. Rinse and pat dry chicken
  4. Drizzle olive oil over, and inside chicken
  5. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper, inside and out
  6. Squeeze lemon juice into cavity of chicken, add parsley, garlic and lemon.
  7. Base chicken every 20 minutes
  8. Mix all glaze ingredients together.
  9. Approximately 5 minutes before the chicken is ready to come out of the oven, baste the glaze over the chicken.
  10. Remove from oven when bird at thickest point on thigh reaches 175F, it will reach 180F when you allow it to rest for ~5-10 minutes.

A few weeks back I had a friend over for dinner. I always love the smell of freshly baked bread when having company…so homey.  I had seen  a recipe on The Knead for Bread that I thought was pretty cool. It was a basic white bread, but rolled out like a jelly role, spread with pesto, rolled then sliced, finally twisted to ensure the pesto is spread throughout.  The technique is something I will bring to other “swirl breads”, it was beautiful!

I had an abundance of garlic scapes in the fridge that desperately needed to be used. No pine nuts and a guest who didn’t like Parmesan cheese.  So I worked with what I had. The result was a very tasty sun-dried tomato pesto.  I followed the bread recipe exactly.  It was a little dense, not as light of a crumb as I would have liked, but dunked in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it was still very tasty.  And for a few days to keep it fresh and as a great snack, I found throwing it in the toaster for a light toast was perfect.

I won’t re-write the recipe for the bread on my site, as you could follow the very clear steps laid out on the original recipe’s site. However, I was happy with the “pesto” that was infused throughout, so instead, that is what you will find here.

Ingredients:

4 garlic scapes roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
6 sun-dried tomatoes softened (either soaked in hot water, or packed in olive oil)
1/4 cup black olives
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Shred mozza and set aside
  2. Combine garlic scapes, walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives  in food processor, puree.
  3. Add olive oil until everything comes together and makes a thick paste, probably about 1/3 of a cup
  4. Mix pureed mixture with mozzarella, season with salt and pepper.

A note that the garlic scapes will be very powering raw, but as they bake in the bread they totally mellow out.


It’s summer! Finally!  We have had a few weeks of sun and some heat.  The evenings are fragrant.  The air is full of a delicious sweetness. I love taking the dog for a walk on a summer’s night (so much easier than the rainy days of winter!), the trees almost whisper a song as they sway to the evening breeze. Yesterday I went out to the valley and picked some raspberries and blueberries.  Then I was off to visit with my mom and step-dad.  I drove home at twilight. The light was golden as I left suburbia and made my way back downtown.  Seeing the city glow as I drove over the bridge, my breath almost caught in my throat. I love where I live. Vancouver is such an amazing city, the mountains, the ocean, the neighborhoods and then within 45-60 minutes you are out in farm country.

So with most of the berries packed away in the freezer, I kept some out to much on over the next day or two…don’t they look beautiful?

Sometimes simple is best. So this morning I rummaged around and found some goodies to throw together in some home made granola. The great thing about granola is how you can use what you have…one of my favourite approaches to food is to use what you have around.  If you always have to run to a store to follow a recipe exactly, I can only imagine how constricting, so if you feel like making some granola, use what you have, no maple syrup? Use honey?  Don’t like cinnamon, don’t add it. And so on, and so on.

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats
a handful of sliced almonds
handful of shredded sweetened coconut
2 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp cinnamon
chopped dried fruit (i used golden raisins and apricots)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit and mix thoroughly.
  3. Spread on a baking sheet and put in the oven.
  4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown, stirring a few times – just watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  5. Remove, allow to cool and then mix in dried chopped fruit.
  6. Store in an air tight container, I find that a mason jar works really well.
  7. And of course, if possible serve with some fresh berries, either over milk or yogurt – yum!\

I am on vacation.  I am on vacation and back downtown looking after the dog while TB is away for work. Because I don’t have my usual well stocked kitchen/pantry at my finger tips, I have been trying to make due with simple meals.  Besides, cooking for one is not as much fun as cooking for at least someone else, or a few someone’s…regardless one must eat!

So after a beautifully sunny Vancouver day and a long walk around the sea wall in the late afternoon with the dog, I was hungry.  In the fridge I had some peperoni and cheese,  some pizza dough from the local bakery and the pièce de résistance: a cold bottle of white wine.  A while ago Annie from one the most tried and true blogs that I read almost daily had posted the idea of pizza bites. Now it wasn’t rocket science.  And truthfully, it probably would have been a little less work making a simple pizza either on the pizza stone or on the BBQ, but regardless I made these.  And they were fabulous.  Imagine the sun setting, sitting on the patio with a plate full of these little nuggets, a big glass of wine and of course a good book.  What a fantastically relaxing way to end a fabulous day.

The picture leaves something to be desired… not enough light, sorry!  These would be great as an appy or if you are like me, a dinner.  Tasty tasty, as always, thanks Annie.

Ingredients:

3/4 lb of pizza dough
24 slices pepperoni
24 small cubes cheese (I used Havarti because it was what I had on hand (yum!))
spray pam
2 Tbsp cornmeal
extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
Montreal Steak Seasoning (random I know!)

pizza sauce, or simple marinara for dipping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Spray a pie plate with pam, then sprinkle the corn meal
  3. Divide dough into 24 equal parts
  4. Flatten into dough discs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter
  5. Place a cube of cheese and slice of pepperoni onto the disc, wrap dough around and pinch close.  Repeat with all dough pieces.
  6. Place dough balls in the pie plate, brush with olive oil.
  7. Grate parm on top for some crunchy goodness and sprinkle with Montreal steak seasoning, or if you have it Italian seasoning and garlic salt or powder.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Serve with marinara/pizza sauce.
  10. Crack open some wine and enjoy.

This past weekend I was in the lovely Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  A good friend is back from literally a trip around the world: 14 months in Nepal and then they traveled to Maui, the Philippines, Iceland, France, Germany, Amsterdam etc…so off we went for a visit with her at her parents.  They live on an very tranquil piece of property just outside of Courtney, BC.

Good times, wine, food and friends makes for a wonderful weekend.  After a morning at the spa: walking a hydro path, a fantastic lunch at Atlas and a snooze on the lawn in the afternoon sun, we decided to round out the weekend with a chilled west coast tradition. So, Sunday evening just us ladies packed a picnic for the beach, made a campfire in the wind, ate some good food, chatted and drank Babyduck.  One of the goodies in the cooler that we packed was a delicious curried quinoa salad.

This salad is packed full of protein.  And gets better as the flavours meld in the fridge, so a great meal to make and have in the fridge for lunches or a light summer dinner.  I love the savoury coupled with the sweet, the crunchy and the chewy.  Mmmm.

curried quinoa salad

Ingredients
1 lime
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 pkg extra firm tofu cut into 1 inch cups
1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded carrots
3 green onions sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3/4 cup dried apricots sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 tbsp canola oil

Dressing
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup canola oil

Directions:

  1. Squeeze juice from lime into a medium bowl.  Stir in soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. Add tofu and marinate for 30-40 minutes.
  2. Place quinoa in a sieve and rinse thoroughly.  Drain and place in a medium sauce pan along with the broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat, fluff with fork, set aside.
  3. While quinoa is simmering, preheat oven to 350F. Place walnut pieces on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine carrots, green onion, parsley, cilantro, apricots, toasted walnut pieces, cranberries (if using) and cooked quinoa.
  5. For dressing mix curry powder, lime juice, honey, and canola oil in a seal-able container, shake well to mix and pour over quinoa mixture and mix.
  6. Refrigerate salad for at least one hour.  Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat: remove tofu from marinade and cook for 2 or 3 minutes per side until browned.  Add cooked tofu to quinoa salad mixture, mix and serve.

Glow, May 2010 pg. 92

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