I’m back!  It’s been almost six weeks of no posting.  Life has thrown some curve balls at me this past month, but here we emerge, at the end of January, ready to move forward.

I’ve been away for the last ten days in Maui for a good friend’s wedding.  It was stunning.  I’ve never been to Hawaii before, and after this trip, know I will have to go back.  There is something to be said to escape reality. To leave the grey and the rain. To relax in the sun, lie on a beach and have a good time with friends. It was hard to come home, but if nothing else, it reminded me of the importance of holding onto the zen that is vacation. To not get hung up on the little things. To look for that which you are appreciative of and express gratitude for it.

A group of six of stayed together for the first week on the island.  It was tight quarters, but still an excellent time with friends.  We opted to not eat out for every meal.  We all enjoy the same sort of fresh and delicious foods and thought that we might as well cook together and enjoy the stunning view from our lanai.

My friend T has been making this super fresh avocado and tomato salsa for a long time now. I believe her mom made it for her (hope she doesn’t mind that I post it).  As it rained outside this afternoon I thought I would make a little bowl of fresh goodness to chow down on.  The key to this is the creamy avocado, fresh lime and seasoned with salt. Don’t leave out the salt – you can be tempted to, but instead start slowly, it will not only pull out the moisture from the tomatoes but also intensifies all the flavours.  Oh, and this salsa, best served with a big lime margarita…


5 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste
1/2 sweet yellow onion, minced
2 perfectly ripe avocados
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno finely minced
juice from 2 limes


  1. Combine tomatoes and salt, set aside as you chop the rest of your veggies.
  2. Once everything is chopped, mix and then squeeze lime juice over top.
  3. Mix and taste, does it need a little more salt?  Enjoy with tortilla chips.


I am one of those impatient people who has a hard time waiting for an avocado to reach the perfect ripeness for guacamole.  I pick up the avocado from the store, usually knowing that it will need another 3 days or so to become that almost butter like consistency.  But then I get home and I see it sitting on the counter…eying me.  Tempting me to give it a try.  I mean, if you through it in the food processor for long enough it should get smooth like peanut butter right?  Wrong.  It just gets lumpy and is nowhere near the right flavour or of course, right texture.

The other day I was in the store and looked at the avocados and they called to me.  They were sinfully soft without being overripe.  They begged to be whipped into a smooth and tasty guacamole.  I mixed and matched what we had in the fridge to come up with this and I loved it.  I think it was the extra kick of the Mexican Chili powder and the smokeyness of the cumin.  When an avocado calls to you…whip this up, you won’t be disappointed!


2 ripe avocados
1/2 sweet yellow onion
1 clove garlic
handful of cilantro or parsley
3 Tbsp spicy salsa
juice from one lime
1 tsp Mexican chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to flavour


Through it all into a food processor and blend.  Then let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavours mingle.  To prevent browning keep the avocado pits in the guac and then remove.  Enjoy!

As I mentioned a few posts before, I recently went through and purged my collection of cooking recipes, selectively cutting out (scrapbooking) those I thought I might want to make.  This recipe appealed to me because we LOVE sushi, and TB LOVES sesame seeds – so why not make it?

This weekend when we were down at Granville Island we stopped by our favourite fish n’ chips place, Go Fish.  Right in front many of the local fisherman dock their boats and sell their catch (just wait for the spotted prawn festival!), and there in massive block print was BC TUNA, so I thought why not?  I wandered down, and sure enough they had sushi grade tuna, it wasn’t yellow fin however, what the recipe called for, but it was still great!

TB really liked the dipping sauce. I liked it, but I think I may be partial to something a little more salty and full of heat… like wasabi and soy sauce.  However,  I certainly don’t feel like the recipe is a write off, rather I think it just needs some tweaking, perhaps a little more soy?  And perhaps more red pepper flakes.



For the Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons miso paste (recipe called for white miso, but we already had regular paste in the fridge)
1/2 cup carrot juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (juice from half an orange)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced

For the Tuna
3 tablespoons white  sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 lb sushi grade tuna
1 tablespoon saflower oil


  1. Make the dipping sauce: combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.  Whisk until miso disolves.  Sprinkle with sliced scallions.
  2. Make the tuna: combine sesame seeds in a shallow dish.
  3. Press tuna pieces into seeds, turning to coat each side.
  4. Heat oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add tuna, and cook each side until white seeds are golden, aout 20 seconds a side.
  5. Transfer tuna to a paper towel lined plate for about 1 minute.
  6. Cut each piece into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  7. Serve with dipping sauce.

4 servings
*  *  *
per Serving:
243 calories
5 g fat
1 g fiber

Back in August, the bounty of the summer season was upon us. There is nothing like the farmer’s markets overflowing with such fresh and wonderful looking produce. In the middle of August we were in the Okanagan and picked up 15 lbs of Roma tomatoes, amongst other things. I thought I would take a stab at making some salsa to store away for those fall and winter months that need livening up with summer’s freshness.

Our friends who got married this summer gave home made salsa and raspberry jam that we made as favours for the wedding. I didn’t have that recipe so I started scouring the internet. I will admit that the concern over the acidity of the salsa (to make sure it was high enough) was a little nerve racking. I was planning on using a hot water bath (HWB) instead of a pressure cooker. Afterall, I didn’t want to kill anyone with botulism.

I finally came across this recipe from several years ago, on the iVillage Garden Web. I made some slight modifications based on notes from many of the reviews. The biggest change was that I did not de-seed the tomatoes. I had read that roma tomatoes are a paste tomato thickening sauces, so I wanted to keep the liquid from the seeds, we prefer our salsa to be on the thinner consistency, not super thick. We also made it a little spicier than the original recipe.

I was really happy with the result. It is a medium hot salsa – we like it that way, however all you have to do is reduce the hot peppers if you want something a little milder. I will be making this for years to come, and will make more than just the one batch… next summer! (A big thank you to Annie for sharing this great recipe!) I didn’t take any pictures of the salsa back when I made it. Today was a gorgeous day, with lots of natural light, so I finally dug it out to add to the blog.


8 cups roma tomatoes, peeled, chopped
2 ½ cups chopped onion
1 ½ cups chopped green pepper
8 chopped jalapeños
2 chopped Serrano peppers
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup pickling salt
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar (or you could use lemon and lime juice as well)
16 oz. can tomato sauce
4 oz tomato paste


  1. When chopping vegetables, be careful with the hot peppers. I didn’t wear gloves a few months back and seeded and chopped about 20 jalapeños. I experienced some pretty intense burns on my hands…I don’t wish that on anyone! I used my little food processor this time for the peppers and garlic. Super fast work of a tedious job!
  2. Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes.
  3. Heat rubber rimmed tops in hot water, not boiling.
  4. Pour salsa into hot sterlized jars, wipe rims with a damp paper cloth. Place rubber rimmed tops on and tighten ring.
  5. Process for 15 minutes for pints.

Makes 9 pints.

One of my favourite things about the fall is the ensuing harvest!

Yesterday was our second annual canning extravaganza. A group of my friends come together, everyone bringing bits and pieces for the day and then we mass produce our preserves and split everything at the end. Last year we canned Spicy Pickled Beans, Peaches, Hot Pepper and Garlic Jelly (courtesy of Fiber at 28 cooks) and a variety of jams. Now we loved everything but the jam. Collectively as a group we don’t eat enough jam to warrant the volume we created…and truly you can only give away so much!

This year we repeated the pickled beans, and garlic jelly (too late for the peaches in our part of the world) and added garlic dill pickles to our repertoire. The most time consuming part of the day was pealing the garlic. Other than that, we were fairly efficient and were pleased with the results. Special thanks to Brent for playing photographer!

Below are all the recipes we used and the quantities that we used to make enough for 4 couples (no kids!).

Spicy Pickled Beans Ingredients

20 x 500 mL jars
9 lbs Young green beans
20 long, thin red chilies (cut into eighths)
80 large Garlic cloves (4 per jar)
1/4 tsp per jar Peppercorns (white, black, green or a mixture)
1/4 cup loosely-packed fresh dill sprigs per jar
12 + 1/2 cup water (12 ½ cup)
12 + 1/2 cup white vinegar (12 ½ cup)
1 1/4 cup table salt


  1. Trim and strings from the beans. Rinse well and set aside.
  2. Peal and prepare garlic, slice hot peppers (make sure to wear gloves, nasty burns can ensure if you aren’t careful!)
  3. Sterilize jars and lids in not quite boiling water. When jars are cool enough to handle, fill each upright with beans until they are snug. Insert chilies and garlic cloves (preferably around outside so they can be seen). Divide peppercorns and dill among jars.
  4. Separately bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil in a non-reactive sauce pan. Ladle the hot brine over the beans leaving about 1/2-inch head space.
  5. Wipe jar edge clean and screw on sterilized lid and band according to manufacturers instructions.
  6. Process in a boiling water bath for 12 minutes (no more, or you get soggy beans!). Remove and allow to cool completely at room temperature away from drafts.
  7. Check lids to make sure proper seal has been attained.
  8. Store for at least six weeks before using to allow flavours to develop. – YUM – so good with Caesars or just on their own.

Hot Pepper and Garlic Jelly
30 x 250 mL jars

6 red bell peppers, minced
4 cups fresh mix hot peppers, chopped
2 cups minced garlic
6 cups white vinegar
24 cups sugar – I know that is so much!
8 tsp cracked black pepper
4-5 pkt liquid Certo (4 for a more liquidy jelly and 5 for a little more strength to it)


  1. Place all ingredients in large saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring often – watch though, because once this comes to a boil, it is a little temperamental.
  2. Boil for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and add Certo. Stir well.
  3. Pour into sterilized jars and cover with prepared lids to seal (specific canning instructions are below)

*The easiest way to can is this – wash and dry canning jars thoroughly. Place lids and rings in a pot of barely simmering water. Once jelly is ready, fill a jar, leaving about a 1/4″ headspace. With tongs, remove lid and ring from water, place on jar, and tighten, although not all the way. Turn jar upside down on a dishtowel. Repeat with remaining jars. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Turn upright and allow to seal. Tighten rings on all jars. If any of the jars don’t seal, simply store in the refrigerator once cool. The other jars can be stored in a pantry for 8 months to a year, if it lasts that long.

A special thank you to Fiber for this great recipe. It is amazing with crackers and cheeses, mixed in cream cheese as a dip, my mom even uses it with sausage rolls. I imagine spring rolls would be nice with it too!

Garlic Dill Pickles
28 x 1 L jars

30 lbs fresh pickling baby cukes
13 1/2 cups vinegar
45 cups (11 Litres + 1 cup) water
3 3/8 cups pickling salt
10 Bunches of dill
Bowl of peppercorns (1/4 tsp per jar)
140 peeled whole garlic cloves


  1. Sterilize canning jars in a hot oven.
  2. Scrub cucumbers in cold water until clean.
  3. Bring a large vat of water, enough to cover all the cucumbers, to a boil.(I think we used about 30 Liters to cover up the cukes in the sink).
  4. Pour boiled water over cucumbers in a well cleaned and rinsed sink and let sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile peel garlic, set aside peppercorns, clean and separate out dill bunches.
  6. In another pot add vinegar, water, salt to a boil – DO NOT over boil or salty pickles will be had by all
  7. Pull hot jars from oven and to each jar add a handful of dill (or more if you like dilly-ious pickles),5 cloves garlic, and peppercorns.
  8. Tightly pack jars with hot pickles – this turned into a race for us and was lots of fun to see which way worked best!
  9. Fill each jar with hot/boiling brine (~2 cups per jar), leaving 1/2″ headspace.
  10. Adjust lids/rings and seal tightly – no processing needed.

A big thank you to my good friend, Tlell for this recipe she has shared. She and her mom make these pickles and as a receiver of such a nice treat, I must be sure to pass along credit where credit is due!

This has to be a record fast post. First of all I am up against the clock deadline of the Daring Bakers Challenge to post today. Second of all, we had company surprise us and drop in (and they are still here!) I’m not very good with that. I like notice and to feel prepared. It’s not even making sure the house is tidy, it’s just my mindset…

Anyhow as I write this the crackers are baking. This month’s challenge was Lavash Crackers, a first for the Daring Bakers, courteousy of bakers from the “alternative baking list”, Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings From the Fishbowl teamed up to bring us a two-part challenge. After months of rich cakes, and involved recipes, this was lovely. Quick easy and you have everything you need in your pantry. The second part of the challenge was to create a topping or dip that was vegan friendly. Because I am up against the clock, I had to make something quick and easy (sorry!) and insert hummus. Yum!

For a great look at lots of delicious savoury niblets check out the Daring Baker’s Blog Roll. And for the recipe, visit Natalie (Gluten A Go Go) and Shel (Musings From the Fishbowl). One thing I have noticed about this recipe is that the thinner you can roll the dough, the better it is. I thought I had rolled it out enough, but I just peaked in the oven and it resembles pita more than crispy crackers. Over at A Whisk and Spoon, she suggested rolling the dough with a pasta machine on the setting for lasagna – BRILLIANT! Now if only I had a pasta machine… next time, more muscles!

(worst picture ever!)

Hummus Ingredients
1 can drained chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini paste
5 cloves of roasted garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp sour cream (not necessary, but a nice touch if you are ok with making this non-vegan)
salt to taste

Take all ingredients, blend until creamy and ready to eat in a food processor. And you are done!