Friday, June 28, 2013


Getting new kitchen toys is always fun.  I ordered these two kinds of scissors or shears from a garden catalogue.  This past Spring, the DH ordered some gardening supplies from one of the garden companies and of course they also have a number of kitchen tools.  One tool is for cutting herbs and I thought this would be handy as I grow a number of herbs in the garden and this tool would work well for cutting basil, parsley and chives.  I find the tool works well for cutting herbs but they need to be dry in order to a better cut.  When I wash my herbs, I don't always dry them thoroughly before using so they can be damp at times.

The second tool is for cutting lettuce and other greens.  The bottom part of it is like a scooper so that you can scoop up pieces of lettuce and chop them in the scoop.  This tool is useful if you like your salads chopped.   Having these tools make chopping fun but are not a necessity.  A good knife will do the job just as well.
Shears for cutting herbs on the left.  Scissors choppers for salad on the right. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013


I have made falafel before and I am always game to try variations of homemade falafel.  In Mark Bittman's new book VB6, he has a falafel recipe that is easy to make, he says it is a lighter recipe and since you brush the falafel patties with oil before baking, they still get the crunchy taste and look that you would have if they were fried.  I made the recipe as he described in his book, (Mark Bittman VB6).  What impressed me about the recipe was that you didn't need to cook the chickpeas beforehand.  I soaked them for about 24 hours so that they were softened.  The batter is suppose to be firm and not overly moist.  When I made falafel in a previous posting, I used canned chickpeas and the batter was more moist.  I also flattened the unbaked balls as per the directions in the recipe and I liked the pattie shape versus a ball shape.  The recipe says it makes 20 falafel patties but I made about 24.  The number of falafels made was more than what the DH and I could reasonable eat over several days so I froze a number of them.  They will be great to take for lunch to work.  Based on the number of falafels I made, three falafel patties are calculated to be three points in the Weight Watcher plan.  The recipe has provides direction to make a tahini sauce and it added a nice flavour to the patties.  I didn't eat the falafel with bread, such as pita bread, but ate them with the tahini sauce.

To accompany the falafel as part of supper, I made a quinoa salad.  I have several quinoa recipes that you can consider in my blog index.  I used vegetables for the salad that I had in the fridge - carrot, celery, cucumber and bell pepper.  A delicious meal that provided leftovers!

Falafel just out of the oven.

Quinoa salad.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I have come across several recipes that use cashews to create a dressing or dip for salads, vegetables, beans and grains.  Using cashews in a dip reminds me of the times I have used tahini which is ground sesame seeds.  I really liked this orange cashew dressing and I used it on salads, with quinoa and as a dip for vegetables.  I soaked the cashews for an hour beforehand in water.  There are different schools of thought in soaking raw nuts before you blend them or roast them. What makes this recipe also great is that is only requires four ingredients.  In a future post I will provide another salad dressing that is more of a ranch style dressing and includes cashews as one of the ingredients.


1/2 cup raw cashews
3 oranges, peeled
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, use orange balsamic vinegar if you have it


1. Soak cashew nuts for an hour or two in water.  Drain.
2. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
3. Adjust taste if you want to add more lemon juice and or vinegar.

Serves at least 6 servings.  Store in a jar with a lid.  Keeps for at least a week in the fridge.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


While driving today in traffic, the car in front of me caught my eye.   It was a compact car, several years old, an american model.  What caught my attention were the decals on the back bumper and back window of the car.  I knew from the decals that the woman driving the car was a vegan and had a dog and a cat and that she was unattached.  My theory is based on the fact that there were several bumper stickers describing the benefits of being a vegan and attached to the back window were the silhouette outlines of a woman, a dog and a cat.  I am sure you have seen these silhouettes that stick to windows and each figure represents who is part of the household that has this car - from a dad to a mom to a teenager to a baby to pet fish.

My thoughts while waiting in traffic at the various red lights was the branding we intentionally or unintentionally do to ourselves to let others know who we are, our uniqueness or our style.  Some people like to have unique license plates to make their car stand out, make a statement, express their humour or their status.  Using bumper stickers follows the same rationale.  I do think that people are pasting their car with less bumper stickers now than a decade ago.  Are bumper stickers less in vogue or are people worried about getting a bumper sticker off of the car when they tire of the humour, the statement they are making or the sports team they have supported and cheered for?   Another branding that is done is letting people know about your political preferences. This is done by being a registered voter, supporting your local candidate who is running for office by having signs pounded into your front lawn or writing editorial letters to your local paper.

Chapot (Dark Green)
I know myself and others brand ourselves by the clothes and jewellery we wear.  One of the ways I express myself is by the shoes I wear.  I like shoes that are stylish, a little different, maybe a bit funky.  The same is true of the eyeglasses I wear.  They don't blend into the woodwork.  They have some colour, may have a bit different design and have to compliment my appearance.  I don't think this is vain but it adds to the way I have branded myself.  But there are limits to what I share with others about myself.  I guess I am more comfortable with branding my appearance than sharing my political, religious, or family status with others through bumper stickers, rear car window silhouettes or license plates.

The defining question to ask is what are the lines between branding yourself, expressing your personality and also maintaining privacy and not sharing everything about yourself with the world.  I think we all have different tolerances for sharing our personal sides.  How many of us could tolerate being part of a reality television show?  I know I couldn't do it.  I am definitely not a celebrity.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I tend to make marinades more than dry rubs or pastes for coating meat before cooking. The herb paste that is used in this recipe can be replicated for any poultry recipe.  If you want to use the herb paste as a marinade, you would need to add more wine, lemon juice and olive oil to create the volume of liquid required to cover or coat the meat.  I made this recipe for friends and everyone enjoyed the taste of the turkey.  


1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 5 to 7 pounds
1 tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tbsp dried rosemary leaves
1 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine or cooking wine


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, in a roasting pan.  You can line the roasting pan with tin foil to make it easier to clean the pan afterwards.  If you plan to make a gravy from the juices, then don't line the pan with the tin foil. 

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, wine and lemon juice to make a liquid paste.  Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. 

Roast the turkey for 2 hours (longer if the turkey breast is larger), until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast.  If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey.

Modified from