Sunday, December 28, 2014

ASPARAGUS SALAD

I was thinking about some recipes over the these holidays to make ahead prior to the supper meal in order to pace myself and to ease the load of trying to have everything ready at once to serve.  This asparagus salad can be made during the afternoon.  I cooked the asparagus and added all of the chopped vegetables but didn't add the dressing until the salad was ready to be served.  I covered the salad with plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge for the few hours before supper.  It is a great salad and is an option to consider if you are looking for a non-lettuce option.



Asparagus added to medium size pot.

Before the salad was mixed, the peppers, tomatoes and avocado are layered over the asparagus.

INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs asparagus, trimmed and chopped into small chunks
1 to 1/2 cups halved cherry or grape tomatoes
1 coloured pepper, seeded and chopped
1 ripe avocado, cut into cubes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:
Add asparagus to a pot of water and boil for about two minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Into a large serving bowl, add asparagus with remaining ingredients and combine to mix the vegetables with the dressing.  Serves 6.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

MUESLI CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

I buy a number of products made by Bob's Red Mill.  I have never counted the number of products that the company sells but they cover the gamete from flour to cereal to grains and beans.  Bob Moore started his first company milling flour in the 1960s in California.  The current company, located in Oregon, got started in the late 1970's and Bob sold it to his employees when he decided to retire years later.

On one of my grocery trips, I bought a large bag of muesli made by Bob's Red Mill.  I add the muesli to my porridge instead of chia seed or hemp seed to have some variety.  On the back of the package is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  I decided to make a double batch as I wanted to bring cookies to work and I can't take all of the cookies and not leave the DH any morsels so a double batch was made.  I used Splenda instead of brown sugar and used a mixture of unbleached flour and multigrain flour.  I also used butter in the recipe.  I made the cookies small in size and they are what I call a two bite cookie.  They are delicious.  




INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar or 1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup Bob's Red Mill Muesli
1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a medium size bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.   In a separate bowl blend the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the egg.  Add the flour mixture and mix.  Add the muesli and chocolate chips.  Combine.  Drop by a teaspoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly oiled.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Makes about 24 cookies.

recipe adapted from the Bob's Red Mill Muesli

Saturday, December 6, 2014

CABBAGE VEGETABLE SOUP

The DH asked one recent weekend if I could make cabbage soup.  He had suggested cabbage soup as one of his coffee cronies talked about making this soup.  When making vegetable soup, I will usually add cabbage but thought I could focus the soup more on cabbage than other vegetables.  I also like to add sauerkraut to give a little zest to the soup when making a borscht style soup.   I use sauerkraut made with just cabbage and salt.  I used my electric pressure cooker to make the soup and cooked it for 16 minutes on medium pressure.



INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped small
2 stalks celery, chopped small
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped small
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium size potato, peeled and chopped small
1/2 to 3/4 medium size green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sauerkraut
6 to 7 cups of stock
3 tbsp fresh dill. chopped
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the oil on medium high heat.  Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic, reduce the heat to medium and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients, heat the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 60 to 70 minutes.   Serves 9.









Saturday, November 29, 2014

SALMON CAKES

About a week ago I was visiting with a girlfriend and her mom and sister.  They were talking about making fresh fish cakes using salmon for supper.  I asked what ingredients they were using and it seemed simple and not an onerous amount of work to make these fish cakes.  You can use fresh or canned salmon to make fish cakes.  I have made croquettes using canned salmon but the ingredients were a bit different for the fish cakes.  The seed was planted for me to make these cakes.

While out doing my errands today and what my girlfriend calls visiting my trapline as I frequent a number of shops on my regular errand run on the weekends with the DH, I had the idea of making salmon cakes in the back of my mind.  You can use steelhead trout or other fish besides salmon but I was focussed on buying salmon.  The ingredients call for one pound of salmon but I bought two pounds as I was going to make a double batch and freeze a number of cakes for future use.  The cakes  put aside for future meals were not cooked and were individually wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a freezer bag.  The salmon cakes turned out great and I will make this recipe again.  This recipe also works well for leftover baked salmon or other fish when you are thinking about what to cook with leftover baked fish.

Preparing salmon for baking.

Just before putting the potatoes on the stove to cook.

Cooked salmon has been chopped.

Potatoes have been mashed.

All the ingredients have been mixed together.

Using a non-stick pan to fry the cakes.

Ready to serve.
INGREDIENTS:

1 pound fresh salmon or a an equivalent amount of canned salmon
2 medium size potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp butter
less than 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp fresh dill. chopped or 1/2 tsp dry dill
juice from 1 fresh lemon or lime
1 cup of frozen or fresh peas
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

Place the salmon on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil and cook at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.    I like to spray the tin foil with cooking spray before I put the salmon on the foil.  You can season the salmon with salt and pepper if desired.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the salmon is cooking, cook the cubed potatoes on medium heat on the stove until they are soft.  Drain the potatoes, add the butter and milk to the pot and mash the potatoes.  Let the potatoes cool.

Into a medium size mixing bowl add the salmon and chop it until it is flaked.  Add the potatoes, egg, flour, dill, lemon or lime juice and salt and pepper.  Mix well.  If using frozen peas, microwave them in a bit of water in a covered dish for two minutes.  Drain and add the peas and gently combine so that the peas are distributed throughout the mixture.

Add the oil to a non-stick frying pan and heat on medium high until the oil is hot.  Gently shape the salmon mixture into about 7 cakes and place each one in the pan.  I used my hands to shape the cakes.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook on both sides until they are crispy brown.  Two or three cakes per person (depends on appetite) makes a nice meal along with a salad.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

LIMA BEAN PUREE

I made some baby lima beans one recent weekend from dried beans and after looking at them in the storage container the following morning I thought they needed some dressing up.  I decided to puree them and add a few condiments to enhance the taste of just undressed lima beans.  Pureeing them provides more options such as spreading on toast or crackers, using as a dip for vegetables, adding to cooked rice or quinoa or incorporating it into a homemade salad dressing.   Other beans can also be used to make a puree.

I didn't want to add ingredients similar to hummus, e.g. tahini, as there was already a container of hummus in the fridge.  One product that I like to use and I call it convenience in a tube are herbs made into a paste and sold in tubes.  I have both tubes of ginger and lemon grass paste in the fridge.  I used the lemon grass paste in making this puree.  Since I have several flavoured olive oils in the cupboard, I used a lime olive oil to add to the ingredients.  The end result is that the puree has a subtle taste and I can use it in a variety of ways.

After being pureed in the food processor


Convenience in a tube.

INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS:

2 cups cooked lima beans
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon grass paste
1 tsp fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

Place in a food processor and blend until smooth.  If too thick, add a bit more lemon juice while blending.

Monday, November 10, 2014

FRENCH APPLE CAKE

I have a 'go to' recipe for apple cake by Bonnie Stern and I have posted that recipe along with my variations.  I receive an email newsletter from America's Test Kitchen.  The frequency is once or twice a week.  They produce the magazine Cooks Illustrated which I have bought on occasion.  It is a great magazine and provides a lot of information on cooking.  One of their newsletters had a recipe for french apple cake.  The recipe required a few more steps than the Bonnie Stern recipe and it also included explanations on why certain steps or procedures were done.

This cake has a custard like cake bottom which includes the chopped apples.  A second layer is added which is more of a standard cake recipe. The custard like cake is created by adding two egg yolks.   With friends coming over for dinner I decided to try this recipe and as I had some time in the morning, I knew that I would have the prep time.  I thought I would follow the recipe and don't do too much tweaking.  The only substitution I made was using cointreau instead of white rum.  The recipe calls for two tablespoons.  I have provided the link to the recipe site after these photos as they do an excellent job providing the detailed steps.  My cake didn't turn out like their recipe photo.  Their recipe looks more like cake.  The DH and I did some sampling and it is a great cake.  The cake looks like the Bonnie Stern recipe but it tastes a bit different because of the custard bottom.  In the last two photos you will notice a white glaze on top of the baked cake which is sugar.  Before baking you can sprinkle some sugar on top of the batter.  I likely sprinkled a little too much.  The recipe also suggests placing the pan with the batter on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil before placing it in the oven.  I did hesitate and wonder if I should do that.  I am glad I followed the directions as there was some batter leakage from the bottom of the pan onto the aluminum foil and clean up was so much easier this way.
Chopped apples going into the microwave.

The two bowls containing the wet and dry ingredients.

Apples folded into the custard like cake batter.

The top cake batter has been added to the pan.

Cooling off on a rack with the tin foil still under the pan.  I used a spring form pan.

The DH and I sampled the cake to ensure it was good enough for company.
I would make this cake again.  Making it in a spring form pan is the most easiest as you can lift the sides of the pan off.  I plan to serve this cake with caramel ice cream.  I thought that the carmel ice cream would compliment the apples.  Here is the link to the recipe Cooks Illustrated.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

POTATO CASSEROLE

Potato casserole is a wonderful dish to make during the fall and winter months.  The foundation of the dish is minced, finely chopped or shredded onions and potatoes.  Other vegetables can be added including celery and carrots.  If my grandmother had made this dish years ago, she would have hand grated the onions and potatoes.  I have evolved to using electrical tools and I have both shredded the potatoes and onions using a food processor with a shredding blade or with a bottom blade that finely chopped the potatoes and onions.

In making the recipe this time, I added a large carrot to the ingredients to give some colour and more texture.  You can also freeze it once the cooked casserole has been baked and cool down to room temperature.  I like to cut the casserole into squares before freezing to make it easier for serving and also if you only want so many portions for a meal.


INGREDIENTS:

5 large potatoes, peeled
1 large onion, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Using a hand shredder or food processor, shred or finely chop the onion, potatoes and carrot.  The shredded or finely chopped vegetables can be put into a large mixing bowl.  If I am using a food processor, I add the remaining ingredients to the food processor in order to beat the eggs with the oil, baking powder, flour, oil and salt and pepper.  Beat the mixture to ensure that it is well mixed.  Add the liquid to the shredded vegetables and mix everything together using a mixing spoon.

Oil a 9 X 13 baking pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes at 375 degrees F.  You can also use two smaller baking pans to cook the casserole.  Serves 8 to 10 depending on appetites.

Monday, October 20, 2014

CHICKEN VEGETABLE SOUP


Every weekend I make a soup for week day lunches.  I like soup, it is filling and great if the weather is cold or rainy.  I had vegetables from the garden that I wanted to use and some leftover cooked chicken and rice.  These ingredients are the basis of chicken vegetable soup.  The vegetables can vary depending on what you have available.  If you don't have leftover rice you can add uncooked rice, quinoa or couscous or not even add it.  I add the broth to the pot after I add all of the vegetables.  I like having the liquid cover the mound of chopped vegetables in the pot.  I use this measure as a way of knowing if the soup will be thick enough or too watery.  I made this soup in the electric pressure cooker instead of using the stove.  Both the DH and I enjoyed this soup for lunch after just making it and I went back for a second half bowl.



INGREDIENTS:

1 onion chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 med size zucchini, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 small cabbage, chopped
2 big handfuls of spinach, chopped
1 to 2 cups of left over chicken, diced
6-8 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup cooked rice, optional 
1/2 tsp dry dill
dash of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Into a large soup pot place all of the ingredients.  Heat to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for an hour to 75 minutes.  Makes 8 to 9 servings.

If using an electric pressure cooker, set on medium pressure and cook for 17 minutes in the pressure cooker.

Monday, October 13, 2014

RED LENTIL ZUCCHINI SOUP

With all of the zucchini in the garden, I decided to make a soup that included zucchini.  The zucchini and carrots that are added to the soup have to be grated.  Using a food processor, I grated more than what was needed and froze about two cups of carrots and zucchini which I can use for a future soup.  Instead of adding couscous, I decided to add about six baby potatoes and I grated these along with the other vegetables.  Since red lentils are so small, they dissolve in the soup and help make the soup thick.  I made this soup in the electric pressure cooker and set it for 16 minutes at medium pressure.  The Dh liked the soup so much he had two bowls.



INGREDIENTS:

1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tsp oil
4 carrots, grated
2 medium size zucchini, grated
1 cup red lentils
6 cups broth or water
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/3 cup couscous
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oil on medium high in a large soup pot.  Add the onions and celery, reduce heat to medium and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden. If the vegetables are sticking to the pan, add a little bit of water.

Add all of the ingredients to the pot except the couscous, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 50 minutes and stir the pot every so often.  Add the couscous and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.  If the soup is too thick for your taste buds, add a little bit of water.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 8.

Modified from MealLean i Yumm by Norene Gilletz

Sunday, October 5, 2014

WALKABOUT


One evening last week, Shane, the dog, decided to add some excitement to the evening.  As per the usual routine, I let him out for his final backyard tour before we all turned in for the night.  Unknown to me and the DH, the back gate was not latched properly.  We had some work done on the house that day and what transpired was that they didn't latch the back gate when closing it after finishing their work.

After about 15 minutes, I was wondering why there was no Shane at the back door waiting to come in.  I stuck my head out and he was not around.  My antennae of knowing that he was up to something shot way up.  I raced around to the side of the house and saw the gate was open.  I grabbed my coat, ball cap and shoes, yelled out to the DH who was transfixed on a TV program that Shane got out and I was gone.

Of course figuring out the mind of a dog and deciding if he went to the right or left upon leaving the house is always a gamble as the odds are that you will be 50 percent wrong.  I went left and started to walk towards the park.  It was cloudy and spitting rain and I am calling out 'Shane, come' while walking.  I didn't see him lurking among the houses so I kept walking.  The DH started to follow me and I stopped.  The DH had taken a few cookies which always serves as a good bait and enticement.  I took a cookie from me and kept on walking in the direction towards the park.  The DH went the opposite way.

Now you can imagine me yelling out 'Shane, come, cookie' in a loud voice across the park.  The park is a good size and has walking pathways going through it.  I could hear the echo of my voice after saying those three magic words.  After a few minutes of calling there was no sight or noise from the dog.  Maybe he had not turned to the left from the house.  I met up with the DH who was going to walk to another park that had a trail which goes for several miles.  I decided I needed to up my game and got into my car.  I could cover more distance.

For over an hour and a half that night I drove around to all of the routes that we follow while out walking.  Plus I drove around a number of other blocks just in case.  Along the various routes, I would stop the car, get out and sing out those three words 'Shane, come, cookie' in various voice tones.  Added for good measure there were a few whistles.  It was raining and not good weather for a pleasant walkabout which I imagined Shane was taking.  I was worried about Shane not being a good road warrior and he only has one eye so his perception is limited.  He would not be looking both ways before he crossed the street.

It was time to go back home and take stock plus I needed to check in with the DH.  Lo and behold, the animal protection officer called our house and reported that someone had found Shane.  Shane wears a dog tag license on his collar that was used to make the connection to us.  We provided  logistics to the animal control officer and 15 minutes later, the fellow who found Shane drives up to our home with Shane in the back seat.  Shane is leaning over with his body into the front seat and smiling and wiggling.  It had a been a great adventure for him.  All was well.

The fellow was walking his golden retriever in the park and saw Shane and realized that Shane must have gotten out of his yard or got loose in some manner or way.  He leashed Shane and Shane went back to this person's home.  So Shane must have turned left upon leaving our home.  Shane had a great time with the golden retriever and this fellow told me that Shane was a gentlemen.  Shane a gentlemen?  There must have been some distractions in this person's home like shoes, food or gloves.  Well he was a well behaved guest.  The fellow did give me his name, the street he lived on and also suggested that I get a tag with Shane's name and our phone number to make it easier to find him if this ever happened again.  I profusely thanked him for finding Shane.

Of course when I got into the house, I remembered this fellow's first name, his street but couldn't quite remember his last name.  How was I going to follow up and give him a proper thank you or a small token of our appreciation?   This was going to require some detective work.  The following day I started to do some reconnaissance.  Multiple leads were followed, some messages left with some people returning phone calls.  The street that this fellow lived on was long and had a few side streets off of it.  I hit jackpot finally with one person I knew that lived on that street and who had two dogs. All dog owners know the other dogs that live on their street.  They may not know the owners' names but know in a general way where other dogs live.  I was able to get a general sense of the area where this house was and was ready to do some door knocking.

I got a small gift and with Shane in tow in the car we went on our mission today.   Upon ringing the door bell at the first house I hit the jack pot.  It was the same fellow who had dropped Shane off and he was hanging on to the collar of his golden retriever who is a real sweetheart.   Mission completed and all is well.  Oh, by the way, Shane now has two tags that jingle from his collar one of which has his name and our phone number.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

COUNTING YOUR PENNIES


Over the past few years I have written about diets, making changes in my eating style and approach, eating a more plant based diet, exercising and general nutrition.  I have also recognized that for my metabolism I need to include cardio into my daily routine if I want to lose any weight or even maintain my weight if I am overindulging.  Cardio for me includes using machines or apparatuses such as an elliptical, rower or rebounder.  Increasing my heart rate is key to budging the number on the scale.  Even though I walk every morning with my best four legged friend, the cardio is needed.

In June I decided I needed a nutrition coach to help me be accountable and lose those persistent ten or so pounds that have been my companion for the past decade.  This companion comes and goes and as I have gotten older, it is getting harder to get rid of these companion pounds.

I did find a nutrition coach who does not live in the same city as me.  The coaching has been done through telephone calls.  It has been a slow process to lose these pounds.  I call them my Velcro pounds.  I literally need to peel them off to see progress.  To help with accountability, I write down everything I eat and the exercising I do.  I don't find that difficult as I am an old hand on recording food consumption and exercising.  This diary gets shared with my coach who reviews my progress.

I had an 'ah ha' moment last week.  I get so focused on eating properly and exercising but I realized that I needed to focus on the smaller things, the smaller picture.  I needed to watch and count the extra bites or in other words, my pennies.  By counting my pennies the dollars would look after themselves.

Counting pennies is an analogy to watching the extra small bites or snitches of food.  Taking in an extra 100 calories or so can stall progress for me on losing those ounces (or grams if you use metrics).  I was consuming a few too many almonds, my Saturdays were a challenge at times between sharing a muffin with the DH while out getting a latte and sampling at Costco and I was not paying enough attention to the balance of carbohydrates and protein at supper.  I was likely having an extra ounce of protein at supper when I was having two servings of carbohydrates.  

For this past week I have been telling myself to watch the pennies, and the dollars will look after themselves.  The 30 or 40 calories of extras can add up during the day.  

As the tee shirt in the photo says, 'remember where you come from' and I would add, remember where you are going in order to see some positive outcomes.  I am hoping to build the dollars over the next number of weeks.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

RICE COOKER - ZOJIRUSHI

To cook rice, I have been using a few different methods.  I stopped using the pot on the stove to cook rice some time ago.  I didn't have luck or timing in making sure the rice didn't boil over or that it would stick to the bottom of the pot.  I started to use either a rice cooker or the oven.  The rice cooker was the basic cooker with the glass lid and steam hole.  There would be a mess around the counter where the cooker sat as when the rice was cooking away in the nonstick bowl, the steam and the liquid would be spewing out the stem hole and sometimes around the glass lid.  And when the rice would be finished, there would be a rice crust on the bottom of the cooking bowl.  The oven method was easy, no overflow of steam, liquid or rice and no rice crust on the bottom of the corel casserole dish that I used to cook the rice.  But heating an oven and using it to just cook rice seemed a little much.  

Recently I was describing my rice cooking experience to a friend of ours.  He promptly provided me with information and rationale on the rice cooker that he has been using for the past ten years.  He said that this was the best cooker and that the quality of the rice made was very different from the basic cooker I have been using.  I was intrigued about the model he recommended - Zojirushi.  I started to do my own research on what is the best rice cooker and I read a number of reviews.  The Zojirushi rice maker did get high marks.  Reading all of the information prompted me to buy a new rice cooker.  

I did buy a Zojirushi rice cooker and I bought a model made in Japan.  There are many different models made by this company.  I bought one that has advanced fuzzy logic technology and is the 5.5 cup capacity.  The technology figures out the time required to cook the rice.  The cooker has multi menu cooking functions for different kinds of rice and also for porridge.  The times will change depending if you are cooking white rice, sweet rice, brown rice and quick rice.   I am looking forward to testing the cooker to make steel cut porridge.  The cooker also has a steamer basket.   The design of the rice cooker is interesting.  It looks like a tub and has a handle that you use to lift and carry it around.

Last night I made basmati rice and I think it was the best rice I have ever made.  The rice was fluffy, each kernel was separate from the others, it was not gummy and there was no mess around the counter.   I am looking forward to try brown rice and sweet rice made in this cooker.  The reviews I read said that this cooker makes excellent brown rice.  Rice does take longer to cook in this style of cooker versus the basic rice cooker.  It took 50 minutes to cook the basmati rice.  I did make a bit of rice in order to have left overs.

Cooked basmati rice.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

GLUTEN FREE CHERRY COBBLER CRISP


Over the past few years, I have posted recipes for both crisps and cobblers.  With needing to make a gluten free dessert and knowing that my company likes sour cherries, I decided to experiment and make a topping that included both ground almond flour and oatmeal.   I took a recipe for a cobbler and adapted it.  I had nothing to lose and besides, it is always fun to experiment when company comes.  Of course it is easier when your company is family.

For the filling, I used half a cup of splenda.  For the topping I used almond milk instead of buttermilk or dairy milk.   Since I had blackberries to use as they were getting soft, I used those in the topping.

The company loved the dessert.  It was just about inhaled and not too many leftovers.

Just out of the oven.


Not much left!


INGREDIENTS:

Filling

4 cups of fresh or frozen pitted cherries
¼ cup white sugar or splenda
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 ½ tbsp ground almond flour

Topping

1 ½ cups quick cooking oatmeal
½ cup ground almond flour 
1/3 cup sugar or splenda
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces or coconut oil
1 cup buttermilk or one cup of milk with 1 tbsp of vinegar (soured milk)
1 cup blackberries or blueberries or other berries

DIRECTIONS:

In a mixing bowl, comine all of the ingredients for the filling.  Oil an 9 X 13 baking dish.   Place the filling into the baking dish.

To make the topping, combine the oatmeal, almond flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Add the butter and using a fork or pastry blender, mix the butter into the dough until it is crumbly.  Pour the milk over the flour mixture and mix it together.  Fold in the blackberries or blueberries.  Using a wooden spoon, spread the dough on top of the fruit. 

Bake at 375 degrees F for 50 minutes or until the  dough is golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbling.  Let cool and serve with ice cream.  Store leftovers in the fridge.   Serves 6 to 8 depending on appetites.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

CELERY POTATO SOUP

This year after the garden got planted, the sparrows decided to eat the young shoots of the beets and swiss chard plants.  With those plants gone, we had space to fill.   I have never planted celery before but after talking to a person working at a gardening centre, I thought I would give it a try.  About 10 plants were put in the garden.  They all survived.  Ten large bunches of celery is a lot to eat.  Some has been given to friends and we are busy eating celery.  I got the idea to make celery potato soup from a neighbour who was going to use the celery I gave to her, to make this kind of soup.   I made this soup as the appetizer for a supper meal.  With zucchini being plentiful in the garden, I added a small chopped zucchini to the soup.  One needs to be creative in using zucchini.

The soup was enjoyed by all and the DH even went back for a second bowl.



INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound celery, chopped
12 ounces of potatoes, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped - optional
6 cups of broth such as chicken or vegetable
1/2 tsp dry thyme
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot heat the oil on medium high heat.   Add the onion and celery and reduce heat to medium heat. Saute for five to seven minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add the potatoes and zucchini if using.  Continue to saute for another five minutes.  Add broth, thyme and salt and pepper.  Heat to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes.   Turn the heat off and using a hand blender puree the soup.  Adjust seasonings if required.  Serves 6.

Monday, September 1, 2014

CORN EDAMAME SALAD

If I have fresh corn, I prefer using it to frozen or canned corn in salads.  With access to fresh corn now because of the season, there are so many options to use corn other than just as fresh corn on the cob with butter, salt and pepper.  Of course butter, salt and pepper on fresh corn is always delightful.  I like the combination of edamame beans with corn and cilantro in this salad.




INGREDIENTS:
2 ears fresh corn or 1 1/4 cups cooked corn kernels
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup coloured pepper, diced
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped 
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the corn if using fresh corn.  If you can, grilling the corn on the barbeque provides a great taste and the grill marks add to the salad.

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Refrigerate if not serving right away.  Serves 2 to 3.




Sunday, August 24, 2014

ROASTED PORK LOIN

This summer we got a new barbecue which has a rotisserie function.  With about 7 people coming over for supper we decided to try a pork loin on the rotisserie.  As the meat is very lean, I made a marinade.  The loin done on the rotisserie turned out really well and everyone enjoyed the meal.  Because the loin was so long, I cut it to make two smaller loins.  I thought it would be easier to cook and handle on the barbecue with smaller sizes.

Pork loins tied with kitchen cooking twine.

Loin put into bag for marinading. 

Loins placed on the skewer for the rotisserie.

The cooking has started.

The cooking is done.

Ready to be carved.

INGREDIENTS:

Marinade:

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce or Braggs soy seasoning
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

7 pounds pork loin
kitchen cooking twine
2 extra large zip lock bags

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the marinade in a medium size measuring cup.

Cut the pork loin in half.  Wrap cooking twine around the loin to secure its shape.  Place each of the loin into a zip lock bag and add half of the marinade to each mixture.  Close the bag and roll the marinade around the meat.   Store in the fridge for one to two hours.  Take the loin out every so often and roll the meat around in the bag.

Take the loin out of the fridge about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking to warm to room temperature.  Before cooking, take each loin out of the zip lock bag and dry it with paper towels to remove the excess moisture.

If cooking on the barbecue or in the oven, roast for 2.5 to 3 hours at 325 degrees F.  Serves a large crowd.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

GRILLED SALMON

When salmon is cooked on the barbecue, I think it can tastes much better than when I cook it in the oven.  I recently made this recipe for a Sunday supper and the taste was amazing.  Instead of cooking the whole skinless and boneless filet, I cut the raw salmon into chunks, marinated the chunks and then  I threaded them onto bamboo skewers.  When buying the salmon, choose a filet that is thick so that it can be threaded easier on the skewers.  I didn't take a photo of the cooked skewers as the photo wouldn't do justice to the taste of the cooked salmon.  Both the DH and I thought that this salmon was one of the better salmon dishes I have made.  Of course, the grilling by the DH on the barbecue added to the taste.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds of skinless, boneless salmon filet, cut into about 2'' by 2''
1/4 cup soy sauce or temari sauce or Bragg soy seasoning
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp agave or maple syrup
salt and pepper, optional
6 to 8 bamboo skewers

DIRECTIONS:

Add all of the ingredients, except the skewers, to a container with a lid or a zip lock bag.  Coat the salmon chunks with the marinade.  Place in the fridge for an hour.  During this hour, take out the container or bag and rotate the salmon so that the marinade is mixed around all of the salmon.

Fifteen minutes before you are ready to barbecue, soak the bamboo skewers in a pan of water.  Thread about three pieces of salmon onto each skewer leaving space between each piece of fish.

Barbecue for about 15 minutes, rotating the salmon skewer half way through the cooking time.  The barbecue time depends on your cooking heat.  The heat when the DH cooked these skewers was about 325 to 350 degrees F.  Serves 3 to 4.


Monday, August 11, 2014

STRAWBERRY PIE

On a recent Saturday morning we went to the farmer's market.  There are all sorts of stands, from vegetables, to fruit, to jams, to baking, to clothes and soaps.  After looking at all of the pies, the DH was debating on whether to buy a pie.  My inside voice was saying, geez, I can make a pie so I spoke up and volunteered to make one.  The DH wanted a strawberry pie and since we had strawberries in the fridge, this was a done deal.  In making the pie filling, I used 3 tablespoons of minute tapioca and I could have used 2 tablespoons since the berries were not overly juicy.  If the berries are juicy, then use 3 tablespoons.   I also like to use a deep pie dish.  The pie was delicious and the DH ate almost half the pie.  He also said that my pie was better than any of the pies he saw at the farmer's market.




INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS:

Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar or splenda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup cold water
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening  until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a separate bowl, whisk together water, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and vinegar. 
Stir into flour mixture and knead dough briefly, just until smooth.  Divide the dough into two
and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes before rolling
out.  Pastry is easier to work with when chilled.  It can also be stored in refrigerator for up
to one week.

Makes two crusts.


Crust adapted from allrecipes.com

Pie Filling

4 heaping cups of hulled, chopped or thinly sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar or splenda
2 tbsp minute tapioca
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the pie filling in a bowl and add to the pie shell with the rolled out bottom pie crust.  Place the top rolled out pie crust, cut the edges of the crust that hangs over, press down with your fingers or fork all along the rim of the pie plate and then using a fork, make a number of spears into the crust in order to let the steam out.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 30 minutes.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

NICKY'S LENTIL SOUP


A restaurant that I have gone to over the years is known for a few of their dishes including their lentil soup.  The owner, Nicky, even gives out the recipe.  He has nothing to hide.  I recently made lentil soup using his recipe and of course I tweaked it and modified a few of the ingredients.  I added a wedge of chopped cabbage to the soup.  Since I didn't have tomato juice in the cupboards, I pureed a few tomatoes to make juice.  I didn't add the bay leaves for any other reason than just not adding them.  I also used an electric pressure cooker to make the soup and set it at medium pressure for 16 minutes.  Since there is an abundance of parsley in the garden, I added about half of cup of fresh chopped parsley along with fresh dill.  Another variation that you could do is instead of adding the fresh cabbage, you could add some sauerkraut instead.

The soup turned out to be delicious and both the DH and I enjoyed it this past week.  There is still another serving or two in the fridge which I may freeze for future work lunches.


A bowl of lentil soup 


INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 wedge of cabbage, chopped (optional)
2 cups green lentils
1 large can diced or chopped tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice or 5 tomatoes pureed into juice
9 cups water or stock
1/4 to 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the oil on medium high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally.   Cook for an hour to 90 minutes, until the beans and vegetables are soft.  Serves 8.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

FISH WITH HERB PESTO

The word pesto is derived from the Genoese word 'pesta' which means to pound and to crush.  This is likely because it was originally made with using a pestle and mortar to pound the ingredients.  The modern day pesto uses basil, oil, garlic, grated hard cheese such as parmesan and basil but depending on the region or country, not all use pine nuts.  Different regions or countries will use other herbs besides basil and may almonds or tomatoes in making the paste.  I don't think the original pesto was used for fish but was added to pasta.

I made this pesto using a combination of basil and parsley to accompany baked halibut.  I made more pesto than what was needed for a pound of fish.  I also didn't finely chop the pesto and make it really smooth.  It had some texture to it.  To make it smoother I would have had to add a little bit of water or olive oil.  I also did not add grated cheese to the recipe.  Adding a bit of cheese could have helped in making a smoother paste.

The pesto did add wonderful flavour to the halibut and both the DH and I enjoyed this dish.



Halibut with pesto.


INGREDIENTS:

1 pound halibut, cod or other fish fillet, cut into four pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Pesto

1/2 cup parsley, basil combo
3 tbsp dill
3 tbsp roasted almonds, whole or slivered
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Using a small blender, add the herbs and nuts.  Using the pulse feature, pulse a number of times to finely chop the mixture.  Add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth or coarse if you want to have more texture.  If the pesto is too dry, add one tablespoon of water to make a smoother paste.  This makes more than what is required for the cooked halibut. Set the pesto aside in order to cook the fish.

Heat a non stick frying pan on medium high and add the oil.  Once hot, add the fish and salt and pepper to your taste.  Reduce heat to medium and cook about five to six minutes on each side to golden brown.  

Add a spoonful of pesto to the fish once it is plated.  Serves 3 to 4 depending on appetite. 




Saturday, July 19, 2014

THE DOG


My four legged companion Shane is turning nine this weekend.   Time has gone by quickly.  From getting him when he was a pup and lying on my lap in the car (I wasn't driving) going to his new home to the present day, a lot has happened.  He has been a busy fellow:

  • he has had some major surgeries, 
  • chewed a number of shoes, 
  • damaged some underground sprinkler lines in the background, 
  • pulled a toilet paper rod holder off the wall which resulted in patching a wall and repainting a bathroom,
  • chewed two seat belts in the back seat of a car,
  • rolled in some awful smelling stuff on a number of occasions, 
  • cools off in the fish pond in the backyard and disregards his own wading pool,  
  • has mastered the art of licking a bowl,
  • developed a fondness for ice cream, carrots, banana and peanut butter,
  • discovered how to pick cucumbers off of the vine and dig for carrots,
  • taking food off of the kitchen counter,
  • learned to supervise me while I prepare and cook meals,
  • took a number of obedience classes, 
  • attempted but never succeeded mastering agility competitions (too many distractions),
  • never met a ball he didn't like,
  • loves his morning walk, and
  • loves to grab socks, gloves or shoes and trot off with them.

All dogs are wonderful and I have never met a cat or dog owner who doesn't like to talk about their pet.  Lab retrievers never quite grow up and I reckon that he will have that teenager dog sense of play  until his dying days.  He is a very social dog and on our daily walks, has managed to suck up to several walkers, non dog owners, who have to stop to pet him, praise him and tell him what a good boy he is.  This can happen on a daily basis.  I like to call him the Johnny Carson on the walking path.  All he needs is a chair and couch and he could have a reality TV show.

I have posted some pictures to share of the one and only Shane.