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Posts Tagged ‘random’

Clara reminds me of my Granny Sylvia. I wish I had video taped her in the kitchen while she was still with us. Granny loved to serve tea and gingersnaps for company and regularly made bread for daily meals. It might not have been for the love of bread but a habit born out of pure necessity for survival during hard times. Are we any better off in 2014?

This video series is a gem. In some small way I feel connected to my maternal ancestors through the cheerful star of the show. I just want to hug Clara!

And now, I want to bake cookies.

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This is a topic I wasn’t going to discuss openly, yet alone on my blog.  I feel sick, like the way you feel after accidentally overfeeding a goldfish to find it belly up in the morning.  You were just taking care of it, and it died.  You know it wasn’t intentional but feel sick to your stomach anyways.

My goldfish died a year ago.  And when I say goldfish I mean my marriage.

You never know what the future holds, but I was a naive 20-something bound and determined to hold on to a boyfriend.  I had a long-standing semi-long-distance relationship that went nowhere for years and I got out of it.  Since then it’s been like grasping at straws and water running through my fingers, nothing was sticking.  Until I met him, the one who stuck, and ultimately destroyed himself and the goldfish.

I wanted to write about the process, emotionally and whatnot, but it’s still too gripping, a nightmarish flash of the detrimental blow to the fish tank.  All I can say is, I survived and it’s going to be a long road ahead.

That road is full of possibilities, one of which is chocolate.  What do I reach for when dealing with a dead goldfish?  Coffee Crisp.  Chocolate covered strawberries.  Chocolate cake.  Chocolate cakeballs covered in chocolate.  Hot chocolate.  Peanut Butter Cups.  Valentine’s Day was especially hard to hold restraint from diving into the bins of chocolate in the stores.  Now I feel a little pudgy.

Hey Cupcake, Double Chocolate and Sweetberry

Deciding that feeding my emotions was not a healthy response, I backed away from the cupcakes and Girl Scout Thin Mints.  I went for a run (!!!) with my dog and felt like I was going to die, lung and calves burning.  A full-out run in the park should have started with a brisk walk, maybe even a jog.  I used to cross-country ski when I lived in the snow, and swam every morning before class in college.  Life crept in and pushed out the will to exercise, then again, I could blame it on the goldfish.

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Chefs & Tattoos

I’ve noticed a trend while watching the various cooking shows… most of the chefs (be they pastry or cuisine types) are sporting tattoos.

Just a handful of examples to back my observations:

Chef Duff

Chef Bourdain

And yours truly is included, I have a small hieroglyphic inspired tattoo on my right shoulder.  Not full sleeves or anything huge though.

Maybe this is pure coincidence, like when you are pregnant you notice all the other pregnant women around you and the cries of babies twinge the ears more than they used to.  I’ve had my ink for over a decade (wow, I must sound ancient!), long before I realized my passion for food.

Perhaps the connection is the artistic nature we share.  My first inclination of a career was to be an artist, preferably for a big animation house.  That didn’t come true, instead there was a path of technology laid out before me.  I think getting my tattoo was a cry from the other side of my brain.  Creativity can take many forms.  Food and cooking came naturally.  I wanted to sit down to a beautiful plate every evening after a day of gear grinding (or rather keyboard pounding), without paying someone else to do it for me.

I’m curious why these chefs have tattoos.

Is this weird for me to notice, or have you seen it too? 

Photo Cred: Click on the photos to view source pages.

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Image

These are not latkes as you might expect from the title.  These potato cakes are made from leftover mashed potatoes.  I added egg, flour, salt and pepper to the leftover mash, just eyeball until it will hold together.  Fry ’em up in some canola oil and you have yourself a brunch side dish.

Oh.  Never mind that little yellow feller.  He’s a gift from the Grandparents when they visited China.  His feet are hollow to hold chopsticks.  You know, like training wheels!  Big Brother still has troubles with chopsticks, Little Sister just holds one and stabs her food on to the stick.  Forks are always provided but they like to try different things too.  I’ll bet their little prima can use chopsticks blindfolded.  She was born there, in China, and had Chinese nannies for the first year of her life.

Must be cool to have kids abroad.  Oh, wait.  My kids are born abroad!  Nice.

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99%

If you live in a large metro with many ethnic neighborhoods, you’ve probably noticed what I’m going to tell you about.  If you haven’t noticed it, you will.

I went on a scouting mission at a restaurant supply store recently.  It’s not in the best part of town, but by no means the worst.  Every building is a little worn down, the streets battered by heavy flows of traffic.  When I finished browsing the supply store I went across the street to a local chain grocery store.  Huge store and I’ve shopped at many other locations around town.  This one was a bit of an odd ball.

On my list, among other things, were zucchini and bread flour.

First stop was the produce department.  Same good quality veggies I would find elsewhere.  I noted that the tray of zucchini were right next to the green calabacitas squash, very similar in shape but very different flavor.  There were three times the amount of calabacitas versus the zucchini squash.  In my normal store, the reverse is true.

I kept going.  Next was the baking isle.

No bread flour.  No bread flour?!?  They had every kind of masa you could think of, self rising flour, cake flour, all purpose in industrial size bags.  No bread flour.  They did have the huge package of yeast so I grabbed one of those.  I was pissed.  Stupid store.  Never coming here again.

The last isle I was in had half the shelves dedicated to Ramen Noodles.  I can see the socioeconomic status this store caters to now.  It’s sad really.  People who have to walk or take the bus to get to this store have limited options.  And I’m guessing they sell quite a bit of dry noodles here because that’s what the customers can afford.  If they only knew how easy it is to bake bread at home, instead of buying the crappy 99 cent loaves of sliced white bleached bread.  For that much, you can bake a fresh loaf at home.  Put some elbow power into it, knead out your anger, then devour warm bread straight out of the oven.

I was frustrated by the time I left, missing my bread flour.  I was also a bit depressed about the whole experience.  I know I don’t have much, but I can provide better meals for my kids than alot of folks here.  We are the 99%.

 

 

 

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Lemon Layer Cake

I found this photo of a lemon cake I made a long time ago.  It might have been a crazy craving at the time, I don’t recall a special occasion for this cake’s purpose in life.  I suppose its sole purpose was to amuse my bouche.

I’ll have to find what recipe was used for the cake.  I’m sure it was a moist cake spiked with lemon juice and zest.  I made a lemon glaze and a lemon frosting.  Lemon³.

Our wedding cake was lemon, maybe that’s what I was after, a recreation of our wedding cake?  Who knows!

 

 

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The kids and I went to the park today.  There were two other younger kids there and two older ladies.  The ladies had a huge container of Magic Bubbles with them and were blowing free bubbles to the park goers.  The kids laughed and played in the cloud of iridescent spheres.  I was standing near the cement wall that marks the edge of the wood chip filled playscape and the steep hill that lies behind it.  One loan oak treeling stands near this wall.  The alien soapy bubbles apparently agitated a colony of butterflies hanging out on the oak tree.  A few of them darted out of the tree into the bubbles, around my head, then back to the tree.  These were no tiny butterflies either, no ma’am!  They were Texas-sized butterflies!  Beautiful although a little scary when they want to defend their little hiding place.

Are there such things as vampire butterflies?  This seriously crossed my mind while in the middle of it all.

We got home and I made Hawaiian pizza using fresh pineapple and chicken, mozzarella and apple smoked fontina cheese.  If you’ve never tried smoked fontina, try it on homemade pizza or a panini.  Oh, it would compliment bacon too.  (Should have put some bacon on my pizza.)

Applewood Smoked Pineapple Chicken Pizza

  • 3 x  6″ prepared pizza crusts of choice
  • 9 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cup finely diced cooked chicken (dark meat)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup shredded applewood smoked fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese

Place the prepared pizza crusts on greased baking sheets.  Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.

Spread 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce evenly on each crust.  I like to go all the way to the edges to maximize my toppings.  Roughly divide the chicken and pineapple between the three crusts.  The kids like more cheese than toppings so one crust gets a smaller share of the goodies.  Divide the cheese among the pizzas and cover the toppings evenly.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.

Let cool on the pans before transferring to a cutting board to slice.

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Bluebonnets and Nachos remind me that I’m not in Canada anymore.

We are steadily approaching the nine-year mark of my immigration to Texas.  Ironically, my first day on the job was Canada Day.  Everyone back home was enjoying the warmth of the elusive summer season while I sorted out paperwork for HR.  One of my colleagues was from my neck of the planet and told me that there are others in town, other ex-pats, and there would still be a celebration that evening.  The CIA (Canadians In Austin) throw parties at pubs who will have them.  There’s a lot of red, white, and Labatt’s Blue at these shindigs.  One time they had imported cheese curd and prepared poutine as part of a special CIA menu, I had two orders and reveled in their cheesy gravy glory.

Personally, it’s a lot of work to duplicate most of the holidays except Thanksgiving.  Turkey dinner with several festive side dishes is welcome any time at my house!  I’ve kept up Thanksgiving in October, when it should be held, every year and don’t plan on stopping.

Fields of purple clover and golden canola have been replaced by bluebonnets and whatever those other weeds wildflowers are.  Poutine, one of my favorite mini-meals to keep you going during -20ºC weather, has been replaced with corn tortilla chips covered in cheese and mashed avocado (a.k.a guacamole) on the side.

The upside to warmer days (and nights) in Texas is the ability to grow more variety in your garden, and longer growing seasons.  I plucked fresh cilantro and chives for the nachos straight from the yard.  A few extra bugs are acceptable instead of shoveling snow, too.

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Garden Diva

Hubby surprised me with this portable greenhouse!

I’ve put it to work housing tomato plants from the nursery and my seedlings started in whatever containers and newspaper happened to be waiting to be recycled.

There is such a satisfaction with growing your own food.  And I can teach my kids about the different plants, what leaves are edible and that we must wait for the fruits of our labour, quite literally.  These pea sprouts have already been living outside for a few weeks now, they have roommates, or dirtmates, of beans, melons, radish, lettuces, pumpkin and hopefully onions.  Oh and red chili peppers, too.  That must be what the little tree plant is.  I didn’t exactly make rows since I have a small raised bed and now the additional space of the green house.  There is more order in the green house than the exposed bed of dirt.  Small mounds form rows for tomato spouts, beans and peas are between the tomato mounds.  Big Brother made his contribution of herbs that are neither in the rows of hills or the valleys between, there are tiny leaves between the stepping stones.  Oh well.

The melons, cantaloupe and watermelon, were directly seeded in the dirt floor of the green house.  With such a mild winter I took the risk of evading a late frost, daring Mother Nature I guess, I still keep an eye on the forecast just in case I need to use old blankets to cover the house and garden bed.  The real threat to our backyard production is heat.  The melons are supposed to like warmer weather and give sweeter fruit in return.  The remainder of the garden will either bolt and die, or just fry and die.  The pot of mint will come back again, it looks like a miniature jungle, it grows thicker with each drop of water it catches.

If the weather is kind, not too hot or dry, I will have a small bounty to cook with.  I can’t wait!

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TAG! You’re It!

Another chain blogging phenomenon has come my way, since it came from a gal I love to read at Happy isn’t always a Fairy Tale. I thought I should oblige her.  This post may or may not have anything to do with food, it will depend on the eleven questions posed by my tagger.

Rules For Playing Tag:

  1. You must post the rules.
  2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you tagged.
  3. Tag eleven people and link them to your post.
  4. Let them know you tagged them.

1.What was your favorite holiday ever? Where did you go? What did you do? (Can you perhaps add some serious details here, so that I can start planning my next trip. I think real feedback is a pre-requisite to any holiday destination. Would cut my work in half.)

Most holidays involve visiting family, so those trips to Edmonton probably don’t count for this question.  (Although, everyone should see West Ed Mall at some point, it’s a vacation spot all of its own)  We often go to the Gulf Coast of Texas since it’s close enough to drive without evoking the crazies out of the kids.  The best trip was right before one of the big hurricanes, Igor maybe?  My eldest was turning 2 I think.  We rented a condo on the beach in Galveston, TX.  Most seafood is deep-fried shrimp and channel catfish, but there was a place called the Rainforest Café where we ordered a volcano dessert for the birthday boy.  His eyes were like saucers.  He got his first trip in the ocean with Dad, I stayed on the beach and took pictures of them jumping waves.

2.Could you see yourself as a biker? (You see I could see myself as a biker, but it would seem that my entire social range thinks not. I want to know how many people I enjoy across the world share the same dream of one day being able to be a biker.)

No.  I would die of sunburns.

3.What is the worst lie that you have ever told? Did anyone ever find out? (I think this might need some serious thought because we probably all put it away deep into our minds, hoping it will never surface. Mine did.)

The worst lies are the ones you tell yourself.  I’m too often down on myself.

4.Do you remember your first kiss? Tell us more? (Mine was disastrous. I am hoping that other people also had disastrous memories regarding that.)

I guess technically mine was in 5th grade on the tractor tires in the playground during recess.  It was a dare and I chickened out!

5.Do you still have a love that is no longer in your life, but that you often think about? That you perhaps wonder what if…..?

I didn’t have the best luck with relationships, at least with people.  I wish I still had my white cat Xena, she always knew when I needed a kitty hug.

6.What is the one thing that you would change about your physical self? Something that you can’t change through work and goals.

The skin on my face.  I have rosacea and wish it could be cured!  This is another source of bad emotions (see #2).

7.Do you remember the first time you got absolutely trashed? Remember anything about it?

How could I remember if I was passed out on the floor?  I do remember a grad party that was out in the sticks (another part of the sticks, I did grow up on a farm in the middle of nowhere afterall).  I had never been invited to ANY parties in high school, everyone saw me as the nerdy girl.  Anyways I got to go to one, yay!  I drove home after a couple coolers and remember going about 10 km/hr afraid I would fall of the snowy roads in my Hyundai Pony (a very small car, my first).  It stalled half way down our long farm driveway, it barely had enough inertia to park in front of the tractor shed.  I have no idea if my parents knew what happened (although they might now – HA!)

8.When you were a child, what was the one thing that you always thought you could be or wanted to be? (Before life blind sided you?)

Before the swift kick of reality in the behind I wanted to be an artist and be an entrepreneur, selling my hand crafted wares.  I sold hand-painted terra-cotta pots at a street festival the summer before university started.  I thought I made a huge amount of money (about 300 bucks).  Then I painted a few things for friends, sold them for $20 each.  I highly under valued my work because I thought I could do better later in life and then charge the big bucks.  That day never came (or is still beyond my horizon).

9.What food would you not eat, because you are too busy thinking about what it used to be? (When it was alive.)

Some sort of exotic animal I guess.  Camel comes to mind.  I’ve eaten things like octopus and sea cucumber recently that I never thought I would eat.  I might not eat snails, frogs, or bugs.  Surely there are other options.

10.If there is one person that you could ask God to bring back for a little while longer, who would it be? (I would battle between choosing my gran and choosing my brother. I would be grateful for either.)

Either one of my Grandmothers.  They were both very special people in my life.  Grandma Rita could show me how to make her bread, this time I would take detailed notes.  Grandma Sylvia held the keys to my Finnish heritage that I want to explore.

11.What is your favorite day of the week? Why?

If I have to pick one, Friday is it.  The week is almost done.  I often meet Hubby for lunch on a Friday.  The kids get to watch a movie at home with popcorn and real butter, and I snuggle up with them.

That’s all for my answers!

The next iteration of this game will include my choice of questions.  So here they are:

  1. What is your favorite food and why?
  2. If you could invite anyone (dead or alive) to dinner, who would it be and what would you eat?
  3. Do you believe in aliens?
  4. If you were the star of a movie, what is the plot?
  5. Where did you grow up, do you wish it was somewhere else?
  6. How would you give away 10,000 dollars?
  7. Where on this planet would go if you had 10 days to live?
  8. What book would you read if you could only have one?
  9. Coffee or tea?
  10. What is one of the biggest decisions you’ve had to make in life?
  11. What is your favorite month and why?

And now I get to tag 11 others to answer my questions:

A Recipe A Day

the Miao Chronicles

thekitchensgarden

Creatively Cooking Gluten-Free

NotACrazyCatLady

The World Via Standby

DebbieCutieFace

Memoirs of an Evil Stepmom

Rumpy Dog

Eccentric Owl

The Green Lady

This is optional but more fun if you join the game!  If you ignore this TAG I will forgive you, someday.

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