Friday, 30 November 2007

Chicken Barley Soup

Is it any co-incidence that my throat started to feel much better after a steaming hot bowl of this soup? This is the classic cure for what ails you, after all.

Just as a note, if you can get a pair of feet to put into the stock, so much the better. They improve the body and colour of the broth, and are widely regarded as providing a lot of the kick to chicken soup's health-giving properties.

8 to 10 servings
3 hours - 1 hour prep time

2 to 3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
8 cups chicken stock, OR chicken stock and water

3/4 cup raw pot barley
2 1/4 cups water
1/8 teaspoon salt

4 stalks celery, or 1 small celery root
1 large leek
2 carrots
1 teaspoon savory
2 tablespoons chicken fat
2 cups finely chopped savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons miso
salt & pepper

When I have a good flavourful organic chicken (or in fact half a chicken) I start by poaching it gently in 2 litres of water until tender, with a bay leaf and other seasonings if you are inclined. I usually keep it pretty simple. Then I let it cool overnight in the fridge. The next day, it is easy to de-fat the stock. (Keep a little to sauté the vegetables.) The chicken I remove from the bones, dice, and reserve to go back into the soup later. I add the bones back into the stock and simmer it for another hour or two as I prepare the rest of the ingredients.

If I can't get really good chicken, I start with prepared chicken stock and water - half and half - and cook my chicken pieces in that. I usually choose chicken thighs with skin and bone as they are inexpensive and not inclined to get dry.

At any rate, when you are done you should have about 8 cups of chicken stock and 3 to 4 cups of diced cooked chicken.

Cook the barley with the water and salt. I do this in my rice cooker as it makes it very simple and requires no attention. This too can be done the night before you assemble the soup.

Wash the celery, and dice it fairly fine. Wash and chop the leek, and rinse it well again and drain it. Peel and dice the carrots. Sauté these vegetables with the savory in the chicken fat until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes. I like the basic savory flavour, but you could replace it with a more complex poultry seasoning mix if you like; use thyme, sage, rosemary, celery seed and oregano, but I would still go lightly on these and more heavily on the savory.

Put the strained chicken stock, cooked barley, sautéed vegetables and diced chicken into a large soup pot. Add the finely chopped savoy cabbage, and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes until the cabbage is tender. Adjust the seasonings; in particular I am inclined to add salt and pepper at this time.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Honey, Lemon & Ginger Tea for the Flu

Ho, ho, ho, 'tis the season. No, not that season. I mean the season for colds and flu. I'm not quite sure which we have; but it seems to have all the symptoms. Fever, touchy tummy, aches and pains, sore throat, earache, deafness and ringing in the ears, stuffy nose, cough and a general sensation of lousiness and inertia. Fun, wow!

I have not been drinking nearly as much as I should, as it hurts to swallow. However, I have made myself a batch of this tea and it is going down okay. This is something that puts the "treat" back into "treatment" - lemon, ginger and honey are a great combination. I've been known to make this as a winter pick-me-up when I'm feeling just fine thank you, but it really does help you feel a bit more human when you are sick.

As you will note from the picture, I couldn't get organic lemons, so I got non-organic limes. The lemons available looked so shiny and wax-coated, I just couldn't face them even though I like lemons better in this. Whatever you get though, do be sure to give them a good scrub.

1 serving
15 minutes prep time

Honey Lemon and Ginger Tea2 or 3 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
the zest of 1 lemon (or large lime)
1 litre (1 quart) water
4 tablespoons honey
the juice of 1 lemon (or large lime)

Peel the ginger root, and grate it if you are feeling energetic; otherwise chop it fairly finely. Put it in a large pot and grate in the lemon zest. Add the water, and bring up slowly to a simmer. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the honey until it is dissolved, and add the lemon juice.

Strain and serve. Drink this as hot as you can stand. You can keep it warm in a teapot with a cosy if you like. You can re-heat it if it gets cool before you have drunk it all. And yes, you should drink it all - and more. Hope you're feeling better soon.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Gehacktes Rinderschnitzel - Chopped Beef Patties

I love the name of this dish in German; it translates prosaically enough to chopped beef patties, and indeed it's a pretty simple meal although with a bit more class than your average hamburger patty. They are substantial enough that one each is plenty; since our beef comes in one-pound packages I put the mixture for the second set of two patties back in the fridge (well wrapped) and we cook them up the next day.

4 servings
30 minutes - 20 minutes prep

Gehacktes RinderschnitzelI did not cook all the patties at once; the next day I added some mushrooms to the pan.

Gehacktes Rinderschnitzel1 large potato, boiled for 10 minutes
1 small onion
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
450 grams (1 pound) ground beef
1 egg
salt & pepper

1 cup broth, or water in a pinch
2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Wash the potato, but leave it whole. Put it in a pot, covered with water and bring it to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain and let it cool as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This can also be done in advance.

Grate the potato - I don't peel it, but it does tend to peel itself somewhat, and I discard whatever peel comes off in my hands. Peel and mince the onion and garlic, and mix them with the grated potato, the beef, the egg and salt and pepper to taste.

Form the mixture into 4 equal patties, and brown them on both sides over medium-high heat. If you are using grass-fed beef, you will likely need to add a little oil to the pan. Reduce the heat a little, and cook for about 4 or 5 minutes more on each side, until the patties are cooked through.

Meanwhile, mix the broth with the cornstarch, paprika and Worcestershire sauce. When the patties are done, pour it around them. It will boil up and thicken within a minute. Serve at once.

If you want to add mushrooms, have them ready and add them to the pan shortly after the patties go in; give them the occasional stir as they cook.

Clapshot; a Mash of Rutabaga, Carrots and Potatoes

You know this is not just a seasonal Ontario dish; but also a traditional one, because it's Scottish. Said with the tongue slightly in cheek, but only slightly. At any rate, it's good stick-to-the-ribs stuff, and the three veggies blend together so well, you might think them some new, unknown one, that you wish you had encountered earlier. Obviously, the actual quantity of vegetables used is less important than the fact that the quantities of each should be roughly equal.

4 servings
45 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Clapshot or Mashed Rutabaga Carrots and Potato
250 grams (1/2 pound) rutabaga
250 grams (1/2 pound) carrots
250 grams (1/2 pound) potatoes

2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1 egg (optional)

Peel the rutabaga, and cut it into slices. Put it in a large pot with plenty of water and bring it to a boil.

Peel the carrots, cut them into chunks, and add them to the rutabaga when it has been boiling about 10 minutes.

Peel (if you like - I don't bother) the potatoes and cut them into chunks, and add them to the pot when it has been boiling for a total of 20 minutes. Boil for another 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are quite tender.

Drain off most of the water - I leave about a third of a cup in the bottom of the pot for moisture. Mash the vegetables with the butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I usually serve it forthwith, but the friend from whom I received this recipe used to mash it very finely, beat in an egg, and put it in a buttered casserole dish. (She did peel the potatoes.) It was then reheated in the oven, until lightly browned around the edges.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Sformato or Sformati di Broccoli

I used to read a lot of cookbooks about Italian food back in the '70's and '80s when the post-war British wave of interest in Italian cooking turned into something of a tsunami. I don't remember seeing any recipes for sformati then, though. Maybe they were there, and I didn't think they were interesting. Maybe the cookbook authors thought they were too similar to British* vegetable flans, and didn't in fact include them.

Now that I have noticed them, I am very interested in sformati. You will see I have used this one as a means to using up those not-very-beloved-by-me broccoli stems, and my impression is that in general these are a good way to use up leftover cooked vegetables.

It seems there are 2 schools of though about constructing sformati; either the vegetable purée is thickened with eggs and cheese, or with a thick béchamel (also often with cheese) although I have seen them with breadcrumbs or potatoes used as a supplementary thickening agent. The vegetable is often a cruciferous one, but spinach, leeks, artichokes, peas, potatoes, in fact just about anything can be used. Go a little heavier on the vegetable purée, and they make a good simple lunch served with a little rice. Put in more cheese, and make individual sformatini, and they will make a very elegant starter for a multi-course meal. Any good, grate-able, flavourful cheese can be used; I suspect there is something of an art to matching the vegetables and the cheese.

4 to 8 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

The unbaked sformati di broccoliThe sformati ready to go into the oven.

The baked sformati di broccoliA baked sformato, above, and the sformato unmoulded, below.

The sformato di broccoli unmoulded
the stems from 3 bunches of broccoli (6 to 9 stems)
the florets from 1 head of broccoli

150 grams grated mixed hard cheeses
3 extra-large eggs
salt and pepper
grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter

Peel the stems of the broccoli and discard the peels. Cut the stems into slices, and cook them until half tender. Meanwhile, wash and cut up the broccoli florets. Add them to the stems and cook until tender, about 5 minutes more.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Set aside a half dozen florets to put in the bottom of the baking dish, if desired. Drain and purée the rest of the broccoli. Let it cool a bit while you grate the cheeses. I used equal amounts of Parmesan, Gouda and Cheddar.

Put the broccoli purée in a mixing bowl, and beat in the cheese. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Season with salt and pepper, and grated nutmeg to taste.

Use the butter to generously cover the sides and bottom of a shallow baking dish. (I used 2 5-cup dishes; you can use a single lasagne pan, or individual molds, as you like. You may need more or less butter depending on the dishes you use.)

Lay the reserved broccoli pieces in the bottom of the buttered baking dish(es) and put the broccoli mixture spread evenly over them. Put the baking dish(es) in a larger, shallower pan, and add water to the outer pan to come about halfway up the sformati dishes.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until firm in the middle. Let cool for about 5 minutes. You can serve them right from the dish, but they are more glamorous unmoulded. Run a wet knife around the edges, cover with the serving plate, and quickly flip over. Dampen the plate first so that you can slide the sformato around a bit to get it centred. If any bits don't come out, you can usually patch it up without it being too noticeable.

*From whence almost all trendy cookbooks sold in Canada came, unless they were American.

Horace's Tagliatelle

I first read about this dish in the amazing book Honey From a Weed, by Patience Gray. By the way, if you haven't read this book, run out and get it NOW. I'll wait. *Taps foot.* Okay, ready? She describes this dish as being adapted from a description - if you can call three words a description - in the Satires of Horace (I6, to be precise) and what I have made is fairly adapted from hers. Still, it's both fun and sobering to eat a dish that has roots that stretch back over 2000 years. That Patience Gray could come up with such an authoritative dish from three little words suggests to me that the Italians she knew were indeed still eating very similar things.

I used farfalle rather than the original tagliatelle (laganum) simply because I think the shape is more effective with the other ingredients than a long, broad noodle would be. However, if you want to make this more authentic, you could make your own tagliatelle from scratch - in keeping with the theme of the Satire, it is about as simple and plain a pasta shape as can be made, and very suitable for someone making pasta at home with just a rolling pin. While you eat it, you can reflect on the fact that 2000 years ago, people were already struggling with the value of living a more simple, humble life in a society that was complex, judgemental and ostentatious.

And of course, we send greetings and salutations to Presto Pasta Nights at Once Upon a Feast.

2 servings
20 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

Horace's Tagliatelle250 grams (1/2 pound) farfalle or other stubby pasta
OR fresh tagliatelle for 2 persons

2 cups cooked chick peas
2 large leeks
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped parsley
the juice of 1 small lemon

If using dried pasta, put on a large pot of salted water to boil. If using fresh pasta you should actually do the same, but wait a bit as it will not need to boil nearly as long.

Drain your cooked chick peas, and let them get quite dry, but keep the water in which they were cooked - you will need about a cup, or a cup and a half.

Wash and slice the leeks, and rinse them again. Let them drain well. Peel and slice the garlic.

Heat up the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the well drained chick-peas, and sauté them for 4 or 5 minutes, until they absorb some of the oil and are starting to look a little browned. Add the leeks, well drained, and mix them in well. When they begin to be softened, after a couple of minutes, add the garlic. When the leeks and garlic are somewhat cooked down, and starting to brown just a tiny bit, add about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of the chick-pea cooking water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Test for salt, and add a little if it is needed.

When the pasta is done, drain it quickly and toss it with the leeks and chick-peas. Mix in about 2/3 of the parsley and the lemon juice. Serve it up and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top.

You can use canned chick-peas; but they will be softer, saltier and not as flavourful (nor as authentic) as chick-peas cooked from scratch. However they will certainly do in a pinch. One large (540 ml; 19 ounce) tin will be about right. Use the packing water as the cooking liquid, and don't add further salt.

Pumpkin Custard (Or Pie Filling)

I don't use evaporated milk for much. This is it, in fact. However, I do like to have a tin of pumpkin and a tin of evaporated milk on-hand throughout the winter; that way I can throw this together very quickly with the addition of a few other pantry staples. I'm sure you could make this with cream instead, and it would probably even be better, but cream doesn't have that sit-on-the-shelf-and-wait factor.

This is a fairly spicy pumpkin custard. You could tone it down a bit if you like. I don't recommend adding any more or you will start to get a rough taste to the spiciness.

Pumpkin Custard or Pie Filling1/2 cup Sucanat
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons arrowroot or corn starch
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 796-ml (28 ounce) tin pumpkin purée
4 extra-large eggs
1 370-ml (14 ounce) tin evaporated milk
1/4 cup fancy molasses

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Mix in the pumpkin, then the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the evaporated milk - this is the one with NO SUGAR in it (i.e. make sure it's not condensed milk) - and the molasses.

Pour the custard into a 2 quart (litre) baking pan, or 2 prepared 9" pie crusts.

Bake until set in the centre, about 1 hour and 20 minutes for the custard. The pies will take less time, but I confess it has been so long since I have done pies that I really don't know. Forty five minutes maybe? Probably a bit longer.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Spicy Roast Butternut Squash

This is one of the simplest things to do with butternut squash, and one of the best too. Never met anyone who didn't love it.

I often hear people complain that squash are hard to cut up, so I thought I would try to show the general technique. You need a large, sharp knife - this is not a job for a paring knife, nor a dull one. Cut your squash in half vertically, and remove the seeds with a spoon. Then cut the squash in half horizontally along the line where it starts to widens out. Cut off the skin from the end and the steeply curved side next to the end, then stand it up on the flat edge and start cutting off the skin in strips downward. Repeat with the second piece.

2 to 4 servings
1 hour - 15 minutes prep time

Spicy Roast Butternut Squash

Spicy Roast Butternut Squash1/2 of a large butternut squash (600 to 800 grams; 1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 dried little red chile
OR 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried crushed red chile flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel the squash as described above. Cut each half in half again lengthwise, then crosswise in slices a little less than a centimetre wide.

Grind the spices - and these are 2 spices I really recommend that you grind yourself, because they lose their flavours so quickly - and mix them with the salt.

Toss the squash with the oil in a large, shallow roasting dish. Sprinkle 2/3 of the seasonings over the squash, and toss again. Sprinkle the remaining seasonings evenly over the squash. Roast for 45 minutes, until tender and slightly browned.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Lentil Loaf with Carrots

I made this lentil loaf to go to a pot-luck on Sunday, and as I feared it is pretty much impossible to take a decent picture while trying to get food on the table in the middle of a chattering crowd in a room with little natural light. It didn't help that my subject matter was a brown rectangle.

However, I like this very much to eat. My sweetie is not so fond of it, but I think it has a good texture and flavour. It's also remarkably low in fat, which may be why it doesn't grab him. He loves him some fat; I am convinced he would eat plain butter if he could find a way to keep it from melting in his hands.

Once I baked this up in little individual pie plates, and froze them. That worked great; I just heated them up in the microwave, except for one time when we went to The Science Centre in Toronto. I took a piece with me just in case there was nothing in the cafeteria I could eat. Sure enough; there wasn't, and they refused to heat up my Lentil Loaf for me, so I ate it semi-frozen. It actually wasn't all that bad!

Lentil Loaf with CarrotsHere it is (below) sliced and served with Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy and Spicy Roasted Squash. Yes I know that plate is just calling out for some peas or something, but such are the hazards of pot-lucks and no green veg made an appearance.

Lentil Loaf, Mushroom Gravy and Roasted Squash2 large carrots
1 1/2 cups raw green or brown lentils
3 1/4 cups water
1 medium onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cups walnut or hazelnut pieces, or sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon savory
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika

Peel the carrots and cut them into slices. Put them in your handy rice-cooker (or a pot, if you must) with the lentils and water, and cook until the lentils are tender and the carrots very soft; i.e. when the rice cooker turns itself off.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion, and sauté it until soft in the oil.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

When the lentils and carrots are done, move them to a mixing bowl and add the onions. Mash well, and add the oats, nuts and seasonings. Mix well.

Press the mixture into a well-oiled or non-stick loaf pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until firm and lightly browned. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then turn it onto a plate to be served. Looks much better with some sort of garnish; any green veg to accompany it will be ideal. As already noted, the Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy goes well with it, and so does plain old ketchup.

I have baked it then frozen it, which works well. You could probably also freeze it then bake it. For the pot-luck, I mixed it up the night before and baked it just before serving it the next day (lunch time) and that also worked just fine.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

"Hortopita" Lasagne

I have found wheat-free lasagne noodles I can eat, which means that I can make hortopita - sort of. Hortopita is spanakopita's more rustic cousin; basically the same recipe with sturdier greens such as kale and chard instead of, or augmenting, the better-known spinach. And of course, usually wrapped in filo or bread dough. I have aimed to make a creamier filling than would go into hortopita, as after all, this is lasagne too. This is very "greeny" - you could probably get away with one bunch each of chard and kale.

And a shout-out to Presto Pasta Nights with Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.

8 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Hortopita Lasagne

Hortopita Lasagna1 bunch kale
1 bunch chard
1 bunch spinach, or a second bunch of chard or other greens

15 lasagna noodles

1 bunch green onions
OR 1 large leek and a little oil
500 grams pressed cottage cheese
OR ricotta cheese
100 grams feta cheese
2 tablespoons dried dillweed
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons dried chives
6 eggs
2 cups milk or light cream

200 grams grated cheddar

Wash the greens, pick them over, and strip them from the tough stems, which should be discards. Coarsely chop the greens and steam them until well wilted but no more. Rinse them under cold water until they are cool enough to handle, then squeeze them to remove any excess liquid in them.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the lasagna noodles.

Meanwhile, chop the cooked greens fairly finely, and put them in a large bowl. If you can find green onions, they can be finely chopped and added. If you have missed their season, a leek is good substitute, but it should be well cleaned, chopped and sautéed in a spoonful of oil until soft before being added to the rest of the greens. Mix in the crumbled cheeses, the herbs, the eggs and the milk or cream.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cook the lasagna noodles until half cooked - they should be easily pliable, but definitely not done like pasta you would eat at once. Rinse them in cold water to keep them from sticking to each other.

Put some of the filling mixture - about 1/6 of it to be precise - into the bottom of a large lasagne dish. Spread it as evenly over the bottom of the dish as you can. Cover it with 5 noodles. Put 1/3 of the original total of the filling over the noodles, and spread that around as evenly as you can. Five more noodles, another 1/3 of the original amount of filling and 5 more noodles on top of that means you are almost done. You should have about 1/6 of the original filling amount left, and that gets spread over the top layer of noodles then sprinkled evenly with the grated cheddar cheese.

Cover the lasagne with foil, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Let the lasagne rest for about 5 minutes once it comes out of the oven before serving.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Gordon Ramsay's Broccoli Soup, More or Less

Not having a television, I am generally about the last person to hear of the trend of the moment. Nevertheless, faint rumours of this soup finally reached me, and I went a-searching on the intertubes. This is what I found. And yes, actually, it's really very good. I made a few changes of course; I can't help myself. I'm not sure that it's necessarily The Ultimate Soup, but for something as simple, fast and easy as it is, it's quite impressive. It's one of those things that will become a regular feature on the menu roster.

My main change was to grind the nuts right into the soup as I am not a big fan of finding discrete pieces of nut in something else, even though I can sit and eat a bowl full of nuts down to the crumbs. I meant to use the walnuts Gordon suggests, but alas, I was out, so it was back to the hazelnuts, not that there was anything wrong with that. Next time.

2 servings
10 minutes - 5 minutes prep time

Gordon Ramsays Broccoli Soup1 large head broccoli - florets only
water (about 2 cups to cook)
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons sliced hazelnuts or walnut pieces
extra virgin olive oil

1 ounce goat cheese, cheddar or other cheese of your choice

Wash the broccoli and cut the florets from the stem, which may be used for some other purpose, but is discarded so far as this soup goes. Cook the broccoli florets until just tender in boiling water. Five minutes should be about sufficient.

Lift the broccoli into a blender with a slotted spoon. Add the nuts, and enough of the broccoli cooking water to come half-way up the broccoli. In case anyone was wondering, for me that was a mere one cup. Do not put in too much water; you can always add more if your soup is too thick, but once it is too thin it is too thin and that's that. Purée the soup until very smooth in texture. Taste it, and adjust the water and seasonings as needed. I added my pepper at this point, although you can also just grind some over as you serve it.

Serve the soup garnished with the cheese, and more nuts if you like, and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Tortilla, aka Spanish Omelet

I have never been able to flip a tortilla successfully, so I was relieved to discover in Spain last summer that many Spaniards make their tortilla in the oven. A lot of them don't even do that - they buy it at the store, wrapped in plastic! Phooey. If you do them in the oven, they are not hard at all, and make a simple and delicous light meal with some soup or salad. I am told that other vegetables are used besides potato, but in the parts of Spain where we were the only debate was whether to add onion or not. Go for it, I say.

4 to 6 servings
40 minutes, and you'll need to be there mucking about.

Tortilla or Spanish Omelet6 extra large eggs

6 smallish potatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion (if you want)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them together. Set them aside. (You are doing this now because they should be at room-temperature.)

Wash your potatoes - they should each be a bit larger than the eggs, perhaps up to twice as large - and put them in a pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain them, and cool them enough to handle. Cut them in cubes of about 1 centimetre.

Heat the oil in a large skillet that can go into the oven, over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook them for 10 minutes, turning them regularly. They should not get brown really, but they should be cooked through. While you are doing that, peel and finely chop the onion. Add it after the 10 minutes and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion is soft, stirring more frequently to prevent the onion from browning.

If the potatoes seem to be swimming in oil, drain most of it off, but I'm afraid you will find that most of it has been absorbed and the potatoes are merely greasy. Such is life. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste, and arrange the potatoes to lie as flat in the pan as you can.

Turn off the stove, and pour the eggs evenly over and around the potatoes. Stick down any potatoes that are inclined to break too far above the surface. Remove the pan to the oven, and bake it for, say, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch it closely after 5 minutes. It should be mostly but not entirely set in the middle when you remove it, as it will continue to cook for a few minutes once it is out of the oven.

When it is cool enough to handle, flip it out onto a large platter. Serve it warm (not hot) or at room temperature. This can be made a day in advance; refrigerate it but bring it back up to room temperature to serve it.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Apple Batter Pudding

Well here is a classic of Anglo-Canadian cooking. I think some version of this pudding was in every Canadian cookbook published up to about 1960. This is probably the first real dish I ever made (I do not count my "Easy-Bake Oven" cakes when I was 7!) By the time I was in my teens I had made this so many times I no longer measured anything but the baking powder. It always came out; sometimes it was moister, or drier, or denser, or fluffier, but it was never ever bad.

I have made some changes over the years; I have cut back the sugar a little, I have switched to whole wheat flour, and I have spiced up the apples a bit.

This was not meant as a fancy-schmancy dinner party dessert; this was meant to fill up the corners at a family dinner, and so it was economical with the butter and eggs, and heavy on the inexpensive flour, milk and apples. It makes a good finish to a meal of soup. Nevertheless, if I had to choose between some rich and elegant chocolate cake and a nice bowl of Apple Batter Pudding with a little cream, I doubt I would hesitate*. Pass the pudd! And oh yeah, I suppose I should confess that what you are looking at in the pictures below is a double batch, made in my largest lasagne pan. That way there's sure to be lots left over for breakfast.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Apple Batter Pudding

Apple Batter Pudding2 cups soft whole wheat flour (I used spelt)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 extra large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk

6 medium-large apples
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the baking powder and salt into the flour and set aside.

Cream the butter and beat in the sugar, then the egg and the vanilla. Set that aside.

Butter a large, shallow casserole dish, such as a small lasagne pan. Peel and core the apples, and cut them in slices. Toss them in the casserole with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the spices. By the way, I don't think it does the pudding any harm to interpret "6 medium-large" apples very liberally for both "6" and "medium-large".

Go back to the butter and sugar mixture, and mix the flour and milk into it, half of each at a time in alternate batches. Scrape the batter out of the pan and over the apples, and spread it evenly to the edges of the pan.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. (My double batch took nearly an hour. The time is somewhat variable, as it will depend very much on how deep your dish is. Once you have made it a few times you should have a good idea of how long yours will take.)

Serve warm ideally, with a little cream - not whipping cream, just a little coffee cream poured over. Rich milk will do.

*Oh yeah, right. There would be some serious dithering going on.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Braised Beef with Onion Sauce

I don't always know what to do with big cuts of meats. My early adult cooking years involved a lot more ground and stewing beef than roasts and steaks (and not even much of those, thanks to a $15 per week grocery budget that lasted for over a decade.) However, since now-more-prosperous we have made the decision to get a quarter of organic beef each year, I have been faced with a number of such items every year. The steaks didn't take long to adapt to (although I am still too inclined to overcook them, grrr) but roasts have been more of a challenge. This is my latest way to cook the tougher roasts, such as rump roast, sirloin tip, chuck, round, etc. Basically, any of the roasts that come from the fore or hind quarters - the muscles that do the heavy lifting and have more connective tissues. It takes a fair bit of time to cook such a roast, but there is very little actual work involved.

When I started doing this, I would brown the roast first, but I don't think it makes that much difference to the flavour, certainly not enough to justify the huge clouds of smoke that would waft through the house and linger for days. So now I don't.

4 to 6 servings
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours - 20 minutes prep time

First the roast is seasoned and packaged in foil with sliced onions.

Once it is cooked, it should rest for about 10 minutes while the onion sauce is prepared and the rest of the meal is finished.

Then it gets sliced and served with the onion sauce.

Yum! It's a feast!

1 beef roast, about 2 to 3 kilos (4 to 6 pounds)
aluminum foil to wrap

2 or 3 medium-large onions
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 or 3 teaspoons black peppercorns, crushed
2 or 3 teaspoons sea salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons flour

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Remove the beef from the refrigerator to bring it up towards room temperature.

Peel the onions, and slice them. Crush or grind the black pepper and mix it with the salt and paprika.

Lay a large piece of aluminum foil in your roasting pan. Lay down in the middle of it 1 or 2 bay leaves, and about 1/3 of the onion slices. Set the roast on top, and rub it all over with the mixed seasonings. Add any juices that have accumulated around the roast. Pack the rest of the onion slices and another bay leaf around the meat. Drizzle in the water around the bottom of the roast. Seal the meat into the foil, such that it hopefully will not leak.

Bake the roast at 300°F for at least 3 hours; longer for a larger roast and longer if you want a well-done roast, although unless your roast is huge I would think 4 1/2 hours would be the longest likely time. I prefer to keep my roast fairly rare; it makes leftovers - guaranteed in a 2 person household - a more pleasant experience by and large. The outside slices should be plenty done for anyone who prefers their beef well done.

At any rate, at the appointed time remove the roast from the oven. Undo the foil and put the roast on a carving dish. Scrape the onions and all the juices - congealed or not - from the meat into a food processor - but remove the bay leaves - and cover the meat loosely with the foil. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before carving it.

Meanwhile, add the flour to the juices and onions, and purée them thoroughly. Put this sauce back into a pot, and bring it to a boil on the stove. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened.

Slice the beef and serve with the onion sauce.

Broccoli with Hazelnut Butter

This is more or less based on a recipe at Epicurious, but I thought I would like it better with the hazelnuts in toasted slices, some of which I oh-so-conveniently happened to have in the freezer. Definitely a quick and delicious way to dress up broccoli.

2 servings
15 minutes - 10 minutes prep time

Broccoli with Hazelnut Butter1 large head of broccoli (I don't use the stem)

1/4 cup sliced hazelnuts
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

Prepare the broccoli and put it in a pot with water to be steamed. Steam until just tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Toast the hazelnuts in a large dry skillet, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Remove them at once to a serving bowl, with the melted butter. If you have the oven on, keep the bowl of butter in it while you steam the broccoli and toast the hazelnuts. Otherwise, 20 seconds or so in the micro-wave should do it.

As soon as the broccoli is done, toss it with the hazelnuts and butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Be sure your broccoli is well drained and not in any way watery before you mix it with the hazelnuts and butter.

Acorn Squash with Cranberry-Ginger Butter

Southern Ontario is a place where a lot of vegetables are grown, but it is not a place where a lot of vegetables have originated. Acorn squash is one of two that I know of (the other is Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes as they have more appropriately been rechristened.) No doubt the acorn squash we eat nowadays are hybrids, and fairly different from what they once were, but still this is a vegetable you can eat, and feel you are consuming the culmination of thousands of years of local history.

It's hard to say how long to bake these, because I am assuming that you will be baking something else at the same time, and these are flexible and can be baked at whatever rate your something-else is baking at. If your oven is hot, they should be done in an hour. I baked them with the Braised Beef with Onion Sauce, which cooks at a very low temperature, and so mine took almost 3 hours.

2 -4 servings
1 to 3 hours - 15 minutes prep time

Acorn Squash with Cranberry Ginger Butter1 medium acorn squash
1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon preserved ginger (or a little more)
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven. Slice the acorn squash in half, and remove the seeds. Brush the cut surfaces of the squash with a little oil, and roast until tender.

Make the cranberry-ginger butter, by whizzing the cranberries and ginger in a food processor (or they can be chopped as finely as you can get them by hand) then mixing them with the butter.

About 10 to 20 minutes before the squash is done (time to depend on temperature of the oven) remove the squash from the oven, and score the surface thoroughly with a fork. Spread the butter as evenly as you can - carefully, that squash will be hot - over the tops of the squash. Put it back into the oven for that 10 to 20 minutes further baking.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Poutine à l'Ontarienne - Which Happens to be Vegetarian

I wanted to come up with a more healthy and restrained version of poutine. I'm not sure how healthy this really is, but it's good, very good. And it's vegetarian too.

2 to 4 servings
1 hour - 15 minutes prep time

Poutine a l'Ontarienne - vegetarian poutine450 to 700 grams (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) potatoes
1/4 cup (scant) olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh or dried chives

100 grams (1/4 pound) goat cheese curds

1 recipe Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy

Wash the potatoes, trim off any bad spots, and cut them into thick French-fry shapes. Put them in a large pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. When the potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes, drain them and toss them gently with the oil and seasonings in a large, shallow pan, such as a lasagne pan. (I try to use less than called for, but they should be lightly coated. It will depend on your pan, and how absorbtive the potatoes are.) Roast them for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown, stirring them once.

When they are just about ready, sprinkle them with the cheese curds and put them back in the oven for 5 minutes. Reheat the gravy, with or without the sautéed mushrooms, although I do think it is better with them. When the gravy is hot, pour it over the potatoes and cheese. Serve hot.

Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy

I designed this gravy to be used with Poutine à l'Ontarienne, but I suspect it will come in handy in a number of dishes. It should be very useful for vegetarians, but it's a rich tasting sauce that can be made very quickly by anyone. It can also be made in advance and reheated easily. However, if adding the fresh mushrooms, don't add them until you are ready to use the gravy.

Makes about
30 minutes - 10 minutes prep time

Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy3 or 4 medium dried shiitakes
3 or 4 medium sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
1/2 a small onion
2 cups water
2 teaspoons chick pea or other flour
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons nutritional (good tasting) yeast
3 tablespoon light miso

1/2 to 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Put the shiitakes, tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped onion, water, chick pea flour and mustard in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer very gently until the vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat, remove the shiitake to a cutting board and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Cut the stems off of the shiitakes and discard the stems. Return the caps to the gravy. Add the nutritional yeast and the miso.

Purée the gravy until very smooth. At this point, it can be used as-is (reheat before serving) or it can be improved with fresh mushrooms. Clean and slice the mushrooms, and sauté them in the butter until lightly browned on each side. Add the gravy to the pan and heat through.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Stamppot Boerenkool - Kale & Sausage Mash

Now here's a good, hearty peasant dish for the winter. It comes from Holland, which is after all famous for its peasants - thank you Pieter Breugel. Peasant food is often great stuff - hearty, filling, inexpensive, easy to make and in this case lip-smackingly good.

I'm sure there is a traditional smoked sausage that is normally used, but I use whatever I can get my hands on and so far it's all been good. Kielbasa, smoked German sausages or even Portuguese chorizo are what I can find easily around here. All are good - this is comfort food at its finest. My sweetie is not fond of kale, but this is a dish that will get it into him with no complaints.

4 servings
45 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

Stamppot Boerenkool - Kale and Sausage Mash900 grams (2 pounds) potatoes
2 medium onions
2 bay leaves
450 grams (1 pound) smoked sausage
1 small head of kale OR half of a large head
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons bacon fat or butter
salt & pepper
nutmeg (optional)
2 tablespoons vinegar (optional)

Scrub the potatoes, and trim off any bad spots. Peel them if you like, but I don't bother. Cut them in chunks. Peel the onions, and cut them in chunks. Put the potatoes, onions, bay leaves and a pinch of salt into a large pot and cover with water. Add the sausage on top, either whole or cut up. Bring to a boil and boil gently until the potatoes are tender; about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash the kale and strip the tender green parts from the stems. Chop the leaves fairly finely, and discard the tough stems. When the potatoes have about 5 or 10 minutes to go, add the kale to the pot.

Once everything is done, drain the pot and remove the bay leaves. If the sausage has been left whole, remove it and set it aside for the moment. Get out your handy potato-masher and mash the potatoes and kale (and sausage if you sliced it) together. Mix in the butter or bacon fat and the milk and vinegar, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Watch the salt - it will depend on how salty your sausage is.) You can use a little nutmeg as well if you think it will go with your particular sausage.

The traditional Dutch way is to mash the potatoes and kale quite smooth, then slice the sausage and serve it on top. I tend to just mash everything coarsely together, including the sausages which I do slice before putting in the pot. It's easier - not that the other way is complicated - and the flavour of the sausage gets more through the vegetables. Also I like having identifiable pieces of veg.

Traditionally this is served with vinegar (maybe not if you have already added some) and mustard for the sausage.

Friday, 9 November 2007

The Old Reliable - Beef or Lamb Stew

We are having a very seasonal day today - extremely grey and very damp and cold - just cold enough to snow, but after a full day just starting to stick as the ground is still fairly warm. In other words, it's the perfect day for stew.

I evolved this a few years back in a quest for a healthy stew recipe, but it was also one of my better efforts flavour-wise as well, so this has become my standard stew recipe. Don't let the length of the list of ingredients put you off; it goes together very quickly.

4 to 6 servings
1 1/2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

The raw ingredients for a big pot of stewMost of the raw ingredients for the stew set out above.

Beef Stew2 medium onions
4 stalks of celery OR 1 small celery root, peeled
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil
450 grams (1 pound) lean stewing beef or lamb
2 cloves of garlic (optional)
3 cups water or fat-free broth
1/4 cup raw barley
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 cups peeled diced rutabaga
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 cup cleaned button mushrooms (halve or quarter if large)
1 540 ml (19 ounce) tin diced or crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon savory
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Peel and chop the onions coarsely, chop the celery coarsely as well. Peel and mince the garlic.

In a large skillet, sauté the onions and celery in 2/3 the oil until softened; remove them to a large stew pot. Add the remaining oil, and cook the beef or lamb until browned all over. Stir in the garlic, and after a minute or so remove the meat to the stew pot.

Add the water or broth, the barley and the bay leaves to the stew pot, and turn on the heat. While it comes up to a boil, peel and chop the remaining vegetables into bite-sized pieces, and add them to the stew as they are prepared. Add the tomatoes, with their juice, and the seasonings.

Cover the stew, reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the stew until the meat is done and the vegetables and the barley are tender. Add a little more water if needed.

This can be made ahead; stew keeps and reheats well. In fact, you will likely find the meat better the second day, as the cooling and reheating process also tenderizes it. The flavours in general will have blended and mellowed as well.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Cream of Lentil Soup

I clipped this recipe from the Star Weekly many many (many) years ago, and came across it again recently. This was a recipe that came from the kitchens of the King Edward Hotel, and I was intrigued by the idea of a soup that treats lentils - hearty peasant food if ever there was any - with all the refinement of classic French cuisine. I simplified this a little from the original, not that it was ever complicated. The original recipe called for a bouquet garni of bay leaf, fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley, but I didn't have fresh herbs and I hate the flavour of cooked parsley anyway.

I cooked the lentil soup the night before, then puréed it and reheated it with the cream the next day. I found it got very thick overnight, so I added another cup of water to the soup as well as a bit more cream than called for. This makes a lotta soup. I'm sure it could be cut in half easily. I used red lentils as the recipe called for; now I am wondering how this would do with split green peas. Quite good, I suspect.

8 to 12 servings
1 hour - 30 minutes prep time

Cream of Lentil Soup
2 small onions
2 large carrots
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups red lentils
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup 10% cream (or more)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
salt & pepper

Pick over the lentils. Rinse and drain them well.

Peel and chop the onions and the carrots. Slice the garlic. Sweat them in the butter for about 10 or 15 minutes (i.e. put them in a heavy-bottomed soup pot with the butter, and heat gently with the lid on. Stir occasionally.) Add the drained lentils and mix well. Keep over low heat for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken stock and bring up to a boil. Skim the soup. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and add the bay leaves, rosemary and thyme. Simmer the soup, covered but stirring frequently, until the lentils are very soft. That'll be all of 20 minutes, so don't go wandering off too far.

Remove the bay leaves and purée the soup until very smooth. Thin with a little water if it is too thick. Blend in the cream, and the last tablespoon of butter, if you are up for it. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (My purchased chicken stock was quite salty - I didn't need to add any, so watch that.) Heat through and serve.

Like most thick legume substances, frequent regular stirring is important at all stages of cooking, or else it will weld itself to the bottom of the pot and turn black. Because of this, when you get to the reheating stage, the microwave is not a bad place to do it.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Chinese Buffet Rice Noodles with Vegetables

We used to go to a certain Chinese buffet, because it was conveniently located and very cheap. Unfortunately, it really wasn't very good, so we eventually gave up on it. They did have one dish I particularly enjoyed which was stir-fried rice noodles with vegetables. The not-so-sad truth though, is that I can make 'em better at home. Here they are: quick, easy, nutritious, cheap and tasty. And a submission for Presto Pasta Nights at Once Upon a Feast.

3 or 4 servings
30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Rice Noodles with Vegetables
225 grams (1/2 pound) dried broad rice noodles

3 cups shredded savoy cabbage (or other cabbage or greens)
1 large carrot
1 large onion
1 or 2 stalks of celery
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
2 slices fresh ginger (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup tamari or soysauce (light helps keep the salt down)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.

Prepare the vegetables; shred the cabbage, peel and grate the carrot, peel and cut the onion into slivers, wash and slice the celery, and chop the garlic and ginger fairly finely.

Meanwhile, when the water boils, turn it off and soak the noodles in it for 8 minutes. Rinse them in cold water and drain well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet or wok. Sauté the onion until it begins to soften, then add the remaining vegetables including the garlic and ginger. Drizzle the water over them, and cook at high temperature, stirring and tossing constantly until the veggies are softened and the water is evaporated. Remove the veggies from the pan and set them aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Put in the rice noodles, and drizzle over the tamari or soy sauce. When they are well mixed and heated, add the vegetables back in. Continue to mix and toss until well blended and hot through, and all the liquid has evaporated. Drizzle with the sesame oil, mix well and serve.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Honey Rice Pudding with Blueberries

How Ontarian is this? Borderline, with all that rice and sugar, etc. Still, it's very good, and you can make it all year with frozen blueberries. Use a nice sprightly honey - wildflower is good; it has an intense and assertive flavour without being too overwhelming, like buckwheat honey might be, for example. Clover or orchard honey would be fine, but not quite as interesting and complex as the wildflower honey. Although I used what is probably an orchard/wildflower blend and thought it was delicious.

It's probably better to bake it in a more shallow dish than the one I used. Something like a lasagne pan, maybe. Mine could have been a bit better done in the middle.

8 to 12 servings
2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Honey Rice Pudding with Blueberries3 cups cooked rice (from 1 cup raw rice)

1/2 cup honey
4 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups milk (or soymilk)

6 cups blueberries (frozen is fine)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons minute tapioca
the juice of 1/2 lemon OR 1 lime

If you haven't cooked your rice, you should do so. It should be at least lukewarm, if not cool when you start.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the honey with the eggs, one at a time in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Mix in the milk.

In a smaller bowl, mix the blueberries, sugar, tapioca and lemon or lime juice.

Spread about one half of the rice evenly in your baking pan, which must hold at least 3 quarts (litres.) Note I say rice; don't worry about the liquid part; that can be poured over the top later. Spread the blueberry mixture evenly over the rice. Spoon out the remaining rice evenly over the blueberries, then gently spoon the remaining liquid over the pudding. The idea is that you will end up with the blueberries in a layer between two layers of rice pudding. It may or may not work perfectly; it's nice if you can do it but it's not a disaster if you can't. It won't be as pretty but it will taste just fine.

Put your filled pudding dish into a large shallow tray, such as a cookie tray with sides or a jelly roll pan, and put it into the preheated oven. Pour water into the pan, so that the pudding dish sits in at least 1/2" of water. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until set. Serve warm or cold.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onion

I'm describing this as a side dish, and it could be; but we are likely to serve it over rice and call it a meal. Either way, stir-frying Brussels sprouts this way has become very popular in recent years, and with good reason.

Get good lean bacon, and you won't have to muck about with draining the pan. Actually, I bought pre-packaged bacon for the first time in years (decades?) when I made this, and I was shocked. I managed to find some that was passably lean, but had forgotten how much water they manage to get in there with the bacon. Talk about soggy, limp, flaccid and very hard to get to brown. That'll be the last time for me, until I forget again 15 years from now.

Take a look at Fresh Produce of the Month over at An Italian in the U.S.; the theme this month is Brussels sprouts.

2 to 4 servings
15 to 20 minutes - 7 minutes prep time

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onion4 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
1 medium onion
4 to 8 slices of good lean bacon

Clean the Brussels sprouts by removing any yellow or damaged leaves, and soaking them in cold salted water if there are any signs of bugs, and cut them each into 4 to 6 slices lengthwise. Set them aside.

Peel and chop the onion, and cut the bacon into 1" pieces. Cook the bacon and onions together in a large skillet over medium hight heat, stirring frequently, until the bacon is becoming crisp and the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. If there is too much fat, remove the bacon and onion and drain the pan, but don't wash it. In either case, add the shredded Brussels sprouts, along with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the Brussels sprouts are tender; another 3 to 5 minutes. If the bacon and onion are removed, add them back in after the sprouts have cooked for a minute or two. Season with pepper; you are unlikely to need salt with all the bacon.

Thursday, 1 November 2007


I haven't vanished from the face of the earth, if anyone is wondering. It's just - sniff - I have lotsa work to do. Two apartments are turning over this month, and all the scrubbing, mopping, painting and general running around that results has been keeping us busy and food has been either very basic or hastily snatched while out doing chores.

On the plus side, just before the sluices opened and the work poured down upon us, I got this lampshade finished. I've only been working on it for almost a year. Or in fact mostly not working on it for much of the year. I know it's not food, but hey! I did make it.*

*Not the actual frame. The frame I got at a second hand shop for $2, and the crochet yarn at a liquidator for $4, and I still have enough to do another. I figure it makes up for the fact that I paid a shocking $20 for the base.