28 September 2007

All my bags are packed...

and I'm (almost) ready to go.

Well, I don't know how it happened, but it's officially time for vacation. G and I are packed up and ready to head out. It's been somewhat exhausting getting to this point, with lots of late work nights and stressed out sleeps, but it's here, and work will just have to live without me for awhile.

Suffice it to say, we are both really tired, and hopefully, we will get on the plane tonight, have a sigh of relief and sleep all the way through to London. But then, the herbal relaxant I take to calm my nerves will help with that, too.

I am sure I've mentioned that we are going on vacation, but in case I haven't... we are going on VACATION!!! TONIGHT!!!! We head to London then off to Kerry, Ireland for a week driving around the Irish countryside, ending up in Dublin. Then we take a ferry to Wales and a train to Cardiff where we soak in all the Dr. Who-ness that I can stomach (which is probably a lot more than G can!)... Then back to London for a few days with friends before we head home.

Sigh. It sounds good.

See you in a bit. I hope to have lots of good food times to share and a few pics of it all. Take care.

23 September 2007

Just a quickie...

My Mom had to call me this morning and take me to school about the chicken orzo pasta posted below. She said that the recipe came from the newsletter from a townhouse she used to live in, and the recipe also has marinated artichoke hearts (which I didn't add b/c G hates them) and mozarella, parmesan and swiss cheese. I think she's wrong about the cheese, because that sounds like the cheese we use in the Macaroni and Cheese recipe that I make, but who am I to say? At least Mom reads my blog!!!

19 September 2007

Good stuff!

Food, glorious food. We've been enjoying the new kitchen, oh yeah, uh hunh.

And to celebrate, we ordered in from a fantastic takeaway, Rashnaa. I love Rashnaa. When you order everything comes in little bowls. I ordered the Butter Chicken Platter, which comes with rice, masala potatoes, and roti. We also ordered a raita to share and a beef pancake roll.

Here it is nicely laid out on my plate. I was so hungry, I had started eating when G yelled, "TAKE A PHOTO!!!"

G ordered the vegetable curry platter. She had spinach curry (eaten before it had a chance to begin), beet curry, potato curry, dal, and eggplant curry. Yum!!!

Mushes!!! All gooooood. I love Rashnaa. If you are ever at the corner of Parliament and Wellesley, check it out. Delish!

On another day, some day, who can keep track, we took our newly purchased President's Choice Burger First buns and made some lovely panini-ish sandwiches. I think this was Sunday, because we used the leftover turkey from Rosh Hashanah, and G's fantastico red peppers with the feta cheese that I bought from the pasta salad...

Served on a pile of Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips. Oh yeah. Love it. Nice sandwich. And run out and buy those President's Choice buns (if you are lucky enough to live in Canada!) because they take all the bun work out of hamburgers (and sandwiches!!).

And finally, last night's dinner. Giada de Laurentis from Everyday Italian made this soup on her show, and it's in her first cookbook. It's beyond easy, and beyond delicious, and I could eat it every day. Basically, you take two boxes of chicken broth, warm them up with a little pepper, when it's boiling you put in a package of fresh three cheese tortellini, cook it through, top with some parmesan, and enjoy!

It's the absolute easiest dinner, cheap and cheerful, yum.

I started to say that we made a salad, but I was too lazy to do that. But, I did buy some garlicky fresh bread to warm up on my pizza stone. Yum. So lovely.

Rashnaa on Urbanspoon


Well... I blame it all on Smitten Kitchen. She posts the most amazing recipes and the day she posted about the best pizza ever, I was hooked. As the kitchen was still being reno'd, I waited. I patiently kept waiting for the day that it would work out. And then one day, amazingly, it did.

That day was last Sunday. With a Patriots game looming, and chilly fall weather outside, making pizza seemed like the best idea. So I brought in Lady Vic to the kitchen, pulled up the recipe, and started...

Oh yeah, we're ready to go.

And go I went. The first round of crust making (alas, no photos) was a disaster. The dough didn't rise. I think it may have been a two fold problem, 1) the water I used wasn't warm enough, and 2) the kitchen wasn't warm enough. So I rolled up my sleeves refused to be thwarted, and turned on that new oven and warmed it right on up in there.

Made the crust, made the AMAZING sauce, and put the pizza together...

The tomato sauce recipe on Smitten's site is amazing. It's going to become a stand-by. I could have eaten my weight in it. It was really sweet, but savoury and fresh tasting from the fresh tomatoes I bought at the market.

Yee haw.

Well, it was just delicious. It was comforting to roll out the dough, simmer the sauce, tear apart the fresh mozzarella ball, chopping the basil... Oh!!! And I almost failed to mention... I bought a pizza stone! It is amazing!!! You just slide the pizza on the very hot stone and BOB'S YOUR UNCLE! It's excellent!!!

I love Smitten's recipe, it's going to be mine forever. I am not gonna reprint it, because I didn't ask for permission, but really, go there, make it, love it, and send me a photo!

16 September 2007

Odds and Ends.

Here's a mash-up of some of the food gracing our palates over the past few weeks.

We took some out of town family to the St. Lawrence Market last weekend to show them the farmer's market and all of it's many treasures. They seemed to really enjoy it, but to be very hungry. Off we went to the weird diner actually inside the market (Paddington's?) for a quick sit-down brekkie.

I, of course, was drawn towards the breakfast on a bun... egg, cheese and peameal on a portugese roll. With fries. With a smile. Yum.

Then, there were many permeations of tomato sandwiches with the tomatoes purchased from the farmer's market. I have discovered that eating raw tomatoes tends to upset my stomach, so I am slowly stopping the mass consumption, but that didn't stop G from indulging in her favourite of sliced tomatoes on toast with olive oil and s&p.

The green tomatoes were amazing, they seemed lower in acidity, but that could have just been my trying to rationalize eating them!

One night for dinner, G took some of our beautiful market leeks and made a leek and tomato soup with grilled cheese and green tomato sandwiches. (See me working those lower acid green tomatoes in.)

This picture doesn't have the tomatoes in the sandwich (it's G's). Mine had the tomatoes in the sandwich, but the picture didn't turn out even as well as this one, so there ya go. Really really nice, though.

And then, it was a couple of day's of lunch prepared from home. I really don't like much of the food around my office, and it's quite expensive, so I am making an effort to take more things from home to have for lunch. This week, I made one of my favourite pasta salads, aptly named Greek Chicken Orzo Salad.

This is one of those recipes that has been kicking around between my Mom and me for many years now. I think I must have originally read it in Cooking Light magazine, or some such thing, and I don't have a written version of it anywhere. But Mom and I both still make it, though I hadn't in some time.

This is the lunch version, in IKEA tupperware ready to go. I highly recommend this salad. Here it is...

Greek Chicken Orzo Salad (makes enough for four medium sized lunches)
Cooked Chicken cut into cubes (for this one, I used store cooked rotisserie chicken from the night before)
1 cup or so orzo shaped pasta (prepare according to directions)
1 chopped tomato, seeds removed
Chopped pitted black olives (I used 5)
Some Feta Cheese (I used the kind with sun-dried tomato)
Greek Dressing (Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, garlic)
Lemon Juice (1/4 of Lemon)

Mix all the above together well. Squeeze in lemon juice to brighten flavours. Divide into work-ready bowls and keep in refrigerator.

Can't beat it. It's filling, savory, and pretty good for you, all things being equal. My Mom says so, and she don't lie.

One day last week (maybe Thursday), I went to the cafeteria downstairs to get some lunch. Work has been so crazy busy that I rarely leave my office building at all, so having the cafeteria downstairs is a mixed blessing. Anyway, I ordered the club sandwich with pasta salad. The sandwich comes cut up in quarters, with real pieces of chicken breast, fresh bacon, tomatoes and mayo. It also comes with lettuce, but I have a warm lettuce aversion. And I get mine with cheese, because, well, what's not better with cheese on it?

Really tasty and cheap. This whole lunch costs less than $5 CAD, which is a bargain for downtown Toronto. Now for a lunch that's not such a bargain, but really good?

I went to Sprout, a Vietnamese place near my office that doesn't really have a huge selection, but is pretty tasty. I ordered the "oh my goodness" soup (yes, that really is the name!). It looks like a tom yum gai sort of thing, and for the most part it was. Hot, with a slight bit of sweet, with mushrooms, chicken, sprouts and noodles.

(Here it is about half way through.) It was fiery, and the chili on the sides of the bowl really accented that. But for $9.11 CAD, it's a bit on the dear side. Not an everyday thing, but definitely a winter warmer. I would have preferred no noodles, but a side of rice, and may ask for that next time. We'll see.

And then... paella. We had purchased some elk sausage at the St. Lawrence Market (really really good) and wanted to make something spicy and ricey with it. Paella won out. G used parts of a recipe from fresh magazine (another UK favourite) and part from her own brain (she's so smart) and came up with this beauty...

Oh yeah. Tasty.

So all in all, it's been a good food few weeks. Sorry for not being as diligent with the blog, I miss it when I am not here.

But the good news is, in two weeks (!!!), we are taking off for a two-week trip in Ireland, Wales and London!!!!! I can't wait!

I haven't decided about taking Lady Vic yet, there are definite pros and cons, but will try to keep in touch through internet cafes at a minimum. But until then... there should be some interesting things coming up. I am right this MINUTE in the process of making Smitten Kitchen's pizza recipe, and we have good things planned for the week.

Until then...

Dinner for Fifteen!

Our sunroom is the most glorious place to host dinners. And dinner for 15 was meant we used the sunroom and then a little bit of the living room (where I am standing to take the picture). When we moved into our condo, there was a little dining room area between the kitchen pass-through and the "living room" proper, like most apartments. Our building is one of the rare few buildings in our part of Toronto to not have balconies. Instead, we have this beautiful sunroom with floor-to-ceiling windows that runs the width of our unit.

One half (where I am now sitting) has been "converted" to my office/personal space, and the other side has been made into our dining room. It's a great space, and worked really well for dinner for fifteen.

And what a dinner. Since it was a high holidy, G had taken the day off work and cooked up a storm. Homemade roasted red peppers, heirloom tomato salad, roasted red and golden beet salad, green salad with eggs and avocado -- and those were just the starters!

Delish! For the main meal, G made an ENORMOUS 22 pound turkey. (There's lots left... come on over if you are hungry!) Unfortunately, no pics of the grand turkey are available, as I was serving drinks and whatnot for our guests while the dinner was being prepared for serving.

With the turkey we had roasted carrots (YUM!), roasted squash and potatoes, fresh Ontario green beans with a little butter, and stuffing. G's sister-in-law brought the stuffing which was amazing and weird all at the same time. It was really dense, very mushroomy, and full of stuffing flavours like sage and onion. It was addictive. We served everyone from the end of the table... it was only slightly chaotic...

That's me serving food. I am dishing up the potatoes, next to that on the left is the crazy stuffing, to the right are carrots, and in front of the potatoes are green beans, with the turkey right next to them. Oh yeah, really lovely.

For dessert, we had a variety of cakes that others brought, and for which I have no photos as by that time I was doing double time washing dishes and showing the kids all my cool toys (like my rocking TARDIS bank that lights up). We did get to use our new china that G's mom had though was destroyed when they moved from Rhodesia to Canada, but was actually just lying in wait in their basement! I will show you that when we get back fromour vacation and I make scones and clotted cream. Oh yeah baby!

Anyway, the dinner was a success. Everyone seemed to love the food, and were really happy with the way the dinner unfolded.

My favorite part of the evening was serving G's dad wine in our new stemless wine glasses. I asked him how he liked them, and he said, 'These are nice water glasses, I suppose.' To which I said, 'No, they are stemless wine glasses, we just bought them to go in the new kitchen.' And he looked at me with such pity in his eyes and said, 'Who told you that? These are water glasses.' Oh well, can't teach a 72 year old dog new tricks, I suppose.

15 September 2007

Rosh Hashanah.

G's family (and G) are Jewish, and we have been celebrating the new year. We spent the first night of Rosh Hashanah at G's parent's, but it was chaotic and I only was able to take one food pic. However, it was of the Matzah Ball Soup, which is one of G's mom's specialties. Brilliant as always.

G's mom makes really excellent soup. It has a deep chickeny flavour and the matzah's are always light and fluffy. We also had brisket and stuff. Good times, but it was noisy. Why? Well....

That's really a bit complicated. G's brother has a new baby that is beautiful with a solid scream. Her other brother has a daughter who is 7 (I think) and likes to cheat at games, causing one of the other young nephews (who's 5) have a complete freak out (because he's very honest and good-natured). They were screaming. G's mom has a terrible cold, had lost her voice, her ears were plugged and she couldn't hear anything. Family was visiting from Israel. Two large, sweet and large border collies were running around. Chaos.

But it's nice. I am so far away from my family, and it's nice to be able to have people who are constants. However, we hoped that the second night of Rosh Hashanah, being served at our house from our new kitchen, would be less chaotic.

And for the most part, it was.

The Whole Enchilada!

As you will see later on, we have much turkey leftover in our home, so last night, G used my secret recipe and made turkey enchiladas. We had sides of low-fat (but delicious) refried beans, red rice (basmati rice cooked with a spoonful of tomato paste, as G's family does it), and a small lemony salad.

We invited some friends over, opened a beautiful bottle of Henry of Pelham Gamay (go Ontario wine!), and ate our faces off.

As I have mentioned before, we have been remodeling our kitchen, and it is finally finished! (Pictures will follow once we get everything finally organized in there!) Cooking in the kitchen is fantastic, though a bit like cooking in someone else's home. However, it's been really interesting setting up in cabinets that were not there before. Everything is relatively accessible and the new counters and cabinets are beautiful!

The remodel itself has been both a trial and joy. Our contractor is brilliant. He's a friend of the family, and has gone out of his way to make sure that we are happy with the way things look. Part of the design was not quite right, but our contractor was adamant that things would be fixed to our liking. We didn't end up changing a thing. It was gorgeous, and again, he went out of his way to be sure that we were happy, calling every night and keeping us constantly updated.

Not dead but not quite alive...

This is just a quick update letting you know that I will be posting again soon... We've had an entirely too busy last couple of weeks with G's nephew's bar mitzvah and Rosh Hashannah (and dinner for 15 at our house... photos to follow) and a crazy time at work (again!). However, things should be smooth between now and vacation (all I ever wanted -- the go go's) which is taking place in a mere two weeks.

Word of warning. I am trying to make a new recipe. That's tomorrow's good news (unless I can convince G that a fast trip to the US for some shopping while our dollar's at a crazy new high). Will keep you posted.

02 September 2007

Teas, herbs, oh my!

Linda Rose sells herbs and teas in the farmer's market side of the St. Lawrence Market. I asked her for something that would help my stomach, which has been bothering me something fierce lately, and she told me to try Plantain Leaf, steeped in water. I also bought some raspberry leaf that is for a combo of digestive help and female issues. She said to start with the plantain, as it's more mild and will "fix" any sores in the stomach, and as my doctor seems to think I have ulcers again, why not give the tea a try? Linda said she's drying the herbs now, making teas for winter, while the garden's still in bloom. Her garden must be stunning!

I took some photos of her area, it's so beautiful.

The light streaming in from the overhead windows helped this (though I think my tooling about with my camera is helping too!). Linda makes it very nice, by having freshly brewed tea for you to try, in real tea cups, not styrofoam or something wasteful.

And the baskets of herbs are so nice looking. And here are the little takeaway bags of goodies...

So at around $5 CAD a bag, it can't be beat. I tried my plantain tea tonight, and so far so good. I love tea, and any tea that has medicinal properties, can't be beat. Linda had a sheet of paper at her booth that talked about a Healing Course that she is teaching, which I would love to take, but it's going to run through my vacation, so maybe next time!

Whoa is the kitchen.

It's not finished. The kitchen is not finished. Let me repeat. The kitchen is not finished.

BUT. The good news is, we started to reclaim it anyway. We are still in need of backsplash, and the extra shelves we are having put in three of the cupboards, but otherwise, we are moving back in. So much so that tonight, I made dinner.

That's right. Roasted fresh yukon gold potatoes, meatloaf and fresh Ontario corn. Home cookin', baby. And it was just what the doctor ordered. I love eating in restaurants, and takeaway is a thing of beauty, but man, when three meals a day every day is take-out, it's nice to eat at home.

G and I have been joking around that it's like we have moved into an entirely new place. The kitchen is totally different, even thought it's not that vastly different, and re-learning where things are has been great. But it's great, and it's coming along.

Yesterday, we decided to take a trip to the farmer's market at the St. Lawrence. I may have mentioned how much we love going to the St. Lawrence market. It's nice this time of year because there is so much in season. You just want to buy it all!

Instead, we tried to temper our enthusiasm with a little reality about this weeks needs. Corn was a must, as were green beans, and peppers. Here's a little vignette of photos...

There is a family in the farmer's market at the St. Lawrence Market that sells farm fresh eggs. We buy our free-run brown eggs there, and they are really amazing. And at only $3.35CAD for a dozen, they are certainly the most economical. Well, yesterday was their SIXTIETH anniversary of selling their eggs at the market I think that's just amazing!

There they are, selling their eggs. Yum! The market got a cake for everyone, it was really sweet. G and I both got teary eyed.

Too sweet. Honestly. It's truly amazing to shop at this market. Everyone is so generous, and there really has gotten to be great sense of community as of late.

The other great buy of the market trip was a basket of strawberries. We've snacked on them all day long.

Oh yeah!!!! Yummmmmmmy!

Eating out so much has given me a new appreciation for fruit and veg.

So we're making due. Once the kitchen is finished (2010?) , I will post some photos of the finished kitchen. It's really looking good, though, and I am pleased that it's coming along, but it would be nice to have it be finished.

Tomorrow is a holiday. Holiday! Celebration! Come together, in every nation!!!


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