23 May 2009

Eating at home. The Simple Life.

Work and life has been pretty crazy lately so it's been necessary to just have some comfort foody quickness.

At the market, I bought some fantastic gluten-free hot dog buns. Well, they're a bit dense, but they aren't crazy sweet. Quite lovely. We also bought hot dogs at one of the meat stalls that were labelled gluten-free and were organic. They were fantastic, but the woman who sold them to me was rude. Anywho...

That's my hot dog with tomato chutney and mayo (don't start, it's a delicious combo) and sweet chili rice chips which are one of my most favorite things in the whole world. Goooooood times. It's easy and lovely and while not gourmet, it's also sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

Cream Tea at My Place.

Mother's Day was celebrated over two weekends for us, the first here in Toronto with G's Mom and then back home to Oklahoma to celebrate with mine. For G's mom's mother's day, we thought it would be nice to have them over for an afternoon tea. G's mom gave G a glorious china set that was forgotten in the basement from the Rhodesia move to Canada, and we haven't had much call for using it. Tea was the perfect excuse!

Ah! On the top are gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (from the bag, I am embarrassed to say) mixed with gluten-free empire cookies from the British Bakery stall at the St. Lawrence Market. GO THEM with the gluten-free offerings. I bought some gluten-free hot dog buns that will feature in a post later on... Good stuff. ANYWAY, back to the tea...

The second layer was my homemade g-free scones. There are two sizes because the dough didn't seem right and so I was making a little sample round that were the small ones and then when they turned out alright, I made bigger ones. The bigger ones didn't rise at all. But they were delicious. We served them with my homemade butter (the famous shaking the cream in a jar for 30 minutes method -- which rules) and with rose jelly, blueberry jam, and orange marmalade. Yummy!

The bottom tier was our stab at little sandwiches. This was early in the whole gluten-free process and I had taken a stab at trying a kamut bread. That didn't work for me, sad to say. But the sandwiches were lovely. We made two kinds, egg salad and smoked salmon/cream cheese.

We made a big pot of tea and all tucked in. It really was a lovely tea and a delicious mother's day!

My Mom's mother's day consisted of g-free cupcakes my brother made. Yummmmy! I didn't take photos. I was a bad blogger when I was in OK.

Goodness gracious!

It's been awhile since I have updated the blog. I don't know where to start, so much has been going on.

As my last posting mentioned, I have been having a bit of a crazy time with my stomach. Again. After a trip to the hospital and hours of lying there feeling like I was dying, I have decided to stop listening to everyone else and start trusting my instincts and doing what I know makes me feel better. Because of that, I have finally made the plunge to stop eating gluten. It's been good. Headaches have decreased, bloating/gas (and other related stomach issues) have decreased or stopped, and the nausea has become practically non-existent. I wonder to some degree if it isn't related to the fact that when I don't eat gluten or wheat I eat a lot better generally. But whatever, there we are. So the doctor trips continue and for the last four weeks, I've gone g-free. (Yesterday I ate wheat for the first time as a sort of trial to see and my stomach went totally off kilter.) (I also read Elisabeth Hasslebeck's new book. I know that it's gotten some bad press in the blogosphere for some of her language, but it's actually a really easy read and it's got some really good tips.)

Embarking on the gluten-free world, I of course immediately have had cravings for all manner of carbs. And for some reason beyond all reason, I had a craving for tuna noodle casserole. Yes. That's right. Tuna noodle casserole!

Oh yeah! That pic is a bit blurry, but I think you get the general idea.

Recipe? Oh yes...I searched online and found a few good recipes, but I used the one at Hey, that tastes good! as the base of my own.

1/2 a vidalia onion, diced into a fine mince
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T butter
1 1/2 T rice flour or g-free all purpose flour
1 c + 1 tbsp 1% milk
1 medium sized can flaked white tuna packed in water well drained and broken
frozen peas to taste

1 1/2 c Tinkyada rice pasta shells
2 handfuls of sharp cheddar cheese
G-Free bread crumbs for sprinkling

Cook the onion and garlic, stir in the flour cook for a minute, it burns QUICKLY and doesn't really thicken up, so no worries if yours doesn't. Then stir in the milk and watch it thicken into an amazing sauce! Stir in about a handful or so of the cheese and the frozen peas. (While all this is going on, cook the pasta a little less than done since it will keep cooking in the oven.) Stir in your tuna and noodles, season to taste with anything that you think is good, and spread into a small square baking dish. Cover with the rest of the cheese and g-free bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. ENJOY!

I found that this was easily enough for G and I and a good sized portion for lunch the next day. (And for those of you who know the perils of left-over g-free pasta, the Tinkyada was amazing. It really held it's own.)

10 May 2009

Wheat May Be My Enemy.

After speaking with my naturopath, very helpful ER doctor, etc., the decision was made to give a hiatus to the wonderful world of wheat (and to eat as little gluten as possible) and caffeine. The caffeine didn't seem overly difficult (and it hasn't been other than some lethargy), but the wheat/gluten seemed a bit more complicated.

I have had the celiac test, and my bloodwork was borderline but the GI doctor felt that it was more likely that I had a wheat intolerance, since I also had a skin prick test. I was not sure what to think at the time and while I had given up gluten for a spell, the doctor told me not to and instead to try and reduce the stress in my life.

Which I have been doing, and somewhat well, I would say. Stress has been greatly reduced, which is no small feat in this world of recession. I have managed. But the symptoms persisted. So I went to the chiropractor/naturopath for treatment for headaches, and he actually sits down and discusses the whole body with you and how all things are connected. It's such a nice change of pace, and one that I think it's not crazy to expect from your doctor.

So anyway, there you go. I have been gluten and caffeine free for two weeks now (I tried kamut flour today to see if I would get bloated). It's good times and I have been lucky to have found some great products to help me through. It's not easy and you have to plan out every single thing that you are going to eat if you aren't at home because it's difficult to find lunch things...

At the same time, I was reading the book "The End of Overeating" by Dr. David Kessler. This was a very interesting look at the food industry and highly palatable foods. It's a truly fascinating read. My struggles with food have been long (and the irony of my having a food blog is not lost on me), and it in reading this book it was truly like some one was saying it's not entirely your fault. The cravings and OCD like behavior towards food is not your fault. The food is engineered to make you want it. And I now really believe that. When I was eating wheat/gluten, if I ate any sort of pasta or fast food for a couple of days in a row, I would continue to crave it. Once stopped, the cravings stop. It's such a crazy thing.

What I took from Dr. Kessler's book, and this may not have been the message he wanted to get across, but what I heard is that you have to stop eating it. You just aren't that person who can have it once and get on with it and have no issues. I am not that person. I can't eat it. It's partly my fault but it's also the way that the food was created to make you want more, fat, salt, sugar, fat, salt and sugar. And I did. It's hard but I am really going to try to stop, and I figure doing it with the whole gluten/wheat-free love-in was the perfect time. So it's cold cold cold freezer-burned turkey, but there it is.

It's a trial right now and we'll see where/how it goes. The first night, we had lovely meatballs and rice...

YUM! I made the meatballs without any sort of binder, baked them for a moment in the oven and then mixed with a simmering tomato sauce and spooned over rice. I totally wrecked the rice on this one, but it was really delicious all the same... AND... we had leftovers so lunch the next day was sorted.

(Happy by product of all this wheat-free living? I've lost weight. I don't know that it's the wheat as much as I think it's the not eating the fast food for lunch, but I'll take what I can get. )

50th Soiree.

G's brother turned 50 recently and in his honour, his wife threw a lovely afternoon brunch at the Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham. It was attended by family and friends and we all had a really great time.

The food was plentiful. When we came in, there were mimosas by the glassful. They hit the spot after everything that had been going on the week before. (As an aside, I had been really sick the week before, requiring a trip to the hospital. It was a bit crazy, but all seems to be on the mend.) ANYWAY, the brunch started with some amazing cold salads including meats, green salads, pasta salads, and the like. Here's my plate...

I had a bunch of caeser salad, cheeses, meats, and tuna salad. It was fantastic!

For the main courses, there was a bit of breakfast and a bit of lunch. Eggs florentine, hash browns, bacon, sausage, roast beef, lasagna, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. I wasn't in the mood for breakfast and so went whole-heartedly for the lunch...

The meat was fantastic. Really soft and perfectly cooked. The mashed potatoes were totally amazing and I couldn't resist also grabbing some hashed browns. I also tried some of the lasagna. It was pretty meh. The tops of the lasagna were really stodgy and seemingly uncooked, but the underneath of the kind of not so good layer was fantastic. I seemed to have jumped over the veggies, but had a delicious lunch all the same.

Brunch with A Good Friend.

A few weeks ago, we had a friend call and say she would be in town for the weekend, so we decided to meet up for "brunch" at the 'new' Mildred Pierce restaurant, Mildred's Temple.

I was really keen to go there, and excited at getting to try the new offerings. Equally exciting was the fact that since we went earlyish on a Saturday, we had "lunch" not "brunch" on offer.

Having read many reviews of the restaurant, I was extremely excited to try the gnudi, which is offered as an appetizer. But first came the bread. We were asked if we wanted one slice or two, which seems odd. Just give me bread and if I want more, I'll ask, but whatever.

The bread was really good, with a strong crust. The butter was soft and slightly sweet.

The gnudi. Well. The gnudi wsa divine...

It was served with bacon and caramelized onion in a slight butter and sage sauce. They gnudi were light and cheesey, fluffy and delightful with the bacon and onions. I absolutely loved it, the flavour was amazing and honestly, you could have this as a meal.

From there, I had ordered the hamburger. As you may know, I love hamburgers and am always keen to try them at restaurants that seem to have good food. So I ordered it and then watched as a few made their way out of the kitchen...

This kitchen...

The kitchen is open concept and lovely. You can see all the food being prepared while you chat. The room itself is gigantic, wide open, with tables spread quite far apart. It was a lovely way to spend a sunny lunch time. But back to the hamburger...

LOVELY! I was thoroughly excited to give it a go, but was disappointed. The meat patty seemed substantial, but it seemed to melt away every time you bit into it. It was like it kept sliding out of the side of the back but it just wasn't ever there. I don't know. The flavour was nice-ish, overseasoned in my view, but just not great. The fries were fantastic.

That being said, I would likely go back and would be interested in trying the brunch. I am going to attempt to make gnudi at home (with gluten-free flour) and see if I can make it anywhere near as lovely.

06 May 2009

When the cat's away...

G was out of town. And that means PORK for dinner!

I had always wanted to make a pork loin, but I didn't know where to start. I went to Cumbrae's and bought a small pork loin and came home and got online to find a recipe. I combined a few recipes and came up with a delicious pork loin!.

I marinated the pork loin in dijon mustard mixed with a little oil, a sprinkle of chili powder, rosemary, garlic, and salt. I then baked it in the overn until done. I then made a little dipping sauce of mayonnaise thinned out with a tiny bit of water and combined with a bit of paprika. I made a "risotto" with orzo pasta and peas, cooked in chicken broth and then mixed with butter and parmesan cheese. I finished the meal with the leftover bread from the canneloni I had made.



I have lived in Toronto now for about six years. For the most part, I love it. Good times, good restaurants, lots to do, it's all good. And for as long as I have lived here, I have heard about Terroni's and how amazing it is. And I've never eaten there.

So, G and I were around my office and decided to stop in to Terroni's for dinner. I had an amazing sausage pasta that went down an absolute treat...

The pasta was really well cooked, the sausage was spicy and not at all greasy with lots of cheese on top. Really delicious, and though likely very easy to cook, not something that I would ever make.

G ordered the gnocchi and it was amazing.

YUM! Really really really good. Fresh and lovely and delicious.


I went back a week or so later with a friend. We hadn't seen each other in some time and decided that we would go out for dinner, again somewhere near work. I had heard many many times that there margherita pizza was really fantastic and I was eager to give it a try. (No photos because I had forgotten my camera at home and it was too dark to use my iPhone camera...)

I ordered the pizza and it was 100% not all that great. It was boring and while the crust was good, it had this chlorine-y taste that didn't do it for me. I was really disappointed. Now that I am off wheat, I won't likely be going back there, but still. What a bunch of not delicious!

My Momma Sent Me Flowers.

She's the best!

02 May 2009

More Random Food.

As you may have guessed by today's somewhat continuous blogging, I am quite behind on my posts. There are a number of reasons, persistent illness topping the list, and I am determine to get fairly caught up so that I can start to blog more on the wheat-free things we are doing...

First up... a household favorite, HAMBURGERS!!! I love a solid cheeseburger with Baxter's Tomato Chutney. And with the new bottle recently acquired, hamburgers were not long off...

Yum!!! Some meat, tomato, sauteed onion and mushrooms, and lovely chutney. What an excellent hamburger and yeah for me for getting to eat it! How do you like your hamburgers? I prefer ground meat and salt and pepper only (this one was buffalo meat). In Canada, where I currently live, hamburgers tend to have lots of stuff in them like bread crumbs, egg, and flavorings. I am not so keen on that. How bout you?

Next...I made a lovely scrambled eggs on toast with creamy mushrooms. They mushrooms weren't too creamy because G is not a fan of creamy things, but with the soft cooked scrambled eggs, it was a very nice brunch...

The bread we used was leftover challah from Shabbat dinner, but it's funny because in this picture, it just looks like this giant log of bread!!!

Along the egg vein, I also used an idea found while reading Homesick Texan's blog and made me up some migas one morning. The migas I made were corn tortilla strips lightly fried in oil then mixed with eggs, cheese, and a little bit of salt and pepper. I didn't add onions or peppers because I was too lazy.

I also used a chipotle salsa (President's Choice brand) and served with a side of organic refried beans. It was a delcious meal that G has absolutley no interest in!!!

Homemade canneloni graced our table a few nights ago. I made Nigella Lawson's Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells from her Forever Summer cookbook, but used canneloni noodles instead of shells. I also don't gussy up the passata too much, I just add some basil and oregano and let the tomato-y flavour really sing.

This was delicious and absolutely decadent because we had some garlic bread on the side!!!

The last meal in this set, vegetarian risotto!

YUMMY! We used veg broth, mushrooms and parsley, cheese and butter and made up a lovely creamy risotto for one of our Vegetarian Nights. We have Veg Night every week or so with our friends upstairs, and this time it was our turn to cook! G came up with this amazing risotto and made everything because I had to work late! But the risotto was a success. We use the recipe from the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver's first cookbook.


Ahhhhhh. A steaming casserole of delicious macaroni and cheese. One of my most favorite things on the entire planet. As I was gearing up for going wheat free, I really wanted to have this mac one last time. Now that I am wheat-free, I know that I will find some recipes that will be wonderful and I already really enjoy the Tinkyada pasta, so I will no doubt use that for a helping, but I know that it's the end of the era and I really wanted to have a delicious helping. (Or three).

Here's the insides...served up in a big bowl...

I love using tube pasta for mac-n-cheese. You have to drain it really well and then stir it really well into the cheese sauce, but if you do that, it is just these delightful pockets of cheesey goodness all throughout. The crispy bread crumb topping works a treat, too.

The bad thing about mac-n-cheese for me is that I can eat an entire pan of it in one sitting. I will be horridly full, but it's so delicious!!! I have posted the recipe previously. You can find it here if you want it. And believe you me, you want it.

the Owl of Minerva (iPhone)

G and I were up in the Markham area and decided to go to one of the crazy restaurants we always drive by. I had heard of the Owl of Minerva before, so when we had randomly stopped at that strip mall, it felt like kismet. We had to go.

****All photos were taken on my iPhone. This means they are a bit crappier than usual.****

After you order, they bring your utensils to the table:

Oh yeah. Scissors. No knives, just scissors. Is this a traditional Korean food thing? Anyone?

Our orders made, we waited. For about two and a half seconds. Then our food came out. I had ordered the bibimbap and and a chicken bulgogi to share. OH MY GOODNESS!!! It was all so good, G barely had any buglogi. SORRY!

This was absolutely delicious. There was no posturing to be done, I was offered a fork and I thanked them for the same. I broke up the egg, stirred all of the bowls delicious and savory things together, and dug in after drowning it in a healthy amount of hot sauce. (I absolutely love thick sirachi style hot sauces.) The bulgogi was a healthy portion.

That picture doesn't do it justice.

Well, it was lovely. This is one of a couple of restaurants in the GTA, and I greatly enjoyed it! I really can't wait to go back!!!

Owl of Minerva on Urbanspoon

Trying Something New in the Neighborhood.

We were really excited to see a nice new diner open in our neighborhood and were keen to give it a try. We walked in to a restaurant that was, for the most part, totally empty. Their breakfast menu wasn't complete yet, so she told us what they had and then gave us the dinner menu.

It was an odd mix of stuff that didn't seem to make much sense. But what the hey, as the kids used to say, we ordered up some grub.

G had the fish and chips.

Hmmm. Frozen fish from a package (I believe) with okay fries and salad. It also came with some incredibly rich soup that G couldn't eat. It was okay. I mean, it wasn't bad, not at all, but it wasn't really good either. It;s just not something you'd go out to eat for, do you know what I mean?

I ordered the breakfast sandwich with bacon on a bagel. (I was about a week away from having to give up wheat, so I was a wee bit wheat happy.) Meh. The bagel wasn't toasted so it was too chewy to eat properly. It made a major mess.

The home fries were good. The tomato was yuck. It just didn't make sense, any of it. The sandwich was good, though. It had a nice mayo on it and the bacon was really nice and not fatty. I didn't NOT enjoy it, but I didn't enjoy it either.

So, I would maybe go back after they've been open for awhile (if they make it awhile), but it wasn't worth the money even though they decorated so nicely and were incredibly friendly. I am not giving the name because I didn't write overly nice things about the place. But if you live near Wellesley and Sherbourne, maybe give it a try and see what you think.


When G and I flew back from Cape Town, our flight stopped in the new terminal at London Heathrow. Wow. It is immense. With LOTS to do and I loved wandering the halls during our six hour layover.

We landed at about 6:30 in the morning, having had yet another english breakfast on the plane.

No stinky bacon, and while it's hard to tell from this pic, there's some gravy in the corner by the eggs. Why? I have no idea. But it was far better than the one we had on the way. That being said, when we landed in London, I wanted some real food.

Gordon Ramsay has a restaurant in Terminal 5 and I thought it would be cool to eat there. In front of the door, the menu was up and said "all day" so we thought it would be the menu "all day". Yes, it was an assumption (which did make an ass out of us), but still, it wasn't a stretch. As we walk in, I notice that everyone has breakfast. And I don't want it. So I ask the server if breakfast was the only thing on offer and when she said yep, we hightailed it out of there. I don't get it. I know it's breakfast TIME, but the fact is that most people have been on long-haul flights who most likely HAD breakfast on the plane. And people who have flights originating there have been up for HOURS in order to ensure that they get there on time, so ONLY breakfast seems stupid.

We end up next door at the Wagamama. THRILLING! I had never eaten at a Wagamama and really wanted to try it. We boldly and possibly abruptly inquired as to whether or not we could get the full menu, they said, "ABSOLUTELY! COME IN!" and we did.

WOW. It was actually really good (and REALLY expensive, but whatever, it's the airport and it's London). I love gyoza (or potstickers as they are called in Oklahoma!), and when I saw them on the menu, I knew they must be mine. And Yippie! They were delicious!

Five little perfectly cooked dumplings all for me. They were the chicken ones and they just bursted with perfectly cooked wrapper and soft, tender, juicy insides. Blurry innard shot coming up...

Yum yum yum. I tried to share with G, I really did. But I think she only had one. *shame*

For my main meal I ordered the Ginger Chicken Udon. YUMMY. It was really terrific and it hit the spot when a generous wallop of chili sauce was added...

Yum yum yum. So, no Wagamama's in my immediate future. *Sigh* Oh well, it was a perfect meal at 8am when I had been up for about 24 solid hours. It's one of those things that may never be that good again but the stars were aligned for it to work. Feeling fortified, I did some shopping, bought some books, and headed off to my plane. Satisfied!

A simple Sunday Morning.

A fried egg sandwich, my computer, and lovely orchids.


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