It seems as if almost every post I have written lately begins with some sort of apology for my infrequent blogging. A year of school, days in the garden, summer holidays… lots of reasons and excuses, but enough is enough already. I officially graduate in less than a week so school isn’t an excuse, the garden is (almost) ready for winter, and I’m attending a blogging conference just days from now. Gulp. Let me repeat that, the woman who has averaged about a blog a quarter is attending a conference. For food bloggers. Filled with people who write (and publish!) for a living. Double gulp. With that looming motivation in mind I pulled out my notebook and started looking at the list I’ve been keeping of topics I want to turn into brilliant, informative, funny or tasty stories. But where to start? Continue reading
I remember as a kid we always seemed to be fundraising for something. Girl Guide cookies, raffle tickets or boxes of citrus for band trips. I was never a massive fan of the fundraising but was a huge fan of the arrival of those big boxes of Florida oranges and grapefruit. Growing up in Ontario, Florida was a pretty common winter vacation spot for most of my friends. Maybe my friends got their fill of citrus on holiday, but the closest I ever got, or have been, to Florida was getting those big boxes of oranges and grapefruit. Makes me, almost, miss high school band…
I was a lot older, when I first saw grapefruit growing on a tree. I could not believe my eyes. Tree after tree so overloaded the fruit was falling on the ground around me. I gourged myself on that first trip. It was divine.
We’ve all heard of the actor who is an overnight success despite the fact that in reality they have been slaving away in summer stock, movies of the week, and children’s theatre for decades. Kale is kind of like that. Relegated for years as one of those vegetables that the “healthy” types eat, over the last few years it has been making a resurgence and, dare I say it, become rather trendy.
Hmmm….there’s a lesson in there. Just keep doing your thing, work hard, keep your head down, be honest and genuine and it will happen for you. Like the actress. And kale.
I love kale (which is a good thing since it seems to be the one thing I can reliably grow in my garden) and eat it quite frequently. I steam it, make chips and add it to soups and stews. Lately though I’ve been eating it raw. My favourite variation to date is in a simple chopped salad with beans and a spicy peanut dressing. It has shown up so frequently at meal times lately I might even be tempted to call it an overnight success.
How do you eat kale?
For the dressing:
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 4 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tsp. Braggs (or low sodium tamari)
- 4tsp dried ginger (or grated 1″ piece of fresh)
- red pepper flakes to taste
- Optional: splash of fish sauce
Simply mix all ingredients together in a mason jar (or other sealable container). Refrigerate. Remove from fridge at least one hour prior to use to allow peanut butter and coconut milk to liquify. The dressing will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
For the Salad:
- 1 bunch of mixed kale, cored and chopped
- Gado gado dressing
- Sprouted chick peas
- toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Wash, rinse and finely chop kale.
Place kale and chickpeas in bowl and lightly toss with dressing.
Sprinkle with seeds. Add salt, pepper and chili’s to taste.
I think I can, without jinxing myself, say spring has officially arrived in Vancouver. The morning air is still a bit cool, and there will still be monsoon rains to come, but the sun has a warmth to it that we have been missing for a long, long while. Trees and flowers are blooming, the birds are devouring the seed from the feeder daily and neighbours are stopping to say hello as I dig in the dirt. Yes. Hooray for spring.
Confession time. I hate leftovers. They make me a bit crazy. I’m impressed by people who can eat the identical thing for lunch that they ate the night before. But seriously? Don’t they get bored? To each their own, but when I sit down to a meal I want the food on my plate to look (and taste) differently than the last time I saw that same food. The challenge is that it makes life a whole lot easier (and usually healthier) if once or twice a week you prep and cook large batches of food for future eating. So what is a leftover snob supposed to do? For me, the answer (aside from keeping a well stocked pantry) is to prep and cook individual items rather than meals. Cut the vegetables, but don’t make the salad; cook and rinse the beans, but just store them for easy portioning; and cook the protein with just enough seasoning to keep it tender. Cook extra ingredients, not meals. That way there is always something to grab and go. Or, if you have time, lets you create something a bit more involved. Continue reading
I have a confession. I’m in love. My new love is green, small and occasionally a bit spicy. No, not a leprechaun, wrong season and country, but the padron pepper from Spain.
It boggles my mind that not only have I never really eaten them before, but that I haven’t been growing them myself. Don’t worry, I’ve already made a note to plant some next year. Thankfully, this year, my local farmers market has had lots for me to try. And try them I have. Continue reading
Zucchini, it is kind of an odd vegetable. Okay, maybe not that odd, but kind of odd.
Think about it. It often looks like a cucumber but is in actual fact a member of the squash family. It can be eaten cooked or raw and while it is most definitely a summer vegetable it is just as comfortable on a winter table. I don’t quite get it. I mean seriously? You can even eat the flowers. Now, it’s not as if the zucchini is some sort of “out there” esoteric vegetable. Quite the opposite. It is actually pretty common. It’s just that other than zucchini bread, for years it didn’t figure that high on my radar. And even then only if someone else made it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always eaten it and known it was good for me. It’s high in potassium, vitamin A and antioxidants. I have never disliked it, I have never quite understood how to use it so it’s not just one of those boring, good-for-you kind of vegetables.
Until last summer.
That was when thanks to the magic of a summer holiday, a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks and a friend more well versed in the subtleties of squash than I, it happened. I fell in love with this humble little vegetable.
Ah, weekends. How those days do beckon. To me there are three kinds of weekend people. The practical ones who actually relax, the determined-to-get-away (and have fun!)-even-if-it-means-I’ll-be-exhausted-at-the-end-of-it ones and the bury the head in the sand types who spend their days at their desks happy that the phone isn’t ringing as much and they can finally get some work done. Now practical people recognize that you need at least three days for a proper weekend. A day to wind down and get some things accomplished, a day to relax and a day to wind back up and get ready for the week ahead. But how many of us actually find the balance and do this? This past Victoria Day weekend I tried. I gardened, and then I took a nap. I went to a wedding, but then went to bookclub with my girls. I tried a new recipe and cooked dinner for family, but then stayed in my pj’s until noon. Not a bad balance all in all.
What I also did over the long weekend was download about a bazillion photographs and sort through some of my menu and cooking notes. As I was doing that I realized it had been awhile since I did a Cook(those)books recap. So if you need a bit of inspiration here are a couple of the recipes that have been new to my kitchen in the last while.
It is so green and spring like here. The garden is growing, the neighbourhood outdoor pool is beckoning and the farmers markets have officially opened for business. It however is definitely not summer. That does not make me a happy girl. The one thing that does make me happy is that the cooler weather means there is still some time to enjoy spring vegetables. After a week of travelling and eating delectably delicious (but exceptionally rich) food I have been craving the light, fresh taste of spring. I’ve had lettuce from the garden, simple chopped kale salads and radishes pulled fresh from the dirt. And peas. Lots of peas. I’ve had them curried, in salads, in the pod and as a quick and versatile pea pesto.
I haven’t been blogging or cooking much lately. I have lots of excuses but no real reasons. You all know what that’s like. Keeping so busy with the business of living you don’t have time to actually live. The other day while I was in the midst of paperwork I decided enough was enough and that it was really time I made myself a real lunch. Thankfully I had some beans in the fridge ready to go. Ten minutes later I had lunch. Warm and crispy cannellini beans with sage. Since I’m very aware that everyone has mealtimes that can easily get rushed, or worse yet forgotten, I thought I’d share.