Foodie Penpals. When new friends meet old friends.

You know how it is when you throw a party and you have to decide who to invite? Do you invite every person you’ve ever known, only those who all know each other or a random mix? It’s always interesting when people from different spheres of your life meet. Sometimes it works (“wow – how come I’ve never met them before? They’re awesome!) and sometimes, it doesn’t (“umm I’m glad you like them, but I don’t get it…”). But whatever happens it is always interesting. The Foodie Penpal program is a bit like that. You meet someone online, learn a bit about them, and you mail them a parcel based on what you have discovered in that brief encounter. Awesome.

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A travellers breakfast.

It is no secret that I’m not a breakfast person. I (sort of) like breakfast food, I just don’t tend to like it at breakfast time. I had a coach once (you know who you are) who tried to get me to eat steak or chicken for breakfast – at five in the morning. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I have great respect for those of you who can roll out of bed and get the fuel you need. But ugh. I’ve done it. Begrudgingly. Let me wake up, have a cup of tea, putter around for a couple of hours, have a cup of coffee and then, maybe, I’ll feel like eating. When I do eat, please do not let it something gross like cereal. Anyone have a recipe for breakfast noodles?

Add a poached egg & this would be my perfect breakfast!

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Cook (those) books recipe report.

Earlier in October I presented the Cook (those) books challenge.  Simply, the goal was to cook two brand new recipes a week exactly as written in the recipe.   Two weeks in and I’ve had some hits and misses.  Here’s what I tried.

First up was my choice.  Black Pepper Tempeh from Super Natural Every Day.  While any recipe by Heidi Swanson is usually a winner, this one was teeming with the potential for disaster.  The major ones being that neither of us are huge fans of tempeh or cauliflower, the two key ingredients.  This of course begs the question “why choose it then?”.  My only answer to that would be because that’s the point of the challenge!  Visually I can’t say it was too appetizing, but it sure did taste good.  It was a bit sweet for me, but had lots of zest and nice and fiery.   Best part, it (surprisingly) made a great cold lunch the next day with a bit of thai chili sauce added for extra spice.  Keeper number one.

Second up was my husbands choice.  Crunchy Garlic Chicken from Jamie’s Food Revolution .  Now this one should have been a no brainer.  Sadly, while it tasted quite good I was forced to adapt the recipe to make it work.  Despite both of us reading the recipe several times over we could not figure out how to get the crust to actually coat the chicken.  I finally gave up and added about a cup of panko and it worked perfectly.  The next day we took leftovers and chopped them over some pasta, in the Italian style of adding breadcrumbs, which was delicious.  I’d make this again for sure, but unless Jamie wants to come and show me himself how to make it work I would add the extra panko.

On to week two.

The week started out well with the best recipe yet.  My husband chose braised short ribs from the Earth to Table Cookbook by Jeff Crump.  I am yet to make a recipe from this cookbook that isn’t a success and this was no exception.  Beef short ribs are always a bargain from the butcher. and the recipe was super simple.  After only 3 hours cooking these were tender and flavourful beyond belief.  Thankfully there was extra sauce as the next day it was heavenly over some fresh fettuccini.  Absolute keeper number two.

Sadly the week went downhill from there.  I made an amazing recipe based on a dish from The Glorious Pasta of Italy but to be fair, it can’t count towards the challenge as I changed it up a bit based on availability of ingredients.  However, I did manage to use the last of the leftover chicken from the Jamie Oliver recipe – so maybe that brings it back in the running. As always though I highly recommend this cookbook and, after I’ve experimented with my variation a bit more I’ll share it too.

Also attempted were pumpkin muffins adapted from a recipe on allrecipes.com and some jalapeno tea biscuits that tasted good but were a complete disaster as biscuits (I’m not even going to share where this recipe came from).  These two recipes just convinced me, yet again, that baking just is not my thing.

So all in all I’d say these last two weeks were a success.  Some brand new by the book recipes and some more great ideas.  Stay tuned to see what this week will bring.

So many recipes, so little time.

How to peel a tomato.

This was not the post I planned for today.  But then something happened.

Yesterday, as I was prepping 40lbs of beautiful field tomatoes for the freezer a friend innocently asked  “is that how you peel tomatoes?”.  It was then that I realized that every year when I freeze tomatoes (or peaches) I get the same question.

So folks,  here ya go.

First.  Get some tomatoes.

Next, boil some water in a large pot and set a large bowl of cold water next to the stove.  When the water is boiling use a slotted spoon and place them into the water.

Watch them until the skin splits.  As soon as the skin splits use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes and place them in the cold bowl of water.

Place the bowl in sink, and if the water has warmed add more cold water.  It is important not to let the tomatoes actually cook at this stage.  You just want to be able to peel the skin.

Peel off the skin.

That’s it.  You’re done.

What you do now is up to you.  You could leave them whole, core them, slice them, quarter them, mash them, seed and puree them, your options are endless.  This batch I just quartered and put into freezer bags.

Now they just sit in the freezer and wait for the winter rains as a little mealtime reminder that summer always comes back.