Robbie Burns and Scotch Eggs.

Let me first say that I am not Scottish by birth.

But I grew up with all things Scottish so I think that through osmosis I have absorbed some Scottish blood. I must have. Otherwise why would the sound of the bagpipes make me happy and the sight of men in kilts make me swoon? There is no other explanation. I don’t listen to the pipes often (or hang out with men in kilts for that matter) but to keep a little Scottish in my life I have adopted the annual tradition of a Burns dinner.

I spent most of my formative years thinking Robbie Burns day was just another night as my friends and I, performed the requisite highland dances at events and watched our parents drink, laugh and let loose. But as I grow older I have been able to look back and realize what great moments those were. I now realize that traditional or not, what a Robbie Burns day dinner has to offer is poetry, food, music and friends. Like all great meals it is a chance to gather and share. Last year I hosted my first annual Robbie Burns dinner. Just a small group of people but with lots of laughs, music, and good food. By purists standards probably not traditionally acceptable, but for my gang, just what the scotsman ordered.

Robbie Burns table Continue reading

Fights, friends & eggs in a cup.

It is said that friends are the family you choose. If that is the case I have a wonderful family indeed. In my everyday life I have amazing friends, many of whom I have written about and alluded to on my blog. But every couple of years I have the good fortune to usher in the New Year with another group of friends. A crazy, talented, beautiful gang of people affectionately know as my Paddy Family.

As with most things in life, I met that group of people through a funny, serendipitious chain of events. Over 10 years ago I was working at an arts organization and met a man who introduced me to The Paddy Crean workshop. The Paddy Crean is a week long international workshop that celebrates sword fighting, stage combat, historical martial arts, stunt performers, actors and educators and is held at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Since I was living in Calgary at the time I thought “why not?”, and I went. And from that very first moment so many years ago when I stood in a dance studio surrounded by sword fighters and questioned my sanity (and which end of the sword to hold) I began meeting people who would forever change my life.

Swords Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

Baked eggs.

Breakfast.  We’ve all heard it before.  It’s the most important meal of the day.

Break. The. Fast.

Fitness and health advice aside, it only makes sense that if you’ve gone several hours without eating (as most people do while they are sleeping) the next meal you eat should be nutritionally sound and psychologically satisfying.  That said, I am completely not a breakfast person.  Given the choice I would have my cup of green tea upon waking, followed by some coffee, and then food about 5 hours later.  For years that is exactly what I did.  Ah youth.  Then, in my early years of personal training and fitness competing I got a bit smarter.  Getting up at 430 in the morning I would swallow down a protein shake to start the day and then a few hours later be ready to eat real food.  Yuck.

It should come as no surprise then that I’m not really the breakfast person in my house.  I make a killer porridge, a nutritional protein smoothie and great fried egg sandwich but that’s where it ends.  Although, I should note at this point that I’m obviously I’m not including bacon in my ineptitude.  Of course I can cook bacon.  But it’s a separate food group.  “Vitamin P”.  It doesn’t count.  Bacon aside, if you visit, and want a good breakfast, make friends with my husband.  He’s the man for the job.

All that said, it’s the holidays, I have no need to be awake at the crack of dawn and I have  a house guest.  When a friend egg sandwich or shake just won’t cut it, there’s only one other thing in my repertoire.  Baked eggs.  They look far fancier than they are and they are easily adaptable for almost any cheese, vegetable or protein you might have in your refrigerator.  And, if you’re one of those brave enough souls to invite people over for brunch they are a wonderful protein addition to your menu.

Ingredients 

(makes 2 small and 1 medium ramekin, or 4 small)

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 4 tbsps extra old cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 cup spinach, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp cream (completely optional, but adds a wonderful richness)

Other great options:  carmelized onions, pancetta, mushrooms, havarti/blue/goats cheese, arugula, oven roasted tomato, thyme, basil, oregano, curry powder…. the list is endless!

Method

  • Lightly oil or butter small to medium size ramekins.  Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a small bowl lightly beat all eggs.  Whisk in dijon mustard.
  • Add a touch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Evenly divide half of the cheese and spinach between the ramekins. (place on bottom).
  • Whisk remaining cheese and spinach (or other vegetables) into eggs.
  • Pour egg mixture into ramekins.
  • Place ramekins in a baking dish with about 1-2cm of water.
  • Place in oven and bake until cooked.  Depending on oven this will be 15-30 minutes.  My gas oven at 350 takes about 20 minutes.

The best part is, these really don’t just have to be for breakfast.

Monday musings, and meatloaf.

We are raised to believe that Mondays aren’t to be trusted.  Monday, Monday.  Can’t trust that day.  Back to work, back to school, the fun of the weekend is over….it’s just another Manic Monday after all.  But what happens  if you want to play a different tune?

Hmmm…. my positive Monday song lyric search is coming up a blank.

When I awoke, several hours before my alarm, that was all I could think of.  I’m self employed and even I was dreading Monday morning.  (Rainy days and Mondays…) I make my own schedule and still – Yikes!   Tell me why I don’t like Mondays…

So, I did what any normal adult would do (well, normal to me).  I read a cookbbook.  I made a great list of Meatless Monday ideas and then thought “now what”.  Meatloaf.

Okay.  SO not meatless….

Now I’m not a vegetarian and I don’t pretend to be.  But for many reasons I am trying to eat less meat.   Sometimes though comfort food is the way to go.  This week it was meatloaf. Meatloaf it a very personal thing with endless possible variations.   This is my go to version. Tasty and easy it also has a few hidden ingredients to up the “healthy” quotient a bit (which also makes it a great way to sneak in some vegetables at the dinner table).

Now if only Meatloaf had written a song about Mondays.

Ingredients

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 2 whole eggs or 4 egg whites
  • 1c. panko
  • 1 c. shredded brussel sprouts or 1 c finely chopped kale
  • 1 bunch italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion or 4-6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 c milk
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
Method
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix all ingredients, except ketchup and maple syrup, in a large bowl.
  • Place mixture in a loaf pan.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • While cooking mix the tomato paste and syrup in a small bowl.
  • When meatloaf has been cooking for 45 minutes, remove tin foil, spread the tomato and syrup on the top.  Bake another 5-10 minutes until sauce has crisped.
Serve with roasted vegetables and a fresh green salad.