When I was a kid my Mom, as most moms do, drove me crazy. As soon as tomato season started every time she would bite into a tomato, and I mean every time, she would swoon. Really. Not just get a bit excited, but the “do you need smelling salts’ kind of swoon. She would take one bite and in a fit of slight rapture she would exclaim “oh….. this is sooooooo good”. “Yes Mom, we know. They are good.” we would say. “No.” she would say, ” but these are SOOOOOOO good”. Sigh. As a teenager it was mortifying.
Polar vortex or not, it is officially spring. To celebrate I spent my spring break holiday in northern Canada where it is definitely still winter. Despite the winter weather I kept warm with bundled up walks along the ice covered river, days spent on the couch in my pajamas reading and a glass (or two) of restorative red wine.
But, after a relaxing week of warming holiday comfort food, and with optimism in mind, I’m craving the tastes of spring. One of the first crops that is poking up out of the ground this year are the radishes. Continue reading
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.
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.
There aren’t many things I am sure of in my life. Change is constant. There are a few though. Music, books, sunshine and that I adore pretty much all things Italian. Especially Italian food. ti adoro. The simplicity, the rich flavours, the seasonality. Closely related is the other thing I know for sure. That there is no way I could ever possibly grow enough basil to satisfy my love for it. So imagine my happiness when one of my greatest friends who is studying at The Richmond Farm School gave me a tour and showed me their basil greenhouse. What a deliciously happy and odiferous place.
The day kept getting better when I learned that they operated a farm stand with The Sharing Farm Society. I bought bunch after bunch. We’ve been eating it now, but most of it is being saved for later in the form of pesto. It might sounds cliche, but when the cold weather hits and summer is a very far off memory, having a stash of pesto made from high summer basil can be a sanity saver.
November seemed to be a slow month in the kitchen at my house. I must confess, the cook (those) books recipe challenge I set for myself hasn’t been going exceptionally well. I tried a few new meals last month, but not many, and very few exactly as written. Which, of course, was the challenge.
I promise that December will be all about cooking. There will be several new recipes that are challenge approved to start out the new year. In the meantime, here are a few of the November meals I tried that passed muster. Continue reading
There are days the sun is shining and you bound out of bed ready to scale mountains (or whatever your equivalent). There are other days when it is cold and gloomy out and it seems as if those mountains keep growing with every step you take. On those sort of days most people have their go-to comfort food. I am no exception. Not so surprisingly, mine includes noodles (with french fries being a very close second).
As a trainer and nutrition coach I shouldn’t admit this, but my absolute down in the depths meal is spaghetti noodles, with butter and sea salt (or truffle salt if I feel like splurging). I blame a high school friend with a ridiculously fast metabolism for introducing me to that. As an adult who knows a bit better I still go to pasta, but try to clean it up a bit.
I’ll be honest, the last few weeks the so called mountains have felt quite large. The butter and truffle salt are calling, but instead, this is what I had today. Buckwheat soba noodles with oven roasted onion, tomatoes and anchovies.
Sauce (for 2 people)
- 1 small sweet onion (vidalia), finely chopped
- a handful of small sweet cherry tomatoes cut in half
- a few glugs of olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried oregano or a few fresh sprigs
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 can oil packed anchovies, well drained and chopped (optional, but so tasty!)
- 2-3 tbsp white wine
- enough noodles (your choice) for 2
- shaved parmesan cheese and freshly torn basil leaves for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350degrees.
- Spread onions onto a rimmed baking sheet.
- Spread tomatoes in a layer on top of onions.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and oregano.
- Place baking tray in oven for approximately 45minutes until tomatoes and onions are soft but not browned.
- While tomato and onion mixture is baking, place drained anchovies in a large bowl and add a glug of wine and some fresh cracked pepper.
- When tomato mixture is cooked, turn off and let rest in the oven. Meanwhile boil some well salted water and cook pasta as per package instructions.
- When noodles are cooked, drain and add noodles, tomatoes and onions to anchovy mixture.
- Toss well.
- Serve with fresh parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper and torn basil. (a glass of red wine doesn’t hurt either)
“Manzo or cavallo?” These were the words directed at my husband as he ordered bresaola at the butcher in Morciano, Italy. Now before you run grab your translation dictionary let me help you out. Cow or horse. Hmmm. Not a choice I usually get from Ed my local butcher.
Now while I know some of you may shudder at either choice, I am pleased to say that he chose the cow.
So, with that cleared up, lets talk about Bresaola. I admit it, I’m addicted. Thankfully it isn’t that easy to obtain here in Vancouver (neither for that matter is horse. But that’s a different blog).
In Italy however this salted, air dried cured beef from the top inside round is quite easy to find.
If you haven’t tried it you’re missing out. Search it out at your local butcher. It is perfect and easy to make as an appetizer or a light summer meal (especially after a day on your cavallo!). Simply place the bresaola on a plate, squeeze some fresh lemon overtop and garnish with some shavings of fresh parmesan. For a bit more of a meal place on a bed of arugula. Enjoy.
And please, if you’re brave enough to try the cavallo bresaola let me know.