Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Blog!

Not to say this one is done for... but I have a new blog, on journalism:

Please enjoy :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An illustrated guide to a sandwich.

Here I am again with no photos to show you, so I'll have to paint you a word picture.

My summer grocery trips have not generally been well-planned. I'm ending up with sad, clam-shelled mixed salad greens because I can convince myself at the store that I'll totally make salads to eat with lunch and dinner for the next week. That doesn't happen.

Instead I'm all about the sandwiches.

June saw plenty of tomato-basil sandwiches, often complemented by whatever cheese I had around the fridge, and a few slices of avocado.

During Stampede there were asparagus-tomato sandwiches slathered with Bulls-Eye Barbecue Sauce on crusty buns from Rustic Sourdough Bakery (via Kingsland Farmers' Market).

Last week I picked up a loaf of "European" bread from a vendor at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers' Market. It may have been a sort of light rye. All that I'm sure of is that it was good. That led to tomato-thyme-lettuce between slices of bread.

Now, I'm all about building a work-appropriate sandwich. This had nothing to do with immodest dressings, of course. Profanity could occur if you are not careful in the pre-office construction of the sandwich.

I've tried two approaches so far, both with delightful results. Now, I assume that most of my humble assemblage of readers are at least somewhat versed in sandwich-making, so don't think I'm trying to insult anyone's lunchtime intelligence. It's just that I'm so pleased at how much better my work sandwiches are these days that I was inspired to share this with you at 1 a.m.

1. Make a sandwich of cheese slices and a condiment that won't become disgusting and coagulated (Good: pesto. Bad: mayo, I assume) in a toaster. Wrap it as you would normally. Separately, wrap/contain all those juicy, messy, moist veggies: today was tomatoes, lettuce and pickles. Toast the bread-cheese portion of the sandwich to desired melty crispiness when mealtime rolls around, then place your veggies between bread slices and you're good to go. (See illustration for clarification as necessary.)
2. Make a sandwich of cheese slices (today was applewood smoked cheddar — a boon to vegetarians who are former admirers of smokey, salty bacon) and any condiments that will complement your chosen veg. Wrap that baby up. Choose and wrap your veg, as above. When mealtime arrives, assemble those two parts, and enjoy a fresh, non-soggy sandwich!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Salsa Hangover

I spent much of this weekend dashing between places. From home to work; work to Folk Fest; Folk Fest home and then back again 11 hours later; back home and then Sun & Salsa Festival.

I ate so much salsa today, folks. There were purportedly over 40 salsas at the Salsa Fest, which we, the eaters, are supposed to vote on. I've been to the festival at least 4 times, but have never formally voted. I haven't even seen the opportunity to vote in recent years. Ah well.

Some of it was cheap or bland or salty. Some of it was so, so good. I didn't take notes; as you may know, it is hard enough to balance a platter of multigrain Tostitos and a teetering tower of teeny salsa samples, but add in a pen and notepad? Nuh uh.

Standouts included the Naked Leaf with a peach-mango salsa (c/o Una Pizza+Wine) that was beautifully complemented by organic ginger-peach tea leaves (that's assuming memory serves me right after a conversation with owner Jonathan; he tells me the tea is reminiscent of chai, but isn't quite there. A seriously cool tea shop, my friends. I wrote a little story about it in my early days as a journalist).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Putting a face to a cake

Can you smell that?
Those little donuts
No, not the banana bread, or the date squares. And it's not the mojito or the brewed ice tea with homemade ginger syrup. It's not even the deep dish pizza or the vat of hummus and it's certainly not mini donuts.

That, my friends, is Blogger's Guilt. So I am writing this to break the seal, and hopefully a flood of blog posts will come pouring out. It could happen, right?

I baked into a new frontier last week, actually. I baked a birthday cake from scratch, made icing (from scratch) and decorated it with an astonishing likeness of the birthday boy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Salsa & Beans! Tortillas & Rice!

This week I got promoted from “We’re assessing your abilities as a copy editor” to “You’re a copy editor!” I’m stoked that I’m an official employee, but there is a bit of uncertainty because my shifts revolve more around gaps in the schedule than they did before. At first I let that bother me, but then I remembered my horoscope, having read it in Metro on the way to work. It said something about how there would be some unexpected changes in my life on that day, but that it would only be a problem if I let it be. (Really, it’s not a horoscope at all, but it is solid advice to live by.)

And in talking to some of my coworkers, I’ve been assured that there are plenty of people going on vacation who I will be able to cover for.

But in food news: I made some fantastic Mexican-like food (I’m hesitant to call it straight Mexican because who am I to declare such authenticity?).

First: the Tortillas.

I love this recipe for tortillas from Homesick Texan. She has tonnes of great Tex-Mex recipes on her website, and plenty of them are easily turned vegetarian. While I’ve made a couple different tortilla recipes, this one is great because it uses a miniscule 2 teaspoons of oil, as opposed to 5 tbsp of shortening like the recipe in the Rebar cookbook. (Side note: does anyone else have the Rebar cookbook? I haven’t used it in a while because they have so many fancy ingredients, but it really does have good stuff in it. Next on the to-buy list: The Coup cookbook!)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Calgary Food Blogger Bake Sale!

Hoo! After a feverish morning of baking delicious desserts, I am finally ready to tell you about the Food Blogger Bake Sale!

Saturday and Sunday at Market Collective in Kensington there is going to be a table chock full of fabulous and varied desserts. You ain't seen a bake sale until you've seen the Calgary Food Blogger Bake sale!

There is more information available from Vincci at ceci n'est pas un food blog. Vincci organized this entire thing from scratch and I have no doubt that it will bring smiles and sugar highs to hundreds this weekend.

My contribution is lemon-shortbread squares. It's like a cookie slathered in lemon curd. Hell yeah!

I'll be blogging it properly when I return from a lovely little excursion to the delightful mountain town of Canmore, Alberta!

Recipe right here!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Putting the Veg in "Vegedible"

All this cloud and rain makes it tough to feel like it's summertime. It's tough on my little business-casual wardrobe too; I could get a  lot more use out of it if I could pull on a skirt a couple times a week.
Beer & a Burger

But despite that, it is only a few days away from that actual, literal first day of summer. I'm going to use these cloudy, cloudy days as time to stock up on vitamins. I'm going to start sticking to our friendly government's recommendations for eating veggies, because I've gotten into a pretty unfortunate habit of eating food that's pale and greasy. Also pizza (ah, pizza). And as good as pale and greasy is (ugh, that even sounds gross), I'm pretty sure this bod would prefer dark green and orange and steamed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fresh Pasta and Goat Cheese-Tomato Sauce

Despite the three-hour preparation time, I am positive that I will be making pasta from scratch again and a again.

Most of my experience with homemade pasta has been in restaurants where a plateful is priced exorbitantly but is so silky and flavourful that you really can’t blame them for charging $20 for some tomatoes, a few eggs and a cup of flour.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Farmerless Market (Updated)

Aw dang.

I got to the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers' Market around 6:45 this evening. I knew it was running 3:30 to 7:30 and that my late arrival might decrease my chances of finding my coveted local asparagus, but I actually had a pretty busy early evening.
My plan was to find a bunch of lovely – if expensive – local veggies, steam or roast them and pour vegan gravy on top. But there were no vegetables to be found.

OK, I think I saw some hydroponic bio-dynamic scallions sticking out of a basket, but I certainly didn't see any of the B.C. fruit or local veg that was touted by the HSFM website.

We went and bought the fixin's for tacos instead at Safeway. Walking back through the farmer's market with a plastic Safeway bag (I somehow dropped my reusable on the floor of my closet instead of putting it in my purse. Can't tell ya how I managed that) almost felt like it should be shameful. But, irked as we were that there were no vegetables to be seen, the shame was gone almost immediately (also the thought of tacos helped).

I couldn't help but tweet my disappointment when I got home.
Though nobody from the Market has been available to give me the scoop yet, at least I wasn't alone:
Oh well. My assumption is that the vendors sold out and headed out once their wares were gone. I only bought things a few times there last year – I think it was either because they didn't have the vegetables I was interested in, or because we were taking regular trips to Crossroads. However, I would really like to be able to pick up some fresher, more local items there this year, seeing as it's so very close to my apartment.

Stuff I did see? Mead, some frozen pizzas, bison meat, a bouncy castle, kids playing soccer, Thai food, and some surprisingly entertaining music (although I don't think that will be a regular feature).

I will do my best to hit up earlier next time and find something delightful to report back!

(P.S.: My buddy Kelsey wrote up an article for Beatroute about Farmers' Markets in Calgary!)

An update!

Lunch time!

I don't want to jump the gun here, but it's starting to actually look like spring again! For those of you not in Calgary: we've seen a lot of snow and snow-rain in the past couple of weeks and we're quite tired of it all. Plus, it makes the #yyc feed on Twitter pretty redundant, "I'm so mad, I woke up to snow," "I'm also mad, due to the snow."

Today is the first day of the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers' Market! It's a few hours yet until it opens, but I will be there to scope out the goodies, and perhaps even take a few snaps to share with you folks later! (Here I go, overselling the probably post-less reality again...a girl can dream!)

Thanks to a friendly and encouraging reminder from Monica, I'm finally posting about one of my work lunches!

This was yesterday's rather large meal. It was the second day in a row that I felt super full without finishing it all. From top: avocado and hummus on pumpernickel; half an Everything bagel with cream cheese I mixed with dried thyme, onion powder and pepper; guacamole; soba noodles in tom yum soup with broccoli and spinach; cuke slices to dip in the guac. Not pictured: banana!

Since I work slightly odd hours form 3-10 most days, this serves as a late lunch and late supper. Unfortunately, my soup was real short on flavour, so I mostly just picked out the veggies and ate some of the noodles (Soba = amazing, btw. Will post on that eventually.)

Last week's meals featured peanut butter and jam sandwiches (with homemade blueberry jam from last summer!), lots of steamed asparagus and Tricuits.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Food Mayors Like

I’ve started reading the National Post with some regularity because we get copies of the paper at work. I’m a sucker for their design, use of illustration and even a decent dose of humour.

There is, however, a little twinge of smug superiority whenever I open the paper. That’s because last fall, a few of my friends and I applied for internship positions at the Post. They had reporter positions through the different sections, and copy editing spots. Time passed and they emailed our internship coordinator to tell him that they weren’t interested in hiring any of us because (I’m paraphrasing here) we didn’t have daily experience and we didn’t want to write about business.

So besides the fact that internships are generally important for getting such experience, and that at least one of us had worked at a large daily, the smug superiority comes from the copy editing errors that I keep finding (Come on: “slinger” instead of “singer” on the Arts front?). But enough about work!

Here comes the (just barely) food part of this mashup!

The Post interviewed a few mayors at the Federation of Municipalities conference in Toronto. The brief Q&As are pretty similar in their queries: What do you envy about Toronto? If you had to, where would you move? What food best represents your city? How do you spell South Dildo?

Bronco wasn’t included in the article, but I just imagine his answers were the same as Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel’s answer; that is, he doesn’t envy anything about Toronto, and has challenges with the oil industry. Probably would say beef is more iconic than perogies though.

The worst response was Pat Fiacco in Regina. He said they have the best pizza in the country (that’s certainly debatable). And then he said that Regina is like a panda bear: “They’re adorable and charming.” Hey, Pat! They’re also ridiculously poorly evolved animals: the stomach of a carnivore, but they eat undigestible bamboo; they have to eat all day because they can’t process the bamboo properly; they can’t live together because they can’t afford to share food; the females are only able to conceive three days a year; if they miraculously find a mate on one of those three days AND they conceive, they have twins, but only raise the least-runty one, and leave the other one to die.

I’m not sure what the Saskatchewan metaphor should be with those facts in mind, but I just thought it was important to put that information out there.

Gregor Robertson in Vancouver said that the city’s most iconic food is wild sock-eye salmon. He then went on to say that if Vancouver was an animal, it would be a wild sock-eye salmon: “it serves a lot of roles in our city.”

OK, it made me laugh heartily inside my head.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cafés and Employment

I am sitting in a coffee shop with a dark, burly Americano between me and my keyboard. This simple ritual is fast becoming a favourite. I’m staying open-minded about the elements of the ritual, though. It doesn’t have to be a strict equation of me + coffee + coffee house. I’ve explored me + two pints + Neapolitan pizza, and that was just fabulous.

As I was saying, I am sitting in a coffee shop. It’s one of many in this little neighbourhood that is so well-known for its lattes, tea shops and hippies. But today, Vendome wins out thanks to @ugonnaeatthat’s latest blog post.

I made my way over here, following a path behind the C-Train tracks, and past a small flock of ravenous pigeons. The café is furnished with dark wood tables and chairs, and a panoramic photo of historic Calgary. This is the second time I’ve visited now. Last time I had a mocha, and to be quite honest it was no better than a mocha from Second Cup. But this time, I indulged in a $6.95 croissant sandwich with spinach, mushrooms, emmenthal and gruyere to go with my Americano. Now, I’m stuck in this delightfully drawn-out eating affair where I feel like I could eat the crisp and soft and buttery slab of glee in the time it takes to shotgun a can of Lucky Lager. But I've managed to control that side of myself and the one that's won out is the side that wants to cut the sandwich into dainty pieces — with this ineffectual butter knife —and savour every bite.

Okay, poetry over. I finished eating my sandwich.

Today, a Friday, marks the last day of official unemployment for me, at least for a few weeks. And friends, there is so much good about this job (she says, before working a single hour). It’s journalism-related, I got it thanks to a recommendation from one of my profs and it requires my brain. While typing up a job-hunt spreadsheet earlier this week, I started to consider serving and bartending positions, because I did spend nearly three years cultivating those skills before being booted out of the bar. But I am very thankful that this new job is based on a rather different skill set that has cost me thousands of dollars to develop over the past four years.

I like to call it a “real-person” job, at least to whatever extent you can call journalism a “real” job. Maybe “real” is the wrong adjective, because of course it’s literally real. Any fellow journalists will know what I mean. In this context, I mean it’s a job where I go to a place and do a thing — or things — for a bunch of consecutive hours. Often while sitting in a chair. That makes it sound boring, but I am really excited.

You may soon be treated to posts about what I pack in my lunch box. How cute will that be?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Contemplating the grocery bill

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about my lack of productive writing. What is inspiring about a flashing cursor and an off-white window frame in OS X? ( It’s OS 10.4 by the way, I’m still taming the Tiger up in here)

Right now I’m reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

At parts, I can hardly make my way through it. That’s not a reflection of the writing, because the writing is beautiful:

I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel love about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby—I just don’t care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it’s mine. Because is looks exactly like me. It can barf all over me if it wants to—I just don’t care.

I’m on page 45 and that quote is from 42. Maybe it’s weird that I chose that quote because a) I can’t relate to the travel bit or the baby bit, and b) I don’t remember reading it, even though I certainly read around it while eating lunch in a cute café this afternoon. I really do like it though.

But I am having severe trouble staying focused on this book that is written so much like I would write it (had I the skill, of course, and hopefully minus the crippling depression that hung over the first couple dozen pages). I suppose it is because Liz (she calls herself that, so I feel like I should, too) is being so personal that I’m inclined to mull over my own life decisions. For me, there’s not a whole lot to reflect upon at 21, but there is a very significant and encouraging outlook.

And not to suddenly change the mood, but damn I need to invest myself in the job hunt. How about Monday? In the intervening hours, let’s ruminate on my latest grocery purchase. I am going to be honest, in the spirit of Ms. Gilbert, because this was not a well-planned grocery outing…

I’ll start at the top with that lovely romaine lettuce. I bought it Monday and haven’t sampled it yet. Yeah. The tomatoes; I’ve managed to eat 90 per cent of both of them, but the last bits are stored together in a Ziploc container, awaiting something better. On their left (our right) are a couple of cans of soup because it was snowing the day I went shopping and I kind of wanted soup. Apparently I wanted soup enough to stand in the soup aisle ruminating for 15 minutes, but not enough to actually eat the soups, which remain in my pantry, but at least they're not perishable like my romaine.

may3 groceries

Then there’s my deodorant.

I mostly bought the frozen OJ because I had white wine-citrus sangria in my fridge for a week and every morning I briefly thought it was orange juice, then, devastated, remembered it was spiked with three kinds of booze and was not an appropriate accompaniment to my multivitamin.

If you’ll look across the bottom of the photo, you’ll notice a couple bags of perogies. Another moment of weakness, perhaps, but those two bags equal $5 worth of potatoes, cheese and egg albumen (I dunno what that is, but it’s in the ingredients). Part of a well-balanced diet, when paired with that romaine. Oh! And that Frozen Whole Leaf Spinach underneath the two tomatoes. That’s been absent from my meals, too.

Then there’s the onion. Safeway has the grossest-looking onions.

I bought two $0.49-packages of Mr. Noodles. What is it exactly that inspires me to do such things? I’m no pro, but I’m capable of creating a pretty satisfying meal out of ingredients such as the ones I mention just a couple paragraphs above. Yet I bought instant ramen. And then I ate it on two consecutive nights. Confession over.

And we end on Silk Vanilla fortified soy beverage—more familiarly referred to as soy milk. Am I alone in feeling just a teensy bit uncomfortable with soy milk these days? Food Inc. made me feel like all the soy beans in existence were evil. Oh well, it’s delicious.

So there you have it. And in the spirit of the unbelievable budgeters over at 30 Bucks A Week, here’s a scan of my rather overpriced receipt.

the receipt

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More talk of journalism

I just want to write. Ideally, I want to write in a way that yields money so that I can continue to write instead of doing things like mixing hiballs or pulling shots of espresso. School has ended and instead of putting my nose to a grindstone (AKA MacBook screen) searching for jobs, I’ve sort of just been reveling in this newfound existence of mine.

Zoey's first freelance checque
This is the envelope that my first freelance checque came in. I will remember it always, for its crumples and tears.

I’ve now conquered four years of post-secondary. Much of that schooling took place while I had two jobs. Now, I’m unemployed and out of school for the first time since getting my first real-ish job at the Saddledome when I was 15.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A discovery: In which I tweet in square brackets instead of on Twitter

I’ve been inhabiting an otherwise empty house for the past week and I think it’s had an effect on my tweeting habits. I stated officially (in an officious class presentation about Twitter) [I just learned the word officious.] that you shouldn’t be afraid to Tweet, because people following you are doing so because they enjoy what you have to say. [I abhor telemarketers who don’t leave messages. I would call back if they left messages.] Even so, I feel uncomfortable clogging up my channel with the fairly mundane narration of my life.

But having nobody to speak to while I am sitting at home lamenting my workload, or, conversely, while I am sitting at home feeling particularly inspired, has resulted in more tweeting. [Almost time to break out yesterday’s enchilada’s, methinks.] I’m a bit addicted to Twitter, I guess. It’s been dubbed micro-blogging, and I think that’s accurate. There’s still a chance to [why are there no synonyms for the verb version of craft?] articulate yourself intelligently, but you’re not as pressured to produce something substantial.

Maybe that’s the problem with me and Vegediblogging lately. I feel so much pressure to produce something that fits the criteria of my three blogging communities or even just something that I've made out of the blue, that I just put it off, put it off, put if off. In fact, I even made onion jelly for last month’s can jam, but still haven’t posted it.

This didn’t start out as a post to relinquish me from my posting duties. But I think this quasi-stream of consciousness has led me to the point where I needed to come. I’m a word addict and I do love blogging, but I have to find a way to make it work for me.

Let’s try this: I’ll start blogging things other than recipes (but recipes too!) that reflect me a little bit more. Things like my burgeoning pipe dream [gosh, pipe dream sounds a lot like pipe bomb. Wondering about the etymology of the phrase] to sell mustard at the farmer’s market across the street, or links to other food and journalism blogs that entice my taste cells and brain buds.

Yes, let’s try that.

(PS: I was totally going to post photos but Photoshop keeps freezing when I do simple things like press file + open. Sad.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daring Cooks March: Risotto

Ready to roast
The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

If you've ever watched an episode of Hell's Kitchen, chances are good that you've probably seen Gordon Ramsay dropping f-bombs all over the place. Chances are also good that a few of them were dropped over risotto: too salty, too bland, too mushy, too firm! Well, friends, I certainly hope that hasn't made risotto into some unattainable dish in your mind; something that you'll never hope to recreate at home with $5 worth of ingredients and something you'll have to plunk down $19 for, or even $27 because restaurants really like to put seafood and sausage in there.

To make a tasty risotto, you could really get by with just broth, an appropriate breed of rice and oil. If you've got more than three ingredients in your pantry, add butter, cheese, onions/shallots/leeks and some fresh cracked black pepper.

For this challenge, I used arborio rice, which is a short-grain variety that cooks up firm, creamy and chewy. I would have loved to use some soft, pungent goat cheese and shallots, but I decided to stay reasonable and instead used feta cheese and a leek I bought at Wal-Mart (I can't believe I bought produce at Wal-Mart!). I used dehydrated mushrooms for the first time, and though I wasn't super impressed with them, I will give them another chance.

Other than preparing the risotto, we also had to make our own stock. There was no mandated veggie stock recipe, so I worked with one from Epicurious and made my own edits based on what I had on hand. A good veggie stock is pleasantly simple.

Basic Roasted Vegedible Stock
adapted from Epicurious 
  • 8-10 crimini mushrooms, halved
  • 1 medium onion, chopped into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 carrots, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped in 1-inch pieces
  • Any vegetable ends you've been saving in the freezer
  • 4 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 litres of water
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a roasting pan (I use a pyrex casserole dish), toss together veggies, garlic, thyme and oil.
  3. Roast in middle of oven, turning occassionaly, for 30-40 minutes or until veggies are browning
  4. Remove pan from oven and transfer veggies to stock pot. Deglaze the roasting pan with 1 cup of white wine, by boiling it for 2 minutes, and scraping down the sides of the pan. Or, do like I did and just pour the wine in, scrape a bit and dump it into the stock pot.
  5. Add bay leaves and water to the stock pot, bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Strain stock, pushing against the veggie solids to release their juices. Season with salt and pepper. Stock should keep one week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
Once you're ready to make the risotto, head on over to the Daring Kitchen for the recipe.

I forgot to save some wine for the risotto (i.e. I drank it all the night before after making the stock) so if you also forget, just use some broth instead. I actually forgot to do that part too... And then I got confused because I hadn't measure out the stock I needed, I just heated up the stock I made the night before and added it a bit at a time, like when I normally make risotto. So I suggest that you measure out the amount of stock required, because otherwise the directions are very confusing.
My final risotto was spinach, feta, leek and mushroom. Not runny, not too firm, not too mushy and not at all crunchy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A condiment for what ales you

condiment ˌkɒndɪm(ə)nt
a substance such as salt or ketchup that is used to add flavor to food.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin condimentum, from condire ‘to pickle.’

I really, really, really like condiments. Once, I read a blog post by dee Hobsbawn-Smith and she wrote that her fridge was full of homemade condiments. That was a couple of years ago, and at the time I couldn't really picture what kind of condiments she could possibly have in there. What condiments can you actually reproduce at home?
Beer, vinegar, mustard and seasonings marinating in a 1L jar.

As you may have guessed, I've been enlightened in the last year or so. In fact, my own fridge is home to a fair collection of homemade sauces and toppings: mixed pepper relish, hot pepper jelly, ketchup, pickled peppers, honey-lemon marmalade, blueberry jam, and, most recently, a delicious grainy mustard.
Before blending.
After blending.

This mustard has a bit of heat, a dash of texture and a wallop of flavour. Now, it's your turn to make it.

A Spicy Mustard for what Ales you
Adapted lovingly from pictures and pancakes
yields 3 1/2 cups

1 341 ml oz bottle McNally’s Extra Ale (or Guinness, or any other dark, flavourful beer. Don't use Bud Light Lime)
10 oz (300 gr) brown mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamo
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp turmeric (for colour, skip if desired)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive mixing bowl (i.e. not aluminum) or a 1-litre jar. Cover with plastic wrap, or a lid, and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 days.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and purée, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Process until most of the seeds are coarsley ground and the mixture thickens.
  4. Transfer to jars and refrigerate up to six months. 
  5. You may find the mustard slightly bitter at first. I liked mine more after it had mellowed out in the fridge for a week or so. Of course, results will vary based on your beer of choice.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Daring Bakers February: Tiramisu

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

The cookie dough: a lot lighter than your chocolate chip in a tube!

Wow. I am posting this very late, even though I made the delicious cake about 2 weeks ago. I’m going to chalk it up to photography once more, unfortunately. So I don’t have a final photo, because even though there is a piece sitting in my fridge, I just can’t put this thing off any longer!
Cookie dough ready to pipe out

This was a pretty intense, from-scratch recipe. I made mascarpone cheese, zabaglione (coffee-based syrup-like stuff), pastry cream, whipped cream and savoiardi biscuits, which are meringue-ish ladyfingers.

I don't know how, but I piped that dough real pretty!  

I will absolutely make this tiramisu again, although next time I might dip my ladyfingers into something a little more punchy than the sweetened coffee concoction. Some Daring Bakers used fruit juice, and the recipe said to use espresso or marsala. My mum suggested I try it with Grand Marnier, and I think amaretto would be pretty delightful too.
Macro lens means a good view of bubbles in the ladyfingers.

My favourite part was the ladyfingers, or savoiardi, which are mostly egg, but lightly flavoured with lemon zest as well. They were not super special on their own, but when smothered in a pool of zabaglione-pastry cream-whipping cream, their lightness provided great balance to the cake. Next time though I will probably pipe the cookie batter in a shape that is more conducive to fitting my cake dish. I didn’t think I had enough cookies for my 9x9 inch pan, so used a couple of large circular ramekins instead, breaking the cookies to mostly fit inside.

This part was kind of complicated. I guess I don't have my sifting skills down yet.

If you’re interested in making a tiramisu, plan your time wisely. It was a multi-day project, including making mascarpone cheese from scratch. The final result was absolutely delicious, but I felt a little guilty eating so much of it myself…
Voila! A little overcooked, but still delightful.

Friday, February 19, 2010

February Can Jam: Carrot Relish

I must say, when the February Can Jam feature ingredient turned out to be carrots, I was not excited. I am no carrot enthusiast. I do love a good, fresh springtime carrot from the farmer’s market, but those days are many weeks away. Inexperienced as I am in the ways of preserving, I still thought it was silly to go out of my way to can something out of season that I don’t like. But I did it anyway, in the name of education and condiments!
Relish veg crisping up

I considered pickled carrots, but aborted that idea after thinking about woody, wintertime carrots. Eventually, after getting a pickling book from the library, I settled on the idea of a relish.

Now, this was a silly idea too, as I’ve never been into relish. I made a hot pepper relish in the summer which was pretty good, but couldn’t name you another relish that I’d volunteer to sample. But I did it anyway.

cooking the relish

I settled on carrot-onion relish, and the preliminary tasting yielded a pretty sweet, carrotty concoction. I’m going to let it sit the recommended 3 weeks and try again, and I will update you then.

Carrot Relish, ready to process

Meanwhile, if you like the sound of it and want a jar (and you’re in town) let me know!

Carrot and Onion Relish
Adapted from The Complete Book of Pickling by Jennifer MacKenzie

8 cups shredded carrots
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 small yellow hot peppers, finely chopped (this is my only mod)
2 tbsp pickling salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cider vinegar
1 tbsp minced garlic

1. In a large non-reactive bowl, combine carrots, onions, peppers, and salt. Cover and let stand at a cool room temperature for 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
3. In a colander lined with cheesecloth, working in batches, drain vegetables and rinse well. Drain again and squeeze out excess liquid. Set aside in colander to continue draining.
4. In a large pot, combine sugar, celery seeds, thyme, pepper and veingar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and add drained vegetables and garlic; return to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are translucent and mixture is slightly thickened.
5. Ladle hot relish into jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as necessary by adding hot relish. Wipe rim and place hot lid disc on jar. Screw band down until fingertip tight.
6. Place jars in canner and return to a boil. Process for 10 minutes (add 10 minutes for Calgary). Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let stand for 24 hours.

carrot relish on pita

Daring Cooks February: Mezze!

Along with the alternating spring-like and wintry weather, February also brings Reading Week. For some university students, this means a week off to gallavant somewhere hot and humid. But for others, it's used as its name implies: a week to catch up on readings and assignments.

For me, it meant doing some more creative cooking than I have for the past few weeks. Last week, I did a one-week intensive cleanse much like the one I did a year ago. There was a lot of grumbling out of me, and more of the same kinds of refusals that I used last time – no horrible alkaline soup, for example. And I meant to blog about it, I really did! But the week before Reading Week was packed with newspaper production and midterms and lugging around a bajillion-pound broadcasting camera.

But I promise you (eep!) I am back on the Glorious Kitchen Unicorn of Blogginess. I have ideas that will probably, at some point, come to fruition, but I dare not mention them yet.

If you're on a reading break too, I implore you to make a little hummus. And if you have the fortitude, make some pita too. Yum.

The 2010 February Daring COOKs challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

I cooked this up on Feb. 14, the day the challenge was due to be posted to my blog. I was down to the wire around 3 p.m. when I got home from an improv comedy class (horror of horrors! But it was kind of fun and I survived) and had an hour to get the house together before a friend arrived for sparkling wine and two kinds of cheese pie.

I make hummus with some regularity, but my past couple of batches have been kind of lumpy and...just wrong. But this recipe turned out just right. I think I might use a little more garlic in the future, but even as-is, it might be my new recipe. I halved the batch and added a couple of chipotle peppers with adobo sauce for a spicy smoky version.

I made a simple guacamole when I fixed myself a hummus snack. Just mash half an avocado with some lime juice and a bit of salt.

Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml) *I didn't have fresh lemons so I used 4 tbsp of lemon juice.
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams) *Seriously, use tahini though. At my grocery stores it's either with the peanut butter or the in the "health" food area with almond butter etc.
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste
  1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
The pitas were delicious too, and a little time-consuming, but not very difficult. My friend had the brilliant idea to put cheese into it before baking: amazing! I rolled out a couple pieces of dough, put a handful of grated old cheddar in the middle, then wrapped the bundle up and rolled it out again. It only took a couple of minutes to cook and it was one of the best – nay, THE best – cheese pitas I've ever had. I think I will try additional fillings next time.

Not all my pitas puffed up as they were supposed to, and I think they would have browned more nicely if I had used a pizza stone instead of baking sheets, but they were all fabulous.

I put together a little tasting platter, all for me! It included one pita, some hummus, guacamole and a few olives.

Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook
2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)
  1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C). *I stacked 2 crappy baking sheets on top of one another.
  4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
  5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

Friday, January 22, 2010

January Can Jam: Honey Lemon Marmalade

jan_marmalade2This is a quickie version of a post I hope to update properly tomorrow.

The Can Jam has begun! Short version: Can a monthly ingredient, from now until December. Long version: here at Tigress in a Jam.

I made Buckwheat Honey & Lemon Marmalade adapted from Food In Jars, and combined with the methodology in the Joy of Cooking.

Okay, so I didn’t read the direction exactly right, but things still set up beautifully, so I think it’s a-okay!

 Honey-Lemon Marmalade
9 organic lemons
1 cup buckwheat honey
2.5 cups white sugar
1 package no sugar needed fruit pectin
1.5 cup water

  1. Put lemons in freezer for 5 to 10 minutes prior to slicing with a sharp knife.
  2. For each lemon: cut off just enough of each end to reach the flesh of the fruit. Halve length-wise. Slice into strips about 5-7 mm wide: you will have a bunch of semi-circle shapes. Chop the strips into small square-ish chunks of peel+flesh, place into medium-sized bowl and repeat with the rest of the lemons. Remove seeds as necessary and reserve.
  3. Add enough water to lemon bowl to cover them. Pay attention to how much water you add. I added about ¾ cup, so added another ¾ cup during cooking. Cover and place in fridge for 6 hours or overnight to soften the peel.
  4. Next day: simmer the fruit in a medium saucepan with the rest of the water until the peel is tender and can be broken with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot.
  5. When peel is tender, add the honey and 1.5 cups of the sugar. Wrap reserved lemon seeds in cheesecloth and toss it in the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. *Once sugar and honey are both incorporated, taste your marmalade to see if it is sweet enough. Add sugar until it makes you smile..
  6. Add pectin and let boil gently for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and fill sterilized jars. Process for 10 minutes at sea level (I did 20 minutes here in Calgary at 3300 ft).
  8. Remove from canner and let sit overnight to allow pectin to fully activate.

This made about 2 pints.

Marmalade and Hoar Frost

I don't even know if I've ever had marmalade before this. Maybe only from a little half-ounce packet at Nellie's (ugh). And even though it turned out firmer than what would be optimal, it is quite delicious, and a good balance between bitter and sweet.

My in-use jar of marmalade.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Daring Cooks January: Tofu Satay

Tofu Satay with peanut sauce
The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

Considering how much writing and how much cooking I have done in the past few weeks, it’s really quite surprising that the two haven’t overlapped until now.

I apologize if you’ve been visiting my page, wondering what’s happened. I apologize that I promised to post a delicious vegan biscotti recipe around Christmas time, but still haven’t (it’s coming, I swear!)

But there is tasty stuff to come…

Like this tofu satay that I made for January’s Daring Cooks! (Recipe here:

The photos are a bit rough, I was in a hurry, or hungry or something. I actually made this two weeks ago, so it’s a bit fuzzy.

First, I pressed the water out of half a block of extra-firm tofu, for about an hour. Then I sliced it into four 1-cm thick strips and marinated them for another hour.

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)
1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)

I didn’t have coriander, but then borrowed some from my mum, and I am so glad I did. Coriander is amazing. Eat some!

While the tofu is marinating, make the amazing peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce:
3/4 cup coconut milk (6 oz or 180 mls)
4 Tbsp peanut butter (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (2.5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground coriander (2.5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)

1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.
2. Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.
3. All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.
Broiled Tofu
Now, mine turned out a little gelatinous, because I had to make some adjustments. I didn’t have coconut milk so I used some coconut juice that has been in my pantry for a year or so, and added a paste of arrowroot powder and water to thicken it up a bit. It was delicious anyway, just not very pretty.

After the tofu has marinated for at least 30 minutes, broil it until it’s golden brown and starting to darken at the edges.

Make a few servings of basmati rice. I added half a bouillon cube to the rice for a little extra flavour.

Good meal overall, and I’d definitely do it again.