Thursday, September 16, 2010

This week: FOOD=SANITY

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I am having a computer meltdown. To be more specific, my brain is about to explode from all of the new concepts and ideas I am learning about. Things that happen outside the world of my quiet little apartment in White Rock have not really been a huge concern to me. For the last 2 days, I have been getting a taste of what it is like in the worlds that encompass Face book, Twitter, etc,etc. Just when I thought it would be safe to go back to my familiar little blog, To chat about what I made to eat yesterday...I am assaulted by ANOTHER big change. Blogger wants me to set up a g-mail account to access my blog(s)...and when I tried to log in with my newly established g-mail account and password...THEY TOLD ME THAT I DIDN'T EXIST. After 4 unsuccessful attempts, and a throbbing, aching neck...I snuck in through the back door, googling cathyeats and signing in the old way! Yikes!! I feel like a criminal in my own BLOG!!

I must keep repeating my 2 day old mantra: I love social media, I love social media, I love social media...

I believe the only thing that has kept me from abandoning the laptop, and running screaming into the night had been some darn good food.

I started with a delicious meatloaf on Tuesday, made with the aid of a Cooking Light recipe...but I was missing so many ingredients...I really ended up winging it. I think the star ingredient was a nice big portobella mushroom, chopped small and fried up with some celery and onions, a dash of Cajun seasoning, and a good sprinkle of marjoram. I added everything to a pound of lean ground beef, an egg, some stale bread and some milk and gave it a good mix. I topped it off, after 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven with a mixture of mild salsa,ketchup, and a bit of tomato paste. Moist, and delicious it was. The P-Man let me know that he LOVES MEATLOAF...and the leftovers are even better.

I baked some brown soda bread this week. I very seldom EVER bake, but this recipe caught my fancy, and it was really easy. Besides the running out in the middle of assembling the bread to pick up some baking soda, the process went quite well. It came out a lovely toasty brown color, and contained both white and whole grain flour, wheat germ, buttermilk, and steel cut oats. We ate some, and froze the rest. It was hearty, and had a lovely crumb, with just a touch of sweetness. The P-Man ate his with herb cream cheese, and I opted for butter and jam. The recipe came from the March 2010 Cooking Light Magazine, and was called Brown Soda Bread.

I had to purchase some of the abundant salmon that seems to be everywhere this season. I chose a side of salmon, and covered it with a marinade of maple syrup,coarse grain mustard, and mild red chili paste. We ate the salmon on top of a lovely pile of mixed greens, with ripe avocado, and a tarragon vinaigrette. YUM!!
I have to go back to work tomorrow, so my last dish this week was a sort of pasta toss. It started with onions and fennel chopped small, with a nice fat garlic clove, fried in some olive oil. I then added a can of drained and rinsed chick peas, and a small can of stewed tomatoes. I added a good amount of dried basil, and a sprinkle of chili flakes. I had cooked some orzo earlier, so I dumped it into the pan with the veggies, and added a couple of tablespoons of herb cream cheese, and a good handful of grated Parmesan, as well as fresh pepper, and a sprinkle of salt. It was great! It was hearty and delicious. It could have been creamier, with the addition of some wine or stock...but it has turned cold and rainy...I think the P-Man is gonna LOVE it!

We have enough leftovers to get us through the weekend. I'll probably be eating at the computer...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Is what you want...always what you need?

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I really like the idea of a scooter. Not an old person's 'personal mobility device', but a real sporty, zippy little a VESPA! It somehow doesn't matter that I have never even sat on, let alone driven a Vespa...I just think I want one. This reminds me of food. How much of what we eat, depends on the power of suggestion? I was in Vancouver the other day, and I sat beside a woman who was eating a hot dog. I personally hate to admit it, but I happen to LIKE hot dogs. Perhaps it was that first foot long hot dog, eaten in the revolving restaurant, high atop the Husky Tower in Calgary. Who knows. Sometimes, I want a hot dog, like I sometimes want a Vespa. This particular hot dog looked and smelled so good, I quizzed the lady on where she got it. She told me that it was a turkey hot dog, and she purchased it from the new storefront location of JAPADOG on Robson Street.

That was a week ago, so yesterday, I headed into Vancouver a couple of hours before my class to do some shopping...and to get one of those delicious looking hot dogs. I had no trouble locating the place. Spiderman has his spidey-senses...I have mine. I walked inside, and it all went very wrong. It didn't SMELL right in JAPADOG. I don't know about you, but I know what a hot dog place is supposed to smell like. It's supposed to smell kind of smokey, and salty, and sometimes like onions frying. When I used to have my store in White Rock, I used to get a once a week hot dog from Montgomery's Cottage Lunch...and that place smelled like the best hot dogs, with a little grease and malt vinegar thrown in! JAPADOG smelled like...I don't know what. There were these HUGE photos of their hot dogs, but even those had weird un-hot-dog like names like the MEAT! Only in very small print, down at the very bottom of the sign, was a note that they also had all beef or turkey hot dogs. I stayed another minute to see if my nose would adjust to the smell. When it didn't...I turned around and left. All the little Japanese girls standing in line looked at me like I was crazy...but I the sad truth was...I didn't want a hot dog anymore.

I ended up at the Art Gallery Cafe. It was the end of the day, so my choices were severely limited. I had a diet COKE and a ham and cheese sandwich on WHITE BREAD. As I sat there, unhappily, munching on a sandwich that kept sticking to the roof of my mouth, causing me to very unladylikely, PRY THE DAMN BREAD OFF THE ROOF OF MY MOUTH...I silently cursed the siren's song of the hot dogs of my youth.

I finished my Diet Coke, and hoped the aspartame wouldn't give me a seizure. I walked down the steps of the Art Gallery towards my class. I was off tomorrow...maybe I could walk down to Montgomery's....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September Food...Pea Soup

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It's the first week of September and it really feels like fall. The marine mist is swirling around the beach, and the days of sitting on a patio reading a magazine are almost gone. I did wander down to Slainte by the Pier yesterday for some yummy halibut bites with mushy peas...and managed to sit in the sunshine, unfortunately it didn't feel like summer sunshine.

I finally managed to clean out my fridge and freezer, and I found an old ham bone. I decided to make a pot of split pea soup. I can't remember the last time I made pea soup, but we make it all the time at the deli, so I remembered almost everything. The only traditional ingredient I neglected to add was potatoes...but I never usually have potatoes at home, anyway. The one ingredient I really enjoyed was a large handful of chopped fresh Rosemary. It smelled and tasted so rich and plantlike. I think the smell always reminds me of pine trees. Here is a very loose recipe for pea soup:

In a large pot, simmer a ham bone, with some meat still attached in enough water to cover the bone, for 1 hour. Take the bone out, let cool, and remove the meat and dice up. To the broth in the pot, add 1 chopped onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, some chopped celery and carrot, and a couple of bay leaves. Boil for 15 minutes then add a cup or more of dried yellow split peas, and boil another hour or so. When the peas are soft, add lots of ground pepper and some herbs,( I used fresh Rosemary and Thyme). Simmer for another 10 minutes, add meat back into the pot, and turn off the heat. When the soup is cool enough to taste, adjust seasonings, adding salt etc. I threw mine right into the fridge, and ate it today. It was YUMMY! Very rich and satisfying. Not too thick, with a soft herby hit,nicely seasoned with big bits of ham in every bite. It didn't need anything else, not even a piece of bread or cracker. I'm not a great soup lover, but soup as a meal works for me if you can pick between slurping and chewing. I was quite glad to be home alone...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hawaii 50 and Orzo

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Okay...I promise this will be my last comment on the fabulous Hawaii 50 Marathon I have been watching all week. Guess who Steve McGarrett was at the mercy of this morning...GAVIN MCCLOUD!! Remember him? He went onto GREAT FAME as the captain of the LOVE BOAT in the 1980's! The most hilarious thing about Gavin's performance...his name in the episode. I haven't heard such a crazy name since 'HUGGY BEAR' hung around with Starsky and Hutch! Gavin's name was 'BIG CHICKEN!!!' and he was playing a fierce gangster...polyester pants/turtleneck top,love beads, and all! Yikes...I will try to move on...

I have been using a new ingredient lately. Orzo. As you know, the P-Man is absolutely crazy about spaghetti, so I tend not to try out too many other pasta shapes. For one of my parties, I made a cold orzo salad, and quite enjoyed it. It didn't lose it's texture, even after a few days in the fridge. I also liked the way it let the vegetables take the leading role...but you still got the filling qualities of pasta.

The fridge/freezer clean out continues. I decided to purge the crisper this AM...before I do any more vegetable shopping. I made a warm orzo dish, that is full of veggie goodness. I intend to have some for lunch with some baked chicken. I won't be eating until late today, as I am FINALLY leaving the apartment to meet my friend J. in the big city to attend a fashion show at Granville Island, tonight. I wonder if they will be showing any HAWAIIAN PRINTS! HA!

Back to the orzo. I boiled up about a cup and 1/2, in generously salted water. I sauteed some chopped shallot,garlic,carrot,and celery in olive oil. I added a good amount of black pepper, and a bit of salt. When the mixture had softened, I added some Swiss chard leaves, sliced...and a generous amount of fresh oregano and thyme. Once the chard had wilted, I squeezed the juice of a whole lemon over top, and gave it a taste, and added more pepper. Once the orzo was al dente, I drained it, and added it to the veggies. Very tasty.

Mahalo for your patience through this Hawaii obsessed week...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hawaii 50 and thai red curry shrimp

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Ahhh...Hawaii! Great News! The Hawaii 50 marathon is on all week! This morning, Steve McGarrett was shot 3 times...and his hair was still as gorgeous as ever! You work it, STEVE! Yesterday, It absolutely poured rain all day. This morning the weatherman said that we set a one day rainfall record. it's funny how when you have a stay at home rain day, and you are a little googly eyed from too much Hawaii start craving something, unusual. As there was no way I could walk up the hill for any groceries, dinner had to be entirely from food on hand. I had a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer, so I started looking for recipes. I settled on 'Thai Red Curry Shrimp.' courtesy of Cooking Light, and The recipe was super simple, but I wanted to add a few veggies to it. I added 3 green onions, sliced, a yellow zucchini, sliced, and some swiss chard, only the leaves, sliced into thin strips. I remember buying some curry paste, and fish sauce for another recipe a year or so I had everything, including a can of light coconut milk...(an incredible 72% less fat than regular coconut milk.) I am not a regular curry maker, but I was pleasantly surprised at how rich and delicious it turned out. The smell of fish sauce is enough to get me to open all the windows in the apartment...but once everything is simmered together...the flavour is quite nutty, and luxurious, and to my surprise, not too spicy at all.
I was on a roll, so I also decided to make dessert. I had a bag of frozen blackberries, and once I defrosted them, I cooked them slowly in a saucepan, with a cinnamon stick, and some buckwheat honey, until the mixture was reduced by half, and nicely thickened. I took out my last piece of puff pastry, and rolled it out into 4 squares, and made nice fluted edges. I baked them in a 425 oven for 10 minutes, and set them aside. After the curry was eaten, and before GLEE started, I spooned some of the fruit onto the pastry, added a scoop of frozen yogurt and some light whipped cream, and VOILA! Fancy fruit tart.

It was almost like being back in Hawaii...

Fooled by a BURGER!!

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We are constantly bombarded by advertising...and some blatantly false claims. It seems that these days, anyone can be the BEST...especially if they want to do a bit of advertising. I had a store for 17 years. You'd think I'd know the drill...But I suppose I forgot. I work with a guy who likes to hang out with his buddies...a lot. This guy hangs out at a local restaurant. Last week at work, I must have heard him tell 50 people about this certain,special BURGER. It went something like this: ' Hey, my buddy owns a restaurant, and a couple of weeks ago, his burger beat out more than 400 other places, to be named the BEST BURGER!' After about the 50th time hearing this...I really wanted to try that award winning BURGER. When I got home from work, I informed the P-Man, that I was going to take him out for dinner...and he was going to eat THE BEST BURGER!

We headed down to the beach, and had a seat at the restaurant. Let's call it FOOLI's... It was a Friday night, and the place was packed. We ordered some wine, and 2 of the burgers and waited. Almost an hour later...they arrived. The plate looked not bad, except for the extreme paleness of the frites. I like mine a little crispier. I examined my burger, and found the following: A stale whole grain bun, with a smear of regular mayonnaise on the top bun, with a leaf of butter lettuce. What was supposed to have been a 7 oz patty of meat, char grilled, and a bottom bun with a little pile of diced red onions, barely warmed. I discarded the stale top bun, mayo and lettuce, and cut into the burger. It was dry and crumbling, with a bit of pink showing. I could not taste any flavour at all, except for beef. I don't even think it had been seasoned with salt and pepper. There was no binder, egg or bread...just beef. I had a burger in Palm Springs that was similar, except that burger was bloody. I didn't see the thrill of all beef then...or now. The P-Man ate his burger covered with ketchup from the plastic container on the table, and ended up leaving half the bun on the plate. The server came by to ask us if it was 'OK'? I think she could tell by my, 'fine' that it was NOT 'fine'...but she was busy.

This award winning meal, complete with a 1/2 litre of wine, so that we wouldn't choke to death on the driest burger I have ever eaten ,came to a little over 65 dollars with the tip. I don't know who the other 400 restaurants were...but I personally have had burgers that were 100 times more delicious at: The Cactus Club, Milestones,( even their veggie burger was better )The Keg's mini sirloin burgers are GREAT, at Montgomery's and the Sandpiper, and most memorably, The Four Seasons.

There you have it. FULI's certainly fooled me...