Thursday, February 24, 2011

Contemplating Senbazuru

The journey of Senbazuru begins with a single crane.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The other day I did something I have never done before.  I bought a bunch of radishes.  You see I've never liked radishes; as a child I would avoid them at all costs. I remember thinking they were one of the worst tasting things ever (mind of a child you know). But I was at the market and the radishes stood out. Their vibrant red color called to me.  I put them in my basket, deciding that since I was no longer a child I should give them a try.

I used them to make a simple little salad, which turned out well.  My husband loved it and I found it to be light and refreshing.  I believe I'll be using radishes more often in the future.

Simple Radish Salad 
Makes 1 or 2 servings

4 radishes thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Juice of ½ a lime
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
a sprinkle of salt

In a small bowl combine oil, lime juice, cilantro and garlic.  Toss with sliced radish and sprinkle with a little salt.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday February 23, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pay it Forward 2011: Part 1

Several weeks ago a friend of mine posted this as her Facebook status:

Interesting twist on pay it forward, and right up my alley.
"Pay it forward 2011: I promise something handmade to the first 5 people who comment here. However, to be eligible, you must repost this status, offering something handmade to 5 other people. The rules are that it must be handmade by you, and it must be sent to your people sometime in 2011. Ready, set, GO!"

This sounded like a wonderful idea to me so I quickly replied with an emphatic “I’ll play!”  Then I immediately reposted the message. 

Over the weekend, the first of my participants received her handmade item.  She and I took the opportunity to meet-up and chat over a cup of coffee.  I highly suggest this to anyone participating in a similar activity. It’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Below is a photo of the item I gifted that day.

I will be posting a photo of each handmade item after they have been gifted.   Are you participating in "Pay it Forward 2011"?  If so I would love to hear about your handmade gift ideas in the comments below.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just for You

Dear readers today's recipe I created just for you.  No really.  You see I've been in sort of a ground meats cooking rut lately.  Which is directly related to my transition from vegetarianism back to meat eating.

After years of being a fish eating vegetarian I decided to go back to eating meat, largely (but not completely)  due to the fact that gluten and corn intolerance had severely limited my food options.  This was not easy for me as I really had no desire to eat meat (which is why I stopped eating it in the first place, but more on that another time). 

I found that starting with ground meats was a great way to get back into it, so to speak.  Because of this, I tend to cook with ground meats quite a bit.  Now that I've started this blog I figured it was time to expand my horizons. After all, there are only so many meatball and burger recipes one can post without boring you dear readers to tears.

With this in mind I picked up a few different offerings from my local farmer this week. Today my offering to you involves pork chops.  I was a kid the last time I remember eating pork chops and they were always breaded and fried.  When I picked these up I knew I wanted do some something fresh and citrus-y with them.  Here is what I came up with:
 Pan-Seared Pork Chops in a Chimichurri Sauce

makes 4 servings

4 pork chops
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt and pepper

Place, parsley, cilantro, garlic, oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and puree.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the sauce; marinade pork chops in the remainder for 30 minutes.  Pan sear the chops (about 5 minutes on each side depending on thickness).  Serve topped with 1 Tbsp reserved chimichurri.

This post is a part of Fight Back Friday February 18, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Salmon Salad Lettuce Wraps

I was inspired by Melissa Joulwan's tuna salad to create these lettuce wraps. This salmon salad is a great blend of sweet, savory, crunchy, and yummy.

makes 3-4 lettuce wraps

8oz cooked wild caught salmon
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup baby spinach, chiffonade
1 pear, diced
2-3 Tbsp chopped walnuts
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
a pinch of salt and pepper
3-4 red leaf lettuce leaves

Toss everything but the lettuce leaves in a bowl and combine.  Spread the mixture on your leaves, top with a few cucumber slices, and enjoy!

I was worried that the salmon salad wouldn't work very well as leftovers.  I thought the pear might get mushy and walnuts would lose their crunch.  I was happily proven wrong as the salad was just as good the next day.

If you're up for it I suggest checking out Mel's homemade mayo recipe.  Much better for you than the store bought variety.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday 2-16-11

Soufflé (breathe)

A few days ago I made a soufflé.  I had never made one before. They kind of frightened me. After all, the entertainment industry is not very kind to the soufflé. Every time you see someone in a movie or TV show cook a soufflé they hold their breath as the dish is removed from the oven only to watch the thing disappointingly deflate. I decided it was time to stop fearing the soufflé and just make one already. If it fell, oh well, better luck next time. I also wanted to make a nice vegetable side and sauce for the soufflé. My sister had been over the night before and left an unfinished bottle of white wine which clearly meant that my soufflé was going to get a white wine reduction of some sort. I am happy to say that the soufflé making went very well. Please refer to the photographic evidence below.

This dish puffed up beautifully and did not fall upon removal from the hot oven. Actually this soufflé was fairly sturdy. The bad thing is that I didn't really care for it. The sauce and veg part was fine but the fluffy egg bit not so much. I must say that this was my first time eating a soufflé so I really have no basis for comparison. But I didn't like it and neither did my husband. The teenager however said it was really good. Since I didn't love it I'm not going to list the recipe here. Although I will direct you to this NPR article which contains the recipe  I modified to make my soufflé.

** While I was researching all things soufflé I came across this video poem:

You can find the English version here.

So what are your experiences with the elusive soufflé?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last Minute Valentine

If you want to show your Honey some love in a simply sweet way  I suggest you head over here and fold up an origami heart as pictured above. These are pretty fast and easy to whip up and much more fun than standing in line at the grocery store with last minute Valentine shoppers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rosemary Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is the winterized version of my favourite summer squash soup (I’ll be sure to post that one as soon as summer squash are in season).  It’s quick and easy to throw together and you can substitute the butternut for any winter squash you prefer.

Makes three-five 2 cup servings
1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 ½ lbs butternut squash, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock

In a large stock pot, over medium heat sauté garlic in the butter until it just starts to turn light brown.  Add rosemary and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add squash, carrots, and veggie stock.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered until squash is easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.  Puree soup in a blender to desired consistency.  Be very careful as the soup will be hot.  You may need to do this in 2 or more batches depending on the size of your blender. Season with a little salt and pepper (optional) and enjoy.

This soup reheats wonderfully.  Quite often on Sundays I will make up a batch to take to work for the week’s lunches.  Sometimes I’ll add a dash of hot sauce to spice it up.

Update:  I forgot to mention that this soup will be a little on the thick side...which is how i like it.  If you desire less thickness just add another cup or so of veggie stock.

This post is a part of Fight Back Friday February 11, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A sweet way to get your greens

Years ago I would make fruit smoothies for breakfast.  They would consist of frozen fruit, vanilla yogurt, and a bit of orange juice.  Sometimes they would be made up of frozen fruit, cooked oatmeal, and milk. One day several years ago I stumbled upon the raw food movement (for those of you not familiar here is a list of blogs devoted to raw foodism) and started slowly adding spinach to my smoothies.  Eventually I ditched the yogurt and juice and made spinach the bulk of the smoothie.  I know what you're thinking "Spinach? In a fruit smoothie? Has she lost her mind?" Trust me on this one. Give it a try. In fruit smoothies you really cannot taste a mild leafy green like spinach.  Below is an example of the current evolved state of my green smoothie.

Wintertime Green Smoothie 

Makes 1-2 servings

1 large apple quartered
1 Tbsp flax seeds
1/4 - 1/2 lb fresh spinach

Place apple, flax seeds, and spinach in a blender.  Add just enough water to blend.  Blend on high speed to desired consistency.  Enjoy!

I refer to this particular smoothie as "wintertime" because I like to use apples in the winter.  My favourite summertime combination replaces the apples with blueberries and peaches.  A previous incarnation of this smoothie included 2Tbsp wheat germ and 1Tbsp dates.  The wheat germ was eliminated due to my gluten intolerance and I no longer desire the extra sweetness of the dates. However if these are not issues for you feel free to add them in. Also if the bright green color frightens you start off slowly adding a bit more green over time. If you go browsing the web you'll find many different green smoothie variations.  Here is one that looks pretty sweet :)

P.S. In order to blend up this mixture to a very smooth consistency you need a really good blender (I have a Vitamix). I broke a blender early on while trying to make these smoothies. My current blender can puree whole apples with no problem.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A clean well

So you know those super cool light boxes everyone has been making for their photographic aspirations?  No? Go ahead and take a look here.  Got it?  Sweet.  Well my oh-so-wonderful husband took a box we had lying around the house and made one for me over the weekend.  Check out the results.

Pottery photo with no light box
Pottery photo also no light box
 Pottery photo taken in my new light box
 What do you think?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gluten-free Korean Style Burgers

Remember that freezer full of local meats I told you about? Well I've dipped into my stash once again for dinner.  This time it's Korean burgers.  My mother-in-law is from Korea and has, much to my delight, shown me how to make some Korean foods.  I know what you’re thinking " Burgers don't sound Korean to me." Well you’re right they're not.  But the flavors here come directly from one of my husband’s favorite foods: Korean egg rolls aka "mondu" . I'll get to the mondu another day but you can get an early glimpse with these supper yummy burgers.

Makes four ¼ lb burgers

1 lb ground beef
2 (or more) chopped green onions
1 small carrot, shredded
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp wheat free tamari (or soy sauce if you aren't gluten free)
1 Tbsp  sesame oil
1/2tbsp Korean red pepper flakes*

*For those of you unfamiliar with korean red pepper I've posted a photo of the package from the brand I use below.  You should be able to find it in your local international grocery

 Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Form into 4 (or more) patties and cook on a grill or in a skillet just like you would any other hamburger.  Top with a few shredded carrots, green onions, and black and white sesame seeds.

As I am the main cook in the house and I'm gluten intolerant we quite often will have burgers sans bun.  However since the boys are not gluten intolerant once in a while the call of bread is too much and they'll have their burgers in the traditional on-a- bun fashion. So if you’re not primal, paleo, low carb, or otherwise avoiding gluten, feel free to wrap these up in whatever manner suits you.