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Archive for October, 2011

This was a long weekend, and it was a busy one. I spent Saturday travelling to visit my family. This also turned into a shopping spree at a fabric shop–more about that later this week. But then on Sunday it was time to create. Time to lock myself in the kitchen and stay there until I had something totally delicious to eat.

We used the democratic method to decide that I would make the boeuf bourguinon. So I ran around like a fool on Saturday: I had to buy a dutch oven, and all of the ingredients I’d need. So I got in my car and drove around looking for free parking close to the shops I needed. That took some time, I should have just paid for parking.

At any rate, I came home with everything I needed, except potatoes, but no one is perfect. Given that I had everything I needed there was no excuse for my not starting to work on this until 4 pm, but that’s what I did–I spent the  day lounging on the couch, then at 4 I decided it was time to get started.

I had no idea this recipe was going to be as complicated and time-consuming as it was. I’m pretty sure I cooked for 2 to 2.5 hours. It was pretty labour intensive, and I ended up getting splattered with hot oil just on the outside of my left eye. So everything had to stop while I treated that small injury, and said a quick prayer of thanksgiving that the oil didn’t hit me even 1mm to the left of where it did.

At any rate, after hours of browning bacon, beef and vegetables, I was able to get the whole concoction into the oven. It didn’t take long before the whole apartment had a wonderful, meaty aroma, that made me so hungry I started picking at my desert–I didn’t want to, but the stew needs to spend 2.5 hours in the oven. But it was worth it. The stew was perfect!

It was tender, and perfectly seasoned. This is the moment that I regretted eating my desert first. I was way too full to fully enjoy my dinner. Oh well, at least I have enough fabulous stew to last me a week. It was worth waiting until 9:30 pm for dinner.

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Happy Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! May your weekend be filled with good friends, great times, and delicious foods.

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17/365: Julie & Julia Child, Food Temptress

Image by kalebdf via Flickr

Julie & Julia was on tv this last weekend. I just love that movie. I know so many people feel motivated to blog after watching it. Not me; I mean, I like blogging, but I don’t need a movie to motivate me to do this. Where I do need motivation is in the kitchen. Yes, that’s right, Julie & Julia makes me want to cook.

If I had a big, beautiful kitchen like Julia Child’s I might be more interested in spending more time there. But then again, I doubt I would have the motivation to keep that kind of space clean. But I digress, that movie, with its gorgeous food photography, makes me realize that I am wasting my life eating canned soup. I also feel that way when I watch Laura Calder’s French Food at Home. So maybe I’m in love with French food. But that’s a post for another day.

The point, chickens, is that I’m in the mood to cook, to create, and this upcoming weekend is Thanksgiving weekend, so I can think of no better time to cook. And since my holiday plans don’t include a lovely home-cooked meal, I absolutely MUST cook.

Cooking, as you know, starts with a trip to the grocery store, and a well-thought out list. But first I need a plan. I need to decide what I will spend my time cooking. I’ve always wanted to try the Boeuf Burgeon. But then I saw some lovely pictures of beef vindaloo, there is also the appeal of trying to make bi bim bap. And of course, I will need something sweet. I read a recipe for pumpkin chai cupcakes, or I could try’s Bene’s trifle recipe.

I guess I need some help deciding, and since today is election day (honestly, it’s a big week up here) I am looking to make this decision democratically. So what’s your vote?

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So I had word yesterday morning from Fort Myers, Florida that my crafter has received her gifts (are these gifts? I don’t know, but let’s call them gifts.) Anyhow, Jhenna (http://deeringness.blogspot.com/) and I were put in contact through Zoe (http://agiraffeinascarf.wordpress.com/). Zoe is the organizer of the exchange.

Anyhow, as you know I started late. But I was lucky; I had some really pretty scraps of fabric lying around, so I got started with that. After reading Jhenna’s blog I decided that I would make her shoe bags. Jhenna was busy organizing her shoe collection so I decided that I would make her some drawstring storage bags that she could use for safe keeping. As I said I had some scraps left over from my tablecloth, so I started with this really pretty fabric, printed in England.

It’s good that I was able to get a jump on this project because it took me another 2 weeks to get to the fabric store. Once I was there I chose one of my favourite fabrics. It’s from Provence, and it’s just so classic and cheerful. I think everyone should have something made out of this. I have napkins. I think these last two fabrics go together really nicely.

But then I wanted something else to go with these two fabulous finds so I chose this fabric with the nice little red roses. It’s so pretty, and it was so soft that my needle went through it like butter. I have no idea where it was printed; my guess is the US.

What I don’t imagine Zoe could have ever guessed is that Fort Myers is a popular winter vacation spot for many Torontonians, and I wanted to make sure that Jhenna got something truly international, so I splurged on these fabulous fabrics, and I’m really happy with the way the whole project has turned out.

I had planned to send Jhenna 10 bags. I figured the average woman stores between 8 to 10 pairs of shoes, and I got through all 10 bags before the end of August. (It’s funny how long it takes to get to the post office sometimes.) Anyhow, I don’t know if you know this, but I don ‘t have a sewing machine, I sewed it all my hand. And I have to tell you, if you don’t do needle work, and you have a lot of stress in your life, you should start doing needle work. You can really sort through a lot of negative emotions shoving a needle in and out of an innocent piece of fabric.

The good news, Jhenna love the bags, and it has inspired her to continue working on her gift for her crafter. My next project? That will be a  couple of tablecloths for Penelope and my friend Bene. But I’m thinking I should send something to Zoe too. Zoe, can you use 10 drawstring bags?

My last question is, what do you think I should do with this fabric?

 

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Purgatory

I have been on a mission since early 2011. I have purged and purged and purged, and yet somehow I still have an apartment full of stuff. First I tackled the kitchen.I found like 2 choppers, and a series of popcorn bowls (they were left over from Penelope’s bachelorette party). I also found more cereal bowls than I could ever use and there was also this weird butterfly spatula.

I think this was an Easter present, but I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Maybe someone else will enjoy it.

The only real advantage was that I was able to totally reorganize my cupboards so that they are a little more useable.

I guess the other advantage is that my cookbooks are now safely put away in one of my cupboards, so now they won’t get greasy or dusty.

From there I moved on to my 3 closets. I spent a good 3 or 4 hours on that. I got rid of my roller blades, some really ratty coats and even some of the dog’s mangiest tennis balls. I also sorted through a very large number of tea and hand towels. I didn’t really reduce them, but at least I can now access them easily.

I like this system, not only is it easy to grab a new towel quickly, but I think this is really pretty too.

The other major plus is that I was able to change my old black and white dishes for some “newish” ones. My mother bought these for me a couple of years ago, but I’ve been wanting something a little lighter.

These dishes are really dark, and also super heavy. As I was digging through the cupboards I found some stoneware that my grandmother had given me a few years ago. It’s much prettier, lighter and a little smaller to help with portion control. 😉

In spite of all of these positives I still feel like I’m drowning in stuff. I may need to call in reinforcements to help me really prune down my collection of stuff.

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Three toothbrushes
Image via Wikipedia

Last week I went to see my periodontist, to see how the graft was doing. Great news, the graft took really well. So well, in fact, that the doctor said “the only problem is that it makes the tooth in front look terrible.” So that slag aside, I’m going to focus on the good news and tell you that I am now cleared to eat solids. I’m still waiting for the palate to heal. The doctor said it would be another 3 or 4 weeks, but still, at least I know that this procedure was successful. The bad news is two-fold:

1) My gums are “terrible.” I already knew that, but it really drives it home when you hear a specialist say it in those words. But it’s not just my hurt feelings, it means that the doctor wants to see me back in 10 months, where we will probably do another tooth, and maybe more.

2) I had to buy a new toothbrush, and relearn how to brush my teeth. Apparently I need to be paying attention to the angle that I use to hold my toothbrush, I need to separate my mouth into quadrants and ensure that I spend 2 minutes brushing, gently, so that I remove plaque, and bacteria, but don’t brush away the gum. (As an aside I’m pretty heavy handed, so this is really challenging for me, and causes me no small amount of stress for 4 to 6 minutes every day.)

But that’s enough about the downside. let’s get back to the upside…the food. As I think I have mentioned I’m not a huge fan of going to restaurants. I like the companionship of eating out with friends, but I’ve often found restaurants over-priced. I mean, $14.00 for a chicken wrap and fries? I’m pretty sure that I can make that or something much nicer at home for about the same price.

So, now you know about me, you know that I don’t care to pay to eat out every day, but I do like going out for a treat that I can’t make at home. This includes Sushi, Indian food, and of, course bi bim bap. These are just foods that I haven’t learned how to make yet. Though I should also tell you that I like eating tamer foods like fish and chips and hamburgers, these are just foods that I can’t make as well as most restaurants.

Penelope doesn’t post as much, so you may not know as much about her. She loves going to restaurants. I don’t know what her favourite dish or restaurant is, but I know she loves to go. You may not know either that Penelope is a vegetarian. And until recently I privately referred to her as a “boring vegetarian.” Penelope is very committed to her beliefs, and she doesn’t cheat. But, I have argued in the past, neither does she take advantage of the delicious variety of vegetarian and pescatarian foods.

The photo taken above came from my birthday dinner; that was the first time Penelope agreed to try Korean bi bim bap. And I’m pleasantly surprised to report to you that she likes it! She really likes it!

Bi bim bap is a yummy meal in a bowl, that has sprouts, and veggies like peppers, zucchini, and spinach to name just a few possibilities. It’s brought to the table in hot cast iron bowls with white swirls of steam billowing up toward the ceiling. When the waiter puts the bowl on the table they mix in a full serving of white rice, and then add as much or as little spice as you like. I like to have chicken in my bowl, while Penelope goes for the mixed vegetable bowl. We like to pair this meal with cool, creamy milkshakes (orange, pineapple and mango for me, and strawberry banana for Penelope.)

 Knowing that Penelope likes bi bim bap as much as I do makes me really happy. So when I found out that my graft had taken and that I was going to have a joyful reunion with food, I decided that we should go to Korean Grill. We ordered our chicken and veggie bowls, along with our milkshakes, and we had a nice conversation while I ate my steaming dinner very slowly, being careful not to burn the roof of my mouth. I have to say I thought the chicken looked really strange: large, white and really soft. Yup that’s right, I had the veggie bowl, and I was eating tofu. Apparently 3 weeks of nothing but Carnation Instant Breakfast and oatmeal (YUCK!) has completely erased all memory of the way food tastes from my brain.

But, no harm, no foul, Penelope and I exchanged doggie bags and I packed the chicken to take to work for lunch the next day. Too bad that I then left my lunch bag on the counter all day. Oh well, Korean Grill isn’t going anywhere. Now I have a reason to try to make Penelope go back for another meal.

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