Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All moved, now!

Please join me over at

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moving day!

Hi folks -- I've combined my three blogs and moved them over to my own website. So if you want to keep up on what I've discovered in urban nature, gardening, field-to-table food, come to my writing & photos over at .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

One pan: ingredients

OK, before you get upset at my lousy diet, I had a great big green salad with tomatoes and cucumbers and asparagus, 'kay?

But tonight was meant for leftovers! Actually, I deliberately made leftover potatoes this morning: I peeled and cut up two potatoes and cooked them so I could use them for dinner. I only used one potato: the other one will be used later in the week.

Friday night I did a slooooooow braise of a Boston Butt pork roast. I put in a Dutch oven:
5lb pork roast salted and peppered, then browned on all sides
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, cut into 2" lengths
(those vegetable ingredients I sautéed in the pot after I removed the browned roast)
Then I added:
1 can of Guinness beer
2 peeled and chopped carrots
2 peeled and chopped parsnips
2 bay leaves
and about 750ml of water, until the roast was almost submerged.
Bring to a boil on the stove, transfer to slow oven for 5 hours.

So I fork-separated and had some pulled pork off the roast tonight together with the potatoes, and that yummy cheese.

First the potatoes in the cast-iron frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a knob of butter. Eventually add the pork (it just needs to warm up). Shortly after, some cheese. Don't try to grate the cheese like I did: just crumble it in your fingers.

Yummy one-pan meal. Hash browns and pulled pork with apple-cinnamon cheese.

That's a cheese with potential. I can see doing a bunch of things with it. Like a grilled cheese sandwich!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chris' Cheesemongers bag

Here it is!

Silk screened on both sides with the shop's logo:

I like the orange reverse on the stitched handles. And the fact that the handles are long enough to sling it over my shoulder.

Lots of space in it for things. Two bottle-shaped pockets and a central divider. I shopped at the Market yesterday, and it held a basket of potatoes, one of carrots, one of parsnips, three bunches of asparagus, a bottle of olive oil, two of wine, 5 heads of garlic, 3 hunks of ginger, a pound of mushrooms from Phil's, and some more of that wonderful cheese that I bought last week.

The bags are only $5.00, and very roomy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tasty cheese

I'm a sucker for a good cheese!

I was looking for one last week, before having Oliver and Melissa over for dinner. I went to Chris' Cheesemongers: actually, it was funny how I ended up there. I was next door, at the organic Golden Orchard, buying some zucchini and cucumbers, and told the cashier how much I love using my LCBO partitioned bag for shopping. One of the cheesemongers was right behind me, and promptly told me that if I liked that bag, I'd like the ones they sell at Chris' Cheesemongers even better: longer straps, better compartments, larger size!

Nothing would do but I had to have one of those bags, so I went next door with him, and told him that, in addition to the bag, I wanted a mild cheese to serve at the start of dinner. We started with a pretty uninspired camembert (I think that was my suggestion) and by the third cheese, he had talked me into this, which I had a runny taste of.

Let it come to room temperature, and enjoy the delicate flavour. I served it with some rosemary and sesame flatbreads and some almonds.

It's made of a combination of goat, sheep and cow milk. I'm eating the last of it as I write this. The taste of goat and sheep is there slightly, giving it more character than a straight cow's milk cheese frequently has.

It's imported from Tuscany, $19.95.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Salut! Wine and food festival

I won tickets to Monday night's chefs duel over crab.
Dang, I wish I was one of the judges, because those of us who were not judges ate tasty appetizers, but no crab!

Here are some pictures I took.

I apologize for the quality: I need to (a)check that my battery is charged before leaving home and (b)check the settings on the point and shoot camera before pointing and shooting! Don't bother enlarging. The pictures look best small :-D

This one is a look down the bar at all the trays of food that had been set out, cleaned, ready to use, depending on what the chef wanted for the competition.

Radicchio, peppers, basil, thyme, green onions, and a lovely hunk of ginger.

Fingerling potatoes! Red baby potatoes! Yukon Golds! Are you hungry yet?

Several types of tomatoes, some dill, apples, cucumbers, and peppers. Oh yeah, some pears, too!

Aromatics: leeks, yellow and red onions, and a whole whack of a tubfull of peeled garlic cloves.

Here we have some plantain, yellow squash, zucchini, red bell peppers, and some mammoth carrots. These aincho baby carrots.

Screams guacamole, doesn't it? A couple of avocados, some limes, lemons, and oranges.

Fresh greenery.

Slab of awesome bacon, the package not yet opened, and some chorizo sausage.

Dairy products! Dang, I missed a shot of the $450 hunk of Parmesan. Just relax and imagine the richness these ingredients brought to the dishes.

Not the secret ingredient! But Ingredients I would have gladly munched, raw, because they looked so fresh.

Aw shucks.
(You didn't think I was going to pass on that, did you?)
Some nice freshly shucked Malpeques.

Cheeeeze, pleeeeeze.
Some boccancino on a skewer with a basil leaf and teeny tomato, plus some maple cheddar from Black River Dairy in Prince Edward county, and some heart-stoppingly wonderful marbelized carmelized onion cheddar, and I don't know the name of the dairy: send it to me and I'll fix this.

Awesome steaks.
Some were used to create a Steak Diane using some mashed potatoes, grated Parmesan cheese and (yum yum) secret ingredient, crab, all mixed together, placed on top of the steak. Me wants. Damn, me not judge, so me didn't get.

Obligatory crowd scene. Actually, it was more crowded looking the other direction.

Master of ceremonies, Dick Snyder, announcing the winner! Chef Gordon Mackie of Far Niente. Chef Bruce Woods of Brassaii put up an admirable fight.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why I have problems buying processed food when I'm not looking the processor in the eye

Yet another food recall is happening, this time around some Italian-style processed meats and cheese.

The larger the plant, the greater the chance that one machine's lack of cleanliness is going to impact a whole bunch of food, because everything from that line (or perhaps the plant) gets recalled.

It just freaks me out how much food is being recalled these days: worse in the USA, where food poisoning can result in millions of pounds of meat being recalled and destroyed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Playing with my food again

They had the cutest spoons at T&T Supermarket. I couldn't resist. Somehow, I just pictured serving a lovely little amuse gueule on them at my next dinner party. So tonight, when I was cooking up scallops and edamame for dinner, I... decided to play a little.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ever buy something unknown?

Like, an ingredient you've not used before? Something you have no idea how to prepare?

I need to look some things up.
I love anchovies. I like white anchovies, I like salted anchovies, I like salted anchovies in olive oil... and then I saw these at T&T supermarket (I biked over there yesterday afternoon).

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them. Maybe they're something that I add to soup, or grind up, or just munch on for a snack (like dried capelin, which my Dad used to buy long ago in Montreal).

I'll do some research and let you know what transpires!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yes, I finished the soup!

But forgot to blog about it!
It ended up taking the whole evening to make the stock, so I made the soup the following evening.

I had two bunches of wild leeks, and I cut them apart at the bottom of the leaf.
Sautéed the bulbs and stems along with a couple of onions, and then added the stock from the previous night together with some potatoes, cut into 6 to 8 pieces each, depending on the size of the potato. There were probably about 3 pounds of potatoes. Also added some black pepper. Would have added some nutmeg, but I seemed to have used it all up. Must remember to buy some more.

Simmered until the potatoes were cooked, and then roughly chopped and added the leek leaves to the mix, and cooked for about 5 more minutes.

Removed from heat, waited for it to cool a bit, and then used my stick blender to turn it into a homogenous soup.

It's good hot, it's good cold. I like it cold with a little drizzle of white truffle olive oil!

I've frozen it in two sizes: hefty meal and soup appetizer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Potato and wild leek soup

I'm starting it! I make some chicken stock before getting into the potatoes and wild leeks.
On the stove I have a big pot with
3 onions, quartered;
3 stalks of celery, chunked;
6 (very small) cloves of garlic, smashed;
1 kg of chicken backs from Rowe Farms (was only able to get those today: their stall at the north St. Lawrence Market was out of them on Saturday).
2 big pinches of kosher salt;
A flat palm's worth of basil
Same of savoury.

So after that simmers for a few hours I'll have chicken stock.
Then I'll start making the soup.

No, it's not for dinner tonight :-D

Cold & hungry

Fixed up the water thingie in the back yard again so it's flowing freely (catkins from the male cottonwood tree just to the south had blocked the water intake). Sat outside quietly for about an hour and a half to take pictures of migratory birds. (They've been uploaded and added to my Backyard Birds set at Flickr).

Came inside and wanted a grilled sandwich for a late breakfast.

Got out some cheddar that I bought from Montfort at the north Farmers' Market at the St. Lawrence Market on Saturday. A hunk of side bacon, oven roasted, came from Witteveen's in the south market, the baguette was from Future Bakery, and the dijon... well, I had that already in the fridge.

Assembled the sandwich, heated up the cast iron frying pan with a little olive oil and butter, and put it on at a medium-low heat, bacon side down.

Carefully turned it to be cheese side down, watched the cheese melt, removed to a plate.

That was good. Now I'll have a cup of chamomile tea while I go through the bird pictures.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wow, Grocery Gateway's on the ball

I use Grocery Gateway to buy the heavy stuff: kitty litter, laundry detergent, milk, cleaning supplies, juice. Since I'd have to take a cab to bring it home, it's even easier if I go online and order it and get them to deliver. I tweeted yesterday that I missed the cutoff for Saturday delivery, and now Grocery Gateway is following my tweets. They're using the new media intelligently!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Know your meat source

More and more people are becoming vegetarians and vegans. When I read the linked article, I understand more of them.
I'm still doing what I can to purchase my meat from small organic establishments: Witteveen at the St. Lawrence Market on weekdays, the farmers who sell pig, goat, and lamb at the north market on Saturdays.

Please don't buy meat from CAFOs. If you haven't seen Food, Inc., watch it. Read some of the books that have been written in the last few years (including Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food).

Oh -- that link: Tom Philpott's  Michael Ruhlmann pointed to this article in a tweet today.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Brunch at the Black Hoof Café

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of having brunch with Cheryl from Autodesk at the Black Hoof's newest spot, the café directly across the street from the original.

We arrived at 11am, which seems like a good time to go: only had about a 5 minute wait until we were seated (line up was out the door by the time we left.

Yummy menu. We had difficulties deciding what to get!

Eventually we settled on tongue grilled cheese sandwich (Cheryl, who accepted the waiter's recommendation to get that over the blood sausage & crepes, since she had not eaten here before) and pig tails & grits (Pat). Plus French press coffee (two pots thereof).

We shared :-)

The tongue grilled cheese sandwich was wonderfully rich and flavourful: swiss cheese, and the tongue had been turned into a preserved meat somehow (didn't ask for info, unfortunately) and sliced very thin -- was a very rich corned beef kind of taste.

The pig tails were shredded meat that was shaped into kind of a rectangular sausage that had been crisped on the outside: yummy, and didn't have to deal with all those little bones. The grits were creamy, tasty, a little sweet, and topped by two perfectly poached eggs.  A little crispy chip (tasted like Munchos -- remember them?) was on the top and gave some crunch to the dish.

We still had room for a little more, so Cheryl ordered the donut holes, stuffed with marrow and rhubarb jam. Little gems, about the size of a marble, dusted with sugar. Added that little bit of sweetness to say that the meal was done (that's when we had the second pot of coffee).

I'll be back. There was so much on the menu that looked good! Definitely have to try the suckling pig benny: three people at the next table all ordered it, and it looked scrumptious.

I'm also curious about fried artichokes & broth.

Unlike at the parent restaurant, there seem to be a number of items that a vegetarian could enjoy here: granola, salad, rapini pesto & pasta, and toast with jam and goat butter. Food for all!