Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mom At The Airport

On Tuesday, my Mom was flying from Fredericton to Vancouver and had a layover in Toronto, so we took the day off to go hang out with her.

We hadn't seen each other in a long, long time so it was so nice to get caught up in person rather than just on the phone. We had some lunch while we waited for her flight. Mom brought me some of my favorite candy from out east.

It's just not Christmas without Chicken Bones. Years ago, I think these were only really available at Christmas time, but now, you can get them year round. Lucky for me! These are sooo good! The candy part is bright pink with a spicy cinnamon flavour and in the middle is a strip of dark, dark chocolate. It might sound weird, but trust me - it is fabulous! The only problem I have with these is that I end up eating too many at once, and my mouth gets kind of numb from too much cinnamony candy.

Also made by Ganong, which is Canada's oldest candy manufacturer, and based still in New Brunswick and still family owned, are these super sweet chocolate bars. Just a bit of trivia for you...one of the Ganong brothers was the first to come up with a wrapped chocolate bar and they were the first to introduce heart-shaped boxes of chocolates to North America. These Pal-O-Mines are a sweet, brown sugary fudge with coconut, a sprinkling of peanuts on the outside, then covered in dark chocolate. Sounds sweet doesn't it? And sooooo good! So thanks to Mom, I can spend my evenings on the couch in sugar shock. And memories of home.

Our truck is too tall to fit into the airports parking garage, so we parked in the "reduced rate" lot which is blocks away and took the shuttle train back to the airport.

It just travels back and forth between the parking lots and the different airport terminals. I think the longest one has to wait is about 5 minutes.

It travels on this track which goes over the parking lot and the streets.

I think it's a great idea. For 3 hours of parking though, our "reduced rate" was $14. That is criminal!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Instant Indian

You know when you're working full time hours and have other projects & activities on the go, sometimes coming home at 6:30 or 7pm and starting a dinner from scratch seems like such a daunting task. I'd rather just pick up the phone and order in, but that can become costly. So, on occasion, I turn to conveniently canned or frozen items to help with making the night-time meal.

President's Choice came out with a neat frozen product line of ethic foods. The concept is that you buy one main dish, two sides and an appetizer and there's your meal! I decided to give the Indian ones a whirl.

I got Aloo Gobi which is a favorite of mine.

Some basmati rice with onions, peas & cashews. Yum! But the mains were all meaty. Hmm....

So this can came to the rescue. Patak's cooking sauces are made with authentic Indian spices, are easy to use and so delicious! They have quite an array of products with varying heats. One of our favorites is Rogan Josh that is traditionally made as a lamb dish, but we use it for tofu, faux chick or sometimes just vegetables. This Korma curry sauce sounded interesting, so I gave that a try. I used Quorn Chik'n Tenders and it worked perfectly!

The appetizer in this line are vegetable samosas. These cook up nice and crisp and as an added bonus, it comes with it's own little tub of PC Memories of Punjab dipping sauce, which is a sweet, slightly tangy tamarind sauce.

Gotta have Naan bread! No Indian meal is complete without it. This packaged bread is quite good. All one has to do, is set it in the oven for about 2 or 3 minutes. I just put it right on the rack, flip it, then take it out. It's soft, warm and smells delicious!

Since there wasn't much in the way of vegetables really, I steamed some broccoli and added that to the plate as well. What a feast!

The Korma sauce was rich, yet mild. The samosas were lightly spiced, the cashews in the rice added a nice little crunch. I couldn't finish my plate. It was piled high and even though everything was delicious, my tummy was full. We had lots leftover for a meal the next day. This was one night when frozen food wasn't so bad.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Simon's Baby

Simon has been quite the little father for the past couple of weeks. I bought him a new squeaky toy and fully expected it to be ripped apart inside of two minutes. Much to our surprise, he's been carrying it around almost all day, everyday. He even brings it to bed. At first, it was interupting our sleep because he'd randomly squeak it throughout the night. That has stopped, but still carts it around inside and out. He's always got a close eye on it and if we dare to try and take it, he's on top of us to get it back.

video

Below is my very amateur-ish video of Simon heading out with us to run some errands. He takes his "baby", but then almost forgot it in the grass. Being the good "dad", he retrieved it and took it with him.

video

(the beginning part is dark & a bit difficult to see. It's just in our hallway, waiting for the elevator)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Wine & Food, Food & Wine

I always have plans of posting more often than I do, but something always seems to get in the way. Then I end up with long posts that I'm not sure anyone ever reads to the end. In any event, here we go!

First of all, my friend Michelle was in town from Calgary! Her visit coincided with Fielding Winery's wine club members get together, so we spent our Saturday afternoon snacking, drinking and catching up.

It was pouring rain all morning, but by the time we were on our way, the sun came out. It ended up being a gorgeous day. We had a great weekend & I was so pre-occupied with everything, I never did take pictures of any of the food we made. So you'll have to settle for a few other tidbits.

First off, I've found the most delicious chip-type snack.

Riceworks are Dorito-like in shape and thickness, with a delicious taste and a terrific crunch. There are half a dozen or so different flavours so far I like the sweet chili the best.

The Sweet Chili is even vegan friendly! Not all of the flavours are, so, as always, be sure to read the label.

Remember those amazing wild blueberries?

Jim was back up north to finish the job he started and he came home with some more! We ate a lot just as is, but I did use some for our Sunday breakfast.

I loves me some blueberry pancakes - with maple syrup of course.

These were so yummy and just bursting with blueberries.

I've mentioned before that the LCBO puts out this amazing magazine called Food and Drink. It's published 6 times a year and is complementary at LCBO stores across Ontario. This year's summer issue had some focus on outdoor living & entertaining and they also included a trio of meatless grilling recipes that I may try in the future. One recipe, in a section called "Fit To Be Thai", I did make. The recipe, Grilled Vegetable Peanut Noodles, is vegetarian and with one small substitute, it becomes vegan.

I chose these noodles. The recipe called for Chinese noodles or linguini but I opted for rice noodles since this was supposed to be a Thai-inspired dish and these looked to be about linguini size. I quite often have trouble with rice noodles. They always seem so sticky and hard to work with after they've been softened. Maybe I'm cooking them too long? Maybe I should rinse them to remove some of the excess starch? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I love the taste of these noodles, but they usually end up in a tangled mess.

Unfortunately, I only have this picture of my bowl topped with the garnishes. I should have mixed it around so you could see more of what's underneath. The main components are visible, noodles, snow peas, red pepper, tofu. This turned out to be really good! It was a terrific meal-in-a-bowl and after both of us eating HUGE portions for dinner, there was still enough left over for lunches and then some. It heated up in the microwave pretty well. I'll include the recipe at the end of this post since it's not yet available on-line.

Remember these sausages? We ate two off the grill so I still had two left over and they were just screaming to be added to a pasta dish of some sort. I was craving sausage and peppers, so a quick little search via Google gave me this recipe. It was so easy! I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and cut the amount of red pepper flakes in half just in case it would be too spicy for me.

Man, oh man was this good!! I could have easily used all of the red pepper flakes and will the next time I make this. Jim said it was a little too sweet for him, but that's easy enough to rectify. The Marsala gave the sauce such a delicious flavour. Very nice indeed.

We had a nice salad on the side of mixed greens and bocconcini with a balsamic vinaigrette. It was a light & lively contrast to the richness of the pasta.


To complement all of it, we opened this delicious California Zinfandel that came in through Vintages.

This was a terrific wine to have with this pasta. With it's little bit of spice & berry flavours, it made our meal all that more enjoyable.


Did you make it all the way to the end of this post? Great! Thanks for hanging in and reading the whole thing. Now here's that recipe I promised for the Thai noodle dish above.

GRILLED VEGETABLE PEANUT NOODLES

Dressing:
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup natural smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp. honey (I used agave syrup)
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 tbsp. grated garlic
1 tsp. Asian chili sauce

1 pkg. Extra-firm tofu, cut into ½-inch thick slices
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 Asian eggplant, halved lengthwise (I used a zucchini)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt
1 red pepper, halved, seeded
1 pkg. Dried Chinese noodles, 12 oz. (375g), or linguini
8 oz. (250 g) snow pea pods, stem end trimmed, halved on the bias
¼ cup sesame oil
¾ cup thinly sliced green onions
¼ cup coriander leaves (cilantro)
¼ cup chopped salted peanuts

1. Combine soy sauce, peanut butter, honey (or agave syrup), vinegar, ginger, garlic and chilli sauce in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Reserve.

2. Blot tofu with paper towels and brush with soy sauce. Brush cut side of eggplant with oil and season with salt.

3. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill tofu, eggplant and red pepper for about 4 minutes a side or until tofu is browned, eggplant is tender and red pepper is softened with charred skin. Place pepper in a paper bag to sweat for 5 minutes or until skin has loosened. Peel away charred skin and cut peppers into strips. Cut tofu into 2-inch-ling thin slices and cut eggplant on the bias. Reserve.

4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add noodles and cook according to package directions. When noodles are about 1 minute short of their cooking time add snow pea pods and cook 1 minute or until tender and bright green. Drain and toss noodles and snow peas with sesame oil.

5. When ready to serve, toss noodles with reserved dressing, tofu and vegetables. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with onions, coriander and peanuts.

Serves 6