Saturday, January 30, 2010

Steaklets Pepper

First I want to share with you one of my Christmas gifts. It's this handy-dandy kitchen cart from IKEA. I don't have a lot of counter space, so just getting the mixer off of the counter gave me, what feels like, tons of extra room . Also, being able to put large bowls and things on the shelves also frees up some cupboard space. It's a plus-plus! And, I had the fun of a little project in putting this together.

The flowers were a surpise from Jim one day.

Gorgeous! Whenever I walked near or into the kitchen, I could smell them right away. Yea, I pretty much kept them in the kitchen. It's where I was spending most of my time & I wanted to enjoy these flowers as much as I could. I shuffled them between the kitchen and my computer desk.

While browsing the herbs in the grocery store, I saw this.

I think these must be something new to my regular store, because I've never noticed them before. They had a lot of varieties to choose from and they were the same price as the non-organic herbs!

Added bonus - they're Ontario grown! When I picked up this package, I knew I wanted a big ol' baked potato with chives

I also got some Yves Veggie Burgers and some assorted veggies, went home and got to work on dinner. This is why you aren't supposed to grocery shop while hungry.

Look at all this! I couldn't finish everything, obviously. It was all very good. The brussels sprouts are Best Brussels Sprouts from Vegan Lunchbox (you can find the recipe here). The broccoli and carrots were just steamed. There's my potato with chives! It was so freaking yummy!

The burger dish I made was from Linda McCartney's Home Cooking. This was one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I bought. Quite a few of the recipes use meat analogs and when I was first changing my diet, it made the transition very easy. Some of the recipes became tried and true favorites, like this one. It's quick and you probably have all of the ingredients on hand already.


3 tbsp. vegetable oil (I used way less oil)
4 vegetable burgers
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
(I used 3 cloves, just because we like garlic!)
2 green peppers, seeded and chopped (I used a green & a red)
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 16oz. can chopped tomatoes
(I had some leftover fire-roasted tomatoes - they work well in this)
1½ tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. soy sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the burgers on both sides. Remove the burger from the pan and place in a hot oven.

Add onions and garlic to the pan and sauté until they are tender. Add the peppers and most of the vegetable stock to the sauté, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Mix the cornstarch and soy sauce with the remaining vegetable stock to make a smooth, lump-free paste. Add this to the sauce and continue to simmer.

When the sauce has thickened, return the burgers to the pan. Increase the heat for 1 minute. Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maritime Brown Bread

Who doesn't love homemade bread? As a confessed carb-o-holic, it's one of my favorite things. I hadn't had any "down home" style bread in years so I dug out my mom's recipe for Maritime Brown Bread and got to work.

First some yeast, warm water and sugar in a small bowl to "wake up" the yeast.

If it gets all foamy like this, the yeast is good. Excellent! We're off to a fine start.
After mixing in flour, molasses, oatmeal, salt, etc. (recipe follows) the dough gets kneaded for a good 8-10 minutes. You can do this in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment or the old fashioned way with muscle power. It's a great workout for your arms.

The ball of dough then gets put into a greased bowl. Swish it around so the entire ball is greased. Cover, place in a warm spot to rise.

After an hour or so it's really puffed up! Punch it down, let it rest then shape into loaves & place it in greased pans.

I brush some oil on the top and sprinkle with oatmeal. Cover and let it rise again in a warm spot.
Whoa! Look at it now. That's some impressive work on the yeast's part. This then gets put into the oven and baked until a nice golden. The smell of your kitchen will have you swooning and clutching the counter as your knees give out.

Remove the loaves from the pan and let it cool. Resist the urge to take a big bite out of this baby.
And there you go. Maritime brown bread baked to perfection. This is a nice hearty loaf with a touch of sweetness. I goes great with baked beans. Want to try this? You don't have to travel all the way to the East Coast of Canada. You can whip some up right in your own kitchen.

1 cup oatmeal
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. shortening
2½ cups boiling water
1 heaping tbsp. yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup molasses
7 cups unbleached flour (approx.)
Place oatmeal, salt and shortening in a large bowl. Pour in boiling water, stir and let stand until lukewarm. Meanwhile, mix sugar and 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Once oatmeal mixture has cooled to lukewarm temperature, add in molasses and yeast mixture. Add 4 cups of flour and then add 1/2 a cup at a time. When dough has pulled together, turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic - approx. 8-10 minutes.
Grease a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm, draught free spot, until doubled in volume (about an hour).
Punch down dough, remove from bowl, cover with towel and let rest 10 minutes. Grease loaf pans and sprinkle with oatmeal flakes. Shape dough into loaves and place in pans. Brush top with oil and sprinkle with oatmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for about 35-45 minutes until doubled. Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes. If top is getting too brown, cover with foil.
Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks and let cool completely.
*You can also add raisins into the dough when adding the flour. It makes nice raisin toast.
**Maritime blood in your veins will help with the success of this, but it is not necessary.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Big News!!

How has 2010 been for you so far? Ours has been quite exciting. Jade delivered a baby girl on Jan. 11, so we are now grandparents! (albeit, young grandparents, a-hem). Can you believe it?!

This is little baby Abigail Faith. She weighed in at 6lbs. 5oz. and she is like a little doll. Jade had a smooth pregnancy and an easy delivery, for which I was relieved. You hear so many horror stories over the years, that you hope for the best, but try to prepare for more difficult times. This was one of the best!

Here she is strapped into her car seat for her first car ride, to go home, in size 0 clothes that are still too big :o) She seems like a feisty little thing, and Jade said for her first week, she's been very good. Almost a perfect baby. A whole new generation is upon us.

Monday, January 11, 2010

2 Week Old Christmas Story

Christmas has been over for 2 weeks now and I'm just getting this post up now. I woke up Christmas Eve morning with a sore throat and developed a few sniffles, but nothing ever really happened past that. I've been really tired, though, so I've probably fought something off. Anyhow, I'm going to give you a post that is heavy in pictures, but hopefully, not too wordy. I do tend to run off at the mouth and my fingers suffer from the same affliction sometimes. Bear with me.
Is this just the perfect advent calendar for me or what?

A delicious little piece of chocolate was to be had each day.

Inside some of the flaps, there were little tidbits of info. For a trivia junkie like myself, this was gold!

Jim's project each year is to set up our Christmas village.

He always does an amazing job.

We invited Aunt Peggy to spend Christmas with us, much to Simon's delight.
He adores his Aunt Peggy.

Mama Rita cooked a turkey for everyone, did stuffing (and kept some out of the bird for me) and I did all the sides.
When I take pictures of Jim, he either has a fake smile or acts like a goof. Guess which look this is?
Everyone hungrily awaiting food. Jade, Aaron (taking Jim's cue) Mama Rita & Aunt Peggy.

The flowers I bought for the table were so pretty, it would be a shame not to share a few with you.
Perfect pinky, yellow, apricot alstroemeria.

Gorgeous, puffy white chrysanthemums.

Stunning pink gerbera.

My all-time favorite flower - the lily. These beautiful white ones opened to perfection on Christmas day.

Now the food - Here's my plate, with a bit of my shadow at the bottom of the plate. Excuse that would you please.

Starting at 12:00 and working clockwise we have roasted carrots, mashed turnip (or properly called, rutabaga), braised red cabbage, roasted Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts, mashed potatoes and faux gravy, Dynise's kick-ass Quince-Cranberry sauce, slices of Quorn Turk'y Roast, and stuffing in the middle. Needless to say, I couldn't eat all of this.

This Quorn Turk'y Roast is quite yum; perfect for Christmas dinner. Dynise's Quince-Cranberry sauce is so delicious I think I ate most of it myself!

Here's a shot of the braised red cabbage which I got from a recipe that was printed up in the Holiday issue of LCBO's Food and Drink magazine. I do what one is never supposed to do - try a new recipe for a company dinner. They are my taste testers! I had enough other sides that if this didn't turn out, we wouldn't starve. Luckily, this was a hit! The recipe isn't up on line yet, but I'll include it at the end of this post.

In November, I picked up a copy of President's Choice Insider's Report. In it, they were introducing their new frozen profiteroles and underneath was a little blurb that said to go to their website for a recipe on how to use these cream puffs to make a croquembouche. For years now, Jim would randomly speak of a croquembouche. I think he just likes to say the word because it sounds funny. I was stoked! I was going to make this as a surprise for Christmas dessert. It was super easy to put together and voila!

Jim had a croquembouche! I also put out a tray of sweets - chocolate covered peanut butter balls, shortbread, fruitcake, macaroons...I figured there was no way we would be able to finish this. The croquembouche was clearly the favorite as it was dismantled in no time.

After a long, festive day, Simon had clearly had enough.

In the words of Tiny Tim "God Bless us. Everyone."
Have a Happy New Year!

2 tbsp. butter (I used margarine)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil (I used olive)
1 cup chopped red onion
1 red cabbage, about 2 lbs (1 kg) cored & thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
3 cloves
pinch allspice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup grated apple
1/4 cup red currant jelly
1. Heat butter and oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add red cabbage and sauté until coated with oil. Add bay leaf, cloves and allspice and season with salt and pepper.
2. Pour in red wine and vinegar and sprinkle in brown sugar. Toss together and bring to a boil stirring occasionally.
3. Turn heat to low, add apples, cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until tender. Add water if cabbage is sticking. Stir in red currant jelly and cook another 20 minutes covered. Taste for seasoning, adjusting as needed, remove bay leaf.
Serves 6-8