Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sunday Sandwich

Food confession time.... I am not a breakfast person. I like breakfast, I eat breakfast. Some of my favourite Sunday mornings, have been spent in a breakfast specializing diner, recapping Saturday night.  I don't COOK breakfast. Okay, I cook breakfast...toast, bagels, cereal, a fried egg here and there, the odd breakfast burrito and pancakes but not the Sunday morning; bacon, eggs, toast, hash brown, squeeze the OJ, pass the fruit salad breakfast kind. I can, but I don't, breakfast dishes are my least favourite of the day.

The whole 'foodie doesn't do breakfast' thing has become the joke in our home and among our friends, especially when Mike gets invited across the street for the real deal. Mike loves breakfast!

The advent of minor league hockey is effecting my breakfast stance. I have cooked bacon and eggs with all the fixings more times in 2 months than in the last 4 years combined. We get up for hockey at 5:30 am, on the ice by 7, back home by 8:30. By then in my mind I'm not really cooking breakfast, I'm cooking lunch and I would be happy to provide 'lunch' food but everyone else wants breakfast. I have to be honest, it's not horrible.

This Sunday, according to critics (do a 9 year old and his Dad count as critics) I made the best breakfast sandwich of life! It was pretty darned good if I do say so...here it is

Sunday Sammie

I began with caramelizing some onions, laid some asparagus spears (with a hit of salt and pepper) on top at the end, covered with a lid and let them steam while I cooked the eggs.

Simple fluffy scrambled eggs; eggs, a splash of milk fork beaten and cooked over med-low heat with a gentle fold about a couple of times. I seasoned at the end with salt and pepper and crumbled feta cheese, light on the salt with the addition of the salty feta

(eggs cooked too fast on high heat = rubber. Salt added to the eggs before cooking deflates their fluffiness)

Bread choice was the touch. All these components on toasted whole wheat would not have delivered the same reviews. I grabbed a Persian style flat bread. cut sandwich sized squares, and popped them in the toaster. The result... wafer crispy exterior with a soft delicate interior...heaven.

Put all together on the buttered toasty flat bread and popped up with a light addition of mayo....the Sunday Sammie was born.

I had to call it the Sunday Sammie because, as I anticipated there was a request for the sandwich on Monday morning...the name gave me my out - have cereal
Eat well, Live well, Laugh often


Monday, November 21, 2011

Let the Christmas Baking Begin!

Sunday morning was blissful. For the first time in 8 weeks I didn't have to crawl out of bed at 5:30am, stumble to the kitchen, perk the coffee, and create a hockey players breakfast to sustain our young hockey star through practice. By the grace of the hockey gods we got a reprieve due to the older leagues hosting a friendship tourney.

So I slept in until 7:30 then tripped downstairs to perk the coffee at leisure. I pointed Ethan in the direction of the cereal drawer and plunked down with Christmas.

I gathered the newly arrived Christmas magazines and a couple of my favourite Christmas cookbooks, took up residence in my favourite chair and shut out the rest of the world. (as well as a mom can anyway)

Christmas baking is a treasured traditional inherited from my Gran. She would load our freezer every year with shortbread, date squares, Nanaimo bars, butterscotch rolls, mince tarts, marshmallow squares, coconut rolls and more. From November through January any time I was charged with fetching bread or vegetables from the freezer it took me a minute or two longer as I snuck some sweet frozen treat from a wax paper lined tin. By the beginning of December I was faster, having memorized which tins held my favourite treats.

Memories of my childhood have supplied much of my baking list. Magazines, cookbooks and cooking shows inspire yearly additions. Some stick...some don't. Biscotti stuck, 5 flavours X 20 dozen. Buttercrunch Toffee stuck X 10 lbs. Peanut Brittle stuck, Russian tea cakes, Pecan Bars, Cheesecake Squares all stuck. Now I am the one filling the freezer. I have to start early, bake often and often alone. I plan one big family baking weekend, where I employee child labour to chop nuts, ice cookies, roll, cut, mix, pan, cool, pack, and eat.

Yes I've been known to turn up a little holiday music, sip a little eggnog and dance in the kitchen and Yes, we argue, aggravate each other, make a mess and laugh. and Yes, I am really looking forward to this year's event weekend.

To get ready, I poured over the books and made mental lists, I took a trip to the grocery store to restock staples in good supply. I made Shortbread and Date Squares. These were my Gran's specialties, my favourites, and I make them first every year. It always seems to be right around her birthday coincidentally. The choice for first bake is my way of saying "Thanks Gran, for passing on a tradition that brings my family together and leaves sweet memories behind."

Eat well, Live well, Laugh often


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Two of My Favourite Things!

Two of my favourite things arrived in the supermarket this week. Chestnuts & Pomegranates!

Beyond signifying the arrival of the Christmas season, these once a year foods are fabulously delicious.

They are also mistakenly intimidating. They look strange, come with little instruction and no mainstream dish that people can suppose their flavour from. Some of the very best conversations can be overheard standing around a bin of pomegranates I always get stuck in place listening to people query "what is it? How do you eat it? Do you have to peel it?" I try to be helpful and offer some information, a how too and a recommendation to give it a try (only after I've enjoyed a few moments of eavesdropping on their food curiosity.) Usually I return to my shopping only to find that while I've been busy bestowing produce virtues my kids have loaded our cart with the crimson gems.

Pomegranates are high in Vitamin C & high in fibre.
Choose fruit heavy for it's size, free of deep bruising and soft spots.
Cut in half, a pomegranate reveals hundreds of ruby juice filled kernels...the trick is getting them out!

My favourite way to get the seeds out is to fill a bowl with water.
Take half of a pomegranate, place it it the bowl and turn it inside out.
Loosen the seeds off into the water.
This will save your fingers, clothes and counter from being stained red.
Discard any bit of membrane, drain the seed and enjoy!

A bowl of gorgeous pomegranate seeds. Perfect to eat as is, toss into salads, sprinkle on your oatmeal, cereal or yogurt. Pomegranates make beautiful vinaigrettes and sauces for meat.

Christmas seasonal delight # 2 Chestnuts!

There is a reason these treats are referenced in that famous Carole. Nothing compares to these warm,  waxy nuggets of sweetness. In major cities you can locate street vendors roasting chestnuts in carts, but they are easily done at home. A delicious low in fat nut these are a special treat!

Choose plump, firm chestnuts that don't have any give when you press on them.

Use a sharp knife and cut an 'X' in the tip of each Chestnut. Be careful - chestnuts are slippery! Set them on a thick tea towel to keep them from slipping about while you use the tip of the knife to make the cuts.

Place the Chestnuts in a shallow pan and roast in a preheated 425 F oven for 10 minutes.
The shells will split open where they were slit.

 Remove from the oven. Cool enough to handle. When you peel the chestnut there will be the hard outside shell and a papery inner layer, underneath will be the rich creamy sought after treasure. Enjoy some hot, add them to stuffing, mashed potatoes or sliced in vegetable dishes.
Those things you 'wonder' about in the produce department are worth putting in your cart, preparing them is easier than you can believe!

Eat well, Live well, Laugh often


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Missing Pumpkin Post

We did it! We made it to the Pumpkin Patch! I knew we would, Halloween waits for no one.

This is always the most entertaining and anticipated farm visit of the year. Pumpkin farmers know how to have a good time, perhaps it is growing the official festive icon of Halloween, the squash that gets kids playing with their food and turns adults into kids again...How fun is that!

We were late in our visit this year and had to pick our pumpkins from the wagons instead of the field which wasn't terrible, we didn't have navigate "the awesomest Pumpkin ever!" through 8 1/2 acres, to the farm stand and then to the car.
Our farm of choice for Pumpkins is always Shantzholm Pumpkins. They have great pumpkins and the worlds largest offering of squash, a corn maze, wagon rides and above all a great atmosphere. The farm and festivities are family run and you can tell they enjoy what they do.

A little pressed for time this year we skipped the corn maze (last year Mike & I got lost and it took our offspring search party a little long to find us - I don't think they were looking very hard) We headed straight for the wagons full of pumpkins and found some fascinating 'things' to carve, of which a couple were actually pumpkins.

Along with pumpkins we picked up pie pumpkins to cook and freeze for winter pies and muffins. Mike visited the squash aisle and picked up Acorn Medley for dinner (yes my kids eat squash - lots of it!) I got the glorious job of paying for our haul and then hauling it into the van.

At home those squash and pumpkins got carved, the acorn squash got eaten and the pie pumpkins are sitting on the porch waiting to be cooked.

Our visit to the pumpkin farm is always bitter sweet; it's the last farm visit of the season but it also comes with such a great time attached to it.

Eat well, Live well, Laugh often