I’m still here…

…and I’ve aged a year since the last time you saw me!

This will be rather a lame post as I don’t have a lot of guid photos on my own camera.  They turned out blurry.  However, on my 38th birthday I convened a party of 40 plus people to celebrate both my birthday and my mother’s nameday. 

Where are the photos of my mother, you ask?  I’m not posting them because she actually looks younger than me.  No joke.  Those of my friends who hadn’t met her already were shocked that she was my mother.  

So, I’m posting a photo of our mystery guest in her place: 

She brought along some mystery gifts:

(I guess she didn’t know that I’m a knitter!)

I also got lots of other fab gifts, including these:

… and these:

… and these… 

This was despite the fact that I said “no gifts or you’re not getting fed”.  But the friends who brought the gifts all told me “We can’t really read… so we didn’t understand what your Email said”. I had to accept this and feed them anyway. 

There was a little mishap with the cakes in the photo with me above, by the way.  I managed to give out the wrong buzzer code to my apartment, which was a problem with the cake delivery that my friend and colleague KP had arranged for me and my mother.  This caused a bit of drama at the party… but then every party needs drama – and the cakes got here eventually, more joy to us. The cakes were amazing – and for those in the Toronto area they were ordered from She Takes the Cake.  And surely she does take the cake as they spent an hour trying to deliver the cakes before the mishap was made known.  Sigh.  

There are photos of the big spread that we prepared, but apparently not on my camera.  I catered 20 different middle eastern / greek dishes, my mother prepared a tremendous tiropita (greek cheese pie) and my friend Jennifer provided tofu kebabs which disappeared pretty quickly.   I will be boring you with all of those photos when I get them, no doubt. 

The “I’d like to bore you with photos of my food” will be made far easier once I manage to get this gift from JJ installed:

(I guess he got sick and tired of me saying “I have to print out it out at work!!”)

I also got this fabulous lawyerly gift from my mother, who got it from ECCO Shoes where she works (in case anyone is looking…):

… and she threw these in among other gifts:

We also acquired eight bottles of wine and 50 beers from various generous friends, so we don’t need to hit the LCBO for a week some time. Not to mention a fabulous cookbook from my friend MT at work!

So, I had the best birthday ever, really.  And since I’ve been away more than a week from here, I have LOTS to rant about in the current events realm but I will save it for tomorrow whenever it seems appropriate.

As for my family emergency – thank you for all the kind Emails off list!  The emergency is sorted now and everything is fine.  

I wish you all a guid week, and leave you with a parting recipe for two salads which were an unexpected big hit at my party.  

Baby Spinach and Pea Salad

(original idea for the recipe from Jamie Oliver’s “Naked Chef” book)

– 4 cups/1 litre baby spinach

– 2 – 3 cups green peas (fresh if you can get them, but frozen and thawed would work)

– 113 g/4 oz crumbled feta

Combine all of the above.  Dress with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice (the original recipe) or strawberry vinegar (my version).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Carrot and Orange Salad

(original recipe came from Claudia Roden’s book on Middle Eastern food, now out of print). 

– 1 1/2 lbs carrots, grated

– 2 tins of mandarin oranges, drained of all syrup

– 1/2 c lemon juice

– 2 T rosewater (which you can get at a middle eastern shop)

– 1/2 bunch of coriander (cilantro), ripped off the stems – don’t chop

– salt and pepper to taste. 

Combine all of the above in no particular order. 

A happy rest of the week to you all!

Regards, 

Kristina

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Felted Clogs!!!!

Hey!! Wait a minute!!! I just finished both pairs of Felted Clogs and already they’re walking away?

Man alive!

Ingrates!

You're grounded!!!!

You're grounded!!!!

Ah, no… not really. You see, I like my new clogs very much – and JJ is well chuffed too. He was prancing around in them breaking them in most of yesterday evening.

After a few setbacks, the knitting of the clogs went swimmingly. Mine were slightly easier than JJ’s – I can’t decide whether that’s because I preferred my colourway to the one I picked for him, or because they were smaller. Hmm.

I highly recommend this pattern to anyone looking for fabulous slippers – it’s very clever as it incorporates a double sole. Who needs Air Soles, anyway?! And, I knitted my pair in just one evening!

JJs were men’s medium (size 11 US/Cdn), mine were size small (6 US/Cdn – quite a bit smaller than my true shoe size, so thanks to Amy for the tip to knit a size smaller than I needed.

Yarn for both was by Brown Sheep. JJs were made with two strands of Lamb’s Pride Worsted, one Turkish Olive and one Kiwi. Mine were made with Lamb’s Pride Bulky, so I only had to use one strand – the colours are Lotus Pink and Limeade.

(If you’re planning to make these and can get ahold of Lamb’s Pride Bulky, I would highly recommend it. It’s great for felting and I found it easier to work with the one strand.)

I used 9 mm needles for both.

Actually, I’m thinking of wearing mine to work tomorrow as I happen to have matching accessories:

Then again, it might be a tad hot. But they’d look really fancy at the Summit of the Tenant Advocates planned for tomorrow after work – and yes, I know it’s Monday. Is there some rule that you can’t go drinking on Mondays?

In preparation for the toll that deep fried spring rolls and copious amounts of Moosehead will inevitably take, I made sure and got my Vitamin C all day yesterday with my new favourite summer thirst quencher: salted lime drink or “Indian limeade”.

I know that might sound odd. Try it. Miles better than Gatorade or Lucozade for killing thirst. This drink originated in India and I first tried it years ago at an Indian buffet place – and loved it. However, I never actually thought to try making any myself… until I came across a recipe for it in an excellent cookbook by Sybil Kapoor called Taste. (This book is fabulous – she combines all sorts of tastes you wouldn’t even dream of mixing, to great results.)

I’m now making it in litre jugs – approximately one cup of fresh lime juice to three cups of water. Then add salt to taste (I probably put in two teaspoons per litre, but I’m addicted to salt). Chill and serve over ice. Ms Kapoor suggests grinding in some black pepper – an excellent suggestion.

So, I’m now feeling all cool, comfy and exotic with my new beverage and my fabulous clogs!

Happy Monday!

a fable and some very pithy recipes

A wee introductory note

Well, it’s finally Friday!  And, because I’m feeling dragged out and rather lazy I thought I’d post a couple of blasts from the not-so-distant past.  Below, you’ll find – respectively – a little fable about some food-crazed Torontoian… and some of my special “Recipes in 25 Words or Less”.  They were both previously published on a food blog I set up one day when bored at work feeling even more inspired than usual.  I posted a few times on that blog and then remembered that I was, in fact, a lazy@$$ and didn’t feel like doing two blogs.

So, here it is – and my apologies to any of the three people who actually visited the other blog and have already read this crap.  See you next week with some brand-spanking-new stuff!

An Urban Fable

Once upon a time, there was a little girl living in a village. She grew up learning the Greek-Canadian art of How to Cook a Meal in One Week or Slightly Less at her mother’s knee:

So, it’s not all that surprising that she moved to the Big City as soon as possible and became a bachelor.

She never even needed to cook, as she was constantly surrounded by fabulous prepared food in abundance.

But, one day, the inevitable happened. She met someone. And that someone was not happy living on chips alone (very surprising, considering that he was from Scotland).

So, our heroine had to learn to cook again from scratch.

And although the Guy From Scotland was very happy with what she made (particularly with the beanz), she kept losing the can opener. Plus, she started to miss the foods from her home village.

However, being a busy person, especially given her predilection for ranting on and on, she did not have hours on end to prepare the feasts of her ancestors:

So she started reading food magazines and watching shows about food on TV to get some ideas. However, she was not the Ideal Hausfrau, and thus she ended up becoming completely depressed by her lack of kitchen perfection and shortage of high end kitchen gadgets:


Something had to be done, quickly. She was slipping back into her bachelor ways and – worse – losing her sense of humour.

Then, one fine day, she came across a vintage cookbook:

… and realised that her cooking could actually be a whole hell of a lot worse than it actually was.

This cheered her up. I mean, why make stuff that takes hours and look like this:

…when she could make stuff in 15 minutes that actually tasted pretty good?

So, our heroine started to see the light. She could now pass the high-end without bursting into tears…and actually started to go in and giggle at all the silly gadgets. She stopped coveting $50 balsamic vinegar and truffle oil.

And now, she’s become so confident with her anti-chef status that she would like to start sharing her inspirations tips and secrets with you, gentle reader. You, too, can have fun and turn out edible meals in less time than it takes a TV chef to depress the hell out of you.

And if your family doesn’t like it? Just tell them to get off their lazy @$$es and cook for a change.


Recipes in 25 Words or Less

In which Brouhaha starts trying to achieve her lifelong goal of publishing an entire cookbook on 4 double sided sheets of paper…

Soups

  • Tortellini soup: Put stock in pot. Bring to boil. Throw in tortellini. Simmer six minutes. Turn off heat. Add frozen veg and let sit three minutes. Enjoy.
  • variation: use v-8 juice instead of stock.
  • click here for the full Anti-chef recipe
  • Cock-a-leekie: slice and saute three leeks. Add three cups chicken stock and 1/4 cup barley. Simmer 45 minutes. Turn off heat and add frozen veg. Tasty.

Appetizers

  • Hummus: Blend one large can chickpeas, 1/4 cup each tahini (sesame paste) and lemon juice, one teaspoon cumin, one-half teaspoon smoked paprika, cayenne and salt.
  • Saganaki: slice kefalotiri (or romano) cheese 1/4 inch thick. Dredge with flour. Fry in lots of butter until golden. Serve with lemon wedges and bread. Opa!
  • Spicy Peanut Sauce: mix one cup chunky peanut butter, one tsp each cumin, hot paprika, and chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, salt.  Add hot water to desired consistency.
  • Garlic Puffs: cut one sheet puff pastry into squares.  Brush on garlic-flavoured olive oil.  Sprinkle lots of parmesan over.  Bake 20 minutes at 400 F.

Salads

  • Greek Surprise: chop one red onion. Let sit in lime juice 1/2 hour. Cube watermelon. Add feta, kalamata olives, fresh herbs, salt, pepper. Pour onion/lime over.
  • Fennel Citrus: slice one bulb fennel. Add one tin mandarin oranges with juice, one quarter cup white wine vinegar, salt, pepper. Dress with edible flowers.
  • Moroccan Chickpea: mix one can chickpeas; red bell pepper; carrot; one teaspoon each cumin, coriander; 1/4 teaspoon cayenne; two scallions; garlic; olive oil; lemon juice; salt.  Zippy.
  • Village Greek: cut tomatoes into wedges; salt heavily; let sit.  Add sliced English cucumber, three cloves garlic, chopped onion, cubed feta, kalamata olives, pepper, oil to taste.

Entrees:

  • Lamb Shanks Youvetsi: place lamb shanks in ovenproof casserole.  Add two cups stock, one large can tomatoes, one teaspoon cinnamon, chopped onion, garlic. Cover.  Bake two hours. Hearty!
  • Pasta with Burnt Butter: Heat four tablespoons of butter per serving of pasta in heavy sauce pan until it foams then turns brown. Remove from heat.  Pour over pasta.
  • Chicken a la grecque: Brown boneless chicken breasts. Add sauce grecque (one can cream of chicken soup, half can water, lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper). Simmer half an hour. Yum.
  • Desperation Curry: Saute one pound ground meat with soy sauce, pepper, onion and garlic (powder will do), red wine vinegar and BBQ sauce. Serve with rice.
  • Perogies: Chop onion and bacon – saute ten minutes. Meanwhile, boil perogies in salted water until they float to top – drain. Saute perogies in bacon mixture. Mmmm.
  • Ribs Like Mom Used to Make: Cut ribs into pieces. Simmer in water with an onion for one hour. Brush with favourite BBQ sauce, cover, bake in hot oven 20 minutes.

Desserts

  • Boozy Trifle: cut stale cake or muffins into cubes. Put in bowl. Soak with booze of your choice. Mix in pudding or custard and fruit or jam.
  • Decadent Delight: got cookies and pudding packs? Crush cookies, layer with pudding in bowl. Mix in whipped cream or cool whip and freeze 20 minutes. Mmm.
  • Lemon Squares: crush shortbread cookies.  Add eight tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, some salt.  Pack into pan and let sit 1/2 hour.  Cover with lemon curd.

Bonus: Baklava in 50 words or less!!

  • Baklava for Lazy People: shred half pound phyllo into large pan. Mix in two cups nuts and half pound melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes. Let cool.
  • add syrup: bring one and a half cups honey, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup orange juice, two cinnamon sticks to boil. Pour over cooled pastry.
  • (I know this one’s a bit of a cheat… but I couldn’t resist!! And everyone loves baklava!)

social responsibility and … booze?

Well, summer has arrived!!!

How do I know? Because the LCBO has come out with its early summer issue of the Food and Drink magazine!

Now, this has got to be the best free mag going! Not only does it have lots of free yummy recipes:

(A note: if you’re trying to diet, never, ever look at this magazine. Although the photos look so good that you could probably end up eating the paper they’re printed on…)

…but also lots of important lifestyle tips. I mean, I don’t know how much longer I can survive without buying some chocolate covered sunflower seeds:

…Dufflet chocolate bark:

…or a $32.00 lemon juicer!

(But here, gentle reader, I must confess that I actually now own one of these. In my defence, JJ bought it for me as a gift, knowing how much I love lemon, and it cost quite a bit less than $32.00 where he got it.)

And, here’s the perfect hostess gift for the next time you need one: a “chip ‘n dip” set

Only $240.00!! (Hmmm… how many bags of chips could I actually buy with that, though – and hey, they taste the same coming right out of the bag, no?).

Now, the only reason that the LCBO can actually offer this mag for free (which, by the way, has in past inspired a complaint to the Ombudsman from companies which actually sell their magazines) is that it is government controlled.

That’s right, folks – here in Ontario the government sells us our liquor. At a premium, of course.

What cheeses me off more though of late is that we’re also paying to get lectured while buying booze these days. For example, the LCBO used to have plastic bags like this:

Now, let me tell you, these bags were famous. They were the best plastic bags ever. This was the topic of many of those banal smoking area or elevator chats. Seriously. You could have a whole five minute conversation on “Don’t the LCBO have the best bags?”. I even know one landlord rep who used them as briefcases!

Well, alas, no more. Seemingly overnight, they discontinued the plastic bags in order to save the environment. So, instead, you can get either a free (paper) bag – great if you’ve driven in your gaz guzzling SUV to the liquor store, not so great if you are walking any distance – or, you can have one of these “enviro-bags”:

…which costs $1.95.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a good idea to do away with plastic bags. However, because they didn’t bother to announce that they were doing this but landed it on us, I was actually forced to buy one of their bags when I stopped in on the way home from work one day.

But then perhaps whinging like this is not socially responsible of me. As a consumer, however, I’m just getting tired of corporations taking the moral high ground, lecturing me about my (lack of) commitment to the environment, then turning a profit from it.

It strikes me that if the LCBO were really serious about encouraging people to use these bags (rather than paper, which as I understand it, involves trees being cut down), they would sell them at cost. And although I don’t know for certain I would venture to say that the LCBO does not itself pay $1.95 for each bag.

I mean, it’s not as though they’re hurting any!

The LCBO transferred a record $1.275-billion dividend, not including taxes, to the Ontario government in fiscal 2006-07. It is the 13th straight year the LCBO has increased its dividend to the province and the fourth consecutive year the dividend has topped $1 billion.

I’d love to know how much of next year’s billion plus “dividend” (is this a fancy word for “profit”?) relates to the sale of enviro-bags, myself.

And is it “socially responsible”, pray tell, to hawk $240 chip bowls rather than encouraging people to donate that kind of money to – oh, I don’t know – Mothers Against Drunk Driving, perhaps?!

Humph.

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