Posts in Category: food

best thing I ate this week: late summer’s bounty

The simplest recipes are so often my favourites. Maybe it’s because there is added delight in throwing just a few things together to produce pure, uncomplicated deliciousness. Like this simple salad we made this week thanks to Chef’s Plate.

This one’s definitely a keeper!

The recipe made two large dinner-sized salads for us. Modify for your needs. Add a cob of corn on the side and make it vegetarian.

Field Tomato and Sirloin Steak Salad with Croutons

Preheat the oven to 400°

Ingredients:

  • A small steak
  • 3-4 slices of nice bread, cubed
  • 1 cup of yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large, ripe field tomato, cut in bite size pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • The leaves picked off a couple of sprigs of fresh parsley
  • The leaves picked off a couple of sprigs of summer savory
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil

Make some croutons: toss the cubed bread with the summer savoury, salt and pepper and a tbsp. of olive oil in a medium bowl. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes, tossing halfway through.

In the same bowl, add a tbsp. of red wine vinegar, the parsley and a tbsp. of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Grill or pan fry the steak 4-5 minutes a side for medium rare, or how you like it, and set aside.

In the bowl with the dressing, add both tomatoes and red onion and toss well. Add the croutons, toss again. Plate with a portion of the steak.

Every bite tastes like a specially delicious toasted tomato sandwich.

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We started using Chef’s Plate service a few months ago, and we love it. We choose three meals a week, and the portioned ingredients and a recipe card are delivered to our door every Monday. We’re always happy with the quality of the food, and the ease recipes. For people like us, who often work long hours and get home late, this is a much cheaper and healthier option than simply going out. If you live in Ontario, enjoy trying new recipes, give them a try. It’s completely risk free, and there’s no commitment. And they’ll even give you two free meals for trying! Click here to read more.

This is not a sponsored post.

best thing I ate this week: hearty salad

After a week of travelling and eating in restaurants, a simple salad at home is exactly what I needed. I just love these power bowls. They’re so nutritious and filling, and easy to make. This one with mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots, grape tomatoes, chickpeas, avocado, cucumber, hemp seeds, pepita seeds green onion, hummus and yogurt dressing with dill, honey and lemon juice. It’s a good way to clean out the fridge, no?

Only good thing about vacation ending is home "cooked" dinner. #simplepleasures #cleanfood #chefsplate

best thing I ate this week: chicken soup

Up until a few weeks ago, I never made a good chicken soup. I am generally a really good soup maker. It’s always been my best thing. But all of my attempts at chicken soup could best be described as LAME. BLAH. HO HUM. This winter I’ve had a seemingly endless craving for the stuff and I’ve been buying some pretty good chicken soup from the “soup ladies” downstairs in my office building. I say “pretty good” simply because the broth is delicious, but it’s low on veg and high on macaroni, and macaroni and my waistline do not get along. So I decided to just get down to it and learn how to make a proper chicken soup of my own.

All it took was for me to think of the basic tenet to good broth: roast the ingredients first. So once  week I’ve been doing this:

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And I’ll be darned, at 53 years old I can finally make really delicious, nutritious and soul warming chicken soup. It’s a little labour intensive, preparing a roast chicken, then picking off the meat and adding the bones to the stock pot to make the stock, and then cutting up the veg and meat to make the soup. But for the simple pleasure of creating this…

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…it’s time well spent on a cold weekend afternoon.

autumn bounty

image from flic.kr

change, big change, and food

I’m sitting here looking out at the millions of diamonds floating on the harbour and I’m filled with contentedness. I don’t know what that has to do with this post, but it seemed like a good way to start it. We’ve just finished our weekly brunch of frittata – this time with purple kale, asparagus and tomato and accompanied by couple of slices of nitrate-free bacon. I don’t know what that has to do with this post either, but it certainly reflects my rather limited perspective of the last month and a half. Cooking, was, I suppose, my way of coping; it felt productive and healthy and financially responsible. Back when I was a single mother going to university, I could stretch a grocery budget like nobody’s business.

image from flic.kr

One would think that when one is suddenly laid off from her job, she’d find all kinds of time to go to the gym, write a first draft of a novel, while away hours creating dolls and collaging and all the other things that stimulate her creative self. Most certainly she’d find time to blog. What really happened was she went into some sort of shock.

Not that it was a surprise. Most of my office had been laid off in the months before I was. My company’s industry had gone into a holding pattern and one by one, engineers began to go and then supporting staff. And then the business development group was dismantled too. One by one, ending with, I’ve heard, my boss, its director. I guess things are pretty bad when business development isn’t seen as useful anymore. It’s a giant company – our industry was a small part of it and they’d focus their pursuits in more profitable areas. Fortunately for me, my career isn’t centred on any one industry; I can write proposals for any kind of company and I have done so in a number of realms.

image from flic.kr

So the shock that wasn’t really a shock sent me into finding employment mode. I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to find another job. And I did. Lucky me – proposal writers are needed everywhere these days.  I started with a new company last week and the fit seems great.

But for five weeks my alarm clock was retired and I wore yoga pants every day and I revised my resume. And I tried new recipes. Food was comfort and my creative output. Likely it was a way to divert from the shock of the sudden retreat from the work world. North of that harbour I see from the vantage point of my sofa, the work world went on without me. Suits hopped off streetcars, blank faces filled the subway cars, couriers delivered packages and crews tore apart roads. I made soup.

image from www.flickr.com

Food might also have something to do with the other big change in the wind. After I was laid off, Ceri and I talked and it seemed like a good time to go forward with us and move in together. It occurred to me that I haven’t shared a home with a man in more than twenty years. But that’s not entirely true. Ceri and I have lived together, either at my place or his, every weekend for almost a year and a half. We have dinner together every Wednesday. It’s time. There is no need to be paying for two residences. Or be apart. Before Ceri I never knew a relationship could be so consistently pleasant and uncomplicated. Cooking for us and our family is an extension of our relationship.

I haven’t moved over to his place yet, that comes next month. We’re really excited about the challenge of merging stuff and making a home together. The Co-Habitation Project has given me new ideas about my blog space too, and I expect its documentation will be part of some needed change here.

In the meantime I am adjusting to the big changes. I love change – in many ways I have always lived for it. But as I discovered during the last time of major change in my life - when I sold my home and quit my job and took a big trip then relocated to another part of the province – big change causes system shock. But today as I look out at the diamonds floating on the lake and contemplate a different beautiful view out a different window, I feel grateful that the shock is giving way to living back in the world. And knowing that I have the capacity to keep putting one foot in front of the other, having trust in that the road that unfolds beneath them is the right one.

image from flic.kr

where I’m at – because I haven’t been here

Happy New Year. Yeah, I know, it’s closer to February than it is to the new year swing over, but the break was intentional. Sort of. After the year of daily posting “rules,” which I didn’t stay true to in the end, I did what I have done upon being released from “rules” in the past –I revelled in the no more rules. The photo-a-day project was a good thing; don’t go thinking I’m regretting it. The exercise made me keep my eyes open, and I documented a year, and even if I didn’t manage the one-a-day in the end, I took lots and lots of photographs, a few of them decent. I’m just a natural rebeller against rules so I'd say I did pretty good. (Even better if I got the rest of December's photos back-posted!) Anyway, now that I’ve got those things expelled from my system I’m back. Here’s where I’m at.

Not Resolving
At the beginning of the year, everyone is thinking about fresh starts and resolutions. As a big fan of fresh starts, it is the same for me too. If I were to state some resolutions, which I’m not going to do because I didn’t make any, but if I did, they would revolve around writing and creativity and personal authenticity and cooking and getting more sleep. And revitalizing this blog.

Over the extended bloggerly break I’ve been working out ideas about where I’d like to go with this space now that the photograph project is over. I still don’t have that clearly defined in my mind, but I do know that my intent is to put the focus back on finding inspiration and making pictures with words. What those pictures will look like, I have no idea; I’m just soldiering on.

Finding Inspiration
I really loved writing people watching stories, but just I don’t have as many these days because I’m not trapped in subway cars with them for two hours or more a day any more. And this makes me very happy. I’ve always enjoyed the people-watching aspect of public transit, but doing it every day for several years took a piece out of me. For all the wonderful things a big city is, it is also filled with millions of people who aren’t looking beyond the ends of their noses in getting about their days and to an over-sensitive sod like me, the daily sea of rudeness was demoralizing. So I’m refocusing on the process of finding and developing inspiration in other ways, and my lovely, solitary walks to and from the office each day are the perfect times to meditate on that. That and, er, perhaps, some loving kindness toward the city full of rude people I’m still so quick to judge.

Picture Making
I will continue to use photos to enhance my blog space, but now I’m thinking about playing with photos creatively, and finally learning how to use my PhotoShop software to its full extent, and connecting them to the things I write.  I’ve got a brand new phone and now a number of new camera apps to try too.

Obsessing
It’s January, my annual nesting period; and I’m obsessed with food. Every day I’m searching for new recipes, looking at my cookbooks and food blogs and the good thing is that I’ve tried, with success, a number of new favourites to put on the table. This past weekend’s kitchen adventures included tomato-onion-red pepper frittata (eaten over two breakfasts), chicken enchilada soup, vegetable barley soup, crispy quinoa bake, balsamic roasted carrots, roasted tomatoes with parmesan and Ceri’s broccoli salad. I didn’t have homemade lunches a number of times in recent weeks and the thought of the restaurant/takeout options near work, though abundant in choice, grew increasingly unfavourable. I thought of taking up a challenge, say, to try a new recipe every week, but there’re those rules again.

image from flic.kr

Family Zen
My little family and I are in a really good place together.  Ceri and I have moved ourselves into a comfortable, though never fixed routine. We continue our quest to find something to do every weekend, and times at home are happy and relaxed and thank goodness he is amenable to one of the only channels I’m keen to watch on TV these days, Turner Classic Movies (through which I obsessively shut out the world time-travelled over my relatively quiet holidays). Both my girls have new homes and happy work and social lives filled with good people. We all meet every Friday night after work at our favourite local for “beer o’clock” and dinner where we decompress from the work week and catch up and laugh a lot. I’m so lucky.

Promoting Stories
I’ve started a new semester in my online creative non-fiction class and through it I continue to meet some really great people who seek to do what you and I do – tell our stories. Each new learner that comes to a class inspires me in one way or another; I learn so much from them. In return, I try my best to inspire them to tell their stories.

It’s January. My world is small. A good small – a beautiful thing.

Where are you at?

rainy sunday brunching

It's one of those little gifts life hands you every once in awhile: a rainy Sunday morning.  That which invites you to have coffee in bed, to loaf around in your pyjamas and to think of things to cook.  Tomorrow I'm heading out of town for the week for work, so I've got some things in the refrigerator to use up, like a red pepper and some zucchini.  I had recently noted this recipe in my Pinterest recipe collection which I'd saved from my favourite foodie blog, Skinnytaste.com, and decide to make it, modified to incorporate some not-so-skinny pancetta, also sitting there in the refrigerator.  More thumbs-up from both sides of the table.

image from www.flickr.com

Cook slices of onion until they're browned. Caramelizing works best if you do it slow and long; but that tends to make people in the household hungrier faster.  Today I counter pre-brunch hunger with fruit bowls of pomegranate, pear and grapes and cook the onions slow.

image from www.flickr.com

Add in matchsticked zucchini and chopped bell pepper and cook until soft.

image from www.flickr.com

Transfer cooked veg and some cooked pancetta to a pie plate. Whisk a combination of eggs and egg whites together with fresh grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and a few drops of hot sauce and pour over top of the veg mixture.

image from www.flickr.com

Bake 20-25 minutes at 400 F.

image from www.flickr.com

Tastes great as a next-day leftover.

dinner, wellington street

Tonight we meet up with my girls and some of their people for a drink before going out to dinner at a nearby bistro on a gift certificate I got for my birthday back in (the MUCH MORE TEMPERATE) April from those same devoted girls. 

We really enjoy the food, both indulging in the place's specialty, steak frites, and the casual ambiance of the place. I like that our mildly snobby but very attentive server is wearing low-top Converse runners with her skirt and blouse. Sitting near us is an elderly and elegant couple out on what seems to be a regular date. I wonder aloud if Ceri and I might still be going out for meal dates 30 years on. (We seem to concur – yes.)

On the walk home I admire the beauty of the city, looking east toward it on Wellington. My photo doesn't come close to capturing how it sparkles; but then it's a photo-a-day project (in spirit) and this is the one photo I got. You'll have to take my word for it.

 

image from www.flickr.com

 

happy weekend breakfast

image from www.flickr.com

Saute onions. Add kale and grape tomatoes.

image from www.flickr.com

Cook up some bacon.

image from www.flickr.com

Break up some bread.

image from www.flickr.com

Crack some eggs.  Beat in some milk, salt, pepper and a few drops of hot sauce.

image from www.flickr.com

Layer all that stuff on top of the bread. Ensure the egg mixture gets soaked into the bread. Top with cheese.  Let it sit for a few minutes while the oven warms up.

image from www.flickr.com

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Enjoy the mmmm sounds coming from across the table.

 

I think egg strata is one of the best inventions; any combination of whatever's in the fridge can turn into the most satisfying brunch and provides for nutritious leftovers for lunch in the work week. Most recipes will tell you to assemble it the night before to let the egg and bread become one. I never think that far in advance.

This dish makes my main man very happy and that enhances the pleasure of putting the lovely thing together on a lazy weekend morn.

 

more rainy, new photo tools

image from www.flickr.com

 

Walking to Mia's from the station for what will be, as always, a luscious meal.  It's a little hard to walk out – rainy and blustery is real good at inviting you to stay in and, say, do laundry.  Going out finds images like this and thus all kinds of opportuinity to play with my new PhotoShop software that I got with my new computer.  Bear with me as I play – and work out a style!

image from www.flickr.com

 

Later, I get off the streetcar and walk down Spadina home.  It's still raining, and that makes it quite pretty.  It's almost November friends. I expect a lot of my photos will be night shots again.  And so another year comes around.