Let It Snow, I Don’t Care…

20 11 2008

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Today, we had our first big snowfall of the season. It’s officially winter in the Not-So-Great-White-North, and I couldn’t care less. Now, I’m not one of those people that gripes with every changing season, constantly wishing that the weather was doing the opposite of what it is, counting down the days until the next season change because of course, then it will be better! No sir, not me. Well that’s a lie; I hate summer. But since it is anything BUT summer, I digress.

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I actually like winter. Not so much being outside in the winter, but watching outside from inside in the winter with a big bowl of something warm. I like watching the snow fall, making stews and soups, and wearing woolen leg-warmers, fingerless gloves and hats inside with a mug of peppermint tea. I’ve even been, on occasion, known to actually bring myself outside and careen down a mountain strapped to a thin piece of fiberglass just to be able to warm up afterwards. It’s mostly about the cooking, though.

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To celebrate the beginning of what I hope to be a white yet mild winter, I made a pot of soup. One of my classmates is partially to blame for this, actually, for if it wasn’t for her buying a bowl of potato, bacon and cheddar soup on our break today, I probably never would have gotten the idea to make my own at home. But she did, and I did, and this is me telling you about it. Onward and upward.

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I don’t make soups too often. It’s not because I dont’ like to or want to, but because I tend to disregard them as actual meals. In my mind, a meal should have a meat and a vegetable, maybe a starch, and all of these things should need to be chewed. Soup just doesn’t follow those rules(let it be known that I don’t eat broth soups with chunks of such things floating within so stop thinking you’re so clever) and that’s why I don’t think about it. However, on rare occasions, I do infact crave soup, and when I do, it’s 95% of the time a cream soup. This is perfect for the little autistic kid in me that NEEDS a meal to have a meat, vegetable and maybe a starch because lo and behold, it does! And it’s all suspended in a delicious, creamy veloute. Who could ask for more?

Potato, Bacon and Cheddar Soup
Serves 4 as a starter, 2-3 as a main

5 slices of bacon, cut into strips
2/3 cup onion, fine dice
2 cloves garlic, fine dice
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour(approx.)
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups potatoes, medium-small cubes
1 cup shredded old white cheddar
pinch each of cloves and nutmeg

Sautee bacon and onions until bacon has let off most of it’s fat into the pan and onions are translucent; add butter. Add garlic and sweat for 30 sec. Stir in flour to make a roux. Mixture should pull away from the pan. Slowly add chicken stock, stirring constantly. Once encorporated, stir in milk and add potatoes. Let simmer on medium-low for an hour, or until the potatoes are cooked through but are still pleasant to the bite. You will have to get up and stir this soup every so often as the roux DOES like to stick to the bottom of the pot, but that’s easy enough to fix by aggressive scraping with the spoon. Once the potatoes are cooked, check your seasoning and add cloves, nutmeg and pepper as needed. You probably won’t need to add any salt as the bacon will fix that for you but go nuts if you like to. I’m no one’s doctor. Add cheese and stir until melted.

Serve with crusty bread, soft snow and a warm pair of wool socks while pretending the world does not exist.

Currently listening to: City and Colour

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Have A Happy Heart Attack

4 08 2008

Fire roasted bacon TRIPLE(eep!) cheese burger, courtesy of the great outdoors, and that little camping trip I had mentioned. I have never had something so awesome/bad for me in my life.

Fire roasted bacon– HIGHLY recommend.

Happy Monday!





So I’ve Been A Little Bad

28 07 2008

I swear it’s been for the greater good though. Honest. Otherwise, how could extol the glories of this goat roti for you? Hmm? On my trip to Toronto, the first thing I did when I got in was to find some roti. I missed roti so much being up in the not-so-great white north, and the amazing goat roti I got from Real Jerk was almost enough to convince me to say damn all the waiting and move right back down ASAP. The meat was cooked so perfectly; if there is a place between rare and medium rare, that’s where goat heaven is. It was perfectly spiced–not too spicy but enough to remind you that it’s curry– and the potatoes and chickpeas were cooked excellently al dente. There aren’t enough words to tell you how good it was, but allow me to visually interpret it for you in drool. Really.

Oh, Thai Express, how I love thee. Thai Express is consistently my favorite fast food chain, period. And they just don’t have it up north. *Sigh* I recommend the shrimp pad thai; I must have had it at least four times in the week I was down south. I had big plans, oh yes! Big, big plans. I was going to go for class, for variety, for experience. But the beautiful succubus that is the Thai Express sunk her teeth in me and my old flame was re-kindled. I’m sorry, I am weak and she is strong.

I did, however, manage to make my way to Dufflet one day and pick up dessert. I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, but I was pretty excited to eat it. However, it was just okay. The bottom was a thin layer of chocolate sponge cake, topped with a layer of chocolate mousse, topped with a layer of raspberry mousse, and covered in dark chocolate. I was expecting something, I don’t know, more impressive. Though I’m aware that it’s not the kind of thing that just anyone can or is willing to make at home, it was the kind of thing that I could have done in an afternoon. There’s something about us culinary folks that demands a certain level of Oh My God factor in desserts and meals purchased at establishments of acclaim, and this didn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was in fact good, but I would have rather just made it myself. More on that another day, because I just might…

And that’s that. I apologize for the lateness of this entry but I’ve been busy pretty much every day since I got back. I also went camping this weekend and damned if you can find a DSL connection in the woods. I did, however, cook in said woods, so hopefully tomorrow I’ll have regained my ambition and will let you all in on it.





Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better: Beating the Grocery Store Deli

23 06 2008

These are so obviously not my plates

I have been away from my home for an entire week. This displeases me, but more so it displeases my stomach. Let me just say that I hate cooking at other people’s houses. Abhor it. I have become accustomed to having any and all flavorings at my disposal; my cupboards are jam-packed with spices, my fridge is fully stocked with sauces, relishes and dressings, and my pantry has more oils and vinegars than you can shake a head of lettuce at. Most other people are not so well equipped, and for this I weep inside. Now, my father’s place isn’t all that bad. Though he doesn’t have very much, what he does have I can make use of and what he lacks he will usually buy for me. My mother is a different story; she has a distaste for anything “ethnic” or “flavored” so I was kind of on my own. The lovely salmon focaccia sandwich that you see above was foraged for entirely at the grocery store. Well, except for the mayonnaise, she did have that and to which I added a splash of soy, some ginger and garlic powder. And it was pretty good.

Salvation, julienned.

However, the first thing I did when I got home was bow down in front of my refrigerator and kissed it. F’reals. Well, no, figuratively of course. I’m not that weird. Then began a wild display of foraging as I tore every possible vegetable I could grab off of the shelf and made a dash to the cutting board. Let me explain this dish… I am one of those horrible people that go to the grocery store hungry. I know, I know, I’m sorry and I promise to say 50 Hail Julia Child’s sometime soon, but I just can’t help myself. On one such excursion, starved and begrudged of sushi, I decided to grab something quick from the deli section. Not usually a fan of heavily mayonnaised pasta salads(which constituted 98% of the deli offerings) I spotted a vinaigrette based Thai noodle salad and settled on that. And it wasn’t bad. If it hadn’t have had any annoying-to-pick-out julienned carrots in it, I would have ordered it again. Well, no actually, I’m just going to make it my damn self.

Invest in white dishes.

As I’m not a huge fan of noodles unless they are the Asian vermicelli noodles or cellophane noodles, of which I had none, I decided to omit them from the original deli version and replace then with bean sprouts, with which I have an unhealthy healthy relationship. I also, naturally, omitted the carrots as they are the devil’s food and should be banished to the island of horrible foods along with caraway seeds and Doritos. Made a vinaigrette, julienned some bell peppers, sauteed some beef and cut some itty bitty broccoli and thus we behold my version(the better one if you ask me) of spicy Thai beef salad. It was mondo tasty. Recipe to follow.

Bean sprouts rule my life

In other news: Accidentally drank a huge mouthful of spoiled milk today. It tasted like blown out birthday candle smoke and sock smell. Must be more vigilant with dairy product expiry dates…

Sweet and Spicy Thai Beef Julienne Salad
Makes 2 portions

Vinaigrette

1/2 cup sesame seed oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tsp red wine
Juice from half a lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp garlic mince
1 tsp red pepper flakes
zest of one lemon

Whisk together all ingredients except oil until combined. Slowly whisk in oil until emulsified. You might not need all of this dressing, depending on personal taste. I didn’t.

Salad

1 thin marinating steak, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp oil

1/4 cup green pepper, julienned
1/4 cup red pepper, julienned
1/3 cup broccoli, cut small
1/4 cup onion sprouts
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

Sautee beef strips on medium high in a non-stick pan in oil. Drain beef on paper towel-covered plate, cool. Toss vegetables with beef and dress to your own discretion. Let sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes for dressing to be slightly absorbed into salad. Enjoy with your favorite kung fu movie.





Storing Up on Sunshine

13 06 2008

The forcast for the next week looks unimpressive. With five out of seven days slated for rain, I’m stocking up on outside time while I can. Another day to be logged into the patio files was today. Well, yesterday I suppose, as it is three in the morning at the moment. What can I say, nighthawking becomes me.

There was more gin today, as well as a Long Island iced tea and some pilfered pizza. Because Josh is a good bad influence, I have been conned into yet another lost afternoon of patio lounging at the Laughing Buddha, Sudbury’s favorite(and only) hippy nosh spot. They also get the award for most inviting patio; all abloom with petunias, gardenias, climbing vines and pansies, daytime at the Buddha is the only oasis in downtown Sudbury that isn’t packed with the usual boorish afternoon-drinkers. In the evening, wee patio lanterns are turned on and each table is adorned with a tea candle, transforming the patio into something almost magical. It is cozy and comforting, and if you ignore the sounds of freight trains clunking past almost incessantly you could imagine being removed from the city entirely. But enough about that.

The pizza was great. A mix of feta cheese, button mushrooms, red onions, sundried tomatoes and spinach on a thin crust, twice baked in a stone oven, it was a bright, fresh exchange of flavors. Brava, Buddha, brava. I am fairly critical of pizza, being of the mind that any brickhead with some dough, cheese and tomatoes can slap together something not entirely inedible, but as far as pizzas go, it was pretty darn good. The liquor wasn’t half bad, either.

Mel and Mario provided the extra fun, because what is an afternoon of pizza and gin without a smattering of smut talk from your married friends? Mel, ever the genius, will be organizing a camping trip in the near future with Josh. Go Team! Possible recountings of fish tales, marshmallows and bear blasting to come. More on that next month.

When the time came, our party broke up, and Chantale and I went off in search of something else to keep us busy. Movies were an idea, but the Hollywood crap factory hadn’t been kind enough to toss us a bone, so that was out of the question. We wandered around looking for somewhere to grab something more substantial than a slice of pizza and ended up at Ye Olde Fratboy Pub & I Suppose They Grill. Which wasn’t half bad, much to my surprise.

I had a buffalo chicken sandwich with kettle chips(which Chantale swears were far too overdone, but to me, deepfry is deepfry.) and a miniature pot of jarred coleslaw. The sandwich was good as far as bar food goes, after I overcame my initial fear and dismay of it being served on a kaiser. I am inherently afraid of restaurant kaiser rolls. They are usually dry, inedible pucks of flour and misery that are usually being used to prop up a window somewhere. This one however was shockingly fresh. The chips were kinda dry but saved with some form of cajun ranch dressing they came with, and the coleslaw was atleast not vineagar coleslaw, so it passed. Will not be returning, however, as I have never felt so out of place in a bar in my life, a feeling that let’s just say I am not too familiar with where bars are concerned. Far too many polo shirts and khaki shorts for my liking. However it did afford me the chance to catch the second half of the NBA Lakers/Celtics finals game. Lakers lost, btw. I inevitably drown my sorrows at a bar where everybody knows my name and khaki shorts are fair game for merciless ridicule.

Winding down to sleep with Tom Waits’ raspy drunken lullabys for the assist. Life is so hard, innit?





Mid-day Gin, and Weezing the Juice

12 06 2008

Today is brought to you by train bridges, gin and tonics, and crazy super health juice. Oh, and Josh. He’s my happy-maker!


Fairly uneventful morning, and most of the afternoon. Hiked down to the local hippy foodstuffs emporium for a late afternoon of cocktails and videogame talk until afternoon became evening and evening became dizzy. My companion in patio vagrancy was the ever-wonderful Josh, whom you all must thank for being forgetful otherwise this post would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to tell you tales of superjuice and videogame geekeries.

As it turned out, our dear hero had forgotten his work attire and liquor funds in another dimension so he called upon the aid of his life-givers. After about 45 minutes, the afternoon was free to continue.

Apparently Ma and Pa don’t travel without samples of their wares; a certain Mona Vie wellness superjuice. (They also caused quite the kerfuffle with the staff of the restaurant who initially assumed that they were giving out free wine.) Let me just tell you something about juice. Y’all don’t KNOW from juice, people.

Modelling the juice a la Vannah White.

Ever the skeptic, when she poured me a shot of the stuff and I could see chunks floating in the cup, I thought one of two things. Either it was going to be hella-nasty and hard to swallow, or it was actually for real, honest to goodness juice product. If you chose option two, you’d be correct.

I am hardly qualified to extol the virtues of this superjuice to you, but from what I remember being told each 1 1/2 oz. of the stuff packs four servings of fruits and vegetables. Pretty easy to swallow, no? It also tasted pretty damn good too. Imagine berry smoothie without the dairy or extra sweetener. On a scale of gold stars, I award it 4.5; the missing half star is a result of the wine-bottle packaging that is an unashamed mockery of your initial expectations. If you are in the Sudbury, Ontario area and are interested in said superjuice, you can send an email to Yvonne and Doug at ded52@sympatico.ca.

Also: Fable 2 to come out in October. Must aquire XBox 360 somehow. Have a feeling that a Mystique costume, extortion and lenghts of nylon rope might be in my future. Plotting…

This is my thinking gin.

Earmeats of the day: Rejected songs of the psychedelic era and karaoke, I am sad to report.