Friday, December 30, 2011
To me - my life kind of revolves around food. From parties or breastfeeding, tea breaks to hospitality tips, the Eucharist to community supported agriculture and "beyond organic" theory, from the whole foods movement to gardening, from food photography to penitential fasting, from butter-love to fresh veggies to wandering through the market in summer... to picnics, to co-ops... yeah, my life essentially revolves around food, and I think that's fine. I think food and eating are major natural sacraments. I think health and wellness come first from eating right and treating the earth, the animals, and our farmers with respect. I love to eat. I love to learn to appreciate what I am eating better. I love food. To me, that's what being a foodie means.
What about you? Why do you say you are or are not a foodie?
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Amy had invited me to join this foodie blog (flog?) and I tentatively joined. I say tentatively because I don't see myself as much of a foodie. I mean, I love food. But honestly, most of the time I don't like making it, unless I'm sure to get accolades! But I'm pretty good at it when I do it, so I guess that's something.
Now that I got that disclosure stuff out of the way:
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
The lesson here is: presentation is everything.
I once heard a great example of this in the realm of pastoral ministry for youth. The writer emphasized the importance of using good and beautiful things to serve others to make them feel valuable. If you use vessels of value, it sends the message that your guests are of value. When having a tea party for the young women who come to youth group, or the drop-in center, whether they are Christians yet or not, use lovely things, and they will feel lovely, and the teaching of the dignity of the human person will be easier to believe. The writer included a thought experiment: imagine a tea party where 14 year old girls come to the center and are served tea in disposable wax and paper cups, and cookies from a box on paper napkins. They would probably have a fine time and not notice - many young people today do not have homes where they would expect any more than that when serving guests, or in daily use. Now imagine they were served in the center's plain mugs and simple (mismatched) plates. Ahh, that feels homier, right? The girls might even help wash the dishes and share a sense of accomplishment. Finally, imagine using the finest, fanciest china you own, with homemade cookies, of course - what does this say to young girls who so often feel objectified, uncared for, put down, unloved? It says yes, they are worth it, yes, we believe in you and your ability to live up to this, yes, we care about you enough to spend some extra time baking and washing dishes to please and delight you!
I am never insulted per se when I go to a party and am served food on disposable plates. It is normal. That is how I grew up. That's how my mom and aunts and uncles still do it. But for me, I have made an inner vow: to not serve the salmon on the shiney cardboard it came on, to not let people eat out of tupperwares, and to just say no to plastic forks.
Because you are worth it! Happy birthday, Sam!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Late, as usual! Sorry about that!
So, without further ado...
1/2 c softened butter - cream by hand with a wooden spoon in a bowl.
cream in: 1/2 brown sugar, then
1/2 jumbo egg, pre-beated (medium egg is okay)
2 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
2 dashes cloves
2-3 dashes cayenne pepper (we like it spicey!)
375 d F x 1-12m.
The royal icing I use is 1 egg white, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1 1/2 c icing sugar, and just a dash of water. Beat the shit out of it. I use my Kitchen Aid mixer. You can also use an electric hand mixer. I don't recommend using manual power to make royal icing.
Happy St. Nicholas Day!
Sunday, December 4, 2011
The recipe calls for some ingredients that I didn't have in my pantry:
-mirin (which I wasn’t familiar with)
...not your typical Middle Eastern fare. So a grocery adventure (yay!!) was overdue. I passionately despise major grocery chains, which is why I’ll make it a point to purchase from farmers’ markets, or dusty, cheap fruiteries in Parc Extension. Major chains give me this chilling sense of fakeness, because they put on gaudy façade of freshness, goodness, and trust. But how do you build trust without establishing a dialogue, or like...having a face? What is Metro? Who is Metro?
So I cruised over to two places this week: Eden, an Asian specialty store, owned by an Asian (I'm tempted to say Chinese?) family, headed by a kindly Grandpapa whom I absolutely adore, in the same complex as Cinema du Parc. I also visited the super-tiny, super-ghetto Thai Hour, located right in the hub of the Jean-Talon market.
Going to Eden is kind of like walking into this organic, wholesome, vegetarian heaven. It's beautifully designed, rocking an endless array of imported chocolates and biscuits (Amy, I know how you feel about imported stuff, but I must admit it’s my weakness); displays glittering with rows of organic apples, persimons, and peaches; noodles; teas; gluten-free foods; eco-friendly cleaning products (I'm sure you get my enthusiasm). They also have a cheap deli counter where you can get THE best tuna sandwiches in town. Seriously addictive, healthy, and generously portioned. Mirin is sweet fermented rice wine, but when I looked at the ingredient list of the cheapest brand, every other ingredient was some form of refined or derived sugar. So, no thanks. I picked up the rice vinegar (2.99) and a package of rice noodles, which boasted of ginger, pumpkin, and organic rice (3.99), and was immediately sold on the spot.
But they didn't end up tasting like anything at all, so I checked the packet later in simmering betrayal and disbelief. Only 5% pumpkin was present in the noodles. I mean how much does that come out to? A thimble? I thought I was shrewd about these things--shame on you Sam!! my brain screamed.
Goining Thai Hour, however, is like scoring a free trip to Bangkok, minus the jetlag. The store is a tight 20 x 20 space full of shelves and freezers crammed with Thai essentials such as fish paste, squid sauce, 5 zillion types of rice noodles with no English or French ingredients on the packaging, and dried mushrooms (ditto on the packaging), frozen chopped lemongrass. My mother, who introduced me to the place, loves it so much because you can get a bulging pack of fresh chinese chives, bok shoy, or whatever your pretty heart desires, for next to nothing. They also have a ludicrously cheap (but cleanliness optional...) seafood counter, where you can get a whole tilapia for about $5, and generous slices of salmon steak for about $3 each, and shrimp for the best price on the market. I've had all, which in all fairness are quite fresh, and am still alive and well. The recipe uses bok shoy as the principal veggie, but I find bok shoy a tad rubbery and chewy, just awkward to eat as a whole. I opted for a bright vegetable I'd never tried before, yu choy, a greener, stalky alternative. I also got some fish sauce. I cringed at the ingredients--mostly composed of sodium, so I fished around (haha) for the brand with the lowerst sodium content.
What You'll Need:
-1/2 cup-1 cup dried mushrooms. The book recommends Chinese wood ear, but any will do, really. (if you use a lot of mushrooms, your soup will be a bitter mess.)
-1 packet dried, thin rice or egg noodles
-vegetable stock + 4-5 cups of water (I use Harvest Sun's organic, low-sodium cubes. They are excellent. I use 1-1.5 cubes).
- 2 inch thumb of fresh minced ginger, or to taste
-2-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cup chopped leek
-3 tbsp dark soy sauce, or to taste
-3 tbsp real mirin (I'm sure it exists), honey, or apple juice
-3 tbsp fish sauce (if you can make your own, even better.)
-2-3 cups yu choy (or green veggie of your choice), washed and coarsely chopped into bite-size peices
-green spring onions (chopped, for garnish)
-sprigs cilantro (chopped, for garnish)
What To Do:
1) Try to do this step an hour before you start cooking. RINSE your dried mushrooms well under running water. I always forget this step and end up with crunchy, sand-filled mushrooms. Soak your dried mushrooms for at least 50 minutes in cold water OR, 30 min in boiling water. Cold water allows the mushrooms to reconstitute themselves, without sucking out the flavour. However, if you use hot water, most of the flavour will end up in the soaking water, so add it to the soup itself if you want a more robust, bitter flavour to your soup. If you'd rather the mushrooms retain more of their flavour, use cold water.
2) While your mushrooms are chilling out (or whooping it up in a jacuzzi), put the garlic, ginger (while reserving some for later), and leek in a large pot and cook for about a minute on medium heat, or until fragrant. Add the veggie stock/cube, and keep mixing for another minute. When the cube has dissolved, add 4-6 cups water and bring to a boil.
3) Depending on how you like your noodles, you can opt to skip this step. If you like your noodles al dente, then fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring to a boil. Boil noodles for 3-4 minutes, then drain and run cold water over them to halt the cooking proccess. If you like them mushy and comforting, then just add the noodles to step 2.
3) Fill a large pan with 1/2 cup water. Bring it to a boil, and toss in the yu choy. Let it cook for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until it turns a bright bright green, then drain in a colander. Run ice cold water over the veggies to preserve their bright colour. Marvel at the green.
4) Are your mushrooms done soaking yet? If not, fold your laundry while your wait. Or tend to your baby. Or just creep someone on Facebook, like I would.
5) Add the mirin/honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, and swirl around with a spoon. Then add your soaked mushrooms, yu choy, and noodles. Ladle the soup into colourful bowls and sprinkle the cilantro, spring onions, and minced leek into the individual bowls.
6) Breathe in the aroma. And smile. You've got comfort and love in a bowl, right here, right now.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
So what do I do? I make it... the easy way.
|The next day it looks like this.|
|Remove the salt water and set aside.|
|Chop 4-6 green onions into 2 inch lengths. Add to pot.|
|Add some minced ginger (2-3 tbs).|
|Add some fish sauce (2-3 tbs).|
|Add hot pepper flakes and lots of minced garlic (7+ cloves).|
MIXY MIXY and.....
|Put into jars. Pour reserved salt water on top.|
Let sit on counter for 3 days, then put it into the fridge and to let it mature for a week.