Monday, August 25, 2014


Take a picture of the front of your fridge. What's on it and why?

if I actually showed you the face of my whole fridge, you might be alarmed. 

The front of my fridge is a mess. Everytime I try to clear the clutter I can’t seem to part with anything. I have pictures of friends’ babies. A ballet studio's schedule that's a walking distance away (hey, they do have drop-in classes! and I need to know when!). Postcards from friends. 

Also, SO MUCH MAGNETIC POETRY. Amy gifted me a bilingual Canadian kit right before I moved to Missouri—it brings so much ‘bec to the apartment. It is an outlet in days of loneliness, frustration, and (most recentlt) near-inebriation. I want to buy more of it, because I can't seem to part with the poems I've made already--BUT I CANNOT FIND ME ANY CANADA KITS on Amazon! 

Also, my poetry is intense yo. Cyn has edited some of it, actually.

- Three things you learned in the kitchen in the last year/the last five years.

Grandma at the head of our table for Orthodox Christmas

1) A kitchen often betrays a great deal about a person. I’m not trying to come off as an ass, but if my grandmother had nothing but beer and fake butter in her fridge, it’s unlikely I would today crave the comfort of molokhia. I would have never begun to imagine the everyday struggles of working-class Egyptians without being made to eat ful during Lent. I certainly wouldn’t be wandering the grocers of Missouri seeking out veal like a lost family heirloom, at any rate. Food doesn’t just “bring people together”, it sticks you like molasses, like honey, to a life once lived--ancestry, perhaps. To hard realities of life, even if the food you cook isn’t ancestral to you. If you’ve read Miriam’s Kitchen (which you need to read if you haven’t) you’d get it that for many, history boasts a home in the cupboards, and tradition inhales a new breath every moment a meal is served.

2) ALL that said, the kitchen doesn't judge. It's okay to eat out of your pan when you're in a hurry (when you live alone, of course). It's okay to make scrambled eggs in a mug when you are in school and trying to excel. 

3) Set a timer, all the time. Even if I am frying salmon cakes or just warming something in the oven, I know I'll get distracted at some point. 

- If you have a decent budget for a small dinner party, where do you turn for food inspiration?

My wonderful, incredibly talented and gifted aunt Bella,  maestro of dinner parties 

The leek geeks, obvs. My aunt Bella, who truly is a dinner-party virtuoso in preparing, serving (she has the most elegant plates!), and entertaining. I am also quasi-obsessed with this website manned by a SAHD. By that I mean I like it so much that I legit remember to check it once a week. I love his site because I am terrible at following directions for recipes, and he always takes high-quality, step-by-step pictures of his meals. I also married my two inspirations in the New Year: we took a SAHD recipe and made it at Bella's house!  Of course, I misread how much flour was required :/ workin on that. BUt it was so much fun! 

- Have you discovered a new favourite cook book lately? Restaurant? Ingredient?
c'est beautiful!
I am getting into Jamie Oliver's cookbooks, if only because they are beautifully photographed. But I dunno...I once made a side-dish carrot recipe of his and was disappointed (followed it for real this time). The Bistro Cookbook was a $3 purchase from TJMaxx or someplace like that. It has rustic, beautiful pictures of wholesome French cooking. Seafood. Haricots verts. It is propped open on a gold bookstand (?) my counter and I turn pages every other day or so for inspiration. It also reconnects me to Montreal’s food culture.

- What were your favourite things that you've eaten in the last week?

I made an incredible vegan crockpot soup for my sister when I was in MTL because she was sick and only eating vegetarian foods. Seriously, it rocked. It was Julia's recipe, actually.

Also, the chicken at Nostos grill, a Greek resto on l’Acadie. Their Greek grilled chicken is really, really good. 

I brought over a few chocolate and cinammon danishes/rolls from the Homemade Kosher, my family's go-to bagel-bakery. I warmed one up in the oven while I showered (timer ON!) and wrapped it in foil to go to my first meeting with my clinical supervisor. Every. Bite. Was. To. Die. For. 

- What do you listen to when cooking?
Free Gavin Degraw concert in St. Louis for the 4th. I was SINGIN. 
When Matt is over and we’re cooking together, we will play music themed to our dish. Bob Marley for jerk shrimp. Latin if we are making paella. When I’m alone, depends on what I need. If I need motivation to feed myself, Gavin Degraw. City and Colour when I need calm. If I am lounging or food-prepping, Arabic or Butterfly Boucher.

- What are your favourite smells in the kitchen right now?

exam week breakfast, courtesy of Matt's wonderful mom

-Sausage patties. Crispy, hand-grated, red-potato hashed browns.

-When the Pezolds get together for a birthday party or a holiday, everyone brings a dish and the kitchen on the farm smells incredible. Granted, it’s almost always the same constellation of dishes: potato salad, bean casserole, mac and cheese, some grilled meat, cucumbers in vinegar--but who cares? Made with love and I am invited. THAT’s all that matters.

-Matt’s mom bakes these incredible vegan, almond-coconut oat cookies. And she make like 5 trays of them, so there’s enough to go around. Many. Many. Times.

-Home-brined whole chicken baking in the oven. It’s like the rotisserie chicken you get from Metro. But BETTER. See SAHD's recipe!

- What has frustrated you in your food & cooking life in the last year?

I am always choosing between cooking/trying a new recipe or studying.

I also keep buying Tupperware and I feel like I never have enough. WTF? 

I also eat out a lot more now, and though it’s nice to have someone prepare food for you, I feel like I’m cheating myself out of a healthier, more valuable meal by not making it myself.

I used to buy in bulk on the weekends so that I didn’t have to go grocery shopping during the week and study, but this isn’t working out. I am not making time to plan and make the meals, and food often goes bad. This kills me. I realized this wasn’t working and now buy the absolute minimum—it won’t kill me to go to the grocery store 2-3 times a week, and the Lord knows I need to get out of my house/school anyway.

- What do you want to get into or explore in the coming year?

-Learning to cook healthy, delicious meals fast? I suppose that means having a wealth of recipes that I know down-pat.  Every minute counts during the semester…

-Using the crockpot more—I get up bloody early in the AM anyway.

- Write a haiku about one of the following: a kitchen fail, a kitchen win, the last time somebody cooked for you, eating outside, or dining with friends.

"God, it's hot in here..."
It smells like burnt--OH MY GOD!
There goes my dinner.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

ben la..

Please excuse this sorry excuse of a post, but I STILL dont have a kitchen (everything should be done by Thursday now, God willing) and tensions are extremely high at this moment, so cooking wise, I'm not much of anything lately (though I made a delicious vegetarian couscous the other night). I'm going to post on exactly this when things calm down, and my success/failure via moving and cooking. Looking very much forward to being able to write up!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Restaurant Thanjai

Tony and I are on vacation this week - so naturally we are trying some new restaurants! We did Thanjai yesterday for lunch and really liked it. It's South Indian cuisine, very gluten-free friendly, byob, nearly full menu available online, the interior is attractive & cozy, and it smells like heaven. It's on Van Horne, right by Plamondon metro. Check it out!

Tony had a triple-chilli (eg supreme spice) dosa - we're pretty sure the waiter told the kitchen to tone it way down, which, though T was initially excited by the extreme challenge, was a relief, as excitement had gradually given way to prudent terror as we ate our appetizer (green chillis deep-fried in chickpea batter) - I couldn't even finish mine, it was so hot. And it had  0/3 chilli rating if I recall correctly. Whew! Anyway, T enjoyed his meal - dosas are a speciality at Thanjai.

An adorable spice primer on the last page of the menu.

Me looking elegant as I direct the viewer to the spice display by the entrance.

Mmm... Fennel dragées.

Thanjai: you know you want to go.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I finished work at 1 pm today for a 1:30 pm appointment, which was stunningly on schedule, so afterward I decided to risk/investigate the so-called gluten-free pizza at Double Pizza. There's a location on Wellington, between Hickson and De L'Eglise. I ordered, learned about the product (the pizzas are made to order with certified GF crusts, they wash the knife to cut it), read my book (The Bourne Identity, so good!), and enjoyed. And documented, naturally!

I have had no reaction, so it seems legitimately GF, which is great! It was not packed with flavour, however. Salt and pepper helped, but being used to flavourful, rich sauce and home-prepared toppings, the overall flavour fell a little flat. The texture was great, though. I'd go back in a pinch, when I'm hungry and my plan A falls through, as happened today.

I then went across the street to Brulerie St Henri. The coffee was fine, nothing mind-blowing, but the ambiance was very nice - bold red walls, lots of plants, nice lighting:

Verdun is continuing to grow - it's nice to see!

And in case you don't follow my instagram (@amyparaskevas), this is my new favourite wine, available at the SAQ on Wellington:

Red Velvet by Cupcake. Smokey and woody, nothing like you'd expect from the label. I highly recommend it.

Come visit my 'hood!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

vanilla kefir

One vanilla bean in the active kefir jar at all times - my new delight. Vanilla extract is made with high quality alcohol, which is a solvent; fermenting kefir creates some alcohol, slowly releasing the aromatic compounds in the vanilla. This means one vanilla bean is good for several batches. One of my brighter ideas, if I do say so myself.

Monday, August 4, 2014

summer refresher

Howdy! I am doing the first in a little refresher series we've decided to host - time and experience changes us as people and as cooks. We hope you enjoy reflecting with us on where we are now in our culinary adventures!

- Take a picture of the front of your fridge. What's on it and why?

People I love, to make me happy. 

- Three things you learned in the kitchen in the last year.

Gluten-free bread is at best edible. It's basically not worth my time to do on a regular basis.

- If you have a decent budget for a small dinner party, where do you turn for food inspiration?

Jamie Oliver! I might also peruse my pinterest food board.

Or, I'll go to Atwater or JT market and see what looks or smells good! Today I fawned over this beautiful, $40 bottle of olive oil:

A stone rainbow jar, for pete's sake!! It must be good - packaging doesn't lie!! If anybody's started shopping for my Christmas or anniversary present yet, this was at Les Douceurs du Marché, thank you very much. (Wood is apparently the traditional  European gift theme for the fifth - olive oil comes from olive trees - close enough, yes?)

- Have you discovered a new favourite cook book lately? Restaurant? Ingredient?

Book: I am still using and enjoying Practical Paleo a lot! I'm looking forward to revisiting Arepera on me & Tony's vacation in a couple of weeks. Ingredient-wise I am really into cassava, ginger beer, using whole vanilla bean instead of extract (I seem to run out of extract all the time, but I have a full jar of beans, so I add a cut half to anything that I am pureeing in the food processor when it has enough liquid to make it really smooth, it's lovely), plantains of course, and corn.

- What were your favourite things that you've eaten in the last week?

You can't really see so well what's on the plates, but this is me with the "baby plates" from when Julia, Sam & I had lunch last week - the avacado, mango & sweet pepper salad Sam made was AMAZING.

Here's the full table laid out - the salad is in the silver bowl on the left.

Another really delicious thing the other day was roast chicken with leftover bacon-wrapped dates stuffed under the breast skin. I highly recommend it, though I realize that leftover bacon-wrapped dates are probably exceedingly scarce; it is only by a strange set of circumstances that we had such a thing.

- What do you listen to when cooking?

Weezer, Audrey Assad, Fleet Foxes, Bob Marley, Cold War Kids, Mumford & Sons, and Modest Mouse have been on rotation in the last week, which is typical. Sometimes I like to blast a piece that I studied in my music course this summer - Un Bel Die from Madame Butterfly just bursts forth, it's amazing, it's like jumping off a cliff (she starts precisely on pitch with no accompaniment). Listen to it, you'll see what I mean!

- What are your favourite smells in the kitchen right now?

Raspberries, peaches, vanilla syrup; garlic, cheese, mint, basil.

- What has frustrated you in your food & cooking life in the last year?

Bread has been very frustrating. I have a few recipes that work decently, but I still find myself resenting how badly it fails if I try to just do things intuitively the way I could with wheat flour. I never needed to measure anything with wheat flour loaves, that freedom and sensuality was amazing. It's still hard to accept that those days are over. Last week I was preparing a salad that had gala apples and marble cheddar and I had the most intense desire for a toasted sesame bagel with butter, cheddar and apple. I hate that I can't just act on that impulsively and whip together some dough and make it happen just like that anymore.

- What do you want to get into or explore in the coming year?

I want to stay on top of washing and drying dishes!! I want to eat a lot of fish. I want to try to figure out how to buy avocados and figure out when they are perfectly ripe. Maybe make some bagels.

- Write a haiku about one of the following: a kitchen fail, a kitchen win, the last time somebody cooked for you, eating outside, or dining with friends.

dough rising with oil
running over the sides, slow;
songbirds changing shifts

and another:

dream home: large garden,
quiet bed, and a kitchen
drenched in morning light