Friday, June 30, 2006

Pimms and Holidays

This is another recipe that I can't believe I didn't give you sooner! I love Pimms and if you haven't tried it, you don't know what you are missing. Pimms is considered by some to be an English warm weather drink, although I'll drink it year round. It's Gin based and scrumptious! Scott calls it "dirty good" because it's one of those drinks where you don't realize you are drinking alcohol and you can get in trouble if you are not careful.
So be careful, and enjoy.

We are off for our holidays tomorrow. 10 days of sitting on the beach, visiting wineries, and goofing around. I'm sure I'll be having plenty of Pimms, so I'll toast you tomorrow night. Have a wonderful time, and see you soon.


One part Pimms
Three parts Lemonade
Thin Cucumber slices
Thin Lemon slices
Mint leaves

Mix well and serve over ice.
It's very important that you do not omit the cucumber. While it may sound weird, it makes all the difference in the world. Trust me.

PS - Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers and Happy 4th of July to you Americans! Be safe!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge

The roundup for WCC#6 is now up. Click here!

Hope to see you all at #7!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Stuff and Millarville

Holy crap, it's hot here. We're on about Day 4 of Operation: Heatstroke Calgary. On my way home from the gym today it was 34'! That's like 93' for you fahrenheit people. That's hot for Calgary. I got a very bad sunburn on ONE arm on the weekend. I'm a peeley, multi-colored mess. How do you sunburn one arm? You take the chair in the shade, except it's not completely in the shade. Then you drink steadily for 6 hours so you can't realize your skin is on fire.

Our good car luck continues. Scott phoned me from work yesterday afternoon to tell me someone had shattered the back window of his car. Nothing was taken which means it was probably stupid kids. We spent 2 hours cleaning it up and soon get to spend $325.00 to have the window replaced. Fun.

On the up side, Millarville opened on Saturday! We were there bright and early, along with tons of other people. We noticed a few missing vendors and some big gaps between tables. Hopefully they'll fill right up soon.

Scott has been dreaming about having a Back Bacon on a Bun for breakfast since the market closed last year. He wasn't disappointed. It was tasty.
I love these signs! They are so kitchy.

Our small haul. In the paper bag are 17-grain garlic sticks, then farmers sausage. The evil sausage people were handing out samples and it was darn tasty. That big pack cost us under $5.00. 3 red peppers for $2.50, organic rhubarb, cherry tomatos and regular tomatos from Whiskey Creek Tomatos, the best tomatos I have had since leaving BC, and a small basil plant.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Upcoming Event Alert!

Hi everyone, I just wanted to write a quick note and let you know about an event coming soon...

I am thrilled to write that the Weekend Cookbook Challenge has joined forces with the wonderful Cath from A Blithe Palate to host the first Cookbook Spotlight.

What happens when 25 people get the same cookbook? What does everyone choose to make? That's what we are looking to find out!

We have sent out a soon-to-be-released cookbook to 25 food bloggers for them to explore. What will they think? More importantly - What will they cook?

Please check back on July 17th - we'll have the roundup posted and you can read about all the fun.

See you then.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

WCC #6 - Picnic Food

Tis the season for sunny days, warm nights, sunscreen, shorts, bug bites and eating outside. Well, maybe all those things if you don't live here in Calgary. Our weather has not yet decided if it should be nice our or not.

The sixth edition of Weekend Cookbook Challenge is all about picnic food. My criteria for the meal was 1. nothing too messy and 2. refrigeration optional.

So I chose 2 recipes from Happy Days with the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver.

The Best Pasta Salad
I am always on the lookout for pasta salad recipes. I love them, especially in the summer, but have never been crazy about any of my attempts. This one is really, really good. I especially love that the dressing is oil and vinegar based. The fact there is no mayonnaise makes it ideal for picnics AND my waistline.

Serves 4-6

11 oz small shell shaped pasta (I used vegetable gemelli)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 pint yellow cherry tomatos (I used all red)
1/2 pint red cherry tomatos
1 handful black olives, pitted
2 tb chives chopped
1 handful fresh basil
1/2 cucumber
4 tb white wine vinegar
7 tb oive oil
salt and pepper

Boil pasta and garlic cloves until pasta is al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside the garlic and place pasta in a large bowl. Chop the tomatos, olives, chives, basil and cucumber into pieces about half the size of the pasta. Toss with the pasta. Mush the garlic into a paste and whisk into the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and sugar if desired. Pour over salad and toss well.

Pukka Pineapple with Bashed-up Mint Sugar

This recipe is so tasty, you won't belive it. The mint and pineapple together are a wonderful pair. AND I got to use mint out of my garden!

Serves 4

1 ripe pineapple
4 tb sugar
1 handful fresh mint leaves.

Peel the pineapple and cut in quarters. Remove the core and slice the fruit thinly. Lay out on a plate.
Put the sugar and mint in a mortar and pestle and mash until the mint is quite fine. Sprinkle over the pineapple and serve.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Shrimp and Spinach Pizza

Finished with a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Garden Shots

I think the colors of this sage plant are beautiful.
Heirloom tomato plant.
Ornamental Cabbage
More mint
Some little mossy thing with flowers

Mock strawberries

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Confessions In Groups of 5

A gigantic thanks to Pamela from Posie's Place for tagging me!

5 Items In The Freezer

A bowl with one ice cube, frozen shower gel, juice bars, sausages and blue cheese butter.

5 Items In My Closet

My wedding dress, american money from our last trip, pictures of San Francisco, laundry hamper, model airplane

5 Items In My Car

Spongebob Squarepants air freshner, 2001 map of the city, kleenex, ipod adapter, canvas grocery bags

5 Items In My Purse

Gum, hand sanitizer, ipod, cel phone, card key for work

5 Bloggers To Tag

This ones seems to have made the rounds, so I will just leave it open to anyone who wants to confess.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Beer Can Chicken, BBQ Corn, and Corn Fritters

Saturday morning after hearing that the farmers market wouldn't be open we went for a walk and stopped at the store on the way home. We picked up a chicken and some corn and for dinner made Beer Can Chicken. We hadn't made this in ages, I think the last time may have been here. The barbeque gave us some trouble, and for the first time we had difficulty keeping the chicken upright - it fell over 3 times, I think. But it was the most tender, moist chicken I've ever had.
The corn were 6 for $2.00. We pulled out the silk, most of the outer leaves, and grilled all of them.
The people at the book sale I mentioned yesterday called me this morning at work. We got a whole bunch of new books in Sara! Come and see! Damn them. So I went. I didn't find any new cookbooks, but did get another food magazine for a dime. When I got home tonight I was annoyed to see that the prevoius owner had cut out some recipes. If you're going to cut up a magazine then recycle it. Don't donate it to a book sale!
Tonight for dinner we had leftover Beer Can Chicken. I turned the rest of the corn into Corn Fritters.

3 ears of grilled corn, kernels scraped off
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 2 tb milk
1/3 cup cornmeal
3 tb flour
salt and pepper

Mix all ingrediants together. Heat a large pan over medium heat, coat very lightly with oil. Drop batter by large spoonfuls. Cook until browned; flip over and cook other side.

Serve with sour cream, butter or just salt and pepper.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Black Bean and Zucchini Chilaquiles

First off I would like to say a HUGE Thank You to all of you who left a comment on Thursday's post. I am feeling much better now, although Friday morning was a bit foggy. Sorry Jasmine, there was no rye left to send to you!

Other than the schizophrenic weather and that the first Saturday of the Millarville Farmers Market was cancelled due to rain and flooding (just like last year) it was a pretty nice weekend. We cooked two tasty dinners; one old favorite and one new recipe from a new cookbook.

Last night I made Black Bean and Zucchini Chilaquiles from my new cookbook The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. This book kicks some serious butt. This one and a vegan cookbook I bought which I'll tell you about another time, have become daily reading material. I've marked half the recipes in this one to try out.
I picked this recipe for dinner mainly to use up the corn tortillas I bought at the Calgary Farmers Market. I have also seen a few other recipes on the internet for Chilaquiles that I wanted to try. Chilaquiles is basically a dish made to use up stale tortillas. They are layered with some kind of tomato or meat sauce and baked like a casserole. One recipe I saw said Chilaquiles is a common breakfast dish in Mexico and Guatemala. This one was very hearty, filled with beans and peppers and zucchini. It made a ton, but we'll happily eat the leftovers for a couple of days.

Black Bean and Zucchini Chilaquiles
from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas

Serves 8

1 1/2 tb olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium green pepper diced (i used a red pepper)
28 oz can crushed or pureed tomatos
2 tsp chile powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 small hot chile pepper or 4 oz can mild green chiles (i used a small can of tomatilla salsa)
12 6 inch corn tortillas torn or cut into several pieces
8 oz grated cheddar cheese or non dairy cheese

Preheat oven to 400'. Lightly oil a 9x13" baking pan.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Saute the onion until translucent. Add the bell pepper and saute until it has softened and the onions are golden. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the tortillas and cheese. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Layer half the tortillas in the pan, then top with half the bean mixture and half the cheese. Repeat. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Cut in squares and serve.

Truly wonderful!

Today at lunch I went to a book sale raising money for kids summer camps. Here's the culinary part of my score:

I got James Beard's American Cookery, a bbq book called Dressed to Grill, 3 issues of Fine Cooking, and 3 issues of Italia! magazine, which I have never heard of before. But I am a sucker for that sort of thing. I bought the magazines for ten cents each, which is even better as the Italia! magazine's price tags were $11.95 each! and the books for $1.00 each.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sara's terrible, rotten, very bad, no good day

Morning -Wake up early! Decide to go to work an hour early, just to get stuff done.

Look out window. Rain. Lots of rain. Downpour.
Go out to car.
Car won't start.
Car won't start.
Car won't start.
Car won't start.
Get car started.
Start to drive to work.
Bad traffic.
Pull over to side of road to call car repair shop. (Bad mood plus lots of traffic plus heavy downpour plus cel phone= bad idea.)
STUPIDLY turn off car.
Make appointment to take car in.
Cel phone dies.
Car won't start.
Car won't start.
Car won't start.
Get car started.
Drive to repair shop.
Walk to work.
Don't pay attention and step in world's biggest puddle.
Soak sandals and pants.
Get to work 3 HOURS after you leave home.
Stuff paper towels up pants legs. Remove sandals.
Be mocked by co-workers. Tell them to shove it.
Return 9 hysterical messages from boss.
Re-schedule (for the THIRD TIME THIS WEEK) boss's flights.
Work through lunch.
Order soup from restaurant across the street.
Realize now have to go out in rain to get soup.
Go out; get soaked again.
Soup is awful; be hungry for the rest of the day.
Spend afternoon talking to irate people that are stupid.
Get call from car shop. Not a big problem!
Watch assistant limp around on crutches. Do half her work for her just so you don't have to watch her limp around on crutches.
Get second call from car shop. Big problem.
Stay at work late waiting for phone call from stupid lady who is going to call back in 5 minutes.
Realize after 45 minutes she is not going to call back.
Walk to car repair shop.
Bill is twice what they quoted you. Have moderate heart attack; give them all your money.
Make appointment for next week for them to fix other problem and to give them more money.
Drive home in traffic jam.
Stop by grocery store to pick up dinner.
Go home.
Spill stinky garbage all over kitchen floor.
Call from Scott. He going out for beer after work. Will see you later.

Make dinner:

Take 1 glass.
Add ice.
Pour in 1 oz (or more!) of rye.
Fill glass with Coke.

Lettuce Wraps

When I lived in BC, I used to love to go to this little take-out Chinese Restaurant. They had the most amazing Beef Lettuce Wraps. I thought of them the other day and decided to try to make something similar. But at the last minute I changed my mind. A co-worker told me about a lettuce wrap that his wife had made, with cilantro, chile flakes and lime juice. I thought that sounded pretty good too.

Lettuce Wraps, version 1.0

1 lb extra lean ground beef
dried chile flakes or minced hot pepper to taste
1 bunch green onions, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
3 tb tamari
iceburg lettuce or butter lettuce, separated into leaf "cups"

Cook the ground beef and whatever sort of chile you are using until beef is cooked through. Drain any fat off. Add the onions and cilantro and cook for a couple of minutes. Mix the zest, lime juice and tamari and pour over the beef. Cook for 2 more minutes.
Spoon the beef into the lettuce cups, roll and eat.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Stewed Garbanzos

Doesn't this look so good and healty? Stewed Garbanzos from I Want My Dinner Now, the cookbook I reviewed here.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Blog Party #11 - Man Food

Finally, I remember to join Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness for one of her Blog Parties. And lucky me, the theme is Man Food! This is lucky because I live with a man! Who eats food! Clearly, this could not be more easy.

I asked Scott - what would you consider man food? His answer - fried things, spicy things, things on sticks. Meat. Cheese. Beer.

So we put our heads together for my first time at Blog Party and came up with 2 very manly appetizers and 1 masculine drink. We managed to cover 4 out of 6 of Scott's criteria. Not bad at all.

Prosciutto Wrapped BBQ Shrimp, Green Chile Cheese Squares and Hair of the Dog.

And all 3 were a huge hit. I barely got to try the shrimp!

Thanks for letting me join in Stephanie!

Prosciutto Wrapped BBQ Shrimp
makes 20 appetizers
20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
10 slices of prosciutto, each cut in half lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tb tamari
2 tb white wine vinegar
2 tb water
1 tb brown sugar

Mix together the garlic through sugar and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Divide between 2 bowls.
Add the shrimp to one bowl and let marinate for 1 hour. Reserve the other bowl to use with the cooked shrimp.
Remove shrimp from marinade and discard sauce. Wrap one slice of prosciutto around each shrimp.
Preheat your grill pan or bbq, and cook shrimp 2-3 minutes per side, until shrimps are cooked and ham is crisp.
Serve with reserved sauce for dipping.

Green Chile Cheese Squares

1 small can chopped green chiles
2 cups mozzarella
2 cups cheddar
6 eggs
3 green onions, chopped
2 tb milk or water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Grease an 8x8 baking dish. Pour the chiles and their juices over the bottom of the pan and spread the cheeses over the chiles. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and onions together and pour over the cheese. Bake at 350' for 35-40 minutes, until eggs are firm.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Cut into small squares and serve.

Hair of the Dog

1 oz Clamato
3 oz cold beer
hot sauce

Pour the Clamato into a tall glass. Add two dashes each of hot sauce and Worcestershire, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Mix well. Slowly add the beer and mix again.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Canmore - the finale.

Scott and I got back from Canmore this afternoon. As I have written before, I get to go to Canmore for work a couple of times a year. Saturday morning meetings, my company picks up the hotel bill and Scott comes along. It looks like this was the last trip for me. I'm going to be handing that part of the job to someone else in my office. And honestly I'm not sad about it. There was a whole lot of drama before, during and after this meeting. It put a black cloud over me from Thursday to today. So knowing that this was our last free hotel trip to Canmore, Scott and I ate two very lovely meals yesterday at 2 restaurants we haven't been to before.

We had lunch yesterday at Tapas Restaurant. It's just off the main street, in an old red house. Look at the beautiful art on the wall:
Isn't that lovely? We decided to try a few dishes and ordered 2 small plates and one Spanish Lunch with 2 sides. We ordered a vegetarian salad with chickpeas, feta and orange aioli for our main to come with gazpacho and spanish rice. Our two small plates were Patatas Bravas ( fierce potatos) and Cojones del Conquistador (meatballs in tomato and green olive sauce).

Above is the soup and rice and a green salad.

Here are the meatballs. They were to die for.

Patatas Brava with Aioli. Very good and VERY spicy.
It was all very very good. But didn't I say something about a salad with chickpeas and feta and orange aioli? It never came. The waitress screwed up with the green salad instead. We were too full to eat any more, but I passively aggressively mumbled about it for a few minutes anyway.
Here is the copper door at the Copper Door Restaurant. We were going to have dinner there, but went to Zona's Late Night Bistro instead. We went late (for us anyways), about 8:30. They were pretty busy, with only a couple of empty tables. The hostess told us the only room she had was on their covered patio. We thought that sounded fine. Turns out the covered patio is more of a storage room. There were 2 other occupied tables in there, though no one looked really happy about it. By the time we had a drink and had started on our appetizer - a very nice tamarind and cheese naan bread, we were the only two people in the room. On one hand it was sort of nice to have our very own room. On the other hand I felt like we had been exiled. A peek inside the door showed us that there were still empty tables available. A few minutes later on a trip to the bathroom I could see even more. We asked our waitress why we were on the patio when there were tables available. She said the hostess had told her that's where we wanted to sit. Hmmmm. We were moved inside to a little corner table and enjoyed it much more.
I had the most incredible lasagne of my life - Chicken Coconut Lime Lasagne. I could eat that every day and not get tired of it. The noodles were layered with chicken cheese and coconut lime sauce. It was topped with shredded coconut that was browned and crisped in the oven. Fantastic. On the side was a small mango and pear salad. Scott had Moroccan Molasses Leg of Lamb Curry. The lamb was so tender it was unbelievable. It was served with jasmine rice and a terrific apple mint chutney. The best meal we've had for a while.

oh hotel hot tub. I think I'll miss you most of all.
I also bought some ginger candy and organic chocolate. Shockingly, I have not eaten either yet.
I also bought some Nutritional Yeast Flakes. Why? What am I going to do with them? I don't know yet.

New pepper grinder from The Colorful Cook.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Shredded Carrot-Ginger Pancakes

When I saw the gorgeous picture of Joe's carrot pancakes over at Culinary in the Desert, I knew I had to make them. I adore vegetable cakes and fritters. The crisp outside, the soft veg waiting for you on the inside. What's not to love?
So I whipped up a batch. I have to tell you, this is definitely a recipe we'll be having again and again. Out of this world! Carrots and spicy ginger were made for each other. Scott and I even argued over who would get to take the leftovers to work the next day for lunch! Because I am a garlic fiend, I doubled the amount of the garlic and ginger in both the patties and sauce. I also divided the sauce into 2 bowls, and added a bit of sugar to one of them. Both were equally delicious.
Thanks Joe!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

What kind of cookie are you?

You Are a Chocolate Chip Cookie

Traditional and conservative, most people find you comforting.
You're friendly and easy to get to know. This makes you very popular - without even trying!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Scott would be so proud!

I took an extended lunch break today (boss is away!) and went to the mall.

I am proud to say that I walked by Williams Sonoma 3 times and I didn't go in!

Truly an amazing thing, never before seen.

Unfortch, any money saved today will be blown tomorrow. I'm off to Vancouver very early tomorrow for this thing.

Oh yes, there will be shopping.

And for you, maybe some pretty pictures later in the week!

You are such a jerk...not

I found a recipe for jerk chicken. I've always wanted to make jerk chicken. So I add the ingredients to my shopping list. That night I go to prepare the chicken so it can marinate overnight, as a good jerk should. Wikipedia says jerk is a style of cooking where meats are rubbed with a fiery spice mixture. I take another look at the recipe and see that, sadly, I am the one being jerked. Around. This is not a recipe for jerk! Jerk is spicy! Jerk is complex! Jerk has many ingredients! Things like brown sugar and lime juice or orange juice! This is...just chicken. So, I gathered up my ingredients, threw the recipe out and made...
Sara's Schmuck Chicken!
(See? Because schmuck is another work for jerk? Get it? ...hello?)
Serves 4 with leftovers
1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped finely minced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup oil
8-10 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

Put all ingredients except chicken in a food processor and pulse until mixed. Toss with the chicken and cover and refrigerate over night. The next day, cook as you like - fry, broil, grill or bbq.
The verdict? Quite nice! Green and tasty - but not jerk.
Does anyone out there have a jerk recipe to recommend?

Sunday, June 04, 2006


One of my favorite places to shop is Planet Organic in South Calgary. I stopped there after work the other day and went on a little spree. I love the store. The staff are friendly and very helpful. They sell a ton of organic food, obviously, and lots of vegatarian stuff and environmentally friendly cleaners and household items.

Starting at the bottom, here's what I got:
2 whole wheat pizza crusts
whole wheat foccacia
organic whole wheat flour
organic cornmeal
organic apples
2 bags of orzo
2 bottles organic lemonade
sprouted beans
vegan pepperoni
spinach and feta hummous
kidney beans
cheddar and beer kettle chips
soy sauce

What will come from all this goodness? Wait and see...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Grilled Pineapple

I've seen lots of recipes for grilled pineapple, but most of them are dessert orientated with some sort of sweet sauce. I like my grilled pineapple plain, so I can do what I like with it. I made these slices to accompany some chicken fajitas I made. The leftovers were wonderful the next morning for breakfast.

Here's my $3.99 pineapple from Co-Op.

Cut off the top and bottom, so you have 2 stable work surfaces. Then start cutting off the rind from top to bottom. Don't worry about getting out all the eyes, you can go back for them later. Just make sure you get off all the outer peel.

When you have all the rind off, go back and cut out any remaining eyes.

Slice into rings 1/2 - 1 inch thick. You can cut the core out if desired.

Be careful when putting them on the grill. They may be a bit slippy.

Grill over medium heat until slightly charred and soft. Serve any way you like - sweet or savory.