Saturday, March 31, 2007

Reuseable Bags

At the iliketocook household, we try our hardest to be good to the earth. We return our bottles, recycle our newspapers, paper, cardboard, plastic bags, glass and cans. We clean out the plastic containers we can't recycle and give them to the elementary school for the kids to use for crafts. We use cotton grocery bags, use reusable containers for storing food instead of plastic wrap foil or baggies as much as possible, and use environmentally friendly and recycled products whenever we can.

No wonder I'm pooped. I want to introduce you to one of my new favorite websites Reusable Bags.

I discovered them through a Google search while I was looking for cotton produce bags so I wouldn't have to use so many of the plastic bags from the store. They sell reusable bags (dur), food storage items, lunch kits and tons of other stuff. Here's what I bought.

My reason for finding them in the first place - Reusable Produce Bags. I bought 3 of the small and 3 of the large. Just like when I try to use my own grocery bags I get some guff, but still I persist.

Stainless Steel Food Carrier. This is so handy. I can put my soup or salad in the bottom and some fruit in the top.

I bought this for my mom and dad for Christmas - it's a plastic bag and bottle drier.

These are called Wrap and Mats - reusable wraps for your sandwiches, fruit, veggies, crackers, whatever.

Stickers! Lots and lots of stickers! Because they do blow. I've decorated my house and office and have some left over. Does anyone want one (or three)? Email me and I'll send you some!

Friday, March 30, 2007

S is for...

S is for Sushi.
Who: Sushi
What: A Japanese specialty of cooked rice flavored with rice vinegar and served with other ingredients, most usually raw or cooked fish and nori (seaweed) in rolls, designed as finger food for snacks or full meals.
When: Sushi originated in China as a way to preserve fish. The Japanese variety, which bears little resemblance to the original, began in the 1300's.
Where: Sushi is available now pretty much anywhere; restaurants, food courts at the mall, in larger grocery stores. You can also purchase the ingredients (sushi rice, nori sheets, pickled ginger, wasabi) to make your own.
Why: Sushi can be very good for you. Most types are low in fat and packed with vitamins and nutrients. Sushi can be prepared with raw or cooked fish, vegetables or even with meat.

In addition to the ingredients for your sushi rolls, you'll also need a bamboo mat for rolling the sushi, and a sharp knife. Don't forget the soy sauce and wasabi!

If you've never made your own sushi before, it's not that hard. The Post Punk Kitchen has a video showing how to roll sushi. Go here to watch.

Other sites for reference: Sushi 4 Me, and Sushi Day.

For the sushi rolls there are two kinds you can make: inside rolls and outside rolls. The only difference is where you place the nori. An inside roll has the nori under the rice, so the rice is on the outside, an outside roll has the nori on the outside.

Inside roll being made:

Outside roll being made:

Finished inside roll:

Finished outside roll:

Sushi Rice

2 cups sushi rice
3 cups water
1/3 cup rice vinegar (not the seasoned rice vinegar)
2 tb sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Bring the water to a boil, add the rice, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes until the rice is done. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir the vinegar, sugar and salt together in a large bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Gently fold in the rice and mix carefully but thoroughly. Let stand until the rice is at room temperature.

Sushi Balls

1 cup sushi rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tb sugar
1 tsp salt
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
3" piece of cucumber, cut in half, seeded and chopped finely
3 green onions, finely chopped

Cook the rice and water in a covered pot for 20 minutes (or until water has evaporated). Let stand for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile stir together the vinegar, sugar, salt, carrot and cucumber. When the rice is cooked, transfer to a large bowl and stir in the vegetable-vinegar mixture. Let cool to room temperature.
Roll the rice into small balls. Sprinkle some with green onions and leave some plain.
Serve with soy sauce or ponzu.

Just for you we took a trip to the local sushi place for some lunch.

This above was my least favorite. Scott ordered the BC Roll which we thought had smoked Salmon in it. I don't like Salmon but Scott convinced me to try one. It had Salmon skin in it! I did not enjoy it.

Here's the Vegetable Roll. Lettuce (sort of strange I thought), tomato, cucumber and something yellow, possibly mustard. Good, but I would have preferred the rolls to be a bit smaller.

My favorite, Dynamite Rolls. Tempura Shrimp and Avocado.

We tried these for the first time, Tamago, which is Egg.

Lastly the classic California Rolls.

We also had some Vegetable Tempura which was good but a real rip off; 4 pieces of tempura (4 one bite pieces) for $3.49! We got hosed on that one.

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves
L is for Lobster
M is for Mushroom
N is for Noodle
O is for Onion
P is for Pub Food
Q is for Quinoa
R is for Rice

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cookbook Spotlight - Ships of the Great Lakes

One of the most enjoyable parts of having this blog is constantly learning new things; whether or not they relate to food. This month I got the chance to learn more about food AND ships - something I know practically nothing about.

My friend, the lovely Mary of The Sour Dough asked for my assistance in hosting another Cookbook Spotlight, this time for a most intriguing cookbook all about the ships - passenger and freight - that travel in the waters of both Canada and the United States.

Mary has previously written about this cookbook for her post here for Walnut Bars for Weekend Cookbook Challenge 13. The publishers of the book read her post and graciously offered 10 copies of the book for Mary and I to distribute to some food bloggers to see what they thought of the book.

Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook is most certainly not a run of the mill cookbook, but it is a whole lot of fun, whether you are a ship enthusiast or not. And while not all of the recipes may be practical for everyday cooking (like the Santa Fe Pork that requires 30 pounds of cubed pork loin), if you look past that it's a very entertaining cookbook with a lot of personality and heart. Many recipes rely on canned or boxed goods, and why wouldn't they? I can't even begin to imagine the thought and work that would go into being a cook on a ship. Run out of something? Too bad. There's no stopping at Safeway when you're out on the water!

Madeline Chili from Bev Denyas, Schooner Madeline.

Grecian Orange Cake from Virginia Hobaugh, SS Valley Camp.

Grecian Orange Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 (6 serving size) package instant lemon pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water


2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tb orange juice
2 tb butter

To prepare cake combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Pour batter into a greased and floured tube or bundt pan. Bake at 350' approximately 45 minutes. Remove from pan and glaze while hot.

Combine all glaze ingredients in a saucepan; Stir over low heat until dissolved. Poke hot cake with utility fork and pour on glaze.

Thanks to Mary and all the bloggers who are taking part in the spotlight! Keep your eyes peeled early next month for the round-up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Presto Pasta - Barbecue Pork Pasta

Have you taken part in Presto Pasta yet? If not, head over to Ruths to check it out!
This week we've done a really fun pasta...

Recently (I think) Food Network Canada started showing Road Tasted, a U.S. show hosted by the two sons of Paula Deen. I've only seen it once, but the premise seems to be these two travelling around and eating stuff. Not a bad job at all.

The episode I saw they were in the Southern U.S. somewhere and one of the dishes that was prepared for them was pasta made with seasoned barbecued pork butt and barbecue sauce. We had smoked a pork butt in the spring and had one small bag of meat left. Scott immediately went to rummage thru the freezer so we could make some barbecue pasta of our own.

Barbecue Pork Pasta

2 tb oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup barbecue sauce, preferably smokey
1/4 to 1/2 cup water to thin to your desired consistency
1 1/2 cups diced barbecue pork (like this if you have it)
salt and pepper
300 grams dried pasta
shredded cheese for serving

Heat the oil over medium high heat. Cook the onion and celery until soft. Add the garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes. Add the barbecue sauce and water. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Add the pork and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add some hot sauce if you are feeling sassy. Reduce the heat to medium low and let cook while you bring a big pot of water to the boil for the pasta. When the water boils add some salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente, drain and toss with the sauce. Serve with shredded cheese (like mozzarella) on the side.

4 servings.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

3 Favorites

Here's my 3 favorite things from last week and this weekend. A store, a meal and a movie.

One of my favorite places to food shop in Calgary is Planet Organic. They have a pretty good selection of fruits and veggies, lots of dried pastas, rice, spices and a great deli counter. Lots of organic stuff as their name indicates. The prices are excellent too, in fact better than at some of the bigger stores on the exact same items.

I bought some: eggless egg salad (Scott LOVES it), GinGins Hard Candy, mixed bean sprouts, miso, tofu, organic whole wheat tortillas (made in Calgary! Shout out to the 100 Mile Diet!), veggie pakoras and vegetarian bologna. Not pictured is some fruit, juice and soy yogurt I took to work.

Which leads me to a question for any one out there who eats soy yogurt. Scott and I are trying to cut back on our dairy consumption. It's going OK, but the soy yogurt I bought this day SUCKED. I think the brand was Nancy's? I understand it's not going to taste exactly the same as dairy yogurt, but still...anyone got any brand suggestions?

But my very favorite thing about Planet Organic is that they always pack my groceries in my canvas bags I bring. This might not sound like a big deal, but it seems to be a problem here. I take my reusable bags with me almost every time I shop and almost always the clerks don't use them. Here's how it went when I paid for my groceries at Planet Organic:

Me: I've got my own bags to use, thanks.
Grocery Clerk: You've got your own bags? Great!

Here's how it went at another store a couple of weeks ago:

Me: I've got my own bags here to use, thanks.
GC: These are your grocery bags?
Me: Yes.
GC: Did you want me to put your groceries in them?
Me: Um...ok...

And THEN! She packed all the groceries in plastic bags, then put the plastic bags into my canvas bags (I was on the phone and not watching her). This from a store that actually SELLS it's own reusable bags. Of which I have THREE.


Yesterday Scott and I went for a walk in Fish Creek Park and then went over to a big shopping area (I don't know what it's called) at Deerfoot and 130th Ave. They had a ton of restaurants, and we picked Ichizen Japanese Cuisine for lunch.

What an excellent choice. It was great; I can't wait to go back, in fact I've already started plotting out what I want to try next time. But yesterday we had a Lunch Bento Box and a Lunch Combination.

The Lunch Bento Box A ($9.95) consisted of a small Tempura, your choice of Teriyaki Chicken, Beef or Salmon, and a California Roll served with salad and soup.

Miso Soup. It was very good, with lots of tofu chunks.

The Bento Box:

Top left corner is the shrimp and veggie Tempura; then a green salad with a sesame dressing; steamed broccoli and carrots; the beef Teriyaki, full of onions; a totally amazing pickled carrot and maybe daikon salad; the California Rolls. For $9.95! Unbelievable.

The Lunch Combination was $11.95 and included salad, your choice of one of 3 udon soups and your choice of teriyaki beef, curry don or chicken katsu.

I chose the Tanuki Udon (mixed vegetable tempura on Udon noodles) and the Curry Don. I also got the green salad with the sesame dressing and a plate of condiments for the Udon - fried onions, some kind of picked radish, ginger and green onions. It was all great, especially the Curry Don. It was rice and lettuce with a very nice curry sauce. I was not crazy about the green salad but only because I don't like sesame oil.

I really really can't wait to go back! The menu is full of drool-worthy food and the prices seem reasonable. Check it out Calgarians!

Ichizen Japanese Cuisine
501-4600 130 Ave SE Calgary Alberta


Last night we went to the movies to see Fido.

This is just the best movie I've seen in a while. It's not a Zombie movie exactly; there is some violence and gore, but it's mainly about family and friends. And it is funny! Billy Connolly gives the most amazing performance. He doesn't speak one word, but he is just so full of emotion. Fido was an official selection at The Sundance Film Festival, and won the Jury Prize at The Gerardmer International Film Festival. It came out in Canada last week, I don't know if it's out in the US yet. But add it to your list!

And lastly, I've stared up a little blog called i like to cook goes shopping. I'll be documenting what I buy for the kitchen, food and other stuff. Who knows how interesting it will be, but check it out from time to time if you are in the mood.

Have a great day!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My Favorites in Hawaii

One more Hawaii post, because in my post on some of our meals in Hawaii I forgot to mention 2 of our very very favorites.

But first!

One of my favorite things about going to the States is the food that they have that we can't buy in Canada. This trip among other things we enjoyed:

Cheese in a can!

Maui Potato Chips. Oh these things are good. I ate them every day for the first week we were there. Then my skirt started to get tight so I had to stop.

Hello Kitty Pineapple Marshmallows. To, you know, to wash down all those potato chips.

Here's a crooked picture of Da Kitchen, which I told you about before.
Da Kitchen, Rainbow Mall, 2439 South Kihei Road, Kihei, Hawaii.

One of our top 2 favorites in Kihei was Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods, which we read about in our Hawaii book before we left. It's a health food/grocery store with very nice produce, much of it organic and/or grown in Hawaii, and an excellent salad bar. The store runs 2 salads bars daily - a hot bar featuring soups, chilies and entrees, and a cold salad bar full of everything from green salads you can top with cheese nuts and pineapple to pasta salads, tofu salads and much more. They also sell excellent desserts by the slice (like pineapple cheesecake!). We went there almost every day.
Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods, 2411 South Kihei Road, Kihei, Hawaii.

Right next to Hawaiian Moons is my #1 favorite place in Kihei - Maui Tacos. We read about it on Trip Advisor when we were looking up information on where we were staying. One of the reviews of the condo raved about Maui Taco so much we decided we'd check it out on our trip.

We loved everything about it, especially the salsa bar. My favorites were the pineapple salsa and the avocado-tomatillo salsa.

This is a mango chicken taco salad my Mom had. We ate there quite a bit, and the last 4 days we ate lunch there every day. They sell their own Maui Taco cookbook which I didn't buy and am now regretting it. Oh well, guess I'll have to go back!
Maui Tacos, 2411 South Kihei Road, Kihei, Hawaii.

Friday, March 23, 2007

R is for...

R is for Rice.
Who: Rice
What: A grain, and a primary food staple for most of the world's population.
When: Rice has been cultivated since at least 5000 BC, and archaeological explorations in China have uncovered pots of rice that may be up to 8,000 years old. Rice was first cultivated in Asia.
Where: There are two main ways of growing rice. The first is Aquatic or Paddy rice and is grown in flooded fields. The second is Hill-grown rice that can be grown in almost any tropical or subtropic terrain. In the US rice is grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Missouri and Texas. Rice is grown in more than 90 countries worldwide.
Why: Rice is the world's third largest crop, and is the most consumed grain. Rice is low in fat, sodium free, cholesterol free and gluten free. Rice contains B vitamins, Calcium and Potassium.

Did you know?

Wild Rice is not really rice at all. It is actually a grass.

The only continent rice is not grown on is Antarctica.

The by-products of rice have many uses including making rope, paper, wine, crackers, beer, cosmetics, packing material, and even toothpaste.

This delicious dish below is Route 79 Bell Pepper and Chicken Pilaf from the very excellent Naughty Curry. Click on the link above to take you to the recipe with a vegetarian option.

I can't recall ever making rice salad before, but this is goooood. I prefer it a bit warm, and I think it's best eaten the day it's made.

Mixed Bean and Rice Salad

1 19 oz can mixed beans rinsed and drained well
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp cumin
2 cups cooked rice

Toss together the beans pepper and onions and set aside. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, hot sauce and cumin. Taste and season with salt to taste.
Toss together the rice with the bean mixture and add the dressing - start with half the dressing - and gently combine. Add more dressing until you are happy with the taste and texture. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Can you guess what this is? Rice? No!

This is Ruth from Once Upon a Feast's Cauli-Fried "Rice" and it is good, very very good.

Cauli-Fried "Rice"
from Ruth and Once Upon a Feast.

1 large cauliflower, trimmed
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp curry powder (optional)

Grate the cauliflower, including the core using the grater attachment of a food processor or the medium holes on a box grater if you don't have a food processor. With your hands, squeeze out as much water as you can. (This may not be necessary for some cauliflower as they vary in degree of wetness).

Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute just until the garlic sizzles and smells awesome (1-2 minutes). Add the cauliflower, sprinkle with the salt & pepper and stir-fry until tender-crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes. The length of time will depend in the cauliflower. Stir in the curry powder, if using.

Stir in the green onions and taste for seasoning. With your eyes closed, you'd swear you were eating rice.

Last month I came across this post on Food for Thought for rice burgers. Having never heard of such a thing (the "bun" is made of rice!) and with the letter "R" looming, Scott and I decided to try to make them ourselves.

Rice Burgers

You'll need:

Prepared sushi or sticky rice (I cooked 1 1/2 cups rice in 2 cups water. Sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and rice vinegar.)
Onion slices
Beef and/or Tomato slices

The night before, prepare the marinade. Thinly slice the beef, onions and tomatos. I made two batches of marinade, one for the beef and one for the tomatos and onions. Cover and refrigerate overnight.


4 tb soy sauce
2 tb sherry
1 tb grated or finely chopped ginger
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 tb brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Wet your hands and form the rice into patties ("buns"). Heat a large pan over medium high heat and add a thin coating of oil. Carefully add the buns to the pan. Brush the buns with soy sauce or if you have marinade that wasn't used with beef, use that. Cook until lightly golden and carefully flip the buns and continue cooking.

Separate the tomatos and onions and cook the onions in one pan and the beef in another.

To assemble, lay one bun on a plate. Top with the toppings you desire - lettuce, tomatos, onions, beef. Top with another bun.

These are MESSY and a bit fussy, but great.

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves
L is for Lobster
M is for Mushroom
N is for Noodle
O is for Onion
P is for Pub Food
Q is for Quinoa

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Frozen Ginger

I love to use grated ginger in recipes, but I don't always use it often enough to go thru a whole piece before it starts to go bad. I know you can freeze the "fingers" and then scrape off the skin when you are ready to use it, but that never seems to work well for me. My ginger grater is a piece of garbage and chopping it by hand never goes well. So what I do is peel and shred a whole whack of it at a time, and freeze in small amounts.

I got both these bags of ginger for $1.00. Score!
Peel all the ginger, either with a vegetable peeler or with a knife, and grind it all up in your food processor. Then I scoop it out into 1 tablespoon portions:

and freeze until solid. When the little gingers are hard as a rock, move them to a freezer bag or other storage container and toss them in the freezer. Then whenever you need some ginger, just pull out a pellet! You also know exactly how much you have, and I find that 1 tb is the perfect amount for most recipes. And you don't need to defrost it before using! Sweet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Good Pasta for Presto Pasta

My first picture didn't turn out, so I wrestled Scott's plate away from him in hopes of taking another picture of this dinner. I was too late:
But you can tell that he really liked it, can't you. I'm taking part in my first Presto Pasta Night hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. We love pasta so this will be a fun event not only to contribute to but hopefully to get some new recipes. There can never be enough pasta!

This is slightly adapted from The Dean and Deluca Cookbook.

Tomato and Ginger Pasta
serves 2-4, depending how hungry everyone is.

425 grams dry pasta
2 cups of peeled and diced tomatos
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tb minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tb butter

Cook the pasta in lots of boiling salted water. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until they are starting to soften. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes more, but watch your heat - you don't want them to brown. Add the tomatos, and big pinch of sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, or until the pasta is cooked. Pour the sauce into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Toss with the pasta and serve with Parmesan cheese on the side.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The 100 Mile Diet

Did you know that most produce from North America travels, from farm to plate, a minimum of 1,500 miles? Or that only 20 of the roughly 30,000 plant species grown worldwide provide 90 percent of the world with food? These two startling facts and many more are found on the very interesting and inspiring website.

Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, for one year, ate only food that was gathered within 100 miles (160 km) of where they live. Now they've got the website and a book on the way.

This interests me a lot, as the more I learn about farming and food production, and GMO and pesticides, hormones, blah blah, the less I want to eat.

I am going to start researching our 100 mile part of the world to see what I can come up with . We've been talking for a while now of trying to cut down on how much shopping we do at the big name grocery stores and this might be the perfect incentive.

Our 100 miles.

I've preordered the book from I'll tell you more next month when I get the book!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Q is for...

Q is for Quinoa.
Who: Quinoa
What: Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a seed, or pseudograin. Although it is an "ancient grain" as it was a staple food of the Incans, it is also called "The Supergrain of The Future".
When: Quinoa originated in South America over 6,000 years ago. The Incans called it "The Mother Grain", although later in history when the Europeans invaded South America they scorned it as an "Indian food".
Where: Quinoa is hearty and easily grown, even in very high elevations.
Why: Quinoa is truly an amazing food. It is a complete protein, as it contains all eight essential amino acids. It contains more protein than any other grain. Quinoa is gluten-free.

Quinoa is cooked like rice and expands to four times the original volume. Its flavor is similar to couscous.

Quinoa can be used in any similar way to rice: in main or side dishes, soups, salads or desserts.

Quinoa is available as a grain, flour, and made into pasta.

Quinoa Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp salt

Cream peanut butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated. Mix in the vanilla, flour and salt. (If the dough is crumbly, squish with your hands). Roll the dough into 24 balls. Flatten each ball on a cookie sheet with the palm of your hand and make criss-cross patterns with a fork. Bake at 350' for 15 minutes.

Please drool over these tasty morsels. The recipe for these Quinoa Sour Cream Fudge Cupcakes is here.

You'll notice that I've only cooked with Quinoa flour and not the actual grain or seed. Well it's not for lack to trying! I've been attempting Quinoa recipes for a month now (written before my holiday) but the stupid things won't cook properly; they won't expand! I've tried Quinoa from 4 different stores, I've soaked it, I've toasted it, I've tried cooking in pots, pans and my rice cooker. Nothing. I've officially given up.

Arg. I'm unhappy. This is my least favorite alphabet post. Sorry guys!

Previous Alphabet Posts:
A is for Artichoke
B is for Beet
C is for Carrot
D is for Dogs
E is for Egg
F is for Fondue
G is for Garlic
H is for Hamburger
I is for Indian Food
J is for Jamie Oliver
K is for Kaffir Lime Leaves
L is for Lobster
M is for Mushroom
N is for Noodle
O is for Onion
P is for Pub Food