Monthly Archives: January 2017

A Balanced Recipe 


I bought this sign today as an early Valentines’ Day present for my hubby. Since we will be on holiday that day I showed it to him right away. He thought it was cool, but after he read through it his first words were (and I kid you not), “What about sex?!” What can I say, he is a guy. And, he’s a chef. His argument was that recipes should be balanced.

Putting aside the fact that the sign was likely made for a more family-friendly application, I do agree that if “romance” is included then sex is a logical ingredient  to add in the mixture.

I suppose you might be asking that age-old question posed by Harry and Sally: “Can men and women be friends?” That of course is at the essence of the discussion.

Ultimately, my hubby is right. (Don’t tell him I said that.) It’s all about balance. If you can manage the sexual tension that exists on a primal level then you can probably have a successful friendship for a long time, just like Harry and Sally did. But eventually, you have to deal with it – just like you have to deal with the cake batter that overflows the pan in the oven or the grill that flares up and burns your steaks. Nothing is entirely predictable.

Love, and life, do have recipes, but just like anything else you’ll search on the Internet these days you’ll find there isn’t only one. It’s the balance that makes the recipe work. Flavours of sweet and sour, sweet and salty, bitter and sweet, and even umami – that earthly sensation that fills you up – need to be considered. Any good cook knows that recipes are altered with the seasons, as fresh ingredients import different intensities of flavour and corresponding spices need to be adjusted. If you’re fortunate, like me, you find your soulmate and the scales are easier to tip in your favour. When you both know each other and trust each other implicitly, it’s like a a tried-and-true recipe you’ve made plenty of times: you don’t need to measure anymore and it always turns out just fine. Maybe not exactly the same every time, but just fine.

I’m not trying to say there is no happiness for people who don’t have a mate. There are friendships that transcend the earthly confines of traditional relationships – sometimes with siblings, or long-standing friends – even long distance friends. The connection one feels with that kind of friend has the same kind of magic as an intimate relationship can have. I do believe we all have the opportunity for that kind of connection. It’s out there, just keep on cooking and you’ll find the right recipe. Eventually, you will find the combination of ingredients that works for you. As Harry said,

…when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Here’s to the rest of our lives.

 

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Something for Everyone


I grew up on the Prairies, and my parents both came from families that had been on the Prairies for generations.  I believe that part of my heritage links me to an innate sense of country living. Not only existing in small towns where the community is smaller and more intimate, but also coming from an environment that was more harsh and unforgiving than bountiful. Not to mention that I grew up with relatives who had living memories of the Depression, wartime and rations. As a result, I am always conscious of waste, and thinking of ways to avoid it.

Today my kitchen project was simple: making sweet potato chips for “the troops”, our two dogs. Both Simon and Ella enjoy treats just as we do, but junk food is no better for them than it is for us. A crunchy sweet potato chip is a nice way for them to have something without any processing except dehydration. (Seven hours at 130F works perfectly. )  There is no mess ; Simon sometimes leaves a few crumbs, but Ella is a master at clean-up, being a Labrador. The only catch is that the ends of the potatoes are too small to use for chips, due to the tapered shape. We do have a compost, but why not use the ends in another way?

sweet-potato-chips-and-ends

I had an epiphany one day while making the chips and thinking of what to put in our salad for dinner. How about roasting pieces of sweet potato and adding them to the salad?  It worked like a charm. I put the pieces on a baking sheet with some olive oil and herbs & spices (whatever strikes my fancy that day).

I love my exotic spices. This time I used Aleppo pepper on some pieces, and Aniseed Myrtle on others.

I love my exotic spices. This time I used Aleppo pepper on some pieces, and Aniseed Myrtle on others.

About 20 minutes in a moderate oven and presto! We can just as easily leave them in the fridge for another meal if need be. At least all that food isn’t wasted.

I suppose you could say this is another way to look at the concept of “nose to tail” cooking, in the vegetable world. I’m proud that I have kept something out of the compost – yay me! Somehow the lack of guilt I feel makes the salad taste better.

So Much Better Than Chicken Noodle Soup

I got home from tubing camp this weekend with the sniffles. I shouldn’t be surprised – 24 hours with twenty little girls and a dozen mothers in the middle of winter means a lot of germs floating around. My sinuses can only take so much. winter-germs

Since I’m only ten days away from a diving holiday, I had to resort to drastic measures. I needed a serious remedy. Gargling with salt and using Vicks are par for the course, but chicken noodle soup just doesn’t cut it in circumstances like this. I had to pull out the big guns. It’s time for Hot and Sour Soup.

I learned how to make Hot and Sour Soup in my 20’s, with my first live-in boyfriend. I got a terrible cold and this was one recipe he knew how to cook. Bless his heart, he made it for me, nice and spicy and tangy – and I got better. I’ve sworn by it ever since. Over the years I took the recipe up a few notches, so now I call it Kicked Up Hot and Sour Soup.

So I’m going to sign off here, and bury myself in a huge bowl of steaming goodness. I hope you are keeping healthy. If you’re not, you might want to try some too.

kpl-hot-and-sour-soup

Sunday recreation

I am continuing my efforts in baking bread today. Sunday is a great day to tackle a piece-by-piece recipe like bread; it allowed me to have the house smelling wonderful and still manage to get laundry done and vacuum and dust.

This time I tackled a rye bread recipe. I do have Scandinavian roots, and rye is a grain that flourishes in Northern climates. It also has health benefits over wheat breads, and so is supposed to be a good carb choice. (Just in case you were feeling any guilt about enjoying a slice. ) A rye sourdough is on my list as well, since that will offer even more benefits and a more unique taste.

It’s interesting that with all the data now on the Internet, you can search for the “best” whatchamacallit you’re looking for. If a lot of people have tried out something and recommended it, that gives a bit more background than just a simple reference to material. I’m hoping this recipe for Best German Rye Bread lives up to its title. I won’t list it as best because this is my first shot at trying rye, so I’ll reserve judgement. I’ve listed it as “Rye Bread” and I adapted the recipe with a bit more rye flour and making it only one loaf.

rye-bread-collage

This bread was easy to work. It is also very tasty, light in texture but full of flavour. My only complaint is more about my equipment than the recipe. You see, we have a large standing mixer. It works great for my hubby, who is a private chef, but for me it’s almost always bigger than I need. In other needs, I’m not making enough for it to work well. But those are first world problems, aren’t they? When I started cooking and logging recipes, I had no electric equipment at all; even my beater was a hand-held model that ran on “arm-strong” power.

That said, bread is the kind of thing that seems to respond well to machines, but it is a soulful food. Working it by hand is cooking at its essence, some say. I do find a peace in making it.

 

 

 

I am loved

II am at Girl Guide camp this weekend with the Sparks so there isn’t much time to write, but then I opened my packed lunch…


My wonderful hubby is looking out for me. He snuck the note in while i wasn’t looking 🙂 It reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom or dad (depending on who packed lunches that day) wrote notes on my napkin. Sometimes my friends teased me about it, but I didn’t mind. It was worth it. 

I am so fortunate. Thank you, Hon. you made my day.  I hope there is someone for you out there, dear Reader – someone  who reminds you that you are loved. I’m going to make sure I pass the message along, too. 

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