This morning, I remember thinking, “it’s a good day to be a worm”. As I walked with Ella this morning in the pouring rain, the only other creatures outside were the worms. It was then I decided that we should have stew for dinner. But then, the sun came out at 1 pm.
Thankfully, I did my computer work early in the day, so when the skies lightened and the thermometer actually slipped into double digits I high-tailed it outside. The vitamin D did wonders for my mood and the look of the garden, after I finished trimming all the herbs.
I’m glad I had the ability to be so flexible in my day’s plans. Back in the days when I had an office job, I used to have to just pull the blinds up to soak in the rays. Today I even had time to stop and smell the flowers, hear the bees buzzing. Being self-employed has its advantages, especially in the shoulder season.
I did want to stay committed to dinner. I have a great cookbook for stew inspiration: Lobel’s Meat and Wine. It offers choices by meat type, with different themes based on recipes from various places in the world. Tonight I made a beef stew Provençale. The recipe is based on their Beef Stew Flavoured with Black Olives & Oranges, adapted for my tighter time schedule and ingredients on hand. We did still manage a nice local wine pairing.
I also got to chat with my brother today. We have had a tumultuous relationship over the years, running hot as great buddies or cold when we didn’t speak at all. These days, there is water under the bridge that doesn’t run smooth or clear, but we have found our way in the current and it feels good to have my oldest pal back. I suppose that speaks to the same theme of being flexible and committed, doesn’t it?
Life is about balance. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
We are rebuilding our front deck. Yesterday was demolition day, and today we loaded all the wood and other debris into a trailer for the landfill. And it’s Monday. There are always loose ends, and surprises, and a big to-do list on Mondays. So I decided we needed a boost.
One of my favourite desserts as a kid was my mom’s Chocolate Pudding Cake. I have spoken of Mom’s Lemon Pudding Cake before; it is a delicate, tangy soufflé. The chocolate version is on the other end of the scale – rich with oozing decadence, the original lava cake.
The good news is, pudding cake is easier to manage than lava cake, being a bigger entity. It’s a straightforward recipe to assemble. The trickiest part is planning to have the first portion warm, but to wait long enough so you don’t burn your tongue.
As I finish this last paragraph, my tummy is all warm inside. I feel a bit like Winnie the Pooh after polishing off a pot of honey. The muscles I worked out lifting boards and branches feel a bit better. I am sure I will have pleasant dreams.
I hope you do too. If not, try making Chocolate Pudding Cake tomorrow.
It’s a day off today, so we made a plan for our free kitchen time. In the spirit of Sunday morning, a day of traditionally indulgent eating, we chose to make donuts.
My dad and I made cake donuts a few times when I was a kid and it was a very fond memory. We did it again years later when I was in my thirties; we couldn’t find the original recipe so we worked out another one. We called the recipe “Born Again Donuts“, as it was a resounding success.
Today I went wild and created a new variation (it’s listed with the recipe in the link). My dad loved an adventure; I’m pretty sure he would have approved of the new chocolate orange flavour. I got a kick out of the new Rabbit Hollow-inspired shape, too.
My hubbie decided to make a yeast donut, so that we could have a variety of flavours. He created a chocolate caramel glaze for the usual donuts with holes, and then filled some round donuts with strawberry jam we had in the fridge (not a house-made preserve, but strawberry is the kind of jam you need to put in a donut). I also made a rosewater honey glaze that we dunked a few twists into, just for a bit of sticky fun. All those flavours covered the retro and foodie angles nicely.
Donuts are certainly not a healthy food, what with being deep-fried and coated in sugar or honey. However, homemade with no chemicals or preservatives they are at least natural. And they can provide a sense of emotional wellness.
My dad would have been tickled pink if he could have sat down with us to sip on a cup of fresh coffee and a homemade jam buster.
Here’s looking at you, Daddy!
Just over one hundred years ago, a journalist named Elbert Hubbard first penned what has now become a proverbial phrase, depicting a positive outlook on life despite its difficulties.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
I had a day frought with frustrating moments yesterday and so I felt the need to step above them. When I am in a funk there is nothing that cheers me more than to putz in the kitchen.
Since I was pouting about banging my already-injured finger twice that day, I needed an extra boost. Perhaps it was taking the proverb too literally, but I decided I needed to make Lemon Loaf.
You know what? Freshly baked lemon loaf and a cup of jasmine green tea work just as well as lemonade in beating out the big bad world.
There are many reasons I count my lucky stars. Just living in this part of the world is a huge blessing, and the Okanagan in particular is a special spot for someone who is a foodie and a wine geek. But most of all, I’m spoiled by my hubbie.
Some people call it luck. Others call it fate. Whatever label you want to attach to the concept, when you find your soulmate, your live your life on a higher level. Quality time becomes precious time, not because it is rare but because it is special. Soulmates share passions, and so every moment shared holds special meaning. For us, the passion we share is food so every meal we have is a memory.
Contrary to popular belief, a chef and a sommelier don’t always eat lobster risotto and drink vintage French wine. Sometimes we have grilled cheese sandwiches, or salad, for dinner. Breakfast is often yogurt with fruit, and a protein shake. But when we decide to “dine”, we do it right. Yesterday was one of those days.
For breakfast, we had shakshouka. “What?”you say! I know. The only reason I know the same is because it’s trendy and I read about it – we call it eggs poached in tomato sauce.
My hubbie made the tomato sauce with a blend of sautéed and roasted veggies (artichokes, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and squash). He warmed the sauce up in the oven, using our spiffy boats that we bought for just such a meal. Then he cracked the eggs into the dishes and put them back in for another ten minutes or so. A bit of grated cheese went on top, and back in they went for a couple of minutes (we had Parmigiano Reggiano but any cheese you like will work). The rest of the cooking happened on the plate as I got toast and coffee ready. (I have a nifty milk steamer that he bought me so I can make lattes at home just the way I like them.)
And voilà. What could have been an ordinary day started off with a special moment shared.
We spent the day in the yard, spring cleaning. Each of us has our own responsibilities, so we mostly work alone outside. I prepped the greenhouse for early plants, and did some cleaning in the flower beds. Hubbie was busy being manly, chopping fruit wood that will be used for BBQ cooking this summer. We worked until cocktail hour. (What can I say, we work hard and live hard.)
As I made cocktails after cleaning up and feeding the dogs, hubbie prepared dinner. I had picked up a piece of fresh halibut at our local fishmonger, since the season just opened. He put a bit of a citrus spice rub on it, and prepared a Caesar salad to accompany it, with radishes instead of croutons for crunch (how’s that, gluten-free readers?)
Since I am his muse, I prepared just a bit of sauce: diced pieces of preserved lemon in a sweet wine reduction. (It might sound weird, but the sweet and salty elements were a nice foil for the richness of the fish.) I chose a new local wine from a winery I like that has a sassy image but great quality wine. If you have access to wines from BC, check out The Hatch.
Simple flavours, true to their character. (They say one way to test a chef is to have them make a Caesar salad. My guy could stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone in any kitchen.)
It wasn’t a day celebrating anything special except another day together. But that’s how we live. Fridays are just as worthy of celebrating as anniversaries. I highly recommend it.