Blog Archives

Flavours Galore

Who says Monday has to be humdrum? Why can’t we start the week with a bang?

I needed to shake myself out of the doldrums and so when I saw a robin this morning, I was spurred on. I grabbed a recipe I had set aside in my pile of “meals to be made soon” and set to work.

When in doubt, roast chicken is always a good go-to meal. You can do an indefinite number of things to it, and serve it with just about anything. Almost everyone loves roast chicken. Just make sure it’s cooked (160F internal temperature) and voilà!

If you are a regular reader, you know that I am an adventurous amateur cook. The recipe I am featuring tonight is full of aromatic flavours, with an exotic combination of ingredients. A number of items do not hold usual spots on many grocery store shelves, but if like me you don’t have a local specialty food store, I can recommend a place to help you out. They are often an inspiration for me, and the recipe I used tonight is from their wonderful website, with just a few adaptations.

World Spice Merchants in Seattle is a treasure trove full of spices, herbs, blends and teas from around the world. The staff in the store is knowledgeable and the website is a virtual encyclopedia of information on spices and their uses. Even if you have no need to shop, I recommend you peek at their beautiful website and blog set-up.

Daylight Saving Time started this week, and so the days are longer now. However, I didn’t want to be cooking late. My plan was to have a meal that could be organized easily; while the chicken roasted I could prepare the other parts of the dinner. I even had time to walk the dog.

I also wanted to start the week with a recipe that gave us some leftovers. Roast chicken for two means at least a few sandwiches or meat for a salad. The original recipe was for roast quail, but that was too fussy for an everyday meal. (Besides, I’ve always thought quail has too many bones for the meat you get to eat – it’s more work than enjoyment.)

Sometimes I stick with old-time favourites to accompany a new item, but tonight I wanted to keep to a theme. I cooked farro, an ancient grain, and sautéed some veggies with smoked salt. The grain has a wonderfully nutty texture and the smokiness from the salt provided a perfect foil to the complexity of the flavours in the chicken. I even splurged with a local wine from our cellar; after all, creative effort deserves reward and recognition.

So, there you have it: Aromatic Deluxe Roasted Chicken. If I do say so myself, it turned out rather nicely.


​Happy Monday. Here’s to a great week!


Kudos to the girls – in the kitchen and out

intl womens day - silhouettes

Today is International Women’s Day, and since women are such a big part of food and the kitchen it seemed only fitting I pay tribute. There are many women in my life who have helped and inspire me along my journey in life, not the least of which was my Mom. She started in the kitchen (perhaps because that’s where I always hung out!) and then her wisdom led me out to the garden, and then to the sky. Her encouragement has inspired me to discover many of my passions. Her love of being a Mom, at home for her family, is something I will always admire.

Mom - my hero

The women I have come to admire later in life are also people who are secure in who they are, proud of what they have to contribute. When I was growing up, I loved reading Ayn  Rand’s books (thanks, Mom 🙂 ) She was a strong woman who wrote about strong people with convictions and passion. I loved classic movies, and my favourite actresses were Katherine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall. They never let movie men push them around but they were elegant and sexy nonetheless.

Katherine Hepburn not inferior sex

"Your whole life shows in your face, and you should be proud of that."

“Your whole life shows in your face, and you should be proud of that.”

When I discovered my true passion in the kitchen, I was thrilled to read the story of Ina Garten, who jumped in and bought a specialty food store in the Hamptons because she wanted a change from a job at the White House, and fell in love with the place when she visited. She called her business The Barefoot Contessa, starting out with no formal training and learning every job. She developed recipes and started to cater.

click the picture link if you are interested to view Ina's cookbooks on Amazon

click the picture link if you are interested to view Ina’s cookbooks on Amazon

Years later, she wrote a cookbook. When I wrote my first cookbook, I sent her an email saying what an inspiration she had been. She replied, to my surprise and delight, saying she loved my book and wished me every success.

I love to share, and so people who do the same attract me. Alice Waters is a woman who wants to share food with the world, and make sure they appreciate not just the taste but the work of the farmer who produced it as well. It was through reading about her work at Chez Panisse in California that I learned of Slow Food for the first time. I heard her speak in Italy at Terra Madre last fall, and she is every bit the humble but formidable force of nature I expected. Her Edible Schoolyard Project is saving many kids from a life of ignorance about food and community.

Perhaps the perfect inspiration for me though, is Julia Child. Her passion for food was topped only for her passion for her husband, Paul – something I can totally understand. (Thank goodness I married a chef, so he doesn’t mind my foodie mentality.) Julia Child cookbook philosophyShe wanted to make great food something that was accessible for everyone; I love her distaste for the pretentious side of the North American restaurant industry. I love her common sense approach to life.

One of the things Julia espoused was that time around the table was precious and should be encouraged. I say three cheers for that philosophy! So, in honour of Julia and all the women who inspire others to do more, dream bigger, live larger, I offer you a simple recipe to share at the table sometime soon. Roast Chicken is something anyone can accomplish in the kitchen.

1970 photo of Julia Child during taping of her TV show. Photo by Paul Child.

Toast the women in your life that have inspired you. If you are a woman, perhaps you can think about who you might be able to inspire…

%d bloggers like this: