the sequel

January 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Posted in food | 3 Comments
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hey remember that rotisserie chicken i bought earlier this week? well i managed to squeeze a bit more life out of it. 4-5 meals worth, to be exact. for once, the sequel was just as good, if not better, than the original!

in case you haven’t figured, i am mad about soups. it’s the perfect food in this chilly weather. i had about 2 cups of chicken stock left in the fridge and a little over half a pound of cut up chicken meat. lots of frozen veggies and plenty of milk. to me, this says 3 words: chicken corn chowder. my favorite recipe comes from an ancient cookbook: the st michael’s all colour cookery book, from mark’s and spencer circa 1976. the soup is rich (from the milk) and hearty (the potatoes) and absolutely delicious, not to mention pretty nice to look at (flecks of red from the bell pepper and yellow from the corn) plus it’s easy to make. win win, if you ask me. i usually make it pretty much according to the book, but yesterday, it wasn’t until i’d already started that i realized i was out of corn. then i didn’t feel like peeling a whole pound of white potatoes. problem solved. i used peas and one big sweet potato. it was just as tasty as always. i hope you will enjoy it as much as i have over the years.

Ingredients:

a bit of butter for frying

1 onion (i used a few cups of frozen “spaghetti” vegetable mix that includes carrots, celery, onion, and bell pepper), peeled and finely chopped

1 bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped (i usually use pepper strips that i have frozen, makes for quicker soup)

2 Tbsp flour

2 cups hot milk, 2 cups chicken stock (i used homemade, but any other good stuff is fine. low sodium please!)

250g of shredded chicken

1lb of potatoes, peeled and diced (i used a sweet potato and it was marvelous)

1 can sweet corn, drained (i always use frozen because i never buy canned corn. last night i substituted peas)

Salt, Pepper to taste

Instructions: Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and pepper and fry gently until soft. Sprinkle the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Take the pan off the heat and add the liquids gradually, stirring them in. Put back on the heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Season to taste and add the remaining ingredients (potato, chicken, corn). Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Adjust seasoning and serve. Serves 4-6

Yum!

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Lots more exciting stuff to come, including some cultural explorations, some exercise talk and another snowshoe adventure.

chicken soup for my soul

January 25, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Posted in food | 2 Comments

i had a free-form kind of weekend planned. only one definite commitment scheduled with the rest of the time up in the air. this resulted in me doing all the stuff i really wanted to do, some of the stuff i needed to do, and not feeling guilty about any of the rest!

friday night started with a trip to a grocery story to pick up some food and a rotisserie chicken – something i often forget about but is really useful in meal planning, is a great time saver, and is excellent on value in these days when i’m trying to save more. when i got home, i let the chicken cool off before skinning it and cutting out all the meat into cubes. i think i got at least 4-5 cups of mixed white and dark meat.

on saturday, after a trip to loblaws for loads of fresh veggies, i piled a bunch of stuff into a big pot (carrots, celery, onion, some of my home dried tomatoes, garlic, parsley) with my chicken bones and covered everything with cold water. okgo!

chicken stockan hour later (maybe more, maybe less, i have no idea) i drained the works and ended up with almost 8 cups of really flavourful chicken stock that really was very little work to make and cost almost nothing. i’ll have to do this more often.

the stock and the chicken were earmarked for a project i found in a book i got from the library last week. alton brown’s book: i’m just here for more food (food X mixing + heat = baking) – chicken and dropped dumplings. after a busy saturday of roasting root veggies for the week, making a batch of toffee/chocolate oatmeal cookies (they are yummy but a tad past the line of soft and chewy into the crunchy zone) and babysitting my favorite seven year old, i got right to my project early on sunday morning.

although alton said to start with making the soup, i knew the dumplings would probably take me longer to do, so i began with the dry goods and the fat so i wouldn’t feel rushed. grating frozen butter and rubbing it into the flour mix was fantastic! i’ve always hated using a pastry cutter. i just rubbed and rubbed (like you’d rub the softness of a puppy’s ear) and then made a well in the middle for my liquid (instead of buttermilk, which i didn’t have, i used half heavy cream and half yogurt for the tang) a quick stir with a rubber spatula and i had biscuit dough! i made 12 1oz balls as instructed (my god, what did i do before i had my digital scale?? best kitchen tool ever! if you don’t have one, go buy one now!) and put them in the fridge while i diced veggies for the soup.

more carrot, celery and onion + garlic back in the pot. then i added 6 cups of my stock to boil. after about 15 minutes of simmering, i dropped the dumpling balls in to cook and then added the diced chicken meat.

voila:

dsc000971the soup was perfect. the dumpling texture was great and the sage/dry mustard in the mix were yummy. it was the perfect thing to eat on a day when i was feeling a little under the weather. i’ll be making it again!

alton brown’s book is fantastic. i will be seeking out his other ones, and probably getting copies for myself. this is the kind of reference i want on my shelf.

the rest of the day was spent catching up on tv – i watched a new show called “lie to me” that i really enjoyed. i am  going to wrap up my evening with an episode of private practice and the mountain of two loads of laundry that need folding before i put my head on the pillow. this is going to be a super busy week at work. i start my french classes on tuesday, which i am really stoked about. hopefully i will make a few friends (good ones to unload baked things on) and get lots of speaking practice in.

have a great monday! we’re supposed to have sunshine here in toronto, though the temperatures will be cold. hopefully i won’t have to shovel till later on in the week.

late birthday/christmas treats!

January 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Posted in exercise, food | 3 Comments

in the middle of a long, swampy day of work, i took a break to have lunch with my favorite “big brother” at the thai/vietnamese/generally asian restaurant across the street from work. my food was yummy, but as is often the case for me at restaurants, i ate way too much! i have a problem of eating everything that’s on my plate, kind of mindlessly. when i’m at home, it’s fine because i will put only exactly what i know i can and should eat. at restaurants, they put what the 170lb guy can eat on the plate. this results in a bit of a tummy ache after! i need to work on this.

i got the last christmas/birthday presents of the season.

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giada's kitchenI am really excited about both of these gifts. I have been wanting a torch for a long long time now. You’ll be hopefully seeing lots of use of it, once i get it filled up with some good old flammable butane. There are many creme brûlées in my future.

The cookbook is great because i don’t have too many of my own food cookbooks. I’ve got an ice cream book and a cookie book that are standbys, but for supper dishes, i either have to turn to the web or use one of mom’s old books. I find something pleasurable about flipping through pages with lots of lovely photos of food on glossy paper that is different from browsing my favorite food blogs. I hope many new Italian favorites will find their way into my regular repertoire!

Thanks Duane!

i took today off from exercise (well, i did put in 35 minutes of shoveling in the morning and i walked 3 miles to get between work and the bus station but i am skipping an actual dedicated workout) to just chill, relax from my crazy day of work and do other fun things like catch up on some knitting and reading more alton brown (i’m just here for more food). i’ll be back on the bike tomorrow! the new Numbers in iwork 09 has some excellent templates, one of which is a really cool workout tracker. since i have been manually keeping tabs on what i’ve done each day, i hope to get some good visual data (a pie chart? some bar graphs?) that will keep the nerd in me going!

weekend roundup

January 18, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

my weekend ended up involving a whole lot of shoveling. first, on saturday morning, i got rid of the rest of last week’s snow so jon could get his car into the driveway. that was hard work. 51 minutes of shoveling, and i burned 475 calories. my max heart rate was 183 – the only time i ever get into the 180s is in a race situation. then saturday evening it started to snow and snow. and snow. sunday morning we had plans to leave the house early to go snowshoeing, but shoveling took TWO of us (one of whom is a master snow flinging machine) an hour plus to get the driveway cleared.

how much snow we gotthis doesn’t really give you a good enough idea of how much snow there was. those snow piles are taller than i am. i’d say they’re about 6 or 7 feet tall. i have no idea what i’m going to do with all of this week’s snow, when i’m alone and without my snow flinger with his lacrosse-style moves. we then had to shovel again right before we left the house. then we shoveled at the grandparents’ house when we got there, and AGAIN at 6:30pm when we got home. there already is enough snow in the driveway now that i know i will need to shovel again in the morning. it is still snowing.

the bread exercise was a success. it is by far the healthiest loaf i’ve ever made. it also looks the most like something you’d buy in some artisinal bakery, not like something i made myself, so i am pretty proud of it. i forgot to take a picture of it until after i’d already cut a slice for sampling 😉

oats'n'seeds bread

the lasagna was nothing to write home about. i did not follow the recipe at all – used it mostly just for guidance. it wasn’t unenjoyable (lasagna is always somewhat yummy) but not super delicious. i will be revisiting later this winter, possibly sticking closer to the original incarnation. i did not get a picture of either lasagna, and somehow there is only two small pieces left, neither of which are particularly photogenic. oh well.

snowshoeing was absolutely fantastic. the trails we went on were gorgeous and conditions today were perfect! i had a great time and burned 800 calories in about 2 hours. i was not cold once, and snow didn’t get into my boots (jon got me some awesome outbound gaiters, kinda like these but nicer). i slid down hills, climbed back up, walked over super narrow wooden bridges, snacked on snow (it’s like a flavourless snocone! crunchy and deliciously refreshing). it was good times.

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i am definitely NOT ready for work tomorrow. i have a staff meeting in the afternoon, which i made some yummy martha stewart oatmeal/chocolate chip/cranberry cookies for. my coworkers are very lucky people. hopefully the meeting isn’t forever long. tomorrow might be my dumpling making day (for chinese new year. i’ll document.)

one last thing to report on. another awesome oh she glows contest. i didn’t win the last one, but maybe i have a better chance at this! go check it out. you could with a tasty sampling of lots of yummy food products.

have a great week!

weekend project time

January 16, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Posted in food, hobbies, plans | Leave a comment

the weekend is my prime project accomplishing time. on tap for tomorrow (besides the usual chores: dishwasher, laundry, dusting, floors, etc) are lasagna (i’m making this one) and bread with a preferment! my first – the oats n’seeds bread i mentioned earlier. hopefully i’ll have tasty pictures of the final products and some words of wisdom (an adventure or a misadventure? i hope for the former but the latter may provide entertainment for all).

in other news, the weather is supposed to warm up a bit. the low for saturday/sunday is just -9, which is pretty high compared to the lows of -25 that we have seen this week. incidentally, tomorrow’s high is also -9. hmmm. on sunday we are heading about an hour east for some crown land snowshoeing. there will be pictures of that as well! while conservation authorities charge anywhere from 5-10$ per person for use of their trails, crown land trails are great because they are free. this particular chunk of land is conveniently located a 5 minute drive from jon’s absolutely adorable grandparents, so we’ll get to visit them on the same trip! although gas prices are slightly more affordable than they were a couple months ago, we still have to make an effort to cut down on excessive driving. and one of my new year’s resolutions was to make more of an effort to spend time with the grandparents (even though they are not *my* grandparents), this adventure will be extra good.

so that’s all i’ve got right now. it was not such a fun week – exam, a painful trip to the dentist, extremely cold weather, etc but there is lots of good, exciting stuff coming up!

awesome contest alert!

January 14, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

angela from oh she glows is having a giveaway of honest foods products. they make a really interesting line of granola-bar type things. i haven’t tried any myself because they seem to be hard to get in canada, and even ordering online here seems tricky, but i have heard they are yummy! i’m excited about the contest and hope i get the chance to give them a shot.

oh she glows is a great blog covering food, fashion, fitness and fun. angela is training for a half marathon this year – the same one i was planning to run as one of my three but now have to switch for a different one because of bike race scheduling. she’s running for the canadian cancer society, which is a great cause. check it out!

i’m canadian – i can’t not talk about the weather!

January 12, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Posted in exercise, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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weatheruhhhh excuse me? i don’t like the looks of this! sounds like there is piles more shoveling on the way. lucky for me i can half count shoveling as exercise – when my heart rate is up in the 150s, it’s cardio, alright! that gives me more time to do fun things in the evening because i always shovel first thing in the morning, usually around 5:15, which gives me enough time to get the driveway (or most of it) done if there’s a lot of snow.

there is a little macbook shaped hole in my life

January 11, 2009 at 7:56 am | Posted in food, hobbies, organization, plans | Leave a comment

i had to drop off my beloved laptop at the apple store yesterday for a minor repair. they said it would take about two days, which i guess in the grand scheme of things isn’t THAT bad compared to a lot of such services, but i am still very sad without it. working on a windows desktop eats away at my soul (faster than usual, since i am forced to do this at work on a regular basis)
the fun part of my weekend has ended. the boy packed up the car and headed back to waterloo for snowshoeing (he’s borrowing mine because his haven’t arrived yet) and school work. i am hoping to use the time to rest and get myself organized for the week again because that worked SO WELL last sunday. i’ll make a bunch of oatmeal and get together lunches for at least monday and tuesday.
yesterday i cooked up a big pot of butternut squash soup, which is a staple in this household. it’s about the easiest soup i know how to make:
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into chunks.
2-3 apples – same as above
1L of chicken stock
extra water to cover veggies (if you’ve got apple cider, you can substitute that for the water and it will be extra tasty)
sprinkling of dried sage, salt and pepper.
cover pot and let boil for 25-30 minutes.
puree with immersion blender.
EAT, preferably with some nice crusty bread. i had made a batch of the barefoot contessa’s honey white, as seen on seven spoons this week. i made 1 big loaf and 5 big rolls, which we made into turkey and cranberry sandwiches to enjoy with our soup. it was a good, filling winter lunch.

i love making bread and i am trying to get back into it this year. my next project in the works is a little more complex but hopefully super tasty and worth the trouble. oat’s n’ seeds bread from katheats. there’s a new planet organic not too far away from here, and although i’m not a big fan of most of what they carry (almost none of which is local or even certified by any organic board and is also ridiculously expensive), they do have a great bulk section with lots of different flours, grains, seeds, etc.  i’ll be going back for all that stuff, but not for the organic hair care,  fruits and veg, or any of their other supplies. i am not sold on the organic craze.

my current food philosophy is to buy my food as close to the source as possible. this means shopping at the farmer’s market, going to a upick operation for big quantities to preserve, getting what i can from my boyfriend’s parents’ farm and cutting out as many packaged/processed food products as possible and making what i need myself, using whole food ingredients. this year was my first serious foodie year, so the amount of freezing/canning/drying that i did was just an estimate. i’m making notes and i’ll be better prepared next summer when i know exactly how much tomato sauce i consume over the winter. eating local year round is tough in canada. right now the only available local produce are roots and gourds, basically. the salad greens and asparagus are still a few months out. i am enjoying lots of local raspberries and strawberries that have been waiting for me in the freezer.

last night for dessert, i whipped up a quick batch of david lebovitz‘s vanilla frozen yogurt to have after supper with berries. yum! it might be today’s breakfast as well! yogurt’s a breakfasty thing, right?

what’s your food philosophy?

left over

January 8, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Posted in food, organization | 3 Comments

my favorite things to come home to, while i am still living alone during the week, are leftovers! it’s the second best thing to having someone make supper for you and have it ready for your arrival, which is pretty hard to get when you live alone. slow cookers are a poor substitute, but in a pinch, they are okay.

but leftovers. things that are ready in the fridge, waiting for their short time in the microwave, developing intense flavours, melding the bacon with the tastes of the vegetables and the beans, etc for example. they are good stuff.

cooking ahead of time is one major survival trick i’ve picked up. cooking for one means that any recipe you make will have loads of leftovers to either freeze or keep in the fridge for a couple days. i love cooking but doing it every single day wears me out! leftovers are my saviour. my first big appliance purchase is going to be a chest freezer.

my favorite meals come in bowls

January 6, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Posted in food | 2 Comments

minestrone is one of my all time favorite soups but is so often done awfully so i usually just stick to eating my own (or mom’s!) at home. tonight’s version was an extreme quicky, based on the st michael’s cookbook standby we’ve been using for years.

jon discovered these 500g bags of europe’s best veggies for 1.99$ at loblaws – way less than it would cost to buy all the veggies and chop them up myself (and faster, too). we got the mediterranean version (bell peppers in red/green/yellow, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, etc) and tried it out in omelets this weekend with success. this afternoon on my way home, i decided that it would be a superstar in soup! all the deliciousness of the vegetables i love with none of the effort of chopping. brilliant.

i put couple tbs of olive oil in the pot with the chopped up bacon (100g but i think i used more) heated up with a crushed clove of garlic, some salt and about a bag of the veggies. i sauteed them for a few minutes before adding a can of diced tomatoes, a big carrot that i cut up (like a dream with my newly sharpened knives) and some dried basil. when that came to a boil, i added the pasta (4oz of elbows) and about 750mls of chicken stock (most of a carton). 20 minutes later, some simmering, lots of stirring and many good smells and i added 1 can of drained red kidney beans for 10 more minutes before taking off the heat. easiest soup i’ve ever made, hands down.

and now for a funny story. before christmas, this old man i work with was eating some turkey. the wishbone was too bendy to pull, so he hung it up on the wall, draped over a thumbtack, to dry. yesterday it was deemed ready. he handed me one end, while he held on to the other and we pulled, each hoping for the bigger half. the wishbone was dry. so dry that the top connector piece shattered, leaving each of us with a short end. he took mine to measure it against his. what do you know. they were EXACTLY the same. what does it all mean?

he has promised me another wishbone that he’s got at home.

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