Category Archives: kitchen

My new kitchen tool

I’ve been searching for a Butter Bell for some time. Tried to find one online from a Canadian source with no luck. A few days ago, I dropped into a kitchen store 1 block from my house, and they had them! In multiple colours!

What is a Butter Bell you ask? It’s a nifty low-tech device to keep your butter a room temperature without it going rancid/melting/changing colour. I got a green one to (more or less) to go with our dishes.
Pink Butter Bell® Crock w/Matching Ribbon Spreader
You fill the bell part with 1/2 cup softened butter (leave the stick at room temp for a few minutes), and then fill the crock one third full with cold water.  When you put the bell in the crock, it creates a seal that prevents air from getting at the butter.  You should change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh.

Cool eh?  Part of our move to eat more naturally a la Michael Pollan  (i.e., ditch the margarine).

My new kitchen tool

I’ve been searching for a Butter Bell for some time. Tried to find one online from a Canadian source with no luck. A few days ago, I dropped into a kitchen store 1 block from my house, and they had them! In multiple colours!

What is a Butter Bell you ask? It’s a nifty low-tech device to keep your butter a room temperature without it going rancid/melting/changing colour. I got a green one to (more or less) to go with our dishes.

Media_httpbutterbellc_ubjjc

You fill the bell part with 1/2 cup softened butter (leave the stick at room temp for a few minutes), and then fill the crock one third full with cold water.  When you put the bell in the crock, it creates a seal that prevents air from getting at the butter.  You should change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh.

Cool eh?  Part of our move to eat more naturally a la Michael Pollan  (i.e., ditch the margarine).

Menu Plan Monday – April 13


I’ve gotta get out of this shopping-every-day rut that I have fallen in to.  This morning, I made my Mon-Thurs menu plan and did a full shop.  I will still need a couple of things that I couldn’t find (goat milk, in particular, for Michael) but I can pick that up when I’m doing a karate run tomorrow.
Monday:  Chili-Lime Chicken, broccoli, red fingerling potatoes.
Tuesday:  Shrimp & veggie stir-fry, rice.
Wednesday:  Marinated and grilled flank steak for burritos, refried beans, homemade guacamole & pico de gallo
Friday:  chef’s night off.

Menu Plan Monday – April 13


Media_http4bpblogspot_dqqil

I’ve gotta get out of this shopping-every-day rut that I have fallen in to.  This morning, I made my Mon-Thurs menu plan and did a full shop.  I will still need a couple of things that I couldn’t find (goat milk, in particular, for Michael) but I can pick that up when I’m doing a karate run tomorrow.

Monday:  Chili-Lime Chicken, broccoli, red fingerling potatoes.
Tuesday:  Shrimp & veggie stir-fry, rice.
Wednesday:  Marinated and grilled flank steak for burritos, refried beans, homemade guacamole & pico de gallo
Friday:  chef’s night off.

Enchiladas!

One of the things that I miss about living in Atlanta was access to lots of Mexican food, both in restaurants (in both cheap and higher-end categories) and in grocery stores.  We probably ate out at our local tacqueria once a week, and I had more margaritas in those five years than in my entire 40 years of life before Atlanta.  Good times, good times….

We had a hankering for enchiladas this week and I have been unable to find enchilada sauce in my local grocery stores.  So I set out to find a recipe online.  
Who knew that it was so easy to make?  Why was I buying it ready-made for so long?  Next thing you know I’ll be making my own tortililas.  (Yes, I know that there are home cooks who do this.)
Anyway, here’s my fast and easy recipe for enchilada sauce.  I found a recipe online and modified it to suit my available ingredients.
Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a skillet and add 2 tbsp of flour and 2 tbsp of chili powder (or to taste).  Cook this for a while. (The recipe said until it turns light brown, but the chili powder is dark red…couldn’t figure out how this would work exactly.)
Stir in 20 ounces (2-1/2 cups) of some sort of tomato mixture.  Recipe was a combination of tomato sauce (8 oz) and water (1-1/2 cups).   I used some leftover canned diced tomatos that I whizzed in the blender.  That yielded exactly 20 ounces.  Spooky, eh?  Add 1/4 tsp each cumin, garlic powder, onion salt, and salt to taste.  I left out the regular salt.  It seemed fine to me without it.  Cook this mixture for 10 minutes so that it gets bubbly and thickens a little..
And that’s it!  Ten minutes, and I even used up leftovers!
It’s cooling on the stove now.  I’ll box it up and use it tonight when I make enchiladas for my adoring family.  

Enchiladas!

One of the things that I miss about living in Atlanta was access to lots of Mexican food, both in restaurants (in both cheap and higher-end categories) and in grocery stores.  We probably ate out at our local tacqueria once a week, and I had more margaritas in those five years than in my entire 40 years of life before Atlanta.  Good times, good times….

We had a hankering for enchiladas this week and I have been unable to find enchilada sauce in my local grocery stores.  So I set out to find a recipe online.  

Who knew that it was so easy to make?  Why was I buying it ready-made for so long?  Next thing you know I’ll be making my own tortililas.  (Yes, I know that there are home cooks who do this.)

Anyway, here’s my fast and easy recipe for enchilada sauce.  I found a recipe online and modified it to suit my available ingredients.

Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a skillet and add 2 tbsp of flour and 2 tbsp of chili powder (or to taste).  Cook this for a while. (The recipe said until it turns light brown, but the chili powder is dark red…couldn’t figure out how this would work exactly.)

Stir in 20 ounces (2-1/2 cups) of some sort of tomato mixture.  Recipe was a combination of tomato sauce (8 oz) and water (1-1/2 cups).   I used some leftover canned diced tomatos that I whizzed in the blender.  That yielded exactly 20 ounces.  Spooky, eh?  Add 1/4 tsp each cumin, garlic powder, onion salt, and salt to taste.  I left out the regular salt.  It seemed fine to me without it.  Cook this mixture for 10 minutes so that it gets bubbly and thickens a little..

And that’s it!  Ten minutes, and I even used up leftovers!

It’s cooling on the stove now.  I’ll box it up and use it tonight when I make enchiladas for my adoring family.  

Plum Torte

There have been gorgeous blue Ontario plums in the grocery stores for a few weeks now, and last night I made this easy plum torte for the second time this season.  The recipe came from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (September 2004), and I remember thinking the first time that I made it that is was an almost magical dish, turning even slighly underripe or overripe plums into a wonderful dessert.

Try it out!
Plum Torte
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
pinch salt
12 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • Cream butter and 3/4 cup sugar.  Add flour, baking powder, eggs, and salt, and beat to mix well.  Spoon batter into a 9 or 10 inch springform pan.
  • Cover top with plum halves, skin side down.
  • Mix cinnamon and 2 tbsp sugar together and sprinkle over top of torte.
  • Bake 40-50 minutes in 350 degree oven until a cake tester comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired.
  • Serve at room temperature.  Heat if desired.

Plum Torte

There have been gorgeous blue Ontario plums in the grocery stores for a few weeks now, and last night I made this easy plum torte for the second time this season.  The recipe came from the Atlanta Journal Constitution (September 2004), and I remember thinking the first time that I made it that is was an almost magical dish, turning even slighly underripe or overripe plums into a wonderful dessert.

Try it out!

Plum Torte

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
pinch salt
12 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • Cream butter and 3/4 cup sugar.  Add flour, baking powder, eggs, and salt, and beat to mix well.  Spoon batter into a 9 or 10 inch springform pan.
  • Cover top with plum halves, skin side down.
  • Mix cinnamon and 2 tbsp sugar together and sprinkle over top of torte.
  • Bake 40-50 minutes in 350 degree oven until a cake tester comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired.
  • Serve at room temperature.  Heat if desired.

My quick and easy pina colada.

I haven’t posted a drink recipe lately, and this one is my own invention. Well, perhaps others have come up with the same thing, but this was a pure product of happenstance.

We brought back a bottle of coconut rum from Jamaica a few years ago, and never really used it. I pulled it out a few days ago and was looking around for something to mix it with.

My eyes fell on a can of Mountain Dew in the fridge that we got with a “10-drinks-for $1” deal with Pizza Pizza last week. Well, if you mix the Dew with coconut rum, you get a sort of low-fat pina colada, that is really quite refreshing. Even Z liked it, and he doesn’t usually slum when it comes to beverages.

We’ll have no trouble finishing up the coconut rum now.

My quick and easy pina colada.

I haven’t posted a drink recipe lately, and this one is my own invention. Well, perhaps others have come up with the same thing, but this was a pure product of happenstance.

We brought back a bottle of coconut rum from Jamaica a few years ago, and never really used it. I pulled it out a few days ago and was looking around for something to mix it with.

My eyes fell on a can of Mountain Dew in the fridge that we got with a “10-drinks-for $1” deal with Pizza Pizza last week. Well, if you mix the Dew with coconut rum, you get a sort of low-fat pina colada, that is really quite refreshing. Even Z liked it, and he doesn’t usually slum when it comes to beverages.

We’ll have no trouble finishing up the coconut rum now.