Tag Archives: food

Friday Seven: Vancouver edition


  1. I’ve been in Vancouver for five days now and don’t seem like I’m adjusting to the three hour time difference. I’ve been waking up between 4:30 and 5:00 am PST and am pretty much nodding off by 10:00 pm. I wonder if it has to do with the dearth of sunlight here. The condo has a gorgeous view, but it’s northwest facing and so doesn’t get any direct sunlight, even on the few occasions when the sun is visible in the sky. Perhaps I should  have brought my Golite with me to dose myself with rays during the day.
  2. We have a lovely condo apartment with a very well-equipped kitchen. I’ve tried a few new recipes, and hosted an old friend for dinner on Wednesday. I worked with him at Bell Canada in the 80s and we’ve kept in touch ever since. I made Za’atar Roast Chicken with Green Tahini Sauce, mashed yams and green beans, plus a cheese plate and a lemon tart purchased from the Urban Fare across the street. Martinis and red wine were also consumed.

    We're on the cheese course here. I probably could have dimmed the lights a little...
    We’re on the cheese course here. I probably could have dimmed the lights a little…
  3. We’re in the Coal Harbour area of downtown Vancouver, right on north shore of the peninsula, overlooking Burrard Inlet. It’s lovely to see the water and the view constantly changes with the movement of the sun and the weather. It’s a great area for walking as everything we could need is close by. Z walks to work every day, the aforementioned grocer is right across the street, and I’m steps from great walking paths along the water.
  4. I brought a couple of small knitting projects with me, as well as a book called ZENSPIRATIONS, CRÉATIONS DE MOTIFS by Joanne Fink. I picked this up in Paris when we were there in September. It suggests a process for creating your own art for colouring and it’s a nice compact book to spur on some creative work.
  5. The apartment is very quiet, with a couple of notable exceptions. During the day, there is a persistent tapping sound that seems to be coming from another unit. It sounds like someone is lightly hammering fine nails or something. It’s most noticeable in the bedroom. I’m wondering whether someone is making jewellry or working on some other small craft in an adjacent suite. Also, I thought a seaplane was taking off this morning, and realized that it was in fact the very loud washing machine that I had just started.
  6. I’ve been trying to find out something about the gorgeous bronze medallions embedded in the sidewalks on some streets in this area. If anyone has a lead, I’d be interested. Haida or Coast Salish perhaps?

    Medallion embedded in some Coal Harbour sidewalks.
    Medallion embedded in some Coal Harbour sidewalks.
  7. How about that investigator on this season’s The Good Wife??
    Jeffrey Dean Morgan

    That’s my seven for today! Visit This Ain’t the Lyceum for more.

Readathon: Nice to Meetcha!

It’s the beginning of the challenge and my hours of reading bliss await. The fireplace is on, the coffee is made, and my first book is chosen:  Cain by Jose Saramago.

One of the first mini-challenges posted by our hosts is an introduction questionnaire.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? 

Toronto, Canada (home of the Blue Jays #cometogether)

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

This is a hard one but probably John Mortimer’s autobiographical Summer Of A Dormouse will provide some comic relief.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Anything with avocado on it. I’ve got some whole ones for chopping onto pinto bean soup and some pre-made guac for dipping.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’m a 55 year old empty-nester. The only things that stop me from reading all the time are domestic chores, genealogy, choral singing, and arts events (opera, theatre, music, galleries.) And I listen to audiobooks while I do chores.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

It’s my first. Guilt-free reading!

Fall Friday recipe

Vegan? Catholic who abstains from meat on Fridays? Or just looking for a hearty fall recipe?

From Toronto Star
From Toronto Star

The Star posted a recipe for Old Style Pinto Beans the other day from a cookbook called Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing (affiliate link), and if you’ve got a reasonably stocked kitchen, you probably have everything you need.

There are instructions for both slow cooker (yay!) and stove top cooking, and uses dried beans with no pre-soaking required. (Well, they have to cook for a long time, but with a slow-cooker, that’s no problem.) I didn’t have pinto beans on hand so used my stash of romano beans instead.

There’s a facebook group and website that can help you find other ways to pump up the health factor in your diet. I’ll be checking them out.

Food memory: chicken cacciatore

PrintWhen I was visiting my mom in Ottawa last week and we were reminiscing, i reminded her how much I loved her chicken cacciatore. I seem to be able to conjure the taste in my mind, and it’s one of the favourites from my childhood.

I mentioned this to my husband upon my return and he decided to prepare it for Sunday dinner after I returned from book club. I have her old recipe files and notebooks, and I found it in her “Do it yourself Cook Book”, a blank-ish notebook designed for home cooks to record their tried and true recipes.

It was wonderful, with exactly the same taste as I remembered.

Here’s the recipe. Mom noted that it was from the “Old Good Housekeeping” cook book.

Chicken Cacciatore

6 tbsp oil
2-3 lb broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
1 cup minced onions
3/4 cup minced green peppers
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 28 oz can tomatoes
1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup chianti [yikes…we never had wine in the house]
3-3/4 tsp salt [bizarre quantity – reduce this by at least half]
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Dash cayenne

Sauté chicken in oil on all sides until golden.
Add onions, peppers, garlic; brown lightly.
Add rest of ingredients and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is tender.
Serve with rice.

Makes excellent leftovers!

Antipasto Pasta Salad – a family fave.


This is an easy summer side that can be thrown together quickly.

Cook 8 oz medium shell pasta, and then rinse in cold water.

In a large bowl, throw together cubed salami and provolone or havarti cheese (1/2 lb each), 1-1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes, some pitted olives, green pepper strips, sliced pimiento, artichoke hearts, or anything else that you like (banana peppers? yum!). Add pasta and combine with 1 cup of your favorite homemade or store-bought Italian salad dressing (I like Newman’s Own Family Italian.) Chill before serving.

My teen boys eat this as a snack.

Dinner that made my boy go “Oh my gosh, Mom!”

PULLED PORK SANDWICHES WITH BARBECUE SAUCE (Bonnie Stern, in National Post, February 5, 2011)

Even if you don’t need this much pulled pork, it makes sense to braise a whole pork shoulder (a. k.a. pork butt) because you can use the leftovers for poutine, on pasta or in grilled cheese sandwiches and macand cheese. Or freeze the leftovers for future meals. The trick to braising a pork shoulder is to cook it until it is fork tender. It can easily be made a day ahead. Ask for Canadian pork at your butchers, or look for the Canadian flag on the package at the supermarket.


– 2 tbsp brown sugar

– 1 tbsp kosher salt

– 1 tsp each paprika, pepper and cumin

– 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 4 lb boneless pork shoulder (pork butt roast)

Cooking liquid:

– 2 cups apple juice

– ½cup maple syrup

– 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

– 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

– 6 whole cloves garlic

– 2 onions, thickly sliced

Maple barbecue sauce:

– 2 cups favourite barbecue sauce

– ½cup maple syrup

– 2 tbsp each Worcestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar

– 1 tbsp Dijon mustard


– 12 soft buns

– coleslaw (see recipe below)

– chipotle mayo (see recipe below)

– guacamole -your favourite, optional

1. Combine brown sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, cumin, mustard and garlic. Rub into roast. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Combine apple juice, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Place garlic and onions in the bottom of a Dutch oven and set roast on top. Add liquid. Cover roast with a piece of parchment paper and then cover pan tightly. Cook in a preheated 325F/160C oven for 3 to 4 hours or longer, until pork is so tender it falls apart when pierced with a fork.

3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan whisk barbecue sauce with maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and mustard. Bring to a boil. Cook gently 5 minutes. Reserve.

4. When roast is ready, remove from pan. Slice thickly and chop. Combine with half the barbecue sauce, adding some of the strained cooking juices if meat is too dry. Reheat meat just before serving in a 325F oven for about 30 minutes.

5. Make sandwiches on the soft buns with meat, extra barbecue sauce, coleslaw, chipotle mayo and guacamole (if using).

Makes 12 sandwiches


This creamy coleslaw tastes great either in a sandwich or on the side.

– 4 cups shredded green cabbage

– 1 tbsp kosher salt

– 1 carrot, grated


– ¾cup mayonnaise

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 tbsp sugar

– 1 tbsp vinegar

– ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste

1. Make coleslaw by combining shredded cabbage with salt. Place in a colander set over a bowl, with a plate on top, pressing down on the cabbage to extract excess moisture. After about one hour, rinse cabbage and pat dry, pressing again firmly. Combine with carrots.

2. For dressing, combine mayonnaise with garlic, sugar, vinegar and pepper.

3. Combine dressing with cabbage mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Makes 12 servings


Chipotle chilis are smoked jalapenos — hot and delicious. When I buy a tin of chipotles, I open it up and puree it all, transfer to a Ziploc bag, flatten the bag so that the mixture isn’t too thick and freeze it. That way you can just break off any amount you need and it will defrost quickly. If the sauce is too spicy, add more mayo or some thick yogourt or sour cream. This mayo is also great on grilled chicken sandwiches or burgers.

– 1 cup mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)

– 1 tbsp chipotle chili puree or to taste

– 1 clove garlic, minced

– 1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Place mayonnaise in a bowl and stir in chipotle puree, minced garlic and lemon juice to taste. Keep in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 cup/250ml

This is seriously good eating. It looks long and complicated, but the only things I had to buy were the pork roast and some BBQ sauce (I used Diana’s traditional). Everything else I had on hand.

I made the pulled pork and chipotle mayo but decided to forgo the coleslaw for sauerkraut that we had in the fridge. I tweeted Bonnie Stern the day before to see if I could make this in my slow-cooker and she gave me the thumbs up.

It is all I can do to not take leftovers out of the fridge and scarf them down cold.  Some went (cold) in lunch bags today. And the house smelled fantastic!

Adventures in “slow carbs”


The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated.

Okay, you can take the title with a grain of salt, but I’ve been slow-carbing over the past few days and seeing very encouraging results.  The basics of the diet are what is typical in low-carb diets, minus dairy (butter is okay), plus beans, plus red wine(!).  Lots of veggies, no fruit. No grains of any colour.

I’ve been having one of the recommended breakfasts each morning (fried eggs on a bed of steamed spinach, topped with salsa, and coffee with cinnamon and a small amount of cream (only allowed dairy along with butter.)  I had a bit of a cheat yesterday at lunch when I was served fruit with my omelet, and had some profiteroles at a birthday party last night, but otherwise I’ve been true to the diet.  Oh, and the best part?  One complete binge day per week is acceptable!  Like, eat ’til you’re sick if you want.  My first binge day won’t be ’til next Saturday, but I don’t feel incredibly guilty about those two cheats on one day this weekend. Tim wouldn’t be happy, but you know, it’s my gig. 

Ferriss is a very compelling writer and a big proponent of tracking stats.  On everything.  But it’s not necessary to do that to reap the benefits of this plan.  In the past four days I have dropped 5.6 pounds, of which 4 pounds were fat.  ( He’s also big on tracking body fat, which I am doing with a scale that (possibly not completely accurately) hands me this lovely measure.)  My body fat % is quite high, so I’ve got to work to get this down and low-carb approaches have always worked best for me.

On the plan for today is to make a big pot of beef and bean chili for dinners, and a cold bean salad to have in the fridge for lunch with a pile of greens.

If you’re looking for a realistic (no big cooking efforts needed) low carb diet that understands why red wine is an integral part of the examined life, give it a try.  It’s available as a kindle ebook as well.

I’ll keep you posted!