Tag Archives: food

Shepherd’s pie….an oldie but a goodie!

Had some leftovers from our wonderful lamb dinner the other night, so put together a quick shepherds pie.  Here’s my go-to method:

Hopefully, you have some leftover meat, potatoes, vegetables (or just use frozen peas and/or corn), and gravy.  

Chop and fry an onion and some garlic (there was enough garlic in the gravy from our leftovers, so I left that out this time.)  Add minced leftover meat and chopped veggies (I had some green beans and broccoli that I threw in).  Heat this up and add gravy to make a thick stew and put it in a casserole dish.  (If you don’t have gravy, use a cup of beef or other broth, a tablespoon of tomato paste and 2 tbsp of flour and just throw that in instead. Season with salt and pepper and maybe some parsley.)  

Mash the potatoes if they are not already in that form, with lots of whatever makes them creamy.  I like to add some cream cheese and/or butter and/or cream plus some Lawry’s seasoned salt.  Top the meat mixture with potatoes, grate some old cheddar or whatever cheese you want to use up, and pop it in a medium oven, uncovered, for twenty minutes or until the cheese has melted and the stew is bubbling up the sides.  (You can assemble this in advance and just heat it up before you’re ready to eat.) 

Total comfort food!  Additional gravy to pour over the top is a bonus.

Jamie Oliver’s slow-roasted lamb shoulder


Made this terrific lamb dish last night. I couldn’t get lamb shoulder at my local butcher so used half a leg of lamb. It took less time to roast than the recipe, but I simply reheated it in the oven before serving.

You roast the lamb on a bed of rosemary and garlic, and then make gravy with the drippings, removing the herbs but mashing the garlic into the sauce. Adding fresh mint and red-wine vinegar gives a beautiful, rich taste. I served it with fingerling potatoes and broccoli, along with the beautiful gravy in the recipe. It was the perfect fall dinner!

Click on the link above for the recipe.

A last minute Thanksgiving.

As I do pretty much all the cooking these days (well, for the past few years), holidays really just felt like more of the same.  With teenagers who have an attention span of about 12 minutes at the dinner table, I REALLY didn’t want to cook all day for a meal that lasted 20 minutes, the last 10 of which was just Z and I talking to each other.  So Thanksgiving meals have either been done really casually, or at a restaurant.  No pressure on anyone (meaning me).

Up until yesterday, I hadn’t given Thanksgiving a thought.  I was planning to just kind of ad lib my way through.  Maybe we’d order in or go out for Korean Barbeque or something.  Alex was arriving home Friday night and Z and I had been busy most nights this week, and I just didn’t want to plan.

I was picking up something at the pharmacy next to our local Bruno’s and so I popped in to see what they had.  I spotted some beautiful stuffed and rolled turkey breasts and suddenly I felt like planning a meal.  Maybe it was taking the big bird and turning it into an elegant and easy to prepare roast, but I grabbed one of those guys and headed over to Loblaws to get the rest of the meal.

So, in half an hour, we’ll be eating said stuffed turkey breast, Pioneer Woman’s creamy mashed potatoes (made with 3/4 sweet potatoes), gravy, homemade cranberry sauce (how easy is THAT?), roasted asparagus, and assorted pickles, followed by a cheese plate.  For dessert, I made two pies:  an apple from fruit picked by my brother and his family, and a pumpkin made from cooked, pureed pumpkin that I froze last fall.  

We have much to be thankful, and that will be tomorrow’s post.

Day One of Paleo Diet

Other than a massive headache, it went okay.

I’m not sure whether the headache was due to lack of caffeine, lack of sugar, too much Angry Birds on my iphone, or an act of God, but I couldn’t make it to choir last night and only managed to watch two episodes of Weeds and one of Mad Men before retiring to the kitchen sofa with a book and promptly falling asleep.

Here’s how the food portion of my day went:

Breakfast:  two scrambled eggs, two mini cucumbers, two large black plums, tea with honey

Snack: almonds

Lunch: tuna salad with real mayo (no dairy) and pickle relish, two plums, two mini cucumbers

Snack:  cashews and raisins

Cocktail:  arak with water

Dinner:  large spicy sausage with mustard, steamed broccoli with dijon-honey dressing, strawberries, two plums, plain tea

Snack: mixed nuts

My digestive system has felt a bit wonky, but better this morning.

I also decided that I’d make coffee and drink it black, because I have a meeting this afternoon and didn’t want to risk another headache.  I actually quite enjoyed the coffee and realised that I’m not ready to give it up, even without cream. 

This morning, I made a mushroom and two-egg omelette, and had an orange and two cups of java.  Larabars look suitable for the diet, so I’m going to start carrying a couple in my bag for those times I need to eat and suitable fare isn’t available.  And a bag of plain, raw almonds.

I’m off to Canadians Connected 2010 this afternoon down at the Westin Harbor Castle.  It’s a Symposium and the AGM for CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), of which I am a member, owning a couple of .ca domains. Terry O’Reilly and Mitch Joel are two of the speakers and it should be an interesting afternoon. Hashtag is #cira2010 for those of you on twitter and interested.

I need to shock my system

I have been incredibly lethargic these past few weeks, probably a combination of stress/grief/anxiety….and unbridled consumption coupled with not-so-much exercise.  I had the old “I’ll just cut back on portion sizes” talk with myself, but apparently I wasn’t listening.

A random tweet crossed my iphone this evening that took me to this blog post, and I found myself thinking that this might be the ticket.  Something to try for a month and see how I feel.  The Paleo Diet.  Lean meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds. (Or maybe not seeds.  TBD.)  No added salt.  Honey or maple syrup for sweetening. No dairy (cheese!  coffee cream!). No grains (bread! pasta! rice! cookies!).  

Now you medical people amongst my friends and family are probably shaking your heads in dismay, but if I’m able to drop some weight and feel better in apparently many potential ways, I think it will be worth a try.  My main issue will be cooking for my men, but I’ll just have to do the layered thing that I did when the boys were toddlers, except that I’ll be the one not eating some of the food. 

I start tomorrow.  

I am strangely drawn to this watermelon salad …

Watermelon Salad

(adapted from Paula Deen)

  • 8 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1 small Vidalia or other sweet mild onion thinly sliced
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 – 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • mint sprigs for garnish


In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.

In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.

I love this blog (link above). Lots of great ideas for handmade and homemade things in all categories.

I’m going to make this salad when my sweetie returns from his sad trip to Paris. Just the ticket for a warm, summer Sunday.

Seven Quick Takes Friday



Have I mentioned how much I love my Kindle?  I have?  I’ve now carried it with me about town, on the subway, into cafes, and have totally loved the freedom to have a bunch of books with me wherever I go.  I like that I can increase the font size when I want to lay it on a table while eating, and that I have a choice of books for every mood.  One of my friends asked me to bring it with me on our outing yesterday so she could see it, and I may have a couple of converts.  I’ll never totally give up paper-based books (Toronto has one of the best library systems in the world), but it’s making reading very pleasurable nonetheless.


Am reading (on my Kindle) The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I’m currently enjoying the section on neuroplasticity, the idea that our brain can change depending on the experiences/tasks/trauma it undergoes. Carr and I have had a similar history with computers and the internet, and similar feelings of loss of the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time. A snippet:

At first I’d figured that the problem was a symptom of middle-age mind rot.  But my brain, I realized, wasn’t just drifting.  It was hungry.  It was demanding to be fed the way the Net fed it — and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became.  When when I was away from my computer, I yearned to check e-mail, click links, do some Googling.  I wanted to be connected.  Just as Microsoft Word had turned me into a flesh and blood word processor, the Internet, I sensed, was turning me into something like a high-speed data-processing machine, a human HAL.
I missed my old brain. 


I am working on my third course through the Institute of Genealogical Studies, the second Methodology course called Organizing and Skill-Building.  I’ve been creating numbering systems and binders for each of the families associated with my four grandparents.  It feels great to get my stacks of paperwork and documents organized, and my next step is to try to make some headway with a Rubbermaid bin of photographs.  I’m also hoping to do more genalogical blogging, and possibly set up a separate site for those posts.


My summer choir program is coming together nicely.  We have a concert scheduled for August 15th at a Marian Shrine in west Toronto. The music is lovely, is a workout for the brain and the voice, and I leave rehearsals feeling calm and happy.  Almost meditative.  I’ve met some very nice people and have enjoyed it very much.  I may decide to stay on in the fall if I can get the okay to skip the last Monday of each month for the Toronto Branch (OGS) meetings.


Michael has been working on both his tuba and bass trombone this summer.  He’s taking lessons on both from two excellent (and very different) teachers.  He’s getting ready for music camp at the end of the summer (jazz camp on trombone) and the three music courses he’ll be taking in the fall.  He’s hoping to be in the Junior Concert Band, Junior Orchestra, and Junior Stage Band this year as well as a vocal ensemble, so he’ll be a busy boy.  He’s also planning to audition for a couple of community bands with the hope of getting some more playing.  I’m just thrilled that he’s enjoying music so much as I know how much pleasure it’s brought me over the years.


Made a very tasty quinoa salad this week.  Will definitely make it again, possibly adding more parsley and/or cilantro to green it up a bit.  Keeps quite well in the fridge for a couple of days.


We said goodbye to our niece, Magali, on Wednesday.  She came to Canada from France 2-1/2 years ago to work for Danone in Montreal and is returning to work for their Evian division.  She frequently came to Toronto on business, so we saw her every couple of months.  It was great getting to know her better, and having her relatively close to us here in Canada.  She leaves Montreal on Sunday, will have a few days in Paris to relax, and then will start apartment hunting in Evian. We wish her the best!
Here’s a little memory of Canada for her…the visit to Niagara Falls on an incredibly cold day two winters ago! 


Visit our host Jennifer at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!

Must see: The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army.

I had a lovely day out with two friends.  We met at the Royal Ontario Museum to take in the Terracotta Warrior exhibit, here from China.  These artifacts are from the Qin dynasty, and include some of the full-sized sculptures of warriors, administrators, and horses.  It’s the first exhibit of these items in North America and it’s very impressive. Zouheir had the privilege of seeing them in the original site of their discovery when he was in China last year, and so I was happy to see the exhibit here in Toronto with friends.  We spent a couple of hours at the exhibit.  The documentation was excellent: a mix of text, photographs, maps, and video commentary that added to the excitement of seeing these ancient artifacts. 

At noon, we went upstairs to C5 for lunch, the elegant restaurant added to the ROM during the renovation.  On the top floor, it has lovely views to the south and west of Toronto, including a new garden/green roof that was added since I was there last.  While still relatively young, it provides a respite from what was a rather “industrial” view of the adjoining rooftop.

We all chose the special Terracotta Warrior menu (pdf), starting with a hot and sour egg drop soup, a choice of two entrees (Duck Confit or Tong Mein Noodles), and then a fabulous puff pastry with mango puree, fresh fruit, and sesame ice cream.

The exhibit is a must-see, and is on until early in 2011.  With the wonderful conversation and a delicious lunch, we’re making plans for another outing next month.

Salade créole à l’ananas … from this morning’s Telematin on TV5

Vie pratique / Gourmand

lundi 12 juillet 2010

Salade creole a l’ananas

Temps de preparation : 15 minutes
Temps de cuisson : 12 minutes

Ingredients :
300g de chair de crabe
1 boite de mais
150g de riz
1 ananas Victoria
1 poivron rouge
huile d’arachide
1 citron
Sel & poivre

Faites cuire le riz. Egouttez et rafraichissez-le, mettez le dans un saladier, puis preservez-le.
Egouttez et emiettez la chair de crabe. Egouttez et rincez bien le mais. Epluchez l’ananas, coupez-le en tranches pour la presentation et decoupez le reste en petits des.
Coupez le poivron rouge en petits des.
Ajoutez l’ananas, la chair de crabe, le poivron rouge et le mais dans le saladier.
Emulsionnez l’huile et le jus de citron. Salez et poivrez genereusement. Versez la sauce sur la salade et melangez bien.
Ajoutez de la coriandre hachee.

Z likes to watch French television in the morning and he came down today, requesting a crab, pineapple, and rice salad he saw demonstrated on Telematin. I’ve grabbed it from the website above. Excuse the lack of accents…I have no ideas how to produce them on my keyboard so I just went through and replaced them with the unaccented letters.

The original recipe is here.  There’s also a video demo (in French, but it’s pretty self-explanatory.)   I substituted tomato for the red pepper as we have some pepper-haters in the household, and I also added a chopped avocado.  I served it with store-bought rosemary focaccia and everyone loved it.  A definite winner meal!