Thursday, February 6, 2014

White Asparagus and Ham Double Baked Potato

After a lengthy trip to the grocery store, we returned home with three bags filled with virtue... well, aside from (virtuously) supporting the Calgary Zoo with (not-so-virtuous) limited edition gelato from Fiasco Gelato. (You can read more about this limited edition gelato here.)

Tonight, we'll be salivating over White Asparagus and Ham Double Baked Potatoes. Perfect for dinner tonight and, even better, I'll have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Eating Breakfast

So, it's been ages. No apologies. Just life... and more life... and a wedding... mine... yep. YIKES. A very hectic and festival filled summer at work coupled with wedding planning (and wedding tasks and wedding crafts), I found myself with zero time for the blog. I was still cooking, though not expanding from my usual repertoire as much, but the thought of dealing with photos and writing was enough to push me over the edge. So, I didn't mean to neglect you but I can't apologize for the awesome dose of life that got in the way. Hope that's ok. :)

I'll share more about the wedding later and a great honeymoon in Italy later... Since then, we returned home to find ourselves in the hubbub of Christmas. I had baking to get done and presents to buy, a baby shower to host, a house to decorate, a trip to Edmonton for the holiday, then Lake Louise for more fun. It was a lot. 

After some great exercise (but lots of eating still) in Lake Louise, we rang in the new year and made one of those typical pledges to get out a bit more and make some more great food choices in 2014. We're usually pretty good but the lead-up to the wedding led to more eating out than I am comfortable with and I like how I feel when I'm eating good food that I've made. 

I didn't want to start the year with a list of "resolutions" that would just cause me to cringe in an October reflection... that said, there were a few things that I definitely wanted to improve upon. One of those things was eating breakfast consistently. And, no, I don't mean to stop at Starbucks or McDonald's for a breakfast sandwich that is $3+ more than I need to spend if I took some time to plan ahead and make this a priority.  

It's annoying... I only have myself and the dog to tend to in the morning but somehow between getting myself functioning and ready, walking the dog, then getting out the door, I don't think enough about eating. I sure do manage to brew my coffee though. Priorities. 

So, instead of fighting it, I am making a new plan. 

I love steel cut oats. They have a great texture, are good for you, and manage to keep me going until lunch time... when I take the time to make them. Well, with an already challenging-for-me morning, I certainly wasn't fooling myself into thinking that I would be waking up about 30 minutes earlier so that I would have time to cook said oats. But I could easily make them up the night before.

I've been making a double batch of McCann's Irish Steel Cut Oats, which are my current favourite. Then I portion it out into beautiful Weck jars. A double batch will partially fill eight 500 mL Weck jars, leaving room for whatever you like to season your oats with. I add a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of the warm oats then seal the containers. Once they have cooled a bit, I'll transfer them to the fridge for a quick grab in the morning.

If I have time at home, I can microwave the oats for 60-70 seconds for a quick breakfast. Or I can put the jar into my lunch bag and eat at the office. My current go-to includes bit of cream, cinnamon, and fresh berries. I can't get enough. If 21-days of repetition makes a habit, I am doing well! Plus, there is something infinitely more civilized about a breakfast at your desk when the containers are glass, the spoon is metal, and the napkin is cloth. It's practically luxurious... well, as luxurious as eating at your desk can be. Hey, I'll take it. It's better than the alternative.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Stampede Midway Food Tour 2013

After a great Capital Ex midway food tour with friends in Edmonton a few years ago, I started my own tradition of a midway food tour at the Stampede since moving here. It's one of those great nights where all dietary rationalizations go out the window and gluttony reigns supreme. If you still have a few bucks in your pocket and don't feel like you're going to fall over, then you need to try whatever culinary delicacy is beckoning you. It's always good to travel in a group for an escapade like this... to a certain extent, there is safety in numbers. When you're getting the tray of deep fried Oreos or the bucket of chocolate dipped bacon, it means that you get one Oreo or one strip of bacon or maybe just a bite of something... it's the only thing saving you from a fast free fall into the food coma. This way, you get to "enjoy" a bit more before your need for water and rest overwhelms you and puts a stop to the fun.

The Stampede, like so many other exhibitions now, features the newest and craziest additions to the midway food fare as part of the overall attraction to visit. You can see the new food features here and maybe add something to your midway hit list. (Though, after reviewing it again, it doesn't look like we tasted any of these! That said, there was plenty of indulgence and ridiculousness in our tour.)

The other part of this was that we really wanted to get out and support the Stampede after the recent and very devastating floods in Southern Alberta. The Stampede was hit hard by the floods, donning the slogan "Hell or High Water" in response to their recovery efforts, and the City rallied. The Friday night of Stampede was certainly testing the resilience of attendees as it again doused the grounds, even hailing at points. We certainly stayed and showed our support... come hell or any water.


Now to the food!

Friday, July 5, 2013

wannaGROW: Chives (and Cheddar and Chive Focaccia)

It's a bit amusing to have a wannaGROW on the topic of chives, as most people have such voracious chive plants that they don't want them to grow! I've lucked out with, yet another, discovery in our garden... a lovely and small and reasonable little chive bush.

I read on one garden website that "chives do not thrive on neglect," which I laughed at because I really haven't given my chives much TLC. Partially because I don't want them to spread like crazy but partially because I am still figuring out what I need to do with all of these plants in my garden. 

I've learned that you should harvest the chives by cutting them about two inches above the soil, using scissors, to encourage regrowth. So, unlike the rhubarb where you should absolutely NOT cut, here it is okay to cut. Harvest from the outside edges to the inside. Remove the flowers, as they appear, to keep the plant vegetative and producing.

Monday, July 1, 2013

wannaGROW: Chive Blossoms (and Butter and Vinegar)

I just had a good laugh... at myself. wannaGROW isn't as much about what I can grow as it is about what I can't kill. Rhubarb and chives. What a good starting point!

So, at a certain point, likely around mid-June here, your chives will begin to flower. Those pretty little chive blossoms, with their delicate purple petals, are as edible as the plants that spawned them. 

I've learned that you should harvest the chives by cutting them about two inches above the soil, using scissors, to encourage regrowth. So, unlike the rhubarb where you should absolutely NOT cut, here it is okay to cut. Harvest from the outside edges to the inside. No additional care is required to get from plant to blossoms... it's just part of the life cycle each year.

Now, you can sprinkle the chive blossoms into salads, use them as a beautiful edible garnish, or... you could try something different. Maybe mix some beautiful chive blossoms into creamy white chevre for unique addition to your cheese plate. Or... you could make chive blossom compound butter or a chive blossom infused vinegar!

If you're feeling ambitious, you could make a batch of fresh butter for this little culinary escapade.

Let butter soften and come to room temperature. Add the petals of the chive blossoms to the butter and combine.

2 cups chive blossoms
~4 cups white vinegar (you can always sub in other vinegars here... maybe a champagne vinegar?)

Give your chive blossoms a quick rinse to get rid of any debris or bugs. Put your blossoms in your glass jar, then top with vinegar. Let marinate and infuse for two weeks in a cool, dark place.

Strain vinegar through a fine mesh sieve to remove the blossoms, then decant into a jar or bottle. Now dress your homegrown greens with a beautiful olive oil and your homemade chive blossom vinegar!
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