phantom limb

May 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

In the blink of an eye 5 months have gone by since my last post.  I am grateful you’re still here reading this but I can’t apologize for my absence.  I will never be sorry I spent the last few months of my mom’s life snuggled up with her in her bed, watching all the seasons of Glee, my arms wrapped tight around her as if I was strong enough to keep her whole; holding her hand, rubbing her feet, mixing her rum and cokes.  It was the time she needed me most, it was the time I needed her most.

I could barely cook for sustenance, I couldn’t cook from my heart, it was beating for her.  As her condition deteriorated so did my desire to do anything but be by her side.  The stories, the whys, they were being written in breaths, in her smile, in her eyes that sparkled until she couldn’t wake.

On the morning of March 5th I watched the morning light come quickly from my mom’s bedside at the hospice.  I tried to describe its dawning to her hoping she could still hear me. 

“It’s soft and grey this morning mom, not raining but it must have earlier.  There’s puddles in the courtyard, they’re shimmering silvery white reflecting the bright pillowy clouds.  It looks still. I think it’s going to be a nice day.”

It was beautiful.

7:34

That’s what time it was when my mom died.  Not a Wednesday afternoon in September, but a Saturday morning in March.  We got 175 days. 

I held her hand and tried not to cry, I didn’t want that to be the last thing she heard.  They say that’s the last thing to go, hearing.  So I gently brushed her cheek with the side of my hand, kissed her where my hand had been and whispered I love you in her ear, I told her to “go now, I’ll see you whenever I get to where you’re going.  I’ll miss you like crazy.  I already do”.  And then she did.

I keep the door to her bedroom closed.  I want to keep her in there.  Her clothes still hanging in the closet, still folded in her dresser drawers.  It still smells like her, but barely. 

70 days without her, 10 weeks today.

I close my eyes and search for the memories so vivid they appear instantly in the darkness behind my lids.  I see her smile, I smell the coffee brewing.  I search for an opening I can crawl inside so I can stay for a while, wrapped up in her presence, breathing her in.  It hurts so bad that I can’t stay, that it wont ever change, these memories, there will be no new ones.   They are all I have now.  I search for a way to climb inside anyway.

I still feel her.  For a moment in the mornings when I wake up alone in the house I pretend she’s still there warm under her duvet.

“Are you awake ?” I call out.

 I hear her down the hall in her sunny voice, “Oh yeah, since 6”.

I tell her “I’ll go make the coffee”  but I never do. 

I lay and listen to the silence and try not to cry.  It fills me like water, the pain of exposed nerves left by the pieces of me that are gone but still feel as if they are here.  The tears like fingertips trace the lines of my face as I try to remember hers.  I know her duvet is folded in the corner on a pile of her folded bedding, the sheets I can’t wash.  Her room is full of her things but it is empty like I am.  Some of me died with her.

I’m not broken but I’m no longer whole.  What kept me tethered to the earth has been severed.  I’ve wandered through the days numb, without connection, without craving.  There is a hole in my heart, in my lungs.  I am empty but for this ache that starts in my stomach and grows, pushing upwards and outwards.  The hole in my lungs makes it impossible to feel as if I’ll ever get enough air no matter how deeply I breathe it in.  Sometimes it feels as if I  am choking on my grief.

I barely hear my voice in my words, I hardly recognize my hands where they used to be most at home.  My kitchen has been a ghost town.   But slowly, so slowly, sometimes I feel the thaw.  The places in me left frozen are stretching and shivering as the ice melts.  I didn’t think the spring time would find its way inside this hollow sadness but daffodils and cherry blossoms she would have noticed nudge the sleeping girl I still am. 

I’ve found myself lost in the thick scent of brown sugar and butter, lulled by the sound of my knife slicing through orange fleshed yam, smiling as I think of snow and homemade hot chocolate while I sift  flour, rediscovering my instincts in roasted tomatoes.

                         

                         

                        

I don’t know what this blog will look like as I try to find my place, try to find a way to exist in a world without her, try to live with the gift and curse of this phantom limb.  But into the unknown I’m thrust with strawberry rhubarb crumble bubbling and oozing its jeweled toned juices in the oven and a new appreciation for the luxury of time and the newly shattered illusion that it is our right.

There will be no recipe today just a request.  Appreciate those you love 365 days a year, say sorry for taking them for granted, because you do, and you won’t realize it until your faced with losing them.

If a picture can say a thousand words, let the ones I’ve posted say what I haven’t been able to.

Special thanks to Scarlett Ballantyne for giving my mom a day to feel like a queen and to Cathy Empy for your generosity and talented eye, you gave both of us something to take with us.

mac and cheese

December 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

So I have a new dish to add to “The List”. 

Macaroni

 

and Cheese

 

I assumed this would be easy, a no brainer, a dish I’d be able to make with my eyes closed.

I’m guessing you know where this is going.

I had a decent recipe for a mac and cheese but I lost it.  It was a good one, just missing a little something; I was sure it would be a great base to experiment with.  I can’t remember what was in it or anything specific about the technique because I never actually made it.  Confused?  Don’t be, I never made it because Sam always did, it was kind of her thing.  Chicken cacciatore and sausages in mushroom soup gravy were her specialties too, that’s some of our college menu in a nut shell.  Oh the days of non consequential carb overloading, how I miss them.  My impatience bit me in the butt again; I should have just asked Sam for the recipe, she was just down stairs.

I started with google…whoa, cheese overload.  There was 4 cheese or all cheddar, blue cheese and goat cheese, Dijon or dry mustard, some that swore by the addition of an egg.  Then there was the add ins, geesh; caramelized onions or bacon , brocoli or peas, tomatoes and on and on.  You can’t give a girl like me that many choices or I may never make a decision.  My first time in a Marble Slab I left without any ice-cream because I was to overwhelmed with options, I had 25  fellow Pride Parade goers in front of me, a line up of more out the door behind me and walls of endless flavor combinations, we’re lucky my head didn’t explode.  So in an attempt to leave with ice-cream this time, so to speak, I thought it best to start off with something basic.  Humph, so much for that.

I think it may have been the thickness of the sauce, I should have added more milk to thin it out.  Once the al dente noodles were baked they’d soaked up all the moisture in the sauce.  I was left with perfectly cook macaroni but instead of the creamy, cheesy, “Mmm” inducing sauce I was hoping for I got a kind of chunky, greasy sauce; I use that term lightly , it was defiantly more chunky than saucy.  With a description like that I’m sure I’ve just made this dish sound extremely appealing, no?

It wasn’t a complete loss; after we all ate, ahem, two (and maybe another half in spoon fulls straight out of the dish) helpings I think I figured out the missing components.  Besides a thinner sauce I’m convinced that it’s all about the cheese; there needs to be more than one type in there, otherwise it ends up rather one dimensional.  Then there’s the bread crumbs or no bread crumbs debate from which I started out neutral.  This recipe didn’t call for any and I missed them in all their crunchy buttery glory so as it stands I am declaring myself pro bread crumbs.

So I will post this recipe encouraging you to mess with it a bit.  Please let me know how it turns out if you give it a try.  I’d add at least another 1/2 cup of milk to the sauce or reduce the amount of cooked noodles by 1 to 2 cups, use two or three types of cheese and for the love of all things buttery, use some bread crumbs.  You could also just skip the baking part and boil the noodles until they’ve cooked all the way, drain, add sauce and just serve it from the stove top.

So really, what I’m saying is…here’s a recipe for mac and cheese but don’t follow it…see Cory(O)  I told you.

I’ll try another one again before this Christmas season is over but I thought it best to give my thighs some time to evenly distribute that first pound of cheddar before I pile on any more.

Hey Sam, can I get that recipe?

Not the best mac and cheese I’ve made, from Pioneer Woman

  • 4 cups dried macaroni
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • ¼ cups  butter
  • ¼ cups flour
  • 2-½ cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons (heaping) dry mustard, more if desired
  • 1 pound cheddar cheese, grated (I used an Aged Cheddar)
  • ½ teaspoons salt, more to taste (I used kosher because that’s what i had)
  • ½ teaspoons seasoned salt, more to taste ( I didn’t have any so I just used more kosher salt)
  • ½ teaspoons ground black pepper

1.  Cook macaroni in boiling salted water (leave it firmer than usual, it’ll soften up more as it bakes)

2.  In a small bowl, beat egg.

3.  In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Don’t let it burn (like I did the first time).

4.  Add milk and mustard whisking until smooth. Cook until thick and pasty, about 5 minutes then reduce heat to low.

5.  Pour 1/4 cup of the sauce  into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs.  Add this to the rest of the sauce and stir until smooth

6.  Add in cheese and stir to melt.

7.  Add salt and pepper.

8.  Drain macaroni and add to sauce, stir until all combined.

Pour into a buttered baking dish sprinkle on some of the extra cheese and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and golden on top, 20-25 minutes.

Reverberations 2010

December 4, 2010 § 3 Comments

 Reflect on the last year…in one word. 

Instinctively I came up with a few  but none that could truly encapsulate the year, there’s just been too much. 

Uncertain.  Provoking.  Transforming.

I’ve settled into “inspired/ing”.  The definitions relating most to how it applies are:   “inspiring – stimulating or exalting to the spirit” and ” inhaled: inspired air” because that’s what it feels like.

Two thousand and ten has been a year of significant personal growth and change,  it’s also been a year plagued with uncertainties that were terrifying and paralyzing at times; growing pains.

 I hadn’t realized how vacant from my life I’d become.  Snapping back was a slow and nauseating process, kind of like waking up with a wicked hangover.  It’s hard to find your bearings or appreciate the wake up call when your eyes haven’t adjusted to the light and you’re not sure if the ground is moving towards or away from you. 

A restlessness was how it started and a sence something wasn’t right, something I’d had in my life once was gone.  I knew I missed it terribly but I couldn’t recal what it was.  A dispute between where I was and where  I wanted to be was brewing.  The  journeys embarked upon by others acted as provocation (divorces and babies, travel and pianos), they excited  the controversy and stoked the embers of a dying flame.  Faced with unease, internal conflict and confusion I had no choice.  I had to change and embrace the flame because in it I knew I was alive and participating in this life.  The fire that’s ensued has inspired me to take a go at it without a safety net and I’ve been lurching forward without much grace ever since; it’s been enlightening, I’ve found my passion.

So the one word I want to manifest for the new year is “passion”.  I want to manifest this feeling of fire in my bones, I want it to spread over every part of my life.  I want to be brave and courageous and unwavering while inspiration continues to move me in this new direction.  

Reverb 10 seems to have come around right when I needed it, thanks Kerianne.  Since I can’t cook you dinner for all that you’ve done with the ocean between us I can at least give you the recipe you asked for.

Orange fennel Chicken, Adapted from About.com

  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 orange, zest and juice
  • 1  Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian herb mix (oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, thyme)
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fennel seed, cracked and crushed slightly.  I use a mortar and pestle but you could also do it with the flat of a knife.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.  In a dish large enough for the chicken add the garlic, orange zest and juice, all the spices and the olive oil.  Mix it all together with a fork until well combined, it ends up a paste.    

3.  You’re going to have to use your hands for this.  Don’t be squeamish, it’s for a good cause.  Put the chicken in the dish one piece at a time rubbing the paste all over it.  Don’t panic if it doesn’t look like you’ve got enough paste, it packs a ton of flavour so you don’t need to cake it on.

 

5.  Cover the dish with all the chicken in it and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight.

6.  In a large frying pan (see sidenote) over high heat add 1-2 Tbs olive oil, enough to lightly coat the pan.  When you’re sure it’s good and hot add the chicken.  Sear 3 minutes then flip it over.  Sear for 3 more minutes  then put the whole pan in the pre heated oven.

7.  Bake 15-20 minutes, until juices run clear.

8.  Place pan on the stove top and remove chicken, place it on a cutting board to rest.

9.  If you want a pan sauce you can add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and 1/2 a chicken bullion cube (if you’ve got one) to the hot pan and mix it all around over high heat scraping up all those yummy spicy bits off the bottom of the pan. (Don’t forget to use an oven mitt, best not to ask Shane about that).

10.  Slice chicken and spoon on sauce.

11.  Say “Mmmmmmm”

  

Sidenote:  your frying pan needs to be big enough to hold all the chicken without crowding it and have NO PLASTIC parts so it can go in the oven.  If you don’t have a large enough pan or you don’t have one without any plastic you’ll have to sear the chicken in batches and then transfer it to a cookie sheet before putting it in the oven.

We’ve always done  this chicken on the barbecue but Kerianne asked if  it would work in a frying pan so I gave it a try.  

Verdict:  I actually liked it better cooked this way, it seemed way juicier to me.  Shane wasn’t completely sure, but he’s biased since  he usually does the grilling.

Washed away.

November 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Finger tips on the window, tapping incessantly in that absent minded way that screams I have somewhere else to be; the rain that washed away the snow in the middle of the night.  I grew irritated even in that place that’s not quite awake but not yet sleeping wondering why it didn’t just go then.  I wanted to know what it was waiting for.  The indigo sky lit from behind by the early moon light was misty grey and hovering, weighed down by the wetness and still in the lamp light.  My eyes grew heavy but the light coming from beneath the door kept reminding me of all the other cracks that would not let sleep come easy.  The harder I focused on sleep the farther away it got and the louder the rain tapped my window.  I had somewhere else to be too but we waited it out together, the rain and I and we held on to the night sky as long as it took for the day to come.  And when it did I moved slowly and the rain subsided, finally moving on.  I was too tired to cook, content to just snuggle into the memory of  tart  cranberries tangled with the warmth of pears soft in a dark caramel like sauce.  Today, the memory will have to do for my hands are weary and the day has just begun.

 

Cranberry Pear Upside-down cake, adapted from The Italian Dish.  Serves 8 (or 4 twice!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Topping

  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1-2 pears, 1 1/4ish cups chopped
  • juice from 1/2 – 1 orange, about a 1/4 cup

Batter 

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest from 1/2 an orange
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

 

For the topping

Melt butter, brown sugar and orange juice over medium heat stirring until smooth and bubbling, set aside to cool slightly.  Rinse cranberries well under cold water discarding any mushy ones and scatter into an 8 inch cake pan.  Peal, core and roughly chop pears and sprinkle them into pan with the cranberries, slowly pour brown sugar-butter mixture over fruit.

 

For the cake batter

Sift  flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, set aside.  In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy then mix in the vanilla.  Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one to make sure it is mixed well.  Add orange zest and mix to incorporate.  Gradually add the dry ingredients and the cream in stages: mix in about a third of the flour mixture, followed by about half the cream; mix in another third of the flour, then the rest of the cream; finally, add the last third of the dry ingredients.

In another large  mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites and the cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks.  Fold the whites into the batter in two batches.   Add the batter by large blobs from a spoon or spatula and smooth out over fruit, try to run the batter right to the edge of the pan, sealing in all the fruit and buttery brown sugar.  Bake until the top is slightly brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 50 to 60 minutes.  Let the cake cook for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate.  Serve with sweetened whipped cream flavoured with some Triple Sec if you’ve got some.

Where we’re from.

November 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

Shane and I had the opportunity to meet some new people a couple of weeks ago, some really fantastic people, we’re feeling pretty lucky.  In getting to know them over burgers, beer and a certain triple layer chocolate cake I got to thinking about the question “Where are you from?”.  I realized it’s so much more than the place you were born or even raised, in my case anyway because where I was born or the places I grew up tell you nothing or everything about who I am. Our commonality may begin in a similarity found there but it may end there too.

My mom’s a gypsy of sorts, she’s always moved to her own beat and let her feet fall wherever the wind took her.  There was never a lack of judgements being made by those who witnessed what I saw as magic.  Sometimes people couldn’t hear the beat she moved to or feel the wind that breezed through her, but she’s always moved forward for her, for us, and I’ll be forever grateful.

I’m from a lot of places, places where there were blackberries plump for the picking come August, my fingers stained with the juices from those picked for jam and canning jars bubbled away in there sterilizing bath; as the late summer sun went down cherry trees cast shadows on my back racing through sprinklers.  Barbecues and bodies swaying, winding up to calypso drums; smoke filled rooms with lots of laughter, winding down to Marvin Gaye. I’m from places where it was okay to cry when you were frustrated, mistakes made and learned from were fashioned into brooches and worn like a badge of honour, never shame.  A place where I heard “Tish, talk to me” as much as I heard “I love you”, really they meant the same thing.  There were road trips in the sunshine, sleds in the snow, beach days and sick days we weren’t really sick.    Our movement gave me steady legs and a strength not found in standing still, my roots are in the motion.  I’m from a place that tastes like home canned peaches but since I don’t have any of those left from last year and I didn’t get a chance to do any this year, my mother in-laws canned plums will stand in.  They’re actually pretty similar to the cherries we canned from that same tree that cast long shadows in our back yard.  Make these and maybe you’ll get a glimpse of where I come from, a place where we took the time, take the time.

I made these turnovers over 2 days, not because it was entirely necessary, I just started late in the day and rushing just wasn’t an option.  Besides, warm, buttery crispness oozing with the bubbling juices of wine colored plums and a steaming mug of coffee  just seemed perfect for a Saturday morning spent with my mom, both of us curled up and cozy in her bed, watching old 80’s movies.

Please don’t be intimidated by the process, it’s really not that difficult.  It is messy, time-consuming and a bit of an upper arm workout rolling that dough, stiff from cold butter.  But I promise if you set aside an afternoon, or like I did start the day before you want them for a late breakfast you will not regret it. Once the smell starts invading your kitchen and nestles somewhere in the back of your mind, even if the place or places you grew up didn’t smell like spiced plums and buttery pastry, where you are now could , and right now is as much the place you’re from as the past is.

 

Canned plum turnovers

Puff pastry, from Annie’s Eats whose pastry recipe estimates 12 turnovers, I got 16.

  • 3 cups  flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (I used salted because that’s all I had)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp  ice water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Plum filling

  • 2 1/3 c canned plums strained and roughly chopped, syrup reserved.
  • 2/3c reserved syrup
  • 1/2tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean or 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1Tbs cornstarch
  • 2Tbs water

 Cinnamon sugar topping, adapted from Annie’s Eats.

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

To make the puff pastry: combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, add about a quarter of the butter cubes and cut in with a pastry blender (you can use two butter knives if you don’t have a pastry blender) until the butter is in dime-sized pieces.  Add the remaining butter and toss to coat the cubes with flour, use pastry blender (or knives) to cut up the butter but leave bigger chunks. 

 

Brian takes care of any jumpers.

Combine the ice water and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Add half the liquid to the flour and butter mixture, and toss just until combined.  Keep adding the liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough kinda clumps together with your hand.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface.  Don’t freak out, it will be dry and really lumpy, and about as far from dough like as it can get…patience, it will work.

Use the heel of your hand to push the dough together into a loosely held together 8×4(ish) rectangular log, you want it to be falling a part a bit still and full of knobby lumps of butter. When you start rolling it you end up with layers of butter between layers of dough.  When it bakes the water from the butter evaporates and that’s what “puffs up” the puff pastry…just in case you were wondering.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured large piece of parchment paper and roll into a 15 by 10 inch rectangle. It will be stiff and cracking at the edges, but again, patience. Resist the urge to mix in the butter clumps, those flecks and streaks are important.

Fold dough into thirds then in half, roll out into a rectangle again, fold into thirds then in half again but don’t roll it out, wrap in saran and pat it into a 6×5 square and refrigerate at least 1 hour, I left mine over night.

On a lightly floured counter roll the dough into a 20×15 inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, trim and cut the dough into 6  squares then cut the squares into triangles, place 6 on each sheet.  Don’t worry if some aren’t perfect, those can be the ones you taste test.  If you haven’t already made the filling put the dough in the fridge while you do.

To make the filling: Roughly chop plums and place in a bowl.  Pour reserved syrup into a pot.  In a small bowl mix cornstarch and water, pour into pot of syrup.  Add nutmeg, scrapped vanilla bean and pod to pot and simmer over medium heat until thick, remove from heat and let cool.  Remove vanilla bean pod then add thickened cooled syrup to plums and mix well, set aside.

To assemble: Spoon 2 Tbs(ish) filling onto triangle.  Just experiment with what works as far as filling placement, you can see in my photos what ended up working for me   Moisten edges of triangle with water, then fold longest edge of the dough over to make a smaller triangle, making sure edges line up and overlap. Dont be afraid to pick it up and pinch and prod at it until it works.  Generally you wouldn’t want to handle puff pasty too much or the butter starts to melt, but if this is your first time making it, as it was mine, it’s not the end of the world, and next time you make them you’ll have a better idea how to handle them the least and get even flakier pastry. Crimp dough together with a fork, refrigerate filled turnovers 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir together until mixed well.  Brush or mist the turnovers lightly with water (I just used my fingers) and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Bake until golden, about 30-35 minutes rotating pans half way through baking. Let them cool on a wire rack,  serve warm or at room temperature.

Chicken soup for my soul.

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

The wind sounded like waves again Tuesday night, crashing through the trees and blowing lights out, restless and impatient.  Leaves taunted and branches bent in strained desperation.  Howling and whistling through the eaves and our bedroom window, whipping the curtains and scaring the dogs.  The clouds all black and grey were eager then confused by an aggravating push and pull.

And then the rain came, gingerly at first but quickly built up momentum .  Heavy drops of stinging cold that make you long for loving hands. Loving hands warm on your check and a gentle knowing kiss on your forehead, calming the beast stirring inside your soul that’s grown anxious with the restless wind outside.  Like chicken noodle soup, you can feel it warming you up from the outside in and from the inside out; remnants of Monday nights lemon roast chicken floating in a simple, homey broth of aromatics and fresh herbs.  See,  doesn’t that just sound like a kiss on the forehead?   I ate a bowl of it alone in front of the fire-place and it felt like one too.

Very vegetable, chicken noodle soup.  Serves 4, maybe 5  hungry people.

So I had a leftover chicken carcass from last nights dinner to use for this soup but when I want soup and have no leftovers I just roast a couple of bone in, skin on chicken pieces (usually breasts and thighs).  Let them cool, pull them apart, discard bones and skin, tear up the meat and throw into the pot of vegetable-y yumminess.

I’ve noticed a trend emerging in my cooking style, I’m kind of a slacker.  I don’t want scientific precision, most of the time anyway.  I want simple and I want flexible and that’s what this soup is.  You can use a combination of whatever fresh herbs you have, in what ever quantity you prefer, tweak it as you go.  Don’t have fresh herbs in the fridge?  I’ve used a table-spoon or two of dried italian seasoning with tasty result.  In attempts to really blast a cold I’ve as much as tripled the garlic and grated in some fresh ginger…flexible, like I said.  I use this same method with bigger proportions when I make turkey soup too.

Ingredients

Broth

  • carcass of a roast chicken (4 of us ate this particular chicken so there was still a drumstick, thigh and wings to provide the meat component of this soup)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and quartered
  • 1 rib of celery, leaves included, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • green tops of 1 leek split in half.   Rinse really well, sand likes to live in the creases.
  • 2 large cloves garlic cut in half
  • 2 bay leaves

The yummy bits

I like my soup chunky so I chop everything to a large bite size, accept the leeks, but if you prefer yours smaller go for it; although I wouldn’t recommend cutting them any bigger, eating soup with a fork, a knife and a spoon kind of defeats the purpose.

  • 3 carrots
  • 3-4 ribs celery
  • 1 onion
  • 2 leeks, green tops removed, whites sliced into coins
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into bite size
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 Tbs sea salt
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 2Tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1Tbs minced fresh sage
  • 2 1/2 cups egg noodles
  • 1Tbs olive oil
  • 1Tbs butter

1.  For the broth:  Put the bird into a large pot and add enough cold water to cover it (I needed about 9 cups).  Throw in the rest of the broth ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

2.  While your broth simmers get all the “yummy bits” prepared.  Mince garlic, clean, peel and chop your vegetables.  Set aside.

3.  Once your broth has simmered an hour place a large bowl with a colander in it into your clean kitchen sink (so you don’t end up with broth and chicken bits on the floor…use oven mitts, I’m just sayin’).  Carefully pour the contents of the pot into the colander that’s in the bowl.  Put the empty pot back on the stove.  Lift out colander and let all the broth drip into the bowl.  Place colander of deliciousness on a plate and let cool down enough for you to handle it.

4.  While chicken and bits cool, heat butter and olive oil in the broth pot.  I like the flavour of browned butter in my soup so I let it start to get a golden brown then I add all the vegetables except the green beans.  Saute until leeks and onions start to go translucent and carrots start to get tender but still stay stuck on a fork 7-10 minutes.

5.  Add green beans and broth, bring to a simmer.

6.  Once the chicken has cooled enough to handle pull the meat from the bones and just tear it up with your hands, place meat  in a bowl and discard bones and skin.  You’ll have a bunch of sad, mushy things that used to be vegetables in your colander but there’s probably chicken in there, so get your hands in there and find it, be careful not to throw any bones into your chicken bowl.

7.  Dump your bowl of chicken into the pot and give it a stir.  Continue simmering until you get your desired vegetable  tenderness then turn the heat off.

8.  Add egg noodles and herbs, stir then put the lid on.  After 10-15 minutes check that the noodles are done, cover for 5 more miutes if there not soft enough.

9.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with warm, squishy buns or slices of buttered crusty bread.

White lies, white chocolate and new friends.

November 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

 

 

 

So, last weekend we went over to Victoria to be a part of a surprise 30th birthday celebration for our friend Cory.  No we didn’t go to Vancouver for the day as my previous post insinuated, I lied.  I couldn’t very well post about a surprise party now could I? 😉

Yes, I made a cake, a triple layer chocolate mousse cake but for the life of me I can’t bring myself to write about it.  No, no wait, it wasn’t bad.  I heard a satisfactory amount of “ooh”, “aah” and “mmm” and they were genuine I’m sure, well pretty sure, I appreciated them anyway.  Any guinea pigs from the party care to comment?  Be honest, I can take it.  Come on, please?  I thought we were all friends now?!  You know I’m not above bribing you with promises of more baked goods 😉  The cake  just isn’t what I took away from that Saturday night, it’s likely to only get a brief mention when I talk about “that time we went to Victoria for Cory’s 30th”.

There was food…oh, so good.  Halibut tacos, a burger with beets on it, YUM, who knew?  There was beer…FREE BEER…they were samples but like 1/2 glass samples, and you could get as many as you wanted…and they were FREE!!!  There was laughing, the kind that makes your stomach hurt and brings tears to your eyes, the kind of laughing that could make it hard to catch your breath, it was beautiful and I needed a night like that desperately.  Canoe Brew Pub, I’m sure we’ll be back.

We had an early reservation so those of us who didn’t have to drive back to The Mainland were fast approaching intoxicated before 7, a perfectly respectable thing to be at a 30th birthday celebration, no?  Oh, come on, we weren’t falling down, but you know that laughing I was talking about? It tended to come even easier than before, if that were even possible.  When we got back to our hosts’ apartment I unmolded my springform, unraveled parchment paper and lit candles, we sang and then ate three layers of chocolate.  The first layer was a version of a flourless chocolate cake topped with a dark chocolate mousse that was topped with white chocolate mousse, there was raspberry sauce too…Even as I typed that I found myself rushing to get to the good part…The cake was good, it was  about everything you could ask for in a mousse cake, light and airy, not too sweet, pretty perfectly chocolatey with a beautiful raspberry sauce balancing it out,  but that’s not what I’m going to remember.  I’m going to remember a group of 9, some who’d never met, coming together to celebrate the birthday among other milestones of a man we’re all lucky to call our friend.  I’m going to remember how odd it was to feel so quickly such a connection to people I barely knew, and how tragic it is that I found that so strange. 

So I’ll post this recipe and encourage you to make it, I assure you my lack of enthusiasm is strictly because the cake was largely overshadowed by good company. But I don’t mind being more smitten with my company then with my cake.  But if you like chocolate and you like mousse you can’t really go wrong with this cake.  I’ll post the original recipe and list my adaptations under it, I know, it would seem I stray from original recipes more often than I thought.

Triple Layer Chocolate Mousse Cake, recipe cut and pasted from the America’s Test Kitchen website.

Please don’t be intimidated by words like “imperative”, I hate it when a recipe starts off by freaking the crap out of you…don’t be scared, you can absolutely make this cake.  Just take your time and be sure to lick the bowls, beaters, spatulas etcetera.  This cake wasn’t hard to make, it just has a lot of steps and requires you to do dishes between steps, well, at least at my house, since I don’t have an endless supply of mixing bowls.  

 

Triple Layer Chocolate Mousse Cake, Serves 12 to 16 (or in my case 9-12)

Updated May 2011:  So I’m still learning the rules of this food blogging stuff and recently discovered that you are not actually supposed to post the directions of a recipe word for word, it’s a form of plagiarism.  Who knew?  Well, really, it makes sense when I think about it.  So if you want the recipe for this cake you’ll have to head over to The American Test Kitchen web site (link above).  I’m leaving my pictures so you can see what a unprofessional approach in a unproffessional kitchen looks like.

My adaptations were this…For the “bittersweet” chocolate I used a dark Callebaut ( I don’t know about that L-60-40-NV bit but what I used worked fine), it’s what they had in the bulk section at PriceSmart.  For the middle layer I mixed 4 ounces of milk chocolate (also Callebaut from PriceSmart) with 3 ounces of  the dark, I wanted a significant and noticeable difference of flavour in each layer.  I caved and bought instant espresso powder, ridiculously expensive, but I’m wondering if a few tablespoons of stong cooled espresso would have worked.

 

 

Happy 30th Birthday Cory.  I suspect I may have gotten more out of it then you did.