"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It Comes Together

You know those days...weeks...months, even...where it feels as if, no matter how much you accomplish in a day's work, you never quite manage to get it all done?  Do you have those too?  About a year ago, I noticed myself saying things like:  "It'll all calm down after _______________(fill in the blank with any of the following:  the holidays, the end of school, summer break, birthday parties, the flu, renovating the house, selling the house, moving, and so forth)."  This naive, wistful thinking went on for some time until one fateful day awhile back, when I had a small sort of epiphany.  Not necessarily the leaves-you-enlightened-and-at-peace-with-the-world sort epiphany, alas.  More of your garden variety, "Ahhhh.  I see.  Well that sort of sucks," epiphany.  The realization being that, guess what?  This, my friends, is what it means to be a Grown-Up.  Capital G.  Life, in all its awesome variety, in its astounding array of choices on how to live our lives, in its long-sought-after independence...life. is. busy.  Freaking hugely busy.

And so it goes.  You all know, you're living it too.  So when I don't happen to pop on here for a wee bit, from time to time, I'm pretty sure you'll forgive me.  Without me even needing to go into the mundane details of why I can't get my shit together sometimes.  And I thank you for that.

So.  When, in the midst of the pandemonium that is Grown-Up Life, a teeny, tiny, wee thing comes together smoothly, I feel rather pleased.  Nay, I feel bloody stoked.  So stoked, in fact, that I must share it with you.  And fortunately, this coming-together moment happens to be concerning some food.  (Hurrah!)

Since we're on the verge of a move, I'm making an effort to deplete some of my lingering food stores, at least the refrigerated ones.  This weekend, I combed through the jars on the door of the fridge (aren't there always so many nearly-but-not-quite-empty jars in there?!), and through some pantry shelves, and came upon some serious goods.  Well, actually, some quite ordinary goods, but, as luck would have it, it all came together.  And how.

My stash?  Not even a handful of green olives, half a red pepper, and a paltry amount of sun-dried tomatoes.  Not so exciting, you think?  Oh, but just put on these rose-colored lenses of mine, and you'll see:  It Comes Together.

Roasted Red Pepper Tapenade - makes a wee bit

1 large red bell pepper
1/3 cup pitted green olives (mine were the ordinary, pimento-stuffed sort)
1/4 (ish) cup sun-dried tomatoes**
1 small clove garlic, minced
dash red wine vinegar
small glug olive oil
pinch red pepper flakes

*I've doubled the ingredient amounts that I had in my house at the time, to give you a larger quantity of tapenade.  You really can't mess this recipe up, I dare say, so don't worry if you don't have everything exact.*

**My sun-dried tomatoes were the dry sort, but if you have the oil-soaked ones, that's fine too, just omit the olive oil in the recipe.**

Slice the red pepper in half, lengthwise, and remove the stem and seeds.  Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and put under the broiler until blackened.  This took about 10 minutes in my oven.  Just keep checking every few minutes.  Remove peppers, and place in a bowl, cover with plastic, and leave for about 20 minutes (or until you remember to come back to it).  Peel the skin from the peppers and discard.

Toss all the ingredients into the food processor, and pulse a few times, until of a uniform size, but still slightly chunky.  Let the tapenade rest for half an hour, if you can swing it, then serve, atop warm bread, like this one, or this one.  Preferably with a glass of wine.  Or two.

I love with it comes together.  Don't you?

Have a lovely evening.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pancake Tuesday

As usual, my timing is...well, less than impeccable.  Yesterday afternoon, I had word that it was Shrove Tuesday...which we celebrate, UK-style, as Pancake Tuesday.  Good planning, as ever, on my part, of course.  You know the saying "A day late, and a dollar short?"  My mom loved that one, when we were kids.  I wasn't quite a day late for the pancake delivery, but this post?  Definitely late, alas.  Oh well, so it goes.

The history behind Pancake Tuesday is that you get to gorge on what's left of the food stores that get restricted during Lent...eggs, flour, sugar, butter, and milk, being the applicable foods in this case.  Most of the folks we know who dig in and fill their bellies on the pancake feast don't actually do it for religious reasons, but it's such an ingrained tradition, and a pretty sweet deal to stuff yourself full of pancakes and delicious fillings...even if you're not going to be fasting for the foreseeable future.

Pancakes are to us Americans, crepes.  Those tasty delicate little treats, that are perfect stuffed with any number of fillings, savory or sweet.  I generally favor a savory crepe, over a sweet one, especially for dinner.  Last year, I made a mushroom and asparagus filling.  And while I actually had mushrooms and asparagus in my fridge last night, I quite simply couldn't be asked with it.  Not when we arrived home at close to six, and had to whip up the crepe batter, let it rest, and then get started on filling prep.  Nope.  I phoned it in a bit, and went for sweet.

I have to confess to buying out of season strawberries for these.  I don't know what possessed me, and truth be told, they weren't very tasty.  Even after being sprinkled with some sugar in a thwarted attempt to coax some sweetness from them.  If you're making these outside of strawberry season, I'd recommend doing it with a preserve, or perhaps a compote, instead.

Along with the strawberries, I scrounged a bit of this and that from the fridge and spice shelf, and came up with a cream cheese-based spread, with a dash of cinnamon, and a squeeze of Meyer lemon, and it was darn tasty.  Lovely, actually.  Reminiscent of a blintz filling, but without the egg, because I wasn't bothering to cook it.

The Mister generally does the crepe batter, and makes it sans recipe, throwing it all together in the blender.  I used an Alton Brown recipe I found on foodnetwork.com.  Which I tweaked, of course.  Not that it needed tweaking necessarily, but it called for 3/4 cup of milk, and 1/2 a cup of water, and since we usually just do milk, I went with 1 1/4 cups of milk.  And it was delicious.  

Here you go:

Crepes with Strawberries and Sweetened Cream Cheese


for the Crepe Batter
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup flour
3 Tbs melted butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt

Give all the ingredients a whir in the blender until smooth, then leave it to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.  It will keep up to 2 days.  The recipe is easily doubled to make more crepes, should you feel particularly inclined to gorge.

To cook:  Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, and brush a small amount of butter around the pan, just enough to barely coat the surface.  You will need to keep an eye on the heat as you go, and possibly adjust.  To be sure the pan is ready for the first crepe, flick a bit of water in the pan, and if it dances immediately, you're good to go.

Pour out about 1/4 cup (ish) into the pan, and immediately swirl the batter around to get your pancake as thin as possible.  Cook for 30 to 45 seconds, then loosen with a spatula, and flip.  Cook the second side for another 30 seconds.

You can cook these ahead of time, if you all want to sit and eat together, and keep them in a very low-heated oven, around 200 deg F.  If you're the civilized, organized type.  If you're like my family, the Mister will be at the stove, the Kiddos at the table, and I will run back and forth, filling and refilling, and taking bites in between.  What can I say?  It was getting late, and it works.

for the cream cheese filling
2 oz, 1/4 package, cream cheese (the kind in a brick) - at room temp
2 or 3 Tbs plain Greek-style yogurt
1 tsp Meyer lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp sugar

Thoroughly mix all ingredients together until smooth.

To serve:
Spread a bit of the cream cheese mixture on one quarter of the crepe, and top with strawberries, or preserves.

Fold the crepe in half...

Then in half again, to make a triangular packet.  Dust with powdered sugar, and serve immediately.

Happy Belated Pancake Tuesday.

I just thought of another good saying, like my mom's classic above.  When the Mister arrives at the beach, board tucked under arm, and sees the expected swell is flat...someone will invariably say:  "Shoulda been here yesterday, mate."  (Or dude, depending on your continent.)

You should have been here yesterday.  It was some good pancake eating, my friends.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Make it Up to You

Things have been quiet on this here blog for the past several days.  A little too quiet, if you ask me.  You see, in addition to the surreality that is an upcoming move (not quite yet, but very soon), our internet has been down for a few days.  So no time-wasting on facebook and pinterest...which is probably a good thing.  No Pandora...bad thing.  No knitting...because I needed a new pattern to tackle...and couldn't access Ravelry...very bad thing.  And no blogging...bad, bad, bad.

But I'm back to make it up to you.  With an ever-so-simple-it's-barely-even-a-recipe sort of meal.  My favorite sort.  This isn't anything particularly original.  I'm willing to bet that many of you have seen this one, or made it yourselves.  It is just that good, that I am driven to share it with you fine people.

Asparagus with bacon, egg, and Meyer lemon.  This is the kind of thing you can easily throw together in a very short time, perfect for a busy weeknight.  It's healthy, fresh, and eminently satisfying.  Soul-food, if you will.  We ate this twice in a row last week, with some minor alterations, tweaking the cooking method a bit, to find the best, tastiest way to eat it.  I'm going to give you some pretty loose directions, so that you can decide which way best suits you.

So, a word, first, on the asparagus preparation.  The first night, I simply tossed the asparagus in olive oil, flaky sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  And it was gorgeous.  I adore roasted asparagus, with its gently crispy outside bits, and tender inside bits.  Glorious.  This technique works well with asparagus that's on the younger, thinner side, in my opinion, so that the interior gets thoroughly softened.

Or...the second night, I followed Nigel Slater's lead, in a suggestion from my bible, oops, I mean his cookbook, Tender.  This time, I blanched the asparagus spears for about 4 minutes (they were larger ones), then drained them, laid them in a baking dish, and sprinkled crispy bacon and salty parmesan over it.  This method bakes for about 10 or so minutes, until the parmesan melts. This version is deliciously salty from the bacon and parmesan, but I have to say, I prefer the texture of the roasted asparagus spears, to these, which are still snappy and fresh, but not quite as exciting for me.

Whichever method you choose, you'll leave the table feeling satiated, and well taken care of.  Especially with the addition of a nice, yolky, runny egg and a squeeze of Meyer lemon...oh baby.  The lemon juice combines with the yolk, transforming into a delectable, no fuss sauce, brightening the whole dish with a subtle citrusy note.  Do not leave out the citrus in this one, people.  You absolutely could swap the Meyer lemon, if you can't find one, for a regular lemon, or for a nice, tart orange even.

Without further (and further...and further) ado, a sort-of, kind-of recipe for:

Asparagus with Bacon, Egg, and Meyer Lemon - serves two

1 bunch asparagus spears, ends trimmed
4 slices cooked, crisp bacon, broken into bits (save the bacon fat to drizzle in the second version, seriously)
1 or 2 eggs per serving (I like one, the Mister likes two)
grated parmesan, optional
one wedge Meyer lemon, per serving

Prepare the asparagus:  See above.  Either toss it in olive oil and coarse sea salt and pepper, and roast in a 450 deg F oven, for about 10 - 15 minutes, until slightly browned (only just), and tender when pierced with a knife, then top with the cooked bacon...OR...blanch the spears for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender when pierced, then lay in a baking dish, sprinkle parmesan and bacon over the top, drizzle with a bit of the rendered bacon fat, (or olive oil, or butter) and bake in a 400 deg F oven, for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Serve your asparagus with a very lightly fried egg, or a poached one, whatever you're in the mood for.  I opt for fried generally, as it's way easier for me than poaching.  Squeeze the Meyer lemon over everything, and serve immediately.

Yup, that's the stuff.  Comfort food at its finest.  And simplest.

I do hope I made it up to you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


The current state of my world is inducing some serious reflective moments.  And, given that my eventual acceptance of the whole blogging idea was sort of based around the premise that I would be forced to spend time writing, regularly...something I struggle with...I'm going to share my reflections with you fine folks.  I hope you don't mind bearing with me.

We're in the inspection/paper work/stressed out part of selling our house right now.  (Which part about selling a home isn't stressful, though?)  This is our first home we've ever owned, and which we poured our blood, sweat, and tears into.  I am in no way being figurative about that, either.

I can show you the exact beam on which the Mister scraped his head so many times that he has a permanent scar from gradual removal of the layers of his scalp.  Those layers could often be found still attached to that beam.  (Not anymore, we do tidy that sort of thing.)

I can show you the exact spot I used to sit and sob about the disgusting bathroom that we lived with for the entire first year, where no amount of bleach and vehement scrubbing could dull the feel of perpetual dirtiness.

I can pull out the huge bucket to give you a laugh at how I used to bathe my children.

I could call to mind the campfire smoke smell that used to permeate our clothes and hair, and for which I got strange looks from the Boy's preschool teacher, who finally asked me if we'd been camping?  Often?  No, that was our old wood stove, that leaked smoke into the house, without heating the room very effectively.  It worked so poorly that it took several hours for the ice to melt off the old single-paned windows some days.

I can tell you about the time I learned that I was a fairly badass demolition gal, when I got to siphon my rage against that hideous beast of a bathroom, and tear it all out.

Every last rotten floorboard, the flimsy metal shower, and plywood walls, yanked from their former dwelling and beaten to veritable smithereens.

I can explain to you how badly our necks and shoulders ached, from painting every inch of tongue and groove ceiling and walls by brush...two coats of primer, two coats of paint...because the sprayer didn't look as nice as the brushed paint.

That first year or so had its rough spots, but it's not only blood, sweat and tears that ties us to this place we've been calling home for the past five and a half years now.  Without a doubt, we have met some truly amazing friends.

I can show you the exact spot, between ours and M and J's driveways, where we gather in the short summer months, drinking icy wine and beer, and moving our chairs to follow the sun, storing it up for those long,cold months.

I can take you to the spot where M taught us how he brews his own beer, which tastes better than any beer I've drank in the last ten years.

If you're ever feeling under the weather, we'll stop by J's, where she'll whip you up some herbal tea, and make you feel better just from being in her sweet presence.

We can swing by the lake, where we spent entire days, splashing about, floating in inner tubes, picnicking, and getting our fill of sun and laughter.

After that, we'll stop by J and H's for an evening dip in their heated-to-hot-tub temp pool, for an evening swim, ladies only most times, cocktails a must.  While we're there, I'll show you where the Mister shaped his first surfboard, under J's most generous guidance.

Mustn't forget to drop by G and T's, where J and I got to share in the most beautiful, empowering home birth.  And where T's abundant laughter, and generous pour of whiskey may have resulted, more than once, in an undone Mister.

We'll go view the surf mural done by the Mister, in exchange for skiing and snowboarding lessons, for the Kiddos, taught by D and T, who gave them confidence and showed them a good time.

Perhaps we'll ask for a ride on S's snowmobile, an experience of giddy delight with an undercoating of sheer terror.

We'll shout obnoxiously at the annual, astounding displays of fireworks, put on by neighbors to celebrate New Year's, and the Fourth, and sometimes for no reason other than a suddenly discovered cache of explosives.

Later, you're invited to an impromptu meal with our friends, thrown together at the last minute, with whatever ingredients were in our kitchens at the time, and I promise you, you will never eat better.

And let us not forget our own family memories.

The Boy and the Girl both learned to ride bikes around here, on heavily potholed dirt roads, none flat or even, and with several scarily curving hills that taught those Kiddos to either steer, or to careen out of control downhill, landing with a crash into the bushes.

You can come along on a hike through the woods, the ever-imaginative, wildly fantastic, kid-created scavenger hunts, treasure hunts, and Sasquatch hunts.

I'll show you the light in the Boy's eyes as he nailed the half pipe at the local skate park.

And the glow in the Girl's as she danced around the half pipe, pretending to be a fairy, of course.

And hugely, importantly, you can check out the pride we felt as we saw our place transform from a very rustic cabin, to a warm, love-filled Home.

A Home that now has double paned windows, an efficient wood stove that bangs out the heat, and a jetted tub.

Top to bottom, this place has been remade.  This is an amazing feeling, to look around and say, We Did This.  With our own hands, we put our hearts and souls into the making of Home.  And we did it well.

To contemplate moving from this life, these memories, and these friendships, we've created up here is somewhat overwhelming.  To say the least.  But, there comes a time, I suppose, when the journey must continue.  This is the longest we've lived in one place, let alone one country, since the Mister and I met.  I never expected it to be so hard.  I had not a clue that such hard work would be required in the making of a home, far from the ease of city or suburban life.  Nor could I even begin to fathom how very hard it is to realize that we're leaving this life we've made, very soon.

We've watched our wee ones go from toddler-hood, to childhood here.

And we know that this Home is probably the first one they'll remember, when they're all grown up, making their own homes somewhere in the big, wide world.

I don't yet know where we'll land, but we've a lovely, tiny little spark of an idea, that began germinating there in our minds, and is now growing little taproots in our many discussions of what we envision our next adventure to be.  And I know, without a doubt, we will keep these memories, these friends, and these roots to our first Home, always.  I also know that the next stop on our journey will be just exactly where we're meant to be, because so far in these little lives of ours, it's all been just exactly that way.

The other day, I was explaining a bit of Robert Frost I'd scrawled on the white board, you know the one, to the Kiddos...

 Two paths diverged in a wood, and I...
I took the one less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference.

And I was utterly and completely tickled and delighted when the Girl grinned and said:

"I get it." 

They do get it.  I love that.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Who Knew?

I absolutely love pleasant surprises.  I mean, who doesn't?  But what I really love, my friends, is to be pleasantly surprised by a random idea that works out.  Even when it's an unimportant little nothing of an idea.  Or perhaps especially because it's an unimportant little nothing of an idea.  This one happens to be a moment in which I tried something a little odd with my coffee, and when I tasted it, I thought,  Hm.  Who knew?

I have probably mentioned that I am unable to drink unsweetened coffee.  I've tried, countless times, with some damn quality coffee even.  I'm actually a little ashamed that I can't be one of those serious, down-to-business, coffee-drinking badasses.  Alas, it's not me.  I like it sweet.  Just a bit sweet, anyway.

I've worked my way down the coffee-sweetening continuum, first eliminating the gross artificially flavored coffee creamer (or should I say "creamer"?), then cutting the natural ("natural?") vanilla creamer when they replaced the cane sugar with corn syrup (boo).  I moved on to making my own coffee creamer, here, and now, when I run out of that, I just use a little organic sugar.  Which is great.  But isn't always the thing.  Like in an iced coffee craving moment.  Which is what I had yesterday.

Having run out of the spiced simple syrup that I make, and use in conjunction with organic half and half, to flavor my coffee, I looked around the fridge, trying to decide whether to just have a hot coffee (the sugar dissolves, obviously, in hot coffee, rather than cold)...or to find something sweet with which to flavor my iced coffee.  (I know, weird to have a cold one in winter.  I usually don't.  Things are crazy around here these days though, and it felt right.)  Then I spotted the maple syrup.  I may have scratched my head in a puzzled sort of "I wonder" kind of way.  I went for it.  A wee teaspoon into my coffee, along with a bit of half and half.  And you know what?  It was absolutely delicious.

This morning, I had to test it out with my hot coffee, and again, I thought, well hey!  Who knew?  Just the tiniest amount of maple syrup to round out the edges of the coffee, with a barely perceptible hint of maple dancing around your taste buds.  This isn't just good, it's grand, I tell you.  The Mister is a bit of a coffee purist, and even he thought it was tasty.

Do not even think of using fake maple syrup here, please.  It's the real deal, or not at all.

I'm thinking of creating a Maple Coffee movement.  Which is probably the best kind of movement actually.

By the way, those white cups?  I scored those at the thrift store.  Spanking-new, Starbucks cups.  And they.  Are.  Awesome.  Bummer that they only had three of them.

Go drink some coffee.

Friday, February 10, 2012

In A Snap

I love the comforting nature of winter foods, don't you?  A lovely warming soup, a sensuously creamy gratin, a heaped platter of roasted root vegetables...There's an interesting juxtaposition there, I believe, between healthy and homey, and downright rich and naughty.  Hm.  Too bad I've not got a psych background.  We could probably really run with that theme for a while.  Kidding.

Right,focus.  We were talking winter.  It seems almost a necessity to fill our bellies with warm, soulful, and often heavier meals, in order to buoy ourselves through the dark days of the season.  At about this time of year, though, I find myself yearning for the lighter, crisper fare of spring and summer.  Those foods with a burst of vibrant color, and a refreshing snap to them simply call to me.  Things just taste more alive that way, don't they?

Cue Nigel Slater's Tender.  (Oh, baby, I adore this book.)  It's filled with exactly every single thing you'd love to eat throughout the year, a perfect harmony of comfort and bright, fresh ingredients.  So, I was combing through recipes, trying to find something simple and fresh to accompany a creamy gratin for dinner.  And I hit the jackpot in a big way.  (At least I don't exaggerate, right?)  Not exactly a recipe, more a suggestion, for a carrot salad.  It's very similar to a French grated carrot salad, but with a wee twist.

Toasted cumin seeds.  Yum.  Crunchy carrots are cloaked in a very simple, lively vinaigrette of equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, some fresh parsley, flaky sea salt, and smoky cumin.  This is wake-you-from-your-winter-slumber food.  And the best thing?  You can make it in a snap.

I'm going to follow Mr. Slater's lead on this one, with not giving exact amounts, for the recipe.  I could say that this gives you a bit more laissez faire to work with what you have on hand, and how many mouths you need to feed.  To be honest though, I'm also doing this because I didn't record exact amounts when I made it.  What can I say?  It's not always a well-oiled machine around these parts.  And sometimes, just sometimes, writing down recipes and snapping photos cannot take precedence over hungry bellies.  So, follow your instincts, it's impossible to mess this up, I promise.

Carrot Salad with Toasted Cumin Seeds - adapted from Tender

carrots, peeled and either julienned, or grated - allow about 2 to 3 carrots per serving
equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil
flake sea salt, to taste
cumin seeds, about 1 tsp per 4 servings, lightly toasted over medium-high heat for a minute or two

Throw everything into a suitably sized bowl, and toss to combine.

Now that's a snappy salad.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Cure for a Cold

We have been getting bombarded with colds this week.  Nothing major, just of the inconvenient better-keep-you-home-from-school variety. (AKA - the you-little-germ-factory variety.)  In an attempt to boost immune systems all around, I decided it was time to bring in the big guns.  A straight-up, super simple, garlic soup that would have those cold bugs scurrying for cover.  Take that!

I have at least four versions of a garlic soup recipe at home, but I hadn't made any of them, until two days ago.  And let me tell you:  this soup is delicious.  Exactly the thing for a poorly child (or parent), to soothe a sore throat, and warm the shivers.  Composed of a very few comforting, healthy ingredients, it is delicately, sweetly garlic-flavored.  Despite the large amount of garlic, it takes on a lovely mellowness, from simmering away for half an hour.  (Although the garlic breath will be something afterward...at least for those around you who haven't consumed this soup.)

Without further ado, here's my adaptation of several different recipes for garlic soup, working with the ingredients I had at home at the time.

Garlic Soup - serves 4-6, as large portions, or 6-8, as a mug of soup

1 large garlic bulb
1 fresh bay leaf
1 large sprig, or a couple small sprigs, fresh thyme
2 quarts chicken stock
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten*

*Adding egg yolks once the soup is done simmering, creates a velvety, rich texture.  The more you add, the thicker and velvetier the soup.  I added two to mine, not wanting to put off the little ones from the texture, but add whatever you like.  It is very important though, that you add them only once the soup is off the heat, and that they are tempered, see below.*

Bring a small pot of water to boil, and break the garlic bulb apart into cloves.  Discard any loose papery skins, but there's no need to peel them completely yet.  Toss the garlic cloves into the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes.  Drain, and allow to cool, until they are at a temperature you can handle touching.  Now remove the skins, which will come off very easily.  Roughly chop the garlic.

In a large soup pot, or dutch oven, add the stock, garlic, and herbs.  Bring to a boil, and then let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove lid, turn off the heat, and taste for seasoning.  Add salt and pepper, and fish out the herbs, and discard.

Now, you'll temper the egg yolks, so they don't scramble when added to the soup.  Scoop a ladle of soup into the bowl of egg yolks, and whisk constantly, for about a minute, to slowly bring the yolks up in temperature, without scrambling them.  Add another ladle or two of soup to the yolk mixture, whisking away, then slowly drizzle the yolk mixture into the pot of soup, continuing to whisk for another minute.  The texture should be smooth and velvety-looking.

Any leftovers should be reheated very gently, taking care not to boil.  I found that the soup separated a bit in the fridge, but came back together nicely once heated over low heat, on the stove.  I would advise not using the microwave to reheat this, as the egg may scramble.

Just the thing to comfort a cold...and much easier than a pot of homemade chicken soup.  Plus, as an added bonus, you shouldn't have any trouble with vampires.

It looked like that kind of night last night, after all.  Keep the germs and monsters at bay!

Feel well.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cheap & Cheerful

Alright people.  This Cheap & Cheerful is not a wine.  For a change.  How about that?

So, I've been digging on these tortillas, from Tortilla Land, for a year or so now.  High time I posted about them, really.  Let me give you a little back-story though.  You know how I love a good back-story...

When we lived overseas, it was often hard to come by tortillas in the supermarket.  And when we did find them, they were on the pricy side, I thought.  Given my penchant for thrift, you can imagine how stoked I was to discover a recipe in a cookbook at our local Christchurch library, for homemade tortillas.  Ingredients?  Flour, oil, water, salt.  Easy-peasy, right?  Well...yes.  And no.

It was easy for any normal, sane person in full possession of their mental faculties.  I made them many times, with great success, but always despised rolling out the somewhat stiff dough.  The Mister eventually took over this task, in an effort to restore peace to the household.  (And limit our then 2 year old's exposure to gratuitous profanity.)   One afternoon, at a hefty 8 or so months pregnant, I had an irresistible craving for tortillas.  The Mister was at work, and I was fairly certain that while my 2 year old Boy was rather gifted in many areas, his tortilla rolling skills probably would leave a little something to be desired.  Ever one to embrace a food challenge (and never one to ignore a craving), I set to work making the dough, and rolling out and stacking each tortilla in a nice, tidy pile.  When it came time to cook them, I went to peel the first tortilla off the top of the stack, and realized I'd made a mistake.  A terrible, ridiculous, pregnancy-hormone-induced mistake.  I piled those freshly rolled tortillas on top of each other...and they were stuck.  Every single, bloody last one.  Needless to say (or needless if you know me), those pregnancy hormones now induced a teary, tortilla dough throwing tantrum.  Possibly with a few curses thrown as well.  Until my sweet, sweet Boy, came into the kitchen, gave me a stool, told me to sit down, and began rubbing my back, saying, "Don't worry, Daddy will be home soon.  It's okay."  (At Two years old.  Everyone needs a kid like this.)  I made an effort to reign in my rant, all the while wondering what sort of woman I was sobbing over stuck tortillas in front of a toddler, for goodness sake.  (Answer, a very pregnant woman.)  Anyway, after that, I stuck to the tortilla dough prep, and waited til the Mister was around to do the rolling.  I may have some serious episodes, but I do learn from them, you see.

So, a while back, when I came upon these tortillas in the supermarket, these uncooked, fake-food-free tortillas, I was beside myself with excitement.  I get that way a lot, don't I?  But seriously, you have a look at the back of the regular, shelf tortilla package, and try to count all the ingredients on there.  Or even pronounce them.  Gross.  These babies?  Flour, water, oil, salt, and sugar.  (The sugar isn't strictly necessary, I think, but it's a hell of a lot better than some of those others additives.  At least it's real.)  Plus you get to give yourself a pat on the back, that you're kind of making homemade tortillas. 

Thirty seconds per side on a skillet, or cast iron pan, or the barbecue (great for camping, by the way!), and there you go.  Delicious, fresh, and practically homemade tortillas.  And the best part?

They don't stick.