Category Archives: Food

My Early Morning Read

It’s funny how sometimes a habit can change without you noticing it. I’ve been focused on waking up earlier (my early morning walk is turning out to be a great incentive!) and it wasn’t until this morning that I realized I’ve changed another habit: what I read first thing in the morning.

For a long time now, my morning reading routine has gone something like this:

  1. Check email on phone.
  2. Add interesting-looking items from email newsletters to Safari reading list on phone.
  3. Read from reading list.

The problem with this routine, though? There aren’t all that many gems. For example, I’m a sucker for articles about productivity, but unless someone is taking you through a new system they’ve developed, there’s just not a whole lot of anything new you can say about productivity. So even articles with eye-catching headlines (“This One Little-Known Technique Will Super-Charge Your Productivity”) usually turn out to be a rehashing of a productivity maxim I’ve already read about (and read about and read about …)

But still, it was my routine, and a while back when I was considering changing how I started my day, I felt very resistant to changing this part of my routine.

And yet …

It turns out I went ahead and changed things quietly, under my own radar. For the past four days, I’ve been turning to A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L’Engle, first thing in the morning. For some reason I’d brought it into my bedroom and placed it on my bedside table (I don’t usually keep any books on my bedside table, as I rarely read in bed).

circle of quiet

And every morning now, I open it up and I read a few pages. Not a lot of pages—I’m definitely not reading it like I would a novel. But the words are beautiful and some of the passages really speak to me. So much so, I’ve even taken to underlining sections (with a pencil—I don’t dare yet to mark up the book with a pen, even though I like using pens better).

It kind of feels like L’Engle is holding my hand, turning my attention to some things I really needed to look at. Here’s a passage I underlined recently:

“A self is always becoming. Being does mean becoming, but we run so fast that it is only when we seem to stop—as sitting on the rock at the brook—that we are aware of our own isness, of being.”

She’s one of my favourite authors (A Wrinkle in Time is a childhood favourite, but I’ve read most of her children’s fiction) and I find myself wishing I’d come across this book when I was younger, fresh out of university. I definitely could have used her perspective back then; I definitely can use her perspective right now, too, for that matter!

The funny thing is, I’ve had this book in my TBR stacks for ages. And I mean ages. Maybe five or six years. I never felt like I had the time to read it, but now I’ve carved out some time. It’s only ten or fifteen minutes in the morning, but that’s enough time to let me drink in a few more of L’Engle’s words and thoughts.

This is one habit I’m going to keep.

An Unexpected Evening In

Dylan (my youngest) and I had been planning to go out for dinner with my daughter Hayley. With my deadlines winding down, it was nice to be able to schedule a bit of time out and about. Originally it was just supposed to be me and Hayley, but my husband was going to a piano concert thing and my older son was going out with friends so there was no-one to stay home with Dylan.

We’d planned to go out to one of our favourite Japanese restaurants, where Hayley and I would have had sushi and sashimi and Dylan would have udon noodles and some sushi.

But Hayley has been just as busy as me. This past week she’s been working on her thesis film, and she called and admitted she was so exhausted from shooting she thought she’d better stay home and rest – especially since she had a meeting scheduled for immediately after our dinner.

I was disappointed … but … it did mean more time for reading!

So Dylan and I popped over to the local Japanese sushi take-out place, which has wonderfully fresh sushi, and we ordered sushi and sashimi, and a bento box for our unexpected evening in. (One of the reasons I love living in the city: so many things are within “pop out for” distance.)

Sushi 2My sushi and sashimi dinner

There was actually more in this box of sushi and sashimi, but I am required (by some law made up by Dylan, I think) to give Dylan all my salmon sushi.

Sushi 1Here’s where my salmon sushi went

For a kid who’s a picky eater, it’s always so surprising that he loves salmon sushi. And smoked salmon, too. He’s only allowed to have five pieces and what do you know? I happen to have five pieces of salmon sushi in my salmon and sushi dinner. Interesting how it all works out like that, isn’t it?

Now we’ve eaten, and I just finished up my freelance blogging assignments for today. So I’m ready to spend the night with this book:

blood harvest by sj boltonMy copy has a different cover …

I’d been dipping into Blood Harvest during my breaks today, and it’s starting to get good. So it will nice to have the evening to spend reading it!

How was your evening? Did you have a bookish Friday night?

A simple, lovely arugula salad

A simple arugula salad

My sister made this for me last year after one of our dinners out together. We’d gone back to her place, and she had some fresh arugula she really wanted me to try. So she whipped together this really simple salad, and after I tasted it, I was hooked on both arugula and this lovely, easy salad dressing.

And now I don’t even buy bottled salad dressings. (Well, except Caesar dressing, because my oldest likes to use it as a dipping sauce when he has pizza).

Here’s all you need:

Really good quality extra virgin olive oil. You want to use something really good, because this is the kind of salad where you’re going to taste your olive oil, along with your arugula.

Lime juice. (Or lemon, if you prefer lemon.) We always have a bottle of organic lime juice in the fridge, so I use that, but if you have fresh, that’s even better.

Parmesan cheese (the kind you grate yourself). Again, the better the cheese, the better your dressing will taste, but even with a mediocre slab of Parmesan, it’s going to taste good. I know, because we usually just buy the big hunks of Parmesan from Costco.

Salt. I use sea salt because my husband is the cook around here and I don’t know where he hides the regular salt. But really, I’d probably use sea salt even if I knew where the regular salt was. We have this nice wooden grinder a friend made for us that’s perfect for grinding flakes of sea salt over the salad.

Arugula. Because this is an arugula salad. But I’ve even used this dressing with celery cut into pieces and it was delicious. So you can use any greens or vegetables you like. I like arugula’s peppery taste, plus the way its leaves hold up to dressing.

Here’s what you do with your ingredients:

Pour your extra virgin olive oil liberally over your arugula. Shake salt over the top. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of lime or lemon juice over the arugula, then grate as much Parmesan cheese as you like on top of it all.

Toss.

Eat.

Enjoy.

Arugula salad

I’ll be linking this post up at this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking feature at Beth Fish Reads. For more delicious links to foodie posts – books, recipes, movies, anything food-related goes – make sure to check out Weekend Cooking this Saturday.

Eggy Perfection: Egg Fried in an Onion Ring

One of the things I love about playing catch-up on all the feeds I’ve saved on Feedly and all the stuff that shows up in my Flipboard feed? I never know what I’ll find, and how it might affect some part of my life.

The other day, for example, I was browsing through Flipboard, and I came across this article: “This Hack For The Perfectly Shaped Fried Eggs Just Changed Breakfast Forever” at Huffington Post. I’m actually not fond of titles like this, but I do love fried eggs, so I couldn’t resist taking a peek.

The hack the article talks about comes from this food threat at Reddit. Basically, you make a perfectly shaped fried egg by frying it in an onion ring. When I first read this, I immediately thought of deep fried onion rings, which kind of shows you where my mind is when it comes to my onions.

But no, the article was talking about raw onion rings, which makes this method of frying up an egg very doable. (Eggs fried in deep fried onion rings would not be doable at my house, as there are generally never any onion rings left over whenever we do have them.)

I wasn’t enticed by the idea of being able to cook an egg in a perfect circle. Frankly, I don’t really care about achieving a perfect roundness with my fried eggs, and if that’s all I wanted, I could probably find a circular metal cookie cutter that would do the trick. Or order an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s.

(I’m sure Hercule Poirot would be quite thrilled by this hack, though, for the roundness of it all.)

No, what enticed me was the thought of pairing fried onion with fried egg in such an easy, effortless way. Mmmm. Just reading the article, I could taste it already. (The original Reddit thread talks about using the egg fried in an onion ring in a sandwich, and it would be perfect for that.)

So next thing you know, I was frying up some eggs in raw onion rings.

Photo 2015-01-13, 12 58 19 PM

As you can see, there is a danger that your egg might leak out from the bottom of your onion ring. But if you’re doing this because you want a nice circle, and not for the lovely taste of onion, no worries, because it’s easy enough to use your spatula to scrape off any egg white that leaks out the bottom. Voila:

Photo 2015-01-13, 1 00 52 PM

Another handy tip is to make sure the depth of your onion ring is thick enough to contain all the egg – overflowing from the top is definitely preventable. And if you want to make sure you get a nice onion taste, use two or three layers of onion, not just one. (So yes, you want to be working with a large onion.)

Here they are, cooked and ready to eat. Note: the onion isn’t burned. It’s just that I used a red onion, so it looks darker in the picture.

Photo 2015-01-13, 1 04 13 PM

It was delicious. The onion ring gets cooked just right, and lends a wonderful onion-y flavour to the fried egg. Would I make this again? I already have! I made some more this morning for my breakfast again.

I’ll be linking this post up at Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking feature this Saturday. Do you love to read food-related blog posts? Make sure to head on over and check out all the other delicious posts of the week!

Cheese!

So last week I mentioned how surprised I was that I was actually blogging about making kefir. Well, it turns out I’m going to keep surprising myself food-wise, because …

I just made homemade cheese! (Well, I guess if I made it, it would of course be homemade, but it felt absolutely necessary to use that word “homemade” because that’s part of what’s making me feel giddy inside.)

Here it is. Not a beautiful, food-magazine worthy shot, but it looks gorgeous to me:

Photo 2014-12-13, 7 14 31 PM

It’s a spreadable cream cheese type of cheese, and I made it from (did you guess?) kefir! I flavoured this batch with onion and garlic and some salt, and I’m waiting for the flavours to meld together before I use it. I’ve tasted it already and it tastes good, like a slightly more tart version of regular spreadable cream cheese.

I had no clue until a few days ago that I was even going to try something like this. But remember those milk kefir grains I got? Well, they apparently love the condo, because they culture milk into kefir like crazy. I’m now letting it go 24 hours because I’d be awash in milk kefir otherwise, but it really only takes about 12 hours and I have something drinkable.

Now, I like kefir, and I’ve been trying a lot of really delicious flavours (strawberry, blueberry, chocolate – and I’m trying out mango for today’s batch). The stuff is so delicious when you make it yourself, I can easily drink two or three glasses a day. But even with that kind of consumption rate, I do end up with extra kefir.

So I did some poking around online, and discovered it’s really really easy making kefir cheese. I checked out a bunch of “recipes” and they basically all said the same thing. Put your kefir into a square of cotton cloth (I just used one of our cotton table napkins), tie it up into a bundle and stick it in the fridge, where the whey will drip out of it. Most people put it in a strainer hanging over a large container, but I just stuck mine in a mason jar, stuck a chopstick through the knots I’d made to keep the bundle suspended, and 24 hours later … cheese!

Now I’m going to poke around online and see what kind of cheese-making kits might be out there. I need to add stuff to my Christmas wishlist!

I’m linking this post to this week’s Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads. Pop on over to check out more lovely foodie links!

Some Shopping Zen

I discovered today that shopping can actually be a Zen experience.

I know. It surprised me too.

Dylan had a Nutcracker rehearsal at the Four Seasons, which is close to the Eaton Centre, the big mall in downtown Toronto. So I decided I’d go there after dropping him off. My daughter’s birthday is coming up and I had a good idea what I wanted to get her.

But first, I was starving. So I took myself to Santouka Ramen and had a lovely bowl of shoyu ramen. Usually there’s a line-up but (1) it was the first real snowy day of the year and (2) since I was by myself I just took one of the stools at the bar in front of the kitchen.

Photo 2014-12-11, 1 08 54 PMYummy Shoyu Ramen

Other than time spent working in front of a computer, I don’t actually get a lot of time to myself. And one of my favourite things to do when I do have a bit of time to myself is to dine out solo. It’s not that I’m fervently anti-social, it’s just that sometimes, it’s nice to sit down and have dinner with just yourself.

So I had a marvellous time, and, feeling properly nourished, I was ready to attack tackle the crowds at the mall. You’d think it being the middle of a weekday, there wouldn’t be any crowds, but the place was pretty full (I’d hate to see what it must be like on the weekends) – but not so packed that it made you feel like you wouldn’t get anything accomplished.

I went straight to the store where I wanted to get Hayley’s present. Well, not quite “straight to”, as I had to look it up first and then find my way there. But it was nice getting there. There were big wire reindeers wrapped in white lights and a generally happy kind of vibe in the air. People were smiling, probably glad to be inside getting some shopping done rather than outside in the wet snow.

It took me a while to decide on just the right birthday gift, but when I was done, I realized I still had two hours before I had to go pick up Dylan.

Two Whole Hours.

To Myself.

Yes.

And this is where the Zen kicked in. I kind of got lost in the zone after that. I wandered around looking at things, not feeling any need to buy and being really comfortable with Just Browsing. And then I passed the big Chapters book store. With a Starbucks inside.

Hello!

I spent most of my time at Chapters in the cookbook section, because reading cookbooks is something I love to do, and for some reason, reading cookbooks usually falls to the very bottom of my priority list. I found some interesting titles, which I jotted down in the Drafts app on my iPhone (which oh so conveniently appends whatever I write onto a list titled “Books” that’s stored in my Dropbox).

We have, more or less, placed a moratorium on buying more cookbooks until we weed through the ones we have, as our apartment is too small for us to squeeze any more shelves in and cookbooks by their nature tend to be much bigger than novels. But! There’s always the library, right?

Cookbooks That Caught My EyeCookbooks that caught my eye

I wandered happily upstairs to where the Starbucks was, but the line-up was long, so I wandered back downstairs, and took this picture for my Christmas wish list, which I then texted to Ward (technology makes things like letting people know what you want for Christmas SO easy).

Photo 2014-12-11, 2 56 02 PM

(Can you tell, my mind’s been on food all day?)

And after all of this lovely shoppingness, I still had time. The luxury of it! After close to two months of constant, consistent deadlines – which kind of worked like this: deadline, deadline, overlapping deadlines, deadline, overlapping deadlines, deadlines – it was so amazing to have all this time to myself.

It didn’t take me long to decide my next move. I headed over to the Timothy’s World Coffee at Atrium on the Bay, ordered an iced decaf Americano (because I was so hot after spending all that time wandering the shops while in my winter coat) and spent the rest of the time leisurely reading and commenting on blogs, adding to my TBR list and writing the beginning of this blog post.

So I spent the day shopping and I felt so present the entire time. I tell you, this was a first for me. And it was really, really lovely.

And hopefully I can get this magical shopping vibe going every time I go shopping from now on.

Adventures in Kefir-Making

I’m a little astonished, actually, that I’m writing this post. I have an interest in fermented foods, in that there are some types of fermented foods that I like to eat, but I never really  had much of an interest in doing the fermentation myself.

Until, that is, about a couple of months ago, when I started drinking milk kefir. I’d been doing that web surfing thing – you know the kind, where you start out at point A, and click and click and next thing you know, you’re somewhere around point S, which has no real correlation with point A that you can see.

In other words, I’m not even sure what brought me there, but there I was, reading about gut microflora and how important these little microbes are to our immune systems.

Since I’ve had mild colitis since I was in my early twenties, I thought this was quite interesting. My doctor has always told me diet has nothing to do with it, but still, I was curious. So I decided to give kefir a try.

It turns out, I actually like kefir. This is surprising because I don’t like yogurt. I’d go through periods where I tried my best to like yogurt, but after a while the relationship always fizzled out and I’d find myself abandoning yogurt again. Kefir, on the other hand, has really grown on me, so it’s a much better way for me to consume my probiotics.

But have you noticed, kefir is a bit on the expensive side? That’s when I started thinking about making my own. So, after doing a bit of searching around, I found a site here in Canada that sells both milk kefir grains and water kefir grains and with some trepidation, I decided to buy both (it looks like it’s much easier to buy kefir grains if you live in the States – I think you can even buy it through Amazon!).

I bought my kefir grains from Cultured Food Connection. The grains I received were packaged by Culture from Health, which has a lot of great information about making your own kefir.

It’s been a week, and my milk kefir grains have been really coming along. At least, I think they’re doing well, since they look like pictures I’ve found online. I haven’t yet brewed up a drinkable batch of milk kefir yet. So far my batches have been too thick. I looked it up, and it sounds like they’re overcultured, resulting in the separation of the kefir into curds and whey. Luckily, this isn’t a problem, and is merely a matter of finding the balance between the right amount of milk, the right temperature and the right amount of culturing time.

Photo 2014-12-06, 4 44 23 PM

I feel like I will succeed when it comes to my milk kefir!

My poor water kefir, though? I’m not so sure about these little grains. In my initial activation batch, the water turned honey-coloured (not due to the sugar, since I was using normal white sugar) and while the kefir grains had plumped up and were translucent (I received them in dehydrated state, same as the milk kefir grains), I noticed some brown specks hiding out among them.

Undaunted, I looked this up online. Couldn’t find any real answers, but there were tons of troubleshooting guides for activating water kefir grains. They all seemed to recommend straining out the kefir grains, rinsing them and starting a new batch. So I did. This time around, I added molasses, to give the kefir grains more minerals.

Photo 2014-12-06, 4 45 09 PM

It’s been 48 hours, and still no signs that the kefir grains are now fermenting. The water still smells sugary to me, the grains don’t look any plumper and there’s no hint of carbonation. Sigh. I can’t see any brown specks, but that’s probably because the molasses turned the water a dark honey colour, and it’s hard to really see much of anything.

I’m going to give it another try – strain the grains and give them a new batch of sugar water. And if all else fails, I’ll probably be sending an SOS email to the company I purchased the water kefir grains from. But everything I’ve read seems to say water kefir grains are very resilient little things, so I still have great hopes of being able to revive these little guys and not have to try with a different batch of grains!

I’ve never tried water kefir before, but the concoctions you can make sound delicious, like homemade flavoured soda (this water kefir flavour guide has some great ideas for different flavours you can use), so I’m really hoping I can get this to work.

I’m afraid, though, I’ve been bitten good and hard by the fermentation bug. I’m thinking of making home-made sauerkraut next …

Have you made kefir or another type of fermented food at home? I’d really appreciate any tips you might have!

Seven Or More Servings a Day?

 

jiangyi_99_vegetables

Photo credit: jiangyi-99

I’ve been on a bit of a “get healthier” track, so when I read an article in the New York Times recently about a study that suggests we should be eating seven or more servings of vegetables and fruits a day (which, by the way, I cannot find no matter what keywords I plug into Google, so here is the BBC’s take on the study), I decided to take a close look at my veggie and fruit eating habits.

You’d think being married to a former vegan who does all the cooking would mean my daily vegetable and fruit intake would be more than adequate, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case at all. First of all, when my husband was vegan, he had a tendency to concentrate on proteins rather than vegetables and fruits (which wasn’t surprising, since there was also a year previously when he became vegetarian and afterwards we realized he should have called himself a “cheeseatarian”). As you might have guessed, now that he’s doing regular omnivore eating, vegetables and fruits still aren’t at the top of his list when it comes to cooking.

I decided I’d better remedy my rather woeful track record of eating vegetables and fruits. When I was in my 20s, my idea of a snack was to cut up a green pepper and mince some garlic and do a quick stir fry. I’m not sure what happened between then and now, but I had definitely lost my way when it comes to healthy eating.

So first things first. I had to figure out what a serving actually meant. According to Canada’s Food Guide, one serving is a medium fruit or half a cup of fresh, frozen or canned vegetables. The American Heart Association says one serving is one cup of raw leafy vegetables, half a cup of other vegetables, half a cup of vegetable juice, a medium fruit or half a cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit. Clear enough, then: to get seven servings of vegetables and fruits a day I’d be counting half cup serving sizes, unless I’m eating raw leafy vegetables, in which case I’ll use the one cup measure.

(By the way, while I’m more used to saying “fruits and vegetables”, I’m mostly using “vegetables and fruits” here because, according to the study I mentioned, fruits are okay but don’t have as much of an impact as vegetables. And I’m sure there are probably some vegetables – kale, anyone? – which likely have more nutritional bang for the buck than others.)

Seven servings therefore means I need to eat three and a half cups of vegetables and fruits a day (ha! I guess basic math does come in handy later in life). At first glance, this seemed to pose quite the challenge, especially since I was eating maybe one and at most two servings a day.

But once I made a commitment to more vegetables and fruits, it wasn’t as difficult as I’d thought it would be.

First of all, I now think “veggie” and “fruit” at the first signs of those snacking urges (I don’t know about you, but for me, these usually come when I have a book in hand). Yes, steering myself away from the potato chips (they are definitely my main source of unhealthy eating temptation) has been difficult. But then I tried the humus my husband makes for himself as a snack, and I fell in love. I pair it with lots of celery, carrots, radishes and cucumbers, and I’ve gotten so diligent I now pre-chop my celery and keep it in a container in the fridge for ease in fulfilling my snacking urges.

I rely on my nightly plate of veggies and humus to make up for whatever servings I might have missed during the day. But I also now have veggies with my breakfast (zucchini stir fry with my scrambled eggs!) and of course, as part of my lunch. I’ve also been reminding my husband we do need to have a veggie component to our dinners – even if it’s just tomato or cucumber slices.

And instead of my juice and flaxseed concoction I now make a fruit and kale and flaxseed smoothie (finally! I’m using that Magic Bullet I bought so long ago!) and it tastes so much nicer than what I was drinking before.

And kale! Oh, kale, I hear you are so good for me. Well, except that raw kale may be problematic when it comes to thyroid issues. So I now regularly cook up two batches of kale: one in water and one in broth. I freeze each batch, and use the kale cooked in water cubes in my smoothies and the kale cooked in chicken broth cubes in my soups. Very easy.

I’m sure I’ll come up with more ways to eat more vegetables and fruit. I love my vegetables and humus snack, but I’m sure variety is important, too. For me, snacking on vegetables and fruits is definitely the way to go, though!

A Foodie Weekend in Montreal

My sister wasn’t kidding when she warned me my weekend with her in Montreal would be a total foodie weekend. All of our time there was devoted to food; if we weren’t eating, we were shopping for food delights, and if we weren’t shopping for food delights, we were eating.

And there are a lot of great restaurants and foodie shops in Montreal, that’s for sure.

IMAG0419A slightly blurry me in our hotel room

On Friday night we headed out to the FoodLab; located at La Société des Arts Technologiques, the restaurant styles itself as a “labo culinaire” (culinary lab?) and in keeping with this, the chefs experiment constantly with the menus, which are themed according to country. The theme for our evening there was “l’ete au sud de l’Italie” (summer in the south of Italy, if my rusty French is accurate).

After some deliberating, we decided to share the antipasti with burrata cheese and bread. There were six kinds of antipasti on our platter, and the most delicious was a bright summery green fava bean tartine. We oohed and aahed over this one, and Dawn vowed to recreate the recipe when she got back home. Which she did, by the way. She searched online and found this recipe for Fava Bean Puree at the James Beard Foundation; she tweaked it a bit (the version we had didn’t have rosemary so she used a bay leaf instead) and she says it’s very very similar to what we had.

It was my first time eating burrata cheese, too; a very lovely soft cheese but apparently a little hard on the wallet. Dawn also warned me to always buy burrata cheese from Italy; the Canadian version is not, apparently, as good (although much easier on the wallet).

Photo 2013-07-19 8 46 12 PMEvening stroll in Old Montreal

After our dinner, we walked around Old Montreal; there’d been a downpour earlier which had cleared the heat from the city, and it was a beautiful, cool summer night. We ended up at the Kitchen Galerie where we indulged in oysters – so good!

The next day we went food shopping, hitting a bunch of gourmet food stores; I didn’t buy all that much, since I’m not the cook in the family and wasn’t too sure what would be appreciated and used in our pantry. I did buy a lovely chocolate chili rooibos tea, though – I’ve been trying to find one for ages (they’re usually made with black teas, and I wanted a non-caffeinated version). I also bought some lovely rosemary and sea salt bagels from St-Viateur Bagel (which, unfortunately, I forgot to wrap in plastic, so they weren’t quite as good the next day).

Photo 2013-07-20 2 39 31 PMLots of little shops!

On Saturday evening we dined at Le Comptoir, a lovely little bistro restaurant that also does some experimental things. We decided to share a number of plates, as it was difficult to choose just one thing. We ended up with a ravioli dish, a shrimp ceviché, Albacore tuna carpaccio and the absolute highlight of the evening: Paleron de boeuf braisé, cassolette de petits légumes, gnudi, estragon, sauge & citron. Or … braised chuck! Yes, chuck. We were both amazed when the waiter brought this dish to our table:

IMAG0436Yes, this is beef chuck!

It was very, very tender and tasty and, as you can see, nicely pink. This is not the way chuck turns out for us when we cook it here, that’s for sure! Dawn asked the waiter how it was made; he told us it was braised for 48 hours in a 50° oven.

(Dawn intends to replicate this dish, too, using a 150° oven, since that’s the lowest setting on consumer ovens.)

After our dinner, we strolled along boul. Saint-Laurent for a bit, before deciding we weren’t so full we couldn’t have more … oysters! We ended up at the Maestro S.V.P., where I learned west coast oysters have a hint of watermelon flavour. I think they’re my new favourites.

On Sunday we checked out of our hotel and then headed toward the Marché Jean-Talon, Montreal’s biggest public market. Dawn stocked up on veggies for the week, along with a vast assortment of deli meats (I didn’t know there were so many different kinds), cheeses and handmade pasta. I was a little too timid to try any of the deli meats but I did buy a couple of bison sausages for Ward, some pear and coriander yogurt and some lovely soft cheeses.

And then we started on our six hour drive home. It was a lovely, lovely foodie weekend. I haven’t been exercising for the past few months because the weather’s been too hot for running, but I’m promising myself I’ll start again soon. Because it was that kind of a really really good foodie weekend!

I’ve linked this post up to this week’s delicious Weekend Cooking feature at Beth Fish Reads. For more great food-related reads, hop on over and check out the other participating posts!

The Root of Our Current Kitchen Sorrows

It’s a sad, sad state of affairs in our kitchen right now.

You see, I am (temporarily) in charge of dinner.

Yes, you can feel sorry for my kids, they who must bear the brunt of this change in the domestic cooking arena.

And to make things worse, it’s all more or less my fault.

Early in February, I got an email from the Canadian Opera Company (well, I did, as did all the other subscribers to the COC’s newsletter). They had some interesting news: they were holding an open call to fill over a 100 “supernumerary” roles for their upcoming spring productions!

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, what’s a “supernumerary”? Luckily, the newsletter spelled it out for me:

Supernumeraries, a.k.a. supers, are the extras of the opera world and play a variety of non-singing roles. They are vital to enhancing the operatic experience presented on stage.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know the following about Ward, my significant other:

(1) he teaches martial arts for a living

and

(2) he’s the (one and only) cook around here.

What you probably don’t know is, he’s a huge opera fan. So when I read that email, I got really excited. “You’ve got to go to the casting call!” I said.

Ward was hesitant, never having even contemplated doing anything like this before. But I was persuasive, and when the date of the open call rolled around, off he went.

You probably know where this is headed, right?

Yes, Ward was picked to be a “super”: he’s playing the role of a peasant in the COC’s production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, the story of an order of Carmelite nuns during the French Revolution.

dialoguesPhoto credit: Canadian Opera Company

If you get a chance to attend the performance, which runs in Toronto from May 8 to 25 at the Four Seasons Centre, Ward says he’s in the front row in several of the scenes in which the supers play a part. Look for the tall guy with light brown hair and blue eyes, dressed in peasant robes. (Mind you, I think all the supers are in peasant robes. And there are about 60 male supers. So okay, you might not be able to pick him out.)

Ward’s been having a blast, attending the rehearsals, hearing some great opera almost every night, getting to meet some of the main performers.

The downside? I’m temporarily in charge of the kitchen. Because there are a lot of rehearsals in the evenings, both during the week and on weekends.

Which means, no one to cook dinner.

So far, we’ve been having a lot of takeout. As I mentioned in my last Sunday Salon post, I’ve even taken to doing the 40 minute walk to Chinatown to pick up congee and Chinese donuts (which Wikipedia tells me is called youtiao) and then doing the 40 minute walk back. The walking is a good thing, because having a lot of takeout does not add up to a particularly low-fat diet, if you know what I mean.

Then there’s that good old standby, grilled cheese. And sandwiches. I am particularly gifted in putting together ham and cheese sandwiches. I will even cut off the crusts if you so desire.

And let us not forget frozen lasagne. Thank goodness for frozen lasagne. It kind of feels like a home-cooked meal. So far we’ve tried two kinds: the Longo’s store brand and the President’s Choice brand from Loblaw. Everyone here likes the President’s Choice one better.

Now I just have to get through most of May.  If  you have a suggestion for a quick and very very easy dish that even I can make, please please please let me know in the comments. My children will thank you.

Since this post mentions food to a certain degree (although it mostly discusses the root of our current kitchen sorrows), I’ll be linking it up at Weekend Cooking, a regular feature that runs every Saturday at Beth Fish Reads.