Grilled leeks 3 2014

Grilled Leeks and Dealing With Customer Service

We all have those days where one thing is planned and after a few left turns you end up with something completely different. 

I had planned to do the oven roasted tomato sauce with pasta that I made last week.  I have an irritating quirk that I’ll take the time to make a grocery list and still forget something.  This time I forgot pasta.  I had to come up with plan b as our pasta attachment is making weird loud noises.  Not a good sign!

So I decided to do grilled leeks, the oven roasted tomato sauce over grilled steak, and roasted potato medallions. 

As I was prepping the food for the grill the skies opened up and sheets of rain just poured down.  I thought I was heading for plan c thinking I’d have to grill them on the stove top.  Workable but just not the same.  Fortunately at the last minute the skies cleared.

I kept the steak simple with just salt and pepper as I was going to use the sauce with it. 

Grilled leeks 1 2014

Cut the leeks to size and coat them in some olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  The ratio is 2 to 1.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Grilled leeks 2 2014

The leeks need to be grilled on medium heat, turning them as they cook.  Sear the steak on high heat.

Grilled leeks 3 2014 Grilled leeks 4 2014

Then I nearly derailed dinner again.  I got my mobile phone bill and saw they were overbilling me.  Whenever we travel overseas I get an international plan for the time we travel.  I call when we get back I call to get the plan canceled and prorated.  I’ve never had trouble with this before but they didn’t do as I asked so I made the mistake calling while I was finishing dinner.  It should have been a five minute call to be done while the steak was resting.  Wrong!  I had the bad luck of getting someone with a bad attitude and not the brightest bulb.  So while I was alternating being on hold and trying to get a supervisor I was plating and taking pictures.  Not the best combo!

Grilled leeks 5 2014

And I missed most of dinner with the family which, while my fault for calling, wasn’t cool!

Grilled leeks 6 2014

I did get a good resolution with someone else in the end and I got a thumbs up from the family on the sauce with the steak and the grilled leaks.  Just could have done without the twisty turns.  :)

Blackcurrant bars 6 2014

Blackcurrant Bars – On The Tart Side Of Life

We are looking at a blow for freedom as my mum likes to say.  What is it you ask?  Why getting rid of cable!  The bane of many of us.  I’m sure many of you have heard loads of horror stories lately about what happens when customers try to cancel the cable.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t have issues.  But it’s time to cut the cord as they say.  We only watch a handful of channels so it isn’t economical to have it.  Today we’ve been testing a digital antenna all round the house to find the best spot.  Where we live, we only get PBS but that is fine because with Hulu Plus and Netflix, we are pretty much covered.  The dogs spent the day looking at us funny while we stood in different rooms seeing if there was any improvement!

This weekend we also had a fun date night and went to see the movie Chef.  I really liked that movie.  Aside from a display of fabulous food the music was outstanding!  It was hard not to get up and dance. 

All the blackcurrants have been picked now.  I froze a bunch for later in the year but I saw a link to blackcurrant bars.  When I went to pin it it said it was a spam link but it sparked an idea.  I used my mother’s date bar recipe for the bar portion of it and then made up an apple blackcurrant jam. 

I did the jam ahead of time because the week got a little nutty.  Okay, a lot nutty.  Thank goodness for weekends!  But you can make the jam just before you bake the bars. Either way is fine. 

Blackcurrant bars 1 2014

In a small saucepan add a cup to a cup and a half of blackcurrants and a diced apple.  Add about a 1/4 cup of water and a few splashes of lemon juice.

Blackcurrant bars 2 2014

Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer until the fruit breaks down while stirring frequently.  Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of brown sugar depending on your taste.  Some like it to be really tart. 

Blackcurrant bars 3 2014

When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Melt 6 tablespoons in a small bowl.  In another bowl mix 1 cup quick oats, 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 cup flour, and 1/2 tsp of baking soda.  This is half the recipe of the date bars as the jam amount for the black currant is about half of what the date bar has.  Add the melted butter and mix well.  Press half into the baking tin.

Blackcurrant bars 4 2014

Spread the jam over the oat mixture.

Blackcurrant bars 5 2014

Put the rest of the oat mixture over the jam and bake for about 25 minutes until golden.

Blackcurrant bars 6 2014

This was definitely tart!  But my husband loved it.  :)

Wish me luck with the cable company! 

Eggs Benedict 7 2014

Eggs Benedict with Avocado

There was a break in the humidity this weekend which allowed us to take advantage of weather to do a lot of little chores in the garden.  I am a bit worried about the potatoes as the leaves are looking a worse for wear.  After some research I realised that we aren’t given enough nutrients for them.  Hopefully I can get that sorted this week. 

Still no sign of the parsnips.  I mean none sprouted.  I find it really strange so I’m wondering if the packet of seeds was any good.  Keeping fingers crossed we chased off the rabbits again this year.  We were dealing with squirrels and the rabbits snuck in.  One was bold.  I ran towards it making all sorts of noise and it just looked at me.  Guess I need to work on my technique. 

After several hours of puttering about I was in the mood for a hearty lunch.  I had an avocado and some homemade ciabatta bread so it was a small leap to eggs benedict.  Makes sense, right?

As delicious as this meal is there is some of juggling with the prep to get it all done at the same time.  I made a half recipe from the Fanny Farmer’s Cookbook as a 1/2 cup was enough.  Set up the ciabatta to be toasted and buttered, then set up the eggs to be poached

If you are new to hollandaise sauce definitely use a double boiler.  When I started I didn’t have one and so learned in a small saucepan. 

In the pan over very low heat whisk two small egg yolks.

Eggs Benedict 1 2014 Eggs Benedict 2 2014

These need to be whisked but not so much you scramble them.  Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and slowly add 1/8lb of melted butter while stirring.

Eggs Benedict 3 2014

Slowly add a tablespoon of hot water, dash of cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.  Stir for a minute or so until thickened.  

Eggs Benedict 4 2014

Layer the bread, avocado, poached eggs, and the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

Eggs Benedict 5 2014 Eggs Benedict 6 2014

This is such a treat when the egg is cut into and the yolk blends with the hollandaise sauce.

Eggs Benedict 7 2014

After a hard morning working in the garden this was a great reward. 

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 8 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Ginger Crumble, Now That’s a Mouthful!

The past couple of days our strawberries have been coming in and they are so delicious.  The netting over them has worked very well and the birds just have to do without!  Unfortunately they weren’t ready for the crumble we made for Father’s Day so I had to buy the strawberries.

Conor Bofin recently posted a recipe for rhubarb crumble with ginger.  As soon as our rhubarb was ready I was planning on doing a strawbery rhubarb crumble as crumble is a favourite in our house and our son loves to make the topping.  Conor’s idea of adding ginger was a light bulb moment.  Ginger goes so well with fruit so I had to add it to our recipe.

Even though our strawberries weren’t ready the co-op had some lovely organic ones.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 1 2014

Quarter a pound of  strawberries and place them in a small pan on medium heat.  As it starts to warm up add 1/3 cup of brown sugar.  Stir well as this starts to simmer.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 2 2014

Grate fresh ginger over the strawberries.  I used a chunk that was about 1 1/2″ all the way round.  If you really like the bite of the ginger use more.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 3 2014

Simmer until it becomes a chunky jam.  You don’t want the strawberries to disappear completely.  Set aside and slice the rhubarb into half inch bits.  I used 3 stalks for this.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 4 2014

Mix in with the strawberries and add to the baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Our son made the topping from the recipe in the Pillsbury The Complete Book of Baking.  1 cup of rolled oats, 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of softened butter.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 5 2014 Strawberry rhubarb crumble 6 2014

Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 7 2014

I was curious as to why the topping didn’t come out as golden as it usually did.  We found out the sugar was left out!  Oops.  But hey he’s 9 and I figure it doesn’t hurt for him to see why all the ingredients are important.  And I love the fact he wants to bake so I’m not stopping him!  Plus we were serving it with ice cream.  So we were fine.

Strawberry rhubarb crumble 8 2014

Adding ginger was a hit and it really worked well with the ice cream.

Pizza burrito 6 2014

A Hawaiian Twist For A Fun Dinner

We woke up to snow this morning.  Typical.  I was so hoping that the warmer days would have continued this week so I could get out in the garden and start getting veg in.  I’m getting a bit antsy to be outside!

Even though it was the last bit of tax season and all the craziness that goes along with it I was able to get some cooking done this past weekend.   I found a pin for a fun sandwich to make though unfortunately no recipe was attached so I just used it as an inspiration.   Our son calls this a pizzarito.  It’s a hawaiian themed pizza burrito.  So easy to make and the kids love it.

This is also great for when you don’t have a ton of time for dinner.  The longest bit is getting the chicken grilled.  Marinate thin bits of chicken breast in the BBQ sauce of your choice.

Pizza burrito 1 2014

Slice up some red onion and pineapple.  For those that love jalepenos slice up a few as well.  It adds a nice bite.

Pizza burrito 2 2014

Lay out a wrap and spoon the BBQ sauce and spread it out.   We used a somewhat sweet sauce but I’d recommend something on the spicy side to balance the sweetness of the pineapple.   Layer the sliced grilled chicken with the onion, pineapple, and cheese.  Then layer ham over the top.

Pizza burrito 3 2014 Pizza burrito 4 2014

Wrap tightly then heat up using a panini press or on the stove top like a grilled cheese.

Pizza burrito 5 2014

Cut in half and serve immediately.

Pizza burrito 6 2014

It was delicious and perfect for a fun dinner with the kids.

And now that tax season is over I get to finally start catching up with all the posts!  I’ve missed reading them all.  :)

grandma ice cream 1 2013

Pure Joy

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best source of joy.  Take ice cream for instance.  It would be a very rare thing that it would bring a frown to someone’s face.

I have good memories of my Grandma, she was a neat lady and I would have loved to know her more but she passed away a few years after we moved over here.  I’ll have to do a proper post as she was quite the lady.  But as summer is coming to a close and ice cream shops are closing for the season I am reminded how ice cream can make you smile.

This is a photo of her getting her first ice cream sundae stateside.

grandma ice cream 1 2013

She loved it!  :)

Chicken jhalfrazi 11 2013

Chicken Jhalfrazi? Yes Please!

I enjoy a good curry and I love the seemingly infinite amount of variations you can find.  I mentioned yesterday in my Naan post that my husband made a wonderful curry.  I think it is by far my favourite to date.  It is Chicken Jhalfrazi from the “Best Ever Curry Cookbook” and it is quick and easy with amazing flavours.

We followed the recipe the best we could but didn’t have all the ingredients the way they called it out so we adapted it a bit.  And we adjusted the portions to only feed the four of us, not an army.  :)

Chop a green bell pepper and a red bell pepper finely.

Chicken Jhalfrazi 1 2013 Chicken Jhalfrazi 2 2013

Chop up some fresh ginger, onion, and garlic.

Chicken Jhalfrazi 3 2013 Chicken Jhalfrazi 4 2013

The recipe calls for 1 1/2lbs of chicken breast to serve 4!  We used about 1/2 lb.  This was cut into small cubes.

Chicken jhalfrazi 5 2013

Heat up an iron cast wok with some olive oil.

Chicken jhalfrazi 6 2013

Once the oil is heated add in the veg and stir.  Then add 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste depending on your taste.  The recipe calls for 1 tsp of cumin seeds and 1 tsp of ground cumin.  We didn’t have the seeds so we upped the ground cumin a bit.  Next add 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp chili powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir well then add the chicken.

Chicken jhalfrazi 8 2013 Chicken jhalfrazi 9 2013

We didn’t have 14oz of canned tomatoes but we are surrounded by fresh tomatoes so we chopped up a bunch of fresh tomatoes and added it to the wok.  Stir and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Chicken jhalfrazi 10 2013

To serve chop up fresh cilantro and mix into the dish saving some to garnish on top.  You can also add a bit of hot peppers as a garnish like my husband did.

Chicken jhalfrazi 11 2013

It was so good!  I’ve already asked him to make it again.  :)

Where to go next 1 2013

Now where do I go?

Where to go next 1 2013

It’s been a year of blogging now and I’m am trying to figure out my next steps.  I was hoping I could ask my fellow bloggers for advice on what worked and what should be avoided.

Basically I would love to grow the blog where I could contribute income to our household.  What I don’t want to do is make it this crazy commercial enterprise.  I really enjoy the the community I find myself in.  I love getting to know people and hearing how they are doing.  I do not want to lose that.  I don’t like the blogs that lack warmth and personality.  I feel there isn’t any point when it gets like that.

So I feel like I’m at a crossroads on how to do this.  What have been your experiences with taking the next step.  What do you find really annoying and would turn away people?  What don’t you mind?  What would you like to see more of?

Any comments would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Virginia

The Green Stuff is Growing!

This is our third year of doing seedlings and each year we have different problems.  This year’s problem is everything in the middle of the seedlings dries out and the seeds grow around the outside of the planter.  We’ll have to problem solve for next year.  Fortunately we still have enough to transplant and we should have a decent crop this year.  Though I was hoping for more tomato plants but we’ll see how that goes.

transplants 1 2013

Celery can be tricky.   I have fussed with this for four years now.  The first year we bought seedlings and they did quite well.  The next year I did seedlings and more than half died as I planted them.  We got a few that were wonderful.  Last year we did much better but these little guys, until well established, will die if you look at them wrong.   I was hopeful this year as I planted more than half a tray but we ran into the middle of the tray drying out frequently.  I hope to have 12 to transplant.  Fingers crossed.  Because fresh celery in soups is fabulous!

transplants 5 2013

Peppers are doing well for the most part.  We should have a bumper crop again this year.  We were overwhelmed last year but fortunately the community kitchen takes fresh produce and we could freeze some.  We have two sweet peppers and several hot peppers.  Great for hot pepper jelly!  Love that on cheddar.

transplants 4 2013

Our green house is officially open now.  I think.  We thought so a few weeks ago then winter came back and we had to pull everything back in.  Can you believe these leeks can get to be 5 feet long?!?  The seeds are so tiny!

transplants 3 2013 transplants 2 2013

We’ve been lucky so far with the pak choi.  These were transplanted earlier and so far so good.  Though we may need to risk it and transplant again.  We’re on the fence.  I’ll be direct seeding soon as well.

This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous and definitely springlike next week so it is time to get a few veg in!  So excited.  :)