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Be Thankful

I’m not sure if my kids were looking forward to Thanksgiving because of the family day or because I’ve been saying for months “once it’s done you can play Christmas music.”  :)

Pretty sure it’s both! They had the day before off from school so they spent time making Thanksgiving decorations.  I love that they still get into stuff like this.  But what I really love is that they get the real meaning of the holidays.

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My daughter put this up in our dining room and it just warmed my heart.

Of course after Thanksgiving we are faced with what to do with the leftover turkey!   We did end up with less that I thought we would because of a mix-up with the order at the co-op.  I had ordered a 15lb turkey that would come from a local farm that employs and takes care of homeless vets and vets with head trauma.  So it was a win-win for us.

However, I got a message the day before picking it up from the co-op saying the turkeys came in “a bit small”.  I called back asking how small?  8lbs!  I’m sorry, that’s not a bit small!  That’s half the size!  Fortunately they had other options.

But back to the leftover turkey!

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After the usual having the turkey meal a couple of times and turkey sandwiches we floated a few ideas for dinner and the family consensus was to have a curry.  You would think we’d get sick of curry but there are so many variations and it seemed like a fun idea.

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I was in the mood for a Thai influence.  Because the turkey is already cooked, this is a very quick dish to throw together.  Which is what I needed because we were still working on redoing the room.

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and a couple of scallions.

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Saute for a few minutes and add a couple of sliced mushrooms.  Then mix in a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and about 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar.  Dice up a red pepper and grate about an inch square piece of fresh ginger.  Add to the skillet.

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Near the end of cooking add the turkey.  Finish with about 40z of coconut milk, a splash of lime juice, a tablespoon of red curry paste, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes.

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My husband made up his naan.  Sometimes I think I just make curry so I can get that naan!

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And because it was officially after Thanksgiving we enjoyed this watching a Christmas movie.  Let’s just say the kids are very excited about this season.  :)

 

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Definitely Time for Comfort Food

A week ago I was filled with such anticipation of being on the cusp of history.  Since then I’ve been in complete shock, along with a lot of the world.

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I wore my version of the pantsuit.  I don’t actually have one so a suit coat would have to do!  I also wore white and purple for the colours of the suffragettes.  I was excited!  But after the evening wore on I could see the writing on the wall.  Going to sleep that night I was hoping beyond hope that the numbers would be wrong. The first thing I saw in the morning was a message on my iPad from a friend in Scotland asking what the hell did this country do.

Clinton wasn’t great shakes but I am having trouble wrapping my head round the fact that so many people accepted the sexism, the racism, the ego, the inciting of violence, and outright lies of Trump.  It pains me that these weren’t deal breakers and in fact celebrated.  I don’t know what is in store in the next few years but I can’t say my normal optimism is in play.

It was also difficult talking about it with our kids.  Fortunately they are old enough to recognise what is right and what is wrong.  Let’s just say my daughter can’t wait to be old enough to vote!

In the meantime we have to get on with our lives.  Given we had another weekend of home improvement and how the week went, comfort food was definitely in order.

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Because we still have a ton of apples from apple picking I thought a pork hand pie with apple and sage would do the trick.

For the pastry I cut in 1/2 a cup of butter into 1 1/2 cups of flour and a 1/4 tsp of salt.  When the mixture is reduced to the texture of bread crumbs and they stick together, gradually add cold water until the dough comes together.  It doesn’t take much so add a bit at a time.  Cover and set aside until it’s time to fill the dough.

In a skillet heat up about two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add about 1/2 a cup of finely chopped onions and begin to cook.  Once the onion starts to become translucent add a pound of ground pork.  Finely chop 2 large cloves of garlic and mix in.

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When the pork is half cooked add a small handful of chopped fresh sage and a small handful of sliced fresh cranberry.  Then add a spoonful of mustard and about a 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

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Roll the dough out thinly and cut out circles.  I used a bowl for this.

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Fill one side of the dough with the filling.  I had filling leftover because I only needed one pie but that would be good for a later pasta dish!   Brush beaten egg round the edge of the pastry and fold the pastry in half.  Pinch with a fork round the edge and then put 3 small slashes in the top. Brush with the egg and bake at 425F/220C for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

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My husband made a fabulous dessert with apple and frangipane so it was a lovely meal.

Now that a week has passed I hope the grass roots efforts that are springing up to hold on to the progress we’ve made for equality and to make this place better continue.  It won’t be easy but we do have a voice.

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Mushroom Curry and I’m Getting Too Old for This!

As I sit here and write this post, I ache from the neck down.  Why?  Because my husband and I seem to really like saving money by doing house projects ourselves.  By last night we were seriously questioning our sanity.  Our current project is redoing our lounge.  We are hiring someone to do the drywall and mudding.  So maybe we’re finally learning.  Maybe.

But for three days this weekend we brought back the room to the studs. God the mess!  It gets everywhere despite our best efforts of blocking off the room.  Let’s just say me climbing in and out of the window is not the most graceful thing to behold.  But I can’t wait for the room to be finished so it’s worth the effort.

As you can imagine, not a lot of cooking happened.  No energy!  But this is a curry I made a few weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting.  This is a great dish for those that don’t eat meat.  It is also very easy to make on those busy nights.

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I made this on the mild side but you can easily turn up the heat with more chilis.  Again I used my “Best-ever Curry Cookbook” but as you know I changed it up.  Primarily because of the ingredients I had on hand.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Add about half an onion chopped and cook for a few minutes to soften.  Add 4 cardamon pods, 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin, 1 tsp of coriander, 1/2 tsp of garam masala, and a few pinches of black pepper.

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Chop up 2 garlic cloves and one chili, cook for a few minutes.  If you want this on the mild side remove the white and seeds from the pepper.  Add about 10oz of chopped tomatoes.  Season with salt and grate a 1 in/2.5 cm sq piece of fresh ginger.  Bring it to a simmer.  Half or quarter (depending on the size) of about 12 oz of mushrooms.  I used white button mushrooms.

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We also had this with the peshwari naan my husband made.

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This was a lovely warming curry.  My MIL, who isn’t the biggest fan of curry, really enjoyed it.  :)

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Chicken Dopiaza

It is amazing how fast a month can fly by with family visiting.  It was a great time but we’re now back to reality with getting the garden cleaned up before the snow comes.  Which doesn’t look like it will be long now for snow.  Higher towns around us got snow last night though for us it has just been bucketing rain.  This week we had the wind show up on time to shake the trees free of their leaves.

Autumn wasn’t as spectacular as it can be but it was lovely to see the colours, fortunately my in-laws were here for the short peak.  They got some really nice pictures to bring back home.

We’ve started a sort of a tradition of when we are all together we do a curry night.   I do two, one spicy and one on the mild side for my MIL.  This dish was definitely spicy but with loads of flavour.  I used the recipe for Chicken Dopiaza from “The Best Ever Curry Cookbook”but I changed it a bit.  One I was restricted with some ingredients and two I wanted this to use as few dishes as possible.  Especially since I was doing two curries!

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This would probably be a great dish for a cold given how much onion it calls for.  And ginger!  A cure for sure.  In a skillet heat up vegetable oil and add 8 cardamon pods, 2 bay leaves, and 2-3 chilis, chopped.   If you want this dish to be milder (crazy I know!) use less chilis and/or remove the seeds.

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Chop two small onions and add to the skillet.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped.  Cube about a pound of chicken breast and add to the skillet. While the chicken is cooking grate a piece of fresh ginger which is about 1″sq/2.5cmsq.

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Then comes the fun part, adding all the fabulous spices!  Add 1 tsp of ground coriander, chili powder, and ground cumin.  Add 1/2 tsp of turmeric, ground pepper, and sea salt.  Add a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Adjust the seasoning as needed.  If you want it even spicier add more chili powder.

The recipe calls for 8 small onions.  I bought 5 cipollini onions and quartered them.  Add them to the skillet and cook through.

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My FIL requested peshwari naan for curry night.  My husband looked up the recipe and made some.  I was a bit worried, given the stuffing, how it would pair but it worked really well.

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This had quite the kick to it.  One by one our eyes started watering.  But the heat didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the dish.  Like I said, possible cold cure!

Farm to Scarf

One of the things my MIL and I bond over is yarn work.  We both enjoy knitting and crocheting.  She also spins and while she was visiting we arranged to visit an old friend of hers who is in the business of fiber arts.  I tell you, there is a whole world beyond just yarn.    It’s completely fascinating!

Peg has a gorgeous farm where she raises llamas, sheep, and angora bunnies.  She also grows veg and flowers for the farmers markets.  Plus she has a shop called Friends In Fiber on Etsy where she and her business partner sell yarn they dye and spin.  Where she has the time to breath, I don’t know.  So it was very lovely she and her husband took the afternoon to show us round.

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There were two llamas but this llama was hilarious.  It kept marching back and forth, looking imperiously down it’s nose at us.

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I learned so much about the different fibers that can be spun.  Yak and camel are incredibly soft and when you blend it with silk, stand back.  And, of course, they can be spun with your everyday wool.

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I wanted to do something special for my MIL and I had bought a Jane Austin Knits magazine which have some gorgeous patterns inspired by Jane Austin books.  She picked out the pattern called Mary’s Scarf which was a lace pattern.

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To make it more special I asked Peg what yarn she spun would work for the pattern.  It was a lot of fun for all three of us to go through the yarn and various colours.  And, here’s the best part, Peg took the skein and make put it in a ball for me.  You know, the neat and tidy square that doesn’t roll away at the most inconvenient moment!

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The huge shocker for me was I was able to knit the scarf in less than a week.  Not sure how I pulled that off but I did, in time for my MIL to fly home it with her.

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I loved this yarn with the colours of a deep ocean.  I am completely hooked with fibers art and I got positively giddy when I found Peg gives spinning lessons!  My Christmas list is starting to get interesting.  :)

 

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Seafood Chowdah

Years ago, when my family had a small manufacturing company, my dad would make a fish chowder for the Christmas party.  Once he made it, that was it, I don’t think he was allowed to make anything else.  His dish was guaranteed to disappear.  I found his recipe that he used because I wanted to make a treat for my visiting in-laws.

Of course I couldn’t leave it alone!  I had to make it my own.  Good thing my dad is used to these kind of shenanigans.  It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t scarf down a bowl of his if it magically appeared before me.  It would not have a chance to get cold!

This is a very easy dish to put together, just make sure you have good quality ingredients.  No skimping!

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I found lovely cuts of salmon and cod at the co-op.  You want firm fish for this chowder.  I cubed three red skin potatoes and covered with water.  Bring the water to a boil and while the potatoes are cooking prep the other ingredients.  I chopped half an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.  In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and begin cooking the onion.  Once the onion is translucent add the garlic.  I couldn’t find salt pork so I chose to use pancetta instead.  If you find salt pork you do not need a lot otherwise you can overpower the chowder.  I chopped about 1/2 a cup of pancetta and added it to the skillet.

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Add a handful of fresh thyme and a 1/2 cup of dry white wine.  Cook for a  few minutes.  Once the potatoes begin to soften add the contents of the skillet to the pot.  Cube the fish and add that as well.

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Add enough water to cover the fish.  Don’t bring it to a boil!  Slowly cook the fish at a low simmer. It will gradually begin to flake without becoming tough.

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Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add a bit more wine to taste if you need to.  Wait until you are ready to serve before you add a cup of cream and two tablespoons of salted butter.  Warm through and serve.

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My husband made some homemade bread to go with this dish.  So good with butter!  And it holds up as leftovers.

Cranberry Chicken Pasta

As any parent knows, you hope your children hear you.  You hope that you instill in them the ability to make decisions with thought and compassion.  And you hope that it happens in a way that you can step back and let them do it.  Because if you are getting sick of the sound of your voice, you can bet they are too!

My kids were huge fans of Starbucks.  I wasn’t.  They are really expensive and so pretentious with how they name their sizes.  A big conversation in our house is how we want labeling on our foods and how Monsanto would prefer us to be kept in the dark.  And of course discussed the knowledge that Starbucks is a big supporter of the DARK Act.  So I was really proud of the kids when they, on their own, decided to frequent the local coffee shops from now on and support the local businesses.  They also discovered that was a way cheaper way to go.  A win win all round.  :)

There is a chicken salad at the local co-op that I enjoy with cranberries.  I originally thought to try to recreate it without the mayo and have it with a salad but the weather has turned.  Time for comfort food!  So I switched it up and decided to do a pasta dish with the chicken and cranberry.

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I did use sweetened cranberries for this because I didn’t want the dish to be overwhelmed by tartness.  In a skillet heat up 2 tablespoons of butter and add two chicken thighs, boned and cubed.  Toss in 3-4 cloves of garlic that have been chopped.

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Slice 3-4 mushrooms and a handful of fresh rosemary.  Add to the skillet with 1/2 cup of dry white wine.

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Add in a handful cranberries and cook for a few minutes.  Add a cup of heavy cream and simmer gently.  Once the cream has warmed up add 1/2 a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Once your pasta is cooked add it to the skillet and toss.

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Given it was a chilly rainy night this was perfect comfort food.  :)

Happy Anniversary to my amazing husband.  It’s been a wonderful six years and I’m looking forward to the many more we’ll have together.

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A Gooseberry and Apple Pork

Things have been very hectic this past week.  My in-laws arrived this Wednesday so no more doddling!  The list had to be done!  Well as much of it we could do at any rate.  Not only are my husband’s parents visiting from the UK but his brother is visiting from the west coast.  Which means our nutty dog is on the max chill pill we can give him.  Hasn’t stopped from doing the I love you, I hate you switch back and forth as they come into different rooms.  I love him to bits but he is a handful.

Last night I cooked a special dinner to celebrate everyone being together.  I did up leeks with mushrooms and garlic in butter and a cheesy chive mashed potato.  For the main event I had a nice piece of pork shoulder to use.  As I am trying to make space in our stuffed freezer I thought I would try a gooseberry and apple sauce to go with the pork.

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I will tell you how I made it so you too can have loads of leftover sauce.  I’m trying to figure out what to do with the leftover sauce but I may just freeze it for the next time we have pork.

About an hour before you begin cooking rub olive oil, cumin, sea salt, and pepper over the pork.  Cover and let it sit.

I found some pink lady apples at the co-op.  Peel and dice three of them.  Chop about a cup of red onion.  While you are doing this heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and begin browning the pork.

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Remove the pork and add the apple and onion to the skillet.  Cook on medium heat until the apple and onion begin to soften.

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Add about a cup of gooseberries and cook for a few minutes then add a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.  Pour in 4 cups of vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  I also added a few splashes of dry sherry.  Simmer for several minutes and taste to make sure the flavour balance is right before adding the pork into the skillet.  It’s easier to adjust at this point.   Put the pork back into the skillet, cover and simmer until the pork is cooked.

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Once the pork has rested, slice and serve.  I really liked the tartness of the gooseberries with the sweetness of the apple.  It is a very light sauce but holds its own if you know what I mean.

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Tomatillo Steak Salad

Autumn may be flowing in, thank goodness, but I’m not above having a nice salad.  Even though it wasn’t intended.  How would a salad happen accidentally?  It’s easy when you are having a flighty moment.

I definitely knew I wanted to do grilled skirt steak with a tomatillo sauce.  I was thinking a rustic type of sauce to act as the veg portion of the dinner.  That didn’t work out as you will see.

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We didn’t have much luck with growing tomatillos the past few years so we didn’t attempt it this year but luckily the farmer’s market had some.  Our garden has produced a bumper crop of hot peppers.  I just wish tomatillos weren’t so sticky once you peel the papery covering off.  Cut the tomatillos in half and keep the pepper whole.  Fire up the grill and roast the tomatillos and pepper until they start to char.  You don’t want charcoal veg as a result so keep an eye on this as it will cook quickly.

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As I said my plan was to have a rustic meal but I realised a grilled potato and a bit of steak wouldn’t cut it.  When I did up the sauce it became more of a dressing rather than a veg side.  So salad it was!  Using a food processor add the tomatillos and pepper.  I kept the seeds to give it a kick.  Throw in a couple of cloves of garlic, a teaspoon or so of cilantro, and a few splashes of lime juice and olive oil.  Blend.

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I kept the steak simple seasoned with sea salt, pepper, and worcestershire sauce.  Because it is grass fed be careful on how hot you cook it.  Sear then lower the heat.  Keeps it tender. Slice the steak and top with the tomatillo sauce. Any leftover sauce can be frozen for later.

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Curry Inspired Couscous

We still have tomatoes and aubergines coming out of our garden at a great rate so it is time to get creative so they don’t go to waste.  It was a crazy week last week with my husband traveling and with the kids schools stuff so I only got round to cooking a meal for the kids on Friday.  Well, I did feed them the rest of the week, not that much of a slacker!  But I stuck with the easy stuff I could do with my eyes shut.  I was in the mood for something curry flavoured and we had chicken on hand.  This could be done!

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I thought it would be a fun twist to use the Israeli Couscous I had on hand.  Cook that using the directions on the package.  First I prepped the chicken with a marinade paste.  I mixed a tablespoon of olive oil with a tablespoon of red curry paste, a teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 a teaspoon of cumin, and a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Mix well and spread it on the chicken thighs.

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Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and brown both sides of the chicken.

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Finish off the chicken in the oven.  Chop up a small onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.  Add them to the skillet and cook on medium low temp.

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Slice up the aubergine and several tomatoes and bring the temp up to medium to saute.

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Add 1/2 a cup or so of chicken stock.  Add 2 tablespoons of red curry paste, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of chili powder, a few dashes of garam masala, and a sprinkle of asafoetida.  As it simmers also add a few splashes of lime juice.  Stir in the couscous.

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The kids came into the dining room and said how wonderful it smelled.  I was a little jealous as I don’t have a sense of smell and the spices that go into curry can be wonderful.