April 30, 2012

Day 30 - Midnight Snack

Well, *almost* midnight...

And that, folks, is the last photo in the April Food Photo Challenge. I really enjoyed this one and I think that it was because I was never at a loss for what to photograph.

The highlight of the month for me, though, was seeing what my other foodie friends were snapping pictures of*. Not only were the challenge photos beautiful, the food and drinks in them were so inspiring. My friends have great taste! 

I am going to put all 30 pictures on my food blog so that I can go back and remind myself of what a delicious month April 2012 was. Now, on to the next challenge...

*especially the day that Laura K and I turned in near-identical pics of the fresh bread at LaGrotta Market!

April 29, 2012

Day 29 - Mix It

I used to be a mortar and pestle girl, but ever since my fella gave me this Jaime Oliver gadget, I have mixed and crushed all of my whole spices with a shake-shake-shake.

Day 28 - Guilty Pleasure

Narrowing down my "guilty pleasure" to just one thing is as ridiculous as it is impossible. I have more guilty pleasures than you can shake a peanut butter and chocolate sprinkle covered stick at. It just so happened that Saturday's errands included a little stop at Bulk Barn (aka "The Barn"), though, so my decision was kinda made for me.

And, yes, before you say "WTF? Her guilty pleasure is *granola*?", I should explain. You see, every time we visit The Barn, I run the gauntlet through seemingly endless aisles filled with all of my favourite things...tamari almonds, French burnt peanuts, Skor bits, chocolate in every form, vats of peanut butter and Nutella, trail mix, pretzels...it's enough to make a girl lose every last shred of restraint. 

But, I manage, and to reward myself for such strong will power, when I get to the very end of the last aisle, I treat myself to a little bag of the chunky supreme granola, which I eat in the car on the way to my next destination. It's fairly virtuous, in that it's basically oats, but there's enough sugar in there to make me feel like I am having a treat.  

April 27, 2012

Day 27 - Kitchen Decor

This is a framed menu from Chino Latino restaurant in Minneapolis. It lives on a tiny sliver of wall beside my fridge. The other side is a really cool poster print of a Mexican/Chinese guy, but I chose to frame it with the food-side-out for two reasons: 1) our dinner there was one of the most memorable ever and 2) whenever I can't decide what to cook, I turn to it for inspiration.

Chino Latino features an eclectic mish-mash of all of the best street foods from the world's "hot zones", from Pad Thai to a whole roasted pig dinner (72 hours notice, please.) On the night that we went, we had fish tacos, jerk chicken, and Mexican grilled corn that was so good we ordered seconds. And, yes, I fell off the veggie-wagon that night. I blame it on the massive tropical cocktails.

April 26, 2012

Day 26 - Salty

There was a time when I was allergic to salmon; even the tiniest bite would make my tongue swell and my throat close-up. The really sad thing was, I craved the stuff! (Maybe it was my body's way of testing my boundaries...will she off herself for the sake of a piece of salmon sashimi?)

Thankfully, I outgrew all of that silliness and can eat salmon, like this salty, flaky, smokey salmon, whenever I want*. Take that, histamines!

*Ok, maybe not whenever I want. Because I want pretty much all the time. 

Camp time! Well, almost...

The Mascot leaves for fishing camp in 79 days* and I am already tripping over his tackle box and duffle bag. You would think that he's leaving tomorrow!

I'm not saying that the boy has a habit of getting ahead of himself, but I wouldn't be surprised if his sleeping bag makes its way up to his room in the next week or so. (Apparently it's important to "practice" sleeping.) I'm also pretty sure that over the next two and a half months, there will be numerous viewings of last year's video, marathon list-making sessions, and lots of silly questions "What time are you picking me up from the bus? Will you be late like last time?" Shush.

As someone who lives for things to look forward to, I have to admit a certain level of jealousy. I know first hand how insanely beautiful it is out there on Shoal Lake and I have experienced the skin-tingling excitement when the P3 leaves the dock and heads out towards McKinnon Island. Sure, you're in the company of experienced staff, councillors and LITs, but there are no *parents* there. There are still people there to tell you what to do, but, chances are, what they are going to tell you to do is have FUN.

I have posted a link to this contest before, but here's another chance to enter for your chance to win a session at Manitoba Pioneer Camp PLUS a trip for two to Punta Cana. (Why should the kids have all of the fun??)

If your kid has not had the chance to experience summer camp, I would highly recommend Manitoba Pioneer Camp. The camp has been around for ages (obviously, since *I* went there) and has a long history of providing amazing camping experiences to kids in an absolutely breathtaking setting. The smallest of the camps in the inter-varsity family, MPC takes advantage of its surroundings with a wide variety of programs - from the "classic" boys and girls 1 and 2 week camps, to (the Mascot's favourite) fishing camp, a co-ed sailing camp, an LIT program, and longer, more extensive (5-20 day) tripping/wilderness camps. To check out the 2012 schedule and a description of the different camps, please visit the MPC website.

...and if canoing and sailing are not your thing, Circle Square Ranch is also offering a chance to win a session at camp for the kids, plus a trip to Punta Cana for you! If only the Mascot weren't allergic to horses (true story)... Click here to enter!

*But who's counting...?

I am proud to be an ambassador and alumni of Manitoba Pioneer Camp!
This post has been compensated; however, all opinions are sincere and all my own. 

Day 25 - Dining Room

Don't get me wrong; I love my house. I really do. In the almost 4 years that we have been here, I have only wanted for a handful of things: a self- cutting lawn, a fireplace, and a dining room. As in, a *real* dining room, not just a (cozy) corner of the kitchen.

April 24, 2012

Day 24 - Farmers Market

It's still too early for the farmers markets in Manitoba to open, so I figured that I would cook up a handmade nut patty and a pile of colourful veggies for dinner.

I had braised red cabbage, steamed carrots and broccoli, and a giant salad. This is the way that I eat in the summer - big platefuls of farm-fresh, seasonal veggies, prepared simply and served with a little protein on the side.

School Nights

On Sunday night, my fella and I took a break from the usual "night before the week ahead" routine and went to Bistro 7 1/4 for the first installment of School Nights. We joined other nattily dressed guys and gals for a couple hours of fun and, get this, edumacation. 

In addition to an eye-opening flight of martinis (dirty, burnt, and voodoo), we were taught proper tie-tying techniques by Luke Nolan of the Haberdashery. I wore my favourite vintage necktie for the event, which received the classic Windsor knot, and R traded his skinny in for a very dandy bow tie. (He practiced and practiced until he got the knot just right.)

The event was organized by a couple of the city's lovliest social media/foodie darlings, Sarah Zaharia and Talie Syrie (aka The Tallest Poppy), and will continue to run on Sunday nights in the lounge at Bistro. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us. Going out on a school night has never been so fun!

April 23, 2012

Day 23 - Favourite Carb

My favourite carb, hands-down, is bread, delicious bread. 

In its most basic form, bread is little more than flour and water. A pinch of salt and a bit of yeast are enough to transform these two ingredients (which are, in the right proportions, *glue*) into something wonderful and, yes, magical. 

These stunning loaves were snapped this afternoon at La Grotta market. Sadly, none of them came home with me. With bread that good, I knew that I wouldn't be able to stop at one slice (or, let's be honest, nine slices). I'm going to wait until I can share a loaf, a big chunk of cheese, and a bottle of wine with my fella.

Day 22 - Go Green

I could've posted a picture of lettuce or kale or one of the 10 green vegetables currently in my fridge, but I chose instead to be a little less literal with today's challenge photo.

For me, a big part of "going green" has been making the move to eating clean. One of the ways that I can gauge the virtue of a snack is by the running water test: if it can withstand 10 seconds under a briskly running faucet, then it's probably a good choice. Or, at least, a better choice.

In this case, apple, yes; sprinkle donut, no.

April 21, 2012

Day 21 - Stovetop

I confess, I am a messy cook. My black bean burritos are so good, though, that no one is complaining.

Actually, maybe no one is complaining because I am the only one who has to clean this thing.

Day 20 - Favourite Cookbook

I am going old school on this one. My favourite cookbook, The Joy of Cooking, is also one of the oldest in my collection. (And, by "oldest", I mean that I have had it the longest after only The Vegetarian Epicure, which I received when I was 15 years old.)

I will admit that although I have only made a handful of recipes from the book, it is always the first one I turn to when I have questions about, well, almost anything. It's my batter-splashed bible.

My favourite recipes from the book are the chocolate drop cookies and the waffles*. They're not especially fancy, but I have made them again and again with always-perfect results.

April 19, 2012

Day 19 - Sweet Tooth

This is how the Mascot satisfied his sweet tooth this afternoon - a giant chocolate croissant. I, on the other hand, had an apple. 

As the French say, "a chacun son gout". 

April 18, 2012

Day 18 - Raw

Tomatoes at this time of year are generally pretty disappointing. These ones actually tasted better they looked, and, perhaps most importantly, smelled like summertime.

April 17, 2012

Day 17 - Favourite Knife

It's almost embarrassing to admit that my favourite knife is a $0.99 paring knife from the grocery store, but after careful consideration, it won out over all of the others (and there are MANY others) in my knife block. 

For one thing, it's hella sharp, but when it comes down to why I love it so much, I guess it's because it is so darn handy. That little blade can get into the tightest spots...and you should see what it can do to a mango. Plus, for less than a buck, I can use it fearlessly. If I break the handle or chip the blade, I can just pick up a couple more on my next shopping trip.

April 16, 2012

Day 16 - Before and After

Before: Raw Shrimp
After: Black Bean Garlic Shrimp on Stir-fried Vegetables

April 15, 2012

Day 15 - Sweetener of Choice

Stevia, Sucanat, Fair-trade Unrefined Mascobado, Palm Sugar, Coconut Sap, Honey, Splenda, Fructose/Luo Han Guo, Agave, Evaporated Cane Juice, and plain ol' white sugar... the list of sweeteners in my cupboard is almost dizzying.

When it comes to picking a favourite, though, I would be downright unpatriotic if I didn't choose maple syrup.

April 14, 2012

Day 14 - Groceries

Grocery day! After making my usual trip to buy veggies at Costco, I still have to make at least one more stop at a grocery store to buy "everything else". (Sometimes it's two of three stores, but thankfully not every week.)

One of my fave aisles in the grocery store is the "ethnic" aisle. Our Superstore (where I was shopping today) is relatively small, so an entire world of products can be found down just one aisle.

Today I saw Indian fritter mix, Jamaican potted meat, Danish canned heavy cream, more noodles than I could shake a chopstick at, and this delightful sounding product - Cock Brand Banana Blossoms.

I don't know what these would bd used for, but they had me at... well... let's just say they got my attention.

April 13, 2012

Day 13 - Fast Food

Ok, so maybe it's not technically "Fast Food", but it was pretty fast and it was most definitely food. This little veggie chick'n burger on a flatbread bun (with dijonnaise, ketchup, onions, lettuce, tomato and pickle) satisfied my mid-day burger craving, but was lighter on both my wallet and my waistline, and went together in about 5 mins. Plus, I didn't have to stand in line or eat off a plastic tray surrounded by OPK*.

The fact of the matter is, I don't eat Fast Food all that often; when I do it's usually Subway. If we are out and need to grab a quick bite, we stay away from the burger chains and gravitate towards places that are either alternative/healthy (Unburger, Boon, The Fyxx), ethnic (Wok Box, sushi, burritos), or local institutions (North Star, Sals). Sure, they usually take a little longer than the chains, but I am more than willing to wait a few extra minutes for food that has some soul. 

What's the big rush, anyway?

*other people's kids

April 12, 2012

Day 12 - The Oldest Thing in My Kitchen

I don't know if this is really the oldest item in my kitchen, but of all my vintage goodies, this is one of my favourites.

Are there faster ways to chop nuts? Sure, but this way is just so much more civilized. You simply drop your shelled "nutmeats" into the little hopper, turn the crank, and let the teeth of the chopper do their thing. The chopped nuts fall into the jar, ready for use.

Can't you just picture the 1950s housewife chopping up a whole mess of nuts for her signature cheeseball?

April 11, 2012

Day 11 - Vegetarian

Ok, I could have taken a picture of anything that I ate, or planned to eat, today. But, since this frittata was beyond delicious, it gets the honour of being my challenge picture of the day.

So, what was in it that made it so good? Sautéed red chard, onion, crimini mushrooms, chèvre, walnuts*, and, of course, eggs. After it came out from under the broiler, I popped it onto a plate and finished it with a swirl of balsamic syrup. It was perfection.

*Yes, walnuts. Trust me.

April 10, 2012

Day 10 - Plates

They say that you should eat for your training, and not train for your eating.

For me, it's all about balance - if I didn't eat good food, I wouldn't be able to work out as much as I do; if I didn't work out every day, I wouldn't be able to eat such good food.

April 9, 2012

Day 9 - Favourite Cooking Oil

Full disclosure: I don't use a lot of oil in my daily cooking. And by not a lot, I mean almost none. Other than a bottle of canola oil that I keep on hand for baking and a flax/olive/grapeseed blend that I occasionally mist on popcorn, there's no real "cooking oil" to speak of in my pantry.

Except for... well...

This can here is my dirty little secret. It keeps stuff from sticking without adding calories. Beyond that, I try not to think about it.

April 8, 2012

Day 8 - Family Dinner

When planning tonight's dinner, I made sure to include everybody's favourites. There was ham for the Mascot, creamed corn (in the cornbread) for my fella, and a heap of veggies for me. Ok, the beet and apple salad and the baked beans were for me, too.

On the menu:
Ham (for the guys)
Homemade Baked Beans
Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, Green Beans
Beet and Apple Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts and Balsamic Syrup
Green Salad
Pavlova with Berries and Pineapple

Obviously, this is my plate and I am not ashamed to admit that it is round two. Everything was so delicious that I had a hard time stopping. I had to keep reminding myself that I still had to leave room for dessert. And the Bernard Callebeault chocolates that my fella gave me.

Day 7 - Who's Cooking?

Me, of course, in my favourite vintage apron. I love to imagine the lovely young housewife that once owned it. I can only assume that she wore something more ladylike with it than cargo pants and bare feet.

April 6, 2012

Day 6 - Local Food

I don't know if buying a car is still worth a trip to Steinbach, but I do know that the eggs are worth it. (That said, I only have to go to the organic grocery store at the end of my street to pick up a carton.)

If you have never had a Vita egg, you don't know what you're missing. The vivid orange-yellow colour of the yolk alone has been known to make people (ok, me) gasp in surprise as they break through the white of their perfectly poached Vita.

And, they taste just as good as they look. I did a little taste with one Vita egg and one supermarket free-run egg (the brown one in the picture). Honestly , the supermarket egg was fine, but the Vita egg was so much yummier. Like, lick-the-plate yummy.

April 5, 2012

Day 5 - Kitchen Light

I hate, hate, haaaaate my kitchen light fixture. It's a big, dumb 80s fluorescent fixture that hums. Or buzzes. Or huzzes.

At some point, I am going to change it, but until I get around to actually doing that, I will continue to ignore it.

What fixture?

April 4, 2012

Day 4 - Homemade

I'll admit it; if it weren't for this challenge, the mascot would've had something decidedly less-exciting for dessert. But, since the topic today was "homemade", he got cupcakes. Homemade...and from scratch, no less.

The recipe that I used made just the 3 that you see here. It still needs a tiny bit of perfecting, but it's a good one to keep on hand when you want a sweet treat, but you don't want to go on an icing bender.

Day 3 - Unused Appliance

This picture is a bit of a Turducken. It's not just one unused appliance; it is an unused appliance *inside* an unused appliance.

Here's the story - I was searching for a place to store my (gigantic) new vegetable steamer when it occurred to me that our somewhat non-functioning dishwasher was just sitting there empty. So, rather than waste all of ghat storage space, I tucked the (gigantic) steamer (and all of its component) inside, shut the door...and promptly forgot about it. Oops!

April 2, 2012

Day 2 - A Childhood Favourite

Without question, the best food from my childhood has to be chocolate sprinkles, or as we Dutch girls call it, hagelslag. And, as any good Dutch girl worth her zout knows, the best use* for hagelslag is on buttered bread, toast, or a rusk.

Yeah, that's right. Chocolate on bread, open-faced, with enough butter to keep it stuck, and it's 100% parent-approved. Based on that alone, I would be willing to bet that Dutch kids are happier and more well-adjusted than other kids. Just sayin'.

I have managed to keep the tradition alive and the mascot is currently working his way through a big box of milk chocolate hagelslag, purchased from the Dutch Meat Market. My is the dark chocolate, but I still take a daily "taste" of the kid's hagel, strictly to check for freshness, of course.

What are your childhood favourites?

*Or, let's be honest, straight out of your hand or licked off your plate.

April 1, 2012

Day 1 - Morning Fuel

Oatmeal with dried cherries, cinnamon, raw pistachios and hemp hearts; honeydew, watermelon and pink grapes; black coffee.

Day 31 - Where I Go to Relax

'nuff said.