Saturday, October 31, 2009

More tricks than treats

I feel as if supper isn’t important tonight. I went to an Open House gathering this afternoon where there were lots of great snacks. The D.M. has gone to a football game with some buddies and I’m in the midst of handing out treats to those who are brave enough to come up our walk.

So instead of the usual, this spooky night seems like a good time to consider some of the cooking mistakes I’ve made this year.

Stupidest had to be the time I filled chocolate-lined wafer cups without paying enough (any?) attention to what I was doing. I’d meant to pile yogourt into them, but instead grabbed the wrong yogourt container – the one I’d used to make the week’s homous. I can only figure I must have had a cold so I couldn't smell the garlic and had my eyes closed too. Because I was making a dessert for just the two of us, I rinsed out the chocolate wafer cup and started over. The resulting dessert looks okay. As I recall, it tasted fine too.

Then there was the time I answered the phone while a pot of jam was coming to the boil. I didn’t think I’d talked very long, but when I turned back to the stove, the pot had transformed into a volcano, with red lava shooting onto the floor and streaming down the cupboards. Can’t imagine why I didn’t take photos of that mess. Maybe I was too focused on the massive clean-up job.

Hard to guess what this mess is?

Clue number one: Those aren’t tadpoles suntanning in the pot.

This is the aftermath of by far the biggest glitch of the year. And no, I didn’t grab my camera while it was happening. Fortunately, I had the sense to grab a pot lid and douse the flames that were starting to rise from the pan. Worst of all, it was a batch of precious garlic scapes I’d only meant to lightly brown in olive oil. Yikes, and it wasn’t even my own house that I nearly burnt down.

Hopefully, the only things burning tonight are the candles inside our jack-o-lanterns.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Just say "Cheese!"

It's a Friday night pizza night, so that means plenty of cheese. We rented a couple of DVD's, so there's some more cheese.

Heck, there's even blue cheese on the salad.

Cheesy, eh!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A green and white meal

Maybe I've had too many colourful suppers lately. More likely, it was the ingredients on hand. Whatever the reason, tonight's supper seems limited to foods that are green or white.

A colleague had Brussels sprouts galore, so brought some to work for sharing. And then there were those two avocados in the fruit basket, soft enough that I knew they needed to be used. I'd considered using them for something Mexican, but the arrival of the sprouts made me shift gears to pasta.

Yep, once again it's the old stand-by: linguini with basically a guacamole stirred into the pasta, along with butter and oil and onions and garlic and lots of Parmesan cheese.

Because there was a nub of cauliflower that still looked good, I cooked that in with the sprouts, adding to the green-and-white theme.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yet another observance

Tonight was another of those Ladies' Nights I often go to -- one of those meals where the potluck is exactly that. Nobody gets together to plan any menu. Each of us just brings what we feel like bringing.

Oddly enough, just as last night saw us commemorating the passing of one grandmother, tonight is the anniversary of the death of my grandma (or as we always called her, Mayme).

To honour her, I made a dish she was famous for -- sauerkraut with country-style ribs (the brownish food in the little grey-and-blue casserole dish).

Pat had set the most beautiful table, complete with fallen autumn leaves and candles. And then, look how perfectly the colours of the dishes coordinated with each other -- the orange of sweet potatoes (topping a delicious chicken/mushroom combo) and the bright red on another chicken dish. Apparently, that recipe called for crushed potato chips over top, but since she didn't have any of those, our resourceful 'lady' used red taco chips. What a nice touch!

As always, at these suppers together, we talked of many things, enjoying each other's company. I know that Mayme would have loved being there. The only thing that might have disappointed her? That we never got out the playing cards.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An observance

It may sound odd to some, but today marks the anniversary of the day the Dear Man's grandma ('Maica') died. We always mark the day by lighting a candle for her and placing her photo in a prominent place.

Tonight's supper is one we both decided she'd like: fried fish, mamaliga (polenta) with mushroom sauce, green beans and of course, a salad. The D.M. even whipped up the tiniest dish of his special Romanian garlic sauce.

Maica was one of the first persons to welcome me into the D.M.'s family, and even though I didn't speak much of her language, I believe we understood each other well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Soup and sandwich

…a Monday night classic. It’s another of those evenings that see both of us heading off to other commitments. So, soup and a sandwich seemed the perfect solution. Easy to fix, easy to eat, and not much of a mess to leave behind.

For the soup, I used the second half of the squash we’d started on Saturday. I cooked it into some chicken broth (from chicken stock cubes), added some curry and cumin, and let it render itself down until it wasn’t watery. The dollop of cream on top was the last of the garlicked sour cream I’d made up for a vegie dip (appies) last night. It gave just the right bit of contrast to the light spice of the soup.

Thick chunks of ham on a bun made a great accompanying sandwich. What a good use for leftovers from last night (and from the night before). Tomorrow, it’ll have to be something new. Hmm, already I’m thinking: what’s fer supper?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Warm and cozy

It was a dark and stormy night... er, day.

Just about everything cooked in the oven, including a big pan of apple crisp that made the house smell even cozier when the troops arrived for Sunday family dinner.

Scalloped potatoes, another squash from Trauma Farm, green beans, corn, and great big hunk of ham. I'll confess one of the reasons I bought the ham was to get some bones I can put in the freezer for making soups over the coming rainy season.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Using and renewing the garden

A beautiful day meant a great day for cleaning up the little kitchen garden and planting the garlic we'll enjoy next summer. I'm excited at the prospect of two distinct varieties, cloves I got last weekend from my friend Sharon at Trauma Farm. Since she also gave me some squash, I decided to build a supper that would put that autumn vegetable to good use.

When I sorted the cloves for planting, I set aside those that were flawed and used them to start a pot with olive oil and a pack of Italian sausages (from the freezer). I gradually added bits from the last of the garden -- assorted tiny tomatoes (red, yellow, even green), the last stunted eggplant and a few branches of the year's oregano that's drying in the pantry. Contents of this pot became the topping for Thursday's leftover pasta (which steamed up just fine). It was also good over top of the baked squash.

One of the heritage apples Trauma Farm made a nice addition to the salad. But the crowning touch was bread and the fabulous cheese I bought on Salt Spring, not one I'd easily find around here, farm-made sheep cheese.

Our supper was delicious, yet looking at this meal, it struck me that aside from the curly pasta, this is how our ancestors ate -- the lucky ones at least.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Late post, odd little supper

I spent much of the day in Vancouver -- riding buses, navigating rapid transit, walking around Granville Island at the Writers' Festival.

The Market at Granville Island positively teems with food. I treated myself to all kinds of treats, even fresh mangosteens.

Because I'd kind of 'grazed' all afternoon, I didn't need much of a supper. A girlfriend and I shared a bagel that was slathered with herbed cream cheese and delicately smoked salmon.

She got the plate, I got The Georgia Straight -- food for thought as well as food for supper.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The colours of autumn

Gold and red and orange -- and mushroom.

The day before yesterday, when we took that forest stroll, we found a species of mushroom we weren't sure of. So the DM went to The Book, we compared notes on what we'd observed, he even did a spore print to see what colour would result.

Turns out, they're not only edible, they're delectable, so they became a nice addition to tonight's meal of doctored leftovers.

I'd picked out the potato and carrots from the other night's pot roast and was left with some beef and a nice, rich gravy. All I had to do was heat that through and add some sour cream -- voilĂ , instant stroganoff (or reasonable facsimile thereof). With that over top of some eggy wheat noodles, we had ourselves a main dish. And sprinkled over top of that, the fried-up mushrooms -- magnifique!

Using up some boiled eggs gave us a second protein (plus more salad, more colour). And of course, we had our usual green salad -- tonight flecked with chunks of carrots and walnuts. Lovely colours to complement a colourful season.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Turkey always gets a bad rap as a food that makes us sleepy, even though research suggests it’s probably holiday overeating that tires us so.

Our family’s long held the theory that certain overly-processed foods actually do make us sleepy. In fact, we’ve got a name for this phenomenon, Junk Food Poisoning, or for short, JFP.

Because the Dear Man had an evening commitment at work, this meant a meal for one. And it’s probably just today’s rain, but something made me want comfort food for supper. Only the comfort food that came to mind was one that’s notorious for causing JFP.

Even though I’m meeting a friend for a movie tonight, I blithely opened the box and poured the noodles into the water. I did at least add some tinned salmon to my salad.

Still, fingers crossed that I make it through the film without the dreaded JFP kicking in!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Really good pot roast

I was so glad I'd thought of this early in the day, as slow cooking seems to be the secret to any good pot roast. Beyond cooking slowly for a long time, the addition of lots of horseradish also seems to make a difference. In fact, I slather the stuff all over the meat before I brown it.

Then, when the DM came home, we went for a nice walk in the forest. Just before we left, I added potatoes and carrots, so when we got home, all that needed doing was some salad.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Home Sweet Homely

What could be better on a greyish Monday than a big pot of cooked-all-day soup?

Open-faced cheese sandwiches, melted under the broiler make a nice complement to a bowl of green pea soup.

And salad? Tonight it's a garlicky dill pickle.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Welcome home surprise

One of the best parts of going away is coming back home. And lucky me, to come home to not one, but two great surprises.

A hot bath was waiting and . . . supper was in the oven.

The DM had assembled a wonderfully exotic casserole built from leftovers of all he'd been eating over the weekend. There was everything from chicken to Chinese noodles, with a lot of assorted vegies and flavours in the mix.

Even a salad, with a few grapes tossed in as an extra surprise.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Girls' Night Out

The birthday celebrations are continuing, tonight with a meal at a nearby restaurant. Who knows what will be on the menu. Trust me, I'll report with pics when I'm home again -- and not on somebody else's computer (and not on dial-up either).

I have a feeling I'm supposed to put on reasonable clothes and comb my hair. Lord knows, maybe even make-up. We'll see.

- -
Happily, nothing fancy was required: one of the joys of island life!

The treat of eating out is that everyone gets to choose their meal. I chose a spicy squash stew topped with lamb. Very lamby, very squashy -- also very yummy (especially the delicately flavoured coconut rice that came with it).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Girls' Night In

Actually, it's a girls' weekend. We're starting out tonight with one of those food groups women seem to love, pasta. In our case, that translates as lasagna for the main course. It's a potluck kind of supper, with everyone bringing something towards the meal.

No photo possible, as I'm using someone else's computer, and am on dial-up, rural style.

More notes and a pic when I'm home again.

- -
Home again, so the photo is there, though really the meal was so much more than what shows. We had so many appies we could hardly take a bite of the wonderful lasagnas (one meat, one veg). And then, there was an apple-and-blueberry pie. Oh my!

As one of our group put it, "I feel like a snake that's eaten a chicken!"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Something new

Chicken in the oven was my plan for tonight's supper. But what kind of chicken? As always, the big question.

But when a recipe for Tamale Pie stared up at me from the paper, I thought, hmm -- Mexican.

I poured some green molé sauce (from a grocery store in Mexico, bought when we were there in March) over top of the chicken and started gathering things for the 'pie'.

Turns out I was missing a few of the ingredients, so I improvised with what was on hand. Really, I wasn't about to drive or walk to the store to get a bit of corn and cilantro. Somehow I knew we'd survive, especially when the Dear Man started chopping jalapeno peppers and popping them into the oven too.

With some fresh tomatoes, lettuce and a squished-up avocado, it's a feast, maybe even a fiesta!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The kindness of friends

After days of freezer- and pantry-based meals, today was the day for replenishing supplies.

When I got to the produce store and saw all those different coloured peppers on sale, something must have gone off in my head. Next thing I knew, I'd committed to the plan of making antipasto. But while chopping, I carried the shred of a supper plan in mind.

Yesterday we visited friends who gave us a big chunk of their Thanksgiving leftovers. In their case, that meant BC salmon he'd caught. She'd mentioned curry as a nice way to serve the leftover fish. And I remembered the leftover rice dish that only needed a heat-through.

With big chunks of veg set aside from the antipasto, the supper was fast and easy, even if the kitchen was completely upside-down.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A wild mix

Tonight's supper is a mix -- and I mean that both literally and figuratively.

The base is a pasta mix that's been languishing with the camping stuff -- a packet of something called 'spaghetti Alfredo' -- a fast cooking version of the more traditional linguini and cream sauce dish.

But the supper's also a mix in the contrasts presented by what we poured over top of that convenience food pasta. There was nothing mixish about it.

I had some boneless pork I'd been saving for a stir-fry. Instead, I used it as the base for a mini-stew. With an onion, some garlic and two lonesome carrots, it rocked up to be something presentable -- especially with its slow-cooked centrepiece, a large cauliflower mushroom.

One of those little voices in my head convinced me to add add a bit of barbecue sauce to the stew. And yes, that was exactly the right touch.

Slightly wilted beet greens steamed up nice enough to serve as a nutritious side. A very cozy supper on a day that feels like the one that could indeed be the big change from warm days to cool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thankful for all that's around

I'm not a gardener. If a plant comes up on its own and survives, I'm thrilled. Beyond that, nothing stands much of a chance.

Still, I'm grateful that we have a few remaining clingers-on in what passes for the garden here, especially as I decided to celebrate our thankfulness by staying away from the shops and making do with what we had on hand.

There was one Cornish hen waiting in the freezer for just such an occasion as Thanksgiving, so she became tonight's main dish.

On the weekend we did a fair bit of foraging and came up with some windfall apples and Asian pears. Today I combined a few of those apples with some straggler berries still hanging on to the blackberry bushes out back. There were even two last-gasp raspberries out by the fence. Because they too went into the mix, I think I can get away with calling the resulting dish a fruit compote, one that serves as a nice substitute for the traditional cranberry sauce.

Since we found so many mushrooms yesterday, the stuffing for the little bird was abundant with chanterelles and corals. A red rice casserole baked in the oven at the same time as the bird. It too was full of mushrooms, mainly big chunks of chanterelles.

One stunted squash worked well as first veg; a panful of sauteed lobster mushrooms did an admirable job of backup.

The salad was a bigger challenge, as there were only a few little tomatoes left on the vines outside. I added some onion, a bit of parsley from the garden and sliced up the last of the lettuce (the bits we didn't use in our sandwiches yesterday). The butt of a chunk of blue cheese played a role in making the salad both filling and festive. A few walnuts from the pantry were the holiday topper.

Although I felt less successful with the drink I tried to make from rose hips (we pruned a gigantic bush like crazy today) and the very last quince, the combo turned out to be more than just scent for the kitchen. A drizzle of it over top of the Cornish hen added exactly the right smoky flavour, as well as a bit of colour.

Even the bouquet on the table was part of the day's found bounty. A good day to give thanks.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bushwalk supper

Too tired to say more now.

Blanks will be filled in tomorrow, I promise.

- -
Well, it's taken most of the day for me to sign on. Even though today found us back at home, it was a day for bucking up chunks of wood for the woodpile and dealing with the windfall treats we foraged on the weekend.

But back to Saturday's supper: After a day spent hiking and tracking down a variety of wild mushrooms, we stopped before dark for a roadside picnic. It was a matter of using up what was left in the cooler: bagels, Swiss cheese, and meatloaf.

The hearty sandwiches kept us going until we made our way home. After a stop in the bath, little bowls of broth served as nighty-night snacks.

And tomorrow, the day to give thanks!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's a pub night

We're still on our getaway weekend and about to head out for a stroll about town. I suspect we're going to end up at the pub for some kind of burger or sandwich. Maybe watch part of a hockey game -- or if there's a band, stick around for a dance or at least a listen.

Because this is a holiday, I'm shutting down the computer now, but will settle the mystery of tonight's "What's fer supper" when we're back home tomorrow, whenever that may be.

Lots to be grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend (and always).

- -
As it turns out we did one of our 'sharesies' plans. An order of steak and prawns (with spicy potatoes and squash soup) plus a plate of assorted appies -- chicken wings, vegies and dip, onion rings, zucchini strips and more.

Divided up onto two plates, each of us had a wonderfully varied meal: half a steak, a few prawns and all those other tidbits to sample. Very tasty and very fun.

And yes, we sat around and watched a period of hockey -- Edmonton and Montreal. Very Saturday nightish.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Getaway takeaway

Even though it's Thanksgiving weekend, we've hit the road. Most of the family seems to have had the same idea, so it's not as though we're hurting anyone's feelings.

We're camping out in our hotel room for supper tonight, having an assortment of takeaway sushi treats from a little place just down the street.

I thought the addition of a tiny 'bouquet' might make the meal seem slightly more civilized, or at least more Japanese. So I pinched a flower from the extravagant hotel garden and tucked it into the tiny bottle from the comp shampoo I'd just used.

No matter where we are, I like to think of supper as a special meal. In my mind, tonight's styrofoam serving plates are our very best china.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Not your average Thursday in Springfield

I know, Homer Simpson likes meatloaf on Thursday. Depending on your point of view, that either puts us in good or bad company. Whichever camp you choose, I don't think there was anything Homerish about what we ate tonight.

As is usually the case around when it comes to dishes with ground meat, the meatloaf was made from buffalo.

After last night's mostly-vegie feast, quite a lot of rice was left, so I stirred up some onion and swirled up the rice with oil and soy sauce for a different sort of side dish. Frozen peas at the last minute gave it some colour and a bit more veg-content.

But the best side dish of all had to be the fresh oyster mushrooms -- ones we found yesterday out on our stroll through the forest. Cooked in a bit of butter (not margarine, no way), they were light and delicious.

Definitely not a meal that would make anyone say Doh!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hot stuff!

After a late afternoon walk through a nearby forest, a spicy hot supper sounded just right.

It started with eggplants from the garden -- one the traditional purple, the other a white one.

Once those started heating, I gradually added other vegies to the mix. Onions, garlic, half a red pepper, a few bunches of baby bok choy.

There was half a packet of prawns in the freezer, so they got a quick defrost under cold water.

Flavouring was Thai red curry paste and coconut milk. Topping it off were some of today's mushroom findings: a bit of cracked bolete, a solitary chanterelle, and a few bits of coral (you can spot one on top of the mix, to the left). Served with rice, it was hot in both temperature and seasoning. Just what a couple of bushwalkers needed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thinking about yet another birthday

The date was actually last Tuesday, but today’s the day I’m honouring Betty, the person whose butter tart recipe I still use every Christmas.

Besides sharing that secret formula, she also taught me how to make the best macaroni and cheese. In fact, she sometimes signs her cards “Mac ‘n Cheese Betty”.

Because I didn’t have any green onions, I used some finely chopped purple onion and chives from the garden. The ingredient that makes this recipe so delicious is lots of chunked-up fresh tomatoes. Luckily, I had three beautifully red and juicy ones.

Sometimese I add onions and tomatoes to the dish everyone knows (and secretly loves), the brand-name boxed version. Yep, it takes it up quite a few notches!

Even if she lives too far away to join us, broccoli and a salad make this a supper worthy of a wonderful birthday gal.

For the record, we even had the last of the traditional birthday-celebrating cake (made by another person named B) for dessert.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dashing out the door with a dash of spice

It's one of those nights when both of us need to be out of here fairly early (and in opposite directions at that), so the supper is one that's ready whenever -- an arrangement which makes it easy to just grab some and dash out the door.

A pot of chili's been spicing itself and the air in the house for the better part of the afternoon. It's buffalo-based and even has a few dried honey mushrooms in it, just to add to its mystique.

Besides the bowl of chili, some sliced up vegies and a bit of homous -- and then I'm dashing out the door.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lucky me!

Sometimes when I'm on my own for a night I get invited out for supper. Tonight was one of those lucky times.

The best part was that everything was made from scratch, with love.

The chicken soup started out as a locally-raised organic hen. The soup was packed with spaetzle (yummy German noodles). There was also a crunchy salad and twice-baked bread with a seriously delicious crust.

Too bad the photo of the dessert didn't turn out. Backyard plums made into a grainy-topped crisp, topped with a spectacular swirl of real whipped cream.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm thinking 100 miles, but can't be sure

It was the day for the last lawn-cut and some clean-up outside. As that kind of work so often does, it led to a fire in the chiminea with the main course cooked out there.

Tonight we had freah halibut steaks, always a favourite around here. I made mamaliga (the polenta-type dish) and a mushroom sauce. Fresh tomatoes from the backyard were a nice addition to the salad.

We also had a nice piece of gorgonzola as a treat. Because I wasn't able to determine where that came from, I can't claim our meal as falling completely within the 100-mile limit. Still, I know that most of it was.

Friday, October 2, 2009


In Germany they celebrate Oktoberfest. Here, at least tonight, it’s a pizzafest.

Good thing it’s a Friday, as I can’t imagine pulling off such a lazy way to have a supper party any other night of the week.

A whole whack of pizzas – the plain old, store-bought, on-sale variety – but quite a few different kinds. Thin crust, rising crust, vegetarian, meaty ones.

With some added toppings and a big green salad, these made for a supper that didn’t bring out any complaints.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Half a birthday, half a game and...

...half a steak.

The T-bone was too big for humans (our size at least) to eat, so when it came off the barbie, we split it.

I stuck with a whole potato. They're smallish -- and yes, that's cottage cheese instead of sour cream on top. There was also some cauliflower with a cheese sauce I whipped up. Salad, of course, but that just goes with the program.

The program? First hockey of the season, even if I only saw about half the game.

Oh, and the half-birthday part? Today's my half-birthday. No foolin'.