Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a year!

The end of a year, and in this case, that means the end of a blog.

I suppose I’m lucky I missed one post back in March (when I was on a plane, but too much of a Luddite to have a Blackberry), as that gap now gives me this opportunity to do posting number 365.

When I started this project on January 1st, I don’t think I knew what I was in for. But it seemed more fun than the standard new year’s resolution, and when it comes to that part, I was right.

Over the months, I’ve discovered that things don’t always turn out the way we want them to – and I’m talking not only about cooking, but in plenty of other ways too. One result of this realization is that I’ve learned not to worry so much.

I’ve also learned not to be bothered by the crazy looks I sometimes get when I pull out my camera. Oddly, photographing meals at other people’s houses has sometimes been more awkward than taking pictures even in restaurants.

Although we’ve always eaten pretty well, what we’ve eaten may not have always been so ‘pretty’ as it’s been this year. But then, if that’s something else learned, that’s not such a bad thing. There’s much to be said for having food that looks appealing. I’m sure psychologists would bear me out and say appearance convinces people that food tastes better. And I would have to agree. It’s a bit like my not enjoying food off of plastic or Styrofoam. Give me a real plate every time. Please.

If you’ve followed many of these entries, you can probably guess that we don’t throw out very much. That’s partly because I’m a fairly sensible shopper. Although I like to buy what’s on sale, I don’t buy things we don’t like or more than we need. In turn, I suppose these habits allow us the extravagant treats we sometimes indulge in (like fresh halibut, one of my favourites). But the other part of not wasting is because I like the creative challenge of figuring out a way to use whatever’s around. Having a very deep pantry (and freezer) is also a huge advantage.

I’ve honed a lot of practical skills from doing this blog. I’m much faster at uploading photos, titling them, and writing my posts. I know my camera better and I’ve learned to keep the folders with my photos better organized. I also like to think that both my photos and my cooking might have improved some over the year.

I send thanks to my faithful followers, including those who weren’t signed on as such (special hello, B and T!). I wish I could have the bunch of you over to my kitchen, at least for some dessert – that’s one kind of blackberry I do understand.

Even though there won’t be new entries on this blog, I don’t plan to delete it. It will hang here in space (or wherever these things exist) until who-knows-when.. And I promise I’ll post replies to comments or questions you might pose.

By leaving these postings online, I hope they might serve as inspiration for those days when someone asks that question, “What’s fer supper?”

One…Use it all to celebrate

I like the idea of using up what’s around, more so than ever on this, the last day of the year.

First star on the menu are lobster tails from the freezer. The salad uses just about every scrap of green in the fridge. There’s a gorgeous goat cheese feta that’s been waiting for an occasion, and the last butt of the sourdough loaf has been transformed to garlic bread.

A great way to end the year, the decade, and yes, the blog. Happy suppers to all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two...a couple of goodies

...from the freezer. There are still a few bags of those bockwurst the Dear Man made in September. I got out a small packet and decided to bake them to warm up the house. There'll be a couple left as snackies for him when he gets home (tomorrow night, hurrah!).

The freezer also turned up a serving-size container of leftover red cabbage. To save on pots, that went into the oven too.

A few leaves of lettuce, a piece of bread, and some good mustard go with the sausage. But the finishing touch is the little dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For dipping lettuce or bread, this is what makes it a meal.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Three...eggy omelet

As year end (and blog-end) approaches, I'm doing my best to use things up. A small bunch of green onions is still in the fridge, unused and hanging about from the Christmas Eve meatball fest. To my eye, they're the start of an omelet.

Along with three eggs (I'm hungry!) and a bit of cheese, supper is ready in no time. Salad on the side makes it perfect.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Four...treats for me

After a day spent out of the house (again -- but this time because the builders were jackhammering, yoiks), I decided to stop by for takeaway Japanese food.

The picture shows how cute it all looks in its little takeaway box. Weirdly, I don't like the taste of eating food off of plastic, so before I ate it, I transferred the items to more normal plates. It just didn't look quite as pretty as it had.

There was also a container (which left its styrofoam cup for a lovely pottery bowl) of the always happy-making miso soup.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Five...quick and spicy

After being out for much of the afternoon, I came home cold and hungry.

What could be easier than rolling a couple of tortillas around some refried beans? The last of some jalapeno sauce went in with a bit of water, just so there'd be some liquid to keep the tortillas from going crisp. The hardest part was waiting for my supper to heat through in the oven.

Sure, I could have nuked the dish, but I like the way oven makes things hotter than the microwave seems to, and the way the food holds its heat longer. Or is this just something I imagine?

Whatever, while the two little roll-ups baked, I had time to throw together a bit of a salad, grate some cheese for melting over top of the burritos, and select the hot sauce that would work the best at finishing off the job of spicing things up.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Six...garlic and green

I'm on my own, so I'm having an easy supper with just about my favourite food group, pasta. I got out a package of pre-made ravioli, a 'gourmet' version, stuffed with spinach and cheese. For topping, my starting point is one of the little containersof pesto base I made in early September when the herbs were at their peak. The pesto base needs the addition of more olive oil, Parmesan cheese and nuts. Too lazy to get out the hand-held blender, I just mooshed the oil and pesto together in the pot, then sprinkled the cheese and nuts over top.

The high cost of lettuce this last week means I won't waste any of the spiny bits, so one of my pseudo-Caesar salads gives me an excuse to use the whole piece of lettuce. Besides, there was a half a lemon that needed to be used.

Lots of Parmesan on the salad and the pasta and I am a happy camper, even if I am reeking of garlic. Maybe it's a good thing I'm on my own for a few days!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Seven...a decidedly UnTraditional celebration

Turkey TV dinners. Not the usual Christmas fare, that's for sure. But then, circumstances this year are out of the ordinary too.

The D.M. has flown back east to spend part of his holiday visiting his mum and brothers and aunt and uncle. Jev's girlfriend is away at her parents' in San Francisco, and even though we had a few invites to turkey with the trimmings, he and I decided to do something totally different -- and together.

We're having a salad filled with walnuts and blue cheese to complement our silly turkey suppers, then afterwards, we're off for a night at the movies!

Merry, merry to all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009's all about tradition

It's one of those stories that everybody has -- the origin of a family tradition. In our case, it's tradition that Christmas Eve supper is always Swedish Meatballs, or the facsimile we've become accustomed to over the years.

It started, as our suppers so often seem to, based on what was at hand. In our case that was ground beef, noodles and sour cream. Over the years, the dish has been refined to include green peas as the side veg and chopped-up green onions over top. And the meat's no longer ground beef, but range buffalo; there's even a vegetarian version included as a choice.

Because our kitchen's still not fit for a group, we took the fixin's down to J & B's. Mark brought a Caesar salad and everybody was happy, especially with the appie platter J & B made. Crabcakes at the bottom (yes, with real crab) and pumpkin chips from Thailand near the top. Around the world foods to celebrate a special night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009



No -- way more than nine beans went into this dish.

It's a Hungarian soup that cooked while we went out (to see Avatar!). Fried bread with garlic over top is the dipper that goes with the soup. Closest name I can find for it is beans and buljina.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Countdown begins

...with a birthday celebration!

With our house still not fit for hosting dinners, B's supper was at the restaurant of her choice. Lucky us, she chose a nearby Thai place.

When our salad of Som Tam arrived, she reminded us that last time she'd had this, it had come in a bowl-sized bag, as she'd actually had it in Thailand. The salad was followed by a vegetarian appetizer, an assortment of fried tofu, sweet potato and taro.

The mains were assorted curries and a wonderful noodle dish I'd never had, Pad See-Iew -- the same fat rice noodles as in Pad Thai, but with vegies and meat in a thick, smoky-tasting sauce. Apparently this flavour comes from a special Thai 'black' soy sauce. Whatever, the dish gets my vote as one I'll order again.

Best of all, the birthday girl was happy.

What a start to the countdown that will end this year-long blog. If that was Ten, what's next?

Monday, December 21, 2009

A supper for the longest night

Today, the Winter Solstice, is traditionally a day for weddings. Longest night and all that, eh.

I found a news item today that said we crave more carbs this time of year. Something about the darkness, insecurity and all. Tonight's supper covered pretty well all the fat groups, and even added a couple of root-cellar vegetables.

Roast pork, with onions and cauliflower, baked in the oven this afternoon and made the house smell cozy. Homemade perogies from my friend, Linda -- so much better than the store-bought variety. Those tiny bits of onion and potato in the filling! A cheese sauce to cover any or all of it -- the perfect wintry blanket.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Million dollar meal

Or maybe it just feels that way, after the crazy day I had.

After spending waaaay too much time trying to follow someone's driving instructions, I may end up asking Santa for a GPS.

But I didn't need a GPS to find the way down to B & J's place where we tonight's supper is happening, along with the finale of Survivor.

B made the most beautiful slow-cooked chicken dish. Loaded with whole button mushrooms, it was rich and satisfying, and perfect over just-mashed potatoes. Broccoli done just-right in the steamer, and a crunchy cabbage salad.

Just at the corner of my plate you can spot a little bowl of B's delicious pickled carrots.

All I'm contributing is a dessert I'm calling "Survivor Pie". Foraged blackberries are the fruit filling; accompaniment is yogourt, and what flavour goes with Survivor better than coconut?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Plain and good

For stay-at-home Saturday night comfort food, it's hard to beat macaroni and cheese, especially when it's complete with tomatoes and onions. The mixed colours of the pasta almost make it look festive.

With broccoli and a green salad, I'm set for a relaxing night.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Yin and Yang

It started as a celebratory snack: takeaway sushi as a surprise to acknowledge the start of the DM's winter break from work.

Only then, when I did a fast supermarket shop, I grabbed a container of fresh oysters, thinking they could work their way into some complementary stir-fry as follow-up supper.

But some inventorying of the gifts we've prepared, followed by a couple of games of backgammon, led to it being time for supper. So, the whole lot got served together -- a mix of hot and cold foods.

The two little glasses up high on the left are the starters, a raw oyster in each glass, topped with fresh lemon and a dollop of hot sauce. Then there are the two plates of sushi treats with the cooked oysters (done with black bean sauce and chili oil) bottom right. The plate at the top right is steamed shrimp dumplings, part of our dim sum stock from the freezer.

Quite the mix, but a great way to start a holiday!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guilty pleasures

As the holiday countdown continues, it’s time to indulge in something lazy.

Tonight it’s another of our odd combinations: chicken wings and squash. The wings are a box of pre-made ones pulled out of the freezer, the squash is the standard Acorn variety, slow-baked with butter and salt and pepper.

A super-garlicky Caesar salad keeps the vampires and flu germs away.

The guiltiest pleasure of all? Eating this in front of the tv while we watch the almost-final Survivor.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green Eggs ’n Ham

When my kids were little, if I had a bit of ham around, I’d chop up the meat and cook it into scrambled eggs with a bit of green dye. Today, that would probably get me a fine for trying to poison them. They had lots of fun eating it and haven’t yet turned green.

Tonight’s version is much more a grown-up one – poached eggs on top of spinach, with some ham popped under it, just for a nice firm base.

Maybe not as fun as the original, inspired-by-Dr.Seuss-version, still, I’m smiling.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oniony stew

I don’t know what prompted me, but as I was adding the traditional potatoes and carrots to the beef stew I’d had on the stove today, I was taken with the urge to add thinly sliced onion. Only, make that onionS.

So, oniony stew it is tonight, with a salad full of green pepper and more sliced onion (the purple ones which are actually called red onions) and chunks of blue cheese.

Must be some craving, I’m just not sure what for!

Monday, December 14, 2009


There's snow falling tonight, and everything outside is turning white, so we're having colourful food.

A pan of chicken thighs baked in a made-up curry sauce, one I hope I can duplicate -- with these thrown-together sauces, it can be tricky. It was a couple of spoonfuls of Thai red curry paste, about the same amount of coconut milk, olive oil, and then a bunch of orange juice to 'water' it down from the pasty state.

When there was about 20 minutes left for the chicken (while the rice cooked), I mixed cauliflower chunks into the sauce with the chicken. This proved to be just the right amount of time, as they came out flavoured with the sauce and cooked, but not mushy.

When I shopped the other day, I discovered that the produce store had local mixed-colour peppers -- mini size, just right for dipping in homous.

Because I didn't have any Naan bread, at the last minute I tossed a tortilla into the oven. It even puffed a bit and was quite a satisfactory substitute. Next time I try this, I think I'll coat it with a bit of oil first -- might keep it a bit softer, from getting too crisp.

A supper with lots of colour, and lots of flavour too!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hearty stuff

A few pieces of bacon were left, after most of the pack went to make appies for the party last night. By luck, half a red cabbage was in the fridge. A slow-cooked cabbage dish made the house smell good and feel cozier – especially appreciated because it snowed today. Psychologically, the white stuff always makes it seem colder than it is.

Mititei (mee-tee-tay), a Romanian dish, is a relative of meatballs. We had some in the freezer, so we turned on the oven and baked those, even though they’d usually be cooked on the barbecue. Perogies seemed the just-right accompaniment.

Mmm. Happiness. Food that makes me want to hibernate.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bit of a snacky bite

We’re going to a party tonight, where there’s sure to be heaps of food. So the Dear Man whipped up a mini-pizza (from the freezer) to carry us through…

Should be fun!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Extravaganza

Colleagues from the D.M.'s workplace planned a celebratory meal at a restaurant -- a festive meal to get us into the spirit of the season. The tables were strewn with green and red foil-wrapped kisses; there were shiny ornaments at everyone's place and even Christmas poppers, complete with corny jokes and paper hats.

For starters, there were cups of pumpkin soup. Then came the salad. Mixed greens with shredded carrot and cucumber, mung bean sprouts and a deliciously fresh tasting dressing.

Mains meant a choice of pork, salmon or chicken. I chose the chicken rounds, which were delicious. Especially nice was the loosely (lumpily?) mashed potato wrapped in a thin layer of filo -- something I will have to try at home.

Dessert was a no-flour chocolate cake, complemented by unsweetened whipped cream and blueberries. Definitely a special meal!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Use it up!

Tonight's supper isn't so much a matter of using leftovers, as of using up the butts of things that shouldn't spend much more time in the fridge.

There was the corner of a ham and a few red potatoes (okay, they would have been fine a while longer), so an easy conclusion to come to was scalloped potatoes with ham. For part of the milk portion, I used the last of a container of cottage cheese. Not something I'd tried before, but I figured Why not?

Tomorrow's the day for going out to stock up on produce, so the last third of a pepper, a final chunk of purple onion and the non-bruised part of an apple went in with the lettuce for the salad.

A few tired green beans steamed up just fine for a spot of green.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Small cravings

The D.M. is out at a school Christmas concert, while I'm heading off to a reading, so he's grabbing something at a restaurant, and I'm satisfying a craving.

You can't get much more basic than peanut butter and jam, especially when the peanut butter is the simplest house brand. I love its list of ingredients: peanuts.

The jam is homemade, from the blackberries I tend at the back of the house. And really, nothing goes better with this than a cold glass of milk.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Tuedly, er Tuesday night -- time for an easy, cooperative effort at supper. Turkey bratwursts baked in the oven, while we chopped garlic and mushrooms, and caught up on the news of each other's day.

While the fettuccini cooked, we mooshed up avocado with lemon juice. Magically, a salad came together.

Lots of Parmesan cheese over top is always the crowning touch.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Supposedly, a 'day of infamy'

But not around here. Today’s more a 'day of in-family', as December 7th is the day my dad should have been celebrating his birthday.

At least he managed to get in some good travels before he died. One of his favourite destinations was Greece. So in his honour we’re thinking of him tonight by having moussaka, along with homous and Greek salad, as well as baked rounds of eggplant and hot peppers.

I think he would have enjoyed sharing tonight’s supper with us.

Cheers and Opa, JB!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Lots of amazing aspects to today, including the freezing cold temps and gusty winds. Even more amazing was that the bravest roofers in town managed to work on top of our house, in spite of the weather (without getting blown away!).

Lucky us, we were invited out for an amazing supper -- a lasagna-y casserole with whole wheat pasta, and so many fillings -- salsa, red pepper, cottage cheese, pork -- topped with Monterey Jack, one of the most amazing melting cheeses ever.

Part of the treat? The finale of one of our favourite reality shows, the one that starts with the word Amazing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fake pub night

After a day as stressful as today (getting a new roof), it feels like a night for a pub supper. Only both of us are too exhausted to think about going out. So, thanks to stock in our freezer, the 'pub' has come here.

Fish 'n chips (sweet potato chips, at that) with a side of fake Caesar salad. No romaine lettuce, just regular green leaf. Still, with croutons, garlic, lemon and lots of Parmesan, it works just fine!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Traditional

Friday night has long been a pizza night around here, only we haven't been so hard and fast with this rule as we used to be.

Tonight's version is pretty straightforward: pepperoni, mushrooms, green pepper, garlic, but half of it also has chopped cilantro. The rest of the fresh cilantro went into the salad. And then, lucky us, just as the pizza was coming out of the oven, a drop-in guest came to the door. With one more piece of lettuce into the salad, the three of us sat down to celebrate another TGIF.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Something to celebrate

Since two of my favourite men have pieces in an art show that's opening tonight, we're celebrating with Greek food at one of our favourite restaurants.

Only as it turns out, in the all the excitement, I didn't take a picture of our supper! Trust me though, it was beautiful -- a tableful of assorted appetizers. There was lots of everybody's favourite, calimari with tzatziki, and much more: chicken livers, fried cheese (saganaki), Greek salad, dolmades, homous and pita bread.

Having a bunch of plates to choose from made it feel like a family supper at home.

At least I got a picture of one of the desserts. The gallery was filled with all kinds of Christmasy treats, including a punchbowl of eggnog someone described (accurately) as 'sinful'. Too many glasses of it would have led to bad driving and maybe even a heart attack. But oh, a single glass, totally worth it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another evening with the ladies

Tonight was another of our potluck get-togethers. Maybe everybody's bringing better food because they know a picture will get posted. I'm not sure if that's the reason, but the meal sure was a delicious and interesting assortment.

A salmon lasagna, an assortment of dim sum treats, chicken drumettes, a vegie-filled quiche, a green salad with hunks of chicken in it (mine) and a very satisfying salad made from frozen peas. The recipe sounded simple enough: frozen peas, chopped celery, chopped red onion, chopped peanuts and coleslaw dressing. Colourful enough to seem festive, it would be a good addition to any potluck or holiday table.

And then, after all of that (as if we needed anything more), came the dessert courses. An ambosia kind of mixture, two kinds of cookies and assorted fruit with chocolate fondue. No eating necessary tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nothing fishy about this supper

...except, of course, the two little trout I bought earlier today. I'd gone out for a lettuce, and then -- well, you probably understand how one item can turn into seven.

Polenta with a mushroom sauce served as our starch -- it's always so comforting on a cold night, sort of the evening version of porridge. Steamed baby bok choi for veg, with a salad of chunked-up tomato, avocado, and leftover cooked (but chilled) mushroom from last night.

The lettuce? I'm sure it'll find a place in tomorrow's supper.