Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Woodland Hunted

As part of my birthday present, my amazing parents gave me two pieces of Woodland Pyrex. I love them both (my parents and the Pyrex). As you can see, my kitchen Kate Bush gazes dreamily in approval if you look closely. Thanks again, Mom and Dad! My mother noted that Pyrex is getting expensive in St. Catharines, but was pleased to point out that she bought them at Value Village on Senior's Day and got a 30% off discount. Go girl! I'll be rocking the discount one day too.

Speaking of beautiful things, Dad found this back-breakingly heavy plant book for me at the Book Depot in St. Catharines and saved it for part of my gift. It's the biggest plant book I've ever seen. It could quite easily convert into a coffee table itself. Every year, they have a "Fill a box with books for $30.00 sale." He couldn't get this book in the box, so they just said, "Take it." My dad has all the luck. If I had tried that, I would have been taken away into a storage room and strip searched. I just know it.
Look how big it is - our fingers deep! Again, Kate marvels in the background.

I've done a guest post at Jordan Dibb's blog. I try to illustrate how I become a Pyrex heat seaking missile when I enter thrift stores. Check it out.


Friday, January 6, 2012

That Yolk's Not Runny

I visited my sister Lise yesterday and watched a DVD of an A&E biography of Julia Child. Although it was a light and breezy bio, it reminded me of the good old days when A&E at least tried to show things that were artistic as well as entertaining.

We almost fell off our chairs when they showed footage of a wedding from the forties or fifties. The announcer said, "Child attended the wedding of gay rights..." Huh? Child attended the wedding of a gay rights activist?

Well, no. It turned out that her friend was called Gay Wright. Ba-da- bing! You had to be there.

We got talking about old TV shows and I reminded her of the time we lived in Australia and watched a game called Blankety Blank, which was a knock-off of Match Game, which our family (at least the kids in our family watched a lot in the seventies. Charles Nelson Reilly AND Paul Williams. Who could ask for anything more? I'll never forget the Shaft wah-wah style theme music. Ah, the good old days.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I've Been Up To

I'm on the luxurious two-week teacher vacation. I thought I'd do everything during this time, but the days are running by quickly and I'm quite content in the fact that sometimes doing nothing is everything and more.

Last week was balmy in Toronto, but this week, the temperature has been bitterly cold. Nevertheless, I'm trying to keep some sort of Dunkirk spirit of the north going in my mind and tell myself I'm a hearty Canadian and just embrace the weather.

I've seen some friends. My buddy Malene took me thrifting in her West end neighbourhood. Sadly I found nothing. It looks like there is NO Pyrex or nothing vintage at any Value Village stores in the entire city. On a bright note, she gave me this really cool pair of red cowboy boots that hurt her achy feet. How often does a size 9 boot wearer get such a cool hand-me down? I'm sure I'll end up like that character in Wonder Boys who never takes off her red cowboy boots. Thank you!


My man Francisco

Chef Francisco Alejandri in front of the mural he painted for Agave y Aguacate.

The Star featured my man Francisco Alejandri in a weekend food feature. It was a splash piece for such a humble man, but he well deserves the attention. He's not actually my man, but I'd love to have a neighbour like Francisco. I could give him tomatoes from our garden and he could whip me up something tasty to eat. I love his whole approach to Mexican cooking. He calls it, "Mexican soul food" and takes great efforts to preserve recipes from his childhood. He's got this tiny cantina in Kensington Market, which I'm dying to go to. I saw him do a food demo at Harbourfront in the summer and blogged about it at the time. There are some really good recipes you should try. I made the Pinto Bean & Tortilla Soup for dinner last night. I was really proud of myself because A. I marched myself down in -12 temperatures to a Latin grocer in Kensington Market yesterday to get the ingredients and B. the soup was delicious - perfect comfort food for a cold winter's night.

You need:
4 plum tomatoes
1 dried ancho chili pepper (alright, I cheated hear and used dry chili peppers that have been in our cupboard forever)
2 14-oz cans of pinto beans, rinsed, drained
3 cups of water & more as needed
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped white onion
2 tbsp lard (I didn't have any lard on hand, so I used butter)
2-3 tsp kosher salt to taste

1 dried ancho chili pepper
1 tbsp lard
Canola oil for frying
3 corn tortillas cut into thin 1-inch strips
1 cup diced queso fresco (Mexican fresh cheese - so much better than those rubbery Italian cheeses now that I've discovered it).

Place tomatoes in baking dish. Broil in preheated oven to high 8 minutes. Turn with tongs. Broil 8 minutes or until softening and brown.

Meanwhile, soak ancho in small bowl of boiling water 15 minutes to soften. Drain. Transfer chili to food processor with beans and 1 cup of water. Purée. Add tomatoes, garlic and onion (I would cook the onions ahead of time next time because I'm not big on raw onions). Purée.

In a large saucepan, melt 1 tbsp of lard over medium-high heat. Add tomato mixture. Cook stirring often and reducing heat if mixture splatters, until somewhat dry and thickened. Add beans and remaining 1 tbsp of lard. Cook, stirring often for 8 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups of water. Simmer, stirring 5 minutes. Add more water if needed.

For toppings, I skipped the ancho strips as I didn't have them. If you have them, remove seeds from the ancho chili and cut the skin into strips the size of matchsticks. Heat lard in medium skillet over medium heat. Fry anchos, stirring until fragrant and crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. In the same skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium high heat. Add tortillas. Cook until crisp. Drain on paper towel.

To serve, divide soup among 4 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with cheese. Top each soup with pile of chilies and tortillas. Drizzle with crema or sour cream or creme fraiche. Mmmm. I'm going to make the Lime Charlotte today with Duncan. I'll try to share the experience later. Click here for the Star article. You can even watch a video of my man in action.

I've also been listening to new music on my iPod: Feist's Metals, Colin Stetson, and Timber Timbre.

I've also started to write a story. I'd say it's going to be a book, but it becomes dangerous if you say you're going to write a book. Everyone keeps asking you how the book is coming along, or tell you how hard it is to get published, so why even bother? I haven't experienced this yet, but my confidence is so brittle that I'm just anticipating. I'm just enjoying writing. I have a good idea for part of the plot, but I'm not sure where it's going just yet. The "write what you know" method does make sense.

We've also been having killer games of Clue and Monopoly.

That's it for now. Next week I'm back at work, with hopes to do some thrifting in Scarborough. People - clear out your kitchen clutter. I'm shopping if you're purging.


Oh, my niece is very crafty and amazing. She collected everyone's clementine peels at Christmas and made candied peel that was so delicious. Here's one recipe you could play around with:

Cut peel on each orange into 4 vertical segments. Remove each segment (including white pith) in 1 piece. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Cook in large pot of boiling water 15 minutes; drain, rinse, and drain again.
Bring 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel. Return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain.
Toss peel and 1 cup sugar on rimmed baking sheet, separating strips. Lift peel from sugar; transfer to sheet of foil. Let stand until coating is dry, 1 to 2 days. DO AHEAD: Wrap and freeze up to 2 months.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Simple-Candied-Orange-Peel-350798#ixzz1iWOsEyuN

About Me

My photo
I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.