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    Lemon Tarts

    2014 - 10.20

    One of Karin’s favourite treats at Farmer’s Markets is lemon tarts by Sweet Thea, so for her birthday I decided that I’d make her some lemon tarts. Problem is, I don’t like lemons, so not really in my cooking wheelhouse, nor do I really want to taste as I go along, because I won’t be able to tell if it’s good, because I wouldn’t expect to like it.

    The tarts Karin likes are 4″ tarts I believe and they go for about $4/each, so the goal was to beat that, and aim for similar quality/taste. We already had a bag of lemons from Costco because Karin was thinking of making lemon cordial but hadn’t gotten around to it yet (approx value $6-7 for ~11 lemons). I found this recipe for lemon curd and thought it sounded reasonable, it’s an Ina Garten recipe (Barefoot Contessa).

    I bought 120 3″ tart shells from Costco (~$11 on coupon), and ended up pre-baking one package of them (30).  Used 4 lemons as suggested in the recipe, which resulted in 3/4 cups of juice instead of 1/2 cup (I added it all anyway). Instead of using a food processor, I just added the zest and the sugar to the mixer and let them mix together for a bit.

    The end result is that it’s the right amount of lemon curd to fill the 30 shells.  If you haven’t made lemon curd before, it’s actually pretty easy, the one thing to be aware of is that after you’ve finished the mixing but before you’ve gone through the heating/cooking portion it’s going to look like it’s been ruined, the slow heating melds everything together again and it turns beautifully smooth.

    Now if I need to make Karin some tarts in the future, I’ll be able to find the recipe again.

    Three Layer Salad

    2013 - 05.26

    So I think we’re going to start posting more recipes here, not so much to turn things into a food blog, but because it’s just easier for us to find them if we post them here.

    This is one of my favourite “salads” typically had at a larger family gathering, so that would have been Easter, Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving, Christmas or maybe a birthday or something like that.  In general we’d have these only at Grandma’s house, although there were exceptions.

    Three Layer “Salad”  [quotation marks are mine]

    • 1 pkg. lime jello (small size: 4 serving size, 85g or 4 oz)
    • 1 pkg. lemon jello (small size)
    • 1 pkg. cherry jello (small size)
    • 1 cup undrained crushed pineapple (you can use the whole 398ml can if you want)
    • 1 pkg dream whip (Kraft)
    • 1/2 cup cold milk (for dream whip)
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla (for dream whip)
    • 3 oz of softened cream cheese (that’s about a third of a 250g package, works fine if you use upto half a package)
    • lots of boiling water (4  1/4 cups)
    1. Assemble your ingredients
    2. Boil water
    3. Make the jello all at once (because of the differing amounts of boiling water they will inherently take longer for the upper layers to set)
    4. Add 1 cup/25oml boiling water to the lime jello in an appropriate serving dish (should have at least 2.5 litre/10 cup capacity, you may need more depending on whether you stick to the original sizes or not)
    5. Add 1 cup/250ml undrained crushed pineapple (or the full can) to the lime jello, and allow to set
    6. Add 1 1/2 cups/375ml boiling water to the lemon jello and allow to set in an appropriate mixing bowl (but not completely)
    7. Add 1 3/4 cups/438ml boiling water to the cherry jello and allow to set in an appropriate mixing bowl (but not completely)
    8. Make the dream whip, combine 1/2 cup/125ml cold 2% milk1/2 tsp/3 ml vanilla into a mixing bowl, add 1 pkg Dream Whip, whip at highest speed of the electric mixer until topping forms peaks, about 2 minutes.  Continue beating 2 minutes more (4 total) until topping is light and fluffy.  Makes about 2 cups.
    9. Add the softened cream cheese and the partially set lemon jello to the mixing bowl, and mix until combined.
    10. Pour the dream whip/lemon jello mixture over the set lime jello/pineapple layer, return to fridge and allow the new layer to set completely
    11. When the second layer has set, add the partially set cherry jello as the top layer (you can remelt the jello by warming up the bowl if necessary).
    12. Allow to set, and enjoy.

    It is possible to make multiple containers of this “salad” if you don’t have any which are big enough, or if you want to make individual servings or something.  Glass serving dishes are best, as they clearly display the layers.  Other flavours of jello can be used if desired (resulting in different colour and flavour combinations).  Some people prefer the middle layer best, it can be made by itself, or you can repeat step 6, 8 and 9 and make them a separate container of their favourite.

    It should look something like this:



    2013 - 04.06

    A few weeks ago, I started a challenge that I would start cooking more meals from scratch. So, how am I doing? Not too badly, but not as well as I’d like.

    We borrowed a bread machine from David’s parents and I’ve made three loaves of basic white bread, and David has made one. The first three loaves we made were pretty tasty, but very dense, and barely rose. I’ve been making detailed-ish notes so that I can see what the problems might be. It seems that the dry yeast we had been using was the problem, as the bread I made last night was much lighter in texture (less like a cake) and rose a lot more. I used yeast that needed to be refrigerated that I got from my mother in law and slightly warmer water (the recipe calls for room temperature water, but we have a fairly chilly house). One or both of those things seemed to work…since I’m not practicing strict control over variables, I’ll just keep doing both, at least until I run out of refrigerated yeast. (Note to self, and David…we’re essentially out of white flour. Costco run this weekend?)

    David and I made a trip to Galloways, one of my favourite places, where I took pictures of things that inspired me so that I could check out recipes and how to use them before the ingredients were staring at me from my kitchen counter. Something that has always caught my eye, whether I’m at Costco, Safeway or Galloways, is dried bean mixtures. They’re cheap and I’ve really liked most pea/ bean/ barley/ legume soups I’ve had. I finally bought some instead of just checking it out, since the recipe was on the back and seemed fairly Karin-proof (1/2 c bean mixture, 2 liters of liquid, simmer together for 90 minutes.) We keep a variety of Better Than Bouillon on hand in the fridge, so I made up 2 L of chicken broth and simmered the beans as instructed. Not exactly from scratch, but I’m taking baby steps. :)

    Overall, it was pretty tasty, especially with the bread I’d made. It was even better the day after, although I had to dilute the broth a bit because it concentrated during simmering (I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to cover it, and figured it would be easier to add water later. I figure it cost about 30 cents to make the whole pot of soup, and I’d definitely make it again, but with some fresh vegetables and some herbs next time.

    I also made brownies, but those were from a mix. They were absolutely delicious though. :D

    Karin’s Kitchen

    2013 - 03.19

    David hates it when I say that I’m a bad cook. I guess I’m not really that bad, but I’m not confident in the kitchen. I like the idea of cooking, and when I’m actually doing it, I usually have a good time, but I find it difficult to get started and I loathe doing the dishes and cleaning up afterward. There are certain things that excite me and inspire me to do some cooking, but my motivation usually flags by the time I manage to get to a place where I can start cooking. It’s even more difficult now that Nadia is here, because I’m never sure how long she’ll be asleep.

    And it’s SO easy to just buy something that’s mostly pre-made.

    Here are some of the things that inspire me to start cooking.

    • Galloways Specialty Foods: I love this store so much. Six categories of chocolate, 46 kinds of flour, 32 kinds of salt…etc. It just goes on! Check out the herbs and spice section when you’re there.
    • Chef Michael Smith: We’ve talked about him before on the blog, but it’s worth mentioning again. I love his show Chef Michael’s Kitchen, and it makes things look super easy, with a lot of stuff we’ve already got on hand, or stuff we really should have on hand. :)
    • Gordon Ramsay: I’m not a fan of his “in your face” cooking shows, but I just watched the first episode of Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course and really liked it. Also, bonus, Nadia fell asleep while I was watching. She’s been asleep for over an hour in her crib now…I think it was the accent. ;)
    • Baking: I tend to like baking more than I like cooking. I think part of it is that baking is a bit of a science, so measurements are necessary, which makes it more difficult (for me) to screw up. And if stuff does get screwed up, it’s not the main meal with expensive meat that has gone sideways. Another part is that baking is usually super appreciated because it’s a treat, while cooking sometimes is taken for granted (although I try never to take Dave’s cooking for granted, and he never has with mine…just a weird mental hangup I guess)
    • Stuff that’s really easy: Slow cookers are my best friend, as are things like bread machines because the instructions are usually “Put everything into cooker/machine. Turn on. Come back in X minutes/hours. Eat.” Bonus: usually there’s no extra dishes.
    • Wine: just like when I’m cleaning, I find cooking a lot more interesting after a glass of wine. Sadly, something I couldn’t indulge in for nine months (although Nadia was definitely worth it!), and now I have to strategize a best time to have alcohol because I’m nursing.
    • Other people: I went over to a friend’s place to make cookies a couple weeks ago and it was a blast! Maybe I need to get someone to come over and we can make a bunch of meals together and split the bill and split the meals. Kind of like one of those pre-made meal places, but WAY cheaper.
    • Baby food: Nadia is way too young to have solids, but I’m really excited at the idea of making great food for her beyond the over processed, ridiculously expensive baby food that is sold in grocery stores. Baby applesauce makes me SO ANGRY. Seriously? A dollar for a jar the size of my thumb that will mostly get smeared on walls and my shirt? At Safeway this week, apples are selling for 4 lbs for $5. That will make a helluvalot of applesauce, plus raw apples for me to eat with peanut butter, and even some apple crumble for Dave. Mmm…crumble… Maybe it wouldn’t all be for Dave.
    • Saving money: Cooking is so much cheaper than eating out, or even buying the prepped stuff at the grocery store. Saving money is good.
    • Health: So much sodium and fat and preservatives and chemicals and other stuff that we shouldn’t eat too much of in food that we don’t make ourselves. Also, not knowing where food comes from and having it shipped so far…kind of wrecking the planet a lot.

    With so many inspirations, you’d think that I’d be better at getting my butt into the kitchen and actually doing something there beyond making a bowl of cereal…maybe that will be my goal.  Ok, I’m putting it out there. I’m going to actually cook at least one meal a week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Birthday Freebies

    2013 - 01.05

    Still dealing with the colds, although we seem to be improving if slower than we’d like.  This year, I got a few birthday freebies from the various lists that I’m subscribed to.  These are the ones that I remember:

    • Boston Pizza: free pasta or desert coupon (good for about 2 weeks)
    • Vera’s: $10 coupon valid on your birthday only
    • Paris Jewelers: $10 coupon

    So nothing too crazy, but it’s nice to get something for free, especially when you’re confronting your own mortality ;-)  Anyway, join their various email lists to get your own offers on your birthday.

    Garbage Day Tomorrow

    2013 - 01.01

    Definitely one of the things that we’re going to have to adapt to in the short term after our move is living in a house and not in a multi-family dwelling.  In practical terms that means that we need to take the garbage and recycling out on a particular day instead of whenever we want to the garbage/recycling room.  It also means that we get to do food scraps which is something which hadn’t made it to the multi-family dwellings yet.

    Realistically this is going to be one of the biggest things that we’ll actually need to adapt to.  There’s all sorts of other changes, but the vast majority of them don’t have a schedule that needs to be followed, and so are more forgiving.

    Something is wrong with this story…

    2012 - 10.22

    Ran some errands today, and one of the stops included was the International Sausage House, which is essentially a deli.  While I was there I bought about $3.00 worth of salamis and about $18.00 worth of honey candies.  I guess someone has expensive tastes…

    Chef Michael’s Kitchen: Gluten Free Flour

    2012 - 09.12

    Finally an actual cooking show, probably the best one since Good Eats!  There’s several great things about the show, first off is Michael Smith who’s just awesome.  The second is that the show is about teaching techniques or frameworks in which you can channel your creativity and be successful.  In essence taking most of the risk out of experimentation and a lot of the fear too.

    In the second episode Cooking with allergies: Lasagna, Muffins & Cookies (which you can watch online) he does some gluten free stuff, but probably the most interesting thing is that he makes his own gluten free flour mix.

    Anyway, it’s only two episodes in, but we’re already hooked on Chef Michael’s Kitchen.

    CSA: Community Supported Agriculture

    2012 - 08.20

    Stumbled across this the other day, and there’s at least one member of the audience who will find it interesting.  It’s the SFU: Local Food Project, and one of the things they talk about is Community Supported Agriculture.

    C.S.A. stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA’s are a  commitment between a farm and a community of supporters. Supports pay up for their share of the harvest at the beginning of the season, so farmers have a source of income at their time of highest expenses. The farm provides the supporters with fresh high quality produce throughout the season, usually in a weekly box.

    They have a nice list of different CSA related organizations: http://sfulocalfood.ca/resources/where-to-get-local/community-supported-agriculture

    Who knows you might even find the rest of the site interesting too.


    2012 - 08.15

    Made a marinade for some steak fajitas last night, and it called for Cilantro which we didn’t have in our garden.  So off to the store we went…

    They had organic Cilantro bunches for $1.29 (not well labelled), regular Cilantro bunches for $0.99 and then for $2.99 they had Cilantro in a pot…

    The brand is “Kitchen Pick” fresh culinary herbs.  They are out of Maple Ridge, BC.  Overall it just seems like a good idea and place to sell inexpensive herbs…  Not to mention that grocery stores are open much better hours than garden stores generally.

    We’ll see how it turns out.

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