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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.

    Month 7 Letter (July 15-Aug 15)

    2013 - 09.14

    Dear Nadia,

    It’s been a busy time for all of us! You’ve been growing like crazy and we’ve put away almost all of your 3-6 month clothes. There are so many things that you have started doing that I’m not sure I can even list them all, but I’ll do my best.

    You’ve started getting very interested in what people are wearing, especially necklaces and earrings. I took all six of my earrings out because I noticed you had been eyeing them and I didn’t want to get yanked. You’ve also been grabbing at necklaces, and when we’re nursing you will hold and tug on my necklace, or if I’ve forgotten to put one on, you will touch the neckline of my shirt. You will also squeeze shirt fabric to see what the texture is like. This is pretty neat except when someone is wearing short sleeves and you wind up scritch-scratching them. You also like to touch people’s faces, especially mouths and eyes, and get very excited when people nibble or kiss your fingers.

    You’re getting so good at getting onto your hands and knees and rocking back and forth. You haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m willing to admit that I have a crawler, but you’re OHSOCLOSE.  However, I cannot deny that you are a standing baby! You were kneeling beside the coffee table on August 10 and holding the edge (I cleared everything off it, and while I was congratulating myself on my childproofing, you bonked your head on the edge of it. Siiiiigh…) then you figured out how to get up to kneeling in your playpen on the morning of August 13, and THEN! You stood up in your playpen over at Oma and Grandad’s house. Oma and I got videos and pictures of it, and we were SO PROUD of you. :)

    Sometimes when I’m singing, you’ll start “ah ah ahhhh”-ing along with me, especially if it’s a song I sing to you a lot. :)

    We went to so many places this month! You and I took your Grandma to an impromptu visit to the Burnaby Village Museum. You were fascinated by all the people around, but your favourite display was the “Foley Sound” activity. It was a bunch of everyday items (like coconuts, springs and shredded plastic) that made sounds when you used them (horses, ray guns and walking in leaves). The sound effects were used by people who made radio plays. Oma and I also took you to Rocky Point Park to visit with some teachers Oma used to work with and I had Pajo’s fish and chips. Yum! We also took you for your passport photos, which you were a star for, and got your passport in the mail.

    You went to your first wedding! You wore a green dress for the ceremony, then changed into a purple suit with a bow tie and vest for the reception. You were pretty excited, and got to see so many people, including some of Dad’s family who live in Australia.

    This month was first food month. You and I and Oma went over to your Grand-Auntie’s house to make baby food with Lia and Erin. We made pears, apples, peas, carrots, yams (or sweet potatoes) and chicken. So far you’ve tried peas and…well…let’s just say that you weren’t that impressed. The very first food you “ate” (and I use the term very loosely haha) was a pea puree made from peas I grew in the garden. I thought it was fairly tasty, but you were very adamant that it wasn’t something you wanted, although I’m pretty sure the texture had a lot to do with that as well. The funny thing is that you were so against the peas, but when I brought you out into the garden to play, you thought that the grass and weeds were the tastiest thing ever! Maybe I should skip purees and just turn you loose into a field like a foal. :) You also tried carrots which you liked a little bit better, although considering how disgusted you were by the peas, that’s not really saying much.

    You worried your Oma and I a little bit when you started wheezing a little when you were upset. You don’t get upset very much for very long, so it was difficult to really hear it. We went to the doctor for your vaccinations, and he told us that it sounded like you were doing fine. Yay! At your vaccination appointment, you were 14 lb 3 oz, 26.75″ long and had a 17″ head, so all pretty normal. Just like we all knew, you’re tall and slender with a lot of brains. :)

    You’ve done this twice now…you got two more teeth the same week as your vaccinations, so you were kind of miserable for a few days. Of course, for you, that just means that you weren’t as quite smiley as you usually are, and a little more fussy in the evenings. You also got two more teeth a week after your 3rd and 4th teeth!

    Some of your favourite things to play with are your Baby Einstein activity centre, your Jolly Jumper and small cardboard boxes, like the ones cereal bars or macaroni and cheese come in. You’re also a big fan of paper bags and crinkly baby wipe containers.

    You’ve been helping me do a lot of cooking/canning stuff, mostly by taking naps when I need you to! We went blackberry picking, made a couple different kinds of jam, including plum jam from a tree near Oma’s house, apricots, and even salad dressing. I was wearing you while I made zucchini muffins with zucchini from our garden. I explained all the steps (“We’re going to put extra cinnamon in it as a special treat for Dad!”), and you were so quiet and attentive until I was ready to put the muffins into the oven. Your Dad came in and told me you were asleep! I couldn’t see see you, so I had no idea. Hopefully you were paying attention because it’s your turn next time! :)


    Rhubarb Sauce

    2013 - 07.23

    I love rhubarb. Crisp, pie, but one of my favourite ways to eat it is in sauce over ice cream or (this may be kinda weird…) on Rice Krispies with a lot of milk. By the end of it, the milk has curdled a little bit, but that’s totally the best part! I planted a rhubarb this year in a large pot and it’s doing well (as long as the aphids don’t destroy it…we have a massive ant colony in our yard and they’ve taken advantage of some of my garden. Grrr… ) but haven’t harvested it yet. Jen, David’s sister, bought a bunch of rhubarb from the farmer’s market for me and gave it to me on Mother’s Day. I cooked it into sauce, and wanted to write down the recipe here so I can finally take it off the whiteboard where it’s been since May. :/ Hopefully I’ll be able to remember it’s here so that I can calculate how much rhubarb to buy/harvest in order to make a decent amount of canned sauce. I’ve frozen the small amount of sauce I didn’t get around to eating this time around, but I’d much rather have a large batch that isn’t taking up any space in the freezer. As of this writing, we don’t have a separate freezer at our house, but that’s probably our next major household expense.  This is a crazy easy thing to make, so I mostly wanted to be able to quickly check for quantity, and because I liked the tartness/sweetness ratio I pulled off, so I wouldn’t have to experiment.

    Sorry for the weird back and forth with metric and imperial measurements, and the imprecision I put in…I’m just kinda going with what I’ve got written down, and honestly, it’s REALLY hard to screw this up.

    Karin’s Rhubarb Sauce (makes 4 cups of sauce, plus one serving over ice cream. What? I wasn’t going to waste it!)

    About 1 kg of raw rhubarb trimmed, washed and cut into approximately 1″ chunks. *
    2 cups of white sugar. **

    Put the sugar into a large pot or saucepan and warm it up (not necessary, but it seemed to melt the sugar a bit easier) then put the cut up rhubarb into the pot with the sugar and stir it up. Turn off the heat and let it sit for anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours until the sugar melts. The recipes I found had a range of times. Turn on the heat to about medium and cook until the rhubarb is soft (about 5-15 minutes). Make sure you’re stirring. Mash with a potato masher if you want it smoother, or leave it for a chunkier sauce. Remember that the sauce will be more tart if you leave it in chunks because the sugar probably won’t penetrate into the fruit.

    Eat right away, freeze or can using proper canning techniques.

    * DISCARD ALL LEAVES. They’re extremely toxic. Most recipes mention this, and most people know, but just in case someone stumbles across this recipe and didn’t know that. Because I have a 6 month old who likes to chew on my fingers, I also wore disposable vinyl gloves and washed up really well. Paranoid? Maybe.

    ** I like sour and bitter things a LOT (tonic water, beer, lemon etc), so this might be too tart for some people. Add sugar to taste. You can add sugar pretty much any time while the sauce is still hot, or even when serving individually. :) I’ve also heard of people using honey, which sounds freaking amazing, but I have no idea how much to substitute.

    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:


    Mother’s Day

    2013 - 05.13

    Technically, this is my second Mother’s Day as a mom. I learned I was pregnant with The Passenger in late April and Mother’s Day was May 13. I’ve celebrated Mother’s Day from the child’s side of things with macaroni art and hanging baskets, and also from the teacher’s side, trying frantically to come up with a great craft project for the class. Last year, only Dave and I knew that Nadia would be arriving, so we had a quiet acknowledgement together, including some gift cards and some empty planters for the vegetable garden I was planning for the balcony. At that point, we were only six weeks along, and Nadia was about the size of a cake sprinkle. What a difference a year makes!

    The Cowbels hosted a Mother’s Day lunch at our place and we had a bunch of cold cuts for people to build their own sandwiches, different types of savoury and sweet salads, veggies, pickles and so on. It went really well, and was a great excuse for us to clean up Stately Cowbels Manor. I even baked some of the bread using my present from David and Nadia…a bright red KitchenAid mixer from Costco. I love it so much. :D

    So, thanks to our moms for coming and spending the afternoon with all of us and thanks to Nadia for making me into a mom.

    Love you, sweet baby girl,



    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.

    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.

    Passion for Pork

    2012 - 06.11

    Seems like a bit of a strange site to me, and not somewhere that I would normally think to look for something potentially awesome.  Found this gem through a link associated with Hats Off Day.

    So what makes this website special?  Well it includes some recipes – which admittedly isn’t odd – that are from local restaurants – again not odd – in particular Memphis Blues.

    “Wait, what!?!?  Did you say Memphis Blues?  Home of the meat sweats?”

    “Yes, I did!”

    So here’s some links to some Memphis Blues recipes… of course if you try these because of the links, you have to at least save me some left overs…

    Just because I still can’t eat solid food doesn’t mean I can’t be thinking about it…

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