Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday Lunch

Because I stayed in Mississauga this weekend, going to the party Saturday night, which I wrote about last post, I decided to make a couple of Chinese dishes from some chicken that I had had in the freezer and thawed in the fridge. The first of these involved a package of spice from McCormick, this was to make a dish called Szechuan-Style Gong Bao Chicken. Opening the spice pack, I thought that the prepared dish was going to be rather spicy, I got some in my nose and mouth when I poured it into a dish, and it made me sneeze. But the dish didn't turn out that spicy, it was pretty good tasting, just not spicy enough. Perhaps if I had prepared my own seasonings, then it would have worked better. The second dish was made with Black Bean Garlic Sauce, one stir-fries chicken with a tablespoon of this sauce and a little sugar, then add some diced green and red pepper at the end. This was very tasty. I don't know that I could make this garlic sauce, so for now, I'll stick to the prepared sauce.

KitchenAid Cook for the Cure

Last night, I went to a party that this friend of mine at work held, a benefit to raise funds for Breast Cancer research. Kitchenaid has a program, that they call Cook for the Cure, whereby you hold a party, invite people to come, the only stipulation is that guests don't bring gifts, instead they donate money. Kitchenaid donates $50 towards the total, and, if someone at the party holds their own Cook for the Cure party, Kitchenaid will donate another $50 towards the first party's total. I think this is a great idea, that is championed by the cook Christine Cushing on Food Network. Details can be found here.

The party itself was interesting. To raise a little more money, they had a poker game going, people buy $10 in chips, and give half of their winnings towards the cause. The hostess, my friend from work, cooked up a storm, everything was quite delicious. Starting off, she served Satay chicken on skewers with peanut sauce dip; next came Shrimp. Following this was lamb on a skewer with a cube of feta cheese and a cherry tomato. There were vegetarian Spring rolls and Spinach samosas. The best of the appetizers served was, in my opinion, rare beef tenderloin with a peach slice infused with saffron on an endive boat. I deserve some of the credit for that, we discussed this at work, trying to decide what to add with the beef tenderloin. I suggested something sweet. It worked out well. Talking about sweets, there were brownie lollipops, walnut brownies cut into circles, stuck on a lollipop stick and then dipped in dark chocolate. Also, there was a dish called Sex in a Pan, essentially unsalted saltine crackers in alternate layers with whipped cream, then cherry pie filling on top. This is made five days ahead of time to allow time for the crackers to absorb some moisture, so that you don't even realize they are crackers any more. There was also round carrot cakes made to resemble breasts in honour of the evening.

I must say, the evening was good, normally I don't go to parties, but I thought it was for a good cause, and it might be interesting, and perhaps there would be someone interesting to meet. Most of the people I had not met before, and didn't really talk to, but I found the host and hostess's relatives quite interesting and talked to them for a long while. I was one of the first to arrive, and one of the last to leave.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Chocolate Drop Cookies

I think that this is the first recipe I tried as a child, one of those "every child makes a recipe and then we'll include the recipe in a cookbook" kind of events probably every child has gone through. I like this recipe, cooking the cocoa and butter and milk slowly turns it all into a silky smooth liquid. My boss likes this, I gifted him with a double batch for his surprise 40th birthday party years ago. He was stuffed at lunch today when we met, he was at one of our plants in the morning, and I had to suppress a smile when he said that, as I knew that three of them were waiting for him at the office. And, of course, he ate two of them right away. I always have room for cookies, he says. He got that right.

Chocolate Drop Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
6 Tbsp cocoa (heaping)
1 cup shredded coconut
3 cups oatmeal

Mix together butter, milk, sugar and cocoa and bring to boil (double boiler or stirring constantly). Remove from heat.

Add coconut and oatmeal. Mix thoroughly and drop from spoon on wax paper. Let dry.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Technical Things

In order to make this blogging look good, you need to know a little bit of HTML. Now, there are tools to enter your entry in a GUI manner, but so far, I couldn't get it to look like I wanted it to. The other day at work, I was working on changing our website, by working on it inhouse we save a little money and learn a little too. Learning at work, what a concept!

So, this is an attempt to see if what I have learned translates to this format. One of the problems I had was creating paragraphs that wrapped around.

So far, HTML is kind of trial and error, change a little of the code and see what happens. I believe that is the best way to learn, and that's how I learned how to program. Examine the code, change something, see what happens. Look at other code, see how they do it, copy and paste what you want, and make your new program work.

I have fiddled with this entry until it comes out fine. And also gone back to fix previous entries, once I am happy with this entry.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lentil and Tomato Stew

This is a hand-me-up recipe, in that my little sister handed it up to me. And I'm glad she did. This is simple to make, yet quite delicious. It is important to bring the tomatoes as close to a paste as you can without burning it. The lemon added at the end gives it an overall zing. I used my new Fleur de Sel in it, as well.

Lentil and Tomato Stew
4 Tbsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves
1 can diced tomatoes, 28 fl. oz. (or 1 large tomatoes or 2 small)
2-1/2 cups water
1 can lentils, 19 fl. oz.
3/4 to 1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Heat oil and cook garlic in large pan until browned. Add tomatoes and cook until paste-like, about five minutes. Add lentils and water and bring to boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes until reduced to half. Add salt and lemon juice and stir to finish.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cracking Ice

A couple of days ago, we went from +8C to -15C overnight, colder with the windchill. With the change in temperature, and the melting associated with the above seasonal values, there's the potential for the formation of what I call cracking ice. This is one of my favourite things to do on a walk, usually in early Spring when the temperatures are variable. What happens is that the melted water pools in crevices, then freezes overnight, leaving a dry thin layer of ice that's good for cracking. It's partly the sound that ice makes when it cracks, partly the pleasure of cracking, and also of finding a good piece of cracking ice. It's a simple pleasure, and has gained me a few odd stares over the years.

Which I ignore.

More for me.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

A surprise gift at work

A lady at work went back for a couple of week's vacation to China with her daughter, and she knows that I like trying new and interesting teas, my boss says that I should open a tea shop with all the teas, close to 15 different kinds in my overhead cabinet, she brought me Long Jing tea, also called Dragon Wellness tea. This is a specialty green tea from the Hangzhou region of China, and, like any tea, comes in various grades and quality. This particular batch is supposed to be good quality tea, and I was anxious to try it. She also has told me, that she had learned that the first brewing of tea is not good, that some people throw it out even, it is the second brewing that is the best, it tastes very sweet, a sweetness too in the back of the throat. I must say that she is correct in that, the first brew tasted a little bitter, the second quite sweet and excellent.

The teas that I have in my overhead cabinet include chamomile, yerba mate, rosehip, brazilian herb, chinese pu'er, ginger and peach, peach and white tea, japanese brown rice and green tea, rose, toasted barley, black currant, jasmine, rose and oolong, chrysanthemum flower and white tea.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Chocolate Cheese

My best friend and I went to an Italian speciality store in Waterloo called Vincenzo's, apparently it has been there for years, and, as a foodie, I don't know why I hadn't checked it out before. They had lots of interesting things, I bought some dried chilies, some saffron, some Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and some Hazelnut Oil, which I have to try in a vinaigrette or some such recipe. But what intrigued me most there, was this cheese that I found, made with chocolate! It's a combination of a mild cheese and is made with chocolate. Looks more like dark than milk chocolate. I tried it today, and, I must say, it tasted pretty good. Had the consistency of cheese, and the not an overwhelming flavour of chocolate. I don't know, though, how it would go on a meat sandwich, it probably would be good as an appetizer or snack.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Have you waded across?

My uncle called today to wish my Dad and I a Happy New Year, and he said that a traditional greeting in Tanzania, where he and my father were born and lived till their later teens, that they think of life as a river, so that on the first day of the year, they greet you with a query as to whether you have successfully waded across another year. The portrayal of life as a river is apt, with eddies and currents and holes and rapids and shallows, you must indeed wade across it. Hopefully you all have as well.

Happy New Year to all!