June 30, 2009

Catch of the day: Week of June 22

For weeks, I’ve been trying to think of a name for this new photo series. Everything I came up with was boring or cliché. I still don’t love this name, but I think it’s the best of the lot. I like to think of these photos as catching a little piece of my life or the life of Edmonton every day. And this is a food blog after all – I don’t think I have one fish recipe on this site, but at least the name is food-related.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember to take a picture every day. Last week, I forgot on Monday. So here’s a four-day week for you:









June 28, 2009

Simplest Carrot Salad


It’s still all about the simple around here.

This salad was so simple that I threw it together in about fifteen minutes before rushing out to a yoga class. The only part that takes any time is ribboning (is that a verb?) the carrots.

Until this week, the only carrot salad I can remember eaten was made with grated carrot and raspberry wine vinegar. It’s from a Moosewood cookbook and it’s delicious. But this one is entirely different. Since the carrots are thinly sliced – ribboned using a vegetable peeler – there is much less moisture than with grated carrots and it keeps much better in the fridge.


Again, this recipe is from 101 cookbooks. The original calls for the carrots, dressed with lemon juice and lemon zest, plus chopped fresh chile, cilantro and pumpkin seeds. Because of my lack of ingredients, my version turned out to be even simpler than the original. I’m not allowed to eat chiles, and my cilantro was slimy and brown. Too bad, because I’m sure it would be killer in this. Especially due to my intense love of cilantro. (Have I mentioned that? The fact that I can’t get enough of its earthy-yet-fresh taste, and J won’t touch it and swears it tastes like dirt? Yeah, I’m eating a lot of cilantro while he’s away this summer.)


So my plain-jane version was carrots, lemon and pumpkin seeds. I wasn’t super impressed when I first started eating it, but after it mellowed in the fridge I started to like the flavours more.  It surprised me that the recipes calls for you to quickly sauté the carrot ribbons in a frying pan with a little oil, but I think it’s an important step. Like Heidi says, it takes the edge off their rawness.


Final verdict: better than the raw sticks that filled my lunch bag for days, and easier than roasting or caramelizing in this June heat. And frankly, when you can eat as little as I can right now, you’re grateful for something cold, sweet and nutritious that you can grab from the fridge and eat by the forkful from the container. 

Also - I’m telling you this a bit late - but if you’re interested, go check out a culinary Q and A with me over at fellow food blogger Sharon’s site.

June 23, 2009

Catch of the day: Week of June 15











June 20, 2009

By the spoonful


I’ve been visiting the great blog 101 Cookbooks a lot lately. It’s written by Heidi Swanson, author of the cookbook Super Natural Cooking. Her blog is full of recipes, most of which are made with whole, natural foods. I’ve been searching her recipe index for things I can make on my limited diet, and one of the ones I squirelled away was a brown rice and asparagus dish.

To be honest, it didn’t sound that exciting – a mix of brown rice, chickpeas and asparagus with toasted almonds and a tahini dressing. Healthful, but maybe not out of this world. I shouldn’t have judged it. Being on this diet is quickly reminding me that sometimes it’s the simplest combinations of foods that are the most delicious.


This dish blew me out of the water. It’s so flavourful that I gobbled it up for supper, lunch and breakfast. And as soon as I scraped the container clean I started craving more.

The rice mixture is good, but what takes this over the top is the phenomenal dressing. I kind of want to email Heidi to personally thank her for this dressing. It’s actually more of a sauce/dressing – a bit too heavy for a green salad but perfect for something with rice or beans or vegetables. This is the kind of dressing I want to eat by the spoonful. The kind I want to keep a jar of in the fridge at all times to dress up bland foods. I seriously can’t think of much it wouldn’t taste good with.


And the best part? Four ingredients, people! It just goes to show that simple and healthy is sometimes the best thing. But of course I have to tell myself that, since I can’t eat sugar or chocolate for another two weeks.

You can find the recipe here – when I made the dressing I didn’t have any lemons so I subbed in lime juice and lime zest. Maybe that’s what made it so good?? I’m sure it would be great with lemon too.

June 19, 2009

Catch of the day: Week of June 8











And a bonus … Saturday! Remember how glorious it was?






I just couldn’t stop at one. Looking at all that water is too refreshing.

Coming soon: Another delicious cleanse-diet recipe … and photos from this past week. I need to play catch-up now that my computer is back to normal (fingers crossed).

June 12, 2009

The good things I have been eating

I’ve been getting a lot of strange food cravings lately.

A tuna sandwich.

A carrot muffin.

French fries.

These are intense cravings that hit me suddenly in the middle of the day. No, I’m not pregnant (friends, do you really think I would let you know via my blog? Come on). I’m craving these things because I can’t eat them right now.

(To be technical, I could eat the sandwich and the muffin. It would just take some work.)

I’m on my second week of a five-week cleanse diet. I’m doing it to see if I have any food intolerances that are affecting my health, and in particular, my migraine headaches. The diet was recommended by a naturopath I visited, and there are a myriad number of things I am not supposed to eat. Rather than list all of them, let’s concentrate on the good things I have been eating: lots of fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, almond butter, fish …


I’m aware that looks like a lot of asparagus for one person – but believe me, you have to eat a lot of vegetables to feel full.  

The big plus to this diet (besides the hopeful health benefits) is that I am eating a lot of foods that I haven’t had in months because of our eat-local habits. Suddenly, bananas, avocados and mushrooms are the most wonderful foods in the world! This really helps to make the diet seem less monotonous.

But I have been sticking local with a lot of foods: Edgar Farms asparagus, chicken, cucumber, greens, wild trout, apples, rhubarb, and radishes.

I’m living on my own for the summer while my husband is going to music festivals and programs back East, so that combined with this new diet has really changed my eating habits. It’s much more of an effort to actually make supper for myself when I get home from work, so I try to keep it simple. A lot of steamed or sauteed veggies with beans and rice. To add flavour, the little container of flaky Maldon sea salt that I picked up at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (hopefully more on that place still to come!) has been my saviour. It is delicious sprinkled over everything.

I wanted to share with you two dishes I ate today. They seem to me like perfect foods for spring – or nearly summer.


Quinoa with chickpeas and avocado

I cooked a big pot of quinoa the other night that I figured I could turn into various meals, and this one is great. All you do is mix some cooked quinoa with cooked chickpeas, slice some avocado over the top, sprinkle on as much lime juice as you want, and season with salt and pepper. The result is an earthy mixture of toothsome and creamy with just a hint of tart juice. I love it.

Christmas Salad for Spring


I bought a bunch of radishes at the downtown market last week from Sundog Organics, just because they looked so pretty. But I haven’t radishes for years, and I find them too spicy to crunch on raw. So I turned to the internet … and it tossed up a couple of radish salad recipes that I derived this one from.


Slice a small bunch of radishes and about half a cucumber very thinly. Chop up about 1/4 cup of cilantro. Mix all together and add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.


I’m surprised by how much I like this salad – I thought the lime juice might make it too sour, but it actually softens the spiciness of the radishes and creates a fresh, beautiful flavour. I think this would be really good with some fresh or dried chiles as well.

P.S. – I think I’ll be a bit late with my photo set this week because later today I’m taking my computer to get fixed. It’s been acting weird in lots of ways for a long time and something must be done. So if you don’t see me here for a few days, that’s why. Happy weekend! 

June 9, 2009

Smell Memory

The smell of salty french fries and ketchup drifted over to me from the Sherlock Holmes pub as I was walking home from work today. Immediately I was back in the summers of my childhood at the Waegwoltic Swim Club in Halifax.

I have lots of memories of the Waeg – learning how to swim in the shallow pool of the “Little Lido”, later taking swimming lessons in the big pool, hanging out with my sister and our neighbours on our towels on the grass, jumping off the scary high diving board. But one of my most distinct memories is the food there.

There was an indoor candy store and an outdoor canteen at the Waeg. At the store you could get 5-cent candies and lots of different flavours of hard ice cream, and it was hot and the air was thick despite the constant whirring of big stand-up fans. The screen door banged as you went outside and carried your ice cream down the pebbly-stone path.

At the outdoor canteen you could buy huge chocolate-chip cookies, probably six inches across, wrapped in saran wrap. They sat out in a pile on the counter in the sun and got soft and gooey. And you could get paper containers of french fries. The fries were thin and golden, the kind with crispy ends that crackled with grease in a satisfying way.

The smell of the canteen was the smell of those salty french fries, and the ketchup that kids squeezed out of the plastic bottle on the counter. And it was the smell of summer too.

I haven’t thought about those fries in a long time. My family stopped going to the Waeg when I was about nine because we couldn’t afford the expensive membership fees any more. In spite of all my great memories, it was actually a pretty snobby place, where rich South-end parents paid lots of money so their kids could learn how to swim, sail and play tennis.

But today when I smelled those fries on the wind, for a moment I wished I was seven years old again, slouching in my wet bathing suit, wet hair and sandals by the canteen, squeezing lots of ketchup onto my crispy, salty fries.

June 6, 2009

My camera for my companion

I have an announcement: I’m branching out a bit.

Having this blog has made me love taking pictures even more than before. Partly because of all the practice I get photographing all my cooking and meals, but mostly because of all the lovely, wonderful photography blogs I’ve discovered in the past six or eight months.

The photographers behind these blogs – a few of which are listed in my blog roll at the right – really inspired me to take more pictures. Not just of food, but of ordinary things and my everyday life. I’ve also spent some time trolling around flickr looking at the photos of some of my favourite bloggers, and at series where people take one photo every day for a year, one self-portrait a week, etc. etc.

So I’ve decided to start a new project. For now, it will exist here at the little red kitchen, even though it isn’t really about food. I feel like this space is always evolving and changing, so to me it fits.

Every weekend, I’m going to post photos that I took during that week  - one a day.  Any photos at all – good or bad, of people or places, of food or buildings. This way, I am forced to take more pictures, and I hope I will get better at it.  I also want to seize the opportunity for picture-taking more often, and keep an eye out for something to catch in my camera lens. And, I hope you’ll all enjoy it too.

I promise not to cheat and post five photos that I snapped in a hurry Friday night. I’m going to do my very best to put up one from each day, no matter how horrible they might be.

For me, having this blog is all about being creative. I started it because I love to cook and write about food. Now I know I also love to take pictures. So I’m going to spend the summer in Edmonton with my camera for my companion.

Please let me know how you like my new project in the comments! I’d love to get any feedback.

And now, here’s set number one.

June 1 – 5










June 4, 2009

Homemade in Toronto: Turos Teszta



I was also lucky enough to have Eva, Emily’s girlfriend, cook me supper while I was staying with them. She also made me a Hungarian recipe: Turos Teszta, or as Eva translates it, Cheesy Noodles.

(In case you are wondering, Eva is Hungarian … these dishes didn’t just fall randomly from the sky.)


Turos Teszta is one of the easiest suppers to make ever, and also one of the most delicious. Also one of the most fattening. There, I said it.

It’s basically an excuse for a meal that’s sort of a combination of breakfast and supper and is prime comfort food: a blend of noodles, bacon and cheese.


You could dress up this dish in lots of ways, and as I ate it my mind started wandering to fresh herbs and sun-dried tomatoes and green onions. But really, it’s perfect in all its bare simplicity too.

You start by cutting up a whole bunch of bacon into small pieces. I’m not sure how much exactly. I’d guess about a half a package. Or maybe a whole package, what the hell.


Fry the bacon in a big frying pan. While it’s frying, put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles. Then cut up your cheese. What’s used here is pressed cottage cheese, also called Turo. It tastes like cottage cheese – very mild – but has a consistency more like feta. I think feta could also work, but it would make it much saltier.

Add the noodles to the water once it’s boiled. The noodles we used were thin, flat egg noodles. I don’t know if they’re particularly Hungarian or not, but I really think any kind of egg noodle or Italian-type noodle would do here. A chunky shape like rottini or shells might work well.


Fry the bacon until it’s dark and crisp. Drain the noodles and put them in a big bowl. Add the bacon and the cheese and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dig in!

Homemade in Toronto: Palacsinta


Writing about Toronto feel miles out of date by now, but I just can’t let it go. It was too good a trip and I really want to share it with you.

It might seem strange that I’m telling you about the homemade food I ate in Toronto. After all, to me it is the land of a million restaurants.

But between the restaurant suppers and the many cafe treats, there were a few meals at home tucked in there. Unfortunately I didn’t make any of them. My gracious hostesses, Emily and Eva, were only too happy to spoil me.

When Emily and I lived together back in university, all four of us roommates had certain dishes that we often made for each other, or for potlucks. Rachael could whip up a delicious green salad with feta cheese, green onions, almonds and an amazing dressing. Jessie used to make this yummy, earthy mixture of mushrooms, pinto beans and brown rice. My favourite contribution was the Moosewood cornbread recipe. And Emily would treat us to pancakes for weekend breakfast.


If you knew us four at all, you would realize that these foods are all hugely characteristic of our personalities, and how we’re defined in this group. I’ve only just come to this conclusion now, as I write this three years later, but I think it’s pretty bang-on.

And I swear, the next time the four of us are all together (unfortunately, it happens rarely), I want to request that we all make those four foods and have a wonderful, nostalgic, albeit rather carby, meal.

The pancakes Emily used to make were little ones called “Three-in-a-pan”. I think the recipe came from a Unicef kids’ cookbook. Eaten hot and sprinkled with icing sugar, maple syrup and raisins, they were a divine way to start the day.


But in Toronto a few weeks ago, Em didn’t make Three-in-a-pan. She made Hungarian crepes, or Palacsinta, instead. Well, she said they’re Hungarian, and the recipe is from a Hungarian cookbook. But to me they tasted like other crepes I’ve eaten before that I always thought were French. I’m not complaining – they were delicious. Especially since they’re filled with jam, and have maple syrup on top to boot.

I’ve never made crepes before, but I’ve been meaning to for years. I think I have this strange notion that they require a lot of special technique to make sure they come out thin and perfectly crisped. That maybe I need to go out and buy a crepe pan just to make sure I get it right. Plain old pancakes seem a lot easier.

But Em mixed these up in a cinch, and delivered them to me and Eva rolled up and, again, sprinkled liberally with icing sugar. Along with the jam and the maple syrup. There’s nothing like a jolt of sugar to start the morning.

It’s just like old times. 


Thanks to Emily for this recipe!



4 eggs
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Beat eggs and sugar until frothy, add salt and milk, beat in flour slowly, until very smooth, then add melted butter to have a very thin batter.

Use a non-stick crepe pan or a regular non-stick frying pan. Heat to sizzling point, then reduce heat for your first crepe. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter in pan and swish around until the entire bottom of the pan is covered. When lightly brown use a flat crepe spatula to turn over and brown ever-so-lightly. Remove onto a flat warm dish. 

Fill with whatever filling you want - traditional Hungarian filling is apricot jam (we like raspberry and strawberry). And always dust with icing sugar!

Yields about 12 - 16 thin crepes.