It’s bloody hot this week in Canada. So we’re working with a salad theme for supper, and it’s been both easy and quite pleasant. If you have a favourite recipe, pass it on, please. I still need salad ideas for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. (Note: I haven’t done a post on recipes for AGES, because a) Kevin does a lot of the supper prep now, and b) we almost never make anything exciting or original. So these recipes must be good to have inspired me to note them down… Either that or the heat is addling my brain and I’ve got nothing else of interest to write about.)
Combine in your biggest mixing bowl: one head of lettuce, torn and washed; several cups of cabbage, chopped; half of an onion, chopped; two cobs’ worth of fresh corn kernels; one can of black beans, rinsed and drained; one green pepper, chopped.
To make the dressing, whirl together in a blender the following ingredients: between 1/2 – 3/4 cups buttermilk; the leaves off a bunch of cilantro, washed; one peeled clove of garlic; one scant teaspoon of sea salt; one tablespoon olive oil; the juice of one very juicy lime, or 1/4 cup’s worth; 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.
Pour the dressing over the salad. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir in one cup of grated cheese (or more). Serve with corn tortilla chips at the table, letting each person crush his or her own and add to the salad on the plate.
Peanut & ginger pasta salad
Cook up a 450-gram package of pasta in salted water. I made farfalle, because that’s what we had in the cupboard. Drain, rinse, cool, and toss into into a larger serving bowl. Add nicely matchsticked veggies like: red pepper, cucumber, carrot. Or grated. Fresh peas or corn kernels would be good too.
Cut a block of tofu into cubes, place on baking tray, douse with olive oil and tamari sauce, and a sprinkle of salt, and roast in the oven until delicious. (Bake at 425 for about ten minutes, shaking the tray now and again.) Add tofu to pasta.
For the dressing, mix together the following ingredients: 1/4 to 1/2 cup of peanut butter; two tablespoons of hot water; one clove of garlic, finely chopped; one tablespoon tamari sauce; one tablespoon of ginger root, finely chopped; the juice and zest of one lime; several green onions, chopped; one teaspoon sugar; salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the dressing over the pasta, add extra peanuts if you’d like, and some greens (I didn’t), and serve.
And then forget to take photos of either salad because you’re about to rush out the door to some early evening soccer-related event or another.
PS Bonus Recipe: Bean Salad!
I have to add a third recipe, a dressing for bean salad, because my mom had some when she was here on Wednesday (our third day of salads), and she LOVED it. She’s now taken the recipe to Tennessee, where my aunt and uncle loved it too.
You know how to make a bean salad. I used canned beans: black, red, and chickpea. Fresh corn sliced off the cob (about six cobs). Half an onion, chopped. Spinach. Green pepper. Some green onions too.
For the dressing: 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1-2 teaspoons sea salt (to taste); 3 cloves garlic; 1 to 2 tablespoons oregano; 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar; the juice of one lemon; black pepper to taste: whirl all ingredients in blender. Pour over salad. Leftovers taste great too, as you can imagine. If you want to try making this vegan, substitute a ripe avocado for the buttermilk. (I didn’t have a ripe avocado, or I would have tried; therefore, I cannot personally vouch for this method.)
Random-ish post as I’m packing up and readying to head home tomorrow.
One of the books I found at the British Library was: THE GOOD HUSWIVES HAND-MAID, FOR COOKERIE IN HER KITCHEN IN DRESSING ALL MANNER OF MEAT, WITH OTHER WHOLSOM DIET, FOR HER AND HER HOUSHOLD, &C. (Note: They went in for the thorough title in 1595). Yes, it was a recipe book.
So, herewith, a recipe from THE GOOD HUSWIVES HAND-MAID, to share with you.
To boile mutton for a sicke bodie.
Put your mutton into a pipkin, seeth it, and scum it clean, and put thereto a cruste of bread, fenell roots, parsly roots, currans, great raisons (the stones taken out), and hearbs, according as the pacient is. If they be cold, hot hearbes may be borne: if they be hot, cold hearbes may be best, as Endive, Sinamon, Violet Leaves, and some Sorell: let them boyle together. Then put in Prunes, and a verie little salt. This is broth for a sick bodie.
So there you have it.
I don’t know what a pipkin is, offhand, and haven’t had time to look it up. (“Seeth it” means simmer it, if context can be trusted.)
Here is an actual email message I actually received yesterday from an actual child, who shall remain nameless: “Do not forget about the souvenirs. Love, Child-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless.”
One more random anecdote before I sign off. I spent yesterday evening with my host’s children and we did some very fun activities, like riding the bus to a nearby centre and eating pub food and shopping for souvenirs in the confectionary section of a grocery stores (souvenirs? what souvenirs?), and sitting in the upper deck of the bus on the way home, just because it seems like one should, while in London. After which we were going to have a fun movie night, but the Netflix movie wouldn’t work, and the kids were having a hard time picking one from the shelf that they both wanted to watch, and I was wracking my brain for alternate fun things to do, and here is what I said (sadly, in all seriousness, because Fun is truly my middle name): “I could read out loud to you from a book, if you’d like.” There was a beat of silence. And, like magic, the kids were suddenly agreeing on a movie both wanted to watch.
Speaking of Fun According to Carrie: being at the British Library was so fun. It was more than fun. It was soothing, it was peaceful, it rewarded my curiosity richly; it was a happy place to spend three days and if home weren’t calling me, I could move right in.
But home is calling me. And I need to go before I buy out all the souvenirs. (Buying souvenirs is also surprisingly fun. I haven’t really had occasion before.)
March break crafter
I’ve made this roasted squash recipe (written-out below) twice since we got our oven working again, and I’m recording it here because I would like to keep making it even after my friend Nath comes back from England and reclaims her cookbook collection, which I’m babysitting for the year; and of which I’ve been regretfully neglectful, as my cooking time has diminished greatly in recent memory. Enough apologies. Kevin cooks many more meals than he used to, and we both usually cook in a hurry out of necessity. This recipe is not suitable for the last-minute weeknight feeding frenzy. Actually, it’s not suitable to feed to children, at least not mine. So Kevin and I get to eat every last bite, and we’re not complaining.
finished dress with puffed sleeves and hoop skirt
I made this recipe last night, along with a heavily spiced lentil, rice and fried onion dish called Mejadra, from the same cookbook. When I realized how heavily spiced the lentil dish was going to be, I recruited Kevin to whip up a batch of hummus for the kids. The whole meal took me an hour and a half to prepare. Peeling squash and slicing onions is heavy labour. I needed a sous-chef, but Kevin was upstairs for most of the meal prep, swamped by a major room-swapping project that, I must confess, is still underway even today. I can’t go up there. It’s a disaster.
Where was I?
Oh, yes: on March break, surrounded by children, with a bit of extra time at supper for the making of dishes my children will refuse to consume.
March break soccer-in-the-living-room
This is adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, which I might have to add to my cookbook collection after Nath reclaims it. Meanwhile, here’s how to make roasted squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar:
Peel and cube two medium-sized winter squashes. I used a random assortment. Peel and slice at least two red onions. Combine squash and onion in a large mixing bowl and toss with approximately 3 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp salt, and some black pepper. Spread into a large pan or onto a baking sheet (I used a clay baking pan), and roast for 30-40 minutes at 475. Check occasionally, and stir if needed. Done when the squash is soft when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce. In a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp tahini, 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, the juice of half a lemon (you could use the whole lemon, but it gets pretty acidic), 2 tbsp water, and 1/4 tsp of salt. Stir until it’s a smooth honey-like consistency. Add more water or tahini if needed.
Finally, in a small pan, toast 3 tbsp pine nuts in a small amount of oil with a touch of salt, for a minute or two.
To serve, drizzle the tahini sauce over the roasted veggies, toss the pine nuts on top, and sprinkle the whole dish with 3 tbsp of za’atar, a spice that you really can’t replace with anything else, so go and get some. (Where, you ask? I’m not exactly sure: I got mine from Nath! And I’m nearly out, so I will need to find out, too).
I’m about to eat the leftovers for lunch, along with the Mejadra. And then we’re heading out on an all-family cross-country ski trip so that we can say that we’ve done something outside while not wearing pyjamas this March break. Wish us luck.
Tomorrow (Sunday) my biggest girl turns 10. She’s got swimming practice and a soccer game, back to back, and no desire to skip either. What she wants, instead, is to bring treats for her teammates.
I thought we’d accomodate by picking something up at the grocery store on our way. That’s a lot of kids!
But she was thinking homemade. She’d even looked up recipes.
Well, it is her birthday. And her birthday list is so humble and dear it includes requests for kiwi, mango, and pomegranate. (Done!) She’d also like books: a thesaurus, horse books, soccer books, fantasy books, and Shakespeare plays.
So we spent the afternoon, with a friend, making a quadruple batch of cupcakes from scratch. Quite the cupcake factory. Recipes posted below.
Boston Cupcakes (adapted from Fannie Farmer)
makes 50+ large cupcakes
Cream 20 tbsp of butter. Slowly add and beat in 4 cups of white sugar. When it’s nice and fluffy, add in 8 eggs, one at a time, and beat. Add and mix in 3 tsp vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together 5 cups of flour, 8 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt.
Add dry mixture by cups to wet, mixing all the while (we used a standing-mixer).
Add and mix in 2 cups of milk.
Line cupcake trays with papers and fill each cup about two-thirds with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.
In a double boiler, melt 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate with 4 tbsp butter and 2/3 of a cup of milk. Cool to lukewarm and add 4 cups of icing sugar (at least) and 2 tsp vanilla. Add icing sugar slowly, beating all the while, until you reach the desired consistency. Makes more than enough.
So it’s already Tuesday.
I’m visiting a book club this evening to discuss The Juliet Stories. I’ve got beans soaking for supper. And the sky looks white from where I’m sitting. The dogs are sleeping on top of each other on the couch. I searched the attic for winter hats and gloves this morning. And I ran 6.5km in half an hour, but my watch told me I’d run 7.8km, so I was a little disappointed (even though I realized that it had to be off — I’m not an under 4 minute/km runner).
The turkey was fabulous this weekend, but I took no photos. The last-minute prep got a bit hairy, so I forgot to use my camera altogether. But I spent the better part of Saturday in the kitchen, cooking a feast for family, and I can’t think of any other way I’d rather spend my holiday. On the menu this year: turkey, gravy, traditional bread stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, mashed squash with brown sugar and ginger, brussel sprouts with pecans, and green salad. Pumpkin and apple pie for dessert (not homemade), with freshly whipped cream. I stuck with the basics. What could be better? There were 13 of us around the table, and we ate almost an entire 14 pound turkey; cleaned up the leftovers for lunch the next day: turkey and cranberry sandwiches, with green tomato relish.
Which reminds me, some of you have requested my green tomato relish recipe, which I hesitated to post until ensuring it was good. Well, I’ll be darned, it’s good. We ate almost a pint of the stuff for Sunday’s lunch. Here’s the recipe (and be warned, it involves a lot of weighing — we actually dug out a scale from the basement for the purposes of making this relish; and then we all weighed ourselves too, just for fun.) Also observe: we canned spontaneously and had to make lots of substitutions.
Green Tomato Relish (from Joy of Cooking)
Combine in a large bowl: 8 pounds of green tomatoes, thinly sliced, and 2.5 pounds onions, thinly sliced, sprinkled with 1/2 cup salt. Stir well, cover, refrigerate for 12 hours. (Confession: We were short on time, so ours sat for about 1 hour.) Rinse the tomatoes and onions in cold water, drain.
Now, in a large nonreactive pot, bring to a boil and dissolve 2 pounds of brown sugar in 1 and 1/2 quarts cider vinegar. (Confession: We substituted at least a pound of white sugar, and 1 quart of white vinegar. I added some extra sugar before canning, too, to taste.)
Once sugar is dissolved, stir in the following: 2 pounds green bell peppers, sliced; 1 pound red bell peppers, sliced; 6 cloves garlic, sliced; 1 tablespoon dry mustard; 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt. (Confession: We didn’t have enough peppers, so I added chopped zucchini and eggplant to make up the difference in weight.)
Add tomatoes and onions and stir together well.
In a moist square of cloth, tie together the following ingredients, and add the cloth to the pot: 1 tablespoon whole cloves; 1 tablespoon ground ginger; 1 and 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds; 1 cinnamon stick broken into pieces. (Confession: We had no celery seeds. We made no substition for that lack.)
Simmer, stirring often, for about an hour, or until tomatoes become translucent. Can while hot in a boiling water canner: 15 minutes per pint or half-pint, 1/2-inch headspace.
I’m putting up a link to the Wild Writers Festival, which is a brand-new literary festival here in Waterloo, coming on November 2 and 3, and bringing to town a really fabulous line-up of writers, including Diane Schoemperlen, Russell Smith, Alexander MacLeod, Helen Humphreys, Alison Pick, Merilyn Simonds, Miranda Hill, Elizabeth Hay … see, I don’t want to stop listing names, they’re all so terrific. Personally, I’m hoping to pop in to Kerry Clare‘s blogging session, which is right before my panel discussion. Spread the word! And come if you can!
(And if you’re in Toronto, please know that Waterloo is closer than you think, and that you’re coming to one of the prettiest parts of the city, which just happens to be my neighbourhood — the festival is being held at the Balsillie School of International Affairs.)
1. Order a half bushel of tomatoes.
2. No, really, just do it, don’t think about it.
3. Because when they arrive, you’ll have to do something about it.
4. Problem solved.
(Made a different sauce this year. 8 litres of tomatoes + 1 and 1/4 lb of butter + 4 onions + 4 tsp salt = butter tomato sauce. Yields 7 quarts. I doubled the recipe. Thanks to my friend Ann, for the recipe.)