Archive | October, 2011

One day at a time.

26 Oct

Last night we saw the Northern Lights, large bands of red and green covered the Northern sky like ribbons of salt water taffy.  I have never seen them before, but had always wanted to; impressive and awe inspiring.  While we were watching the night sky above us, I saw a shooting star. I took both of these events as an omen that I needed to step back and count my blessings.  So here goes;

 Family, both the two and four legged varieties.

 Friends, same as above

The  ability to travel as in my upcoming trip to New York

I have a good job, I live in a great house, no buts…

DJR, no explanation required, especially because he will eat beans and vegetarian wieners with me.

Canadian health care, always available when we need it.

Sybil, my car.

The Simons.

Thin crust pizza.

Polenta

Lentils

My friend Lee

I’m actually getting tired writing this list, there is a lot to be grateful for…I just need to remember that.

This one makes me believe in miracles.

Salted Caramel Pie

25 Oct

Despite the fact that yesterday was Sunday, it was still a stressful day; beginning with the fact that we still do not have a home phone…technical difficulties with the new, less expensive (cheaper?) provider, then, keys were lost, then found, a wallet was lost, then found, then $300.00 later spent at Home Depot when we only went in for a smoke detector, then the afternoon was spent cleaning a mess that someone else made in one of our rental units.  Don’t people clean their fridges any  more?? Or take back empties?  Or recycle their broken glass?  No, no they don’t and I have bleach smelling prune hands covered in cuts to prove it.  And, my Mom is still in the hospital.  Stress in my life always manifests itself in illness, I’m doing whatever I can, not to get sick…trying to find some balance and peace.  So I made a pie, a salted caramel pie.

What intrigued me about this recipe, aside from the obvious lava like gooey caramel was the fact that it had few ingredients(all of which I had in my kitchen) and that it was relatively quick once you made the caramel.

A year ago I bought a small slow cooker to make caramel or dulce de leche.  Really, that all I use it for.  This recipe from the November issue of Food&Wine calls for the caramel to be made in a water bath in the oven, I used my slow cooker set on “high” for about two hours instead, stirring about every 30 minutes.  It worked perfectly.  Other than the time required for the caramel, the pie took 20 minutes to prepare.

Spending time alone in my kitchen cooking or baking is living in the moment, it is both restorative and nourishing, helping me to face another day, and quite likely another trip to the hardware store.

Salted Caramel Pie (from November 2011 Food&Wine)

1  1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

4 tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 cup brown sugar

two cans of sweetened condensed milk

fleur de sel

2 cups of heavy cream

2 tbsp. icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor, process crumbs, melted butter and brown sugar until moist.  Pat into a 9 inch pie pan (bottom and sides).  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

For the caramel I used a small slow cooker, but the original recipe calls for the caramel to be made in the oven, so if you opt for the oven method; increase the oven temp. to 425F. Pour the condensed milk into a glass oven proof 13 X9 inch pan, sprinkle with a 1/2 tsp. of the fleur de sel.  Cover the dish with foil and place in a large roasting dish.  Add enough hot water to come half way up the side of the dish.  Bake, lifting the foil to stir 2 or 3 times until golden and thick, about 2 hours.  Which is how long the slow cooker method took and seemed less work.

Scape the caramel into the baked shell, cool for 1/2 an hour.  Whip the cream with the icing sugar, spreading it on top of the chilled filling, sprinkle with an additional 1/2 tsp. of the salt.

Super delicious, easy and oh so comforting.

The finished pie.

The test piece.

What to have for dinner.

18 Oct

Is it just me or is it really tricky trying to meet everyone’s needs and expectations while trying all the while to be eco-friendly, politically correct, gainfully employed, fit, happy and sober all at the same time???

It’s on the days when life overwhelms that dinner needs to be quick, delicious and easy.  I admit to being a lazy cook, we have to eat, but I just want to go to bed, even if it is just 5 o’clock.  I have a repertoire of satisfying and healthy options, like Vegetarian Curry in a Hurry.  It’s a stupid name, but it’s fast and it’s good, and even better the next day.

This dish make me feel better about things; it maybe be chaos around me, but I can still feed the people I care about.

Vegetarian Curry in a Hurry

1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped fine

2 minced gloves of garlic

2 tsp. curry powder (I use Lalleys)

1 carrot, peeled and diced fine

1 celery stalk, diced fine

1/2 cup water

1 large can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes with their juice

1 large can (19 oz.)  lentils, drained

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine butter and oil, when melted, add onion, carrots, and celery.  Saute, stirring for about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add minced garlic and curry powder, saute for an additional 3 or 4 minutes.  Add water and simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and lentils, salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 10 minutes or until heated through.  Serve with rice, couscous or on its own.

This obviously isn't a picture of the lentil curry, but it is a picture that Randy took of himself in the side view mirror of my car. I really like this picture.

lately.

18 Oct

It’s been a while.  I’m sorry.  I don’t want to make excuses, but life has been dealing me a few challenging rounds.  I’m not complaining, just coping with the day to day;which includes my Mom who is really sick and has been hospitalized since September 23.

Other than doing lots of extra driving. here’s what I’ve been up to, and a few things that I have been thinking about;

Why is hospital food so unhealthy?  I’m not talking about bland, but unhealthy, mass produced pre-packaged, industrial, full of preservatives and chemicals fake food.  Jello pudding cups, Kellog’s Nutri-grain bars???  Is this really what we feed sick people?  Why don’t hospitals serve their patients real food, you know food that comes from farms, not factories?  We’ve been lead to believe by “experts,” that real food is full of fat and or too much salt and is therefore unhealthy.  But really it’s about “efficiencies,” i.e. saving money.  But long term/big picture, people who eat healthy food, are generally healthier and end of saving all of us taxpayers money.

I’ve been cooking and taking food to my Mom in the hospital; vegetarian curry in a hurry, stupid name but delicious dish, ricotta gnocchi, rice pudding, chocolate pudding, soups, anything that I can think of that is healthier than what the hospital tries to pass of as “food.”  Ok, got that off my chest.

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures lately, and so has my nephew Randy, his are more interesting than mine, but what’s really interesting is that he has limited vision and is legally blind.  While looking at some his pictures I was able to see into his heart, he is a wondrous gift.

Life is not bad right now, just complicated, and I am still grateful.

I had to get back to this, I will post recipes tomorrow, but for now snaps of my life lately…

Randy by Randy

Uncle Dan, by Randy

Danielle and Vanessa set our Thanksgiving table.

Piggy taking a break from all of the Thanksgiving festivities.