31 December 2006

December in my kitchen

Okay...now that I have a few moments between things, here's what my kitchen was up to this month...baking for others:

51 dozen cookies and biscuits (assorted)
18 butter tarts
24 mini-fruitcakes
A heckuvalot of hard sauce
about 500 g of cranberry sauce

Creative use of turkey leftovers was pretty darned close to nil--soup and that's about it.

Mostly fed myself by mooching off of others, takeaways from the big scary megamart, McD's, Mr. Sub, Chinese food...lots of Christmas dinners as well.

I wish I had a cameraphone...then I could sneakily take pictures at the megamart--signs exclaiming that "We (Toronto beancounters (the store's ultimate bosses)) know freshness is important to you (me the customer)" atop mounds of moldy and rotten lemons, inedible citrus, even more "seasoned" meats --is it normal for chicken (no labelling re: seasoning) to have 200mg of sodium in it?



12 December 2006

Is that dust in my kitchen?

No, I haven't been cooking lately...unless you call microwaving my morning mug-o-milk cooking. I've been eating out and letting others feed me. My course is done, but I'm busy with work and Menu For Hope III over on Cardamom Addict.

I'll try and post something here that's relevant to a kitchen sometime soon.


03 December 2006

Easy meals

Sometimes all one needs is a few pieces of battered haddock with some big chunky chips. Nothing fancy. Just big, fleshy fillets of fish and the usual spice rub on the taters.

Supper was even easier. Went to TFE's and helped him put up the Christmas tree while we waited for the pizza delivery boy.


27 November 2006

Sliced meats

I have this bad habit of buying packets of sliced meats and not using all the meat up. I get one or two sandwiches out of it and then the meat sits in the drawer until it's past its expiry and I either throw it out or (if it's on the expiry date) feed it to the cats.

I just forget about the meat as my usual lunch is comprised of leftover supper...

Today I realised I had a lot of sliced turkey in the fridge...and the best-by date is a couple of days away. A quick sandwich for tomorrow's lunch and then I chopped up the rest, added some sauteed mushrooms, onions, garlic and tomatoes and poured it over some leftover noodles.

It wasn't half bad.


23 November 2006

Almost back to normal food

Okay, I'm still sick.

But I'm back to eating mostly normal foods.

I've not made a pepperfry in ages...but it was what I was craving. Beefsteak with lots of black pepper rubbed into it, sliced into strips fried in a pan with softened onions and garlic and a handful of greenbeans. Served some leftover dijonny mashed and some sauteed mushrooms.



19 November 2006

Christmas Pudding Day

I know it's not Stir Up Sunday...wait... I don't think it's Stir Up Sunday--the day when homilies or Church readings give that subtle clue that it's time to make the Christmas pudding--but it was Christmas Pudding Day today in my little kitchen.

I've never made my own Christmas Pudding before. The booze-soaked cannonball has always been store-bought: a half-litre bowl, wrapped in red cello, with a little packet of sauce...fine enough. This year, because of five little words Mummy uttered at the end of last year's meal, I decided to make a real Christmas pudding.

Between Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith and a couple of others I had more Christmas pudding recipes than I knew what to do with. Unfortunately, some of the ingredients called for in Delia's might be difficult to source without notice (barley wine--don't even know what it tastes like). Online I found Nigel Slater's recipe, and with a few adjustments (Out! Out! Darned citron!), I now have two Christmas puddings cooling in the kitchen.

It was really, really easy...but a bit more work than I originally thought. Probably because I'm still very tired and everything is taking 50 per cent longer than normal. That said, the kitchen smells wonderful...it's amazing how two masses of soused fruits, eggs along with a handful of this, a pinch of that can put me into the Christmas spirit.

Tomorrow, after the puds have cooled, I shall seal them up for a little more than a month. I don't know what I'll do with the second pudding. Maybe I'll give it away or perhaps keep it for next year's Christmas feast.


15 November 2006

I've tried...

Extra hot chicken wings
Extra hot and spicy coriander chicken
Various soups
Mushy foods
White pills
Yellow pills
Orange pills
Cream-coloured pills

Nothing is budging this cold.

Currently subsisting on small amounts of mushy food and a home remedy made of misc. spices. The home remedy is much more successful than what the pharmacos proffer. So much so that I'm heading into work tomorrow.


10 November 2006

Biscuits Biscuits Biscuits

I've not cooked in ages...okay, that's not really true...yes it is...I'm doing a lot of heating up. At best I'm adding a scrambled egg or something...

I've finally had some time in the kitchen and what do I make? Not food per se...but thank you baking. Six dozen biscuits exited the cavern--all but a dozen were given away. After being intrigued with Dorie Greenspan's "World Peace Cookies," I made them...not sure if they'll bring peace to turbulent areas, but they'll definitely calm frazzled nerves and make hungry-rumbly tummies happier. The other type I made were gingersnaps...I think I messed up measuring the butter as they spread out quite a bit...odd, since these are treats I make every Christmas without problems.

After the oven cooled, I heard the familiar scrabbling of little claws. Mousie's brethren. Not surprised as the weather has been warm and cold and warm and cold. I have no idea how they're getting in, but I know how they're getting out.


07 November 2006

Cookery book review: Baking: from my home to yours

For those of you who may be interested in the latest cookery book I've reviewed, see this post:


Tonight's meal was another night imposing upon the kindness of others: mummy.


05 November 2006

No, I haven't been in my kitchen for days

In fact I've barely been home.

My meals have been courtesy of the kindness of work, strangers and Mr. MasterCard via a local Chinese takeaway.

This situation needs rectifying.


31 October 2006


Far too busy a week.

Am surviving on omelettes and meals I've frozen eons ago. This weekend's bakefest was alluded to by Mr. Bean: three loaves of raisin bread, some cookbook testing-reviewing and of course Hallowe'en treats for the office. I will say that I'm quite happy with the way my Hallowe'en treats came out. I'll blog about them soon--hopefully tonight--on Cardamom Addict.

Baking these goodies reminded me of when people would hand out home-made treats around here. It's not that long ago when people stopped. Unfortunately with accidental (and purposeful) tainting, mini chocolate bars and chips and pop and whatnots are now the preferred "treats."

As we rarely get trick-or-treaters, only one bag of Twix bars is in the house. I am looking for a sentimental favourite in the stores, though. Cannot find any of the mollasses toffees (Hallowe'en kisses) this year--I thought they were a staple at this time of year. Was at the TFE's grocery store last night--noticed the only things left in the candy aisle were raisins, Kraft caramels and plain chips.

Edit: Here's the Hallowe'en treat post: http://cardamomaddict.blogspot.com/2006/10/me-all-halloweeny-2006.html


26 October 2006

Note to self

Choco-covered coffee beans are potent candies. Do not eat any after 9pm...


23 October 2006

Quick supper

Given how infrequently I eat pasta, I feel as if I'm eating a lot of it.

Got in late from work. Need to leave in 30 minutes for the TFE's so as to watch the yummy new Doctor. Thank goodness I had some meatballs in the freezer along with some fresh broccoli and brussel sprouts. As the pasta water boiled, fried the little balls-o-meat and then, in the drippings added some onions and garlic. Tossed in the veg--gave it all a shake and let them steam for a while. when done, added some tomato sauce that was in the fridge, put the cooked meatballs back in and kept it on low. Added cooked spaghetti (well, spaghettini) and some cheese. Made enough for lunch tomorrow, so that's all sorted.


22 October 2006

Nursing a cold

This is a nasty bug. It's settled into my chest like a bad party guest who is immune to the subtle and not-so-subtle hints that he should leave...is still on the couch. I have as much energy as a dust mote.

But I must get into the kitchen today. I am very tired of subsisting on stale raisin bread and orange juice when at home. While away last week, I dined on fine and passable meals, but I need something easy...and soft...and sweet. Out came the bowl and in dumped flour, eggs, blueberries, milk, baking powder and out poured blueberry pancakes. I don't think I should have made the back bacon...it tasted off.

Need to finish up the recipe reviewing. I so desperately want to make so many things from this book, but I know I won' get them all done.

The cats are still unhappy about Mousie's disposal. Given they have walnut-sized brains, I'd have thought my feline friends would have forgotten about him by now. Makes me wonder if they are the ones who let him in in the first place.


21 October 2006

My kitchen visitor

Before I left for the conference, Mousie returned. Not a problem, just set up the trap and wait until he's had his fill and gets bored and leaves again. It's not as if he'll be caught.

I came back to find that Mousie is no longer with us.

The cats are quite upset.


16 October 2006

Baking up a cold

Overdid it this weekend and worsened my cold--a deep, chesty cough has settled in, but what else does one expect from me?

Spent the weekend baking--Saturday was the only day I could get anything done for World Bread Day. Went through the beautiful "Home Baking" by Alford and Duguid for inspiration, but decided that all that was needed was a hearty loaf. Found it in Edna's Schmecks, via Neil's Harbour Bread. I made one small modification: used milk instead of water since I had too much unused milk in the carton and it was due to go off on Monday. Good thing I did as it was as thick as buttermilk this morning. If I had the time I'd make pancakes or make some cakes, but I'm out of town for most of the week and I need to get homework done.

Afterwards, felt too tired to do anything, so TFE and I retreated to the very drafty booth in the pub--probably a good contributor to this cough.

Sunday I was industrious and did some cookbook reviewing. Great book--a near-perfect pie (by my standards) and wonderfully moist brownies. Great writing contributed to probably the best pie crust yet. The romantic in me fell for the backstory of the brownies...not a disappointment.

Woke up feeling horrid. Tired and horrid. Needed easy supper tonight after a long day at work. Mushroom and cheese omelet hit the spot.


12 October 2006

Waxed paper wrappers

Sometimes the only relief from an unending parade of turkey leftovers can be found in a waxed paper wrapped takeaway burger and overly salty fries, served by a cocky twit of a cashier.


09 October 2006

A hearty lunch

Cooking for a bit of a crowd today. Decided to get with the spirit and make an Oktoberfesty lunch, loosely based on a meal I had at a festhall last year.

Apart from creamy scalloped potatoes (with cheese..lots of cheese), I roasted Oktoberberfest sausages on some spiced carrots. The beauty of this meal is that everything cooks at the same oven temp. Just popped it all in and baked it for an hour. The accompaniments were (of course) sauerkraut and sweet mustard.


07 October 2006

Behold the wondrous Greening

Apple pie day today. Went to the market and bought about five kilos of apples for a total of about $10. Talked to a small grower who had a variety I'd read about but never saw in the stores. Among other types, she grows Greenings (which she calls Granny Greenings). They look an awful lot like Granny Smiths--small and green--and they are similar to Granny Smiths --tart and good in pies--but they aren't as puckering. Don't think many local growers have them. She also grows Cox Orange Pippins, but I've missed them by about two weeks. This year's crop wasn't the greatest, thanks to the rains, so I will have to wait for a year or so. From her, I bought the Greenings and some little Golden Delicious. Went to Martins and picked up some Honey Crisp and Galas as well. A mixed apple tart is always more pleasing than a mass from a single variety.

I don't know what got into me, but after making a decent pastry the other week, I decided to fiddle with the recipe. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have. I'm sure it will be fine--won't know until tomorrow. I wound up using half the apples to make a giant, 10" deep dish pie. I barely had enough pastry for the pie. The top of the coffin collapsed, leaving the little ceramic pie-vent bird nekked to the world. Poor little thing.

Just finished creating a new ice cream -- honey-cinnamon. It worked out rather well. Not cloying, as I often find honeyed puddings, but subtly sweet with a good, nutty cinnamon flavour. It is the colour of milky coffee. It's a perfect compliment to the pie. Not sure if I'd have it on it's own. The flavour is fine, but not sure if it can hold it's own...it needs to be part of a mutual admiration society of sort.

Was guest chef at TFE's for supper. Recipe testing for the next Canada Eats review. Everything turned out very well. I have one more dish to make up and then I'm done with this book (apart from writing the review, that is).


06 October 2006

Mid-Thanksgiving puttering

For reasons only truly understood by her, my mum has decided to have two Thanksgiving meals this year. The first was last night, so I am living off leftovers: roast beef, potatoes, veg...I have no pie, though...hmmm...

The real meal takes place on Sunday and I'll be making an apple pie for it...much to my mum's delight and chagrin. She hates pastry and I love it...Am currently trying to figure out the perfect apple mix for the pie. I've also decided to make a honey-cinnamon ice cream for it. All will be done tomorrow...

On top of that, I'll be recipe testing at TFE's tomorrow. Just sorting out the shopping list...


04 October 2006

This is what happens when you sleep in...

It seems like ages ago that pasta was a really regular occurrence in my diet. Noodles, lasagnas, stuffed pastas were happily devoured. I don't know when I slowed down on my strand slurping. No, my love affair with pasta didn't meet its downfall when the low-carb craze kicked in--as if I'd follow something as silly as that--I think I just got bored and tired of it. Now, it seems as if noodles and their friends only show up when I can't think of something else to have, or need something that's super easy and there's nothing in the freezer to reheat.

Today is a pasta day. I still have loads of the ratatouille left over. I originally wanted to put it on pizza, but with the dark, dark mornings, I'm having trouble getting out of bed at a decent hour, therefore couldn't get a good start to the dough before I left for work. Oh well...the veg will be used for the pasta...I'll add some mushrooms and cheese to it...quick, hearty and filling...just before I run out the door...


01 October 2006

Oven-roasted goodness

It's cooling down again. The skies, although bright, are grey. It's also raining a bit--spits and spats. Today feels like October...which is good, because it is October.

I don't know why but on Sundays my main meal seems to be lunch. Today it's porkchops slathered in a spicybarbeque sauce, baked in the oven along side potatoes tossed in olive oil and spiced with salt, pepper and coriander. Steamed veg accompanies. It's good, simple and a bit heartier than I've been having lately.

Supper is the above, but a smaller portion. I've made the oven-roasted ratatouille--it's aromas are permeating everything. I've made too much of it (if that's possible) and I had to split it into two baking dishes. I'll be eating it for a few days. Am thinking of picking up some puff pastry and rolling the leftovers into a struedel. I think, given my time (and lack thereof), I'll use this for my CBBP2 entry.

Mousie is awol. Neither the peanut butter nor the bacon fat have been nibbled. Chances are it found some other food store...the cats are useless beings when it comes to these things. For all I know, they are hiding mousie.


30 September 2006

Dirty tomatoes & candles disguised as vegetables

&Saturdays are usually when I take the exbf grocery shopping. He can't drive, and doesn't live near any markets (mega or otherwise), so we usually do our shopping together.

I'm still on my market high from last week, so I decided to explore another market. This time, it's a private enterprise that's only open six or seven months of the year. All the produce is either very local or grown within the province. It sits on the side of a country road and is surrounded by farmers' fields. Inside are crates of fruits and veg. Most look as if they were recently picked. The reddy-orange tomatoes still had some dirt clinging to them, giving them a slightly powdery feel--just like the ones my parents used to grow.

It was pretty much then and there I decided to make a roasted ratatouille. Pretty much all the ingredients are in season right now. We did go to the big, scary mega-mart to get the usual litter and some frozen things. The only thing the country market didn't have that I'd really like is yellow courgettes (lots of green, but no yellow).

I found one yellow one at the mega mart. It wasn't alone, it was surrounded by palid decorative gourds. The produce stock boys apparently don't know the difference between courgettes and whatever they put out in the bin...sigh...I don't claim to be knowledgeable of the different types of this or that, but I do know that these weren't courgettes...and if they were, they looked incredibly anaemic--rivaling the beige of a too-milky coffee, and had a bulge at the one end; whatever the impostors were, they could easily have been decorative candles.

28 September 2006

Not quite Oktober yet

Sometimes I think of my fridge as a TARDIS--it seems to hold much more than it should....which also means that things can get very lost in it and then mysteriously found...

Today it had some bratwurst. I'm not a fan of it, but I bought it for a brunch, but never made it. The best-by date was fine, so it was braised and served with some roasted potatoes, more of that eggplant and a dollop of very nice sour cream. In a very odd way it was like Oktoberfest...but without the schnitzel, the sauerkraut and the beer...Iand the band.

I think if I get bratwurst again, I'll go to a delicatessen, instead of the megamart. It tasted like a tarted up hotdog. Oh well...the veg more than made up for it.

The mouse is still being fattened up.


27 September 2006

Warm and spicy

It's coming down in torrents. The end of the street is flooded and there's a wicked wind. A perfect excuse to stay inside.

Tonight's supper is partially scavenged. The boys left some shimp pickle behind from their visit the other week: little, teeny, spicy-lemony shrimp. Found some curried eggplant...can't remember it's real name. It doesn't matter-- all soft and a little sweet and a deep, caramelized brown. The two on their own aren't enough for a meal so a stirfry is made: carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms and beans in a curried sauce, all over (overcooked) vermicelli noodes. Yummy yummy yummy. Leftovers will be tomorrow's lunch.

The mouse is alive and is very much enjoying the peanut butter shmeared on the trap's trigger...


25 September 2006

Scavenged lunch

I rolled in at about 2am from the Clapton concert. Thank goodness I didn't have to be at work today. Still tired--a good good tired from a good night. Regardless, I didn't feel like cooking anything for lunch today, so I rooted around in the fridge...a couple of pieces of cold, battered fish would be my destiny. Roasted some potatoes and put the fish on the same pan, part way through the cooking. Matched it up with some sauteed spinach with tofu and ginger. Followed that up with some peach pie topped with peach ice cream.

The mouse is still elusive.


23 September 2006

My pastry skills aren't that rusty

Took the exbf grocery shopping today. Went to the butcher for back bacon and then headed out to the big scary mega mart. I didn't need that much-- sandwich fixings, milk and sour cream. It's amazing how unappetising the produce and meats were at the mega mart. I never noticed exactly how many were imports from the US. Regardless, the cabbages and apples and everything else weren't nearly as beautiful as what I saw at the markets this week...probably the decision of a Toronto accountant to lives on frozen food. I wonder why anyone who lives here would buy their fresh produce at the mega mart instead of the market at this time of year. The prices were much, much better at the market too.

Lunch was a restorative bowl of miso broth spiked with a quarter of a minced red chilli and filled out with some dulse that's been sitting in the cupboard for far too long. Totally forgot to add some shitake mushrooms to it. Oh well. It's a teeny bit of balance to all the take-aways and dining out I've done this month.

Spent the afternoon baking. Made a lovely peach pie with the peaches I picked up on Thursday. The crust is actually quite nice. I think I've found my groove. Also made a dozen raspberry muffins as a hostess gift for a friend. She's putting up with me--er--putting me up tomorrow night. Don't want to drive home at midnight from the Clapton concert.

Don't know when I'll actually eat that pie as I'm rushing out the door right now to have supper with TFE and I won't be back until Monday. Let's hope that mouse that's invaded my scullery will have met a natural demise, courtesy of one of the cats.


22 September 2006

...to buy a fat...


Went to the other market today. Here's my post on Cardamom Addict. Huge crowds and lots of farmers...and a few resellers. I bought a basket of peaches. They weren't as nice as the ones the guy from St. Catharines had, but they'll do for a pie. I also bought the tastiest strawberries I've had this year, along with raspberries. I foresee a pie in my near future. I also picked up some really lovely shitakes (couldn't resist) and a kilo of chilli peppers for mum. The peppers were quite potent: you could tell they were picked as mature fruit (veg?) and not as young things--mum was quite thrilled...if not a bit dismayed at the quantity I brought her. I swear they must have multiplied in the bag. Had lunch there as well -- perogies and apple fritters--brought back a box of a half dozen.

Also drove out to Elmira to pick up some apple molasses. Unfortunately, none was to be found, but I did find some apple syrup at Kitchen Cuttings.

When I got home, did some therapeutic baking. Since Edna's death I've been going through her books to find something to make. Her butter tarts did the trick. I desperately need to get back into pastry-making form: almost botched the pastry--far too rich, needed more flour. But the filling tasted wonderful.

Edna, Dear Friend and I were supposed to have supper tonight. Instead he and I went to the great Thai place and talked for two hours...about her, him, me, the situation in Thailand and local politics. I gave him some tarts, which he appreciated. He told me that they tasted just like Edna's. A kinder compliment I couldn't have asked for.


20 September 2006

To market, to market...

Today rain accompanies the cold. I should actually say colder weather. I went to one of the weekday farmers' markets. I'm off work this week, and thought it nice to go when I'm not fighting tourist- and 9-5er-filled crowds. To my surprise and relief the ratio of grower to re-seller is pretty much reversed on Wednesdays. I like that. I hate the idea of people with cube vans going to the Ontario Food Terminal and then selling their merchandise at something called a farmers' market. There were a couple of them there today, pretty gruff, not knowing the difference between aubergines and butternut squash.

I didn't buy anything because I didn't really need anything. I just went to window shop, sans windows. Even though everything looked lovely -- carrots all wiggly and plump; whiter than white cauliflower;huge, leafy cabbages, and blushing hot peppers -- what tempted me most were the Niagara peaches. The last of the season: their sweet scent perfuming the air around the table. The grower had a huge basket of them, too huge for me to use up before they spoil. Which is a pity, because I love really ripe peaches. Maybe next year, I'll organize myself a bit better and set aside a week to make peach pies, tarts, cakes and preserves.

Tomorrow I hope to get to the other weekday market. Hopefully it will be a tad warmer and a little less wet.

Cardamom Addict has pictures of today's adventure:



19 September 2006

Well-risen dough

The mercury dropped nine degrees since yesterday. It's cool in here today--not so cool as to turn up the thermostat, but cool enough to turn on the oven. Mushrooms are languishing in the fridge and the red capsicum will need to be used up. Today is a pizza day. Since travelling to Italy, I've preferred thin crusted and sparsely, but flavourfully topped pizzas. Not today. I want something heartier, but meatless. On top of the thickly-patted, well-risen dough is spooned tomato sauce, mozz, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, red capsicum, fresh jalepenos, onions and green olives; olive oil, salt and pepper finish it off. There's lots of pizza left over. Not sure if I'll freeze it or have it as leftovers later.


18 September 2006


Yes, I fully realise how pompous it is to being a new blog with "Prologue" as the first post's title.

But I think it's appropriate.

A couple of things happened in my life recently, almost one on top of the other. About a week and a half ago I had a birthday. And one of the wonderful things I received was Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries. I've been longing for it since discovering it on a table at a local Chapters. It's premise is simple: a year in the life of his kitchen. He writes about going to the market, pottering in the garden, cleaning out his fridge and pantry...it's a wonderful read. It's about real food, for real people. It's unfettered cooking. Yes, he hosts dinner parties and writes about what he serves and how he cooked it, but on the whole it's about it's about (what I think of) as one of life's pleasurable necessities: our daily feed.

The other event was Edna's death. She was a truly wonderful woman, and although we only had two dinners together, with one more planned, I will miss her deeply. I've been introspective, flipping through Schmecks, reading her words. Her foods are real meals and snacks that people throw together: not the adorned, faux gourmet stuff that feeds food porn, but the foods that enrich and sustain us. In short, it's real food.

That's not to say that what I write in Confessions of a Cardamom Addict is not real food. It is. And most of it is tasty. But it doesn't wholly represent how I eat nor, more importantly, how I come to eat what I do. It's a space I've developed to improve my cooking and my writing and to learn more about food--it's production and preparation. It's not a journal of my own little scullery.

That's what this space is for. My own rendition of Kitchen Diaries.

Before I go on, I must assert my disbelief in recording every morsel of food that goes into my mouth as a step towards personal betterment. If that works for you, that's great, but I find that sort of thing tedious. You won't find that here (or at least, I hope you won't). You probably won't find the passable photography that adorns my other site, nor an overabundance of long-winded posts, nor posts "just to have something up there."

If I post recipes, don't look for precise measurements--add enough of this or that, put in enough of this until it tastes right, cook it until done....you know, the way real people cook. In short, what I hope you will find, is simply this: my kitchen's diary. Posts about what feeds me--and what I feed others, how I find it or how I cannot find it. You'll also see links to Cardamom Addict--don't worry, that space will continue to exist and will be the main focus of my foodblogging.

I'll be back in a bit to begin the diary.