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.