Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thread Crochet and Vintage Patterns

So.........You probably don't know this.........I have a thing for thread crocheted hot pads. When I find them (which I suppose is thankfully not that often) I always buy them. They remind me of ones one grama made when I was little. These days you will only find such things at thrift shops or antique stores.....thrift shops being my preference as they are usually less than a dollar each. I use them all......all the time (I use them to set my teapot on to catch any drips) I can say that they are not going to waste. For some strange unexplained reason....I will also buy vintage pattern books for knitting or crochet. This is strange to me as I'm pretty sure that following these patterns is at the very edge of my capabilities....but I just keep buying them anyway. I've now signed up for a swap (hosted by this crafty gal) to make a thread crochet item for the kitchen.....mostly to force myself to get on with it and use some of these darned pattern books. If you stop in at her blog link above....take a minute to check out the link to her etsy shop.....she makes the most beautifully crafted crochet rolls for storing you hooks. I have one and I just love it:)
Thread crochet, more than anything, has frightened me the most....It seems much more difficult than crocheting with yarn......whether it is or not....I don't just seems that way to me. Since I picked up a bag of 2 1/2 balls of pretty aqua cotton yarn, I thought I try something with it, in the interest of continueing to make progress with my granny a day project. It's about as thick as a sock yarn, but I'm not sure what the recommended hook or needle size would be. I used a 3.5mm hook....and decided to try a little and see how difficult it really was. After a lot of you tube coaching.....I've made some progress. It took me one evening (with a bit of you tubing) to make the first side....the second side was quite a bit quicker. So there you have first crocheted hot pad. I decided to try a free pattern from Priscilla Hewitt in the kitchen section called scalloped potholder. It turned out to be 6 inches (or 15cm) since I used thinner yarn than recommended by the pattern. (It would have been 8 inches had I used the recommended worsted weight yarn. I think I may try one or two more before moving on to a thinner cotton thread.....but so far so good and it has been fun!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Starbucks Felt Coffee Cozy

Here we go with another felt coffee cozy. This time, for another swap-bot coffee cozy swap. The swap provided a pattern to help us out if we didn't have a plan. I just used a cardboard coffee sleeve from Starbucks as a template........and it looks like that's just what this person whos pattern was referenced did if you don't have a cardboard sleeve to trace......go here and use this printable's pretty much exactly the same as the Starbucks sleeve in size and shape and the instructions are there to make one of all fabric prints rather than using felt as I have.
I used some blue felted Melton cloth for the outside cut out exactly the size of the template, (it requires no seam allowance as its cut edges will not unravel) and lined the inside with a cotton print fabric which I cut 1/4 inch larger than the cardboard (or printed) template.
I placed the template down on the wrong side of the cotton fabric and turned the 1/4 inch seam allowance over the template and steamed it in place, making it the exact shape as the template....clipping curves.
Then I removed the template and placed the two fabrics wrong sides together and top stitched them together near the outside edge. (They should be exactly the same size now) At this point I added on some rick rack....because I like rick rack:).
To join the two short ends together, I just overlapped and top stitched in place. I have in the past joined the two ends using buttons and button holes like with this cozy.....but this one I just sewed together. Before assembling, I used some fabric applique and embroidery to decorate the front.
Can't get enough of those little birds.....I know I should really come up with something new! Another quick and easy project and a good little gift for teacher or friend:)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nanaimo Bars ... Eh??

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

Nanaimo Bar has got be one of the worlds most perfect foods. When they were announced for this month's bakers challenge.....I was tickled and a little perplexed. I was pretty excited to make them because I don't make them very often, although I do love them.......they are so easy to find here in the grocery stores and you are almost assured to find some at any luncheon you might attend......but perplexed that this unbaked dessert had been selected for a 'bakers challenge'. After reading further into the challenge, I discovered that the baking portion of the challenge was to be making the graham crackers from it all made sense! Graham crackers are one of the most common staple snacks to have on hand for families with little kids. I myself don't keep them in the cupboard, probably because my mom never did. This challenge reminded me that I have on occasion eaten a lightly buttered graham cracker as a snack and they are good. I was well on my way to getting very excited about this challenge. The recipe provided has received great comments on it's goodness and I would encourage you to give it a try. I chose to use this recipe but substituted graham flour for the total amount of gluten free flours recommended. For me it really wouldn't be a graham cracker if I didn't use graham flour, and I was very very curious to see just how much better a homemade graham cracker might be than a store bought one. Plus I had all the flours necessary to make a traditional graham flour version. The recipe provided lacked the wheat germ and wheat bran which give graham crackers their distinctive flavour. If you happen to have wheat germ and wheat bran on hand (oddly enough I did) you can make your own graham flour as per the link above. In the future I would like to try the gluten free version to see if they actually taste like a graham cracker, as it did get very good feedback from other bakers.

As it happens...the home baked graham crackers were really nice. The dough was quite sticky to work with and I floured the board very liberally with rice flour while working with it. The crumb of the cracker is finer than that of store bought ones. Very nice for a snack just on their own and I will most definitely make some more for Ike to have after school since he has already gobbled up the extras I had. (I only made a 1/2 batch)
The Naniamo/New York debate- There has been some controversy over the origins of this dessert. Some claim its origins to be Vancouver Island (Nanaimo Bars)....while others claim it originated in the US under the name New York Slice. I myself had never heard of a Nanaimo Bar until I was in high school when they had a resurgence in popularity and they became widely available in the grocery stores. At that time I discovered that Nanaimo Bar=New York Special........they are exactly the same thing. Certainly I had eaten more than my share of Nanaimo Bars up to that point, but in our house the recipe in my mom's recipe box had always been labeled 'New York Special'. My mother grew up having these bars at many a bridal shower or baby shower. If there was a get together you were just about guaranteed to run into a pan of these. That was in 1950-1953 and they were called New York Special. Sometimes the butter cream layer was tinted pink and sometimes green just to make it pretty......probably to match the dyed bread ribbon sandwiches which you could also bank on seeing at any bridal or baby shower in the area. Perhaps it is a regional for me they will always be New York Special, and when someone says Nanaimo Bar.....I still have to do the translation in my head. Regardless of it's origins......the Bar is certainly more pervasive in the Canadian dessert repertoire now than it is in the US. It is this persistent production that drives the sale of Birds Custard powder in Canada. It always struck me as odd that the butter cream layer (yes it is a buttercream layer flavoured with custard is not a 'custard' layer) used custard powder to flavour it. I was never really keen on the uncooked cornstarch (the major component of custard powder) being in that layer....yuck!....and I swear that I can taste the uncooked corn starch.......but I suppose there is an amount of cornstarch in icing sugar anyway......
All questions of its origins is very popular here in Canada like no where else. Whether it was ours to begins with or certainly is ours now. The recipe provided below is very similar to the original with a slight increase in the ratio of coconut to graham crumb, a substitution of almonds over the more traditional walnut, and the use of unsalted butter. Since I had almonds on hand I decided to give them a try......although I think I'd prefer the texture of the walnut better. I also toasted the almonds which made the bottom layer very much tasting like a burnt almond chocolate bar. Although this is not a bad thing, it is really not the way a 'Nanaimo Bar' should taste and I would definitely not use the almonds again.....but now I know:)

Canadian cooking is certainly a tree with very broad roots, and it is wonderful that the span of these roots continues to grow and evolve. I'm certain that years from now the cooking which defines Canada will be even more varied. Off the top of my head, these are a few foods that strike me as being 'Canadian'. They may not all be 'distinctly Canadian' .....but if you are've likely had a good number of these or at the very least know what they are. Canadian cooking is very regional.
  • Tourtiere (very good with gravy or ketchup)
  • French Canadian Pea Soup (kicks ass on green pea any day)
  • Fried Bannock (OMGoodness that stuff is good)
  • Jiggs Dinner (an odd one....but super easy and quite tasty)
  • Poutine (french fries and gravy...good already I know....well add some cheese curds)
  • Wild Rice
  • Ginger Beef (Alberta Style twice fried beef in a sweet and ginger spicy sauce)
  • Matrimonial Slice (deceivingly good date and oatmeal squares)
  • Butter Tarts (delicious straight out of the freezer)
  • Persians (if you like cinnamon buns...these are even better)
  • Flapper Pie
  • Saskatoon Pie
  • Sugar Pie
  • Grand Pere au Syrop
  • Figgy Duff
  • Bloody Caesar (Bloody Mary doesn't stand a chance poor girl:( )
Now...for the Challenge Recipe....

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

If you'd like to see some other Nanaimo Bar results have a look over at the Daring Bakers.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Laziness, Productivity and Food

Life has been slow this week.....and that's a nice change of pace. There have not been too many things on the to do least not so many that it's hard to keep up. We've had a few lazy days....which always slip by much more quickly than you imagine they should. The only thing on the must do list each of these days was to make something for supper. Which, lazy as it might seem, didn't happen at all one day. Curiously enough as supper time was approaching yesterday, I was left to make supper without the benefit of a trip to the grocery I was limited to what I had on hand. Strange as it sounds, this left me with the unusual option of making Ma Po Tofu for dinner. I cannot recall if Ike has eaten Ma Po Tofu before.....we used to make Ma Po a lot for dinner....but not in the last few this was a bit of an experiment. Oddly enough he enjoyed it....I mean I think he really liked it. When I placed it down in front of him, he asked...."is that Tofu??" in a hopeful voice.

Aside from all the laziness.......I did have one project that I needed to get out in the mail. So I finished it up, and this little bit of embroidery is now on it's way to sunny New Zealand to become part of a bigger quilt project. I'm excited to see the end result as this lady does some beautiful work. She was a partner I had for a swap last year, and when she asked if other bloggers would take part in her quilt project, I promised I'd do my part. Being a procrastinator by nature....mine will likely be the last to return:(
If you find yourself wondering what to make for supper.........make some Ma Po Tofu, here is a recipe for you to try.
Ma Po Tofu
(serves 4)

200-300g package of firm tofu
about 15 cm across piece of tenderized beef steak (the kind that's perforated)
1 1/2 Tbsp Soy Bean Paste
1 tsp garlic chili paste
1 inch cube ginger minced
3 Tbsp oil
2 tsp fermented black beans
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp tapioca or corn starch stirred into 1 tbsp cold water
1/4 tsp szechuan peppercorns, ground
2 tbsp scallion chopped
1/2 cup optional vegetables, (chopped peppers, carrots, peas)

Drain and cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Chop up beef steak to mince. I usually do this while it is partly frozen. Fry beef in oil in a wok over high heat until most of the pink is gone. Add ginger, soy bean paste, black beans, chili paste and stir fry 30 seconds. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer and turn down heat to keep simmering. Add tofu cubes, sugar and soy sauce. Add in any optional vegetables now......I just used frozen peas this time. Stir carefully so as not to break up the tofu. Simmer 5 minutes. Thicken with starch solution and let bubble 2 minutes. Turn into a serving dish and garnish with chopped scallions and ground peppercorns. Serve over hot steamed rice.

You can make this with tenderized pork rather than beef if you prefer or omit the meat altogether.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Granny a Day Keeps you........ Right on Track

I have not a lot of crocheting experience. Growing Grama K was the 'go to' lady when it came to knitting and crocheting. Although if I had to guess......I'd bet that crochet was a tiny bit more 'up her alley' than knitting. Her crochet production rate was rather astounding. She made afghans, bedspreads, horrible crocheted beer can hats, terrible poodle toilet tissue covers, some slipper....(slippers tended to be a knit item for her more often than not), and doilies, table cloths, and more and more doilies, oh and she had these crocheted bottle cap grapes on her dining room wall.......I always thought they were so cute:) She would borrow projects from friends and copy them just by looking at them.......and I don't know if she could read a pattern as I never saw her use one. I could not image that grama would ever have purchased a pattern booklet.......and I don't remember ever seeing any in her buffet cabinet which housed her many needles, hooks and yarn. Now for all the crochet work grama did, I really don't' recall seeing a lot of it on display around her she must have enjoyed the activity more than anything. I remember large pieces of cardboard with Ivory laundry starch soaked doilies pinned and stretched on them like insect collections. Can you even buy Ivory laundry starch anymore????? I have not seen it in years.
My grama taught me to crochet when I was about 13......I think. Well enough to make an afghan in that common zigzag pattern. Which I did complete (with a few errors) and then proceeded to not picked up a hook until a year or so ago when I decided to try a little ami project. I am fairly particular about which crochet projects I like, and there are a few projects that I would like to try so when I saw the sign up for A Granny a Day over at Meet Me at Mike's.......I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to practice my rusting and abysmal crochet skills. If you'd like to tryt these cute little crochet hearts, you can find the pattern here. If you'd like to brush up on your crochet you should join the challenge....there's still lots of time. So far so good.....I'm trying a few new things and working my way towards this project I've had my eye on for a few years now. So far the challenge has been very helpful and I am starting to understand how some items I have, might have been made. I think my grama would have been tickled:)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Yummy Cheesymite Scrolls and Tea

After reading a comment, in a Marmite/Vegemite discussion forum, from a rather rude person suggesting that if you didn't know what a Cheese Scrolls was you were a loser........I thought I'd better improve my social standing and get with the Cheese Scroll program. It is entertaining at the very least how worked up some people get about the goodness or badness of Marmite and also who is winning the Marmite vs Vegemite popularity contest. So in the interest of not remaining a 'loser' one minute longer......I gave this recipe and this recipe the once over. They were quite similar....and had good I gave it a go. They were a good moist biscuit and I opted to sprinkle extra cheese over the tops before baking, and I mixed the 1 tbsp of Marmite with 1 tsp of softened butter to make the spreading easier. While I liked them just fine......I have yet to succeed in getting the DH to even sample anything made with Marmite. The next test will be to see if it comes back in my son's lunch box this afternoon.

In the end, it was a quick little soda biscuit type snack that is savory in flavour. The combination of Marmite and cheddar cheese was good, and I will likely make them again sometime....especially if it passes the lunch test. Next, I would really be tempted to try this recipe since I usually prefer yeast breads to quick breads.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Mate....Love em or Hate em??

It's actually impressive that a food item can make it's way to iconic status and still be holding on strong after 108 years and counting. This retro cool and alluringly foreign looking little jar has been flirting with me off the shelves of my local grocer for decades. I remember hearing tales of Marmite's cousin Vegemite, from a grade school pen pal from Australia, and I remember comments from others on how much of an 'acquired taste' it was even though it enjoys remarkable popularity which is evidenced by its rather lengthy history. So last week, on a trip to the grocers....I decided that I would take the plunge and try out this foreign compound and see what to make of it. As it turns out, only Marmite was available in that particular store........well close enough for my I purchased it....$4 CDN for this little 125g jar. Pricey...a bit.......but it has traveled here all the way from Britain.

Once I got the little fellow home, I started to worry about what this Marmite might be........but a little google surfing put my mind at ease. I my surprise that the Marmite brand celebrated its 100th birthday back in 2002, that it is a similar and competitive product to Vegemite, that it was first invented in Germany, and it was later mass produced in England for market sale as Marmite. I also found reference to it's flavour...which is savory and salty which is a good thing to keep in mind before you layer on Marmite as if it were jam. It's saltiness level was described as being along the lines of soy sauce which I would agree with. And by that I mean a good Chinese Soy like China Lily which is not chemically tasting. There is also, underlying the saltiness, a deeper flavour almost like that of a soup base which is not unpleasant but also cautions moderation. There are also undertones of carmel and not surprisingly .....yeast.......I mean you are essentially licking the bottom of the fermentation kettle in a brewery.
There are some interesting places to look at with regards to Marmite, so if you'd like to know more, have a look here and here (stop and see the Marmite Kiss video on that last link). I decided my first experiment would be to try Marmite on toast (a scant 1/4 tsp per) with a bit of butter which seems to be the most basic application. One Marmite user described mixing the Marmite in with softened butter to get a more even spread....which I will have to try as this particular jar of Marmite is thicker than molassas. Do you love the fancy toast dish??? dishwasher is running now so I grabbed the first dish out of the china cabinet......a souvenir of Washington State from the 70's. Also note to self: Need to see if the results of the above mentioned Marmite Kiss video can be reproduced at home.....
After tasting my first experiment with Marmite........ it was very much as I had imagined it, and while I cannot say that I 'Love' it, I can say that it is intriguing enough that some day I just might. It's kind of like dating a super interesting....but not super attractive guy. The more time you spend with him....the better his looks seem to get. So I am a little concerned with what I might have started here....I hope I'm not getting in over my head:)
Should you be intrigued enough by all this to try Marmite yourself (assuming you have not already) be prepared for the fact that it is a salty and savoury experience, and if that flavour combination is not your may not be a fan. I was not so very worried to try it as I can and do eat canned anchovies left over from making Caesar Salad.......Not to worry though, if you find you don't care for can use it up flavouring soups, and stews........use it as you would any concentrated soup flavouring where its effects will be more subtle.
While investigating all things Marmite I found reference to Marmite and Cheese Scrolls.......which are next on my Marmite to do list........that is....if there is enough left in the jar:) While I am not a huge fan of quick breads (good ones are very good.......and bad ones are just awful).......I am curious enough to give it a go.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yummy Vintage Kids Books

There are some things that just take you back. Sometimes it's the smell of Playdoh or Dettol, an old song from way back or maybe a recipe your mom used to make that you haven't had in years. Lot's of times for me....all it takes is a walk through one of my favourite thrift stores. It never fails to amuse me when I find a little something that I remember from the houses I grew up in or the home of a relative or even a friend. Several years ago when Ike was about 2, I found this book in one of the local thrift shops. It's binding had fallen off and the cover was threatening the same......but I just had to have it.....(plus it was only 29 cents) I remembered this book so very well from when I was little.
For me, children's books have ALWAYS been about the illustrations, and Elizabeth Brozowska is one of my favourites. When I saw this sorry little copy....I just had to take it home, mend it and read it to Ike. I don't know if Ike appreciates its quaint and colourful pages.......but I still do.
This story was particularly well suited for Ike as he is also not a big eater.....although breakfast is not a meal he has issue with. Never the less.....I think he got the message. This is one of the books (and there are quite a few now) that I will hold on to.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sate Beef with Peanut Sauce...a DB Challenge

The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.
It is far more common in my family to make Sate Chicken rather than Sate Beef, but in the interest of using up the large quantities of beef in the freezer and trying something different.....this time I opted to try Sate Beef. I pulled out a large sirloin steak from the freezer, let it half thaw.......then cut it into 1 1/4 inch wide chunks. I then turned each of these long chunks onto it's newly cut side and sliced down the length of each piece (across the grain) to cut the strip into 3 new thinner pieces. After mixing the marinade ingredients, I tossed them and the meat strips into a large ziploc bag and let them sit for the day.As sirloin is not a very tender piece of meat, I added a pinch of baking soda dissolved in a tbsp of water into the bag for the last 15 minutes and massaged the bag to get the baking soda evenly dispersed. If you are going to add baking soda (and leave it in the marinade) to tenderize meat you must use it sparingly and only for a short amount of time. You could also treat the meat with a baking soda solution, (use 1/2 tsp dissolved in 2 tbsp water per lb of meat) let sit 15-20 minutes then rinse and dry the meat before continuing with the marinade process....but it was just more convenient for me to add the last bit in at the end and leave it in. Again, when leaving baking soda in and not rinsing it out, you must be careful not to use too much or you may taste it........and also not to leave it too long as it only needs 15 minutes to do the job. Normally I would have treated the meat with the baking soda and rinsed it before continuing with the marinade....but this day I was pressed for time. This method also works well for treating tougher cuts for stir fry or kebabs.
This ended up being the perfect little something to bring along to the neighbours for New Years Eve. Want to take a minute to see some other Daring Cooks?.....If you'd like to try this recipe, here is what you need to do.

Sate Marinade
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)
1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)
1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts) (16 oz or 450g)

Feeling the need to make it more Thai? Try adding a dragon chili, an extra tablespoon of ginger root, and 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz or 15 mls) of fish sauce. (I keep some premature (still green) dragon chili peppers in the freezer for just such an occasion.)

1a. Cheater alert: If you have a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the pork and blend until smooth. Lacking a food processor, I prefer to chop my onions, garlic and ginger really fine then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.
2a. Cut pork into 1 inch strips.
3a. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

4. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.
5. Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.*
6. Broil or grill at 290°C/550° F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.

* If you’re grilling or broiling, you could definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers.

Peanut Sauce
1 tsp Masaman Curry paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
3 tbsp tamarind juice
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1tsp garlic powder
2 c coconut milk
4 tbsp crushed peanuts

Bring all to boil, stir 15 minutes on medium heat until liquid had reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Serve with sate chicken, pork or beef.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Post Christmas Shopping

I finally had the chance to hit the thrift stores! It was a fairly productive stop too. I found some small dishes...perfect for tea and cake, a cute teabag holder, a vintage card and some very nicely done vintage embroidery sets.
You never know what you'll find when you aren't really looking for anything;)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cold Weather...Hot Beans!

The walk into school has been deceptively cold these last two days. It has looked so absolutely gorgeous outside (although overcast) for the last week or more.......I finally remembered to bring my camera on the walk. and I......were a little slow moving in the cold -20C this morning, I did manage to snap a few before my fingers threatened to not cooperate.
The landscape has been very monochromatic for the last little while. While it is pretty...I'm hoping it will warm up just 5 or 10 degrees at least for the nights of snowboarding lessons I have booked for Ike next week. Since we are in the prime months for really cold weather.....I may be out of luck. With these lower temperatures.....I've been craving some of Grama's Stove Top Pork and Beans. A slight search revealed a hand written recipe with a sample bean taped to it.....just to make sure I got the right kind (thanks mom!). This recipe is one that my Grama K made often for lunch for my mom and her siblings back in the 1940's. You can double the batch to make a larger quantity too:) If I had thought about it more.....I might have made some homemade buns to go with it......Maybe tomorrow then......since these beans are even better the next day. When it's cold out....there's something very satisfying about cooking a pot of beans don't you think?? I can hardly wait for them to be ready:)
Grama's Stove Top Pork and Beans

1 cup beans (Yellow Eye Beans if you can find them....if not just white beans will do)
Soak these over night (or at least for 2 hours) with water covering them by 2 inches.

After soaking,

Bring the beans and water to a boil and simmer slowly for 30 minutes, removing and discarding any scum or foam that rises to the top...this is just starch from the beans. After 30 minutes, dump the beans and water into a colander......return the drained beans to the pot and refill with clean water to cover the beans by 1 1/2 inches. Return the beans and water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Remove any further foam that rises and discard it.

To the pot add,

1 minced onion
3 strips bacon finely chopped
1 tsp dry mustard
4 tbsp brown sugar
a few dashes of Hungarian paprika or (smoked paprika if you have it)
a few dashes of cayenne pepper
1/4 c ketchup
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp molasses
1 tsp beef soup base

Simmer until done (1-2 hours). I also added 2 tbsp of whiskey but it's not necessary. Cooking time varies with the freshness of the dried beans you can get. My mom grows and keeps her own beans to make this recipe and these beans have been kept for a very very long time now. I will have to get me some beans from mom and continue the tradition. Tastes better the following day.