Swoon Worthy

I have a treat for you—this is a recipe from my sister, Peggy which she promises is swoon worthy (not her words but I translated). She sent it to me in an email and I am giving it to you verbatim except for number 1, where she said to have the ingredients hany—I translated that to mean handy—

I then added a d to refridgerator but spellcheck told me I was wrong so I took it out again. Seems she has a grudge against d, while I am having a love fest with the letter.

Anyway, without further ado—be ready to be amazed:

 

Hi Lou, (that’s me)
As promised the

Salted Caramel Sauce

2 c. Granulated sugar
12 T. Unsalted butter, room temp., cut into pieces.
1 c. Heavy (whipping) cream
1 T. Fleur de sel (finishing salt)

1.  Have handy all ingredients.

2.  Heat sugar over med. heat.  When sugar starts to melt, whisk (takes a while, be patient). Stop whisking when sugar is completely melted.  Just swirl pan to move sugar around.

3.  Continue cooking until sugar turns a dark amber colour or 350 degrees on a candy thermometer.

4.  As soon as sugar reaches the dark amber stage, add butter, whisk until melted.  Switch to wooden spoon if whisk becomes clumped with sugar.

5.  Remove pan from heat.  Slowly pour in cream, whisking until smooth.  Whisk in salt.  (start with half a T. then taste to see if you would like to add more)

6.  Let caramel cool in pan for 10 min.  Pour into large jar with lid.  Store in refrigerator for one month.

Delicious with anything chocolate or vanilla or ice cream.  I like it over a brownie topped with ice cream.  Experiment….like over pumpkin pie!

 

For those who get confused easily, the big T is for tablespoon and c. is for cup. Most of you know this already, but I thought I would follow the Martha Stewart train of thought which explains even the tiniest detail in case you do not catch her drift—eg. how to fold a square napkin into a triangle—fold it using the opposite corners, not the adjacent corners (ha ha). I had to add the “ha ha” so you would know I was kidding.

 

Feel free to tell me what your swoon worthy food is.

Published in: on January 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm  Comments (40)  
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So, What Was the Question?

English: Vesper Martini Português: Vesper Martini

Vesper Martini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The top three answers in a survey by the newly off the presses “livehappy” magazine were:

1. Be present.

2. Make, bring, or share food!

3. Do something unexpected.

I love all three of these answers and they pretty well cover the elements of a happy life. The question that elicited these responses was “How would you make others happy during the holidays”, but I would like to put forth the theory that these three answers are the solution to that question that has bugged all of us sometime in our lives and that is: “What is the point?”

The point is to be here and now and understand that that is all you really have and you should make the best of it. Food is almost always a good answer to any question—whether the delicacies be indulgent, or healthy, or both. Food provides nourishment, comfort, and if is a chocolate cake–happiness.

 And the third answer? That is the one that keeps us on our toes. The unexpected shakes things up—that is why ‘Bond, James Bond’, always wanted his drink “shaken, not stirred”. He knew that stirred would probably produce a better drink—but he wanted something more and stirring was just not exhilarating enough. Think about the whole process—to shake a drink you create drama, while stirring neither inflames or inspires—it merely gets the job done. (I read somewhere that shaking your drink does not result in a better drink; stirring does—but stirring brings to mind a double double not a *martini—which is much more cosmopolitan.) I think I may have wrung this metaphor (or whatever it is I am trying to express) dry. (Pun intended).

Anyway, back to the point—what is your answer to “How would you make others happy (and yourself) during the holidays? We are allowed to be a little self-indulgent at this time of year, don’t you think?

·        For the erudite: It was in the movie Casino Royale in 1953, that Bond orders “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.” (Wikipedia)

Cheese Puffs and Moth Balls

Chocolate Extravaganza!

Chocolate Extravaganza! (Photo credit: Rachel Ford James)

The Daily prompt by Krista was too good to ignore today. She wants us to “Tell us about the favourite dish or food that you simply cannot turn down.”

I love a challenge–

1. Chocolate – but not all forms. Has to be just the right chocolate. I love a deep milk chocolate especially in combination with caramel and nuts—so I am crazy about O Henry bars. I love my Hostess cupcakes with that white filling that doubles as death by sugar; and chocolate covered almonds are to die for. But I am not crazy about chocolate chip muffins, or chocolate whip cream, or chocolate pudding.  And though dark chocolate is supposed to be good for you, it is a little bitter for my palate unless accompanied by my favourite winery’s rose.

cheese puffs, the soft kind

cheese puffs without moth balls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Cheese puffs – I do not indulge in these often as they are a useless snack of lost calories—but they bring back wonderful memories of childhood—but also one disturbing one: one of my grandmas always had these on hand for a snack but she kept them in the same cupboard with her mothballs. I was always so disappointed when she brought them out because I could not eat them as they seemed to taste like what I think mothballs would taste like.

3. Shrimp. Ice cold and dipped in slightly tangy shrimp sauce—I have to try to be demure at parties when these are served so as not to eat more than my fair share. I fail at this, as whenever someone asks a host where I am at a party—the answer is always “she is by the shrimp”.

4. Pineapple – I just love chunks of fresh pineapple.

5. Chili and pizza – no explanation needed.

7. Bread – it would kill me to find out that I am whatever that is that makes you eat gluten free.

8. Coca Cola – I so try to give it up. I poured it on an ivy plant once when I was in university and the plant rusted. Seriously, I did that. And then still drank it. I now have it only on occasion.

Français : Une cannette de Coca-Cola italienne...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9. In no particular order: steak, prime rib, roasted potatoes, cheesecake, cherry pie, lamb, tomatoes out of the garden, corn on the cob dripping with butter and lightly salted, lemon chicken, scallops, stuffing, gravy, cashews, honey crisp apples, butter (shades of Paula Deen), onions, mustard, …..

10. Okay my favourite food is food except for lima beans, those cute little cabbage things—brussel sprouts, canned peas, and bad pastry that does not resemble pastry.

So, do you have a favourite food, or are you like me and just basically love food of any and (mostly) all types?

Thanksgiving 2013: A Good-Hearted Holiday

Next Monday is Thanksgiving Day in Canada so this is my weekly column welcoming the holiday of food and family and blessings. I am going to count this as my first post on blessings:

Thanksgiving Day Greetings

Thanksgiving Day Greetings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 “Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.”  ~ W. J. Cameron

            We all look forward to a long weekend, but a long weekend that includes Thanksgiving Day is just that little bit more special. There is a lovely nostalgia to the holiday and it is one that merely asks us to gather together, feast, and give thanks. In her book, “Family Traditions”, Elizabeth Berg says, “No one has been able to tamper with the essential good-heartedness of Thanksgiving Day, or to trivialize it; and probably no one ever will. For that alone, we can be grateful.”

            Thanksgiving does seem to be the one pure holiday left, unfettered by blatant and constant commercialization. We do not need special clothes to give thanks—our Sunday best or best jeans will do. We may send a card or two to special relatives far away, but there is no need for gifts. What is expected is that we gather together and feast on the harvest. And be thankful for family and friends and food. Back to the basics of life – camaraderie and feasting.

            I love the word feast—it has an old world feel to it that appropriately defines the groaning board that is our Thanksgiving. Most of us pull out all the stops for our Thanksgiving meal—almost in an attempt to be thankful for everything. Berg said her “grocery policy at Thanksgiving time is this: BUY EVERYTHING.” I guess her thinking is that if we are going to count our blessings, we should have lots to count.

            She also tells the story of the Thanksgiving when her father, somewhat of a gourmand, tampered with the menu. People politely “put a few crumbs of his oyster dressing on their plates, then relieved, stacked up high beside it the cornbread dressing we always have.” The two key words here are “always have”. We seem to have deep traditions when it comes to the Thanksgiving meal, and though cooking turkey is a bit more adventurous for me that I usually like to be, in the name of tradition and all things Thanksgiving, I serve turkey.

            Thanksgiving and tradition seem to go hand in hand. We all have our own special rituals and customs that it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without. But I still think we can mix it up a bit and add something new to our old repertoire without taking away from the celebration. Over the years we have always celebrated Thanksgiving with the traditional dinner, but one year we went to the Point and cooked breakfast on Thanksgiving morning; another year we went to an apple orchard and picked apples, all the while our youngest son was wishing everyone a “Happy Turkey Day” much to the embarrassment of his older brother; some years we share our feast with others and sometimes it is just our family.

            Every Thanksgiving is unique but always with familiar elements. The word Thanksgiving itself is as Cameron quoted above says “a word of action.” In our celebration of the event we give thanks for our blessings. The day makes us more mindful of what we are grateful for and in being mindful we are being attentive to the things we tend to take for granted.

            Recognizing and appreciating what we have is the gift of Thanksgiving. And, if like Berg, we “Buy Everything” at the grocery store this one time of year, we are doing so to celebrate the plenty that is available to us.

            I will end with the first verse of The Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter. The simple yet meaningful words encompass Thanksgiving for me:

            “Grateful for each hand we hold

            Gathered round this table

            From far and near we travel home

            Blessed that we are able.”

Published in: on October 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm  Comments (41)  
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Mind Expanding Without Drugs

English: magazine vogue Español: logo de la re...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to lose some weight. Not a lot–but fifteen pounds would make me happy.I want to lose some stress (not all of it because there is good stress that motivates you—I do not want to lose this kind of stress).  I read some encouraging words from Gretchen Rubin today and I think her suggestion that we find comfort food for the mind is the answer to my problems.

First it does not involve eating fatty, sugary, salty food—and that is a good thing.

Second, by comforting our mind, we are finding ways to cope. My comfort food for my mind comes first and foremost from reading. Yesterday I bought the huge tome called Vogue magazine. The September issue is 902 pages. I could not resist. I have not purchased a fashion magazine for ages. And ages. In fact if truth be told, I have kind of given up on fashion.

The magazine is the perfect eye candy. Some people take fashion very seriously. I do not. At one time I may have taken it a bit more seriously than I do now, but that was many lives ago. My fashion sense went the way of the Edsel when I had kids. It just was not important anymore. And I didn’t have the time to don a scarf, find the right jewellery, or even match (or unmatch depending on the fashion season) my outfit to my shoes and to my purse.  I am not sure where we stand on the “match” issue anymore, but I am sure once I finish 902 pages of fashion I will be in the know.

Here is Gretchen’s advice about what works for her (and what doesn’t work for her but may for you):

“…. look for ways to pull your mind away from your worries onto positive topics. One great way is to watch a movie – preferably something funny! — or watch a favourite TV show.

My favourite activity is reading, and when I really need “comfort food” for my mind, I read children’s literature (the more stressed out I am, the younger I go; Oz books are a danger sign). I always re-read, too; when I’m upset, I want the comfort of knowing that I’ll love the book and that I won’t be upset by some unexpected plot twist.

I do find that some activities that are usually happiness-inducing don’t work very well when I’m preoccupied with bad thoughts. Listening to music, for example, is an extremely effective way to boost mood, but I find it too easy to start thinking about my worries when I’m listening – others might not have this problem. Similarly, although going for a walk usually cheers me up, it also gives me an excellent opportunity to brood if I’m inclined that way.”

Comfort Food

Comfort Food (Photo credit: tim ellis)

Reading is my number one go-to for comforting my mind. Unfortunately so is eating, but I am trying to deal with that.

What is your favourite comfort food for your mind?

Published in: on August 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm  Comments (30)  
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Just Being Silly Today: Gastronomical Dreams

Dream!

Dream! (Photo credit: Melody Campbell)

If a restaurant were to name something after you, what would it be? Describe it.

It would be called the “Can’t Clean Your Plate Annie”. I am notorious for never cleaning my plate of all the food I am served. This of course enamoured me to my boyfriend, now husband, who gets to finish my steak or roast beef or half of the dessert that I thought I wanted but could not finish. (Funny he never opts for the broccoli or salad I leave behind–though I must admit I do not often leave salad or broccoli behind).

Though only part of my name is Ann, my full name is just not lyrical enough to name a dish after—it is, if I might be ever so slightly clever, a mouthful ~ as I added my husband’s name to mine making it  an even longer drink of water than it was before.

My signature dish would have to involve broiled scallops,  jumbo shrimp, and bacon wrapped steak, with a side of lobster and liquid butter in a small silver tureen (not cup, yes I said tureen), and don’t forget the twice baked potato with cheese and bacon bits topped with a dollop of sour cream and of course grilled asparagus sprinkled with parmesan. I think if I had to ask for a last meal on the last day of my death penalty stay in prison it would have to be this meal. And for dessert—chocolate cake and cherry pie with pretzel ice cream and chocolate sauce. {Yes my eyes are bigger than my tummy, hence the dish “Can’t Clean Your Plate Annie”.}

I know I have digressed from the original query from Michelle, but I got lost in a gastronomically sweet dream.

What would your dream meal consist of? (And no healthy choices today!)

Published in: on July 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm  Comments (24)  
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My version of BAM!

Name my Peas

Peas–not for breakfast anymore! (Photo credit: doolloop)

Yes, I know it is Monday and not Recipe day but on Saturday night I went to a dinner party and this was one of the side dishes and I just loved it, so I asked the hostess with the mostest to send it to me.

 Now be forewarned—it has more than the five requisite ingredients that I usually judge a recipe by ~ but salt, sugar, and pepper are not too exotic, nor are onions and peppers and peas. And who doesn’t love mayo and sour cream? Seriously, this is one good salad, and by adding the nuts you have then ramped it up a bit—adding the Emeril BAM! factor, along with the bacon. (Everything tastes better with bacon.)

 So, without further ado, here is the recipe:

Cold Pea Salad

4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

3/4 cup sour cream

1/8 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 bag (20 oz.) of frozen sweet peas thawed and dried off

1/2 cup diced celery

1/3 cup of diced red onion or green onions

1/4 cup of diced green, red or yellow pepper

1/2 cup of cashews or pecan or walnut halves roughly broken

Method:

Cook the bacon, crumble and set aside.

Beat the sour cream with the mayonnaise to loosen it, adding the sugar, salt and pepper; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the peas, celery, onions and peppers.

Add the sour cream mixture, toss, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, toss in the nuts.

Make this and tell me I am a genius for having shared it!

Published in: on July 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm  Comments (26)  
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Answer Me This

English: Country road. The private road leadin...

Imagining myself walking on this path gives me bliss. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. What is your favourite “bliss” word?

2. What is your favourite “bliss” food?

3. What is your favourite “bliss” activity?

4. What is your favourite piece of “bliss” clothing?

5. Who is your favourite “bliss” author or poet or writer?

6. What is your favourite “bliss” movie?

7. Who is your favourite “bliss” person?

Answer 1 or 2 or 3 or all the questions and you will give me bliss.

 

Published in: on May 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm  Comments (49)  
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Inspired Bliss

English: As the feel of the event was all abou...

Yes, this is exactly how my family sits down to eat every night. I may give the butler the night off! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.” ~Michael Pollan, from his book, “Cooked”

I am guilty of much of what Pollan is railing against in his book “Cooked”. I have been wooed by the fast food industry, courted by the industrial food moguls, and a victim of food that is not really food. And I am now inspired to cook food from scratch and not just heat up “packaged ravioli with sage-butter sauce” and consider it a “culinary achievement”.

My Achilles heel when it comes to cooking is the fact that after a while it becomes too routine, and just getting some food to the table is an accomplishment itself—no matter where it comes from—the pizza delivery guy, my freezer, or a package.

Pollan has renewed my pride in cooking, and inspired me. And real cooking can be so simple—sometimes just a quick nuking of fresh asparagus from the local farmers market with a little butter and salt and pepper will satisfy that urging; other times a full-blown meal where one has to actually touch real potatoes, chop real lettuce, and cook some fresh meat meets the criteria.

I must confess that I will still rely on frozen packaged food at times—but I am now determined to take a little more time, take it that one step further, and serve real food on a more regular basis. And I must look at it as feeding my creative beast—there are so many ways to be creative and I no longer want to limit myself to writing literary masterpieces and somewhat lame poetry (I know I am exaggerating on both ends of the scale here).

To share a meal with those you love where you have actually put some time and thought into the effort is most satisfying. If we are going to do important things like teach the art of conversation, and share and listen and navigate differences—we should do it over fare that deserves that deliberation.

Bliss is going that extra mile and fixing “real food” if not every day at least as much as possible. What do you think?

Published in: on May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm  Comments (31)  
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Just Wondering

English: Blogs on JoopeA

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you tend to have a different personality when you comment on blogs? I do.

There are some blogs that I really admire, and feel that my response should be somewhat intelligent. Though I have always thought I was fairly bright, sometimes there is a chink in my armour and I discover (somewhat nonplussed) that I have vast reservoirs of things I should know, but don’t.

Then there are the funny blogs, where I feel not quite up to the challenge, but I try anyway—sometimes successfully, but sometimes I probably come across a bit lame. I have a gentle sense of humour, sometimes clever (I think) but never of the slapstick genre which could make me look a bit like a stick in the mud.

I am awed by many of the poetry blogs—their way with words is amazing and sometimes (if truth be told) I am not positive about what they are alluding to—so I read the other comments first to see if I am on the right track. But I so admire those who can describe things beatifically.

Most photography blogs are pretty straightforward and I can appreciate the talent that goes into the photos (I can appreciate but not duplicate). These blogs open up a whole wonderful world—but I can only comment on how the photos make me feel, and not their technical expertise.

I love food blogs—I cannot add much but my admiration though. But I enjoy reading about food—always have, always will. (And of course, eating it!)

There are some blogs where I just click with the author—anything I say is accepted with a laugh or a smile and I am free to express myself as myself, with no fear of being misunderstood. These blogs represent the good friends I have made in this cyber world.

I have had a few rare comments that seem set on trying to get an uncomfortable conversation going—where I am affronted by an opinion rather than presented with one. I try never to do this as I am not sure how to respond and do not want to put others in that position. I have learned not to comment when I am tired, or in a bad mood, or upset. At the beginning of my blog career I may have left a comment or two I was not proud of—and they haunted me. So I try very hard to be, what is that elusive word?—nice, which does irritate some as they want what they call real feedback that shows backbone. I have a backbone, but prefer to keep it out of my comments.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde po...

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde poster.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always strive to be myself, but have come to the conclusion that I have several selves.

Bliss is the realization that we have alternate personalities. So—do you have a different personality depending on the blog you comment on?

Published in: on May 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm  Comments (71)  
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