How things are going in my little world

Since taking on a different role at my job earlier this year, all of my free time has almost evaporated. I apologize to the three of you (?) left who may still be reading this page, or keeping an eye out for new posts.

I haven’t really had time to work on new recipes since Christmas, and I’m disappointed about that. I really like playing in my kitchen, but since I work a lot of overtime hours now, and I’m tired all of the damn time when I finally get home each day, I’m having a hard time forcing myself to stand at the stove for more than ten minutes at a go.

I’m hoping I can carve out a new routine very soon. I will let you all know when, or if, that ever happens. 🙂

Auntie Stacey’s Tabbouleh

tabbouleh[ Click to embiggen ]

Tabbouleh is a great salad for the summer months when the heat is intense and the stove is ignored in our house. I really love eating it at room temperature, too. I’m weird like that. It makes a wonderful addition to salad bars, so keep this in mind for your next brunch. It’ll be a lovely unexpected surprise for your vegetarian guests. We all get stumped when planning meals for those who have specific eating habits, right? It’s all ok because tabbouleh is here to save the day, and your dinner parties!

Years ago I worked with a chef named Sami. Sami is from Lebanon. Sami’s mother taught him how to cook as a little boy. Many of the recipes she taught him he still uses today at work and at home. He used to make the best tabbouleh I have ever eaten, so one day I begged him to teach me the ways of his magical salad. Surprisingly, he was happy to pass it along to me, imparting some great home cooking philosophy along the way.

Here is a version of his mother’s tabbouleh based on my calculations and ingredient choices. He never gave me increments, just suggestions and steps. His feeling is that tabbouleh should be a free flowing salad that has some basics for structure but lots of freedom for using the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on, so feel free to look at this recipe as I do – as a guideline.

Auntie Stacey’s Tabbouleh:
1/2 C Bulgar
1 C Water, boiled
1 Tea Salt

1/2 Yellow Onion, medium sized, chopped to small dice
1 C Water, very hot
1 C Water, very cold

2 Tomatoes, medium Hot House (or 1 C chopped Grape Tomatoes)
1/4 C Herb of choice, fresh, washed and chopped up, packed down *

1/2 Tea Pepper, fresh cracked
1-2 Tea Lemon or Lime Juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 C Olive Oil

* Note: I have made this salad over the years using the following herbs: parsley (flat or curly – doesn’t much matter except for presentation aesthetics), mint (lovey when in season and the herb Sami liked to add a sprinkling of along with the parsley when it was in season), and cilantro (I love cilantro so I tend to use this a lot). This will be the first year I’m growing sorrel, and with its lemony tinged taste, I will be trying that in this salad as soon as I can, so I’ll report back at a later date about how well it worked, or didn’t.

Place the bulgar and salt (mixed up) into the boiling water for 30 minutes to cook. In the meantime, prep all the other ingredients. In a bowl, place very hot water from the tap over the small diced onion bits and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to take the sting off. Afterward, drain the hot water and cover with very cold tap water. Let it rest the same amount of time before draining and dumping the onion into a large container. Set this aside.

While the onion is bathing in the hot and cold baths, wash and chop up the fresh herb and measure it out to a packed 1/4 cup. Top the onion with it. Cut and seed the tomatoes. Dice them to a small but not too small size. Top the herbs and onions with the diced tomatoes. Crack the pepper over top and pour the juice of half a lemon (about 1-2 teaspoons) and olive oil over that.

When the bulgar is finished cooking, fluff it up and dump it over the other ingredients in the large container. Using a spatula or gloved hands, till all of the ingredients well in the container, until everything is sure to be covered by the citrus juice and cracked pepper. Taste the overall flavour, and adjust the amount of salt and pepper as desired at this point.

Cover and chill this salad for at least 24 hours before serving. It will be hard (I know!), but the ingredients need time to rest and marry with each other. Trust me, the wait will be worth the time and resistance.

Coffee Chatter – Friday Edition

PhoKingGoodToday was a fried noodle day. Pan fried, not deep fried. I’d never do that. Gross. But noodles that were quickly boiled, rolled in sesame and soy sauce, and then pan fried? I’m all over it. Why? It’s comfort food for me. It reminds me of being a kid, when things were simpler and the weather was nicer. And of Ellen.

This weather. It’s killing my knees. The warping? I can’t even begin to explain it to you. It hurts. And the neck compression trapping my nerves is worse. I tried to sleep in our bed both laying down and sitting up, but the searing pain in my hands and forearms were too much, so I tried to sleep a bit on the couch where I wouldn’t bother anyone with constant rolling around, writhing in pain and sitting up rather abruptly on the edge to rock back and forth for 20 minutes till the pain abated. I’m so tired. So pho king tired.

I’m near my end with this b.s. None of my usual tricks are working anymore, and funny enough, I think it’s using the tablet to surf and type at night that’s causing it, not the reaching and straining I do with my arms at work and at home. Funny that. Modern technology. No wonder so many hate it. :-\

Today I’ll abstain, using this laptop instead, all day. Let’s see if that doesn’t help. I bet it will, too. I have loads of house chores and little jobs to tackle this weekend, so I really need this to be the solution I’ve been looking for.

*crossing fingers*

Okay, that bed isn’t going to change sheets on its own, so off I go. Have a great weekend, everyone. Try to forget about the called for snow next week if you can. If you can’t, I suggest picking a vice and rocking it hard till we get through it. 😀

TTYL

Auntie Stacey’s Chickpea Salad

chickpeasalad1 1/2 – 2 C Chickpeas, brine drained and rinsed
1 Shallot, halved and thinly chopped
1/8 C Roasted Red Peppers, brine sopped off with paper towels
1/4 C Cilantro, leaves washed and dried
Salt & Black Pepper, freshly cracked
1/8 C Oil
White Vinegar, generous splash

Assembled the ingredients in a medium bowl and lightly toss. Top with the seasonings, and mix well. Store in the fridge for at least an hour so the flavours have time to marry.

Dilled Mushroom Stroganoff

PickleJuice PickleJuice2

This is a recipe I’m working on currently. I love it as is because it’s so quick, easy and flavourful without a lot of ingredients needed, but I still want to tweak it to see if I can make it better in the future to suit my moods. But, for now, this is the basic idea. Try it at home and let me know what you think.

The twist to this classic is that instead of wine (we don’t drink it here), I use dill pickle juice.

I know, right?!

At work I’m fortunate enough to have access to pails upon pails of pickles where the brine is left behind after we slice up the pickles for garnishing. I took a half pail home one night and as you can see in the above pic, it filled up a lot of my mason jars quite nicely. I am currently dreaming up uses for all of that delicious dill pickle brine. If you have any ideas, please leave them for me in the comments!!

Auntie Stacey’s Dilled Mushroom Stroganoff:
1 C Mushrooms, thinly sliced and washed
1/2 C Red Onions, thinly sliced
1 Tea Bacon Fat
1 Tbsp Oil

1/2 C Pasta

1/2 Tea Paprika
S&P, to taste
1 Tea Basil, dried (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped)
3/4 C Dill Pickle Juice

1/2 C Full Fat Sour Cream (or plain cream cheese if you prefer)

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. In the meantime, heat up a large frying pan. Wash and sliced up the mushrooms, and then sliced up the onions. When the frying pan is hot enough, add the bacon fat. Let that melt before adding the oil. When those two are hot enough, place the onions into the pan and let them soften a minute or two before adding the sliced mushroom. Toss them around in the fats to coat before reducing the heat to med-low and cover the pan with a lid to slowly cook the veg down.

Salt the pasta pot and add the noodles. As the noodles cook, add the paprika, basil and S&P seasonings, as well as the pickle brine juice, to the onions and mushrooms. Again, toss to coat all the vegetables completely. Return the lid to the frying pan to cook till the pasta is done. At that point, add the sour cream to the pan. Stir the cream into the brined vegetables fast so it doesn’t scald or burn. Take both the pot and pan off the burners, and turn off the stove burners.

Drain the pasta a large bowl and top with the stroganoff, stirring to incorporate both into one before plating, or simply add the cooked pasta to bowls and top with heaping spoonfuls of the stroganoff. Top each bowl with a bit more basil if using fresh leaves.

Weekend 5 – Oct 25/13

Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mix Gift in a Jar with recipe and free printable labels-0021. Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mix: I love jar gifts. And pancakes. This looks like a lovely addition to my collection.

 

 

 

pumpkincookies2. Pumpkin Cookies: These sophisticated beauties will be mine. All mine!! 😀

 

 

 

KrispieSMores3. Rice Krispy S’mores: A little something-something for the kid inside us all. I don’t normally like s’mores, but I have all of the ingredients in my panty, and I’d love to clear them out, so this batch will be for the in-laws.

 

 

Onion-and-tomato-salsa-recipe4. Red Onion & Tomato Salsa: I’m always on the look out for new salsas to make at home. I’m never satisfied. I can’t get enough!

 

 

 

ChaiMix5. Chai Mix: In a jar? Can it be possible to scoop some of this out into a pan of hot water and milk and it tastes like authentic chai? Or will it be as tacky tasting as that tea bagged crap I bought a few weeks back that makes me gag? Hmm… I’ll find out soon enough.

 

 

What are all of you making this weekend? Let me know in the comments. Off to work now, so toodles!

Fall Drinks – Chai

chai

{ Image courtesy of Google Images }

It’s getting chillier here these days. Especially after the sun drops. It’s still fine to walk around without a coat on for the most part, but some nights you just can’t tell and often I end up wishing I had brought my Spring jacket along just in case.

On those nights, I long for a lovely cup of hot chai, but I can’t seem to find a decent commercially packaged version, so I’ve taken to making my own when I’m at home. That doesn’t help me when I’m at work, but luckily I have discovered Tim Horton’s has a fantastic new Pumpkin Spice tea out as of the middle of September. If you can get your hands on it, it’s worth the $1.25 you’ll spend.

Back to my home chai making efforts. I’ve been playing around with the ingredients to find a balance between authentic taste and what I have onhand. I’m not about to buy a whole bunch of ingredients if I don’t have to just because I can’t find stuff I know I have in the pantry but got misplaced and I haven’t located it yet. Also, conventional stores really jack up the prices of Indian spices around this time of the year, so I looked around and discovered alternatives that I think work just as well based on what I found in my kitchen. 
{ahem}

Check out what I have come up with, and if you have the same ingredients at home, try it for yourself and let me know what you think (please and thank you).

Auntie Stacey’s Chai:
3-4 Earl Grey tea bags (strings and tags removed, of course)
2 1/2 C cold water
1/4 Tsp Star of Anise extract (less is more with this extract)
1/2 – 1 Tsp Cardamom spice (I get mine at the local Indian store; it’s the best price there)
1 Cinnamon stick (or 1/4 Tsp ground cinnamon powder, not cinnamon sugar)
2 C Milk
2 Tsp Powder Sugar (it dissolves faster and smoother than white sugar)

1. Heat up the cold water in a sauce pot while you assemble your spices.
2. Drop the tea bags and spices into the pot, and bring them to a boil. Let that roll for about 5 mins to ensure the tea steeps well. This is meant to be a black tea based drink after all.
3. Turn off the stove, and remove the cinnamon stick and tea bags. Drop the sugar and milk in and stir well till it all comes together. Let the chai rest for a few minutes off the burner. The chai will be very hot at this point, but if you like your tea steaming hot, there is no need to rest it. Ladle it into mugs and drink immediately.

 

iPhone Update

mia

Still. Our house is only 1100 square feet, for dog’s sake!!

{sigh}

I don’t use it as a phone, only as a FB/Twitter/Pinterest hub. I have a laptop, but that leaves me stuck at the desk since the battery is dying. I really love my mobility.

Crazytown Express

What a crazy time for me. I have been between jobs, enjoying my Spring and Summer with the husband at home since the end of March, but a few weeks ago I started taking interviews for jobs. I didn’t get the first one, which would have been cool, but sometimes two personalities don’t mesh and you lose out. Such is life, right? Well, fret not, I pushed forward and got myself a great little gig at the grocery store across the street from my house that will allow me to work a few shifts a week to get me out of the house, and allow me more time to think up recipe ideas as I handle the new products they sell. Win-win.

And while that was happening, I got a call from my old employer from 6 years ago, whom I had forgotten all about. Turns out they can really use me there this year, so I met with the new manager yesterday and we hit it off really well. I start on Monday. I will be their resident floater because I know the kitchen and front sales area so well, I will get to help wherever I’m needed. Something tells me it will get a bit hairy at times (because it always does there), but I will love the variety. They’ve done some great changes since I left, and I’m looking forward to learning new things and working in new stations for them.

And both jobs come at the knick of time. I was starting to talk to myself from being home too long. {snort}