Non Dijon Pour Vous!

DijonTasty-TurmericI had a horrible realization yesterday.

If my gut can’t bear to have turmeric anywhere near its precious innards, I guess this means my love affair with Dijon mustard just came to a screeching halt.

{soft sobbing}

Suppose this means I’ll have to teach myself how to make Dijon mustard, then? OK! I’m in. Lord knows I have a wealth of Pinterest help with this endeavor. Will report back soon.

 

Pistachio-Cranberry Butter Tarts

ButterTart

Finally got around to making those much talked about butter tarts today. I made as many of the butter tarts as I had filling for (38 mini tarts), and then made a half batch of filling using pistachios and dried cranberries in place of the traditional raisins and pecans (for the final 10 tarts). I prefer those to the traditional butter tart. I highly recommend them!

Pistachio-CranButterTarts-8

I took this All Recipes version for these dead easy Mississipi Butter Tarts and simply subbed out the fruit and nut selections. That’s it. Oh, and I also didn’t have any cream in the house, so I made my own using a bit of melted butter and added that to some milk, whisking enough so they emulsified. (Ratio for the butter to milk is 1:3) Again, I used store bought mini pie shells that I blind baked, cooled down, then filled and baked. Easy-peasy.

Enjoy! Let me know how you like these after you test drive them at home.

Illness Intermission

Well, the butter tarts never happened. Remember a few weeks ago I was on about making pickled eggs? I thought it would be a great idea to make them with the same flavouring as bread pickles, so I used the same pickling spices for that jar of eggs.

BIG mistake.

Turns out my body can’t handle turmeric. In any amount, in any food. I become violently ill. Much like I did back in 1998 when I discovered I lack the enzyme to break down fermented bean curd (tofu). It wasn’t pretty back then, and it wasn’t pretty in the last two days. And it was double the pleasure worse this time.

I’m highly surprised I didn’t beg for death, or at the very least to be taken to the local hospital. But, I have lots of friends in the medical field, and I have long ago learned that when you’re that ill, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stay hydrated with cold water (great for the hot flushed skin and the burning up part of the party), and to eat plain yogurt if you can to give your gut back the good bateria it needs to resume working normally.

It took me 2 hours to eat one slice of toast and 4 crackers, but I forced myself because the nausea was terrible. The smell of, the thought of, and even reading about food made me want to throw up all through this. And if I got a whiff of turmeric anywhere in the house, I was in trouble.

I knew I had turned the corner last night when I asked the husband to bring me home a Frosty from Wendy’s since I forced him to eat his dinner out of the house. I’m so mean. 🙂 My penace, though, was 4 hours of tortured kidney pain on both sides, and a bunch of leg cramps that made it difficult to walk normally. It made finding a spot to sit on our coach impossible. I ended up on the floor during Dancing With The Stars, and in bed propped up with pillows for Hawaii Five-0.

By the time we turned off the tv, I was feeling much better. I had taken a few pills for the kidney pain and it seems to have done the trick. When I woke up this morning, I was back to normal, and I had full function of my legs and gut. Woot.

The first thing I did when I woke up was shower because I knew I had the physical strength to stand up finally, and then I came downstairs and made us smoothies and baked two dozen oatmeal cookies (the dough was already made and chilling in the fridge) for the week ahead.

I’m back!

And you know what the best part of being back is? Being able to enjoy yogurt again. (When I was sick, the yogurt tasted like rusty pipes doused in vinegar.)

Butter Tarts

choc-butter-tart-with-bite

Thinking about making butter tarts tonight, but I’m holding myself back because I made some many oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal cranberry cookies this morning. I’m sure the husband won’t mind, though. He never does. 🙂

I’m trying to figure out which of these two recipes I want to test drive if you’re at all interested in making your own:

VidalButterTart

The difference between them is the use of light corn syrup. I’m not a fan but I have been known to use it in my Rice Krispie squares, so I already have some on hand. I’m also a bit puzzled by the comment left on the recipe using the corn syrup that the butter tarts came out runny. I’m not sure how that would happen with a strong binding ingredient like corn syrup. Odd.

I’m using store bought tart shells because my hands are too hot to work with cold butters while forming pastry doughs. Oh, sure I’ve tried the dip-your-hands-in-cold-water-then-quickly-wipe-them-dry trick, but it never works for more than 30 seconds before the dough starts to mush out in my hands. It doesn’t matter how cold I can get my hands, either. Butter + my hands = disaster. I can’t even hold a chocolate bar for long because I can feel it sink into my fingers. I have to get my husband to hold it while we walk from the aisle to the checkout. Pathetic.

Alas, this is the reason I never became a baker. It’s a curse no baker wants to have. (le sigh)

 

5 Simple Sewing Tips For Excellence

Picture courtesy Amy of Positively Splendid

Picture courtesy Amy of Positively Splendid

Found this link on G+ from Amy from Positively Splendidly highlighting five of her best tips for improving your sewing project results.

Every sewer learns all of these tips when they first start out, but let’s be honest; at some point we all tend to stop doing a few or all of them along the way over the years. Perhaps it’s because we become pressed for time, or just forget in our hast to wear or use the item we’ve just banged out? Whatever our reasons, time to pick these good habits back up again.

 

Auntie Stacey’s Butter Chicken

ButterChicken-PanOne of my favourite uses for boneless chicken is Butter Chicken. If done right, this dish can satisfy, comfort, inspire, delight and sting. It’s magical. Truly.

The secret to a dish like this is making it spicy and creamy enough to stand up to the fragrant nutty smelling jasmine rice it’s going to sit upon. When butter chicken and jasmine rice meet, my body and soul are nourished in a way I can’t quite describe.

It’s…

Magical.

So, for people who have never tried butter chicken (criminal!!), this is my version. Give it a go! 🙂

Auntie Stacey’s Butter Chicken: (Yields 8-10 servings)

JASMINE RICE:
1/2 C (per person) Jasmine rice
1/2 C Water (per portion per person) water
1/4 C Water (additional)

Place the jasmine rice in your cooking pot and run water over top up to three times to remove as much of the starch as possible (optional – sometimes I don’t even bother because I like starchy rice). With your hand, swish the rice around till the water goes cloudy, then drain it. Repeat this step two more times  before measuring out your cooking water.

With the rice and cooking water in the pot, heat the pot till the water starts to gently boil. At that point, drop the heat down to the lowest setting, lid the rice pot and set the timer for 15 minutes.

After the timer goes off, lift the lid and place a small wash cloth the opening of the pot and then replace the lid before moving the rice off the burner. Set the timer for a final five minutes. The cloth is used to absorb most of the remaining moisture so the rice doesn’t remain mushy, but rather finishes in an almost dry and fluffy state.

If the rice finishes before the butter chicken is made, it can stay in the pot off the burner till it’s needed for plating.

BUTTER CHICKEN:
20 oz Boneless chicken
6 C Water
2 Tbsp Chicken stock powder

Dissolve the chicken stock powder in hot water in a large pot on the stove. Add the chicken when the water comes to a boil. Cook the chicken until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees. Remove the meat and set aside to cool until the meat no longer lets off a visible steam so you can cube it into bite sizes or pull it apart by hand or in a large mixer using the paddle attachment. (The chicken can be made up to two days prior if timing is too tight to make it all in on go.)

1/2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
1/4 C Fine diced yellow onion

Heat up your pan, and when hot, add the oil. Heat the butter until it foams up and then add the oil and heat through until a drop of water crackles when it hits the fats. Add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent.

Note: I don’t like the stench of garlic on our breath, but if you like it, feel free to add some in the pan when you cook your onions. I would think one minced clove would do the trick.

14 oz Tomato puree
1/2 C Diced tomatoes (or stewed from a jar)
1/2 Tsp Black pepper, freshly cracked
1/2 Tsp Sea salt
1 Bay leaf

Add these five ingredients to the pan and heat through while you mix all of the dry spices together in a small bowl. After that, start pulling the chicken apart in to bite size chunks.

1/2 Tsp Cayenne pepper (or more if you really like heat)
1/2 Tsp Ground coriander (or dried basil if coriander isn’t on hand)
1 Tsp Cumin
1 1/2 – 2 Tsp Garam Masala
1/4 Tsp Cardamom (found in Indian grocery stores)

Add the chicken to the pan and heat that up in the tomato sauce and then add the spices. After you add the spices, stir really well the evenly distribute the flavours.

1/2 C Thick yogurt (or fat sour cream)

Stir inthe dairy to the pan to turn the tomato sauce into a creamy base that coats all of the chicken. Keep stirring until it’s combined fully. At this point, taste the sauce before you can finish the dish with a bit of salt (if needed). Now is the time for the final taste tweaks!

Add some freshly parsley or cilantro leaves to give the final sauce and chicken another flavour, colour, and texture.

Plate your jasmine rice into large shallow dishes (something with a small wall would be fine), and top the rice with one or two heaping scoops of your butter chicken. Serve this with toasted flat or naan breads in case it’s too spicy for some.

Alt Plating Ideas: Steamed cauliflower for the warm naan, dry parsley for the cilantro (since only half of any given population like this herb), and mashed potatoes for the rice.

Iced Tea At Home

Ice tea

I love iced tea, but I really don’t like the overly sweet commercial products sold in stores and restaurants. Syrups used in them are typically made from corn, and almost always way overdone. Gag! So, I make my own, at home, with as much or as little sweetenings as I like. It’s not hard. I make three large bottles on a weekend or a weeknight, and store them in the fridge for the whole week.

Doing this has allowed me to avoid soft drinks, milks and more coffee than I need to consume at night with dinner and afterward. I try to keep my calorie consumption to about 1400-1500 per day, and this is one of little tricks I employ since a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in each 8 ounces of iced tea cup doesn’t add up to much. It’s mostly water, and then the sugar and then the teabag extract. Cool, huh?

IkeaBottle

Here’s my method for Homemade Iced Tea:

1. I fill up a 12 oz mason jar with clean water and stick it into the microwave for 3 minutes to heat it up.

2. Carefully I remove the jar from the microwave when it’s done and drop one or two teabags into the hot water depending upon how strong I want my brew to end up at.

(For teas like Earl Grey I may use one bag, whereas with the herbal teas like Strawberry or Mojito Lime, I will use two. I like a strong herbal punch to my iced tea.)

3. I let the bags steep in the water till it’s completely cooled down. This can take 30-45 minutes.

4. I run the facet till the water is as cool as I can get it, or I pull a few bottles of water from the fridge and get them ready.

5. Using a small funnel, I pour the brews into each of the jars and top them with as much cold water as will fit, cap them and then stuff them in the fridge to chill for at least two hours to overnight.

6. I don’t add sugar to the iced tea jars, so I tend to add my half teaspoon to a cup, run a bit of water over it, and then swirl both around to dissolve the crystals before I add the iced tea and ice cubes over top.

If you like at this point, you can top the iced tea with things like fresh basil leaves you’ve muddled a bit in jar or bowl, or just drop a wedge of lemon or lime into your glass to punctuate the natural tea flavour.

Peanut Butter Cookies

OPCPeanutButterCookies

Something about today is just breaking my brain. Or, perhaps my brain isn’t quite awake like the rest of me? Not sure. But, I’m fairly certain only simple things will get done today, like this simple 3-ingredient recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies. All it requires is one egg, 1 cup of sugar and one cup of peanut butter. (Ratio: 1:1:1)

Or, if you’re running on full steam unlike me today, and you like a bit of jazz hands with your Peanut Butter cookies, you can always try this version from Tasty Kitchen. You can’t go wrong with anything from that site!

How to Sew Blind Hems

For those who aren’t experienced enough in sewing to know how to do proper tailored hems, here is a video from Threads Magazine on how to do it with a home sewing machine using a hemming foot. (If your machine didn’t come with a blind hemming foot, you can always purchase one for your machine model from sewing stores.)

BlindHem

How to Sew a Blind Hem – Threads.

The McDonald’s Generation

burgerfries

My in-laws stopped by today after enjoying lunch out at Harvey’s. They knew I’d be home and came over to see what I was up to with our garden this summer. We chatted about a lot of stuff in the 20 minutes they were here, but the one thing that sticks out is mentioning the pickled eggs I made the other day.

My father-in-law’s eyes widened, and my mother-in-law was curious as to why and how I made them. We discussed it being a predominately French Canadian food to pickle where I grew up, and it’s just a bit of old worldly good food I have been wanting to make for some time. I wanted to see if I can do it, and if I can do it as well as I remember them tasting when I was a kid.

We discussed how no one cans food like pickled eggs anymore, and back in the day, high end restaurants would sell that off their menu on the regular. That’s when I made the following statement:

“People that are 60-years-old and younger don’t know what old world food looks like, tastes like, consists of, or how easily it’s made, because they don’t care. They are the McDonald’s Generation. They think fast food is old world and nutritions enough. It’s sad, really.”

 

I don’t mean to be judge-y but I see this time and time again. By people older than me, even. All the time. I must admit, I really only learned to cook 12 years ago because I’m lactose and sulphite intolerant. Doing so really helped me gain control of not only my health, but my sanity and life. I can’t recommend cooking at home more.

And to boot, old world foods taste amazing if you make them correctly. Trust me on this! There are countless adults older than me that don’t know what anything beyond jarred pickles taste like. I’m horrified by this idea. I really like hearing friends talk about what they have planned to cook and can all summer long. It’s my favourite topic, actually.

PickledEggs

Look, I like a great tasting burger just as much as anyone, but I’m selective and picky. And I don’t crave fast food every single night, nor do I indulge my husband’s love affair with it. I have been known to make pub grub at home several times. It’s not that hard if you have a game plan and your ingredients all prepped ahead of time. And besides, pub grub at home costs a small fraction of the money you tend to spend eating out. (I happily accept tips in the form of fist bumps and kisses from my husband, but I will only accept money from everyone else. Sorry.)

P.S.: The part I love most about cooking pub grub or fast food fare at home that I don’t have to be pressured to make my junior burger order a full combo. That concept drives me bonkers. If I wanted fries and a drink with my baby burger, don’t you think I would have ordered them? Please stop asking me, fast food chain cashiers. Please. Just stop.