The Blue Drink (Starfakes)

This one is a delicious alt to iced coffee.

Blue Drink:
1/2 Frozen Blueberries
1 tbsp Maple Syrup** (or any other sweetener/sugar)
1C Ice
1/2C White Grape Juice
Splash of Coconut (or regular) Milk

I like to hard shake the ice over the blueberries in the cup before adding the liquids to help quasi muddle them as they start to thaw. It brings out the great blueberry colour.

** Use real maple syrup, not that table pancake crap.

I have a second drink that’s a riff of this Blue Drink called the violet drink.

Violet Drink:
1/2 Blackberries
1 tbsp Maple Syrup** (or any other sweetener/sugar)
1C Ice
1/2 Passion Tea (or any exotic fruit juice)
1/4C Coconut (or regular) milk

Same thing with muddling the berries with the ice in your large cup, giving it a hard shake or three so the ice really breaks the berries up to release its flavour and colour before adding the other liquids.

** Use real maple syrup, not that table pancake crap.

Small Home Refresh

We wanted to do a full main floor reno where we ripped down the two kitchen walls, redid the flooring, changed the paint colour, and installed a new ceiling with pot lights after some structural work we wanted done (even though a few contractors said wasn’t necessary).

In the end the quotes we got were too high, so we decided to do the flooring and painting ourselves. This is how it’s going.

What the old flooring and wall colour looked like.
Ripped the eff up!
What the new colour scheme will be in the end.
The new flooring mock up with the nosing for the stair edges.

So, the floors are ripped up in the foyer, around the basement stairs, the living room and the dining room. The last part of that puzzle is the kitchen since we’re redoing that floor space as well. There are a few things to address there: where to store the fridge and stove while we do the kitchen flooring and how do we move them without ruining any of the new flooring in the process.

I’m a bit nervous just thinking about that part. Eek.

I have all of the main painting done. I have to paint all the floor and window trim boards, and then we can put the paint and rollers back in the garage where they belong and start playing the tile puzzle game with our furniture and belongings from corner to corner until the new flooring is all installed. Someone other than me wants this project done by the end of this long weekend. Wish us luck!

A Burger For The Ages

I don’t make a lot of burgers by hand at home. When we do burgers, it’s typically store bought pre-formed and frozen for convenience only. The husband takes them to work fully cooked on the smoke bbq and cooled down, with a slice of cheese and anything else he wants to add to it on the fly.

I was cleaning out the two freezers last night (the one attached to the fridge, and our cube stand up mini freezer) and found some portioned ground pork in ziplock bags. I pulled them out thinking I can use it for a dinner this week. Not specifically anything like burgers, but sometimes I like to form them into a meatloaf or meatballs before even thinking about burgers.

Tonight I made burgers for a change of pace. And now my husband is demanding to be kept in the style to which he quickly became accustomed to (as of tonight). *sigh* Ok, fine. Here is what I made him:

Creole Burgers:
14 oz Ground Pork
3 tea Creole Dry Rub
I Egg
3/4 C Breadcrumbs (of your choice, though I used Italian flavoured)
1/4 C Parmesan Cheese, grated up

Don’t overwork the meat mixture as you combine everything. I measured out meat for three patties at 4.6/4.7/4.7 oz each. Each was hefty and fantastic. It was a tasty burger on its own that could forgo a bun if need be. But, of course we topped it with sauces, veg and lettuce from our herb garden.

I was spoiled Beyond when this truck showed up at my workplace.

I was, I suppose, trying to give that Beyond Meat burger I had earlier this week a run for its money. I think this burger is just as tasty as the meatless one. Similar flavour palette, same texture, same satisfying feeling in our tummies.

Try this burger recipe and tell me what you think.

Pickled Red Onions

I have no idea where I got this recipe last year, but it’s a keeper. It’s simple, it’s fast, and it’s tasty. I use it a lot, and I recently started using it to make pickled jalapeno peppers. Life is less boring with brined vegetables. It just is. Trust me.

Pickled Red Onions:
1 C White Vinegar
3 Tbsp White Sugar
1 Tea Salt
5 Black Peppercorns (1/2 Tea black pepper works, too)
1-2 Bay Leaves
1-2 Garlic Cloves, crushed and undressed

Bring all items above to a boil in a small sauce pot. Remove from heat immediately. Let it come to almost room temp as you slice of your veg of choice. Stuff the veg into a large mason jar that can hold up to 1 C of whatever you’re about to pickle.

Pour the cooled brine over top using a small strainer, screw on a tight fitting lid, and chill it at least 4 hrs. A full day is better, but to be honest, you can let your onion slices rest in the brine ten minutes in the pot as it cools and that will work, too. But only do that if you’re in a hurry. Letting it rest in the brine so everything marries is the better way to go. You will thank me.

TIP: if you like a big garlic hit, drop the leftover garlic cloves into the pickle brine before chilling the onion slices.

House Reno

We’ve decided to bite the bullet and find a contractor to rip up our main floor in the hopes of taking down two small walls that form our current tiny kitchen, scrape our popcorn ceilings, lay down some new flooring, and give us a kitchen island and some companion cupboards, a new electrical panel and a level floor. Tall order, I know.

Still waiting on the second quote. Let’s hope it’s not as shocking as the first one. We live in a townhouse, a garden home. The quote was missing stuff and was for, after taxes, just over $100K.

LOL. Hahaha — no.

The second contractor asked me what finishes I was thinking about, and honestly I had no clear vision at that point, but that was a week ago. A lot of inspiration (and Pinspiration) has been happening since. The husband and I have different tastes in a lot of things, but I think I lucked out and found something even he likes enough to pay for.

*fingers crossed*

New Normal

(I’m not really sure how I feel about this cartoon.)

So… A lot’s happened. A lot. In just the last week, but more or less it’s been happening before our eyes while we day slept. COVID-19 is real, and it’s here. It’s not showing any signs of going away any time soon, or playing nice (much to the chagrin of many of certain gender, age and generation).

A lot has changed. Daily when I get into work, I’m like a captain of a Star Trek ship asking for the status update and damage report. New policies are being introduced every day. Things are fluid; subject to change mid shift as head office fires off another email to all the locations to implement.

We’re confused, the customers are confused, and generally it’s just all around confusing. For about a day. Humans are, thankfully, adaptable. Some people are willful and refuse change, and others need a lot of time to get used to changes. We get it.

But, we all need to work together in this little corner of our world in order to survive. We need to pull together, now more than ever, to survive this pandemic with as many as we can save.

I dislike the term Social Distancing. I much prefer Personal Safety Space. It’s more accurate in terms for what we’re trying to do – save persons, or rather ensure everyone’s personal safety is respected and maintained for the time they are in our store getting their food supplies.

All we ask is customers do their bit like we do ours when we show up for work every day. Those who continue to push back won’t like being forced to walk away from their groceries and leave the store when they only think about themselves. We haven’t done that yet… But, I feel it wouldn’t be out of the question in the very near future.

Customers, by and large, have been great about helping us to help them in light of the pandemic announcement over a week ago, but I can already see the honeymoon phase has worn off of people who hate being inconvenienced. Hence the push back I have gotten in the last day.

Like I said, welcome to the new normal. Yours, ours, and mine. (Note the order. I’m always going to put others’ needs ahead of mine at work.)

 

Downside of Aging

This time last year (give or take six weeks), I turned the big 5-0. So far it’s been great. I feel better and better each year I grow into my skin, but one thing that changed that I really want to find a way to change back is the ability to wear earrings.

In a former life, I made jewellery. I still own a lot of the custom pieces I couldn’t bear to sell in my personal collection, but in the last few years, I have noticed I can’t wear earrings anymore. It’s too painful – no matter what metal the hook or stud is made with. I can get the earrings in, but immediately the searing pain starts. The longest I have been able to keep earrings in has been an hour, and that’s after a week of working my ear lobes up to that amount of time.

*whimpering*

I really want to wear earrings again. I’m not sure if I need to pay someone to pierce my ear lobes in the same place the holes are located now, or give up forever. In the end, I have a feeling I might have to bite the bullet and convert all of my earrings over to clip-ons like a blue hair granny.

*more whimpering*

PLS Linky Love For Sabrina

The best part of Fall, for me, is PSLs (Pumpkin Spice Lattes). I really love them. Call me a basic bish all you want; it’s a badge I wear with care. I don’t go crazy and burn PSL candles or anything, but you will find me constantly thinking about a lovely PSL, pumpkin spice infused teas, pumpkin glazed scones, and even baking pumpkin pie tortes around this time of the year.

It’s a huge distraction for me. 😀

For most of those things, I make my own syrup. This PSL syrup.

Enjoy!

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.

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.