Saturday, February 28, 2009

mom's oatmeal cookies

In honor of my mother, I decided to go old school and whip up a childhood favorite. We always had a cookie jar on the counter growing up and 90% of the time it was split between two options. Oatmeal or Chocolate Chip. Plain and simple, but always delicious. While some people like a crisp cookie, with a little snap, I prefer mine with a slightly gooey center which is exactly how mom made them. These are so good fresh out of the oven that I've already indulged in a few and it's not even noon. Oh the memories.

I threw caution to the wind, regarding my mom's advice to separate the dropped cookie dough by 3 inches, and of course..the cookies baked into each other!

The recipe. Hand written by mom, and tucked inside a plastic sleeve for added protection. Mom's are so smart. Enjoy!

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a mother's inspiration

Without gobs of back story, I can easily say February 28th is a day I will never forget. 2 years ago today, was the day I watched my mother pass away after bravely fighting cancer. Her fight wasn't even that long, just over a year, but she gave that cancer a run for it's money. While this is an extremely personal issue, I needed to say it was her love of baking and cooking that has always been my biggest inspiration. I was able to spend countless hours, starting as a young boy, baking cookies, muffins, squares, even fresh bread with my mother. Priceless moments. I can't thank you enough for all the lessons you taught me and I'll continue to put a little piece of you in everything I make. Love.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

a gathering of minds at the blue plate

Last night was the first Edmonton Foodie gathering. First and foremost, a big thank you to Sharon, Hanne, and Courtney for putting the effort and time into making this meet up possible. I imagine the thought was to meet in an independent restaurant, centrally located and willing to cater to largish tables. How many options are there like this? Who knows, but we ended up at the Blue Plate Diner (great choice) on a very cold evening.

Having never participated in anything like this, it was a strange sort of anticipation leading up to the night. Meeting and eating with a group of strangers on some random Thursday may sound a little unusual to some. In fact telling my friends I'm about to go out for dinner with people I've never met, garnered a few 'ooookay Chris' kind of looks. But unusual or uncomfortable it wasn't. That is the weird part of reading blogs. You get to know one side of that person so that first awkward initial moment never really exists. Which is a good thing if you ask me. The evening was great from the get-go. I think the group ended up talking for almost 3 hours until yours truly made a grab for my jacket, and the domino effect kicked in.

I do hope we will be able to set up another gathering, hopefully based on a round table or a game of musical chairs as some of us were stretched to far away to communicate more than the basics. Now onto the group. Besides Sharon and Mac, who knew Diane, I don't think anyone else had met before. The group was rounded out with, Marianne and Zed, Hanne and Carlo, Maki, Isabelle, Courtney and Brooke.

Thanks again, for the evening. I've been inspired to make bread today!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

the week that was and is - wenesday february 25th 2009

A little rushed this week, missed No Reservations, and haven't worked on the upcoming Food Days. Here goes nothing.

  • Tomorrow is the first organized food blog dinner. We will be meeting at Blue Plate Dinner, somewhere I haven't been before. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone!
  • An article came out this past week about a Chinese food kiosk in West Edmonton Mall that was fined $12,000. "...between September 2006 and Nov. 30 of this year, Alberta Health Services inspectors found the restaurant was storing food at improper temperatures, thawing raw meat in a sink filled with water and perishable food was being left out on counters and on the floor."
  • An exhibit in Toronto called Carrot City is set to open this week. The idea that, "Front-yard gardens, particularly in the suburbs, are one example of how growing food in the city can change the experience of being in it.." seems ingenious.
  • Seems like the ban on trans fats in New York a few years back is spreading. Suffolk County on Long Island is the latest to impose such a ban. It's a funny situation, because as much as it should be a person's right to choose what they want, should we not look out for those who make ill informed decisions?
  • Results from a recent survey in Texas were released this past week at the American Stroke Association's annual conference showing "... a direct link between plentiful fast food and high stroke rates..." Geez who would have thought?
  • Nothing like a new loaf of bread to inspire so here is a whole wheat boule I baked this past week, fresh from the oven.

  • Jack Bauer wanted to know this week, what we want from him. Great season so far. 12 hours down/12 hours to go!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

pressed peanut butter sandwich

This may seem ridiculous to some, but I swear it was good. After a busy Sunday morning of cleaning, I didn't feel like making anything overly time consuming for lunch. Hence this creation. I took the last section of homemade bread, sliced it half, spread on some peanut butter and slapped it in the George Foreman Grill. I let it toast while I sliced an apple, and before you know it I had a nicely warmed/pressed peanut butter sandwich. A little like morning toast, a little like a lunch sandwich, but 100% delicious.

*the little white section is excess flour used for dusting during the shaping that decided to stay along for the baking. :)

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Monday, February 23, 2009

good earth coffeehouse and bakery - edmonton, ab

good earth coffeehouse and bakery
corner of 108 street and 100Ave

I was heading over to the University of Lethbridge campus downtown a few days back to meet up with an old professor for lunch. Not too many options popped into my mind when thinking of the 107st/100ave block, so I really didn't know where we might be headed. It turned out just fine however, as my professor already had a place in mind when we met up. He mentioned a coffee shop on the corner that hadn't been around long and he has been meaning to try it. What a better time than now.

The seating area was full when we walked in at 1pm, so I wondered whether we would be walking our lunch back to campus. A quick look at the menu and things were pretty straight forward - coffee, espresso, latte's, tea's, baked goods, soup, and panini's. I decided on a smoked turkey panini with apple and cheese, while my professor opted for the black forest ham. Other versions included beef or vegetarian, as well as a breakfast panini. Once ordered they take your panini over to a station of presses to warm up.

By the time we paid, a few tables had emptied so we sat down next to the window. I love when a restaurant can occupy the corner of the building. There is just something better, or more open maybe, about windows on two you have better people watching opportunities. But back to the food. Presentation was basic, and I would have preferred napkins on the table or for pickup as the warm sandwich quickly turned the napkins below into a mess. The panini itself had two distinct flavors - that of the wrap(which was good) itself and cheese. I didn't really pick anything up form the thin strip of deli turkey and couldn't for the life of me detect the apple. I also ordered a plain coffee. I suppose it's an added bonus to the area and it does make for a quick lunch stop, but for $10 I wouldn't consider it a steal of a deal.

I felt like the restaurant was very streamlined and could easily be part of a larger mother ship, so it was really no surprise to find out there are other locations. I was surprised however to see Good Earth has been around since 1991 and I've never heard of them, but with good reason I suppose. Calgary has been the stomping grounds until recently when they expanded into both Red Deer and Edmonton. Their website doesn't list the downtown location, just one by the University, so I'm not sure if there are more hiding around the city. I will say also that it's nice to see a few new options like Good Earth available, because the area was quite dead during my two years at the campus.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

green curry chicken on coconut basmati rice

With my first attempt at making a Thai style curry dish a success, and a container of curry left, I jumped at the chance to make another dish. The main difference, if you couldn't tell by the name, was a change in protein. Chicken would be the flavour on this day.

Besides giving the chicken a partial cook and adding more vegetables, the dish came together in a very similar way to my first attempt. I also felt like I needed a bit more sauce so I also opened up two 14 oz cans of coconut milk instead of one. It turned out great and has given me even more reason to keep coconut milk on hand.

  • Slice chicken breasts into strips (add salt and pepper)
  • Heat up tablespoon of oil in pan and cook chicken until almost done
  • Remove from heat and set aside
  • Put sliced onions into pan and saute until soft, 3-4 minutes
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of green curry paste and a handful of green onions.
  • Cook this mixture until fragrant, about 1 minute
  • Add in coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce, and sugar
  • Bring to a boil and let it ride 4-5 minutes to thicken up a bit
  • Add in vegetables - I used red peppers, mushrooms, and baby corn
  • Bring back to a boil and let it ride for a few minutes
  • Add in chicken strips to finish their cooking and for sauce to thicken
  • Plate on top of coconut rice, and finish with a slice of lime and fresh cilantro
While chicken strips are good; I'm pretty sure I'll go back to shrimp on my next attempt. If I do happen to have some chicken ready, I'm going to cook it through and add it back in shredded for a bit texture.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

starbucks southpoint- edmonton, ab

Even though I have an espresso machine at home, it doesn't always do the trick. Sure it makes a great shot, even if I have to clean up, but there is no one to talk with. So on mornings when I'm feeling particularly sprightly, I know I'm just a short drive away from a good laugh, conversation, or at the very least..people watching. Thanks Sarah, you are a wonderful barista. I'm glad you enjoy your job so much; I think it would be great if most people could feel that good at work. Below is my one of my two usual options...Can anybody decipher the Starbucks code.

venti, 6 shot, americano, no room, sugar free hazelnut - like heaven in your mouth!

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Friday, February 20, 2009

crab salad sandwich

I was digging through the pantry for a can of tuna when I came across a 4 pack of canned crab meat. It made me think (a) how old are these cans, and (b) I don't think I've ever had one of these cans. So a new idea emerged and I decided to mix up a crab salad sandwich with more of my homemade bread.

It turned out pretty good. I was surprised to see the the meat was wrapped with a ring of parchment style paper and the guaranteed 17% leg meat was sitting nicely on top of the pile. After squeezing the can to get all the water out I realized it packs down a lot more than a can of tuna normally does - maybe tuna is more dense? I mixed the crab meat with a mixture of mayo, mustard, green onion, salt, and pepper before adding it to a few slices of tomato and lettuce. I also chopped up some carrots and cauliflower to finish the meal.

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there's a place called downtown, where the hippies all go...

A few morning mentions;

I noticed the Downtown Dining Week information has been posted. 23 restaurants are participating over the 10 days (March 6 - 15) and it looks like there should be a choice for everyone. I'll have to have a better at the menu's this week and see if anything is worth the trip. Maybe a mini foodie meet up?

I don't know if anyone is a late night fan, but watching Conan O'Brien during this last week has been priceless. The highlight for me, besides destroying a little bit of the stage every night and giving the pieces to the audience, was his sit down with Martha Stewart. The skit they created was classic, but what got me was the end of the interview. To say thanks, Martha pulled out a bag of Taco Bell burritos and two 40oz bottles of Olde English 800 and they proceeded to eat and drink. Martha can just be so damn funny at times.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

steak sandwich on homemade whole wheat bread

I was in Costco last week. I had a list, but I also had time. So, I decided to wander the aisles. Somehow more things ended up in my cart than originally planned. Damn you Costco and your some times great deals! Lucky for me however was the addition of a rib eye roast. See, my fellow shoppers were being seduced by a 3 pack of rib eye steaks ($28), yet right beside this was a similar priced rib eye roast. Being the cost saving customers we are, we decided to cut our own who's laughing Costco!

With a quick slice back at ranch, we were the proud owners of 6 (that's right 6) tasty looking rib eye steaks.

I've had good success with a tequila/chili marinade my brother did up for me, so far I figured it would be put into play again. I coated my piece of steaky goodness and let it relax over night.

I took my steak out 40 minutes before cooking to relax at room temperature and made the bold decision to use a George Foreman Grill. Now I'm no expert on these things, having never owned one, but some people swear by them. For my first attempt on the Foreman, I was happy with the result even if it was a little more cooked than I would normally like it.

While I originally thought about cooking a proper steak supper, I thought of an ingenious idea for an afternoon steak sandwich as I pulled a fresh loaf of 100% whole wheat bread from the oven Who needs supper now! Plus, I threw in some vegetables for good measure. It was a delicious meal, and I'm looking forward to my next steak...which I'll probably make into another sandwich.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

the week that was and is - wednesday february 18th 2009

First - does anyone know anything about blog trackers. There seems to be quite a few options, so I'm basically looking for some personal insight. Oh yeah, it should be free. Now the week.

  • I feel words like 'organic' can leave themselves a little wide open at times, so it's nice to see some standards being put in place. "...under the new federal regulations, only products with organic content greater than 95 per cent can be labeled organic, and use the new logo from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency."
  • Cornell University commissioned a study to "... look at how popular cookbook recipes have changed during the past 70 years in the United States, in terms of how they may contribute to weight gain....They found a nearly 40 per cent increase in calories per serving for nearly every recipe reviewed, about an extra 77 calories..." More reason than ever to keep those old, tattered hand me down cookbooks.
  • Looks like our friendly Canadian coffee icon, Tim Horton's, is teaming up with Cold Stone Creamery in the US and testing the coffee/ice cream relationship. Each will offer up 50 stores for the test run - Tim's will sell Cold Stone products, and vice versa. I imagine these will be similar to our Tim's/Wendy's combination's once the stores are remodeled.
  • Readers digest put together a top 10 edible aphrodisiacs list; avocado, banana, chili peppers, honey, pine nuts, figs, arugula, oysters, coffee and of course at number one, chocolate.
  • In case you missed it, yesterday was customer appreciation day at McDonald's. They were offering a second burger/sandwich for a single penny when you purchased one at regular price. Nothing says economy boost like 2 for 1 Big Mac's.
  • Michigan Brewing Company out of the States has approved a Kid Rock line of beer. I wonder if it would complement the above mentioned Big Mac...or is that too classy for Kid Rock.
  • Jack Bauer can't be stopped, why even tempt him to show you.
  • My man friend, Mr. Bourdain was in the Philippines this week. A great episode. It's nice to see a section of that countries cuisine, as even my own Philippino friends rarely, if ever, partake in their national dishes. It's a shame because even at 9 am, I'm getting hungry just looking at goat head stew and pig skin. Next week - Manhattan.
And finally, this upcoming week is made even more delicious with February 20th being Cherry Pie Day, 21st is Sticky Bun Day and next Tuesday the 23rd is Banana Bread Day. Time to get your baking on.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

green curry shrimp on coconut basmati rice

I'm going to let you in a secret, and I want you to keep it between just the two of us. I sometimes build up a fear of cooking the unknown. Especially if I'm cooking a new dish for friends or family. See, I want criticism when making new dishes and some people are just too darn nice to say anything even if they are choking it down. Thai food has created one of those fears, which is a shame because I enjoy it oh so very much. So here in all it's glory, my first crack at the can.

Lately I've come across some great examples (see Kevin and his delicious looking homemade curry paste or KimHo's recent lunch), which peaked my desire again. Top this all with a request last week to make a Thai style curry with shrimp and it was finally time to commit. After some 'research' it seemed like a pretty straight forward procedure. Choose a base, add curry paste, then some coconut milk/broth, throw in some vegetables and protein. Sounds too easy....

Safely stepping into the cuisine and not making my own paste from scratch, I had one decision to make during the last grocery trip - red or green curry paste. Green won the fight (but let me tell you, red can throw a mean punch or two) and accompanied me home on his victory tour.

So how did it turn out. Well, pretty damn good for a first attempt. I kept the heat to a minimum as requested so this is something I would change if making it just for myself or other heat minded dinners. But other than that, it came together relatively quick and was eaten up in record time - a true sign of success I think. Good thing, because I picked up a tub of the curry and it would have surely been food abuse if I chucked that away.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

crusty bread

Without even realizing it, and no warning from anyone else in the house, we were down to a single slice of no-knead bread left this morning. With no chance of baking another loaf until tomorrow, and some omelets being requested for supper, I needed to put something together. The recipe is so simple with most of the work taking up a few minutes at most, but the results are great. Plus, we now have bread to toast for supper.

2 cups ap flour + more for dusting
1 cup water
1/2 tbl salt
1/2 tbl dry active yeast

  1. Mix everything together in a bowl.
  2. Cover with saran wrap.
  3. Let rise until double (2-3 hours)
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  5. Shape dough into boule or batard
  6. Place on flour or cornmeal dusted tray
  7. Let rise 40-60 minutes
  8. Slide bread onto pizza stone
  9. Bake 30 minutes
  10. Dig in!

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

hearts, hearts, and more hearts...

Working through my first Valentine's Day on the solo in quite a while and being a car guy, I couldn't help but laugh when I saw MSN come up with a list of 'cars that will keep you single' -

  • Minivan's
  • 80's Camaro's
  • Chrysler Dynasty
  • E-350 Econoline (or any commercial vehicle)
  • Geo Metros (Suzuki Swift etc...)
  • Pontiac Fieros
  • Pontiac Aztecs
  • Toyota Corollas.
With the 80's Camaro making the list, I guess my dreams of buying KITT are out. For some reason I don't think it will be that hard to avoid the above next time I purchase a car.

Cheers to you (and yours). Now go shower your significant other with attention or, like me, accomplish some grocery shopping, watch an Oilers game, and cook yourself supper while listening to John Mayer.

* The first Edmonton Foodie get together is being put together by Hanne, Sharon and Courtney. Here's to the first of what is hopefully more.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

sushi wasabi - edmonton, ab

sushi wasabi

5714 111 Street

Giving my regular go-to sushi establishment enough chances after an ownership change and a slide in both the quality and deliciousness, I felt it was time to look for something new. After brief look around the Internet and hearing a few local opinions, I started making my list. Not knowing where to start, I flipped a mental coin and ended up choosing sushi wasabi over in lendrum. A great first and second visit were enough for me to shoot for a third. Forgetting they are closed on Monday's, I've gone back twice now and left to wallow in my poor memory skills . But, with a recent sushi craving, and it not being Monday, I set off quickly for my third actual visit.

It would have been impossible not to notice the amount of customers on my first two visits and this visit was no exception. If anything, it was even more jammed up right from the word go. With no available tables, my dining companions and I pulled up to the bar filling the last three available seats. I've been wanting to attempt an omakase meal since I first discovered this style of meal, and after two succesful visits I figured it was worth the inquiry. Our server, the owners son, mentioned that it is something they could accommodate but his father was in a poor mood this evening and it wasn't something he felt like undertaking. He also mentioned they are suffering some some pretty big staff shortages, which I took into account later when it seemed impossible to get a tea refill.

Not expecting to actually undertake an omakse experience, and only eating a handful of vegetables this afternoon, I was ready for an ordering frenzy but my fellow eaters couldn't be persuaded. So I kept it simple and filling; chirashi, a dish I ordered on my second visit and was more than happy with. My only quip would have been the overwhelming amount of rice, which thankfully was more in check on this visit. Now I've only started ordering chirashi in the last year so my experience with the bowl is relatively new, but sushi wasabi is the only restaurant where I've received two types of roe and a rotation of vegetables toppings. Something I really like. Variation is the spice of life right..

My fellow eaters ordered a shrimp tempura roll (no picture) and this futo-maki. They enjoyed their choices, but I was let down by the futo. I found my taste buds were overwhelmed with mayo, so much so that I barely tasted the citrus from the grapefruit - a pretty strong flavour on its own if you ask me. I'm glad I tried it and while it isn't something I would rush to order again, I would probably suggest it to non-sashimi dinners.

Feeling the need to end my meal with a bit of luxury I ordered a piece of sea urchin (uni).

What can I say, after 3 visits my initial thoughts have been confirmed; the food here is good, and if this visit was the owner/chef at his worst, then I will gladly continue to stop in when I'm craving some fish. I must warn you again - It has always been an extremely busy place and hours are limited 5-10pm. If you don't have a reservation I would recommend stopping in with a small party or before 6 if you want to chance it.

Being at the bar I couldn't help but noticed the chefs bad mood show and I felt like it reflected in the dishes on this evening. Having sampled various maki, nigri, and sashimi here before I was surprised to see some cuts, especially the tuna and salmon sashimi, suffering from jagged knife skills.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

roasted garlic

Roasted garlic is so easy and delicious that I try and roast off a few heads on a regular basis. Today was one of those days as I had just bought a massive sack from Superstore for $1.25. Really how can you turn a deal like that. Try it fresh from the oven using a fork or your fingers if you are daring, to push the garlic out and eat it straight up, spread on crackers or bread. Mash it up before you cool it down and use it like a dip for fresh vegetables, incorporate it into pasta or pizza sauces, or make the best garlic bread around.

10 heads of garlic
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peal and discard any of the loose outer shell from the garlic
Cut the top (say 14%) off the head of garlic.
Place in cut side up on a sheet of aluminum foil.
Top with oil, salt, and pepper.
Wrap up foil package nice and tight.
Place in a baking dish and set the timer for approximately 50 minutes.
Let cool, or if you are foolish like me, indulge fresh and hot!

The garlic takes on a great taste, none of the bite you get from raw garlic so don't worry. Also, I suggest playing with different spices and you will never look at garlic the same.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

the week that was and is - wednesday february 11th 2009

  • The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada released a report saying "Some Canadians are paying between double and nearly six times the average price for healthy foods depending on where in the country they live..."
  • Denny's delivered one heck of a promotion last week (Feb 3rd), when they gave away a free Grand Slam Breakfast to their patrons, from 6am to 2pm. Word on the street says they gave away nearly 2 million Slams. A good way to kick off their promotion; A Grand Slam Year (total cost 15 Million - 12 in food and 3 in advertising).
  • While not as 'free' as the above, IHOP has also commented on the depressing economic times by offering All You Can Eat buttermilk pancakes.
  • I could have sworn Smitty's was offering a similar deal 'unlimited pancakes when you order a meal that includes them' but I can't find the promotion , so I make no promises if you devour a pile of them. In looking for the promotion, I did find out you can now buy Smitty's brand coffee. Has anyone ever had this? Is it any good?
  • The pictures on This is why you're fat are something else, but I still think someone needs to submit Paula Deen's "Lady's Brunch Burger". I mean really it's one thing to top your burger with bacon; but adding an egg on top of that and replacing the bun with two donuts - classic!
  • I read an article where some folks were expressing their frustration about the amount of Peanut Butter products being recalled, claiming it was overboard and in doing so invented what I think will be a new catch slogan - Maple Leaf Syndrome. A friend recently came into a pile of free PB that they were no longer able to sell. Now is that food russian roulette?
  • No Reservations was good this week. It wasn't what I expected, but Food Porn did have some interesting items. I think the best showing was by our boys from out east. Next week - The Philippines.
  • Looking around for new ways to produce my no-knead bread, I've stumbled across clay baking tools called La Cloche. It seems like a good way to get a more french loaf shape instead of the typical round pot/dutch oven shape. Now if only I could spoil myself right now.
  • Speaking of no-knead bread. The below is a 60/40 whole wheat mixture topped with roasted sesame seeds. The seeds add a nice flavour, something that I will use again. It has so far made for a delicious turkey and tomato sandwich.
  • Congrats to John Mayer, two Grammys this week, and to Jack Bauer, first time in the White House after all these years!
Besides Valentines Day, this coming week sees Burger Lovers Day on the 15th and Almond Day on the 16th.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

kimchi, oh the kimchi

What a delicious and wonderful treat. This may seem extremely random, but I have to admit my love for this Korean side dish. Is it so wrong that I can turn this into a meal. And what I mean by meal, is a bowl of kimchi with a side of kimchi. I can't seem to recall where I first encountered kimchi, or even when I fell in love it. I do know that I can't stop eating the style of kimchi available at my local Korean Central Market. First it was small containers and those would disappear in a night. Next up the medium size containers, hmm somehow those disappeared in a night. Whoa what's this...a larger size; same thing. Where can I go from here, well I've graduated to buying the $19.99 tub.

I have tried to make my own kimchi, 3 times now, but I can't seem to really pull it together. Maybe I don't put the right spices in, let it sit long enough, cast the right spell...If anyone has any tips or suggestions to making your own kimchi; I would love to hear them. While $20 for a bucket (look at it compared to a 2L Pepsi) is a good deal, making it myself would make it that much better. Especially since H&W almost always has cabbage for cheap.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

cornbread muffins

I was in the middle of making elk chili a few days back, when I realized I needed something to eat with it. What better than warm cornbread. I went to my trusty cookbooks and had a boo. Out with the bread I reckoned, and in with the muffins. Easy to self manage I thought. I mean really, I could probably cut a pretty decent sized piece out of the pan, so muffins it was. I ended up creating/using a mix of recipes, not wanting something too sweet or too bland. The muffins turned out perfect; light, airy and just a hint of sweetness. This was my first crack at corn muffins in silicon as well. Verdict - Success!

1 3/4 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 cup white sugar
1 cups buttermilk
1 eggs
1/8 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray or line 12 muffin cups. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Create a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet and mix until just combined. Pour batter into cups and bake for 15 minutes. Delicious hot out of the oven with butter or at room temperature. If you have any left, you can always freeze them!

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

old country meats and deli - edmonton, ab

old country meats and deli
6328 106 street

I find that every January when talk of Robbie Burns day comes up in news articles, it brings about a discussion of that good ol' wholesome meal in a sack - Haggis. Be it with friends, family, or strangers; most people are sure to have, at the very least, an opinion that lands on the distant sides of the enjoyment spectrum. You either love the idea of offal or can't imagine eating it. I don't think I've ever met a person who would cook some up to entertain company with, let alone keep a few pounds lying around in the freezer. However, If I did know this person, I'm pretty sure they would have stopped by Old Country Meats and Deli at one point to buy it.

After a few failed attempts to stop in during operating hours, I was lucky enough this past week to stop by and have a quick chat with owner/operator Todd Panchuk. Todd is a burly fellow who reminds me of a log ridder from days gone by and who speaks with a genuine passion and excitement about his products. The first thing I noticed coming in was how empty the shop was. Two decent sized coolers along with a stand up freezer were just about bare. Todd assures me it was a bad time, with Robbie Burns day in the very recent past and my visit later in the day, supplies were running short. As a side note, I love a local store that runs low by the end of the day, to me that means they are doing timely business (hopefully in this case good business).

In the first cooler, I found sausages, sausages and ummm more sausage. Everything from bratwursts to hot Italian to chorizo; Todd, I take it, makes a cornucopia of sausages. The other cooler had a couple 10 inch pies (already claimed for by customers soon to come) and a tray of delicious looking breaded balls almost as big as softballs. This is where my bad timed visit takes over, as I was now out of fresh meaty goodness to inquire about. With a quick turn to the left, I was staring at a freezer and staring back at me was the reason for my visit. Haggis. Todd makes a lot of haggis and even this close to Robbie Burns day, there was different sizes to choose from; all frozen for your travel convenience. Aside from the coolers, the shop is clean and open, something that made me feel extremely comfortable knowing that all the happenings go on right in front of your eyes. The front end is finished with a simple counter where you can pay, and a little wooden cart topped with napkins and mustard. Could there be products that people might eat in house?

I knew I would be purchasing some haggis, that was the main purpose of my visit here, but I needed to find out what the softball sized treats were. Todd provided a quick answer, I wonder how many people have to ask, and I discovered they were Scotch Eggs - a cold hard boiled egg is surrounded in a sausage mixture, breaded and then deep fried. OMG! Leave it to the Brits to come up with something like this..yes I said Brits. Todd and his coworker were quick to add, with a chuckle mind you, that if you have heart issues this isn't the dish for you.

So here I am, happy as an egg wrapped in deep fried sausage, that I finally made it over to Old Country Meats and Deli. I look forward to my next visit, yes there definitely will be one, and hope the coolers are overflowing with more fresh, and not-sold out items (like his delicious looking bacon). But Chris you say, 'what about the Haggis?' Look forward to a future post about never know, I might just serve it to you if you stop by some afternoon...I want to be that guy!

*thanks to bruleeblog for posting about Robbie Burns day and linking to the Edmonton Journal article explaining where to get haggis. It's nice to have a small community of local food/news bloggers that prove, as I get a daily paper, more eyes are better - especially when unearthing food articles.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

a personal pizza pie, that's amore - or just lunch

Growing up in a house with a Pizza Hut loving father, I didn't realize that pizza could come in so many shapes and styles. Wikipedia has entries for; New York style, Sicilian style, Greek style, Chicago style, Pizza al taglio, New-Haven style, Californian style, St. Louis style, Mexican, Pissaladiere, and Detroit style pizza. I've since branched out from your standard chain pizza, but still think with all the options, things can get a little confusing. Is it made with 00 or ap flour, baked in a pan or on bricks, thick and stuffed or thin and simple?

I tend to lean towards a thinner, slightly chewy pizza topped with minimal ingredients. I've come to appreciate the Italian idea that the dough is what a pizza is about, and stay away from a 'kitchen sink' topping mentality. My favorite pizza dough recipe makes six personal sized portions, that once frozen just need a night in the fridge, and two hours on the counter, to come back to life. Lately I've been topping my pizza with a sauteed mushroom/onion mixture and baby bocconcinis for cheesy goodness. Do you have a favorite pizza place or favorite topping? Do you consider pizza a solid breakfast option? Let me know.

*not shown - fresh herby goodness and red pepper flakes

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

maki maki - edmonton, ab

Maki Maki Japanese/Vietnamese Restaurant and Bar
8109 101st

There was some recent talk on Chowhound about The Mill shutting down and although I never went, it did seem like a bit a German institution. Maybe 'the best rouladen in town' wasn't a good enough sell these days. It does make me wonder how long it was there for. It is now occupied by a Japanese/Vietnamese restaurant - Maki Maki, which I imagine translates to Roll Roll. I stepped inside to have a quick look and gander at their menu. It's made up of typical goodies - sushi, sashimi, pho, bun, various noodle dishes, bento's, and combo's. They do have a lot of maki rolls on the menu, at least 25, so in honour of their name it looks like that is a major focus.

I do wonder why there is such a large percentage of "kitchen sink" style restaurants, and not more specialized ones. I mean where do you start - the pho, the fish, the many choices. I'll have to wrangle up some maki loving friends, as I tend to lean towards sashimi when I'm out, and stop in for a proper review. I did forget to check the menu for a Pho Sate, something I'm trying to hunt down here in town that comes close to what is offered at Pho Dau Bo in Calgary. There is a 10% off grand opening special right now, so that might persuade you to stop in. As a side, I did stand at the door for almost 10 minutes without anyone coming to greet me. Good thing I wasn't eating.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

the week that was and is - wednesday february 4th 2009

I am hoping to start a random 'update style' post once in a while and today seemed like a good day to start. I've been inspired by various other updates; Baking Bites, Only Here for the Food are two examples, so here is my crack at the can. I don't feel I have my ear as close, or near, to the ground as many locals (especially the bloggers) do, but hopefully I can bring the occasional interesting item. Also, while I will probably keep most of the information food related, I do enjoy the automotive, music, and technology industries so they may sneak in from time to time.

  • I'm always happy to have No Reservations back on the air, I adore Mr. Bourdain in that man-crush kind of way, but not as much as I do Keifer. This past Monday's show was filmed in Chicago. Probably my 2nd favorite episode this year, after the season opener in Mexico, and featured quite the array of goodies. From hot dogs stuffed with tamales and famous chicago deep dish pizza to edible cigars and roadkill. I definitely need to take a trip to the windy city one day. Next weeks episode looks great - FOOD PORN!
  • Liane Faulder wrote an article in the Edmonton Journal's bistro section today about Montreal Style bagels and their lack of availability here. I'm lucky to have first hand experience with them while living in Ottawa and our family made regular trips to get fresh bagels. I can't stop but wonder if my father covered more of the car, or my brother and I, with poppy and sesame seeds as we consumed a good portion of them on the way home. While Liane mentions ordering them from Montreal, your next bet may be to befriend someone from Vancouver and have them send you some Siegel's Bagels. At least that way they aren't traveling as far. Seriously...they are that good.
  • The Pioneer Woman was lucky enough to have a personal sushi chef visit and in turn has posted a few sushi lessons with more to come. How great would a gift like that be?
  • I noticed a bag of shredded zucchini in the freezer last night, and had some fresh left over from a stir fry, so this morning I whipped up some muffins. They turned out delicious if I do say so, with that extra dense moistness that zucchini's always bring to the party. The recipe says 12-14, but I easily made 18 without the nut of fruit additions.
  • Don't forget those all important upcoming food days - the 7th is fettuccine alfredo day, while the 9th is bagels and lox day.
Well, that is that!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

fruit salad - an everyday treat

As a big supporter of all things fruit (well maybe not durian), I love making a refreshing fruit salad. I consume a lot of fruit and vegetables; it is quiet normal for me to eat 2 or 3 apples during your average day, so throw in the option of fruit salad and I'm happier than a pig in "you know what". After a quick visit to h&w, I knew fruit salad would be on the menu this week.

This is the kind of recipe, if you can call it that, you almost never repeat and is a great way to discover how different fruits work together. This version for example has blood orange, which adds a distinct taste and great colour contrast. Feel free to throw in whatever you have lying around or prefer. As a side note, I seem to stumble on a fair amount of online articles where the average family/individual worries about buying fresh produce because they don't use it up and it gets wasted. Fruit salad, in my opinion, is a perfect way to extend some of that fruit, so dig in!

1 - Mango
1 - Navel Orange
1 - Blood Orange
1 - Gala Apple
1 - Banana
1 - Kiwi
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup - OJ (optional)
Cointreau or similar (optional)

Place cut and diced fruit in a decent size container. Squeeze the lime juice over top and give it a mix - Enjoy! Feel free to add some orange juice to the dish if you like it a bit juicier, just remember the fruit will give off some as it relaxes. For a special treat splash some orange flavoured liquor over top.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

a night for patty

Being a big fan of all things spicy, I would have been foolish to turn down a recent opportunity to work with a family friend from Grenada. Alma, a former coworker of my mothers, heard through the grapevine that I was interested in trying my hand at Jamaican style patties. Too me, Jamaican patties are similar to flat breads, as in, most cultures have their version. The UK has its pasty, Central and South America have varying versions of empanadas, South Asia and parts of Africa have samosa's, and the list goes on. Turnovers, by any name, are pretty straight forward - cut a piece of dough, fill with various goodies, fold over and then bake or fry until golden. I'm pretty sure depending on the size and filling, these can be used as a quick snack, meal, or dessert.

I was told to round up a few basic supplies for the night; ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, flour, curry powder, turmeric, salt and a few other things. Having a stocked up kitchen, all I needed to do was head out and buy some ground beef. While I was thinking a few pounds would be good, Alma insisted I get 5 a single man, I couldn't help but shake my head. I've never bought this much ground beef for any one specific cooking adventure in my life. It made me ask myself, am I going to have patties until the end of time?

While Alma and her lovely Trini husband, were to show up at 5 o'clock, island time kicked in and I didn't hear the doorbell until 7:30. She had previously mentioned a special surprise for supper, but I couldn't wait..silly silly me. The short and sweet of patty making went like this: brown onion and garlic, add lots of curry powder (lots), remove from heat and brown meat, separate fat, combine meat/onion mixture, add water/breadcrumbs, mix fat back in(don't ask me why, as there was a lot), set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, mix up the turmeric infused dough and relax. Cut large chunks of dough, roll out thin, cut circles, place in press or hand, fill, fold over, stab with fork, and bake in oven for 20-30 minutes. Phew!

We did stop for a quick break after making the meat mixture to indulge in the special dinner, curried goat, but the night did seem to drag. I think I ended up with hundreds of patties. Literally 6 or 7 giant ziploc freezer bags full. I still have no idea what to do with them all, and I think the recipe is scaled this way so that familys can get together and all come away with a bunch. I likened it to stories of Ukranian grandmothers getting together for a day and making hundreds of perogies for their families. Needless to say it was well worth the time and effort. I heard some crazy island stories, gained some first hand experience (6 hours worth), and gained a few pounds (eating fresh, hot patties is a must) Best of all though, I got to hear stories about my mother. Alma and my mother worked at the hospital together when I was a child, so I didn't know what she knew about my mother. None of the stories she told were groundbreaking, or life changing but hearing someone talk about your mother with such passion and excitment is worth it's weight in gold. I will not only remember my mother, but this night every time I bite into a delicious, spicy, homemade Jamaican patty - every single one.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dinner in the Valley of the Buffalo

A quick stop over at Buffalo Valley Variety Meats Inc recently led to the discovery of a '20% off all frozen' buffalo sale. After a quick look around and discovering some interesting meat options (python - although there was none in stock), I was leaving Blaine Verbeek's shop with a chunk of frozen buffalo sirloin.

I knew all it would take was a quick stop in the fridge last night to thaw the buffalo before I could dig in today. Cutting into the plastic package this morning, I found a heavy, dense and dark red steak ready for a small dash of cajun spice before going back in the fridge to relax in a nice spa of spicy goodness. Cooking the steak in my trusty cast iron pan for just over 2 minutes a side left it ready for a temporary tinfoil home. While letting it relax for a few minutes, I cut up some fresh cut green bell peppers and dished out a side of kimchi. The meat is fantastic, almost 'butter like' and I just about forgot to take a picture due to the tasty buffalo party going on in my mouth. I'm really happy how the cajun and kimchi flavours worked, and you have to like a healthy supper. I added a gala apple for dessert and I'm now ready to relax for Superbowl Halftime. Giver Bruce!

Sorry about the photo. My camera and the skills behind it are very poor, and nothing compared with my brothers.

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