Thursday, October 28, 2010

Corners of the Kitchen: Pyrex

For the first few years of married life I hoarded Pyrex dishes. I blame my Grammas. My Gramma Hobbs bought me my first set of green, Pyrex nesting bowls. My Gramma Robinson gave me a few of her pie plates and bowls when she heard I liked them. Now I'm hooked.

How could any kitchen dwelling, pie baking, food preparing, food transporting individual not love them? They come in so many shapes and sizes, colours and patterns. Oh, and my favourite feature of all, they're virtually indestructible. Believe me, I need indestructible!

I have only a handful of cups and none of the original dishes I got when we got married....they are all broken. I mean well and try very hard to be careful and slow down, but things always get broken. In the earlier days of my married life, such events would result in tears. Now the events are so common-place, no one really notices a broken dish or glass, someone just goes for the broom and we move on.

So, lovely Pyrex, this is why I love you so. After a recent, move-induced purge I only have about 20 Pyrex left. (That is all that would fit in my new cupboards...If I also wanted room for food.)
Here are some of the lovelies.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sweet Cherry Tomato and Some Witteveen

Even though I had taken out some delicious Witteveen Mennonite Sausages, tonight just felt like a Lovely Butternut night. I had to do both. Since I was already into Jamie at Home, I looked up 'sausage' in the index. The recipe that caught my eye had two very important main components; sausage and cherry tomatoes.

My kids eat tomatoes like candy. While we were at the St Lawrence Market on Saturday I bought a bag of sweet little tomatoes for them to nibble on while we walked...they soon vanished.

While the tomatoes and sausages bake, their juices melt out and mix with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar making a wonderfully rich sauce. We alternated dipping our croutons in the soup and in the sauce. Jimmy and I both said, several times, "This is perfect." A perfect mix of flavours.
I anticipate the leftover tomato and sausage will be poured over some penne or mashed potato tomorrow for the kids lunch. What a versatile dish.

Sweet Cherry Tomatoes with Sausage

4lb cherry tomatoes (or a mixture of cherry tomatoes and largely diced roma)
2 sprigs each, thyme and rosemary
1T dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, peeled, and chopped
4-6 good pork or chicken sausages (we love Witteveen)
Extra virgin Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375*.
Toss tomatoes with herbs, garlic, sausage, a few swirls of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Bake 30mins. Stir and bake 15 more minutes.
Let cool a few minutes and then serve with just about anything that will absorb these delicious juices. I highly recommend the parmy-croutons from Lovely butternut soup.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cottage Pie

Another easy one that Jimmy and the kids love. A good one pot dish for those nights when you aren't sure what time people are coming home and you have to keep it warm.
It tastes so retro, which I love, and it looks quite the part if prepared in a lovely mint green Pyrex baking dish. Anyone else have a Pyrex obsession? The only thing to serve with this, in my mind, is a dish of sweet pickles, some thickly sliced bread and some molded jello for dessert.

Cottage Pie
adapted from Everyday Food November 2010

3T butter melted
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
2 large carrots cut in medium chunks
salt and pepper
2T tomato paste
2T Ketchup
1.5t Worcestershire sauce
1lb ground turkey, lamb or beef
1.5t herb de provence or thyme (more if using fresh)
1C dark beer (I used tankhouse)
1C stock or water
2T flour
1C frozen peas
1 large russet or yukon gold potato sliced thinly
Prettiest 2Quart Pyrex you've got

Preheat oven to 400*.
In a large skillet, heat 1T butter over med-high heat and add onions and carrots, stirring often until soft. 5mins or so.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato paste, ketchup, and worchester. Add meat and stir until almost cooked, 3mins. Add herbs and beer and bring to a boil. Cook stirring a lot until slightly reduced. Sprinkle with flour, stir. Add stock and cook until thickened, 2mins.
Stir in peas and season again, if you feel it's necessary.
Transfer mixture to pyrex. Top with potatoes, overlapping slices. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining 2T of melted butter over the top of potatoes. Bake 40-45mins.
Cool at least 10mins before serving.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Banana Man has Quite an Appetite and Loves this Loaf

I laughed this morning as I found a piece of playdough on the floor that had been rolled up with a bit of parma ham and a few tomato seeds because I knew it had to have been my Jibs...Playing is good, eating is better.

The boy loves to eat. He gets very excited when he sees me in the kitchen. "Oh, look...Wow." He says. Quite often he outeats his big sister and occasionally even the Mama.

If you happened to read the birthday post, you will know that he loves and starts each day with a banana. I have tried probably dozens of recipes with bananas in them and so far this is one of my favourite and also one of the easiest. The other thing that I love about this one is the quantity of bananas in it. If you have an abundance of bananas that have past their prime (which never happens around here) or, if you are like me, and you buy them on the reduced rack already soft and speckled then freeze them for later, try this recipe out.
Try it plain or with a few little extras such as rum infused raisins, figs, nuts or chocolate.

Banana Bread with Options

1C plus 2T AP Flour
2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t salt
1/2C sweet butter, melted
1/2C, scant, sugar
2 eggs
4 bananas, very ripe, mashed
1t vanilla

Good things to have on hand: 1/4C walnuts or pecans, 1/3C chopped figs, 1/2C Choco-chips, 1/3C raisins, 3oz dark rum, 2T cocoa powder.

9x5inch loaf pan, greased
Preheat oven to 325*.
Put flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and mix.
In a large bowl mix sugar and butter, then add eggs one at a time beating between additions. Add mashed banana, vanilla and stir well.
Add flour mixture in thirds mixing well with each installment.
Scrape into loaf pan and bake 1-1/4hrs.
Cool. Slice it up.

When to add the extras:

Rummy Raisin Bread: Bring rum to a boil, soak raisins in rum for up to an hour if possible. Drain raisins and stir into the batter with the mashed banana.
Chocolate: Sub in 2T cocoa powder for 2T flour, stir Chocolate chips with banana mash.
Nut: Stir in nuts and figs with the banana mash.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shoreham Market Pasta

Last Thursday I went, for the first time, to a little market held at Shoreham Public School. My brother has been telling me about it for a few weeks now and I decided to go. Though small, there were loads of fresh, mostly local fruits and vegetables for sale. (For steal practically, the prices were so low.)
Twelve dollars got me two boxes full of lettuces, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, oranges, carrots, ginger, bok choi, broccoli, onions and other things. At the recommendation of one vendor, I bought some okra, I think it was like .50 for a bag of it or something, and Jibs and Clara ate it raw from the bag. Clara thought it a bit slimy but Jibs loved it and shoved the whole thing in his mouth, stem and all, chewed vigorously and went on to an orange slice.
To further Jim's birthday celebrations, we went out last night and walked, checked out some book stores, got dinner and some coffee. My mum, kindly stayed with the kids so I made some dinner for them to share while we were gone.

Shoreham Market Pasta

2T Olive oil
1Eggplant, large dice
1 each green and yellow zucchini, large dice
1/2 red onion, large dice
1C cherry tomatoes, halved
1 yellow pepper, large dice
1 red pepper, large dice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2C vegetable stock
1/2C red wine
Salt, pepper
2t Herb de Provence
1/4C Goat Cheese
1box penne

Toss all veg except garlic with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herb de provence on a baking sheet (with sides). Roast at 375* for 20mins or so until getting soft, stirring at 10 and 15mins. Add garlic, broth, and wine. Stir. Bake another 15 mins, again stirring a few times mid way, until sauce is reduced significantly and veg is soft and fragrant.
Cook pasta, drain and tip into a large bowl. Stir in the goat cheese and 1T butter, melt together.
Add veg and stir.
Top with extra crumbled goat cheese and pepper.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My beloved

Person dearest to my heart, and two other beloveds had birthdays today. Few things are more enjoyable to me in this world than being with these people; talking, sharing, laughing, singing, eating and then the inevitable sleep that ensues.

Sunday we celebrated with a meal dedicated to the culinary preferences of my Jimmy. With this as my guide the menu went as follows:

~Mulled Cider
~Spinach Artichoke Dip with Bread to dunk
~Beef Burgundy
~Buttered Spaetzle
~Green salad with Pear, Roquefort and Pecans
~Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Evening Snack
~Apple Dumplings

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

Jim and I have an, of sorts, going as to whether or not doughnuts are a breakfast food or not. (I suppose anyone who knows us can guess which of us is on which side.) Some Saturday mornings, when they don't think I'm looking, Jim and Clara will to sneak out for such contraband.
Now, when the November issue of Everyday Food landed in my mail yesterday morning I was immediately drawn to the pumpkin section. These doughnut muffins have me reconsidering my doughnut for breakfast ban, mainly because they are just so good it hardly seems right to limit them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Harvest Crunch

I'm quite sure I did not make enough of this perfectly crunchy, slightly salty, sort of sweet, snack. If you still have time, run to the bulk barn, grab some nuts and seeds, throw them in a bowl with butter, maple and some spices and you too will have a very harvest-crunchy kind of snack. And, if you're able, double it.

Harvest Crunch
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates

2T butter/olive oil
3T Maple syrup
1/2C pine nuts
1/2C chopped hazelnuts
1/2C halved almonds
1/2C raw pumpkin seeds
1/2C raw sunflower seeds
2T Brown sugar
1/2t kosher salt
1/4t paprika
1/8t cayenne

Heat oven to 350.
Melt butter and maple syrup together over med heat.
Toss nuts, sugar, seeds, salt and spices in a large bowl.
Toss, and then drizzle with melted butter and maple mixture.
Toss again and then spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Bake 8-10mins, stir, bake another 8-10mins.
Cool and store in a sealed container at room temp.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our Thanksgiving

This weekend is one that I always look forward to. We are off to the lake. Thanksgiving at the cottage is a work weekend, supplemented with plenty of forest walking, food making, food eating, pumpkin carving and being with lovely people.

The thankful table.
So much pie, so little time.

Bringing the dock in is one of the less glamorous weekend events. October water is not for the faint of heart.

It will be the first year without Grampa (Papa Gordy) with us, the one who started this lovely tradition, and we sure will miss him.
Giving thanks for the enormous gift of having these two in my life!
Good bye for another year beautiful lake, we will dream of you until next year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Corners of the Kitchen

A well loved page.

Grandpa's ingenuity
My cookbook holder remains one of my favourite things about this kitchen. My grandpa made if for my gramma as long ago as I can remember. He was so ingenious at making a small space work, and work hard. Having six children in a very small house definetly gave him lots of use of those skills.
I have so many fond memories of coming into this house and seeing my gramma here. She would be making butter tarts and date squares or apple pie right in this spot, her purity cookbook fallen open to the regular pages. Sometimes when I open the front door I still smell the pastry in the oven or the pickles on the stove top. I loved my gramma so it makes me happy to be in this kitchen, still baking from the same purity cookbook and putting it on the same stand.