Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh, Canada

I just have two words for you - Sidney Crosby!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Abalone, abalone, prettiest shell that I've ever seen

I can't remember why I started collecting shells. I do remember that I was given a large box full of shells - clam and mussel and oyster and scallop. After that I was seeing shells everywhere - a shoebox full of Italian shells at a yard sale, huge Queen conchs at the thrift store, a jar full of Flame Augers at the flea market, and a large Green Turban shell at the junk store. My favourite of all the hundreds of shells that I have is the Abalone. It has been a long time but I can still recall the taste of breaded abalone, thick, chewy,seasalty goodness. And the beauty of the shell cannot compare to any other that I have seen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lunchhour finds

These days it has been so warm that a lunchhour walk is very exhilarating and I still have time to check out my favourite thrift store. But I have been very good about not buying anything unless it is exceptional. Was lucky the other day to come across a terra cotta jug from Italy - the picture depicts San Marino. I have never been to San Marino but I'm sure that the next time I go to Italy it will be on my list of places to visit.
Could not resist this tin (made in England) with one of my favourite flowers, great colour and a really neat shape. And it only cost me a dollar.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

French press prickly pears in a sheepskin

First time that I have used my french press and I really love it! Had been searching for good beans and of course, my health food store stocks Saltspring Island coffee, and even though I had to buy decaf, it was still great tasting java. Whole wheat pancakes with blueberry syrup started our Valentines day off on the right foot.

And what a nice surprise to get my very own sheepskin. Tucked into my corner of the couch, it makes napping or knitting or reading that much more enjoyable.

For our candlelight dinner, I bravely tried a new recipe - Chicken with Escarole, Apples, and Potatoes from Sara Jenkins cookbook called Olives and Oranges. It all cooks in one large skillet. The combination of flavours, apples, escarole and potatoes with lots of white wine is 'comfort food at its best'.
And for dessert, nothing is as good as a bowl of prickly pears. As soon as I got them home, I carefully peeled them and put them in the fridge. The longer they chill the better they taste. These of course are from California and do not even come close to the ones I have had in Italy.
For second desserts, we will be sampling Jeju cactus chocolates from Korea, sent to us by TG who just happened to phone as I was writing this post. A good long chat, some laughs - a wonderful way to end the day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Double Chocolate

The last thing I want to do when I have just given up sugar and flour is bake up a batch of Double Chocolate Muffins but that is exactly what I did this evening. Very easy recipe from The big book of baking (published by Parragon Books). It's lots of sour cream and chocolate chips and my taster assures me that they are great-tasting. Tomorrow is Treats Day at work so these are all spoken for except for three; payment to a certain someone who did all the mixing for me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Arugula, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya....

Before my friend headed off to Mexico, she gave me a soup cookbook to try some new recipes. The first one that caught my eye was Arugula Soup with Salmon and Roasted Grape Tomatoes. This was lip-smacking good. The tomatoes and salmon are roasted together, the arugula soup is poured over top of the salmon in each bowl and then topped with the tomatoes, feta cheese, and parsley.
The book is 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds. One down - 299 to go.
Just joking.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Inside and outside

And finally amaryllis number six has bloomed -

this is Red Lion and this is the first of four blooms that

this plant has sprouted.

For all my friends down under, this is a special picture. This is all the snow that is left in our front yard. We certainly do not miss all the snow shovelling but having warm weather when it's supposed to be cold is not a good thing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ole, Churros!

I have wanted to make churros ever since I watched Spain -On the road again with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow. The recipe that I tried is Pumpkin Churros from Foodbuzz. It's very simple and quick and I used my own roasted pumpkin instead of that awful stuff in a can. Dusted with lots of cinnamon and sugar and eaten warm, these are addictive. The downside - they are deep- fried so this is one of those treats that you indulge in every blue moon. And, yes that is a vintage plate made in Spain, one of my favourite collections.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Gnocchi Day

Apparently, today was Gnocchi Day. But these are not your regular Italian, boiled potato gnocchi. This is a new recipe that I have been wanting to try for quite some time. These call for roasted russets and sweet potatoes. Once I had put them through the ricer, let them cool, and added all the other ingredients, this dough came together so nicely that before I knew it I was done.
The dough was so nice that I had no problems rolling out the ropes and then cutting them up into bite-size pieces. A quick roll over a fork to create the indentations and I was done. So I decided to call my Mom and guess what she was making?
We really enjoyed the gnocchi for dinner with a simple sauce of butter, shallots and parsley. They did not need much more then that except for freshly ground pepper.
And after making the gnocchi I even had time to stitch up new covers for my hot mitts. Every year at about this time I pick out one of my favourite fabrics and sew up new hot mitts - this year it's green onions in honour of my Mom, Giulia. After all, she taught me to make gnocchi and once you've mastered that you can do just about anything. Grazie mille, Mamma.