Saturday, December 27, 2008


Dave discovered, quite ironically, a little visitor this morning:

He and Mom had just been discussing how the deer snuggle up against the house in the heavy snow, and why don't they take rest in the barn or tool shed? Well, one must have been listening, for in the tool shed it was!

It finally stopped snowing, but only yesterday afternoon. Today the melt has begun. Apparently, it's a disaster in the Lower Mainland, with roads flooding everywhere. We're hoping that the snow drops off our roof (here and in the Lower Mainland) before the weight from the melting snow and rain gets too heavy.

Last night, I put together a very tasty meatloaf for dinner. In addition to these ingredients, I also had about 1/2 cup of lentil sprouts that were almost past their prime, so I stirred them in too. It was a very nice addition, although not necessary. And the sweet potato topping, while not necessary either, was delicious.


1 lb ground meat (I used a mix of pork & beef this time)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp ground peppercorn (I used green, but black is just fine)
1 tsp ground sea salt
2 tsp crumbled dry oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp molasses or maple syrup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
dash (or more) of Louisiana hot sauce (to taste)
1 tbsp Dijon or regular mustard
1/3 cup cornmeal

Beat the egg in a mixing bowl. Add all the sauces, spices and flavourings, and stir until well mixed. Blend in cornmeal. Add ground meat and combine until well incorporated. Spoon into a greased quickbread baking tin or Pyrex casserole (I also lined with parchment, with enough sticking out as wings to lift the meatloaf out after cooked), and cook at 375F until reaches appropriate inner temperature for the meat you've used.

Optional Topping: Cook and mash one sweet potato (orange-fleshed root vegetable). Mix a little butter & milk into the mash until it's creamy. Add a dash of cloves, if you wish. (We have since discovered that cooked squash is also lovely as a topping; treat the same as the sweet potato)

After the meatloaf has cooked for about half an hour, spoon the mashed sweet potato on top, and cook for remaining time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Enough, already!

OK, the snow is pretty, but really, we've got almost 2 feet on the ground now. I think it can stop, thank you very much.

For those of you who still have power (obviously, otherwise you'd not be reading this!), grab the slow cooker, and get some good food in ya!

These recipes are all originally from Art of the Slow Cooker: 80 Exciting New Recipes by Andrew Schloss. Naturally, I can't let something just be, I have to make my own addition/alteration. I'll put the modified ingredients in italics so you can decide what to do for yourself. These are all for a 5-6 quart slow cooker.

Chicken Cacciatore

1/3 cup flour - as Mom can't eat wheat flour, corn flour or rice flour work, too
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tsp poultry seasoning - alternatively, toast some whole corriander and cumin then grind coarsely, together with dried sage and thyme
4 lb skinless chicken thighs (about 8) bone in - I have successfully used rabbit, venison, and lamb
2 to 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 lb mushrooms, cut into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced - I have not yet put in garlic, and it's just fine
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, or dried rosemary, crushed
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained - I have yet to use this; I've been using all of my salsas in this recipe to wonderful end results
  • Mix the flour, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning into a bowl, and dredge the pieces of meat, shaking off excess. Reserve extra seasoned flour.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in batches, do not crowd the pan. Add oil as pan becomes dry. Transfer browned meat to slow cooker.
  • Add more oil to pan and saute onion & mushrooms until tender, stirring often. Add garlic, oregano, rosemary and saute another minute.
  • Add reserved seasoned flour and coat vegetables by stirring. Add broth & tomatoes, and cook until thickened, stirring and scraping cooked bits up off bottom of pan into the juices.
  • Transfer to slow cooker, and cook 3 to 4 hours on high or 5 to 8 hours on low, until meat is tender.
Mushroom Barley Risotto

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
8 medium white mushrooms, trimmed and cut into slices - I use crimini (brown) mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced - I omit the garlic
2 cups pearl barley - I actually have yet to try this with barley; we us oat groats
1 cup dry white wine - we've been using our rhubarb wine, which is very dry
4 cups chicken or mushroom broth
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 oz (about 1/4 cup) dried porcini mushrooms - I have been using a woodland mix that I bought, although Schloss really recommends the porcini, specifically
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cream or half and half
  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat and add the onion and mushrooms, saute until tender. Add garlic and barley, and saute, stirring continuously, for about a minute.
  • Add wine and stir until almost absorbed. Transfer to slow cooker.
  • Add broth, seasonings and dried mushrooms, and stir to moisten the barley. Cover the crock with a folded tea-towel and place lid on top. Cook 3-4 hours on high until barley is tender.
  • Stir in Parmesan and cream and fluff until cheese melts and barley is moistened.
* Today I was making a squash soup with the remaining stock, and had plenty. I stirred in about 1/2 cup of the soup once the risotto had finished cooking, and it added enough moisture, body and flavour to the dish that you could get away without adding the cream.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

You will need a casserole/souffle dish that will fit within the slow cooker for this dish.

nonstick oil spray
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup boiling water or coffee
  • Spray 1 1/2 quart souffle dish with oil.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder in a bowl. Add milk, vanilla and oil and mix into batter. Scrape into prepared souffle dish.
  • Mix brown sugar, remaining granulated sugar and remaining cocoa in a separate bowl and sprinkle over the batter in the souffle dish.
  • Pour boiling water over all, and place into slow cooker. Fold a tea towel and cover the slow cooker, place lid over top, and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours, or until cake is set but bottom is still saucey.
* We have successfully reduced the sugar in this recipe.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tomatillo Marmalade

As mentioned earlier, we had so many tomatillos this year, I had to come up with some way to use them (although, it turns out that I could probably have made twice as much tomatillo salsa verde and not had too much for the year). We are not huge fans of preserves generally, but we do love marmalade. This is one recipe with a couple of variations:

Tomatillo Marmalade (kind of similar to Tomato Marmalade, at least for processing!)

10 cups tomatillos, outer husks removed, washed and chopped
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
3 cups mild-flavoured honey (e.g. wild flower or fireweed)


1 orange, seeded and finely chopped (I used sweet honey tangerines)
1/2 lemon, seeded and finely chopped


2 limes, mostly peeled (but leave a little peel for flavour), seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 lemons, seeded and finely chopped


1/3 cup finely chopped (peeled) fresh ginger)

Bring ingredients to a boil in a heavy bottomed saucepan (Lee Valley's maslin pan is perfect for making preserves). Reduce heat and simmer briskly, stirring often, until thickened sufficiently (about three hours). Ladle hot into clean, sterile hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a boiling water canner according to the recommendations below.

Recommended process time for Tomatillo Marmalade in a boiling water canner.

Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of PackJar Size0 - 1,000 ft1,001 - 6,000 ftAbove 6,000 ft
or Pints
5 min1015

Candy, candy, candy!

This is tasty stuff, just in time for Christmas!

Chocolate Candy

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
1 cup raisins/currants/dried cranberries

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, boil sugar, milk, butter and cocoa until forms soft ball in cold water. Add flour and raisins, and mix well. Pour into greased 9"x13" pan and let cool (put in fridge).

Make them Melt Truffles

> 1 lb white chocolate
< 1 lb dark chocolate
1 300 mL can Eagle Brand condensed milk
3/4 tsp each vanilla, Drambuie, Kahlua, Bailey's (or whatever flavouring you'd like to use)

Partially melt white chocolate in microwave (half power in two minute intervals; probably two intervals sufficient), then remove & stir until completely melted. Add condensed milk and stir completely. Divide into four parts, and mix in separate flavourings into each separate part. Let set in fridge for about three hours.

Roll into 1" balls and place on parchment/wax paper lined baking sheets. Let set in fridge again for another three hours.

Melt dark chocolate in same manner in the microwave. Dip truffles to coat. Place on lined trays again in fridge to set.

Chocolate Bark

6 squares white chocolate
1/2 cup crushed candy cane


2 squares bittersweet chocolate
4 squares semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Melt the chocolate (in microwave as described above). Mix the candy cane (if using white chocolate) or cranberries (if using dark chocolate), then pour onto parchment/wax paper lined trays and let set in fridge. Once set, break into pieces and serve.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harvest Time Blues

I know this is not quite topical any longer, but I was listening to Folk Alley this morning and heard Stephanie Davis' "Talkin' Harvest Time Blues" and just had to smile. Pretty much sums it all up!
Willer Custom Instruments - Artist Style MandolinI've started playing the mandolin this year; I used to play violin as a kid (not brilliantly, nor diligently), and Dad gave me his mandolin a few years back. They're strung the same as the violin, but a mandolin has double strings for each one on a violin, there's a visible fret board, like a guitar, and you use a pick rather than a bow. There's quite a lot to learn, but the fingering is at least the same. I never had to do chords with the violin, nor particularly thought about note relationships. I've started taking some lessons with Mark Vaughan, in order to learn a bit of bluegrass feel, chords & improvisation. I've got a loooong way to go.

Anyway, as a result, I've been trying to listen to more music, and different music. Hence the discovery of Folk Alley, which I've really been enjoying. We also went to a great concert a couple of weekends ago with Pe de Cana, a local group that plays Brazilian choro music. It was all acoustic instruments with percussion, and it was a solid two hours of fabulous music. The rhythms & sounds were fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable. One of the instruments was a cavaquinho, which was lovely to listen to and very bright sounding. It's "not a ukelele" but it is a small instrument that looks like a miniature guitar, but with only four strings. Might have to learn another instrument!
The Cavaquinho