Thursday, November 26, 2009

More To Say

I stopped posting here last February with the sentiment "I'm only writing to myself; what's the point ?". I've since decided that keeping a diary may not be a bad thing. I've got a lot of things on my mind that can perhaps be better understood by the act of putting them into words. At the very least I'll have a record that I can look back on. So, with that premise, I'm back in business.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The End

I've been writing here for several years. I've come to realize that this writing is really a way of speaking to myself. I've decided that I've written to myself enough. If, perchance, anyone has read all this, well, goodbye. I've moved on to Facebook.

Hasta la Vista!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Yeast Breads

Whenever I've tried making yeast breads in the past, I've always failed in spectacular ways. Mostly the result was an inedible brick. Somehow, the kneading was always insufficient. So, when I read Mark Bittman's blog in which he described making no-knead bread, I had to try bread again. Using the principle of letting a very moist dough rise for 12+ hours and baking in a sealed container (pot + lid) produced a bread with a crisp crust and a very satisfying crumb. Compared to intensive kneading, sleeping while the yeast does all the work for you is very easy!

Monday, September 29, 2008


A decade ago I had never tried to grow orchids. I thought of them as difficult plants to grow; plants that needed environments that were near impossible to replicate in a home. My opinion was changed by a friend who grew them as if they were standard houseplants.
That was all I needed to give them a try.
Well, they are different from what I had been used to growing. Epiphytes are not like terrestial plants. Watering, feeding, light conditions are all different. Still, after many failures, I have a core of 4 plants that grow and flower successfully. I cannot say they are easy to grow, but the reward when they flower is wonderful.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Family Ties

Broken families are by definition broken. The thread of daily familiarity is gone. With time, however, it is possible to pick up some of the strands. This is exactly what has happened over the last two weeks.
Sarah, my youngest daughter now works in Toronto; Olivia, my second youngest daughter lives in Toronto. So, what could be more natural than to meet for lunch. We did; and we did it again.
It was an exhilarating experience, both times.

Divorce is permanent; the shattered pieces can be picked up.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Birch Syrup

O.K. , everyone has heard of and/or tasted maple syrup. This tree produces sap that can be reduced 40:1 and taste sweet and wild. Birch sap has much less sugar content and must be reduced 120:1. It cannot be reduced by boiling, as it will be burnt. It is reduced by a much more tedious process of reverse osmosis. The result is a sweet syrup with a taste like no other. It can be used in small amounts to drastically improve a sauce. I'm sure it will never rival the sales of all the high fructose products we see everyday. I'm sure that the producers have no interest in even trying.

For a few drops of magic in your sauce, try this product.
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Pink Pepper

I don't usually steal from websites;this is an exception. This quote comes from :"Pink Pepper is unrelated to the black pepper. They come from the Bales Roses, a small tree that has numerous compound leaves with slender, symmetric, leaflets on each side of the leaf. They have a brittle, papery skin enclosing a hard irregular seed a lot smaller than the whole fruit. The flavor is quite delicate. They are pungent and slightly sweet aroma rather than spicy, but not nearly as flavorful as the real thing.
They are reminiscent of a mild citrus zest and sweet berries. Pink peppercorns go especially well in fruit sauces, vinaigrettes, and desserts. These peppercorns have a rich rose color that adds a elegant appearance to any cuisine.
Usage- Pepper is best ground directly on to food. With hot food it is best to add pepper well towards the end of the cooking process, to preserve its aroma. White pepper is used in white sauces rather than black pepper, which would give the sauce a speckled appearance. Green peppercorns can be mashed with garlic, cinnamon or to make a spiced butter or with cream to make a fresh and attractive sauce for fish. Pink peppercorns are called for in a variety of dishes, from poultry to vegetables and fish."
These berries are readily available and add a great taste to sauces and meats.
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Besan Batter

In recent posting, Elizabeth described the delights of Indian pakoras. These are vegetables dipped in a chick pea flour (besan) and water batter (about 1:1) with a pinch of salt and pepper and then shallow fried. To try this out I coated pieces of cauliflower and blackberries and fried them in canola oil for about 5 minutes. They were mildly crunchy on the outside; the sweet berries went really well with the savoury cauliflower. I guess the only mildly difficult part of this dish is finding besan.
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In an earlier post I mentioned that the store Culinarium featured a large variety of foods produced here in Ontario. One of these is garlic flowers, or scapes. Both the stems and flowers have a mild garlic taste. They can be chopped directly into a salad or softened up a bit in a stir-fry. I will now buy them every year when they are in season. A great find!
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


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Our Neighbourhood

Some months ago a new store opened in our neighbourhood, a store with a difference. The store is called Culinarium and features only foods produced in Ontario. The foods are as diverse as our province and includes local fish, cheeses, and meats. Fresh produce as well as a rich assortment of preserves is also featured. It has a policy of making most things available for tasting before purchase. It was this policy that induced me to buy Birch Syrup - a wonderful, wild syrup I'd never heard of before. Because garlic scapes are available now, they go into all our salads and stir-frys.
The store has a website at: Not only is it an exciting store, it also looks cool (see photo above).