Monday, December 31, 2012

Planning: 13 Food Resolutions for 2013

In an effort to check some things off my culinary to-do list, I've decided to make a list of goals for the upcoming year, loosely organized by season.
  • Seville Orange Marmalade (January/February)
  • Canned orange segments, candied orange peels, and orange pectin.
  • Homemade rose water  
  • Vanilla extract
  • 24 one gallon batches of home brew
  • Make a batch of rootbeer, gingerbeer, and fermented lemonade.     
  • Make sour beets for borscht.
  • Watermelon Rind Pickles (June/July)
  • Successful Gardening season
  • Foraging for cattails. (Camping)
  • Save ashes from campfire to make Cherokee Sour Corn Drink from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz (Camping)
  • Make and use a reflector oven. (Camping
  • Homemade apple cider vinegar (Fall)

Have you completed any of these tasks? Have a tutorial, excellent recipe, or hints for me? Please leave a comment below or email me at wingedsnail99[at]hotmail[dot]ca

Friday, December 28, 2012

Five tips to efficient make ahead meals

--> A few months ago I came across a online ad wherein the individual was looking for someone to make her lunches during an especially busy time of the year. I replied, met with her, and have been making soups, stews and salads for her ever since. My regular cooking schedule allows me to make fresh meals each night with very little leftovers so this was an entirely new way of cooking for me. It is beneficial for me though because it stocks my fridge and freezer with soup and salads that see us through the weekday lunch crisis. I have learnt a few things from this catering experience which, if you make your meals ahead of time, might be useful to you.

Multiples: Make cooking and shopping easier (and cheaper) by choosing recipes that include a few repeating ingredients. For example, one could make a blended sweet potato soup, a black bean and sweet potato stew, and a black bean salad.  

Do not stop: Commit to cooking until all the meals are complete. This will motivate you to work faster and to make time efficient choices. If you spread out the cooking over the whole afternoon, you will get bored and cooking will become a chore.
Store: To store your made ahead meals you have two choices: fridge or freezer. Store the majority of your meals in the freezer just in case your plans for the week changes. There is nothing more disappointing (to the psyche and the pocketbook) than chucking fridge stored salads!

Recipes: Collect cookbooks that have a wide variety of interesting soup and stew recipes to aid in your make ahead meals. I recommend Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special which has recipes for more than 275 Soups, Stews and Salads.

Variety: If you make an exceptionally big batch of one type of food you will most likely experience palate fatigue. Portion, label and freeze the soup. Develop a rotational plan so nothing languishes in the freezer for a year!
Do you make ahead meals? What are your tips?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Vintage Kitchen: Ebelskiver

What is it? Ebelskivers (pronounced “able-skeevers”) are a Danish puffy, sphere-shaped pancake with a wide range of sweet and savoury toppings and fillings. I purchased a brand new cast-iron Ebelskiver pan and, on a seperate occasion, a complete book of Ebelskiver recipes.
Where did I get it? The local thrift store. I purchased the book first and then snatched up the pan when I saw it a few weeks later. I wished for a foodie friend that would understand the sweet deal I got on this combination.
Do I use it? I have not made any Ebelskiver yet, but I plan too over the Christmas holidays.

Monday, December 24, 2012

#love off

I love craft beer, especially when it's on cask.
I love day long food projects that exhaust me.
I love the feeling, a type of self-sufficiently, that canning (and cooking in general)gives me.
I love discovering and trying variations of standard produce.
I love spending every waking moment (and a good portion of my dreams) thinking about food.
I love browsing in grocery stores.
I love my family's tradition of Friday Night Dinner.
I love thrifting for amazing vintage kitchen wares.
I love writing about food.
I love being a foodie, even though I don't particularly like that word!

Inspired by the #loveoff that occurs on The Mental Illness Happy Hour

Friday, December 21, 2012

Kick this holiday's ass!

Jetta Vegas, of RadicalUprising, was kind enough to write a guest post food themed '7 ways to kick this week's ass' for my blog a few months ago. Her weekly post is one of the few blog features that I read regularity, and that offers me inspiration. I am not a particular expert or proponent of PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) but I enjoy reading her positive statements about living. As this is the week of Christmas, a season that I particularly enjoy, I thought I would share with you the ways in which I plan to kick this week's ass!
Have a handmade holiday. Handmade presents offer an alternative to corporate control while simultaneously allowing the presents to be uniquely tailored to the recipient. Even a non-cooking person can create some amazing homemade gifts for their loved ones. Think homemade vanilla extract or spiced nuts.

Decorate sugar cookies in the style of childhood. Bakeries (and accomplished home bakers) are churning out some amazing, artistic, beautiful sugar cookies. Those cookies might be beautiful but so is Picasso so let your inner child out and pile the sprinkles on those cookies!

Eat well, but remember how blessed you are. The winter season is a series of events that allow, and encourage, us to eat to excess. There are a few big meals, desserts, and plenty of hot chocolate in my future this season but it is important to remember that eating well on a daily basis (never mind the excess of holidays) makes us extremely blessed.
Try new desserts. There are several amazing traditional desserts that are not very popular in North America. How about pizzellas, rosettes, or ebelskivers?

Savour. This season is full of special moments that deserve your full attention. We celebrate Christmas in a different way each year so it is especially important that I savour each moment during the holiday, because they will not be repeated.

How are you kicking this holiday's ass?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Semisweet - Life in Chocolate

The Revue offered a free screening of the documentary entitled “Semisweet: Life in Chocolate”. I am very thankful that this documentary was free because the complimentary chocolate at the door (supplied by The Chocolateria) was the only redeeming quality of the event. I should have taken the unspoken advice of the man who filled a napkin with free chocolate chips and bolted for the door!
“Semisweet: Life in Chocolate”, a supposed documentary, did not offer a singular statement regarding the state of chocolate in the world. The director claimed that the inclusion of four separate segments of the chocolate industry were included in an attempt to avoid leaving the viewer with an overwhelmingly negative feeling. A crazy, but wonderfully articulate French man highlighted the artistic nature of chocolate. He was the only person who was able to properly place the importance of chocolate in the world as he stated that a 500 year old tree should not be destroyed in order to make way for cocoa plantations. A highly sexualized couple living in British Columbia, who owned a small raw chocolate business, was meant to illustrate the small, independent chocolate industry. However, due to their inability to articulately express the health benefits of raw chocolate and in the opening of a chocolate factory they remain another cog in the corporate wheel of chocolate. Additionally, the audience found this couple highly amusing, which was unintended by the director of this documentary.
The next section was meant to illustrate the corporate greed embodied in Hershey, PA but in focusing on a young, inarticulate man who worked in the town further alienated the audience. The final part of the documentary was a series of interviews with African children who worked for cocoa plantations. I found this approach to be an interesting way to cover the issue, but realistically there was probably little other choice due to financial issues and issues of reach for the director. The documentary ended with direct questions to the children, asking if they knew what cocoa was for. This was condescending to the audience as anyone who has a base level of knowledge of the cocoa trade would know that African children are unlikely to have tasted chocolate. It was also highly condescending to the children involved.
The movie, a supposed documentary, did not offer a singular statement regarding the issues surrounding the chocolate trade and should be avoided at all costs, expect, of course, if they are handing out complimentary chocolate!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Inspiration: Gingerbread House

According to my stat counter, last winter's Gingerbread House Inspiration post offered a lot of inspiration. Sadly I did not actually make a gingerbread house last year, but maybe this is the lucky year! If I do manage to get my act together I will definitely be making a 'cabin in the woods' type house
I have even more love for the pretzel siding on this house this year. 
Love everything about this house! The door. The chimney. The icicles. The wreath.

Maybe a size restriction will help me finally accomplish my gingerbread dreams?

How gorgeous is this gingerbread house? How much do you want to live there - in the winter majesty?

Can't stomach baking gingerbread, try an icy house made of sugar cubes!
Need more inspiration? Check out my Gingerbread board on Pinterest. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Preserve Swap

I received an email advertising the preserve swap hosted by @wellpreserved. I originally dismissed this event as something that I would not be interested in. I thought that it would be awkward to stand before my homemade preserves trying to trade with others. However, upon receiving an update email reminding one of this event I became very excited and immediately RSVP'd yes! I began to plan which of my homemade preserves I would take. I settled on crab-apple hot pepper jelly (1), plum jam (2), grape syrup (3), crystallized ginger (2), and sourdough starter (3). I received a lot of positive feedback regarding my sourdough starter, which I was hesitant to take as I was not sure if people would be interested. Before the event I worried that I would be the last kid picked for the team. I worried that no one would talk to me and that I would return home with all of my original preserves so I made my husband come with me!
My fears were unfounded as I managed to swap everything I took. I had some lovely, engaged and inspiring conversations with people that love food as much as I do. I bonded with more than one individual over an infatuation with crab-apples and commiserated their lack of commercial availability. I became excited at the prospect (and eventually swapped) for Seville orange marmalade. I did not manage to swap for the kimchi or the preserved lemons but that simply motivates me to make my own. I ended up swapping for fermented salsa, wild grape vinegar, Seville orange marmalade, tomato jam, ketchup, Everyberry jam, apple butter, lemon curd, and dilly beans. It was a ton of fun and motivated me in my preserving attempts. The next day I started a batch of kombucha, a batch of sauerkraut, a batch of sauerruben, canned some oranges, and made candied orange peel.

The next swap is already scheduled, and I have signed up! It's swapping sweet homemade treats and desserts. I plan on making some marshmallows as I love to see the hot sticky syrup be whipped into light, frothy, airy marshmallows but I hate eating them! It will be the perfect excuse to make a few batches without having to consume any!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Planning: Garden

The dead of winter, a few weeks before Christmas seems like an unlikely time to think about the garden. I have had a few unsuccessful brushes with gardening over the years so I decided that I should actually plan ahead. I think that the key to a successful season is to keep it small, avoid large scale projects the first year, and actually grow things I eat. 

a. Successfully complete a growing season - motivated by An Illustrated Guide to Growing Food on   Your Balcony by lara lucretia mrosovsky
b. Start composting via a balcony composter.  
c. Grow Nasturtium flowers and harvest the seeds into capers
d. Grow herbs and make herbes Salees.
e. Begin growing ginger
This plan should lead to a successful gardening season as I will only be taking care of three pots. The ginger will be planted in a larger pot that will sit on the floor while the herbs will be in the balcony composter pot. The nasturtium may be in a third pot on the floor but I hope to rig a macarame hanging pot made out of a can, which would be very chic in a 70's sorta way.

It was actually quite difficult for me to keep this garden plan small as I wanted to start many projects such as a cut and come again lettuce bed, hot peppers, garlic, and container carrots. I dreamt about starting large scale projects such as seed saving, propagation, and greenhouse techniques. Le sighe! Have to start somewhere!

What am I most excited about? That definitely has to be the Nasturtium capers! I love things that are simply unavailble through the industrial food system and these 'capers' definitely qualify!


If you need some mid-winter garden inspiration check out my 'Growing' board!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Drinking: Winter Cocktails

1. Beer floats. Float may be thought of as classic summer fare but I think that a good stout and a homemade vanilla icecream would be welcome on a sunny winter afternoon.
2. Spike some hot chocolate with a peppermint liquor. 
3. Toronto's fall is a lot warmer than I'm used to but when it gets even a tiny bit cold here I switch to drinking cup after cup of apple cider. This apple pie spiced cider seems amazing. 
4. How about a cranberry cider?  
5. Of course I will be drinking booze this winter! I think Merry Cranberry Margaritas will be on the menu!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Drinking: Equipment

1. Mason Jar to-go Cup
2. Turn a bookcase into a bar
3. Homemade drink umbrellas
4. Make your own cool (and functional) glassware!
5. Need to make beer labels? We are toying with the idea of using a Chalk maker but these 'Hello my name is' labels are very cute! 


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Drinking: Stocking the Bar

When I moved back in with my adorably alcoholic husband, I thought about the state of industrial alcohol. On our last trip to Halifax, we consumed only local liquids, including some amazing ginger beer. While travelling we put extra effort into ensuring that the liquids we consume are of a craft and artisanal nature. We are slightly less vigilant when it comes to drinking in our own town. We are not so vigilant when it comes to drinking in our own home. It is true that we favour Canadian whiskey (Collingwood) and Canadian vodka (Tag No 5). These nationally available liquors, while excellent and of high quality, seem to be missing some of that small-town charm that is obvious when the man pouring your pint, is the same man that made it.

In an effort to inject that charm into the drinks you are pouring in your own home I offer you an alcoholics' dream list. A bucket list, if you will, of homemade drinks, cocktails and infusions.

1. Homemade Bloody Mary Mix
2. Spiced Chai Concentrate 
3. Homemade Spiced Rum    
4. Marshmallow Vodka  
5. Homemade Grenadine
6. DIY Pimm's
7. Grapefruit Infused Rum
8. Pineapple Ginger Infused Rum 
9. Pumpkin Pie Kumbucha 
10. Rum Caviar
11. Drunk Gummy Bears 
12. The classics. Jolly Roger Vodka. Skittles Vodka

For more inspiration check out my Pinterest Boards - Drinking and Home Bar 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Eating the Web: Beer

1. Weight in on (or discover) the debate regarding buying/selling beer in growlers.
2. Can you brew beer from sourdough starter? The answer is YES! (reminds me of my kvass adventures!) 
3. Ale to the Chief! The Obamas homebrew recipe released!
4. I always vote for draught beer, but is that the best choice?
5. And of course, pairing beer with personal failure.