Friday, July 30, 2010


We are so doing a bunch of BBQing this weekend! I'm telling you! I really want some BBQ steak, like, desperately. I also seriously considered this cuz it's just not summer without a hot dog. And there's nothing more classic than weiner wangs.

don't forget to include your daily servin's of vegetables!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

a cautionary tale

I've just been to hell and back. Let me put it this way:

hell = outside
outside = mosquitos
me outside = mosquito smorg

Or this way:

hell = outside
outside = 40 degrees in the shade
me outside = spontaneously combusting within 10 minutes

Or this way:

40 degrees in the shade + mosquito swarm = hell

Let me save you at least 20 minutes of agony until you manage to get yourself to a Canadian Tire for an emergency Off! purchase and tell you this: if you're not covered in something that has a deet content of 30% or more (sucks to be you, under 12s!), don't even bother going outside. Just don't. Unless you plan on being in your vehicle. In which case, don't roll down your window.

Here. I took a picture of them.
yes. they are flying mini mosquito sized helicopters. it's so they can deploy 12 soldier mosquitoes at a time. it's more efficient that way.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I was going to run to the store yesterday to pick up a few things I'd forgotten to get last week. I don't know what my problem is lately, but I'll just get back from superstore and realize I've forgotten to get some major items I desperately need. I always end up with another whole list and I've only just returned. Anyway, since I was going, I wanted to get some french bread. I've been meaning to make this greek panzanella forever. I'd never heard of panzanella before, but I kept seeing it popping up all over the internet, so I just had to try it. So rather than use the end pieces of my sandwich bread, I figured I'd be able to find some day old french bread on the clearance cart which would probably work better for the recipe, anyway. Then, through the mystery of life (and lazyness), the time crept towards 9:30 and I found myself making excuses not to go.

I can make do. I can figure this out! I've been screwing with my shopping schedule for the last month, I should get back on track! It's good to completely clean everything out and just work with what I have! Yeah! So I decided to make my own french bread. It should be cool by the time I need it! I need to make granola anyway so it's not like I'm turning the oven on for one thing!

Look at the recipe's picture. Now look back at mine. Now look at the recipe's picture again. Yeah. Mine looks like some kindergarten production.

I've never made french bread before. All fancy and long and sliced and egg washed. I don't bother with frou frou things like this. But this recipe looked so easy plus it made two loaves and it looked super good. Obviously, no recipe is complete without me screwing some things up. My water was too hot, I put them too close together for their final rise, I used a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour (and I didn't use the full amount), and I totally forgot about the egg wash until the very last minute when I just kinda flung some on there (evidenced by the tiny burnt egg spots all over my pan). I also left them sitting on the pan after they came out of the oven, so instead of crisping up, they steamed themselves. Really smart when you're actually trying to get a crispy crust. Despite all that, this bread turned out amazingly well which confirms my theory that it's pretty hard to screw up bread. I'm definitely going to make this again, but I'm going to experiment with less yeast. I think that's the only thing I kept questioning.

So anyway, back to the panzanella. I almost screwed this up, too. I wanted to cut the recipe in half (there isn't 6 of us to feed around here), but I only cut some things in half and left others -- like the olive oil in the vinaigrette. That's kind of an important detail, you know? I stopped halfway through pouring it into my measuring cup and thought, really? Half a cup? The original recipe was a whole cup? That seems like too much. And it was. Cuz I hadn't halved it at all. Then I totally didn't read about toasting the bread cubes. I honestly thought they went in raw. Thank goodness I knew it had to marinate for 30 minutes so I had only gotten everything ready to throw together right at the perfect time. I just happened to casually reread the recipe again (or for the first time, apparently) just to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.

New rule, print all recipes out even when I'm thinking like, meh I don't have that, I wouldn't use that, I barely have any cucumber left...I'll just kinda fudge everything and write out what I need for the dressing and how much bread on this tiny piece of scrap paper that's already had three other recipes scribbled on it...just have to write around and in between these empty spaces...and yup, that's good enough.

Anyway. It was so. delicious. The only thing I would have changed would be to not reduce it by half. We both loved it and wished there was just a tiny bit more. I think this might be something I'll make almost regularly for our meatless days (with slightly less feta. Recipe at full amount, feta at half. Definitely).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Whoa. Don't get excited, but I think we've finally found an asian restaurant Idle Husband wants to eat at. On Friday (like most Fridays), he went out for lunch with some of his work colleagues. Each week, one of them has a choice as to where they go and this week, they chose OPM. We kinda joked about how they'd have nothing to offer him and that was that. Until Friday evening when he proclaimed OPM to be the best place ever!! And since I had fawned over their menu the night before (trying to convince him that there were tons of great things he could order), he decided he wanted to take me there Saturday for dinner.

He wanted to go back the next day. I was floored.

I've actually been to OPM before. In fact it was my choice of restaurant when I was getting together with some friends as per our yearly catching up ritual. But I was there for lunch, so I got one of their Buddha's lunch boxes. I can't really remember much about it. I don't think I was that impressed? I'm starting to think we shared the caramel banana spring rolls? I dunno. My memory is junk at the best of times.

After I returned from the bathroom (I'm a girl. I have to check every bathroom out in every store and every restaurant. It's the rules), I found Idle Husband had already ordered some appetizers.

The wok fried squid was really delicious and slightly spicy. I still prefer the Greek method. Calamari just goes really well with tzatziki, what can I say? I wish they would have had some dipping sauce with this. Actually, maybe I should just be that person who carries around condiments in her purse. Little tupperware of tzatziki. I think it would have gone nicely with their spices.

We came for the hibachi wings. It was something Idle Husband tried on Friday, and he raved about it all Friday night and Satur-DAY. I wouldn't normally pick something like this in a restaurant. It's entirely too messy and fiddly and attention-drawy for me. Oh hi! I have sticky chicken fingers and I'm smoking up the joint and one napkin isn't enough! *Smack smack* Ok, I really loved it. Don't order it on a date. Order it with your husband or some friends who've seen worse from you. The wings come cooked so don't worry, you're not sitting there forever waiting for them to reach a safe temperature. You're just crisping them up a little all while trying not to catch your sleeve or hand in the blue flames and/or start a grease fire. It's fun, interesting, and kinda dangerous. (Also, can I be that person who brings marshmallows to this party?) The parmesan sauce was really nice with them, too, albeit kinda hard to dunk the meat in. Especially since they were pretty friggin' hot after their minute on the grill. And I know their menu says a POUND of chicken wings, but there wasn't that much and they weren't the normal, greasy fried wings you'd expect. It was actually a really nice light appetizer.

We always share appetizers, but here you share your main as well. I like that style. I can pretend I'm eating at home and not in a restaurant. Plus, if you're there with a bunch of people, you'd get to sample a lot of dishes at one time and I love that. Everyone has to order something different in these restaurants. That's the rule. You have to discuss your choices beforehand. It's very important. No one wants to have two of the same main. Gah. What's the point in that? They also brought a side of rice which was a little dry and flavourless, but you know what? I like my rice dry and rice tasting. And I liked eating it between bites of each main. It was kind of like a palate cleanser.

Idle Husband's choice main dish was the mongolian beef. I know he picked it because of the name and it's relation to his other favourite "asian" restaurant, Mongolie Grill (I hate that place. The meat is frozen. You have to try to squish shitty old vegetables and slimy noodles into a tiny bowl. There's no sneeze guard. They dump far too much sauce in your bowl and then weigh it. Everything gets quickly stir fried to ensure the meat is tough and the vegetables are so thoroughly saturated with sauce they can't even be called vegetables anymore. And for all of that, it's entirely too expensive. I'm the one who refuses to eat there. I suffered through it twice. I will not suffer again). This beef, on the other hand, was good. It was tender. It was flavourful. It wasn't soaked with sauce. I liked the onions and scallions a lot (I started to pick those out for myself). I don't understand the bed of styrofoam it was served on. It didn't add anything special. I also wouldn't order it for myself. I wasn't keen on the sauce which tasted less sweet and more soy sauce to me (but I liked it so much better the next day). Whatever. Who cares about me? Idle Husband loved it, still loves it, and will probably eat it every time he goes.

My choice main was sweet and sour chicken. I know. It's not very adventurous. We all know what that tastes like, but it came with "cool cucumbers", and I wondered how cucumbers intermixed with sweet and sour sauce would work. Guess what? They were so good lightly warmed and with the sauce! So good, in fact, the next time I make sweet and sour chicken, I'm going to put cucumbers in, too (and then I'll call it my own ingenius creation! mwhahaha). The chicken was really good and the sauce was sweet and tangy and those crispy weird chip things it was served on went really well with everything, too. Soft chicken, almost still crisp cucumbers, crunchy chip things. It was a pyramid of textures!

So there you have it. I think we've found a new restaurant for our special occasion meals. The entire cost of this meal was literally half what we would have paid at Koutouki's (that makes cheap me happy) and we came home with a box of leftovers (that makes breakfast me happy). And did I mention? I'll be able to have good ginger beef again (that makes craving me extra happy)! You should go and get happy, too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

what?! Don't tell me you missed it!

The lily show was this weekend! I can't believe you didn't know that! I guess I was one of the lucky few to have their mom email it to them this morning. (I'm still sorry we missed the rhubarb festival, mom! haha I'm not, actually.)

You know you really haven't lived until you've hung out in a seniors centre on a Sunday. You also haven't lived unless you've heard grandmas discussing the intricacies of one lily in 10 minutes or less (or probably more).

All joking aside, I wanted to go because I adore taking pictures of flowers. They're pretty and colourful and they'll stay still so you can take a hundred pictures of them from every angle (like a crazy person). And I'm a huge nurd cuz I loved it and I loved eavesdropping on the grannies, too.

And I'm not going to spare you a big spammy post of pictures. I loved every single lily there and pretty much took a picture of every single one of them. I want them all. In my garden. Right now.

Don't worry. I managed to get a grip on reality, so I've only picked out my most favourite pictures.

Just for you!

did they have these neat glass flower-like sculptures for the lily show? Who knows?!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

cute! (it's my word of the day)

check out these cute flowers I found flourishing in the backyard.

I have no idea what they are, but they're coming from some sort of succulent plant.
I was only going to cut a few stems, but when I realized how many there were, I picked a handful instead.

besides, I've been eyeing this vase (or planter, perhaps) for a while, wishing I had something to put in it.
doesn't that little flower on the outside look kinda like the real flower?

I wonder what he's looking at.

Friday, July 23, 2010

guess who's baaack

make the buttercream stop!

things would be so much easier if I had a musical montage, too

Thursday, July 22, 2010

dinner ideas

I made the most amazing chicken parmesan the other night! I mean, it was ah-may-zing and I'm the girl that never thinks to make chicken parmesan. I won't even order it in a restaurant. Breaded, fried chicken, on top of pasta, smothered in cheese...gah! It's never a meal I would even consider eating. But I took out two chicken breasts in the morning and realized I didn't know what to do with them. I didn't feel like making baked chicken fingers (my usual go-to) and I didn't feel like doing souvlaki. I had no ideas (what else is new lately?). The only other thought I had was chicken parmesan, so I went looking for an easy (marginally healthy) recipe.

I found it on the Food Network, and it is supposed to be a healthier version of chicken parmesan. There's no frying involved! Perfect! I halved the recipe for two chicken breasts because four would have been overkill. I also used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose; I used light cheddar cheese cuz wouldn't you know it, we didn't have any mozzarella; and I used about 3/4 of a jar of homemade tomato sauce (also easy and fantastic). You definitely can't tell this is [slightly] healthier!

So anyway, back to our fantastic this'll-go-down-in-history meal, the chicken breasts were entirely too large for us -- and by 'us' I mean Idle Husband (but I always give him the biggest portion). So there was just a tiny bit leftover for a sandwich in his lunch (which he says was pretty delicious). Unfortunately, like all super good things, I don't have a picture of it. That's cool, though, cuz you can pretty much imagine how that'd turn out. Just a weird breaded something smothered in tomato sauce. It's not very photogenic. Next time, I'm definitely going to use one chicken breast and slice it in half for both of us, but that's the only other modification the recipe needs.

Here are some other great meals we had last week:

I've had a craving for carrot soup for a while. Well, actually, ever since I realized my carrots were slowly getting soft and wrinkly in the fridge. No one needs to know! Blend them into a soup. I made my own chicken stock which worked out to maybe 7 1/2 - 8 cups of stock. To that I added an onion, 4 cloves of garlic, about 10 carrots, and some seasonings (I go with the usual ones: salt, pepper, oregano, some more garlic and onion powder, veggie spice, nutmeg, and I added some pepper flakes this time -- actually I have some rock salt mixed with pepper flakes, so I just dumped some of that in). Then all you have to do is cook until the carrots and onions are fork tender, blend it, and you're done! It was super good! I also whipped up some herbed cornbread to go with it. I love the texture of cornbread, and it's got that slightly sweet flavour which goes really nicely with carrot  soup (which is also good with a little honey drizzled in).

We finally cleaned the grill and fired it up! I'm excited to have more BBQ'd meals (mostly to keep the house cooler), but we totally forgot how to cook on that stupid thing. Everything looks really good here, but when we cut into it, the meat was too bloody for our tastes and the corn wasn't quite done (raw corn is not good in case you're wondering). We need more grill practice, so I'm going to try to work all our weekend meals around it. Wish us luck! (Actually, Idle Husband needs the luck. I think it's completely unsafe, and I'm even more convinced of this fact after the time IH scorched his eyebrow and half his beard turning the damn thing on. Therefore, I've decided I don't do BBQing.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

mom's are great, aren't they?

We came back from Red Deer with a lot of fun stuff!

Mom got us an assortment of flavoured honey. Idle Husband's favourite is the blackberry. She also got us bee pollen and a honeycomb, both of which I have no idea what to do with. I'll have to think more about those.

She also found this amazing green jar and glass pitcher at the thrift store. The jar is huge so I'm going to have to do some switching around in my might be used for whole wheat flour or maybe sugar. I desperately want to try cold brewed tea, but I keep thinking this pitcher was meant for flowers and not drinks. I'm on the fence about using it for iced tea.

Mom and I went around and cut a ton of flowers, too. These peonies are so fragrant! They're so nice! I'm super excited to have peonies in my house! Can you tell?! Also with it in the vase is some parsley that was almost going to flower and some solomon's seal (I love soloman's seal. It smells like candy when you cut it. Unfortunately, the flowes are over now, so I just got the leaves. The flowers look very similar to lily of the valley -- cute little white-green bells).

This is a Big Betony (Stachys grandiflora). It really lives up to its name, cuz it gets huge and takes over everything around it. When I planted it, I didn't take that into consideration (it was more of a random, oh! I can actually dig a hole here! type of planting), but I would love to have one again and plant it somewhere where it can become the huge bush it wants to become. It's also a plant that doesn't need any care or babying, comes in a fantastic shade of purple, and doesn't even notice when you cut half the flowers off. That equals a winning plant in my book.

I have some tiger lilies that are really close to opening, but (of course) mom's opened sooner. I love how that bright orange looks with the blue of the vase (new fixation: orange and bright blue).

Remember the delphiniums? Well, I had those in the bathroom last week, and I just thought the room looked 100% better. I know it sounds weird, but it changed the whole feel in there. I have a new rule. As long as there're flowers to be cut, there has to be flowers in the bathroom. I accidentally cut these tiny stems the other day, so guess where they've ended up?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

an unexpected guest

oh. hello

what's this?!
(Hermes freaked out.)

you look delicious.
(Hermes figured out he wasn't in any danger.)

maybe if I crouch down, I can surprise him.

I'll hide behind the curtain.

nothing works! I want him! Gimme!

Monday, July 19, 2010

check out my new friends

We drove out to mom's farm land on the weekend and ran into a friendly bunch of steers.
I had such a good talk with them. They were a very attentive audience! We talked about all sorts of things. The weather. The grass. You know, the usual!

I miss hanging out with cattle sometimes. They're very interesting and definitely smarter than most people would think.

Operation Marshmallow Fluff

I have to make cupcakes next week (spoiler alert!), so in preparation for that, I thought I'd try to make my own marshmallow fluff. Yeah, I know. I'm totally out of my mind, but I'm actually not as crazy as you'd think. I'm doing this as PREP. Which means, I'm not going to attempt this crazy assed idea the day BEFORE I need said cupcakes. That's smart. That means I've got all my marbles. right?

I got my gelatin softening then continued on with phase 2. One cup of light corn syrup. Uh oh. Do I have enough? Please please please...a tipped up, drained out corn syrup bottle later, and I'm left with 3/4 of a cup. Crap. Do you know how much I love Google? It's saved my life time and time again. I honestly don't know what I was doing before Google. Probably just abandoning the project altogether for a quick (angry) drive to the store.

Anyway, honey can be substituted for corn syrup (this freaks me out a little because I kinda refer to corn syrup as the sugar devil). So shrugging my shoulders and figuring Kraft Canada knew a little more than I did on the subject, I topped up my cup with honey.

honey and corn syrup don't mix

Friday, July 16, 2010

contraband delphiniums

Oh I forgot to mention my delphiniums. Yup. I found these growing out in the wild, unhindered, in a field, just makin' it on their own...

Ok. I saw them growing through a fence and after taking a bajillion photos of them, without thinking, I pinched them off, tucked them in my bag, and quickly walked away.

Ok. I totally went up to them with the intention of taking them. I know. I'm a terrible person. But I haven't had delphiniums in my house for 10 years. 10 YEARS! And they're in my top five all-time favourite flowers. And these were just growing through the fence. No one was appreciating them! They were just the trailing flowers, not the main stem! I'm sure there was a humongous load of them on the main stem!! Ack! Cut me some slack!
I took the photos because I really liked the blue with the green on their fence (and it gave me a reason to go up to them in the first place. Sigh. Yes, okay! I meticulously planned it all out in my head during my walk. 40 lashes).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

spring rolls

Wednesday's become my bachlorette dinner party. It's the only night Idle Husband and I don't get to sit down together and eat supper. So with that in mind, it's kind of like a free-for-all for me. Excitement!  Adventure! I can have anything my little heart desires! Please note how excited I am at the idea of being able to pick out any exotic meal I want without having to worry about whether IH will or won't like it. I was so excited, in fact, that last week, I got overwhelmed and came up with the lamest dinner possible. Barley and peas. Yum? Well, it was yum, but I didn't make enough and I was still hungry. So then I took two hot dogs out of the freezer and microwaved them. Bad? I was still hungry so I ate some granola while standing in the pantry. Worse? Then I had a cookie with some peanut butter slathered on, looked at myself with disgust and shame and vowed to do better this week. (I will avenge you, terrible dinner!)

Since Idle Husband isn't a fan of asian cuisine, I got really excited about the prospect of some healthy spring rolls. I've made them before and they're so light and fresh and summery, that I've been wanting to make them again. So to make them extra special, I remembered to buy some imitation crab meat (sorry; I love the imitation stuff much more than the real deal) to wrap inside to make them a nice complete meal, and I even remembered to take the crab out of the freezer the day before! Look at me winning! I already had the rice paper wraps and vermicelli rice noodles, so basically all I had to do was assemble.

Or so I thought. I left myself entirely too little time to do everything. The noodles took a lot longer to cook than I thought they would (the first time I made them, I under cooked them slightly, so trying to chew through the soft rolls was a nightmare), I had to get something prepped for Idle Husband's dinner when he got home (he cooked it himself, though), and I wanted to make a peanut sauce for dipping. By the time I had the wraps rolled, I had barely enough time to eat plus I still had to get dressed and get my stuff ready for the night. Terrible. My grown-up alone dinner:

Inhaled quickly in front of the computer:

*tsk* Awesome.

If you've assembled a soft taco or burrito, you can totally do this. Just get yourself some rice paper. Here's what I used:
there's about a billion sheets in this package and I think I bought it for a dollar.

Soak it in a little water (I use a pie plate which fits the round paper nicely and holds just enough water) until it's soft and a little translucent. Add whatever fillings your little heart desires -- I used cucumber, lettuce, carrot, green onion, imitation crab meat, and vermicelli noodles. I find it's helpful if everything's cut in stick shape -- and wrap it up.

I found the peanut sauce here. I tried this type of sauce the first time I attempted making spring rolls, and I discovered I have a love/hate relationship with hoisin sauce. I start out really loving it -- so much so, I kinda want to eat it with a spoon -- but by the third small wrap, I've had enough and I can barely stomach it to look at it. Strange. I did like this version of sauce, though, I changed it a bit by adding honey instead of the natural cane sugar and I reduced the amount by half (which was still too much sauce just for me).

Just so you know, these were so yummy, I had some for breakfast today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


this must be good mushroom growing weather. I keep seeing them everywhere I go

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

rain = baking

I'm so in love with this weather. If it could stay this way until September, I'd be really happy. Maybe with less rain and more cool. Yeah. Definitely more cool. Even a nice 20 degrees would be perfect. Those blistering 27 degree days do not make me happy.

Because of the weather, I made bread yesterday. Pretty much any time it's been cool like this, I've opted to make bread. I don't care if I need any, as long as there's space in the freezer, it's getting made. Lately, we've barely been eating bread (probably due to past root canal pains), so when I noticed we were down to half a loaf in the fridge, it kinda pissed me off and changed my baking plans it kinda surprised me that I didn't have any back-up loaves frozen. 

I also made granola. Actually, there isn't a week that goes by where I don't find myself making granola. A while back, I opted to double the recipe thinking that would at least spare me one week, but it totally didn't. Now I eat double the amount. That's probably not a good thing. This version, I used coconut extract (instead of vanilla), shredded coconut, and slivered almonds. I think it's my favourite mix yet. I'll probably be done it by Friday the way things are looking so far. You know, cuz I don't just eat it with my plain yogurt and honey for breakfast. I also throw some in my mouth for lunch. Then around 4-ish, I stand in the pantry and shovel it in. Because I'm really super hungry by then and I still have at least 2 hours to wait until dinner.

I didn't think I would, but I made this granola bar recipe again. I really don't want to call it a granola bar. I think it's more like a granola bar cookie and it kind of baffled me the first time I made it. It did not look anything like the picture in the recipe which seriously looks like some sort of amazing Kashi bar. I don't know how she did that. This is why it baffles me so much. I followed the directions completely and  I used all the ingredients exactly (except for a substitution of more chocolate chips instead of peanut butter chips). I don't get it. Anyway, that doesn't mean it's not good. It's good. It's just not what I'd consider to be a granola bar.

The second time around, I thought I'd be bold and substitute peanut butter for half the oil and I added raisins along with the chocolate chips (whoa -- raisins. that's going off the deep end). It's something nice to keep packaged up in the fridge so I can throw it in Idle Husband's lunch while I'm making it at 11 o'clock at night, half asleep, and wishing I'd have remembered to make it earlier (which is also why I filled some little gladware pots with cherry jello yesterday, too).

The search for a Greek pita recipe continues. While I did not hate this recipe, it tasted a lot sweeter than I'd like. I don't think we'd even call this a pita. In fact, I've taken to calling it an Olga due to it's origins. I've never eaten there (actually I'd never heard of this restaurant before finding the recipe), but the "sandwiches" look a helluva lot like "pitas" from "Greece." All the way down to the fillings and the special Olgasauce -- what's Olgasauce you say? Well, apparently, it's described as a "milder form of tzatziki." Sooo you can see why I kinda thought I had a winner here. Total. Let down. Why is it that every recipe that's super easy (and actually kinda fun) turns out tasting wrong? At least this one folds really well and seems to keep it's pliability after being in the fridge overnight.

Here's another teaser project for this week:
I scoured the internet for cake ideas today. The recipe I want to use is on the left. The recipe on the right is my back-up plan. Thankfully, I had a little too much batter from the left recipe, so I was able to make one single cupcake. Hmm...taste test!

Sweet jebus, that's sinfully delicious. Thank goodness I'm only doing two smaller layers. Otherwise, you might find us in sugar comas on Thursday.