the weekend domestic

As many of my regular readers may have gathered, I’ve been away from home or otherwise occupied with arranging a house concert and entertaining a friend from Louisiana for the past few weeks and have been somewhat lax in my focus on home life.  This was definitely remedied this weekend!

I am lucky to live and work in a city that has not one but two sizable farmer’s markets, which give me access to fresh, locally sourced foods.  One is mere blocks from my home (and less than a block from my favourite café, the Cannon Coffee Co.) and the other (which houses Red Hill Coffee Trade where CG, my favourite barista works) is literally right under my office at the day job.   I am lucky to be able to wander through the Hamilton Farmer’s Market and see what is fresh and good on a weekly basis.

I noted that the first of the local kale was hitting the stalls, so I picked up a bunch last Friday, dreaming of crispy, salty (albeit controlled amounts), iron-rich snacks throughout this week.  I also noted that one of the orchards had a new batch of Mutsu apples at their stall, so I picked up a basket.  There were also local green onions, ramps, local asparagus, fiddleheads and some nice looking corn and limes (both not local, but good looking).  It certainly looked like the dehydrator was to be getting a lot of use on the weekend!

On Saturday morning, I hooked up with DM2 to head to the Ottawa St. Farmer’s Market, where I picked up some hothouse peppers and jalapeno, zucchini, carrots and the first of the local strawberries.  I also picked up a fresh (still warm) bag of Hero Coffee’s Mexican coffee beans, before heading to the Cannon Coffee Co for a latte and conversation with DM2.

I finished off Saturday morning, at various grocery stores, filling the gaps in my grocery list (including some amazing organic romaine lettuce) and buying myself a new pair of shoes (required, as my current work shoes are getting a little worn).  I came home to “rest” and proceed to prepare my purchases for consumption throughout the week.

I started with grinding three batches of the coffee to prepare my slow brewed cold processed coffee for the morning walk/ride into work.  This takes 12 hours to brew so I could set this aside and forget about it until Sunday morning.  Next were the strawberries, which were cleaned, hulled, sliced and yes, snacked on – glad I bought two quarts!

The kale was next, stems trimmed, leaves torn into bite sized pieces and cleaned.  The kale bits were left to drip dry while I prepared the spice blend for the kale crisp recipe (a mixture of chilli, garlic and onion powder, pepper, sea salt and nutritional yeast – kind of a vegan nacho seasoning – the yeast gives it a cheesy texture with a savoury umami mouth feel), a splash of olive oil, some good massaging of the oil and spices into the leaves and then three hours in the dehydrator.

While the kale was processing, I fired up the barbecue and cleaned the asparagus, peppers, jalapeno, green onions and corn.  The veggies were all to be grilled for various salads, including my protein-laden quinoa salad (loosely based on Earth to Table’s quinoa salad, it’s spicy, with a slight Mexican flare).  While the veggies were on the barbecue, grilling, I prepared three salad dressings: a ceasar salad dressing from the “Looneyspoons” cookbooks, an orange garlic dressing for the asparagus and the spicy lime vinaigrette for the quinoa salad.

Once the veggies were suitably grilled, the asparagus was packaged up for Saturday night’s dinner (served with the orange garlic dressing and shaved parmesan cheese) and the others were peeled, sliced and mixed with the dressing to marinate.  All I have to do is cook the quinoa and add crumbled feta cheese for a healthy protein-rich salad!

By this time, the kale crisps were ready for packaging (air tight container) and the trays of the dehydrator were cleaned to prepare to dry apple slices.  I cleaned and removed the stems from the apples and used a mandolin to slice them into consistent rings.  These are dipped in acidulated water (water with citrus juice squeezed into it to prevent the apples from browning) and then placed upon the dehydrator racks and began drying the apple slices (again, these will take some time so I could set and forget them).

By this time, the dogs were getting antsy, so we went out for a walk, coming home just before DH returned from his sojourn to a memorial gathering for a father of a friend.  He had not eaten lunch and was bombarded with the smells of my busy afternoon, so he wanted dinner.  Thankfully I had the barbecue still fired up and hot, so a tilapia filet was grilled for him along with a marinated tofu cutlet for myself.

Meanwhile the coffee and apples continued in their processing while we dined, chatted and slept.

Sunday morning was a flurry of activity as the dogs got me up early to go for their walks, however balked when they discovered it was raining.  I was not impressed, but understood and was able to capitalize on the time before singing at church to filter and store the cold-process coffee and package up the dehydrated apple slices.  I then prepared hard boiled eggs for my early morning protein hit during the week and settled in for my breakfast.

A lovely walk to the newest café in Hamilton for a little pre-church caffeine boost and then a long service as it was Communion Sunday and the minister was rather long winded and repetitive during his sermon <sigh>.  A couple invited DH and I to their home in Toronto’s west end for coffee, conversation and dinner and also for us to go through some of their surplus belongings as they are decluttering, much like I am, so I rushed into Toronto and enjoyed their companionship – DH was not feeling up to it so I flew solo.

I had a lovely time and picked up some wonderful reading materials (vintage Vonnegut) and some philosophy and art books for DH.  I was also able to pick up the last two Sookie Stackhouse books (the companion book and the short story collection) so DH can now say he has read everything about Ms. Stackhouse and has a reading queue ahead of him.  So above all it was a successful weekend.  Monday is now time to relax in the orifice, and enjoy the fruits of this past weekend’s labours.


myke’s (recent) lykes

Recent postings have been filled with doom and gloom, whining and other discussions of an overtly serious nature.  It has indeed been a while since I’ve discussed things that have intrigued, inspired and, well, tickled me.  So here is a listing of things that have made me smile as of late!

The Raconteurs
Jack White’s band after the White Stripes broke up.  This quartet combines Jack’s incredibly chaotic and noisy guitar playing with the concise British Invasion-inspired pop hooks from singer Brendan Benson.

I was initially a bit leery of this band as it comes off as a “supergroup” made of up Third Man Records (Jack White’s label) “all stars”, however their incredible cover of Terry Reid’s “Rich Kid Blues” (one of my favourite songs) drew me.  The Raconteurs’ two releases tread the line between finely crafted pop songs and ragged rock and roll, threatening to derail at any moment and they provide the listener with a fun, noisy, musical experience along the lines of Crazy Horse, Badfinger and the Stones…

The Civil Wars
I smiled while watching the 2012 Grammy awards and we were treated to a 30 second touch of class that was The Civil Wars, as they introduced Taylor Swift.  This group combines two incredible singer-songwriters into a group that seems to be stronger than the individual talents involved.  Their release “Barton Hollow” is a masterful work of moody song writing and performance that definitely takes the listener on a journey.

They won the 2012 Grammy Awards for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album.  Two things the Grammies got right this year.

If you want a taste, you can download their debut live recording “Live at Eddie’s Attic” here.

The Good Hunters
The Good Hunters are a Hamilton folk, bluegrass, blues and rock and roll band that have been playing live shows throughout Hamilton.  Their debut CD “Love You Baby” showcases their incredible talent as musicians as well as songwriters.  I’ve recently been enjoying the talents of brothers John and Joe Moran as they play acoustic sets at The Cannon Coffee Company and Love You Baby has been in regular rotation as a CD and on my iPod…even more inspiring when you realize the young age of these guys (18-22) and that the music on Love You Baby was recorded outside in nature’s studio.

Worth a listen for those who enjoy country-tinged song writing.

Cake and Loaf’s Vegan Quinoa and Chick Pea Pot Pie
Cake and Loaf is a local bakery that I have written about here in my coffee blog postings.  They also make incredible baked goods and soups.  Recently DH and I, in search of different foods to enjoy at dinner, tried their Curried Vegan Pot Pie, made with quinoa and chick peas.

It is a savoury and delicious blend of chickpeas, quinoa, zucchini and other veggies in a flaky pastry and curry-tinged sauce.  One large pie provides three warming, stick-to-your-ribs and nourishing meals for us and is a lovely treat to have when we tire of chicken and seafood.

Needlework Fabric and Creative Workspace
Recently two Hamilton entrepreneurs opened Needlework, as a boutique-style fabric shop and workspace.  In their own words:  “Our goal is to bring together the do-it-yourself and creative community of Hamilton and the surrounding area by providing the supplies and space required to make anything from a handmade dress to an elaborate quilt.

In addition to designer fabrics, sewing patterns and notions, they also have in-house sewing machines which you can rent by the hour and also offer workshops and classes for both new and experienced sewers.  Both Kate and Liz are extremely creative, vibrant and driven women and they have provided a new home for the creative community to gather in Hamilton.  I can’t wait to see what the future brings for this exciting venture!

I’ve already purchased a shirt pattern and material from them for some custom-made summer shirts and am awaiting my seamstress to pick them up.

Terry Fallis’ “The Best Laid Plans” and “The High Road
A Canadian communications consultant does the impossible, taking the ins and outs of Canadian Politics and makes them interesting, entertaining and funny all at once.  I loaned both books to Parental Unit 1 and she devoured both of them in days, loaning them to my brother who read both of them equally as fast.  These books are highly recommended to those who like to laugh, while rolling their eyes at Canadian politics.

no sugar cookie dough dip

Don’t knock this one until you’ve tried it!  Filled with protein and healthy carbs, it satisfies a sweet tooth without refined sugars or sugar substitutes.

  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1 can drained chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups of cooked
  • heaping 1/8 tsp salt
  • tiny bit over 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (I use all natural “just peanuts” peanut butter)
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • nondairy milk to thin as needed  

In a bowl, cover the dates with 1/2 cup water. Let this sit for at least 8 hours. Then add all ingredients (including the dates’ soaking liquid) to a food processor and blend until very smooth.

This can be served as a dessert dip, as a spread (maybe in between apple slices or crackers?), eaten with a spoon, mixed into oatmeal, stuffed into cupcakes, or even used to top pancakes!

I’m considering adding chopped nuts and sugar-free chocolate chips to mine…

Kale Crisps

  • 2 bunches of kale (Dino or Curly)
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 a lemon
  1. Wash and dry your kale.  Get a large mixing bowl ready.
  2. Chop or tear your Kale into bite-sized pieces. If you’re feeding kale crisps to kids for the first time it may be worth it to de-stem the kale. 
  3. Throw your chopped kale into your mixing bowl add the olive oil and toss to coat.
  4. Take 1 teapoon of salt and throw it over the kale. Squeeze 1/2 a lemon over the kale too. Massage the salt, olive oil and lemon into the kale.
  5. Spread the kale evenly over your dehydrator trays. Two bunches of kale will probably take up 2 dehydrator trays. Close up the dehydrator and flip the on switch.  Dehydrate at 145 degrees F for the first 2 hours and then be brought down to 115 degree F for 6 more hours to dry – this does not harm the enzymes.

I treat Kale Crisps as a snack. I don’t really rely on them for my daily intake of greens. They are just a fun salty treat.

Peanut Soup

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch greens (kale, chard, collards, spinach)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • dash cayenne
  • to taste, salt
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (JUST peanuts)
  1. Sautee onion, garlic and ginger (and stems of the greens if they’re edible) until soft and fragrant
  2. Add tomatoes, greens, cumin, cayenne and salt, stir to coat.
  3. Add stock and simmer 15 minutes
  4. Stir in peanut butter and stir until melted.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Optional: add 1 can of rinsed beans or sweet potato chunks prior to simmering and cook until either are soft.

Leek Soup

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 leeks, halved, rinsed and sliced thinly
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp fresh or 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 large potato grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a 6 quart pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, shallots and leeks, cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in stock and thyme, cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Add potato, salt and pepper, stir well and cook 20 minutes.
  5. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in food processor.
  6. Tasde and adjust seasoning, if needed.