Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Schryer's: Foodie Family Fun!

Well, okay, maybe Southern BBQ isn't the healthiest of family meals, but it could have been worse, and it was certainly delicious. The distinct lack of vegetables other than (homemade) coleslaw and BBQ beans was somehow mitigated by smoking (pun intended) hot service and the FREE 1980s video games. D was completely fascinated by the video game machine, and my husband and I took turns rediscovering PacMan, Frogger, and Donkey Kong. And the food was good enough that D did manage to sit down and eat without any fuss at all. He mostly ate cornbread and smoked mozzarella poutine, but every once in a while, that's not the end of the world.

What fascinated me about Schryers is that it is amazingly fast. The families that arrived immediately before us and after us ordered, ate, and were gone within a span of 20 minutes. And they ate pulled pork or beef brisket sandwiches—a huge step above your typical fast food meal. We took a little longer with our meal, what with the distractions of two small children, forks falling on the floor, making sure Baby G didn't gnaw any dangerous portions off the pork rib bones we gave him to chew on.

Had we been smart and ordered a sandwich instead of a rack of ribs, our meal would have come in at about $20, which is also competitively priced with fast food joints. Kids eat free after 5PM, so had we ordered off the kids' menu for D, we would have saved some money. As it was, we ordered a bunch of stuff to share and with the plan to take home leftovers, so D ate from our orders.

Foodie family fun!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Foodie Adventures in Regina

Just got back from a weekend away in Regina, and rediscovered old favourites as well as checking out some new foodie fun.

My primary stop in Regina is always The Italian Star Deli. Carlos and his family are always an absolute delight, as are the amazing ingredients they offer. I dropped a pretty penny on a bag of dried porcini mushrooms, and then proceeded to pick up an amazing-sounding blue cheese and herb mustard, several funky shapes of whole grain pasta, some of their famous sandwiches for lunch later, my favourite Spanish olive oil, some Illy Espresso beans, housemade Italian sausage, and my key reason for coming, salt packed anchovies. These little delights last forever in the fridge (sealed tightly in a ziplock bag, because they stink) and supply me with constant anchovy flavour for my Caesar salad dressing, pasta sauces, tapenades, and anything else that calls for them. They are much milder and fresher tasting than anchovy paste, and you can use one at a time, with only a quick rinse and peeling away their fillets from the bones, which makes them more convenient and less wasteful than having to open a can of anchovies and only using a couple fillets.

We also stopped at a coffee shop called Sweet, which offered some delicious pastries (D was beside himself with the prospect of choosing one of their lovely tarts or cakes, which were all at eye-level. He sat remarkably still while sipping a mango smoothie and eating a portion of a lemon mini-bundt cake).

The friends we were staying with also introduced us to Siam Thai Restaurant, from which we ordered takeout. Everything was absolutely delicious and authentic. Many many more items to sample on subsequent trips to Regina! I made a quick stop at Smokin Okies BBQ to meet other friends, and managed to steal a couple bites of their delicious, smoky ribs. I was already booked for supper, so I just enjoyed having a beer out of the house and away from the kids, while hubbie and the boys had an afternoon nap. I made a mental note to revisit Smokin Okies again. I've always enjoyed their food, but have yet to sample the catfish and hushpuppies. MUST TRY THEM.

It's a good life, being a foodie and surrounded by friends who are also food lovers. *SIGH*

Sadly, the Italian sausage from the Italian Star deli was absolutely delicious, but the medium heat was still too spicy for D. I made a roasted pepper and tomato pappardelle (wide, long noodles) for supper, and roasted the sausage separately so that we could add it to our own dishes. D had some salami with his instead of the spicy sausage. With the addition of the tiny remainder of sun-dried tomato tapenade leftover from last weekend, we had a delicious pasta meal. I love being able to pull such delicious ingredients out of my fridge and pantry to make dinner on a whim.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dessert on a Whim

Yesterday we were reading "The Poky Little Puppy", and that got D thinking about rice pudding. The thing is, his idea of what rice pudding is does not jive with most people's. The rice pudding made most often in this household is Thai black rice pudding with coconut milk, using the recipe from Hot Sour Salty Sweet, a gorgeous cookbook with beautiful photos and authentic recipes from southeast Asia.

Being rather rigid in my food theming, I couldn't bring myself to serve a Thai dessert with an Italian main course, so instead I threw together a simple rice pudding in the slow cooker (I used only 1/2 cup of raw sugar—Sucanat, which can be found in health food stores—and basmati rice, since that's the only long-grain white rice I had in the house. I suppose if I were really consistent in my food theming, I would have opted for Arborio rice, but I'm not consistent, just rigid). Of course, it didn't meet with D's expectations, and he turned up his nose at it, but it was gratifying to know that I could make a comforting dessert with only a few minutes of prep time, and a couple hours to kill before supper.

Busy Mom Tip #7: Be Flexible

This may be a no-brainer, but I had to share anyway. My meal plan produced more food than I expected—that was one big beef roast—so I've decided to take a day off and skip making a meal tonight, so I can focus on using up leftovers. There's roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, there's more coleslaw mix (I cheated and bought a bag of shredded cabbage, which surprised me with its freshness), and we also have some beef salami and leftover crostini toppings (green olives and fennel or sun-dried tomato tapenade), which would make a great addition to a sandwich. Some of the tapenade has already started a new life as salad dressing—just mix it into some oil and vinegar for an instant, flavourful salad topper.

We also have leftover orzo primavera from yesterday. It was surprisingly not a kid favourite, but I loved it. I suspect D's lack of interest had to do with his eating cycle. He piles it in one day (a.k.a., the day we had roast beef he ate an entire slice of roast beef, several forkfuls of potatoes and gravy, tasted his coleslaw, and proceeded to clean us out of steamed carrots and green beans. I eventually just placed the cooking pot in front of him and he ate every single veggie. Then he ate a scoop of chocolate ice cream). Reflecting on his meal, I figured he had probably just consumed his entire recommended caloric intake at one sitting. So I shouldn't be surprised that the next day he wasn't too interested in eating.

Can't decide whether to have the bean burritos or the pork stir-fry tomorrow...leaning towards the bean burritos, since the fresh veggies for the stir-fry will probably last til Sunday, and stir-fry leftovers aren't all that great.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meal Plan #10...still simple...

Still taking it easy and making sure we have no leftovers carrying us into the weekend, when we'll be away again.

Oven-fried chicken
Sweet potato and yam oven fries
Steamed asparagus

Beef roast (aiming for sandwich meat for lunches)
Mashed potatoes
Carrots and green beans
Creamy coleslaw

Orzo primavera (from The Occasional Vegetarian). The recipe is very similar to the one posted here.
Green salad

Pork stirfry with bok choy and broccoli—the stir-fry sauce will be the thickened rib-braising liquid from a previous post, Busy Mom Tip #6.
Rice (with enough leftovers to go into our bean burritos the next day)

Bean burritos, based on the recipe titled "Guilt-free refritos" in The Rustic Table. Basically just pinto beans mashed with bottled salsa, onions and garlic. It'll be good with some rice, cheese, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and extra salsa. Plus any leftover beans can be frozen.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Mmmm. This is a great supper."

Now those are words you don't hear every day from a two year old. Apparently, all it takes to sell him on a meal is oven-fried chicken (Pineview Farms thighs and drumsticks). He hadn't touched anything else on his plate, but since he had a drumstick, he was convinced the meal was great. With a bit of coaxing, he went on to note his surprise that the pale oven-fry was a sweet potato (we had a combination of sweet potato and yam fries), and once he confirmed that it was sweet potato, he proceeded to clear his plate of them: "I think this is great. This is great food!" When he announced he was finished, without having touched his asparagus, we suggested he have at least one bite of his vegetables, so that he could get the vitamins he needed. "I like vitamins!" he said, and took one bite, and then shoved half of the rather large asparagus spear in his mouth. If only he were always so agreeable.

He doesn't eat like this every day, but I do enjoy it when he does. Chicken, yam fries and asparagus. The winning combination.

It worked well for Baby G, too, who has apparently caught on to the joys of food. He demolished a slice of baked yam, half an asparagus spear, and a good tablespoon of mom-chewed chicken thigh, his first show of interest in meat since we started feeding him solids.

Coconut macaroons for dessert—we have a lot of macaroons around now, since I'm trying to use up all of the egg whites left over from the crème brulée. I have eight more egg whites to go. Any suggestions? Keep in mind I'm a bit burnt out for cooking this week...

Girls' Night In

Now that my women's dinner party is over, I can post the menu without spoiling it for my guests. This was my first fancy dinner in a long while, definitely since the birth of Baby G 7 months ago, but I suspect I had scaled back on fanciness for several months before that. In order to pull it off, I started my preparations on Monday, purchasing groceries and then doing a few tasks each day until the big day on Saturday. The food was a success, and the company (five impressive women in whose presence I feel honoured) was fantastic. The menu is mostly available on

Appetizer: Trio of crostini on Christie's bakery baguettes: fava bean puree with shaved Parmesan; sun-dried tomato tapenade; goat cheese with green olives

Salad: Arugula salad with manchego, apples and caramelized walnuts

Main: Truffled red wine risotto with Parmesan broth (the whole core of this meal—I have been sitting on a jar of truffle butter, and since my husband has proclaimed his hatred of truffles, I have been determined to serve it to someone who appreciates it. Hence, I kicked my husband and boys out of the house for three hours to host these women, who try to go out for dinner together every couple of months or so, at my house. I also collect Parmesan cheese rinds for the purpose of making this recipe and this recipe only. I cleared out my cheese drawer by making the broth.)

Dessert: Chamomile crème brulée (The best dessert I have ever tasted, once served to me at the now defunct Pesto's restaurant in Saskatoon. I'm pleased to report it can be easily made at home, as long as you have enough cream and egg yolks).

We also enjoyed some lovely New Zealand Pinot Noir--Devil's postpile, I think it's called. I had some French Pinot Noir as well, but most of it got poured into the risotto.

Considering the fact that we were working around the schedules of my own young family and the bedtimes of two young babies also in attendance, we had a most enjoyable evening. It just started early—5:30 PM on the dot, and everyone was on their way out the door (and my family was on their way back in) by 8:30. Well worth it, though.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meal Plan #9: Keeping it Simple

This week is sandwiched between illness and preparations for a fancy dinner for six ('the boys' are banished from the house that night for three hours, what luxury!). I'm keeping it as simple as possible. But that doesn't mean it won't be tasty. You'll note some of these days have already passed...

Southwestern Cheese Soup from Simple Suppers
Fresh green salad with lemon vinaigrette (1 part lemon juice, 4 parts olive oil, salt and pepper to taste)

Balsamic lamb chops
Bean and Squash Gratin from Mark Bittman's Food Matters
Fresh green salad with lemon vinaigrette

Pasta with artichoke hearts and feta, also from Simple Suppers. This was easy and pleasant, and had a method I'd never seen before—the simplest thing, making a creamy sauce out of equal parts pasta cooking water and crumbled feta cheese. Quite nice.

We've been talking about taking our kids to the Shaw Centre during a time when we can both go. 4PM to 7PM on Wednesdays seems to be the time. Then we're going to go for sushi, which we've both been craving. D is also quite taken with sushi, ever since he was gifted the Melanie and Doug sushi set.

This means no need to make supper, which is good, because since I have no childcare tomorrow, any work I try to do will have to happen during nap times. As will any dinner party prep that takes place...that's a whole other plan and to-do list (but fun!).

Date night/food review night. We're getting a sitter that is not Grandma and Grandpa, for the first time since baby G was born (it will be one day before his 7 month birthday!!) and going out for dinner together. At home, I will be making oven roasted chicken thighs, sweet potato fries and asparagus for sitter and the boys.

Can't say I've thought that far ahead...our original plan was to go out on Friday, so I've used up all my dinner ideas. I'll come up with something.

Now, I wonder, to reveal Saturday's menu before Saturday?? Or keep it a surprise?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sometimes We Fall Down (Sick in Bed)

What is that they say about 'the best laid plans'? Ours were derailed last Wednesday when I took to bed with what I thought was a flu; it may have been to begin with, but by Saturday morning at 3AM I was certain it was strep throat. Luckily, I had already procured a 'just-in-case' prescription from my doctor earlier in the week, so at 5AM I was driving to the 24-hour pharmacy, a slightly preferable situation than lying awake for two hours, trying not to swallow.

First and foremost, my husband is an amazing and sympathetic man. He stepped in to pick up the slack and did a bang-up job. He ordered takeout Vietnamese from Nha Trang, including spicy beef noodle soup (my favourite sicky soul food) when I couldn't get out of bed long enough on Wednesday to pull supper together. He even took my kids to my own grandfather's 90th birthday party—which one cousin described as "great to see everybody, but it was kind of like speed dating with the furnace turned up, in a space two times too small." Four generations of family (except me) was there. That's about 40 bodies in a small townhouse. I think they had fun, and thoughtfully came back home with a care package that consisted (oddly) of Kentucky Fried Chicken and my grandma's homemade cabbage rolls.

I learned several things things about myself in this latest (and most severe in a long while) illness:

It's a novelty to go shopping when I have no appetite. No temptation. Just like all those weight loss magazines tell you not to shop when you're hungry. It's true! I don't think it's ever happened to me before. Usually, I can think myself hungry. So it takes something beyond my having just eaten to truly turn me off food. Hence, I have to shop when I'm feverish and flu-y to enjoy the same result.

I realized when coming out of my stupor that this coming weekend I'm hosting a fancy dinner for girlfriends, and that between recovery from my flu and sketchy childcare, I had better not plan to do one single other thing this week except prepare for this dinner, if I want to pull it off. I used to take one day to do something like this. Now it takes me a week. That's parenthood for ya. But it will just make it that much more special. At least that's what I've decided. I've also opted for ultra simple dishes (and more stuff than usual comes from cans) for my meal plan this week.

I forgot how close my moods can resemble a mama bear when I'm not at my best. And you don't have to know me to be at risk of an attack. I almost lost it at the grocery store when I saw a pregnant woman contemplating the Hamburger Helper.

Having had my brain virtually turned off for four days does wonders for my short-term memory. On my first outing since my illness, to buy groceries on Sunday, I somehow managed to lose my list between the house and the store. Amazingly, I managed to remember every item, except one. Normally, even when I carry the list with me, I manage to forget one thing on it. So I considered this to be a great success.

Tonight was the first night I actually enjoyed my meal. Certainly, it was a satisfying meal of balsamic lamb chops and a white bean and butternut squash gratin, but it felt that much more wholesome since it was the first in several days that I ate with gusto.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gratifood (or would that be Fooditude?)

Making supper tonight turned out to be an exercise in gratitude. It seemed that every step of the process made me aware of something else to be grateful for:

I am grateful to the foodie friend who introduced me to the cookbook (Whitewater Cooks at Home) that contained the recipe.
I am grateful that I splurged on the Kitchenaid food processor that made short work of grating 2 lbs. of yams, and then chopped ginger, garlic, chickpeas and nuts, in seconds.
I am grateful for sticking with my concept of 'make extra and freeze', since without that practice, I would have been without chickpeas. I thought I had tons of cans of them, but apparently not. My saving grace was a frozen container of chickpeas that I had set aside the last time I cooked them from scratch.
I am grateful for a recipe that lets me use up all the little tiny bags of remnant nuts that plague the bottom of my freezer.
I am grateful to the guy from my yoga class who offered to shovel my driveway last week; mostly because he shoveled my driveway, but also because his good deed gave me an excuse to give food to someone, and giving food to people is one of my very favourite things.
I am grateful to the friend who gifted me with green tomato pickles, because they were the perfect condiment for my yummy yam burger.

And of course this is on top of all the usual things to be grateful for, like a healthy family, a roof over my head, work that I love, living where I want to live, and so on. It was just a good day to be thankful.

Meal Plan #8

My precious meal planning notebook is FULL! I'm going to have to find another one. I'm using an interim notebook for now. I love flipping back through it and remembering the menus I planned and the guests I served, since most of the time I include my guests' names in the title.

But I digress. Here's my meal plan for this week (note that ingredients are aimed towards potential finger foods for Baby G, who, at 6 and a half months, has no interest in eating foods off a spoon. If he can't hold it, he won't sample it).

"White trash" sweet and sour spareribs (I confess to a love of westernized Asian food that is made from non-Asian ingredients. Like ketchup)
Baked brown and wild rice (some formed into little finger food patties for Baby G)
Broccoli with oyster sauce (with some broccoli pulled out of the steamer for Baby G)

Tuesday (vegetarian/yoga night)
Ryan's Moroccan Yam Burgers (from my new cookbook, Whitewater Cooks at Home!). If you go to the link for the recipe, scroll down a bit in the forum, and you'll find it.
These sound awesome--grated yams, pureed chickpeas, nuts, tons of spices and more. I'll cook up some yams separately for Baby G. I think I'm also going to try stewed prunes as finger food...which might be messy, but so is everything else he eats.

I'm away at a meeting over the supper hour, so I'll be popping this in the oven ahead of time:
Navy bean and squash gratin with bits of sausage (from Mark Bittman's Food Matters). I'll mash up some beans and cook some separate squash chunks for Baby G.

Oven roasted Pine View Farms chicken thighs
Sweet potato fries
Asparagus (or some other veggie if I can't find organic asparagus). Baby G will suck on asparagus, as well as sweet potato fries. He's not currently interested in meat, but I might make like a mama bird and chew some up for him to try.

Pasta with tomatoes, tuna and capers from Mark Bittman's Food Matters. There are several versions of this recipe, and I found a similar one on Epicurious, here. Mark Bittman's recipe calls for tuna packed in oil, which I will use if I can find it. Has anyone seen it anywhere in Saskatoon? 

As for Baby G's meal on Friday, I'm guessing we'll have something in the fridge from earlier meals that we can use, since the pasta meal isn't terribly baby-friendly. That reminds me, though--if I pick up some rice pasta, he can have pasta as finger food, too! (he hasn't tried wheat yet)

Note on tuna: I truly don't eat tuna or serve it to my family very often at all (less than one can per month), because I do have some reservations about its mercury levels. When I was pregnant, I didn't eat it at all. But I can't seem to avoid it completely, because I discovered it so recently, and love it. I figure with the levels of healthiness we enjoy in the rest of our foods, the benefits out-weigh the costs of the occasional meal using tuna.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In Pursuit of the "Perfect" Meal

Our meal last night was almost "perfect." While it was delicious, the quest for perfection, at least according to my extended family, doesn't directly link to flavour. It's my dad's term for a meal with no leftovers. This rarely happens at my parents' house, because their concept of "enough" is generally most other people's concept of "overboard". So while good food tends to disappear faster than not-good food, If there is too much of it, there will still be leftovers, in spite of my brother-in-law's Herculean efforts.

At our house, we usually aim for leftovers, so in the unlikely event of a "perfect" meal, according to my dad's definition, I am usually overwhelmed by anxiety, wondering what we'll have for lunch tomorrow, since my plan for leftovers fell through.

Last night's dinner, fish with grits and greens, from Moosewood's Simple Suppers, was close to a perfect meal, from all angles: my expectations of flavour, ease of preparation, my family's enthusiasm, and my dad's aim of no leftovers. I think there is a tiny amount of grits left over, but that is easily remedied. And the good news is that we had enough leftovers in the fridge from previous meals, so not having leftovers wasn't as stressful as it has been in the past.

Fish is, perhaps surprisingly, one of D's absolute favourite meals. He will inhale a full fillet all by himself. He didn't go much for the grits or the greens, but his enthusiasm for the fish made up for it. We usually prepare fish simply by dipping it in kamut flour and salt and pepper (and sometimes dill), but this preparation was absolutely delicious, and just as easy:

Four fish fillets (the original recipe calls for catfish, but we went with northern-caught pickerel)
Mix together on a plate:
1 t. smoked paprika (or regular paprika if you don't have smoked)
1 1/2 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried thyme
2 t. brown sugar
1/8 t. cayenne (optional)
1 t. each salt and black pepper
Press fish fillets into mixture to coat, and then fry in 2 T. hot olive oil for 4 minutes per half-inch thickness of fish, per side

1 bunch collard greens (kale would work, too, but collards are traditional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
2 T. water
1 t. Tabasco sauce (optional...I'm slowly training D to handle spicy food, but I usually serve hot sauce at the table, so he doesn't reject the food outright. He asks to sample the hot sauce though, making sure to have a glass of milk close by)

Strip the tough ribs from the greens, chop the leaves. Heat oil in a pan large enough to hold the greens, then add garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add greens, salt, and water. over and simmer for about 10 minutes, until tender. Toss them with hot sauce, if using.

3 c. water
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. quick cooking grits (cornmeal)
1/2 c. grated Cheddar cheese (I used smoked cheddar)

Bring water and salt to a boil, then pour in grits in a steady stream. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, until thickened and tender. Stir in the cheese.

The fish was highly seasoned, tender, and a little bit sweet, which matched the character of the fish perfectly. The meal sparked a discussion about how so many 'hot weather' foods, like curries, hot and sour soup, and corn grits, taste so amazingly good in the dead of winter. Meals that include polenta or grits seem to hold their heat all the way into your belly, which is a sensation I find comforting. We'll be making this again!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Foodie Resolution Soon to be Met!

Hey, remember my note about Whitewater Cooks at Home? Well, one of the recipes in it is a cracker just like Lesley Stowe's! So as soon as that cookbook arrives, I'll have permanent access to that recipe. Yahoo!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tasty Tofu

Once in a while I run across a recipe which, at first glance, doesn't inspire much anticipation, but once made, is surprisingly delicious. Tonight's dinner, baked tofu and sweet and sour stir-fry with steamed noodles, was one of those meals. I'd like to share it here, so you can try it at home. This was adapted from Moosewood's Simple Suppers:

Toss 1 pkg cubed tofu with 2 T. soy sauce, 1 T. each olive and sesame oil, 1 clove chopped garlic and 2 t. grated ginger. Bake in 400 F oven, stirring once or twice, for 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, throw together the stir-fry:
1/2 lb. green beans (I used frozen organic beans)
2 tomatoes (cut in chunks)
4 cups finely shredded mixture of purple and green cabbage
1 T. grated ginger
1 1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. Chinese chili paste (I skipped this to make it more kid-friendly, and offered chili sauce at the table)
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. cider vinegar
1 t. cornstarch
1 T. vegetable oil

Have your ingredients nearby and ready-prepared, since everything comes together quickly. Mix ginger, sugar, chili paste, soy sauce, vinegar and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Heat oil in a wok. Stir-fry green beans for a couple of minutes, add cabbage and continue to cook for a couple more minutes, then add tomatoes, and cook 2 minutes more. Add sauce and stir-fry tow more minutes, or until the sauce thickens and coats the vegetables. Toss the tofu in with the stir-fry and serve with noodles or rice.

At first blush, the recipe sounded like it might be a little boring. But the tomatoes melted into the sauce and added that lovely umami quality to the dish, and the tofu was perfectly savoury, which balanced nicely with the slightly sweet cabbage and stir-fry sauce. I may have also been extra enthusiastic, since I came home hungry from yoga at 7:45, but even hours later, I'm still looking back on it fondly. From the simplest ingredients, great meals are made.

Meal Plan #7

This meal plan got a late start due to my preparations for a mini-Oscar-mostly-foodie party last night. I lost track of the day and ended up having to do my planning Monday morning instead. The Oscar/foodie party was a great success, at least food-wise. Party-wise, it ended at 8PM when I had to take D home to bed. Apparently, at least according to the clerk at Safeway, all the good stuff happened in the first half-hour anyway, so I didn't miss anything.

Thanks to our delicious food last night, I have a new cookbook on order: Whitewater Cooks at Home. Actually, I have TWO cookbooks on order, because I mistakenly ordered Whitewater Cooks at first, not knowing there were actually two very similar cookbooks by the same author. Oh well, if cookbook 1 is as good as cookbook 2, I won't be sorry. We enjoyed a veggie plate with fantastic miso-sesame dip, caramelized onion and blue cheese tarts, goat cheese terrine, and dates, stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with basil and prosciutto. All from this amazing cookbook. Every page looked completely unique and delicious. When I come across a cookbook that has ideas in it I've never seen before, I can't resist buying it.

My own contribution to the meal (my sweet miniature dessert) was a hit. I opted for the Caramel Carmenitas, little tartlets filled with caramel pecan buttercream. Oh. My. God. Imagine a tart filled with creamy, nutty, sweet silk. That is something I will definitely make again. I'd share the recipe, but it's very long, so will provide it only if asked. It took me two tries to get the caramel right, but even the first, botched try tasted delicious, and I formed that batch into caramel chews, so it wouldn't go to waste. I have a long-standing love affair with the Bon Ton in Vancouver, and have long considered it a goal to recreate some of those amazing silky pastries. This dessert could have been a Bon Ton confection.

Thanks to my sister's intention to stop in for dinner on Monday night, on their way to B.C., I planned a steak dinner and pulled out the last of my locally grown chanterelle mushrooms for risotto. Thanks to the charming weather we experienced here in Saskatchewan yesterday, the roads were all closed, and they didn't make it. We very much enjoyed our meal of the most beautiful filets mignon from my dad's beef, seasoned only with Kosher salt and smoked pepper, chanterelle mushroom risotto, and roasted Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Responses from my diners (hubbie and D) were (hubbie): "Ooh. Roasted Brussels sprouts. Me likey!" and (D): "Steak! Steak! Steak!" We managed to control ourselves and sample only one pastry each, in an effort to leave some for my sister (who is also a fan of the Bon Ton). Sister is arriving right away for lunch. Hopefully the leftovers will be as enjoyable as they were last night.

So the rest of the week's meal plans are as follows (sourced mostly from Moosewood's Simple Suppers):

Baked tofu (marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and garlic)
(Not-so)Hot and Sour Stirfry (the recipe calls for packaged coleslaw mix, but I have both green and purple cabbage to use, and frozen organic green beans—Canadian grown—from Costco, which I decided to use in the recipe instead of buying 'fresh' imported ones)
Egg Noodles

Fish with Grits and Greens (this one calls for catfish, but I'll be using the pickerel in my freezer). Hubbie came home from grocery shopping last week with collard greens, so I'll be using them in the most traditional way. I'll be using the last of my smoked cheddar in the grits, which I think will be tasty.

Hubbie is away during supper at a work event, and we're heading out of town first thing Friday morning, so I'm going to pull a container of leftover lamb and kidney bean stew from the freezer for me and D to enjoy.