Sunday, July 3, 2011

Home at Last!!

Oh the many things to be thankful for:

It's finally truly summer!
We're back in our house!
My kitchen is awesome! ...although, sitting at about 85% complete.

I can't unpack everything into my new kitchen just yet, so we're still sort of camping out in the space, but at least we're home and moving in the direction of completion. I got confirmation that my horribly delayed sink has finally shipped, so it is also in motion. I would have been able to unpack all my stuff if I hadn't insisted that my 39" upper cabinets have four shelves instead of the usual three. What is the use of having extra tall cabinets if you don't have any more surface area for storage than in average cabinets?? Our cabinet guy went away to cut more shelves.

In spite of all that, we are in love with our new space. No photos just yet, because we haven't quite made it to "after". I will be sure to post them when everything is 100% complete.

In the meantime, our first night back was Canada Day, and I served up a simple celebratory meal of grilled steak, corn on the cob, roast baby potatoes, grilled asparagus, and spinach and strawberry salad with sugar pecans for a couple of friends who had offered to help with the restocking of the kitchen. It was a nice way to break in the space. I tracked down the salad with my new app, which I've been enjoying. It sort of eases the sting of being excluded from the epicurious app because I don't have an iPhone...

Now that the heat has turned up a bit, I'm gung ho to dust off my favourite summertime recipes. Last night we had chicken lettuce wraps and one of my favourite summer salads, cucumber watermelon salad with hoisin-lime dressing. While planning for a week of warm weather, I checked off several other recipes that will resurface over the next couple months of summer: Vietnamese salad rolls, ziti with grilled sausage and gazpacho sauce, and gazpacho, to name a few. I have it on my to-do list to use my turkey fryer this summer for traditional southern fried chicken as well, in case any of you were becoming concerned that my cooking was becoming overly healthy.

My husband's first request when I asked him for summer cooking ideas was, "Hunza wraps!" This was a golden discovery a few years ago, and we have made them every summer since. I originally found it on line, but can no longer locate the site. It's a perfect, easy, healthy, delicious no-cook meal for the dog days of summer:

Hunza Wraps

2 T. lemon juice
1 lb. (or one package) cubed tofu
3 T. red miso (or whatever miso you have on hand)
1/2 c. warm water
3/4 c. tahini

In a large bowl, sprinkle lemon juice over the tofu. Dissolve the miso in the warm water, then blend with the tahini. I use a hand blender, which is quick and easy.

Mix into the miso mixture:
1 1/2 t. garlic powder
2 T. dried dill
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. toasted sesame seeds

Add the miso mixture to the tofu and toss.

Spread generously on a tortilla. Add sprouts, green onions, lettuce and black olives, and wrap.

We have taken to pre-mixing the tofu and sauce and taking this with us on camping trips. They're so quick and easy to throw together while you're setting up camp and getting the fire going. And so, so satisfying. And vegan! I'm always pleasantly surprised when vegan recipes turn out delicious and satisfying as well as healthy.

D enjoyed hunza wraps last year. This year, apparently, he has decided he doesn't like tofu. I think the heat might be affecting his appetite, or perhaps he's getting to an age where he is becoming more fussy. He's kind of funny—today at lunch I made an Asian iced tea packet and D announced that it was bitter. I tasted his drink, and it was bitter. His was in a smaller glass and therefore steeped stronger than the one I made for myself. Is it normal for a two year old to identify flavours like "bitter"?

Baby G on the other hand, has become a bottomless pit regarding food in the last few weeks. He packed away most of half of a wrap (except the black olives—he gave them a go, but then shuddered and spit them out), and later had a third of a cup of yogurt before bed. Here's hoping this helps him sleep through the night.

So this week's meal plan goes something like this:

Greek salad with warmed herb vinaigrette in pita pockets

Grilled skewered chicken hearts (that's right, I've got chicken hearts burning a hole in my freezer, and they're going on the grill!)
Soba noodle and veggie saute

Italian bread salad

Crispy-skinned salmon with salsa verde rice from Ross Dobson's Kitchen Seasons (can't wait to put all my beautiful herbs to work in this one!)

I only got as far as Thursday, because I suspect there will be more entertaining on the horizon. I figure I'll leave the planning of Friday's meal until I know who is going to share it with us.

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