Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kamloops Trip, Food Edition, Part 2

My friend S found this bakery in the Kamloops area called Craig's Bakery. They do not have a web site, unfortunately, but they do have some of the most amazing scones I've ever had. S swears by them, and the ingredient lists are always full of naturally good stuff and no crap. Scones and fruit salad were on the menu at S&M's on Saturday morning before M and his parents headed out to the gun show (where they met my dad - the gun show was the whole reason behind this trip) and S and I went to the mall.

No trip to a major centre in BC would be complete for me without a visit to the local Purdy's location!

What can I say about Purdy's other than they are the most amazing chocolatiers ever in the history of chocolatiers? They are to die for! They are also really expensive, but they usually have a basket on the counter of "almost perfect" chocolates sold at at discount because they're a little less than perfect. This particular day was my lucky day: I found a 1lb dark chocolate assortment - my favourite!!!!! - in the almost perfect basket! Of course, I snagged it. Woo-hoo!
For dinner that night, after a hard day of shopping, S's husband BBQed a huge side of salmon, using BC's Famous Salmon Marinade & BBQ Sauce. I love this stuff! Accompanying our salmon was a mixture of BBQed veggies and baked potatoes with all the fixings. For dessert, we had ice cream with sliced strawberries & whipped cream.
M is an excellent BBQer and the salmon was perfectly done and so, so succulent! And I love veggies grilled on the BBQ. This was one outstanding meal.

Incidentally, the plate my dinner is on and the platter the salmon is on were both made by S, who is a wicked potter!

Thank you so much for your hospitality, S&M! You guys rock!

Up next: my time at Anita's!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trip Pix

Full Flickr set of my trip here.

Kamloops Trip, Food Edition: Part 1

OK. I ate a lot last weekend while on my mini break. I was on holiday and I was in PMS mode, so I have good excuses. Here is day one of the road trip, which consisted of driving from Rossland to Kamloops. Map here. Run down of day on the road here.

Our first official stop was in Greenwood at the Copper Eagle Cappuccino & Bakery (no web site, unfortunately). This place is absolutely fabulous. I'd been once before on a trip to Vancouver just over a year ago, and at that time I had one of the best cinnamon buns I'd ever eaten. I also bought a selection of wonderful squares that were truly remarkable. This trip I was out of luck in the cinnamon bun category, but I did snag a couple of great squares: Crispy Crunch and Confetti with Butterscotch and Peanut Butter. My dad had the Swiss Oatmeal Cake. The squares were amazing, as I was anticipating, and my dad really enjoyed his slice of cake. Copper Eagle also does light lunches and has a nice selection of homemade breads, and my dad got a loaf of whole wheat & cheddar.

Our second food-related stop was one of my favourite places ever and the baking mecca of the Okanagan: the Rogers flour mill. I can't tell you how much I love this place. Not only can you get large quantities of freshly milled flour and grains of all sorts, it is bulk bin heaven! You name it, they have it in bulk. And their spices are so fresh and fabulous. I got 10kg freshly ground bread flour for $7.99, some local honey, and some Hungarian paprika and Cajun seasoning. The staff at the mill store are very helpful and knowledgeable and the store is clean, organized, and very well-maintained. I can never just go in for a minute to pick up a bag of flour; I have to look around at everything and I always wind up buying stuff other than what I intended to. But it's OK.

Next foodie stop: the Village Cheese Co. in Armstrong. My dad wanted to have lunch here at the small cafe attached to the cheese factory. Armstrong is rather famous for its cheese, and the Village Cheese is good cheese, but pricey. I bought a 140g package of Monterey with Mediterranean flavours for $3.50. They have every flavour of cheddar cheese you can possibly imagine, and it's all made right on site. The cafe is also part kitchen shop and it's filled with all kinds of gadgets. In addition to light lunches and snacks, they also serve ice cream. I'd eaten here before when I used to live in the area, and it was OK. My dad, however, had a great experience at the cafe once, and he was hell bent on having lunch there, even though nothing on the small menu really turned my crank. So, what I wound up with was this:
This a ham & cheese "sandwich" and "clam chowder." The sandwich, was well, half of a hot dog bun with a slice of ham on it and some cheese. The chowder was watery, didn't contain many clams or potatoes, wasn't very creamy, and was basically very pathetic. I hate it when I shell out money for a meal and I come away hungry! My dad had an ice cream for dessert, but I was ticked off and not in the mood. I would have been much happier finding a Quizno's in Vernon and having a Toasty Torpedo. So, if you ever stop by Armstrong, yes, visit the cheese factory, get some gourmet cheese, have a snack and browse around, but I don't recommend the lunches.

After 8 hours on the road, Dad and I arrived in Kamloops at the lovely home of my dear friend S and her husband M. They have a tradition of having spaghetti & meatballs on Friday night, and that's exactly what we had. They loved the cookies, BTW. In fact, S's mother-in-law, when presented one for dessert, said, "Are these THE cookies?" They have managed to impress a few people, I guess, and that tickled me.

All this blogging is exhausting me! I have many more foodie things to share, but you'll have to wait until I catch my breath!

Product Review: Wise Fries

Made by: Old Oakville Snack Company.

The package says: "Crunch different. Crunch better! Wise Fries are the revolutionary krinkle cut fry-shaped snakc with a superior crunch. What makes them even better is that they are baked (NOT FRIED), have no artificial flavours or colours and are trans-fat free. And with less fat than standard fried potato chips, great crunching has never been better!"

How do they look? Suspiciously similar to raw McCain SuperFries.

How do they taste? Kinda like styrofoam coated in a not very flavourful "white cheddar" flavouring.

Crunch factor: middle of the road at best.

Worth the $3.49 for 85g? Uh, no.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gingersnaps - Commercial Style

On my last baking shift, I made cookies - lots and lots of cookies. The cranberry orange have seemed to fall out of favour with the clientele at the hospital, so the cook made an executive decision to replace them with gingersnaps. Who doesn't love a good gingersnap? This recipe came from one of the residents of the old folks' home I work in who has passed on. The dough is very popular with the staff; as I was scooping out cookies, the volunteer coordinator came along with a spoon and helped herself to a good hunk of dough.

This makes about 5 dozen cookies using a 2oz cookie scoop.

Gingersnaps

1lb butter
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups molasses
4 eggs
8 cups flour
8 tsp baking soda
4 tsp each: cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger, and salt

Cream butter, sugar and molasses until light & fluffy. Add eggs, one at time. Beat in baking soda, spices, & salt. Fold in flour.

You're supposed to make little balls of dough, dip them in sugar, then press down, & bake. We don't have time to make all the balls, so we scoop out the dough, press with a fork, sprinkle with sugar, & bake. 350F oven for 12 - 15 minutes.

Man, do these ever smell good! I resisted trying one, but other staff did not!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Double Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Via the miracle of Blogger's post scheduler, you are enjoying posts from me while I am away on a mini break, visiting two of my most excellent friends who live in the north Okanagan. My good friend S, who wanted the stock instructions, and her husband really enjoyed these cookies when I brought them during my last visit, so I thought I'd make another batch for this visit. These are one of my favourite cookies, actually, and I really enjoy making them. The recipe comes from The Cookie Bible, a book I use a lot.

Double Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

You know the deal: cream, combine, scoop & bake. 350F oven for about 12 - 14 minutes, under-baking recommended.

...And here is a picture of my roommate's cat, Malcolm, who was soooooo helpful in the baking process. I brought home a bag of sugar the morning I made these and placed it on the kitchen table while I went upstairs to putter around. I could hear Malcolm playing with something (he's always into one thing or another) but didn't think anything of it. When I eventually went downstairs to see what he was up to, I found this:
Little brat! I lost about half my sugar, and the rest might contain some cat hair... Grrrr!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cranberry Orange Muffins for a Crowd

The muffin of the month for April at work is Cranberry Orange. These turn out great and are probably my favourite muffin so far. Be aware that they have a different method than the usual muffin directions, and when I make these I get about 2 1/2 dozen commercial-sized muffins.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

10 cups flour
5 cups sugar
7 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
5 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups shortening
3 3/4 cups orange juice
7 tbsp orange extract
5 cups cranberries (fresh, not dried)
5 eggs

1. Combine dry ingredients well in a large bowl.

2. Cut in the shortening, like you would do if making pastry, until the mixture is mealy.

3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, orange juice, and orange extract. Add to the flour mixture with the cranberries until well combined.

4. Scoop and bake @ 350F until done.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back to Bread

I've been out of the habit of making my own bread, though I can't pinpoint why. I think I just got lazy, but I have recently gotten back into the swing of things!

One thing you might not want to know about me is that I have IBS, and this means I have to watch my fibre intake. Unlike a lot of people with this condition, I can't pinpoint it to a particular food, but the type of fibre I consume has a huge effect on my tummy. Lots of plant fibre can be really horrendous for my gut, so I tend not to eat tons of veggies, and high fibre cereals, breads, and grains can also be tricky. When I make bread it's usually white because it's got less fibre in it than whole wheat and my stomach can tolerate it better.

So, I made the recipe that appears in my bread baking tutorial post, which is simple and delish.

I hope to get back into bread-making because it's something I quite enjoy, and there is such a huge world of possibilities out there with it!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Braised Roast Beast

For some reason, I was recently craving roast beast. This is not normal for me. Roast beast is OK, but not something I'd go out of my way to make for myself. Also, I was becoming nostalgic for a dish my mom used to make when we were young: Swiss Steak. (I always confuse Swiss Steak with Salisbury Steak, even though the two are totally different. I have no idea why, since my mom never made Salisbury Steak.)

Anyway, I found a small roast at the local overpriced grocery store on the weekend, an inside round roast weighing approximately .75kg that cost me just over $6.50. This is what I did with it.

First of all, I seasoned it.
Then, I seared it on all sides in my cast iron pot with a tiny bit of oil.
While the roast beast seared, I gathered these ingredients:
After the beast was nice and seared, I removed it from the pot and deglazed the pot with the tomatoes. I added the onion, garlic (sliced), and other ingredients and brought it to a boil. I added the beast back to the pot, and stuck the whole thing in a pre-heated, 350F oven, for about 40 minutes (I like my beast still pink in the middle). After that time, I got this:
I let the beast rest, then took it out and sliced it. I served the meal over rice.
This was excellent, and very much reminiscent of my mom's Swiss Steak. I'll definitely do roast beast this way again! And bonus - it was all done in one pot, so the clean-up was simple!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tofu Tuesday #3: Another Stirfry

Time for another installment of Tofu Tuesday!

While searching out new and exciting tofu products, I came across this at my local overpriced grocery store last week:
Yes! Flavoured tofu snacks, complete with dipping sauce, made by someone named Pete! For $2.49, I had to give it a whirl. Out of the package, this is what I was dealing with:
Well, it certainly didn't taste as exciting as it looks, I can tell you that. I had one triangle with the dipping sauce and I can safely tell you the dipping sauce was the best thing about the snack. Luckily, I have more imagination than just biting into a hunk of tofu dipped in sauce - I made a stirfry!
Coleslaw mix is my new favourite thing because it is wicked in stirfries. The udon noodles were OK - probably better in soup. And that is the only brand of Peanut Sauce I like. Here is the finished product:
Actually, all put together this was quite good. A simple, quick, healthy meal - which meant I didn't feel as guilty about the cake I ate from yesterday's post!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Magazine Monday #36: Almond Cupcakes

Why do I do stupid things when I bake? Like not grease my pans properly. I know better!

Well, I was struck by a cupcake section in May's Canadian Living and I decided to make a batch of Almond Cupcakes in my king size muffin pan. When I've used this pan before, I've gotten away with just spraying it very well with my oil sprayer thingy and everything's been just fine. Well, not this time. Three cupcakes would not come out of the pan and I was ticked. Luckily, three came out OK, and I had just enough icing left over from the ricotta cookies to ice them.These were pretty amazing, though I have to say two things about this recipe A) it says you'll get 12 cupcakes, but they are going to be teeny-weeny cupcakes. Good thing I used my king size pan and got decent-sized cupcakes, but if you use a regular 12-cup pan, you're going to have really small cupcakes. B) These are a little oily - probably due to the high almond content. The cake has a wonderful, tender, buttery texture, but the outsides are a little oily. Just so you know.

Definitely a keeper recipe!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Announcement

Just to let you know, I've been invited by my friend Van to contribute to his group food blog, Yes, We Cook.

Although I'm still not sure exactly what my contribution is going to be at this moment, I am honoured to have been invited, and I encourage you all to stop in and take a look around!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Boring Dinner

Sometimes, you just need a quickie (right, Donna-FFW?).

Yesterday, I attended a boring workshop in which they fed us - and I am not kidding - hot dogs & chips. It's a long story, and quite frankly, the organization who was putting on the workshop did its best on a very small budget, and I'm not opposed to the odd hot dog dinner in my life. Some of the people there were just happy to be fed period. But, after the workshop, and after a stressful day yesterday which led me to be wiped out physically and emotionally today, I just needed a comforting, easy meal. This was it:
This is a chicken sausage I found on sale at the local overpriced grocery store, a Lipton Side Kick, and green beans. Such meals were typical when I was in university, though I generally ate turkey sausages before they became ludicrously expensive. This chicken sausage is not normally something I'd buy because of it's usually selling price, but since it was on sale, I thought I'd give it a go. It was OK - kinda dry and flavourless. I prefer turkey sausage, I think.

I can't be a fancypants all the time, can I?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fingerling Fries

A few years back, I started seeing a lot of fingerling potatoes kicking around places like the Food Network. It seemed that they were one of the new food trends along the lines of grilled lettuce and things of that nature. (Have you ever tried grilled romaine lettuce? I have, and I lived to tell the tale, but I wouldn't rush out to try it again.)

Anyway, I'd never seen a real live fingerling potato until a couple of weeks ago when I was at my brother and SIL's place for dinner, and Shan had acquired some of the potatoes at our local big box grocery store. Surprisingly, the local overpriced grocery store doesn't carry them, though they tout themselves as being a step up from the competition around here. Shan made fries out of the fingerlings and they were super simple and super yummy. The other day, I happened to be in the vicinity of the local big box grocery store while I was dropping off baking for the SPCA bake sale, and I took the opportunity to pick up some fingerlings for myself. They were $4.49 for 5lbs. I thought this was steep for fracking potatoes, but I sucked it up and paid anyway.

After doing a very minimal amount of research, I learned that fingerlings are often a heritage variety, much like heirloom tomatoes. I also learned that there are about 8 different varieties of fingerlings. This site gives you a run-down.

Donna-FFW might agree with me when I say that some of the names of the varieties sound a bit pornographic to me. I mean, the "Purple Peruvian?" The "Russian Banana?" Please!

Anyway, what are they like? Well, astonishingly, they are rather like...potatoes. They are waxy like new potatoes or Yukon Golds, and have yellow flesh like Yukon Golds. I can't remember the last time I tasted a Yukon Gold so I can't compare flavour, but the fingerlings taste very much like the red nugget potatoes I've been eating lately.

They do, however, as I knew from my meal at my brother's place, make great fries. Facilitated by their narrow shape, you just need to cut them in half lengthwise, add some olive oil and seasonings, and Bob's your proverbial uncle.They cook quickly enough, which is helpful, and I can see that they'd be great in soups and stews, and that their neat shape would make potato salads a little more visually interesting. The purple ones would be totally cool in salads.

I'm not potato conoisseur, but I kinda liked the fingerling in the end, price and all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Puffed Wheat Squares

These seem to be normal coffee shop fare around these parts, and I first got addicted to them when I worked at a coffee bar in Trail about year ago. Now, I make them pretty regularly at my current job, where I help bake for the coffee shop at the hospital. I always lick the bowl! These totally hit the spot when a chocolate craving comes upon me!

Puffed Wheat Squares

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
6 cups puffed wheat

1. Melt the first 4 ingredients in a pot over low heat & bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

2. Measure the puffed wheat into a large bowl, and stir in the chocolate syrup mixture until well combined.

3. Press into a greased 8x8" square pan. Cool completely. Cut and serve.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Dinner 2009

We had our Easter celebration last night instead of on Sunday. As usual, we went to my SIL's parents' place and had a huge feast. Here are the highlights.

This is "Easter Pizza." Essentially, it's bread on top & bottom, and the middle is eggs, cheese and ham. It was kinda good. The olives are also home-made (grown elsewhere, cured here).

Platter of turkey.

My SIL cutting up the ham. The bone was spoken for by the time I got there!

Yams baked with apples.

Someone brought a cranberry, pineapple, and orange jellied salad that was pretty good.

There were the traditional mashed potatoes, but these were really good: potatoes cooked in the ham drippings - yum!

My plate.

My SIL made the dessert: vanilla cake with custard, strawberries, and whipped cream.

Well, that's a wrap for this particular holiday. Next feast isn't until Thanksgiving in October.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Curtis's Crumbed Chicken Breasts

I made this dish for my review of Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone. As I said in the review, this was a simple and tasty way to prepare chicken, but as I was eating it, I suddenly realized that I could have added some ham to this and had a pretty great Chicken Cordon Bleu. As it was, I was pretty much having a Chicken Cordon Bleu with only half of the cordon bleu part. Hm. Curtis says in the write-up for this recipe, that when he worked in a Michelin-starred restaurant, he'd make this but would add prosciutto and shaved truffle to the filling - a very fancy version of Chicken Cordon Bleu, IMO.

Crumbed Chicken Breasts Filled with Swiss Cheese, p. 156 of Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone, adapted by me

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
two 3" sticks of Swiss cheese
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs


1. Slice a pocket into the chicken breasts and stuff in the cheese. In my case, I got carried away and pretty much sliced my breasts in half because I wasn't paying proper attention, so I had to truss my breasts. This was OK because I got these fancy silicone trussing thingies to try out for free from the Cooking Club of America a couple of years ago before I let my membership last, and I'd never used them before now. Turns out they work great!2. Season the breast with salt & pepper.

3. Put the flour in one shallow bowl. Beat the egg in a second shallow bowl. Put the bread crumbs into a third shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken first in the flour, then cover with egg, then cover in bread crumbs. Repeat with other breast.

4. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until done. (The original recipe has the reader pan-frying the breasts first and then finishing them in the oven, but I skipped that as I thought just baking them would be easier and lower in fat.)
5. Serve & Enjoy. I had mine with some roasted asparagus and left over Nigella pasta -which was like the bottomless pit of pasta, I had so much left!
It was a pretty nice meal, but next time I'm definitely using ham!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Who Knew?

In celebration of Easter, here's a timely little ditty about eggs.

At work last Monday, I came by this as I was making muffins:

Now, I've cracked a lot of eggs in my life - a lot of eggs - but I've never come across a double yolk before. It got me wondering how unique they are, and I came up with this bit of information to wow you all with.

1. Double yolks are a "mistake" in the chicken's reproductive system that sometimes happens when a hen just starts laying eggs and her system is still trying to figure out how to do it correctly. It may also be hereditary. [source]

2. Double Yolkers appear when ovulation occurs too rapidly, or when one yolk somehow gets "lost" and is joined by the next yolk. Double yolkers may be by a pullet whose productive cycle is not yet well synchronized. They're occasionally laid by a heavy-breed hen, often as an inherited trait. [source]

3. Most double yolk eggs are produced by young birds, so therefore barns that contain young flocks have a large concentration of these eggs. Usually a young bird will lay a small egg, but if the egg is a double yolk, it tends to be either large or extra large size. This tends to be true in humans as well, where expectant mothers tend to become “larger” for multiple birth pregnancies. [source]

4. Usually a double-yolked egg will be longer and thinner than an ordinary single-yolk egg. Double-yolked eggs occur rarely, only leading to observed successful hatchings under human intervention, as the unborn chickens would otherwise fight each other and die. [source]

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday Laugh #2 & SPCA Baking Donation


OK, so today my friendly neighbourhood SPCA, for whom I once in a while foster kitties is having a bake sale at the mall, and since I had icing left over from my initial batch of Ricotta Cookies, not to mention a crap-load of ricotta still languishing in my fridge, I made a second batch of the cookies last night for the bake sale. I didn't colour the icing this time, but I did sprinkle the tops with chocolate sprinkles that are actually Williams Sonoma hot chocolate mix, a gift that came in Jodi's box of goodies last month.

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