30 September 2010

A Little Less Review, A Little More Stew - Thursday

Not a keeper.  Tonight's recipe was breaded pork cutlets with spicy udon noodles and it went awry from the very beginning.  The first step was to boil the udon noodles in chicken stock / ginger until the noodles absorbed most of the stock (about 5-6 minutes).  Well, the noodles absorbed hardly anything (they aren't a dry noodle, but rather like long, delicious gooey fresh stuff) and so now I have some type of noodle soup and it was simply a travesty to food everywhere when I put the yummy, crispy breaded pork "on top" of the soupy disaster.  All of the breading got all soggy and it just looked gross.

I took some photos as I cooked, but they were just nasty up close.  Although I maintain that it was the recipe's fault (and not the cook's), I didn't want all of you to see my shameful attempt at a meal.  Anyhoos, here's the only one you're getting.  

Needless to say, J wasn't a fan - especially when he got a mouthful of poorly chopped ginger...oops!  Now that one was my bad (can't blame the recipe for everything).

Wish me luck with tomorrow - and lot's of it, because we're cooking steak and J might kick me out of the house if I ruin that!

29 September 2010

A Little Less Review, A Little More Stew - Wednesday

 Today I was feeling less than Nigella, but thankfully, this meal was SUPER easy (and really only required chopping, boiling and heating things through).  The only tough part was the eggplant, because our knives seem to be rapidly growing dull and the eggplant needed to be chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. 

 After a bit of knifework (and 10 minutes of sauteing), I added the halved tomatoes, garlic, s & p, and red pepper flakes.  It looked so scrumptious, I had to capture it :)  This cooked for another 2-3 minutes while I dealt with the pasta.
So here we are again cutting board...I bested you once, and I will do it again!

Whilst the pasta was draining and the "sauce" was warming, I cut up 1/2 lb of mozzarella (which was not "fresh", as the recipe called for, but there was a limit to my searching abilities that day) and finely chopped some fresh mint (which, I learned later, was a waste of time).
And we have arrived at the finish line, intact (with all fingers accounted for - huzzah!).

Here is the final product, which tasted like a cheesy, tomato-y, minty dream.

J was NOT a fan of the mint, claiming that it was all he could taste / smell, so he carefully picked out the majority of the pieces (now THAT is patience).  I asked if he would add less mint if we were to make this again, and he said that he just wouldn't bother with it (especially if you would be buying mint for this recipe alone).

I would tend to agree, but I like the freshness of the mint, so I would keep it, but only if I had some lying around AND I would add a little less.  I would also add more red pepper flakes; they seemed non-existent as is.  

28 September 2010

A Little Less Review, A Little More Stew - Tuesday

So I'm already tweaking the plan!  Today was supposed to be some cheesy, eggplant-y delicious pasta meal, but my romaine was already starting to look a little ragged, so I made that recipe today (leaving me to look forward - read: DROOL to the pasta meal for another day).

Pretty easy meal (again).  Although I am a novice at making my own patties, I was surprised there was no "filler" in the form of bread crumbs, crackers or potato chips.  I have a feeling they are going to be MEATY!

Here are the three main parts:

So this is the romaine slaw that will be served on top of the burgs.  Simple dressing that consists of mayo, white wine vinegar and s & p.

Yum - raw meat!  All jokes aside, I'm proud of these rustic little babies!  They are extra lean ground turkey, chopped green onions, dijon, thyme leaves and s & p.
Here are the buns (I went for whole wheat) getting ready to be toasted.
And here is the finished product.  J's comments
"The most flavourful burger I've ever had"
To that I said:
"Really?  Like burger burger or turkey burger?"

His response:
"Burger burger.  I've never had a burger taste like that before."


27 September 2010

A Little Less Review, A Little More Stew - Monday

All in all, it went pretty well!  Monday's meal was Roasted Tilapia with Lemon and Baby Potatoes.

Not being a huge fish fan, I was not super stoked, but the fish was my favourite part!!!  It was sprinkled with paprika and that was, in a word, awesome!  I was a little peeved to be asked to buy fresh thyme when I would only be using 8 sprigs - but alas, such is life.

Want to experience the journey with me?  Follow along :)

First things first - I organized my ingredients.  Pretty simple really...Note the large container of fresh thyme (sigh)
They didn't have baby potatoes at the market, so I settled for new potatoes (are these one in the same?) and instead of halving them, we quartered them.

Here is everything, all ready for the oven.  This only took about 8 minutes to wash, cut and toss together.
After cooking for a little while, the little fishies were ready to meet their maker.

Here, the taters are almost done and the fish is sprinkled with the delicious paprika and s & p.

Oh my, this is a weird shaped photo!  Anyway, here is everything all cooked and ready to eat.

J and I each had one piece of fish and about a quarter (maybe more) of the potatoes, and that was enough.

We've still go enough for leftovers tomorrow and we both can't wait to show off to our coworkers :)

J's comments - fish was flaky, "It tasted the way fish is supposed to taste", he would take the lemon out before plating (but I thought it looked pretty).

My only critique - Not being a fan of olives, I found there were WAY to many in the recipe.  It called for 1/2 cup and I only put in about 6.  They flavoured everything in the meal, and that was okay, but I really didn't enjoy biting down into them...so if you're an olive fan - GO FOR IT!  Otherwise, I would pull them out after cooking / before plating.

A demain!

25 September 2010

A Little Less Review, A Little More Stew

So I've been crazy busy these last few weeks (hence the lack of posts).  School has started back up and it's going great - but has definitely kept me on the go.  So although I have no new books to review just yet, I thought I'd share this little project that J and I are doing.

I have a subscription to Real Simple (if you're not familiar, check out the website here, it's AMAZING) and the October issue contains a 4 week menu plan - complete with shopping lists and recipes.  Because we're not busy enough (Sarcasm? Check) we've decided to try this out in hopes that it will keep us fed, with little to no planning on our end AND that after the 4 weeks are up, we will love the lifestyle so much that we can start planning our weekly menus ourselves.  I'm going to try to write about the experience (is the food good?  is it expensive? were the ingredients impossible to find?),as well as take pictures of the completed meals for the next month, hopefully in addition to squeezing out some book reviews.

Week of September 27th 
We did 1/2 of the shopping for this week's menu at the Farmers' Market at the Western Fair, so this week's cost might be a little cheaper than if we shopped only at the grocery store.

The meals are:
  1. MONDAY Roasted tilapia, potatoes and lemons
  2. TUESDAY Penne with tomatoes, eggplant and mozzarella
  3. WEDNESDAY Turkey burgers with creamy romaine slaw
  4. THURSDAY port cutlets with spicy noodles
  5. FRIDAY Steak with roasted carrots and onions
The shopping lists are available on pdf at www.realsimple.com/dinnerplan.

The cost for Week One is $100.00 on the nose!  It was $65.00 at the market (fresh, local veggies and beautiful free range meat) and $37.58 at the grocery store (but included was a pack a gum and a chocolate bar for today, so really $35.00).  This seems pretty reasonable, but keep in mind, these are dinners only, but because they are meals for four people, they will also serve as leftover lunches for me and J.  Also, apparently the people of Real Simple don't eat during the weekend, so that will be extra money out of your pocket too.

ps - I hope this goes without saying, but JUST IN CASE, I claim no ownership of the recipes or meal plan / shopping list.  It was found in the October 2010 issue of Real Simple.

12 September 2010


My Favourite Books on PhotoPeach

I just created this using Photo Peach.

I think it's quite rad - What do we think about having a classroom blog where students could create their own spiral slideshows and show them to the class?

I appreciate any and all comments :)

08 September 2010

REVIEW: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by L. Truss

Author:  L. Truss
Genre / Pages:  Nonfiction, humour, grammar/ 512
Publication: Gotham Books Trade Paper, 2006
Rating:  2nd shelf 
Source:  Chapter's Indigo
lj's plot in one pot:  Amidst witty examples, grammar (specifically punctuation) sticklers unite in this how-to / how-not-to tome from Lynne Truss.

I will probably be happy that I read this book, especially when I need to give examples for Language Arts class.  I think the book seemed a little long, a little repetitive, but definitely funny and helpful.  The examples that the author uses are usually silly - what is her fascination with Starburst (a.k.a. Opal Fruits) - but they are always clear.

There were times when the author could seem a bit patronizing, and you; as the reader, felt a bit below her.  However, I think that I might not be the intended audience for which this book was written.  There were many references I didn't 'get' and as the frequency of that event increased, so did the chance that I would scan until the next interesting tidbit caught my eye.

Hopefully I didn't use too many incorrect punctuation marks (the text reveals bloggers / internet writers to be among the worst offenders) during this post.  Here are a few of my favourite examples from the book.
To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as "Thank God its Friday" (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence.  The confusion of the possessive "its" (no apostrophe) with the contractive "it's" (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a simple Pavlovian "kill" response in the average stickler. p.43

In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets over-excited and breaks things and laughs too loudly. p.138

For more information on the book / author, click here.

05 September 2010

REVIEW: The Princess Bride - S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by W. Goldman

Author:  W. Goldman
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, humour, satire / 512
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007
Rating:  3th shelf 
Source:  Chapter's Indigo
lj's plot in one pot:  Beautiful Buttercup is mean, then madly in love with even beautifuller Westley, then marries Prince Humperdink, then needs to be rescued...we all know this story, am I right?

Having LOVED the movie, I was all geared up to LOVE the book.  I was a little disappointed.  There is a lot of author talk in the first hundred pages and it gets a little dry.  When the plot that we all know and love finally starts, (seriously, it took forever.  So long that I thought I had the wrong book) you are really ready and amped to not have his negative, ironic voice in your head.  But alas, there is no reprieve.  He keeps butting in and explaining why he wrote / didn't write something the way he did (or didn't).  *sigh*.

Fezzik and Inigo saved this book.  They are fantastic characters and I was THRILLED to find that the rhyming in the movie is also featured in the book 
Vizzini: Stop rhyming, and I meant it!
Fezzik:  Anybody want a peanut?  (not really in the book, but my fav line from the movie)
"He must be very desperate, or very frightened, or very stupid, or very brave"
"Very all four I should think," the Prince replied...p.185
"We have Fezzik,"  Westley replied simply.
"We absolutely do,"  Fezzik shouted, happy that the answer was so easily forthcoming.  "He is right here inside my skin." p.395
 So I really enjoyed reading the text that a fantastic movie was built upon, I just wish there wasn't so much satire, so much author talk.  But definitely read it for yourselves...

Want more info??? (Or perhaps the little extras that Goldman promises?) Click here.

REVIEW: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by A. Bradley

Author:  A. Bradley
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, humour / 368
Publication: Doubleday Canada, 2010
Rating:  4th shelf 
Source:  Chapter's Indigo
lj's plot in one pot:  The second from Canadian author Alan Bradley features Flavia (almost 11 year old chemistry whiz) who, less than altruistically volunteers to help with a puppet show, ends up trying to solve yet another murder near Buckshaw.

Wow! It hath been awhile...  I've been scrambling like a crazy person trying to get organized for Back to School (aren't we all?) Although reading hasn't slipped on the priorities, blogging unfortunately has.

Anyhoo, I'm still loving Flavia - but in this installment of Flavia-fantastico, she is slight less precocious, slightly more adult-like.  Perhaps the author is trying to indicate the passage of time and maybe her near death experience in the first book has matured her...but I don't want these things to happen.  Not unlike Peter Pan (and a great many women on the Real Housewives shows), Flavia needs to be ageless.

The writing is still fantastic; a believable murder occurs in the environs and Flavia somehow wriggles her way into the detective work.  This time, there were a few loose ends (w.r.t. characters), for example Nialla.  That being said, I still love the book/author/characters and can't wait for "A Red Herring Without Mustard".
"Mother Goose!
I have never much cared for flippant remarks, especially when others make them, and in particular, I don't give a frog's fundament for them when they come from an adult." p17
and just because she is that funny,
"Seen from the air, the male mind must look rather like the canals of Europe, with ideas being towed along well-worn towpaths by heavy-footed dray horses...But the female mind, even in my limited experience, seems more of a vast and teeming swamp, but a swamp that knows in an instant whenever a stranger - even miles away - has so much as dipped a single toe into her waters." p.295

For more info on Flavia / Alan Bradley, click here.