here and there

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Family Mussel Pot by Staub

Having cracked my well-seasoned Romertopf Clay pot using the high temperatures to bake the no knead bread, I was after another cast iron Dutch oven.  The first cast iron pot I had bought in Damariscotta, Maine in 1984 to use to make cakes and roast chicken on the open pit while camping.  It has not been used since our camping days.  I pulled it out last week, as needed a pot with a lid to bake my bread.  A lid is required for browning.  The cast iron has proved to work well in the high heat required in baking the bread.

Yesterday, in returning for helping out with kids that were sick with earaches, I stopped at a thrift shop for books and a quick look for a Cast Iron Dutch oven.  To my delight, I came across a Staub Family Mussel Pot.  A handsome cast iron pot with black enameled surface.  It has been designed to get at the favorable juices as a stainless steel strainer separates the mussels from the juices..  A booklet suggests for best results to use this pot at Low to Medium/High heat..  The description of the pot suggests that it was perfect for low heat cooking.

Question is whether or not it can handle the extreme heat required for baking.. I have written to the manufacturers to find out if I can do this!
The other interesting thing I found was that there is a forum on Staub verus Le Creuset   
The difference I can see is that Staub cookware stays looking like new with usw whereas Le Creuset starts to look woren, yellowed etc.. Something that I did see in my sister in law's cookware.
Mr Staub has not  replied! But in re reading their little booklet  it states that Staub products can safely be used  in the oven up to 500 degrees!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Visit

Yesterday, I did a favour for a friend and visited his Mother in a nursing home close to my place.  I have driven by the recently build nursing home many times but have never been inside. The exterior would appear to be just another one of the many condominiums in our area.

The entrance takes you into an empty foyer with signs to wash your hands before entering and leaving the facility.  A phenomenon of recent with the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria and the 2009 swine flu pandemic.  Yet, there was no direction or help in finding a resident.  Spotting a elevator, I took it to the second floor and was greeted by the stale smell of disinfectants, urine, all smells associated with nursing homes and old age.  This foyer did have seniors in wheelchairs and personnel in scrub gowns, yet I did need to look for a nursing station for directions.   Gone are the days, one would help someone when it’s not his or her job.  The directions took me through a maze of units or station as I looked for Chaparral 

As I walked past the rooms with the residents names tacked on the door, many were empty.  Although this building was built in the last decade, the carpet showed wear and the painting in contemporary browns added to the gloom. 
As I hunted for the nursing station, I passed a large table with residents sitting in wheelchairs around it.  The table was bare and I assumed being prepared for lunchtime.  The station to the side was identified as “Chaparral” where I asked a young lady in a navy scrub gown for my friend’s Mother. She indicated she was a “ward Clerk” and called for a nurse. 

A tall white haired woman was pointed out in a wheelchair at the empty table.  I introduced my self to her and she looked at me with interest.  When asked how she was, to my surprise, she said “Horrible!”  When asked why she felt horrible, she said in a very determined voice “cause I wanted to escape for this place!”  When asked why she wanted to do this she told me in a sharp voice “look around”!  Yes, here were seniors sitting in wheelchairs around a bare table, some sleeping yet none interacting!  In our chat, she talked about her son and that Valentine celebration was still going on.  A huge valentine display hung across from the Nursing station.  In the elevator, there was a poster advertising a valentine bake sale for that day for fund raising for activity supplies. 

In talking to her, an aura of a strong, confident, no nonsense person presented!  I wondered, as I looked at her snow-white curly hair seeing that a comb had been put through very quickly, how happy she would be with her appearance today.  Later that day I learned that her family was planning her 98th birthday this weekend.  This healthy looking woman looked 20 years younger!  

As I visited with her, all of a sudden a person in fuschia coloured scrub gown walked up with out any acknowledgement of the resident or me and quickly wheeled her away to the dining room.  “Well, end of visit” I thought as I looked at the other residents who showed no reaction and wondered how long they had been sitting at this table with no stimulus what so ever! 

On leaving, I popped into the room with her name to leave some cookies for her.  Quickly looked around to see her personal belonging, which consisted of blankets and pictures of her family hanging on the wall.  Feeling like I was intruding on her personal space, I left the cookies and was on my way.

As I walked out quickly, listening to some residents in their rooms calling out “Nurse”, while some were quietly talking to themselves!  Washed my hands on exit and couldn’t get out of there quick enough.  Feeling of sadness swept over me as I sat in my car teary-eyed!  What is it about nursing homes that make me so sad.

As I write this. CBC news is talking about lack of physical activity in today kids increasing and resulting health problems.  Yet in this nursing home most of the residents were in wheelchairs and I wonder how much physical activities the residents get along with the human touch all of us so crave !

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

valentine email ..

I used to be like this...

Then I met a girl...

She was like this...

Together, we were like this...

I gave her gifts like this...

When she accepted my proposal, I was like this...

I used to talk to her all night like this...

And at the office I used to do this...

When my friends saw my girlfriend, they stared like this...

And I used to react like this...

But on Valentines Day,
she received a red rose from someone else like this...

And she was like this…

And I was like this…

Which later led to this...

and this...

I felt like doing this...

I started doing this...


Valentine Eats

 Although the lunch menu boosted being done within the hour, our server quickly realized that we preferred to have a leisurely dinner.  My friend and I decide to sample from the lunch menu and to share our menu with each other.  The portions were most generous considering it was a tasting menu of “complete small plates meal” 

Garlic soup Manchego Croutons. manchego cheese is sheep cheese from Spain,
Although called Garlic Soup, this was subtle with a very tasty and hardy dark red colored roasted tomato base. 
Chicken Pappardella soup with truffle oil
The chicken soup was very rustic with large pieces of chicken, carrots and copious amount of onions.  The broth was very tasty but much too salty.  Both soups were served very hot, much to my delight.  The server was asked to reduce the amount of salt for the other dishes, which was done. 

Tagliatelle Pasta with Wild Mushroon and Gorgonzola Cream along with
Seasonal Greens with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Dressing
The portion of serving for the pasta was more than ample given the richness of the Gorgonzola cheese.  Only button mushrooms were apparent in this dish, although it listed wild mushroom.  The salad of Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Dressing was tasty on it’s own, but did not pair well with the pasta dish as too rich.  The home made Tagliatelle pasta was tasty. 

BC Salmon Green Bean, Tomato and Olive Caponata along with Tomato and Bocconcini Salad Hotchkiss Arugula, Aged Balsamic

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shipwreck , 7 layer or just Mom's survival dish

SHIP WRECK or 7 layer
Seems to be even our Prime Minister, Trudeau made this recipe but I could be wrong! 
Recently I was mentioning this recipe to my nephew’s wife who I have gotten to know and admired in the last year as a good recipe to do for her family!   
A recipe I prepared for supper on very busy days.  The boys especially loved this after returning from their competitive swim lessons.  To my surprise, when I made this when the kids were older, my middle son remarked “So this is what shipwreck looks like.”  After swim, his eyes would tear due to the chlorine in the water.

1 lb. hamburger, browned and drained
1- 2 medium onions
2 medium potatoes
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 cup celery, dice
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 (14 oz.) can tomato soup
1 cup boiling water
Black pepper

Slice onions and potatoes.  Butter a casserole dish and layer onions, potatoes, hamburger, rice, celery, carrots, adding salt, pepper and paprika to each layer. Add soup and water.  Cover and bake at 250-300 degrees for 3-4 hours.  Serves 4-6.  Option: Use mushroom soup instead of tomato.

This is the original recipe

 I started with this recipe, but never cooked the beef. 
 The recipe uses a casserole dish, but I found that a dutch oven worked well. 
 Use any hard vegetables as your veggie, parsnip, turnips and I always added a can of corn, or frozen corn.  Green peppers and celery can be added.  Any veggie that will take long cooking time.  Canned or fresh mushroom work too.  Some of the recipes suggest using a can of beans, but I never did.  Also some recipes use sausage or bacon..
 I found that as the kids grew older a can of spicy pasta sauce was nicer tasting and less calories that the canned soups.  I have also used diced tomatoes. 
 The recipe can also be done in a slow cooker.
 This reheats nicely, layer in a casserole with cheddar cheese as a topping.
 This recipe is great for a busy day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I like it

I just hear this on CKUA.. making me think of Valentines and how I meet my husband ..sort of!!!! on the Kenora ski hill ..He spoke to me then but I ignored him, only to bump in to him on Feb 6th at the Winnipeg Ski Club.  This time he thought I was hitting on him when I said I recognized him ! He had only been in town since Jan and only later did we realize that we both had been skiing in Kenora on  the very same day!
I like it 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Denver or Western sandwich

The history of this sandwich varies as to it’s origin but in all cases dates back to early 1900.

This was a favorite sandwich that my Mom used to make for us.  She would scramble the eggs and add chopped ham, along with chopped onions and green peppers.  This beautifully browned omelet she would flip in half and then pile on two slices of toasted bread to make a sandwich.  This was a delicious hot sandwich that was quick and easy to make.

I prepared sandwiches for my husband and son to take with them for lunch at Sunshine Village.  I did cheat and added grated tre formaggi and finely diced jalapeno peppers to the mix.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vietnamese Sub in Calgary

Vietnamese Subs in Calgary
Check out the link for recipes for these delicious sandwiches

Thursday, February 3, 2011

rethinking bread baking

 check out Jim Lahey's bread recipe on this you tube video.
no knead bread  

Having made bread since the seventies, I have struggled with learning how to make bread but soon learned how to be successful in doing this.  Nothing is finer than walking into a house where bread is baking.  My Mom had always made bread for the week, baking about 5 –6 loaves at one time.  I remember my Dad having bread with his meals along with a liter of milk.  I also remember him enjoying the crust of freshly baked bread and slicing the top of the warm bread!

As I perfected making bread, I would add other grains like whole wheat and seeds like sunflower and flax.  I found that the whole-wheat flour lacked flavor, but adding rolled oats boosted the taste.  I do remember whole-wheat flour having a tasty nutty flavor that Mom had used, but I have not been able to find this flour even in the organic stores.

What I have found is the following.  In using any bread recipe, use the same volume of flour, just keep one to two cups of white flour for volume and the rest can be any type of flour you may like to use.  I also soon found that one did not need to knead the bread for the 10 minutes, only enough to incorporate the dough together!  I always use long acting yeast as then you have the flexibility to work around the dough proofing or rising!  This I used to my advantage to plan my day and bake the bread as the kids or husband walking through the door.  They certainly enjoyed the freshly baked bread!

This  bread I baked at 400 degrees, very tasty but anemic looking!

The recipe that I saw on French cooking at Home lead me to finding the above video on you-tube after reading the comments on Laura's recipe.
I did make the recipe and found that the only things I did different was that since I use long acting yeast, I soften it in water first before adding the water to the flour.  I also oiled the bowl and bread before proofing.  Something’s are hard to stop doing!  My biggest problem was finding a covered pot for baking this bread.  I used my Roman clay pot, which was a bit too small but did worked okay in baking the bread. I had shaped the loaf in a log shaped based on his other video, but this video suggested making a circular loaf as did Laura's recipe.  I also baked the bread at 400 degrees for 50 minutes and although it was baked well, I didn’t have the beautiful brown crust shown in Laura Calder’s recipe or Jim Lahey's bread!  Jim in fact bakes his bread at 500–515 for 30 minutes covered and then 15 to 20 minutes uncovered.


The dough after proofing a couple of hours in a covered bowl.  You can already see the action of the yeast.