Wednesday, 13 August 2008

welcome to Halifax

Ant and I have almost slept off our jet lag and we're pleased to be in Halifax with the parental figures. Yesterday Mum helped me bake a veggie bread ring. Baking is not really my thing, but I gave it a go because this recipe sounded really interesting. Here is the veggie filling, made with purple cabbage, broccoli, shredded carrot, chives, cottage cheese and cheddar cheese.

Then I rolled out the zucchini bread dough and spread the filling on it.

I rolled it up and cut it into a ring like this. Fancy, eh? We ate it when Kevin and Sonya came over for dinner last night.

Yesterday afternoon Ant and I spent some time with Tawnya and Adam. We met Adam for lunch at his work and I got a little tour of Neptune theatre from him. We had lunch down the street at the Carlton restaurant, which was nice.

Then Tawnya and Ant and I wandered around downtown. Since it was raining we headed into Perks and had a hot beverage. Tawnya has become a lover of espresso after her time in Italy. She said the Perks double espresso was not very smooth and was burnt. Ant had a "coffee crisp", which was very sweet. And I had this green monstrosity, which smelled like seaweed and tasted like vanilla had been added to mask the real flavour. Apparently it is very healthy, but I was unable to finish it because it was quite vile.

After the rain stopped we managed to see a busker who was doing some juggling. He was quite funny when he got going.

After dinner yesterday Ant and I went to visit with Sonya and Kevin at Sarah and Jamin's house.

We played a massive game of Settlers of Catan with the Seafarers extension. Jamin and Kevin and Ant were all way in the lead and Kevin won in the end after a severe trading embargo on Jamin.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

four great places to get food inspiration

There are lots of places on the web from which to get cooking ideas. Here are four of my favourites.

1. The Kitchn
This a big cooking blog with writers in the US, Canada, and (at least one!) in Europe. What I like about The Kitchn is that the posts are very accessible and friendly, with a community discussion feel. They always have nice ideas to share, but also talk about their cooking failures. I have enjoyed reading, for example, about what they tried when too many cucumbers built up in the fridge.

2. Cookthink
This is a searchable recipe database that lets you type in keywords such as ingredients, meal type, cuisine type, or even your mood. The recipes that come up are invariably very good. At the moment, it's still a small-ish database, but all of the handful of recipes I have tried so far have been excellent. Last night i made Seared Cumin Lemon Lamb Chops, which was easy and delicious. There are always suggestions of what recipes would go with the one you are viewing, and also an informative weekly email newsletter that spotlights an interesting ingredient and how to use it.

3. Bitten
I am new to Mark Bittman and his writings in the New York Times Dining and Wine section, but I loved his post about how to make mix-and-match rice salads.

4. Other Bloggers
I read the blogs of other food-lovers, like Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini and David on Book the Cook. My friends blog about food on their personal sites, too, like Sonya (her's is a gated blog, so email her [or me] to get added to her readership). I also see some interesting food-related stuff on Facebook, like Carolyn's homemade wholewheat pasta.

Foodies, tell me, are there any great cooking sites online that you like to look to for inspiration?

PS. You do not need to be a Blogger member to be able to comment. Furthermore, if you comment you can use your name or remain anonymous as you wish.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


I pulled up all the rocket left in my growing tub yesterday. It was getting a bit woody and too peppery to eat raw. So I was excited to use it all up in a soup recipe from my new favourite cookbook, GI Meals Made Easy.

The soup also uses finely chopped onion, courgette, new potatoes, and garlic, shown here from right to left. After some sauteing and sweating, and stock added, the soup is blended with the wonderful invention of the handheld immersion blender. Ant did this part because I am notoriously messy with the blender.

The addition of some goat's cheese topped off the lovely light green soup.

Rocket and Goat's Cheese Soup

1 T olive oil
10 g butter
1 leek, sliced
1 medium or large courgette, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 new potatoes, diced
600 ml vegetable stock
100 g rocket
75g firm goat's cheese

Heat the oil and butter and saute the leek, courgette, garlic, and potato over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Then reduce heat, cover, and allow to sweat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add rocket and simmer for 5 minutes. Blend the soup.
Crumble in goat's cheese when serving.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Audrey Hepburn! and miscellaneous

Here is a photo Tawnya took last week while we were at Madame Tussauds.

Tawnya and I went out for some shopping and sightseeing this weekend and I saw some cool outfit ideas. I didn't buy anything except some scarves. I am trying out Mum's idea, "shop at home first". So I am looking for ideas when I am out and then seeing if I already own the clothes to make them. Like this dress outfit I saw at Uniqlo. I own a plain black dress and coloured tights that I could wear like this.

Here are some other outfits that I really liked that I think I may be able to approximate. I like that they are all quite simple and sleek.

Continuing with the miscellanea, last week we ate some Anya potatoes. They were on sale at Sainsbury's so I thought I would give them a try.

Here is what the package said about how they got their name.

This got me thinking. Usually a new item is named after the discoverer/inventor/researcher. What I want to know is how often is an item named after the discoverer's/inventor's/researcher's spouse? Can you think of any other examples?

Friday, 1 August 2008

bath and stonehenge

Yesterday Jen and Bree and I hopped on a tour bus that took us first to Bath and then on to Stonehenge. Bree and I have been to Bath before and Jen was keen for a break from sightseeing so we had planned in advance to ditch the touristy stuff and head over to the Thermae Spa instead. We booked ourselves in for a two hour session... mmmm.... We enjoyed the roof-top pool, from which you can look out over the city. It (and all the pools) are filled with naturally heated spring water which has quite a nice smell (when treated) and is very soft to bathe in. After floating around and looking at the city and the countryside beyond, we headed down to the four aromatherapy steam rooms. Two of them were really very hot and I could only stay in for a few minutes. We also filled the foot baths with bubbling water and had hot and cold showers there. Then, finally, we went down to the indoor pool with "lazy river", which was as advertised. Using our pool noodles for floatation we loafed about in the water, drifting around in loops to our hearts' content. Jen got out and fell asleep on a lounger for a while; Bree and I remained submerged up to our necks in the pool.

After a quick change we stopped back at the Roman Baths Pump Room for tea and scones with clotted cream and jam. Yumm. (I am planning to have a tea and scones party to celebrate becoming a British citizen, when it eventually happens.) It was all very posh, with a pianist playing in the background. The service was mediocre, though, as can be common in England. Ah, well. The tea was lovely and the clotted cream was gorgeous.

Back on the coach, we took a really nice journey through some beautiful countryside. Jen and Bree slept while I was looking around at all the rolling hills and trees overhanging the road. I saw a white horse carved in the side of a cliff, a sight that can be seen all over Wiltshire. Stonehenge is just on the side of a road on Salisbury Plain.

The circular ditch around Stonehenge dates from 3050 BC and there was a wooden structure here in about 2600 BC. The stones were arranged between 2500 BC and 1500 BC.

The stones are huge! some of them are from a nearby area (about 30 km) but others are from a part of Wales that is almost 400 km away. It is amazing that they were brought here. Our tour guide said that a group of volunteers tried to pull a stone from the Preseli Mountains in Wales to Stonehenge in a recreation of the building of Stonehenge, but it ended in disaster. They pulled the stone with great difficulty over land and then loaded it onto a prehistoric replica boat, which then sank. (Find some other theories about Stonehenge here.)

It seems to me that archaeologists may never understand exactly how and why Stonehenge was built.

The coach took us back to the city, where we concluded our girls' day out with dinner at Yo! Sushi. I am still relatively new to sushi (and Ant doesn't like it) so I was glad that Bree was there guiding us. It was exciting to watch all the dishes travelling around on the conveyor belt. The different coloured rings around the dishes indicate how much they cost. You get to take and eat anything you want and then afterwards they just look at the empty plates to see how much you need to pay.

We ordered miso soup (which is refillable at Yo! Sushi) and took eight dishes off the conveyor belt as well. We took two dishes like this and I got to taste the tuna and salmon sashimi, both of which were really nice with soy sauce. All three of us were full at the end and very satisfied. What a great day. It was relaxing, mentally stimulating, beautiful, friend-filled, and delicious.