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Category Archives: Cooking

Ramble: Canadian Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!
It is autumn and we celebrate our time of Harvest blending old world pagan rites, middle-eastern abrahamic beliefs, with new world indigenous traditions. Creating something new, and still some how it is something so old that it has bonded with our global melded human DNA.

Here in what we call the Northern Hemisphere, winter is ahead, and we are thankful for the bounty of these lands, and celebrate the kindness of our neighbours. We will weather the storms that are ahead, finding time to play in the cold and the snow, finding time to sing and frolic in the darkening days ahead – until we see again the light returning. Feeling the warmth of the sun stirring our desires to plant the seeds we gathered this harvest. And begin again our place in the cycle of living.

We are each alone on this tiny little planet drifting in the cold darkness of infinite space. And we travel so much lighter when we travel together: sharing ourselves, sharing our stories, sharing our songs, and sharing our gratitude for what we have with those that will have us and hold us.

Remember we reap what we have sown, and here is hoping we take and share the best seeds so that together we can plant the best of tomorrows.

Happy Harvest Canada, and Happy Thanks Sharing!
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Ramble: I Miss You Mom

I haven’t posted for a while because my Mom was in and out of the hospital in the last month, and on January 16 she peacefully passed away. Free at last from the many years of struggle with her health. 

It is strange how we create a routine out of the obligations of life. A pattern is shaped from necessity and reluctantly overlaid. Eight years ago my father died, and my mom asked me to come see her more often. At first it was every other week. Somewhere in there it became a weekly visit. Usually on a Saturday, I’d be up by 6am and on my way. The 2-hour drive a quiet pleasant meditation through lovely Ontario country-side. A stop for a coffee. Sometimes a pause for walk on a trail.
I’d stop at the grocery store along the way and get what was needed, And arrive at my Mom’s usually before 9AM. We would have breakfast, discuss what was new and news, make a to-do list of what needed doing, Check the sump-pump, change the filters, light-bulbs, garden, lawn…whatever. Somewhere in there the PSW would arrive and help my mom with her personal care.
Then my mom and I would have lunch, and we’d cook something extra for the fridge and freezer. Sometimes we would bake – tea biscuits, cake, cookies – so my mom would have goodies to offer her many guests through the week. Her local church/community was simply amazing for how they took turns visiting her each evening.
Sometimes I’d stay for dinner, but usually by 4 pm I’d be heading back on the trek back the other way to my own home. Back to my own to-do list that was waiting for me.
Yes there were times I would feel trapped by the pattern of obligation. Times I just felt too tired, too overwhelmed…
And still I would go – maybe shifting the visit to a Monday…
I am not writing this to grumble and brag. I did what I did because I was available and I could. It was my choice. I am writing this because it became such a part of my life that today, this morning, In this here and now of quiet reflection, I realize and I feel the empty space that is here and now. It feels odd not planning a shopping list, gathering the tools to bring, creating a menu, finding a recipe…
I am writing not to say what I did, but to say how much it is missed. 

Recipes: A Cooked Eggnog

Okay I am a wee bit late for this one – but really is it ever too late for a drink that can contain alcohol?

Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk (or replace 1 cup with heavy cream)
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream (whipped for serving)

NOTE: Use a double boiler if you have one as it is easy to burn the milk and eggs unless you watch your heat and keep stirring!
1) In a bowl beat 1/3 cup sugar with egg yolks until well mixed then stir in the salt and 2 cups of milk.
2) Put this “eggnog custard” in a saucepan or double boiler cook the custard over medium hear *stirring constantly* until the custard thickens and coats spoon evenly.
3) Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool. Whisk in remaining 2 cups of milk ( or 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream).
4) Beat the eggs whites until foamy then gradually add the 3 tablespoons of sugar – keep beating until soft peaks form. Gently add the egg whites to the cooled custard and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Chill for 3-4 hours.
5) When ready to serve pour eggnog into punch bowl. Add run to taste if desired and stir with whisk. Grate fresh nutmeg over the eggnog, and dot with the fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!

Secrets of success: Low heat, a heavy saucepan, constant stirring and patience are the keys to making custard sauce. If you increase the cooking temperature to try to speed the process along, the custard is likely to curdle. Stirring constantly, making sure to cover the entire bottom and the corners of the pan, prevents scorching and ensures that the mixture heats evenly.

 

Recipes: Hungarian Crepes

I love pancakes. I especially love the variety known as crepes – and crepes are even better when cooked Hungarian style as palacsinta.

Palatschinke

Palatschinke (Photo credit: Mario Spann)

Ingredients
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup carbonated water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

Melted butter for cooking crepes

Optional:
1 tablespoon sugar for sweeter dessert palacsinta (crepes)

Directions
1) Beat eggs into milk until blended (also add sugar/salt at this point). Pour the egg/milk mixture into the flour until fully blended into a smooth batter. The batter should rest for at least an hour.

2) When it is time to cook the crepes place a crepe pan to heat (or an 8-inch frying pan). While the pan is heating add the carbonated water to the batter and gently stir until just blended.

3) Add a bit of butter to heat in the hot pan and swirl to cover the bottom.

4) Pour a ladle of the batter into the pan and gently tip and twist the pan so that the batter covers the entire bottom of the pan. When the top of the batter bubbles, turn the pancake over and cook for 4 or 5 seconds longer. Remove the cooked palacsinta to a serving plate in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Continue until the batter is all cooked. Remember to add butter before cooking each palacsinta.

For savory palacsinta fill with cooked asparagus, ham and Havarti cheese…or some other dinner filling
For dessert palacsinta try plum jam OR cinnamon&sugar OR Nutella with strawberries….

Palacsinta can be served hot or cold.

Recipes: Simple Tea Biscuits

Apparently I enjoy my tea biscuits! Here is another Tea Biscuit recipe I found in my collection. I’ve been writing them up and posting them here so I can find them – and share them with the world! This one is a fairly standard version of a tea biscuit and fairly quick to make!

biscuits

Ingredients
4 cup white flour
8 level teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Lard (at room temperature!) (or shortening if Lard doesn’t suit your life choices!)
1 1/2 cups milk (or half&half cream to give a richer feel!)

OPTIONAL
1) Use parchment paper for baking and easier clean-up!
2) 1 egg with 1/2 cup sour cream – reduce milk to 1 cup and replace 2 teaspoon baking powder with 1 teaspoon baking soda!
3) Add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese! Reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon (since cheese is salty..)

METHOD

1) In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
2) If using egg and sour cream in a separate bowl mix the sour cream with the egg until blended. Add milk to this mix.
3) Drop the room temperature lard in the dry ingredients bowl, then using a pastry cutter blend the lard into the flour mixture until the mixtures has a course even texture.
4) Add the wet ingredients and mix well into the dough.
5) Using clean dry hands knead dough in bowl 6 to 8 strokes; if dough is too dry and not binding together, slowly add a bit extra milk a teaspoon at a time. This tea biscuit mixture should be moist without being too sticky! The dough should pull easily away from the sides of the bowl.
All of the above should be done fairly quickly to avoid over-working the flour and activating the gluten! (which would make the biscuits tough…)

6) Form into a ball and cut the biscuit dough. Place in fridge for 20 minutes to make it easier to work.
7) Preheat oven to 450°F
While the oven is heating roll out half the dough 1/4 inch thick. Lightly dust with flour if it is sticking to the rolling pin. Fold in half, and then fold in half again. (Yes that would now be a quarter – but this is cooking not math class!)
Now roll out once more to about 1/2 inch thick and cut biscuits (no bigger than 2 inches wide!)

8) Place biscuits on parchment paper in a cookie sheet. The biscuits should just be touching each other – this will make them puff upwards more than then expand sideways!
Brush the top with any left-over milk to make the tops brown evenly.
Bake for 12 to 17 minutes (or until golden brown on top)

Let cool a few minutes – and then enjoy!