25 April, 2010

Interweb Adventures

Today I'm taking you on a little tour of self-promotion. Busy little me has been flying around the interwebs visiting, writing, sharing. This week I am off at a major quilt event, so I thought I would share my internet adventures with you.

Not too long ago I discovered a website that appeals to my heart, especially. Michelle at What's Cooking is working hard to spread a love for cooking to kids, and families. This week she featured my post on making Babka with the girls in a What's Cooking feature on Cooking With Kids.

For Earth Day this week I discussed the joys of visiting farms with your kids. I shared this over at Simple Bites. Making that connection with food starts with knowing where it comes from and who it comes from. As Wade always says, eating local is about eating food you know from people you know.

I also started a new venture guest blogging with Food Network Canada. It's spring, despite the snow storm that hit Calgary last weekend, so I am over there talking asparagus.

Speaking of asparagus, that Simple Bites piece includes a recipe for Asparagus and Feta pizza. Don't forget to check that out!

Now, if only I was actually home to cook this week.

23 April, 2010

Backseat Adventure - Cowboy Trail

A few weeks back, with Hubby out of town and the weather not quite warm enough for picnics, the girls and I headed out on an adventure. We left the house unsure of where to go. We followed the sunshine to the Cowboy Trail. 

Taking in the towns of Millarville, Turney Valley, Black Diamond and Longview the Cowboy Trail snakes South of Calgary through the foothills alongside Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. To the West you have the Rocky Mountains. To the East you have Prairies and ranchland. In front of you there is entertainment, small town love, and plenty to make you smile.

What we found that day...

A phenomenal breakfast, just incredible, at the Chuckwagon Cafe in Turner Valley. Also discovered there was meat off sales. Not booze, but meat, sold over the counter. And it was damn good meat.

Something else discovered in Turner Valley - sumo wrestling.

Found in Longview - quite possibly the world's best beef jerky. I haven't tried all the world's beef jerky, but this place may indeed live up to their advertised claims.

Also realized on the Cowboy Trail is the proliferation of these lame cowboy cutouts.  We get it folks.

While we did pass a number of working ranches along the way, the only horse we rode was this one.

I particularly enjoy matching garbage and scenery.

Limited access to the Sheep River in Black Diamond, at least as far as crutches go. But we did get a little walk and the girls weren't too disappointed that they couldn't throw rocks.

An old fashioned soda shop in Black Diamond, Marv's. A bit disappointing that the ice cream was Nestle or some general brand and their carbonated ice cream machine was being cleaned, but my saskatoon berry sundae was still good. And as far as kids are concerned, all ice cream is good.

That despite the apparent challenges of parenting with limited mobility and a travelling Hubby, it isn't that hard to get out of the house and have an adventure with your kids.

19 April, 2010

Mmm, Pizza

One of the first things I got off my butt to make after my knee injury was pizza dough. I was facing a deadline and needed to work my hands a little. Mostly I needed to work my hands. It is amazing what forced exile from the kitchen can do to a cook. I might have gone through a bit of withdrawal, shakes and all.

Yes, I know you can make pizza dough in a food processor, or easily in that 5 minutes a day way. But sometimes you need to pile up flour, make a well for your liquids, then scream for your husband to clean it up when the walls break and floury liquid is running down the front of the counter. With the next batch I used a bowl.

This dough is totally inspired by David Rocco. I watched a lot of Food Network when I was laid up. But I couldn't remember the recipe exactly, but I loved that he made pizzas and calzones with it. So I made it up in my head when I did get to the kitchen. Turns out it is pretty damn close to his recipe. So, thanks David. Now go kiss those adorable twins of yours. (Seriously, could you make the Italian countryside more beautiful?)

An easy dinner in our house is now calzones made with this dough. All that means is you fold over the dough, roll the edges, and bake at high heat. Homemade pizza pocket. And when you do make it as a pizza, it is a lovely, thin crust. But calzones now rule because, according to The Monster, the Pizza Man makes the pizza, not Mama. I need to rectify that situation ASAP.

Pizza Dough
Makes 8 hearty calzones or 8 individual pizzas*

2 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

1. Stir together water and yeast. Let sit for a few minutes until it is foamy, or the yeast has bloomed.
2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Create a well in the center of the flour. Pour the water, yeast, and olive oil into the well. Start incorporating the liquids, using a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula. You will likely have to switch to mixing with your hands. Once it has come together as a dough, dump it out on a floured countertop. Knead for just a few minutes until the dough is smooth.
3. Divide into four equal portions. Cover lightly with a lightly damp tea towel and let rest for an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

For calzones:
5. One portion at a time roll into a rectangle about 8 by 6 inches. Cut in half at the 4 inch mark.
6. Top each half with a tablespoon of tomato sauce, leaving an inch without sauce all around the edges. Add a half cup of shredded cheese and toppings of choice.
7. Fold each calzone in half, pinching and rolling over the edges to seal. Brush the tops with a beaten egg.
8. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before eating as fillings will be very hot.

For pizzas:
5. Roll each portion into a rough circle about 8 inches around.
6. Thinly cover with toppings of choice.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden.

*I usually freeze half the dough for another day. After the dough has rested, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a  freezer bag. Let thaw completely and use according to recipe.

09 April, 2010

Cardamom Ice Cream

Save for a few days over Easter and our wedding anniversary I've been single parenting the last two weeks. What I wouldn't do for beer and chocolate every single night. And intravenous caffeine first thing in the morning. But it's just another week in an absolutely crazy month. And all you can do is put one foot in front of another, type another key, cook another meal, and eat another bowl of ice cream.

Yes, another bowl of ice cream. For every day that I remember to buy cream when I steal a moment to buy groceries I dream about ice cream. Okay, that's a slight overstatement, but only slightly.

Once I called my neighbour over to save me by digging through the mess in the basement (I can still can't make my way to the basement yet) to find the base of the ice cream maker I could make my dreams come true. Cardamom ice cream here I come!

And oh, did that ice cream do it for me. It's quite rich. Ridiculously rich. And while I doubted the cardamom taste when making the custard it came through perfectly in the finished product. Adding rhubarb was a way to tease myself into spring (despite the snow storm we got this week) and soften the richness of the ice cream.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Lightly Stewed Rhubarb
(Adapted from delicious March 2010)
Serves 6 (or 1 tired mom over a few days)

Ice Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
300 ml can of sweetened condensed milk

6 stalks rhubarb
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons water

1. Steep the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods in the cream and milk. Bring to medium heat in a saucepan. Just before it boils turn off the heat and let it sit for an hour. Strain and discard the spices.
2. Whisk the eggs and the sugar until pale. Add the infused milk/cream, whisking constantly. Pour into a clean saucepan and cook over low/medium heat, stirring, for 5-8 minutes until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, add the condensed milk, and pour into a clean bowl or jug. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
3. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Pour into a freezable container and freeze until firm.
4. Half hour before serving chop the rhubarb and combine with the other ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but is still holding it's shape.  Set aside to cool.
5. Serve ice cream on top of cooled rhubarb.

05 April, 2010

Things That Make Me Tired and Happy

This blog was only meant to be a hobby. A few recipes snuck in on my quilting blog, but I wasn't really thinking of going back to the food world in any way other than as a dedicated home cook and mother. And what was I thinking, a working mom maintaining two blogs in my copious amounts of free time? Apparently, I was thinking of the future without even knowing it.

After a year or so I started to think about writing, especially food writing, as a career option. Despite working in catering kitchens, running my own muffin company, and dropping out of journalism school it wasn't something I considered before. But the more I wrote here the more I wanted to write.

Insert some amazing mentors, loads of inspiration, and a serious lack of sleep and I am now a two job lady. A tired, but happy two job lady. I am now writing as Food Editor for What's Up and doing a little freelancing and teaching on the side. The day job stays, and I'll always be a mom, but my little hobby is turning into something exciting. And I couldn't be happier.

And when I'm happy (or sad or mad or glad) I like to bake. That's why I'm sharing this cookie recipe for you. The combo of chocolate and dried cherries is better than any chocolate box cherry, and guaranteed to fix any emotion you've got. (This recipe actually appears in the Spring issue of What's Up, along with more on Litterless Lunches.) So come on, celebrate with me!

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries
Makes 2 1/2 -3 dozen, depending on the size of the cookie

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/4 cup cocoa, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries

1. Preheat your oven 350 degrees F. Grease your cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
2. Cream together butter and sugar for a few minutes. Add egg and vanilla, mix well.
3. Stir in the flour, cocoa, oats, baking soda, and salt. When it is all together as a dough add in the chocolate chips and cherries. 
4. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly firm around the edges. Let cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely.