Cooking Classes


My Apologies

I must apologize for being a lousy blogger this past month.  Between the complete demo of the main floor of my house, me being the painter for the entire project and cooking for my cousin's Christmas, I haven't had a minute to catch my breath.

I don't even have pictures of my lovely painted walls.

I have been feeling rather harried.  My Christmas cooking for my cousin began with a 6am shopping trip to Superstore and ended at 9pm that night.

What better time to shop for groceries than 6am?  It was blissfully quiet.  However Superstore does not have everything I want.

I shopped until about 10am and then cooked until the guests arrived at 6pm.  Then we ate and laughed.

It was exhausting.  And that was only the party on December 23.  Two more dinner parties until we can call it a day, er, I mean, a year.

I am sure you are expecting this was a 'Partridge Family' Christmas!  Hah!  Are they ever?

I learned a lot from this Christmas dinner.  I learned why we should always serve a starter salad and never put the hot food on the table until all are seated.

I could not believe that we placed all the hot food on the table, called the guests and then another cousin decided to completely rearrange the seating plan! 

Hot food...haggling over the seating plan...see Sarah seethe!  I have never seen anything like it!  Hilarious!

Finally I just sat down and let them all work it out, hot food be damned.

Tomorrow I drive out to British Columbia to visit my father and his wife.  Perhaps I will get a few pictures?  One can only hope.

I hope your Christmas was blessed and I wish you much contentment and many successes in the new year.  Thank you all for following me so faithfully over the past year.  I promise to be a better blogger when I am nicely settled in my new kitchen, whenever that may be!


Christmas is for Giving

I have packaged my sugar cookie stars with evergreen boughs and giving them to co-workers rather than cards.  These were so much fun to make that they will be on my agenda next year, too.  People are so delighted to receive them and I loved giving them.  See this post for the recipe and instructions to make them.  They kept very well decorated in my cold room.  Do not freeze after decorating but the cookie keeps well before icing.


Crockpot Lamb Stew

Still renovating and have no kitchen.  I took shipment of my lamb a week ago and was dying to try some.  I took some stewing meat and this was delicious.

Crockpot Lamb Stew

1 lb lamb stewing meat
1 cup beef stock
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Grease the crockpot with olive oil or a cooking spray.  Add in the lamb, onion, salt and pepper, rosemary and beef stock.  Cook on low for 4 hours.  Add the potatoes cut into large pieces and the carrots, also cut into large pieces.  Cook for one more hour.  Serve with a nice glass of red wine.


Making Gravlax at Home

This looks like ice, doesn't it.  But it is a salt and sugar curing mixture.  With my lack of a kitchen due to a renovation, I am not cooking much these days.

But you don't need a kitchen to make gravlax.  I wanted salmon but I couldn't find the cut I wanted and instead bought steelhead trout.  I think it will be amazing.  It cures in this mixture of sugar, salt and spices and herbs for 3 days.

Then I will thinly slice it and freeze in packages for a quick and easy hors d'oeuvre for Christmas.  I will serve it with finely diced red onions, capers and creme fraiche on thin rye rounds.

My renovation is moving right along.  At the moment I am painting.  I have primed all the new ceilings and new walls.  Tomorrow I will be applying the first coat of paint to the ceilings.  They look fantastic!  I have new drywall and smooth, flat ceilings.  Pictures are a little boring so I won't post until I get some colour on the walls.

Steelhead Trout Gravlax

1 fillet of steelhead trout with skin on
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons juniper berries
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Remove any pin bones that might be in the fish.

Mix the salt and sugar together in a bowl.

To prepare the curing mixture, grind all of the ingredients in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder and grind until quite fine.  Add to the sugar and salt mixture and mix well.

Place the fish skin side down in a baking dish.  Pour the curing mixture over the fish to completely cover it.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Remove the fish from the curing mixture, turn it over, then cover with the curing mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a second 24 hours.

Remove and turn over as before and refrigerate for a third 24 hours.

Remove the fish from the curing mixture and rinse under cold running water.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Place uncovered in a pan in the refrigerator for 24 hours to dry out the surface.

Slice thinly and arrange on a plate.  Serve with creme fraiche, finely diced red onions, capers and small thin rounds of rye bread.


Moving Right Along

My last renovation was the same as this one.  I could not sleep for 2 days after the cost became real to me.  All of my penny pinching with the work I was doing myself just goes right out the window.   Drywallers here for 4 days....  Electricians here for 3 days.......  Plumbers here for two days (plus one hour)..........And a partridge in a pear tree!

In my last post, these walls were just studs.  Voilà!  See the gas hook-up for my new stove?

 My ugly old stippled ceilings (that I was unsuccessfully scraping) have been re-drywalled.  Now they will be smooth.

In an attempt to distract myself, I am also taking an online photography class.  It is quite a basic class, thank heaven.  It is all I can handle right now.  This was my assignment using different focal lengths.  I used 28mm and 100mm.  I usually just guess at all of my settings and don't actually plan things.  This will be a good exercise.  See how that lamp post moves closer to the subject?  Neat!