Archive for the ‘Kitchen Talk’ Category

I wish I had learned this years ago. I would have been able to enjoy  fresh flowers in my home so much more.

The spring planter containing a primrose, tulips, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinth has been blooming in my living room for weeks, instead of lasting the usual few days. All that is necessary for this magic is some room in the refrigerator.  My apartment is very warm  cold temperature spring flowers, like tulips, expire very quickly. The solution is to put them in the refrigerator every night, and  when away from home during the day. If I keep them on the table only when I am awake  at home to enjoy them the life span of the flowers extends by an incredible amount of time.  A vase of cut flowers also lasts much longer.

It feels like a waste to buy flowers that expire while I am at work.  The refrigerator keeps them fresh till I get home. All flowers can be enjoyed for many more days.  A controlled test found that just using the refrigerator kept flowers fresh longer than any other trick

 

Easter Egg Decorating

Author: helga
10 years of Easter eggs

10 years of Easter eggs

Our family has been decorating eggs in various ways since the children were small.  My favourite memory is an Easter dinner where everyone decorated eggs after dinner.  The adults needed a little persuading, but everyone did participate.  No special materials are needed. Find  markers,  acrylic craft paints, white glue, coloured paper and whatever other inspiring materials might be around the house.

Painted with acrylic paints

Painted with acrylic paints

Collage with white glue and gift wrap or magazines

Collage with white glue and gift wrap or magazines

Collage with tissue paper and white glue

Collage with tissue paper and white glue

Tissue paper collage with dollar store bling

Tissue paper collage with dollar store bling

Coloured or patterned tissue paper works well with white glue. It creates a smoother surface than paper. It also covers the holes if you want to use decorated eggs as table decorations or in gift baskets.

Rose petals and white glue

Rose petals and white glue

Experiment with real  rose petals.

Dyed with Silk

Dyed with Silk

This year we tried dying eggs with old silk ties. When boiled with vinegar, silk will transfer its colour to the eggs.  The silk can be used from old ties, scarves or clothing scraps. It must be silk. Polyester or cotton will not work. We used empty shells which, unfortunately,  float instead of staying in the boiling water. Putting a small pot lid or plate on top to hold them under water solved the problem.

This technique produces a swirly, tied-dyed effect. To get a more direct transfer of the pattern wind the cloth very tightly with thread.

Eating Eggs for Easter

Author: helga

Since the first human watched an inert egg hatch into a moving, living bird, eggs have been a symbol of new life.   Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition in many cultures and one that our family has always enjoyed.  We like to have blown out shells to decorate and that means eating a lot of eggs before Easter.  An extra egg or two can always be added to a pancake or waffle recipe to empty extra shells. But to have a plethora of egg shells,  cooking some egg dishes is required.

These will likely be an omelet, a frittata, quiche, or simply scrambled eggs. It needs to be a recipe where egg yolks and whites are cooked together, not separated, like in a soufflé.  Omelets come from the French tradition, frittata, a little thicker,  are Italian. Both are like an egg pancake cooked in a round pan. A quiche is more like a pie with a crust underneath the egg mixture.

Here is Julia Child, herself cooking an omelet. The process  seems a little complicated when I’m just in a hurry to make some eggs. However, the shaking involved is quite intriguing – I will try this later.  Epicurious has The Only Frittata Recipe You’ll Ever Need. A nice summary page that shows the various ingredients that can be added to a frittata for variety. Canadian Living has a very nice recipe for Quiche.  A little secret for a quick meal.  Almost any ingredient added to a frittata or omelet can be added to scrambled eggs when you’re in a hurry.  Stirred eggs don’t taste  significantly different from solidified eggs.

My egg recipe of choice turned out to be scrambled eggs, quick and simple stirred up with some butter and green onions.
Scrambled eggs

Now if you want to make scrambled eggs like a celebrity chef, here is Gordon Ramsey.

 

The eggs need to be blown out of the shells obviously, not cracked into a bowl like usual.     The smaller the hole, the nicer the egg will look but the harder it is to blow out.  One quick way is to stab each end with a small nail (like a picture hanging nail) and then blow out the egg.

 

Buddha in My Kitchen

Author: helga

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This ceramic Buddha sat on my kitchen counter for many years. I bought it in memory of a Buddhist friend who had died young and unexpectedly.  Eventually it took on a more personal and empowering meaning.

During those years I was a stay at home mother who spent a good part of every day in the kitchen.  I found myself, sometimes, resenting those hours, especially time spent cleaning. As a feminist growing up in the 1970’s, I hoped to make an escape from the kitchen that held women in their place for centuries. I was living in a new world where earning a pay cheque in the market was the place to be. At some point I heard about how Zen monks consider cooking and cleaning as spiritual practice. These daily tasks are done with reverence.

How is it that the same activities can be holy in one context and demeaning in another?  I’ve never heard anyone use the word “housewife” with reverence.  If these tasks are holy for celibate monks then surely, these are holy tasks when done for the health and welfare of my children.

I made the choice to see kitchen work as holy work and the Buddha was there every day to remind me of my value.

 

 

 

 

My Mother’s Mushrooms

Author: helga

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My mother came to our Canadian farm from Germany. What she knew about wild plants was what she recognized from home.  Our land was abundant with mushrooms but my mother only allowed us to pick and eat one particular kind.  Now when I am surround by an abundance of mushrooms that is the only one I recognize as edible. I loved mushrooms as a child. If I found one mushroom in the woods I would bring it home and beg my mother to cook it. My only connection to the knowledge of what is growing in my back yard is through my mother who came from another country and was not at all familiar with what grows here. Apparently this is also the official mushroom of Alberta. Who knew?

As an adult I cooked the white mushrooms from the grocery store the same way my mother had (fried up in butter) but they didn’t taste the same. For years I thought there was something wrong with my cooking technique. Only when I tried Portabella mushrooms did I realize that it was the mushroom that made the difference, not the cooking. Portabella mushrooms have a flavour somewhat closer to that of wild mushrooms.

Mushrooms are an amazing wild food growing everywhere. We’re missing out on both the taste and nutrition. Because some of them are poisonous and knowledge is important we have dismissed them as a food source. Interesting that here we are in the age of information. Information on any subject is available to us from anywhere in the world and we do not understand what is safe for us to eat in our own backyard.

Hands on learning about what’s growing in our neighborhoods and forests is available through the Alberta Mycological Society.   They host many events every year where we have the opportunity for mushroom hunting and real life hands on learning.

If you have any interest in wild mushrooms at all, the Mushroom Exposition at the Devonian Gardens is worth going to. They provide a day of educational talks, displays of a multitude of local mushrooms, both edible and not.  Deliciously prepared samples are available as well. This year it’s held on Sunday August 18. Mark your calendar.

People might assume because mushrooms don’t look like vegetables they don’t’ have much nutrition, but this is not true at all.  Mushrooms contain protein and a significant assortment of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D.  Wild mushrooms have been used for their medicinal effects by traditional societies for thousands of years. I suspect there may still be many undiscovered health and medicinal effects. Especially since mushrooms differ so widely in their chemical characteristics.

Mushrooms are an important ingredient in today’s cancer research.  This  informative post by Jennifer Molnar talks about the biology and medical effects of mushrooms. I’m definitely  going to be adding more mushrooms to my food.

 

The kitchen is open

Author: helga

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Spur of the moment purchases. Some women buy shoes that they fall in love with. Shoes that get pushed to the back of the closet and forgotten, loved but never worn. A new idea, a new domain name.  Here is my spur of the moment purchase, bought in 2010  with good intentions and never used.

Does the world need another cooking blog?  Well, we’ll see.  It’s time to let it live out in the world.  Like any life form, this blog will be an evolving project.

Food is one of the essentials of life. One that we have a complicated relationship with in our urban, industrial, corporate society.

Local food is popular. By local food we mean vegetables from the farmer’s market. We live in Canada where nothing we buy in the store or grow in market gardens is biologically indigenous food. In this country most of us have no idea what biologically local food might look like.

Our ancestors came from all corners of the world. On one street we can find restaurants that serve dishes from Ethiopia, Japan Lebanon, Thailand, India, Germany, Italy and more. Canada is a country where pierogies and samosa can be found on the same plate. The mix of cultures is who we are.

Our abundance of food and food chemistry has made us overweight and made us unhappy about food. On the other hand we look to super foods to make us healthier and stronger. We’ve created a difficult relationship with the essential nourishment of life.

Kitchens aren’t just about food, they are also about people, family and friends. Kitchens are where a lot of living goes on.  When I was a child laughing wasn’t allowed at the supper table.  At my ideal supper table there is lots of laughter, and many stories, discussions and opinions.

I hope you will join me in my kitchen.

Welcome to my kitchen

Author: helga