06/23/15

Hello Ocean

Mr. and I went on an anniversary adventure a couple of weeks ago.

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We went to Prince Edward Island for a few days before hopping on a ferry over to Nova Scotia to finish the trip.

It was magical.

I spent a good portion of my childhood dreaming of the ocean: of living on a rocky shore, or being a pirate, or, because of the movie Pete’s Dragon, being a lighthouse keeper. I’m not sure if this is a pattern, children growing up on the prairies dreaming of the ocean, but it’s what I did. Where do children from the coast dream about living? I don’t know if it would be the prairies.

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On the way there, amidst all of my excitement, I was a little bit worried. (But then, when am I not at least a little worried? Ha ha ha). A person spends all of this time fantasizing, mythologising about a place, putting it up on a pedastal, what if it doesn’t live up to how you imagined it?

But I was worrying for nothing. It was amazing. It was as amazing as I imagined it could be. I would go back in a second.

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Many lighthouses were hugged. There was much excitement.

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Mr., who didn’t grow up dreaming of lighthouses or the ocean, hugged some lighthouses too. He was happy we were having such a fun time.

If you find yourself in Charlottetown and need a bite to eat, here are our suggested stops: the Water Prince Corner Shop (chowder so good we came back the next day to have it again!), and Dave’s Lobster (for lobster rolls that were Mr.’s favourite meal the whole trip. The ‘Some Fancy’ is so good it’ll give you goosebumps.).

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In Halifax we got to spend some time with our friend Dave, who we don’t get to see often enough at all. We went to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, walked the boardwalk, and took a tour of his ship. We got treated to oysters at the Waterfront Warehouse, a first for both Mr. and myself!

For our anniversary, Mr. and I decided to continue the tradition of having a picnic. We went to Point Prim lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse on Prince Edward Island, with our treats and our picnic blanket and had a marvellous time.

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I can’t wait to go back. And I’m sure that we will!

To go along with today’s picnic theme I have a recipe for a crunchy, bright slaw that would be perfect to pack in a picnic basket.

Granny Smith and Celery Slaw

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1 Granny Smith apple

5 stalks of celery

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Directions

  • Cut the apple into quarters and remove the core before slicing thinly.
  • Slice the celery into crescents of similar thickness to the apple.

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  • In a medium to small mixing bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and Dijon mustard to make the dressing.
  • Add the sliced apple and celery to the bowl, tossing to coat.
  • Serve!
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Crunch!

I think it might be fun next time to cut everything into juliennes, to have it look more traditionally slaw-like. I know some people would rather go to the dentist than cut into juliennes, but I’ve always kind of had fun with it.

 

05/12/15

Lunch and Dynamics

It’s the wee hours of the morning, and already I’m sitting here thinking about eating lunch.

I packed a pretty awesome lunch today. Want to see?

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What have we got? A mini bagel and lox, broccoli and grape tomatoes, tiny potato salad, pistachios, muscat grapes (Superstore has them right now and they are positively addictive!), raspberries, and some chocolate chips. It’s a pretty darn cute lunch to boot!

I’ve been having a lot of fun packing bento lunches lately. For the most part, there won’t really be recipes to include, but I thought it might be fun to share. It’s too easy to fall into a rut and eat the same thing for lunch at work every day. You may not become a full out bento geek, but maybe you’ll see a fun idea or two you may want to include in your lunch repertoire. At the same time, I feel like maybe those of you who are out there in the binary ether of the internet are here for recipes, not pictures of how cute my lunch is. (Even though it is really cute.) Any thoughts?

And now, on to a recipe!

Raspberry Buttermilk Muffins

(recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

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1 Cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 Cup of softened butter

2/3 Cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

2/3 Cup fresh raspberries

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

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  • Beat the butter and 2/3 Cup sugar together until fluffy.

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  • Blend in the vanilla and then the egg, mixing until uniform after each addition.

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  • Mix in the dry ingredients and buttermilk, adding them in batches alternately until everything is just combined.

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  • Butter your muffin tray so that the muffins won’t stick!
  • Tear the raspberries in halves (the trick to a good muffin is to not over stir, so we don’t want to break up the berries by adding them to the batter and then stirring) and then fold into the muffin batter.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin moulds. Then sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp of sugar over top of the muffins.

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  • Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean (∼18-20 minutes).
  • Enjoy!

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These muffins are tasty little buggers. The sprinkling of sugar over the top just before baking gives the muffin top the sweet crunchy crust that one often finds in muffins bought at the coffee shop, yum! I’m definitely going to have to remember this for other recipes.

As you may have noticed in the pictures I had reserved a few of the raspberries to top the muffins with, thinking that they might look pretty nice, perched atop my muffins. It didn’t quite work out, it seems as though the batter doesn’t case harden particularly quickly, alas the raspberries sank into the batter instead.

That small disappointment aside, the best thing here is that the muffins were restrained but not bland. Not every item we eat needs to be intense or attention grabbing flavour, it can be very welcoming and comforting to sink your teeth into something comforting and undemanding to eat. This is not to say it shouldn’t taste good, just that in terms of dynamics these muffins are at more of a piano than a fortissimo.  With buttermilk and raspberries (and a delicious crunchy sugar crust atop) these little beauties hit all the right notes.

04/23/15

The Mighty, Mighty Mandarin

Mighty Mandarin Salad

1/4 Cup vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp chopped parsley

1/2 tsp salt

pinch black pepper

1/2 Cup sunflower seeds

1/4 Cup sugar

a head of lettuce of your choice (I used a spring mix), rinsed, dried and torn

1 Cup chopped celery, sliced thin

2 – 11 oz cans of mandarin orange segments, drained

Directions

  • For the vinaigrette, find a container with a tight sealing lid, a jar is perfect, and combine in it the vegetable oil, cider vinegar, mustard, first measure of sugar, parsley, salt, and pepper.

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  • Affix the lid to your container, and then shake, shake, shake until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Set aside as you prepare the rest of the salad.
  • Place a small frying pan on the stove over medium heat. Tip the sunflower seeds into the pan, and toast, stirring leisurely as the seeds take on a little colour and become fragrant. Then, sprinkle over the second measure of sugar, stirring as it melts until the seeds are coated. Remove the pan from heat, pour the candied seeds onto a plate or into a bowl to cool.
  • Put the lettuce, celery, and mandarin orange segments into a salad bowl, tossing gently so that the segments of orange don’t get broken up into mush.
  • With cooling, the sugar on the candied sunflower seeds will have recrystallized. Break the mass apart with your hands and sprinkle over the veg.
  • Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad just before serving.

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When serving salad, I like to employ the practice of dressing lightly and then serving the remainder alongside. This way, people who enjoy their salad lightly dressed can, and those who like to have theirs swimming in vinaigrette can too!

This salad is normally done with sliced almonds, candied up in the same way as I do the sunflower seeds. It’s definitely really nice that way but because Mr is allergic to nuts the almonds get substituted out these days. Use what you like, but I really would suggest to give the sunflower seeds a try. Whichever you elect to use, they bring an extra delightful crunch to each forkful.

As an additional option, if I remember correctly, my aunties who make this salad do so with some green onion chopped in. It would certainly be easy to add, but I’m not very partial to green onion and it’s my version of the recipe, so I don’t put them in!

I have a soft spot in my heart for mandarin, so I quite enjoy this salad. Crunchy, delightful, and sweet, it’s sure to please!

This time last year: Quintessential Quinoa Cakes

2 years ago: Pomegranate Jelly

3 years ago: Blackberry Lemonade Popsicles

4 years ago: Good Lemon Hummus

5 years ago: Raspberry Eskimo Pie