Our house is an old house. We’re talking about built in 1907 old, older than any of my grandparents old. It is full of character, full of pretty moldings, and when we bought it it wasn’t so full of insulation.
Brr. It was cold in there. Some of you who live in much more sensible climes may not be so concerned about the insulative properties of your homes. Living in Winnipeg with a poorly insulated house makes for a chilly winter as well as pretty high heating bills.
Anyway, there was one January morning that first winter (before we got the insulation done), where Mister had already left for work, and I was having some trouble inspiring myself to get out of bed. My morning classes beckoned, but it was so cold out of the blankets. One of those mornings where there wasn’t yet a time impetus, so staying in that half asleep haze is an option.
And then I heard footsteps.
As I said, Mister had left for work for the day. Trooper the Wonder Puppy hadn’t joined the family yet. I thought I was alone in the house. And there were footsteps. Someone was there.
Was there a stranger in our house? How did they get in? We don’t live in a neighborhood that is terrible, but it certainly isn’t known to be the best one around. An intruder!
Making decisions informed by all of the scary movies I’ve ever watched, I grabbed my cellphone from the bedside table and hid under the blankets. Being relatively small, laid out flat and very still, the terrible intruders couldn’t find me… right?
I turned my phone to silent (in film the soon to be hostage is too often found because their phone rings). And I sent Mr a text message: There is someone in the house. This way, whoever was in my house wouldn’t hear me talking.
Mister immediately phones me. Luckily I had turned my ringer off, right? Mister obviously hadn’t studied up on his scary films. His calling to help would be what made the boogeyman find me.
He must have figured my line of thinking, because he then sent me a text back.
Me: I heard their footsteps.
Him: Do they know that you are there?
That’s when the real wave of fear kicked in, the potential gravity of the situation. Someone was in our house, and though I was hiding, it wouldn’t be very hard for them to find me. What was I going to do?
My limited knowledge of scary films didn’t help. I’m a scaredy cat, I don’t watch too many of them. I was hiding. The potential kidnapper wasn’t going to hear me talking on the phone. But what comes next?
And that’s when I heard the giggle.
A far away sounding giggle.
It was followed by a child’s voice, and more footsteps.
I got out of bed and looked out of the window. It was the neighbor’s kids playing in the yard.
The thing about winter is that it is cold. Another this is that sound travels further in cold air. Cold air is denser air, and denser air provides better transmission. Houses with almost no insulation in the walls do not create much of a sound barrier either. It sounded like the footsteps were in the house, when really they were in the neighbor’s yard, being made my the neighbor’s kids.
Luckily, I got to phone Mister and tell him that everything was fine. No home intrusion, no burgling of Dana. Needless to say, we were happy that it was only a scare. It inspired Mister to tell me what to do if someone broke into the house and he wasn’t home.
Looking back I find it pretty hilarious how quickly my panicked mind went to the movies. And how silly the solutions gleaned from film had been. Luckily there was no real danger, and if a time occurs when there is I will be better prepared.
Curried Squash Soup
(recipe adapted from Jyl Chegwin)
1 butternut squash (or other squash of choice)
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
3 Cups chicken broth
1 Cup coconut milk
1 Cup water
- Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.
- Cut the onion in half.
- Place the squash halves, onion halves and garlic cloves in a roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast the vegetables in a 375° F oven until the squash is fork tender (~1 hour).
- Let the contents of the pan cool enough to handle. Scoop the squash from it’s skin with a spoon, peel the onion, and squish the garlic out of it’s skin.
- Add the chicken broth, ginger, and curry powder and then either use a blender or an immersion blender to make the soup nice and smooth.
- Put everything in a pot over medium heat, and stir in the coconut milk and water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes for the flavors to marry.
- Soups on!
Who wouldn’t want a bowl of this tasty goodness? It’s sweet from the squash, creamy from the coconut milk, and a little spicy from the curry. If you have vegetarian friends coming over, all you need to do is swap out the chicken broth for vegetable.
Mister, who still claims he doesn’t like things with curry in, liked this soup too! He says: This is the best thing I’ve ever had with curry in it.
This time last year: Cream Puffs
And the year before: Mister’s Woodgrain Birthday Cake
Looking back through the archives, I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern: what I really love is eating things with caramelized onions in them. I’ve made flatbread with caramelized onion, pears and brie, the lovely side dish cranberry mushroom pilaf, Swedish meatballs (yum!), foccacia for dipping in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, heartwarming potato and bacon soup, and gloriously luscious caramelized onion marmalade.
Apparently, what you readers out there (if you’re out there? I hope you are ) really love a caramelized onion or two as well. Caramelized onion marmalade has been the most often searched and viewed recipe on this blog pretty much since I started writing here.
So I made this dip. This fantastic awesome dip that is chock full of caramelized onions. The onion dip of my childhood, sour cream and onion soup mix, still holds a very special place in my heart (also, it only takes about as long to make as it does to find the onion soup mix), but this dip is pretty special. So get out your ripple chips, your celery stalks and carrot sticks. It’s time to get dipping!
Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip
(a.k.a Pierogi Dip, because fried onions, bacon and sour cream are a pierogi’s best friend)
2 lbs onions
3 cloves of garlic
4 sprigs of thyme
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
5 slices of bacon
4 tsp white wine vinegar
2 1/2 Cups sour cream
1/2 Cup Greek yogurt
2 tsp onion powder
- Get the oven heating up to 425°
- Thinly slice the onions, shallots and garlic. This is a perfect time to get out your mandolin if you have one.
- Mix the sliced alliums in a roasting pan with the thyme and olive oil. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the works.
- Roast this mixture until gloriously caramelized, golden and broken down. Stir around and scrape the edges every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning and encourage even cooking. This will take ~1 hour.
- Let the onion mixture cool. Remove the thyme stems.
- Cook the slices of bacon until crisp, and then set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, sour cream, Greek yogurt, and onion powder.
- Mince up the roasted onion mixture, break the bacon into crumbles, and fold these ingredients into the creamy dip base.
- This dip will be at its best if you make it the day before you intend to eat it, the flavors really do intensify and permeate with time.
- Serve with chips, vegetables or anything else you would like to use for dipping!
This recipe makes a lot of dip! So if you aren’t feeding a crowd of dippers, feel free to decrease the size. We served it at a party, where it disappeared fast.
The really cool thing to take away from this recipe, other than the recipe of course, is the technique used to caramelize the onions. Stick it in the oven and stir once in a while, rather than have it in a pan on the stove top and stir a lot ore often? I’m going to take this technique elsewhere in the future, I’m sure.
Mr says: This ain’t your mama’s onion dip!
This time last year: Butter Tarts
And the year before: Labneh Cheater Tortellini
Today is my little brother’s birthday!
(He is little only in the respect that I had the luck to be older than him. He’s 2 1/2 years younger than me but in my memory has always been at least my size, if not taller.)
Happy birthday Nolan!
The thing about brothers, little or otherwise, is they are the peer who has been at your side for the longest. They know you in ways that it is hard for other people to know you, because your lives have been steeped in each other’s pretty much from the beginning.
Like Baz Luhrmann once said, “Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future… the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”
Though I don’t know from personal experience, I’m sure it’s very much the same with sisters.
So, for the boy who would don rubber boots alongside me to muck about in the thawed ditches every spring, and tie yarn harnesses on his toys so we could have them mountain climb up book shelves, the man who enjoys an extremely silly board game as much as I do: Happy birthday. I love you to bits!
1 loaf stale bread of choice (or equivalence in other bread product, I used some buns)
1/2 Cup pine nuts
6 slices of bacon
1 large onion
200 grams cremini mushrooms
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Cups chicken broth
- Tear up the loaf of bread into bite sized pieces. You can cut it into cubes, but tearing up the bread leaves crags and crannies that give the stuffing extra texture.
- Toast the pine nuts in a pan over medium heat until they get fragrant. Set them aside for later use.
- Set a skillet over the hob, cut the bacon into lardons, and cook them until crispy. Set aside for later.
- Slice and dice your mushrooms and onion, respectively. Add them into the skillet that was used to crisp the bacon, and cook until the onions are translucent and a lot of the moisture from the mushrooms has evaporated. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, mix together the torn bread pieces with the pine nuts, bacon, onion, and mushrooms.
- In a smaller dish, whisk together the black pepper, thyme, egg and chicken broth.
- Pour the liquid slowly over the dry stuffing, tossing to moisten evenly.
- Separate the stuffing gently into 12 balls and place in muffin cups, bake in a 350 °F oven until the tops are browned and crispy ~20-25 minutes.
- Note: if you wish to bake it in one large dish, rather than muffin cups, extend time to ~30-35 minutes.
- Serve with the rest of the meal, and enjoy slathered in gravy if possible.
So tasty! Normally I don’t get very impassioned for stuffing, but this is definitely a recipe I will be returning to next time this side is called for.
What I really love about the stuffing being stuffing muffins, though, is that splitting it up into smaller pieces gives a bigger surface area and therefore more tasty, crispy, crunchy edges. And, they just look so cute on the plate!
Mr says: People need to know about this. Thanksgivings will forever be more awesome because of stuffing muffins.