Monday, September 28, 2009

Lots of sugar & hot oil

Instead of making soup on Saturday, The Sous Chef and I made cannoli. This experience has taught me quite a few things. First off, when The Sous Chef says something like, "You can't make cannoli in this part of the world. They can only make it in Europe!" I should probably check the recipe before saying, "Of course you can." While it's true that you can make cannoli at home, and we did, it's a heck of a lot of work. Next time she picks something crazy like that to make, I'm going to say, "You're right. You can't make that unless you're Italian (or Belgian, which is where she had it)."

Another thing I learned is do not allow The Sous Chef to schedule a horseback ride on the same afternoon you're making something complicated or you will find yourself standing over a pan of hot oil ALL ALONE frying up cannoli after cannoli and then making the soup while you're half asleep. Still, it was fun and I learned to deep-fry (which is not necessarily a good thing for my health, as I followed the cannoli frying with homemade onion rings!).

The soup was very yummy. At least I think it was, but I have a lot left so I'm not sure if everyone else agreed. I think that The Writer's tempting apple pie kept them from having seconds of soup. It's a minestrone and almost everything in it came from our garden! The Southerner did good this year! The few veggies that weren't from our garden came from The Farmers, so it was all organic goodness. Here's what was in it: water, tomatoes, onions, leeks, potatoes, green beans, zucchini (of course), broad beans, carrots, rosemary, salt & pepper, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and alphabet pasta. Delish! Just throw it all in a pot (cheese at the end and the pasta separately), and it's sooo good!

I used the leftover whey (from the homemade ricotta that I made for the cannoli) in the bread and I think it gave it a tiny sweetness. You don't taste it a lot in the bread, but when I made toast, it was noticeably crispier. Very nice.

We had two special guests and one Missing Person yesterday. My Aunt and Uncle came up from Washington State and spent the day with me touring the island, and then staying for Sunday Soup. It was great fun! I say, "with me" because the MP was The Southerner. He had to do a bit of travelling this weekend, but I saved him some cannoli, so while he missed our fun company, he'll still get the food.

By the way, next week is a special Sunday Soup. It is our We're so Happy We Live On This Island Second Annual Potluck. So if you live here, do drop by and help us celebrate our second anniversary living in Canada and here on the Island. And while I usually say, "Oh, don't bring anything" this is your chance. It will be during our regular SS time, so make sure you book us into your leisurely island schedule!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Hi All. Too tired to post tonight, but will update on Monday. I even put it on my schedule so I won't forget. See you then.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We have a winner - 3 winners actually!

Today was Fall Fair here on the island, so instead of making the soup yesterday together, The Sous Chef & I baked our entries for the fair competition (I made the soup earlier). The Sous Chef entered with these white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies, although, after much discussion, we made secret changes to the recipe, so yours probably won't be quite as good as hers. I have to say, they were DELICIOUS (notice how I'm using the past tense). And she won the First Place Blue Ribbon in the cookie category. Congratulations to one of my star pupils!

I made chocolate zucchini muffins and doctored them up with melted orange chocolate and sugar and passed them off as cupcakes since there wasn't a muffin category. I won first place too. Yeah, we're that good here!

The Pastry Chef (formerly Little Sister), baked her cookies on her own and took the Second Place Red Ribbon. There was some dispute between SC and PC regarding my help. Was it unfair that I helped Sous Chef and that she sabotaged my offer to help Pastry Chef by not passing on the message? That's an argument I'm not getting into. I told Pastry Chef that I was at her disposal next year though. And a big congratulations to her too on her red ribbon. She's come a long way baby since making those notorious tomato soup cookies.

Anyway, there I was, feeling all proud of The Pastry Chef for making these cookies all on her own. Yay, her! At least, I felt proud and happy UNTIL she threw the spatula down with this challenge! She looked at me, her eyes bright, her smile confident, "Next year, if they have a muffin category, I will beat you with my most awesome blueberry muffins."

Can you believe that? Well, I have news for the Pastry Chef! I make the killerest oatmeal buttermilk blackberry muffins that you could ever hope to sink your teeth into. I say to you, Pastry Chef, if you think your muffins are so good, why wait until next year? Are you afraid of my muffins? Or are you hoping I'm gonna forget? Ha! We are having the Second Annual Sunday Soup potluck on October 4th, and I say put your muffins where your mouth is, Little Miss Pastry Chef! The Island Bake-off is on! And you too, Sous Chef...let's bake!


Anyway, the soup today was a red lentil dal soup that I made from this recipe. I added some very thinly sliced sauteed onions, cilantro, and lots of lemon slices and lemon juice. The Fix-it Guy declared it my best soup ever. I really, really liked it myself. I've been trying to duplicate a soup like my favourite restaurant, The India Oven, in Portland, Oregon makes (sadly, last time I went there they were out of business) and this is pretty darn close. Warning:

P.S. Clicking on the Fall Fair link in the first sentence will take you to pics that The Southerner took today. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I wasn't being anti-social..I was talking shop!

I suppose I could be accused of being anti-social today since most everyone spent SS on the porch and I sat at the kitchen table inside with The Sisters. Although, I do need a new nickname for Younger Sister because Older Sister has had a change to Sous Chef. I think Younger Sister will hereafter be called Pastry Chef, since that's her specialty (or at least, her main interest!).

The three of us were scouring cookbooks and searching the internet for recipes. The Pastry Chef wants to learn to make apple strudel. We found a recipe to try here, but if you have one you love, please send it on! Although The Sous Chef is primarily learning to cook soup, we are also expanding her lessons to include one other thing per week. Yesterday she made zucchini bread. I tried to give her all the credit, but she did protest and say that I added the vanilla. I guess it's important to give credit where credit is due. Still, I think there are two reasons this batch turned out particularly well. The first is of course, that she made it. The second is that I ran out of white sugar, so we did 1 cup of white and 1/2 cup of brown. It made the bread lighter than ever. I will make it that way from now on.

For this week, we made Cauliflower Soup from this recipe by Rachel Ray (FYI, I think the roux is unnecessary and won't bother next time). The Sous Chef is at a slight disadvantage in that she has a chronic pain issue in her right arm and she's right handed. She is not supposed to "chop too much" according to her physical therapist, which is a bit of a problem since soup basically consists of chopping a lot of things and throwing them into a pot. What we did yesterday was I chopped most of everything, and then left 2 stalks of celery, one head of cauliflower (out of six), and an onion and then I gave her the lesson on how to chop, core and dice and she practiced on those things. That way she got the idea, but didn't overwork her arm.

We had a bit of a scare though. I was taking a phone call from The Fleece Lady who was calling to make sure I was going to save her some soup since she was going to miss SS, and The Sous Chef was whisking the eggs, oil, and sugar for the zucchini bread. Much to my surprise, she thought she was mixing something to go into the cauliflower soup! Luckily, she realized this was probably not true before I even hung up. Whew! Julia Child said one should never admit one's mistake, just serve the food with a smile, but Cauliflower and Scrambled Egg Soup would probably be a hard sell, even to the hungry SS crowd!

I did feel it was necessary to tell The Sous Chef that if she had added the eggy-oily-sugary mixture, I would've been forced to demote her to dishwasher. I'm glad I didn't have to, but now that I think about it, the idea of having a dishwasher is very appealing! Hmmm...I wonder how The Southerner feels about a nickname change?

Anyway, SS was lots of fun in the kitchen today, and I assume it was fun outside too since no one got thrown off the deck and everyone did come in to say "See you next week." They looked well-fed and happy, even if we did eat all the zucchini bread ourselves. They'll never know!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Monumental SS - in so many ways

Today was a monumental SS. Where to start, where to start...

First off, it's raining. This is the first real rain we've had since last spring and it was the first SS we sat inside since forever. It was nice though. Cozy. And we had a great crowd that spilled over into the living room (which actually happens if there's more than four people here since we have a tiny kitchen).

Second, The Writer showed up and he quite seriously could be renamed, "The Baker" because he made the most fabulous apple pie I've ever had. And not only that, but I snagged a piece for later too. Hey, he needed to take his plate home. I was helping him out. The Southerner got an extra piece too and I just want to say right here that the bigger pieces is MINE. You had your shot and you were polite. Haha. Doesn't always pay to be a polite southerner, does it?

Third, I now have an assistant! As I've mentioned here before, there are The Sisters who come somewhat regularly and I am teaching them how to cook. As of yesterday, The Older Sister has officially been renamed The Sous Chef. Yes, it's true. She and I now have a standing date for 2pm on Saturdays to make the soup. This means that I can no longer decide at 8pm on Saturday what the soup will be. I am being forced to be prepared. That's a good thing though!

Yesterday The Sous Chef came over and we made a magnificent (I can say that because I can direct all praise at The Sous Chef) yellow zucchini soup with fresh rosemary. It is outstanding. And I got the recipe here. The Sous Chef did two all-important jobs. First of all, she provided the inspiration for the soup by presenting me with two of the largest yellow zucchinis I have ever seen. Think the size of Santa's thigh after Christmas. Seriously. Huge. The second thing she did was she peeled the potatoes. As you may remember (or not), while I can eat potatoes, I am highly allergic to the peelings and The Southerner always has to deal with the potatoes. Now The Sous Chef will be taking over that all important job. And her horse gets the peelings, so everyone wins.

I want to add that thanks to The Sous Chef's zucchini generosity, I also made zucchini cookies, zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, and froze 18 cups of shredded zucchini in the last 48 hours.

Welcome Sous Chef! I look forward to making you do all the grunt labour, I mean...working with you.

We had a great crowd, including Wild Iris who wore the birthday sash, The Neighbour, The Fix-it Guy, The Fleece Lady, a newcomer, and The Writer's Lovely Wife (I know last time I said I'd come up with a better nickname for her, but I haven't done it yet). Also, there was someone else who has a nickname that I can't remember...You do know what that means, don't you? No, it does not mean I'm getting old and my memory is going. It means we are super blessed to have so many friends.

Lastly, and this is exciting news...we have a new addition to our family! No, I haven't been keeping anything from y'all for the last nine months. We have a new kitty. Her name is Marley (as in, Bob) and she joined us two weeks ago (she needed a home and we needed a long haired black cat to complement our short haired white one - yes, we're nuts!), but today she really, truly became part of our little group. She did this in two ways. We let her outside for the first time ever and she came back! She likes us. She really, really likes us. And the fact that I know she was gone for exactly 70 minutes does not mean I was worried or anything. Okay...I was a little worried since she shot right off into the woods and was gone instantly. But the point is, she came back. And then she came to Sunday Soup and met everyone, which makes her officially part of the community. So all in all, a very monumental SS.