Archive for May, 2012

This here is a summer meal.

“But wait!” you say, “it’s only May!”.  Well obviously you didn’t spend last weekend in Toronto/Ontario/my sweltering apartment. So if May seems a little too early to be laying in front of a fan and spritzing water on yourself from the spray bottle normally reserved for punishing the cat, forgive me.  We’re waiting for the screens for our windows to arrive, and since my cat would likely launch herself out of our apartment in chase of birds if I opened the un-screened windows all the way, for now we sweat.

So yes, you may have heard that I moved again. Spare me the “you move a lot!” remarks if you please, because my past bunch of moves have been necessary and had you lived in two back-to-back (TWO!!!) cockroach-infested apartments with a host of other problems to boot, you’d move too. This is the first time in over a year that I’ve felt like I have a home I want to go home to, and it is an immense relief and such a burden lifted off of my emotional and mental health! I am also now embarking on the adventure that is cohabitation, so things are all new up in here.

The new kitchen.

But this is a food blog, not a blog about my life (or is it? are those things not kind of the same anyways?) I owe you a summery meal, and a summery meal you’ll get.

Well hello there, magnetic knife rack…

Last Friday I finally received my copy of Alana Chernila’s cookbook, entitled The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making.  Very honestly, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such a beautiful cookbook. I sat down and basically read it cover to cover when I got home on Friday evening, and I rarely do that with cookbooks. I’m usually a page-flipper with new cookbooks. But time and time again, Alana’s blog has had these beautifully written pieces that say so much about food, so much that I wholeheartedly agree with.  I would be lying if I said that my eyes didn’t get a little welly-with-tears when I read certain pages of her book.  It’s wonderful, and on Friday night, I was inspired to start making more than just dinner. Saturday morning I bought rhubarb at the market, and will be making some more Rosemary-Rhubarb jam soon. But on Saturday, though none of the recipes came from her book, I made a summery feast.

Homemade veggie burgers, with homemade whole-wheat buns, maple-lemon fiddleheads (by Paul!) and homemade lemon ice cream. Nom.

Now, I won’t tell you about the burgers, because I’ve already written about them here. I’ll tell you about the ice cream and about the buns.

First, the buns. A confession: I’m a bread cheater, because I use a bread machine. I know that I could do it all without the machine, but the machine makes it SO EASY, and I have it, so I’ll continue to use it until I decide it is no longer fit for me. I adapted the bun recipe from here, primarily changing it to include more whole wheat flour and I used butter and some sunflower oil rather than shortening, because shortening is gross.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns for the Bread Machine

1 cup water

1 egg

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup softened butter (supplemented with a little bit of sunflower oil, because I didn’t have quite enough butter already softened, and I am now without a microwave and didn’t want to wait)

1/4 cup sugar

3 teaspoons yeast

1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)

I used the dough setting on my bread machine, and when it was done I punched it down on a floured cutting board and rolled into a kind of log. I cut it into 8 equal pieces, rolled those into balls, and flattened them slightly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. I covered them with a towel and let them rise a bit more, then brushed them with some egg white, popped them in the oven at 400, and baked them for less than 10 minutes. They were DELICIOUS. I wanted to eat a million of them, but we only had 8 and they were gone so quickly. Thank goodness I’m not gluten-intolerant.

Insert “nice buns” joke here.

Now, the ice cream. The lemon ice cream. If you didn’t already know, lemon desserts are my favourite. For awhile, an old roommate of mine was calling me Liz Lemoncake, after I expressed concern that people would start complaining behind my back that I always make lemon cake. Obviously, my roommate told me I was crazy, and that people would be happy that I was bringing cake at all.  This lemon ice cream is my mom’s recipe. I grew up having it very rarely (because we didn’t use the ice cream maker that much) but remember it fondly. I have often tried to find an ice cream elsewhere that lives up to it, but have never found one – it is truly a rarety to find a lemon ice cream – not lemon sorbet, not lemon frozen yogurt, lemon ICE CREAM. It is tart and yet oh-so-creamy at the same time, and it is divine. Here it is, verbatim from my mom’s recipe (hope this one wasn’t a secret, mom!)

I think this recipe came with my mom’s ice cream maker?

makes 1 1/2 quarts
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
2 tbsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla
heat the milk to simmering point.  In the meantime, stir together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt.  Stir the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture and return to the saucepan.  Place over low heat and stir constantly until thickened into a light custard. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.  Cool the mixture before pouring into the ice cream freezer can.
Churn for approximately 20 minutes or until the consistency of whipped cream.  Transfer to containers and freeze until firm.
If you don’t have an ice cream machine, I can’t help you. Except that I can, if you are my friend and live in Toronto and want to come over for ice cream.

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This Mother’s Day, I thought I’d do a lil roundup of Mom-focused songs – I love crafting a good party playlist, and while this isn’t exactly the same task, I also love the challenge of thematically-linked playlists. This is a short one, and it is not at all food-related, but it is topical.  You can also read an edited version of this post over at The LRMC, a great ladies bartering collective that I’ve contributed blog posts to before.

Where You Lead – Carole King 

Admittedly, I am compelled to include this song because I have been watching a lot of Gabmore Girls lately, and I really like the story behind this song’s association with the show.  When Carole King recorded this song, it was meant to be about her (male) love interest; with the rise of second-wave feminism, King decided that she felt uncomfortable with the message of the song, and stopped performing it live shortly after its release. Decades later, she re-recorded the song for Gilmore Girls, and this time re-imagined it slightly and recorded it with her daughter, Louise Goffin. And so, the song was renewed as a song about a caring and supportive mother-daughter relationship.

Dear Mama – 2Pac

This is a song that my brother often uses to try and convince his mother (and my stepmother) that just maybe she might like hip-hop. With the spoken refrain “You are appreciated”, this song is one of 2Pac’s more sentimental songs – a presumably auto-biographical song where 2pac reflects on the challenges his mother faced raising Tupac and his sister. This song is not all sentimental sap though, there’s a fair bit of social commentary embedded within it as well – while Tupac does describe some of his own disobedience and the pain it may have caused his mom, most of the challenges described have a lot to do with systemic and systematic barriers that effect racialized, low-income families and single parents in North America.

Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon

Catchy as hell, this song is also star-studded; Paul Simon recorded it in Jamaica accompanied by members of Jimmy Cliff’s band (who also played with Toots & the Maytals) and with backing vocals provided by Cissy Houston, the mother of recently-deceased and much-beloved Whitney Houston. A quick google search tells us that Paul Simon wrote this song after the death of his family dog (presumably then, the mother and child reunion is his family dog reuniting with its mother in your chosen afterlife scenario) but also that he was inspired by a dish in a Chinese restaurant. “A dish in a Chinese restaurant?! Huh?” you say? Apparently Paul saw a menu item in said restaurant that was called “Mother and Child Reunion” and was made up of Chicken and Eggs. If that’s not one of the most clever-yet-macabre jokes you’ve ever heard of being on a restaurant’s menu, I don’t know what is.

Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne

I don’t care for this song very much, actually, though I think it’s mostly the chorus that irks me. That said, I thought that perhaps I would be remiss if I didn’t include a shout-out to all the bodacious mom-babes out there. After all, a mere 15 years ago nobody had ever heard or used the term “MILF” and now, like “cougar”, it’s common parlance. Most of us have known at least one Julie Cooper-style mom in our lives, and I think that these women are often treated/portrayed in the media as bad moms. As if being an attractive, single, and sexually active woman and being a good mother are mutually exclusive?! Damn, patriarchy’s the worst, amiright?!

Good Mother – Jann Arden

I’m ending with this one because this is the song that, for me, is the perfect Mother’s Day tribute song. I do have a good mother – a great mother – and I think that Jann’s lyrics sum up how simple really good advice can actually be – “Feet on ground, heart in hand, facing forward, be yourself.”  I saw Jann Arden live in the early 2000s with some of the best friends a girl could ask for (“I’ve got a friend who loves me”) and I often remember that concert when I hear this song in particular. Those friends are still a big part of my life, and while we have all been lucky enough to have some seriously bad-ass damn Good Mothers, we’ve lost a few of those moms over the years. Mother’s Day is not an easy day for everyone. So folks, honour your Moms year-round, not just this Sunday – and take care of yourselves, your friends, and the rest of your family too.

And if all else fails, listen to Jann.

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