Okay, so I’ll readily admit it. I’m a Gordon Ramsey junkie. I watch Hell’s Kitchen, I watch MasterChef and I watch Kitchen Nightmares all with baited breath to see what hilarious, true, and mildly offensive thing he’ll say next. I have a couple of his cookbooks with recipes that I’m nervous to try, and I follow him on Twitter and coo over how sweet and lovely he is in real life and talking about his kids. Yes, I also get annoyed when he is a jerk in real life with other chefs, opening and closing restos right, left and centre, especially the one in Montreal that I never go a chance to eat at. Mostly though, I am in it because of his genuine care for customers, quality and good, good food.
So, this week Hell’s Kitchen started again. I only started watching maybe at season 9, but with the magic of the internet has gone back to about 7. I’m not a Hell’s Kitchen historian, but I certainly have a handle of the gist of the show and how it works. And I love it, but it’s boring.
If something involves food, I want it, and I’ll watch it, but I’m wondering the market and the relevance of the show. I mean, is it for young foodies who have celebrity-chef crushes? Is it for chefs and line cooks on their night off to dream? Is it an expensive publicity stunt to drive people to Ramsey’s dining rooms all over the world? Is it good TV? Or is it something else entirely?
Only so much catty drama and screeching Ramsey, corny twists and “for the FIRST TIME on Hell’s Kitchen,” will keep myself, and the younger demographic engaged in the show, despite how cuteish Ramsey is and how yummy the food looks,you can only watch so many scallops go in the trash (or, I hope, compost) before you want to beat the living shit out the entitled people who… throw out perfectly good scallops and just want to dive through the screen cook them yourself.
So, I’m going to watch and salivate over the beef wellingtons, but HK, you need to pull out all of the stops to keep me engaged for much longer, before I move onto something fictional with a less predictable format.
Well. It’s been a while, bloggers. A very long time. Dawn said it below, and I reiterate: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand were back!
I’ve had a lot of really joyful things happening in my life recently, and I am very regretful of not blogging about them, but joyful can sometimes also mean stressful, and stressful often means a) not enough time to do anything, let alone blog, and b) hardly enough will through all of the exhaustion to eat at all let alone cook.
Enter 2013 and a little more stability (HA!) and a new resolve to get my blog and my cook back on.
Small recap, however, is in order. Though my life wasn’t quite as chaotic as Dawn’s, I had an awesome but very hectic summer job which resulted me sleeping in a church for a few weeks AND trying to regularly (read: three times a day) feed 30 hungry teenagers. This all results in the deepest exhaustion I thought it was possible to feel. That is, until I went back to school AND took a job as the Editor-in-Chief of a student newspaper – The Journal at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. It’s pretty much the most awesome and stressful job ever. BUT as a result, I got the job at Atlantic Bureau Chief for Canadian University Press, which is a national co-op for student papers, with it’s own legal services, news wire, national and regional conferences, and some of the most supportive and lovely staff/executives I’ve ever worked with.
Smash cut to my parents moving, my best friend going overseas on deployment to Libya for 4 months, trying to have a social life and do school, not to mention make more money around all of this, and things ate pretty much always hectic.
Which brings me to now. Where I’ve been reflecting over the last few months and the nature of my relationship with myself and with food, and I need to take some time to refocus. I know that I love cooking; i’ll tell anyone who will listen about culinary triumphs and gossip about delicious food, drink and restaurant rumors. So why aren’t I setting aside dedicated “me” time to get back to cooking and making myself happy? PLUS I bet I’d remember to eat more if I had delicious leftovers in the fridge. Or I could at least TELL myself I’ll have lunch/breakfast.
So, I also think I need a challenge. I can’t afford to go buy expensive meats and veggies, so this will be experimenting on a shoestring. That’s fine with me. I’m also a bit of a Pinterest addict, so this is ALSO a great time to try out some recipes I’ve “pinned” and never used.
Prepare your taste-buds and waistlines, world – WE’RE BACK.
Dear readers, it is good to be here. When Cydney and I set up this blog, we wanted to share the joy and comfort that cooking brings to our lives. Then, summer 2012 happened. It got crazy. My life got difficult. I wasn’t doing much cooking, let alone blogging.
The short version is, I changed churches and both my parents fell ill, Dad in Ontario, Mom on Prince Edward Island.
I started as an associate priest at Christ Church, Stouffville in late July. I’ve broadened my scope from youth ministry. I miss my kids, but I love the variety that is parish ministry. Today was my first turkey dinner of the season as we hosted 80 seniors from neigbouring nursing homes. You can find me on twitter at the hashtag #DidIMentionILoveitHere
Then my parents fell ill, at the same time. It was two flights to PEI and several trips to a Toronto hospital. Dad died in October, and Mom has almost fully recovered. It’s been a tumultuous fall.
I wish I could say cooking was my comfort and my stability in all this. Sometimes it was. More often it was people cooking for me that brought me the most comfort. I’ve missed cooking and I’ve missed sharing. So I’m jumping right back in.
My back is killing me. I have to remember, when I am going to spend a day in the kitchen, to wear shoes! Yes, in my kitchen, I cook in bare feet. I just need to be pregnant.
This is my last week of vacation, and it is time for me to do some of the work that I have been meaning to do when I got some time off. Today, I worked on organizing my cupboards.
First, I hit Pinterest, looking at some ideas for organizing a kitchen. I am constantly looking for more space. When I suggested additional shelves, my beloved reminded me that we are not in a place to do a kitchen reno. So, I decided to do what I could. Well, I did far better than I anticipated. I’m sorry I didn’t take “before” shots, but here we go.
I started with the plastic containers. Actually, pause.
I started with Netflix. I turned on Community. I thought this would keep me in the kitchen doing a job I dislike. Actually, it was so hilarious I probably took three times as long, but it was really funny! Highly recommended.
Back to the plastic containers. They were falling out of my cupboard. I started by taking everything out and matching all the containers with the lids. I only had three containers without lids, in the end, and 6 lids without containers. The lids I pitched. I put them together as best I could into one big bin. Here’s the finished product.
Let me take a moment to point out two handy storage tools in my kitchen. First, of course, is my Food Saver. This vacuum packing device is critical for freezing meat!! You can marinate, store soup and sauce, and no freezer burn! The second is that little roll of plastic on the top left shelf. Those are silicone stretchy lids. These are why I kept my lidless plastic containers. You can use them on anything, even to cover cut fruit like melons or onions.
But enough about the plastic containers, because, well, they didn’t stay there. Next stop, my pantry cupboard.
This is where I keep all my oils, vinegars, canned goods and dry goods. I had NO idea how much rice, pasta and BEANS I had until I started this exercise. Everything was wrapped up in plastic bags sealed with rubber bands. Everything got piled on top of each other and, well, no wonder I couldn’t see anything.
Here is my new cupboard:
As you can see, I put the plastic containers to good use. My other handy kitchen storage tool-a sharpie and masking tape. I label everything. Look at all those beans! I made a nice rice and bean salad. If you make it to the end of this post you can see the recipe.
Finally, the freezer. The FoodSaver is freakin’ awesome, but because everything is flat, it is easy to lose stuff. I also had 2 litres of chicken stock in my fridge I needed to deal with. A quick trip to the dollar store scored me 8 500 ml screw top containers and two plastic baskets. What a difference!! The baskets let me slide things out of the freezer rather than digging around. Here it is.
That’s Mom’s limoncello in the front. It doesn’t fit in the baskets and, well, I’m glad to give it a more prominent place. It is a true treasure.
Inspired by all those beans, I made a cold rice and bean salad. Vegan friends pay attention. The measurements are rough, so adjust as you see fit.
- 2 c. cooked long grain rice
- 1 1/2 c. cooked red kidney beans
- 1 c. chopped carrots
- 1 c. chopped parsnips
- 1/4 onion, diced
- sunflower seeds
- 1/2 c. taco seasoning*
- splash red wine vinegar
- 3 glugs extra virgin olive oil
*taco seasoning (courtesy of Mennonite Girls Can Cook) Combine and store in a sealed jar
- 1/4 cup dry onion flakes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup of chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoons beef bouillon (not for my vegan friends. In fact, I don’t think there is any in my current batch)
- Refrigerate rice and beans.
- Mix taco seasoning, vinegar and evoo in a bowl. Add onion and mix.
- Add carrots and parsnips. Coat well. Add rice and beans. Mix well.
- Serve with sunflower seeds.
Last night we returned home from an absolutely incredible vacation home in the Maritimes, spending several days in my stepfather’s homestead, now owned by my aunt in Boston, on a hill overlooking my childhood beach.
And like a very responsible meal planner, I planned our last week of meals before we left to virtually empty the fridge and freezer.
However, now, I have a completely empty fridge and freezer. Not even anything for lunch. It’s intimidating. I have nowhere to start. So, I am sitting in my cool basement, catching up on Hell’s Kitchen, going through my food blogs and exploring Evernote.
Anyone have any other suggestions?