Slow-Roasted Chicken with Lemon & Garlic

IMG_3553For the first twelve years of our marriage, we lived in a 40’ x 9’ trailer.  We had renovated the inside, built a roof and an extra room.  Most people didn’t realize it was a trailer.  Just a really well planned little cottage.  Its lights ran off a 12-volt car battery, while the stove, fridge, hot water and furnace all ran off propane.  It was set up like a boat, a cupboard or a drawer for everything.  Anything that didn’t fit, wasn’t kept, or was relegated to a storage room in our barn.

The kitchen, although tiny, was really efficient.  Something I carried forward to our home when we built it.  I’m proud of the meals our kitchen has provided.  From the everyday ones to the meals that just keep on going.

One of its first epic meals was dinner the day the trailer was being moved from our place to friends that were about to embark on building their home, and needed a small home to shelter their family of 5.

The moving of the trailer was an all day event.  It had been sitting in the same place for years, and needed to have any additions removed before it could start its long trek out of our place.  With lots of eager people dropping by to help out, we ended up with over 20 people at our place.  When the trailer was towed past the house, and out onto the driveway, we all cheered as it trundled past.

Our cheers were a bit shortsighted.  It only made it about halfway up the driveway before it was stuck.  It would be hours before the guys figured out how to get it out.  We have a very steep and windy driveway, about .3 km long.   As everyone was standing around scratching heads, I realized that their vehicles were all going to be staying put for a long time.   Somehow I was going to have to pull dinner out of a hat.  Scouring the freezers and the fridge, we came up with a wonderful meal of this and that, fed everyone within 2 hours, even making a dessert.  The house was full of people laughing, talking and eating.  No one seemed very concerned about things; some of the youngest children were asleep waiting until the drive was cleared.

Sometimes a meal is just about being together.  It doesn’t need fancy ingredients, it just needs to be simple and taste good.  Here’s a simple (really simple) recipe that can be the center of an easy meal with good friends, or the centerpiece of a dinner party.  It can be doubled and tripled easily. Continue reading

Mrs. Ansell’s Cookies

IMG_3738When we were young, Mom & Dad would arrange for Mrs. Ansell to stay over whenever they were away.  She was what would be called a tough old bird.  She drove a turquoise & white Hillman, and was strict without being harsh.  Her hair was a brilliant red cap of curls, which now I understand must have been dyed.

One morning while under her care, we were off to swimming lessons.  I remember sitting in the middle between my sister and brother in the back seat of the car as we hurtled down Dunbar Street.  When we heard sirens, we all strained to look, wondering what was happening.  When we realized that they were coming for us, we all hid under the scratchy plaid blanket on the floor.  I was sure that Mrs. Ansell was going to jail, and wondered what would happen to us.  The three of us stayed under that blanket until we were well under way once again.

Her legacy, besides our first brush with the law, is these amazing oatmeal cookies.  They are crisp on the outside with chew in the middle.  The batch makes at least 12 dozen.  They’re still a family favourite, and have been passed on to other families as well.

Not sure about my siblings, but I always have a plaid blanket in my back seat.  Just in case.IMG_3680 Continue reading

Kale & White Bean Soup with Fresh Chorizo & Rosemary

IMG_3396The last day of this season’s Soup’s On program, we served large pots of seemingly never ending turkey vegetable soup to a crowd of friends and neighbours.  So many dropped by to get their last fix of the Soup’s On experience to last them until fall.  When we had served the last tray of sweets and the kitchen was back to its sparkling self, there was a bit of sadness that we wouldn’t be doing this for the next five months.  Of course, there was also feeling of relief as we looked forward to the next five months of living in one of the best places on earth during its summer weather.

However, when I got home that day, with the program’s finances to be balanced and the summary to be written up for our files, for some whacky reason I felt the need to make soup.  I’m sure there’s an analyst out there that could explain this to me.  Maybe it was because I hadn’t done the soup for lunch that day (I had done the baking) and felt that the day was somehow incomplete?

Or perhaps it was because that morning I’d soaked beans thinking that they’d be part of our dinner.  Well, now dinner was going to be soup.  We had a pound of fresh Chorizo sausage from Jollity Farm, and I had recently done a similar version of this for Soup’s On in early March, so started to pull it together as I worked on the accounts.  Multi-tasking doesn’t always work when cooking, but soup is very forgiving.

This so easily becomes a vegetarian soup, just leave out the sausage, and add in ½ t of dried chilies when you’re sautéing the onions.

Enjoy it like it might be the last bowl of soup you have, until the weather changes next fall. Continue reading

Quinoa Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

IMG_3583I am always on the lookout for vegetarian main dishes that can hold their own on a menu.  Gone are the days of simple substitutions for animal protein, to satisfy the needs of a few vegetarians. As I’ve mentioned before, meat is just one of several dishes that go together to make a meal.  There should be at least one complex, wonderful vegetarian dish that everyone at the table looks forward to.  I had been trying a few ideas along the lines of grain cakes, when I received an issue of Canadian Living that showed their most downloaded recipe, Quinoa Cakes.  So look no further – these are amazing.  I may have switched an ingredient or two, and made a slight change, but only because I may have had a replacement on hand and also considered the merit of incorporating the pine nuts into the cakes instead of sprinkling them on top.

Okay, memory lane time.  As vegetarianism became more mainstream, and we were starting to hear the word vegan, I can remember cooking rice with chicken stock at an event, and questioning whether or not we should be using it for the buffet.  The answer – sure, it doesn’t have meat in it.  I switched to water and returned the packaged stock to the storeroom. Really?

Then there was a Groom’s Dinner BBQ we were catering back in the early 2000’s.  Out of about fifty guests, a dozen or so were vegan (wow – cutting edge guests!).  We were given long lists of wants and desires.  We started by cooking about 4 – dozen tofu & veg skewers, followed by similarly glazed chicken.  When we were about half way through service, we realized we were down to about 10 skewers.  Everyone wanted some!  We quickly covered the remainder with foil and asked each guest from there on in if they were vegan.  We had just enough.  Since then, any service that includes vegetarians or vegans, I serve a full service of a vegetarian or vegan main.  Really?  It is just part of a gracious service. Continue reading

Citrus Chiffon Cake with Glaze

IMG_3490Here we are in the middle of a beautiful spring.  The grass is rampant, the front field hosts a herd of deer in the evenings, and the outdoors beckons.  While walking today I heard the cries of eaglets, searched and found the large nest in the top of a nearby Douglas Fir.  On our daily hike with the dogs, we found tiny Fairyslippers in the dappled light.

We start to eat lighter foods, the grill gets cleaned up and ready for a season of easy, fresh eating.  So as we enter the season of great salads, and al fresco (in the fresh air) dining, it’s nice to know we can still enjoy baking that compliments these lighter meals.

Chiffon cake is so light, and the orange and lemon flavours in this recipe go well with the season.  Of course, they also go well with the deep dark days of winter that can use a little cheering up!  Keep it on file, and make it when you need a little something to brighten your day. Continue reading