Spicy Soba Salad

IMG_9621This is very much one of our family’s “go-to” recipes. Slightly spicy, with a good mix of interesting flavours, it’s great on it’s own for lunch, or as a side dish for supper. Soba noodles have an earthiness that plain wheat noodles just don’t deliver. Combined with the soy based dressing, they create a dish that totally satisfies. Try serving it with some sliced, grilled chicken, and some steamed vegetables. This little noodle salad lasts well in the fridge for up to five days. Just think, five whole days of lunches prepared in one go! Our family usually doubles this recipe; consequently all the photos show the double portions. Continue reading

Fried Rice ~ Basic Recipe

IMG_9565_2For several months one year, we had two young women staying with us through the Canada World Youth Program; one was a Canadian university student from Sherbrooke, Quebec, and the other, an economics student from Jakarta, Indonesia. Language was one of the key components to their stay here, as well as volunteering in the community. While I struggled with Indonesian, finding it difficult to separate the words, as the language is so fluid, I did find my high school French coming back to me so quickly. The three of us would laugh, quite often pointing, or drawing pictures to communicate. But slowly it all started to happen. Often just a quick sentence, but the intent was picked up on.

Besides language, food was a huge part of us getting to know each other and our cultures. Our household became used to the scent of rice in all its cooked forms. During Ramadan, the two of them would get up before dawn, and start cooking the early meal. Usually it was a simple assembly of fried rice. A few pieces of garlic, onions, and hot peppers, fried with leftover rice from the evening meal. Other bits of vegetables or meats would be added, and served with sambal oelek and ketjap bentang. This meal would last them right through until the late meal. Our Quebec guest found it very hard to manage the long days of fasting, but did it to experience her counterpart’s religion. Our tiny, Indonesian friend explained to me, that if you eat less, it is far easier to make it through the day, as she watched with glee as our young Canadian friend wolfed down a bagel with cream cheese following her fried rice.

Frying the rice before cooking it (instead of frying leftover rice) gives it a nuttier flavour. The recipe still uses small amounts of vegetable, meats, and egg to make it a complete meal. Be creative with this, as it is a very simple meal, using what is at hand. It can easily be fully vegetarian, or just use the egg if you like. Continue reading

Rice Salad with Ginger & Lemongrass

IMG_4034Potlucks are easy ways to gather for a meal.  They’ve been around for years, and will continue for many to come.

One way to hold a potluck is to give no rules, and just see what turns up.  There have been stories of twelve bowls of green salads lined up, with nothing else.  Or the transformative Thanksgiving dinner we held at a shared house; we offered to do turkey as the hosts, and left the rest up to the ten or so guests to do the rest.  We had a great dinner of turkey, stuffing, gravy and 6 different versions of pumpkin pies.

What I recommend doing, is to look after the meat & dessert.  Let everyone else bring side dishes or appetizers.  At least this way the meal will have a bit of structure.

There are times that I pull out all the stops and work to create something memorable.  However if time is limited, there’s nothing wrong with doing a simple dish, as long as it is presented well, is yummy, and interesting!  This is easy to make, and can be served cold or at room temperature.  As you can see, I served it in my bamboo steamer, but here’s a tip if you don’t want to worry about dishes.  Line a foil pan with an oversized sheet of parchment, tuck in some herbs or flowers at one side, and you can just walk away from it at the end of the meal. Continue reading

Farmhouse Chicken Wings

IMG_4301I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually had Chicken Wings in a pub setting.  Most likely because I had left the city and was living on this lovely little island before they became a “thing”.

There are, however, a couple of recipes of sticky, yummy chicken that I remember most fondly.  One was a family recipe of friends that used to summer on Okanagan Lake.  I travelled with them for a couple of summers, babysitting and thrilling in my time away from the city.  I remember there always being a bag of this amazing chicken in the picnic cooler anytime we spent the day out on the boat.  I’ll see if I can track down that recipe.

The other recipe was submitted to a cookbook I put together in 1982 as a fundraising project.  They were simply called Japanese Chicken Wings, but the flavour told a much bigger story than that.  They were dredged in egg & flour, browned in skillets of melted butter, and then cooked in the oven with a sweet & sour type sauce.  I’m sure there were huge amounts of calories, they were messy to make, but always a favourite at potlucks and gatherings.  I made 5# of them once to hold the kids over for 5 days while we were away.

So these little wings have a little bit of both those stories.  They were concocted one afternoon, when we were foraging in the freezer for that night’s supper.  There was only one proviso, that they would be Gluten-Free for my co-conspirator sister. Continue reading

Udon Noodles with Mushrooms, Gai Lan & Shrimp

IMG_2236It was dry today.  Yesterday was a mix of monsoon type rain, with snow.  Dry days in the winter allow us a snippet of daylight hours to get things done!  Living on our farm makes us so appreciative of breaks in the weather and a toasty fire in the woodstove.  Stretching the day to the limits means that dinner only gets about 45 minutes from the inkling of an idea to eating.  Here is today’s offering.  It happens to be Bill’s 65th birthday today.  As we had friends over on Sunday for a meal with a long, extremely fun visit and will be doing a January Birthday Boys’ dinner next week, having a simple meal tonight suited him just fine.  I hope. Continue reading