Beef Bone Broth

I rarely watch the food channels on television. I get agitated by loud electric guitar rifts  used for background music while trying to listen to high-strung extroverts show off their culinary skills. I know I’m being mean and generalizing, but it’s how I feel about television in general (unless its something quaint and soothing like the Great British Baking Show – which is no more). Sigh. Hiccup-y sob.

Despite my misgivings of rock n roll celebrity chefs and their perfect hair and nails, I did stumble across a show running a little vignette about a tiny shop called Brodo that serves New Yorkers broth in a to-go cup. This is done through a window, right on the street. I cannot pay tribute to the show it appeared on, because I cannot remember which one it was. But the idea of beef bone broth got stuck in my head much the same as a song does. The only way I could cure this was by making it myself. I had to have homemade beef bone broth. I needed collagen. I needed a warm brothy hug.

I easily found beef bones in the frozen meat section of my favourite grocery store. A single package cost around $5.59. In the picture above, that is two packets of frozen beef bones. I know. Expensive! Right? Especially when a litre of Campbell’s Beef broth is available for under $2.00 at some places. But that’s not the point. The point is to make it myself.

I searched the web as I do, and found, Pinned and followed this recipe from Epicurious. The recipe is crazy simple to do. You just need a lot of time.

As the picture shows, I roasted the beef bones, carrots, onions, leeks and celery. This step is suppose to create a richer broth. I won’t argue. It’s smelled rich and delicious when it came out of the oven, and I was tempted to poke a fork in that marrow and eat it. However, I have never poked a fork in a bone to eat marrow before and wasn’t about to start that day. Although I am a very content and happy meat eater, sometimes, just sometimes, there are things that are a bit too animal-y and I can’t eat it. Beef marrow is one. Eating Cornish game hen is another (too many bones – looks like a dead pigeon found under the bridge). My mind. My problem.

Once those bones and bits were well roasted, I moved them into my stock pot and covered with water, the peppercorns, bay leaves and some apple cider vinegar. I let it simmer on top of the stove for about three hours. When it was time to go to bed, I transferred the stock, bones and all, into my slow cooker, and let it continue to simmer overnight and well into the next afternoon. After 24 hours, I took it off the heat and allowed it cool. Once room temperature, I moved the entire crock pot out onto the patio to chill (this took place on December 24 and about -10C). Once the fat rose to the top, I took the pot back into the house, lifted off the beautiful beef fat, wrapped it, and put it away in the freezer for future potato roasting and the like.

The stock I strained through a large pasta sieve, then a fine mesh sieve. I could have gone the next step and ran it through cheesecloth, but whats a few bits between friends?

This made a lot of stock. I froze most of it in one cup containers, and the remaining half litre made one of the most delicious soups.

Here’s to healthy hair and nails, thanks to the collagen found in bone broths! Maybe one day, Edmonton will have it’s own broth-shop downtown serving up some delicious, hot and healthy broth-to-go to it’s chilly downtown citizens.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Also known as Prostitute’s or Whore’s spaghetti. Why? I’ve learned the aromatics from this dish is supposed to tickle the olfactory system, thus enticing a working girl’s customers to come pay a visit.

Before I go further, let me give credit where it is due. I came across the recipe I’m using from an article I read by Eric Akis of the Times Colonist whilst visiting Victoria this past week. He writes an enjoyable article, and suggest you read it.

I’ve done further internet research, and have learned that there is a number of different ways of putting this dish together – whole tomatoes vs strained tomatoes, for instance, but tonight I am favouring Eric’s recipe.

Here’s a photo of the ingredients:

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Ideally, there should be a bunch of fresh, bright basil leaves in this picture, but the Italian Centre Shop was out, in  my time of need. I won’t hold a grudge though – they had everything else I needed, and will live, just this once, with dried basil.

Unless baking, I rarely follow a recipe to spec. Again, please read Eric’s recipe if you are more comfortable with precise amounts. I have a hard time measuring spaghetti. If I have a recipe that needs spaghetti, the whole box is used. If I need strained tomatoes, I will dump in the entire bottle. In this case, this recipe requires:

Spaghetti (1 box)
Olive oil (glugs to taste)
Chili flakes (to taste)
Anchovies (4 -5)
Capers (tablespoon or two)
Strained tomatoes (1 bottle)
Garlic, glorious, glorious garlic (today it was 7 cloves)
Black olives (1/2 – 3/4 cup)
Basil (dried, 2 tbsp)

I will use caution with the anchovies, black olives and capers and use the 4 minced anchovies, 1/2 cup of black olives and 2 tbsp capers Eric recommends only because I’m not all that familiar cooking with these things and don’t want the dish to get too salty or fishy.

The method is straight forward. Boil up a pot of water for the spaghetti. When it boils, drop the heat down and concentrate on the sauce.

For the sauce, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped garlic, anchovies and chili flakes. Make sure the heat isn’t too high. You don’t want to burn that lovely garlic. When the smell gets to a point of toe-curling rapture, add the tomatoes, dried basil leaves, olives and capers.

While this is simmering, bring the pot of water back to the boil and cook the spaghetti. When it’s done, scoop out a teacup full of the water and set aside. Drain the spaghetti, put it back in the pot and add the sauce. If it’s too sticky, add bits of the reserved water.

Top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano if you have it. We can’t eat pasta without it. We invest in this cheese. We buy more than we need, have one that is in use, and a spare in the back of the fridge so we never run out.

There you have it, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. Time for me to leave, pull on some fishnet stockings over my arthritic knees, a black satin corset with red feather trim on my squishy torso, stiletto’s on my plantar fasciitis feet and some ruby red lipstick on my chapped lips. Where did I put that riding crop? … *wink*

POSTSCRIPT: While opening the tin of anchovies, the lip snapped generating one of the most beautiful sprays of fish oil all over me, the kitchen counters, and the floors. I was hoping to greet Michael at the door in a saucy, sexy, sophisticated way. Instead, he will find me disheveled, with all the neighbourhood cats twirling around my legs and meowing on my shoulders.

Eggs in YEG

Although my parents, and my parent’s parents all grew up on farms with chickens roaming free and happily laying eggs, I grew up with grocery store eggs. I continued to buy grocery store eggs well into my 48th year on this planet.

My first experience with non-grocery store eggs was done with some apprehension. A friend gifted me one dozen eggs… and the eggs were not white. Well, some where white, but others were various shades of blue, green, and brown. They were beautiful. I could not believe eggs could be so beautiful.

I have to admit though, that I had a few days of worry about eating said eggs. For some reason, because they didn’t come from a grocery store, I figured that maybe, just maybe, I’d crack one open and a baby chick would land on my fry-pan and peep at me and I’d have raise him/her to adulthood. Or maybe, just maybe, by handling a farm-fresh egg, that I’ll get some disease from chicken poop. Or maybe, just maybe, the eggs will be rotten, I’d stink up the entire apartment building and we’d be evicted.

My worries were completely unfounded. I finally cracked those eggs for breakfast, and I was fast tracked to a new level of egg appreciation. They had flavour! Egg flavour!

Now, I only know what I know, and eggs are bought from the grocery store. I have friends who frequent the farmers’ market for their eggs on weekends. I visit the market only when I am in a state of zen and don’t mind the idea of being jostled around by people with bags of carrots, pushing baby carriages, drinking coffee, and stopping to talk with their neighbours RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE FREE SAMPLES at the pesto-pasta people.

My last visit to the Strathcona Market was at high noon. I was talking to Michael over my shoulder about what I planned to do with the garlic I bought, and should we invest in an organic chicken, and asked if we should have coffee here, or go somewhere else? The response I received was NOT from my husband, but from some bewildered man who found himself between Michael and me. I was embarrassed. The bewildered man, I like to think, was disappointed he wasn’t coming for coffee with us, and Michael split his gut laughing at me. I haven’t really been on speaking terms with Farmers’ markets since.

Eggs. Let’s talk about those eggs. I knew GOOD eggs existed. Grocery store eggs were edible, but not GOOD. The Farmers’ Market have GOOD eggs, but there is the crowds, and you have to be at your vendor by a certain time to secure eggs, and that all seemed like too much work for me on a Saturday morning.

Enter the University of Alberta’s Heritage Egg program. Here, chickens are raised in an environment they can roam free, are local, and the people that raise them are SERIOUSLY into chickens and eggs and want to provide the consumer the highest quality, natural eggs.

The premise is sort of fun too. You pay a fee and adopt a chicken. I agonized a little too long over this process. The idea of adopting a chicken was something I took Very Seriously. I decided on a Light Sussex, and named her Imogen-the-Chicken.

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Random Internet Provided Light Sussex Chicken, NOT Imogen-the-Chicken

 

Your adoption/fee entitles you to a dozen eggs every two weeks. At first, early in the season the eggs are quite small… significantly smaller than what you receive at the grocery store. As the chickens mature, the eggs to get bigger.

When you pick up your eggs, you are not getting your own chickens eggs. You get an assortment of Heritage chicken eggs, and this I promise you, is Very Exciting. You will get some large eggs, and small eggs, and eggs in between. You will get white eggs, brown eggs, beige eggs. In all cases, the eggs are beautifully fresh and have the most wonderful flavour.

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In the past year, there were a few weeks we had to resort to grocery store eggs… at first we bought our regular cheapest available eggs, and were disappointed with the blandness. We started to invest in the more expensive “free range” eggs, etc., and although marginally better, were not best.

Michael and I have come to the end of our egg-season with the Heritage Egg program at the University of Alberta and Imogen-the-Chicken is well on her way to becoming a stewing chicken. We loved the drive out to the South Campus every Thursday and/or Saturday to pick up our eggs. We are not too sure if we are ready to commit to another year, but will certainly support the project in other ways.

My appreciation for the simple egg has grown. If we owned our own home, I would certainly be thrilled if our neighbours were raising chickens for eggs. I have to be honest and say that it is something we wouldn’t pursue because we are never at home… this is why we don’t have children or pets.

I adore chickens now, and if I wasn’t going through a phase of reducing the stuff we have in our home, I am convinced I would be a collector of all things chicken – paintings of chickens, tablecloths with a chicken print, chicken napkins, chicken salt and pepper shakers, and a chicken adorned apron.

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Thank you Internet for Random Chicken Salt and Pepper Shakers

If you are a grocery store egg buyer, don’t feel bad. The grocery store eggs are a convenience. I hope with this post though, that it might nudge you a little towards trying farm fresh eggs. Try it at least once. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Minimalism Game

September was declared the Month of Minimalism in Walsh Manor. I was inspired by Twitter’s and Edmonton’s cheerleader, reuse and recycle advocate, self proclaimed kook and social media sweetheart, Super Su. I embarked on a quest to rid our two bedroom abode of all its unloved and unused stuff.

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Dust covered and neglected stuffies.

It was sold to me as the #minimalismgameyeg. Game on. This game did not involve running, so I had half a chance to win. The rules were simple. On September 1, find one item to remove. On September 2, find two items to remove, and so on, until September 30 when you chuck out 30 items.

On Day 1, this seemed to be an easily winnable game. Days 2 – 9, it was still a breeze. Double digit days started to get a bit more difficult, but still completely achievable.

What I didn’t realize, until the month of September, is how much shit stuff we hide in cupboards, closets and drawers. We got rid of 465 items in September. 465 items that found their way to the Reuse Centre, Goodwill, Mrs. B, the recycle and garbage bins out back of our place.

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Silver plate monogrammed and CPR flatware from my silverware collecting phase

I was surprised by the amount of support I received from the social media community. It was rewarding because several people identified that they were purging stuff from their homes, having been inspired by my posts. I was asked to provide some tips. I will do that now:

Protip #1: Start with one item. Find something, anything. Take it, and chuck it out. I bet you will find a plastic bread tie in your kitchen drawer. Start with that.

Protip #2: Get a box. Fill it with stuff for the Reuse Centre. This includes stuff like CDs, CD cases, yarn, paper, felt things that you put on the bottom of chair legs, and gift bags.

Protip #3: Get another box. Fill it with those shoes, mitts, sunglasses, and scarves hiding in your hall closet. If they are still good, donate them. If you come across a dried pair of leather gloves, chuck them out.

Protip #4: Open That Drawer in your kitchen. You know the one. It has bread ties. Twist ties. Chopsticks. Lemon zesters. Tea strainers. Have you used them in the past year? No? Chuck them.

Protip #5: The Hardware Drawer. For some, this may be combined with the kitchen drawer. In our home, we had a dedicated hardware drawer, and it had treasures in there that were remarkably hard to part with. I plucked out a package of magnetic tape and said, “this might come in handy some day”. The truth is, I have not used magnetic tape ever in my life so far, and it is doubtful I will need magnetic tape in the next 50 years. Chuck. Command strips? Yes, they were exciting when they were first invented. Do we need dozens of them? New and used? No. Chuck.

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Protip #6: Be prepared for upheaval. Our apartment became (and still is, in part) a mess. I have stuff in one pile for Mrs. B. I have stuff in another box for our local church’s rummage sale. I have curtain rods laid out in the hallway, waiting to be removed.

I have become familiar with the location of clothing recycle bins in the neighbourhood. I am friends with the local Goodwill store. I can recite the acceptable items list for the local Reuse Centre.

I expect within a month I’ll be rid of all the stuff earmarked for its specific destination. I am pleased that our silver flatware will make a collector happy, our woolly scarves someone warm, and our jigsaw puzzles keeping someone busy over the winter months.

Here’s my list of purged items from our home throughout the month of September:

Day 1: Large old style tube TV that weighs the same as a Volkswagen Beetle.

Day 2: Operating software from 2007 and 2008.

Day 3: Commemorative plaques.

Day 4: Chinese Soup bowls and spoons (originally bought on a whim from a T & T visit).

Day 5: Chopsticks, plastic cutlery, twist ties.

Day 6: Stuffies (these thing breed on their own).

Day 7: My delicate unmentionables that I would be embarrassed to be caught wearing if I was ever in an accident and taken to hospital.

Day 8: Puzzles.

Day 9: Winter gear.

Day 10: Shoes. Including a pair of BRAND NEW (in 2005) golf shoes, worn twice.

Day 11: Hallway closet stuff (sunglasses, insoles, medical tape).

Day 12: Scarves, Part 1

Day 13: Scarves, Part 2

Day 14: Hallway closet stuff continued (slippers, game software, more insoles, over-door hooks).

Day 15: Clothes

Day 16: Old makeup

Days 17 – 20:  Gift bags… bags and bags of gift bags.

Day 21: Stationery

Day 22: CDs and cassettes.

Day 23: More stuffies

Day 24: Books

Day 25: Silver flatware

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Day 26: The Kitchen Drawer, which included no less than three corkscrews.

Day 27: Ikea tealights bought over 12 years ago.

Day 28: China and silver flatware

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Day 29: The Hardware Drawer

Day 30: Clothing

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Did I win the game? You bet I did. But then, even those who chucked out one bag old clothes win as well. This is a game where everyone wins.

My goal is to free us of the unused and unloved stuff that collects around us without notice. Although I do get anxious when there is too much stuff around me, there is comfort in a stack of favourite books, a project with potential in the corner, and collection of teas or wine waiting to be consumed.

Find what works for you. Start in a drawer. Toss out that twist tie. It’s a first step.

Candy Cake

Craving something sweet… I mean really sweet? After someone posted a picture of Holly Hobby on the internet this morning, I was feeling nostalgic. I can’t just sit still and feel nostalgic, I usually get some food memories going on at the same time, which means I get cooking / baking!

To keep the story short and sweet, my sister had the Holly Hobby Amy doll when we lived in Lakeview in Calgary. At the time I would have nothing to do with my little sister, so while she happily played with Amy, I would plot ways to torment her play with my friends, one of them being Sheelah Taylor who lived a few blocks away.  It was the Taylor’s who introduced me to Candy Cake. They also introduced me to the idea that men could knit (Sheelah’s dad was a great knitter), and that some churches take you to Sunday school by bus and while in said bus you had to memorize little bits of scripture typed on small pieces of paper in order to recite it once in “school”. That part of my life didn’t last long. 8 year old Cathy had a difficult time (still does) concentrating on anything during the weekend.

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Candy cake. It’s got this going for it – it’s the easiest thing to bake. It’s oats, brown sugar, butter and vanilla. When it comes out of the oven, it’s a molten pan of sugary goodness. Once cooled, it slices up into delicious squares of teeth singing sweetness. Out of the respect for the Taylor’s, I continue the tradition of adding a layer of creamy butter cream icing as well (although today I skipped the blue food dye which was happily added back in the 1970’s).

Curious? Have a sweet tooth? Try this:

CANDY CAKE

1 cup brown sugar
2 cups oatmeal (large flake)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients and press into a 8 x 8 pan. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into squares.

If you dare to go there, before cutting, top with butter cream icing. I don’t have a recipe. All I do is mix together about a 1/4 cup softened butter, a few drops of vanilla and milk, adding a little bit of icing sugar and mixing.  I keep adding drops of milk and bits of sugar until it looked like a butter cream.

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Sir Winston’s Fish and Chips

It’s not often I’ll post a blog about a place without at least one picture, but last night a regular dinner out turned into such a fun experience, I thought I’d give it a plug – without a picture.

If you are looking for authentic English fish and chips, do yourself a favour and visit Sir Winston’s Fish and Chips. It’s located at 10505 51 Ave NW (same strip mall as London Drugs, and adjacent mall to the Italian Centre Shop). I had a perfectly pulled Boddington’s. Okay, I had two perfectly pulled Boddington’s. We both had fish (halibut) and chips.

The fish was fresh, meaty and delicious, the batter light and crisp. The chips are proper English chips – thick cut, perfect for malt vinegar and ketchup. We are both fans of the homemade coleslaw. The one-piece was more than generous for a single serving.

Our server is charming and fun. Both owners are enthusiastic and want happy customers. I was charmed by the Big Ben salt and pepper shakers. For those ex-pats, check the feature wall and table tops for authentic linen tea towels and find your county/country, family name or flag.

This place is more than fish, and we look forward to our next visit for butter chicken or steak and kidney pie. Sir Winston’s decor has been updated by the new owners. The atmosphere is casual, with a vibe between pub and restaurant. It is family friendly, and a comfortable place to sit and enjoy a meal. TV’s are strategically placed for those into sports.

Prices are reasonable, for both fish and pints!

Sir Winston’s Fish and Chips
10505 51 Ave NW, Edmonton
(780) 430-7170
Delivery available through Skip the Dishes

Chutney’s Indian Grill

Craving Indian food but don’t feel like the mental wrestling needed when visiting a buffet? You know what I mean. You go in thinking “I’ll just pick a little bit of this and that and call it a night”. Nuh-uh. Next thing you know you are trying to discreetly unbutton your fly to allow for tummy expansion and breathing space while wondering at the Very Same Moment, if you should have one more piece of naan to sop up the remains of the butter  sauce on your plate because, afterall, you are paying $25 and need to get every penny worth of food.

As you drive home you berate yourself for eating too much and swear for the 1,000th time (say it together now) “I’ll never do that again”. Once you are home you burst out of your clothes, flake out on the couch and commence a few hours of nothingness while your body sighs deeply and gets to work to try to digest the overload of food.

Edmonton now has a terrific option for those craving delicious Indian food, but don’t want the commitment of a food coma afterwards. Chutney’s Indian Grill offers delicious, fresh-made Indian food for those looking for a healthy guilt-free eating experience.

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Chutney’s Indian Grill just opened. The decor is colourful, bright and with clean lines. There is abundant tables and chairs, as well as a few high stools at a counter.

To order, it is the now familiar line where you start on one end to select your option – burroti (a marriage of roti and burrito), bowl or salad. Next you choose your starch (rice or quinoa), followed by protein (chicken, beef, tofu, chickpeas). Next up is the difficult decision of sauce – butter, tikka, dahl, or vindaloo. Next, select your favourite veggie toppings and finally, your favourite chutney.

For a place called Chutney’s, they do not disappoint in their chutney selection. Everyone’s palate is guaranteed to find a chutney to suit them. From a dark tamarind, to a bright cilantro to a sticky (and yummy) mango peach to a fiery hot cranberry red chili.

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Michael and I were intrigued and anxious to try the burroti. The dough is fresh and cooked right before your eyes on the DoughPro 400 – an amazing machine that turns a ball of raw dough into a piping hot roti in the blink of an eye.

I chose a combo of quinoa, chickpeas, veggies, vindaloo and mango chutney for my burroti. Although I am the furthest thing from a vegetarian, I do try to pick vegetarian/vegan options now and again to give my body some hope and encouragement of a better life of enlightenment and spirituality (it really means I need the extra fibre in my diet).

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The burroti is then wrapped in foil. Novice that I am, I sat down, unwrapped mine and was ready to dig in with fork and knife. Owner Harvey came over in the nick of time to explain how to keep it wrapped, pull the foil back, and eat your portable Indian meal as you would a donair. Amazing!

Michael was enraptured with the entire experience. He could have stood in front of the DoughPro 400 all night if I didn’t drag him away. Although he looks a little perturbed having his picture taken with a burroti in his face, he was as impressed as I was with the delicious flavours.

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We really enjoyed ourselves this visit. We think this is a great idea and wish Harvey and his crew the very best of success.

Chutney’s Indian Grill can be found in the deep southeast corner of Edmonton at 4316 – 17th Street. Check out their website at Chutney’s Indian Grill and then go visit them.

 

 

Crepes

Crepes (pronouced cray-ps by me, and crips by a delightfully sassy Sarah Carey of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food) were on my mind last night. I had a bowl of left over sliced strawberries, and a fresh container of cream. Whipping cream.  Although nothing is quite as delicious as strawberries and cream on its own, I felt, despite the overwhelming oppressive heat of the apartment, I would make crepes. For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to make a nice cool crispy salad like most people do on hot days.

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I pulled out my blender, and plopped in:

1 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk (for those of you who know I am lactose intolerant, I used lactose free milk)
4 large eggs
3 tbsp melted butter

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I whirred until well blended, then put the blender jar with the crepe mixture in the fridge to rest 20 minutes.

Then, for the next 30 minutes, in the oppressive heat of the apartment, I stood next to the hot stove making about a dozen or so crepes. Crepes are super-easy to make, they just require your attention.

I slightly butter the crepe pan (any flat pan will work), heated to medium (level 5 on my cooker). I add a bit of butter, then use a paper towel to wipe it off. Then I pour in about 1/4 cup of batter. Wobble the pan in a wobbly manner to help distribute the batter in a round shape and to try to cover the pan. It needs to be thin.

The crepe is done when the edges get tinged brown and pull away from the pan. Flip and give the other side a bit of a cook. It takes only seconds, so watch carefully.

As you pull them off, stack on a plate. Some sites will say to layer them between parchment or wax paper. Don’t bother with the fuss. They stack well on their own and come apart easily.

Now that you have a stack of crepes, the real fun begins. I had the strawberries and cream. All I did was slightly whip the cream so it was thick. I added sliced strawberries, a sprinkle of sugar, and a dollop of the cream. It looked something like this this:

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Which rolled up perfectly into this:

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This morning I thought why not expand my crepe horizons and try the ham, cheese and egg crepe as shown in the Everyday Foods video. Why not? Really? What can I lose? My egg. That’s what I can lose. This is how it turned out:

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This is how it was supposed to look:

MarthaStewart Photo via:  Martha Stewart

Clearly, Martha uses staples to keep the corners of her crepes perky.

Crepes, once cooked, can sit in your fridge for a few days. They can probably be frozen too, but I doubt you’d have any left over to freeze.

 

 

 

 

Narayanni’s

Tucked off Whyte Avenue at 10131 81 Avenue is Narayanni’s, serving gourmet South African Indian cuisine made by the Naidoo family.

The restaurant is located on a street with plenty of free angle parking. The building was built over 70 years ago as Adndt’s Machine Shop. From the outside, it has that classic Old Strathcona feel about it, but once you step inside you are greeted with a sparkling clean, tasteful and subtly designed space with nice sized tables, sturdy chairs and room to breathe.

In the centre of the room is a circular serving area where the buffet is displayed. Michael and I visited Narayanni’s on Wednesday night for the Wednesday Night Buffet at the unbeatable price of $15.00 per person.

As this was our first visit, we did a tour of the buffet before making selections. On this night, the buffet featured:

Papadams
Cucumber Raita (yogurt dip)
A colourful mixed salad
Basmati rice
Vegetable Curry Soup
Grilled Chicken Masala
Curried Potatoes with Peas and Green Beans
Chana (Chickpeas) with Mushrooms
Chicken Curry
Tofu CurryRice Pudding

Warm, delicious roti was also available and was brought to the table to us.

We started with the vegetable curry soup. The flavours in the soup brought my tastebuds to life. Michael and I both exclaimed if that is all we ate that night, we would have left happy campers. But we didn’t stop there, of course. We got up again and filled our fresh plates (emptied plates were swiftly taken away).

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I sampled all the food on the buffet. The potatoes with peas and green beans, the chana with mushrooms, the chicken curry, the grilled chicken masala, and the roti, ohhhhh that roti, was so delicious. There was good strong level of spicy heat in the curries.  A bit more and I’d be fanning my mouth, but it just took us to the edge, still allowing all those beautiful flavours through.

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I did learn this evening that South African Indian cooking does not have the cream sauces I’ve become used to seeing in Edmonton. For someone like me with an intolerance to dairy, it was very special to be able to eat virtually anything on the menu without having to ask “does this have dairy?”. There was the raita (yogurt), but that was easily identifiable. The post-dinner chai tea and rice pudding were made with almond and coconut milk on request.

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Narayanni’s food is all made fresh, no preservatives. They source local, organic, free range, and in season food. They have a large assortment of gluten and vegan menu items, and feature a Tuesday Vegan Night Buffet for $15.00 per person (cash only). There are a variety of different buffets for different nights of the week. There is also a lunch buffet for the seemingly impossible price of $12.00 per person. Please check their website for times, prices, and when cash is only accepted as this changes throughout the week.

If you are looking for an indulgent, flavourful, healthy, feel-good to toes your meal, I highly recommend trying Narayanni’s. You will be made to feel welcome and at home.

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Dixie Lee Chicken

This post has two purposes. One, to introduce you a new fried chicken place. Two, to tell you what I did to do to make this blog post happen – from conception, to research, to testing, to sitting in front of the computer Googling “how much water will I need to drink to remove all the exceess salt in my body”. It all starts innocently enough.

I’m sitting at my desk at work, toiling away, ensuring I am giving tax payers value for their money. In walks a co-worker, opening the conversation with this:

“Hey Cath, can I talk to you? I have a non-work question”.

“Sure!” I say. I have sufficiently toiled, I can take a five-minute break.

“What’s that new chicken place called on Whyte?” is the gist of the question.

“What new chicken place”, asks I.

“On Whyte, where the Cheese Factory is”, is the answer.

I had no idea, but being the helpful sort of person I am and because I have a network of Foodies on my Twitter feed, threw out the question to the Twitterverse. No one responded within .5 seconds, so we resumed our conversation.

We had a short chat about Korean fried chicken, fried chicken in general, and by this point, the craving for fried chicken was firmly planted. I know me. These cravings don’t go away until fed. I haven’t quite mastered the deep breathing, go for a walk, drink green tea and meditate to stop these cravings in their tracks. No, instead, I do research on all things fried chicken. I dreamt of fried chicken last night. But then, the night previous I had a dream that K.D. Lang stopped by to talk to me while at an open air concert and she told me that I am a lesbian….

….. anyway, my point is, just because I dream of fried chicken, doesn’t mean I need to eat fried chicken. I just finished watching Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food which was interesting, and left me with these simple words that will help eat healthy: “If it’s advertised on TV, don’t eat it”.

As it is, I have never seen an ad on TV for Dixie Lee Chicken. (I will always find a loophole).

This morning I received rescue from Sharon Yeo of Only Here for Food. She suggested the place we were looking for was Dixie Lee Chicken.

With my husband home sick with a  bug, after some basic nursing and cooing, I went into to work to complete a project. A project tax payers would be proud of. We’ll not mention the Facebook post while I was at the office, expressing my pleasure of being able to still stick the Bugles I found in our staff lunchroom on the ends of my fingers….

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…. I decided I’d indulge in some fried chicken for lunch. Off to Dixie Lee I went.IMG_5122

Dixie Lee Chicken is located at 8943 82 Avenue Edmonton. It is in the same strip mall The Cheese Factory was, and continues, to be part of (although they are now just a retail shop).

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Dixie Lee Chicken opened in Bonnie Doon one month and one week ago. There is plenty of angle parking in the front of the building and adjacent side street. The shop is clean, has a comfortable amount of open space, and plenty of seating.

I was greeted by a friendly person. I placed my order and was told to wait about five minutes. In those five minutes, I observed that the seating area was clean, and busy. There were a few tables still available had I decided to eat in. The Cheese Factory etched window is visible inside Dixie’s space.

I was delighted when a couple who arrived after me were speaking fluent French with the lady at the counter. I love Bonnie Doon for that reason. Although I don’t speak French, I love that our country is bilingual and love hearing it.

There was lots of interest in Dixie Lee. As I was waiting a number of people came in to check out the menu and the space.

I had ordered the five-piece fried chicken (no fries thanks), and a small coleslaw. Just as my order was due, a fellow came out from the back and asked if I would mind legs and wings – he’d give me more of those if I did. I happily accepted because those are my favourite pieces anyway, and left with a box of 8 juicy pieces, plus one plump breast.IMG_5120.jpg

After a meandering drive home, and a peek to check on Michael’s vitals, I sat myself down with my box of chicken and tub of coleslaw.

The chicken was still crispy and juicy. My only experience previous to this was Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chicken-on-the-Way in Calgary, and Mary Brown‘s. I match this closest to Mary Brown’s. But better. Mind you, when I had Mary Brown’s, I was also following the Jenny Craig diet, and had just spent $120 for Jenny Craig food for a week, and decided to buy Mary Brown’s chicken that same evening on my way home. That supper was laden with guilt and shame.

*melancholy sigh*

The coleslaw. Dixie Lee’s coleslaw is sweet, has a nice crunch, and tastes delicious. A bit more liquidy than I’m used to, but completely edible and enjoyable.

Dixie Lee will cure all your cravings for fat, salt, and sugar in one fell swoop. If you are going to blow your diet, do it right, and do it big. I recommend Dixie Lee’s in Bonnie Doon.