Time for another step-by-step article. Neighbor Nancy has been providing weekly updates from a community of writers who are sharing how-to articles like these – some are related to cooking, others are from all around your household (her writings relate to getting by on less and is tremendously well-written and a lot of fun).
Today’s article follows some advice on how to create your own turkey gravy. My father is the master of turkey – moist, succulent and full of flavor. These photos are from his Easter dinner – it was about a 12-15 pound Turkey.
The Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food–Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation’s Food Was Seasonal”
It’s a book that was originally started 70 years ago to describe the cuisines of Depression-era Americans and not published, ironically, until this year (it’s out mid May). It goes really well with some of our posts on depression era cooking and growing, and considering “Creamed Peas on Toast” is one of our most read posts it would appeal to a lot of our readers who are looking for ‘Recession Recipes’.
I sit here writing on the eve of the fourth chef’s menu that Dana and I will enjoy together (dinner reservations for 8pm tomorrow evening). I am most excited and will certainly fill in the kind folks here over the next few days.
Our first tasting menu was about 4 years ago. It was a surprise for Dana’s birthday. We had both talked about it and had separately wanted to try a tasting menu long before we reacquainted and started to date. I had made a previous plan with a friend that we would save our pennies and eat at Susur together if we weren’t dating anyone within 18 months – Dana and I met almost 12 months later and it would be another 18 months before we got to try a tasting menu.
We shared a 15 course meal which came with wine pairings. Dinner was a 4-5 hour event with seperate service, somalier and private conversations with the chef who prepared our meal in front of us. The restaurant was shaped like a horseshoe. We sat side-by-side overlooking the sunken kitchen and could see our meal cooked within feet of where we sat. Our raised perch allowed romantic and private interlude and we could invite the chef into the conversation by simply raising our tone.
Dana and I had different dishes and enjoyed different servings and sampled 30 dishes and paired beverages (portions of both were small but delightful). It was my first taste of gourmet poutine and also of a chinatto red wine – a sweet and peppery desert wine that tastes similar to Brio Chinatto. I still remember many of the courses, the impeccable service and the constant stream of surprises like it was yesterday.
The bill was extravagant (still is by our standards) and the memory was sharp and delightful. We vowed to do this type of thing again with one constraint – when we started forgetting individual meals of this scale or confusing memories of these types of events, we would stop. Tomorrow will be tasting menu #4 and we continue to build our memory so there’s still some room for more of these experiences. Alinea and Susur followed our initial experience (name of restaurant will be revealed in the next paragraph) and BiteMe! (Thuet) is going to be #4.
It was an odd bit of news when I received an email from our friend Nat informing us that, after 6 years, Perigee closed it’s doors in the Distillery. 6 years of great food and great service have given way to high prices, a declining high-end food market and slow economic times. Perigee was famed for it’s open kitchen and great food.
Perigee, you will always be our first and hold a special place in our heart!
Picasso supposedly cut his ear off when he was “high” on this elixir. Rumours circulated that Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails was addicted to the stuff. It is shredded in mystery and was quasi-illegal in Canada until the last few years. It is lean, it is green and it turns me into a broken machine.
By the time I decide that Absinthe is a good idea, the night is usually well behind. It’s an occasional sipper and one which is as much ceremony as it is libation. Place a slotted spoon over a glass, rest a sugar cube on it and pour the contents over the cube. Light the sugar cube on fire (a lighter works best) and let it burn off (do not dump it in the glass lit or you will simply burn the alcohol away). Dump the cube in the glass, crunch it up with your spoon and crush it to partially (or wholly) dilute the sweetness. Add water to taste, sip away.
Absinthe was rumoured to be a halucnigetic (atributed to the addition of wormwood that was missing in most of the North American versions of the product). Wormwood is now allowed in Canada and if you read the label carefully you will find a relatively authentic Absinthe (such as La Fee green pictured above). It’s not cheap but at least it can now be purchased in North America. We have a few special bottles procured from the native homelands of Absinthe in Europe.
For those who have not tried it, expect a strong anise-flavor (think black liquorice, in the family of a Sambuca) and start slowly. It can be high in alcohol content and can be very powerful, almost overwhelming (drinking it from the bottle is not entirely recommended based on first-hand experience). It’s not dainty but it certainly is romantic – as in the Renaissance era and not the cuddling mindset.
As far as halucinations? I’ll leave it to your journey to determine that one and then we can trade stories…
We were fortunate to visit family this weekend – a trip to suburbia to enjoy a great meal and super company. My parents gave me the passion I have for cooking (and eating) and it is always a thrill to share a meal, learn from each other and share our passion of food. Food has a special place in our relationship and has really provided a bridge for us to form an adult friendship and bond – one where I am still their child but closer to equal. Cooking with and for family is one of the greatest honours I can have and I enjoy doing it with and for them a great deal.
My folks had requested an odd gift in the fall – 10 bulbs of garlic. The idea was pretty simple – break it into it’s tiny sweet bulbs and plant them a few inches under the ground. I bought Ontario Garlic at the St Lawrence Market – it’s a far different beast from the bleached white mini bulbs one buys in most major retailers these days. It’s skin is a beautiful dark tinge shaded with a kiss of purple and beige. It’s skin can be loose and it’s cloves can be almost as large as one of the standard bulbs.
My Father planted it in the fall – it is a very straightforward process; break apart the cloves, keep the skin in tact. Plant them about 6 inches under the surface. For maximum results, plant the bulb upright (i.e. the tough flat end down towards the center of the earth) – placing these by hand in this manner can result in garlic that is two times larger than otherwise as the garlic shoots have easier access to the sun and therefore grow faster, easier and heartier.
I was excited to see the initial results:
This is the start of garlic shoots – they will grow a foot or so and flower. When 1/3rd of the leaves die, it’s time to dig it up and leave it cure outside (out of the rain – we will likely use the garage and leave the door open a crack) for about 20 days. It can be stored around freezing for 4-6 months as long as it is ventilated.
One more very important thing to consider – the green shoots are edible and incredible. If you ever have the chance to buy them, jump at it! |They can be used like green onion though they taste of garlic – a giant advantage over the bulb is that they burn at a much higher temperature; meaning that you can sear tuna or other meat, add a garlic flavor and not burn it. You can also use these in a salad, pesto or as a fresh herb.
Too late to grow from buld this year – but it couldn’t be easier, cheaper or better than this come fall!
Heading into the east end/ Beaches area of Toronto and looking for a bite to eat? Make sure you have eaten at one of the authentic local legends: The Tulip.
We shared a recent brunch at this local hot spot – I had a wonderful steak and egg combo that came in under $13. The coffee was hot and plenty of refills offered. Steak was cooked as ordered and much enjoyed. If you are looking to eat a fair portion of family-style food you will be in for a fair deal and a great experience here. There is little romance, service is gruff but fair and the value is huge.
I have shared a hot turkey sandwhich at the Tulip in the past – Turkey served on white wonder bread, canned gravy and great fries. If you are shy of diner food, stay away from it – if you like traditional diner service and food then you are at the right place!
The Tulip has an emphasis on meat, it’s proper preparation and traditional family approach to dinner. Expect paper placemats (if there are any at all) and a menu that hasn’t changed a whole lot since the inception of the restaurant in 1929. Don’t worry about dressing up – show up with a smile and enjoy the community feel of this legendary establishment – it’s worth the low cost of admission!
I went to my first Toronto FC game of the season yesterday. Joel has been going on and on about the Chip Butty since he went to the season opener last weekend. So we didn’t eat all day to ‘save room’ for some BMO Field Football Food. By the time we got in line 15 minutes before the game started we were famished, Joel was 100% sold on the Chip Butty, mainly i think so we could get a shot of it to add to his previous post. I don’t quite get the attraction of french fries on white bread with butter, but when i saw someone walk by with THESE i had to have them:
It’s the “Mac and Cheese fritter with bacon”! Mac and Cheese is one of my all time favorite comfort foods. From Kraft Dinner to Joel’s “leftover party cheese platter special’ to the gourmet kind over at Prohibition, if i’m grumpy, or sick or hungover, or there’s a snowstorm, or I’ve had a bad day, or it’s raining….nothing cures it like Mac and Cheese. So it’s a perfect meal for a chilly sunny Saturday afternoon watching the TFC tie their game with Dallas FC. That and after this weekend I have sworn off sugar, cheese, and anything starchy or white in preparation for summer. Nothing like starting a food blog to give you an excuse to eat more cheese and drink more wine over the winter and tank top weather is almost here!! Most of my posts after this will be about salad, or I’ll stick with design related posts – lower in calories. But considering we have season tickets to the TFC this summer, i’ll have to save up my bad days for the ‘snack bar’.
It’s Easter. Yay. Childhood memories and dreams abound…
We’ve had a very pleasant Easter Weekend – there are many connections with food that go beyond chocolate at this time of year, but it takes “the cake” in my memory banks. I received an Easter basket from my Mother until I was almost 30 years old and I know that when I least expect it there will likely be another in my future. I’m not a chocolate nut – but this day has a special connection with sweetness for me.
It was my Aunt who would buy her two kids and myself the fancy egg from Laura Secord. It was a big egg – and it had a creamy filling that was so sweet it made you eat it in several sessions. The filling was a little off-putting in that it looked like a real egg – soft white sugar would give way to a golden yellow treasure hidden in the center. We were told it was a very adult-candy and very special. It was a sophisticated treat that I always saved until last because I was intimidated by it. I didn’t think I liked them and each year I would learn, as a desperate last resort, that I liked it more than I thought.
Sometimes we would get a treat which had our name written in icing sugar on them. This was magical to me – I knew that candy came from the store and there were very few things – if any - that you could buy with the name “Joel” on it. I remember feeling so special and loved Easter because the stores cared about all the “Joel’s” enough to make chocolate with out name on them. This illusion was crushed yesterday when I saw my cousin scribing chocolate eggs for the next generation of our family.
Enjoy your families or time to your self today and I hope you’ve had a lovely Easter Weekend.
My mother told me that she learned this from her mother and that it was food from the Great Depression – I’m not sure it dates that far back but it is certainly in the spirit of affordable comfort food that warms the soul and can be made on a shoestring. I made it for Dana this week to comfort her as her back is rather sore: