Category Archives: Ruminations on the Edible

Food inspired writing

Dundee, Omaha: Free fresh bread and a Wall of Scotch

Time to move to Dundee

Our first full day in Omaha we walked up to Dundee,  a mile away from where my brother and his family live.  When you move to Omaha you should also try to be walking distance from Dundee.  According to a short pieceI found on-line, Dundee was an early Omaha suburb, built at the end of a streetcar line.  It’s a cozy and cool little community.

We headed first for some free bread at the Great Harvest Bread Co.  School kids stop here on their way home for a slice of their choice with some butter and honey.  Our goal was their Cheddar Garlic Loaf (a whole loaf mind you) plus the snack size slice.

The choices that morning were the Red, White and Blue Berry Bread (thick white loaf with dried cranberry and blueberry, a whole wheat cinnamon raisin and gluten-free version and fresh white bread.

That is my brother ready to load on the butter.  It’s a genetic trait in the family.  Butter-love.

We had walked by a place called Beer and Loathing earlier and I asked what it was…

Dave replied, “it’s a meat market” and I said, “oh, charcuterie!” to which he said, “no, college kids.”  Yes, I’m an idiot.

You can easily get distracted by places like the eCreamery

With Ice Cream Flavour names like Scoops of Thanks and Anti-Aging Cream.

Then you can saunter down to get some affordable designer jeans at Scout where they buy, sell and trade modern and vintage clothes.  Great selection.

In the background you can see the sign for PITCH pizzeria.  Check out their amazing menu

And if you’re into Scotch you will want to head to the Dundee Dell.

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If you click on no other link–check out the Scotch menu….

And finally, if you really like bread as we do, you’ll want to bookend your excursion with a stop for a French baguette, croissants, pain au chocolat or sour dough at The Bread Oven.

Oh, or some French style butter.  Less moisture, more butterfat.

And I have nowhere better to take you than this butter.  Other than a walk home on a sunny day.  With a rather full dough belly.

And this quote from The Bread Oven blog:

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water,

is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”

M.F.K. Fisher–

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Filed under Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible, Travel and Food

Happy Valentine’s Day to Me (and you of course)

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable Valentine’s Day–meaning that you’ve been showered in chocolates, furry stuffed bears and wet kisses (if you’ve been hoping for such things), or that you’ve had the satisfaction of hating this horrible, commercial holiday that compete’s only with New Year’s in terms of hollow and impossible expectation settings.

If you’re panicking (from either scenario) remember this:

This was a Valentine’s message from my friend Joanne at fashioninmotion.com, which should actually be cheeseandfashioninmotion, but too late now.

Yet, good or bad, Valentine’s Day always invites one to think about having a special meal–cheesies, Diet Dr. Pepper and gummies in front of Four Weddings and a Funeral  (where you can throw cheesies at the TV whenever Andie McDowell appears) or some fancy schmancy meal–in your house or out on the town.

I had the latter–last night-actually (we live on Australia time).  No, I have a class tonight so my husband made me a delicious dinner on the 13th.

And I will share it with you:

The appetizers came from T&T and were so delicious, I must apologize for my terrible lighting and staging of the plate but I’m not about to set up a light and worry about camera angles in the middle of a romantic meal (though apparently I will think about my blog for at least 10 minutes).

We had fishballs, and veggie gyoza and sweet and sour daikon with some salted mustard greens in the back.

Next we had a surf and turf thing going on with steak and tilapia in a Yuzu sauce with lots of fresh pepper.  The tilapia was tender, sweet and delicate.

And with that a warm mushroom salad.  Mushrooms perfectly cooked–not over cooked–and in a light Hoisin sauce.

Here is a close-up–

wow–I wasn’t kidding when I went close with this–perhaps I was eating straight from the plate with my mouth?  It was lipsmacking delicious.

And finally some fresh papaya and mango tofu.  I am slightly addicted to mango tofu since our babysitter started buying it for our son.  I am sure it is not healthy at all.  But it SOUNDS healthy!

And then, just to top off my perfect night at home–an hour long Valentine’s episode of 30 Rock!!  And, since it was PVR’d, no commericals and Tad even made sure to start the show again at the end of the preceding commercial  (I hate missing even a second of a scene).

Which reminds me, I have some Valentine Day payback to think about….

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Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Uncategorized

Oh Dough Scraper: You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til It’s Gone

Thank God I found you again under the meat tenderizer, lodged inside the medium size whisk

I wanted to make bread on the weekend and I could not find my dough scraper.  It does often get lost in my messy “tool” drawer as it is white and thin and discrete but usually I pull it out after a couple minutes of desperate searching.  But this day I really could not find it.  Squelching panic I decided, no biggie, I can forge ahead yet soon realized that bread making life was nowhere near as comfortable without ol’ Scrapey.  Scraps I sometimes call him–or “stupid piece of plastic” if I’m mad.  (Those are all lies, we never speak)

Anyway, a bread scraper or a pastry scraper can also be called a bench scraper (although a bench scraper is a bit different, stainless steel with a straight edge).  This simple tool is all about manipulating dough.  A spatula or your hands can’t lift soft dough well and some cases just plain rip up the dough –plus if the dough is wet–forget about it.

So moving onto irritation 1:  Without my scraper I could not do this:

Scraping out Rios Jr, my sourdough starter is a neat and efficient job with a scraper and is messy, sticky and maddening without.  Wide, flexible and rounded-the scraper gets in all the corners.  (Also great for scraping under a pie crust that has gotten a little sticky or been rolled too thin.)

After not being able to do THAT….I then could not do this:

And nothing scrapes down a mixing bowl quickly like you-know-who.   You also like it on hand to then gather your slightly damp, sticky dough and remove it from the mixing bowl.  See below:

I hope you get the idea. It was near impossible to take the picture and lift dough!

And finally, on the cutting board, the scraper lets you lift, roll, move the dough around and scrape up any sticky bits left on the counter or work surface.  There is serious satisfaction in efficiently flaking dough bits away and leaving a smooth, clean surface.

Again, one handed demo with other hand on camera, apologies it is not more action packed.

And as mentioned earlier you can then also portion your dough into smaller loaves or buns with the scraper (which I did in the Fougasse recipe) but in this case I was just making my usual two loaves.

In hindsight, knowing how much I need him, I give at least 35% credit to my plastic bread scraper for any loaf I have ever made.    I love you man.

Dedicated to a lost (and found) kitchen essential and sidekick.

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Filed under Blogs with cooking tips, Ruminations on the Edible

Mrs. Neumann’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (they’re the cat’s ass)

Do they look right Mrs. Neumann?

It’s taken me quite a few tries and some misses (I tried substituting butter for shortening) to get the technique of these cookies just right.  For as we all know, a recipe is just ingredients and the magic is in the hands that make it.  Or in the oven you’re using, or the type of fat (as I discovered).  Or just the fact that you don’t have to make it yourself.

my little angels

When I think of chocolate chip cookies I think of 33 Snowshoe Crescent and Mrs. Neumann’s chocolate chippers.  Some crumble but a chewy centre and the sweet balanced with a perfect hit of saltiness.

And if you’re thinking, “of course you can substitute butter crazy lady”, well, here’s the problem.  In a pinch you can but  you have to adjust the oven temperature. Butter melts faster than shortening and so at 350 °F the cookies just deflate into thin patties, becoming crispy and to brown.  So the last time I had to use butter I rolled the cookies and put them in the fridge to chill while the oven preheated.  I took the temperature up to 375 °F rather than 350° F to speed up baking and not allow them to spread so much.   And I baked them for 9-10 minutes.  They turned out better, did taste buttery, but I couldn’t get the same chewiness.

(One tray I baked for 15-17 minutes as I was checking email and finally the “DING DING DING” of the timer made it through my consiousness and I ran into the kitchen to find sadness in the oven.)

So embrace the shortening cookie lovers.  At least this one time.

(courtesy of Mrs. Neumann though now that I think of it I never really asked if I could use it.  Please still make me cookies for my birthday!!)

Mrs. Neumann’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.

2. Combine the shortening, white and brown sugar, egg and vanilla and cream with a hand blender until light and fluffy.  (do not just combine it–you want light and fluffy!)

3.  In another bowl add the flour, salt and baking soda and stir well to combine.

4. Add the dry to the wet and blend well with a spatula.

5. Add the chocolate chips.  (Resist the temptation of adding a zillion extra chips or the consistency of the cookie will be off.  DO EAT a zillion extra chips).

6. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment.  Roll the dough into about 24 little balls (they’ll be about 1 1/2 inches diameter) and divide them between the trays.  They will look small, resist making them super-size.

7. Press down lightly on each cookie with a fork until you leave an indent.  (I wet the fork in water between cookie so it doesn’t stick.)

8. Bake on middle rack  (do each sheet individually if you can’t fit both).  The recipe says 9 minutes (which is pretty right on)  but in my oven sometimes I go up to 11 minutes.  You want them browning on the edges but they will still be pale-ish on top.

9. Remove from oven, cool and eat them! Eat them all!

Then imagine if you made them with THESE.

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Filed under All Recipes, Blogs with cooking tips, Ruminations on the Edible

Is Life worth more than Crisco?

I'd post a real picture but...

I want to make chocolate chip cookies.  Lois’s Chocolate Chip cookies but I have no shortening.  And they don’t turn out the same with butter.  They just don’t.

But the weather is dicey. Slippery.  Don’t drive if you don’t have too.   So I am torn–how badly do I want the cookies?

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Filed under Ruminations on the Edible, Strange but Tasty

Foodie meet Library

Momofuko has been well worn

I would rather tell you how many shoes I have in my closet than how many cookbooks I own.  And actually, it’s not about how many I own, but how many I use regularly.

And when I say use, I obviously mean for recipes (my current 4-5 favourites rotate in and out of the kitchen) but also the books that I love to look at, that remind me of somewhere I travelled or just tell a good story or the books that I WILL use when I finally get around to doing some pit cooking in my backyard.

Pit Cooking (www.primitiveways.com)

But, if you love and use cookbooks you also know that, like an uncomfortable shoe, there are disappointments.  Recipes that never work or are too vague, purchases that were spontaneous “yes! I WILL be an expert confectioner!” and the trendy stuff  (how many Jamie Oliver cookbooks does one house need?).

I also do not mean to imply you have to cook out of a cookbook to enjoy it.  Not at all.  But, at least for myself, now that I know what I like I have a better idea what is a worthwhile investment of money and shelf space. And it forces me to look and flip through and appreciate the book right away as I will have to return it sooner or later.

THUS I INTRODUCE FELLOW COOKBOOK ADDICTS TO THE LIBRARY.

I myself forgot about the library for many years.  With amazon and ebooks downloading in a flash, it seemed troublesome to go somewhere to physically check out a book.  In fact, it did not even occur to me that the library had modernized since I was 12 and is now (gasp) on-line.

I got myself a card and now I just log on, put a hold on the cookbooks or books I want and I am sent an alert when it arrives at the branch of my choice.

Sometimes it takes a day or two and sometimes a few weeks (but how exciting when the email arrives saying Happy Day! The Art of Living According to Joe Beef is mine!! ).

Test Drive Potential Cookbooks

Now with cookbooks I borrow them.  I read them and maybe try a recipe or two.  And generally have a clear sense of whether I need this particular book at my fingertips at a moment’s notice.

And I feel a little more satisfied when finally making a purchase.  Yes, I took the book for a test drive.  It performed as I’d hoped.

And while you’re at the great place called The Library you can also get books such as this:

Or, something beautiful and simple such as this:

And all in all, the place just smells like books and pages and everything is organized and you can hide in a corner where no one knows you reading the latest issue of The New Yorker.

Or just looking in fashion magazines for shoes to buy.

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Filed under Blogs with cooking tips, Cookbooks, Magazines (+recipes from), Ruminations on the Edible

Red Rocket Coffee Danforth: Only a few more sleepy days to wait

Watch out Tim Horton's. You've just been a feeble fallback.

 Red Rocket Coffee is opening SOON minutes from my house, just a quick walk to the Danforth.  Red Rocket, whose original location was at Greenwood and Queen (across from the TTC yard, hence the name) had to close its Leslieville location due to a major rent increase.  I am probably one of many who live in the Danforth that want to offer heartfelt condolences to Red Rocket’s Queen East regulars but instead are clicking our heels together with glee.

The new location at 1364 Danforth is still sealed up with Kraft Paper, a present we all want to open.

Not open yet. No matter how many times I walked by in one day.

Red Rocket will be taking over the Three’s Company Too location on the Danforth.  The original Three’s Company is now at Danforth and Pape (the loss of their weekend brunch still saddens me when I pass what is now a French Toast-less  Naturopathic Clinic at the corner of Lamb/Greenwood)   If you’re from the west end I’ll stick with locating the new Red Rocket “between Greenwood and Coxwell” but if you’re from the hood you’ll want to know that it’s just west of Linnsmore Cres. (minutes from the Greenwood Subway exit) and across the Danforth from Lamb and Gillard St.   Conveniently close to Jerry’s Supermarket (grocer/butcher) and the new fitness place  BOMB Wellness.

The Future:

Coffee- workout-coffee.

Coffee-pork chops-coffee.

Coffee-forgot the bacon-PU coffee for spouse at home.

If the damn place would just open I could live out all the above fair trade and organic fantasies.  Well, maybe only the first and last part of the first one.

Word on the Red Rocket Blog as posted Saturday is that they’ll be opening in a few days.  Word on the street (as I lingered outside today and peeked through the window at a space full of boxes and “stuff”) is that there will be a soft open (coffee only–Red Rocket also makes their own food and pastries) mid-January.

I will keep lingering even if the Red Rocket people start to fear that what they appreciated as loyalty in their Queen St E clientele could potentially turn to stalking on the Danforth.   Just enthusiasm, I swear.

(There is also a Wellesley location)

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Filed under Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible