Thursday, December 31, 2009

Food Facts with Jess: Barley, Bay Leaves, and Thyme

If you're like me, I want to know as much as possible about the history of the foods I eat. So, here are some really interesting tidbits about two spices and one grain that I bought today, courtesy of European Breads Bakery and Dan-D-Pak respectively.

Barley: Barley played an important role in ancient Greek culture as a staple bread-making grain, as well as an important food for athletes who attributed much of their strength to their barley-containing training diets. roman athletes continued this tradition of honoring barley for the strength that it gave them. Gladiators were known as hordearii, which means "eaters of barley".

Bay Leaves: Bay leaves are the aromatic dried leaves of the evergreen tree, Laurus nobilis. Sometimes referred to as laurel, bay leaves have a distinctively strong, spicy flavour and can be used whole or dried and ground. In Ancient Greece and rome, bay leaves and branches were used as wreaths to crown victorious athletes while the English believed bay leaves brought good luck. the term "baccalaureate" refers to the ancient practice of honoring scholars with garlands of laurel or bay leaves. 

Thyme: Thyme comes from the dried leaves of Thymus Vulgaris, a member of the mint family. In ancient Greece, thyme symbolized courage. Ladies in Medieval Europe decorated the scarves of knights with a sprig of thyme as a sign of bravery. 

Figs and Brie

Figs and brie. Dried Greek figs and triple-cream brie, to be more specific. About a week ago, Anthony and I had our Christmas celebration with my dad, full of good food and good cheer and all that. One of the delicious appetizers that my dad provided was dried figs (Mission-style, I think) stuffed with a little bit of prosciutto. They were delicious. I was really hesitant about eating the figs, for reasons indecipherable even to myself. I think I might have-past tense is key here-equated dried figs with dried prunes, which is an erroneous thought in the greatest degree. BUT, what elevated this lovely appetizer to something truly food-gasmic was spreading a good bit of creamy brie on the fig and eating it that way. Really good stuff. Fruit and cheese have such a rich love story, lasting through the ages, in endless forms. So, unable to shake such a great culinary experience, today when I went grocery shopping with limited funds-as always!-I bought some sun-dried greek figs for $2.99 from Santa Barbara Market and some inexpensive triple-cream (yes, triple, I know) brie from La Grotta del Fromaggio. Oh, and some prosciutto-style salami from the latter as well. I was not disappointed. The brie and figs are a perfect match for each other. Just delicious. And figs are very healthy for you too! Two of these dried figs are 15% of your daily recommended fibre intake. Seeing as I had six of them (in case you aren't inclined to be mentally mathematically quick, that is 90% of you DR fibre), that's awesome. I really struggle to get enough varied, healthy, soluble fibre in my diet and enough fruits and vegetables, so these figs might be my gut's saviour-in-waiting. The prosciutto-style salami, while tasty, isn't nearly as good as straight-up prosciutto, but the latter can be expensive, so I just tried the latter.

While the sandwich I ate with the latter wasn't that good-old style dijion
mustard does not apparently go well with brie cheese-European Breads Bakery 100% Barley Bread did not disappoint. Still, I greatly favour their Spelt Bread. I'm thinking I should roast some peppers for a kick-ass vegetarian sandwich with brie cheese sometime this week. And looking ahead to tomorrow, there's some Fabulous Roasted Cauliflower Soup to be made. Yumms.

A Tantalizing New Culinary Discovery

I have discovered something delicious. Something long known to others it would seem. Atop a high "peak" in Vancouver, overlooking the mountains, close to parrots and a jungle, there lies Seasons in the Queen Elizabeth Park. I have heard good things about this place, vaguely and passively receiving such reviews. It is often voted as a very romantic place to dine. And yes it is pricey, brunch for two hangs around near and in the $50 range. But my god, is it delicious and real culinary revelation (my Book of Revelations would be all be food-related, you see). My mother, generous soul that she is, took me there for the beginnings of a wonderful day on the 27th of this month for a special brunch. After getting over the rather stupefying feeling caused by the surprising deliciousness of the items offered on menu, I ended up going with the Corned Beef & Maple Roasted Sweet Potato Hash, upon our server's recommendation and my pre-existing leanings to that menu option (although when I looked at the menu the night before, my eyes glanced right over this dish). Anyways, long story short-let's get rid of the suspense, shall we?-it was the most delicious breakfast/brunch I have ever had...and I have had many. Chunks of delicious sweet potatoes and corned beef, all seasoned to perfection, with loads of perfectly gooey melted swiss cheese, topped with two perfectly poached eggs with rich orange yolks and a bit of hollandaise and you have the stuff of revelation. Dare I say, the Resurrection of Corned Beef Hash from all its former glory? Wait, has it ever had any glory? Well, the resurrection from its former greasy-spoon derelict dwellings in which it has lied for decades, at least. Un-freaking-believable. Just so delicious. And absolutely something you could make it at home. God, if I had some dough, I'd be dining there all the time. ALL the bloody time. The "Green Eggs" & Ham Frittata and the Seasons Brioche French Toast are particularly calling me. And that's just brunch! For now, Seasons in the Park will remain one of many "special occasion" locales for dining. But my oh my, what a special occasion. And, by the way, the reason for my many religiously inspired metaphors lie in the fact that I am reading Javier Sierra's extremely absorbing The Secret Supper. Highly recommended!

P.S: On a side note, it makes me really mad and fucking angry that the City (fuck you Gregor, I used to be a fan you know!) is closing down the neighbouring Blodel Conservatory and no other level of government is putting any funds forth to support it. All it fucking needs is a fixed roof. Which costs far less than the $6 million dollar-plus federal government grant that was just given to the VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

Seasons in the Park on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pho vs. Ramen: The Battle of the Asian Noodles

Pho. Ramen. The Battle of the Asian Noodles. Who shall win? The people are divided. It is down to one vote. The Fledgling Basement Chef must decide it all. It all rests on her shoulders, the fate of the Asian noodles.
I pick Pho. I had ramen noodles for the first time today at Gyoza King. Vegetables Ramen. To me, the Vietnamese rice pho noodles are much tastier, lighter, and much more absorbent of its flavourful beef stock. But Ramen is still a nice wintry delight and really filling. Naturally, being at Gyoza King where the best (or second best if The Diamond's gyozas truly are as good as everyone says they are) gyozas in town can be found, I also ordered pork and chive gyozas. Perfect. Tasty. Nicely deep-fried. Goes down easy. All of this for $15 including tip! Why is that Asian restaurants throughout the city constantly trump all other restaurants when it comes to price point?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Redux: The Grilled Cheese

Upon further reflection I felt that it was necessary for me to tweak something regarding my Grilled Cheese post. The bread used and the cooking method are in fact very important, especially the former. I did allude to this in my denouncement of all things white bread, but in fact, after looking at the photo I used in my post of a most delectable grilled cheese, I realized that the bread is so key. And the cooking method is important to. I normally use a toaster oven on toast setting, which works excellently and quickly. I used to only use the slow but satisfying method of the frying pan, but that has been mostly abandoned. I seem to have got my grilled cheese fix out of my system; I no longer need to have one every single freaking day. Thank God. I think I got a little backed up, if you know what I mean. But, I'm still thinking about the grilled cheese at Deacon's Corner and Au Petit Chavignol. Like all comfort foods, whatever your preference may be, I will always love a good grilled cheese made all the better when fashioned with love.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Grilled Cheese

The Grilled Cheese. A classic. The classic. Everyone loves a grilled cheese. Maybe there are some GC lovers out there who aren't too picky or discerning about their grilled cheese; what bread, cheese, condiments, sides, and grilling methods are used to produce this very North American of foods might not matter to some. The simple combination of heat, cheese, and bread is enough. But for those like myself-no snob culinaire by any means-the type of bread, the kind and amount of cheese, and any extra ingredients or sides or flair matters. Thick, heavy rye bread? Not so much. The focus should be on the cheese, period. But let's make a point here, I don't want no Wonderbread grilled cheese. White bread is not bread; it's nutrient-less fluff. A good solid multigrain or Squirrelly bread works nicely. But, having a gut that is adverse to wheat and wheat gluten, I make my grilled cheese with European Breads Bakery Spelt Bread. And it works wonderfully. Now, to involuntarily prove the point that I am not a snob culinaire, I prefer my homemade grilled cheese with thin Kraft Singles (Lucerne variety is fine)-three of them to be specific-and maybe some ham or salami as well. Ketchup on the side? Sometimes, depends on my mood. Ewww, gross, you must be thinking. Kraft singles? That isn't even cheese. Yeah, you're right. But I can't help it. It's just like my taste for Coca-Cola. Toxic shit many would say. Yeah, I don't care though. I fucking love that toxic shit.
However, I have an open mind when it comes to most things in life, and that of course includes food. Delicious grilled cheese sandwiches can be had with real live cheese. Andrew Morrison's recent description and rave review of Au Petit Chavignol's Croque-Monsieur is luring me ever more each day to that East Hastings establishment. Also, another foodie article in The Westender on the best winter comfort food in town  has been yapping away in my head at my gut telling me to get my ass down to Deacon's Corner on Main for the one of the best grilled cheeses in town. Other recent honourable mentions in The $20 Gourmet's article just on grilled cheese include: Hub Restaurant & Lounge, and The Templeton. To be honest, neither appeal to me. But Deacon's Corner and Au Petit Chavignol are calling my name. Calling, calling, c-a-l-l-i-n-g, calling, c-a-l-l-i-n-g.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Eggs. I couldn't live without them. I read somewhere recently that you should consume no more than six whole eggs a week due to the high cholesterol content of the yolk. And I've tried to stick to that, sometimes succeeding, sometimes eating eight whole eggs in a week, sometimes...more. This week has been an egg-cellent week (horrible pun totally intended) for eggs and I. I made some great scrambled eggs for Anthony and I with peppers, chives, and the stupidly good Brise du Matin brie. I made a couple successful over-easy eggs; I still haven't really got that skill down yet. And really, if you have ever had Rabbit River Farms eggs, you will know that it is virtually impossible to not eat them every single day and ascend to gustatory heaven. They are the creamiest eggs with the largest, richest orange yolks I have ever had-absolutely bar none!-and they are the only example needed to show that happy, well-loved, well-fed chickens produce delicious, nutritious, hearty eggs, and that eggs of that caliber can only come from chickens living that kind of life, the life they deserve.

I urge you all to eat ethically. Not locally or organically necessarily, but ethically. Really think about the choices you are making when you purchase food, go grocery shopping, eat out at restaurants. What kind of system are you supporting when you eat at KFC? A disgusting vile operation based on torture of animals and lack of standards or morals of any kind. What kind of system are you supporting when you buy free-range, antiobiotic-free, vegetarian diet-fed beef? A kind, ethical, normal, natural, and authentic system based on respect and care for nature and all its creatures and the invaluable gifts of life and nutrition that they give us. Which one will you choose? The latter, I hope.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Junk Food

No matter how hard I try I am always drawn back to two things: Coca-Cola and chips. The cheesy kind of chips. Doritos. Cheetos. Cheezies. If I have the chips, I have to have the coke. If I have pizza, I have to have coke. It would seem wrong to say that I am addicted to Coca-Cola, belittling those of us who actually have real live addictions, but I cannot seem to get it off my mind of late. I seem to have shaken the chocolate obsession. I'm no longer obsessing over chocolate cake. But, Coca-Cola persists. I feel like I did when I smoked regularly for a few months back in 2007/2008. Even though I knew how horribly bad and disgusting smoking cigarettes was for me-I knew it-I continued to smoke. Now, even though I know how bad Coca-Cola is for me-it dissolves rust and is used to clean up blood at crime scenes!-I continue to drink it. Well, I kicked that cigarette habit ages ago and only very rarely do I get a craving for a smoke, and I never give in. Can I kick the Coca-Cola habit? I'd like to say 'yes' with resounding resoluteness, but I'm skeptical. You know, they say your eating habits are 'set' by the age of 12. And it is true that bad eating habits are hard to kick, just like any other ones. Oh well, for the vast majority of the time, I eat exceptionally better than most people out there, even though I am desperate for cash, eating into my savings again, and have increased my credit card limit. I do so because I care about food, I love food, I value taste and quality, I appreciate the art of good cooking.
It feels good to be able to write about food again. I was in a creative rut, lack of confidence and interest in life. Forgetting how things are great and I can never forget that.
What's on the menu for tomorrow: Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers. Yum!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wendell Berry, You Disappoint Me

I've been reading a book called Bringing It To The Table, a collection of Wendell Berry's essays spanning over thirty decades. Yes, he is an intelligent man, who comes across as caring, respectful of life in all its forms, and very thoughtful and committed to the survival of good farming. But, I was getting the inkling that he was a Christian, one who believes in Creation and Genesis, and I sighed and shook my head. He does believe in evolution it seems, but, I find it impossible to continue to read his work and see it as valuable. People wonder why his work and call for the rescue of agriculture, farming, and food has for so long continued to not have its desired effect. For me, it would be the presence of his belief in such ridiculous ideas as Creation and Genesis. Unfortunately this belief seems to be persistent in much of the agrarian literature coming out of the States. Even in Barbara Kingsolver's work, which is so thoroughly disappointing, as I have been wanting for years to read her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I may never read it know. For me, it just discredits so much of the value of their arguments and ideas. Loony and dated are words that come to mind. I am admittedly the most secular of people: I do not believe in God, I do not believe in the Resurrection of Christ, I do not believe in Satan, I do not believe in Heaven or Hell or Purgatory. But, all the same, I think I am done with American agrarian literature. A sad tale really.

Eat. Brie. Moan

I saw, I ate, I moaned. Yesterday, after a long but wholly awesome market day, I stopped in (for the first time-gasp!) at La Grotta dell Fromaggio on the Drive to see what all the fuss was about. Besides having a perfectly good, very fresh panini (a real one, not the West's terrible bastardization of it), I picked up some brie. Now, as far as I am concerned, Brie is the Queen of all cheese. While I am partial to Smoked Gouda, the elegance and celebration of subtlety and texture that Brie encompasses is unsurpassable. I had been craving some ripe, runny brie for a few days, and had initially set my sights on wrangling a round of it from Little Qualicum at the market. But, I've been feeling lately, after having wonderful and far superior non-LQC cheese of late, that LQC really isn't all that great. True, their Brie is award-winning, but not gold-winning. Plus, in many ways they pander to the masses and that is where their success is found. Qualicum Spice (probably their best-seller next to their Island Brie) is very pedestrian, appealing to any and all, and not that great and not that unique. Plus, I harbour some very negative feelings towards certain people at LQC and always will because of certain unprofessional, bitchy, inexcusably callous, and ugly-ass actions of one certain unprofessional, bitchy, inexcusably callous, and ugly-ass employee. Thus, I was looking through the bries at La Grotta and while waiting for my panini, picked one up that was perfect: 140 grams, double-cream Brise du Matin Brie for only $3.50. Yes, you heard me right, 140 grams of delicious Brie for only $3.50. It was incredible, runny from the get-go, creamy innards, mushroomy memorable rind, put LQC to absolute shame on the three most important criteria: taste, value, and price (in that order).
Needless to say, the cheese is gone. Bought yesterday around 4pm, and gone today around 3pm. My boyfriend loved it as well, and he is indeed a fan of Brie. I will certainly return for some more. Probably this week.
Now, I hope to go out to either Xoxolat or 49th Parallel, for some drinking chocolate. Drink. Chocolate. Moan.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Alright, so it's not a foodie triumph. But who says this blog can't act like my diary too?! Not that I've ever really kept a diary, but all the same. Ezcema be gone! No real thanks to Dr. I'm an Idiot Genot. But, real huge BIG BIG UPPPPPS to Wanda, at the beauty counter at Shoppers Drug Mart at Broadway and Commercial. She saved my life. Honestly, I haven't felt that truly depressed and despondent, well, maybe ever in my life. I over-applied the prescription-grade hydrocortisone-based cream around my mouth and although it stopped the raw skin from 'weeping' (a polite term for 'gentle oozing'), it made it so dry and red and angry that I could not smile or laugh and barely eat. It was horrific. I felt so ugly and depressed. I will be writing a letter of complaint to Dr. Genot regarding her lack of thorough health care-telling a patient to 'moisturize' is hardly medical advice. What the FUCK am I going to moisturize with, you bitch? Anyways, after coming home from what should have been a wonderful dinner out with my baby, I said fuck this and left and went to Shoppers for some advice. The pharmacist surprisingly led me to Wanda, at the beauty counter, and she took a lot of time purely dedicated to me to show me my saviour-ROC Dermatologic Enydrial Creams-and give me tips on how to apply the creams, etc., etc. That hand cream and lip care, combined with the moisture gloves, has almost completely healed me. The difference is incredible. I am forever devoted. All Vaseline creams, be damned. Besides being an irritant, petroleum-based products (which Vaseline is) are thoroughly non-renewable. And I don't care if the ROC stuff isn't either, it fucking works so well. The French seem to do everything better. The food-related note of this story is that I cannot eat anything spicy or acidic, and I mean anything, or else it literally burns the skin off my mouth. I've done fantastic so far, except for saying 'yes' to the salsa on my fish tacos. But, I am so proud of myself and so thankful. Goddamn, it's been hard. It's been hard. But I'm emerging more beautiful than ever. You should see my hair right now, and my skin of course. Triumph.

Friday, November 20, 2009


It's been almost a week since I posted; it's been a rough one. My ezcema has decided to have a party around my mouth and on my right hand. I vascillate between feeling like a leper, wallowing in gallons of self-pity, self-hatred, and paralyzing self-consciousness, and feeling brave, reminding myself I am beautiful, and it will get better. My boyfriend, wonderful man that he is, assures me I am most certainly not the former, and definitely the latter. And that helps so much. I'm going to a walk-in doctor's appointment tomorrow, early in the morning, to get this under control. I really just want to get rid of the rash around my mouth. It flared up horribly in the last couple of days, but I'm doing everything I can to keep it at a moderate bay: not eating any spicy or acidic foods, drinking everything through a straw, being careful that whatever I eat it won't risk brushing against the affected skin, covering it in Vaseline, smiling as much as possible, and getting fresh air. I also have an eye infection and ezcema behind my right ear as well. Nice eh. But I started eye drops today, so hopefully that will get better within the week, and antiobiotic ointment I have been using for behind my ear is working. I know that this flare-up is an expression of stress, most certainly. And then I get stressed about it, so it gets worse. But, things will be alright. I'm working really hard, being really brave, to do everything I can in my day-to-day actions to eliminate all forms of irritation. And then, hopefully, whatever the doctor prescribes tomorrow will put it into remission. I'm so distrusting of doctors that I'm beginning to work myself into a tizzy over the inevitable fact that they will know nothing and prescribe me a useless product. But, it will be fine. It just sucks to deal with. However, things could be worse. 95% of my skin is in great, dewey shape, my hair is thick and long, and I have a man that loves me. I'm in the process of choosing which community garden I want to become a part of: MOBY, Strathcona, and Cedar Cottage are the finalists. They all have their pros and cons. I'm excited; this time next year I will hopefully have harvested delicious varieties of lettuce, tomatoes, and Swiss chard from healthy well-loved soil and eaten it in the comforts of our own home. From my field to my table. I'm thinking I will keep to self-seeding crops to start, as they are easier to grow with the assurance they will turn out more or less how I expect. Plus, I am crossing my fingers that I will be able to take a "Food is a Political Act" month-long course at VCC in January. And, of course, as always I am looking to forward to working at the market on Saturday, seeing Patrick and Michael and Lisa and all my other favourite vendors selling their delicious products. Ahh Bonchaz buns.
Here's to personal bravery, hopes for the future, and welcome healing.
Na mas te.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Promises, Chickens, Pigs, and Bees

Ahh McDonald's. There is nothing like a double cheeseburger meal. I debated over an hour and half, while doing laundry at the laundromat, whether I would cave and get McDick's or go home and eat some thing healthy. Well, I caved. And didn't feel so great about it. I'm thinking of starting a record of sorts on my blog of foods/bad eating habits I have given up and good foods/cooking practices that I have taken on. A couple weeks ago I made a promise to myself that I will no longer eat chicken, unless I know for sure that the chicken was unmedicated and happy. Truly, free-range happy. So far, I've kept it, with one hiccup. I was baking a chicken breast for my boyfriend the other day and I had a teensy bite, simply to double-check that it was done. Taking all of this back to McDick's, all I could think about while eating the burger was how unhappy, unhealthy, lethargic, and tortured the cow was that gave me this beef. Thus, second promise: I will no longer eat beef, unless I know, I mean really know that the cow was unmedicated, on all-vegetarian feed, and was happy, truly happy. How I can possibly feel good about myself if the animals that died for me to eat and survive didn't feel good during their life? All I want is to have chickens in my backyard, own a pot-bellied pig, and raise bees. Seriously. I don't want to be a farmer, but I want to raise happy and healthy bees, pigs, and chickens. I wouldn't kill the pigs or chickens either. The chickens would provide me some eggs and I would just play with the pigs.
So, anyone who possibly reads this blog, keep me to my promises: no chicken or beef, unless I KNOW, I mean really really know, that they were unmedicated, really happy, free-range, raised on all vegetarian feed, and were raised well and ethically.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quintessentially Quiche

Greetings and Saluations Fellow Food Lovers,
Another chanterelle mushroom recipe down and another success! The recipe is actually entitled "Chanterelle & Porcini Mushroom Tart", which it certainly is; however, really it is quintessentially a quiche. Of course I did not make my own pie crust-frozen Tenderflake thank you again-and all the ingredients are outside of the crust are mushrooms, roasted garlic, cream, gruyere cheese, salt, and thyme. I didn't have any thyme-I have to cut costs somewhere-and I just used chanterelle mushrooms. It was super easy and it did turn out great. I was feeling a bit bloated when I ate it, so I probably will enjoy it better when I eat it when I'm really hungry. I think 1.5 times the amount of cheese and mushrooms would be better, and bit more salt. Also, I'd like to try it with the porcini mushrooms. I know that Chanterelles are supposed to be the goddess of mushrooms, but I'm not wholly convinced. Their strength is their delicate, almost sweet texture and taste, and their bright orange colour. But, they lack a pungence (I mean this in a good way) of flavour, a real mushroomy impact. I like my 'shrooms to taste like 'shrooms. I think I'd try this recipe again, but with some shitake and porcini mushrooms instead. Live and let learn right. Especially in the kitchen. If all else fails, I've always got my mushroom risotto, which is reliably fucking awesome every single time. Only if I use OXO 25% less salt chicken stock. That's my chef's secret. Another thing, it may be different if I made my own pie crust, but warming up the defrosted pie crust (in provided tinfoil pan of course) for 10 minutes in the oven is questionable. The bottom of the pastry was puffing up a lot, so I took it out after 3 or so minutes warming up and just left it on top of the heated oven.
So, what shall I do with the rest of the mushrooms I have left. An Asparagus and Mushroom Puff Pastry Pie is calling me. No eggs. And hollandaise sauce. And asparagus. Perfect.
On the future food docit: Parmesan Scones, Cranberry Scones, and Chocolate Oil Cake. Ahhh yeaaa.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

I've gained a few pounds over the last few weeks. Too much bacon? Is it the polenta? Not enough veggies? I actually first noticed it when getting ready for work last week, and my button-down white shirt well, tugged a bit around my stomach. And then, I noticed a bit of extra pudge in an "intimate" situation. And otherwise. Fuck. It's so annoying because I have made huge efforts to be healthier in my life, I cook frequently and healthily, I'm more invested in learning about food security, re-use of food products, farming, organics, you name it. I've been looking and feeling much healthier over the last five months; I lost about half the weight I gained back in summer 2008; and I've been developing a great waistline over the last couple of months. Was it the bacon? Probably. Not enough veggies? Most likely. But it has happened quite quickly. Anyways, I have found a fantastic $5 dance class on Thursdays really close to where I live that I hope to start going to next week. And I'm considering getting a used treadmill. I am hopelessly inactive. I walk everywhere, but walking up one flight of stairs at the Skytrain station winds me. Not good.
Anyways, today was a pretty good day for food. I had a perfect egg and multigrain toast and Americano at Epicurean this morning. Wonderfully healthy and hearty Red Snapper Soup from The Stock Market. I made a delicious salad this afternoon: cubed Gruyere cheese, sliced strawberries, chopped red peppers, sprinkle of radish sprouts, one avocado, and a spurt of blue cheese dressing. Delicious and colourful. I made another chanterelle mushroom recipe: Mushroom and Watercress Soup. I replaced the watercress with the radish sprouts though. It wasn't that great. I had to add a lot of salt, and lemon juice and pepper, to make it tasty enough. I think the creamy recipes of mushroom and watercress soup would have worked better. But I don't have a blender. It's on the Christmas wish list. Anyways, as all creators know, every success has a mistake to go along with it. Hopefully the mushroom tart will work on Friday. And, if there's any chanterelles left over, I will be making a delicious goat cheese and mushroom pizza. Mmmm good.
Oh, new favourite coffee drink: Espresso con panna. Espresso with whipped cream. Hot damn.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chanterelles Coming Out The Ying-Yang

Well, the last five days have been crazy busy: working three different jobs, actually four if you include my editing "business". Worked at the Chan Centre on Thursday, Taboo on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, editing for a client on Friday and Saturday, and then the Winter Market on Saturday. Phewwww.
Anyways, the first winter market was awesome. Pretty crazy. Irate neighbour, double-booked facility, pissing rain, the usual. But our team is awesome and I adore the vendors. They are like my second family, especially certain special ones. Sequoia Lesosky, owner of Wild Products Network, gave the staff a flat of chanterelle mushrooms! Incredible. So I of course came home with literally pounds of fresh chanterelle mushrooms, not really knowing what the hell to do with them beyond mushroom risotto. Well the risotto was delicious. The one thing though is that the chanterelle mushrooms produce a lot of liquid when they are cooked. So I have to strain that liquid somehow. I wonder if that always happens. I fried some up with polenta today and it was okay, but too soggy because of the mushroom liquid. I imagine if I strained the liquid, then fried the polenta separately, throw the mushrooms back in, add some extra butter, it would be better. I have a few more recipes lined up for the chanterelles: chanterelle and watercress soup, and chanterelle mushroom tart. Should be awesome, but I have get rid of that liquid, especially with the chanterelle mushroom tart.
It's kind of great having this one plant that I have to cook with all week or else it will go bad because it forces me to be creative and more involved and interested in food and cooking and the origins and qualities and characteristics of plants, fungi, fruit, veggies, you name it.
I seem to still be disappointed by salads eaten out. Why do they have to absolutely douse and drown the salad in dressing every single freaking time? Gah! I had a $20 gift card, generously given to me by my mum, to use at Milestones today, so I took my boyfriend out for lunch with it. I got the soup, salad, and sandwich combo, and while it was good, it wasn't great, and really should have been better. The soup was Butternut Squash which was great, but not hot enough, the caesar salad was drowned in dressing, and the sandwich was okay. Regardless, I always enjoy sharing food with my baby, whether I or someone else made it.
One last Chanterelle note: looks like I'm hosting a chanterelle mushroom-themed dinner party on Friday with my fellow market rock stars. Looking forward to it. I think I'll make the mushroom tart for it. yeaaa.
P.S: I got $30 Rampage rain boots from Army & Navy today! Fucking score! Take that all you folks going and spending $100-plus on rain boots from GumDrops. Woot!

Friday, November 6, 2009

This Sucks, or Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Home alone. Boyfriend working the night shift. Doing what he needs to do. But it still sucks. My gums are sore and my inner ear is inflamed. My gums are sore. My spine is curved. I have excema on my thumb that looks like flesh-eating disease.

Home alone. Boyfriend working the night shift. Doing what he needs to do. But it still sucks. I love him. I am so lucky. My gums are sore, but I made my delicious, very healthy "I've got nothing in the fridge" guacamole and it was a good snack with the organic local black corn Que Pasa tortilla chips. The guac could've possibly used more salt. I worked two different jobs today: setting up for Discreet Pleasures at the Taboo Sex show and working Ibsen's Master Builder at the Chan Centre. Very different is more like it. Both good. Looking forward to Sunday night. Busy next few days, including today. I hate work. I'm not meant for most kinds. My excema is looking better. Gotta keep at it. My spine is curved, but I had a well-deserved therapeutic massage yesterday. I'm doing my stretches more often. I'm going to start going to yoga regularly. I'm making a point of sitting and standing straight as much as possible. I love my boyfriend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


My quest for a solidly good, problem-free restaurant salad continues. I have been continuously disappointed, either extremely or slightly, with almost every restaurant salad I have ever had. I mean, how hard is it really to make a salad with fresh, WASHED (wow, what a concept!), tasty, NOT WILTED lettuce or salad greens. Honestly. Also, I need to get back into the smart and healthy habit of ordering dressing on the side. Restaurants reliably drown an otherwise potentially good salad with dressing. And, alternatively, when I put the dressing on myself at a restaurant, I put about half to three-quarters of the amount they give me. There is one salad that has never really disappointed me, often impressed me actually: the Point Grey Cobb Salad from Point Grey Golf & Country Club. Crunchy iceberg lettuce (something restaurants do not use enough...or ever),sliced tomatoes, chunks of blue cheese, shrimp, egg, avocado, and crunchy bacon. With a unique buttermilk something or other dressing. Nice stuff. I had a salad at Earl's the other day which was very unique and healthy, and enjoyable, but again, there were a couple pieces of lettuce that tasted "dirty" and as usual, the last pieces of salad greens were kind of soppy and gross. But the unique ingredients were: strawberries, feta, and quinoa. The latter is a revelation, but is so expensive at the grocery store. I guess I have to go all the way to Peru to get a decent price for it. It is a labour-intensive crop, so to an extent I understand the price. Then, today, at St. Augustine's on the Drive, I got the Chop Chop Salad, which was supposed to have bacon in it, but I'm pretty sure it didn't. Anyways, it was great at first, but then again as usual, the greens were soppy and over-dressed. Blue cheese, craisins, and candied pecans are a lovely dance on the palate. The sliced grape tomatoes were too cold though; they hurt my teeth! Plus, after munching on heirloom tomatoes during the late summer from Klipper's Organics, I realized that the majority of tomatoes served at restaurants and from places like Safeway, are well, the worst.
The search for a good restaurant salad continues.
P.S: Apparently eating yogurt is a good option for those who are lactose-intolerant. Thus, I have bought and have been eating Activia Fibre yogurt since yesterday. Here's to getting regular again! TMI? Deal with it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Promises, Problems, and Curiosities

Promise: I will not eat chicken unless I know for sure that it is non-medicated and the chicken was happy and raised either free-run or free-range.
Problem: I might be allergic to corn. Ahhh. No polenta for me.
Curiosity: I'm lactose-intolerant, but can I eat Activia yogurt? Investigation pending.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Remarkable Day

"Remarkable". That's a good word. A strong good word. Not used enough. I know I have taken it for granted. That's how I feel right now. Remarkable. Today has been a remarkably wonderful day for food for me. I went grocery shopping! Yay! The first day I have done a full muti-faceted grocery shop in ages, bought wonderful things to cook and eat and enjoy, and not eat oatmeal and weird "i have nothing in the fridge" pastas all day long. When I have money to spend, even if it just $100 in my account, I celebrate by going grocery shopping. Today's extra-special goodies: naturally smoked thick-cut bacon, organic polenta, turkey pastrami, chai masala tea. The basement still smells of delicious smoked bacon. That should be the next goal of some soy candle maker out there: smoked bacon fragranced candle. Made with bacon fat. Oh baby. What's for dinner: fresh salad (chopped granny smith apples; sliced red seedless grapes; chopped celery; cubed soy cheese; chopped red peppers) and maybe a mushroom risotto later on. "Remarkable".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Chronicle of Bad Eating

Bite of scone. Pumpkin bagel with chive and garlic cream cheese schmear. Another bite of scone. Three XL pieces of Super Hawaiian Feast Freshslice pizza.
Yeah, that's what I ate today. Well, that's what happens when you're poor as fuck and can't afford groceries until next week. The last week of the month always seems so hard, financially anyways. I seem to be on a three-weeks in a month schedule. I desperately don't want to go on EI (not that there is any shame in it because there completely isn't), but it's looking pretty good right now. Well I keep applying and hold out hope and be determined and crafty as hell for a few more weeks.
But, to be truthful, I could have eaten better today. I have the ingredients for another great stirfry, easy-peasy. I've got oatmeal and honey and a bit of frozen fruit. I could have had an omelette and fried potatoes. That would have be an excellently healthy menu. Well, I guess you always have more than you think. Shop your fridge. No excuses for tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Successful Scones?

The scones I just made didn't quite turn out. They are much sweeter than I expected, which is a welcome surprise actually. But they are a little dry and quite crumbly. I added a bit of extra milk because I was using rice flour and had read that the rice flours absorbs liquid easier than regular flour. Thus, I am not sure why it went slightly awry: too much milk? not enough? baked too long? The dough was so "wet" that I couldn't knead it at all or shape it into the wedges that the recipe called for. So that would make me think that there was too much milk. Well, it's nice and golden-brown, and isn't goopy, so for a first-time bake, it didn't go so bad. I may have to just grin and bear it and buy regular flour-sorry tummy-and try it that way. Wish me luck on my second try, this time, with cranberries.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Best Cup of Coffee

Thank you baby. This is a big THANK-YOU to Anthony for the coffee grinder that he gave me for my birthday. Just like you. That warm and fuzzy feeling that I have in my gut is not just from the delicious coffee that I am having, but from the endless love that I have for you and receive from you. Yes, it took me forever to make the cup, mostly because I'd never used a coffee grinder before and I needed to clean my drip coffee maker, and I wanted everything to be perfect. Well, it is was worth the proverbial tears: it is the best coffee I have ever made, and definitely up there as far as the best I have ever had. Home brew, coffee-style. Awesome. Hopefully it won't hype me up too much. I shall indeed get back to you on what the brand of the coffee is. I can't remember, and to be honest, I am deliciously comfortable on my couch, blogging, sipping away, while Project Runway Canada plays in the background. It is well-worth the purchase however, so fret not, I will definitely remember to tell you the local brand and brew. To coffee-lovers everywhere.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is This Baking Powder?

Looks like I've been gone for a while again. It hasn't really be an exciting week as far as food and cooking goes. I need to go grocery shopping. But, there are always tales to tell. It must have been Tuesday-I can't remember-but I made a nice dinner for Anthony and I of skillet lamb chops and salad. The green onions were looking strangely transparent after being chopped: a sad bunch. But the salad was satisfactory and the lamb chops turned out great. I never eat lamb, on moral and ethical grounds: killing a baby animal so we can eat it doesen't seem right or necessary. But, they were given to me as a generous thankyou gift from Jay Springs Lamb at the Kitsilano market. I don't cook much with meat; at least nothing fancy, or even requiring recipes. As usual, however, All Recipes saved the day and I found a great, really easy and simple lamb chops recipe. Brown lamb chops in olive oil in skillet; pour in onions, warm water, and salt and pepper, bring to boil, simmer for 30 minutes. Done. Perfect. Easy. Here is the link:

Another easy-peasy cooking tip from The Fledgling Basement Chef: If you don't feel like cooking, and you should always insure against these inevitable times by having quick meals in the house, make some instant noodles (preferrably the kind where you have the boil the noodles in the pot for 5 minutes), shop your fridge, pull out those forgotten (or well-loved, whichever) green onions, peppers, hot peppers, etc., chop them up, throw them in the pot when you put the noodles in, and you've got a slightly healthier, definitely more colourful and happy instant meal. You can almost always make instant, pre-packaged meals into something much better than it ever could have been without your invaluable creativity and interference!

What's on the food docit: Cranberry Scones. With rice flour. Not sure how that is going to play out. And with what I hope is baking powder. I'm pretty sure it is. But, it could be flour though. I think I need to go to the grocery store and open boxes and compare before I needlessly waste food and go insane after inevitably using all-purpose flour for the baking powder. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Easy, No Food Processor "I've Got Nothing in the Fridge!" Guacamole

This is a short post tonight because I'm feeling really tired tonight. Ready for sleepy time. But, I am posting my first recipe! *applause*
I decided spontaneously that I wanted to have a snack of tortilla chips and guacamole. But, I was lacking tomatoes and peppers, and a food processor or blender. Let me emphasize this: you do not need any kind of appliance to make effing guacamole, or salsa, or anything of the sort. The less it is blended, processed, junked around, the fresher and better it is. Thus, I scooped out the creamy green goodness of one avocado into a plastic bowl, chopped a couple tablespoons (guestimating here; that's what the kitchen is about ultimately!) of onion and threw that in, splashed some lime juice in there, a pinch of salt, a shake of coarsely ground black pepper, et voila! Excellent guacamole. The onion provides a lot of flavour, so there is no need for excessive salting and peppering. Five ingredients: three of which (onion, salt, pepper) you most likely have in the house all the time anyways! A healthy snack in two minutes.
Here is the recipe in condensed form:

Jess' Easy, No Food Processor "I've Got Nothing in the Fridge!" Guacamole

1 avocado
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
Splash of lime juice
Pinch of salt
Shake of coarsely ground black pepper

Gently stir (fold) ingredients together in small bowl. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


There are times when I wish I was more computer-savvy. Why can I not drag gadgets to the right side of my blog page? Ahhh. Sigh.
Anyways, I'm getting one of my anxiety "attacks" right now. Resulting from lack of motivation, procrastination of job applications, fear of future financial troubles, boredom. What I really want is some goddamn Pho. Which is not Chinese, my most sincere apologies for my culinary and cultural ignorance. It is Vietnamese. Thank you Emil. But it is too dark and thus scary out (perhaps irrationally so, but nonetheless), for me to walk up to Kingsway and eat Pho. But I want it so badly. Ahhh. A lot of sighing. That's how I feel. Annoyed, perturbed, and ineffectual. Woe is me, said Eeyore.
Farmers' market was fantastic today as usual. The community of farmers and craftspeople and cooks there are just wonderful. They are kind, interesting, varied, a real cornucopia of personalities and experiences. Today I scored some more of Nico's fantastic stuffed olives and some bread as well, not to mention a Mo Gwa melon, which has to be cooked, isn't sweet, is of Japanese variety, and is "hairy". Thanks Eric! There were other great creations culled and eaten, but I'm too lazy to delve into the jellified depths of my tired brain to list them here, or just to simply bring them back into my consciousness.
So here's a revelation: the type of store-bought powdered chicken stock/broth/OXO that you use in mushroom risotto makes a HUGE-H-U-G-E-HUGE difference in the taste and quality of the meal. I used Knorr yesterday, and it was way too salty and chickeny. It overwhelmed the creaminess and heavenly marriage of melted parmesan cheese and fried mushrooms that makes the dish so damn good. I am officially an indentured slave to OXO 25% less salt Chicken Stock, powdered stuff. Who knew the huge difference between OXO and Knorr? Who knew that the choice of one or the other could totally change my risotto? But, you know, just to brag a little, the risotto was still pretty good. But ohhh, with the OXO, it is ambrosia courtesy of my basement kitchen and my fledgling culinary genius.
That's all for now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Veritable Feast

Today is a day full of food, overflowing with it really. I volunteered this morning at the 1st Annual Stone Soup Film Festival at Britannia Secondary. The films being shown are all on urban agriculture, food security, food integrity, and related topics, and the benefits go to local community gardens. I watched a quirky movie called Mad City Chickens, and it was really interesting. I will never EVER buy eggs that aren't organic and most especially free-range. The very brief footage they showed of factory farm hens really upset me. De-beaked, sad, depressed, immobile, bones for wings, just horrific. How anyone can validate such actions really blows me away. Did you know that often factory farm hens are gassed, yes GASSED, after they are passed reproductive age? I mean, jesus fucking christ. If there is a hell, I'd like to think that the people who do that are headed there to be pecked to death over and over again. It just makes me so angry. If any of you are looking to be more ethical in your egg, meat, and cheese purchases, I would check out the BCSPCA ethical certification page: I have purchased the SPCA certified Rabbit River eggs multiple times, and they are excellent, local, and kind. They are sold in Choices, Drive Organics, and Famous Foods, and I'm sure other locations in the Lower Mainland.
I did some dinner grocery shopping at Santa Barbara Market, my home away from home. Got a cheap bottle of white wine from the BCLS for my signature mushroom risotto I am making for a guest and I tonight. It's nice to have a signature dish already. Only seriously cooking for a few months, and I've got one entree so damn good, it's my signature piece and obviously chef-recommended;)
When I got home, I whipped up a recipe culled from the vast resources called "Grape and Avocado Salsa". In the effort to waste not, want not in my life, before Thanksgiving, I looked for some recipes in which I could use red seedless grapes, many of which I had left over from my Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce. I found the above and made it in 10 minutes today, and it was great. Such surprising flavours. The sweetness of the grapes was such an interesting dance of flavours on my tastebuds. Healthy too! I'll post the recipe for you, but I do have some personal recommendations: only 1 cup of grapes, maybe a little more onions, and maybe (maybe) 1 1/2 avocadoes rather than just 1. I didn't have any cilantro, so I'm basing my enjoyment on a cilantro-less salsa. All the reviews are hugely positive. Try something new tonight. Perfect appetizer for a Mexican night. I had it with local Que Pasa organic, non-GM black corn tortilla chips and it was pitch-perfect.
Oh wait! I almost forgot. So I experienced another culinary epiphany last night: Anthony, myself, and a friend of ours went for Pho at midnight. I and Anthony have never had Pho, which based on our friend's description was like Chinese ambrosia, and it was soooooooo good. Oh so beefy and hot, and delicious, and filling, and delicious, and beefy and hot, and filling, and...alright that's enough. Oh I could go on and on. Add some hot sauce, a bit of lime, and some bean sprouts. Wonderful. And the best thing: 10 minute walk from our house! Maybe all the non-descript Asian restaurants on Kingsway will finally benefit me. I love Pho. Pho. Mmm. Pho.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Well my stomach feels like trash today. We ordered two medium pizzas from FreshSlice last night, what a stupid idea. While pizza is great and I love pizza and love that its great, I am allergic to wheat gluten and yeast! I don't know why I keep doing this to myself, killing my insides, inducing bloating and cramps and depression and general unhappiness. Why is it we like what's bad for us? Some sort of inherent masochistic tendency. Fuck. Anyways, most of the time I eat fairly well. Still doing alright with my salad a day goal, I keep experimenting with cooking, all I spend my money on is groceries. Not even joking. I'm Michael Pollan's dream, I swear. I'm not in the best of moods tonight, not feeling that great. I guess not even Mrs Happy is happy all the time.
Not sure what's on the food docit this week. Another cupcake?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fine Dining Ain't So Fine When It's Been Microwaved

Well, there's lots of food news. Maybe I should blog it in list form, for expediency's sake. Alright. Here we go.
Grandma Ople's Apple Pie Recipe: Success
Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce: Semi-Success
Thanksgiving Dinner: Thoroughly enjoyable. Thanksgiving Dinner Casualties: One of my mum's pots and the sanity of her cats.
Thanksgiving Dinner with Dad: At the Cannery.
The Cannery: A+! Full blown shame on Port Vancouver (or whomever) for not renewing their lease.
Fantastic food, high quality and fully knowledgeable service, cozy architecture, waterfront herb garden, kudos for participating in the OceanWise program, magical view. All-around gem.
Today's Lunch: Another fantastic salad. Green leaf lettuce, chopped on the vine tomatoes, chopped celery, shrimp pan-fried in PAM olive oil, Asian crushed garlic, and old-fashioned dijon mustard, crumbled blue cheese, and blue cheese dressing. Delish. Just a dash of lemon juice would have probably have been the best dressing, but well maybe more than a dash. But I don't have any.
Today's Afternoon Snack: Leftover Salmon Wellington from the Cannery. Totally good, but the Pinot Noir suace didn't really hold up after 2 minutes in the microwave. Fine foods don't like nasty microwaves I guess. Makes sense. I actually fell nauseous right now. Frack. Hopefully that peppermint tea with Vlad's Apiary's sweet clover honey will heal my noxious insides.
Future October Food Activity: Mushroom foraging with the Vancouver Mycological Society in Pacific Spirit Park on Halloween! I am so excited for this. I would like a partner though. Any takers? I cite the wild foraging article in the most recent edition of Edible Vancouver and the wild and chanterelle mushroom foragers profiled in Tableland as my inspiration.
'Til next time,
The Fledgling Basement Suite Cook.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Back Again!

Feeling triumphant today. Trying to ride this wave of excitement, satisfaction, and slight anxiety. I just made a fantastically, surprisingly delicious salad: a bed of green lettuce topped with sliced button mushrooms, shrimp cooked in PAM Olive Oil and Asian crushed garlic, topped with lots of marinated feta and some Italian dressing. So effin good. And a glass of water and a couple of green olives stuffed with blue cheese, caramelized onions, and garlic free of charge courtesy of Nico of Dundarave Olive Company. For good measure, of course.
Off to Santa Barbara Market and Safeway! Toodles!

Getting Giddy for Grandma Ople!

Who is Grandma Ople? Why I am getting giddy for...uh...a grandma? Check this out:
This is the apple pie I'm going to make-I think, I hope-for Thanksgiving. I'm such a baking virgin. In the recipe, it says to make pie pastry for a 9-inch double-crust pie. First off, I'm not making my own pie pastry. Who do you think I am? Julia Child?! So I don't know what kind of frozen pie shell to get in order to make a 9-inch double-crust pie. I also want to do the lattice pie crust topping thing and I also don't know how to do that. I guess cut frozen pie crust in strips and put on top of pie. That's logical right? Anyways, I know I can do it.
And here is the recipe for the Cranberry Pomegranate sauce, verbatim: Place one 12-oz. bag cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice (or 1/2 cup less if using frozen cranberries) and a pinch of salt into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, until cranberries burst (12 to 15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Cool; stir in 1 cup thinly sliced red lseedless grapes. Chill several hours before serving. Serves 10-12.
I guess I should cut the recipe in half-at least-considering this meal is only for three. By the way, turkey risotto is a no-go. Just a good 'ol frozen stuffed turkey breast. Thanks to my mum who will be getting that going earlier in the day while we are at work. Love her!
Wish me luck! Zing!


Some weeks just aren't that good when it comes to my diet. Really not good. Not good at all. I seem to have this problem, you see. A compulsion. If I have cash, I will spend it. I will spend it on food. Bad food usually. Think McDonald's, coke (the drink, not the drug. well maybe it's both. that's up for debate.), chips, pizza. In the last four days I have had five pieces of pizza and McDonald's. That is horrible for me. You might say, Jess come on, that's nothing. But lest we forget, you're talking to a walking talking gluten, wheat, and yeast allergy here. And well, pizza and McDonald's are havens for that dreaded trio. The Three Musketeers, out to burn a hole in my wallet and my stomach. :( Blech.
The worst thing is is that I ate the McDonald's today as a lame attempt at curing an emotion: anger. Anger that the doctor's office fucked up my appointment and now I'm not coming in until next week. Good thing those ear drops DID work. Lucky. Lucky. Really it shouldn't have pissed me off that much. Really, what did I have planned for today that was sooo important? Oh. Eating McDonald's. That must have been it.
But it's true, in all seriousness, that that is my financial flaw. I have pretty good self-control financially; I spend money on rent, modest bills, and groceries. Seriously. That's it. I don't have money for anything else. Ah food. Honestly, to be a food critic is obviously the perfect job for me.
Needless to say, the McDonald's didn't make me feel better. I still feel like screaming and punching a hole in the wall. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I just did that, out loud. I feel a bit better. Kind of giddy, kind of a scratchy throat too. Anyways, this has just been a rant post, most obviously.
What's on the menu this weekend: working at two farmers' markets, zing! Making Cranberry Pomegranate sauce and maybe an apple pie tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday. I'll post the recipes. The former is so easy: cranberries, pinch of salt, pomegranate juice, and red seedless grapes. Add heat. Done.
See ya on the flip side. When I'm less of a pill.

Monday, October 5, 2009


What wonderful timing. What wonderful timing of the message that an old friend sent me today telling me she 'effing loves my blog and to keep it up!' She is *The Best Cook (alias used), who was one of the cooks in my small dorm during second year...and first year too? First year or second year TBC? You remind me. As much as this blog is mainly for myself, to get out thoughts and be creative and enter the world of 'Blog', I have to admit that I like the idea of popularity and fame. Or, more than that, others reading what I have to say and entering in a dialogue with them. Intelligent conversation is hard to find, harder than it should be. But anyways, yay! I have two official bleaders!
Well, food. I'm making my boyfriend, my mum, and myself Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday. Ambitious, yes? Insane, most likely. Fucking crazy, yea probably. The menu: turkey risotto, mashed potatoes and yams, steamed green veggie of some sort, and an apple pie. It is totally do-able, but I'm working all weekend and then we have to go back to New West, yada yada. The apple pie will either be made by yours truly on Saturday or will be bought. Maybe from a market vendor this weekend actually. Epiphany! (angelic voices sing down from heaven).
What's a good recipe I've made lately. Well last week I set myself a goal: eat a salad a day. I feel like I've mentioned this already, but regardless, I have been pretty darn successful. 7 out of 9 days I have eaten a salad. Some days with some protein thrown in a la imitation crab meat, sometimes with some soy or blue cheese crumbled on, sometimes with a sandwich. In the effort to waste not want not-especially since any idea of wasting of any kind of late sends me into a tailspin of paralyzing guilt (no exaggeration)-I have been using the olive juice from some store-bought olives I finished as salad dressing. It's perfect, really nice, delicate, low calories (I'm guessing:S), and economical. The salads, by the way, have been looking GORGEOUS. Nothing like the rich emerald of a bed of bright green green lettuce made ever more brilliant with chopped sweet red peppers and tomatoes, with a sprinkling of the pearl white and rich green of green onions. Mmmhmmm. Nice. The thing is is that beauty does not exactly translate on my digital camera, which is effing awesome by the way. My technique and lighting must be improved. I'm on the waiting list for a food photography class that is part of the Sustenance festival. I doubt I'll get in; I don't even know if I can go anymore. But that would be handy, spice up my blog with some food porn. Not like American Pie-fucking an apple pie food porn, but like unbelievably sensuous, colourful, hot hot food photography. Food porn. Yeaaah.
Alright enough of that. I still need a mixing bowl and a whisk. I have a coffee bean grinder now though! Thanks Anthony! I lurrrv you. Muchos. Muchos gracios. Next thing: buy some sweet ethical bean coffee beans, grind 'em, make a sweet sweet jesus cup of joe in my bodum from Ikea, and bask in the glory of fresh coffee. Mind you, I haven't ever used a Bodum press before. Well I did once, at Steeps on Broadway. I didn't know what the fuck I was doing, and I'm pretty sure the tea was supposed to taste better than it did. 'Til next time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Apple Pie

Seeing as those my wittiness and creative writing skills are a little dried up right now, I'll leave it at this:
I'm gonna bake me an apple pie for Thanksgiving. I certainly am. Oh yes I am. Stay tuned for results.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I can't believe it's been a week since I've posted. I've been busy and exhausted, but always thinking about food.
I set a goal for myself: Eat a salad a day. So far I've met it. I ate a salad Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and today. Fresh, colourful, light, and healthy. I'm going to keep a record of it on the fridge. I'm going to start adding meat to them, too. Imitation crab meat, shrimp, and chicken is on the shopping list today. Sometimes I add cheese. Just a little crumble. I feel so nice and light after I eat them. A daily ritual I look forward to. Ritual is also something I have been slowly adding to my life. Not routine, but ritual. As in when I eat, I eat at the table without the TV on and I focus on eating slowly and wonderfully. It really is a way to inner peace and health and happiness. I think the Dalai Lama is still in the air here.
I don't think the Dalai Lama would like MSG. I remember when I was a kid, the big fuss about its undeniable grossness and prominence in Chinese food. Many or most places removed it from their cooking. But, I've noticed of late that MSG is still around, quite obviously in fact. In potato chips mostly-Doritos and Ruffles for example-as well as other random foodstuffs. How disappointing. Maybe one of my next food goals can be reading the ingredients of everything I buy everytime. Most of the time I just forget. It's not part of my shopping consciousness, just like it's not part of my clothes shopping consciousness to check the quality of stitching and buttons on garments I want to buy. Undoing ignorant lifestyle habits is extremely hard work, especially when our general disconnection from what I buy and eat, where it comes from, how its made, who made it is so deeply ingrained in North American society. One step at a time. In the meantime, I will continue to fantasize about crab meat dipped in hot butter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jess to Cyberspace, Are You Listening?

Well, I don't have much to say today. I guess I just wanted to write something. I'm not feeling that great this week. Down, sad, really stressed. Did you know that the average person today suffers from the same amount of stress as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950's did? That's insane, no pun intended. We've got to find ways to relax, chill out our lives, and be happier. Food is one way to do that. It helps me sometimes. Cooking a great meal for yourself is rejuvenating, a confidence-booster, a smile-enhancer. Even something as simple as the egg salad sandwich I made for myself today was a boost. It's nice to know that when you chop a boiled egg up in a bowl, mix in some mayonnaise, sprinkle some cayenne pepper in it, and throw some chopped red peppers in the mix, you get what makes a great egg salad sandwich. Every time. Without fail. Reassuring I guess is what it is. I think it's perfectly okay to find comfort in food. Maybe not drowning your sorrows away by eating bags and bags of Doritos, or pints of ice cream. Well, every now and again, that's fine, maybe just don't make it a regular habit. Food is a powerful antidote to almost anything that feels negative and shitty. That downright is negative and shitty. Whether you made it for yourself or not. A hilarious side note here, I eventually figured out why my coffee was so gross and weak this my daze, I just went ahead and took the '6' on the coffee jug as 6 oz. Which it is so definitely not. More like 6 cups!:P Haha. Oh well. All for the better really. That awesome cup of joe I will make myself tomorrow will be the best one ever brewed in comparison to the one today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Link in a Blink

This is the link to the recipe I used for making my deliciously perfect mushroom risotto. I used half the mushrooms and replaced the chives with green onions because that was the closest thing to chives in the fridge...I think green onions will be permanently taking the place of chives on the risotto roster. Sorry chives, you're on the bench for now.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Curse of the Food Allergy (or My Search for Vancouver's Best Pizza)

Just finished munching on a piece of celery here. I always feel incredibly better, lighter, and healthier after a nice crunch stick of celery. Not to go all nutritionist on you, but eating celery, asparagus, and grapefruit are surefire ways to keep you feeling light and clean. I guarantee it.
I have a food allergy, you see. Actually, I have many. Bananas, raw carrots don't sit well with me, dairy products, I'm having a deja vu here-I think I wrote about this before. Well, it occupies much of daily mindspace, as having food allergies is a total pain in the ass, but something you really have to pay attention to if you don't want to feel bloated, fat, and disgusting. Did I mention disgusting? The one that is alternately the bane of my existence and a blessing in disguise is my wheat, gluten, and yeast allergy. Sooo many products have these ingredients in them, or at least one of them. I started getting really serious about taking care of my health and avoiding the foods which make me feel bloated, fat, and disgusting (about a year and a half ago). I am a devoted follower and eater of spelt and kamut products. I almost always have spelt bread and pasta in the house; the pasta is the lightest I have ever had. I think it has a makeout session with my stomach everytime I have that. It's truly delightful. I avoid anything that either obviously or most likely has wheat or gluten or yeast in it, for the most part anyways. This past week and a half I have been misbehaving and my stomach is fucking fed up with me. Too many pizza slices-four slices of pizza in a month is an overdose for me-, baked goods, etc. However, these dietary mishaps-which won't happen again, not for awhile anyways, no one's perfect-have led me on an accidental quest for the best pizza slice in Vancouver. So far, although I am always partial to the beef and blue cheese found across town, the best slice was a beef and blue cheese type slice with veggies at Pizza Garden at Napier and Commercial. Surprisingly good. The secret: the dough, light and crispy, and all the crunch sesame seeds on the crust. Check it out, I recommend it.
Well, I wish I could be wry and witty. I don't think I'm very funny. I guess not anyways. I thought that the title of one of my last posts-A Blender and A Whisk-would be a great title for a children's book or short story. Could I become a children's writer? Maybe. If I could give half the amount of joy to kids from a book, as the elation that a boy today at Kitsilano Farmers' Market was experiencing by drawing all over himself with chalk, I'd be all over that shit. Maybe.
I still think of hollandaise sauce and artichokes. Soon. I promise. We will be together.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Risotto and I

I made a perfect mushroom risotto tonight. Yes, I did. And my stupid fucking keyboard just deleted my entire post. Fuck. Honestly, just fuck!! Well, back to the risotto. It was perfect. A delicious blend of flavours, the capabilities of Arborio rice to absorb and absorb, and communicated such wonderful tastes is really amazing. Cooking is a great experience, an exercise in creativity, control, rolling with the punches, lack of control, a place where mistakes can be celebrated and often turn out for the best. Like spilling 1/2 cup of chicken stock because of the prime difficulty in pouring stock from a pot without a handle into a measuring cup which then must be poured into another pot (with handle). Turns out 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock is the perfect amount for my risotto, not 2 cups. It isn't often in life that so-called mistakes, flubs, fuck-ups, accidents are often the opposite: wonderful surprises, fortuituous, and joyful. Add in a nice fresh salad to start and a vanilla candle burning on the table, it was quite pleasant. I still think a lot about hollandaise sauce and artichokes. Once I have some cash. I'm know working for the Vancouver Farmers' Markets three days a week: two markets and then in the office. I've been hired by the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. There is light on the horizon. I hope I get to the horizon soon, or the sun just rises really fast, or whatever other appropriate metaphor works here. In the meantime, I'll console myself with making great wheat-free, gluten-free recipes and enjoy the fall bounty at the markets. And flip the bird to my former employer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Blender and a Whisk

I've been away for a while. Longer than I thought actually. I guess I hit a bit of a brick wall last week. Job applications are supremely exhausting and my brain just shut down. I didn't think my writing was very good. It sounded like some vegan gluten-free baking: bland, boring, and lifeless. It seemed stilted, not witty or interesting. Creatively-as far as writing went-I had come unglued. I'm still feeling that way actually.
I desperately want to make a hollandaise sauce. In the next week I hope. I don't know if that plum cobbler will ever happen. All I can think about is the scene where Eric-Julie Powell's husband-is sucking on a piece of artichoke dipped into hollandaise sauce. It's like I can taste it right now: creamy, delicious, and decadent. This near-obsessive pre-occupation with hollandaise sauce and artichokes has brought me to a new must-have-now (or soon) list: a blender, a whisk, and a mixing bowl. The blender will have to wait, but I think a trip to Kitchen Corner is on the menu this week to pick up a whisk and a mixing bowl, and maybe a door mat.
The enjoyment of food is truly a sensual, even sexual experience. Is that weird? Well, if it is, I'm revelling in its weirdness.
Back to job applications. Now to make things clear, I am not jobless. I do have a job and I was just offered a new one. But the pursuit for full-time hours is one I am still questing towards. "Questing". New word. Copyright 2009. Jessica Roberts-Farina.
Groggy today. Pray for my hollandaise sauce. I'll try to keep myself awake. That's equal responsibility right?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grocery Shopping

I don't think there is a better feeling than coming home from a fun grocery shopping trip, filling the fridge with goodies, and seeing the final result: a full, colourful fridge. I love grocery shopping when I have the time to go to a few places, and get the best deals and learn to love food. My boyfriend hates grocery shopping; it's a one-stop shop at Safeway for him. Which is fine, of course. But, I derive so much joy from food that it would seem a grave injustice to myself, and the incredible bounty the world (and people) produce for me to eat and enjoy, to dislike it and not give grocery shopping the time and respect it deserves. Today the groceries were culled from Drive Organics, Santa Barbara Market on the Drive, and Safeway. I bought some parsley today-for the first time ever probably-because I heard that it is good in upping your sex drive. Hey, what can I say, I love food and sex. Santa Barbara Market is another Drive revelation. They have everything that I love-green onions, goat's feta, sandwich meats-and all of great quality, and honestly of the most importance to me right now, great price! You know, this is what shopping for food should be about: adventure, epiphanies, discovery, sensual delights, excitement, child-like giddiness!
Food, glorious food.
On tonight's menu: salad with imitation crab. Mmm mmm, good. Looking forward to it as always.
On my life's dream list: becoming a food critic. What a great job that would be? Getting paid to write about and eat food, for free. Better than winning the lottery even. Unless the lottery included free dinners for life at my favourite restaurants. A girl can dream man.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bacon and Brie Sandwiches

That is what I am lusting after right now. I made a bacon, brie, and sweet green pepper sandwich on spelt bread a couple weeks ago and it was delicious. I am so poor right now that I can barely afford groceries. Well, there is a glimmer of light, I was invited to a group interview for one of the jobs I applied to. I am excited and nervous about it; I definitely want the job. Pays decent, is in the performing arts/customer service sector. I go through all the range of emotions in a day, what with being a professional job-seeker and a fucking pissed-off employee, well almost former, of a certain employer (if you have read my other posts, you'll know who I am referring to). Anger, denial, depression, happiness, hope, determination, surrender, anger, happiness, hope, anger, depression,  hope. It really sucks having reality hit so hard all at once-yeah Jess, you need a full-time job-and to be screwed over by the idiocy and disorganization of others. Well, getting the interview shows that my determination and persistence and follow-up and qualifications are getting me somewhere. I just have to keep that up. It takes strength mind you, it takes strength. Anyways, this isn't really about food at all, except for my lack of moola to buy some. However, tomorrow I am buying-what with money made from selling used books and participating in market research at UBC-some vanilla extract so I can make plum cobbler tomorrow. I'm excited! I almost never bake, but tomorrow I will. And it will be fantastic. Maybe I'll even buy some real whipping cream (no fucking cool whip in this house) to put on it. Mmmm. Now I'm going to go have some cheese. And relax. Ahhhh.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Julie & Julia

Julie Powell is to me what Julia Child is/was to Julie. At least, she is becoming that way for me. Julie is the reason why I decided to write this blog. She will probably never read this; she may not even like my blog, but in my head, she is awesome. I saw Julie & Julia for the second time today and I loved it. Everything feels better, more sumptuous, more wonderful, more possible when I watch that movie; when I'm lost in the worlds of Julie & Julia, New York and France, respectively. With some stops in Oslo and Connecticut along the way. Thus, I bought Julie & Julia for myself today. On my credit card yes, but I figured I deserve it. I'm determined to cobble together full-time work. Yes, my frighteningly low-sub one hundred dollars-chequing account is acting as motivation, but in a similar effort to Julie, I want to better my life because I deserve it and I am capable of doing so. I've been struggling financially for some time now and it is in food that I can escape. And create and make and please and love. I remember reading a few months ago some reporter saying that in times of crisis, economic crisis to be exact, people look to food for comfort. At the time, I thought that was bullshit. Well, now, to say the least, I have been changed.
Tomato soup and fries for dinner. Nothing earth-shattering, certainly no oeufs des cocottes (gosh I don't even know if that's spelt right), or boeuf bourgignon. But it's food and I'm going to enjoy it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Comfort from Food

I'm back for another short post. The anger has officially set in. Here's a big fuck you to you know who. Well at least I have a couple positions with the Vancouver Farmers' Market going on. But working 16 hours a week at 10/hr doesen't pay the bills, so the job applications shall continue and likely intensify. The real world sucks. But I'm so lucky in many respects and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Not many people ever meet or find the love of their life, but I have. Not everyone has a loving mother, but I do. Not many people have a solid roof over their heads, but I do. So, I'll be okay. Karma, I hope you send some good stuff my way.
The sole and potatoes turned out wonderfully. Perfect actually. Simple, easy, and delicious. Sole is a incredibly tender, sweet, delicate, beautiful fish. I thank you fish for the nutrients and joy that you gave me. It is very much appreciated, especially today. I'm enjoy some Welch's grape juice right now. I've never bought it for myself and I don't really remember having it in the fridge as a child. But a friend mentioned how concord grapes taste like Welch's grape juice the other day, and I thought, I have to have some.
One thing I have to work on with food is although I have a lot of fun and feel energized and empowered when I am making food and I enjoy it when I make it for myself, when I make it for others, I'm just too caught up in their opinion to carry through that fun and energy and empowerment when we're eating. Things come with time and effort I suppose.
On tomorrow's menu? It's up in the air at this point. Maybe some more sole and boiled potatoes. What's simple is often what is the most luxurious in life.

Someone Just Cut Some Stinky Cheese

This post will be short. The scheduler for my job at the market can go suck it. Thanks for the one week notice that I will no longer be needed at the markets after next weekend. Please pass me on as a reference as I highly regard your work, she says. Some regard. I hope someone cuts some stinky cheese in your face you stupid cheese-face. On the bright side, I'm making a nice dinner tonight: sole baked with a bit of honey, crushed pecans, and vegetable oil, and some simple boiled potatoes with butter, salt, and pepper. And you know, it is true, Julia Child does sort of look like Dan Akroyd. She is on KCTS right now, but my god, she is an incredible chef. I have never seen anyone make eggs so perfectly and quickly. Next thing on kitchen wish list: cast-iron pans.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Here I am enjoying my morning coffee, or should I say midday coffee. Maybe once every couple of months one of my daily dalliances with food involves me with a catastrophic stomach upset on the toilet for an hour emerging five pounds lighter. I am one of those people who has a lot of allergies: lactose-intolerant (an ex-roomate of mine affectionately called me a 'lactard'), gluten-intolerant, allergic to wheat, yeast, bananas, pets (not food, but still something I love very much). Also I can't seem to tolerate a lot of raw vegetables like cucumber, carrots, and apples, and popcorn hates me too. Yikes right. Well, I've learned to live with it and on a day to day basis, I do alright, avoiding those things-especially wheat or any wheat products-that tear apart my insides. I'm convinced I have IBS and potentially celiacs, but I'm 'undiagnosed'. Anyways, today I must tread carefully with what I ingest so that my poor little allergic stomach can heal.
I tried my fried, breaded eggplant dish this morning and it was alright ya know. Still not as good as my dad's; I've got to watch him make it again to figure out what I'm missing. The first time I threw it together myself was a few weeks ago, returning home from the farmers' market with some delicious eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and garlic obtained from trades. I just threw it altogether with olive oil in a pan and it was fucking un-be-liev-able tomatoey oily garlic-y eggplant goodness. Since then, I haven't been able to replicate that perfection. I'm convinced it was the tomatoes and the oil, all the juices from the former and the slippery-ness from the latter co-mingled and it was awesome. Plus I didn't use actually dip said eggplant in egg base and panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese mixture before hand like I did this morning and other times since that first success. Huh. Thanks blog. I think I just had an epiphany. Maybe like Julie Powell, with her bad luck with anything jellied or aspic-d, I have bad luck with anything breaded in egg base. Anyways, we're going to have dinner at a friend's place tonight; it's always nice to eat something someone else has cooked just for you. I'm looking forward to it. What's next on the menu? Something with shrimp, sole, or crab meat. I wonder if I could handle a seafood chowder?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coffee and Potatoes

Well, I've been bad, and missed out on my daily blog for the last two days. I officially have a follower! It's my boyfriend, but still, how nice to have one. Maybe, as Julie Powell called them, I'll get a second "bleader" (blog-reader) at some point.
I made a spaghetti carbonara on Saturday night that turned out much better than I thought it would. Something about quickly tossing pasta in a hot oiled pan just sounded like it was meant for disaster and a pile of pasta perma-glued to a pan destined for the garbage. But that didn't happen. Although the minced garlic that I threw in the hot oiled pan for 1 minute (true to instructions), burnt almost on contact, so that left a bit of an unpleasant taste of charred something in the pasta and me chasing away the bits of garlic that I could as to avoid said charred something taste. I will definitely make it again, but take some other suggestions of adding cream and nutmeg to the mix.
The Steveston Farmers' Market was reliably annoying, but better than normal. At least less people asked for plastic bags for one block of cheese and no one asked "So what are you selling here?". You wouldn't believe how many times I get that question. I tend to just ignore the question, when really I want to say "Oh, we're just selling a nice foot up your ass you stupid fuck!". Anyways, on a much happier note, my boyfriend and I went for our romantic picnic at Trout Lake yesterday, complete with runny brie, toasted baguette, blue cheese stuffed olives, kielbasa sausage, grapes, and white wine. That's the way food was meant to be enjoyed: al fresco, with a loved one, with wine. It was great and delicious and felt very luxurious. Even though altogether, it only cost like $10, what with the brie and baguette obtained through market trades, the white wine made by my dad, and the kick-ass vintage picnic basket/set given to us by my dad. Schweet!
Well, this morning I had some more fried breakfast potatoes, which were great. And I'm having a coffee now. Still feeling groggy as heck. I must not have slept well. Too many dreams of food? I wish. What's for dinner? Right now, all I can think of is sleep. The next best thing to sex and food. Yeah. Peace out bleaders. Or, should I say, my one and only best of all bleaders, Anthony. :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Peppers, Pears, and Plums

Today I did my usual weekend shtick. Worked at the farmers' market selling cheese, trading for delicious things, lusting after the potatoes of the neighbouring vendor (purple potatoes anyone? Awesome for mashed potatoes by the way), not liking the idea that work is a necessary, unavoidable part of adult life.
But honestly, I do really like working at the farmers' markets most of the time. All the incredible produce, preserves, meat, baked goods, cheese, dips, spreads, all local and organic. Working outdoors getting delicious fresh air and some Vitamin E from the sun. And best of all, of course, trading cheese for groceries! Today I picked up a seriously gorgeous bag of organic peppers-chocolate brown and red-from Celyddon Farms, as well as a curvaceously awesome purple eggplant. Let's not forget the blackberries and pickled beans from Glenwood, a baguette (for that previously mentioned romantic picnic this coming Monday) from A Bread Affair, plums and pears, and artichoke pesto from Golda's. I consider myself ridiculously lucky to get all this food for free. Especially since if I couldn't get all this bounty for free, well, let's just say, I'd be staring at an empty fridge for breakfast, lunch, dinner, you get the point.
Being around and being so lucky to possess such incredible bounty is damn good for the soul. No doubt about it. That fried eggplant dipped in a beaten egg and parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs I just successfully made for lunch proves it. What's next? Maybe some of that leftover nutella and blueberry buckwheat crepe from La Boheme. Maybe some spaghetti alla carbonara for dinner too.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My First Time

Well, I have to say that this first time-my first foray into the scary and liberating world of blogging-is complete with the nerves, anticipation, and excitement of well, you know, that other more sweaty, intimate first time.
I am a poor university grad living in a basement suite in East Van beginning her journey into food, cooking, culinary delights, and giving into the rather orgasmic pleasures of a handmade chocolate from Granville Island. I am saving the Pistachio Nougat ganache chocolate orgasm until later, but the chocolate ganache with peppers of all colours and types was devoured and savoured and very...slowly...melted on my tongue about two hours ago. Ahhhh. Can you feel that? Yum.
I've always loved GI, but today, there was something different about it. Everything seem brighter, more colourful, more incredible, more delicious and exciting, and honestly, I was about to go into a tailspin just being able to absorb all the incredible gustatory delights around me. Prosciuttos, salamis, cheeses, lettuce, peppers, sausages, olives, did I mention cheese, blueberries, blackberries. I'm pretty sure that would be part of my heaven if I could create one. Or just a paradise on Earth. Maybe it is one? Where food and its origins and creation are celebrated and out on full display, no shame, total pride, like a nudie selling organic drinks on Wreck Beach. Or maybe fruit skewers or other "cold beverages".
Anyways, I can't tell you how excited I am to just dig into those blue cheese stuffed olives and kielbasa sausage I got today for the romantic picnic my boyfriend and I are going to have at Trout Lake on Monday. Can I make it until then? I'll just have to stop talking about food to accomplish that. I guess writing a foodie blog won't help much with that. But, hell, one thing we should all indulge in is good fucking food. Really good fucking food. Like my first stab at breakfast fried potatoes this morning. Or the bacon, brie, and sweet pepper sandwich I had earlier this week. All on a really poor-ass university grad budget. If I can do it, you can do it too.