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.