Archive for the ‘Experiments’ Category

So here it is a brand new year. The world did change as I know it over the holidays, as promised. No fire and brimstone, I just decided I really like to bake. And cook. Not shocking because we have been blessed with this super awesome kitchen. What is shocking is my love for entertaining. My entire adult life I think I’ve had people over for dinner maybe twice – if you don’t include the big dinners I used to make for the random roommates and crashers 20 years ago. I still have that crock pot. I worry that it’s going to catch fire occasionally. Hmmm.

Where was I going with that? Oh yeah, the idea of me hosting a dinner was akin to the idea of Dracula using garlic breath mints. That’s a terrible comparison but I’m sticking with it. The point is with some help from my Auntie C we had 8 people for dinner Christmas Eve and I was giddy. That motivated me to do New Years Eve which was only for 6 but I went a little crazy and we are still eating leftovers. Anyway, I’m having a blast in the kitchen. Possibly because it gives me something to take pictures of inside the house when it’s cold out! My love got me a macro lens for my phone. Uh- oh…


The food coma has subsided for the most part. Now onto the Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Potato Carrot Garlic & Shallot Soup Experiment. Well, there you have it.

Just kidding.

I received a Soup cookbook for a Christmas present about 13 or 14 years ago and I finally decided to make something based loosely on what I found in it. That’s where the Squash and Apple part came from. I probably should have actually looked at the recipe because it took FOREVER to roast the squash. The apples came out after about 25 minutes @ 375F. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cut the Butternut Squash (best color on a Chip Foose truck design EVER) from top to bottom in half. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to peel a raw squash – it’s SO much easier to do when it’s cooked!!!

Cut the apples in half from top to bottom – you could do side to side but you’ll get all distracted by the awesome star that magically appears and go do some printing or something – soup forgotten…

I put lemon juice on the apples right away to stop them from browning.

After scooping out the squash guts (reserved for later to clean up and roast or dry and plant) I spread a thin layer of honey over the top, threw a clove of garlic and half a shallot into the holes. Opened the spice drawer… hmm… Mace, Sage, Garlic Pepper and… I think that was it actually. Our new kitchen is amazing. I love it. It took some getting used to because there are more drawers than cupboards but I LOVE having the spices laying down in a drawer. The only problem now is space. I might need to build a rack to fit in the drawer to maximize the footage…SOUP, right.

The apples were done after a short time as I said. I put them aside – peeled a bit later which was super easy. I did NOT put them in cold water because I spiced them too. They still peeled perfectly with a little pull. No wasted apple at all.

The squash – #$&*@(#&(@&! I cranked the oven up to 400F and after checking on it more than once it was ready after about an hour? So at least 90 minutes in oven total. Next time, read the gd recipe at least for cooking times!

Side note, if you want your house to smell amazing roast a couple of apples with spices. Holy crap.

Anyway, long story longer I put the good blender jug in the fridge with half of the Smoothie I made earlier and forgot to have for breakfast this morning. So, to the old standby. The smoothie blender came with Jacob. So it’s relatively new. My blender is the one I bought when I had my daughter so I could make my own baby food (pfft, right). We just bought 22 candles to put on her cake a couple of weeks ago. Obviously, we did not put them on the cake. See I Am A Cake Blob Artist for further information. Needless to say, this baby is tired. And I knew that. But, I used it anyway. The smell of burning rubber almost entirely eliminated the beautiful spiced apple smell, but not quite. I kept thinking of Steve Earle’s lyric from the Warrior, “bi-acrid fumes of death’s cacophony”. Hmm.

After 20 minutes of torturing the poor blender I had pureed the hell out of the squash, apple, garlic and shallots I tasted it. It did not taste like bi-acrid fumes but it was way too sweet. Shit. Jacob walked in. By the end of our welcome home honey conversation it was decided that he would pull apart the blender to see if he could clean it or something and I would boil some potatoes and carrots to kill the sickly sweet flavor, I mean balance the bouquet?

Sliced up 4 medium yellowish potatoes, 2 large carrots, boiled them up and blended them into the squash mix with my trusty hand blender which I should have used from the beginning. I added about 3 cups of chicken broth (used a cube – I won’t deny it…), reheated it and simmered it while I cooked croutons from multi-grain bread which I thought were gross and burnt. Jacob still said he thought it was amazing but he put the crumbs in too so he really has no idea what the soup tasted like! He’ll find out tonight because it’s so filling there’s still a pot full in the fridge!

All said and done, not including me picking it apart the whole time we ate it took most of the afternoon to prepare. Would I do it again? Yes. But with less honey if any at all because what a mess on the pan. And I have to learn to make croutons because those were awful. And I have to read a gd recipe to find out the proper cooking times. It’s always faster the second time around right? Oh yeah, I also added the potatoes and carrots because the squash stuff on it’s own reminded me so much of the baby food I never made 22 years ago. Maybe I should make baby food. *shudder*

I did not get very many good pictures of this. Largely in part due to the lighting in my kitchen. And the heavily saturated gorgeous color of Butternut Squash. WOW. I highly recommend getting one and trying something with it, but be careful! They are not easy to cut. I’m determined to grow some in the spring. I had some growing inside from an Acorn Squash but I did that thing where I forget to water them. Oops.

I had every intention of waking up early this morning and starting it off right with a fruit and veggie smoothie. I figured out almost immediately that I should have taken out the frozen 4 field berry mix last night to thaw. I shudder every time I think back to my daughter’s BF stubbornly trying to make one with frozen solid strawberries. Painful. But, I was determined to have a smoothie so I measured about 2 cups and waited… Had a coffee. Did the usual page checks, email. I get a ridiculous amount of links to porn sent to my email. By the time I deleted them all and went for more coffee the berries were still frozen. 11:42. Plan miserably failed. I had a turkey wrap. That’s sort of healthy right? It was on flat bread and had lettuce after all. I’m cutting down my Mayo consumption (addiction) so just a little bit of that with some spicy mustard and YUM. I really need to pick up some seeds so I can grow more sprouts. They’d be great on these wraps! I’ve tried Radish which added amazing amounts of flavor and texture to my sandwiches for a while.

Still determined, when the fruit was finally thawed I threw in half a large Carrot, about a 1/3 of an English Cucumber, the frozen 4 Field Berry Blend, and a big spoonful of fat free Greek Yogurt into the blender and went to town. I haven’t made a Daiquiri for years… It took a while. I hate getting seeds in my teeth. Drives me batty. So I liquified the crap out of it. It helped with the seeds but my face sucked right into itself when I tested it. Total lemon face. I added a banana and Presto! Awesome smoothie. Too much for a snack though so half of it is in the fridge ready to go tomorrow morning when I get up early… Right.

I also made a soup experiment but I have food coma from eating it so I’ll need to write about it later!

Practicing Gratitude Daily…

5cups yingyang veg smooth Radish Sprouts grown on the counter from seeds.

I don’t even think I need to write about this. It’s a pretty self descriptive slide show detailing the massive failure on the cake’s part. Me? I did everything right. I blame it all on the cake. Damn it tastes good.

Okay! So I think I have the layout worked out on this thing. What images stay where, and widgets galore. I just said Galore. I apologize. My Basil is growing nicely, which is what this is all about. I was pretty disturbed about a month ago when I spent $35 on herbs from a nursery and promptly killed them all within a week. The Sage is just managing to hold on as long as I pay close attention.

Well, it set something off because I’ve been planting all over the place. I’m determined to grow food and herbs in the house over the winter. There is some concern around the house (not mine) as to where I plan on growing all this stuff. I’ll figure something out!

We found these clear glasses at the Interfaith for I think $.50 each? We’d moved and my cousin was coming. I invited my parents to come surprise her. And of course the kids. So, we had exactly two glasses after the move. At some point I might go into how the majority of the kitchen stuff was my kid’s so when we all moved to different houses, most of it went with her. I guess I just did. Right, two glasses and 10 people. Shite. Excuse for treasure hunting though, awesome.  So we have these glasses. Which we don’t have room for in the cupboard and they have weird dishwasher etching in them. We agreed to take them back to the Interfaith. Why not, $4 well spent on one afternoon. When is the next time I’ll need 10 glasses? Out the door they went, onto the shelf outside that seems to be collecting things neither of us want to deal with.

So I planted in them. I thought it would be cool to be able to see the roots. There is Basil, Thyme, Chives, 2 Radishes (why not – just an experiment), Acorn Squash and some Garlic. There’s also some Garlic in a Tinkerbell cup V gave me because there was a chip in it. The Basil, Thyme and Radish seeds were all sitting around in packages from the W store or wherever. The radishes were super old, I’m surprised they actually sprouted. I’m really excited about the Chives because the seeds came from the bunches I pulled and brought with us from the last house which is torn down now. So I rescued something from it at least.

The Squash was an experiment. I tried some in water, some in soil, some in soil right in the half. They like the soil. It took a while but they’re going crazy now. Not sure how I plan to deal with that if I don’t successfully convince J that we should build a temporary greenhouse. I’ll have to grow it up the wall! The Garlic is from the store. I had too much so I split the cloves and put them upright in the soil and VIOLA! They are at about 2″ sprouted now. I just like growing it. The sprouts just grow all over. At least in the last one that worked.

This is my winter distraction, from winter. My challenge for myself is to get healthier and part of that is growing my own food, what I can. Also, eating a more colorful variety of food, which comes with growing it I suppose. It all goes towards the goal of being as self sufficient as a person can, living 2 blocks from downtown Calgary. More on that later. In the meantime, I plan to grow anything I can out of food I’ve bought from the store. I’ll probably break down and get more seeds, but it’s worth a shot. Plus it gives me something to take pictures of without going out in the cold!

Oh yeah, I am aware that the chances of something providing me fruit or a vegetable other than herbs over the winter are slim to none. I’ll plant it in the Earth after the last frost. I almost forgot the sprouts! I have some radish sprouts. Another experiment but it worked! Just poured the seeds in a plastic lid, watered it and left it on the counter. It’s been around a week and they’re starting to reach for the sky. I can’t wait to have them in sandwiches. I’ll be planting more and planning out the design for the back yard and the secret garden over the winter too.