Archive for April, 2009

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Search It, Find It

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I once heard a story, likely an urban myth, about the reaction that People In Charge had when they learned that computers could store and organize great quantities of information into a new thing called a ‘database.’   The feeling was that it was a clever idea, but no-one could imagine much use for it beyond the storage and referencing of recipes.  How darling and naive.   These are probably the same People who cleverly thought the best use of the telephone would be to broadcast music to people in their homes willing to stand at the wall with a receiver held to the ear.

Though likely untrue, I can’t say that my first reaction to news of such a thing as a ‘database’ would have been much different; food is never far from my mind and my first thought might automatically leap to the exciting prospect of an automated catalog for all my favorite recipes.  And to be able to search for and find recipes by entering a keyword?!   Swoon!   Indeed, the searching for and finding of recipes is the most use I have for a database in my everyday life.  This magnificent tool is what allows us to think of anything in the world we want to eat, and then cook it. Fish amok?  palak paneer?  chicken schnitzel?  puff pastry?  tom yum goong?  Search it, find it, print it, shop it, buy it, cook it, hot, consume it.


Recently we made good use of this power to satisfy cravings and make cabbage rolls and ripieni.  Two versions of meat-stuffed tubes, one cabbage, one squid, with tomato sauce which would have been impossible without our friendly, global interweb.

To be perfectly honest, neither of these classics fully met expectations of fine flavour or texture, but the beautiful part is that we can peel the good parts from these recipes, search for new versions, adapt, search, learn, tweak and eventually satisfy the cravings.    Oh interweb, is there anything you can’t help us do?


At A Wedding

Monday, April 27th, 2009

A sample of Marc at a wedding:


A sample of Janet at a wedding:


A Fighting Chance

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

It’s strange that when traveling, I mean while in the process of actually getting from A to B, my food choices devolve within the web of plebeian masses.  Nothing for breakfast on my way to the airport, a gigantic cup of coffee after check-in (what am I thinking?!   that can lead to nothing but an encounter with an airplane lav!), a 1000-calorie muffin, dry snack mix on the plane, washed down with a full-sugar ginger ale, greasy pizza for lunch during the layover, more soda, and wine on arrival for dinner.  No wonder I feel a wretched mess.

But in my defense, it can be difficult to find reasonable food when dashing between gates.  There is always a McDonald’s, some measure of coffee shop/cafe simmering to bitterness under fluorescent lights, someplace serving tepid pizza from under warming lamps and those sandwich-salad-on-the-go kiosks.   The latter are very misleading when one is looking for good food-  to have a ham & swiss sandwich, for example, one is pretty much guaranteed to get a small loaf of white bread stuffed lopsidedly with a great gob of sliced ham (origin far, far from being known), a couple of thin slices of tasteless plastic cheese, one sad ribby piece of lettuce and sliced tomatoes defeating the mayonnaise’s efforts to keep the bread from getting soggy.   After two or three days spent lolling in the refrigerated kiosk, that sandwich is thoroughly cold, dry on the outside, soggy on the inside, pathetic, utterly without taste.   A salad from one of these places is, at best, a mass of dried out iceberg coated with a solid layer of cheese and bacon bits, with a mini tub of full-fat dressing wedged in along the side of the bowl.  There are probably more calories in half of that little tub than there are people onboard the average 737.

But at last, with this most recent extendo-flight to and from Nova Scotia, there are signs of hope.  In Chicago, we found the Salad Express- one must still contend with cheese and ham and bacon ladled onto greens, but here are real choices for food that don’t contain massive amounts of calories and fat.  Miraculous that one can choose from several vinaigrette dressings.   In Halifax, we purchased a packaged spinach salad which (despite the “bacon” bits) contained delightfully fresh and springy spinach.   We bought Vitamin water and I drank from the water fountain.  Water!  From the fountain!  I willfully ignored the possibility of germs that came from far and wide.

rightbite_200x1391Most encouraging of all was United.  Yes, United Airlines; an unsuspecting domestic-route vanguard of quality buy-on-board food, a company that doesn’t force its customers into making food choices that will result in what could arguably called an airplane-food hangover.   On a 4+ hour flight, we had the choice of 4 “snackpacks“:  two of them involved cheesespread, one involved cheese sticks (described as “comfort food a-go-go”?) and one, thankfully, with no cheese at all.  I opted for the RightBite snackpack, a combo including hummus made with pronounceable ingredients, tuna salad made without mayonnaise, and baked pita chips, among other things.   Amazing to finally be offered food onboard that would normally be a part of my everyday diet, instead of something I would eat only whilst drunk and starving.   That snackpack, plus an apple bought before the 2-hour on-tarmac delay, saved my sanity.

So there is hope!  We arrived home after 16+ hours of travel without having been forced to eat unreasonble food.   I still drank wine for dinner on arrival, but at least my tastebuds were intact.

Les Homards!

Sunday, April 19th, 2009


To Meteghan, the heartland of les Robichauds, les Robicheaux, and les homards!    Officially, the purpose of our trip to Nova Scotia is to have fun at Marc’s dad’s wedding, to visit with family and remember what real cold feels like.   Unofficially, it is to eat the tasty lobsters;  boiled straight up, dipped in melted butter, with chilled sparkling wine.   We loves it.


Tastes Green

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

pea_soup_1Made with frozen peas, this soup would be right up Nigella Lawson’s alley.  We added some tarragon to this light, fresh version, and some crisp pea shoots which sat suspended on the surface above the white dollop of creme fraîche.   Perfect with shards of warm, crunchy garlic bread.


Bitter Sweet

Friday, April 10th, 2009

A new milestone in the search for the perfect tonic!   Enter:  Q Tonic.


“60% fewer calories than other tonic waters, Lightly sweetened with organic agave, Handpicked Peruvian quinine.”

For only $8.95 USD for four bottles, we can enjoy the luxury of perfect tonic in a bottle designed by aruliden.    (The bottle has a designer.)   And, forgive my ignorance, but I don’t believe that quinine is just out there in pick-able plenty.  But they do say “handpicked”. Presumably in Peru.


Regardless of its anti-malarial properties, this has been a most interesting entrant onto the g & t playing field.  At first sip, I commented that it seemed sweeter than normal, and Marc’s first reaction was that it was noticeably more bitter;  an indication of its complexity, I believe.    It makes an astonishing impact on the overall quality of the g & t, moreso than even the gin.  Recently, I’ve been enjoying the pleasant bitterness of the Negroni (gin, vermouth & Campari) which has perhaps made me more sensitive to that which is sweet, so maybe that accounts for my reaction.  However, the agave that they add is more subtle than just a wallop of sugar or -yikes! – corn syrup.

It is clear what must next be done-  a side by side tasting:   Fever Tree vs. Q Tonic.   May the the best curative win.