Thursday, November 27, 2008


Look! Pie! I made it myself, with supervision of course. After reading about my lamentable inability to make pie pastry, a friend offered to teach me. She came over on Friday night and we made pie, drank martinis and played on the Wii. I had my doubts about the outcome of this lesson, particularly when the pie took forever to bake. We were using frozen sliced apples, and I had forgotten to defrost them in advance. I am proud to report that in spite of the delay there were no tantrums on my part. Might have had something to do with the martinis.

The apples kind of melded together to make caramelly, custardy filling similar to a pecan pie, but the crust stayed intact. If you look closely, you can even see the bottom crust in the picture. I’m not sure if you would call it “flaky”, but it was tender enough to cut with a fork, and it didn’t require chiselling to liberate a slice from the pan. A huge improvement over pies I have made in the past. I’m quite pleased with the results, particularly since the lesson has left me with enough pastry in the freezer for three more single-crust pies. We didn’t attempt a double-crust pie. That seemed too ambitious. I hope I can remember all I learned the next time I attempt to make pie pastry.

(Note: The apples we used in the pie were from the same friend's tree. She had given me an enormous box of apples in the fall. I made some into applesauce, which I then froze. Yummy on oatmeal in the morning. The rest I sliced, tossed with a bit of lemon juice, and froze. I didn't know what I was going to do with them at the time. I never would have guessed that they would end up in a pie.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Late post today, as I spent several hours shopping for new clothes. I finally got tired of wearing clothes that were too big. Yep, that’s right. I’m several sizes smaller than I was at this time last year. I couldn’t believe how many sizes smaller. I would have thought that I was a victim of vanity sizing if I hadn’t been shopping with a slender friend. We were trying on the same clothes. OK, often the clothes were too big for her, but they weren't that big.

So, what does this have to do with how I’m eating? Well, one of my goals when I started this blog was to change my eating habits without getting fat. At that time I had lost 22 pounds with Weight Watchers' online program, and I really didn't want to find them again. By September I was tired of counting points, and I had been inspired by what I had read in Michael Pollen’s
In Defense of Food. (I will mention his book often in this blog. After reading the library’s copy, I was so impressed I bought my own. In hardcover. Gotta get my money’s worth.) I wanted to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” and maintain my new weight. I’m pleased to say that I have. Thus my new wardrobe, and this brief , late and boastful post.

Oh, and I will tell you if the weight reappears, but between the new clothes and today’s admissions, I’m going to my best to avoid having that kind of news to share.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


While I was at work on Saturday, my hubbie braved the crowds at the farmer’s market and scored some beautiful locally-grown produce. How cool is that? For $20 he got purple kale, a bag of walnuts, salad greens, beets with the tops on, leeks and shallots. It was all so amazingly perfect that I had to take a picture.

Of course, by the time I thought to take the picture we had already eaten half of the salad greens. It was the best salad I’ve had in ages.

I was so excited by the selection that I had trouble deciding what to make. What a wonderful dilemma! I got over that in a hurry though, and got cooking. First I roasted the leeks and the shallots with other vegetables then used the roasted veggies to make broth. I then cooked beet tops, kale and rice noodles in a bit of the broth and topped that with baked salmon steaks. I’ve never made anything like it before, and was surprised at how well the meal turned out, particularly since I didn’t exactly follow the recipe that inspired the meal.

The broth and the salmon dish hardly made a dent in the farmer’s market haul. I still had enough broth and kale left to make smoked sausage, kale and potato soup. Again, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe , but the results were yummy. I served the soup with a side of salad greens topped with cold steamed beets, walnuts and some feta cheese left from a tart I made earlier in the week.

It’s been inspiring to see how what I have in the house works with the farmer’s market goodies. So far all I’ve had to purchase was the smoked garlic sausage and the salmon. The garlic sausage was made by a local butcher, and for less than $5 I got enough for 3 meals. The wild salmon steaks were slightly over $2 each. They were small, but with the broth, greens and noodles they were enough. The best part is we had two delicious meals, leftovers, 1 ½ litres of broth to freeze, a few snacks, several salads and I still have produce from the farmer’s market trip. I’m so pleased. Pleased with the results, pleased with the value, but most of all I’m pleased with my hubbie for his shopping expertise. I wonder if I can convince him to go again this Saturday?

Thursday, November 6, 2008


News this week has left me feeling hopeful. This is unusual. I normally approach the news with healthy skepticism. OK, more like cynicism leaning toward paranoia, so it’s even more surprising that events of the week have inspired feelings of optimism.

It started early in the week when I read that Toronto council has approved a local-food procurement policy. The policy will begin in city day cares where 50% of the food served will be from local growers and producers. As I grew up in Southwestern Ontario, and think highly of food grown in that region, this was welcome news. Local farmers should be supported by government choices. The fact that several members of my family earn their living either directly or indirectly from farming added to my satisfaction in this story.

My mood was further enhanced when I discovered that the mayor of London, England is encouraging Londoners to grow their own food, and that County Councillors on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales are reviewing food service contracts to ensure schools are serving more local foods.

A story from the Dallas Morning News was the one that surprised me most. After eight years of George W. Bush, I have some fairly negative and stereotypical views of Texans. I was delighted to find that a member of Slow Food Dallas is creating an online farmer’s market. (I will admit that I was also delighted to find that there is a Slow Food Dallas. That blew a few preconceived notions out of the water.) The website will allow consumers to connect with local farmers and ranchers. I know it says a lot about my narrow-minded view of the world, but I found this story greatly encouraging.

Of course, my optimism comes with doubts. I am still a cynic at heart, but even a cynic can hope. I hope that all of these plans can be carried out responsibly. I hope that the plans are so successful that they expand and spread to other communities and organizations. The local-food issue is in the spotlight right now, so I’m also hoping that the plans are sustainable and can survive the next hot topic and the next election. I realize that is a frightening number of things to hope for, but given my current mood, I think it can be done.