Thursday, March 26, 2009

March Sadness

A morning phone call had me rushing out the door, chocolate in one hand, tea in the other. A young friend had had her heart broken, so I was off to offer what advice 43 can give to 19, which is pretty much none whatsoever. At least I had chocolate. And hugs. I thought that made me prepared. I was wrong. She didn't want chocolate. I know it wasn't good chocolate; I had already eaten the good stuff. In fact, all I had to offer were some cardboard-y biscuits. Still, I thought everyone consumed chocolate when broken-hearted. Have things changed? Am I that out of the loop? I feel so old! I just wish I felt that the age came with wisdom.

In her distress, my friend didn't want anything to eat. She had to struggle to finish a half a cup of tea. Poor thing. All that left me to offer were hugs, and a shoulder to cry on. She seemed to appreciate those things, as much as one can appreciate anything when in the depths of despair. We talked for a while, then walked, then went to pick up boxes to pack up his stuff. What a sad morning.

Thanks to hubby it's been years and years since I've had to deal with this kind of heart-break myself. I'm left struggling to remember what I wanted to eat when I felt like this. Chocolate, for sure, but what else? I'll ponder for a bit, and in the mean time am open to suggestions. What foods call to you when you need comfort?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Steamy Lunchtime Adventure

I've been trying to buy foods that contain pronounceable and recognizable ingredients. I don't always succeed, but I'm certainly getting better at it.

I was surprised when I started looking for tortil
las that met these requirements. I really thought tortillas would be "wholesome". Not so. The majority of the tortillas available at my grocery store contain mystery ingredients that I don't want to consider. I was about to give up on tortillas when I discovered Alvarado Street Bakery's Sprouted Wheat Tortillas in the dairy aisle. Only 5 ingredients and all of them are pretty much recognizable. (I'm not completely sure about "unrefined" safflower oil, as vegetable oil refineries, unlike crude oil refineries, are outside of my experience.)

These tortillas seemed like the answer to my quesadilla prayers until I tried to work with them. The package suggested warming the tortillas, but it didn't seem to matter how I prepped them. They cracked and tore as I fumed and swore. I was beginning to think that I was doomed to live a tortilla-free life. Then I noticed a second serving suggestion on the package. Apparently I could also steam the tortillas. Perfect, except I had no idea how to go about steaming a tortilla and the package gave no directions.

Internet searches produced some vague instructions. Could steaming tortillas be a skill like boiling water? Is it possible
that the process is so basic that it doesn't merit explanation? Most instructions involved wrapping the tortillas in damp paper towels and microwaving them. Sounds reasonable, but "damp" is one of those subjective terms that is hard to convey on the internet. I was pretty sure any attempts would lead to more cursing, so I kept searching.

I eventually discovered that tortillas could be steamed in a basket over boiling water, which sounds easy enough, but I don't have a steamer basket that is large enough to hold burrito-sized tortillas. I was rooting through the kitchen, trying to find a reasonable substitute, banging together baking racks and my wok, when hubby remembered that we actually had a steamer rack/insert for the wok. Even better, he knew where it was. We've had the wok for so long that the handle has broken off and disappeared. As we'd never in my memory used the rack/insert thing, I was most impressed that he knew where it was. With that problem solved, the wok, its lid, its rack and about an inch of water went on the stove.

The rack alone seemed to be missing something, so I covered it with foil before adding the tortillas. It's a good thing I did. The tortillas stuck a bit, and I think it was much easier to peel the tortillas from the foil than it would have been to peel them from the rack. I'm sure you, unlike some of us, don't need to be reminded that steam it hot.

I steamed the tortillas on each side. Once they were flexible I filled them with scrambled eggs, veggies and cheese. The tortillas weren't as elastic as they could have been, so I stabbed the wraps with a toothpick and put them back in the wok. This allowed the tortillas to steam a bit more, and it gave the cheese a chance to melt.

The process looks more complicated than it really is. The tortillas steamed in the time it took the eggs to cook. Once the wraps were assembled and in the wok I took the wok off the heat and left them until we were ready for lunch. They stayed warm and the cheese got nicely gooey. Because I used the foil, clean up was easy. I tossed the foil and left the wok and its pieces on the dish rack to dry. Eventually, I'd like to work out a system that doesn't involve foil, but am pleased with this method for a starting point. And to think I was ready to give up on tortillas, when all I needed was a little experimentation. Next thing you know I'll be making my own tortillas. Or not. I don't think I'm quite ready for that much adventure. Yet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Today's post is written. See, look, here it is, scribbles and all:

Unfortunately it is on paper, and it's going to have to stay there for the time being. Will be back soon to input it in a form you can read. CU soon!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I am suffering from writer’s block. I know what I want to write about, but the words just won’t come together. It’s most frustrating. I’ve started this week’s post FIVE times, but I never seem to get anywhere with it. I’ve set those attempts aside and I’m going to vent instead. You’ve been warned.

Nothing I do seems to help. Walks to clear my head haven‘t worked. Picture me storming through the neighbourhood grumbling to myself about how much this sucks. Time in the garden, which worked last week, has lead to the discovery that something has eaten the flowers off the crocuses. This is particularly irritating. The yard is fenced. There are plenty of crocuses growing out in open, easily accessible places. They remain untouched. What makes ours so special? Are they particularly tasty, or is the local wildlife just enjoying the challenge associated with getting over (around, under, through) our fence?

Taking the writing on the road hasn’t helped either. I’ve dragged myself and my writing implements to the library, to a friend’s house, to a coffee shop and to the Toyota dealership. Still stuck. The waiting room at the Toyota dealership is promising though, and if they hadn’t finished with my car so quickly I may have made some progress. I’ve had luck writing there before. Comfy chairs, quiet work stations, wireless internet, coffee, a fireplace. If we could just do something about the Regis and what’s-her-name on the television I’d suggest myself as their writer-in-residence.

Thankfully, not everything this week has been as difficult as my writing. Experiments in the kitchen have led to good results. I made these banana-blueberry muffins for the first time. Like the author, I had to make some adjustments. I didn’t have whole wheat pastry flour, so I too used regular whole wheat flour, and I didn’t know what was meant by “old-fashioned oats”. (My recent confusion regarding oats could be an article on it’s own.) I used quick oats instead. They worked. I was feeling too lazy to chop walnut halves in to suitable pieces, so I left them out. The resulting muffins were tasty, and they were the most healthful baked goods I’ve ever made. All the ingredients were either organic, or local or both. Just thinking about that improves my mood.

I also figured out a way to use my wok to steam tortillas. I’d never steamed tortillas before, and I consulted several websites before I figured this out… more on this soon. I just checked the time. I need to get lunch started. Fortunately today’s lunch involves tortillas, so I’ll take some pictures and show you what I came up with.

I realize there are likely to be many errors in today’s post. Live with it. I am. The important thing, for me anyway, is that I’ve managed to defeat my writer’s block, and I have something to post. I suppose I should worry more what you will think of my messy attempt to get some words out, but you were warned.