Friday, February 27, 2009

Allison needs

I saw this on Sebrina's blog and decided to play along. What you do is type your name into google with the word needs after it (Allison needs) and then write down the first 10 things it says.

1. Allison needs...to get laid (so crude but as long as Diego is involved ;) )
2. Allison needs...a loving home (Don't we all??)
3. Allison needs...more good farmers to raise corn, wheat, rye, oats, barley, peanuts, cattle, hogs and sheep. (well...)
4. Allison needs...to stop taking shootout attempts. (I guess I should retire my pair of revolvers ;) )
5. Allison needs...to know everything she can about your organization to best communicate your project or programs for funding or awareness building. (not exactly)
6. Allison needs...a nickname (I've got one of those...Alli)
7. Allison needs...office space (I have that too...)
8. Allison needs...your help (I definitely love having your help to build my recipes and all around as friends!)
9. Allison needs...little help from the beauty shop (why Thank you)
10. Allison needs... to start being investigated by the DA (probably related to the shootout in # 4)

Fun but not as insightful as Sebrina's. I hope you decide to play along!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Delicious Take II

So...I just noticed that I forgot the delicious part of my previous post!!!

Yesterday was Dia de la Bandera (flag day) in Mexico. It really isn't a big deal and they don't really celebrate it but I thought I would surprise Diego with his favorite Mexican Dish Papadzules (said Pah-Pah-tsoolays). But first...the flag!

I really like the Mexican flag it has a really cool story. According to legend, the gods advised the Aztecs that the place where they should establish their city was in the place where they saw an eagle, perched on a prickly pear cactus eating a serpent. They saw this on a small island in the centre of a marshy lake that is now the zocalo (said soh-kah-loh) or the main plaza in Mexico City. So essentially Mexico City is built on a lake. They actually grew the city around the island by building rafts, they grew food, had houses and all got around in boats in canals. Xochimilco
(said soh-chi-milk-oh) is a part of Mexico City where the canals still exist and they grow decorative plants. It is the only part of the ancient Lake Xochimilco left.

Anyhow... on to the food!!! This recipe is actually quite easy (if you buy the paste and tortillas...well even from scratch it's not that bad...I have made more intensive that's for sure!!!).

These are essentially warm corn tortillas stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and topped with a pumpkin seed sauce and a tomato based sauce. This is very typical of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Ingredients (makes 16 papadzules):

4 cups of chicken broth
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 lb of papadzule paste (here I used the organic pumpkin seed butter from the superstore - make sure the butter only contains dry roasted pumpkin seeds...and maybe some oil but nothing more or it will change the flavour - you can also make it from scratch - recipe to follow)
16 corn tortillas (I made mine from scratch but they also sell some at the superstore that you can use - from scratch recipe to follow)
8 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Pinch of salt
2 cups of tomato sauce (I will follow with this recipe - you cannot sub in with regular tomato sauce)

Bring chicken broth to a boil and season with bouillon cubes (you could sub in with veg broth, it will change the flavour a little but definitely worth a try!). Put the papadzule paste in the blender then add 1/2 of the chicken broth and blend. You want it to be a somewhat thick sauce. It will thicken as it cools, I used about 3 cups of broth and saved the rest. Do NOT heat the mixture on the stove again afterwards...the paste will begin to clump (I learned that hard way...and back to the blender it went!).

Warm up the tortillas in a pan, not the microwave or the oven. You want them to be warm and soft. Once they are warm dip them into the papadzule sauce covering the entire tortilla. Lay half of the tortilla on the plate and fill with sliced egg. You can either try to roll it like they do in Mexico or do as I did which is easier for the inexperienced like me and just fold it in half. Place 2-3 on a plate then cover with more sauce. Add a spoonful or 2 of the tomato sauce and top with a bit of egg and enjoy! They are delicious!!!

Papadzule sauce:
1 lb of thick, peeled pumpkin seeds
Salt to taste

Toast the seeds on a griddle without letting them brown. Grind by hand or with a blender, season with salt and gradually add water to form a thick paste.

Tomato sauce:

1 lb of tomatoes (I used on large can of organic whole tomatoes)
3/4 cup of onion
1 guajillo chili or large banana pepper
3 oz of oil
1 chicken bouillon cube
Salt to taste

Blend onion, tomatoes and pepper. Add oil, bouillon cube and salt and simmer uncovered on low heat stirring continually for around 30 mins or until the sauce thickens.

Tortillas:
2 cups of Maseca (this is the brand of flour you need to buy, it is a special corn flour and no typical Canadian corn flours do not work...you can only buy this in specialty stores like Pete's Frootique in Halifax, superstore has yet to sell it...although with more demand...) ;)

Put the 2 cups of maseca in to a bowl. Add water until the dough is like cookie dough. The break off egg sized balls. Place on a flat surface line with wax paper. Take your heaviest book and line the cover with wax paper. Place the book on top of the ball and apply even pressure until it is flat and round. You don't want it thicker than 1 cm. Alternatively you can use a tortilla press...but most people don't have one of those handy here in Canada. Peel off the top layer of wax paper, then place the tortilla paper side up into your hand and gently peel off the paper. You should ahve a nice round tortilla in your hand. Place it on a hot griddle (hot like for panckaes so the water makes a bead when you drip it on) and cook them for about 15 seconds. Touch it gently with your fingers, when it is ready to flip it will move around on the griddle like it is floating on air. Cook the other side for maybe 30 second then flip it again. Check for any raw parts as you are doing this. Once it is cooked, it should be soft and not brown anywhere but a nice very pale yellow, almost white colour still, it may or may not fill up with air. It took me a while to perfect the technique and seeing someone do it really helps. If there is interest, let me know and I will make a video. This is definitely the most complicated part of the whole recipe! The store bought ones are easier but once you have tasted the real fresh ones you can never go back...so it is up to you... ;)

That's it for tonight!
A little bit of history and international cuisine all in one!!!

Something Cute and Delicious

So I am back from the conference...technically I never left. The blizzards in New Brunswick on Monday prevented me from making the 10 hour drive from Halifax, NS to Portland, Maine. Luckily technology is on our side and I spent the whole day Monday preparing my presentation with a narration for every slide. So even though I wasn't there all of my preparation wasn't in vain. YAY!

During comfort week graciously hosted by Sherrie, I posted that one of my most comforting habits was holding Diego's hand...well it seems I am not the only one! I just received this video on Monday. Watch the WHOEL thing, you won't regret it...it is ADORABLE!!!
video

Thank you to whoever took this video and decided to circulate it!!!

More on Otters Later!
Happy Wednesday!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Food Week: Dessert and a Break

I have been making graphs like a mad woman. I just finished my last (so I think) graph for my presentation last night!!! The conference I am going to starts on Tuesday morning but I have to drive to 10 hours tomorrow to get there and my presentation is on Tuesday! So this will be short and sweet so I can get started!

For my dessert recipe, I will point you towards the Lemon Cheesecake I made for Diego for his Birthday. Click here to see my post with this recipe. I promise I will post my blueberry-peach crumble soon. This one is easy, delicious and a little healthier. ;)

So I am off tomorrow for a few days, so I will not be posting at least until next weekend. Have yourselves a good week! Take care!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Food Week: Vegetarian Dish

We aren't vegetarian but we eat a lot of veg. dishes. A new one to me and definitely a favorite from first bite is an Italian recipe I posted a while back. It is a lasagna style dish that uses eggplant instead of noodles. Click here to get to my recipe.

I just couldn't let myself off the hook with two posts in a row linked to a recipe already out there...so I decided to add what I had for lunch too! I made up the recipe and I have to say it was delicious!! It is a warm spinach and beet salad which was perfect on the snow stormy day!


Ingredients:

312 g of Spinach
5 small beets
Heaping handful of pecans
1 tbsp of Olive Oil
2 pinches of salt
Presedent's Choice Fig Balsamic Vinegar
Goat Cheese

I put the whole beets (skin and all) into a pot of water and boiled them until the were done (prick with fork). I peeled the beets while they were still warm with my hands under cold running water. The peel actually just slides off! Then I sliced them. I then put the olive oil and salt in a pan, heated then sauteed the spinach and pecans until the spinach was wilted. I made a bed of the spinach mixture in a bowl and added the sliced beets. I then splashed on some vinegar (the fig on is much milder than regular balsamic but either will do) and topped with goat cheese. I am sure you could even make this with kale!! It was tasty and made lunch for at least 2 people.

Check out other participants' veg recipes here.

Food Week: Dinner

One of my favorite things to make for dinner is mushroom risotto. Its creamy goodness always has a spot on my plate!!!

This is definitely odd since I have just started liking mushrooms this passed year. It is pretty simple but there are a lot of steps and my fav. recipe is not on paper and easier to follow if I just give you the link. This is an awesome website, it has LOTS of recipes and each has its own video, which is very helpful for obscure cooking terms like "beat eggs until fluffy"...when you are new at cooking even this can be obscure! I know I wasn't sure what it meant when I started cooking and baking for real...by this I mean from scratch!

Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Food Week - Lunch

One of my favorites things about lunch food is cooking a huge batch on Sunday and having it for the week. This week I chose Chili. It is simple and hearty on these last few days (rather weeks...but we won't think about that) of winter. Here is mine all packed up and ready for tomorrow! (ps: I never put anything hot into plastic...nor do I heat it up in plastic...I just can't afford to switch to glass right now... and all my jars are in the freezer)


I don't really have a recipe and it changes slightly everytime depending on what I have on hand (gotta love simple and flexible!). So here is what I did this time.

Chop one large onion and fry it in the bottom of the pot until golden in some olive oil. Just before the onion is done throw in two finely chopped cloves of garlic. Then add 1 lb of ground beef (this is optional). I get this delicious local beef that is grass-fed free range and it is very lean and tastes devine!! The I add salt and pepper to taste and about a table spoon of chili powder and fry for about a minute. Then I add 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes then I fill one of the cans with water and add that. Then I threw in a can of corn, around 200g of each of dry red kidney beans, black beans and navy beans. I also add another 2 tablespoons of chili powder. Then I bring it to a boil and let simmer for at least 1.5 hours. Add salt, pepper and chili powder to taste. I like it spicy so I also add cyanne pepper. Check your pot every 15 mins to stir and see if it needs more water, the beans take up a lot of juice so if it looks too dry add some. In the end it makes a delicious and thick chili, none of this soupy stuff. All in all it makes lunch for the two of us for 5 days and one dinner.

Check out what everyone else has on for lunch here!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Food Week - Breakfast

Hi all!

I am participating in Food Week that is being hosted by Sherrie over at Frenchy's Finds. The first installment is a simple breakfast recipe. So here is our old stand by.

Cut up a whole banana add 1.5 cups of blueberries (I have a whole freezer full of Nova Scotia wild blueberries), 4 dollops of plain yogurt a large pinch of flax seed and almost a handful of almonds (I LOVE ALMONDS!). To top it all off a nice drizzle of maple syrup. Easy, fast and healthy. You can use any fruit, I usually try to use what is in season or what I have in the freezer...with the exception of the banana of course. ;)

Here is a list of all the food week participants if you want to check out all the yumminess or if you want to join in!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Workshops and Cheesecake.

I have been quite silent lately and with good reason. I have been crazily preparing for two upcoming workshops that I feel are really important and deserve my full attention...not to mention Diego's b-day and Love day thrown in there!!!

Luckily, I found some time to bake Diego a cake. He absolutely loves lemon meringue pie and cheesecake so I thought I would combine the two and make him a lemon cheesecake! I used this recipe and lets just say I wish it looked like the photo but it tasted like heaven! I actually took a photo but can't find it! :( So I borrowed this one from a blog called cherrapeno that looks amazing!

So I promise that I will post about what I have been preparing for these workshops and let you in on what I actually do as a marine biologist very soon. I have been finding some really interesting stuff in my data and gathering a lot of neat information from the literature which of course I will share with you in time. In the mean time, less computer for me since I am on it all day....incidentally food week will be great since I will be making all the simplest recipes I have between now and leaving next week!!!

Ciao for now!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Pleasant Surprise!

So, I have been collecting orchids for the past year. All of them I bought when their flowers were in full bloom except one. I bought it at an orchid show for $15 bucks with the reassurance from the seller that this was a big bloomer with gorgeous flowers. My patience and careful care have paid off...LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS!!!
It is called Epidendrum Green Hornet and is a hybrid of Epidendrum cochleatum (the Black Orchid from Belize) x Epidendrum lancifolium (a fragrant species from Mexico). It is definitely my favorite because it is so unique and has a mild pleasant fragrance! It's not something you would easily find outside of an orchid show! I think I will have to go back this year to flesh out my collection with some more varieties! All of my other orchids are also putting out flower stalks!!! I will definitely post them as they bloom.

Also bringing flowery happiness to my home...two more of my Christmas cacti are blooming!!
This white one is in my kitchen and the beige one is in my bathroom (sorry I didn't invest as much in these pics as I did with the orchid...).
I have one last cactus left to bloom, it is a nice fuschia colour. I can't wait! I have also been cross fertilizing them all. I am hoping that by next year the berries will fall off and I can get some babies started. It'll be cool to see what flower colours come out of the mixes! Once large enough they will make nice gifts (like in 2 years...now that's planning!). Let's hope they are fairly easy to germinate!

Flowers spell happiness on the cold wintery days.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Yipee!! Snow!!!

Diego and I went tobogganing on Citadel Hill last night in the thick of the snow storm! We didn't bring the camera for fear it might get busted on our runs down the hill on our bellies!! We were alone for the first 40 mins or so and just as we were contemplating going for a beer and snack at Freemans (excellent pizza place on Quinpool RD) a gang of teens showed up. So after a final couple of runs we headed off for our beer. Lets just say, we were covered head to toe with snow and Diego's beard...totally white! They didn't turn us away at the door though! : )

It is beautiful and sunny here today. The calm after the storm. Everything is melting. I saw these 3 crows out my window this morning, although "warm" they are all puffed up. It is amazing that they can survive outside in the minus double digits! No wonder down jackets are so warm!

Enjoy your Sunday! : )