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Saturday, 29 December 2012


Dim Sum Brunch, another fun event for the Holidays

So many dishes tempted us that we took many treats home:

     In the mall, outside the restaurant, a well-dressed Asian man, probably in his 70s, approached me.  “I am disappointed,” he said, “that you did not take my picture too.”  I must have looked a bit blank so, with a teasing smile, he added, “When you were in the restaurant.” 

I should have got his picture then and there.     


Naturally, after a lunch like this, we wanted a simple dinner. 

Fortunately, Christmas, this year, brought me TWO wonderful new cookbooks.


Baked spiced chicken from Anneka’s book:

3 lbs chicken pieces

2 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice

1.      Mix together spices, oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
2.     Marinate chicken in fridge for 2 hours.
3.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4.     Bake for one hour.

I was positive that Anneka’s chicken would be blog-worthy and it looks good, doesn’t it?  Well, Bryan really liked it . . .  but the rest of us were much more impressed by Anneka’s salad . . . which I hadn’t planned on blogging!  Sigh . . .

 Anyway, here's Scene Stealer #2:  


7 ounces baby spinach
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 orange
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt to taste

1.      Toast the almonds in the oven.  (5 minutes at 350 degrees)
2.     Cut orange segments into small pieces and remove the membranes.
3.     Combine oil, vinegar, and salt in a small jar with a lid.
4.     Put spinach, mint leaves, and orange pieces in a bowl.
5.     Toss with dressing. 
6.     Sprinkle nuts on top.

Thanks, George, for this thoughtfully-chosen gift.

Friday, 28 December 2012


What you do during Christmas holidays in B.C.

This Christmas we went to Granville Island for lunch at the Sandbar Restaurant.


Savella Stechishin says, "In Ukraine, a meal would be incomplete without a soup course.  Be the family rich or poor, soup is a daily must."

Savella offers 2 recipes for Pea Soup (Horokhivka).

According to Sophie Hodorowicz Knab, peas, in Poland, were “a major staple from ancient times”.  She also says that pea soup is “one of the oldest and most popular of Polish soups.”


Do you feel guilty, when you boil vegetables, about all the vitamins you are pouring down the drain?

Then stop!  Save the water from those boiled vegetables to make thick and creamy


2 cups yellow split peas
9 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cup finely chopped celery, with leaves
1 ¼ cups finely chopped onion

Salt to taste
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram
1 bunch chopped cilantro (a cup or more:  this is a great way of using up extra cilantro)

1.       Rinse the split peas, drain, and put in Stock Pot.
2.      Add water, celery, and onion.  Bring to the boil, remove scum, and lower heat.  Simmer, covered, for 1 and a half hours until peas are very soft.
3.      Add salt to taste.  (If you used unsalted water, start with a teaspoon.  Then add more, if needed.)
4.      Add lemon juice, pepper, cumin, thyme, marjoram, and cilantro.  Cook 10 more minutes.
5.      Drain into a large mixing bowl and reserve liquid.  (It’s easier to purée vegetables when you include only a small amount of liquid.)  Spoon batches of the peas into a food processor and blend.  Put blended peas into a clean, large cooking pot.  
6.      Add the reserved liquid to the blended peas and stir.
7.      Reheat before serving. 

*                                                                         ***********

Best Wishes to my cousin, Kathryne Leschasin, on her 18th birthday!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

ANASTASIA : Happy Birthday!

She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes, when she comes,
She’ll be driving six white horses when she comes!

Occasions of wonder and excitement – when my older sister came home.

Always dressed in the height of fashion!
(When Anastasia discarded this suit, my mother gave it to a neighbour who proudly wore it to church for years.)

Bringing us presents!
(the dresses, the Teddy Bears, and a police car with a flashing siren)


1966 :  Anastasia gave me free Room & Board in Edmonton  and helped me find a series of summer jobs.  She took me camping with her family and we even climbed a mountain! 

About the free “Board” -- Anastasia was a “Foodie” before the term was ever coined.  She has a discerning palate and, after tasting something delicious at a restaurant would recreate it at home, without a recipe.

But I was so blown away by one of the simpler meals she served that I wrote down the recipe Anastasia had in her head:


Soak 1 lb white beans overnight in 8 cups cold water. 
Drain beans and put in large pot with 8 cups of fresh cold water.  Bring to a boil.

1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp salt  (I added this after 4 hours of cooking) 
1 tbsp dry mustard
3 tbsp molasses (or ½ cup brown sugar)
1 onion (chopped and lightly sautéed)
½ tsp allspice (or more:  I used 3/4 tsp)
¼ tsp thyme (or more:  I used 1/2 tsp)
1/8 tsp cayenne (or more:  I used 1/4 tsp plus 1/4 tsp regular chili powder)
½ can tomato soup (or ½ cup ketchup)
Put in a ham bone and rind, if you have it.

Bake covered for 8 hours at 250 degrees.  Do not reduce the liquid.  More can be added if necessary.

When the beans are soft, add ½ cup vinegar and 2 tbsp bacon fat or lard.  (I omitted the bacon fat.)   

20 minutes before serving, add meatballs or bacon, or side bacon. 

* Anastasia said that more allspice, thyme, and chili could be added so that's why I used the extra amounts, and the beans tasted good, but it was probably not necessary.

And we’ll all go out to meet her when she comes, when she comes,
And we’ll all go out to meet her when she comes,
Hi, Babe!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

MUSHROOMS that taste like OYSTERS

Hot and Fresh

For years, I’ve passed over this recipe, even though it intrigued me .  .  .  breaded and deep fried mushrooms?  That sounded like too much last-minute hassle for company or even for a family dinner. 

Last night was no different.  Up to the last, I was all set to do Mushrooms Sauté, but I had made them once, in 2007, so where was the fun in that?  Then, I dithered about whether to make them once my daughter arrived, so that they would be hot and fresh, or to make them ahead so that I could relax and enjoy a cocktail with everyone. 

Fortunately, common sense prevailed.  

Reheated in the oven, the mushrooms were delicious.  In fact, my daughter remarked that if I put them into a bun, they would make wonderful Vegetarian Oyster Po’Boys!

FRENCH FRIED MUSHROOMS  from The Spice Cookbook by Avanelle Day & Lillie Stuckey
1 lb button mushrooms
¼ cup flour
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp celery salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 large eggs
¾ cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
Onion salt

1.      Early in the day, clean the mushrooms and set them on a tea towel to dry thoroughly.
2.     Slice the mushrooms thickly.
3.     Mix together flour, salt, celery salt, and pepper.  Put into a plastic bag.
4.     Beat the eggs.
5.      Spread the breadcrumbs out on a plate.
6.     Toss all the mushrooms with the flour.
7.     Dip a mushroom in egg and then dredge in the crumbs.  Set aside on a plate or baking sheet.
8.     Repeat with the rest of the mushrooms.  Set aside in one layer.
9.     Cover a couple of plates with paper towels on which to drain the cooked mushrooms.
10.     Set a draining spoon on the stove.
11.    Heat the oil to 370 degrees.
12.     Fry a few mushrooms at a time until brown. 
1.       Sprinkle with onion salt before serving. 

A good side dish or appetizer!

To reheat:  In an uncovered casserole, heat for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

POLISH BEET SALAD (Salatka z Burakow)

Sophie Hodorowicz Knab tells us that, although white beets were commonly used during the Middle Ages, red beets did not arrive in Poland until the 16th or 17th century.

A clear Czerwony barszcy (red beet soup) was served “in the morning after a long night of dancing and feasting”. 

The beets used to prepare the clear soup can be used in . . .

BEET SALAD:  to serve 6

From POLISH CLASSIC RECIPES by Laura & Peter Zeranski

3 cups cooked, julienned beets
1 cup sliced green onion tops
½ cup currants

2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1.     Put beets, onion tops, & currants in a bowl.
2.     Combine oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
3.     Toss dressing with beet mixture.


                  Bursting out of the ground in Aline's Garden, Oct. 2012

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


1964:  Residence Photo

Celebrating one’s birthday, while away from home at university, sometimes meant a traditional cake.

At other times, it meant downing a bottle of wine with my best friend, Eileen.

And, one time, it meant two of us devouring the entire shoebox of Shortbread cookies my mother had sent me as a care package.



4 cups flour
1 cup icing sugar
1 pound butter
¼ tsp soda  (a pinch)
½ tsp salt

Mix with hands for 20 minutes.  Form one inch balls and press down with a fork on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake in slow oven (325 degrees) about 10 minutes.  Watch carefully.  They are done when coloured around the edges.

Monday, 17 December 2012

CHRISTMAS BAKING and new glasses

Shopping for new glasses is fun, right?
            Yes, it does start that way.  But you can’t really see yourself in them, so you let yourself be persuaded by the sales lady that the little black frames are incredibly stylish and flattering.   You pay for them and the door closes behind you.

Almost immediately, you say to your husband, “Umm, do you think maybe the lenses in those glasses will be too small for trifocals?”  
“Nooo,” he responds, reassuringly.  “She said they’ll be alright so there’s nothing to worry about.” 
You nod and walk on a bit.  Then you stop dead.  “We have to go back.  I’m going to get those bigger frames.”  
            “But you said yourself they didn’t look as good on you.”
            “Doesn’t matter.  They’re the right ones.”  You grab his arm.  “Come on.  You have to come back in with me.” 
            He protests all the way up the stairs, “I’m never doing this again.  Next time you need glasses, you’re on your own.”
            Maybe you laugh because that’s exactly what he said the last time you bought glasses . . .  


                                        Now about that baking . . .

                        Two weeks before Christmas, Mom always got it started.

             First, she made 2 or 3 dark Christmas cakes, moist and heavy with fruit and nuts.
            Then, late into the night, when she could work undisturbed, Mom worked on a multi-layered Icelandic cake called vinertarta, which is made up of thin, cookie-like sheets held together by a prune filling.  (This was my favourite – I loved peeling off the layers and eating them one by one.)
            Next, the house filled with the delicious smell of sheets & sheets of cookies:
-         Aunt Mary’s Cookies:  big, flat, golden, & decorated with a raisin in the middle
-         Gingersnaps:  dark, spicy, and crisp
-         Shortbread: made with unsalted, homemade butter and topped with tiny slivers of maraschino cherries -- I could eat a dozen myself!

So I bought a Betty Crocker cooky cookbook recently . . .  now which of these should I make first?   Those Kaleisdoscope cookies certainly are eyecatching  . . .  and the Butter Crunch Confection Cookies sound really good.  .  .   but shouldn't I go more or less on-theme  with Russian Teacakes . . .  ? ? ? 



They taste like my mother’s Shortbread! Yay!

1 cup butter
½ cup icing sugar
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour

Mix all the ingredients together.  (A heavy duty mixer or the strong arm of a cheflovik would come in handy here.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Squeeze together about a tablespoon of dough and then make a 1 inch ball.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake 10 minutes.  Do not brown.

Roll hot cookies in icing sugar and set aside to cool. 

When cool, roll them in sugar again.

See how much better they look!

(By the way, you can freeze half of the cookies to bake later.)


P.S.  The glasses didn’t work out.  When I tried to read, I was looking through both the mid-range and the reading sections.  Nasty blurring. 

Saturday, 15 December 2012


This is a long recipe and I really didn’t intend to post it.  BUT it turned out so much better than I expected.  It looked like one of those big English Pub pies and the LEFT-OVERS are amazing.  Also, I made a LOT of changes in the crust, and it was sooo good, so I knew I’d be wanting to look back at what I did.    

CHICKEN POT PIEbased on Chatelaine Magazine, Feb. 2012
STEP ONE:  Bake a sweet potato for one hour and 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Peel and mash the potato.  Set aside to use in the crust.
4 cups cooked chicken

1 tbsp vegetable oil
12 ounces fresh mushrooms
1 ½ lbs turnips
12 ounces carrots
1 cup frozen peas

¼ cup butter
8 ounces onion
3 garlic cloves
¼ tsp pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ cup flour
4 cups milk
4 tsp chipotle pepper in adobo (2 of the peppers)
½ cup parsley

1.     Quarter mushrooms & set aside on a plate.
2.     Peel and dice turnips.   Set aside on a plate.
3.     Peel and julienne carrots.  Add to the turnips.
4.     Finely chop onion and set aside on a plate.
5.     Finely chop garlic and set aside on a separate plate.
6.     Finely chop the adobe peppers and set aside on another plate.
7.     Chop parsley coarsely and set aside on another plate.
8.     Chop or shred the chicken and set aside in a large bowl.

9.     Over medium-high heat, cook mushrooms in oil in large frying pan for 5 minutes.
10.        Lower heat a bit, add turnips & carrots, and cook 5 more minutes.
11.        Add peas.  Turn mixture into the large bowl holding the chicken.

12.        Cook onion for 3 minutes in the butter over medium-high heat in the large frying pan.
13.      Add salt, black pepper, and adobe peppers.
14.      Add garlic and cook one minute.
15.    Lower heat.  Stir in ¼ cup flour.  Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
16.     Using a whisk, stir in one cup milk.  When mixture is smooth, whisk in the rest of the milk. 
17.    Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until somewhat thickened.
18.    Stir in parsley.
19.    Mix sauce into the vegetables & chicken. 

STEP 3:  CRUST:  a biscuit dough

1.      Put 3 ¾ flour in food processor.
2.     Add 1 ½ tsp kosher salt.
3.     Add ½ tsp pepper.
4.     Give it a whirl.
5.     Add 1 cup softened butter.
6.     Process until all the butter is finely blended with the flour.
7.     Turn flour mixture into a large bowl.
8.     Beat 3 eggs in another bowl.
9.     Add 1 cup mashed sweet potato to the eggs.
10.        Add ½ cup milk to the eggs.
11.       Beat eggs, milk, and sweet potato together.
12.       Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
13.        With a wooden spoon, gently stir egg mixture into the flour.
14.        With floured hands, gently pat 2/3 of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 9x13 pan. . . about ¼ inch thick.
15.         Fill the pan with chicken mixture.  (There probably will be more than you need.  Refrigerate the rest to use in an omelet.)
16.        Lightly roll out the remaining dough.  Make sure it’s big enough to cover the pan. 
17.        I cut the rolled out dough in half to be able to move it onto the pan. 
18.        Seal the edges by pressing the dough there together.
19.        Cut x’s into the lid in several places to let steam escape.
20.        Bake until bubbly:  about 30 minutes.
21.      Serve with salad.  (I made 2 salads:  one was a beet salad; the other a simple lettuce salad.)

·        This can be prepared early in the day.  I reheated it for 30 minutes at 400 degrees without drying it out or burning it.