Category Archives: Cooking

Fake Spring Weather/Real Spring Cleaning (and cooking!)

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It is a gorgeous day in Toronto – about 7C and sunny – and L and I just went for a lovely walk around the neighbourhood (we brought a disc instead of a camera, though, because he wanted to toss a bit in the park). I am so ready for winter to be over that, in my mind, it already is. This weather just proves it, right? L, who doesn’t want me to be disappointed when the March storms inevitably roll in, was more tempered in his enthusiasm, but still, even Fake Spring feels pretty nice.

And, whether the season is fake or real, the cleaning it inspired over the weekend is unquestionable.

The nicest it's ever looked.

The nicest it's ever looked.

Look at how tidy my work space is! I didn’t take a before shot because, frankly, it was too embarrassing. There were half-unpacked boxes stacked there, with bags and shoes piled around in front, and it was so bad that my rolling chair was reduced to basically a swivel. But, on Saturday L got a new dresser, which meant his old one could be used for organization (can you believe a grown man used a dresser that small?). The top two drawers have been designated for our hats, mitts/gloves, and scarves, but I claimed the bottom drawer for knitting-related items, and have also gained an office surface on top. The basket is currently holding needles, notions, and other odds and sods, while my pattern books are stacked beside it and, on the shelf above those, my to-be-read pile (you can see my knitting – Almondine sock number 2, of which more later – on the desk at the edge of the photo). It may never look this neat again, but I’m very pleased with it.

Besides cleaning and organizing, this weekend involved lots of cooking, which I love. On Saturday we had friends over for dinner and I made some Georgian food, inspired by my parents’ Grub Club (monthly dinner club they’ve have going with friends for over a decade). I made Bostneulis Kharcho (tomato soup with walnuts and vermicelli) and Khachapuri (bread baked with cheese inside.

This soup looked much better in person.

This soup looked much better in person.

The lighting in my kitchen is a little iffy, but you get the idea. Both recipes were incredibly simple, but had rather impressive results, and I would highly recommend them – both are from The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein.

Khachapuri – all puffed up and fresh out of the oven.

Khachapuri – all puffed up and fresh out of the oven.

L, Carmen and Sam playing boardgames after dinner.

L, Carmen and Sam playing boardgames after dinner.

Boardgames!

Boardgames!

Yes, this is just the sort of Saturday night I like.

Pancake Tuesday

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I love pancakes. Love them. When I was at home my mum and I made pancakes for breakfast on Sunday (my grandparents were visiting, so we dressed up breakfast a little), but even though I had eaten pancakes recently, when I realized it was Shrove Tuesday yesterday, I knew I would have to whip up some more.

We had spent the rather overcast and rainy day in the Junction (one of our favourite neighbourhoods) making use of our Coffee Passports. Actually, as an aside, if you happen to live in Toronto, I definitely recommend The Good Neighbour, a café at Annette St. and Quebec Ave. – it had great decor, a delicious selection of drinks and pastries, and was a productive place to get a little work done.

Indie Coffee Passport

Indie Coffee Passport

Where Quebec Ave. meets Annette St.

Where Quebec Ave. meets Annette St. – the view from The Good Neighbour

Anyway, from there we went to a pub to watch some soccer (I knit, he watched) and then headed home. Long story short: In our ramblings I had only managed to eat a muffin (albeit a delicious muffin) since breakfast, so when I got home around 5 I was starving and immediately set about making myself a grilled cheese. I realized an hour later that it was pancake Tuesday.

Pancakes!

Pancakes!

Luckily, L had a late frisbee game, so I had a feeling he’d want a bite to eat when he got home, which meant I could make late-night pancakes without worrying they wouldn’t get eaten. The real bonus, though, was that neither of us were hungry enough to eat more than two each, so we got to have leftover pancakes for breakfast this morning. There’s something about cold pancakes with jam that I just can’t get enough of, so Pancake Tuesday turned out to be a success all around!

Leftover pancakes

Leftover pancakes, dressed up with marmalade (right) and my mum's homemade strawberry jam

Fool-proof Fluffy Pancakes

1 1/3 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tbsp salad oil

1. Mix dry ingredients in a big bowl.
2. In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix well.
3. Add liquid to dry and beat until smooth (if you let it sit, you will probably need some more milk to thin it out – the baking powder makes for fluffy pancakes, but it starts working quickly).
4. Use 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Greasing griddle/frying pan for first round only.

Makes 8-10 pancakes.

Wintry Weekend

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Toronto has had a pretty pathetic winter so far, with temperatures ping-ponging above and below freezing and more rain than snow. So, when we woke up Saturday morning and it was snowing (and had clearly snowed most of the night), we decided to take advantage of it.

It was early enough that most of the snow was still untouched, although all along the streets in our neighbourhood people were out shovelling their driveways and the sidewalks in front of their houses. We saw a lot of little kids excited for an excuse to wear their snowsuits.

Speaking of which (although only sort of): I knit this scarf in early January when I was still gearing up for the cold and snowy winter that seemed imminent.

I may get around to writing a proper post about it (with a more representative photo), but in the meantime, the easy details are that it’s knit with Cascade Eco+ on 6 mm needles. It is cosy and warm and goes surprisingly well with my bright read coat. Also knit with Cascade Eco+ are my Diamond-Backed mitts (pattern, and less blurry photo, forthcoming).

We had a lovely walk and a busy rest of the day, so on Sunday we decided to be homebodies. We’ve been watching the new season of BBC’s Sherlock, and oh, it is excellent. I knit through the first episode and then we decided it was time to make some lunch. What could be more perfect for a cold and lazy day than pizza? The recipe for the dough and sauce are below; toppings-wise we used Buffalo mozzarella, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, and capers one the first and all those things plus red onion on the second. Yum yum.

Yeast-free dough:

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 med. potato, mashed
1. Combine dry ingredients. Add mashed potato and olive oil. Mix together while slowly adding water.
2. Turn onto lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5-7 minutes). Shape and layer with toppings.
3. Bake at 450F for 15-25 minutes (depending on thickness of toppings, desired crispiness, etc.)
(Makes dough for one pizza).

For tomato sauce, I use one can of Marzano tomatoes (remove about 1/2 cup of the liquid), gently mash the tomatoes with a spoon and season with salt and pepper (if you want it a little bit spicy, add some chili flakes). Freeze whatever you don’t use for later.

A knitting blog?

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Well, not quite. I mean, yes. This will be a knitting blog. But it will also be about cooking and recipes, and interesting household-y things I find.

Why? Well, I learned to knit just over a year ago and have been ramping up my productivity lately and thought it would be fun to have an online outlet. I already blog about books, so the idea of blogging is familiar and has proven a good motivator in the past. As for the cooking aspect, well, I work nights so I don’t get many chances to cook and I miss it. I thought this might motivate to do more cooking, and make more interesting dishes, when I get the chance.

I will update weekly – likely on Mondays – and maybe more, so check back and let me know how I’m doing, whether there are other things I should be focusing on, and what your favourite sites of this sort are.