Saturday, August 14, 2010

Last weekend (aka "the inspiration")

So, as Hubs kindly pointed out to me last night, I haven't yet fully shared all the deliciousness from last weekend that prompted this blog.  Yes, dear.  Sorry that I beat you to the blogging game, though I'm looking forward to reading yours once it's up and running :)

Before I get to the good stuff, though, a quick note: I'm not 100% sure if I'll be posting recipes here to accompany the pictures.  Reason being: a lot of them will likely come from my G.I. Diet cookbook (more on that some other time), and I'm really not up on my copyright laws.  If Hubs (a font of useless obscure knowledge) or any fellow food bloggers want to jump in and clear things up for me, feel free; but for the time being, we'll stick to stories and pics.  If I yanked a recipe from the World Wide Web, though, I'll link to it... it's public domain at that point, right?? :)

So here we go.  This is what happens over a 24-hour period, when you're all alone (save for a dog and two cats) with a well-stocked fridge and pantry and about six different J.D. Robb books from the library:
Breakfast, of the "-in-bed" variety.  L-R: ramekin of peaches and mandarin sections, cherry pomegranate yogurt, ancient grains toast with margarine and cherry-blueberry jam, royal gala apple slices, my secret coffee blend, OJ, and a Lieutenant Eve Dallas tome.  Perfectly lazy.
 I know what you're thinking.  That breakfast looks... simple.  Bordering on lame.  Those who know me know that I went through a huge period in my formative years where an indulgent breakfast would include a homemade belgian waffle, smothered in chocolate syrup, maple syrup, and whipped cream.  In comparison to that, yes, this looks a touch meager... but think of the goal here.  Bed.  Sweet, comfortable bed, while reading.  I didn't want to have to muck around with a fork, knife, and ridiculously gooey pastry while trying not to smear the pages of my library book.  I wanted to be LAZY, and I was.  The real star here was the tray.  As my parents can attest, all my early attempts to serve them breakfast in bed came on a well-seasoned baking sheet... not the most elegant.  But thanks to Walmart and my sister Sara's mad assembly skills (thanks again, sis!), I have a coffee table with a drawer/tray insert. Voilà!

Lunch was a similar affair that day: tray, collection of food, little preparation.  It was more the feel of the meal than the complexity; I yearned for the simplistic but amazingly delicious lunches that I shared with my family during a trip to Europe two years ago.  Nothing, NOTHING will beat our simple picnic of baguette, olives, cured salami, aged goat cheese, and cheap inexpensive French wine on the banks by the Pont du Gard... but I came somewhat close.

Lunching on the patio. L-R: Water with lime, platter of aged cheddar, farmer's cheese, smoked gouda, seedless red grapes, Breton-like copycat crackers, Wasa rye crispbreads, and the remainder of my last bottle of my Gewürztraminer 2008 (yeah, I'm cheap, I bottle my own).

The view from the top... I love being seventeen stories up, even if my side of the building doesn't face the river...
A toast to the city I'm currently calling home!
 Midafternoon snack follows.  I swear, if I were completely left to my own devices, I'd be like a hobbit: breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, tea, dinner, supper...  Baking is one of my passions, though I'm usually too chicken to get too far into the realm of pastries.  Something about needing all that cold butter, plus the astronomical failure rate, keeps me away.  Maybe someday that'll change, but for now I stick pretty closely to cakes, cookies and breads.  Many will attest to how strongly I cling to my Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (yes, it deserves capitalization).  It's one of Anna Olson's, and is just about perfect in every way.  With this last batch, I think I expanded on the perfection: I used not only a bar of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chopped into chunks, but also two packages of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, hacked into small pieces.  Oh my.

Delish chocolate-chunk-and-peanut-butter-cup cookies, with more coffee and more mystery/smut.  Yes, it's a different book than at breakfast.  No, I didn't just switch them for the pictures; I'd actually finished reading the first and moved onto a second.  My voracious appetite extends to more than food, it would seem.
The aptly-named Snickers, my canine charge for the weekend, joining me in relaxation.  HUGE thanks again to Tori and Graham for not only buying me patio furniture, but also making the ungodly 2-day trek to the 'Peg to visit me for a week.  You guys are true friends!

 Dinner, of course, was conceived in my mind before the last cookie was devoured.  I wanted a BURGER (yes, all caps this time).  I wanted a burger like my mother used to make- thick, juicy, flavourful.  I'd never quite hit on the right combo of additions ("fillers" for the ground-beef-only purists) to mimic hers.  Today would be the day.  Slight problem: at this point, I'm still lounging in PJs, and don't feel like leaving the sanctuary of laziness that is my apartment to buy hamburger buns.  No worries; I'll MAKE them.  See above feelings re. baking: breads are okay.  Though, past attempts at light and fluffy buns typically ended with quite hard, dense rock-like substances.  I must've really been feeling it, since I decided to tackle these, too.

Ready to rise.  See the green flecks?  I decided to put herbes de Provençe on my counter while kneading and rolling out the dough; I was craving something like the Italian herbs D'Italiano packaged buns (but without all the preservatives)
Finished product.  If you attempt these, don't skip the egg wash; it made such a delicate, delicious light brown crust.

Now the beef.  I just tried to stop over-analyzing mom's tried and true recipe, and go with gut instinct.  I, of all people, should know that the knowledge of how to make a fantastic, meaty, juicy burger isn't inherited... but still.  Call me superstitious if you want.  I reached for some dried breadcrumbs, an egg, some grated parmesan cheese, a packet of onion soup mix (which, I suspect, was the key ingredient I'd been missing all these years), and an extremely healthy splash of Worcestershire sauce.  Done and done.

Grilling away, crossing my fingers that they'll come out meeting all expectations.  And I know, I'm a terrible person: I don't have a proper grill (indoor, outdoor, propane, charcoal, or electric), despite being able to keep one on the patio.  I'll leave the procurement and installation of such a contraption to Hubs; he uses it more anyway.
The "accoutrements", as Irene would say... pesto aioli, smoked gouda, tomatoes, red onions, and baby spinach.
Side dish: blanched baby potatoes, fried up in the same delicious beefy juices that the burgers gave off, with another healthy sprinkle of herbes de Provençe.
The finished product, with some asparagus to assuage my guilt.  Don't lie, you want to sink your teeth into this (barring vegetarianism, of course...)

Et voilà.  My day in food.  This obsession with preparation and photography continued into the next day, but I'll leave that for another time.  Like any proper foodie, I'm off to peruse the offerings at the fantastic seasonal outdoor market in St. Norbert.  Those Hutterites sure know how to grow their veggies, no doubt about it... and maybe this time, I'll spring for some bison meat and really get into the Prairie flavour.

To quote my nerdy/foodie crush, Alton Brown, I bid you good eating ;)  Cheers!


  1. That bread recipe looks amazing! I am definitely going to save it :)

  2. It did work out pretty well!! I had to alter it a smidge, since I didn't have any bread flour handy. I used 1 c. whole wheat flour and 3 c. all purpose. I was also a little short on the yeast (one envelope of Fleischman's (1/3 of the package) isn't enough, apparently)... I'll have to see how they turn out under the conditions originally intended, but overall they were tasty.