Archives for April 2012

Simplest Scalloped Potatoes

My technique for scalloped potatoes comes from a young chef I once worked with when I first moved to Montreal. The fact that he proposed marriage to me every second Saturday never lessened my admiration for his skill in the kitchen, and I learned a lot during the time we were together.

We were both transplanted, he from Lyon, France, and I from Canada’s West Coast. Trapped together in a small, hot kitchen six nights a week, we talked of family back home, the peculiarities of Quebec, and, of course, food. He would prepare the sauces and trim the meats for the evening service, and I would make the desserts and accompaniments to the entrees. Like these Pomme de Terre Dauphinois, or scalloped potatoes.

My chef-friend showed me how to layer thinly sliced potatoes in a shallow baking dish and cover them with cream for the simplest – yet delicately rich and lovely – side dish. The only seasoning on the potatoes was salt and pepper; hence, they went with nearly every dish on the menu.

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Planning what to grow in your backyard vegetable garden

When we first purchased our own home, my first thought was that I finally had the chance to have a garden, a space all my own to do what I wanted. It took a year before the raised beds were in and ready to be planted in the spring – and plant them I did.

A bit too eager to get food from the ground, I overloaded my space and so by about midsummer, the zucchini had taken over, the potato plant was expansive, and the tomatoes were literally out of control. A good problem to have, for sure, but with all the overcrowding, it was hard to get in to harvest, and I often lost tomatoes and zucchinis that I missed under the tangle of vines and leaves.

I learned an important lesson that summer: Proper garden planning helps avoid harvest heartbreak.

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Spotlight Ingredient: Spinach (Recipe: Spinach Ricotta Shells)

As the Dowager Countess innocently inquired “What is a ‘week-end’?” on Downton Abbey, I too have experienced my days merging together into one blur. However, I haven’t been idly sipping tea and sacking servants, rather I am so immersed in the routine of feeding-burping-changing-bouncing Clara, that most days feel the same.

We’ve passed that six-week milestone together, Clara and I. She is more alert and smiling sweetly, stealing my heart every time her little mouth turns up at the corners. I have so enjoyed the early days, but truth be told, I’ve missed blogging, and I can’t wait to get back into developing recipes and sharing them with you.

I have to extend a big “thank you” to the guest bloggers who helped fill my shoes while I took some time off. Annie, Kelsey, Andrew, Jan, Katie, and Jessica – thank you for sharing your expertise with my readers! You’ve enriched this space and lent a different perspective on everything from freezer cooking and finicky eaters, to fresh mozzarella and feeding tweens. So, thank you!

Now let’s talk about spinach. It’s one of the earliest spring vegetables, and as my son loves to remind me, is a super food. That alone is reason enough to make this pasta for dinner tonight.

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Gearing up for canning season (Tattler Reusable Canning Lids Giveaway)

Last week we cracked open the last of the canned apricots in honey syrup and spooned them up with whipped cream.

That jar was the end of my fruit preserves from last summer (although there’s still jam to be found) and it got me thinking about the season ahead. I intend to make up for lost time this year, as last summer my pregnancy left me too tired to cook dinner, let alone put up produce. Even though I’m certain this summer is going to be one of the busiest ever, and I’ll have a baby to care for, I’m determined to keep my canning pot occupied.

Local produce hasn’t quite hit the markets yet, but I am getting ready for it. Making sure I have a supply of large and small reusable canning lids from Tattler is an important part of planning for canning.

Tattler Lids provide a cost effective alternative to metal lids, as well as a safe, environmentally friendly product for home food preservation. I’ve been using their lids for over a year now with no complaints and I recommend them to my friends and family. It’s nice to know that the food I am preserving is BPA free.

Hit the jump to read about a few more ways I’m getting ready for the canning season, and a mega giveaway from Tattler Reusable Canning Lids! One winner will take home a giveaway package of 100 regular lids AND 100 wide mouth lids with reusable rubber rings!

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Smoothies for Quick Snacks – Orange Mango Carrot Smoothie

Written by Katie of Good Life Eats

Our life is so busy right now! We’re getting ready for an out of state move and I’ve been traveling a ton. I just counted, and in the last 38 days (as of Monday this week) I’ve been out of town for 21 days. During the days home I’ve been sick twice. Just my luck!

I can’t remember the last time we sat down to a nice, family dinner where we were all present and I often forget what day it is.

Now that I’m finally home, it is time to start the packing and cleaning process. And eventually that means I’ll have to pack up my kitchen. There is so much to do! Needless to say, we are in for some really simple meals and snacks in the next 7 weeks.

When I’m busy, I’m often at a danger of forgetting to eat. Preparing meals can feel like too much work. To solve this dilemma, I’ve turned to my blender. Smoothies are great as a snack or an add-on to breakfast, lunch or dinner and they’re fast and easy to prepare. [Read more…]