A sure sign it’s time to do the dishes…

November 26, 2010

“Can you get me a plate?” called hubby from the living room.

“Um… there are no plates,” I answered from the kitchen.

He didn’t skip a beat. “Or something plate-like then?”

With all due pomp and circumstance, I presented my man with a Tupperware lid.

In the years since the renegotiation of THE (infamous) DEAL – a politically charged, highly controversial, bit of newlywed legislation – we’ve held a long running Mexican Standoff over the dishes. And, much like the World War II era housewives who fashioned ball gowns out of mattress ticking, we weather each long siege (before the inevitable dish soap blitz) with resourcefulness and creativity. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but in our Calgary apartment, invention’s maternal grandparents go by the names ‘stubbornness’ and ‘procrastination’.

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Portrait of a marriage using the medium of Shepards Pie

October 13, 2009
Portrait of a marriage executed in the medium of Shepards Pie

Can you guess who is who? Hint: I’m got more curves

We share many things, my husband and I, but a taste for garlic is not one of them. This wasn’t always the case. In our beginnings, we spent countless romantic nights gazing into each other’s eyes over the greasy plastic tablecloths at Shawarma Palace. We planned our brilliant future together while taking turns dipping garlicy potatoes into a large shared bowl of creamy white, ridiculously potent, garlic dipping sauce. Then tragedy struck.

Life happens. People change. A strong marriage must allow for personal evolution, even encourage it. On one of those Shawarma Palace nights I made a mistake, we got totally stoned and I got carried away in the moment. I went too far. I ate an entire bowl myself. The next morning I woke up gagging with the worst garlic hangover of all time. For the next three days all I could smell was garlic, no matter how many times I showered. All I could taste was garlic, no matter how many times I brushed my teeth, frantic and  foaming at the mouth like I’d come home with a bad case of rabies – it sure felt terminal! Even now, just the idea of eating the stuff makes me nauseous. Once you’ve spent three days as a human garlic clove (sorry Robert Pattinson) any notion of it acting as a flavour ‘enhancer’ is long, long gone.

Ever the gentleman, my husband stayed married to a woman who now loathes his favourite flavour. He’s good that way. I wanted to thank him for all the culinary compromises he’s had to make since then, and what better way than with the fetid plant itself? I ‘whipped’ up the two shepards pies you see above, and tailored them to our specific tastes. Mine was loaded with veggies and sweet potato, while his was all about garlicy mashed Yukon Golds. But how much garlic powder to add? Ah yes, that was the question.

I will make any number of sacrifices for love: time, energy, even the occasional kidney; but testing garlic levels in mashed potatoes isn’t one of them. So instead, I took the logical approach and kept adding garlic until I could smell it. I have been informed by several garlicphiles since then, including my darling husband, that this is not how they do it at The Cordon Bleu.

Once again, tragedy struck.

Apparently I got carried away again, because I added enough garlic to make the thing wholly inedible. And there it sat, on the bottom shelf of our fridge, as a Tupperwared token of misguided, misflavoured love, until Yesterday. It was harder than I thought it would be to throw out, and smellier, but I think there’s a lesson here under all the spoiled ground beef and onion. When you really love someone, and you want to tell them in a language they’ll understand, sometimes you have to be brave enough to taste it for yourself first. I took up golf didn’t I~wink.


Quick and easy spaghetti sauce doubles as a chili

June 30, 2009

Mmmmmm

You’ll need…

– 1 jar of any spaghetti sauce
– 1 can kidney beans (rinsed)
– 1 can chopped tomatoes
– 1 package ground beef (1 pound)
– 1 package sliced mushrooms
– 1 bunch spinach (chopped)
– 4 tomatoes (rough chopped)
– 2 onions (rough chopped)
– splash of ketchup (1/4 cup)
– chili powder/oregano to taste

My husband loves spaghetti, while I’ve never been much of a pasta fan. I came up with this cheap and easy, one pot, recipe (in a Safeway parking lot no less) to satisfy us both. It works brilliantly over noodles or as a stand alone, fresh tasting, chili. You can play with the proportions to vary the consistency, and add some grated cheddar for extra flavour.

To make… Brown ground beef in a large pot, drain, set meat aside. Cook onions and mushrooms over medium heat in same pot until just softened. Add remaining ingredients (plus meat). Bring to boil, then remove from heat. Season to taste. Enjoy!

Note: Be sure to use your largest pot, because this recipe makes a veritable vat of deliciousness.


Easy chicken veggie pasta with lemony dressing

September 10, 2008
What are you having for dinner?

What are you having for dinner?

Smell and memory (click here for the nitty gritty science of this phenomenon) are directly linked in the brain. This is why I have avoided anything lemony for the better part of ten years…

The Rideau Canal, in Ottawa, Canada, is the largest skating rink in the world, and eating a cinnamon/sugar/lemon juice topped BeaverTail pastry from one of the on ice vending shacks is the perfect mid canal snack. But that lemon juice must be squeezed fresh, from freezing cold lemons, with freezing cold bare hands…my hands! Smelling fresh lemons brings me right back to the nightmare of red bloated fingers that are too numb and swollen to bend, and the absolute agony of thawing them out. But enough is enough! I refuse to let those miserable memories mess with my menu any longer (woah “m” overload lol)

To help reprogram my palate, I created this simple (surprisingly delicious!) recipe…

2 full mugs dry bowtie pasta
1/2 chopped red pepper
1/2 thinly sliced onion
1 (+1/2) handful stir-fry cut chicken (ok, so maybe you don’t want to measure the chicken with your bare hands, but just guesstimate and you’ll be fine lol)
1 handful sliced mushrooms
1 handful snow (or snap) peas
1 handful chunked fresh mozzarella
1 fresh lemon
1 palmful chopped fresh parsley
Canola or olive oil & salt/pepper

1. Cook the chicken (in a large frying pan) and cut up the veggies while the pasta is cooking.
2. Put the cooked chicken aside and lightly saute the veggies in the same pan.
3. Add the (drained) pasta, chicken, cheese, and chopped parsley to the veggie pan.
4. Add a splash of oil and the juice of half (or more if you’re brave) of the lemon.
5. Plate and garnish with a lemon slice and parsley sprig. Salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy!