Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I trust everyone had the happiest of holidays, getting in lots of good eats and fun times with family and friends. Last week I zipped away for a few days to visit my mom and sister. Oh, it was lovely. Saskatchewan was cast in this spectacular hoar frost, and if you've been following me on Instagram, you saw how I got carried away with capturing the beauty of it all. The woods behind my mom's house were especially pretty, and made for excellent post-food coma hiking.
I mean, just look at all of that frost. Birds were chirping down on me, welcoming me. It was pretty glorious.
Speaking of food coma, let me tell you about this turducken. I was contacted by Echelon Foods, saying hey, wanna give a turducken a try for your holiday feast? Always up for something new, and after quick consultation with my mom, I agreed to give the chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside turkey a try. I thawed the Original Turducken for a couple of days in the refrigerator, and when I opened the bag I saw that it had already been seasoned. With just a few drizzles of olive oil, I popped it in the preheated 220*F oven. Package directions said to roast at this temp for 5-6 hours or so, given the weight was 4.6 Kg. Low and slow, that was the plan. After 2 hours, we took a look at it, and well the bird(s) still looked quite pallid, and I think this freaked my mom out, as we had a set time of 5:00 pm for dinner. We jacked the heat up to 300*F, and let it cook for another 3 hours, basting every so often with the pan juices (we threw in chunks of onion, celery, carrot to roast along with the turducken, and to help build the flavour of the gravy). For the last half hour of cooking time, I had the bird covered with the lid from the roaster, as it was golden and gorgeous, but didn't want it to get too dark. I let it stand for about 20 minutes before slicing. Smelled wonderful, let me tell you, and boy, did it look delicious presented on the platter. Once everyone was dished up, with sufficient gravy smothering the whole lot of mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole (my mom tried something new this year), we tucked in to the turducken. Right off the bat, we noticed how tender and juicy the turkey was, and how flavourful it was. Same with the duck, and chicken. There was quite a lot of Italian sausage stuffed between the layers of poultry, and not everyone at the table enjoyed this component of the turducken. Some felt its flavour over-powered the rest of the meat, and some just thought it too spicy in general, with a bit of a spongy texture. Myself, I probably could have done without any of the sausage, and my fork naturally gravitated towards the turkey, duck and chicken. That being said, it was a new culinary experience for us. At a bit of a hefty price tag $102.08 for 4.636 Kg, I realize this is not in every one's budget. But if you want to try something different for your holiday feast, the turducken may be perfect for you.
Disclaimer: Echelon Foods compensated me for the Turducken. All opinions about the bird(s) are my own.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Whenever I think of gingerbread houses, I think back to 1985 and my good friend's birthday party, just one week before Christmas. Her mom had planned for us to make gingerbread houses and their gigantic dining table was arranged with slabs of gingerbread pieces and candy as far as the eye could see. It was every 12 year old girl’s dream come true. Well, if Corey Hart would have made a special appearance, then it really would have been this girl’s dream come true, but I digress. It was an afternoon of creating our little houses, as we saw fit. Creativity was stirred, royal icing got stuck in the hair, and news of who liked who dominated the conversation. I remember riding in the back of her parents’ minivan after the party, holding my little gingerbread house tight, amazed that I built something so pretty (and it didn't fall apart). That’s what is so magical about Christmas; these memories that linger, long after the royal icing has dried.
Fast forward almost 30 years. Me and the birthday girl are still good friends, but my crush on Corey Hart has passed. And I hadn't built a gingerbread house ever again, until just last month when my trusty editor told me to. Making a gingerbread house from scratch has some steps and can take some time, but the effort you put into it is well worth the end result. It’s a great way to keep the kids busy while school is out, and with any luck the gingerbread houses will become the stuff of family lore and the start of a new Christmas tradition. Currently, mine sits in my living room and one of my cats has taken to chewing the trees off. What a guy. For how to make the gingerbread house from beginning to end, take a peek at my latest article for Culinaire Magazine.
I'm off for a few days to see family, where no doubt I'll play in the snow with my nieces, watch "Love Actually" with my mom, and drink coffee with Baileys every morning as I watch the sun rise over the winter prairie. It's going to be grand. I wish you joy, peace and much merriment over the holiday season. xo Renee
Friday, December 19, 2014
When most people think bread pudding, they think sweet and dessert-y. And it's delicious. I'm a fan. But I'm also a huge fan of the savoury bread pudding, you know, with vegetables and cheese and meat. Same premise, but instead of dessert, it can be a side dish or even prepared for brunch. Heck, this mushroom and kale bread pudding I created for the Mushrooms Canada blog was so good I ate a giant portion for supper. Because bacon and mushrooms were always meant to be together. And those crispy edges - oh man. Don't get me started. With the holidays just around the corner, and I mean just, this is a good little recipe to have in your back pocket, if you want to switch up the sides or wow your fam at brunch, after all of the presents have been opened and the coffee and Baileys are flowing freely.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
"For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night,
for health and food, for love and friends,
for everything this goodness sends." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
One week ago I was certain the Universe hated me. It's true. Just ask my sister about the text I sent her. In the course of 72 hours 1) My house was almost broken into in broad daylight. I'm fine. My ever-aware neighbours across the street alerted the police before I even had to, which was wonderful. Still, it was unnerving to say the least. 2) The next day I had an unexpected visit from an ex boyfriend that was just sad and awkward, awkward and sad. 3) The day after that I had a root canal to try and soothe some dental issues, only to find out that there is a wayward wisdom tooth, that if erupted, will require intensive oral surgery to remove. Oh! And this surgery could leave my face permanently numb. That's right. Numb. It was all a little bit much. I wanted to crawl under the duvet with a book and these cookies and not come out all week.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
It’s that time of year when visions of sugar plums start dancing in heads. Lists are being made on a daily basis and If you’re at all like me you’ve started thinking about desserts to serve for the upcoming holiday season. Well, to be honest, I think about dessert all of the time, but especially at Christmas. You want a showstopper. And today, I have that for you, with a little help from the friendly (and delicious) Natural Delights Medjool date. And, believe it or not, but this cake is completely vegan, and can easily be gluten free, too. This is a great recipe to have on hand when guests with special dietary restrictions will be seated at your table. Rather than having various desserts to accommodate this or that food issue, everyone can partake in this cake. They may even lick their plates.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Most of you have recipes that only come out at the holidays. Maybe because they are more involved and time consuming, or maybe because you just want to keep them special. If you made The Most Amazing Crab Dip every month of the year, it just wouldn't have the same significance as it does at Christmas. Same in my family. Around the turn of the century (how fun to say that - I sound like I should be wearing petticoats or something) my mom started making egg rolls. Like, really really good egg rolls. She probably clipped the recipe out of the newspaper and thought she'd give them a whirl. Remember clipping recipes out of newspapers? Does anyone still do that? The first year she made them for us at Christmas, we were freaking out they were so good. Better than many Chinese restaurants in fact. I would tease my mom and say she must have been a Chinese grandma in a former life. She just smiled at me. "Oh, Renee" she would say.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
'Tis the season of busy busy, rush rush. I know. I'm living it as well, though trying to find a bit of balance by curling up with the cats and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. During the upcoming crazy Christmas season it's important to plans meals ahead and eat well. Gotta keep your strength up to fight the crowds. For my latest article in Culinaire Magazine I made empanadas - basically a savoury turnover - with a traditional beef filling. Don't be scared by the addition of olives and figs. It's a winner! I know making pastry freaks some of you out, but don't be afraid. If I can do it, so can you. These little turnovers are super tasty when dunked into salsa and sour cream, and they also make great on-the-go snacks to take with you on road trips or to the hockey rink. Did I mention they freeze super well, too? Just pop in the oven to reheat and there's your light supper. Head on over here for the recipe. You can pretend you're waltzing down the streets of Buenos Aires, instead of shuffling kids to the rink.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Sunday, November 23, 2014
I love to eat bison. Like, a lot. If it's on a menu, my eyes light up and I get really excited. I've always enjoyed its rich, slightly sweet, robust flavour, that's not at all wild or gamy. But, I've never really cooked it much at work, or at home. So when the offer came to review Jeniffer Bain's new cookbook Buffalo Girl Cooks Bison, I jumped at the chance. Jennifer is the food editor and columnist for the Toronto Star, who happens to also be married to a bison rancher in Alberta. She divides her time between the big city and the ranch, and over the past several years has come to love the majestic herbivore. She's on a mission to convince everyone to love bison meat as much as she does. This cookbook is a grand beginning.
Friday, November 7, 2014
"The wild November comes at last." ~ R.H. Stoddard
I have a treat for you, just in time for the weekend. This beverage is like a warm, liquid hug, and maybe, just maybe it's just what you need right now. November can be tricky. All of the pretty leaves are gone, and those moody skies can be a bit much. I myself love a moody sky; shades of blue grey melancholy that seem to stretch on forever. I want to read mysteries and snuggle deep into flannel sheets. I want hot buttered toast with honey and my hands wrapped around mugs of delicious things to drink. I want slippers and sweaters and slumber so deep. It won't be long until the first flurries fly. I can smell it in the air tonight. I pull on my boots, wrap my scarf twice around my neck, fit my fingers into gloves. November may be wild, but I'm ready for whatever comes my way.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
If you enjoyed turkey at your Thanksgiving dinner (in Canada) last weekend, then no doubt you had a pot of turkey bones bubbling away on your stove at some point this week. My mom hosted the feast this year, and for a change she did a bacon lattice on top of the 22 pound bird. I repeat. Turkey, covered in bacon. It was a glorious sight to behold. I was so smitten I forgot to take a photo. And that's saying something. The bacon infusion could be detected throughout the meat, and oh sweet lord, the gravy. So good. So, if you want to switch things up this year for the holidays, you can't go wrong with slathering turkey in bacon. Of course, the next day, she brought out her soup pot, tossed some of the bones in (I got a freezer bags worth too - them being lots of bones in that big bird), covered them with water, onion, celery, carrot and simmered them the day away. Given my thrifty nature, ahem, I save my vegetable scraps from whatever meal prep I'm doing and just tuck them away in a freezer bag as I go along. That way when it comes time to boil up some bones, you already have your veg, no need to chop up fresh onions, celery, carrot, etc. Also, fresh parsley, garlic, peppercorns and a pinch of whole cloves are my musts for stock. Let it simmer long and slow, with bubbles just breaking the surface. You'll get a nicer flavour than just boiling the crap out of it for one hour. Remember, most good things in life take a good, long while.
Friday, October 10, 2014
It's the eve of Thanksgiving weekend in Canada...turkeys are being purchased, pumpkin pies are being prepped, there are line ups at the grocery stores and gas stations. I love this weekend. The weather is still great, there's very little crazy like there is at Christmas, and all you have to do is be thankful. Bonus points for crashing through all of the fallen leaves like you're five years old again. This weekend also means spending time with your family and friends, and eating your way into a food coma. Or maybe it's a smaller gathering this year - just you and your honey bun, or grandma or cat. My latest article in Culinaire is all about the intimate Thanksgiving dinner for two, and guys, I made Cornish hen for the first time, so you really should check it out. Deelicious doesn't describe. There is also a recipe for this dreamy panna cotta, if you want to omit the pie. So simple and smooth, plus you can make it in advance. Ding ding ding! And lastly, I gussied up some mashed potatoes with kale and squash. There may be no going back to regular mashed spuds after devouring these. Read the article in its entirety here. Happy Thanksgiving, and take care out there. xoxo Renée
Monday, October 6, 2014
With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the bend, I feel like I should be thrown into food blogger jail for not posting something pumpkin. Please forgive? However if you do a search on my blog for lovely pumpkin confections, you'll find tiramisu, and pumpkin roll, and even waffles. So there you go. And. And! Near the end of this week I will be posting something Thanksgiving related, so hold on to your hats for that. There will be pumpkin! But first things first, there are nectarines and plums.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Mid September means most of us are back to school, back to work, back to reality, as it were. I don't know about you, but every once in a while I close my eyes thinking it's still a lazy summer afternoon and all is just so right in the world. This is a month of transition, in so many ways. Work, weather, relationships. There's lots on the go here, as I'm sure there is where you are, too. Meals need to be thrown together faster than you can say "New episode of The Mindy Project! Hooray!". And that's where these sloppy joes come to the rescue. They are full of flavour and the sauce comes together while you whip up a quick coleslaw on the side. Be sure to grab some fresh rolls, and there you are. Dinner under thirty minutes, leaving you time to chauffeur the little ones to their activities, or get back into that yoga class (hey there yoga mat, nice to see you again) or just settle in for the night, because all of your favourite shows are back. Can I just say thank goodness they finally adapted the wonderfully smutty Outlander series for TV. Thank you Showtime for making my Sunday evenings that much better.
For full recipe, please head on over to the Turkey Farmers of Canada website.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
You guys. I know. Cooking lobster can scare the bejeezus out of you. I've been there. For my latest article in Culinaire Magazine, I spent the afternoon in my friend Lindsey's kitchen while she cooked the sea beast, tore it apart and extracted the sweet meat. I was a fraidy cat before, but now I know I can do it all by myself, shall the occasion happen to fall upon me. And you can too!!! It's really not so bad. And seeing as Labour Day is here already, why not try your hand at it this weekend? This salad was worth all of the effort, believe me. And this dip is crazy good too. Read on for the recipes and step by step instructions. Good luck. And have a safe and happy weekend.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
Hey you guys. How are things in your neck of the woods? Just popping in today to say hey, and also to tell you about this crazy good lasagna I made over on the Turkey Farmers of Canada website. I'm so proud to have partnered with them, so stay tuned for more yummy things turkey coming your way. While this recipe is made to be kid-friendly, rest assured the adults in your household will likely love it equally. I added in a little baby kale for extra nutrition, who in their right mind doesn't love basil? Hop on over here to get the full recipe. Okay, back to regular summer programming, i.e. the raspberry patch that needs picking, lawn mowing and general sloth-like behavior afterwards. I'll pop in soon with a summer salad that I can't stop eating. Until then, enjoy these late summer days.
Friday, August 1, 2014
"Keep your face towards the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you." ~ Walt Whitman
First off, tell me how it's August. August. This past week I've noticed how there is less daylight when I wake up. Yes, even at 5:00 am, one notices these things through blurry eyes and foggy brain. It's happening, this loss of light. But let's not think about that yet, shall we? There are plenty of sun-soaked memories yet to be made. Go out and get yours.
I'm officially calling this my on the road summer. I haven't been around home much, and I kinda like it. My beau and I recently explored the southwest part of this province, and holy smokes, we were blown away by all of the gorgeousness the prairie has to offer. I sounded like a broken record with "it's so pretty" being repeated over and over again. We whisked ourselves away to a little cowboy cabin in the woods, and yes it was just as romantic as it sounds. Coffee was sipped on the front porch, while we watched horses graze on the opposite hill. Wind rustled through the trees at night, and the stars were so bright, so luminous, it made me a little verklempt. Peace and quiet - that's what we had, and it was glorious. During the day we rolled along back roads, with the windows down. Sadly, one gopher was killed on our excursion, but alas, these things happen. Road trips are a great way to get to know someone. Stories are told, songs sung. There is silence and laughter and hands held. Faces brown with sun, our smiles luminous like the stars.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
"Cherries bring with them a certain frivolity, a carefree joy like hearing the far-off laughter of a child at play. Their appearance, in deepest summer, comes when life is often at its most untroubled. A bag of cherries is a bag of happiness." ~ Nigel Slater
I'm taking a break from stuffing my face with all of the glorious summer fruit to say hi. Hi. I hope your summer is especially untroubled and frivolous. It's the only way to behave right now, right? Someone told me the other day how many weeks, no days, are left in summer and I told them to shhhhhhhhh. No one burst my summer bubble. I'm not thinking past the middle of September, thank you very much. Right now it's all about reveling in the sunshine, letting the warm air wash over my skin and driving on back roads with the windows rolled down. I've been on a few road trips here and there, exploring beautiful pockets of Saskatchewan and Alberta. If you've been following me on Instagram, you've no doubt seen the deluge of prairie vista shots. I can't stop! The photos will no doubt show up in a post here very soon. But today I want to tell about this Dutch Baby I made my mom for her birthday breakfast. It's so good, it's worth turning the oven on for. Promise.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees,
just as things grow in fast movies,
I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Oh summer. It took you long enough. Really. But I'm so glad to finally see you. Your first couple of official weeks were full of too much rain and not enough heat. Glad to see you are making up for it now. Never have I ever been so happy for the return of back sweat. And excuses to eat ice cream for dinner. And the feeling of bare feet in the tall grass. I know you only have a couple of months to spend with me, but like any good, short, sweet romance, lets make the most of it, shall we?
Friday, June 20, 2014
Pesto is one of the most versatile sauces you can make in your kitchen, and with the plethora of lovely green leafy things hitting your garden and farmer's market right now, you don't have to limit yourself to making it with the usual basil, pine nuts, Parmesan and olive oil. My recent article over at Culinaire Magazine (pg . 24-25) is all about pesto and ways to switch it up. Like with arugula and pumpkin seeds! Slather it on roasted asparagus and hot damn you've got a good thing going.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.' ~ John Muir
Hello. My name is Renee. Maybe you remember me? I write a food blog called Sweetsugarbean. I know, I know. I can be a cheeky wench. But seriously. Where have I been lately? This space has been so quiet. But life surely hasn't. Let me tell you that. You know when you least expect it, shit just happens. In this case it's been all good. So good. I adopted another kitten. Yes, for real. She lived under my bed for two weeks. Long story; all of it coming soon. Also, I met a boy. Who turned out to be my boyfriend. Long story; all of it coming soon. Maybe now the blog silence is beginning to make sense? Ren's been busy! Plus it's planting time and I've been busy digging in dirt rather than in computerland. If you want to get in touch, I won't be on Twitter of Facebook very much, but in my garden and with my friends. You know. Interacting with real life. Speaking of real life, at the beginning of May I made another visit to the yurt. Maybe you'll remember when I took a little retreat there in the fall? Well, as a birthday present to myself I went back for a couple of sweet days, just to unwind and regroup from the general unpleasantness of winter. It was a long one here, and as you'll see from the following photos, winter was still clinging on a bit up in Northern Sask, but I didn't mind. It was just as spectacular as the first time I went - a tonic for this soul, if there ever was one. Flora Bora is definitely one of my favourite places on the planet, and since my stay there life has been so good. Knock wood, touch wood, whatever you call it. Good feeling, stay with me just a little longer.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Oh my word. It has been ages since I last checked in here. Please forgive? You know how life sometimes takes over and you just don't want to turn the computer on? Yeah. I got that happening right now. But never fear, it's all good things, which I'll fill ya in on soon. In the meantime, take a look at my latest article in Culinaire magazine (pg 23-24). If you've ever wondered how to make beef carpaccio all by your little ol' self, I have all of the tips and tricks you need. Plus a few recipes. It's good stuff. Hope everyone is enjoying these glorious spring days. I admit to spending a little time in the garden tonight, admiring the rhubarb. As you should. Chat soon. Renee xoxo
Thursday, May 1, 2014
"I suppose this is what I mean when I say we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren't and people we didn't know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there ... grateful for the smallest things." ~ Cheryl Strayed
That quote really is a kick in the pants, isn't it? (By the way, if you haven't read any Cheryl Strayed, by all means you have my permission to leave this blog immediately and go get your hands on her books.) Of course she's right. And now that I've gotten a year older, ahem, I'm finally starting to understand what she means. In my late twenties, I would have been: Whatever. I'm sad, leave me be. In my thirties I was almost there, but not quite. But now that I find myself firmly planted in my forties, I see the wisdom in the leaving and being left behind. The down-right necessity of faith. That holding on means just that. Hold on. You never know what will manifest in your life. One day it will all make sense. Each experience means something. You'll be grateful for all of the bumps in the road that landed you where you need to be today.
Friday, April 25, 2014
I love these boots. Pulled on, they make me powerful. I splash through puddles like it's nobody's business. And I need them. Lately, it's been a mix of rain, snow, rain some more and then just for fun, maybe some snow. I used to love wearing rubber boots as a kid, though I have very vivid memories of getting stuck in the mud and having to leave the boot behind, lying there like a wounded soldier. Tears rolling down, walking back to the house covered in mud, calling for my mom. But, like Winnie the Pooh said, "When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure an Adventure is going to happen." Adventures await. They always do. Here's to yours and mine and until then, take a peek at these things I'm currently crushing on.
Friday, April 18, 2014
I hope everyone is enjoying the start to the long weekend. Maybe you've already baked Easter bread and coloured eggs with the kidlets. Luckily, I had the day off too. It started off perfectly, with a couple of hot cross buns from a great new bakery in town called The Night Oven. Slathered with butter and enjoyed alongside a strong brew, it was just what I needed on this cold and yet another snowy day. The rest of the hours have been seen productivity kick procrastination's ass and what do you know, I submitted articles, sorted out tax stuff (note to self - get more organized already), tackled the pile of laundry and even have a pot of soup on the stove, currently bubbling away. I have no idea how it will turn out - mostly just cleaned out the contents of the fridge, so cross your fingers. I was just going to cozy up on the couch with the fur babes and my busting PVR, but I had to tell you about these cookies. Guilt would have consumed me if I didn't share. And I know a few of you like cookies just as much as I do.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
It's melting! It's melting! You guys. It finally feels like the longest winter ever is leaving us. This has me pretty excited, in case you hadn't noticed. I'm splashing around in my blue rubber boots, the windows are open and I'm even excited to tackle spring cleaning. Seriously. What has come over me? While cleaning out the cupboards I spied my little slow cooker looking lonesome in the dark corner. I was also craving Indian food, thus a recipe was born. Also, why don't I use the slow cooker more often? It's makes dinner prep so easy. Maybe I just need to clean my cupboards out more often (says the voice of my mother). Right.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014
"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
~ John Steinbeck
Indeed, Mr. Steinbeck. By all accounts I deserve a very sweet summer, given the extended cold snap that made me grimace and curse and contemplate moving to warmer climes. It was the kind of cold that chills straight to the bone, that freezes exposed flesh in a few minutes, that stalls cars and builds character. March definitely came roaring in like an angry Lion, but apparently on the weekend temperatures will be hovering around zero (zero!!!) which means the shedding of layers and bad attitudes is about to begin. Just goes to show if we wait long enough, there is a reprieve to the suffering; that light will triumph over darkness and hot damn I can put away the lady longjohns for another year.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I know, I know, every year I hit ya with some sort of scrumptious appetizer to create for your Oscar party. This year, I'm a total slacker (where are the days going?) but I have these insanely good waffles to share with you. By all means, make them for Oscar day - breakfast, lunch, dinner - nothing wrong with that. I wish someone would invite me to a party where they served waffles. Hint hint wink wink. But really this post is just an excuse for Oscar talk, which right now, is the best kind of talk.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
"I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no certainty about anything.
Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns." ~ Anne Lamott
I love that last bit...letting it be there until some light returns. How hard is it though, to just let it be. Sometimes we push and pull for answers, getting nowhere in return. If you too are finding yourself in a place where you need to just let it be, rest assured that the light (and Spring!) will find us soon enough. Diehard optimist, am I.