May 21, 2012

Spotted at the Table: Sweet Summer Peppers

Sweet Summer Peppers 1 (Original)
"Sweet Summer Peppers 1" © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.

I never used to like bell peppers when I first came to Canada in the late nineties. In Malaysia where I am from, the hot red chilli pepper was more commonly enjoyed on a daily basis - almost every meal would include freshly cut, thinly slivered chilli peppers immersed in kicap (mushroom soy sauce) and limau kasturi (key lime) juice. This was our universal dipping sauce, imparting a pleasurably fiery, tangy kick to practically every vegetable, meat or seafood dish.

Acquiring a taste for capsicum or sweet peppers was a slow process. I couldn't understand the attraction; the smell of green peppers that lingered in the elevators after the pizza delivery guy had exited often made me want to gag yet it is now the very scent that induces my mouth to water and long for a piece of that Italian pie! Isn't it funny how the sense of taste can be re-educated, even when you think you're set in your culinary ways? After I had grown to love green peppers on pizza, I graduated to liking them in chicken cacciatore, then red peppers in creamy dips and pasta sauces. It took a while before I could bring myself to enjoy these vegetables raw but now they are an almost daily staple at our dining table, especially in the summer, when it gets so hot in our little apartment that I can barely stand to turn on the stove to cook anything. Crisp, crunchy, sweet and juicy, they're also a great snack for little three year-olds who've been told that they're delicious candy. If only every pleasure in life could be so virtuous! (Psst...don't out me to my daughter, ok?) :-D

Blog post © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.

May 9, 2012

Spotted at the Table: Strawberry Milk

Strawberry Milk 1
"Strawberry Milk 1" © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.

So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.
~ Gaston Bachelard

Neilson's 1% strawberry milk. Absolutely delicious ice-cold from the fridge, especially on a hot summer day. Image is lightly textured with "Strawberry Juice on my Finger" from Distressed Jewell's Spring Inspired texture set.

Blog © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.

May 8, 2012

Spotted at the Table: Seize the Moment

Daily Shot of Happiness 05082012: Seize the Moment
"Seize the Moment" © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.

"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic
who waved off the dessert cart."
~ Erma Bombeck

Dessert sampler at the Pickle Barrel, Yonge and Eglinton in celebration of my friend Tracey's birthday. What can I say? I seized my moment! :) Happy Birthday again, Tracey. May this year bring you everything you wished for and more.

Blog post © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.

May 7, 2012

Spotted at the Table: Loblaws Sushi

Loblaws Sushi 1
"Loblaws Sushi 1" © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.

I usually don't like grocery store sushi that much, but I have to say that these ones were pretty decent. I got them from the Loblaws at Yonge and York Mills in Toronto, and as grocery store sushi goes, I have to say I haven't come across anything fresher! They're at least healthier for a 3 year-old than McDonald's, and I didn't have do much except remove them from the packaging, cut them up, and serve them with a big portion of fresh fruit on the side. Hey, when you've had a busy day and you don't feel like cooking or cleaning up a ton of dishes *and* you don't want to feel guilty about feeding your kid junk food, this has got to be in the top ten of meal ideas, at least for me.

Blog post © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.

May 1, 2012

Lazy Home Cooking: Homestyle Beef Stew

Homestyle Beef Stew 1
"Homestyle Beef Stew 1" © 2012 Flora R. Powell.
All rights reserved.

Here is my recipe. Warning: All measurements are approximate - I *am* a lazy home cook after all! :)

In a large Ziploc bag, mix together one cup of all-purpose flour, two tablespoons of kosher salt and two tablespoons of ground black pepper. Place two pounds of cubed beef (I use whatever cheap cut of roast is on sale at my supermarket, then cut it up myself into two-inch cubes; this can often end up costing less than the ready-cut meat labelled "stew meat") in the bag and shake everything together until meat is finely coated with flour mixture. Do this in two batches so all the meat gets a fine, even coat.

Homestyle Beef Stew (Prep 1)
"Homestyle Beef Stew (Prep 1)" © 2012 Flora R. Powell.
All rights reserved.

Remove meat from the bag and place in a layer at the bottom of a Dutch oven (make sure you've got lots of room so you can stir the stew around without spilling all your ingredients over the top). Discard the excess flour mixture. Cut up about three large Yukon Gold (or any yellow flesh) potatoes, two large carrots, one big onion (I cube all these to about the same size as the beef), and about two cups of button mushrooms (cut the mushrooms in half if they're not very big, quarters if they're the stuffer type). Toss all the cut-up vegetables on top of the meat, then add one can of 28 fl. oz/796 ml diced tomatoes, one can of 10 fl. oz/284 ml tomato sauce (I use Hunt's no salt added) and one can of 10 fl. oz/284 ml condensed beef consommé (I use Campbell's beef consommé soup). Pour in just enough water to cover the entire mixture (not too much water or you will end up with a diluted stew), then place on stovetop over medium-high heat. After about fifteen minutes, gently loosen the beef with a ladle to make sure that they are not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the stew comes to a gentle boil, put the lid on the Dutch oven, then turn heat down to the lowest possible setting and simmer for two hours (stir occasionally during cooking as this stew is quite thick and you don't want it to burn) or until beef and vegetables are tender. Do a final taste test and add more salt and pepper (if needed) before turning off the stove. Best served with warm bread fresh from the oven! :)

Blog post © 2012 Flora R. Powell. All rights reserved.