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Pasta with Herbs and Cream

Pasta with Herbs 1

Spaghetti Aglio E Olio, or pasta cooked with olive oil and garlic, is one the simplest, and much loved basics in Italian cookery. I make it quite often and, as others do, I frequently add a little parsley and then round out the oil with a bit of butter as well. Today’s dish is a slightly more upscale, yet still rustic, offshoot of the original and not only includes some additional herbs, but is enhanced with a small amount of cream towards the end of the cooking process… Read more

Foodstuff: Freeze-dried Lemon Grass

Freeze-dried Lemon Grass 1

I have regularly had a jar of freeze-dried Chives from Litehouse™ in my cupboard for some time now and, at present, I also have jars of their Sage and Parsley as well. Those products are pretty decent, if not especially remarkable, and, when I came across a jar of their freeze-dried Lemon Grass I wanted to see if this might be a useful substitute to have on hand when the fresh article is unavailable… Read more

Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam 1

I made this batch of Bacon Jam primarily as a burger topping. I love bacon on hamburgers but it is sometimes a nuisance having to cook a few rashers just for that purpose and the one commercially made Bacon Spread I tried was pretty awful. The well-made condiment, however, keeps well and is very versatile indeed. Many people like to spread it on crackers, crostini, or sandwiches other than burgers, and it also enhances grilled meats and sausages as well as providing a bacon background to all sorts of other preparations. I actually have a couple of ideas I am playing around with at the moment and you can expect to see some of them featured here in due course… Read more

Notable Nosh: Seafood Paella at Sabor

Seafood Paella

I wouldn’t call Paella my signature dish exactly, but it is certainly in my top ten favorite dishes and the number of times I have made it at home far outstrips the number of times I have eaten it in a restaurant by a huge margin. After I enjoying a lovely Tapas meal at Sabor in Edmonton back in July, I made a point of returning to try their Paella. I was a little disappointed with a couple of things but I generally found it very good and I thought I would share it with you here…

The menu describes the Seafood Paella as containing prawns, scallops, calamari, clams and mussels, but, as it happened, the shellfish delivery to the restaurant had been delayed so I was a bit vexed that the last two items were not available. I didn’t mind the lack of clams too much but I always add mussels to my own versions and missing them here was very disappointing. Fortunately, the restaurant compensated by increasing the remaining items.

The seafood was complimented by onion, red pepper, peas and green beans. I generally use all these except for the green beans and I was pleasantly surprised by how nice they were here as I am not usually much of a fan. The rice was well infused with saffron, as it should be, and there was also a faint hint of cayenne or other peppery heat.

My only other disappointment was that the dish was not cooked and served in an individual Paella pan, especially since, in consequence, the Soccarat, or bottom-of-the-pan rice crust, was minimal. The seafood had been grilled first then added over the rice, which was actually a nice touch, so I can’t complain about the socarrat too much as I rarely achieve this when I cook Paella in my own, slightly offbeat, method. In short, this was a lovely meal and I enjoyed it very much…

Hunter’s Hotpot (with Pork Shoulder)

Hunter's Hotpot 1

The rather grand-name for this little dish I put together obviously doesn’t signify a composition using the yield of the hunt, rather it just means that I took the Italian Cacciatora style preparation as my inspiration. Still, when you cook pork with red wine the effect can be rather like the taste of wild boar so perhaps the name isn’t too outlandish after all… Read more

Foodstuff: Spiny Melon

Spiny Melon 1

This is a rather interesting little fruit you may wish to try if you get the chance. I found it at our local supermarket labelled as a ‘Spiny Melon’ but it is also known as the ‘Horned Melon’, ‘Blow fish fruit’ and ‘Melano’. It is native to Africa but it is now being cultivated in the Antipodes, South America and also California, which is where, I suspect, mine was grown. To be honest, while I was glad to try something new, I can’t say I much enjoyed the experience… Read more

紅燒豬手 – Red Cooked Pig Trotters

Red Cooked Pig Trotters 1

Quite a long time ago, I featured a dish of pig’s ‘trotters’ that was served to me as 醬豬手 at a restaurant in Ottawa. As the trotter is not a cut that had ever appeared locally, I decided to try a similar recipe with the hock, rather than the feet, employing the same Chinese ‘Red-cooking’ technique I have illustrated in many posts. Eventually, back in March of 2013, I did so in a dish I presented to you as Red-Cooked Pork Hocks, as part 2 of my series on Master-Sauce cookery. Recently, however, I came across a package of pig’s trotters at our local supermarket and I snapped them up to use in the following preparation… Read more

Dim Sum: Deep Fried Lobster Dumplings

Deep Fried Lobster Dumpling B


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I ordered this particular dim sum offering. The final character in the Chinese menu name (角) usually indicates a dumpling made with rice flour and wheat starch but these had a wrapper that was more like those used for won tons and they also had the shape of dumplings generally identified using the 餃 character.

At first, I misread the first two characters in the Chinese name as being ‘Celery’, and it wasn’t until after I placed the order that I recognized them as meaning ‘Cilantro’, which I heartily dislike. Fortunately, there was no hint of that herb (or celery either, for that matter) either visibly or in the taste.

The filling was very nice and tasty but it was little drier and less tender than I expected. I doubt the restaurant would be as fraudulent as to substitute shrimp when lobster was clearly specified, but they must have used a western variety of lobster as it clearly was not the succulent east-coast sort. To my surprise, this dim sum was served with a little dish of mayo on the side. This really didn’t appeal to me, actually, and I just used a little soy sauce which went well. The wrapper was nicely crunchy and the overall experience was quite good.

By the way, for those who are interested, the second to last character when standing alone means ‘shrimp’ but the preceding letter means dragon and, in Chinese, a ‘Dragon Shrimp’ (pronounced lóngxiā, in Mandarin) is a lobster…



Oyster Chowder

Oyster Chowder 1

I happened to have a couple of cans of water-packed Oysters lurking at the back of my kitchen cupboard for quite a while and I decided to use one of them to make a chowder.  I toyed around with a couple of different recipe ideas and finally settled on this relatively simple preparation… Read more

DUMP HARPER (please, oh please!)


This morning, I opened Facebook to see the above picture posted by the Conservatives. It ostensibly appears as a ‘poll’ to determine opinions on the subject of parole for those sentenced to life imprisonment, but is really nothing but a shoddy, underhanded subterfuge. Clicking the Disagree ‘button’ simply takes you to the following page which begs donations to the party and then leaves you only the option to select ‘I Agree’.

This pathetic little trick is typical of the Conservative’s history of entertaining only those opinions that match their own and ignoring or suppressing those who dissent but, on following the link, we are treated to yet another example of the sane old Conservative tactic of fear-mongering in order to divide Canadians and focus attention away from real issues. The Harperite stooge who penned this latest effort tells us:

“Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair think heinous murderers like Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olson should get a chance at freedom.”

Talk about pandering to the ignorant, the under-educated, and the easily swayed!

Anybody with access to Wikipedia can quickly learn the following as regards the infamous Mr. Olson:

  • At his sentencing January 14, 1982, the trial judge remarked, “My considered opinion is that you should never be granted parole for the remainder of your days. It would be foolhardy to let you at large;”

  • In 1997, Olson was denied parole, for which he applied under Canada’s “faint hope clause”, which allowed a parole hearing for convicts who had served at least 15 years;

  • Canadian law allows inmates convicted of first-degree murder to apply for parole after serving a minimum of 25 years. Olson’s second parole hearing, on July 18, 2006, was also denied; and,

  • Olson was then entitled to make a case for parole every two years and was once again refused parole in November 2010.

Most importantly, and a fact conveniently ignored by this pathetic party, Clifford Olson died in 2011 without ever having been granted parole!

Clearly, life in prison, meant life in prison for Mr. Olson so and it remains unclear how either Mulcair or Trudeau could be in favor of his being released at some point. Politicians do not decide who gets paroled; the Parole Board makes these decisions based on legislated criteria and, generally, do what is appropriate. Moreover, and, again, a fact not mentioned by the Conservatives, section 753 The Criminal Code of Canada permits a Judge to declare certain individuals ‘Dangerous Offenders’ and sentence them to prison for an indeterminate period. For some, this will mean never being released. Why then is the Conservative Party raising this non-issue?

It has long been the strategy of totalitarian powers to create ‘enemies’ in order to sow fear and convince the masses to give up freedoms in exchange for ‘safety’. Canadians, for too long now, have been divided and polarized by the Conservatives repeated tactics of creating issues that draw attention away from their agenda. In the instant case, we are being told that a vote for the Liberals or the NDP will result in swarms of killers being granted freedom to murder us all in our beds. I really don’t wish to descend to using the hyperbole that so often marks this sort of political discussion, but I can no longer avoid the feeling that there is something about Harper and his cohorts that smells of fascism.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE … If you are as heartily sick of this as am I, then, come election time, cast your vote for whichever non-conservative candidate in your riding has the best chance of winning

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