Wine, Dice and Lubricant

The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don’t need any rules.

Mish Mash Quinua


It’s not a pretty picture.  Taking pictures with my phone rarely bodes well.  But, it’s a mish mash.  Tasted fantastic too!

On the left! We have Quinua.


1 cup cooked sprouted quinua.

1 zuchinni, chopped

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

1 teaspoon curry

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon tumeric

dash of salt and pepper.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup vegtable stock

Here’s the deal for this. I sauteed (medium heat)  the garlic, onions and ginger until all sweated and tossed in the spices and zucchini.  When it was softened, I added in the quinua and the stock and cooked on low for 5 minutes.


The orange! The right! It’s just a roasted butternut squash. I rubbed it with olive oil and dusted it with a curry, tumeric, and cumin mixture. Roasted it in the oven at 375 for 2.5 hours on the bottom rack. Perfect.



I’m back, like a petulant child that didn’t want to do it. (Hence the title.)

I have this friend, he thinks he’s Sylar and he wants to eat my brain.  Apparently, be thinks he’s going to gain some knowledge.  But seeing as that’s not the case…. I’m offering it to him. For those that don’t know, I recently became a Pescetarian (as of today, milk is out of my diet.  Cheese made with microbial rennet, however, still remains. As does yogurt. And ice cream (a rare, rare treat.)) The decision came on the tail of my quitting smoking.  A relative, in their infinite wisdom of trying to get me to quit, reminded me.

“Well, AJ, I had my first heart attack at 38.”

Well, fuck. I’m about to turn 30.  Quitting smoking isn’t the only thing that will help me turn these damned tables.

So, I set out to do this. I’ve found that because I’m a cheapskate at the grocers, I only eat fish when I eat out, and sometimes not even then. I’ve only been eating queso (round cheese) and paneer. I also thought I’d never give up milk.  (Almond milk rocks.)

This change in diet lead to something I never considered.  While I gained 20-50lbs whenever I quit smoking before… I’ve actually lost weight this time.

But this is all besides the point.

My friend. He’s interested in eating healthy.  In fact, his whole family is.  But they’re just doing the salad thing. And while this first recipe is a salad… I told him I’d reopen the blog and post up my pescetarian experiments.


Tomatillo and Jalepeno Salad

6 Tomatillos, sliced.

Tomatoes. Chopped, sliced, use cherries, I don’t care.

2 handfulls od super greens. (Arugula, spinach, kale, swiss chard)

1 lime, juiced.

1 tablespoon olive oil

dash salt, dash pepper.

2 Jalepenos, minced.

1 radish, chopped

1 avocado, chopped.

Cilantro, minced, to taste.  (I used half a bunch.)

Toss together and you’re good.

I had mine with some of Amy’s Refried Black Beans and a leftover pepper and onion saute with puffy tofu.

Big Girl Drinks: A Woman’s Take on Whisky

Big Girl Drinks: A Woman’s Take on Whisky.

Old Friends

Dear Blog,

It’s been far too long since we have this conversation. Far too much has occurred to begin explaining in these simple words. The outline for my novel is nearly completed. Many changes loom on the horizon in the near future and I am finding inspiration everywhere.

It is time to rekindle our love, Old Friend. You have always been an excellent tool and I have failed for not continuing to use you.

Please forgive me, dear blog.

I will do my best to keep you abreast and plight your page with my words.


The Nunabutt.

For now,


“I do not need your cheap brain burning drugs.”

I am a working woman today. Or so Spider Jerusalem said when talking about himself and his return to writing.

I have returned. The collision of words is coming back to me, finally. After months of struggling with an odd depression that twists and skirts the brinks of an unknown like the Pacific Coast Highway that I long to drive again. I am back.

And I may have stumbled across the way. After almost a year of not smoking, the little money-burning, coffin nails have come back to my lips. The claws of gaming addiction have taken hold and my appetite for anything other than mind riddling doses of caffiene have disappeared. The kitchen has been shoved aside and thrown into an afterthought.

The words are back.

There is much celebration to be had at least in this mind.

Now if that’s not a chunk of self absorbed, I don’t know what is.

Stay tuned.

Four Years Now…

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF

Killed 11 December 1941

I lost my best friend today. Four years ago. I lost my partner in crime. I lost the only real father I ever had. I lost my grandfather. I lost the voice that always greeted me so happily. I lost my Popo.

I grew up knowing that every moment I had with him was borrowed time due to his congestive heart failure. And I got twenty four years. Twenty four years of discing fields, picking pecans. Flying and fishing. BBQing Ribs, Oysters, Meatballs and Newcastle Ale. Aviation movies and political debates.

I was in such a hurry the last day he was conscious. He was pale, but he was always pale then. He was sitting at the kitchen table demanding my grandmother to make fried chicken. Demanding she invited their neighbor over who would inevitably show up anyways. I had just got home from work and I was in a hurry to get to Madera. Selfishly, I wanted the peace and quiet. I wanted a night without fear of death, a night without worry.

It was five am when I got the call.

It was five days later that he passed. He did it quietly. I had just come home from school. My grandmother and I were sharing a glass of wine and discussing her plans for when he passed. He knew it to be time. That last audible breath he took is the most horrifying sound in my memory. Having my hand on his chest to feel those last twenty three minutes of heartbeats, destroyed me.

Those twenty three minutes will never replace the twenty four years of memories I had with him.

I feel your ghost today, Popo. I love you. I miss you.

Absence and Porterhouses

I’m afraid my reasons for ignoring this blog recently are poor ones. Well, maybe. I’ve been dragged without much kicking and screaming back into World of Warcraft. Where, once I changed my faction to Horde became a new game with amazing possibilties. And on a new server at that. I’ve found a new home on Moon Guard, where the roleplaying (aside from the few weirdos) is pretty amazing.

Other than that, yesterday I ventured back out to the wonderful heaven known as Chick a Biddy Acres to pick up some beef. Last night, the company of a good friend with more food allergies than I’ll ever remember entirely, I cooked up some porterhouse steaks that Sherry Patterson provided.

Served with some organic asparagus, shitake mushrooms, onions, some fabulous roasted potatoes and a few tomatoes – it was fantastic!


Creole Cooking: Class #1

Here’s the menu from my first cooking class!

Wop Salad

• For the salad:
• 8 cups crisp lettuce of assorted types, torn into bite-sized pieces
• 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
• 1-1/2 to 2 cups olive salad
• 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 16 flat anchovies
• 8 large boiled shrimp, peeled
• 8 large white or green asparagus spears, steamed and chilled
• Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
• For the dressing:
• 1 cup olive oil
• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon mixed Italian seasoning herbs, or to taste
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Combine lettuces, olive salad, tomatoes and dressing in a large bowl, toss well. Divide evenly on 8 salad plates. On each plate, make an “x” with two anchovies on top of each mixed salad. Top with one asparagus spear and a boiled shrimp. Make sure each plate has some tomatoes and plenty of the vegetables (including a pepperoncini) from the olive salad. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.
YIELD: 8 servings


• 8 quarts cold water
• 8-10 pounds chicken parts (backs, necks, etc.) and bones, or a whole chicken, cut up and skillet-browned
• Shrimp shells and heads, reserved from the 4 pounds of shrimp that have been peeled for the final step of the gumbo
• 8 ounces onions, chopped
• 4 ounces celery with tops, chopped
• 4 ounces carrots, chopped
• 2 heads garlic, cut in half horizontally
• Sachet d’épices: In a small cheesecloth bag or tea ball, place:
o 1 teaspoon or so black peppercorns, cracked
o A few parsley stems
o 1 bayleaf
o 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
o 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
o 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
o 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
Remove the skin from the chicken and chop into 3-4 inch pieces, making sure to cut through and expose the bones. Brown the chicken parts and bones in a skilliet with oil, or in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.
Put the chicken in the stockpot with the water and bring slowly to a simmer. Periodically skim off any scum that forms, and if you wish use a skimmer to skim off the fat. Let this simmer for at least three, and preferably four hours. It is this long simmering process that extracts the maximum flavor from the chicken meat and bones, as well as the natural gelatin from the bones. When refrigerated, a good chicken stock will be clear and gelatinous.
Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Place the peppercorns, parsley sprigs and dried herbs into a 4-inch square piece of cheesecloth or large tea ball and tie it into a little sack; add the sack to the stock. Simmer for one more hour, then add the shrimp shells and heads. Simmer an additional 30 minutes.
Remember that during the simmering process, it’s best not to stir the stock. The end result will be much clearer if it is not agitated while simmering.
Strain thoroughly; the best way to do this is to ladle the stock out and pour it through a strainer which has been lined with a couple of layers of damp cheesecloth. If you’re using the stock immediately, skim off as much fat as you can with a fat skimmer or a piece of paper towel, otherwise cool the stock right away by placing the container into an ice-water-filled sink, stirring to bring the hot liquid from the center to the sides of the container. Don’t just put hot stock in the refrigerator; it won’t cool enough to prevent possible multiplication of harmful bacteria. To defat the stock easily, refrigerate so that the fat solidifies on the surface, then skim off.
Makes about 5 quarts of stock. Use it all for this gumbo recipe. If you want extra, double it and freeze the rest.
• 1-1/4 cups flour
• 1 cup oil
Blend thoroughly in a thick skillet and cook over medium-high to high heat, stirring CONSTANTLY. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BURN IT!! If you see black specks in the roux, you’ve screwed it up. Dump it out and start over. Keep cooking and stirring until the roux gets darker and darker. It’s best to use a very heavy bot or skillet for roux-making, especially cast iron. With a good cast iron Dutch oven or skillet, you can get a beautiful dark roux in only about 20 minutes.
You should turn the fire down or off as the roux nears the right color, because the heat from the pan will continue cooking it. You can also add your onions, bell peppers and celery to the roux as it’s near the end of cooking to arrest the cooking process and to soften the vegetables. KEEP STIRRING until the roux is relatively cool. Add the roux to the stock.

• 1 chicken or guinea hen, without giblets, cut up
• 1 to 1-1/2 pounds sausage, sliced about 1/4″ thick on the bias (you may substitute hot or mild smoked sausage if good andouille isn’t available), browned
• 4 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 6 blue crabs, cleaned, broken in half and claws pulled off
• 3 pounds okra, sliced
• 2 onions, chopped
• 1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped
• 2 bell peppers, chopped
• 5 ribs celery, chopped
• several cloves garlic, minced
• 3 bay leaves
• 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
• black, white and cayenne peppers, to taste
• Salt to taste
• Few dashes Tabasco, or to taste.
• 1 – 2 tablespoons filé powder (ONLY IF YOU DON’T USE OKRA!)
• Steaming hot long-grain rice
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with Creole seasoning and brown in the oven. Slice the sausage and brown, pouring off all the fat.
Sauté the onions, green onions, bell pepper and celery if you haven’t already added them to the roux, and add to the stock. Add the chicken and sausages. Add the bay leaves and Creole seasoning (or ground peppers) to taste and stir. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer; let simmer for about 45 minutes. Keep tasting and adjusting seasonings as needed.
Add the okra and cook another 30 minutes or so. Add the parsley, crab halves and claws (if you’re using them). Cook for another 15 minutes, then add the shrimp (and if you’ve omitted the hard-shell crabs, add the lump crabmeat now). Give it another 6-8 minutes or so, until the shrimp are just done, turning pink. Be very careful not to overcook the shrimp; adding the shrimp should be the very last step.
If there is any fat on the surface of the gumbo, try to skim off as much of it as possible.
Serve generous amounts in bowls over about 1/2 cup of hot rice — claws, shells, bones and all. Remember that the rice goes in the bowl first.


• For the olive salad:
• 1 gallon large pimento stuffed green olives, slightly crushed and well drained
• 1 quart jar pickled cauliflower, drained and sliced
• 2 small jars capers, drained
• 1 whole stalk celery, sliced diagonally
• 4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
• 1 small jar celery seeds
• 1 small jar oregano
• 1 large head fresh garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 jar pepperoncini, drained (small salad peppers) left whole
• 1 pound large Greek black olives
• 1 jar cocktail onions, drained
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or pot and mix well. Place in a large jar and cover with 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Crisco oil. Store tightly covered in refrigerator. Allow to marinate for at least 24 hours before using.
• For the sandwich:
• 1 round loaf italian bread
• 1/4 pound mortadella, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound hard Genoa salami, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, sliced
• 1/4 pound Provolone cheese,sliced
• 1 cup olive salad with oil
Split a muffuletta loaf or a loaf of Italian bread horizontally. Spread each half with equal parts of olive salad and oil. Place meats and cheeses evenly on bottom half and cover with top half of bread. Cut in quarters. Enjoy!

Shallot and Red Wine Vinegar Sauce.

• 2 cups olive oil (not extra-virgin)
• 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
• 4 tablespoons cane syrup
• 1 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, minced (dried, not packed in oil)
• 2 dozen large fresh scallops, with juice.
Shuck the oysters, reserving the shells.
Mix the first 8 ingredients, and let the marinade sit. The longer it sits, the better it gets.
Sauté scallops over medium heat in four batches in about 1/2 cup of the marinade for each batch, until they just start to curl. Do not overcook!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remulade

• 4 green tomatoes
• 1-1/2 cups oil
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 teaspoon oregano, crushed
• Salt, freshly grated black pepper and cayenne pepper
• 1 cup milk
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 cup water
• Crystal or Tabasco Hot Sauce, to taste
• Shrimp Remulade
• Romaine lettuce, shredded
• 3 tablespoons chopped chives
Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet until hot but not smoking, about 350°F. Slice the tomatoes about 3/8″ thick and pat them dry with paper towels.
Season the flour with salt, pepper and cayenne. Add the Parmesan, oregano and basil to the bread crumbs and mix thoroughly.
Mix the milk, egg and water, and combine with a wire whisk to make an egg wash. Season the egg wash with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
Using the classic 3-step method, dredge the tomato slices in flour (tap excess from slices), then dip in the egg wash, then coat thoroughly with the bread crumbs.
Pan-fry the tomatoes, being careful not to crowd the pan, until golden brown on each side (do in batches if necessary). Drain them well on several layers of paper towels.
For each serving, place some Romaine lettuce on a salad plate, about 3 slices of tomato, then top with the shrimp remoulade. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.
Serves 8.

Shrimp Remoulade
• 1 1/2 cups heavy-duty mayonnaise
• 1/2 cup Creole mustard
• 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp hot peppersauce)
• 1/2 cup finely diced green onions
• 1/4 cup finely diced celery
• 2 tbsp minced garlic
• 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
• 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
• salt and cracked black pepper to taste
• 3 dozen 21-25 count boiled shrimp, peeled and deveined
In a mixing bowl, combine all of the above ingredients, whisking well to incorporate the seasonings. Once blended, cover and place in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. A minimum of four hours will be required for flavor to be developed. When ready, remove from refrigerator and adjust seasonings to taste. Place six shrimp on a leaf of romaine or other colored lettuce and spoon a generous serving of remoulade sauce on top of the shrimp. Do not sauce shrimp prior to service, as they will lose their firm texture. Serves 6.

7 Disruptive Foods Changing the Way We Eat

7 Disruptive Foods Changing the Way We Eat

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Inspirational Kimchi

For six months (at least) I’ve had this nagging craving for sweet and sour pork. But I don’t like the chinese food places that I’ve tried around Peterborough. And I’ll admit that Chinese culinary traditions intimidate me. So delving into them isn’t my first priority. (And I don’t means Asian in general. I’ll gladly dance into Japanese cuisines, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese…)

And sense I can’t head over to my favourite Chinese resturant (can’t remember the name but it’s in the Shaw and Armstrong Savemart strip mall.)

Earlier this week, I tried my hand at making kimchi. Tonight was the night to taste my efforts. So, I took out some pork I had butchered into cubes before freezing it. I had no idea what I was going to do with it all. Off to the pantry!

From my makeshift pantry, I found leftover rice flour mix that could not be used the other night due to a friends food allergies. I had an orange bell peppler, some green onions, garlic, a bit of beef stock in the fridge…. and also some sweet and sour sauce. What I concocted was well, sweet and sour pork.

Happy cravings!