Sunday, March 27, 2011

Whats in a yolk?

My "vacation" is coming to an end. Tomorrow morning i head back to Vancouver--hopefully not to rain, because i packed quite optimistically with skirts and not enough pairs of socks. It has been a full and wonderful week of visits; lots of hugs and a restocking of Gray Monk wine. I really did manage to see most all of my favorite people in all of my favorite places: grandma date to Mosaic Books; milk and meyer lemons (my last non-local purchase--more later) from Helen; the afformentioned wine from lovely Jen; Willy and Rene always so happy pre-season; conquering Knox with Jessy; my first farmers market in way to long (see above about non-localness...) and my family of vendors; tea and chaos with Cheffrey and Michelle and their kiddos and now pooch; Monika and her NEW WOOD OVEN bread--thanks lady!; missed Jon at the fish shop, but left a love note; and finally Tom and the farm and my home and how good and real and safe and sure it all feels. All that, plus two dozen farm fresh eggs. Make that one dozen. Getting organized to leave (read: realizing i am hauling a silly amount of stuff back to Van, only to likely bring it all back and more in two weeks), i came to the shocking realization that in just four days i have eaten ten eggs. Ten. That is more than two a day, which according to my uncle is just fine (two a day fried in butter with buttered toast and bacon is routine); not so to most health gurus. Now i love eggs. Love. If i were a guest columnist in Donna Hays magazine filling in that little questionaire (if you dont know what i am talking about, go buy an issue, be inspired by its lovely simplicity) eggs would be one of my "always in your supermarket trolley" ingredients. One of my five foods to bring to a desert Island. Most of my go to dinners use them. I would go so far as to say that poached eggs are my ultimate comfort food. Poached egg. Usually jsut one is enough, so really i dont know how ten disappeared. Hmmmm: I made a double pasta recipe (theres 2); rhubarb curd (two more, plus two yolks--hey the whites are still in the fridge, so it is really like nine eggs gone...); carbonara with peas for dinner (one); poached at breakfast (one more); poached at breakfast again (that makes ten) there you go. Should i be worried about cholesterol. Probably not. In fact, i am not. I am jsut kind of sad that they are gone. These eggs are truly amazing: the yolks are so deep yellow they are orange. They are what a recipe is referring to when it calls for "large eggs." They are rich tasting, with pudding'y texture. And only three bucks a dozen. Thank goodness i bought two. Or maybe for my heart, not so much... Its hard not to disguise that i am feeling a bit guilty about my recent oueff consumption. Why? Is it because i know about cholesterol (thank you very much health gurus) and how if i really want to "enjoy" eggs, i should use the whites as they are protein rich and it is the yolk that is the HDL threat (but it is the yolk that is so tasty, so "enjoy" becomes really oxymoronic). Besides, there are so many worse things i could be eating. Besides, again, didnt eggs used ot be the "complete protein" that nutritionists compared all other proteins to when developing their silly diet rules and tables? Used to...i know that much too. Anyways, thats not it. I am feeling guilty because just a week ago, at breakfast with my aunt i revealed that i had had poached eggs every day the previous week, to which she responded: "that cant be too good for you, can it." It stuck. You know when someone says something casually and off handedly, with no bad intentions, i am sure? For example, my ma once said told me red really washes me out. She didnt mean i looked bad, just that my fair skin was all that more fair against a red sweater. I think about that everytime i put on my red cardigan, but i put it on all the same. Then i look in the mirror and think, I dont look washed out, silly ma. So i am going to go poach an egg now, just so i can say, this is the best thing for me, silly aunt. Make that eleven eggs in four days. And another thing to look forward to having again when i am home for good.

Friday, March 25, 2011


The last few days, the moment i put on my jacket, i am sweatedly overdressed. My wool coat is just too much for the insta-spring of the Okanagan, and i couldnt be happier for it. Coming home this week for my dog-sitting "vacation" before returning for ten days to Van and then moving back for good (oh--its so good), i expected to need my mitts and toque and the well-lived in longjohns of winter, perhaps a sweater under my coat, definately no skirts as i had been doning in Van...definately wrong. It is beautiful here; the only snow left is way up on those mountains, and the sun actually shone in a way that made it feel so right to be back. That this was the perfect moment for transition home.
My kitchen transition (im giggling at the rhyme here...) is a little slower to adapt. Now, even more so than ever, i am craving winter squash. I want to roast a big ol'kabocha but make it light and delicate for spring. How silly; all winter long i have waited to dig that bag of peas out of my mini-deepfreeze, hibernating as they were until i came home to devour them just in time for the next seasons harvest with spring-y flavours like new chives and parsely, ricotta cheese and poached eggs--instead, i am all about the sage. And potatos before there are new ones. Old potatos to go with old peas. To ring in the new?
Really though, i am as Spring as Spring chickens come. i live for this regrowth season, and the weather is telling me it is here, loud and proud as the robins and runoff. Chives and parsely are sprouting (at least in Van) and i crave sage?? Woodsy, strong, comforting on roasted meats sage? I have cubes of frozen parsely puree (sounds delicious, i know) in that same freezer with the peas, but freshness just wont do. It seems my cravings are also transitioning.
And really, the marraige of sweet peas and earthy sage is so lovely. So lovely, in fact, that i will probably continue to eat it in the real freshness of Spring, when peas, parsely, rhubarb, and garlic scapes are coming out of the ground not my frozen storage (the latter, not a good idea to freeze by the way; thing chewy...really chewy). With some artichokes from Van, all part of the transition...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Close call

im free. Done at "that place" in Vancouver--sadly done at "that lovely place" in Vancouver--but not quite done with that city Vancouver thanks to this place.

For the next week, though, i am. Until my aunt and uncle and their kids return from Mexico, i get to have my own vacation in their home in the fabulous town of Vernon BC, all meals somewhat included, drinks--including water (they left the cooler empty, can you imagine?...) definately not, views of 38th ave and a pre-season un-flourishing backyard garden, all for the fantastic price of dog sitting. Actually a real deal. i love that dog, and i love being closer to home...alone. Which translates to: the kitchen is mine at any time.

Living with the other aunt i lived with in Van (without saying anything incriminating or hurtful via the world wide web), i was forced to cook on a schedule that would a) be done and cleaned up before she arrived home in the afternoon, or b) waited until she was finished her own dinner preparation, eating, and cleaning up from, and left immaculate before even thinking of taking a bite of my own supper. i never quite nailed that immaculate part though...

So it is quite a repreive to have a kitchen all to myself. My breakfast dishes didnt get done until two. Granted I didnt eat breakfast until nearly noon, and lingered over the paper and crossword, even making another stovetop espresso, it was still intentionally vacationy to leave the egg poaching pot and empty cereal container unwashed while eating. Like i implied though, this is not an all inclusive stay: that egg was mine, the cereal too, oh, and the coffee. Plus, i am dangerously drinking tap water, might i mention again (and Vernons source has infected me awfully--debilitatingly and not lovely to share actually-before).

Tonight though, i almost had to borrow, and not a cup of sugar. Something much worse. Are you ready? ...chopped garlic. Y'know that stuff that comes already minced in jar? Yeah, that stuff. I am sure some of you, probably alot of you out there use it, and to each his own. But there are a few of you, i am also sure, that are as creeped out by it as i am. It is almost yellow, for one, and doesnt seem to oxidize like "real garlic," nor even go rancidly bad after years and years of hanging out with the other odd condiments at the ready in your fridge. I cant bring myself to touch the stuff, yet tonight, i almost did.

I bought some garlic before coming here, just in case. It is one of my staples, so i picked up a head for my week of cooking at any time i pleased. i used it last night, when i rolled in after ten, unloaded my car, showered, then decided midnight was the perfect time to roast some artichokes for dinner. Tonight though, i couldnt find it. Anywhere. Not out of the way on the windowsill above where i had previously minced; not in with the cheese, the last thing to be put away; not behind, or even in, the toaster (hey, you never know, it is not as though the cluster of cloves was ginormous). And tonight i was cooking cauliflower for some pasta, and i needed it. i needed any garlic, even odd colored, work-done-for-you odd garlic in a jug. But like i said, it was a close call. I found my fresh garlic in the box with my olive oils and salt, logically stored for the rest of the week.

i really, was though, so preturbed by having to even open that jar. i mean, i even thought of writing about it (i know, technically i am, but with quite a different story), thinking i would title this post "last resort." i actually like that title better, kind of a pun, as this is hardly the resort my family is at right now...

Honestly though, coming from where i came, this is the best resort i could possibly imagine. And not even weird garlic could change that. Pampered has a whole new dinner-whenever-dishes-even-later meaning.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

pieces of cakes and confidence.

Today I baked cakes. Two. For people other than friends and family. Definately for more people than myself. For customers:people who paid for the cake i made. And they were lovely.
More lovely though, was the someone who had the confidence in me to let me bake those two lovely cakes. And pulling through--that was lovely too.
And eating said cakes--also quite lovely.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Its where i belong

Im dutch. You know it, I know it, my family is quite proud to know it and make sure other people know it. But i will say it again (and probably several--many--more times to come): im more Italian than anything.
Even more Italian than i am Canadian. Gasp! Where is my sense of patriotism? Sadly, it left with the addition of pineapple to thick crust pizzas and remains only in my devotion to proper winter wear, toques, scarves, mittens et al. It left with bacon, yes, bacon; which translates to i am not really a big fan of pancetta, at all... just dont tell my Italian "kin".
There are plenty of other uses of pork, however, that i love; that keep me from becoming a vegetarian. And the Italians, they know pig. They use the whole damn thing. Nose to tail and all the shrapnel in between the goods in between. And i saw it get put to use tonight.
I found my little Italy. My consellation- Italy- for- my- one- and- a- half- loss- at- real- Italy Italy. La Quercia, where, finally, i have entered the kitchen. Bad enough that it took my October last year to my birthday this past week to eat there, but i left staging there until my last mere minutes in this city. All the more reason to make every minute count.
And eat as much as possible. And by much i mean meat. Oh goodness all the meat tonight (including pancetta). Every thing that was cooked was offered to taste and then some. I even drank pasta cooking water to note the salt level (high by the way; shockingly high but for good reason).
Why i left this until now, i do not know. Why i didnt spend my whole winter here...oh how things may have been different, so different. Better late than never, though, and i plan to use and thoroughly appreciate my time there as best i can before going back to reality, and working on making actual Italy a reality.
This is like a whole new mini adventure, and i will be posting my learnings and exaggerated love for Italy, for La Quercia in general for the next week or so (possibly longer, but then it will be more I miss than i learned). More on tonight later, i have Marsala and dessert to enjoy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Are we there yet?

The groundhog not seeing his shadow, and even more technically than that, 2011 not being a leap year and something to do with Earths proximity to the sun and universal rotation something something (i read this somewhere legitimatley reliable and far better explained, i swear) means that spring is on its way sooner than later and i could not be happier.

Nor could i be more impatient. The weather here in Vancouver has been a tease: sunny and warm, sunny and cold, gray and warm, gray and cold, unusually without rain and then out of nowhere and belatedly christmasy, feet of snow. The randomness of it all has me changing my spring optimism as often as i am forced to change my shoes.

Springs official arrival means alot more to me this year than warmer weather (socklessness and skirts), peas and rhubarb--theres also garlic scapes, sorrel, rapini, salad greens, and herbs...i am half kidding here. In all seriousness, though, i miss fresh food; local food. Even frozen local food stowed for winter in my inaccessible kelowna freezer. Here in Vancouver i havent been able to make the farmers market for work, and i miss that shopping desperately. Please, add in some dramatic sighs and tones of longing here, because really, nothing would calm my soul more than celeriac and rutabaga from the Vernon market. Thats right, rutabaga, or swede; that is what my heart longs for. Such simple things to love and miss.

And to look forward to. Because it is coming, just ask the groundhog. Soon i will be moving home for spring planting. For opening the restaurant. For reunions that begin with "i cant believe the whole winter has passed." Oh i long to say that: "i cant believe winter is over...thank god." I feel like an impatient child strapped into the backseat of the car, forced to sit still until at least the next bathroom break, growing increasingly restless as the stack of archie comics gets worked through and the snacks stale and dwindle. ArewethereyetArewethereyetArewethereyet?????? how bout now?

Soon. Soon spring and all its freedom and re-newness will be here.