Monthly Archives: November 2016

shepherd’s pie

The best shepherd’s pie I’ve ever made was built out of the leftovers of a roast beef dinner. With a little chopping, and gravy for flavour, it was a perfect second meal. I just don’t have all that on hand too often. But the cooler weather, and occasional snowflake finally appearing, has me hankering for the comfort of a one-dish, everything-you-need winter meal.

So I made some from scratch this week. It was almost as easy. And the best part was that all the ingredients came from farms near where I live. Even the ground beef is local.

I sauteed a diced onion and large carrot. Set them aside then browned a pound of ground beef. After draining out any extra fat, I added a little flour and tossed it around. Then I put about a cup of beef stock in and let it thicken up. The onion and carrots went back in, along with frozen peas and corn. I seasoned it with various amounts of Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, tomato paste and red wine, as well as salt and pepper.

Once it was nicely melded together. I put it in glass dishes, and topped with mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes (that had some milk, sour cream and parmesan added in). Then backed it for about 25 minutes at 350F.

Seasonal ingredients transformed into seasonal goodness.

CJR

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monday morning coffee

Ahh, that first cup of the day. There is no taste quite like the first sip – whether you do the full caffeine, half decaf, Americano or espresso. But I think the taste of coffee goes downhill throughout the day. (Might just be the office coffee). Until, of course, it’s a freshly brewed cup to finish off a fine meal. (Now I’m hungry, I digress).

For some of you, it’s been a long holiday weekend, complete with Black Friday madness. So to get your week jumpstarted, we salute the coffee bean with some of our favourite shots of caffeine from our kitchens and coffee shops around the globe.

The coffee counter in our kitchens contain a (not surprisingly) very similar set of paraphernalia — burr grinder, milk frother, French press and maple sugar for the perfect topping.

CJR

friday favourite – wooden christmas tree

I don’t usually decorate a lot at Christmas. It’s not my favourite holiday…and I’m usually at my sister’s! But this year, a friend made us both a beautiful tree from a wooden pallet.

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Kind of has me in the holiday spirit. It’s definitely the best addition to my decorations in years – and my Friday favourite.

Thanks Moyer Family Acres for your clever crafting skills.

CJR

food for friends

Most nights, I’m cooking for one but I love to make enough to share. I always make enough for leftovers but there is something entirely more satisfying about making a meal that can be shared and savoured with other people. Even if I’m not at the table.

I’ve been cooking for a friend for a little while. A meal (or two) a week to help get everybody fed quickly in between school and endless evening lessons. It puts a smile on my face every time I do it. I try out new recipes than will hopefully be a hit with younger palates, and keep the ingredients in the general arena of kid-friendly.

Some of the recipe favourites (that you might like too) are farmers sausage baked with BBQ sauce, maple syrup and apple chunks, sweet and sour meatballs (baked not fried), any variation on homemade mac and cheese (sometimes with broccoli, often with bacon), and even tater tot casserole.

It’s getting cold and dark and I know winter is coming. These homemade meals have even more appeal as we get ready for pseudo hibernation.

What’s your favourite meal to share?

CJR

counting cards

We grew up on euchre. A fast game. But bridge. Well, that was something you had to mature into. A strategic form of euchre that involved a lot more counting, and remembering, and counting.

img_2063-2these are some serious, experienced bridge players

I started playing bridge about eight years ago. Among a few hiking friends, we decided that a mental math game might be a way to keep our mind as fit as our physique! One patient soul in the group had been playing since she was 12 or so, and set out to teach four novices how to play bridge.

Do you play the short club? Five card major? Get your kiddies off the street. Strength to the right, weakness to the right. Lead the fourth highest in your longest and strongest.

I don’t pretend to remember what these mean, at least some of the time, or understand the nuance as the cards are skillfully laid down with finessing, ruffing and other things I’ve forgotten…towards the (hopeful) making of the contract. But I love the fact that there will always be something more to learn about this game. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to play in public with pros who know. But it’s sure fun to spend an evening, or entire weekend or just happy hour, counting cards and having a mysterious conversation in code to try and get close to a slam.

CJR

handbags and purses

I always called it a purse. In New England it is more commonly referred to as a handbag. Whatever you call it, many of us have a thing for them. Unfortunately, when I tire of one bag, I rarely pull it out again and it lives at the bottom of my closet with the other has-beens.

For the last few years I have been all about the  cross-body handbag. It feels more secure and distributes the weight across my shoulders better. I have been using a Baggallini Horizon Crossbody for awhile and like that I can fit my phone and glasses in the two front pockets for easy access and then my wallet fits in the main compartment and not much else!

But…I wanted a crossbody bag that was a little bit smaller for traveling. (This is how it starts and why so many women have a purse/handbag graveyard in their closet!) Baggallini make one that would do the trick but I decided to branch out. I found the perfect bag made by Osgoode Marley. It’s called the Sasha Crossbody and it’s black nylon but has a lime green interior! They make the same bag in leather, it’s called the Horizon Crossbody. I found the bag at a favourite shoe store in Brookline, MA called Simon Shoes.

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So now I am all set…until the next handbag steals my heart.

HAR

 

lentil soup

You might be sick of our soup recipes – hope not. We are just gearing up for the winter season when we think you can never have enough stacked up, perfect lunch time servings of soups in the freezer. I even have a drawer in my freezer dedicated to lunch meals to go – my own takeout counter.

This week, we’re going in the archives…not really sure we can call it that yet as we are barely one year old on Stuff We Love? – for our favourite lentil soup.

Martha Stewart’s lentil soup is a new favourite of mine. And I would never have crossed the street for lentils, until this recipe. Must be the bacon. I often just use a can of cooked lentils to save time, with no compromise on the flavour.

bacon and lentil soup

This hearty soup supports all the food groups – and we love them all!

CJR