catching up on last summer…

It’s been another long gap since I last posted. So much has happened and I am intent on drinking it all in and savouring all the details…even the not so fun ones. Packing up the last of my things, throwing out, selling off and handing over my home was far more difficult than I ever imagined, both emotionally and physically. Could not have managed without so many people there to help. How grateful I am for all of them.

Every once in a while a sadness hits me of leaving behind so much in Toronto. It was an intensely rich time in my life. Leaving friends and neighbours and most of all my youngest daughter and my eldest granddaughter has been hard but it felt like the right time to move on. I’ve focused on living in the present,  while honouring my past and I’m working for a new future. I remind myself that I’m grateful to have put down roots deep enough that Toronto actually does feel like home to me in many ways. ( Some western Canadians can imagine such a declaration.)

By the skin of my teeth the house was cleared out, with my Lindsay and friend Piotr clearing up the last items and giving the house a high gloss finish. I had a plane to board for Marseille on June 29, 2015.

I arrived at my sisters lovely villa in an ancient town in the Luberon, Provence. The village built into the mountainside is Saignon. My sisters paradise in France. We spent a week together and she was off to Canada, leaving me to take care of business ( which was great fun ) more tk

school dazed

This is DAY 2 of Culinary School . Last fall I applied to the Integrated Learning Program: Culinary Management H116 at George Brown College. Conveniently 10 minutes from my house in downtown Toronto, and ironically next door to my former long time employer’s (Simon and Schuster) newest office digs. I must confess that I am carefully containing my excitement. I’m not really sure where this all leads me but it is the perfect time to stretch myself and I am trying to let the world unfold as it should.  

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I’ve been purchasing and organizing all my equipment for class and I just picked up the most beautiful Japanese knife this afternoon. I am practically overflowing with giddiness. I’m also scrounging around the kitchen for anything that I can pack up so I don’t overflow with duplicates in my already overstuffed house… but happily there are still some mandatory indulgences that I can add to my stockpile. Yesterday was Kitchen Management class and Hospitality Math. Today was English class and I got to hand in my first essay on HOW I AM TOTALLY UN-COOL. Each class is at least 3 hours long and it’s been fun to meet my new class mates and get the scoop on everyone’s raison d’etre. So far every instructor has been exceptionally pleasant and impressive. This is a 2 year diploma and with around 30 to 60 (?-bad with estimating numbers in crowds) people each class with a fairly diverse age range–although I think I may be the 2nd oldest. One dude talked about cooking in the 70’s. I guess technically I ( and Juli) did a stint with crazy Mrs Dean in the Kootenay‘s in 1977, but that’s a whole other story.

Tomorrow will be my first time in the baking kitchen lab and I am definitely psyched!! I hope we make something other than cookies. I’ve been living on a steady diet of them for 2 days. BTW- I will be avoiding full body shots of my chef outfit until the time is right. Tomorrow is my first day wearing this charming outfit. For now, you’ll just have to imagine it.

Turning over a new leaf I plan to cook at home as much as possible. I did not plan well but luckily I had roasted cauliflower , onions and tomatoes on the weekend.

easy dinner with leftovers in fridge- roasted cauliflower soup
easy dinner with leftovers in fridge- roasted cauliflower soup

5 minute ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

  • Throw a bunch of cauliflower and onions into a blender with some cold chicken stock (measure carefully hah!)
  • Season with salt, lemon zest, horseradish and rooster sauce to taste
  • Blend till smooth

Heat on stove and then serve with:

  • a spoon of thick yogurt
  • roasted tomatoes /lemon squeeze /capers  and FRESH CILANTRO!

Of course season to your liking– if you prefer to mix it up a bit….

Cauliflower is pretty accommodating. The rich colour is really just a result of the roasting and a wee squirt of Hot Sauce.

a crafty life…

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I love craft fairs. Ever since my mother brought home a melted LP festooned with plastic flowers and sprayed with gold paint, I have been awestruck by the wonder of it all. So many people gathered in one place to hawk their creations of love. For me, I  love the old school grammas who knit socks and mittens and I love the new generation of 20 -30 somethings that  are reinventing the world of crafts…like the one we attended today, City of Craft .

When I was a young mom, my sister-in-law Kim and I spent fashioning bread dough creatures into walnut shells to hang on Christmas trees. We became experts at assembly line construction. Everything was hand-painted then dipped in shellac and hung on a thin line to dry. My mother would take dozens of our NUT BABIES to the bank where she worked and flogged them for us. Without her, we would have been swimming in excess inventory. We cleverly tucked them inside of egg cartons and wrapped them in bows. The sales and marketing part of crafts is always the tricky part of the equation. We called ourselves the Domestic Engineers and still laugh at the hours of fun we had together with our little kids, creating along side of us.

If I were not so lazy I would dig some of these ancient things out of the basement boxes, but just in case you missed it the first go round, I am too lazy, and tired , and it’s late. Most of them have long crumbled away but there are a few sole survivors almost 30 years later.

I also have a number of my “home-made padded photograph binders” around the house that are worse for wear and the snapshots inside are melting away under the acidic sheets of clinging plastic and glue.

Long gone are the macrame plant holders of my youth and the wire-framed fabric flowers sitting in wicker baskets on the back of my toilet.

I used to walk around craft fairs thinking, I CAN DO THAT, I CAN DO THAT! Now , more than ever I am awestruck by the artistry, sophistication, creativity and sheer beauty of these crafter’s wares…but most of all, I love some of simpler creations that hold childlike wonder and love, and exclaim to the world, I AM MADE BY A HUMAN HAND !

SOME REAL LIFE EXAMPLES OF CRAFTING GONE WRONG OVER THE YEARS….

PADDED FABRIC  EXTRAVAGANZA


Fabric padded photo frame–made from the left over fabric of a baby dress I had sewn for my eldest daughter. If you look closely you can see the HAND SMOCKED dresses my girls were wearing. These are actually still beautiful items that have been passed down to their babies now.

Fabric photo/sticker albums

HAND MADE POTTERY– when I thought that I could throw pots like Demi Moore in Ghost and gave up and just fashioned things out of blobs with rolling pins and fingers.

THE NAKED MAN–aka, the reason I know longer delude myself into thinking that ONE DAY I will be a great painter….France 2007

me and Mark Bittman are peeps

I would like to think so but I flatter myself. He has inspired me for years now. I was delighted to see that my pizza post was right in sync with his NYTimes piece this week.

Check out his TED TALK too while you are at it.

HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING

For Chefs at Home, a Pie Above the Rest

Potato Pizza: Mark Bittman makes a simple pizza with potato and rosemary.

By 
Published: April 17, 2012

I’M here — back in the Dining section with a new column — to insist once again that not only can you cook it at home, but you can likely cook it better.

Talk Pizza With Bittman

Mark Bittman will host an hourlong chat this Wednesday at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on The Times’s Facebook page, answering your questions on the ins and outs of making pizza.

Multimedia

Recipe

How to Cook Everything

Mark Bittman’s new column, How to Cook Everything, will appear every other week in the Dining section. He will continue to write for Opinion and the Sunday Magazine.

“It,” in this case, is pizza, and the impetus for today’s installment was a visit to a highly acclaimed pizza joint in Manhattan, where I was served (for $15, or about four times the cost of the ingredients in a supermarket) a perfectly ordinary, overly poofy, drearily sauced pizza. Granted, the mozzarella was first rate. Big deal.

This followed by a couple of days what has become a not-atypical dinner at my house, where I served a pizza bianca, lightly sprinkled with olive oil, salt and rosemary, and threw together a pie with a tomato sauce based on a slew of onions and a bit of guanciale (only because I happened to have some), along with a sufficient amount of grated Parmesan to make its presence known.

I won’t even get into the money-saving part; people who cook at home for economic reasons already know about that. I will say that my crust tasted better, and my pizza was more properly cooked (yes, that’s a matter of taste, but do you really want to eat a bialy with tomato and cheese, as seems to have become de rigueur?) and better sauced than the one I ate a few days later in Midtown.

Yours can be, too, and I know that because I’m not really that good at making pizza. In fact, two or three of my close friends do it better, and I know of others.

It’s about three things: some confidence, practice and a food processor. This piece is my attempt to instill you with the first, encourage you to get the second and implore you to use the third, though even that’s not necessary, since there is an alternative: the no-knead method popularized by Jim Lahey. I’ve gone back and forth between the two, but for ease, lack of mess and more-flexible timing, I’ve come to prefer the food processor. Still, make the dough however you like, because you won’t go wrong.

From the beginning, the food processor was justifiably promoted as a tool for making dough. (My longstanding guide for this, by the way, is “The Best Bread Ever,” by my friend Charles Van Over.)

I love it for pizza because you can make the dough in five minutes. (A video of this is here.) Although rushing isn’t ideal, you can start pressing or rolling out the pizza 20 minutes later. (Use the larger amount of yeast if you’re doing this.) Which means, in a pinch, start to finish in an hour.

What is ideal is letting the dough rest for a while in the refrigerator or even freezer, though for best quality not for more than a few days. The advantages of this technique, besides the obvious convenience (make the dough in the morning or up to a few days before, and just let it come to room temperature before proceeding), is that the dough matures, marginally improving its flavor and making it considerably easier to handle.

There are, of course, some fine points, but even here there’s flexibility. Should you roll the dough or pat it out? That’s your call. (If you pat it out, you can leave it thick and dimpled — use your fingertips — and call it focaccia.) Should you use a pizza peel and a stone? Well, yes, and if you preheat the stone for a good half-hour, the crust will crackle even more, but it isn’t essential. I didn’t have a peel for a couple of years (no room) and used a piece of plywood or a flexible cutting board. And if you don’t have a stone, a baking or cookie sheet will do fine; just use a little olive oil to keep the dough from sticking. This will give you a crisper crust, one sort of halfway to the fried dough Pete Wells writes about this week.

A whole-wheat crust? Sure, 50 percent; it won’t be as crisp or have the same “pull,” but it will have a deeper flavor and give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. (You can also integrate herbs, garlic, dried chiles, loads of black pepper, cornmeal, whatever, into the crust; the food processor makes this incredibly easy.) Extra-crisp crust with extra-moist topping? Prebake the crust about halfway, with just a bit of olive oil on top, then add everything else and return to the oven.

Mix the dough by hand? Yes, but you’re increasing your workload or, if you go for the no-knead method, your time. If your food processor isn’t big or powerful enough for the recipe here, halve the recipe or get a new food processor. Other uses for the dough? Fried pizza or calzone, both discussed elsewhere in this section; rolls or bread or even those silly garlic knots. But pizza is the highest and best use.

The options don’t stop, and we haven’t even started on toppings. When it comes to these, I’m pretty conservative, favoring the kind of treatments I mentioned earlier, or pizza with potatoes (a legitimate Roman favorite, obviously for carb lovers), eggplant or zucchini.

Others include the obvious, like tomato sauce of almost any type, with or without mozzarella and/or Parmesan; fresh tomatoes; pepperoni; anchovies; sausage (cooked or crumbled); chorizo or other cured meat; olives; onion cooked to any degree or not at all, with olive oil; pesto (or fresh basil); eggplant or zucchini, sautéed or grilled first, with or without cheese and/or tomatoes; seafood (raw clams, oysters, shrimp, scallops, lightly steamed mussels, lobster, whatever), preferably with garlic, oregano and oil.

I don’t wander far from those, which doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s all optional, and all good. Better, in fact.

A version of this article appeared in print on April 18, 2012, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: For Chefs at Home, A Pie Above the Rest.

Rouxbe On-line Cooking School from Vancouver

I discovered the ROUXBE site before I started my blog. I love it. Check out the links below and try a free lesson.
Knife Skills is a great starter. It’s a brilliant way to bring that little extra confidence around your cooking experience.
Would love to hear what you think once you try it out. Also happy to give you any insight I have around the course as well!!
xoxo terri

What is the Rouxbe Cooking School

Rouxbe is the world’s leading online cooking school that teaches cooks of any level to become better and more confident cooks.


Tour Video: Founder’s Message

Rouxbe is a different kind of cooking website

Rather than focusing exclusively on recipes, Rouxbe teaches the cooking skills and techniques behind great recipes. Using stunning close-up instructional video, practice recipes, interactive quizzes, and personalized chef feedback, Rouxbe’s 70+ online cooking classes provide professional instructional on knife skills to plating and virtually everything in between. Perhaps best of all, with Rouxbe you can now take cooking classes from your home, on your schedule, and at your own pace.


The path to becoming a better and more confident cook

Would you use a map to teach you how to drive? Probably not. Yet some people rely entirely on recipes to teach them how to cook. As with most skills, learning the fundamentals can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment and success, and cooking is not different.

By learning fundamental cooking skills and techniques, practicing with delicious recipes, and getting personalized feedback from professional chefs, you’ll quickly become a better and more confident cook. And with Rouxbe, you can do it all in your home, on your schedule, and at your own pace.


Who created the Rouxbe Cooking School?

The Rouxbe Cooking School was founded by two professional chefs in 2005 and was developed in partnership with Northwest Culinary Academy – an accredited culinary school. The Rouxbe Cooking School is now being used by home cooks, culinary training programs, and culinary professionals around the world.


How many videos does Rouxbe have?

Rouxbe has over 1,100 close-up instructional videos that capture the exact same curriculum found in professional cooking schools around the world.


How much is tuition?

Unlimited access to all content, features, and personalized chef feedback is $299.95 per year. Individual lessons are also available for $4.99 per lesson (90 days access) or $9.99 per lesson (lifetime access).


Anything Free?

To access the Rouxbe Cooking School, you need to become a paid Rouxbe student by selecting one of our tuition plans. You can access a few sample cooking school lessons and a few full step-by-step instructional video recipes on the site. However, to access 70+ online classes that include over 1,000 videos you have to join Rouxbe.