Category: Post

Tabouli as winter salad

To all the Lebanese restaurants I’ve loved before: a million thanks. Tabouli recipes can vary a bit from person to person and place to place. Which is how good cooking must always be. This one is made with quinoa not bulgur. And I think of it, at least in part, as a winter salad. Because sometimes, in the dead of our Canadian winters, we may not feel like making salads the way we would in the summer. And yet, we yearn for that sparkle. The sparkle of tabouli lasts for a week in the fridge.

QUINOA

¼ cup quinoa

½ cup water (or tiny bit more)

About 1/8 tsp salt

Bring all to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

VEGGIES

1 big, beautiful bunch of fresh curly parsley

1 whole English cucumber

About ¼ to 1/3 medium-sized red onion

 3 green onions

8-10 cherry tomatoes or other tomato

¼ cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

1 tablespoon mild oil (sunflower, safflower, or olive oil)

1 teaspoon salt

Wash the parsley making sure there are no bits of sand hiding anywhere.  Discard at least half of the stems and chop everything else fairly fine.  Slice the cucumber into manageable slices and then chop into small pieces.  Chop all other vegetables.  It is not strictly necessary to have both red onion and green onion, but I like both.

Add cooled quinoa and toss well with the oil, lemon juice and salt.  Taste for seasoning.

That’s it. If you like, add ground black pepper.  Store in a good, sealed container in the fridge, and you have a sparkling taste of summer that is good for a week.  Unless, of course, you are cooking for a crowd, in which case it’s done in a day. I like the flavour, the crunch, and the nutrition of quinoa.  But bulgur (cracked, parboiled wheat) is traditional and also excellent of course.  Either way, the grain should be cooked (or steamed in boiling water for the bulgur) but not to sogginess as it serves to keep the salad from becoming too wet.

Who can’t love antipasto?

Who can’t love antipasto? One of the prettiest love letters Italy has ever sent the world. Granted, an antipasto plate like this would not have graced the dining table of my trim Newfoundlander of a mother. But the idea of antipasto? Ahh yes, that would have been deeply acceptable to her. Because wherever we live in the world, an appreciation for real food as good food is written deep within us all, prompting us to acknowledge “deeply and profoundly, that these items are more enjoyable, more delightful and more sparkling in taste than any junk food we could ever consume.” –Living Slim: A Canadian Woman’s Way

December’s gift

The quiet weight of winter’s first snow. The muffled softness of an unplowed street. The simple purity of a walking meditation. “We all need these moments. And never more so than now, in our time of hurried everything: when cellphones are never off; when work invades every hour of our week; and when we live, very often, completely out of touch with the calming effects of nature.” – Living Slim: A Canadian Woman’s Way

Thank you Portugal

Thank you Portugal for these small and perfect pears to brighten an early December day. And also, thanks for the memories!

“I enjoy browsing grocery stores while travelling the way some feel compelled to purchase local newspapers. I remember spending several long minutes staring at adorable little jars of carrot jam and tomato jam in a grocery store in small-town Portugal, knowing I wouldn’t find these at home, wondering if I should risk breakage by packing them in my suitcase.” – Living Slim: A Canadian Woman’s Way.

Sweet things have a definite place in our lives.

“Sweet things have a definite place in our lives. They’re fun. They belong. We love them. Whether it’s the dense, sweet experience of a single, perfect banana, the complex subtlety of a well-made fruitcake, or the utter perfection of a lovely orange, Canadian women – and men for that matter – aren’t about to follow any eating regime that means no such sweetness in their lives.” – Living Slim: A Canadian Woman’s Way. #livingslimcanadian #merrychristmas #happyholidays

Christmas Cake

This recipe makes enough for two large fruitcakes.  I usually cut it in half and make just one.  I like to use a tube cake tin as the tube in the middle helps the centre of this heavy cake to bake well.  But you can also use any large, round cake tin.  Total baking time is about 2 ½ hours.  Keep a close eye on it towards the end of the baking period.  This cake is super delicious as is, but you can also heat a piece, for a few seconds, in a microwave and serve with a sauce as it is very close in texture to a plum pudding.

Fruit ingredients

1 pound raisins (dark raisins, any kind, not golden)

1 pound currants

½ pound dates

½ pound prunes

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

(¼ pound citron cut fine and ½ pound glacé cherries chopped.  Although the original recipe calls for these, I do not use them as I don’t like the dye in glacé cherries.  Sometimes, however, I add a jar of good cherry jam, 1 cup or so, and it works out fine.  And, if you love citron, go for it.)

Fruit method

Chop all the dried fruits.  Soak all together (at least 24 hours or can be longer) in 2 cups good red wine, ½ cup rum, ¼ cup brandy and 2 tsp vanilla.  (I like this ratio, but some may like a stronger percentage of rum.)

Batter ingredients

12 eggs

2 cups brown sugar

4 cups flour

2 cups butter

4 teaspoons baking powder

Batter method

Cream butter, add sugar and cream well together.  Beat eggs and fold gently into butter and sugar mixture.  Add fruit, and then flour that has been mixed with the baking powder.  Mix all together well.  Add a bit of cold water (1/4 cup or so) if the batter seems too stiff.

(I use a mixture of whole wheat flour and white flour: ¾ whole wheat; ¼ white.  But that is just a personal preference.  Do as you wish.)  Note, the recipe does not call for salt and is fine without.

Baking

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.   Turn cake into greased baking tin or tins.  Bake in the centre of the oven at 350 degrees Farenheit for about 45 minutes, then turn the heat to 275.  Continue baking for another 45 minutes.  Lower the heat again to about 225 degrees and continue baking for another 45 minutes. Ovens vary, so feel free to lower the heat more if necessary. Cool thoroughly before storing.

A triumph of taste and pleasure

“Growing up in Wolfville, a small university town in The Valley, I absorbed this apple culture. I became fixed with the idea that biting into a crisp, beautiful apple was a perfect delight; that a bowl of glossy apples was a visual treat; that the humble Russet apple – humble only in appearance – was a triumph of taste and pleasure.” – Living Slim: A Canadian Woman’s Way.