While I’m not necessarily trying to fill all this ‘free’ time during Quarantine, pressuring myself to use every moment, it has been a great time to do some quality learning in the Kitchen – especially with all the guinea pigs – I mean kids – stuck here having to try everything I make!
Pretty much every time I travel for the past 10 years, I’ve included some form of local cooking class. I love bringing the techniques and flavours from around the world home with me. Either myself or our whole family have taken classes in Paris, Barcelona, Baja Mexico, Crete, Positano… The list goes on and hopefully will one day include San Sebastian, Chiang Mai, Morocco, Bologna… So, naturally, while planning my big 50th trip next summer, I’ve been hoping to treat myself to some quality culinary learning. I came across a school just north of Cannes, one of my absolute favorite cities on the French Riviera, and was hoping to book it for just me, myself, and I at the start of my potentially 6-week trip. But, with all the unsureness of the present Quarantine, I’m hesitant to book much more than the family villas at this point.
Luckily for me, La Peetch, the school I was hoping to attend, based in Julia Child’s old holiday home, started some free Facebook Live classes! I love their approach to ‘recipe-free’ cooking – just a few simple ratios here and there, then go have fun and be free with your food and flavours. It’s definitely my style and it’s been fun to learn from others who approach food the same way.
The school, like many other businesses, has lost essentially a year of tourism income at this point with the pandemic, and decided to start an online cooking school. Which, I think they were going to do anyhow, but the current world situation has pushed it to – HOWABOUTNOW. I had enjoyed the free classes and was game to pay to learn more. It’s important to me to note that I have not received anything free in exchange for this brag post, or have been paid for it in any way. I’m writing this genuinely. I paid whatever anyone else paid, and it’s been worth every penny so far. I want to always be transparent and authentic, so you can take my word as honest. (If I ever do a paid post, which I doubt I will because how is it possible to be honest about something I got for free but you have to pay money for, but who knows – I’ll be VERY up front about it!).
WELL. What a whirlwind it’s been over the month of May! I think they’re creating content like crazy to officially start up the school on June 1st because there have been up to 5 classes a week, ALL of which I’ve attended via Zoom in real time (6pm France, 9am Vancouver). We have been eating SO.MUCH this month between cooking class food, regular day-to-day food, and special meals the girls were wanting to try, we’re all seriously bursting at the seams! I believe there are 4 more classes for May, then it goes to about 1 class / week after that, which is good because I’m rarely ready for anything but a strong coffee at 9am these quarantine-homeschooling-slow kinda days…
Anyhow, I thought I’d share just a few of my favorite dishes from the past month in a quick little slide show!
Veggie Platter w 3 (I did 4) Dips > Roasted Artichoke, Zucchnini Pancake and Wedge Fries. Perfect for Brunching.
Stained Glass Pasta with Chive Flowers, Lemon Rind, Tarragon and Pea Shoots. Beautiful AND delicious!
Ratatouille! A revelation with the Ricotta base and the addition of Mushroom slices.
Decorative Herbed Focaccia Bread. Worked out so well and PUFFY!
Bean and Vegetable Soup was far more delicious and packed FULL of flavor than I’d imagined! Especially with the addition of fresh Pesto.
Gazpacho and Caesar Salad, complete with Butter Poached Shrimp just off the fishing boats!
Enjoy – and be sure to let me know which ones YOU would love to try!
Personally, I’m friends with it. Whether in the Kitchen or just in life, it’s inevitable, but it also means you’re LEARNING, you’re T R Y I N G , you’re getting out of the box – and isn’t that what counts?! If you play life safe, you MAY never fail – but you never grow, either. Nowhere is that more easily apparent than in cooking.
In cooking I absolutely count more failures than successes. WAIT – so why DO I spend so much time in the Kitchen again?! UGH. Cooking is creative. It has more variables than my Husbands spreadsheets. I think – who knows what he really does… I digress.
Food is taste and touch and smell and feel and textures and heat and cold and sharp and soft, fire and ice. That said, cooking has far more room for acceptable error than baking, which is probably why I typically avoid baking altogether.
Until bread. BREAD is creating a massive failure out of me these days.
I started my bread journey last year when my ‘gluten free’ daughter was home for summer break. It quickly became a beast of it’s own – not that it was difficult, but more so the enormous number of steps involved, only not to rise well in my crappy old oven. Once my starter was left a few days too many, I let it die and we were done with bread. Or so I thought…
Since quarantine, everyone has been posting about Jo Cooks ‘No Knead’Bread and it’s perfect and delicious in every way. Literally foolproof – my Husband even made it once. But dry yeast has become quite the rare commodity, so onward I ventured. I started working towards a recipe that uses wild yeast AND does not need kneading (as does the labour-intensive aforementioned Sourdough). And try after try, it’s JUST. NOT. WORKING. (Yet?)
A few weeks ago, as I was about to throw out a batch of dense, solid, WOULD NOT RISE bread dough one day, I suddenly stopped to ponder what other tasty treats this dead-looking mass could yield.
AND WHO KNEW these heavy balls of failure could make the most delicious Flatbread! The boys can’t stop eating it. It’s light, crispy and cracker-like, and it works so well with TOPPINGS like the Tapanade or Tuna Spread. Or even the massive batch of Guacamole we made the other day. Or a simple Lemon-Ricotta spread. Or … I mean, it’s endless, honestly.
Now that’s what I’d call turning lemons into lemonade! We’re eating these like madness around here because, well, I’m failing at bread a lot. And no one here seems to mind a bit. SO, yes, I’m friends with failure. I mean, look where it can take you?!
Do you have a particular recipe you just can’t seem to work?? Share it below!
I’m already asking myself WHY oh WHY did I sign up for this?! The kit arrives tomorrow, and ‘2 days prior’ to starting – so, NOW – I’m supposed to give up red meat (on Steak night?!), luscious mounds of Burrata cheese, coffee and alcohol… THERE IS ALCOHOL IN WINE! Oh, the horrors…
But, I’ve been wanting to do a ‘healthy colon’ / toxin-releasing juice cleanse for quite some time now, and now that the weather is warming up I feel like it’s a good time to challenge my body while also not fighting to feel warm.
sister: And you survive off just juice for 5 days??
Also, my younger daughter and her boyfriend move home to quarantine for a few weeks soon, and it looks like she’s making a huge list of food she’s been missing in her life, so now it’s become kind of a ‘mid-cleanse’ – halfway between all the quarantine eating we’ve BEEN doing and the mass food-fest soon to happen.
Apparently misery loves company, because my older daughter has signed on for it, too. At least I’ll have someone to bitch to who will UNDERSTAND this impending near-death experience. I’m kind of freaking out now.
The Day Before
Two things I can’t give up. At least I don’t think I can… A Nespresso every morning – it keeps my migraines at bay; and a teeny glass of wine every evening – it keeps me from pure insanity. Otherwise, getting on board w Juice Cleanse it is! Wrapping my head around this! I can DO IT! Right?! UGH, probably not…
I’ve already been doing a bit of Intermittent Fasting (16 hrs fast, 8 hrs eating between 11:30am – 7:30pm) recently, starting to make it a habit. It comes quite naturally – once I’ve had my coffee, I’m not typically very hungry and if I am I grab something small. I’m lucky in a way that I have zero attraction to sweets of most any kind, so it’s plain yogurt or an egg w bacon. ‘Special’ breakfasts are saved for weekends, if even then. We’re not a huge breakfast family.
So, now I just have to get through the other 8 hrs x 5 days, right?! Rather terrifying, but I’m sure my body will thank me for the break from quarantine eating for the next few days …
Today I ate brown rice and avocados, with a small piece of salmon, as recommended by the Juice Truck, where I purchased my cleanse juices from. Honestly, I could live off that – I love the chewiness of brown rice! With a REDUCED half-glass of wine. UGH. What is my world about to come to…
JUST KIDDING!! I had pasta with Puttanesca sauce, loads of cheese, and 3/4 of a bottle of wine… TO MYSELF. Thankyouverymuch. I worked all the way until Hubby made ‘whatever-was-in-the-freezer’ for dinner. This is gonna kill me…
daughter: It’s here. Wait how does it work? There’s no instructions lol
me: AGH! The box arrived? That means we have to start tomorrow :'( Let’s just do it :O
daughter: I’m gonna eat like a pig tonight lol
me: Haha – I’m drinking a whole bottle of wine. Just had pasta – final meal?!
Is it possible to PRE-PLEAD insanity for the things one might do later this week?! Asking for a friend …
WELL, Day One! It’s amazing how many people will rally with you when they see you’re about to do something SUPER.FREAKING.HARD. and they’re already feeling your pain LOL! DOZENS of people have been checking in, sending encouragement.
The funny thing is that, typically, I don’t even drink juice. I’m a savory person – unattracted to sweets, which is what most juice tastes like to me. Liquid sweets. Ick.
me: Day One today!
LB: I found that the first few days are a challenge – you will miss chewing, but you’re gonna feel amazing!! Reach out if you want to vent, or talk about how much you miss food, or need a pep talk, lol 🙂
me: YES! You might just save a life here. It’s FIVE DAYS. I’ve told my family to be prepared for a lot of grumping…
(apparently juicing requires a full support group…)
The day HAD to start with my usual coffee. The first Juice of the day had Ginger in it, so a lovely bit of sharpness to awaken the senses. From there, I just kept juice beside me all day long. I hate to say that I haven’t really felt hungry all day long, because I know tomorrow’s going to kick my ass. I’m pretty sure my kid also survived – at least she had last I checked in!
Most of the day my body just felt confused – am I getting hungry? Am I actually feeling full? Am I tired or awake? Am I overthinking it and imagining I’m fine or hungry or calm?
me: In hindsight Saturday during quarantine was a bad day to start – everyone’s just walking around eating and snacking on loud chips all day …
daughter: LOL! My boyfriend just made me hold his food for him. And he’s trying every juice.
me: OMG So is Daddy – he tastes them and judges all the flavors, but then I still have to drink them even when he says “EW!”
It helped to have my MIND occupied all day – I spent the entire day working on this website, cleaning here, fixing there, fonting, etc. Along with hours spent googling HOW to do all of those things… My brain was BUSY and the time of the day passed rather quickly.
Ended the day w a hot tea of VITAMIXED Lemon / Ginger + Tumeric. It was SPICY and hot and really hit the spot for the end of the day. Oddly, the 2oz glass of (cold) wine I was going to allow myself as a ‘treat’ at the end of the day wasn’t so appealing by the time it got to it – it’s much nicer to start and end the day with a nice, hot liquid instead of yet another cold one.
Turned out I didn’t even need the final juice (#7) of the day. Between the am Nespresso, a big jug of Lemon water and my eve tea, I was all liquided out.
TG: Inspired by you <3 Got myself $60 worth of veggies and fruits for 3-day Juice Cleanse!
me: YEAH!! Send me pics!
(misery continues to love company – lots of it!)
I didn’t wake up hungry!!! Shocking! I DID, however, wake up with a nasty migraine, followed by 2 X-strength Advils, a couple of Nespresso chasers and a hot water bottle … So, if I was feeling any hunger at all, it was greatly overshadowed.
And then, back to juice. I’ve created rituals around ‘doing what I’m told’ to somehow make it … mine. To own it. To embrace it.
AA: You’ll be fine. Day 4 is usually the toughest from my limited juice cleanse experience LOL
me: … UGH … Good to know … Because Day Two is already kicking my ass…
Every juice I take out of the fridge (where they’re all lined up, ready to go, day by day), I ceremoniously remove all the labels. I cut the front one down to the name bit and put it in my Kitchen Notebook to accumulate like a checked off task list – this juice, DOWN! (YES, I’m super OCD / Type A – and equally super messy and Type B-Z, so go figure that one out). The stickers are already accumulating, looking like achievement and progress. Like video game badges that don’t really mean much but still make you feel good.
At the end of each juice I wash the clear container out, line it up on my counter, and smile at how pretty accomplishment looks.
me: Hey! Looks like I’ll be fully Vegan for a whole 5 days! (photo of juices)
super-vegan brother: On purpose? Or you just enjoy diarrhea? As long as you’re isolating, you may as well double isolate in the bathroom…
I’m feeling slightly disoriented, a bit dizzy – might be hunger/juicing, might be migraine reflections, who knows. Back to my laptop and something on Netflix I can marathon all day to keep my mind as busy as possible. By noon I want to hurl juice and need 2 more X-strength Advils… Advils on an empty stomach make me want to hurl more… But, oddly, not hungry yet.
Day TWO came and went fairly uneventfully, aside from the migraine which likely wasn’t related. I totally cheated at dinner with a 1cm2 miniature cube of steak – and while it was DELICIOUS, I was fine keeping it at that. I’m pretty certain tomorrow will hit hard…
Coffee down. Juice open. I keep an open juice next to me at all times, leaving myself to mindlessly sip instead of staring them down like a duel, challenging each other to flinch first.
me (to no one in particular, because I’ve started talking to myself): Who knew a Nut & Seed juice with a tiny drug-baggie of Chia Seeds would end up as the highlight of my day…
I love that the thicker Nut & Seed Juice schedules in for about dinner time. It gives me something to look forward to – something almost FILLING, once you fill it with the Chia Seeds. And you kind of get to CHEW! LB was right – you start to miss chewing food – what kind of a weird thing is that?!
me: This was my dinner tonight…
LS: OMG – I would rather die. I’m off for cocktails in the garden.
(which goes to show – you gotta pick the RIGHT support group! LMAO!!!)
me: Day 3 and I haven’t hit ‘the wall’ yet… I must have a LOT of fat reserves. My inners are happily feeding off years of butter and bacon fat right now 🙂
Day Three came and went without much interruption to life as normal. I did have two single PIECES of macaroni and cheese after making it for the fam for lunch. Couldn’t resist – my Mac + Cheese is rather amazing.
The sheer number of people checking in to see if I’m alive is heart warming! Or maybe they just want to pick through my antique collection should I die… A few are even starting their own Spring Cleanse. Well, some people are clearly more of a support and some are just here for laughs – both are equally important, I suppose…
sister: How do you feel?
brother: She’s so weak and dehydrated she can’t even type. This is why I don’t juice fast.
sister: Someone needs to check her pulse… getting concerned…
brother: She had a good run. Congrats – how does it feel now be the oldest and not the middle child?
(and that’s the difference between a sister’s support and a brother’s… LMAO) (for the record, I DID have a pulse and was just watching a movie w my fam, which means I’m still the oldest AND WISEST!)
Box two (the last two days of juice, since they expire after only 3 days) arrived all safe + sound.
I keep waking up expecting to feel STARVED, but really I’m just excited for a nice, hot, Nespresso, same as every other am. I could have done without for 5 days, but the withdrawl headaches compounded with juice fasting would have been too much, so it is what it is.
The other thing that is what it is, is that today is Cinco de Mayo! Which means next to nothing to Mexico, apparently, but it’s the date of a victory over Napoleon from what I understand. I’ve been working on some Mexican-French fusion dishes, but they’ll have to wait for next year as I’m too focused on juice ATM.
daughter: Today I feel much better than the first couple of days.
me: I feel good too – today I’m having Margaritas. So, LIME juice.
daughter: Margaritas?? Haha!
me: Cinco de Mayo!
My buddy from Born to Shake in Kelowna sent me a FABULOUS Margarita mix package with all his amazing bitters and juices and salts all ready to go, so how could I resist one? Or perhaps two?
My total juice drinking in today had slowed down – I wasn’t hungry enough to keep drinking juice, or I just couldn’t muster the sheer will to keep drinking juice. The nut + seed juice I’ve been looking forward to the past few days now had to be choked down. I realize the end is nigh anyhow, so I indulged in a tiny nibble of plain chicken and a half dozen cucumber and tomato pieces, and then spent the rest of the night with massive heartburn…
IT’S THE LAST DAY!!!! Other than a few cheats here and there, I MADE IT! I didn’t DIE! Well, there’s still the day to get through, but somehow knowing it’s the last makes it all ok. And knowing that later tonight I get to eat fish – that helps, too. My younger daughter and boyfriend move home tonight – a day early – so tonight we celebrate w take-out Thai food from the restaurant where my older son works.
Although I drank far less juice on the last day (I just couldn’t do the sweeter ones anymore, including my previous go-to, the Nut + Seed one), I did it! Knowing I would be eating dinner with my family, I did scramble one egg (no oil/butter) for breakfast to get my tummy back into things a bit, but otherwise I made it til 7:30pm finishing what I could of the juices!
TG: Ohmygod! I am applauding you!!!
me: Thanks – I DID IT!!
I’m still in shock that I didn’t get hungry in 5 days. I must say that the Juice Truck people really must know their stuff to keep my body in complete balance while cleansing at the same time. And, no – this is not an AD. I paid for the 5-day kit with my own cold, hard cash just as any everday person would so that I could report back unbiased.
My advice going in?
– Find a support system, a friend, a spouse, your kids, the Juice guys LOL (the Juice Truck gave me lots of great support via Instagram DM’s!) – Have things lined up to keep your mind busy – books, projects, writing. – Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do physical things – use the time to rest if you’re tired (also exertion will make you more hungry) – Cheat with a tiny treat if you must and don’t feel one bit bad about it. We all have our limits! But balance that with this unique chance to challenge yourself to get through something tough.
Would I do it again? Probably! But – maybe next Spring. For now, I’m off to a proper meal! Have you done a juice cleanse??! WOULD you?
It’s another quarantine-induced quandry… How to feed a larger household 3 squares a day without killing myself – or someone else – but also to recognize and be grateful that food does bring us together… To treat it all in a way that the work of food and eating won’t turn us into tired, hungry, full, snippy little zombie-esque animals.
Normally in a family with 4 kids, even though we almost always had dinner together, it was otherwise more rare that everyone is home or home at the same time for meals other than dinner. With the girls living on their own, it’s a slightly lesser load, but still mostly focused on 1 meal – dinner. But QUARANTINE?! We’re almost ALL here. 6 of us. Full time. Breakfast, lunch + dinner. Every. Single. Day.
Sure, feeding everyone isn’t just MY responsibility, but being organized so that none of us are overwhelmed with cooking is. If any few of us want to eat well, that is. And I do want the yummy food. Food absolutely brings people together in a beautiful way – when we’re all relaxed and enjoying a well-cooked meal together. Now to make sure none of us regret this time … haha ha haha <Oh, did that laughter sound crazy and NERVOUS to you?! It was… >
For the next few weeks we’ll be back to a full house of 6 FULL TIME HUMANS – Six! SIX!! – with lists of ‘special orders’ they’re wanting to eat, things they’ve missed from home or have been craving. Take-out can be REALLY expensive for 6-8 people. It’s a bit cheaper to break it up by ordering in Lunch, vs a full Dinner. My ultimate solution for it all? A LOT of prep… We’ll see if it works.
Ready?! I’m figuring this out in real time here! Braces yourselves! Also, I got a brand new Vitamix, so – bear with me …
DINNER: Pan-Seared Steaks in Butter (make 1-2 extra Steaks for Pho, save pan juices) Grilled Veg + Kale Caesar Salad Mashed Potato (Vitamixed smooth!!) (make extra for Eggsluts tmrrw) Fresh ‘No Knead’ Bread (started the day before) (save extra loaf)
BREAKFAST: Poached Eggs on bed of leftover Ravioli filling on Cracklebread
LUNCH: Other Tomatoes/Cucumber/Lemon/Chive from Pasta for “Greek” Salad w Meat Skewers
DINNER: Extra Pasta (rolled as Tagliatelle, dried on counter) with Carbonara, Strong (melty) Cheese, grated Cured Egg Yolk – a few days later … Kale Caeasar Salad Fruit Crisp with Ice Cream
BREAKFAST: Leftover Fruit Crisp Yogurt Bowls w Fresh Fruit from Pavlova
LUNCH: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches w last night Strong Melty Cheese, Sage from Ravioli, Bacon from Tagliatelle Carbonara
DINNER: Thomas Keller Sous Vide Salmon (MasterClass) w Green Beans or Asparagus (if leftover) + Bearnaise Sauce Buy 1 extra salmon for curing – start it earlier if possible Souffle (Julia Child style EVERY time) JUST BECAUSE! Zucchini Mandolin Salad French Butter Cake w home-canned Peaches (only a few left!!) and Grand Marnier Whip
BREAKFAST: Leftover French Butter Cake, Yogurt w Peaches
LUNCH: Salmon (extra, cooked) Pasta Salad w Celery, Mayo, Chives
DINNER: Homemade Gnocchi w Fresh Pesto Sauce, Fried Pancetta, sliced Portobello Artichokes w Mayo / Parm / Cured Egg Yolk dips Apple Pie w Filling made from our Trees last year
BREAKFAST: Round #2 of Eggsluts w extra Gnocchi potato, pureed with a few pcs of Pancetta – because they ARE that good
LUNCH: Portobello ‘Pizza’ Melts from whatever is in the Fridge / leftovers / etc, including leftover Artichoke Hearts, Fried Pancetta
DINNER: Thai Takeout from Kids Work 🙂 Start No Knead Bread + Flatbread for tomorrow’s Lunch/Dinner
BREAKFAST: Bagels w Cured Salmon (2 days), Capers, Cream Cheese etc.
LUNCH: Another leftovers / veg/dip / Antipasto platter w Flatbreads
DINNER: Seafood FEAST from Lobster Man (treat day!) incl Clam Linguine (buy Prawns, but save for tmrrw) Ottolenghi Celery Lemon Salad Fresh No Knead Bread for all them juices!!
LUNCH: Seafood Ramen (w fresh Stock, extra celery) add saved Prawns, Bok Choy, Pho fixings
It looks overwhelming – and that covers only 8 or 9 days! – but with prep, I don’t actually have to do all the work. Anyone can easily prep the Eggsluts the day after our Steak Dinner. In fact, it’s already half done. Once the ‘base meal’ has been made, anyone available can chip in quite easily for the secondary meals. Shopping can easily be done ahead and with fewer trips, knowing what we’re having ahead of time. A bit OCD on the Prep? Well, my very sanity is at risk, PEOPLE! Haha.
There is NO need to follow THIS list precisely – that’s not why I wrote it out. Although if you do I’d love to hear how it turns out for you LOL! I actually had to think through it for myself, so thought I’d share it. But maybe there’s a few ideas in there, and maybe it helps to think about ‘carrying over’ the meals you are ALREADY making so it’s less work in the end. Maybe this all still looks like a lot of work and you’d rather do take out LOL – can’t blame ya! Really, it’s my fault for having so many kids that love food, and for letting them date and bring in more humans to the fold who also love food … LOL
That’s not 12 days! Here are a few extra ideas to fill in the other meals, to give you some flexibility filling in a day here or there:
Big meals like Lasagne that feed masses – just put in the oven, add salad, and go!
Easy ‘everyone help’ meals, like grilled veg and meats on the BBQ – simple chopping – are good anytime
If Breakfast can be mostly ‘pre-made’ while already in the Kitchen prepping Dinner the night before, then why not?!
Bond over a more labour-intensive meal prep together once or twice, such as fresh Gnocchi or the Poached Egg Pasta
Easy snackables like peas in shells, small cucumbers, baby carrots and dips
Don’t feel bad – we all mix in the odd McDonald’s drive-thru, Kraft Dinner or Frozen Perogies smothered in bacon + cheese for lunch, or some local take-out for dinner. It’s all good!
MELTS! You can put just about any leftover on a piece of bread, add cheese, toast and VOILA!
Movie + Nacho / Popcorn Nights are all you need for dinner sometimes – it’s our favorite!
We often designate the night before who will be helping with what (cooking, table setting, dishes) the next day, so that everyone can ‘schedule’ it into their brains what needs to get done. ANYHOW, we’ll see how it goes… ! Will all these meals happen EXACTLY as planned? Absolutely not. But at least it’ll work out more often than not. As I was sorting through photos, I realized this is basically 6 weeks of Quarantine food squished into a 2 week ‘hilight reel’ LOL!
WISH ME LUCK! After these few weeks, it’s back to our regular programming of *just* the 4 of us. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. EVERY DAY.
With just a few easy tips and tricks introduced into your everyday cooking habits, you can reduce ACTUAL food waste by a LOT! I’ve been shocked to see how much of my ‘garbage’ during cooking can actually be re-purposed or used later.
Most of the steps (15 ++!) below have become part of my everyday habits now, reducing what ends up in the bin – or at the very least, getting a second use out of it before it does.
Some of these you may have heard of, but hopefully there’s a new one or two in there for you! Ready for some win-wins?!
Vegetable Odds + Ends > Stock
When doing a big cook, I typically end up with a lot of scrap – but FEAR NOT! There are a lot of ‘still useful’ bits in there, perfect for a future meat, fish or vegetable stock. If I’m not using it right away, I make ‘stock baggies’ of these bits that go in the freezer until needed.
Leftover Egg Yolks > Cured Egg Yolks
A lot of recipes use EITHER egg yolks or whites. Whites are easily added to many dishes, but what to do with extra yolks?! SALT CURE THEM! Add that umami-touch to just about any dish you would typically add parmesan cheese to. I’ve started salt/sugar curing Egg Yolks and shaving it on just about everything for some added protein, and to cut down Panko carbs or cheesey fats that I normally would have used.
Seeding Potatoes > New Potato Plants
Forgot about that bag of potatoes on the floor?! Yep. Did you know you that as long as the ‘eyes’ have grown out, you can plant them for a fresh, new potato?? YOU CAN!
Although shown here cut, I would leave them whole next time and see what happens. Will update when they grow, but so far so good!
Bacon (or Duck) Fat > Cooking Fat
When I’m making bacon for breakfast, I often just leave the fat in the pan, ready to be used for lunch or dinner. BUT you can also keep it in the Fridge. I keep one container for Bacon Fat and one for (rendered) Duck Fat. It’s perfect to pull out for extra flavor when searing steaks or a roast – or when sauteeing your Green Beans!
Asparagus Ends > Cooking Bits
Where you break off the Asparagus stalk (if you do), isn’t where the usefulness of Asparagus stalks end. Asparagus ‘Dimes’, as I’ve seen them called, are perfect for adding to any variety of dishes, soups, stocks, etc. I keep them in a bag in the freezer and pull out a fist-ful anytime I need it!
Bones + Shells > Stock
Yep – more stock! We love a good seafood feast, and pretty much always save the shells (white wine chorizo sauce drips and all) and freeze them until we have enough variety to make a ‘super stock’. Same goes for packs of bone marrow bones (roasted), beef roast bones, etc. There are purists when it comes to making stocks, and sometimes I do the same, but when I’ve collected a variety of fish heads, crab shells, clam/oyster shells with ALL their drippy flavors left on, I make a SUPER STOCK. (See also my Stock making PRO TIPS above!).
Citrus Rind > Spices
Before juicing lemons or limes, I grate the rind off first. As it’s left on the counter, it dries enough to be used for any dish you like. I don’t worry about covering it tight or leaving it in the fridge – honestly, it gets used up far too fast anyhow. It’s one of my favorite ‘spices’ and I add it to almost everything!
Fresh Herbs > Dried Herbs
Some herbs just don’t get all used up – and some dry better than others, but Thyme, Rosemary and Tarragon are actually much easier to use slightly dried out. Rather than keep it in the fridge, I leave it out on the counter (alongside the rest of my little countertop science experiments LOL). Even though it’s technically dried, it still packs a lot of that fresh flavor if you use it within a week or two.
Parmesan Rind > Gooey Umami Flavoring
Don’t throw these away!! Skim off the waxy printed outside and keep in the freezer. Add to all kinds of risottos, pasta sauces or dishes that could use a bit of umami-y cheesey gooeyness, like the Cauli + Leek Soup.
Garlic > Garlic Confit
Tired of buying heads of garlic, only to open it and find it’s already growing green sprigs of bitterness? UGH – ME, TOO! For most dishes, though, I also just prefer a softer garlic taste. ENTER Garlic Confit! I’ve been making it so long by now, it’s become a staple. And it’s SO EASY!
The extra perk is that not only can you add the garlic to any dish or salad dressing – or just spread on Flatbreads – you can also use the garlic-infused oil for even more options. A win-win.
Green Onions > More Green Onions
Yep – you heard it right. Mo’ equals Mo’! Once you’ve cut the green off your delicious green onion, you can put the rooted bits in water and they’re GROW AGAIN! FOR FREE! The only catch is that you need to change the water EVERY day. It gets really smelly, and the roots will rot after awhile, so use the new shoots right away.
Beet Tops > Grilled Veg + Greens
I used to throw away all these goodies and just eat the beets, because the first time I tried sautéeing beet tops it was sinewy like celery and really unappetizing. But once I diced it – and the green leaves – and sautéed them, turned out they were delicious. Now I save them – whole – in the fridge, and chop a handful to add to any other vegetable sautées like garlic Bok Choy, Green Beans, Asparagus… I’m making myself hungry…
Lemon Inners > Lemon Ice Cubes
Once you’ve saved your rinds, and used the juice in a recipe, what’s left? The citrus ‘walls’! What the heck can you do with them?! Well, usually there is still a lot of juice and pulp sacs attached, so pulling them out, adding a leaf or two of mint and you have great ice cubes. Add a bit of the lemon juice while you’re at it – did you know citrus helps your body absorb iron from your food?
While you’re at it, use the mint leaves for your dishes, and dice up the stems for these water perk-ups.
Citrus ‘Inners’ + Rind > Marmelade
I was introduced to this GENIUS hack on a trip to Palm Springs! We were drinking SO MUCH fresh citrus juice we were gettting overrun with peels – and waste. Our lovely host showed us how to use the rind (NOT the white pithy parts – they’re too bitter) and all the innards (the walls and leftover juice sacs) to make a DELICIOUS MARMELADE!
It was so good I made a batch with Mandarin Oranges one holiday season since we were eating so many of them, and it became everyone’s Christmas Stocking treat.
‘Butt’ Bread Ends > Toasted ‘Panko’
No one ever wants the hard, extra crusty ‘butts’ of the loaves of bread around here. Well, I sure don’t! BUT -save them! You can dry them out on the counter a few days, or toast in the oven then leave out to finish drying, and pulse in a food processor until you have gorgeous, toasted bread crumbs!
If they’re already dry, I toast them AFTER processing, as I typically do with Panko crumbs. They’re perfect to sprinkle on your Salads, or grilled Veg dishes.
Want a few MORE tips?!
Eggshells > washed, inside skin removed and finely ground, eggshells can be added to your garden for calcium-loving plants – or to deter pesky slugs!
Coffee Grinds > acid-loving plants like Blueberries love to have coffee grinds added into the mulch. And apparently they ALSO deter slugs, so another win-win!
Any of these tips new for you? Can’t wait to see how you use them! ENJOY!
This past Saturday began innocently enough, but then SO MUCH FOOD ensued LOL. To be fair, though, I had planned SOME of it ahead. I’m trying my best to focus on MINDFUL COOKING as much as possible, especially as we stare down another month of quarantine – using leftovers, saving bits for a whole other meal, freezing scraps for stocks, etc.
The night before, to celebrate 6 weeks of quarantine (SIX weeks! SIX WEEKS!! Who would have even thought?!), I made two Thomas Keller’s MasterClass F O U R D A Y (yep, you read that right) Roast Chicken that I started on the Monday prior. In short, it spends a day brining, then 3 days in the fridge to ‘dry out’, to somehow become the most sultry (See? I didn’t say MOIST!), crispy, decadent roast Chicken you’ve ever had in your life. I made two knowing we’d eat one, I’d have lots of bones for Soup stock, and I’d have enough Chicken + beautifully roasted veg for Chicken Pot Pies for lunch the next day. In freshly made crusts, OF COURSE.
The Chicken Pot Pies were A M A Z I N G, and did well to honour our little leftover Chicken bits.
As I was in the Kitchen, I remembered I had some bread that didn’t rise… Still working on a batch of wild-yeast, no knead bread (vs the labour intensive sourdough that it usually works with), so I did a dozen Flatbreads. Oddly they didn’t crisp the same but maybe because I left it too long and it wasn’t quite as dry. Will chat about that ongoing failure later this week LOL!
I can’t remember what I made earlier that needed some crushed tomatoes, but having opening my gigantic Costco jar, I knew I had to finish the Puttanesca Sauce today and get it in the freezer. It’s seriously the easiest thing on the planet as it doesn’t take ANY COOKING AT ALL to prep for the freezer, and tastes delicious when you don’t have a ton of time and have pasta on the go.
BULK-for-Freezer Puttanesca Sauce : Find Recipe at bottom of the page!
Since I was making the Puttanesca in a massive batch anyhow, I separated a bit of the Tuna and made a Flatbread Tuna Spread. AND separated a few of the Olives for a quick blender Tapenade.
DELICIOUS!! As was the Tapenade…
My son made an amazing lemon-onion-tomato white Fish for a snack (as teenage boys do LOL), so he and I ate it with the Tapanade on flatbreads and HELLO was that ever good! I kept feeling like I was lunching in Greece! I’ll have to get him to write that one down for me.
A few ideas, with some planning, sparked into multiple meals, snacks, and sauces for future dinners. Scraps and extras can easily be re-imagined into many meals, creating less waste AND potentially fewer grocery trips! Mindfulness in cooking is a simple as planning ahead. After awhile, you’ll find you are always cooking with mindfulness.
AND, that was it. I spent the rest of the day transplanting my wee seedlings (all 300 or so?!) into the front Gardens. Praying they take and grow into food for the summer!!! 72 of them are Basil, which typically means at least 3 harvests topped off for Pesto for the freezer. Still working on the ‘perfect’ Pesto recipe. It’s tricky in the blender as it overheats the leaves and oil, but I have too much to mortar + pestle, so … I’ll figure it out eventually.
In the meantime, here’s your EASY bulk-for-freezer Puttanesca Pasta Sauce recipe!! ENJOY – and don’t forget to tag me in your Insta-stories if you try them!
BULK-for-Freezer Easy Puttanesca Pasta Sauce
If you shop at places such as Costco on a semi-regular basis, you'll have no problem making this dish for the freezer in JUST 10 MINUTES!
I’m always looking for new side dish recipes – or new ways to amp up old ones. Usually green beans get a bit of butter, topped with some parm and done – quick and easy. But I had a few extra bits laying around last time, and the tasted so good we I N H A L E D them! Since I often wing it in the Kitchen, I quickly jotted down the ingredients I used before they were long forgotten.
If you know my cooking style, you know I’m usually just throwing things together that I found in the fridge. Sometimes ‘happy accidents’ happen! But it also means my recipes aren’t terribly focused on quantities and preciseness – more on feels and flavors (like this happy Cauli-Leek base soup!).
Good luck and don’t forget to share your versions on Insta and tag me! I’d love to see all the ways these green beans can be interpreted.
ALSO how gorgeous are these Middle Kingdom Porcelain bowls I grabbed on a trip to Portland a few years back?! I’m obsessed and use them all the time.
Last year, I was given a lovely coil calendar notebook I didn’t really need (I’d just bought one in my usual favorite style) that turned out to be EXACTLY what I didn’t know I needed! Don’t you L O V E when that happens?! LOL
It’s no secret that I love a good dinner party, for which I tend to write notes and menus and guest lists etc on random bits of paper, many of which I’ve kept over the years. This year, all those notes have gone (or been taped) into what quickly became affectionately known as The Kitchen Book.
In early February, since all my plants tend to be edible, TKB became the perfect place to jot down all my gardening notes in the blank spots between dinner party notes. I based my plant choices on foods I love to snack on, pretty additions to salads, useful items for stocks, etc, sketched a little layout, plotted transplant dates…
Since purchasing Masterclass late last year, I’ve been watching a variety of cooking classes online. Now watching loads of them, and other classes such as the Cordon Bleu Facebook Live and French countryside cooking through La Peetch, I’ve taken to jotting all my notes down in this handy book for things I’d love to make in the coming weeks.
During COVID-19 quarantine I’ve embraced doing a weekly stock take of everything in the freezer(s) and pantry that needs to get used up, and planning the weeks meals through that, all noted in TKB!
Since TKB is always sitting at my right hand in the Kitchen, it’s easy to keep track of ingredients to grab on my next grocery run, inspiring thoughts for new recipes, and notes on recipes I’m making up as I go along at dinner one night, only to realize it’s DELICIOUS and THANK GOODNESS I wrote some notes down!
The Kitchen Book has become so incredibly useful for absolutely E V E R Y T H I N G , I’m looking into publishing a version so EVERYONE CAN HAVE ONE! So – what would you like to see in a book such as this? What notes do you typically make when hosting, preparing meals, taking stock of the pantry, etc? Let me know through Instagram DM’s or here in the comments!
No doubt it’s an interesting time around the world right now. With everyone in quarantine, we’re having to focus sharper inward while still standing strong with the city / country / world we love. If there’s a silver lining, for me, it’s an opportunity to genuinely celebrate HOME.
We are lucky. VERY lucky. We more often than not were already eating dinner as a family almost every day. Our daughters are safe at their homes. We have freezers full and a small grocery store that’s practicing all the safety measures nearby. There are plenty of Restaurants providing take-out when we need a break. Three of us still – for now at least – have our jobs. I know we’re going to be ok.
That said, I wanted to use this chance to do better. There’s a chance I’ll never get time like this again with my boys, in my home, chatting with my friends. To learn something new, to grow as a human being without so many distractions.
I’m trying to focus my newly VAST amount of available attention (LOL) on celebrating our HOME. How?
While we often ate together, it was at the Kitchen Island, sometimes the TV was on, and people were up and down the whole time. For the weeks now that we’re not entertaining, I’ve set up a small table for 4 in the space between the Dining Room and Kitchen for us to SIT and eat – focused on being together. It’s nice to have conversations and look each other in the eyes across the table, vs in a row unable to make eye contact at the Kitchen Island.
Our youngest boy – who doesn’t cook really yet – has a newfound job being in charge of setting a nicely laid out table, right down to completely unnecessary but joyfully decorative napkin rings! It’s new and special every evening we have dinner.
Family time at HOME
Since we weren’t using the big Dining Table to have people over, I’ve let the boys bring down their laptops, gaming consoles, Lego’s and homework all downstairs to the table, one boy per side. Even when we’re doing our own separate things with headphones on, we still have a sense of each other being nearby. When it’s time for an afternoon movie or an evening game of cribbage, we hang out all together in the Living Rm for an hour or two. We’re on our own much of the day, but still together. It’s a lovely compromise, even if Lego are pretty noisy!
Text, Skype, Facetime…
You name it, we’re on it! We have been keeping a sense of home and family through our ongoing group chats with our daughters, my parents, family, and friends. Even though we’re all apart, our conversations are bringing us so much closer than ever. There is time, no one is rushing to get somewhere else, we’re relaxed, there is a deep sense of caring for one another, and somehow HOME – whether our immediate space or the home of our City – feels closer than ever. Especially at the 7:00 ‘drums’!
Time to EXPLORE
Suddenly there is TIME. I’m taking the time to explore new recipes, ways to perk up the backyard for ourselves but also for entertaining (in small groups) once again, making my way through classes and lessons online, etc. There is time to read that book I’ve been meaning to get to, or write the book I’ve been meaning to write (the story of MY Kitchen).
As I sit here, I’m watching a guitar concert in someones Kitchen halfway around the world. Celebrities are inviting us into their homes, as they cope with music and humor and share it with us all. And suddenly, these past weeks, the sense of HOME is global. How about YOU?! You’re officially a part of THIS home! Hope you’re all doing well, keeping safe, and creating for yourselves a renewed sense of HOME that will last far beyond the current world situation.
Better late than never! This was last weeks ‘Quarantine Eating’. I’ve been so busy cooking, I’m behind!
I’m as stubbornly determined as ever to make my way through at least one of our freezers and the pantry. I feel like it’s a losing battle, trying to eat our way through this COVID-19 quarantine. Yesterday I made fresh ravioli using up stocks of pasta flour, frozen stock and tomatoes from last years garden, canned crab meat from the pantry and frozen spinach we had bags of. BUT, it all made so much I ended up freezing 90 small ravioli. It’s like going in a circle back to square one!
Three meals a day and although it feels as though I’m not making progress at emptying old food from the house, we sure are eating well, and it’s been a great practice of creativity. How to use saved or leftover food from dinner last night to create a breakfast or lunch today? How do I put together random items that are on their last day of freshness, that might not normally ‘go together’?
On another side, I’ve been doing what I can also to help others go through their pantry. In a world where we stand at the grocery aisles (or virtually online) and can’t figure out what to do when half our ‘go to’ items aren’t available, I did a few of the posts from a Q/A on Instagram Stories. I thought I’d post some of the more helpful ones here!
Enjoy! And – let me know what you’re ‘stuck on’ in your pantry – I’m happy to help!
These were just a few Answers I had received – it was fun to answer them! I also have been looking at creative ways to use my own leftovers, etc., and did a couple of fun GIF’s last week.
Keep following my Instagram Stories for more! I love finding new and creative ways to use a ‘base recipe’ that’s easily adapted to whatever I have in the fridge or freezer, giving me flexibility to use up foods that might otherwise be wasted.
What’s your biggest challenge in the Kitchen right now? Share with me below!