Category Archives: Food

Praise the Lard

True confession.  I’ve made a lot of pie dough and pastry in my time, but I’ve never used lard.  I’ve always considered it to be shortening’s big, bad cousin. Being an animal fat, it’s associated (in a bad way) with obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. That being said, proponents swear that lard makes the flakiest pastry possible and the few samples I’ve tasted in the past made me agree.  I thought it time to learn a little about lard.

It turns out that pure lard is healthier than most of us think.  It contains no trans fat and is 60% monosaturated fat. It contains more saturated fat than olive oil but less than butter.  Really? Yes, really. It’s not perfect; fat is still fat. And lard today isn’t pure the way it once was, now containing hydrogenated fats and other non-naturally occurring ingredients. But in moderation, like anything else, it’s okay to indulge in a little lard-based pastry now and again.

To that end, when I started the annual tourtiere bake-off last week, I decided to use Tenderflake lard for my pastry instead of the usual shortening or shortening/butter combo.  The lard looked like shortening, cut in and mixed like shortening, but then something different happened. Once the dough came together, it felt soft and, well, tender. It rolled out and shaped more smoothly than any pastry I’d made before and it was so easy to work with.  That was enough to sell me on using lard for pastry but this, this was the final push.

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Layers and layers of flaky goodness, slightly crisp on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth good on the inside.  Makes you want to go and bake a pie, doesn’t it?

I’ve been using this tourtiere recipe for years now and haven’t a clue where I originally found it or how much I might have changed it. Here you go, Jennifer. Ready, set, BAKE!

Tourtiere (8 servings)

1 lb. lean ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork

(feel free to change meat mix to 1/2 lb. each ground beef, ground pork, and ground veal)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Pastry for 1  9″ or 10″double pie crust

Combine ground beef, ground pork, onion, and water in a large saucepan, mixing well. Bring to boil, then cook, covered, over very low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Halfway through cooking time, place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Cover pot and bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium high, and cook partially uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes; drain. When meat mixture is cooked, add in spices and stir thoroughly.  Add potatoes and mash meat/potato mixture with a potato masher until well-combined and smooth. Line 9″ or 10″ pie plate with 1 pie crust and brush water onto edge. Spoon filling into pie crust and smooth, topping with second pie crust, and pressing along edge of pie dish to seal. Trim and flute crust any way you’d like and brush top and edges with egg wash (one egg beaten with a couple of teaspoons cold water). Bake in preheated 450° oven for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350° and continue baking for 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Tourtiere may be cooled slightly and served hot, or served at room temperature.  Either way, put some chili sauce on the table to go with it.

I find that this recipe freezes well. Cool completely then chill until cold. Wrap pie, plate included (you may want to bake pies for the freezer in aluminum pie pans) with cling film and overwrap in foil.  Place in large freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat in a 300° oven until warmed through.
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Domesticity

My friend Kathy told me about something called Farm Box last year and I was intrigued. Canmore-based Farm Box is modelled after a basic CSA (community supported agriculture) program in which we (consumers) buy shares of growers’ harvests at the beginning of the season and receive our shares at our local farmers’ markets at harvest time. Farm Box represents a number of producers and the best thing about the shares (in my opinion) is that we don’t know what we’re getting until just before market day.  There’s something different every week.

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This week’s Farm Box offered us the chance to buy a case lot of Roma tomatoes, pickling cucumbers or peaches. I went in for the tomatoes and they’ve taken over my life for the past 2 days. I’ve still got a few pounds to process but truly, one can not live by tomatoes alone!

I turned this

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into 6 pints of tomato sauce, ready to add a fresh spark to dull, cold winter evening meals.

Another couple of pounds of tomatoes went towards this.

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Gazpacho shot, anyone?

There are still enough tomatoes left for some salsa and some freezer-bound tomato soup.  Tomorrow is another day.

Beautiful small beets went towards a fully-stuffed pint of pickled beets (one of BB’s favourites) and zucchini turned into zucchini-chocolate chip mini loaves.

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All of this cooking, freezing and processing leads me to naming my favourite kitchen gadget/tool of the week.

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A food mill. In this case, the OXO Good Grips Food Mill. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and has 3 discs for your choice of fine, medium or coarse processing. It saved me a lot of time and clean-up, especially when it came to making the tomato sauce.  I’ve wanted a food mill for years and just wish I’d gotten it sooner.

That extra time allowed me to start a new needle-and-string project.

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More on that later, as well as some new, and local, yarn (!)

Is It Spring Yet?

It’s a beautiful Spring day here in Banff.  Okay.  I know it’s not really Spring but it’s sunny, and breezy and above 0ºC and if only for today, I want to believe.

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I’m still getting over the rough beginning to last week when I spent the last three days of my vacation sick in my hotel room bed.  I’m still waiting for all my strength to return as well as my appetite .  In the meantime I’m making due with mostly vegetarian meals, long walks with the dog and some Spring cleaning around the house.  Oh, and I hung laundry out on the line this morning.  Because I could.

As horrid as the end of my vacation was, the beginning was everything I needed and more (except for the very cold weather.  That I could have had at home.)  We spent 10 days in Toronto, for both business and pleasure.  I know.  I’d gotten some grief about that.  Toronto?  Why not some place warm instead?  Well, it’s been a few years since I’d been back and I spent as much time as possible reconnecting with the friends I’d left behind. There was much food, and some drink, and lots of laughter and sharing of stories as we caught up.  For the briefest time, I was home.  Sounds warmer than sunshine to me.

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The other key point of the trip was to buy some of the yarns that Canada Post shipping rates keep from me.  Sadly, my brush with death illness took some of my shopping time away and I didn’t make it to Ewe Knit to pick up some Indigodragonfly yarn.  But I did make it to Lettuce Knit for some gorgeous MCN from Zen Yarn Garden.

Recently Updated

It’s Serenity 20 in the new Art Walk Series.  This colourway is based on Franz Marc’s painting, “The Fox”.  It’s going to make a gorgeous shawl.

And a too-short stop at Romni Wools (there is SO much to look through!) yielded the perfect colours of Cascade 220 Superwash Sport for BB’s requested Rasta Socks,

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as well as 2 skeins of Punta Yarns MeriTwist Hand Painted in lovely shades of brown for a cowl.

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Good thing it’s not really Spring yet.  There’s so much winter knitting left to do!

Falling

I know it’s still officially summer, but the past few days have felt particularly autumnal.  The start of the school year has always made me think “Fall”, even long after I’d finished with school.  And the weather, yesterday and today, has enforced that thinking.  It’s pretty cool out (6ºC, 43ºF) and a little rainy,  but not as rainy as yesterday afternoon – so far.  I stopped by the Banff Farmers Market before the rain started yesterday  and though much of the produce available still screams summer (and still tastes and smells like it too), a transition is underway.  Bags of onions, boxes of peppers, and bunches of broccoli mounded high are telling us to get ready for the season to come.  There were still lots of cherries and strawberries but it was the pears and prune plums that caught my eye.  I’m thinking pear crisp and plum kuchen.

And if you’re wondering how radishes fit into the autumn bounty, get yourself a couple of bunches, wash and trim them, cut larger ones in half and put into a bowl with about 2 lbs. of carrots, cut into chunks, and some peeled pearl onions.  Toss the veggies with some olive oil and freshly ground pepper then spread them out on a cookie sheet and roast in a 375ºF oven for 20-30 minutes, turning once.  When the carrots are tender, remove from oven to serving dish and toss with chopped fresh dill and salt to taste.  Bitter radishes?  Not this way.

A trip to our farmers’ market isn’t complete without a stop at the Black Forest Bakery stall for a loaf of bread.

Yes, you’re reading that right.  Bacon Bread.  Made with double smoked European bacon baked right in.  To get the real bacony flavour of this bread, toast it.  It was perfect with White Chicken Chili for dinner.

I finally finished knitting and seaming my Brigid Jacket, known as Ruby Brigid or just plain Ruby to me.  Happily, it’s been cool enough to wear it already and I am totally in love with it.  Totally.

The buttons proved a bit of a challenge in more ways than one.  It didn’t take long to find buttons to suit the colour and style of the sweater but I was a bit disappointed to find that the buttons I liked were, in fact, 3 sizes of the same button, displayed one atop the other (when space is an issue, shopkeepers must do what they can).  The largest of the 3 was the perfect size but it was so plain, sitting there all alone on Ruby’s buttonband.  It looked so much more fulfilled when I put the other 2 buttons back on it.  Obviously there was no choice but to buy the buttons as a set – times 4.  Yes, that tripled the price.  Yes, they were a nightmare to sew together (none of the holes lined up properly – don’t look too closely!).  And yes, they are totally perfect.  No, I couldn’t have done it any other way.  What do you think?

Scattered Thoughts

A wee bit late, but I’d like to welcome November.  That might sound odd, but it’s sunny, with a little breeze and 14ºC here now; this Fall may turn out to be the best Summer we’ve ever had.  Okay, maybe not good news for you skiers and snowboarders, but there’s plenty of time to take care of your needs in the later part of winter – or perhaps next week.

I’ve just finished blocking the sleeves of the Nimbus Cardigan and now have to patiently wait for them to dry.  I didn’t have enough space to do all the pieces at the same time so I did the back and fronts earlier this week and will sew shoulder seams and pocket facings while I wait for the sleeves to hold their size.  I’ll post a pic once that’s done.

Lest you think I’ve been idle these past few weeks, I’ve managed to finish a neck warmer

A shortened version of the Palindrome Scarf combining  Mary Maxim Starlette in Medium Willow and Patons Decor in Pale Sage Green

and almost finish a hat

Teen Flap Hat from Interweave Crochet  Fall 2009 in Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds  Deep Red

The hat is actually done but I decided to replace the crocheted ear flap facings with a fleece lining instead.  With the crocheted facings in place, the ear flaps did this great sticking-out act.  Made me look like Pippi Longstocking, which was not exactly the look I was going for.  This is more like it.

BB’s socks are also well underway and I am exactly 8 rounds away from grafting the toe shut on sock 1. 

Retro Rib Socks by Evelyn A. Clark (Favourite Socks) in Kroy Sock FX  Cascade Colors

Sock 2 has been started (just the cuff) but it seems a little loose somehow.  I should have (and did for the first) 13 rounds of rib for 1″ but I achieved the 1″ in only 9 rounds.  Same yarn, same pattern, same needles.  Could knitting in the car affect my gauge?  Huh.  I’ll frog it while it’s still only 9 rounds and get back to you with the restart results.

And here’s my triumph from last weekend.  Make it yours this weekend.

 

Strudelicious Panzerotti, from the Podleski sisters of “Eat, Shrink & Be Merry”, on the Food Network.  It’s homemade pizza dough filled with turkey sausage, turkey pepperoni, veg, homemade sauce and cheese.  Baked up in the oven, it is one of THE most gorgeous things I’ve ever made.  Try it, then let me know what you think.

Fall-ing Behind?

I’m still not used to late (okay, really late) summer days that start out like this:

No, it’s not snow – well, some of it is – it’s mostly heavy frost.  The day, for me, started at -2ºC.  It’s warmed up by almost 10º so far and Sulphur Mountain is mostly green again but still ……

It’s a sure sign of things to come and they’ll come pretty quickly from here on in.

Until last night, I hadn’t even looked at my knitting in a week.  We’d been hosting the Canadian Golf Superintendents’ Association Fall Field Day and luckily for me, a number of the Ya-Ya’s joined their hubbies this time around.  We girls had a lovely casual lunch here at the house and got to indulge in lots of great food and drink at various receptions and dinners. 

The best was Afternoon Tea in the Rundle Lounge at the Banff Springs Hotel.  We even actually drank our tea ….. after the prosecco was gone.

   

Dainty sandwiches, mini desserts and the best scones with Devonshire cream and preserves. Yum!

It’s taken a few days to recover from all the excess, but I was finally able to pick up the Berry Patch Socks  again last night and get the heel turned on both socks.  I’ve reinforced the heel with Regia darning thread and will do the same for the toes, as these will be hiking socks. Hopefully I can finish the gussets today and then I’m into the home stretch. 

    

(apologies for the poor quality of the photo.  BB is out of town and took the “good” camera with him)