Salted Dark Chocolatey Cookies

One thing I love about Vancouver, particularly our location in the middle of downtown, is that you encounter such a variety of people all the time. Yesterday I popped into Marketplace IGA, I was standing in front of the dairy case, making world-ending decisions about whether I should or shouldn’t buy cottage cheese when a man with a walker insisted on moving me from my place to do the same. It was clear that his cottage cheese needs were more urgent so I wandered off to ponder other purchases. When I meandered back to the dairy case, mind made up, I was approached by an older lady. I quickly moved out of her way, assuming that she too couldn’t wait for cottage cheese, when she lightly grabbed my elbow. I turned around and she, in the sweetest, most elderly, heavily-French accented voice asked for my assistance. She guided me over to the yogurts and asked if I could help her. She was gazing hopefully up to the top shelf, and I realized, she can’t reach! This sweet, petite French woman really wanted the strawberry yogurt but she was about a foot short of laying her hands on it. I snagged her a tub and she enthusiastically thanked me. Day made. I got to be a friendly giant!
Then, as I wandered home from the store, enjoying the sunlight and mild weather that the few-blocks walk afforded me, I decided to take the alley behind our apartment instead of wandering up past the construction site and around the corner. This is regularly a busy alley, with a restaurant and bank on one end and a business and two apartment buildings making up the rest, so I’ve never felt worried about it. Well low and behold, in the middle of the day in a nice part of town(‘s alley… okay makes sense), I come across two flanneled gentlemen clearly exchanging drugs, money, and whatever else. Curses Vancouver, from sweet little French lady to nefarious flanneled gentlemen in the span of 20 minutes! Anyway, I nonchalantly cruised past them, glancing back only to check for cars while crossing the alley to my building. What can you do, not everyone is content to be outside in the sun, some people just need to flannel up and make mischief.

Please don’t take away from the story above that I am against flannel. I support flannel in the appropriate time and place, though really those gentlemen weren’t helping flannel’s cause.

SaltedChocolateCookies

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Almond Butter Cookies

The weather in Vancouver has been really wonderful. We had two gorgeous days on sunshine throughout the week and then yesterday started crummy with a straight 5-6 hours of rain but wrapped up on a blue-skied, sunny note. Today is another sunny one, so I am going to have to wander outside for some vitamin D and fresh air. I love being able to wander outside in the middle of February in just a sweater. No boots, hat, mitts, or scarf needed! I certainly don’t miss the snow and will be sad to leave Vancouver if ever needed. The snow that comes with practically every other city in Canada is not something I embraced. I’ve paid my snow dues, 18 years in the Yukon and 6 in Calgary! I deserve a little West Coast weather pampering, and have made sure to take full advantage.

All that said, I am looking at some Toronto positions that would be worth the move back into the big white. If they come around to be the real thing, I am going to have to mentally prepare for a winter unlike any I’ve experienced with snow AND humidity.

Anyway, I felt the other day like I needed to make something. I kind of neglected Not Crocker last week as I picked up a couple temp assignments that required me to bus it out to Richmond. By the time I got home I kind of flopped on  the couch in a trance-like daze and Gen kindly made up some dinner for me. I did attempt a pork and rapini dish yesterday to very little success as the rapini over-powered the pork. I choked a bowl down and thankfully Gen finished up the rest. We all have our cooking failures!

Almondbuttercookies

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Jalapeño Almond Bread

First thing’s first. I just received my fourth wedding invitation for this year. I know I am coming to the age where everyone I know is getting married but I never expected to have four weddings for eight wonderful people just this year! I can’t believe it! The problem is that Genesis and I are under or straight-up unemployed. We have my cousin’s wedding in April, my childhood friend Helen’s in June in the Yukon, my dearest friend Katie’s wedding in Banff in July, and my high-school twin is getting married to her long-time amazing partner in August in Saskatoon. I wish I could attend them all, but that would require one of us to be on Air Canada’s payroll. Alas, we will figure it out, but I am fairly sure I am going to miss a few important events this year.

Anyway, on this beautiful sunny day I decided to make some hearty chili and a really tasty jalapeño almond bread that has all the characteristics of cornbread but with a bit more texture. The meal was super filling and I know it would satisfy even the most carby of carb lovers. I munched down a ton of the chili and happily munched on the almond bread between/with bites. I am going to experiment with a few different versions of this because it came out so beautifully. I suspect I could make a sweeter version of it that uses cream cheese and some cinnamon, maybe even a swirl of chocolate. Hmm weekend-testing ideas!

Jalapenoalmondbread

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Beef and Spinach Casserole: Greek spanakopita flavours in a hearty dinner dish

I’ve been watching a lot of Harry Potter. The movies are great to watch but also good background noise for when I’m trying to do really important stuff. I’ve also been watching Dexter on Netflix because I was really into the first season and then it fell off my radar, well there is a lot of catching up to do. So, much like before, watching shows, applying for jobs, and working on my paper has been my life. I had an interview yesterday for a great new position at an exciting firm, but we’ll see if anything comes of it. I am keeping my eye on the market and have been seriously looking into jobs in the UK (yaaaay Caelin), Toronto (yaaaay Heidi, Lauren, and Andreé) and the states (yaaaaay Trader Joe’s)! I am so incredibly tired of the never-ending weekend, but trust that something will come along soon. I am enjoying the search so far, I am definitely getting a feel for the job market in Vancouver.

OH! And also, happy Valentine’s Day! Gen and I aren’t celebrating today because he’s working all night. We are postponing our festivities until Sunday when we can spend the day together. The plans? We are having a Die Hard marathon (at my request, I haven’t seen them) and I am making us a series of delicious meals that are sure to be feature on Not Crocker! But for all of you lovers out there, happy love day! To all those without someone special to smooch on today, make some Scotch Truffles or Rum Cupkrakes and know that someone, somewhere thinks you’re awesome!

BeefandSpinachCasserole

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Flourless Pancakes: Cream Cheese pancakes spiced with cinnamon and cardamon

I am a week into unemployment (or uninternshipness) and have been slowly but surely working on my paper, moseying about my apartment, and applying for a stack of really great job opportunities. I’ve finally opened my mind to the possibility of moving away from Vancouver, somewhere like Toronto, if I am able to find something great out there. I’ve just applied for a really wonderful position at a progressive company that I’ve had my eye on for the last year, so it would be wonderful to work with them. It will be a very sad thing if we have to leave Vancouver, we’ve certainly felt like we belong here, but sometimes you have to do what’s best for your career and Gen is on board. So, we’ll see where all this goes.

FlourlessPancakes

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Zucchini “Noodles” with Chard

Well, we’ve had an awesome few weeks of fundraising for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Spring Sprint. So far our team has brought in over a thousand dollars and we continue to climb towards our goal! We have all the way to May 26th to raise money, so keep the donations coming, knowing that it is going to a great cause! Thank you to everyone who has donated and/or joined our team! I am really looking forward to walking/sprinting with such an amazing group of people. Gen has started volunteering with a new Hospice centre that has opened near our apartment. He heard about these Hospice walks for people who have recently lost a loved one and he really wants us to go. I think that we are going to try to make the Saturday walks, see what it’s about and get some much needed fresh air. I think it will be cathartic to spend time with people in similar situations to mine.

Anyway, I’ve been very busy this week already with job interviews, applications, and resume tweaking. I am only two business days out of my internship at Appetite and I am already wondering how they are doing. I hope I can work with the two of them in the future again, as it was such a wonderful experience. In the last two weeks of my internship we discovered my passion and intensity for cookbook proofreading. Now to find a job, preferably in the publishing industry in Vancouver (HA!), where I can put all my new-found, or newly-honed skills to work. We’ll see. In the meantime, I am going to keep on cooking, baking, and candlestick making, well no, but that would be great. This recipe is a nice, healthy base for awesome pasta sauces, meatballs, and anything else you want to throw on there.

Zucchininoodles

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The tuna fiasco: Tuna Burgers

I’ve mentioned it before, my husband likes to buy in bulk. This would be less of a problem if we had more storage and a bigger family. Instead, what it means is that I have to make enormous batches of food that we either eat for days straight (which Gen is totally okay with, but I get really bored) or I try to make it freezable. Last round of ridiculous batch cooking came with Gen’s purchase of a box of mussels. That turned out deliciously but we literally ate ourselves silly on mussels that night and the next day. This time it was tuna.

I am not a particular fan of tuna, my parents never really made anything with it. I don’t remember growing up with tuna casseroles or tuna salad anything. I went through a brief tuna salad sandwich phase in my first year of university when my roommate showed me that a little mayo, relish, salt and pepper could make a killer sandwich. I ate a tuna sandwich a day for a week or two, loving the convenience and frugality (we got all our relish from Ikea as it was the only condiment that came in packets that we stuffed in our pockets after buying our $1 hotdogs). But then crepes came into my life and I ditched tuna forever. Really, I made crepes all the time, it was ridiculous. I’ve since perfected my recipe, actually even beyond the crepe recipe I have up here on Not Crocker, so I will have to post the new version soon.

Anyway, I haven’t had canned tuna for years. Mom made Kel and I tuna melts when we were in the Yukon this fall, and I remember thinking that that had been my first canned tuna experience since that period in school.

That is a 32oz waterbottle. Annnnnnnd a 1.88kg can of tuna. This is 8x the normal can size.

That is a 32oz waterbottle. Annnnnnnd a 1.88kg can of tuna. This is 8x the normal can size.

This means that it is unlikely that Gen has had much tuna in the last three years. I do most of the cooking in our house, and it’s never come up that he was craving it, so I never bought any. But one inspired day at Costco, Gen buys the BIGGEST can of tuna I’ve ever seen. At almost 2kg, the can dwarfed my big waterbottle. I was stumped. I didn’t want to make an enormous batch of tuna salad that I would be hardpressed to help eat and that Gen would be tasked with eating for days. I had to think, so I put the can into the cupboard and thought long and hard about a plan. A month later, I decided that burgers were the answer.

These burgers are pretty tasty with lots of flavours going on, a nice crust from the cheese, and they hold together well. Top with some crisp, cold veggies and a dollop of sour cream. I’ve included the recipe amounts for a single can of tuna-sized recipe in [square brackets] beside the amounts for this ridiculous amount. But don’t fear the giant-sized can, it made 20 patties and I froze all but 2 for later. Make them!

Tunaburgers

Tuna Burgers

INGREDIENTS

  • [6oz]            1.3kg  drained chunk light tuna
  • [1]                6 eggs
  • [2 tbsp]       3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • [ 1/4 cup]    2 cups cheddar, shredded
  • [1 tbsp]        1/2 cup sour cream
  • [1 tbsp]        1/2 cup mayo
  • [pinch]        1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper *optional*
  • [pinch]        1 tsp salt
  • [pinch]        1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • [pinch]        1 tsp dill *optional*
  • [pinch]        1 tsp oregano
  • coconut oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients except the coconut oil. Combine well with your hands, making sure all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  2. Shape into patties and layer into a wax paper-lined tupperware container, adding a new sheet per layer.
  3. Melt coconut oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat, add patties. Cook for 5 minutes on each size, until firmed up and golden.
  4. Serve on top of a salad, in a bun with dill sauce, or with some veggies on the side. I dolloped some sour cream mixed with coriander chutney on top and it was perfect.
Spices ready to be in there

Spices ready to be in there

Three layers of deliciousness.

Three layers of deliciousness.

Grilled up.

Grilled up.

A foggy Saturday and Bacon Brussels

I remember how gorgeous the sun was when I woke up around 9:00am yesterday. I was happy to see it was a beautiful day. Gen woke up about 20 minutes later, came and sat beside me and commented on the crazy fog outside. Without looking, I asked him if he had his contacts in because it was gorgeous out. Well, I was wrong, in that short time a billow of fog had rolled in. It lasted for maybe an hour before the day was glorious, warm, and bright again.

In the early afternoon I wandered over to the store, enjoying the warm sun and light breeze. I felt energized and excited to be out, feeling like spring was on the horizon. Our good friends, Heather and Tobias, came over around 3:oopm for some Minecraft and around 4:00pm we noticed that the buildings down the street had once again begun to disappear. The fog came in fast and thick, completely blinding our view of a building a block and a half away, the cranes across the street, and started to obscure the building right next to us. We could literally see wisps of fog, like smoke, blowing towards us. Huddled on the balcony, it felt like a completely different season from my earlier jaunt outside. It was the most intense fog that I’ve experienced in my year and a half in the city. It was eerie, but totally beautiful. We stood on the balcony taking pictures like tourists as buildings disappeared from view.

This is a construction site across the street.

This is a construction site across the street.

Anyway, you can imagine that the cold and the dream-like fog put me in a cozy mood. I wanted to make up a delicious dinner that would make me feel like curling up by the fireplace dvd playing on the tv. So steak was on the menu with a delicious bacon, butter, and Brussels sprouts side. These were absolutely simple and delicious, though I will forever love my cream-braised sprouts.

BaconSprouts

These could easily be made vegetarian with the use of some tempeh bacon (yum!) and vegan with non-dairy butter/margarine. The caramelization of the sprouts with the saltiness of the bacon and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar makes this dish a nicely balanced bite.

Bacon Brussels Sprouts

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 strips bacon, chopped (substitute tempeh bacon for a vegetarian treat)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts (one of those great bags from Costco), trimmed and halved
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a wide pan over medium heat, cook your bacon until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to set aside the bacon pieces, reserving the bacon fat in the pan. If you are using tempeh, reserve the oil needed from cooking.
  2. Add the butter and melt.
  3. Add the sprouts and stir to coat with butter and bacon grease. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes, stirring once to brown the sprouts. You want to get some good colour on the sprouts, don’t be afraid of darkness.
  4. Add the salt and pepper, stir to coat. When the sprouts are tender add the bacon, stir to combine and serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
This is my trimming setup. I dump all the sprouts into one  strainer or bowl, the empty bag in the sink, and use my awesome nicely sharp knife to quickly cut the bottoms, remove any bad leaves, and cut them in half.

This is my trimming setup. I dump all the sprouts into one strainer or bowl, the empty bag in the sink, and use my awesome nicely sharp knife to quickly cut the bottoms, remove any bad leaves, and cut them in half.

Browned, baconed, and ready to stir and serve.

Browned, baconed, and ready to stir and serve.