A quiet return with Creamed Spinach

Well, as you might have inferred from my lack of posting over the last (oh my) two months, I have been crazy busy. I think I have also been crazy tired, meaning that coming home meant schlumping around rather than whipping up tasty treats and posting them here! I have been feverishly working on finishing my Masters, as well as scrambling at work getting a couple big projects underway. All to say, sorry for the unbelievably long absence. I wanted to come back with something INSANE and PUNCHY, but this is a subdued, yet delicious recipe. I have some punchier things in the wings, so no fear. But let’s ease back into this.

I’ve missed NotCrocker, and I felt so terrible about my terribleness that I haven’t even been to the blog myself much in the last month or so. Avoidance is a bizarre strategy for coping, so here I am, posting and coming back, and making whatever promises I can that I will not run away again! Work is going to keep going like mad through the next two months, and my paper is top-priority in my off time, but NotCrocker will not fall by the wayside again. I love posting great dishes, and will continue to do so. Who needs to sleep?! Not this lady!

CreamedSpinach

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Roasted Tomato and Beef Spaghetti Sauce and Spaghetti Squash

Well, this is it, a commitment from me to me to cook more paleo and keto foods. I love the creativity needed to come up with new versions of our favourite carb-ladened foods. It is a challenge, and as my last couple months of blogging can attest, I’ve been pretty worn out. But I see the interest (check out my most popular low carb post, Chicken Pizza Crust), and I know that I feel great when I am eating a lot more veggie and protein combos than sugar, so here we go! This is pretty much my first public proclamation of a paleo commitment, but my interest in it has been evident through my many paleo and keto posts over the last year.

So here I am, making a commitment. I will try to post more delicious paleo and keto options that make use of veggies and proteins in ways that I love. Most of my cooking in this style is kind of thrown together, which is why I don’t often post it, but I will make an effort to really document what works, why I did this, that, and that other thing, and will keep on making food that tastes great and makes you feel great!

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Pumpkin Sausage Soup with Crispy Kale

Well hello fall and goodbye sky. We’ve had an incredible amount of fog in the last week. I like it frankly, it is cool so I have been cozying down in my pjs and blanket. Watching the other buildings slowly disappear is weirdly calming. I don’t like the lack of sunshine, but I will take a few days of darkness here and there.

In other, exciting news, another NFB Digital Studio project has launched, this one is one of mine! Check out Similkameen Crossroads in your web browser. It is a gorgeous photographic and audio essay by Tyler Hagan. It launched at ImagiNative on Friday. Click through the photos while listening to the stories from the Similkameen Valley.

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Balsamic Roasted Yams

For the first time in a long time, I felt lucky yesterday. I was walking home with some takeout Vietnamese food, enjoying the crisp fall air and I just thought how lucky I was to be walking home through a city I love, to an apartment I love. I have a great job, a loving family, and really incredible friends. Of course, all this came to me just two days after the year anniversary of my dad’s death, a day that didn’t make me feel lucky at all. But as I walked home, I knew that dad would love a day like this, a day when you could feel the weather changing; when everyone looked just as happy as me to walk around in a city that he also loved.

I thought to myself, feeling as lucky as I did in that short stroll home, I lost my father and thirty more years of his wisdom and humour and love. BUT, I was so lucky to have had 25 years of it. Some people don’t even get that. Some friends of mine didn’t even get that. And I got 25 years filled with immense love, wonderful though occasionally questionable wisdom, and truly I am my father’s daughter, so he gave me so much of what makes me who I am, that I will see little pieces of my dad for the rest of my life.

So, as I sit here looking out from my beautiful little apartment on the rainy, windy, cold morning in Vancouver, I am okay. I know that a loss is only as great as the love felt. And so I know that both the love for my dad and the pain of losing him will reverberate through the rest of my life. A sweet melody of sorts.

And I am okay.

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Shrimp & Artichoke Dip

Wow. Well, sorry for my incredibly long absence. I know I was JUST apologizing for being away from Not Crocker for a long time and here I am again after an epic stall. This time of year is bringing up a lot of sadness and I’ve been somewhat sapped of motivation. The funny thing is, it isn’t that I haven’t been baking and cooking, I just have been having a tough time getting to the computer to write up the recipes and prepare the photos. Sigh. I am going to try my best to get back on track, I promise.

I had a beautiful visit at home with my mom. I was only home for a whirlwind weekend and would have loved to have spent the summer lounging on the deck, taking in the sun, but it was not possible this year. We had a wonderful dinner party with all our friends, and things felt close to normal. Dad’s absence was/is startlingly noticeable and the times that I sit there and feel him not being here (if that makes any sense) are overwhelming. It’s almost been a year since his passing. The shocking thing is that it feels like there is no way this is real, even today, a year later I often feel like I can just call him up for a chat or advice or sass, but I am also achingly aware of how long it has been since I’ve heard his voice. I love my dad and am so thankful to have had him.

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Crispy Fried Fish with Homemade Caper Tartar Sauce

I am really looking forward to a trip to the Yukon this weekend to visit mom and Chloe. I haven’t been home since last fall, and it will be good to be back. I know it is going to be hard to be in our home without dad but I also know it will be wonderful to be with mom in the summer, our family’s favourite time.

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Buffalo Chicken Strips with Buffalo Ranch Cheese Dip

This has been an insane and kind of awful week. The weather has been wonderful but a serious of difficult decisions and emotional roller coasters have left me feeling exhausted and sad. Unrelated, but we’ve had about a month-straight of hot sun and dry weather, this sounds great but a little rain helps to refresh the streets, the plants, and the people. My walk to work is filled with wafts of hot garbage in the alleys and hot whatever-is-in-the-gutters. I am ready for a little rain to wash the city clean, heck, I could really use a thorough rinse as well.

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Creamy Broccoli Salad

Ah sweet, sweet health recovery! I am not back to 100%, but a lot closer than the beginning of the week. I hope you Americans had a wonderful Fourth of July, independence, tea, etc. etc.! It is Latincouver on Granville St today and tomorrow the air is filled with the sounds of summery good times. Reminds me of the Salsa Fest that Calgary has every year in the neighbourhood we lived in, Kensington. The Salsa Fest in Calgary was not about dancing it was about a ton of restaurants and stores and mayoral candidates coming out to compete with their best salsa recipes! You brought your own chips and just cruised the two main streets, chowing down on tons of creative salsas. Don’t get me wrong, there was some salsa dancing going on and definitely salsa music, but it was all about the food!

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Tomato Marinated Shrimp Skewers

I am sadly still sick but have found a medicine/oregano oil/water regime that has kept me functional. The weather in Vancouver is insanely gorgeous and I’ve been really enjoying my walks too and from work, looking forward to when I am feeling well enough to start tackling Stanley Park and the beaches. I hope all of you are getting the sun you need and want! I am really looking forward to a quick trip north we are planning for the first week of August. We are going to do some camping and some fishing and deck-drinking with mom and Chloe, I am really looking forward to it! I also got an awesome bunch of plants to brighten up our apartment! On my way home from work I often pass Heather’s The Flower Shop and yesterday I was forced to slow down in front of the store by a group of pokey tourists. I took a glance at the offerings and saw an incredible number of gorgeous little cacti. I ended up getting a cactus and aloe plant. The owner (not named Heather I believe) was so fantastic, gave me thorough advice on keeping them alive and then gifted me a gorgeous basil plant! I am so thrilled to have basil again and I am determined to keep my basil living straight through the winter… I hope!

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Beer Bread Revisited

I’ve corrected the error on the original cover page. Get Beer Breading!

As I sit here sipping on a glass of wine (thanks Uncle Jim and Auntie Karen!) I begin to think about all the things I appreciate in my life. It was my parents’ 30th anniversary yesterday. I thought about it all day, as I sat on the plane from Toronto and when I got home late at night, getting ready for bed. I am glad my parents had almost thirty years together, but know that them and their love deserved another thirty. I appreciate the time I had with my dad, though I too would’ve appreciated at least another thirty. This last week has been both wonderful and very sad in this way. I received the Kenneth Le M. Carter graduate award at a board of directors dinner in Toronto on Monday night. As I took to the stage to accept my award, I thought of how important my parents were in my success, but also how proud my father would’ve been. Similarly, whenever I get a new job or internship, or at a new university, my dad was always the first person I sent an email to with my new address. These little moments that I would like to share with my dad have been whisked away. Now I stop and think of him, bringing both joy in memory and utter sadness in realization of the fact that he is gone.

I muscled through Father’s Day without much trouble as I was busy tooling around Toronto with two wonderful friends. The next day was my awards dinner, and then my parents’ anniversary on the following day. All moments of happiness and sadness rolled up into the neat little package that is my life. Speaking to my mom the day after their anniversary, it was clear that she felt the same roller coaster of emotions. I am so happy that my sister and nieces can be there with her through this first summer without dad. Yesterday, they left for the first camping trip of the season. An event that my dad eagerly awaited, I know that this first trip would be hard and was thankful that it would be made easier for all by the presence of my sweet and funny nieces and my sister.

Anyway, I had an absolutely incredible time in Toronto with my beautiful friends Heidi and Lauren. The R.Kelly sing-a-long was magical (a fairytale some may say… I may or may not have lost a shoe for part of the show). The girls took me around town, we drank great beer, enjoyed the sun, and I really loved getting to know their city. Another highlight, on my last day Heidi toured me around the Coach House coach house and Lauren gave me a thorough tour of her beloved Trinity campus, I certainly better understand the magic.

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