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.

Pumpkinsausagesoup

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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.

BalsamicYams

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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.

ShrimpArtichokeDip

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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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Curried Cauliflower Salad

My mom was here for a visit all this past week and we had a wonderful time tooling around the city, eating out at some lovely restaurants and just generally enjoying each other’s company. Mom proved invaluable at trivia, answering lanolin and others correctly, though let it be known that she was unable to produce Princess Diana’s maiden name. She fell in love with Game of Thrones, bought two pairs of shoes, and bought us a lovely bouquet of tulips. Mom seemed content to sleep on our ancient couch but was very troubled by our loose toilet seat. I have also been troubled by the loose toilet seat but found it was easier to strategically sit than to try to figure out the best way to go about fixing it. After work on Friday, after mom had left for Whitehorse, I set about tightening the toilet seat bolts.

It should be known that the toilet is already kind of strange. It is a low-flow toilet that has two buttons, one for the little stuff and one for the big. It is all one piece, the tank is part of the whole. And the frigging seat is a slow-close miracle that is unlike all the diagrams that I have looked at online (yes, I researched proper toilet seat tightening protocol). So, Friday after work I set about tightening the darn seat. I had studied the diagrams and understood the mission. Find the caps near the hinges, pry them off, use my pliers to tighten the bolts, replace the caps, and voila, a sturdy sitting experience. No such luck. I stared at the seat, perplexed by the lack of caps that EVERY toilet seat tutorial made mention of. OK, new strategy, pry the seat off the obviously hidden caps, right? No. Some desperate tugging, prodding, crying, and excessive (or not) hand washing later, I was back at the computer trying to figure out how to solve this mystery. I Googled, “slow close toilet seat fixing no caps” and many variations of that general combination of words but all the tutorials suggested that there should either be caps or an easy-release button somewhere in the general vicinity of the hinges. But our toilet seat is smooth with no visible access points. I squeezed the sides in an attempt to release it, I gently and not-so-gently tugged at it, I peaked into the bowl to see if the bolts were accessible from there, I started to cry. I was so frustrated at the seemingly impossible task of tightening the frigging toilet seat that I sat at my computer, staring at pictures that did not look like my toilet seat, and just cried. Then, an hour or so after starting this ridiculous journey, I marched into the bathroom, slapped my hand on the side of the bowl and felt a frigging bolt. Reaching around the other side I found the matching bolt and realized that I had not looked in the most obvious place, the outside of the bowl. A quick couple of turns on the plastic nuts and the seat was secure. I washed my hands and forearms (I felt too close to the toilet not to) and schlumped on the couch, totally embarrassed that I let a toilet seat bring me to tears.

It’s hard to segue from a toilet story to a recipe, but it must be done.

This salad is pretty amazing. (Smooth transition, right?)

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Simple Saturday Side, Roasted Asparagus

The rain has dampened my enthusiasm for cooking, thinking, doing stuff this week. I had an incredibly exciting interview on Tuesday, and email for another exciting interview for next week, and then spent the rest of the week in brain-melt mode. I was able to be mildly productive but nearly as productive as I wanted/needed to be. My goals for next week are big and shiny and will make up for the lost time of last week’s slump. Some sunshine would really help motivate me…*coughcough*mother nature get on this *coughcough*. Fun fact, apparently Elton John, when in a hotel in Germany, was so bothered by the wind while he was trying to sleep that he asked his agent (or manager) to do something about the weather. I am with Elton on this, somebody please correct the weather (preferably the weather in Vancouver, not Germany… I mean, clear theirs up too if you want).

RoastedAsparagus

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Sausage and Egg Casserole

The weather has been rather crummy the last few days, leaving me uninspired! I was happy to get out of the apartment to spend the day with my good friend Heather as we worked away on our project reports, but I returned home with soaking boots and a general feeling of dampness. I love Vancouver, but being unemployed AND stuck in an apartment while it rains definitely isn’t my favourite. I do have to say, I’d be a lot less happy in a snow-blanketed city, so there is that!

Hospice Yukon approached my mom about writing a piece for their newsletter about how our family celebrated dad’s life without having a typical service. Mom wasn’t comfortable writing it but asked if me and Kel would be able to. So we are going to start working on that tomorrow and I am going to check with them about the right to post it here as well. I know that there is a growing trend towards non-religious celebrations for both good and tragic things, so I am excited to share our experience and what the gathering of friends meant for us and our father’s memory. So, hopefully more on that later!

SausageandEggCasserole

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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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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.