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A very strong pigeon strikes again

November 22, 2010

Tonight I wished my fridge would magically create a dinner from the 4 types of hummus, 8 types of cheese, 12 different condiment bottles and some random veggies left in it.


While I stood pondering my limitless options, I decided the last of the wine might help.


I rummaged through my pantry, finding 6 types of rice, 2 types of quinoa, 3 types of couscous (apparently I haven’t met a grain I don’t like), and a very pathetic bag of chocolate chips.


I swear that bag was full last week.

Or, was it the week before?!

Out of boredom I started pulling random things from around my kitchen and doing taste testing.

What else are you going to do on a Monday night but taste test a variety of hot sauces on goat’s milk brie cheese and cracker slices.


Totally normal.

Sriracha is the best, by the way.

I also pondered how that bag of chocolate chips mysteriously disappeared.

Obviously, it wasn’t  because *I* ate them.

Nope, not at all.

With my night plans of making chocolate chip dough balls clearly foiled, I ate my dinner.


Rice and steamed veggies, topped peri-peri sauced shredded chicken. Because who doesn’t have random containers of peri-peri sauce in their pantry?

No, just me?

Later in the evening, I went and checked my mail, and found that a very strong pigeon had made it’s way from the East Coast to the West Coast to continue it’s assault on gift packages. Last week, Kelly sent Heather a package of baked treats. Heather came home to find the opened box on her sidewalk, and some treats missing.

Obviously, we either live in an Enchanted Forest of hungry squirrels, or steroid taking pigeons.

In any case, I pulled this from my mailbox:


Julie nicely sent me along a package of Gluten Free starch, except somewhere along the way the package had been ripped open and arrived empty. Except for her card.

Thank you, Julie for your thoughtful gift. I’m sure somewhere in their tree houses, the very strong pigeons are pecking away at a bag of GF starch, thinking of treats to bake.

Now, please excuse me while I go make my grocery list.






Scenes from the inbox

November 22, 2010


From: Carly
To: Liane
Sent: Monday, 22 November, 2010 12:41:04

Okay – so not that I am complaining or anything but your blog has not been updated in over a week – are you alive???

What is going on???


Dear Carly,

Thankfully, I am not dead. However, I was sick last week, which resulted in a day spent on the couch watching Mean Girls and setting up a new website and domain name. If I haven’t already clued in, I’m so not tech savvy. I still have a lot of work to do with that before I can swap over to the new one. As in, I’m not even sure how to upload to the new site. Brilliant.

I made more of my cure all soup, which hasn’t really cured me at all and I brought it to work and shared it with friends and coworkers. I’m not sure if it cured their sniffles, but they are alive, so at least I didn’t poison them.

Oh, I also made potato soup. I have pictures and a half written post on that too. Maybe I’ll have it posted by February?!

I ordered snow tires, which seems like a really grown up thing to do and I managed to order them the day before it snowed. Of course, they haven’t arrived yet, and now that the snow is gone, it probably won’t snow again all winter. I’m confused why La Nina is bringing us snow and freezing temperatures if it’s from the tropics. I’d rather it bring sunny skies and pineapples.

Somewhere in the past week, I gave up cooking entirely, ate leftovers, and have a pretty pitiful fridge right now; its 90% condiments and 4 different kinds of hummus. Creating dinner should be fun. Maybe I’ll just make dough balls.

Over the weekend, I went to the Outlets north of Seattle and increased my sweater collection. I had to be dragged out of Costco before I bought more than two jars of $3 jalapeños. I also went to Trader Joe’s, which is why I have 4 different kinds of hummus in my fridge and not much else.

Last night, I experienced this for the first time:

Some of us escaped the beer fountain that was pouring from the row behind us, but had to contend with being elbowed in the chest region by their neighbours , and, of course, the Canucks lost. Why did we expect anything different?

They actually scored moments after I took this picture. It still didn’t help. And then they got a little testy and had to be broken up on the playground.

And, now it’s Monday, my fridge is empty, and I’m back at work. I think all weekends should be three days.

PS. I’ll try and keep the blog updated more often.

The “I have no idea where this recipe is from, but it cures my cold every time” recipe

November 13, 2010

You know those mornings where you wake up and you feel groggy and ill and can’t figure out why (and it has nothing to do with the number of glasses of wine you’d consumed the night before), but the last thing you need is to end up sick, so you’ll eat vitamin C like candy?

Yah, well, I woke up like that one day this week and from the moment I woke up, all I could think about was blasting the hovering cold away… And it had to involve soup because a) I was cold, b) it was raining, c) my nose was runny and d) did I mention, it was COLD.

I decided to make soup that involved garlic and ginger and chilli.

Years ago, I became obsessed with a thai style soup I can get here, but I’ve realized i can make an entire pot of soup for half the price they charge and it’s no longer conveniently on my way home from work. Oh, and on this day, I was too lazy to drive the 20 minutes to their Kits location to obtain a bowl, so dug out my well used recipe from a coworker 5 years and 4 jobs ago. I have no idea where she originally procured this recipe from, it was sent to me in an email and I’ve taken it and adapted it over time. It currently sits in my documents folder as “THE TOM YUM RECIPE” but I think it’s a pretty basic Tom Yum Soup recipe- stock, veggies, garlic, lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, thai ginger… all of which necessitated a trip to the local Asian food market because I hadn’t made this in my new place yet. Of course, it’s not just any asian market, it is seriously the Costco of Asian markets, and it’s less than 5 minutes from my house. There is even an entire aisle dedicated to rice cookers.

And, it’s cheap. C-H-E-A-P.

If you end up with more ingredients than you need for this pot, all the specialty items can be easily frozen. There is a dedicated space in my freezer for baggies of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves… Totally normal 😉

What you need:


Veggie broth, fish sauce (so gross, but necessary), lime, lemongrass, ginger, keffir lime leaves, more crazy large garlic cloves, mushrooms, peppers, cilantro, bok choy, prawns and rice noodles.


You can tell you’re bored when you start arranging your ingredients like so:


The vegetable representation of how i was feeling. Or I had just caught a whiff of the fish sauce.

Moving on… Stock into a pot, add the stalks of lemongrass (halved) and the kaffir lime leaves (tear ’em up or chop them, your choice), oh, and the lime juice and the fish sauce. Have I mentioned I don’t like fish sauce?


Mince your garlic, ginger and a pepper (I used serrano ’cause I had it in my fridge, but a red spicy pepper is usually what i use) or if you don’t have any fresh peppers, just use chilli paste. Toss it in the pot and simmer.

DSC02030.JPGOnce your pot has simmered for 5 minutes, add your veggies. Whatever you like. I threw in 2 red peppers, mushrooms and bok choy, but I have been known to add in onions, spinach and green peppers. Whatever floats your boat, or is hanging out in your crisper.


After that has simmered for a few minutes, add in your prawns, and if you are feeling like you needs some noodles to right the world, add those too. Just be warned, some times they like to suck up the broth and make it less of a soup. Or you could use rice vermicelli noodles. Again, whatever is in your cupboards. Clearly my cupboard is masquerading as a thai market.

After the prawns turn pink, ladle your soup into a bowl and top with cilantro and a lime wedge.


And then eat another bowl, just to ensure the cold stays away.


And, if the soup doesn’t totally help your cold, spend the rest of your day parked on the couch, catching up on the back log of shows on your PVR and doing a little bit of online shopping. Shoes are a known cure for the common cold, don’t you know?! 😉

Cooking with the Contessa

November 12, 2010

I may have a library sized collection of cookbooks, but I can’t say I’ve ever used a Barefoot Contessa recipe before. In all honesty, I sort of lumped her in with the “Seriously, HOW much butter/milk/fat/calories is that recipe? Are you for real?!” category (see also: Deen, Paula).

Anywhooo… while wasting time in Costco, I picked up her latest cookbook and started perusing. After bookmarking 8 recipes as “I must try this! NOW!”, I thought I’d better purchase said book and bring it on home.

Then I took it to work, where my coworker bookmarked four more recipes and fled to Costco to purchase her own copy. With all the hype, these recipes better deliver.

So, I rounded up some fearless taste testers, and set out to cook with the Contessa, or as I came to refer to the evening as, “Garlic Fest 2010” (the Contessa sure does love her garlic).

Lemon Chicken Breasts (pg. 120)

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower (pg. 173)

Potato Basil Puree (pg. 188)

I’m not going to reprint the recipes here, but I will say, if you have lemon, garlic, olive oil, a few pieces of chicken, more garlic, a few potatoes, basil, more olive oil, a basket of lemons, and, MORE garlic, you are well on your way to creating these three dishes. Speaking of garlic, I purchased locally grown, organic garlic, and I’m not kidding the garlic heads were as large as my palm and about 10 times more potent than regular china imported garlic. So, word to the wise, decrease the garlic clove usage if you decide to go the local/organic route.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided to hold GarlicFest2010 on a Wednesday night. I figured since Thursday was a holiday, I’d just sleep in after my epic night of cooking. I may have miscalculated on the whole “serving dinner at an appropriate dinner time” but whatever, just ply your friends with hummus, crackers and wine. Lots of wine, as it covers a multitude of timing delays. And then, someone texted me at 8AM on my holiday sleep in, so clearly, my plan was a bust all around.

Lesson learned: Dinner parties mid-week are never a good idea. Especially dinner parties were you make 3 brand new recipes.

Prep: (lemon chicken)


Seriously, do you see the size of that garlic (?!) and, pictures of chicken are the most unappetizing sight ever. Sorry about that. Also, wine makes any recipe better. Add more.

All on the table (unseen bowl of salad as well):




And then, there was silence. As in “we talked FOREVER while you ran around your kitchen,  doing goodness knows what, but there was green paste involved, and you can smell the garlic from three blocks away, but now that the food in finally on our plates, we are going to inhale in and eat every, single bite, and then go back for seconds. No Thirds” kinds of silence. They are still talking about it 3 days later, so I’m going to assume it was good.

Of course, as the person who cooked it, I noticed some things that could be changed or adapted.

I subbed in chicken thighs instead of breasts, and it worked fine. Cheaper too.

Use a dutch oven and make the white wine sauce in the dutch oven on the stove to start with, then place the chicken in. Don’t dirty an unnecessary pot making the sauce separately.

I got lazy and didn’t use a handmixer to smooth out the basil/milk/potato mixture. By that point I’d already dirtied half the appliances in my kitchen and didn’t feel like searching for my one missing beater among my kitchen cupboards to add to the pile of dishes in my sink. So, you know, the potatoes were a little chunkier than the Contessa’s.

–   Or, if you are feeling uber-lazy, and have pre-made pesto, just throw that in and call it a day

–   Seriously, I’m using my frozen home-made pesto next time. Screw the basil leaf ice bath.

I used rice milk instead of regular half and half, and next time, I’d totally sub in vegan parmesan for regular. I’m pretty sure it makes the potatoes less creamy, but you won’t notice once everything is on the plate and the garlic takes over everything.

I wouldn’t change a thing about the cauliflower, although I didn’t use pine nuts, because those things are more precious than gold in my kitchen right now

Best part of the dinner right here:


I dreamed about this cauliflower last night.

And then, once your taste testers are stuffed beyond belief, force them to eat more in the form of a weird dessert hybrid of homemade GF bread smothered with chocolate hazelnut spread, and homemade raspberry oat bars. And send them home with overfilled containers of leftover basil potatoes.

Just be warned, your house will smell like garlic for days after. Not that that is a bad thing…

PS. I was playing around in Mars Edit, and I’m not sure what I did to the font, but I can’t change it back. Um. Sorry about that.

Mmmmm…. chocolate and brown sugar

November 9, 2010

I’ve been meaning to make Mama Pea‘s Brown Sugar Bars for a few days now. In the name of being a fabulous coworker, I decided to make some and bring them into work for everyone to enjoy. Although, I kind of had an ulterior motive. Although, if we’re being honest, when I do not have an ulterior motive?

My motive was to find a recipe that I could make with regular flour and then with GF flour and see if there was any difference. I stuck to the recipe and only changed a couple items.

Batch one: Sub in regular chocolate chips for vegan. Add pecans.

Batch two: Sub in gluten-free flour and soy-free earth balance. Add pecans.

This recipe is seriously 5 minutes to prep, and here are the pans, side by side:


Batch #1 is on the left, Batch #2 on the right.

I didn’t use the same sized pan, as I don’t have two 8X8 pans, so Batch #2 is in a longer sized pan.

I think I am missing the gene that allows me to bake bars correctly. I never, ever get them cooked correctly and uniform. Drives me nuts.

After 30 minutes of baking, it was obvious only Batch #1 was going to work out. Batch #2 was super gooey and didn’t set properly 😦 I don’t know if it had to do with the pan, so I left it in a few minutes longer to bake, but still there was no change. I’m going to chalk it up to the different flour.

I’m sure everyone will enjoy the bars, I wish the second batch had worked out though!




French Fries

November 8, 2010

On our way out the door this afternoon, my coworkers were discussing the infamous McRib as one of them had taken a trip across the border to eat one. In my three years of working at the Golden Arches in high school, i don’t think i ever ate one or even saw a McRib. I remember selling a lot of #8 Value Meals, super sized with Diet Coke*but never a McRib. I don’t plan on eating one now, either, but the conversation did make me think of my favourite item on the menu.

The fries.

The salty, salty fries.

Thanks to our science experiments involving the cheese slices (you can’t melt those slices at all…no matter what you try!), and the nights we’d fling pickle slices on to walls and wait to see how long they’d stick (answer: forever. Or until the maintenance people cleaned the wall), I really could go the rest of my life without ever eating there again. But every so often, I think of the fries…

The whole way home I thought of french fries.

I walked into the door, glanced over onto my kitchen counter and…


Well, I found something to make with the japanese yam I bought last week.

Tossed with olive oil, TJ’s everyday seasoning and some cayenne spice. Maybe a little too much cayenne on some slices!


45 minutes later, I had a plate of white potato, sweet potato and purple yam fries…


Maybe next time I’ll make a McRib, or not.

Now excuse me while I go clean the pickle slices from my wall.


*in case you are wondering, Value Meal #8 was the Double Quarter Pounder Meal. Because, you know, when you get a double quarter pounder and super sized fries, the large Diet Coke really brings down the calorie count…


Macaroon Monday: My first attempt at making bread

November 7, 2010

I’m partaking in Macaroon Monday, which was started by Heather, Julie & Evan, to encourage people to try and make something new to them. They are attempting to make fancy french macaroons where as I decided to bake bread. I know, it doesn’t sound as exciting as those macarons… and, really, how hard could it be to make gluten-dairy-egg free bread? 😉

Stop laughing.

Like any good challenge, this required a lot of prep work… finding recipes, double checking pantry items, many trips to the store to locate items I had never heard of before. One night I spent 30 minutes standing in a 10 foot area of the Whole Foods baking aisle reading labels and attempting to understand all the different types of flour. The WFs employees were starting to worry for my mental health, given the amount of times they stopped and asked if I needed any help.

Attempt #1: Gluten Free Focaccia Bread

I probably should have realized there would be issues, when the first line of the recipe tells you to preheat the oven… an oven you won’t use for at least another 2 hours. I mean, really?!  I gathered all the items, including all my chicken scratches notes and a really gross Americano. I’ve decided I can’t cook without coffee. I’d rather it be wine, but it was only 2PM. So I choked down the coffee and got to work.

Nov 7.jpg

The final product… over a 3 hour period. Can you see the difference?

Nov 71.jpg

Yeah, neither could I. I waited for 3 hours before declaring defeat. Of course, if I had been called to come play an impromptu game of baseball, I’d have the perfect baseball to use, this dough was hard!

Attempt #2: Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

Of course I had to drag out all the alternative flours in my kitchen. Who doesn’t have 9 different kinds of non-gluten flour?



What? You don’t? Don’t worry, you can come borrow a cup or two from me. I’m currently keeping Westpoint Distributors in business. Got to support the local businesses, you know 😉

Alright… gather my notes, drink my coffee, read blogs, eat some potato chips, assemble the ingredients and get to it.

Nov 73.jpg

The dough doesn’t resemble regular bread dough, so I wasn’t sure if it was actually made correctly. I put the dough in the bread pan, covered it, said a little prayer and let it rise in the oven (not turned on). While I waited to see if this attempt would turn out, I spent the time figuring out what I am I going to make for my next dinner. The new Barefoot Contessa book is amazing… I can’t narrow down the choices!

Nov 72.jpg

Looooook!!! It rose!!! Happy dance ensued. My neighbours must think I’ve lost my  mind when I randomly started jumping around my kitchen and taking pictures. Popped the bread into the oven for 60 minutes and distracted myself with laundry as the house started to smell amazing…



I want to eat the whole loaf. Calories don’t count when you’ve baked it yourself? right?!


The only thing that could make this better would be wine. Oh wait… never mind, I have my glass right here!