My family’s annual visit to Campbellford, Ontario to celebrate; our mother’s birthday, watch the Santa Claus Parade and have a pint of Holy Smoke Scotch Ale by Church-Key Brewing Co.
For me the official start to the cold winter months begins with a pint of Holy Smoke, a peat smoked Scotch ale. The family heads over to Church-Key’s pub, The Stinking Rose, after the Santa Claus Parade. My nieces and nephews have hot chocolate and compare their candy loot they scored at the Santa Claus Parade. The adults enjoy a pint or two of Church-Key’s brews. We stay till we think we’ve pushed the limit of our fellow patrons or the kids sugar rush begins to kick in, whichever comes first.
We slowly walk home enable to let the kids burn off their sugar rushes (several blocks and climbing snow piles). Once we’re home to start to prepare dinner to celebrate our mother’s birthday.
Church-Key Brewing Co. itself is worth a drop by to sample their brews and a good opportunity to stock up on their seasonal brews that are not widely distribute like my favourite, It’s The Great Pumpkin Ale.
Tasting notes of It’s The Great Pumpkin Ale: Back by popular demand, this 7% beer was brewed with 350kg of locally sourced pumpkin that was put directly into the mash. The decision to smoke half of the pumpkin and roast the other half contributes to this beer’s delicate sweetness that is rounded with the dryness of high quality spices commonly used in your grandma’s pumpkin pie. Get it while it lasts!
Church-Key is located just beyond downtown Campbellford in an old Methodist Church or you can visit their pub, The Stinking Rose.
This scene from Despicable Me always comes to mind when I watch a dog owner allowing their beloved family member walk through my garden.
When the weather becomes cold and crisp I begin to have a hankering for Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Cherry Tomatoe & Sausage Bake. The stewy richness of the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, spicy sausages with torn ciabatta on the side or with penne pasta. Everything about this dish is comfy goodness and so simple to make.
What I like about Jamie Oliver is that he encourages you to season his recipes to your desire. A splash of this or a dollop and don’t forget a pad of that. At first this was intimidating to me, now I enjoy adding my personal flare to his recipes. For Sweet Cherry Tomatoe & Sausage Bake I double the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves then combine everything together except for the sausages. Enable to achieve the stewy richness of the tomatoes (without drying out the sausages) I bake them for an additional 20 minutes then add the sausages. Any leftovers can either be frozen or I add penne for a nice pasta dish.
This recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life and is also available on his website. Jamie is very generous sharing his recipes on his website it’s always worth my time when I’m stumped on what to make for dinner.
Chicken stock before it’s been drained.
Homemade chicken stock doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out process. It’s one of those myths: Four hours, carrots and celery……. I have no desire to spend several hours watching a pot simmer to make broth. Five minutes researching online and I found Cook’s Illustrated, Better & Quicker Homemade Stock recipe that is a reasonable amount of time and effort.
The method to Cook’s Illustrated, Better & Quicker Homemade Stock recipe is to sweat the chicken carcass with onions, it’s not the word I would use to describe this step but that is what it’s called. Sweating is cooking the chicken and onions over low heat covered with a lid to release the flavouful juices from the chicken (see image below).
What I believe makes this chicken stock amazing is that I used my herb infused carcass from Anthony Bourdain’s Poulet Roti that I made a couple of days earlier. I added bay leaves, boiling water and enhanced the flavours with additional salt and pepper.
Cook’s Illustrated, Better & Quicker Homemade Stock recipe takes about an hour to make and clean up. I also freeze the stock several different ways the most efficient being to freeze the chicken stock are in nonstick muffin tins or ice cube trays. Once the stock is frozen, twist, remove and place in freezer zipper-lock bags or pour stock, about one cup into freezer zipper-lock bags and freeze flat.
Before sweating of the chicken
Chicken and onions after it’s been sweating with added bay leaves.
Chicken stock before it’s been drained.
Zipper-lock bags to be frozen.
Frozen chick stock in ice cube trays.
What I love about the fall season is the fresh produce: apples, pumpkins, parsnips, carrots, cranberries….and roasted chicken. I know that chicken is year-around, but oven roasted chicken in the fall is my favourite. Anthony Bourdain’s Poulet Roti is my go-to roasted chicken with carrots, potatoes, parsnips. The recipe is from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook and so is the herb butter.
In prepping the chicken, I first had to truss it with butcher’s twine. Anthony Bourdain is quite right when he says it’s undignified (plus impossible to visualize) when you read his instructions. The first time I trussed, I failed miserably and turned to YouTube. YouTube is my go to for cooking tutorials. There are plenty of ways to truss a chicken however this video is simple, straight forward and is very helpful.
There are also a couple of steps I do to ensure my Poulet Roti is prefect.
1. I baste the chicken frequently and rotate the roasting pan throughout the duration of cooking to ensure even cooking.
2. A must for me: a digital cooking thermometer. Without one I always undercook the drumsticks. I can leave in the thermometer but I seem to make a mess when I rotate the pan. I usually check the temperature of the chicken after an hour in the oven. With a digital cooking thermometer is take about 10 secs to get an accurate reading.
Stayed tuned for my post on better and quicker homemade chicken stock.
This past week has been exhausting for Toronto. I’m not going to go over the
particulars. The entire world has been reading and watching the events unfold all week.
“Comes across as a stupid guy.”
“Even my cab driver in Hawaii was talking about Rob.”
“If he’s been drunk while at the office the man needs to go.”
I have finally got around to painting my bathroom door that had a single coat of primer paint for far too long. Just before I was about to start my prep work on a Sunday afternoon, I was enjoying brunch with friends. I was sadly informed over brunch that oil paint is no longer available in Canada. This put a wrench in my Sunday afternoon plans and I needed to do some research.
I love the shiny, polished look of glossy oil paint, the smooth texture and the durability in a high traffic area. The mess of working with oil paint was worth the trouble. Thankfully, I found out oil paint was no longer available in Canada before I started. Otherwise I would had done my norm: Finish an existing can in the basement then running out to buy another to complete the project. I’m going to save my last can of oil paint for future touch-ups on baseboards.
The replacement for oil is alkyd paint. Alkyd paint has the same durability as oil but the clean up advantage of a water-base paint. My con list working with alkyd paint: Only comes in a semi-gloss, has a rubbery feel and enhances nicks and dents. Good-bye my beautiful glossy sheen of oil and hello BEHR’s Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel.
Couple of Tips:
1. You can not paint alkyd paint over oil. You must do a light sanding before painting. Otherwise this will happen – see photo. (I was curious to see the results.)
2. Great investment to eliminate messes are the Dynamic Super Lid With Spout. You can leave them on for your entire project. No more denting a lid, cleaning the paint around the lid, fighting with a lid ’cause paint dried around the lid.
3. Once you’re done store your paint can upset down to keep air out.
Alkyd painted over oil, no sanding
BEHR alkyd paint & Dynamic lid
Smooth oil painted door
Alkyd painted door
I love coffee, love….coffee. The best part of waking up in the morning is to a cup of coffee and the rich aroma. I don’t consider myself a coffee snob. I know what I like: Dark-roasted, full-body, bold flavour that does not taste like burnt coffee beans. I
consider this to be an easy request, yet most coffee chains are not able to get it right.
Amazing (inverted method) French Press coffee is what the AeroPress makes, amazing. Sameer and his crew at Fahrenheit coffee demonstrated how to master the prefect cup using their Diablo beans. Even thou the AeroPress comes with brewing instructions it’s up to you to adjust according to your desire. If you’re interested in trying an (inverted method) French Press I suggest at visit to Fahrenheit coffee at the corner of Jarvis St and Lombard St.
Fahrenheit’s Inverted Method
Some Tips to Brewing
• Wet the filter once you placed it on the filter cap before attaching to the body
• Fill it a 1/3rd with water, stir then add rest of the water
• Lots of videos on YouTube.com
• Play with your brewing time. I use espresso beans 1.5 scoops and brew for 1.5mins.
Laurel: I don’t want to go to Toronto.
Uncle Tyson: Why? Thought you love Toronto.
Laurel: Because I’ll have to see Drita and get a haircut.
Uncle Tyson: ???
Laurel: I have split ends.
Taste of the Silk Road
My sister Erinn has recently moved to Los Angles from Toronto and when she’s in Toronto she wants soup from Taste of the Silk Road. This is not a problem for me I’m always craving Margret’s cooking at Taste of the Silk Road.
Our usual order: Calamari, Mo Mo’s, Lanzhou Spicy soup for Erinn and Buddha’s Delight soup for me.
Margret is known for her Calamari and the 45 minute plus lineup at the Taste of the Danforth. Recently, I overheard a diner who only ordered one dish that he wasn’t able to try at the Taste of the Danforth: the Calamari. There were lots of questions regarding how Margret preps the Calamari a bit more than what a diner would ask. The diner was a chef from a very well known hotel in Toronto. Way to go Margret!
Festival of Colours Mont Ste Marie, Québec
A Thanksgiving weekend must for my family is an outing to Mont Ste Marie in Québec. The autumn colours are breathtaking and the best view is while taking the ski lift up the mountain. When we’re at the top, an impressive 1250 ft, we like to hang out and inquire who will be walking back down. The walk down is steep and rocky. Little rocks, that roll under your feet, smooth rocks, slippery wet rocks. It’s all rock and some of us just prefer to take the ski lift back down.