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We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other. - E.H.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things to look forward to in the big city:

Last night, I finally sucked it up and packed my first box. I've been putting it off. With Agata tied to her desk for the foreseeable future, the prospect of packing and moving our house to Toronto feels pretty overwhelming at this point. But even with the work of the next week looming ahead, I keep getting these little reminders of all the exciting things to look forward to.

One of those things is Well Preserved's regular food-related events. If you're not reading Well Preserved, I would highly recommend it - it was one of my favourite blogs for ages before I realized the folks behind it were Torontonians. If it wasn't for Well Preserved, I would have never known about candied bacon jerky - and where would I be then?

Every so often, Well Preserved hosts Home Ec, a regular series of food-related events at The Avro, a great little bar in Toronto's east end.

Last night, they hosted a preserve swap that I can't believe I missed out on (although then, who would have  packed the first box?). I would have happily traded some of our many remaining jars of canned tomatoeselderberry syrup,  ketchup and shakshuka from last summer's harvest for some of the goodies reported from last night's swap. I mean, nectarine ginger jam? Maple sap? Yes please. 

Preserve swaps make so much sense to me. Canning and preserving tends to lend itself to large batches, and while we usually have no trouble eating our way through what we make, I love the idea of adding a bit of diversity to the ol' pantry. 

I also like the idea of getting together with a bunch of other preserving-types to hang out, drink beer and trade tips. Maybe I can finally figure out what to do with the pickled moose meat a friend recently brought back from a trip to Newfoundland. I've been waiting for a stroke of inspiration, but I'll admit, both pickled meat in general - and pickled moose meat specifically - are new territory for me. 

While I missed out on the preserve swap, they've just announced Home Ec #3: Potluck on Sticks. It seems to be what it sounds - a potluck that exclusively features food on sticks. Best of all? It's on March 26th, by which time I will be living in Toronto, and maybe even partially unpacked. 

Anyone have any good food-on-sticks suggestions? Extra points if they incorporate pickled moose meat. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Baked Banana Rum Fritters

Ok, so after a long hiatus from cooking much other then vegetarian chili, I decided it was time to buy some fruit. One cannot live on beans and tomatoes alone (or maybe one can, but one should still probably eat some fruit occasionally,) so I bought a bunch of beautiful organic bananas. Aand then promptly forgot about them. You see, Agata and I discovered that if you add chili to nachos and throw on some cheese.. bam! whole new food. No need to eat the fruit. See what winter does to me? It's not pretty.

So now the bananas are starting to look a bit sad. If winter has two rules in my house, they are #1) big batches of chili and #2) spiced rum in everything. Having already explored rule #1 in relation to the aforementioned bananas with limited success (the bananas remain uneaten), I decided to explore rule #2, wherein the bananas are combined with spiced rum. Resounding success!

These fritters are best eaten warm, in great quantities, and along with a hot rum toddy.. They are simultaneously crispy and soft with lots of sweet baked banana. It's great.

Baked Banana Rum Fritters
based on a recipe by Nikki Gardner of DesignSponge

You'll need:
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 bananas, cut into small pieces.
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting
1. Pre-heat the oven to 425. 

2. Prepare the dough. Combine sugar, butter, salt, milk and rum in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once you've got in boiling, reduce the heat to low and dump in the flour, all at once. Stir the mixture, which will pull away from the edges of the saucepan and stick together in about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the eggs one at a time, stirring until the dough is completely smooth after each addition.

3. Fold the banana into the dough. Butter a baking sheet. Make them really banana-y, its better that way. Maybe 70% banana to 30% dough? These fritters are really a celebration of all things banana - the dough is just to stick the whole thing together. Form the dough into small balls, about 1-2 inches in diameter, and put them on the baking sheet.  This is a messy process (although I suppose I could have used a spoon).

4. Bake until crisp and brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Serve hot, sprinkled with icing sugar. 

Enjoy (and hope that spring comes soon). 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Farewell to this house, this town.

So, this blog has been pretty quiet for the last little while. Life has run away with me, somewhat, but it's all good stuff. While Agata has been slogging away to finish her thesis and re-enter the world of the living, I've been packing up our little apartment and scanning the housing listings.

After almost eight years, I'll be leaving my adopted town of Peterborough and heading back to Toronto, where I grew up. Agata and I will be moving in with our good friends Meagh and Claire, who are probably two of my favourite people in the world - and the whole thing feels really, really exciting.

We managed to find a house we can afford, in a neighbourhood we like, with lots of windows and a big yard  for gardening and enough space for peaceful cohabitation. The whole thing is in desperate need of a coat of paint and some love, but I think we're up for it. 

But I will miss our Peterborough apartment. Agata and I have lived here for two years now, and it was our first place together. It's been good to us.

 I will especially miss this kitchen. So much light. So little counter space.