Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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It’s Chili Inside…

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It’s chili inside of you silly!  Hopefully, like me, you prefer turkey chill because cows are too cute to eat with those big brown and soulful eyes.  If you haven’t guessed already, it’s time for another recipe courtesy of me, previously one of the world’s worst cooks.  If you are expecting me to teach you how to make home made tomato sauce, I’m afraid dear readers, that you are SOL (that means so out of luck – remember this is a family friendly environment).  What I’m going to do is teach hopeless people like me how to make a meal that isn’t frightening in an honest (like my chicken soup recipe) way.  Here is everything that you need to make a pot of turkey chili:

The kitchen paraphernalia (not sure of the right names) that you will need:

  • One big pot – your biggest, and don’t forget the lid
  • One wooden spoon
  • A cutting board
  • A sharp knife for cutting – yup your going to have to use a knife
  • 2 bowls – one for the vegetables and one for the ground turkey (no cross contamination)
  • 1 strainer for the black beans
  • Your cell phone – for this recipe or just to return texts

All of the below ingredients can be modified to suit your taste.  For example, you may love mushrooms and want to include them in your turkey chili.  I, for one, feel that they have the texture of a slug, so no way, Jose are they going into my dish.  You may have food allergies, so don’t follow my suggestions if you are like my frousin AK and have issues with peppers and other night shades.  I also am a huge vegetable fan so I throw in a lot of them.  If you are an unhealthy eater who never touches vegetables, simply leave them out.  Last, but not least, if you prefer kidney beans to black beans, or another type of bean, feel free to substitute.  I’m not going to be offended.  I happen to like black beans and I won’t get grossed out like I do with a bean that looks like one of my major organs.

Ingredients:

  • One and a half tablespoons of olive oil (or whatever oil you have on hand cheap skates)
  • One onion of whatever shade you like – I like purple because it’s one of my favourite colours
  • 1/2 pound package of ground turkey – duh, what did you think I was going to say considering it’s the main ingredient
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Black Pepper
  • Chili – yes you put chili in chili
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • One jar of President’s Choice Tomato Basil Sauce (or if you are American, Ragu) or whatever you prefer – remember, I’m not making it from scratch.  Have a back up jar on hand or some salsa in case it’s not saucy enough
  • One can of black beans rinsed and strained (don’t forget to strain)
  • One zucchini
  • One red pepper
  • One orange pepper
  • One broccoli crown
  • Two celery stalks
  • A handful of carrots

I prefer to practice mise en place – a fancy french way to say do all of your prep ahead of time.  I like to lay out everything and have my vegetables chopped and ready to go.  I place my spices next to the turkey by the stove in a bowl and have a chopping board on another counter ready to go.  I also do my cleaning along the way so I don’t have to do a massive clean up at the end.  Here are your step by step cooking instructions:

  • Chop your vegetables and place in the bowl.  Start with the zucchini – it’s the easiest to cut up and will build your confidence
  • Continue chopping until finished (I know sounds logical but some of you may like to take breaks – keep going)
  • Once everything is chopped and in the bowl, start chopping the onion, you can’t avoid it.  It makes me cry too – now is the time to take breaks – just rinse your eyes out – it’ll make them feel  better.  Leave this on the cutting board
  • Next, put your pot on the stove and add the oil to the bottom.  I’ve learned from minor splatter burns to only turn the stove to about halfway to heat the oil
  • Once you’ve heated the oil, it’s time to get the worst job done – cook the ground turkey.  It’s gross, but just take it out of the package with the wooden spoon and you won’t have to touch it
  • Once it’s in the pot, start smooshing it with the wooden spoon until it’s not so chunky.  Keep smooshing the turkey – it’s about a 5 minute ordeal.  During this time, the turkey will start to look and smell like a brain – just go to your happy place until it’s over.  I sing Kelly Clarkson songs in my inside voice.  For this, I recommend “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”
  • As you are cooking the meat, you’ll need to season it.  Get your onion powder and do a “shake, shake, shake your booty” and that’s usually enough.  Next, repeat with the garlic powder, chili and black pepper
  • Once the meat is cooked, it will look like white chunky brain matter, add the entire jar of sauce
  • Add all of your vegetables
  • Add your black beans
  • Add a huge amount of sriracha unless of course, you can’t handle the heat in which case you should get out of the kitchen
  • Stir, stir stir
  • Turn the heat all the way down to low and cover with the lid, if it doesn’t fit, then you must acquit, I mean get a lid that does.  Sorry, I’ve been watching the OJ mini-series on FX
  • Stir occasionally, and cook for 1 hour
  • Let this cool and then pack away and freeze or eat, whatever makes you happy
  • I can usually get 6-7 servings out of this

Next, to make it fancy, and if you are a light eater, take a spoonful of chili and skid it along the plate like they do in fancy restaurants and add three grains of brown rice as a side dish.  Seriously, what is with the puree skid?  The most over used and unattractive way of serving that I’ve ever seen!

Anyway – that’s it.  I’m just going to warn you, that the first time I did this, it took me 2.5 hours.  I’m down to 90 minutes, small victories.  Enjoy : 0 )

 


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Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Real Deal

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I made this and so can you.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I made chicken soup.  My mother sat in the kitchen and told me what to do, because like most women of a certain generation, they just know instinctively how to cook.  They aren’t like me who goes into a tail spin if I lose the recipe.  Chicken soup isn’t just a Dr. Oz approved cure for all colds and flus, although he, like many doctors extolls the virtues of Jewish penicillin, it is my all time favourite food.  My Bubbie made the best chicken soup, followed by my mother.  My grandmother’s special ingredient?  Love of course.

I’m here to help my readers, so I’m going to share the secret recipe to the world’s best soup, but unlike most sites, this is for people exactly like me that have never made it before and who need more guidance than professional cooks require.  Just a warning, I only tried one spoon of the soup that I made, so I can’t tell you if it’s great or not, but I’ll keep trying until it’s the third best chicken soup around.  Nothing can top the chicken soup professionals (Bubbie and my mother).

Ingredients:

-2 packages of chicken bones (yes, that means that you may have to head to the butchers or try the kosher meat section of the grocery store – that’s where we picked them up)

-i cube of chicken bouillon cube or half of a small package of it (just enough so that the broth turns a little yellow)

-water (duh)

-2 sprigs of dill

-Mirepoix – just a fancy way of saying one onion, 3 stalks of celery and either 3 cooking carrots or 1/3 of a package of baby carrots but doesn’t it sound nice?

-Salt

-Pepper

-Your biggest pot – I don’t understand quarts – I’m Canadian, but it should be big

Step 1 – Get ready to toss your cookies, because you have to take those UGLY looking bones out of the package and plop them into the pot.  Don’t worry – there is plenty of meat on them to make a great broth. I recommend using a knife to cut the packages open so that your fingers don’t have to come anywhere near those bad boys.  Plop the two packages of bones in as quickly as possible.  Trust me – it’s gross so you’ll want to get it over with quickly.  I looked and I shouldn’t have.

Step 2 – Go to the sink, turn on the water and fill the pot up enough to cover the gross bones up really well.  Put the pot on the stove on high until it comes to a boil.
Step 3 – Get your mirepoix ready.  Wash the celery (I bet some of you think that putting it in the boiling water is enough – it’s not).  Cut the stalks in half.  Cut the top and bottom of the onion off and peel off the skin.  That’s all you have to do – no need to chop it up.  If you use baby carrots, just take out a third of the package.  If you like manual labour, feel free to peel 2-3 big carrots.

Step 4 – THIS IS A DOOZY – THE GROSSEST PART  BY FAR!!!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Once your bones have boiled, get yourself a bowl and a big spoon because the most vile, disgusting scum comes to the top of the pot.  It looks like foamy brains.  You’ll need to skim off as much of it as possible BUT, reduce the heat to low first.  I know – I know, it stinks and I almost tossed my cookies, and what’s even worse is that I believe that some people leave it in there.  I asked my mother what was in the scum – she told me to stop asking questions that I didn’t want to hear the answer to and to just keep skimming.  I did as I was told and got almost a bowlful of that putrid mess out of the pot.  I sang “Just Keep Skimming”  to Finding Nemo’s “Just Keep Swimming” to distract myself – in my inside voice of course.

Step 5 – Once you’ve finished skimming – pour in the bouillon (or plop it in if it’s a cube).  Gently place in the mirepoix that you lovingly prepped (that’s your vegetables if you weren’t paying attention).  Lay in the dill (I know it sounds a little pervy, but that’s your dirty mind).  Last but not least, put in the salt and pepper.  How much?  Do a shake, shake, shake (your booty).  That’s three shakes of each (make sure it has the top on so that you aren’t pouring either in – you want dashes.  Remember novices, you can always season to taste after, but you you’ll have to throw a potato in to absorb the salt if you over do it (I’m not sure if I’m even right about that, but correct me if I’m wrong).

Step 6 – Cover and let it cook for 2.5 hours.  Yes that’s right, you have 2.5 hours of free time to do anything that you want as long as you don’t leave the house.  I made a honey cake from scratch – that’s a whole other story.  It just confirmed what I already knew – baking sucks.

Step 7 – After the cooking time is over, there is still more grossness, but this is manageable.  Get a plastic bag and use the big spoon to get the bones out of the soup.  Toss them immediately so they don’t stink up the kitchen.  Take the vegetables out and puree them (using a hand blender or food processor), and put them back in your soup.  Wait until the soup is cool enough, then put into containers to freeze or to have later.

Step 8 – If you are going to eat the chicken soup, let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.  The fat congeals on the top (it looks like a solid white sheet) and you can skim that off.  Also very gross, and also makes me want to toss my cookies, but it you want soup that isn’t greasy, that’s the way to do it.  If you freeze it, when it defrosts, the fat will rise to the top and again, skim it off.

There you have it.  A step by step recipe – something that I thought that I would never do – ever.  The next few will be devoted to my trip, but I wanted to do this while I still remembered.


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The Fear Conquerer – Part 1

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I’ve mentioned, several times, that 2015 has been a time of change in my little piece of the universe.  Admittedly, some has not been joyous, but some has, at the very least, taught me some important life lessons.  I can’t be bothered being preachy today, but I can say, that conquering fears, which incidentally, was one of the topics on The Dr. Oz Show today is definitely on my agenda.

Hello Dolly’s which you see pictured above, aren’t very scary.  But, when you have me making them, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.  My issues with cooking and baking have been numerous.  I hate getting my hands dirty (literally), baking is too much of a science for someone as creative as me (ok – maybe a stretch), I can’t stand slimy things…the list goes on and on.  While cooking has never been a joy or passion of mine, in recent months, I have discovered, that there is a certain order to it that can be soothing. There is nothing more satisfying to someone type A like me, than practicing “mise en place” – putting in place.  I’ll never be a chef, and I may only make several things well, but I am learning.  For Mother’s Day, I made Lidia Bastianich’s Baked Ziti and it was a great, easy to follow recipe https://lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/1070.  It’s not winning any healthy cooking awards, but it is really good!  I love Lidia – I have a real soft spot for her and love watching her cook.

Just because I like cooking, doesn’t mean I like baking.  I’ll never enjoy the dusty, musty, boringness of it.  I hate rolling and patting things down, I’ve almost broken a mix master and there is no real way to keep things straight.  We were having a bake sale at work to raise money for supplies for a dinner at Ronald McDonald House.  A team of us are going to prepare and serve dinner for the residents.  As always, I was thinking that I would just donate money, but I decided conquer my fears and make something.  Well, Hello Dolly, you were calling my name.  On paper, and for the average person, it’s pretty basic.  For a novice like, me, an 8 minute prep lasted a half an hour.  Try figuring out what 3/4 of a cup of butter is supposed to be.  Well, had I been smarter, I would have just cut a slab using the 1/4 and 1/2 measurements, but I’m not mathematician.  Placing parchment paper was also a bit of a nightmare.  It was all just a little much for me…but I did it.  I didn’t quit when the going got crumby (pun intended).  See picture above – not perfect, but done!  And they sold out.  All I have to say is never again.  Good bye Dolly.

I also managed to FINALLY get my driver’s license after so many years.  Part of it was fear of driving in Toronto, part of it was a little fear of writing the test with a bunch of 16 year olds, and some of it was probably fear of failure…but I wrote the test, wasn’t the oldest person in the room and am now the proud owner of Government Issued Photo ID.  In Toronto, we have a graduated licensing system, so I have my G1.  To get my permanent license, I need to do 20 hours of in class (helps with insurance) and two road tests, but in under 2 years, I’ll have that.  I can hardly wait to do the in class – talk about your fears – it’s a Saturday and Sunday from 9-3:30 – YUCK.  Fear of lost time is a hard thing to live with.

I can only deal with so much fear, so I’m signing off for now,  plus I have to go watch  Dr. Oz  so that I can learn to conquer my fear of spiders.  Tune in soon to find out how I’m going to conquer some more fears and how you may be able to help!


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Change Is In The Air

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I knew that 2015 was going to be a year of change.  I had that feeling on December 31st.  I just wasn’t quite sure what that meant for me.  So far, it has been difficult, but sometimes, not to sound like Polly Pureheart, those difficulties spur you to explore the unexpected.  One day, when my mother wasn’t having a great day, I told her that I would cook for her.  She would just have to be there for me and tell me step by step what to do.  After checking her life insurance policy, she agreed.  Not nice Mummy!  I spent the afternoon making soup for the first time, spaghetti sauce for the first time (beef stinks when it’s cooking – I’ll try to keep my chick-a-fish-a-veg-atarian self away from Elsie the Cow for the rest of my days), baked chicken breasts (not the first time, but only about the third time making this dish) and egg salad (BLAH – too smelly for me to ever eat).  You know, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  It’s just weird how someone just knows how much of everything to add without a recipe (my mother, not me).  So far, she’s survived the experiment.  I made the soup – pictured above, at home for myself.  It was ok day 1 but on day 2, I was about to gag on it.  It did have a lot of Oz approved foods – fresh onion (pre-biotics to super-charge my probiotics), carrots, celery, cabbage, snow peas and a package of dried vegetables and barley.  I probably won’t make it more than once a year, but it was nice adding something to my limited recipe book.

This will also be a year of trying new things.  It means a Zombie “Escape the Room Challenge” and Axe Throwing.  It means doing things that I’ve never tried before, even if they are outside of my comfort zone.  It means committing to a cut off time for work.  It means that in the interests of decluttering, that I actually un-friended someone from Facebook.  Not a big deal, but it was time to do a little tune up.  Why have someone there who clearly I haven’t had a conversation with in years?  I’ll be doing a little more of that in the future – but it was a start.

I also recognize that in order to live in a relatively healthy way, I have to learn how to cope with worry.  I dealt with being sick for most of January (which I wrote about).  This didn’t worry me, but it kept me from being able to write as often, or as clearly as I may have wanted to.  It left me a little fatigued, but that’s partly stress.  A huge work project finally came to an end, which caused me a lot of sleepless nights – but it went well, so that’s a relief.  Last, but most importantly, my family and I have to cope with a challenging situation – I can’t get into details, yet, but it’s not easy.  Luckily, we are supporting each other and for that, I am grateful.  Here are some of Dr. Oz’s tips for coping with worry (from doctoroz.com):

  • “Get More Sleep: One common complaint of distress is lack of sleep. It can put your brain on edge, which forces it to go into survival mode.
  • Meditation: The well-documented effects of regular meditation include lowered blood pressure, less heart disease, decreased chronic pain, and increased mental clarity.
  • Yoga: Dr. Oz recommends doing the 7-minute sun salutation yoga exercise every day. Not only does it keep him in shape, it keeps his mind focused and clear.
  • Teas and Other Calming Foods: Some foods and teas have natural components that help soothe the brain.”

I’ve signed up for Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s latest 21 Day Meditation Experience in March.  I also have 3 other meditations streamed.  As I’ve mentioned, I will always struggle with it, but so many doctors recommend it, that I’ll never stop trying.  I’m already a tea lover, so that’s never an issue, but I am going to see what foods help cope with stress.  I’ve also got to give yoga another try – maybe a laughing yoga class, because I have such a hard time taking it seriously?

Today is Family Day in Ontario, and as always, I like to end on a note of what I am grateful for.  Today, in honour of Family Day, I am grateful to my family, frousins and friends that are like family.  I’m lucky to have all of you.

I


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The Stress of Blogging…And Other Stuff

I don’t think that blogging is all that stressful. In fact, I enjoy writing my blog.  I rarely get writer’s block.  Researching, checking out videos and other Oz-worthy information is a little stressful though, but not enough to add to inflammation in my potentially riddled body.  The only real stress is finding the time to blog…and the lack of really great recent Gwyneth Paltrow quotes.  I do have faith though, that I will always find the time to write and that Gwynnie will say something really dumb….soon.  I have to give her props for the Jailbird Cake in response to Martha Stewart’s own nastiness – there is nothing more stinging than a WASP feud (pun intended).  Check out the linkhttp://goop.com/recipes/sweets/jailbird-cake.  I personally will not be making this cake – it calls for a mix master and I don’t own one.  I’ve been banned from using the mixer at my mother’s house ever since the gingerbread man incident of 2008.  Talk about stress!  It was my first time using a mix master since I was a wee one and it was a bit of a disaster that resulted in a set of broken beaters and a warning never to touch my mother’s kitchen equipment again.  Since then, she has relented and lets me use the kettle and the dishwasher.  I’ve also been upgraded to stove top usage since I’m the only person in the family who can make a good pot of rice, but every time I even think about getting close the the mecca that is the mixer, I’m given a stern warning that it has to last the rest of my mother’s life and that she is down to her last set of beaters thanks to me.  OOOPS….sorry!

Getting back to the stress of blogging, most days, I barely have time to answer my work emails.  I’ve stopped answering most emails from friends just due to lack of time – sorry friends!  I still do get joy from writing my little blog so I do try to make an effort where I can.  Bizarre fact – last week, when I blogged just once, I had more views than almost any other week.  Another interesting fact if you do blog, and I’m not sure that this happens to everyone – I get WAAAAYYYY more views on weekdays than on weekends which is the best time for me to write.  Lesson – just get it over with during the week and party on during the weekends.  When I write about travel, I also get more followers…interesting….I love travel and could write about it every single day.

In terms of stress relief, my daily Deepak Chopra/Oprah 21 Day Meditation Experience is going off just as expected – I listen raptly as DOprah speaks and as soon as it’s time to meditate, I lose it.  Fortunately, Deepak always assures me that the goal isn’t perfection.  I’m sad that it’s winding up but to tide me over, I’m reading Chopra’s “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire”.  It makes me feel deep that I’m reading it!  It’s actually really well written – it’s all about the role of coincidence in your life.  Ever read the bore that is “The Celestine Prophecy”?  That book lost me after chapter one which was the only good chapter in the whole book.  It was all about coincidence (just that chapter) – I blocked out the rest of the book since it qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.  Chopra’s book on the other hand, is all about coincidence – it’s the central theme – with some quantum physics to make you feel especially smart.  He explains everything so well, it doesn’t even lose me when he starts talking about molecules and atoms – check it out if you are interested in the topic.  You won’t be disappointed unless you only like horror and chick-lit – then you are out of luck.

Last but not least, a moment of gratitude.  Today I am grateful to my over 70 year old mother (I’m not going to share her full age – that’s a not very carefully guarded secret).  My poor little mother who has health issues of her own, got up and offered a heavily pregnant woman a seat on Toronto’s subway.  I sat comfortably watching this, thinking – YAY Mom!  Give up your seat instead of me…just kidding – I wasn’t even there.  I just can’t believe that people today let my mother give up her seat while they sat there.  It’s common courtesy to give up your seat for an elder, a pregnant woman, someone that is blind, uses a cane, is in a walker, etc.  I see people everyday pretend to be asleep or lost in their book so that they can stay comfy.  All I have to say is shame on you!  Let’s be a little kinder to one another, and offer someone who needs to rest a place to do it and not make someone who isn’t old at all (like my Mummy) but who may be more advanced in years than you, give up hers.