One of the weirdest things that happened when I started this blog was my struggle when I had to measure ingredients. I never, ever measured anything (other than for baking purposes) before I started this blog and it really threw me off. My process for making sauces and dressings was to throw things into a bowl, taste and adjust as I went. Basically, it was very difficult for me to guess what a shake of this or a squirt of that measured in terms of teaspoons and cups. One of the disasters that stands out in my mind was when I tried to make these charred brussel sprouts for the blog last year. I had been making versions of these brussel sprouts all winter and they were one of our favourite dishes. I felt like I had the process down perfectly: lightly steam, drain, char in the same pan and dress with a delicious sauce. But, when I tried to measure out what I normally just throw into my pan as my sauce, everything was off. It was disgusting. The biggest problem was that I used way too much of everything and the brussel sprouts were drowning in their glaze. I never attempted the blog-version (i.e. measuring) of these again, until now. We finally bought our first batch of brussel sprouts this year and I forgot how much I love them. I can’t believe we have gone so many months without these. Either way, they are back and this time, I measured with much more skill. Now you can make them too!
A very long time ago, I worked in a kitchen for a short period of time. The restaurant was a steak house and I worked on the salad station. It was a time in my life when I was debating quitting university to go to culinary school so I thought it was a good idea to get some experience in the kitchen before I made such a life-changing decision. For a lot of reasons, I didn’t end up going to culinary school but the one dish I think of when I think of that time was their caesar salad. I remember, on my last day, the chef I was working with gave me a little container of the caesar dressing because he knew I loved it so much. Since then, I have never really made my own caesar salad dressing. This is because every time I looked up a recipe they called for anchovies, which I have never been able to find at the store. A couple of weeks ago, I got a massive craving for caesar salad and decided that instead of tracking down anchovies, I would just try to make a dressing without it. On top of that, I knew I wanted it to be a kale caesar salad. I finally got my hands on some black/dinosaur kale again (which is my favourite in salads) and since caesar salad dressing is quite heavy, I didn’t want any delicate greens that would get weighed down.
I’ve been trying to be more conscious of eating locally lately. I’ve been frequenting my local, organic market more and more recently. Not only does the produce taste better but I like knowing where it comes from and supporting more small-scale producers. Even though I was always aware of the produce available (and not available) according to the different seasons, it becomes so much more obvious when the large majority of the food isn’t being imported from elsewhere. It is such a shift from summer into more truly wintery produce. Needless to say, there is a lot of squash, parsnips, and potatoes around. It always takes my brain some time to re-adjust and think about the things I normally make with these ever present winter vegetables that I largely ignore over the summer months. One of the biggest problems I have, especially with squash, is that they are so big. Just one squash is way more than we ever need for any meal and unless I want endless leftovers, I have to think of multiple dishes to make with the same ingredient. While my go-to is usually soup, a couple of weeks ago, I used some acorn squash to make a delicious quinoa salad. So, when I saw a half of a squash being sold at my local market, I wasn’t only thrilled that I wouldn’t have to eat an entire squash by myself but I also knew what I was going to do with it right away. I could picture what a beautiful side dish, or even meal, a quinoa stuffed acorn squash would make, especially at this time of year.
I never learn when it comes to beets. I always buy them, come home, stare at them, and have no idea what to do with them. I don’t love beets in juice and never really eat more than a couple of bites of roasted beet salad. Don’t ask me why: they are gorgeously sweet and earthy and have a lovely, firm texture but beets just aren’t my thing. So, last week when I went to the store and bought a bag of beets, I came home not knowing what to do with them, again. That is, until I remembered borscht. I love borscht and it has been on my list of things to make for this blog for a very long time. I have no idea why I haven’t gotten around to making it, but I’m so glad that I finally did. I realize that for someone who said they don’t particularly like beets, borscht is a strange thing to like. But I’m ok with being a little bit strange. And I can proudly say that this soup is great and I won’t mind eating bowl after bowl of it in the coming days (this recipe makes a lot of soup!).