The End of June Month

IMG_0832   I know it’s July now. I just noticed people say that here when they talk about some goings on in June. Not just “june” but “june month.” Unnecessarily specific, but has a nice sound to it.

Im just having a sit on the couch. It’s nice outside and inside. The window is open, and I can hear all the warblers warbling and the tits tittering. The wind shaking the leaves all crazy, flipping them like a million green coins, the sound is like a shimmer. It smells like pollen and plants and I cant fill my lungs full enough of this warm air. I count 16 mosquitos now, pressing their little fiendish faces up against the window screen, thirsty for my blood. The one and only downside of summer. It’s turned me into a pretty paranoid predator. Slapping little buzzing bodies anywhere, anytime, remorseless. Im getting good at it too. Like a ninja. There’s limited collateral damage now, mostly in the form of upsot cups of tea. CBs disapproving eye at my frantic flailing and slapping while he is trying to play Fallout. I’ll keep my blood thank you, it is not in me to give.

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Green green green all around me. The urge to climb these trees surges up so strongly in me sometimes. I have to remind myself that it’s just whimsical nonsense and in reality I’m old and fat and slow and will just hook my ass on a branch and get stuck forever and they will call me Mongo The Tree Girl and throw apples at me to eat. Or a spider will run on my hand and I’ll scream and fall out and break all my hips. Broken Hip Hospital Vacation! NOT A BAD IDEA!

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The worlds slowest growing nasturtium. I like to yell at it every time I walk by its sad little cement pot of saddy sadness. OH GAWWWWD why do you still only have 6 leaves?! You should be full of flowers! What am I feeding you all that delicious hot bacon grease for if you’re not using it to GROW GOD DAMN IT! *green thumb*

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Found these weird things. Wonder what they will be? They look like they are from another planet. Theres all kinds of uncanny ass plants popping up all over now. All around the house are all these little ferns with bumpy blue stems. Upon further investigation–grabbing them–I realized it was in fact a regular green stem but covered in millions of tiny beetle babies and my hand came up covered in bug guts.  YAY!

Today I was thinking that Newfoundland probably must have the most beautiful ditches in the world. Riding around on the motorcycle today with CB I saw ditches brimming with alien stalks of pink & blue lupins, palm sized dandelions, fiery orange hawkweed, fluffy white snowballs of labrador tea flowers, fuschia lamb laurel bushes, wispy white beards of bog cotton, wild blue flag irises, pretty pink seathrift…  its overwhelmingly gorgeous. Its such a stark contrast to the endless bleak whiteness of winter. Everything wakes up in a rainbow! Theres a million different sorts of birds and a billion more sorts of bugs. This island literally buzzes with alive things. Anyway, its pretty nice. Here’s a link to someone elses blog about newfoundland flowers.

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Put on a record. Clean the house. Wash the dishes. Wash the clothes. Wash our dirty stank butts.

I took these pictures in early June, but never got to write about it. We had a nice lobster dinner, just knives and meat and butter. I never liked lobster before I met CB. He invited me to one of his family lobster “feeds” and I was so shy and scared and just tentatively nibbled a claw soaked in butter. But now I am A BEAST! Well, not really. CB breaks them down, but I eat everything until I cant eat anymore. CB’s mum is still the lobster champion of all time. She is small but she can take down 4 of those buggers in a sitting. What a woman. IMG_0732_2   Fresh from the fish plant! Watching CB come out of the building with a bag full of lobsters looking so proud.

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This is the smallest and feistiest one. I named him Hank. He was delicious.

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CB demonstrates his east coast party trick of lobster hypnosis. Make him do a handstand, tickle his forehead with your forefinger.. STOP PLAYING WITH YOUR FOOD!

IMG_0786   COME AT ME, BRO!

IMG_0775_2   Sorry Hank, you salty little sea spider. You were just born too damn ugly and too damn tasty to live, man. IMG_0771

Notice this one. The Big Guy. Is. The. Size. of my baking pan! His claw was the size of CBs hand! He could barely lift it! What a hero.

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What a beautiful sight.  Knife, board, beers, towels, pile of lobbies. Yeah thats what I call them now, I think it’s going to catch on.

IMG_0816   And now the massacre begins. Look away if you’re squeemish, or you might get lobster juice in your eye.

_MG_0808 That’ll do Hank, that’ll do.

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Newfie Voodoo

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This is Fisherman’s Brewis, and it will make you very, very quiet, and very, very full, and very.. very.. happy.

We haven’t made this at home before, but we’ve had it at a couple of places around Newfoundland. It’s a traditional dish and comes from when the boys were out on the boat and they didnt have a whole lot of stuff to work with. Some hard bread, some salt fish, a couple potaters and fatback pork.. oh baby.

CB made this for us before he left for work this afternoon so that when we were done adventuring we just had to heat it up in the cast iron pan before dinner. We had it with scrunchions, and mustard cabbage pickles! WAAAAH!!

It was the perfect thing to eat tonight because the day is cold and foggy and the kind of damp that gets in your bones and makes you want to nap all day. Its going to be a go to winter meal I think. Oh by the way, this ain’t no health food.

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Fisherman’s Brewis & Scrunchions

4 cakes hard bread

4 potatoes

1 lb salt cod

6 slices salt pork

1 small onion

Soak salt fish in one container, and hard bread in another, in cold water overnight.

In the morning, boil the salt fish in clean water, and on top of the pot steam the hard bread for about 20 minutes until the bread is soft and the fish flakes.

Remove from heat and drain. Skin, bone and flake fish – set-aside.

Boil potatoes. Mix them with hard bread and salt fish until its all together, smashing the potatoes up a bit as you go.

Scrunchions:

In a pan on low heat, fry salt pork until all fat is rendered out. Add onions and cook until golden brown. Spoon fat and onions over fish and brewis like a beautiful, fatty gravy. Oh gawwwrrdd…

 

AND THEN THERE WAS PIE.

 

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This is a local speciality, a lassie tart, and I had never eaten it or even heard of it until I moved here. It is the stuff of legends, everyone’s mum makes it the best and one lady, Margaret, has become somewhat of a mythic, legendery pie hero to me. Everyone whispers in hushed tones “not as good as Margarets..” but thats ok because Margaret is obviously using some awesome Newfie voodoo pie magic and one day I will learn her dark arts! The crust is like a gingersnap cookie, made with molasses and black tea. Its rolled out thin and spread with funky, sour partridgeberry jam — not too sweet! And then a lattice crust is assembled on top and you back it for about 20 minutes until the jam starts to bubble. Serve it with ice cream, it’s SO GOOD! But not as good as Margarets……

 
‘Lassie Tart

Dough:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup molasses

2 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp clove

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup strong brewed black tea

Partridge Berry Jam:

6 cups partridgeberries

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

To make the dough, cream the butter and molasses. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. In a small bowl or cup, stir the baking soda into the hot brewed tea, then add immediately to the butter-and-molasses mixture and stir well. Add dry ingredients to the same bowl and mix until just combined. Pat the dough into a ball and flatten, wrap in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours.

To make the partridgeberry jam, place the berries, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour. Set aside and let cool.

To assemble the tarts, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and 10 inches round. Transfer to an 8-inch tart pan and trim the overhanging edges. Form a ball with the scraps, roll out the dough and cut out strips for the lattice top.

Fill tart with 1/2 inch of partridgeberry jam. Place the lattice overtop and use a fork to crimp the edges of the pastry.

Bake at 350 F for 25-35 minutes or until the top is dark brown and the jam is starting to bubble.

 

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Cookin’ Chook

 

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Isnt that a pretty looking chicken? I cant wait to eat her.

I’m very excited because I went to the grocery store today and saw more COLOURS! Red peppers, purple baby eggplants, grapefruit, blood oranges.. vegetables are cominnnng! I bought this bag of mixed purple, red and yellow skinned potatoes because I know CB has been eyeing them for making really pretty potato salad at the cafe. We’ll give them a test run. I’ve been underwhelmed by purple potatoes before, but sometimes they are amazing. Cover them in onions, thyme, bacon fat and butter.. let the chicken drip it’s tasty juices all over them, yeah.. that’ll be good. Cant wait. Now, time for tea. I just wanted to show you how pretty this chicken looked!

 

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Popcorn Creme Brulee

Sweet, salty, creamy, buttery, smooth, crunchy.. need I go on?

Infusing cream with the taste of freshly popped, salty, buttered popcorn makes a particularly delicious creme brulee. Your spoon cracks through the layer of crunchy caramel into a silky custard below. The combination of caramel and butter popcorn makes this taste like candy corn. Only way sexier.

I had an item on the menu at the hotel that was a butterscotch tart, shortbread, a scoop of butter popcorn ice cream. Pretty much as much butter and salt and sugar as I could get onto one plate. It was kind of meh, however the Popcorn ice cream was addictive. I found myself craving it today, and alas without an ice cream maker. Creme Brulee is basically ice cream but you chuck it in the oven instead of the freezer! This definitely satisfied my craving.

You can use this method to flavour your cream with any number of things before hand, and then strain them out just like the popcorn. Its a nice way to coax the flavour out of something like tea, peach pits, flower if you’re into it..

For more details or to download a PDF version, check it out on Instructables.

Butter Popcorn Creme Brulee

Yield: 2 large or 4 small ramekins
Time: 6 hours
Cost: <$10

Hardware:

– 2 medium, heavy bottomed pots
– 4 cup measuring cup, with spout
– tinfoil
– fine mesh strainer
– whisk
– 2 large ramekins, or 4 small ramekins
– dish large and deep enough for ramekins
– kettle
– tinfoil
– butane torch

Software:

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup canola or peanut oil
2 tbsp butter

OR 2 1/2 cups of freshly popped microwave popcorn

1 cup heavy cream (+ an extra 1 cup  handy in case of absorbent kernels!)
1 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp salt (may need more or less)

1/2 cup sugar for the brulee bit

Instructions:

Heat milk + cream in a pot, just until its hot to the touch, not boiling.

Meanwhile..

Pour 4 tsp of oil into the pot, dump in popcorn kernels and swirl to coat with oil. Cover with lid or tinfoil. Place over medium-high heat and watch carefully. When your kernels start popping, shake your pot so that popcorn rises to the top and the unpopped kernels shake back into the hot oil at the bottom. Continue popping until most of your kernels have popped.

Be VERY careful not to burn any kernels. Any hit of burnt popcorn and that’s all you will taste in your creme brulee! Its better to leave some kernels unpopped then try to pop it all and burn some.

When your popcorn is done, take it off the heat. Throw your butter into the bare bottom of the pot, so that it melts quickly in the residual heat. Put the lid back on once its melted, and shake.

Add buttery popcorn into cream & milk. Stir, and let sit at least 1 hour to steep all the flavour out. For maximum popcorn flavour, leave in the fridge over night.

When your mixture has finished steeping, pour through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup with a spout. Make sure to press the popcorn in the strainer to squeeze out all the cream. Some may have been absorbed by the popcorn, just add as much more fresh cream as you need to measure 2 cups.

Have your egg yolks in a large round bowl and whisk at the ready.

Pour into a medium pot with the sugar + salt, and bring to a simmer. Do not boil, you just want the cream to be hot! Taste the mixture, and and more salt if needed. I find the more salt I add, the more it brings out that movie theatre flavour.

Rinse out your measuring cup.

Preheat your oven to 300F.

Switch on your kettle, with 4 cups of water inside.

Carefully pour the hot cream into the yolks, in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Once all the cream is added, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the measuring cup.

Place ramekins into the large baking dish.  Divide the mix evenly into each ramekin.

If there’s a lot of bubbles on the surface you can get rid of them by quickly passing your torch over the top to break them. That will make the top smooth as glass when they come out of the oven.

Pour in enough hot water to reach the middle of each ramekin. Cover the baking dish with tinfoil.

Bake at 300F for 30-45 minutes. If your ramekins are larger, they will take longer. Your creme brulee’s are done when you shake the ramekin and there is a slight jiggle, a shimmy, if you will. Like this:

Refridgerate for atleast 2 hours before you brulee the tops.

To Brulee:

Sprinkle a tbsp of sugar over the top of the creme brulee, turning it to distribute the sugar in a nice even layer. With your kitchen torch lit in one hand, and your brulee on a slight angle in the other, begin to melt and burn the sugar, while turning your ramekin. You want the sugar to get quite dark, but BLACK is never good. Let cool 5-10 minutes before cracking the top and eating all the soft goodness underneath!

Ponk Chomp Denim

In anticipation of working on this blog more often, we decided to see what it is going to be like taking pictures in our tiny, ill lit, apartment kitchen. So CB took some pictures while he made us our favourite regular dinner. Beautiful thick butterfly pork chops, green beans cooked in lots of butter and honey and almonds and onions caramelized in the bits of goodness left in the pan. Hot Dang.

Allow me now to narrate the story of our dinner as prepared by my boyfriend CB!

The first thing he does is heat up our trusty, well seasoned cast iron pan in the oven set to broil. When its literally smoking hot he takes it out and throw in some bacon rind that we have kept in the freezer and a nice pat of butter.

When the fat has melted off the rinds he scoops’em out and throw in the chops with a little salt and pepper.

He leaves them til they start browning on each side. Flip them over and then throw them in the oven, still set at top heat.

Armed with his trusty fingers and kitten mug of tea, he snaps off the pointy tough bits off the beans.

Melts some butter.

Throws in the clean green beans with a drizzle of honey, a dusting of salt and a handful of almonds.

He then takes the chops out of the oven, puts the pan of beans into the oven and lets the broiler do the work while he prepares to caramelize the onions. Putting the beans on the bottom, and keeping the honey and almonds on top toasts the almonds while the beans cook. When theyre done (slightly snappy and bright green) take them out and give them a good stir.

He moves the chops aside to rest. Throw a roughly sliced globe onion or two into the sizzly hot pan fond. He scrubs the good bits off the bottom of the pan. And then swaps it again– take the beans out and put the onions under the broiler.

Three swaps and two pans later, we have dinner!

Price: $10 in chops, $2 in beans, $2 in almonds, $2 in onions = 8 bucks a person with a chop left over for breakfast

Time: 30 minutes or less

Healthiness: A tbsp pork fat and 2 tbsp butter and lean pork chops = very good!

This is our standard healthy meal and helped to cure me of the plights of vegetarianism and the resulting anemia!

As for the photographing, no more photographing meals in the gloaming. Lighting is tricky in a small apartment kitchen with no windows, so we are just going to have to start having a lot more elaborate lunches so we can show more good, well shot meals on here.

TADAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Love,

Kara