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A friend sent me this and I thought it would be good to share at this time of year.  Enjoy!

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma.  I was just a kid. 

I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb:  “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered.  “Even dummies know that!”

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been.  I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me.  I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “world-famous” cinnamon buns.  I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so.  It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm.  Between bites, I told her everything.  She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?” she snorted….”Ridiculous!  Don’t believe it.  That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad,  plain mad!!  Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”

“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked.  I hadn’t even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.  “Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked  through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars.  That was a bundle in those days. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it.   I’ll wait for you in the car.”  Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.

I was only eight years old.  I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself.  The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker.  He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat.  I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter.  His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough; he didn’t have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement.  I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it.  It looked real warm, and he would like that.

“Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. “Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.”

The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat.  I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, “To Bobby, From Santa Claus” on it.

Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy.  Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa’s helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.   Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes.  That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were  —  ridiculous.  Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care…

And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!

Holidays …


So many celebrations … so little time!

Check out this blog on various December holidays http://thesteamerstrunk.blogspot.com/2010/12/ff-welcome-to-december-holidays-around.html  very interesting!

This year I will be making the traditional Christmas Turkey Dinner with all the “fixin’s”.  All gluten & dairy-free, of course.  Also, in an irrational moment, decided to have a small gathering on New Years Eve.  Cook, cook, cook … nah.  All simple to do, with a bit of planning and a bit of help!  Check the postings on my FB https://www.facebook.com/pages/SimplyYummy123/139865369835 and check back for recipes on this blog.

Christmas Through The Years:

In the long ago past we held a birthday party for my daughter on the 24th, a large family dinner on the 25th, a Boxing Day party on the 26th and a New Years Day Brunch/Party on Jan. 1st.  New Years Eve was celebrated at our restaurant.  Somewhere in there we would fit in a staff party.  Don’t know how we did it but it was all fun, albeit quite exhausting.

How many times have we over-extended ourselves, slaving away for hours only to have a half  hour seated at the table before it is time for clean-up.  YECH!  That is definitely NOT fun, nor celebratory!

One year I had an epiphany – enough shopping, cooking, organizing, planning … etc.  Let’s just enjoy and have fun with our children.  That was the first Christmas with a pre-cooked chicken, green salad, yams, broccoli & cauliflower salad for dinner and apple crisp for dessert … clean up was a breeze!.  This gave us the chance to enjoy opening the gifts with the girls and relax all day.  Friends dropped in for some Christmas cheer, we went visiting in the evening … so very peaceful.   Of course the table was nicely set – candles, a centre-piece and fine china.  The Boxing Day party was made easier by ordering some of the food and asking friends to bring an appetizer of their choosing.  Not as frenetic those two years.

Two years later … the Christmas Eve birthday party, Christmas Dinner and the Boxing Day party were all scrapped in favour of a family holiday in the mountains.  There were activities for the girls, activities for mom and dad, sleigh rides, pool fun and so much more … my favourite.

Things have changed yet again in the last 3 years!  The girls spend part of the holidays with their dad and part with me.  Challenging celebration meal? – not at all.  Whether it is the 24th, 25th or 26th, it is still our celebratory dinner together and a good time is had by all.  That is the one thing that has remained constant over the years – no matter where we are, who we are celebrating with or what is served up, it really is the company that matters!

Remember to plan wisely (keep it simple, delegate food tasks, the focus is on celebrating not running yourself into a delirium!), prepare what you can ahead of time (cookies, cakes, the house, the table setting, libations, entertainment – games, gifts, favourite family movie, decorations and anything to help make it as easy as possible on the “feast” day), then relax and enjoy your family and friends.  If you are invited out, ask your host/hostess what you can do to help.  Everyone should be having fun.  No one should be walking around with a grin/grimace pasted on their face with a frenzied look in their eye and a “Oh my, when will this be over” look on their face!

Take a break, change it up so everyone share in the joy of the occasion and above all – HAVE FUN!

Love, Peace & Joy to you.

Despina

 

 

 

Halibut, Leeks & Potatoes …


So simple, so yummy!

1 Leek per person – cleaned, outside layers (2-3) removed, cut in rounds
4 Potatoes – washed, sliced
Liberal Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup of white wine – cheap chardonnay/sauvignon blanc/pinto grigio – save the pricey stuff for you and your guests/family.
Garlic – if desired – as much as you like!
Black Pepper – shake it all over … 😉
Herbs – any one or two or three of the following: Parsley, Lemon Grass, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Savory, Marjoram, Herbs de Provence, Dill … anything but Oregano!

Layer potatoes on bottom of pan/Pyrex dish, arrange leeks on top.

Ready for "dressing".

Pour oil & wine over all.  Add remaining ingredients.  Always add the liquid before the spices/herbs!

All dressed and ready to go!

Cook in 350° oven for approximately 1 hour or until it looks like this:

All done, Yummy!

Next, the Halibut!

1 Fillet for each person
4-6 Green Onions/Scallions – chopped fairly fine
Cilantro/Fresh Basil/Fresh Parsley – chopped up – just a bit.  Any of these fresh herbs are perfect for the fish.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – enough for a liberal drizzle over each piece
White Wine – use the same as for the Leeks. A good pour over all – approx. 1 cup
Paprika – see picture
Garlic – not too much (1 clove) – don’t overpower the delicate flavour of the fish
Mustard Powder – just a sprinkle for a little spice or use Chili Peppers – again … just a light sprinkle!

Wash fish – really any white fish will do for this dish. Place in Pyrex or corning ware dish.  Drizzle EV olive oil over top, pour white wine on all pieces of fish.  Add paprika, garlic (if desired), mustard powder.

A little spice flavour!

Top with green onions and cilantro/basil/parsley.

Topped up for cooking

Place in oven with the leeks, 40 minutes after leeks have begun cooking.  bake for 20 minutes – depending on thickness of fish.  Test with a fork – if it flakes easily, it’s done.

Mmmmm.... Hungry?

That’s it!  Simple & Yummy … Enjoy!

Chakra Stew ;)


Fun, new way to embrace a delicious, nutritious, winter comfort food.  Almost all the colours of the chakras are included in this stew. We begin with the roots … work our way up, through the colour spectrum – Red (pepper, paprika, tamarind), Orange (carrots, sweet potatoes), Yellow (onion, mustard powder), Green (celery, zucchini, herbs), Blue (water – ok, this is a stretch but…), Violet (eggplant, wine), Indigo (no indigo veg., so serve on an indigo plate or drink some violet liquid, such as red wine, from an indigo glass!)  There that covers all the colours!

If you would like to add meat to this stew and cut time in the kitchen, cook the meat the night before.  Add lots of red wine, a good dollop of olive oil if you are using poultry, sprinkle thyme, paprika, cumin, garam masala, mustard powder&/or chili peppers.  Refrigerate and reheat by chopping and quickly stir-frying before adding to the vegetables.

Chop up various root vegetables, including carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, celery root.  Toss into a large pan with a good dollop of olive oil and start frying … we want them caramelized!  Next add some chopped onion and pepper (red is my favourite).  Stir it all together and add some spice – black pepper, mustard powder, garam masala, cumin, paprika and stir again.  Spices are better with a little frying – brings out the flavour.  Tamarind is great to add, if you can.  If not, add a bit of HP sauce – it contains tamarind.  Add some chopped celery and garlic.  The order of veggies is important to maintain cooking equality – hardest veggies lead as they take longer to cook!  Now add the potatoes to absorb the earthiness of the root vegetables and the freshness of the other veggies.  The root chakra must flow both ways – root vegetables first to give aroma, potatoes (another root veg.) last to take in the qualities of the root veg. – earthiness, grounding.  

Once the onion becomes almost translucent, pour a good amount of a robust red wine (cabernet, pinot noir, shiraz – doesn’t have to be expensive), over all. Now we are ready to add soft vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant, peas and the herbs.  Savory, thyme, basil, oregano, marjoram, parsley, all contribute to a flavourful stew.  Add a little of all or a lot of two or three.  Use your nose to guide you.

Breathe in the aroma, if it needs tweaking – ie. more herbs/spices, add them now.  Turn down heat and stir it all up.  Add a little more wine – why not?  I used 1/2 bottle in the stew I made, which would feed 8 people at one sitting.  If red wine is not on the menu for you, add orange juice.  OJ provides the same type of acidity and sweetness as wine, although it will change the flavour slightly.

Fry up any meat or tofu you wish to add, spice it up … or not … more wine?  Sure!

Spinkle/pour a little GF boullion onto the veggie mixture.  Stir a tbsp. of GF flour or cornstarch into a cold glass of water, make sure there are no lumps, then pour over all the veggies.  Now you can add your meat/tofu.  Cover and let simmer on low for a while … at least 1/2 hour.  Serve over rice or GF pasta or just eat it up from a bowl.  Any wine left over?  Enjoy a glass with this lovely, tummy warming, soul-satisfying, chakra aligning, 😉 dish!

Tofu Version

Meaty Version


One would think that having a dairy allergy along with celiac disease would pre-empt any gorging of food in a place like San Francisco which has a multitude of restaurants (really, they’re everywhere you look!), offerings of clam chowder, pastas, pizza, deep-fried seafood (every type!), Ghirardelli Chocolates and the famous SF Sour Dough Bread.  Not much choice here for celiacs or those with allergies, one would think …  But!  Difficult to find gluten & dairy-free?  Nope, so easy in fact, I gained 5 lbs (2 kilos) in 2 1/2 days!  Was it the sea air?  Was it the aroma and sight of food EVERYWHERE?  We were constantly hungry … They were very accommodating chefs, willing to prepare any food gluten & dairy-free … what a combo!  The barrage of food photos lining the walls, posts, windows of every building – a 360° view of FOOD!  No subliminal messaging required here!  It was blatant – EAT!  So we did … and it was oh so very good …

Not too much gluten/dairy-free but the aromas are tantalizing!

Pier 39

Love this Bird!

Cute chowder place. Pelican attracts customers!

This is a long time Pier 39 resident!


Try some scallops at Scoma’s – just order a platter, they are so delectable, soft, creamy, light, perfectly cooked and seasoned.  I had the scallops for an appetizer (wish I had ordered a platterful!) and the halibut for dinner.  The halibut was ok (a wee bit on the dry side) – the sauce they served with it … AMAZING … green olives, capers, peppers, tomatoes … light, aromatic, chunky veggies in a tomato broth, reminiscent of Italy – I could have eaten it as a soup!

Then there were the Thai experiences … Thai restaurants offer a wide variety of foods, vegetarian, vegan, pork, fish, chicken, many varieties of noodles, curries, salads, wings … the list is endless, and so are the menus!  The flavour combinations were different from any Thai food I’ve tasted before.  A cross between Vietnamese and Indian food, in my opinion.  There are 175 Thai restaurants in San Francisco proper.  That’s a lot of Thai food to sample.  Ask if they can accommodate you before you are seated – best to speak with the chef to be sure he/she understands the importance of cross-contamination and how to avoid it.  Look at the menu and ask if they can make the dishes that appeal to you, gluten/dairy-free.  Don’t forget to mention Soya Sauce as an allergy – most brands contain wheat, not everyone is aware of that.

Fresh, crisp, tangy Mango Salad ... or what's left of it! 🙂

Crispy, spicy, sticky wings - 12 of them ... oh sooo good!

Presentation is so cute! Crispy, fresh, tangy sauce, savoury inside. Savoured each lovely, little parcel.


We enjoyed an excellent dinner at the Thai restaurant in the Parc 55 Hotel, consisting of crispy, spicy, sweet and sticky wings, light, cleansing mango salad and a red curry with 6 large prawns and many vegetables served with rice and a chili sauce.  That was just for me.  I had wanted to order more but was stopped in my tracks by the owner … Too much food!  You order too much!  Stop!  Much laughter followed those comments.  And not just from our table.  What can I say?  Was starving and it all looked sooooo good!  Khan Toke, a popular Thai restaurant, replete with traditionally dressed servers and decor, was repeatedly recommended.  We planned on a lunch visit to Khan Toke on our last day in San Francisco, unfortunately we didn’t know that they only opened for dinner.  Next time!  Instead of Khan Toke, the next day (our last in SF) we enjoyed a delicious, very large lunch at Suriya’s with a couple of lovely friends.  Chicken & prawn parcels, wrapped with rice paper and served with peanut sauce and chili sauce … best sauces ever!  A platter of sesame & coconut encrusted sweet potatoes – these I did share but not exactly freely nor liberally.  🙂  Those were my appetizers.  Each of us enjoyed a selection of yummy appetizers, chatting, laughing … all so very pleasant.  And then came the main dishes.  Oh right, we did order more … There were four bowls/platters, each offering a different culinary masterpiece … well … we each ordered one that appealed to us at the time.  Could this have been a case of “eyes bigger than belly?”  How were we to know these lunch offerings would be so LARGE?  No photos of those dishes are available … really … who can think of taking photos when your mouth is watering as dish upon dish of steaming … hot … delectable … delights is set before you, the aromas flavouring the very air you breathe, tantalizing, mesmerizing, inviting you to partake in the richness of their offerings!  Oh YES!  Ahem … hence not many photos.  It was all so delicious, so much food … though we did manage quite well.

It was all impressive!  The sights, the food, the company, all blended into a lovely, interesting, relaxing, albeit short, getaway!

A few tips … Although the thermometer read 23°, it was chilly enough to merit wearing a sweater, if not a coat and scarf!  The wind blowing in off the Bay is cold! And it is windy!  The temperature drops significantly at night.  So if you are traveling to San Francisco … (according to San Franciscans, the best months are September & October – something to do with weather patterns & fog … ???), do bring warm clothes – layers, lots of layers, a small back pack – for shopping is also handy.  Work out/detox to lose some weight BEFORE you go – guaranteed you will gain weight there – no matter what your particular dietary needs are … there are a myriad of restaurants to choose from, most are very accommodating and reasonably priced.  Stay away from the “street” food though, unfortunate (the aromas emanating from these places are mouth-watering), but cross-contamination is an issue in those tiny kitchens.

One final tip: wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing … make some room for all those scrumptious eats … you’ll be happy you did!

Beautiful aerial ballet in a picturesque setting. Lovely.

Raucous, lively dock denizens!

If I had stayed a week ... with all that food ... 🙂


Isn’t funny how plans are somewhat like leaves on the trees in autumn.  Some stick and some are blown away by a gust of wind.  Yesterday my plan was to make a nice dinner and test out a new gluten & dairy-free tomato soup that I was to make for a party.  Then a gust of wind came and blew that plan into the wild blue yonder…

The sun continues to shine through all changes ...

Unfortunately my eldest daughter became very ill and we spent the entire day in the hospital emergency ward.  Thankfully all she has is a very bad case of tonsillitis.  Of course the ER is not the place to seek medical attention for a common illness … but there is a twist.

Two years ago my eldest daughter, then 17, had a stroke.  Yes, it does happen.  Allegedly due to the birth control pill she had taken for only 8 months to clear up a little acne.  Doctors seem to hand out these pills like candy!  Now, through diet and daily skin care, her face is clear.  No more pill. But I digress …  This bout of tonsillitis was different in that it was accompanied by a severe headache and nausea.  These two symptoms don’t usually occur with a case of tonsillitis but they are symptoms of a stroke.  As she is now in the “high risk” category for stroke because of her history, off we went to the ER.  They took exceptional care of her.  After all the necessary diagnostic tests, including a CT scan, we were given the all clear and she was discharged. Wonderful news!  My prayers were answered.  Of course this took 9 hours.

Now, here is the food part …  After spending 9 hours in the hospital, needless to say I was a bit peckish and required some nourishment.  As one of the major hospitals in a large city, one would expect a variety of food choices – In the cafeteria, deli, café, stores, some edible gluten-free & dairy-free food one could purchase somewhere in the building.  Nope.  In the deli, café, stores and cafeteria the only food items that were gluten & dairy-free were oranges & bananas (expensive & old), plain potato chips, boxed salad (without GF/DF dressing, not so fresh either), bento sushi (without GF soya sauce) and a sausage.  Thankfully, after checking the ingredients label, I could eat the sausage.  Plain.  Dry.  Full price – even though I didn’t have the “extras” – like a bun, among other things. The cafeteria “hot food” service set-up was a perfect advertisement for “How to Promote Cross-Contamination”.  Ah well, it was protein and I was hungry, tired, stressed and willing to risk it.

Hospital food has always been given a bad rap – with good reason.  Bacon, eggs, buttered toast, coffee and “juice”, for heart bypass patients?  A dinner tray resembling the TV dinners of the 50’s and 60’s – boiled/mashed potatoes, plain white rice, dried up chicken or chicken covered in something that looks like a cream sauce, overcooked vegetables, YECH.  The list of unhealthy foods served to patients goes on and on and on.  Is this a plan for recurring business?  Yes, it is difficult to provide three meals a day for a thousand people with varying needs and diets but surely the dietitians could come up with a healthier menu plan to feed and nourish all the patients back to health.  The doctors put in the effort to patch/fix you up, one would think a healthy diet during your hospital stay would be a natural follow-up to the doctors efforts.  And to feed the entourage, family & friends, that come with each patient, the hospital board could allow establishments on site that serve healthy, allergy-free foods.  A juice or smoothie bar, a deli counter with salads made from fresh veggies and dressed with olive oil; these are only two of a myriad of choices out there.  Please, hospital board, choose at least one!  A place offering only coffee, an assortment of muffins, danish, cakes and cookies, shouldn’t be one of them.  Cross-contamination, special dietary needs, allergies, surely these should all be taken into consideration in a hospital.  Yes, cost, timing of service and the number of patients with a variety of dietary needs is challenging but surely, something can be done!

After one hour of searching on the internet, here’s the scoop.

Many people, including doctors, are writing blogs on the lack of dietary nutrition in hospitals or blogging about their hospital stay/food experiences.  If you google “hospital food”, it’s astonishing how many results appear – over 34 million.  This is an important issue, that must be dealt with ASAP!

Here are two interesting sites:

http://www.weightymatters.ca/
This site is authored by a doctor and discusses weight issues but also has a lot to say on hospital and school cafeteria food.  Worth a look.

http://glutenfreeguerrillas.healthunlocked.com/blogs/9085/Must-watch-TV—Hospital-Food
This is interesting, unfortunately most of the links don’t work.  Do take the quiz – it’s fun.  I lost.

There are many people lobbying for healthy nutritious food choices in hospitals and schools – good thing; this has been going on for years with, as of today, very few positive changes – not so good thing.

In time, with more doctors, dietitians and the general public speaking out, change will occur and hospitals will begin to offer healthier food choices. Let’s hope we are still around to benefit from those changes … 🙂  In the meantime, if you must stay in a hospital, have someone bring you food.  It’s safer.

Thanksgiving and beyond …


Okay, so I made WAY too much food for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was all very delicious … but … after eating it for 4 days, well, I was happy to see the last of it!  Yes, I did eat the brussel sprouts and they were very tasty.  So simple to make – stirfry in sesame oil with shallots, add pepper and apple cider vinegar.  Ta da … done!  Once I figured out how to barbeque the pork roast without the flames, (place it on the top rack and light the burners on either side, NOT the ones directly underneath), it turned out perfect.  The roast was so tender, it nearly split into two when we were removing it from the grill onto a serving platter.  The next day we ate it heated up with gravy.  The day after and the one after that, we just sliced off pieces of the roast and ate it – cold.  So yummy any which way it was eaten!  The pumpkin soup was a hit.  The first taste test seemed to be lacking something, I added more spices and a can of coconut milk.  It was heavenly.  As for the pictures, well, I was so busy getting the food out and on the table … I forgot to take any.  Next time.  There is now a sign in my kitchen – TAKE A PICTURE!  Not something I’m used to doing …  Live and Learn.

This coming Friday (Oct. 21st), I was supposed to be catering a dinner party for 15.  Unfortunately the host had a bit of an accident and the party has been cancelled.  Organizing/planning fanatic that I am, some of the food was purchased mere hours before I received the cancellation email yesterday.  Now what do I do with all this food?  Well, here’s the plan …  All the chicken breasts, except for 5, (tonight’s dinner), will be frozen for future use.  A couple of the sweet potatoes will be cut into wedges, seasoned, roasted and served tonight.  Thankfully the rest of the sweet potatoes will last until we can eat them all.  Sweet potatoes disappear rather quickly in this house.  The 5 GIANT leeks – a friend will pick up three and I will cook the rest today to complete tonight’s dinner.  Ten pears will be made into the dessert I would have made for the party – I know that’ll be eaten up quickly, no waste here.

Tomatoes ready for roasting - garlic is added at the halfway mark!

Roasted Tomatoes & Garlic

Tomatoes, what do you do with 10 very large tomatoes?  Three are being roasted with some chili peppers and garlic as I write this.  Fresh basil, celery leaves and vodka will be added after I pureé them for soup tomorrow.  Mmmmm …

Aaahhh ... Delicious!

Three went into the blender – fresh, then poured into a sieve and are now draining into a bowl.  The juice that drains out will be made into a … “caesar” martini.  Strained tomato juice, vodka, lime juice, tabasco sauce, worcestshire sauce, celery leaves, salt. Pour vodka over ice, add a few dashes of tabasco, a dash of worcestshire, a squeeze of lime, pour in tomato juice and garnish with celery leaves or a celery stick.  A pinch of salt or celery salt may be added or used to rim the glass.  That is for 5 o’clock, today.  YUM!

The remaining pureé in the sieve will be added to a pan of onions, garlic, peppers, celery and herbs, fried, then simmered and stored in the fridge for a vegan, gluten-free pasta dinner on Thursday.  A few days (there will be leftovers) worth of cooking (for three people) in one day!  For the rest of the week all that will be added to each meal are some veggies or a salad.  Which leaves me time to continue uploading recipes on to the new website.

Tuesday:  Chicken, sweet potato wedges, leeks baked in white wine.
Wednesday:  Tomato soup, chicken bites (leftovers chopped up) in gravy, served over wild rice.  Side baby greens salad with raspberry vinaigrette.
Thursday:   Vegan, gluten-free pasta dinner with broccoli & cauliflower salad (steam – just enough, add EV olive oil, fresh lemon & pepper)
Friday:  Maybe houmous with an avocado & tomato salad on the side, maybe fish, maybe a cleanse day … or maybe I’ll go out!
Saturday:  A party!
Sunday:  We shall see … 🙂

Pear dessert – every day … until it is all gone!

Happy cooking!

Giving Thanks …


Harvest Festivals are celebrated after the harvest is completed in many countries around the world.  A common image seen at this time of year is a cornucopia, or horn, filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables. This represents the “Horn of Plenty”, which was a symbol of bounty and plenty in ancient Greece.  Just had to toss that in … 🙂

Originally, for the Europeans in the Americas, it was a celebration of giving thanks for a particular event.  Arriving safely home for Frobisher; arriving safely to the new world for the Pilgrims and many other celebratory events.

The Native Americans also honoured and gave thanks for the harvest.  They assisted the first pilgrims at Plymouth Rock with their festival of thanks, by providing maize, seeds and teaching them to fish.  Lucky for the Pilgrims, as they were short on supplies that first year!

In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October – could it be because by November the harvest has been stored away and we are all frozen?  Well almost … but not really.  Since 1957, by an act of Parliament, Thanksgiving Day has always been held on the second Monday in October.  It was moved from its long-standing November date to accommodate Remembrance Day.  The two dates were too close and the powers that be decided to give both holidays their own space.

There are many contending dates and places listed as the first Thanksgiving Feast but really people … It’s a Harvest Festival, a Day of Thanks and it began a couple of thousand years ago.  Must we pinpoint a date, place and name whom actually labelled this Feast Day “Thanksgiving”?  I think not!

Give thanks for your fortunes (I’m not talking monetary), for the harvest,  for all the good in the world (there is a lot), and celebrate with loved ones.

Now to the Feast!  A Gluten & Dairy-Free Thanksgiving.

Two weeks ago on after a lovely hot and sunny day I watched a cooking show all about spicy, smoked/BBQ pork.  The very next day with taste buds tingling and mouth-watering, I went to the store and purchased a huge pork roast for thanksgiving dinner (no, you don’t have to have turkey!).  The cooking show gave me the idea to rub it with spices (didn’t write them down … so winging it!) and slow cook the roast for hours on the BBQ. Now I’m just praying it doesn’t snow on Sunday.  Yes, the weather man does say plus 15 (celsius) but you never know around here …  Ah well, the starter of Spicy Pumpkin soup will warm us up and help to get the celebrations under way.

Briam, which is Greek/Turkish (who really knows – it’s just yummy), is a simple and healthy way to serve a variety of vegetables.  In a pan, add chunked-up, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, garlic, eggplant, red/yellow peppers, zucchini, celery, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms (I can’t eat them but you can), parsnips, turnip, (or any combo of these veggies).  As the root vegetables usually take longer to cook, cut them up into smaller pieces.  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice, liberally over the entire dish.  Sprinkle parsley (lots),  pepper, chili’s (for a little heat), thyme/oregano, basil and a pinch of salt or a dash of wheat-free Tamari.  Cover and cook with low heat, for over an hour, in the Bbq. or the oven.  Once it has cooked for 1 hour, remove the cover, mix it up and check to see how done it is (by poking the potatoes).  Leave the cover off for the remainder of cooking time required.

Now for something fresh … a green salad with oranges, pears and walnuts, with a raspberry vinaigrette drizzled all over … my mouth is watering!

Although I can’t stand brussel sprouts, I am going to give them a try this year.  They will be chopped in half and stir-fried with shallots and a balsamic reduction.  Quick and easy.  I’ll let you know if I actually eat any …

For a variation on stuffing – I LOVE STUFFING! –  but since there is nothing to stuff (except ourselves), how about stuffing (savoury “bread”) balls – or if I get too tired, stuffing in a pan?  Begin with a roasted turnip, all mashed up in a bowl.  Add to the roasted turnip; a couple of slices of brown rice bread, a couple of eggs, a little all-purpose gluten-free flour, salt, caramelized onions, apples, celery, garlic, parsley and sage.   Maybe some nuts too … almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts?  This will all, HOPEFULLY, form into somewhat roundish balls which will be placed on a coconut oiled cookie sheet and baked. If it won’t form into rounds of delicious stuffing, it will be spread out in a pan and cooked – stuffing squares anyone?  I really hope this works!

Dessert, if anyone can eat dessert after this feast, will be a banana “bread”.  Another “new” recipe that has evolved in my head … Mash up a couple of bananas, add some shredded apples, almond meal (finely minced almonds), eggs, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, dates, all-purpose gluten-free flour and see what happens.  There is always fruit in case of a dessert disaster.

Well, I’m off to start cooking!  Pictures will be up Monday morning on my facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/SimplyYummy123/139865369835

Honour the harvest, give thanks and enjoy this holiday with friends and family.

SPARE THE TURKEY (well … at least for this weekend).

TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Kali Orexi! (Bon Apetite in Greek).  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Thank you.

Tonight’s dinner is …


Tonight’s dinner is chicken – boring?  No, not tonight!  Summer came late this year and so did all the fruit.  Which is why we have fresh, ripe, delicious, very peachy smelling peaches available now.  To be honest, I don’t like peaches … but the aroma was so fresh and summery, I couldn’t help myself.  Although the season has changed and we have just progressed into autumn, the peaches were signaling for summer’s last stand.  What to do with these peaches?  Yes, one of my daughters loves peaches but 10 of them?  As usual I went overboard, you know … the eyes (in this case the nose), bigger than the belly thing.  Home they went and into the fridge to await their fate.  The week before I had purchased a case of organic, frozen chicken breasts.  The week before that my aunt and uncle had given me a chunk of  tamarind, which I love but had not used yet.  The mind is working … why not put the three together … somehow.  Tonight is the night for experimentation.

An unforeseen, pleasant interruption occurred. A friend decided to drop in for a visit, so we chatted out in the garden until the sun was low in the sky, hiding behind the trees.  It was getting late and I was eager to concoct a new recipe in the kitchen.  I asked if she had plans for dinner and luckily she didn’t.  “Would you be a willing guinea pig tonight”, I asked, explaining what the planned experiment was.  “Oh yeah, I’m in”, was her response, always so helpful she is.  We were a bit hungry by now, so off to the kitchen we went.

Out came the thawed chicken breast, a pan to put it in and the blender.  Next, five of the peaches were looking a little over-ripe, so they were the chosen ones to be peeled, chunked up and tossed into the blender.  Step 2, I added a good bit of tamarind paste, a sprinkle of dried chipotle peppers (for that little touch of heat – it is a bit chilly in the evening), and a dash of cardamom (not too much as it is quite potent).  Now what?  Smelled some sherry, nope neither of us liked it with the aroma coming from the blender, the sherry was too overpowering.  Garlic?  Of course, garlic in everything!  In went 3 fresh garlic cloves.  Almonds, yeah, almonds, chicken and peaches, great combo, tossed in a small handful of raw sliced almonds.  More spice was needed so… a few dashes of coriander powder, a couple of pinches of garam masala, a drizzle of sesame oil (for that added bit of fat), a few drops of wheat-free tamari sauce and a few drops of fresh lime juice.  Hit the blend button, tasted (more than once), approved by both of us and so, poured the mixture over the chicken.  Cut up and peeled a good-looking peach, adding fresh, thick slices in any “free” areas of the pan.  Sprinkled some coriander and almond slices atop the fresh peaches and popped into the oven for approx. 1 1/4 hours at 375°.  An hour more to kick back, relax and discuss the latest events.  So simple.

All dressed up and ready for some roasting.

Oh yes, yes, yes, WOW, it was delicious!  I wish you could taste it … light, summer sun flavour, a slow heat build up, melt in your mouth.  This is fresh and rich tasting at the same time.  The chicken was so tender.  The remaining sauce in the pan went so well with the wild/brown rice mix – almost like a risotto texture.  Asparagus on the side, roasted, olive oiled, a squeeze of fresh lime and a sprinkle of basil.  Perfect!

Soft crust, tender chicken, perfectly poached peaches, thankfully, oodles of sauce!

Greatest compliment – my two teenage daughters just walked in and asked, “Mom, what smells so good, what did you cook?”.  That doesn’t happen every day.

Yep, this ones going to become a regular meal here – when peaches are in season.  Hmmm, I wonder if I could freeze some peaches?  Would they have that same fresh, summery smell?  I hope so, definitely have to freeze them and see what happens because I can’t wait a whole year to eat this again! Peaches have now moved to my list of favourite foods!

Notes:  Make this dish with Tofu instead of chicken.  No tamarind?  No problem, use dates, dried figs, raisins – a small handful of rich, sweet, dried fruit. Nuts a problem?  Leave them out and use extra virgin olive oil instead of the sesame oil. Garam Masala is an excellent Indian spice (actually a combination of spices), found in most supermarkets but best purchased at an ethnic (Indian) store or at your local health food store.  This spice adds a lovely pungent flavour to most anything – tofu, eggs, beans, pork, chicken, stews – very versatile!

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