If you don’t feel like cooking….

For the June/July issue of Ottawa Parenting Times, we decided to feature some salads (because who likes to cook and eat hot food in the summer?)  My crowning achievement this month was a “slaw” made with blueberries.  Even the Picky Eater loved it.  Find the recipes on the magazine’s website.

Ruby Slaw.jpg

As a side note, the pickled beets in that recipe lasted hardly any time at all.  They are good in everything: sandwiches, salads, eggs…

An Easy Weeknight Dinner Party

Justin and I were invited to contribute recipes to the April/May issue of Ottawa Parenting Times, so it was back to the drawing board.  This time I devised an easy-prep “dinner party” menu that you can even manage after work: Greek Chicken and Rice with Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding for dessert.  See the recipes here.

Greek Chicken and Rice.jpg

The Tiny Kitchen

I’ve been meaning to write about our tiny kitchen.  Today is a good day, because soon it won’t be ours.  We are moving to a house with a bigger kitchen.  This is excellent news for those of us at Simplicity & Spice.  100% of the bloggers on this team think the kitchen is a bit small for a cooking blog.

Yet, yet –

It has served us well.

Our tiny kitchen is less than 50 square feet.  There is a stove with oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, double sink, and microwave in the kitchen.  There is about 20 square feet of floor space and only one entrance.  It is a closet-kitchen.

In our tiny kitchen, we store 4 sets of mixing bowls, bakeware, a stock pot, two oven-safe pots, a saucier, two skillets, a blender, a food processor, a stand mixer, an electric wok, a toaster, a griddler, a collection of cooking utensils, silverware, and tableware in addition to our food and other kitcheny things.

From our tiny kitchen we have produced roast ham, roast chicken, many chilis, whole wheat bread from scratch, king cake, rolls, homemade caramel, squares, soups, biscuits, casseroles, curry, layer cakes, decorated cookies, french fries, stir fries, salad, smoothies, hummus, rice pudding, couscous, grits, risotto, fried chicken, fajitas, pizza, cupcakes, popsicles, blueberry grunt, strawberry shortcake, peach cobbler, handmade gnocchi, waffles, muffins, pancakes, toad-in-the-hole, beef wellington, sausage patties, biscuit-topped chicken pot pie, brownies, jello, countless eggs, and bacon-mac-n-cheese.

Despite the fact that we have space for only one cutting board on the countertop, we have done well.  Despite not having storage (not to mention money) for a ton of fancy ingredients, we cook with variety.  We eat fresh fruit and vegetables several times every week.  We make almost everything from scratch and can turn our pantry into dinner on a dime.  Despite of our tiny kitchen – or maybe in part because of it – we laugh while we work together, bumping elbows and blocking eachother.

It will be great to have a bigger kitchen.  But I want to be clear – a big, beautiful kitchen is not necessary for home cooking.  We’ve done just fine.  If your kitchen is tiny, you can too.

Published Recipes!

Ok, everyone, big news!  I was assigned the task of creating recipes for Ottawa Parenting Times last month, and they are now on the (free) newstands.  Look for my “Winter Warmers” article in the Feb/Mar Issue, complete with Justin’s photography (they didn’t include the photos in the online version).

The recipes are for:

  • Maple-Cinnamon Sweet Hummus
  • Roasted Carrot, Sweet Potato, and Ginger Soup
  • One Pot Spiced Pork Couscous

Best of all, they’ve asked me to contribute more!  Watch this space for more links to my recipes.

From Scratch

We have been on a kick lately for cooking from scratch. Here’s a short list of what we’ve made in the past month.

Pulled Pork, Rolls, and Coleslaw
Oatmeal Bread
Sausage Patties
Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
Rice Pudding

The pulled pork was a real achievement. Most of the hard work was done by Justin. He prepped bread dough a day in advance and let it rise before forming rolls and baking gorgeous soft rolls for the sandwiches. Justin rubbed a pork shoulder with his secret spice blend, and cooked it for a day in the slow cooker. I made coleslaw dressing from scratch and tossed it. The result was absolutely irresistible. Sure, it took some planning…but what a result! We are definitely going to continue this trend.

Strawberry Shortcake

Remember those strawberries we picked last summer? While we used most of them making jam or just ate them with whipped cream, we squirreled some away in the freezer until just the right moment. Turns out the right moment was me declaring “Tonight I’m making strawberry shortcake.” In the middle of winter, because craving knows no season.

Now I’ve never made shortcake before; I’ve only had the grocery store spongecake variety. If you’re anything like me in that regard (and chances are good), try making your own some day. It’s well worth the small amount of effort. For that matter, make your own whipped cream, too. It’s cheaper and far tastier.

Recipes for shortbread abound, though most use shortening which I didn’t have on hand. Fortunately I found this recipe that uses only butter. Turns out real shortbread is a lot like biscuits, which I bake all the time thanks to my Southern blood. A good tip for this kind of thing: when it comes time to cut the butter into the flour mixture, grate your butter into the flour instead and mix it in by hand. We’ve got one of those rotary cheese graters that are ubiquitous in Italian restaurants, and it makes the task a lot easier.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake may be a traditionally Summer desert, and sure it’s better with fresh strawberries, but there’s nothing wrong with having it when there’s snow outside. Besides, in the frozen months, we could sure use a taste of the sun.