DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this post, you’ve landed on the last post on the old site.

Please follow us over to the shiny NEW Diet, Dessert and Dogs by clicking here. 

And if you arrive before March 31, 2009, you can enter to WIN SOME FREE MAPLE SYRUP OR A CUSTOM BAKED CAKE!

Hope to see you there!  Drop by at http://dietdessertndogs.com! 🙂

“Mum, the new home is so nice–very roomy and comfortable.  But we still haven’t managed to find the stash of treats. . . you didn’t forget to bring them along, did you?”

First, the blog newsI’ve got a new blog home!  (Well, almost–we’re about 95% moved in and unpacked so far. . . we’ve still got to add a virtual top coat of paint, rearrange some html furniture and hang some digital pictures before the rest is up and running over the next week or so, but everything is on site and functional!).   Please drop by to check it out, and don’t forget to change your Google Reader, other subscription info and blogrolls  (it’s also much easier to subscribe to this new site, so hope that helps–and note that the page tabs are now across the top of the page, not on the right as in this site!). I’ll be transferring over there for good by next week.  And now–ta da!–here’s the new home of

Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

The site was set up and arranged by Blain Smith of 13 Infinite.  It’s been a pleasure to work with him on this–Blain’s communication style is easy and relaxed, yet always professional.  He’s also been very accommodating and incredibly quick about responding to all my emails regarding the site (not to mention very patient with my sometimes endless questions and requests!).  If you’re looking to set up a new blog, I’d highly recommend him.

Next, the cookbook news: my cookbook finally has a cover! 

coverpic

(I’m guessing you might recognize some of those photos?  And I know, the red, white and blue looks very patriotic,no?) 😉

Finally, the Double Giveaway News!!

I am very excited for this giveaway because it’s the perfect melding of my new blog, my new cookbook, and a product I love!

In honor of the cookbook’s cover being finalized, I decided to throw another giveaway to celebrate–add a new blog home, and it’s really a reason to party! (Get those chandeliers and lampshades ready!)

So here’s the scoop:

WHAT YOU CAN WIN

PRIZE ONE:  ANYONE IN NORTH AMERICA CAN WIN (again, a HUGE apology to my overseas readers–shipping costs prohibit overseas delivery.  BUT I DO PROMISE THAT THE NEXT GIVEAWAY WILL ABSOLUTELY INCLUDE ANYONE ON THE PLANET!)

Win a quart-sized jug of Coombs Family Farms Pure Maple Syrup! 

coombssyrup2

[This is a photo of the glass bottle I received–the quart jug prize is four times this big!]

Yes, the prize is the same amazing maple syrup I wrote about in my previous post. And when the people at Coombs Family Farms heard how much I loved their syrup, and how much my readers wished they could taste some, they said, “Okay!  Let’s give some away!”  Who am I to argue?  I said, “YEEEE-AAH.” 

With a full quart (about a liter) of pure maple syrup, you can bake every maple-based recipe on this blog, and probably all the maple-based recipes in my new book, too!  And I can’t wait for one of you to sample this extraordinary product as well, and tell me what you think!

PRIZE  TWO: THOSE IN THE TORONTO AREA CAN WIN (to ensure freshness, it has to be within the general Toronto area, or you must be willing to meet me within Toronto–I am really sorry it can’t be everywhere!  sniff!)

A custom-baked chocolate layer cake from the Sweet Freedom recipe–made to your specifications!

choccakeicingsf

After I posted about the cake I made for my friend Eternal Optimist’s birthday, I was touched by so many positive comments about the cake.  This is the same recipe I used for several years when I baked birthday cakes for kids with food sensitivities to wheat, eggs, dairy and refined sugar–and was a regular hit with the kids and adults alike (low-gluten, but not gluten free). The 9-inch layer cake serves 10-12 people comfortably.

sagebday1

Now, I’d love for a lucky reader to sample this chocolately, moist and light cake, too!  And you get to design the frosting/filling, plus whether you’d like a message on the cake as well.  (We’ll choose a mutually convenient delivery time so that you can even plan to serve the cake to family, friends, or party guests!)

bdaycakewhole2

Here’s what you can choose:

  • Chocolate layers with vanilla pastry cream filling and chocolate buttercream frosting
  • Chocolate layers with all chocolate–filling and frosting
  • Chocolate layers with sweet potato truffle filling and chocolate frosting
  • Chocolate layers with chocolate filling and sweet potato truffle frosting (the cake in the photo above)
  • Message of your choice in any color frosting (or no message–it’s up to you).

I’ll deliver the cake freshly baked and frosted so it’s ready to serve!

HOW TO ENTER:

Entering couldn’t be easier–simply click on over to my new blog home, take a look around, then let me know either:

1) what more you’d like to see on the blog (any other features you’d like me to add?  Something you’re missing from the old blog? –etc.) OR

2) what you like best about the new blog if you can’t think of anything you’d like to be different. 

FOR A CHANCE AT TWO EXTRA ENTRIES, simply mention the contest on your own blog, if you have one, and link to this very page on the new blog (ie, this page).

Don’t have a blog?  You can still earn two extra entries!  Simply browse through the Recipe Index on the new DDD and choose a favorite recipe that uses maple syrup (some of the links haven’t been shifted to the new blog yet, so you might still be in the old blog when you click on a recipe title–I’m in the process of changing them all over).  Then comment again, letting me know which one you like best, and why–and you’ll be entered two more times.

Please be sure to include a valid email address so I can get in touch with you if you win.

That’s it! 

Please post your comments on the new site to be eligible to win (that way I can keep track of all the entries in one place).  🙂

HOW IT WILL WORK:

Once the contest closes, I’ll choose two winners from a bag of names.  The first Toronto-area name I withdraw will win the cake.  Then all the other names go back into the bag for the maple syrup draw, and the second name I choose wins that. 

DEADLINE AND ANNOUNCEMENT:

  1. Deadline for entries is midnight, March 31, 2009, Toronto time. 
  2. Winners will be announced first thing on April 2, 2009 (I wouldn’t dare post contest winners on April Fool’s Day!). 

I loved baking up a storm for the previous giveaway, and was thrilled with Lisa’s kind words about the Sweet Freedom goodies. 

I can’t wait to get baking on this cake for you this time round as well.  And even if you can’t win the cake, you’re still eligible to win the syrup–so you can then bake your own delectable treats!

HAPPY SPRING, EVERYONE!

Winners!

January 31, 2009

Well, the results are in and we have our winners of the Ritter Sport and Sweet Freedom goodie pack contest! 

sugarfreesugarcookie1

Here’s how I selected them: First, I went to Random.org and asked for 6 random numbers between 1 and 120.  Then I went through the numbers in the order they appeared in the random list.  The first entry from Toronto won the baked goods; after that, everyone else (whether from Toronto or not) won a Peppermint Ritter Sport. 

ritterpeppermint1

I’ve copied and pasted the list here.  I’m afraid I don’t know how to capture the screen exactly as it looks on the Random. org page (can anyone help me with that?), but I promise that this is the actual list that appeared when I hit the “Get Numbers” button.  And if anyone can tell me how to copy the content from the original page onto my blog (for the next contest), I’d be much obliged!

(“Yes, we can vouch four our Mum  because we were in the room while she was on the computer. . . well, okay, maybe we were actually wrestling on the floor at the time, but we trust our Mum.  She always gives us treats when she says she will.”)

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

26
19
35
108
29
28

Timestamp: 2009-01-31 14:04:51 UTC

In other words, the winners are:

TA-DA!

19:  Shelby–Ritter Sport #1

26:  VEGAN LISA–YOU WIN THE TREATS!!

28:  Michelle–Ritter Sport #2

29:  Animal-Friendly–Ritter Sport #3

35:  Ellie–Ritter Sport #4

108: Joanne (Apple Crumbles)–Ritter Sport #5

Congratulations to all the winners!  I’ll be contacting you via email.  And if you happen to read this before you hear from me, please email me at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com to get in touch!

This was really a fun contest for me.  I loved reading all the entries, and your enthusiasm was contagious! Thanks, everyone, for entering. 

And as I mentioned before, there will be one contest each month until the cookbook is published, so you can always enter again later for another chance to win!

Have a great weekend (and to my American friends, enjoy the Superbowl–but honestly, does anyone really enjoy the Superbowl??).

Ricki 🙂

My American Thanksgiving

November 28, 2008

I know it’s often said that Canada is a mere appendage of the U.S., the 51st state, the spleen of the continent that no one really knows exists and seems to have no necessary function, blah blah blah.  Maybe it’s true; maybe we are like the unassuming cousin from out of town who never speaks at the holiday table, or the scrawny kid at the beach the girls never notice.  And, like many underdogs, we in Canada seem to know more about our more powerful, more popular, more infamous neighbor than they know about us (I will never forget the time, as a teen, that I visited cousins in New Jersey–about 560 miles/900 km. from where I lived at the time.  A friend of my cousin’s, learning that I was Canadian, blurted out, “Oh! I know a Canadian!  Do you know Steven Ruttenberg?”  To which, astonishingly, I was obliged to reply, “Um, why yes, yes, I do know Steven Ruttenberg. . .”–for as it turned out, he went to my high school!  And so now, for ever more, that poor girl will believe that Canada really is, after all, a pinhead of a backwater, underdeveloped country where everyone knows each other!). 

How about a little quiz?  Okay, Americans out there! Quick, answer these:  Who’s the Canadian Prime Minister?  How many provinces in Canada?  What’s our official language?*  What does our flag look like?  Pick any Canadian on any streetcorner in pretty much any Canadian city, and s/he will know the answers to all those questions as they relate to the U.S.  Why?  Because, first of all, we sort of have to (see above); but also, because those rumors are, to a great extent, true: we are influenced by the US, we do follow their culture more than they follow ours, and we really do depend on that comforting, protective, bear-paw of an embrace from our bigger, more powerful cousins to the south. 

I know this notion (that we are unduly influenced by and, to some extent even dominated by, the U.S.) bothers some of my compatriots.  For my part, I have to admit, I’ve always felt a great affection and affinity toward the States.  First, several of my relatives live in America, from California to New York and New Jersey to Massachusetts, and they are some of my favorite people in the world.  I spent many idyllic childhood summers with my Boston cousins.  Second, having completed both an MA and a PhD in Modern American Literature, I’ve probably read more American than Canadian fiction and consider many of the US authors as role models (and, for those of you who notice such things, that’s also the reason why I, a proud Canadian, use predominantly “American” spelling on this blog–writing about American authors for American professors for many years, that spelling now feels natural to me).  Third, just as the “they’re so polite” clichés about Canadians happen to be (for the most part) true, so are the “they’re so friendly and hospitable” or “they’re incredibly generous” clichés about Americans. (And, as the HH is always quick to point out, customer service in the US runs circles–CIRCLES–around its Canadian counterpart (and counter person).

And so, it made perfect sense that yesterday, on American Thanksgiving, I, too, was extremely grateful along with y’all–and, in particular, grateful for the existing U.S.-Canada connections. 

Why, you ask?  Well, I arrived home to discover that I’d received a skillfully wrapped and well-taped brown paper package in the mail (ooh, that sounds rather salacious somehow, doesn’t it?), boasting American postage and filled with amazing vegan goodies! 

I’d signed up to be part of Lindsay (from Cooking for a Vegan Lover)’s blogging Care Package Swap event and there was my box of treats!  I discovered Lindsay’s blog when she commented on mine a while back, and am so glad she did!  I’ve been enjoying the posts from Lindsay and her hubby Neil, who live and write in Vermont. They include recipes, restaurant reviews, and other foodie tidbits like CSA news and animal-friendly events.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to rip off the brown paper and tape to reveal the following:

 swappackage

Look at that haul!  Neil (my exchange partner) sent an incredible array of fantastic and organic treats–and–how thoughtful is this???–everything is wheat-free!  swaplizlovelyThe products are also made in Vermont or environs.  I literally jumped up and down when I saw the Liz Lovely cookies–I’d read so much over the years about Liz Lovely,   and finally got to sample my very own (GF) Chocolate Fudge cookie (which I did the second I opened the box, of course).  The package also included the following delectables (left to right):

  • Road’s End organic Savory Herb Gravy Mix;
  • a Cashew Vanilla WaGuRu Chew (smothered in Vanilla Caramel–doesn’t that just sound irresistible??);
  • (slightly hidden behind the shampoo bottle) Zootons Organic Gummies candy in a variety of fruity flavors;
  • All Natural Elmore Mountain Farm Lavender shampoo (smells heavenly);
  • the amazing Liz Lovely cookies, with, in the foreground–
  • a Dan’s Chocolates “The Caffeinator” truffle;
  • a bar of Montpelier Chocolate Factory’s Dark Strawberry and Coconut chocolate (strawberry!  Cannot wait to try that one!), and behind it–
  • a bottle of Vermont Pepper Works Chocolate Chipotle Pepper Sauce (rated XX Hot–will be diving into that asap!);
  • a box of Road’s End Organics Mac and Chreese–with rice pasta!;
  • a piece of Pure Vermont Maple Candy from Brookfield Sugarmakers (which, despite being raised in Quebec, I have never tried–so looking forward to this, too!); and–somehow left out of the photo (perhaps because they were already gobbled up??)–
  • two–one for each of The Girls–packs of organic, handmade dog biscuits!

THANKS SO MUCH, Neil!  I can’t wait to try out all the goodies, all the while gratefully basking in the glow of my American neighbour’s generosity and hospitality. 🙂 What fun it was to participate in this swap!

elsieconehead

And Neil, Chaser and I thank you, too!  It was especially nice to have such delicious dog biscuits while I’m convalescing. . . if you were here, I’d thank you properly, of course, but for now you’ll just have to accept a virtual lick to the ear.”

* Perhaps that was a trick question.  There are, in reality, two official languages (muffle, muffle, guffaw, cackle):  English and French.

Pear and Parsnip Soup

September 19, 2008

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

It seems like another lifetime now, but the year after my starter marriage

ended, I lived in a townhouse with my dear friend Gemini I.  Shortly after the furniture was placed and the boxes unpacked, we began to negotiate the rules of housework, grocery shopping, and TV usage when we got to chatting about food.  I remember asking, “Do you like cous cous?” (In those days, I ate it all the time, though it’s pretty much verboten now since I don’t eat wheat).  I was taken aback by her answer, which, at the time, I found a little odd.

“Well, I suppose I do,” she responded.  “There are times when I’ll cook it every day for two weeks, but then I might not touch it or even think of it for 8 or 9 months.”  I couldn’t imagine ignoring a food I actually enjoyed for that long (and chocolate? Well, that one would be calculated in hours–nay, minutes–rather than days or weeks). 

These days, though, I understand exactly what she meant.  When one maintains a food blog, the quest for the novel and atypical dish never ends.  This pursuit sometimes leaves old favorites languishing in the dust–or at the back of the cupboard (or both, in the case of our cupboard).  On the other hand, I might whip up something new from a recipe I found on another blog, and enjoy it so much that the HH and I will feast on said dish several times during the next week.  And the following week.  In fact, we might just consume that comestible every second or third day for two to three weeks (which does provide several useful photo-ops, after all)–and then dump it unceremoniously, just as Chaser dumps her squeaky ball (ad nauseum, I might add) at my feet.  Once I’ve gotten my fill, I move on, seeking the next culinary encounter.

Well, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I often find myself with a surplus of overripe pears in the house, as I did a couple of evenings ago. Since the HH refuses to share in the burden of eating fruit (hey!  That could be the title of Michael Pollan’s next tome:  The Burden of Eating Fruit: An Exposition on Overripe Organic Produce), I’m always on the lookout for tasty recipes with pears, before they become too soft and squishy, too oozy, too yellow-flecked-with-brown.  Our freezer is already bursting with chopped, frozen pears, so I needed to cook up these babies–and fast.

It was then I remembered an erstwhile favorite, one that we consumed for a spell and then promptly forgot. It’s from one of my favorite cookbooks, Green by Flip Shelton. From what I understand, Shelton is kind of like an Aussie Rachael Ray, and isn’t taken very seriously as a chef (what’s that bogan doing cooking biscuits on the barbie? What a dag!  Well, she’s still ace to me.  G’day!).  The recipe sounds like an incongruous combination of ingredients (though not as incongruous as radishes, olives and grapefruit), mixing pear and parsnip with sautéed leeks, but the final result is incredibly tasty.  Fragrant, slightly sweet from the pears and slightly peppery from the parsnip, with a velvety smooth, light texture.  Yum-O!

And since this soup features both fruit and, well, soup, I’m submitting it to this months’ No Croutons Required, a monthly event hosted alternately by Holler (this month) and Lisa, which asks us to cook up either a salad or soup with fruit as a main ingredient. 

Oh, and before I sign off, I really must thank all of you for being so understanding and so polite.  I mean, it’s painfully evident that I was a total bust at the ACD this time round (okay, maybe not a TOTAL bust–I did last almost 2 weeks). And yet you’ve all had the diplomacy and tact not to mention it!  For that, I am grateful. 

And while I’ve decided this may not have been the best time to embark on an even more restrictive diet (school starting up, cold weather coming, cookbook calling), I do still try to eat foods that would fit within the parameters of the diet as often as possible, perhaps minus one or two ingredients. Well, turns out this fantastic soup could easily qualify as an anti-candida meal, even without trying (if you’re following the version that permits non-tropical fruits, that is).  It’s also a very simple, very nourishing concoction that offers fabulous fiber from the pears, a hit of extra calcium from the parsnips and a satisfying early autumn tummy-warming. You may even decide to make it again and again–at least, for a couple of weeks or so.   

Pear and Parsnip Soup

from Flip Shelton’s Green

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

It may not be entirely photogenic, but this easy, quick recipe produces a satisfying soup.  The combination of slightly sweet, slightly peppery, and slightly creamy works beautifully here.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

[How about that red and white background?  Pretty patriotic, eh?]

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

There’s an annual event in Montreal called The High Lights Festival in which (among other things) La Belle Ville invites chefs from other world-class cities to cook alongside the Quebeçois culinary masters and exchange ideas. This year (2008), the guest city was the very one yours truly calls home: Toronto. 

Toronto?  Some of the French hosts, apparently, almost refused to participate.  After all, every other location in Canada is entirely inferior to well, anywhere in Quebec when it comes to cuisine, non?  I mean, the rest of us are simply les bêtes sans a mote of culinary imagination or refinement, n’est-ce pas?

Well, it may be true that the phrases “Canadian gourmet” or “Canadian cuisine” are, like the iconic “jumbo shrimp,” simply oxymorons.  (And boo hoo, we’ve now lost one of the great comedians of all time along with the originator of that wordplay).  I mean, for most of my life, the mere idea of a uniquely Canadian cuisine was pretty much a joke.  As in so many other areas, our gastronomy is often eclipsed by that of our overseas ancestors.  Pizza?  Nope–that was Italy.  Crêpes Suzette?  France, of course.  Schwarzwald torte?  Germany beat us to it.  Haggis? Scotland claimed that one. Chocolate-covered bacon?  Well, turns out that was the creation of none other than our older and more populous neighbor, the good ole U. S. of A.

And what about us here in Canuck Country? A quick excursion to Wikipedia reveals several “Canadian-made” foodstuffs, many of which are cooked forms of indigenous plants.  There are Saskatoon berries out west, Nanaimo bars way out west, cloudberries (also known as bakeapple) and cod tongues way out east, or fine wines of Ontario (no, seriously. Apparently, the Niagara region shares the same microclimate as parts of California). 

But for truly singular creations that seem to roar “Canada,” like it or not, we’ve routinely turned to Quebec.  No wonder those guys have swelled heads when it comes to food. Quebec–where the language is different (bien sûr!), the aesthetic is different (ah, those couture‘d demoiselles!), the zeitgeist is different (4-hour dinners? de rigeur!), the beer is definitely different (um, 12 per cent?), and the cuisine is nonpareil.  

Tortière?  Quebec.  Poutine?  Quebec.  Sugar pie?  Quebec. Hamburger with truffles and foie gras?  Quebec.  Yep; they may have crazy gas prices, draconian language laws and a love-hate relationship with the rest of the country, but those Québecois sure do know how to cook!

And so, when I read about Jasmine (of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict) and Jennifer’s (of The Domestic Goddess) Mmmm. . . .Canada event  in honor of our July 1st Canada Day celebration, I knew I was in!  The event asks us to prepare something quintessentially “Canadian,” and it was Ontario’s original butter tart that immediately came to mind.  (Take that, cretons!)

According to Bill Casselman in his Canadian Food Words, “butter tart” is “a phrase and a confection that is 100% Canadian.”  He goes on to write,

There is even a proper Canuck way to ingest this northern nectar of the oven. One holds the butter tart in one hand at lip height. One does not bring the flaky-doughed cuplet with its inner pool of sugared gold to the mouth. No. One stoops slightly inward toward the butter tart, not only to take an encompassing chomp but also to do obeisance to the gooey rills of embuttered ambrosia soon to trickle in sweet streamlets down the eater’s gullet . . . .

 Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Just a couple of minor problems: (a) I’ve never even tasted a butter tart, let alone baked one; (b) with a filling made primarily of butter and eggs, they are decidedly not vegan.  What to do?

I consulted my trusty human encylopedia (that would be the HH) as well as my world’s biggest butter tart aficionado (ditto).  From what he tells me, the filling is very much the consistency of that in a pecan pie (probably why I never tasted them)–only about 1,462,873.05 times sweeter. 

I examined various online photos of the things and got a sense of the density required: a filling firm enough to hold its shape, spongy around the edges yet soft and oozing in the middle, all enclosed by a buttery tart crust.  With this exemplar in mind, I went to work in the kitchen.

The first round, with a serviceable shell and not entirely unpleasant taste, were nonetheless a wee bit too gooey and glossy–sort of like heavy, sugared shellac poured over raisins (too much like a stealth weapon in a James Bond movie, I’m afraid). Given the preponderance of eggs in the original recipe, I knew I’d have to reproduce the same airy, slightly bubbly consistency that results when whites are beaten until foamy.  A few extra filling ingredients and a pinch of baking powder later, and–zut alors!–I had it.

The HH tells me that these are extremely close to the real thing.  They’re everything you’d want in a butter tart: flaky pastry crust, with a rich, sticky, firmer-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside filling.  All they’re missing is the cholesterol, animal fat, and refined sugars (quel domage!)

I know what I’ll be baking for the upcoming long weekend, as we sit out back sipping Mojitos (decidedly not Canadian–well, except for the mint), shield the dogs from neighbours’ fireworks, hope the rain takes a hike, and enjoy our all-Ontario meal.  We’ll look up at the stars and be thankful to live in such a diverse, scenic, and placid country (and let’s not forget–“polite.”)  Now, if only the snow were a little less abundant, it would be perfect. . . ..

Bon Fête, Canada!

(“Um, Mum, we beg to differ on the ” world’s biggest butter tart aficionado” point.  You know we’d be the biggest fans. . . except you never let us eat them.  Oh, to taste something with sugar. . .   And what was that about fireworks?“)

Vegan Butter Tarts

[Note the “embuttered ambrosia” as it trickles out, glorious and free, from the center of that tart!]

TO VIEW THE FULL RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS BY CLICKING HERE.

 [This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog.  For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]

Cookbook Winner!

June 21, 2008

Well, we have a winner of the cookbook contest! 

First, thank you all so much for your entries; it was wonderful to learn about so many new cookbooks! I’m definitely going to have to get The Passionate Vegetarian–I mean, with an author named Crescent Dragonwagon, how could I resist?  Thanks, Jackie and Astra! I think I’ll also look into The New Farm Vegetarian (thanks, Shelly); Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian (thanks, Holler and Brett); ReFresh (thanks, Brandy and Debyi); The Crank’s Bible (thanks, Sue); Going Wild in the Kitchen (thanks, Cheryl); and the classic Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking (thanks, Courtney).  Oh, and Vijita–how lucky for you to have stayed at Laura’s B&B! 

Really, all your descriptions sounded so good, I think I want to go out and buy them all.  And I loved the memories brought back by Megan’s mention of the Betty Crocker book (my mom used to make cookies from it all the time), Michelle’s mention of the Silver Palate (I still love that one!), and Hallie’s mention of Joy of Cooking (it really is a great reference, isn’t it?). 

Another thing I loved about this contest:  it got so many of you commenting!  Fifty-seven entries in all–wow!  I really love hearing from you all, and hope you’ll keep on commenting now that you’ve made yourselves known, contest or no contest! Thanks, all. 🙂

Okay: so on to the WINNER!  I had thought to try the random number generator, but in the end decided to go with an old-fashioned draw from a big bowl of paper slips.  I used strips of old newspaper (so as not to generate extra garbage) and wrote the numbers on them: 

 

And then, I had my assistant help me choose one:

So, the lucky winner is number 54–Katy!  Katy, please contact me via email (at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com, or just leave a comment on this post) so you can tell me which book you’d like from the list, as well as your address so I can mail you your book.  Congratulations!

Thanks again, everyone.  This was really fun!  And most importantly, thanks for all your support over these past 230 days (now 235!), visiting the blog, continuing to read, and providing your great feedback.  What did I ever do before I discovered blogging?

Have a great weekend, everyone.

 

Spicy Red Pepper Pasta

April 17, 2008

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

Sometimes it’s best not to complicate matters.  

Even though I am well aware of this principle, I’ve never been the kind of gal who naturally embraces “simple”: no scoop of vanilla ice cream for me when double-fudge-cookie-cream-caramel-swirl exists in the world; no blue wooly socks if I can wear my favorite pair emblazoned with frolicking brown and green puppies; no simple sentence when a complex, adjective-crammed, three-clause phrasing can be used instead. 

In terms of this particular trait, the HH and I are polar opposites. Unlike me, he invariably takes the path of least complication.  In fact, he’s frequently reminding me that, in his opinon, I tend to overcomplicate matters. 

Scene One: I’m worried about Elsie. Just look at her!  She’s terribly lethargic, sleeping on her pillow all afternoon.  She didn’t even come into the kitchen when I started baking.  Could she be sick? Maybe we should take her to the vet.  Maybe she’s got Distemper!  Or Lyme Disease!  We have to go to the after-hours emergency clinic!  RIGHT NOW!!

HH:  “Sweetheart, please don’t overcomplicate this.  Elsie’s just tired, that’s all.  I took them for an hour-long walk along the trail this afternoon.  She swam and she ran for an hour.  See?  Chaser’s exactly the same way.”

Me:  “Oh.  Yeah.”

Scene Two: I’m sure my sister is mad at me.  I mean, she got off the phone so abruptly, and she didn’t even ask about The Girls.  She definitely sounded upset.  Hmmn.  What on earth did I do to offend her this time?  Hooboy.  Now I’m going to have to apologize for some slight I can’t even remember committing. . .

HH:  “Honey, you don’t need to overcomplicate this. She probably had a bad day at work and just doesn’t feel like talking about it.  Didn’t she have some big meeting coming up. . .?”

Me: “Oh.  Yeah.  Now I remember. . . she had to fire someone today and felt terrible doing it.  Oh, gee, I guess I should have asked her about it. . . “.

Scene Three: That HH is so infuriating!  Why won’t he tell me what he’s really thinking? He just won’t share.  Men are so emotionally stunted!  They are so out of touch with their feelings!  All I asked was a simple question, and he can’t even give me a straight answer. . .!

HH:  “Ricki.  Please.  Do not overcomplicte this.  I really meant it when I said that I have no preference.  I don’t care whether you wear the flats or the heels. Please, just pick one.  We’re going to be late for the wedding.”

Hmmm. Okay.  I see his point.

Thankfully, when it comes to cooking, we are in perfect agreement: the less complicated, the better.  And this pasta dish fits the bill beautifully.

When I’m looking for something to whip up on weeknights if we’re headed out after dinner and need something pronto; or for indolent Sunday evenings when we’ve spent the weekend engaged in errands or household chores and feel too lazy for anything more elaborate, I turn to this pasta. It’s proof positive that sometimes, indeed, simple is best.

The recipe, I’ve discovered, is a slight variation on a standard Italian pasta dish:  spaghetti or linguine tossed with roasted red peppers, garlic, and a bit of chili.  The combination of sweet (the peppers), hot (the chilis), and pungent (the garlic) is truly inspired. My handwritten version was jotted on a piece of scrap paper several years ago, and I no longer recall the original source; but since I’ve adapted it to our tastes here in the DDD household, I’m setting this down as my own adaptation. 

And the preparation, as promised, is truly simple: the final product is ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta.  You can create any number of variations on the base recipe by adding your own choice of dense protein (the HH likes sausage and parmesan cheese; I like chopped or ground almonds, or nutritional yeast). 

Because it’s both quick and appealing, I’m submitting this recipe to Ruth’s weekly Presto Pasta Night, over at Once Upon a Feast.  Look for the roundup after Friday evening!

Spicy Red Pepper Pasta

Simplicity itself is transformed into a satisfying, filling dinner in this pasta.  You can use either fresh or jarred peppers here;  I prefer a combination of both for the different textures and levels of sweeteness.

1 pkg. (about 350 grams) long, thin pasta (I use kamut linguine)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 red peppers, either fresh or roasted and jarred (the ideal mix, I’ve found, is 2 of each), cut in long strips

4-6 cloves garlic (or more, if you like), coarsely chopped

1 tsp. chili flakes

other toppers of your choice:  parmesan cheese, chopped or ground nuts, faux cheese, etc.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  If it’s ready before the pepper mixture, drain, reserving about 1/4 cup liquid; cover, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and fresh peppers (however many you’re using), and cook until the garlic begins to brown and the peppers are wilted.  Sprinkle with the chilis and stir to combine.  If using prepared roasted peppers, add them now, and mix together. 

Once the pasta is ready, add it along with the 1/4 cup water to the pepper pot (always wanted to say that!).  Toss until the pasta is coated with the garlicy oil and the peppers are well distributed.  Stir in your optional extras and transfer to serving plates.  Sprinkle with more cheese or nutritional yeast, if desired.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Weekend Update

March 23, 2008

I thought I’d take a few minutes before heading out for a long trail-walk with The Girls (it’s a long weekend over here, and they’re thrilled to have us both at home–ALL DAY!!) to post a few newsy notes. 

So, if you drop in only for the recipes or the witty repartee (I suppose that since I don’t hear your replies, it’s actually just “partee”), then you may wish to skip this entry and wait for the next.  But if you do, you might just miss something important. . . not that I’m saying you should stay, or anything. . . it’s entirely up to you. . .  

News Bit Number One:

For those of you who may have missed it or don’t look for such things, I recently added a Recipe Index (under “Pages,” at right).  I’ve categorized according to general food types, but if I’ve missed one you want to see, please let me know.  I must say that I was quite surprised at the number of gluten free options in the list, since I can actually eat gluten (some) without problems.  Still, I suppose a NAG diet inclines naturally toward GF foods.  (And chocolate is, after all, gluten free).

News Bit Number Two:

Next week, I’m planning to focus on another Lucky Comestible; this time, it’s quinoa.  While I’m not entirely ready to host a full-fledged blogging event, I would love to hear about your own adventures with quinoa, and any recipes you’ve made or blogged about.  You can leave a link in the comments or let me know via email and I’ll add a link to your recipe at the end of my posts.  Would love to see more quinoa in the world!

News Bit Number Three:

I am just thrilled over this one!  A while back, I entered the Root Source Challenge for Maple Syrup, with my post on Maple-Walnut Cookies.  Well, my little recipe won the challenge!  I can’t wait to see my new baking book!  If you missed the original post, it’s right here.

 News Bit Number Four:

excellentblog-award.jpg

Well, now that I’ve introduced the idea of blogs being rewarded, I’m ready for the most important news bit today:  After much contemplation, I’m finally going to suggest my own “Excellence” Awards.  I was given this honor by the lovely Romina of Vegan Eating for One, and have been mulling it over ever since.  There are soooo many excellent bloggers out there, how to choose?  And, even harder, how to choose only FIVE?

Well, it was a difficult choice, indeed.  And I apologize to all of you I don’t mention here.  I regularly read ALL of the blogs in my blogroll, plus about 30-40 more at this point; I think you are all excellent, or I wouldn’t be reading! 

So I made my choice based on a few delimiting principles. Anyone who’s already received accolades for whatever reason was automatically disqualified; I want to spread the appreciation around (and if I’ve doubled up on an award, that’s my oversight; sorry!). I also wanted to choose blogs that were not necessarily recipe-based; I pinpointed those I found quirky, or undiscovered gems, or something a little off the beaten track. . . just my own little idiosyncracies there, I guess. 

So here goes.  My own choices for Excellent bloggers include (in alphabetical order):

  • Deb at Altered Plates.  I love Deb’s take on baking; Everything she does looks so delicious, I want to make all of her recipes!  And she introduced coconut flour to me, something for which I am eternally grateful 😉
  • Annie at Forest Street Kitchen.  Even though our styles of cooking may differ, Annie is a wonderful writer with a wry, satiric take on so many things.  I enjoy her perspective and she always makes me laugh.  And, now, she’s a celebrity!
  • Lucy at Nourish Me.  Her photos are awe-inspiring, her writing is poetic, and her recipes are all NAG-friendly; I always look forward to her blog posts. All that, and she writes from my favorite country on Earth. 
  • Megan at Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills.  No recipes, or much about food at all, really; just a uniquely wry, usually hilarious and slightly twisted view of the world. . . just up my alley. 
  • Lizzie at The Good Eatah.  With relatively new gluten and dairy dietary restrictions, Lizzie still manages to cook up a bunch of yummy foods, always with an upbeat attitude. And I do enjoy those pix of Henry!

Hope you all check out these wonderful blogs. As I said above, there are many more than just five Excellent blogs out there, but now I’ll have to rely on those ladies to go out and pick five of their own. 

Hope everyone’s enjoying a fabulous long weekend, whether or not you celebrate Easter 🙂 .

Spiced Cauliflower Soup

March 17, 2008

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

spicycaulisoup1.jpg 

It occurred to me yesterday that the last three food posts on this blog have all been desserts.  Is this my chocolate withdrawal talking?  Well, maybe so, but that means a contrapuntal savory dish must make its appearance today.  No; more than just savory–we need something spicy.  No; more than just spicy; we need something SPICE-EEEE!  Aye, Carumba!! And I have just the thing. . . .

One of the aspects of blogging I love is reading about others writers’ food adventures.  By reading food blogs, you can vicariously cook and eat almost anything, without lifting so much as a measuring spoon. Another great byproduct is how blogging encourages you to try cooking something new almost daily, stretching your culinary muscles and gustatory acumen. Would I naturally think to peruse my cookbooks in search of a novel pasta dish every week?  Not likely.  Would I ordinarily wax poetic about rice pudding in any other context?  Negative.  Would I customarily resurrect old standards that I haven’t thought about in years?  Certainly not. And yet, today, that’s exactly what I’ve done!

When I read about this month’s No Croutons Required challenge hosted by Holler at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen, I immediately decided to rummage through my old recipes to locate this particular soup. Back when we were first together, the HH and I would devour this soup at least once a week for several months at a time.  In those days, the HH pounced at the opportunity to share dinner prep (what we won’t do in the first flush of a new relationship!).  At that time, we cooked together almost every evening. These days, on the other hand, after the HH arrives home from work and we’ve walked  The Girls  we often embark on a game of verbal ping-pong:

Me: “What should we do for dinner?” (Subtext: I don’t really feel like doing anything for dinner.)

HH: “I dunno.  Um, did you cook anything yet?” (Subtext: What the heck were you doing here all day?”)

Me: “No.  I was waiting for you to get home from work before deciding.” (Subtext: I’ll be damned if I lift so much as a finger without your help, buster! Just because I work at home doesn’t mean I don’t work hard, too, you know. I’d appreciate just a little acknowledgement of what I do, if you don’t mind.)

HH: “Hmm.  How about pizza?” (Subtext: I am lazy and don’t feel like cooking.)

Me: “You know I don’t eat pizza!” (Subtext: How could you forget that I don’t eat wheat, or cheese, or sugar-laden pizza sauce??? Don’t you pay attention to what’s been going on here for the past eight years?  Don’t you ever notice what I do or do not eat??  Don’t you ever think of anyone besides YOURSELF??  Oh, I see what’s going on here. I see now how little you appreciate me.  Oh, don’t try to deny it.  It’s clear that you’ve never really cared for me!  You’ve never really loved me at all!  Otherwise how could you even suggest–)

HH: “Are you sure?  Well, okay, sweetie, if that’s what you want, that’s fine with me. (Subtext: Great. I really would prefer to go out.  Man, she’s the greatest.  Man,  I love this woman. )

Okay, maybe that wasn’t exactly our daily conversation, but we did go out to dinner a lot in those days.  

These days, on a slightly tighter budget after my two years away from work, we tend to throw together something quick and easy, or something I’ve come across in search of blog recipes.  The HH plays sous-chef and chops or slices according to my directives.  He sets the table and plays with The Girls while the dish finishes cooking.  And gee, he doesn’t even mind waiting for me to photograph our daily dinners.  (Man, he really is the greatest.  Man, I love that guy!)

Okay, sappy interlude is now over. Back to the soup.

This is one of the first Indian recipes I ever tried, shortly after I went off wheat, eggs, dairy, etc..  I discovered fairly quickly that my dietary restrictions could be met easily in Asian restaurants, primarily Indian or Thai.  As we visited one after the other restaurant in our neighbourhood, I also quickly discovered that I adored Indian food–and that I wanted to learn how to make it myself. 

This soup comes from the first Indian cookbook I bought, The New Indian Cooking Course, by Manisha Kanani and Shehzad Husain.  It is incredibly easy, quick, and delicious.  Not overpowering, there’s still enough zing in the soup to imprint its spicy tingle on your tongue after the bowl is emptied–perfect for the No Croutons Required event. 

(PS  I’ve finally posted a photo for another fantastic spicy soup, the Moroccan Tomato Soup that I wrote about back in December (and which the HH and I enjoyed again recently).  If you like spice, head on over and take a look! )

Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Adapted From The New Indian Cooking Course

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

spicycaulisoup2.jpg

This soup is a great way to incorporate cauliflower, a vegetable that isn’t particularly exciting on its own. For a more powerful spice, increase the amount of ginger and cumin accordingly.  

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.