Enhance enjoyment

The definition of a condiment has something to do with enhancing flavor and enjoyment. I would have to agree with that. In the condiment category there are so many options to choose from.

You start out as a youngster with ketchup. A mystery combination of ingredients suspended in a tomato base. My children choked down so many meals with the plate swimming in a sea of ketchup. It was so disappointing to see the real flavour of their food being drowned out by the ketchup. But they matured and got over that habit. Thankfully.

Then there is the world of mustard. That is not overstating the different choices in the mustard category. There is something to suit any taste. I usually have 2 or 3 different kinds on the go. Right now we have a basic hot dog mustard, a spicy hot and dijon. We just finished a jar of turmeric mustard.

It would take a very long post to go through all the other condiments in my kitchen. And the rotation at any given time is temporary. We are often trying out new ones. And I’ve taken to making condiments fresh. The difference of a fresh version to a store-bought is really night and day. With my strong preference being toward the fresh options. I like the taste better and I can feel in my bones, how much better it is for my health.

I’ve been experimenting lately with salsa verde. It seems like the taste can be quite similar to chimichurri. It also depends on where the salsa verde recipe derives from. Mine is from an Italian version, rather than Mexico, Spain or Germany. Back to the Italians, again.

I think salsa verde can be used with anything and everything. Top corn on the cob, instead of using butter. Use as a dip for vegetables or chips. Add to anything coming off the grill. Or even use as a marinade before going on the grill. When I taste salsa verde I am taken back to warm summer days. Even in the dead of winter. It is so easy to make up large batches and freeze in flat “sheets” in plastic bags. Then re-constitute with olive oil.

Classic Italian Salsa Verde

  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, (or onion)
  • 3 anchovy fillets, (or anchovy paste)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, (or basil, mint, or combinations)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard, (whatever is on hand)
  • juice and zest from 1/2 lemon, (could use vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, (could use another type of oil)

I put everything in the Magic Bullet and shake it as it blends. You get a sauce this way. It is super quick and easy. Alternatively, the vegetables and herbs can be finely chopped. The result is thicker and not as creamy.

I would say that this sauce enhances enjoyment of whatever is on the menu. I like it with eggs too!

Salsa Verde with bean

This week in my kitchen

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Welcome to my week in the kitchen – bloghop with Beauty That Moves

This tour starts with a seafood boil I did for my visiting Grandfather and Father. Spot prawns were in season and my husband caught the Dungeness crabs.


For dessert that night we had peanut butter balls made by my daughter.

PB Balls HB_web Peanut butter balls_web

An amazing salad for dinner.

Dinner salad_web

Rhubarb and Strawberry iced tea.

Rhubarb tea_web

Strawberries for freezing.

Strawberries freezing_web

This week in my kitchen

Hmmm – it’s been a good week. Tried some new ideas. Had a few nice quiet meals with my daughter. A time to catch my breath.

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Check out the action on the blog hop hosted by Beauty That Moves.

Coconut creamer_web

Don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner, replace dairy creamer with coconut milk creamer! So yummy.

Carrot cake oatmeal_web

My daughter really doesn’t know how lucky she is – this is carrot cake oatmeal for breakfast! No dairy, sugar and gluten free. She’s no dummy, however. It does not taste just like carrot cake. But for me it is a wonderful thing to have for breakfast.

Market finds_web

Treasures from the White Rock farmer’s market.

Chocolate cake_web

A baked treat – chocolate cake, same properties as the carrot cake. My daughter thinks it isn’t sweet enough. I think it is heavenly.

Soba salad_web Cod_web

Asian inspired dinner.


Local, wonderful.


My daughter can get anything down with ketchup!


This week in a kitchen

My kitchen this week has been limited to what I can forage. The Austrian spa hotel where I am staying has a fantastic kitchen, I am sure. The food has been great. But I miss my morning smoothies. I miss my reading and writing from the comfort of my bed with a big mug of coffee, prepared just the way I like, served in a tall, half litre size. That hour I get every morning to start my day is like a life saver. When I travel, I am forced to tread water, luckily I am fairly good at that.

However, I cannot complain. If you choose well, your time at this meeting can be wonderfully spent, both professionally and personally. Blocks have been built into the agenda to enjoy the spa, nearby skiing or whatever else you choose. Two luxurious mornings, back to back.


First night here, (I did not cook this in a kitchen), but it was wonderful. I’ve had fish every night and even the buffet quality has been nice.


Everyday this tray is re-filled with little sweet apples.


From home I picked up a few comforts while packing. Some Easter chocolates that were for the those who hid the eggs, and a piece of coral from the Baja. I find it important to visually remember some of my best days, even when I am far away from them.


Unfortunately, I came down with a cold on the second day. In order to sleep well and be present and attentive in the working day, I had to resort to the “scorched earth” policy. That meant gathering a variety of cold medications from North American attendees. This is a global meeting and you can end up with packages of stuff written in different languages. It is a walk on the wild side to treat yourself that way, (yes spoken from experience). On top of the heavy meds, I got a couple of different tonics. One standard vitamin C effervescent, (which I like and could drink every day), and the other a combination of herbs that I find strangely appealing. (Most other people have thought the smell very strange). I’ve been sipping the mystery herbs 2 to 3 times per day and I like it. Not sure exactly which combination was the trick, but I am slowly getting better. Or at least, I feel better under the influence of all this stuff. Will see if the cold is still roaring underneath.

I’ll be standing in my home kitchen Friday night, pretty jet lagged. My husband will likely have booked a dinner out, forces me to stay awake long enough to switch back to Vancouver time. If I get the chance to recline my body, I’m done for, fast asleep.

This Week in My Sister’s Kitchen


Welcome to Barbra’s kitchen. I am Christine’s sister, so you may think that the cooking gene made it to both of us, but alas, it did not.

I am not a cook, or even a wanna-be cook, but I do like to eat…and since I do not make the kind of money to frequent restaurants that I would like my own table at, I relinquish to¬† hang out in my own kitchen once in awhile. My inspiration and incentive often comes from Christie – I spend a weekend with her and come home inspired to try something that I watched appear in her kitchen.

Sunday is good day to get the staples ready for the following week. My sweetie is heading off to a Black Sabbath concert (nothing says Easter like an evening with Ozzy) and my kids ditched me to go to a movie, so I have some time to spend in the kitchen. The agenda in the kitchen today has been varied – a little something for everyone.

  • Family breakfast: pepper bacon with Banana-chocolate-cocconut pancakes with coconut syrup and fresh mangoes. (No need to say it, I know….but it was delicious)
  • Peanut Butter Mini Loaves (for my son who eats the stuff with a spoon)
  • Granola (today’s version has dried cherries, apricots, goji berries, figs, coconut and almonds)
  • Kale cubes for the week’s smoothies (this may shock some…but the guy going to Ozzy loves the frozen kale cubes in his smoothies)
  • Almond milk (for the son to wash down his peanut butter)
  • Baba Ganoush (for me. I could eat it with a spoon)

Back to the kitchen, I have a mountain of bananas staring at me…

Cheers, Barb



Food philosophy

I’m taking a Whole Food Workshop again this year, from the same lovely instructor Heather Bruggeman. She keeps a fantastic blog at “Beauty that moves“. Check out her thoughts if you are looking for inspiration.

One of the tasks in the first week was to write about my food philosophy. I had just finished my annual family ski week, and my thoughts on skiing and cooking easily came together. Strange how that sometimes happens.

Preparing food for my family is like skiing. I enjoy it, but it is tough going, leaves me exhausted, other people think I do it effortlessly. There is a peaceful feeling to be out in the snow and smell the clean air, same as my lovely kitchen with sharp knives and wood cutting boards, the smell from the stove. I can sometimes find the elusive rhythm on the snow where carving a turn is the most wonderful feeling. Plating a recipe with the freshest, tastiest ingredients, evocative smell, beautiful color and balance is a most delightful experience, but elusive just the same. But practice does count in both areas. Honing skills, paying attention to details, incremental improvements. However, the most important part of either skiing or cooking is to have fun. If I fall down after attempting a difficult run, or produce a somewhat less than spectacular meal, it doesn’t matter, the process should be fun, introspective, full of learning.

As I prepare new and interesting recipes for my family, I get a curious mix of responses. I eliminate certain dishes straight away due to known food aversions. But that list is always evolving. It is curious to see my daughter eat something quite well because it has no meat in it and my husband is fighting the same thing down because of the texture. (And maybe no meat).

Recently, I served a breakfast of millet, which has virtually no taste, so the extra’s were a must. My son, who has no food “issues”, could barely choke it down because it was so bland. Really?

Chick pea veggie burgers were a general hit on Sunday night. But my son was worried we were not going back to beef burgers, ever.

My challenge is to view all of this as success. Getting my family involved in what they are eating is the point. Understanding what is on the plate and asking themselves questions about where it came from, is it good for them, how much should they eat of it? Remembering to tread softly in the heat of battle, which is what it feels like when new ideas are met with a challenge, is hard to do.

Other ideas on food philosophy:

Boozy cherries

I have been processing produce every week with what I find at the local markets, and from the limited harvest of my garden. I have frozen rhubarb, strawberries and cherries. Made and frozen a bunch of chive pesto. Dried a 1L jar worth of oregano. Still to come for early fruits are raspberries and blueberries. So far, we have been eating raspberries as fast as we bring them home, and blueberries as fast as we can pick them.

To change it up, today I put up 5 jars of cherries in the easiest way possible.

Wash the cherries and de-stem, but no need to take the pits out. We have access to Okanagan Bing cherries.

Add sugar, about 1/4 of the weight of cherries in the jar.

Top off with the booze of choice. Today I drained the remainder of a bottle of Jack and a rather nice bottle of brandy.

Shake to dissolve the sugar and then store away in a cool, dark place for about 3 months. Refrigerate after opening.

It is going to be great this fall and winter to pull out one of these lovely summer treasures to enjoy.

Heart of a kitchen

If the kitchen is the heart of a home, then the main counter is the heart of a kitchen. At least that is the case in my house.

In our tiny kitchen, the counter serves as the main hub of activity.

At the back of the photo, I was working on my goals, including a large sketch book, coloured pens and glue. To the left of that is a cotton knitted basket that I made, holding various iPods being charged. A box of tissues, a CD recording of Jimmy Buffets, “A Salty Piece of Land”, and a cluster of bananas in the next row. A cracker box on top of my iPad, a container of tomatoes and my cookbook run into the snack in various dishes. My husbands computer and papers and my sons blue pencil box pretty much covers it all.

This is a typical situation for our family. Probably pretty chaotic looking for some people and maybe a little tidy for others, (notice nothing has spilled on the electronics!)

What I want to do one day is set up a video camera with time elapse recording. Even a week would be great to show just how much we rely on this one piece of furniture to live our life.

Daggett Farmhouse: Hearth cooking at Greenfield Village open air Museum

I suppose, back in the day, the fireplace was the centre of the kitchen. Women would cook all day over it and sit by the light of it to sew and do chores in the evening. It was where the warmth radiated from and where the vital, life-sustaining food stuffs were prepared.

I often think that I could have done well in that time of history and then I see these kind of photo’s showing what looks to be back-breaking work. I remember clearly what that was like when I cared for my babies. For one thing or another, it seemed like I was stooped over for about 4 years.

For the most part, I remain extremely happy to be living in this time of history. Even if the only reason were for our modern kitchens, which let us produce food for our family in a fraction of the time that it used to only a couple hundred years ago.