Living in small spaces can often be challenging. The trick is minimalism, if that’s your thing. I like clean, airy spaces with a few pieces of furniture and artwork. I try not to have anything standing on the floor like large vases, baskets, etc. It’s also easier to clean because I rarely have to move anything around when sweeping. I decorate my apartment for me because 95% of the time, I’m the only person there. But there are occasions when I have company and wished I had furniture that comfortably accommodated everyone. I’ve been struggling with whether or not to buy a bigger kitchen table but a bigger kitchen table requires more chairs and I don’t have the space to store them when they are not in use. I also just like what I’ve been using – a $30 piece of shit IKEA desk. It takes up minimal space and suits me just fine.
I tend to have some pretty crazy decorating ideas so I love cheap IKEA furniture – not all ideas are good ones. In this case I printed out a dozen sheets of drawn wood grain I found on the Internet, cut the pieces to fit and used Mod Podge to seal them to the surface. Because the paper was thin, it rippled up but when it dried it gave the top a faux wood texture. The only thing left to do is protect the top so I might buy a fitted piece of glass or not because I’m marginally poor.
While everyone is busy canning tomatoes, I’m freezing them. Why? Because I’m incredibly lazy and in denial; hence purchasing an enormous bushel of tomatoes with the expectation of canning all 54,681 of them. It’s also important to add that I do this every single year. Not only is canning a huge time suck, it’s messy and often dangerous. That’s my excuse, because honestly, caning freaks my shit out.
I normally freeze flat small batches that stack well and save space but I’m single and have nothing in my freezer other than edamame and coffee so this year I froze larger batches. Rounder batches also fit better in a pot, if you don’t have time to thaw it. I find rectangular pieces of frozen anything are always awkward.
Stewing Tomatoes isn’t Rocket Science so I’ll Break it Down into Bullet Points
- Blanch tomatoes until the skin splits. The time depends on how many tomatoes you have in the pot so my rule is: as soon as it splits, take that shit out.
- Some people let their boiling hot tomatoes cool before they skin them but I have zero patience for that. I run one under cold water, skin it, cut out the green nipple and throw that hot bastard in a large pot.
- Once you have a full pot of tomatoes, add salt and stew for an hour.
- Let cool and double bag your batches. Sometimes I let the pot sit for 24 hours for more flavour.
How many times have I cursed while trying to peel away the utterly useless foil cap when opening a bottle of wine? How many nails have I sacrificed while picking away at tiny bits of foil? How many times have I stabbed my thumb with the dull knife attachment on my mediocre corkscrew? How many real life tears have been shed after a hard day of work when I just can’t get that fucking foil off my GD bottle of wine? I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it.
Now imagine my astonishment when I was performing all of the above in Scotty’s kitchen when he simply took a knife, ran it up the side of the foil cap and watched as it slipped right off. My jaw dropped. I was speechless. I gave him cut-eye and then wondered WHY have I never thought of this my entire drinking career?!
I don’t have a step-by-step guide or video on how to do this because I only have two hands and I often drink alone. I think it’s self-explanatory, just remember – only perform this magic trick with a sharp knife.
Also, this wine is delicious and under $15. It’s rich and deep with major hits of vanilla and sometimes orange (maybe.)
Where I come from, we eat a lot of fish, mainly Perch. My Uncle Bob is retired and goes fishing EVERY SINGLE DAY so we get that shit fresh. Naturally, everyone has their own way of cooking Perch but for me there is only one way – fish fry. If you’re lucky and don’t have to gut and clean the fish then this process is super quick and easy. Egg Wash + Coating + Deep Fry = Delicious.
Soak fish for a few minutes in an egg wash. My Aunt Linda uses, egg and milk. My father uses egg and water. When you’re ready to coat the fish, flip it in the egg wash a few times (don’t be a nerd, use your hands!) and transfer it to your plate of coating. My Aunt Linda uses Saltine Crackers that she runs through her food processor. My father uses Sylvia’s Fish Fry Mix or sometimes the Fried Chicken Mix. Dust off any excess coating and drop that shit in some hot ass oil.
My Uncle uses a modest deep fryer called, Fry Daddy and my father uses a propane tank attached to an open flame burner like a lunatic. I recommend the Fry Daddy. Using Conola Oil and carefully following the instructions, deep fry small batches of Perch for 10 minutes and let sit on a bed of paper towel for 5 minutes. I also recommend doing this outdoors.
Sometimes I squeeze some fresh lemon on top or whip up some tartar sauce:
- 1 Cup of Mayo
- 3 Dill Pickles, chopped
- 2 TBSP of Capers, chopped
- Half of a Lemon, squeezed
You could also add:
- Smoked paprika
- Fresh dill
- Hot Sauce
Can we also talk about how cute my Aunt Linda’s Hens and Chicks are? Totally stealing this idea next year.
I was introduced to Ceviche only a few years ago – I was a sheltered child. I’ve always appreciated when someone else made it but never tried to make it myself, I’m not so much a fan of chopping a million ingredients. But this was super easy and heat free which is perfect for hot summer days. Scotty didn’t try it because he is “allergic,” to (never tried) seafood but he did help squeeze 15 limes. It really cuts time if you have a lime juicer which we didn’t. This is the one I use.
- 1 – 2 lbs of Tiger Shrimp, Raw
- Half Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
- 15 Limes
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 LRG Shallot
- Handful of Fresh Cilantro
- ¼ Thai Pepper or Other
- Pinch of Sea Salt
Peel, rinse and chop tiger shrimp. Add to a non-reactive bowl, such as glass. Add the juice of the limes and shallots, cover and refrigerate for an hour or until the shrimp cook. The lime juice “cooks” the shrimp, they will turn pink when done. Chop and stir in the rest of the ingredients, cover and refrigerate for another hour or at least 30 minutes. I was nervous to add the garlic as it might have overpowered the dish but it didn’t. Even when left over night in the fridge the garlic was mellow, in fact it was better the next day.
It’s summer and in true Toronto style, I’ve been drinking in parks like a hobo. I also like to invite myself over for dinner to whoever will have me because I rarely cook in the summer. But this weekend my mother and aunt came to visit my cousin and I, so I hosted a dinner and card night which turned out to be quite the ladies night avec sangria and a kitchen dance party.
Cooking with beer is totally underrated. Its hops and barely add new and interesting flavours. It has tenderizing properties valuable for meat and marinades and it’s versatile in numerous cooking techniques. I based this recipe on my favourite dish served at the Portuguese restaurant Bairrada Churrasqueira. I prefer the College Street location in the summer. They have an enormous back patio and often grill sardines for free. Hint: The sardines taste better than they smell!
Beer and Butter Shrimp
- 1LB of Large Shrimp. Cooked.
- 1 Large Shallot
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 1/2 TBSP Cajun Seasoning
- A Shitload of Butter
- 1 Tall Can of Light Beer (Pilsner)
- Ground Pepper
- French Bread for Dipping
1/2 squeezed lemon could work too. I forgot to add it.
Sautee butter, shallots, garlic and seasoning in a medium pot. Add half can of beer, ground pepper and shrimp. Boil for five minutes, 10 if shrimp are raw. Remove shrimp. Add the rest of the beer and boil for 10 minutes. Pour sauce over the shrimp and squeeze half of a lemon over top.
Other than an impromptu night in the village sharing a mic with a drag queen singing show tunes, my weekend was relatively chill. Saturday was the warmest day we’ve had all season and we needed it. I hate talking about the weather though. For one, I’m terrible at small talk. Someone could be talking about how excited they are that Target is coming to Toronto and I could reply with how tripping on Ayahuasca in Peru might bring me closer to understanding my existence.
Another reason why I don’t like talking about the weather is because I truly don’t give a shit. It’s snowing – so what. We live in Canada, it snows, it rains and sometimes it gets super hot and guess what? People will complain about that too. But I will admit this has been a very long, depressing spring so I took advantage of the sun and made celebratory Pomegranate Margaritas which while tanning with a great friend was nothing short of perfection.
- 4 ounces of POM juice
- 3 ounces of Tequila (white)
- 2 ounces of Triple Sec
- 3 ounces of Simple Syrup
- 4 ounces of lime juice
- 5 cups of ice
I’ve mentioned before I consider myself quite the Reuben enthusiast, not the classiest of obsessions but definitely suitable. I’m surprised how little I’ve written about the almighty Reuben, but like most enthusiasts, I rarely find a notable Reuben that has met my aggressive standards. So naturally, I was surprised to find the best Reuben I’ve ever had in my own hometown, Wallaceburg Ontario.
Although we moved to an entirely different area when I was 8 years old, my mother, step-father and I frequently travelled back to visit my Grandparents and I, my father who has always resided in this area. My best memories live here, which is a kind of nostalgia that never escaped me. I’ve always called this place home. Luckily, my mother and step-father recently moved back so my visits are more common and I can finally appreciate in (my hesitating) adulthood the local cuisine. There isn’t a fancy restaurant to be seen, but that’s part of its charm. Everyone can cook and summer is abundant with local ingredients so cuisine might seem too posh a word for a place that’s characterized by its coveted simplicity.
Chez Denise Bistro & Café, is where I discovered this epic Reuben. It’s messy as hell and difficult to hold – exactly how I like it. But the surprising element is the homemade spinach dip they generously slather on huge portions of corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. It’s greasy, it’s juicy – it makes you feel brazenly guilty for wanting another.
Chez Denise Bistro & Café, 153 Nelson, Wallaceburg, Ontario.
I finally used the Cuisinart Smart Stick my mum gave me for Christmas – it’s amazing. I haven’t been inspired to cook in quite some time. In fact, I haven’t had much motivation to do anything at all the past few months. February, is that special time of year when I’m so lethargic from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I convince myself I’m spiralling into another bout of self-inflicted depression. But once I realize I’m likely suffering from SAD and Spring is around the corner, inspiration begins to resurface from that mystical place where it comes from.
Roasted Garlic, White Bean Dip
- 1 Whole Garlic Head
- 1 LRG Can White Beans
- Juice of 1 ½ Lemons
- 1 TSP Cumin
- 3 TBSP Olive Oil
- Salt to Taste
Roast Garlic by placing the head in a muffin tin, coat well with olive oil, tightly cover with tinfoil and cook for 35 minutes at 400 ° Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend.
I don’t have a picture of the final product but I do have to say, this soup was kickass. I didn’t think it would hold as much flavour as it did hence the “pinch” of Italian seasoning – I often worry my recipes will be bland so it’s natural for me to go overboard with spices and potentially ruin anything. If you choose to try this, make sure you have extra broth on hand, I had to add more liquid before I blended this, it was super thick.
Potato Leek Soup With Dill
- 3 Leeks
- 1 Carrot
- 3 Celery Stalks
- 6 Potatoes (Yukon)
- 5 Cups of Vegetable Broth
- Olive Oil
- 1 TBSP Butter (optional)
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- Pinch of Italian Seasoning
- Fresh Dill
In a large sauce pot, sauté leeks, carrot, celery, garlic, Italian seasoning and olive oil for 10 minutes. Add chopped potatoes, fresh dill, broth and simmer for 25 minutes. Blend and add more liquid if necessary. I used my new hand blender that I can’t shut up about.