Archive for November, 2011


Tomato Sauce Challenge 3: Poached Egg on Hash

by marilynk

My first post from my iPhone…I hope this works. Last night I made one of my go-to simple and quick dinners: an egg poached in sauce. It’s a great because you can serve it on top of anything. A piece of cheese toast with tomato? Sure! Leftover stir fried veggies? Perfect! Or, one of my favourites, shoestring potatoes pan fried with veggies.

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Tomato Sauce Challenge 2: Homemade Pizza

by marilynk

I’m sort of terrible for double-booking myself if I don’t write things down. In this case, I didn’t write down my plans with my mom so I forgot she was taking me to Langano Skies and then Michael Ondaatje’s reading at the Winspear Centre Tuesday night. So the challenge will be extended through Sunday.

The other wrench that’s been thrown in the  works of this challenge is a new symptom from the Crohn’s: a complete lack of appetite. Yesterday was the first time I’ve experienced it and I’m hoping it doesn’t last, but I just couldn’t bring myself to make anything for dinner last night. So this is what I’d planned to make rather than what I actually ate, but still think it sounds great and I will still make it.

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Tomato Sauce Challenge 1: Pasta & Sauce and Spinach & Pomegranate Salad

by marilynk

Ok, so this is the expected way to use the sauce, but I do love my pasta. And this is a great Meatless Monday option if you do that at your house. I did round-out the meal with a salad, so I did do some recipe-writing for all of you!

I took it easy for the first one.

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Recipe Challenge: Five Ways to Use Tomato Sauce

by marilynk

I live on my own and most recipes are designed for families of four, so I end up with a lot of leftovers. This usually isn’t a bad thing, since I like taking leftovers as lunch the next day and you already know how much I like to cook batches and then freeze some of it. But sometimes it’s not leftovers of a full meal, it’s leftover ingredients. I like the challenge of finding different ways to use extra ingredients in different ways so I don’t end up eating the same meal multiple days in a week. So I’ve given myself a little challenge: 5 dinners in 5 days using one 1L jar of homemade tomato sauce.

Everyone uses pasta sauce.  I love pasta and prepared sauces (from the store or homemade) are a great way to get a meal on the table quickly, but a jar of sauce can be jazzed up and used as a base for a lot more than just noodles. Your family also probably uses a litre of sauce at one meal – any of these recipes can be made individually for a larger group.

I hope you’ll follow along this week to see what I come up with. The recipes will run Tuesday-Saturday. My sauce is defrosting in the fridge as you read this!


Update on Beauty Products

by marilynk

Some of you will remember back in August I wrote about giving up commercial shampoos, conditioners, facial cleansers, moisturizers, and exfoliants. I finished up (or gave away to my mom & sister) the commercial products I still had and replaced them with baking soda & water (shampoo), apple cider vinegar & water (conditioner), olive and castor oils & a hot wash cloth (facial cleanser & moisturizer), and ground adzuki beans (exfoliant). Click here for more details on the recipes I use.

I’ve been using these methods consistently now for more than two months, so I thought I’d give you an update – especially now that the weather’s nose-dived and we’re all dealing with Edmonton’s super dry air. Generally, I really like this change and I’m going to stick with it, but I think some things need some fine-tuning.

The baking soda and apple cider vinegar work well for my hair (I have pretty fine hair, but lots of it. My hair used to get fairly oily, but my scalp would be dry and itchy). I’m not getting the greasy-by-mid-afternoon look that I used to get pretty often (yay!) and my scalp is still itchy sometimes, it doesn’t seem as bad as before (also yay!). I’ve used all my usual styling products and everything gets cleaned out nicely when I wash my hair. I am finding I need to be careful to make sure I’ve really washed all of my hair, though – there’s a spot right at the crown of my head that I sometimes have to wash twice. I think it’s that the hair there wasn’t fully wet when I pour the baking soda and water on, so it just rolls off the hair and doesn’t get down to the scalp. The vinegar and water spray definitely smells like vinegar when I first spray it on, but the smell is gone even before I rinse my hair. Once it’s dry, my hair feels soft, looks nice and shiny, and doesn’t smell like anything.

The face-cleaning method is awesome. It’s really perfect for me and my love of getting every last second I can in my warm bed on winter mornings. It’s really only 2 steps at night: 1. Rub on the oil mixture & put a hot cloth over your face for a few minutes. 2. Wipe off the excess oil (and makeup, etc.) with the cloth. In the morning, I just splash my face with cold water and pat it dry. My skin feels great too. I have dry cheeks and oily T-zone, so cleansers seemed to over-dry my skin & moisturizers made me feel like my face was greasy. With this method, I don’t feel the greasyness at all, but I might up the olive oil in the mix to combat the drier air we’ve got right now. The other thing I wasn’t sure about was how well this method would clean makeup. I don’t wear tons of makeup, but I consistently wear a mineral foundation (now that I’m not using moisturizer with SPF, it’s even more important), mascara, blush, and lip stuff (usually gloss). The oils do a great job of breaking down the makeup and it comes right off on the cloth – even the mascara. And I’m not worried about getting the stuff in my eyes ’cause it’s non-toxic and it doesn’t burn or do anything harmful.

As I mentioned in the last post, I’d used adzuki bean scrubs before, so I’ll just say I continue to love it. I use the scrub on my face on days that I’m washing my hair (2-3 times a week) and my skin feels nicely polished, but not dried out. Since I found a good container for keeping the scrub in the shower, I’ve also started using it to scrub my body too – anywhere that needs a little exfoliation, like my elbows, back, and feet. It works great.
The thing I like best about making these changes is that I’m saving a ton of money. I filled the container of olive/castor oil mix at the beginning of August and it’s not empty yet. I filled the containers in my shower at the beginning of September and I just filled the baking soda again yesterday, the others won’t need to be filled for a while yet. I kinda wish I had a record of how much I spent on shampoo, conditioner, and face products last year so I could make a real comparison, but I know it’s significant. None of the products I’m using now are costly in an of themselves and they last much longer than commercial products. I’m thinking this was a good move!

I reused an existing cleanser bottle. That's an airline-safe 1.7 fl oz that's lasted more than 3 months.

The sugar containers are from IKEA, as is the cup, the spray bottle is reused from an old hair product.


Delectable Dinners

by marilynk

Last month, I was invited by my lovely friend Sarah to join a group of ladies to attend (and eventually host) a sort of rotating dinner party. The evenings are called Delectable Dinners and the first two evenings have been full of interesting women, great conversation, many photos of cats, and delicious food. The concept is quite low-key and very flexible to different people’s hosting preferences: the hostess gets to decide if she’d like to cook the full dinner, have a pot-luck, or even go out to a restaurant if that’s more her style.

So far, both Dinners have been pot-lucks and I’ve been really impressed with the interesting dishes these ladies bring. I brought a g-free apple pie to the first dinner (it turned out even tastier than the first one) and my contribution to Sunday’s dinner was Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yoghurt. I stayed true to the recipe this time, but I used purple cauliflower from Riverbend Gardens. It was beautiful raw and the purple actually intensified when it was cooked. I quite liked the dish and I’ll definitely make it again, but I was really blown away by the rest of the menu: a guacamole with extra veggies, roasted beet hummus, stuffed mushroom caps, broccoli salad, a quinoa/tomato/parmesan bake, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloing (seriously!), and for dessert? Homemade cinnamon rolls and pavlova. Yeah, we eat like that.

I really love seeing (and tasting!) the creativity of the dishes, but the best part of these evenings is the conversation with a really interesting group of women. Most are people I didn’t know before Sarah’s first dinner and I am really happy to be getting to know such great people.


October is Soup Month

by marilynk

When autumn hits I crave cozy, warm foods and soup is one of my favourites. There’s just something so appealing about a big bowl of goodness on a blustery day. Soup is also a great way to process some of your harvest bounty for the coming cold months. I generally make big batches and freeze the bulk of it – I’m a big fan of cooking once to eat for a bunch of meals. All of the recipes are basically doubled so there’s enough to freeze. Adjust your amounts accordingly!

This month I made 3 different soups: Roasted Corn and Scallop Chowder, Roasted Tomato and Roasted Garlic Soup, and Quick and Easy Borscht. Everything was made with at least some ingredients from EOGG and the tomatoes came from my parents’ garden. There’s a lot of recipe in this post, so I’ll just get to it:

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Last Night’s Dinner: Roasted Eggplant with Warm Chorizo Chickpea Salad

by marilynk

A few weeks ago, Adam posted photos of his dinner that had me salivating they looked so good. He kindly passed on the link for the recipe he’d used and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Yesterday I finally had all the ingredients together, so I made it for dinner and it was delicious! I’m not good at following recipes exactly to the letter, so I made a few minor modifications. This is a seriously delicious, one-dish, hearty autumn meal that I think you should try at your earliest convenience. Thanks Adam and France for this great recipe!

Roasted Eggplant with Warm Chorizo Chickpea Salad (adapted from Beyond The Peel)

  • 1 eggplant (from the farmer’s market – will update with the stall name next week)
  • 4 small chorizo sausages
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced (from EOGG)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, quartered (from M&D’s garden)
  • 5 tiny potatoes (from EOGG)
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme (from EOGG)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (from The Jam Lady)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (for serving)

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Slice the eggplant in half, salt the cut sides, and set aside. Remove the sausages from their casings and break up into the bottom of a casserole dish. Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and potatoes to the casserole (distributed evenly). Place the rosemary and thyme in the dish. Squeeze the eggplant out over the sink, rinse off the excess salt, and pat dry. Lay the eggplant, cut side down, over the mixture in the casserole dish. Bake for 40 minutes or until the eggplant starts to collapse – stir the mixture once, halfway through the cooking time.

While the salad is baking, put together the vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. When the salad has finished baking, remove the eggplant and set aside. Add the chickpeas and the vinaigrette and toss everything together until well coated.

I eat 90% of my meals at home out of bowls, so I served this by scooping out half the eggplant and topping it with about a quarter of the salad mixture. So good!


The Emotional Side of Being Diagnosed with Crohn’s

by marilynk

Part of the reason I didn’t get any posts up in October was that I was dealing with a lot of emotional stuff around my Crohn’s diagnosis. I’ve been around Crohn’s my whole life (my grandfather, dad, and sister all have it) and I thought I was prepared for this diagnosis, so I was surprised when all this stuff started coming up. I’m not quite sure how to work my way through it. Details aren’t for everyone, so feel free to go on your way without hitting the jump.

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Lest We Forget

by marilynk

This day is an important one. It marks the end of WW1 – the war that people described as the war to end all wars. Our species isn’t very good at giving up war and that is a sad thing. Some of the most moving experiences I have had were my visits to the D-Day beaches in Normandy and Flanders Fields in Belgium where so many Canadian soldiers lost their lives as well as the Holocaust commemoration sites in Germany and the Killing Fields in Cambodia where so many others lost their lives. I think it is important to visit these places and remember the people who died. War is a terrible thing and I hope someday we stop participating in it.

I’ll leave you with two poems that speak to the devastation of war better than I ever could. Thank you all for reading.

In Flanders Fields (by John McCrae)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Dulce et Decorum Est (by Wilfred Owen)

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!-An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.