Gazpacho

I’ve neglected both my blogs lately. I apologize for that.

The thing about having a food blog is that you have to make food. I haven’t been doing much of that. I’ve found it tough to find the time and the space to cook. Space is exactly the word I’m looking for. I’m rarely alone in the kitchen which makes it feel as if there is no room to move. To avoid the claustrophobic feeling I’ve been getting I avoided the kitchen. I found that I missed cooking; planning meals, shopping for ingredients, then putting it all together and  enjoying my creations. I also very quickly fell into some horrible eating habits. Last week I bought breakfast five times; lunch four times; and had dinner out twice. And by dinner I mean beer and nachos.

One week of that and I already felt like crap. Last weekend I made sure to spend some time in the kitchen. My parents were away Saturday, so I basically acted as though I still lived alone. I barbecued chicken breast for lunches during the week, and this gazpacho dinner. Gazpacho is the perfect summer meal; cool, refreshing, and a great way to use those summer vegetables.  As a bonus, no heat is required.

I followed this recipe from Canadian Living with a few adjustments to suite my tastes.

Gazpacho 

Serves 8

  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1 red pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 green pepper halved and seeded
  • 1 english cucumber, halved and seeded
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups low sodium tomato juice
  • Tabasco sauce to taste ( I used a lot)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a blender, puree the vegetables, garlic and onion in batches. I left mine fairly chunky, but if you prefer you can puree till very smooth.
  2. Pour the vegetables into a large bowl, stir in the tomato juice, red wine vinegar, oil, and the Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Chill refrigerate for at least two hours.
  4. Serve with a garnish of diced vegetables.
Enjoy!

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Moroccan Date Bonbons

Privacy is something I took for granted when I lived alone. Now that I’m back with my parents I’m really feeling how important it is. For over two weeks my bedroom did not have a door. It’s a small room in the basement that used to be my dads office; there was never any need to put a door on it. Until now. Unfortunately, installing a door is not as easy as it sounds. My dad finished the basement himself about 20 years ago. Because he did it alone things aren’t exactly standard.

This made buying a door very complicated. My brother measured the space and we went out and bought one that should have fit. When we got home we realized that because the walls were not level the door would not fit. My dad and brother discussed what to do for a while as I listened, not saying a word. In my mind the solution was simple, get this door cut or buy another one. To them it was much more complicated. At one point my dad said “We’ll just put a curtain”.

This was too much for me. I walked away, locked myself in a bathroom and cried.

I cried for the privacy I had lost. I cried for all the freedom I had given up. I cried for all the frustration I had felt over the first two weeks living back at home. It felt good to get it out.

While I was crying, my brother told my dad a curtain wouldn’t work for me. He said the noise in the house was bothering me. The noise does bother me, but I think I could get used to it. What I can’t get used to is not having a space that’s mine, where I can be alone. I had more privacy as a teenager than I did those first weeks.

What my dad heard was that he was making too much noise. So he stopped going into the basement. I noticed right away that he had stopped. The family room is there, that’s where the TV is. Unless it’s the height of tax season, my dad goes and watches TV after dinner. For 3 days he would have dinner, then go up to his room and listen to the radio. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what my brother had told him.

Finally my mom told me what my dad was thinking. Although I enjoyed having the time to myself, I didn’t want my dad to feel uncomfortable in his own home. All I wanted was a door so I could have my own 10 by 10 space.

Luckily, it’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If there is one thing Canadians can come together over, it’s hockey. I went to see my dad, gave him a hug, and told him to come down and watch Game 1 with me.

Things seem to be better since. And there is now a door to my bedroom. With a lock! When I moved I kept thinking that this was a big change for me, but it’s a big change for my whole family. I’m going to try to be more conscious of that from now on.

This story has nothing to do with the recipe. Sorry. I tried to come up with ways to tie them together, but I couldn’t do it. So far on the food front things have been so so. I usually eat fruits for snacks at work, but fruits seems to disappear very quickly in this house. I looked through some magazines trying to find healthy snacks and I stumbled on to these Moroccan Date Bonbons the March issue of Food and Wine. I left out the olives because I felt that only certain olives would have the right flavour, and wasn’t sure the kalamata I had would work. The bonbons are super easy to put together, and make a great snack, or even a quick breakfast if you’re on the go.

I’m submitting this post to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Monday’s. Magazine Monday’s is an informal blog event meant to get us all to start making those magazine recipes we’ve got bookmarked but never get around to making. If you’d like to participate, just send a link to Ivonne!

Moroccan Date Bonbons

Adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1 cup pistachios, divided
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 350 g pitted pressed dates (can be found in Arabic markets)
  • 1 tsbp orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp orange flower water
  1. In a food processor, pulse 1/2 the pistachios till the form a course powder, set aside.
  2. In the same food processor, pulse the almonds and remaining pistachios until they form a course powder. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the nuts are well distributed throughout the dates.
  3. Scoop about a tablespoon of the date mixture and roll it into a ball with your hands. Place the ball in the pistachio powder and roll it to cover. Repeat with the remaining date mixture.
Enjoy!

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Les Cuilleres

Welcome to Les Cuilleres! I spent a lot of time debating whether or not I should start this blog. Some of you may already know me from I’ll Have What She’s Having. I’ve been posting there for a little over a year now, and I plan to continue that blog. So why start Les Cuilleres? Well there are two main reasons. The first is that I’ve recently made a big change in my life by moving back in with my parents. The move is temporary as a I wait for my new condo to be built. The second reason is that I felt What She’s Having lacks focus.

Those two reasons aren’t as disparate as they sound. In the first few days at home I realized pretty quickly that my parents do not eat the same way I do. There is a lot of grease, and not a lot of vegetables. Healthy eating while I’m here is going to be a challenge. Les Cuilleres is about chronicling my struggles to eat healthy in an unhealthy environment, and trying to bring my parents along with me.

Today was the first time since I moved in that I had any time alone. Coming from an environment where I was alone often, I found this week incredibly challenging. I need my alone time, it’s how I recharge and clear my head. Between my mom walking into my bedroom whenever it pleases her and my dad blasting the TV volume as high is it can go, I felt as though I had no where to escape. This time to myself has been exactly what I needed. I spent the afternoon in the kitchen. I tried to re-familiarize myself with the layout, see what tools I now have at my disposal. I was tempted to reorganize the fridge so that I’d know where everything is, but I realized I’d be confusing the rest of my family. I need to keep reminding myself that there are other peoples needs to consider here.

After scoping things out I decided to make myself a quick, light dinner; barbecued shrimp with black bean salad. I cooked the beans from dry, but canned would work just as well. If you are buying canned, try to find a brand that doesn’t have too much salt.

Barbecued Shrimp with Black Bean Salad

For the Salad

  • 2 cups black beans, dried
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot sauce to taste ( I used Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  1. In a medium pot over high heat, cover the beans with water. Bring to a boil then lower the temperature to simmer. Add the cumin, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cook until the beans are softened. (This may take up to an hour)
  2. Once cooked, drain the beans and let them cool completely.
  3. Toss with the avocado, tomato and green pepper. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper together. Dress the salad with the lemon dressing.
For the Shrimp
  • 10-12 shrimp (the quantity will vary depending on the size of the shrimp)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper together. Use this mixture to marinate the shrimp for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the barbecue to a moderate temperate.
  3. Place the shrimp on skewers. If using wooden skewers be sure to soak them before barbecuing. Place on the heated grill, cooking on each side for 2-3 minutes until the shrimp are pink and no longer translucent.
  4. Serve with the bean salad.
Enjoy!

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