Friday, February 28, 2014

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell

Our February book for the Kitchen Reader book club was Below Stairs by Margaret Powell. It's a memoir set in the 1920s about a young English woman who enters domestic service as a kitchen maid and eventually becomes a cook. This book is said to be the one that inspired Downton Abbey. The book centres on two main aspects of Powell's life: the hardship and the kitchen.

For the purposes of our book club, my focus was on the food. But the hardship of Powell's life (and the lives of others in domestic service in England at the same time) is undeniable. This book, and the others Powell went on to write, expose the terrible conditions in which many had to work. A rare few servants lived comfortable lives. The Downton Abbey portrayal of servants is not nearly as harsh as was common, it seems. Powell describes situations in which very little regard or respect was given to her and the other staff. I was very humbled to read some of it.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Veggie Noodles with Butter and Parmesan

I bought a spiralizer! It's a little gadget with a turning arm and a sharp blade for cutting vegetables. I ordered a Japanese one called the Benriner Cook's Help Vegetable Slicer and it arrived last week.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dirty Chai Tea Latte

Speaking of novel food pairings, how about tea and coffee together? It sounds ridiculous. Enter the "dirty chai tea latte".

This is an idea from the New York cafe Dean and Deluca. We have a branch in Singapore and "dirty chai tea latte" is on the menu. The first time I went to eat there, I learned that it was a chai tea with a shot of espresso added. Ingenious! But was it tasty? I ordered one and they said the menu boards were being updated and they actually no longer sold it. So I didn't taste it until I recreated it at home.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Microwave Mustard Cauliflower

I was recently reading the blog No Love Sincerer, written by my bloggy friend, Charlene. She posed a challenge to other bloggers: to publish a recipe made only in the microwave. She has a friend who is currently living with only a microwave in his kitchen and looking for new ideas.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chilli Chicken Wraps

I always enjoy the recipes from our Wednesdays with Donna Hay blogging group. Memorably, we have made feta and eggplant meatballs (the best meal I have ever cooked) and spinach with sesame dressing (the recipe with the fastest cooking time on this blog). This week's recipe is from a book I don't own: Off the Shelf by Donna Hay. My fellow blogging friends kindly offered to send me details, but I decided to take a gamble this week and make it up!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekend Links #34

Weekend Links is a way of sharing all the engrossing things I see around the internet. I publish Weekend Links approximately every two weeks. As usual, I welcome your ideas and feedback.

It's a drinks-themed set of links this time, with tea, coffee, and ginger-ade featured. I love me a mug of tasty stuff to sip.

food reading links:
--A good discussion on The Kitchn centred around meal planning and allowing inspiration to strike. One reader plans "improv night" on the day of grocery shopping so she can cook whatever sparked her interest at the shops. Also, I love that someone has a spreadsheet for recipes.
--Yippee, several huge studies show that coffee helps you live longer (from Authority Nutrition). But obviously, adding sugar would kind of defeat any idea of healthiness.
--The science and psychology of a diet cheat day (from Q by Equinox).

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mushroom Paprikash (with Grain-Free Dumplings)

During my undergraduate degree, I spent a semester in Budapest, Hungary. It was my first time away from home. I lived in a little apartment that had an adjoining door to a mirror-image little apartment next door, where my landlady lived. She was a single lady, exactly double my age (and I was exactly twenty years old). We became good friends, not least because I used the washing machine at the back of her kitchen. And because she welcomed me into her church, family, and kitchen.

Each of our apartments was very small, about three hundred square feet. I had my cheery yellow kitchen, a small bathroom, and a bed-sitting room with a single bed and a desk. Her apartment was identical, except that her kitchen was red and her main room was set up as a sitting room with a monstrously large (considering the size of the room) L-shaped sofa and dark wood wall-to-wall cabinets. She used to convert part of the sofa into her bed every night and then put it away again in the morning.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Quick Carrot Pickles

Oh, the Olympics! I love them. Summer Olympics are great, but I like the winter games best. I'm Canadian! We've got five channels of Olympics and I'm flicking between them with glee. I want to watch hockey, speed skating, figured skating. curling, snowboarding, biathlon, moguls; oh, all of it!

Tonight I'm watching curling. You know, there is so much strategy and skill involved. The players have microphones so you can hear them discussing their strategies--sometimes that is the best part. It's amazing that they can throw those heavy rocks down the ice sheet with such precision.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ask Sarah: Soups Based on Cauliflower

Johnny asked: "Any ideas on what I could use to make an interesting soup based on cauliflower?"

Cauliflower is an excellent choice for soups because, like other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, the more you cut them, the more pungent they become. In a pureed soup, cauliflower's flavour really comes out. To balance it, you can use potatoes, cream, or milk.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ask Sarah

Hi everyone! I'm really pleased with the new "Ask Sarah" page that I made. See it there on the top menu bar? It's a simple Google Form that I embedded onto a page. It's a new way to communicate with me.

As well as asking a question, you could use it for many other things.
  • give me something you think we might enjoy if I researched and wrote about
  • inspire me with a recipe idea
  • tell me what you like on the blog
  • tell me what could be improved on the blog
  • report technical difficulties
  • just to say hello

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pepper Cream Sauce

I have waxed eloquent before about my love of salt and pepper. Pepper, particularly, is the perfect condiment. But to be honest, this simple pepper sauce is pretty versatile. In the words of MFK Fisher, “the following recipe... can be varied according to the herbs and ideas you possess.”

The key is to add plenty of pepper, or your desired seasoning. I was shocked to find that in this one cup of sauce (all of which is pictured here) there is a full one tablespoon of cracked pepper. It makes for a very fiery, yet familiar taste. The vast quantity of pepper is perfectly foiled by the thick cream.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

5 Simple Recipes for Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year and welcome to the year of the horse! Why don't we all enjoy some easy Chinese food this weekend to celebrate the new year? Here are five extremely simple recipes to get started with.

Bang Bang Chicken: This noodles and chicken dish can be made ahead and is sure to appeal to anyone.

"Fish-Fragrent" Aubergines: This is a vegetarian side dish. The name is due to the spice combination that is often used on fish. The aubergines (or "eggplant" to you?) are nice and vibrant; not at all bland as they can sometimes be.


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