Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blog Day 2005

blogday2005_logo I just found out today that August 31st is Blog Day. The brainchild of Nir Ofir of Sparkarmada the idea that August 31st should be Blog Day was born out of the fact that "3108" looks similar to "blog". Today we are asked to link to five blogs that are distinctly different from our own, in the interest of promoting traffic.

Foto Ben
Foto Ben is the blog of Benjamim Fonseca e Silva, a young professional photographer in Lisbon, Portugal. He started his blog in April 2005 and publishes a photo a day. His photos are very artistic and a pleasure to look at. He shows us aspects of Lisbon and its inhabitants that I had not seen before.

Vitriolica Webb's ite
Vit'n'Madge is a graphics artist. A Brit married to a Portuguese she lives in a small town south of Lisbon. Fluent in both the spoken and written language of her adopted country, Vit draws and rambles about the idiosyncrasies of life in Portugal and of the Portuguese people. Winner of "Big Blogger 2005" this blog is one of my daily musts.

One Whole Clove
Let me introduce to you Lou Plant, fellow Ottawan. Lou started her food blog this month but she writes like a pro and her pictures are excellent. Definitely worth a visit.

Enon Hall:
In 1999 William Hathaway Chapman bought sight-unseen the ancestral home of the Virginia Hathaways, which had been in his family from 1762 until 1939. The restoration of the house and grounds has been a labour of love for Bill and his family. Although not a real blog, the journal feature which Bill updates regularly, makes it look like one. I highly recommend that you peruse the weekly account of this historically faithful restoration. It has plenty of photos and is a pleasure to read.

We are also asked to include this code in our post so everyone can be updated by visiting this link in technorati, . So here it is.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

WCB # 12 - Ms. Beije

Good morning everybody. My name is Ms. Beije and my human pet finally got around taking one decent picture of me. Now I don't necessarily have the patience to pose for her and to do it on her own time, but you know how finicky humans can be so I humoured her. Besides she is been sick the poor dear (big feline sigh here).
Hopefully you will be seeing some more of me from now on. I've been in this family for 10 years now and this is our second house. The renovation is somewhat of a bother but Ana seems to enjoy it so I play along. What the heck, let's keep the peace in the family.

I love to go outside and Ana has some mature trees and wild corners in her property. This is heaven. There are squirrels around that I love to chase, to my utter enjoyment. I think that they like it too, since I'm careful and made a point of never catching one. Wouldn't know what to do with it if I did, they are not that tasty anyway. When we moved in I was able to find some mice but haven't seen one in ages. Ana likes to plant flowers and clear up spaces so the mice population must have moved somewhere else. It's a bother since they were fat and good, but then I'm not getting any younger so I guess what's in the food bowl is it.

Tata and see you next time!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Roasted Zucchini with Feta Cheese

When I was flat on my back, many times I though of all the vegetables I had languishing in my fridge. That Saturday, I had purchased quite a good quantity of beautiful fresh vegetables at the Parkdale Farmer's Market. Little did I know I would not have much time to dedicate to them. Some, sadly, got lost. But since the vegetables had been picked that very morning the day I bought them, some lasted what I consider an unusual long time. Like the zucchini and green onions above.

As soon as I was able to stay on my feet for more than fifteen minutes I decided to try Lex Culinaria's recipe of Feta and Dill Baked Mushrooms. I even had in the fridge 2 punnets (16 oz) of regular button mushrooms, and figured that half her recipe would be enough for one or two complete meals for me. Who was I kidding? I ate the whole hog for supper. But man, are they good mushrooms!


I am not going to reproduce the recipe here since I followed hers not to a capital "T" but at least to a small "t". I did not add dill because I had forgotten to purchase it and I did forget to add the lemon juice, even though I had lemons at home. Only when the mushrooms were half-baked did I come to the desk to check the recipe on the computer and noticed the lemon juice. Honestly, I did not miss it.

Four days later, feeling a little better, I decided to do something with the yellow and green zucchini's I had purchased. They were still firm but I was afraid would not be like that for too long. In the fridge I also had 2 bunches of green onions. The green leaves were going but the white portion was firm and good. Those mushrooms were still fresh in my mind so I decided to use the same recipe for the zucchini and green onions. Again, I did not use either lemon juice or dill. Why mess with perfection? Unfortunately I did have about 1 cup of feta cheese left. For the quantity of vegetables it would have been better to use about one-and-a-half cups of feta. I have added the right amount in the recipe below.

Roasted Zucchini with Green Onions and Feta Cheese

4 medium green zucchini
2 yellow green zucchini
2 bunches green onions
6 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons sea-salt, or more to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups feta cheese, crumbled

Wash and cut zucchinis in the middle and then each piece into four lenghtwise. Clean the green onions and slice into about 1/2-inch slices. Put into a square pan.

In a mortar mash peeled garlic and salt until all the cloves are roughly mashed. Add the olive oil and mix well. Drop the oil mixture over the vegetables and mix well with a wooden spoon until it covers all the vegetables. Por over the crumbled feta cheese.

Put the pan into a 350F oven and bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Mix the vegetable-cheese mixture once or twice while it is baking.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Backyard bounty

It is fitting that I should start my blogging activities showing off two beautiful cucumbers I picked from my backyard, some two weeks ago. You cannot get any more local than this.
I had the pleasure to eat my first backyard cucumber just sliced very fine, skin on, and seasoned with nothing but salt. They tasted divine.

The so-called "grape tomatoes" plants grew huge and the wire loops I bought at the store were simply not strong enough. The tomato plants are a mess of long limbs all over each other. I am going to put some stronger stakes in the ground and hope I can tie some of the branches to it. Certainly a learning lesson for next year.

Having said that, the "grape" tomatoes are growing to look more like cherry tomatoes and although both plants have lots they are still green. Hopefully, in a week I will have some grape/cherry tomatoes for my very local organic salad.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Blogging hiatus due to pinched nerve

Two weekends ago I had some "destruction" around my house, in preparation for some more upgrades. It so happens that this beautiful bungalow of mine, having started its life as a summer cottage in 1937, does not have a vapour barrier. The mold problem this house had, when it had aluminun siding, was caused by this lack of a vapour barrier, which allowed the hot humid air to go through the walls, find the aluminum, condense and be trapped there. Over the years, a bad case of mold was the result. When I bought this little gem in 2000, I knew I was in for serious renovation. Getting rid of the aluminum siding was the first step and it got rid of the mold, since the house was able to breath again.

What I'm doing now is strip the outer walls one at a time and putting in new insulation, vapour barrier, sheetrock, etc. Replacing the windows is done at this time too. So the living room was what I worked on this time. My kids helped with the destruction part however, somehow, during the clean-up part (ever noticed that kids disappear for clean-up?) I must have overdone something which resulted in a pinched sciatic nerve. So I've spent about 4 days flat on my back and it took the remaining of the time to very slowly and painfully get back on my feet.

To stand or sit for long periods of time is still both painful and unadvisable and so I have been unable both to cook a lot or to blog about it. I have been trying to keep up with what everybody else posts and to write some comments too, but that's the extent of what I am able to do right now.

Unfortunately I will have to miss many of the events going on. As I get better, hopefully I'll get into the swing of things again. And yes, I'm living in the house as its being renovated. Not always fun!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

5 Childhood Food Memories - yet another Meme!

This meme, sent to me by both Tarzile, from Quebec and Elvira of Tasca da Elvira (Elvira's Pub). Tarzile has a beautiful blog that features many French-Canadian recipes. It is definitely worth a visit. Elvira was born in Portugal, raised in France and returned to Portugal to live permanently not long ago. She is a journalist and her beautiful blog, written in French, has wonderful Portuguese recipes and photos of Portugal. Many times I browse Elvira's blog just to look at the pictures and remember.

And memories is what this meme is all about. It asks for five food-related things you miss from your childhood. It did not take me long to compile this list and thinking about each one of them brings back memories of the flavours and smells of my childhood.

Sweetsop/annona: When I was a little girl in Mozambique, no matter where we moved to there was always one or two of these trees in our backyard. The trees do not grow very tall and some of its branches are low, making it easy for us kids to reach up and pluck this most delicious fruit. They become mushy when ripe and do not travel easy. One day, some seven or eight years ago I found one small basket of sweetsops for sale in one of the Asian markets in our Chinatown. I paid $2.50 for a lonely smallish fruit which was flavourless, a clear sign that it had been picked green and ripened under duress.

Young coconuts: Are another tropical delicacy I miss very much. Its flesh sweet and soft is eaten with a spoon. I do love coconut and many times, when my supermarket gets a fresh batch I purchase one, open its "eyes" to remove the water and then peel it and keep it in the fridge to much on as a snack. Alas, what I get here is not young, but fully mature fresh coconuts. While researching for photos for this post I found out that Melissa from California does sell a package of 3 young coconuts for $US26.90, not including postage. Mmmm! Pretty steep, and I wonder if it is worth it.

Whole cashew nuts roasted on an open fire: As I've had opportunity to mention here before, my maternal grandparents had a farm in the north of Mozambique, where I spent many wonderful times. In the farm there were all kinds of tropical fruit trees native to the place (papaya, banana, mango, sweetsop), and some others planted by my grandfather (mostly lemon, orange, and grapefruit). The place also had plenty of huge cashew trees, that must have been almost a hundred years old, or seemed so to me. The cashew-nut, a bean-shaped nut at the end of the fruit, is covered by a thick meaty cover. It was not advisable to try and cut open this cover because the oils would "burn" your skin. These nuts were roasted over coals until blackened at which time they could be opened to retrieve the meat inside. The cashews were unevenly roasted. Some areas were a little burnt some quite pale, but the flavour was incomparable. The commercially available cashews do not even come close.

Beach Clam Stew: Beaches in Angola and Mozambique, if you lived far away from the main ports, were big expanses of white sand and clear water uncluttered by civilization. On Sundays, we would go to the beach and for lunch we carried a big pot where the cook had put olive oil, lots of chopped onion and garlic and some chopped tomatoes. We also carried some fresh bread and, of course, drinks. Pick the clams was easy. Every wave that splashed on the beach seem to bring tons and we easily picked them up as they tried to bury themselves in the sand. As we picked them, we dropped them in a big pail of salt water. Close to lunch hour a fire was lit using wood foraged from the vicinity and some rocks to support the big pot. After the onions were translucent the clams were taken from the water pail and dropped into the pot just to open. In about 5 to 8 minutes lunch was ready and we all dove in eating the clams with our hands and sopping the bread on the flavourful broth. Divine!

Chicken Piri-piri at grandma Adelina's: Chicken piri-piri is a typical dish of Africa. It is nothing but a whole cleaned chicken opened in the middle and flattened, seasoned with hot chillies and cooked over the coals. It probably was being cooked this way by the native people's of Africa when the Portuguese navigators dropped in around the 1500's; and it could be that our best contribution was the copious amounts of garlic we added to the basting sauce. At my grandmother's farm, chicken piri-piri was always cooked over the coals outside in the backyard. Grandma's marinade/basting sauce was simple: garlic, salt, lots of piri-piri (African hot peppers) the whole thing mashed in the mortar, then add olive oil and rub the whole bird with it. Put the "butterflied" (split the down the center enough to allow it to lie flat, but without cutting it into two pieces) chiken on a rack over the coals, high enough that it will cook slowly. Keep basting with the marinade, as you turn the chicken. It was to cry over, literally... sometimes the basting sauce had one hot-pepper too many for my taste.

Now, how this meme works:Choose four bloggers to tag (none of whom are obligated to take part):
1. Elizabeth of Blog from our Kitchen
2. Michelle of Oswego Tea
3. Ruth of Once upon a Feast
4. Dawna of Always in the Kitchen

Now, remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place; add your blog's name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired effect.
1 - Becks & Posh
2 - Clea Cuisine
3 - Station Gourmande
4 - Tasca da Elvira /
5 - Pumpkin Pie Bungalow