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Singaporean Noodles

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Singaporean Noodles
Singaporean Noodles

Every time I deep clean my freezer or pantry, I make a silent and personal vow that I will use up what I have and not buy any more until we’ve made a significant dent in my stock of provisions. That vow usually lasts about two weeks, but nobody knows about my failure to keep it except me, and maybe my family. Well, about a month ago, at the very beginning of the virus escalation I renewed that vow and broadcast it about to all and sundry. “Hear ye! Hear ye! I hereby make a vow!” My daughter and I even made a list of food ideas incorporating some of these products. This is unheard of in our household. And do you know what? So far I’ve been keeping my vow and mostly buying essentials like fresh produce and dairy products. It feels good, people. Primitive and domestic and frugal, all rolled into one.

One thing on that list was an Asian-inspired meal. Singaporean Noodles has topped our list of personal favourites for many moons. We like it because it’s highly flavoured and uses a variety of items. With a few exceptions it’s also very adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand.

As with many Asian meals, I find that if you chop your ingredients ahead of time, it facilitates a speedy assembly once you’re ready to cook it. Generally the cooking steps are very quick.

So. Order of recipe is thus. 

  • Chop all vegetables and meat. 
  • Have your seasonings ready.
  • Cook noodles and begin frying chopped items at the same time.
  • Combine ingredients and add seasonings. Fry until it starts browning a bit. 

 

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. Normally a lot of these produce items are stocked in our retail store, which is closed at this time to protect our customers, staff, and apple packing facility. Thank you for your understanding. 

Singaporean Noodles

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. (about 4 cups) dry thin noodles
    Singaporean Noodles
    Singaporean Noodles
  • 3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4″ strips or 3 cups of precooked chicken strips
  • 10 oz. raw or cooked shrimp, if desired (This happens to be something that was in my freezer. But now they’re gone. Sad, sad day.) 
  • 1 small to medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 cup green vegetable (i.e. Frenched green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, garden, snow or snap peas)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, coarsely shredded cabbage, cauliflower or a mixture
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. curry powder, depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil (This is not essential, but it definitely adds a lovely Asian flavour. A little goes a long way. And yes, it was in my pantry, so there.)
  • Green onions, if you have them. If not, tuck in a few more of the green vegetables.

Directions

Prepare all the vegetables and chicken for cooking. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in frying pan to medium-high and begin frying your raw chicken strips. Remove when the chicken is browned and continue stir-frying the vegetables and raw shrimp, adding a bit more oil if needed. Fry only until crisp-tender. If you’re using pre-cooked chicken and shrimp, just add them with the noodles.

Cook the noodles in unsalted boiling water with 1 tablespoon of oil added. The oil keeps the pot from boiling over. That is a beautiful thing. Don’t overcook the noodles; five minutes max. Drain them well. 

Add chicken and noodles to the pan of veggies and start adding all the seasonings. Stir everything together gently and fry until you start seeing some brown bits. Lift and turn about twice. You don’t want to create a mushy mess. This may take about 3-5 minutes. 

Sprinkle with green onions to serve, if using them. Oh, and if you like heat, have some red pepper flakes on the table. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Meatball and Butternut Stew

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Meatball and Butternut Stew
Meatball and Butternut Stew

Last week on this day it seemed very sensible to make a stew. It was a blizzardy, blustery day and stew seemed like the finest thing to eat on such a day.  I had seen this one on a post from Impressions Bakery, and as per usual, I decided to try to create it. Today, as I’m writing about this stew, I’m thinking “Why didn’t I get this blog written last week?” Now it’s almost like Florida out there. Minus the palm trees, of course, but with some imagination…well, okay, a LOT of imagination, you could think yourself in a southern sunny clime. You know that popular ambiguous saying “Only Believe”? Now is a good time to apply it.

This recipe is really good. The meatballs are warmly and lightly spiced, it has a delicious tomato-ey broth and it uses butternut squash in a non-traditional fashion. I thought the broth needed something more, so I added smoked paprika (of course; don’t I always?), some oregano and with a nod to my son-in-law and spring, MAPLE SYRUP! And do you know what? That did it. It heightened the overall experience dramatically. I also added kale because I had some here and I thought it would be a good fit. Spinach would also work great. I didn’t need the whole squash, so I used only the seed bulb part of it, saving those lovely neck slices for grilled, fried, or roasted squash slices.

To prove how good this stew is, my daughter who normally groans when I say I’m serving soup for supper, ate this stew three times, counting leftovers, and declared it tasted better each time. It stirred up memories of long ago when my mom made meatball stew for our school lunches and how the smell of it cooking would assail our senses when we woke. That’s a recipe and post for another time. I can feel it formulating. We’ll see how the weather behaves next week.

Preparing the vegetables and browning the meat.

TIP 1: If a tomato base is too much tomato and too little else, add spices and herbs and sweeten it up slightly. It does wonders to round out whatever you’re making.

TIP 2: To cut kale, hold the stem upside down and slide a large knife downwards along the rib removing the leaves. Chop the leaves to the size you want. To avoid the strong flavour, add the kale in the last 3 minutes, heating it just until it’s wilted. Same goes for spinach, if you’re using it instead. 

 

Meatball and Butternut Stew
Meatball and Butternut Stew

 

March = maple syrup around here! Maple season is in full swing now. You can find Ian Roth’s maple syrup at Martin’s, as well as tomatoes, spinach, onions, and garlic. 

Roth's Maple Syrup
Roth’s Maple Syrup

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The opinions and recipe are my own. 

Meatball and Butternut Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 slices stale bread*, grated over a cheese shredder to make 1 1/2 cups of fresh bread crumbs
    Meatball and Butternut Stew
    Meatball and Butternut Stew
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle seasoning and/or garlic powder (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash 
  • 1 cup chopped cooking onions
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 2 cups beef stock *
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cup tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano 
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons maple syrup or other sweetener
  • 2 cups chopped kale or spinach
  • Parmesan cheese and parsley or cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions

Grate the bread slices into a medium-sized bowl; pour milk over the bread and let soak for 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, cumin, chili, chipotle/garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and combine gently. Pack gently into 18 (1 1/2 inch) meatballs. 

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Depending on the leanness of your beef, you may want to drizzle a little oil in the bottom of the pan. Add meatballs in a single layer and cook, turning to brown all sides, until done. This will take about 5 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. Add the squash, onions and garlic to the pot and brown for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beef stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits. This adds wonderful flavour to the stew. Cook until the liquid is reduced to nearly half. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, paprika, oregano, and maple syrup; return to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir in the kale and meatballs and simmer until everything is heated. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, parsley or cilantro to serve, if using. Enjoy with all your being.

*It is easy to make this stew gluten-free by using gf bread or oats (use only 3/4 cup of oats) and gf beef broth.

 

 

 

Apple Strudel

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Our farm supplies a lot of bakeries with apples, including several German bakeries that use our apples in their strudels. These strudels come in a variety of styles and types, but one thing is sure; they all contain apples. Grainharvest Breadhouse is a local bakery that makes an excellent strudel.

A couple of years ago, our church held an international social for all ages, where there were at least ten different food booths to circle around tasting foods from other countries. Our people travel a lot and several have lived in other countries so we had a good pool to choose from. One of “our” Syrian families that we sponsored into Canada also had a booth with their national dishes. It was a fun evening.

Anyway, my contribution to the German table was this strudel. We have visited Germany and with my German contacts, I felt like this was something I wanted to try. A truly authentic strudel has a handmade dough rolled paper thin, but I needed to make a lot of them and it was a trial run, so I cheated and used puff pastry. It must have been good because I even had an eleven-year-old ask me for the recipe!

This weekend I made it again for a retreat we were at with friends and I decided it’s time to share it with all of you. You’re welcome.

First of all, you will need to thaw the puff pastry. This can be done in two hours at room temperature or four hours minimum in the refrigerator. The packages I buy have two sheets of pastry in the box.

I used Golden Delicious and Red Prince apples, but you can use pretty much any apple that holds its shape, yet will soften. Peel and chop the apples and toss them in a mixture of white sugar, flour and cinnamon. Let that sit while you prepare the rest.

While the apples are blending, you can be grinding the bread crumbs and walnuts together finely, then mix them with the brown sugar. I have a handy-dandy KitchenAid chopper that I use for this, but you could use your rolling pin, food processor or blender. Roll out the pastry sheets to a 10″ by 12″ size on parchment paper or a well-floured surface. Spread half the crumb mixture then half of the apple mixture down each pastry sheet. Try to stay back about an inch or more from the short edges. Give it a little more room than I did in the pictures; it was pretty tight. Spread the edges with the egg wash as a glue, then start rolling up the strudel from the long side, using the parchment as an aid. Fold in the ends and tuck them in as you roll.

When you’re finished, seal all the edges tightly and place it on a cookie sheet to bake, picking it up with the parchment and using the same parchment underneath it to bake. Make 8 shallow cuts in the top to allow steam to escape, then brush all over with the egg wash. These cuts can be your guides when you’re slicing it to serve. Sprinkle with fine or coarse sugar and bake.

Apple Strudel
Apple Strudel

 

The Red Prince and Golden Delicious are a good blend for this recipe because the first are tart and the second are mild, so the flavours enhance each other. They both cook and bake very well and are also excellent eaten out of hand.

Golden Delicious and Red Prince apples

As always, the recipe and stories are my own, sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm.  

Apple Strudel

Ingredients

Apple Strudel
Apple Strudel
  • 1 package (2 pastry sheets) puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 – 3 baking apples (about 2 cups chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped or ground walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water for egg wash

Directions

Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/2 inch cubes. Place them in a bowl and toss with the cinnamon, white sugar and flour. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the strudel. Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C). Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine the ground walnuts, both sugars and bread crumbs. Set this aside.

Roll out both pastry sheets into two 10″ by 12″ rectangles on a well-floured surface or on parchment. Brush the perimeter of each roll with the egg wash for a glue. Sprinkle each with half the bread crumb mixture and half of the apples, leaving at least about two inches around the edges to seal. Begin to roll up the strudel from the long side, folding in the ends as you go. Pinch all edges tightly to seal. Turn it seam side down onto a cookie sheet, prepared with parchment. Cut eight slits in the top for steam to escape, then brush the top with the egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse or fine sugar and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The crust should be a nice golden brown and the filling should be starting to bubble out of the slits. Slice through the slits to serve. Each strudel will yield nine generous slices. Best served warm. 

Note: This strudel freezes well. To serve, thaw, slice and set slices on a cookie sheet and heat at 325 until warm, about 15 minutes.

 

 

Sheet Pan Salmon

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Sheet Pan Salmon, ready to eat.

I will confess to you that there has been a veritable conspiracy of events keeping me from posting until now, not the least of which has been a discussion I happened upon on Facebook where the topic was on whether food bloggers should stick with the recipe and cut the chatter. I was dismayed at how many people seemed to feel that a blogger should “just post the recipe already!” Oh, and one person commented that one photo will do, please and thank you very much.

I thought about that conversation long and hard and juxtaposed it against the comments I’ve received from people who have told me they seldom (or never!) make my recipes but they love to read my stories. And the folks (especially inexperienced cooks) who have thanked me for pictures of the cooking steps and found them helpful. AND that my byline is “Telling the stories of the food we love to eat”.  I thought of how much of the food we eat is connected to memories. Throughout this soul-searching reflection, I decided that recipes without chatting are like a journal in which the entries are purely mundane. Like, “I got out of bed this morning, brushed my teeth, made breakfast and ate it, swept the floor, sent the hubby to work and the children to school, did the laundry, vacuumed the floor, welcomed said children and hubby home again, prepared supper and ate it, then everyone went to bed.”  Repeat the next day.  And the next. Exciting reading, is it not? I can’t wait to read it again in 25 years.

Disclaimer #1: You may be able to tell that this is a very traditional household.

Disclaimer #2: I do agree that the chatter should revolve around the recipe. Like this post does, haha.

SOOOO… onward and forward, at least for now. Into every blogger’s life a little rain must fall. Before we know it, blogging will go the way of the dinosaur, and I was barely even a toenail.

This recipe came to be after a conversation in which a newly-diagnosed celiac was despairing of ever having good food again. I recommended my Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast recipe to her as an example that she could still enjoy lots of great food and promptly felt like making it again myself. I added taco seasoning this time because we like spice and who doesn’t like taco seasoning? I changed up a few other things as well. One new convenience is that it all roasts in one pan, not separately. I’m not sure why I didn’t think that could work the first time. I used Atlantic salmon, which is less expensive but not as good. I have a nice red Coho salmon waiting in my freezer for the next time. That’s my favourite; it has a thinner skin and a less fishy taste.

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There you go, chipped plate and all. Fit for a celiac king.

Next up: Apple Strudel for your Valentine!

This recipe is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. For better or for worse, the blog is all mine. 

All kinds of root vegetables, as well as greenhouse veggies like the spinach and sometimes kale are available at Martin’s, even in the dead of winter. You could use any combination you wish in this recipe.

Sheet Pan Salmon

Ingredients

Sheet Pan Salmon, ready to eat.

Sauce:

  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (or concentrate)
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I like grainy brown Dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (I mix my own)

Sheet Pan:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 pounds whole salmon fillet or pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 4 medium potatoes, unpeeled, washed and cut in chunks
  • 1 medium red or cooking onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups thickly sliced celery
  • 3 cups fresh kale or spinach, washed and cut into pieces
  • 3 apples

Directions

Preheat oven to 450° F or 232°C. Whisk or shake together all the sauce ingredients. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or foil. Lay the salmon in the centre of it, skin side down. Brush with half of the sauce. 

Toss the vegetables (except for the kale/spinach) with the remaining sauce in a large bowl. Surround the salmon with the vegetables, saving the kale/spinach for later. 

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until the salmon flakes easily at the thickest part when you insert a fork and twist slightly and the vegetables are done to your liking. Sprinkle with the chopped kale or spinach to serve. Plate it with half of a sliced apple on the side for an attractive and easy meal, and healthful to boot!

 

Mennonite Dressing (not Amish)

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Mennonite Dressing
Mennonite Dressing

As long as I can remember, dressing has been an integral part of Christmas dinner. This dressing is not the kind you put on a salad. Oh, no! This dressing is the kind you serve with turkey and the works. In fact, it is an important part of the works. Some people call it stuffing, but we never stuffed it into anything except our tummies. It’s hard to find a bird big enough to pack enough stuffing in for 65 people. It’s one of those foods that many people don’t actually have a recipe for, they just keep adding this and that until it “looks right”.

This dressing is yellow with turmeric, rich with seasonings, broth, milk and eggs, and swimming satisfyingly with Brown Butter. Turmeric used to be a non-item in my mind, in fact I used to think of it as a flavourless powdered food colouring, but recently it is being consumed in greater quantities for its perceived health benefits.

Recently, a friend of mine who had grown up Amish (in fact, he wrote a best-selling book about that experience, and a sequel to it is releasing soon) posted about Roasht on Facebook.  As near as I can make out, Roasht is like Mennonite dressing with chicken and gravy all added to the mix, and sometimes potatoes and carrots. That was interesting to me because the Amish dressing, in this area at least, is very unlike Mennonite dressing and usually the lover of the one will not like the other one. Amish dressing is much drier, using less eggs, or none at all, and has weird things like cinnamon and sometimes raisins added to it. At our church, we get both kinds, because we have people of both backgrounds there. There is always good-natured bantering and lots of ribbing going on over the pots of dressing.

There is one common denominator, however, and that is that they both are a great way to use up all those bread ends languishing in your freezer, and they both need butter, lots of it, to serve it up well. You can go back to munching celery sticks and alfalfa sprouts again afterwards to mitigate it, but Do Not Cut Back On The Butter. And Brown Butter poured over the top is the crowning glory. Any good Mennonite will tell you that Browned Butter is the crowning glory to nearly any vegetable or side and even some desserts and icings.

Here are some tips to help you achieve a great dressing.

  1. Use butter, and use enough of it. 
  2. Brown the bread until it’s toasty and golden. It greatly enhances the flavour.
  3. Use the correct proportion of liquid to bread. There is nothing appealing about a soupy mess. Soup and dressing are two different things.
  4. Use some broth in the liquid. I’m convinced on this point.
  5. Make as much ahead as you can. Toast the bread and top it with the seasonings and cooked vegetables so that you only have to add the eggs and liquids the morning of the event. 

 

Mennonite Dressing

 

The stories and recipes are mine, sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm.

We sell high quality fresh eggs from Pullets Plus, a local company who gathers eggs from area farmers. Many of the chickens are cage-free. 

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Mennonite Dressing (not Amish)

Ingredients

Mennonite Dressing
Mennonite Dressing

 

  • 2 cups (1 pound) butter, split
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 4 cups chopped celery
  • 28 cups bread cubes, toasted*
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme 
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped 
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth* (I use Knorr’s gel packs)
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • approximately 6 cups milk

In a large pot, melt 1 3/4 cups of butter and saute the onions and celery until they are nearly soft, about 20 minutes. Remove and stir in all the seasonings. Meanwhile, toast the bread cubes in a large roaster or a few pans at 325°F or 163°C for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring several times. Remove from oven and pour the vegetable and seasonings over the pans. This step can be done ahead and kept frozen or chilled.

The day of the event, whisk the eggs, broth and milk together and pour over the bread cubes. Stir gently to mix. You should see just a bit of liquid in the corners of the pan. You may need to add more milk. 

Pack lightly into lined and/or greased slow cooker. Using the Reynold’s slow cooker liners makes for easy clean-up, if you can find them. Grease the liner well. Cook on low for 4 – 6 hours, depending on your cooker. If your cooker is slow, you may want to start it on high for an hour. 

Brown and stir butter over med-high heat in a flat pan until you start seeing a spiral of golden brown appearing in the centre. Pour the browned butter over the dressing just before serving. 

*This recipe can easily be made gluten- free by using gf bread and broth.

**This is a large recipe for a large 6 quart slow cooker. It can easily be halved for a smaller cooker or crowd.