salmon chowder

What's the weather like where you are? We've been dripping with rain for what feels like weeks. So even though it's almost June, we're still in soup, stew, and chowder mode around here.

I threw a bunch of stuff in the pot the other night and it turned out pretty tasty, so I thought I'd share...

salmon chowder
serves 3-4

1/4 onion, finely diced
extra virgin olive oil
2 celery stalks, diced
2 red potatoes, diced
2 cobs sweet corn, kernels removed
1 213g (7.5oz) can wild Alaskan pink salmon, broken up with a fork
2 C milk
1 - 1 1/4 C water
handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped
a little bit (1-2 Tbs) fresh chives, finely chopped
salt and fresh pepper to taste

In large pot, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion until soft. Add celery, potatoes, a bit of salt, and saute a few more minutes. Add corn and water. (The water will not cover all the veggies.) Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and turn down heat to low. Simmer until potatoes are done, stirring every so often to keep any potatoes from sticking to the bottom (about 15 mins.) Add salmon and milk and bring back to simmer. Turn off heat, stir in fresh herbs, season to taste, and serve.


kitchen towelettes

I had one of those 'duh' moments the other day. Why do I buy paper towels? I could make my own!

And so, a metre of 50:50 cotton/linen ended up as more than a dozen small towels. I've been happily grabbing them whenever I need a quick wipe, each time thinking, why didn't I do this before?

I won't say 'epiphany' because that's, of course, way too strong of a word for something involving paper towels. But seriously, why can't simple ideas for improvement hit you before you've spent years doing things one way, all the while wasting resources and money?

Well, anyway, I probably won't go so far as to use my cute kitchen towelettes on raw meat, but I can't imagine needing to buy paper towels hardly at all any more -- and that's good news for forests and landfills. Bonus.


birthday gifts

My friend Kim has a 10:10:10 rule for her birthday gifts. It should take ten minutes to put together, cost less than ten dollars, and be used within ten months.

She doesn't abide by the guidelines for her gifts to others, mind you -- her creative gifts must take her hours, if not days, and definitely set her back more than $10 bucks. But I like the idea: simple gifts that don't end up taking space, but still say 'I love you, Happy Birthday.'

If I were to revise her rule though, I think I'd end up changing all the clauses so they couldn't be taken literally. I'd get rid of the 10 dollar clause, because I think it could indirectly encourage the buying of cheap crap, when someone could make it or buy a quality version for a bit more dough. I'd drop the 'minimal time to make' clause, because many of the best gifts I've ever given or gotten have been labours of love. And I'd add a caveat on a gift's lifetime to allow for homemade goods, because so many of those are meant to be enjoyed and loved for a long time.

I guess my only guideline would be 'make it yourself or buy handmade!' And I'd hope that someone wouldn't use too many of their resources to give me something that just sits on a shelf for years.

Who knew I could rattle on so much about presents! Without further ado, I'll show you the birthday gift for my mother-in-law: fine wrapping papers and two homemade tags for each.


for the birds

a mama feeding her babies at the beach last summer

A little birdie love...

how about a few bird softies
if your sewing machine is gathering dust like mine, perhaps a cozy out of these sweet sandpipers
a mama bird for around your neck
a music-lovin' owl t-shirt
silver love birds for your ears
a beautiful print (I want, I want!)
or skip the small stuff and indulge on a bird by iittala's Oiva Toikka (someday!)


family tree

I love this family tree and can think of a few little families that would look great on a stump. I'm a day late for Mother's Day, but there's always next year.


oven beef stew

So apparently the trick to getting beef stew to turn out is to cook it for a longass time.

After making one too many stews with disappointingly tough meat, I did a little research. (Which is kind of like reading the instructions after you dig them out of the garbage.) Some folks swear by a slow cooker, but I just used my oven. This recipe gets the job done in two hours.

beef stew
cobbled together from a few different recipes
serves 3-4

1/2 lb beef stew meat (about 1 1/2" chunks)
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teas flour
handful of dried porcini mushrooms
3 celery stalks, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
2-3 yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 bay leaf
a couple pinches dried thyme
salt and pepper
3 C beef stock
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Place oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Pat dry the beef stew meat in some paper towel and generously season with salt and pepper. In small bowl, put mushrooms to soak in 1 cup of warm water. Once mushrooms are soft, lift out with slotted spoon and roughly chop. Reserve soaking liquid.

In a large dutch oven (a.k.a. a big, deep pot with a lid that can go in the oven) over medium-high heat, heat a bit of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the seasoned beef to the pot and fry, turning, until browned well on all sides. Remove meat from pan and set aside.

Add a bit more olive oil to the pot and saute onions, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the onions soften. Add garlic and saute another minute or so. Add flour and mix well. Pour in slowly about 1/2 cup of the broth. Stir to dissolve the flour and then add remaining broth, bay leaf, dried thyme, mushrooms, and the mushroom's soaking liquid. Depending on how soupy/stewy you want your final product to be, you can add a bit more water or broth to the pot at this point if it looks like your veggies will be too crowded.

Once the broth has started to simmer, return beef to the pot. Cover, and place in preheated oven. Bake for one hour. After one hour, remove from the oven and add prepared veggies -- the potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cover again and return to oven. Bake one hour, or until meat is completely cooked and softened (for me, that's been 50-60 minutes.) Remove from oven, remove bay leaf, and stir through the fresh parsley. You could leave the beef in large chunks at this point, or roughly shred each chunk with a couple of forks before serving.


fabric sale

Pink Chalk is having a big sale right now -- there are some great designer cottons for cheap!