Meat Craft; Perogies, Bacon, Sausage

I needed to make dinner for the family and a friend of the my daughters this evening and I didn’t want my reputation my dad kitchen skills to be tarnished, so what to do? Stop in to see Butcher Greg at Port Moody’s Meat Craft Urban Butchery to get perogies, bacon, chorizo sausage, and a small tub of Avalon dairy organic sour cream.

Meat Craft Bacon and Sausage
Meat Craft Bacon and Sausage

How is any kid not going to be wowed by quality perogies and bacon?

And I will drop to the bottom line right now and say that the kids – mine and their little buddy were all impressed and ate everything on their plates without any cajoling or bribery. Winning.

To begin, I get a pot of water bowling and then lower the perogies into the pot. I typically add them one by one so that they do not stick together or make a mess. I do it very quickly but I like to treat the little dumplings with respect.

Brewer's Row Bacon
Brewer’s Row Bacon

As soon as that pot is on track, I get another fry pan hot before I add in the 1″ chunks of sausage. I get them warmed up and then add in the bacon. And, I may add, the bacon is made right there at Meat Craft.

Meat Craft Bacon and Perogies
Meat Craft Bacon and Perogies

I like my bacon quite crispy so I let it cook down. I like to lift the bacon out of the fat and then drain the fat out of the pan before I put the bacon back in to get it a little more crispy. Once the bacon is ready, I use a slotted spoon to lift the perogies out of the bowling water and add them to the pan with the crispy bacon.

I give that a little shake about to get the perogies covered in bacon fat and then I let them brown just a bit.

Plated Perogies
Plated Perogies

Then it is time to plate. A dollop of that Avalon Dairy sour cream (14% for the pure decadence factor). And then we eat.

*That squishy looking orange thing? It is a failed experiment – I left the yams in the oven, wrapped in tinfoil for too long and they turned into squishy orange things with very little flavour.

Roasted Carrots for a Snack

The kids decided to leave the roasted potatoes alone for a day and instead asked me to try roasted carrots. So that’s what we did this afternoon.

Roasted Carrots

In the pan above, which was a clean pan until we drizzled balsamic vinegar and avocado oil over the carrots and then rolled the carrots around in the oil and vinegar mixture.

After that we added some spice; a shake of paprika, garlic powder, salt and then a hearty grind of pepper corns.

I slid the pan of carrots into the oven for 45 minutes at 375°.

Roasted Carrots
Roasted Carrots

Then we feasted. Once again, partially because the kids were involved in making the food, they loved the roasted carrots and ate them all up. In fact, I really wish I had more of them because the kids liked them so much. And as any parent knows, if your kid likes a vegetable, you don’t want to spoil that magical moment.

Although not as quick to make as I would have liked, the roasted carrots were easy to make.

Oven Roasted Chick Peas

After many years of trying to convince my kids to eat some of the healthy foods we have prepared for them I finally figured it out; if I get them to help me prepare the food, they’ll eat it!!

Yesterday was my turn to make dinner and rather than making another meal of food they refuse to eat, I asked them to help me make dinner.

Knowing both kids like chickpeas (strange, right?) I decided to oven roast a can of chickpeas.

One kid rinsed them, the other got the stainless bowl and I got the bottle of avocado oil.

We dumped the thoroughly rinsed beans into the bowl, had one kid spin the bowl while I drizzled a couple tablespoons of oil on them.

Next kid gets the spices: curry powder, chilli powder, paprika, and some powdered garlic.

A generous shake of each spice, a kid spinning the bowl, shaking the chickpeas all about, and then into the glass roasting pan and under the broiler.

Roasted Chickpeas
Roasted Chickpeas

After about ten minutes under the broiler, all the while being continuously being watched by my kids, we took them out. Gave them a hearty stir, and then back under the broiler for another ten minutes.

The kids ate them all. Every. Single. One.

So was this because they were delicious or because they were involved with making them? I don’t know but I do know that they ate some healthy food last night!!

 

Poached Eggs on Potato Pancakes

Lunch today was made by students in the Foods and Nutrition class and served to the rest of the students in the school program.

Poached Eggs and Potato Pancakes
Poached Eggs and Potato Pancakes

Two perfectly poached eggs on a couple of potato pancakes with a side of grated carrot and apple salad.

And is there anything better than 14 % sour cream? I’m telling you, I could almost eat that stuff out of an ice cream cone!!

Hasselback Potatoes

The kids have been keen to have me cook potatoes in a different ways and today they basically described Hasselback potatoes.

They like to “explore” new cooking techniques and I certainly encourage them to be imaginative. So today they described a couple of new ways; one was describing something like a Hasselback potatoes while my other daughter was describing a criss-cross pattern cut into the potatoes.

Hasselback Potatoes
Hasselback Potatoes

For the Hasselback potatoes we sliced part way through (I lay wooden spoons on each side so then knife didn’t go right through the potato).

Once the potato was sliced we jammed small pieces of cheddar cheese between as many of the slices as possible.

Hasselback Potatoes
Hasselback Potatoes

We baked the potatoes in the oven at 425 degrees for about an hour. When we pulled them out they were still quite firm to the bite but the cheese had melted into the spaces between the slices and … delicious!!

Thug Kitchen 101; Swiss Chard Tomato Spaghetti

My most recent meal from the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook was Swiss Chard Tomato Spaghetti with Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas. And I have to admit, it was not a resounding success.

Swiss Chard-Tomato Spaghetti
Swiss Chard and Tomato Spaghetti

Perhaps my lack of success was because I used kale from the front yard garden and did not use Swiss Chard. I doubt it, but, I have to try and blame something!

The problem with the dish was that it did not have any “punch” to it. It was just “okay”.

Swiss Chard-Tomato Spaghetti
Swiss Chard and Tomato Spaghetti

The balsamic glazed chick peas were good. In fact, I am likely to make them again even without the swiss chard and tomato spaghetti.

The thing that I am really enjoying about my new Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook is that I am trying new things, I am adding new ingredients, spices and flavourings to the pantry and I am eating much more of a plant-based diet.

Thug Kitchen 101; Skillet Beer Chili Mac

Tuesday after school my kids take art and dance classes so I get a few minutes alone in the kitchen to try some new things. This afternoon I went back to the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook and made a pot of their Skillet Beer Chili Mac.

Onions and Carrots
Onions and Carrots

I started out by heating up a tablespoon of grapeseed oil, adding one diced onion, a red pepper, and a chopped up carrot. I let that cook for a few minutes until the onions were soft and translucent.

Skillet Beer Chili Mac
Skillet Beer Chili Mac

Once the onions were cooked I added the spices: two tablespoons of chili powder, two teaspoons of cumin powder, and two teaspoons of smoked paprika.

Next I added the tomato sauce, tomato paste, three cups of broth (I had beef bouillon so I used that), a cup of Moody Ales beer, and then three cups of macaroni.

Skillet Beer Chili Mac
Skillet Beer Chili Mac

I let the macaroni cook for about ten minutes; I let it cook until most of the liquid was absorbed and the noodles were soft.

Skillet Beer Chili Mac
Skillet Beer Chili Mac

Once the noodles were cooked, I removed them from the heat, stirred in the nutritional yeast, a can of black beans (thoroughly rinsed), a tablespoon or two of maple syrup, and a tablespoon of lime juice.

Skillet Beer Chili Mac
Skillet Beer Chili Mac

Then I ate it.

While the ingredient list looks long, it really is a quick meal to make. It was n’t more than half an hour and I had the meal ready for my kidlets when they got home from class. Try it, I liked it. And so did my kids!!

  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons ot tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of unseasoned tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of beer
  • 3 cups of broth
  • 3 cups of macaroni
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice

And that’s it.

Maple Syrup Baked Yams

One day after school this week I made another batch of the maple syrup baked yams that I recently learned about from my new cookbook, Thug Kitchen 101.

Prepped Yams
Prepped Yams

This time I had grapeseed oil but I didn’t have any maple syrup! So I subsituted a couple of tablespoons of honey in place of the maple syrup. It worked.

A quarter teaspoon of chilli powder and another of smoked paprika, a shake of sea salt and into the oven they went.

Maple Baked Yams
Maple Syrup Baked Yams

25 minutes later and the girls and I were eating sweet baked yams.

Easy. Cheap. Quick. Thug Life 101.

Making a Raspberry Shrub

OK, so this one goes under the heading “epically awesome”. I have recently spent time in the Burnaby test kitchen learning how to make a raspberry shrub.

What’s a raspberry shrub you ask? It is basically drinkable fruit vinegar.

Raspberries and Sugar
Raspberries and Sugar

To make a shrub, take 2 cups of fruit, 2 cups of sugar, and mix it together in a bowl. For the shrub that I made, I used 2 cups of fresh raspberries.

I put them in a large glass mixing bowl and then added 2 cups of sugar, and stirred it all about.

I let the sugar and raspberry combination sit in the fridge for two days and I would give it a stir once in awhile. I might’ve stirred it three or four times in the two days that it was sitting in the fridge in the glass bowl.

Raspberry Shrub
Raspberry Shrub

After two days of the fruit and sugar mixing together, I took it out of the fridge gave it a very thorough stir and then poured it into a very fine stainless steel strainer.

If you follow the instructions for making a shrub that you find on Pinterest it says to use cheesecloth as a strainer. Seeing as necessity is the mother of invention and I didn’t have any cheesecloth with me at the time, I just took the finest stainless steel strainer I had and pushed the fruit and sugar mixture through that.

I ended up with a very small mound of solids inside the strainer and just a bit less than 2 cups of very sugary fruit juice.

Yes, if I had used cheesecloth I would probably have a more clear shrub than I ended up with. However all things considered mine is remarkably clear.

I poured the sugary fruit juice into a sterilized glass jar (a retired mayonnaise jar) and then added the vinegar. I’m a big believer in the health benefits of apple cider vinegar so that’s what I used.

Then you put the lid on, screw it closed and put the jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks to let the shrub mature.

Two Weeks Later
Two Weeks Later

After the shrub has matured, you add about half an ounce of it to an eight ounce glass of ice cold water or soda water, stir it up, and enjoy a momentary flavour flashback to those warm summer nights when you were standing near a raspberry vine popping fresh raspberries in your mouth.

A shrub is an ancient way of preserving fruit for the long winter months. In the next couple days I will let you know how my raspberry shrub turned out.

Thug Kitchen 101 Cookbook

I was wandering around the Chapters bookstore looking for a reference book I need for school and I couldn’t find it so the next best option was for me to purchase a new cookbook. This is how I happened to pick up the cookbook titled Thug Kitchen 101.

Thug Kitchen 101
Thug Kitchen 101

It is quite an entertaining cookbook of one pot meals, and plant-based, comfort food recipes. Their schtick for this cookbook is to use lots of foul language. They throw down the F bomb incessantly.

I realize that’s just their schtick, that they’re using foul language to create their brand. I actually found the swearing to be excessive, but the recipes and stories they tell are worth it. I suppose.

Thug Kitchen 101
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

The first recipe that I decided to try from the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook was their maple roasted sweet potatoes.

This dish was dead easy. Heat the oven to 450°, use a mandolin to slice a couple sweet potatoes or yams into approximately quarter inch thick slices and toss them with some maple syrup, grape seed oil, smoked paprika, chili powder, and salt.

Thug Kitchen 101
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

They say to add the slices of sweet potatoes or yams into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and then add the oil, maple syrup, and spices directly into the baking dish before tossing everything together to coat the slices of yam.

Instead, I mixed the maple syrup, grape seed oil, and spices together in a mixing bowl and then added the slices of yams to that. Then I put them into the baking dish.

Into the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. When I took them out, they were spectacular. So spectacular that I immediately made another pan of them!

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

On the same evening I also made the curry roasted eggplant from the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook . For this one you just slice six or eight Japanese style eggplants from end to end before coating them in a mixture of grapeseed or Safflower oil (the authors are totally against canola oil), curry powder, and salt.

You lay the sliced eggplants facedown in the baking dish and then put them in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Oven Roasted Eggplant
Oven Roasted Eggplant

I’ll be honest, mine didn’t look like the ones in the picture in the cookbook. They were tasty, but they were not outstanding. I will probably make this recipe again just to be sure, but it wasn’t a hit with my kids. (The true test).

I will continue to make recipes from this book and share my experiences with you here.