Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mise En Place

It struck me today how there are a lot of similarities between sewing and cooking. I was without my sewing machine for several days as it was at the repair shop. (It turns out it was not broken at all but that I had inadvertantly knocked the feeddogs out of whack while cleaning. Damn it! I thought it was my perfect opportunity to buy a sexy new Husquarvana. I digress...) During my sewing downtime, I prepped for a number of upcoming projects. I cut out pieces for bibs, purses and hats.

In my previous life as a cook in the restaurant biz we always used our downtime to prepare our Mise. For those of you not in the know, Mise en place means a place for everything or everything in its place. Working in busy kitchens taught me a great deal about time management. Working ahead, always having in mind the next project makes everything slide along a little more smoothly.

It is easy to see how sewing has filled a void left in me after leaving the food biz. The satisfaction of a beautifully arranged plate is not unlike a lovely apron garnished with a complimentary bias binding.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hail Caesar-My quest for the ultimate Caesar salad

I love a good Caesar Salad. For me, it is a litmus test for the quality of a restaurant. If you pass muster with this pivotal salad, I have complete confidence in the main course which is on its way.

A good Caesar is a well thought out mix of quality ingredients. The lettuce is fresh and crisp. The cheese is freshly grated parmesan and the pepper freshly ground. There is bacon, or if you're a little more highbrow...pancetta. It is freshly cooked and in nice bite size pieces. The croutons are fork tender morsels seaoned and baked with butter or olive oil. The dressing is made from scratch with eggs, oil, lots of garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, fresh parmesan and whatever other optional ingredients you like ( mustard, fresh herbs etc). Getting this combination right and in the proper balance is crucial.

I have had many Caesars, most of them disappointing. This weekend we tried two new restaurants. Cocoa Pesto, in Windsor N.S. served me a "classic" Caesar with no bacon! The croutons were too tough for my fork and the dressing had no trace of anchovy flavor.

I was anxious to expunge the memory of this disappointing Caesar so the next day we headed to Tempest in Wolfville. It was quite good. The dressing was tasty with a noticeable anchovy undertone. The croutons were somewhat more tender but were made with pumpernickel bread. I prefer the classic white. I had a side Caesar here, I would be interested in the full appetizer version.

So far, my fav Caesar in Halifax is the Cafe Chianti Caesar for two. Tasty, fresh ingredients mixed with love in a bowl for two!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Appliance Apologies

I love appliances. I remember the precise moment that my head was turned by their shiny wonderfulness. It was my first day of cooking school when I got my first introduction into a professional kitchen. I found myself surrounded by gleaming stainless steel. Massive convection ovens, huge hobart mixers, steam jacket kettles, grills, flat top griddles, steamers...Ohh the possibilites.

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy some fine appliances in the comfort of my own home. Sweet sweet Silvia makes my cappucino every afternoon. My Kitchen Aid mixer tosses out a crowd pleasing pizza dough nearly every friday night as well as a countless array of cookies, cakes, meringues and loaves of bread.

My little Kenmore sewing machine has been tirelessly churning out whatever I have desired of her. Recently I have asked more of her than ever before having started my own Etsy shop.

This is why I am so very sad to say that two weeks ago near the end of the production of two loaves of white bread...Kitchen Aid sputtered to a stop. She now lies sadly still on her shelf, a sad reminder of a delicious partnership. And Kenmore, had a disastrous reaction to a routine cleaning which has left me and my Sushi bistro apron in a sad state of desertion.

At least I still have Silvia.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


While my husband and I were visiting Montreal last summer we saw a mural on the side of a building that we thought was brilliant. It pictured a serene faced figure with hands together in prayer and beneath it was written "Foodism". As we are both obsessed with the pursuit and enjoyment of good food we thought it was just the 'ism' for us.

In that same spirit I have decided to found my own 'ism'. It has grown out of my recent discovery and subsequent obsession with etsy. Etsyism is an all inclusive movement. All ages, genders and races are welcome. You need only have a username to be initiated. A monthly tithe of your earnings is not required but is a likely outcome. As a new initiate you may be tempted to be overzealous with your newfound philosophy. "Buy homemade!" you will preach. Some will accept your enthusiasm others will think you strange. Don't lose heart. There are many others who will join you to pay homage at the great marketplace we call Etsy.

The Reluctant Blogger

Am I a blogger?
What has the world come to? Soon I'll be text messaging (or is that TM-ing?) Dang! I dont't even know the lingo. When I went to school we wrote our work with a pen. And we liked it that way.