Author Archive for Phyllis

How To Be Your Own Worst Enemy

Who me? All it takes is a visit to Trout Lake Farmer’s Market on a lovely Saturday morning in July/August and we are now loaded us down with pounds of plum tomatoes among other goodies. I’ve been saying, over the past few months, or rather my husband has been banging on about how I need to simplify the amount of cooking I’m doing and stop trying to do so much. You know Phyllis, keep it simple. Read…you’re not 40 years old anymore! Back to those tomatoes and cutting back on my work load!

And then there’s my friend, Judy Witts Francini who insists on posting photos of what she’s making in her kitchen in Certaldo and there I am adding things to my market list because I love what she made or she’s reminded me of something I had planned to make but forgotten about!

But how can I resist? Seriously challenging right? Resting quietly in the freezer as we speak, are several containers of one of my favourite summer pasta sauces, fragrant tomato sage.  Because, don’t you know it, my sage is huge and I’ve got a lot of plum tomatoes!  A very good thing…all I have to do is make homemade spaghetti when I decide to thaw a container for dinner! Then there’s the tomato-apricot-ginger chutney (wonderful.) You simply must make it!   And what the heck, may as well roast up a pan of tomatoes too. Don’t you just love roasted tomatoes?

Did I mention that I have arm loads of the basil in the front garden waiting for me? We know what that means, right: pesto, basil butter, basil/EVO cubes for the freezer for a hit of basil to be added to something on a crummy day in the winter. Or that one of the vendors I buy from has local eggplant available…so guess what’s for dinner…eggplant timbalo! At least there were only 4 of them to prepare and luckily I had containers of  sauce in the freezer at the ready!

Oh and let’s not forget dill pickle Sunday last week!  Aah…the smell of dill weed!  At least I can feel relieved that I no longer make hundreds of jars of jams, relishes and chutney’s! I kind of miss seeing all those jars of jewelled toned goodies though.

Good thing this year our little apple tree took a break or it would be applesauce time before long! The saving grace is I’m not like Italians who are canning tomatoes and making passata during the hottest months of the year…whew…they must have a crew of paramedics waiting to take care of the fallen.

And then the fall veggies begin appearing…can you say pickled red cabbage? I’m trying, Joe…I really am trying but you can see the problem!

Scandinavian Apple Cake

Check out this new recipe!  Deliciously comforting apple cake…great with coffee or tea and also as a dessert with, perhaps a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream!  Or if you are really wanting to live dangerously…for breakfast!  For the recipe click the “Recipes” tab at the top of the page.  And as they say on The Great British Bake Off“BAKE”

Sweet or Savoury?

 Yes Please!

My mother was known to tell people that she could bake anything inside a pie crust and her family would love it!

And my Russian mama definitely had that down right! Although…it may have had something to do with the fact that MOM WAS AN ABSOLUTELY AWESOME PIE MAKER! And I don’t care if you think your mom’s pies were the best ever either…so there! And…another tidbit…my husband didn’t really like pie…that is until he tasted mom’s!!

When summer fruit is upon us…my thoughts…well, let’s say my cravings, turn to pies. Although I have to admit, my thoughts do have a tendency to turn to pies at other times of the year! As a matter of fact not long ago members of the Melton Mowbray Pie Association were interviewed on “Britain’s Best Bakery” and now I can’t stop thinking about making a savoury pie! BTW and FYI the Melton Mowbray Pie makers, all 9 of them, were awarded Protected Geographical Indication status in 2009! And…drumroll please, click HERE for the link to the 2017 winners!

So, off to the kitchen…time to crank up the oven and make a pie or two! How about blueberry?  Click HERE for my recipe.  B. C. is well known for their amazing blueberries and I think that a pie would be in order, don’t you? And this week I testing a recipe for lamb hand pies…although I may use beef instead simply because the freezer says so!

I could go on and on…pizza rustica a two crust pie filled with all sorts of goodies and absolutely scrumptious when shared with friends at a picnic…with appropriate wine of course!

Or empanadas, click HERE for the link to my recipe. Again fabulous served either warm or at room temperature. Goes down a treat on a hot day!  Make the dough and filling the day before then bake them the next morning…done and dusted!

ENJOY summer and treat yourself to a pie and not one of those frozen things from your nearest supermarket. I haven’t been yet but we have a shop here called “Pie Hole.” I wonder if it’s time for a little research?


They Call it the Blues

Here at #5 the kitchen is bursting with blueberries! The Gelderman family has come through yet again with another outstanding crop of berries and there are more to come next weekend. They grow two types of blueberries, one harvested in July and the other in August. Both are great but we find the August berries pull ahead in the taste department by a nose!

Just a few blueberry recipes for you to check out and try out…now I’m back to the kitchen for more berry action! Good thing baking is my thing, cause this week it’s been blueberry scones, oatmeal blueberry squares and of course muffins!

Without a doubt you couldn’t put together a list without pie and this is our house favourite!

And then to prove there’s more to life than pie…

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Lemon Loaf
Blueberry Almond Cake
Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
Blueberry BBQ Sauce (which is awesome)

Happy blueberry eating to you!


The End of July

And that means putting on those thinking caps figuring what to cook for that special Leo celebrating a birthday.  In this case, me!!!  It’s no longer July…but it’s still summer and just think of all those people you can impress by inviting  them over to share an alfresco dinner!

What that meant, here at #5 was putting our heads together and figuring out our next challenge on the Kamado Joe! This birthday girl had the idea of a brisket roaming around in her brain for a few weeks.  So…when that was suggested it was a “GO” from everyone.

And all that remains to be said is WOW the K J rocked it big time!  Our hipster butcher texted that it looked awesome!

Our menu:

Brisket with Ancho chili dipping sauce, corn on the barbecue and onion/cheese/poppyseed rolls made by the birthday girl.  We used the recipe for the rub and sauce but changed up the way we cooked our brisket as this recipe uses a Weber.  We made notes if you would like them!















It’s no longer July…but it’s still summer and just think of all those people you can impress by inviting  them over to share an alfresco dinner!





No Money Trees in Vancouver

When you meet up with friends or strangers what is the hottest subject being discussed???  

If you live here in Vancouver, it’s real estate and the ridiculous prices! Will interest rates go up? Will prices come down? Detached home prices seem to have fallen a bit but not the condo/apartments/townhouse market.   Sellers won’t even consider subjects such as “subject to financing” or “subject to inspection”…what???

When I was a kid there was something called The Irish Sweepstakes.  And I remember hearing the dreams and seeing the stars in the eyes of ticket holders at the thought of winning $100,000! Isn’t that incredible? Back then, in our minds, when we thought of $100,000 we saw a wheelbarrow overflowing with money! It’s chump change these days! Like what would you do with such a huge $100,000 windfall? Ha!

Just about everyone we know are real estate millionaires. “Millionaire” has a nice ring to it! Remember back in the day, fantasizing about how great it would be when you had your first million? Well, those dreams have definitely become just that, dreams for the average buyer. In Vancouver near the downtown core, where we live, 2 bedroom apartments are ringing in at over 1 M. and these are not high end places!  And often require renovating!  These are scary times for not only us but a number of our friends who need to find a new home.

We sometimes watch a programme called House Hunters. OMG…I mean a whole house for a few hundred thousand…you must be joking…reality check time…here it would be several million dollars.

You might ask…How do most people afford to live in your lovely city? I don’t know. Another thing I don’t know is how the hell are first time buyers going to be able to buy in the lower mainlaind.  Vancouver is the third most expensive place in the world to buy housing. Click here for a recent statement by the head of the Royal Bank of Canada to see more.  And click here and here for more info. on where we might “hopefully” be headed in this market!

How do you fit 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms into 800 square feet anyway? Oh, I know…you actually can’t fit a bed into the bedrooms or open and close the doors.  MY GAWD!

Rant done!  Wish us luck!

2 “R’s” of Spring

Ramps and Rhubarb!

Yes, we are up to our knees in both! We fired up the stove at #5 this week stocking up our larder and freezer using these delectable spring delicacies.

You can’t go wrong with rhubarb muffins or rhubarb coffee cake.  A must in our house is making the annual batch of rhubarb ketchup.

Ramps aka wild leeks are hard to get in some areas but if you do have a “connection”…by all means try out a few of our favourites!  For my money they have more of a garlicky flavour rather than the taste of leeks.


Ramp buttermilk biscuits are another springtime must around here. And then there is an amazing “pesto” that we toss with spaghetti and sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs. Not to mention a ramp Italian sausage risotto.  Or, you might consider chicken braised with ramps…sort of “white coq au vin.” Certainly went down a treat here!

If you would like to learn more about ramps, check out my blog post.  Click here for the link.





While Visiting Victoria

Last weekend we made a quick trip over to Vancouver Island.  It’s been about three years…far too long!

Back in the day, before we really got the travel bug and when we still had a mortgage to pay off, we used to go over quite often.  Vancouver Island is very beautiful and if you get the chance, do try and go…the ferry ride from Vancouver alone is spectacular and worth the journey!

One of the things we used to do for fun was travel around the Island searching for new and exciting food stuff…duh, what else would we be doing!  So, in our travels we found new cheesemakers, bakers, wine makers, artisanal butchers and interesting restaurants.  Chefs were sourcing locally made and grown products.  Cooking this way seemed to be happening more in Victoria than here in Vancouver back in the mid-eighties.  We would pick up the Vancouver Island Eat Magazine each time an issue was published, pour over it with anticipation hoping to discover new places to visit on our next trip over.

And so it was with great pleasure that we “discovered” a new-to-us funky little place on Quadra Street called Part and Parcel.  First thing is to find a place to sit down then sidle up to the counter and choose from the days’ offerings on the chalkboard,  grab some water, order wine or a craft beer if you like, sit yourself down and wait!  We decided to share a kamut fried chicken sandwich stuffed with house-smoked bacon, coleslaw and pickles, confit pork cheek topped with shaved fennel and a dollop of rhubarb “jam” and Moroccan fries.   We weren’t sure what to expect but when our choices arrived and we tucked in, we were pretty impressed!  The chicken in the sandwich has a kamut coating;  the other components are house made and it was wonderful.   When we read that the fries were scratch made, dusted with that delicious Moroccan spice mix, ras-el-hanout and came with harissa mayo dip, we had to have some!  But oooh, that confit of pork cheek paired with the rhubarb…outstanding!   I need to make confit of pork cheek!  Turns out Part and Parcel won the Vancouver Magazine Victoria Restaurants “Silver” award!  Who knew!

The staff is a friendly, easy-going bunch;  know their stuff and we had a lot of fun chatting with them.  We walked out two very happy kids and you’ve gotta love that!

My Freezer

We’ve always had a stand-alone freezer. And…FYI…

I’ll freeze just about anything that isn’t standing still!  I don’t know how we would live without one!

Do you freeze whipping cream? Are you nuts you might ask…hang on…I do all the time and it’s proven to come in handy. Thawed out in the fridge, it can be used in cooking. One time, for a lark, I even tried to whip it…guess what? It bloody worked!

Over the years our habits have changed, for one thing we no longer stock up on large amounts of meats to tide us over the fall and winter, as though we live in the bush or something! We just don’t go through that much meat, nor do we entertain as much as we used to. Sure the freezer still gets a work out because of all the breads and other baking, the fruits of summer, grains and nuts used for baking and god knows, those handy-dandy, thank-god for them, leftovers.

Speaking of leftovers, that freezer paid for itself 100 X over in February and March this year! I needed to have TKR (to the initiated that’s Total Knee Replacement Surgery). The surgery was supposed to take place in November then January and finally took place in February! The good news, there was loads of time for me to stock up the freezer so that my poor husband wouldn’t have the burden of looking after my needs and cooking everything from scratch. And although he helps in the kitchen, being married to me for all these years he’s gotten out of practice with preparing our meals. Therefore, it made sense to keep loading up the freezer…and it worked! I think he ordered in twice during those months! Everything is long gone but…

And it’s the perfect time that it has, as one’s fancies are turning to lighter fare and best of all barbecuing and grilling, at which Joe excels!

Make Some Meatballs

You’ve just have to say yes to these juicy, succulent morsels!

When a friend posted that she was making meatballs,  I figured I’d better get busy and make some too!

I’ve probably made  hundreds if not thousands of different meatballs in my former chef life! The big plus being, they are easy to eat from a  toothpick with one hand while clutching a drink in the other!

If you’re looking for a really easy and yummy dinner, meatballs baked in tomato sauce are the ticket. At our house we serve them as a second course with a veggie or salad, preceded by a small pasta course, but I think they would be absolutely delicious with some crusty bread and salad. The last time I made these meatballs our primo was spaghettini dressed with EVOO, garlic, pepperoncino, lemon and parsley** But you can simply toss some of the meatball sauce with the pasta for a really easy primo! Save some pasta cooking water, just in case the sauce is a bit too thick. Pass the Parmigiano please!

The Spanish, Asian, Indian and Greek** meatballs make great appetizers any time. They ‘re a great appy to serve at home or to take to get-together’s. Meatballs have the added advantage in that they can be made a few days ahead or even frozen for a month or so. Not a bad thing to have hanging about in the freezer over the holidays!

The Greek meatballs make a delicious meal topped with either tzatziki or tahini sauce, some chopped tomato, onion a bit of lettuce all wrapped up in warm pita bread.. I have been known to put them on skewers and barbecue them, heat the pita on the grill, add a Greek salad and voila!

If you would like to make the meatballs in tomato sauce, click Baked Meatballs In Tomato Sauce.

If you would like to see some other meatball recipes, click Meatballs, A Hostess’ Friend & Anne’s Meatballs.

If you would like to make the pasta, click Spaghettini With Lemon And Garlic.