Beer and Butter Tarts... and BOG

I've had a good day - sort of.
I had no kids waking me up at 6:30 - that was awesome.  They're back now though and that's awesome too.
I did some yoga and martial arts movement - that was awesome.
I tried to watch my Bollywood Freetime movie but we couldn't get the channel in evenly enough - that sucked 'cause it looked like a funny one.  (We have an antenna BTW and no satellite or cable fees - that's awesome)
Instead, I watched a cool doc about marijuana (use, history, medical research, political and legal aspects) called 'The Union' - that was awesome.
I joined this awesome looking website that aggregates (sounds cool!) for Can. food blogs and bloggers.  Dope!  It's called 'Beer and Butter Tarts'.  To be honest, the name was what drew me in before I even knew what it was all about.  Lush that I am!  Beer!  And Butter Tarts?!  Gotta check that out.  Found it on 'Brenda's Canadian Kitchen' (many thanks Brenda, if you're reading... which you probably aren't, because no one knows that I'm doing this which is exactly why I'm so stoked about having a website aggregate for me).  Beer and Butter Tarts looks cool and I'm going to keep you all filled in on what's happening on that front - as I learn more about it.
And... I made this stuff...

Until recently I didn't even know what to call this.  It isn't proper 'Bolognese' at all.  Then I found this term in one of the UK mag's that I picked up.  BOG. Didn't know what it was they were talking about and then I read an article and recipe.  It sounded and looked a hell of a lot like the stuff that I made.  Incidentally, it's also slang for a toilet.
I make this sauce about once a month easy and sometimes more.  I throw in a lot of veggies.  The first time I saw someone making this stuff, I was babysitting in Montreal during my University years.  It was an italian family and they had this huge pot on the stove simmering away.  It had been simmering for a few hours and it smelled unbelievably good.  There were crazy veggies in it.  There was some kind of meat mince - don't know what it was exactly but it was good.  I know that 'cause I put it in a bowl without any pasta and ate it like it was stew.  It was delish.

I've made this they way I like it and I won't apologize that it has some sugar in it because it makes a huge difference.  You can adapt and change and throw around things and this sauce will still come out well.  It's just that kind of food.  Am I saying that you can't wreck it?  No - 'cause I've done that too.  BUT, it's always been salvageable.
So, without further ado.... BOG.

My Bog
serves 6

1 lb minced beef, chicken or pork
1 med/sm onion, diced
1 med/sm zucchini, sliced
2 sm carrots, sliced
1 med red or green pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 lg cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 beef bouillion cubes
2 tbsp mustard powder or dijon
1 - 2 tbsp each basil, oregano, marjoram
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 lg can crushed tomatoes or passata (no salt preferably)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp salt
pepper sauce to taste

In a lg pan.  Heat some oil and add in all the veggies except the garlic.  Cook for a few minutes.
Add in the garlic and the minced meat.  Cook that around for a few minutes.
Add in the Worcestershire and the bouillion cube.   Stir until everything is mixed in.
Add the mustard, herbs and sugar.  Mix well.
Add in the tomato and the tomato paste. Mix well.
Add in the salt and check the taste.  Add the pepper sauce.  Adjust the tastes as necessary and let the sauce simmer at low heat for about 45 min.
Serve over spaghetti, rotini, penne or whatever.  Trust me, they'll eat it.  Throw some parmesan cheese on the top and they'll love you forever.

Cauliflower, Lentil and Coconut Milk Curry

Just when I think that my cycling is probably over for the season the weather surprises me.  We are at about 1 month before Christmas and, no word of a lie, I'm still biking.  It's cold mind you.  I'm piling on the layers.  But, once you get out there, moving in it, you feel fine.  You feel good.  In fact, you feel great.  It's kind of like you are beating the season - HaHa Winter.  I know you're there but I'm not going to let you keep me down.
Let's face it though, the riding is going to be over soon and I gotta fill the hole.  It's back to yoga in a serious way.  I start ramping up my running to 4 times a week as well.  You know, keeps your heart pumping and your brain clear.  Well, clearer!  I love that about exercise in general.  The stuff that you think about, the way that you motivate yourself, the focus.  Today, as I was running to work I started to think about words.

I think that some words are funny.  Not just words like 'twat', 'munter' or 'wanker' but everyday words like 'bloop' or 'splish' (yeah, I totally use that one on daily basis Wanda).  So, I also think that 'cauliflower' is a funny word.  I have no clue what a 'cauli' is - I should look it up... let me go do that....
Ok, thanks to Wikipedia I have just learned that it comes from the latin word 'caulis' which means cabbage and, well, 'flower' is pretty straight forward.  Ok, well that learned it's still a funny word.  It's a great nutritious veg though.  In the past I have made this adaptations of this curry with chick peas instead of daal or lentils.  Since D doesn't like chickpeas I have altered things a little.  I saw this recipe for this funny sounding veg in one of my mags and decided to give it a go - with my own little twists of course ;-).  Now do take note, D found that this wasn't quite strong enough in the curry department for him and would also have preferred a little more heat (which you can add after the fact so I don't know what he's on about there) so if you think that you might be in the same boat then adjust accordingly.  Add another tbsp of curry/cumin/garam masala and maybe a dash (or four) of pepper sauce.  I love this kind of stuff.  This is comfort food that keeps me going and feels good doing it.  Funny words and all!

Cauliflower, Lentil and Coconut Milk Curry adapted from Delicious UK
serves 4

1 cup (150 g) red lentils or daal (I used daal)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
2 tbsp curry paste (mild or hot)
3 tbsp grated ginger (less if using ground)
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 med cauliflower broken into florets (cut large ones in half)
2 tomatoes diced (I left this out although it would add some depth to the curry)
1 can of coconut milk
dash of salt

Put the lentils into a bowl with double the amount of water and simmer for about 20 min.  Until the lentils or daal become a thick puree.  Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the garam masala, turmeric, cumin, cardamom and curry paste.  Add a little water and make into a thick paste.  Set aside.

In a large pan, heat about 3 tbsp of oil and add the mustard and coriander seeds.  Cook just until they pop a little.  Add in the onion and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook for about 2 min.

Add the cauliflower to the pan and coat with the onion/spice mixture.  Cook for about 4 min.  Add in the spice paste and mix well.  Add a little water to mix it.  Add in the tomatoes and the lentils/daal (with the cooking water and all).  Mix well and cover for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked through.  Check the tastes and add a dash of salt if needed.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ok, Ok.  Let's face it.
Is this recipe drastically different then any of the other choc. chip recipes that I've tried?  No, of course not.
Do I care?  No, of course not.
The thing is that chocolate chip cookies are good, in fact, they're great.  They are probably the sole reason that I started making cookies.  They are also probably the reason that I never buy cookies from anywhere - grocery store, cafe, bakery.  Good, home-made chocolate chip cookies can change your life.
I love trying different chocolate chip cookie recipes.  It's fun.  It's amazing to see what little changes will come out of even the same recipe.
It's kind of like brownies.  I like trying different combinations and the differences look so minor but can be so big at the end of the day.
So, now that we've established that we're not trying to re-invent the wheel here, let's look at how these cookies turned out at the end of the day.

First, I used dark brown sugar so these babies turned out a little darker for me than they will for you.

Second, I used 55% chocolate.  You could easily choose milk chocolate or darker chocolate... even white chocolate.
Lastly, the taste was nice.  They had a little crunch to the texture and the chocolate was just the right amount.  These cookies aren't revolutionary but they are amazing just the same.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Delicious UK magazine)
makes about 2 dozen small cookies

125 g/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter
110 g/ 1 cup (lightly packed) brown sugar (I used dark but light is recommended)
55g/ 1/3 cup sugar
1 lg egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
150 g/ 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g/ 1 full cup + a little bit extra, milk or dark chocolate (I used 55%)
70g chopped pecans or walnuts (I didn't add these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 baking trays with baking mat or parchment.

Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until smooth.
In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix together.  Add in the chocolate and nuts.  Mix lightly.  Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture.  Mix well.
Drop by tablespoons onto the baking sheets, leave a little space in between.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until pale golden.
Cool briefly on the tray then remove to cooling racks.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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