Green Seasoning, Rants and Nothing Relevant.

I have about 3 different kinds of posts:

1.  The post that's actually about the food that I'm making.  It joyfully conveys a story about the food or the preparation of the food and then gives you the recipe.  It also contains beautiful, creative and interesting photos of said food.  These are the posts that would get me on some fancy magazines 'Best Blog Award' list or whatever.
2.  The post that's about food... eventually.  The reader has to wade through some tangent or other that I'm going on and on about.  The reader is probably wondering if my meds are off or if I'm going through some sort of crisis.
3.  The post that has absolutely nothing to do with food.  No beautiful food picture.  No interesting story.  No recipe at the end.  This is just a 'I think that you probably should know this about me even though you don't give a rats ass' kind of post.  Usually my meds are off or I've not slept for about 30 hrs.

I'm sure that there are a few variations on the themes above but I think it's fair to generalize that this pretty much covers the spectrum.  I wonder if other food bloggers have the same kinds of 'post issues'.  Do they check their stats obsessively?  Do they find themselves wanting to use their blog as a place to vent all of their ideas/opinions/crazy?  Here's a post that you won't be seeing from me:  The Salad Post.
I'm getting more than a little distressed about all the FREAKIN' salad posts out there right now.  Look, I know it's summer.  I know it's effing hot.  I know that nobody wants to cook in the summer.  But I don't find myself inspired by the salad post.  It's worse than my tangential rant post.  It's worse than the 'I'm-freakin'-perfect-and-take-all-my-perfect-food-shots-in-perfect-light-with-perfect-props' post.  Like I've said before, it's not that I don't like you or your blog but I just can't do the salad post thing.  Nothing personal.

I just can't bring myself to do it.  I almost wish I could.  I wish I could tell you that the salad leaves that I've dumped onto my plate (or a trough if you're me) are inspiring.  That the incredibly fresh veggies that I plopped on top of that are changing my life.  That I came up with this divinely inspired dressing that is going to make Sauveur call me up today and offer me their entire company.  Whatever, it's salad.

So, I decided for this post that I would do my best to mix all 3 of my styles together.

I'll leave you to figure out which paragraphs fit into which post examples.

That's mint hiding in there.
I've got a garden full of herbs.  Well not full but there are a lot of herbs.  I never get to using all of it.  It just grows and I looks at it.  Occasionally I cut it and put it in something but most of the time it grows and then it stops growing because snow falls on it.  Well... that's not gonna happen this year bitches.  My Mom-in-law (and a lot of other West Indians - props to all of you) makes this awesome crap called 'Green Seasoning'.  Green Seasoning is basically herbs thrown into a blender with garlic, maybe lemon juice or a little vinegar, definitely salt and sometimes even a little scotch bonnet pepper for good measure.   You grind up the lot, put it in a jar and then you've got this badass stuff for anything - seasoning meat (oh yes), adding to sauce (definitely) or (if you are me) putting in just about anything you are making instead of chopping up a little handful of herbs each time you need them.  It's like the herb equivalent of curry paste.
I cut a boat load today.
I removed the stems.
I put all the leaves in a blender.
I added about a head of garlic.
I blended.
I put them into freezer bags and...
I froze it for the winter.
Aren't I just the smartest?

Wanda's Version of Green Seasoning
makes about 5 cups

8 - 9 cups (it's pretty forgiving though) mixed fresh herbs (ones that work well: basil, oregano, parsley, chives, mint, cilantro - basically anything)
1/2 cup water (more if necessary)
2 tbsp salt
8 large cloves garlic (more if they're small cloves), coarsely chopped

Remove the leaves from the herbs.
Place them all in a blender.
Add the water.
Add the salt and the cloves.
Blend until liquified (you may need to do it in batches to make sure that it's all a similar texture)
Pour into freezer bags (about 3 cups or so in each bag)
Keep some in a jar in the fridge and use for whatever strikes your fancy.  Pull the rest out of the freezer as needed.
Let Wanda know if you do it and what you decide to use it for... this is very important.

Rubarb #5: Rhubarb, Strawberry, Blueberry Sauce

I recently posted this as my status on facebook:  'Wanda Thorne is not the sum of her purchases'

We've been hearing a lot over the last year or so in Toronto about how we are 'tax-payers' in our city or how we are 'consumers' in our city.  I'm not interested in being a part of something where I only matter in as much as I spend or don't spend.  I say B.S.  I am a citizen and not a consumer.

Recently I went to a big grocery store.  You know the ones.  Big parking lot.  Big carts.  So many rows of stuff that I have to read the sign hanging at the beginning of each row to know what's down there.  So many freezers that you get cold standing in the freezer aisle.  A live band playing upstairs... having an upstairs.
I usually get my grocery shopping done either by the food box or small Mom and Pop kinda places.  So this was... well, it's been a while.  I was a bit overwhelmed.  I had a short list but a specific one and even with all those rows of crap they didn't have exactly what I was looking for.  What amazed me about it was that it took a long time.  Dare I say it even.... it wasn't convenient.  It's like being at Wonderland or Disney World.  It's this little world that exists in and of itself, disconnected from the world outside.  I didn't know what time it was anymore.  There was so much meat that I got confused and just walked away.  It was a bubble and I felt like I got sucked into it and had to get out quick.  Yeah, I started to get a little weirded out.   Most people though were sauntering through, had kids with them, were listening to music... it was like an excursion.  It's not an excursion that I want to have on a regular basis.
I guess that's how it is most of the time now.  Shopping Malls are full... always.  With people who are walking around.  Are they buying things?  Are they there to get something specific and go?  Is the simple act of walking around these places just continuing to feed this message that we are what we consume?  Don't get me wrong, I don't think that shopping is evil.  We all need to shop.  But what I buy, where I buy it and when, those things do not define who I am.  I am not going to let a marketing firm or an advertising agency inform how I live my life.  When I am 'bored' shopping or going to the Mall is not the first thing that I want to do.
If I think of all that stuff that my great grand-parents had to do in a day and all of the machinery that we have now that let's us off the hook all in the name of 'efficiency and having more time' then I'm staggered and a little embarassed that we fill so much of it with buying stuff.
As a side note, I've been thinking a lot about this article lately.  I saw it on one of my fave blogs and I know that the writer is pretty out there - yeah, I'm well aware of his reputation - but I'm starting to think that maybe what we need is more of the 'kinda out there' because just kinda doing it at home and not being 'out there' is not working....

My neighbours gave me a *&%t load of rhubarb.   My head's not really around rhubarb right now but it came from their parents garden.  I'm not gonna say no.  So, I found some other fruit in my freezer and made this stuff.  Sauce for whatever you'd like.  I'd say vanilla ice cream is at the top of my list but I'm not about to tell you what to do with it.  Just try it.  It's good... really good.... and share some of it with friends.

Wanda's Rhubarb, Strawberry, Blueberry sauce
adapted rather generously from Stocking the Larder

8 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup each, strawberries and blueberries
6 cups sugar
rind of half an orange
1 1/4 cups water or juice
1 vanilla bean (seeds removed)

Sterilize about 4 medium (500 ml) sized jars - maybe one small one just to be safe.

Begin to get the water bath ready.

Combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down just enough to keep the mixture simmering.  Simmer for about 16 min.
Pour into the sterilized jars - if you don't have enough for 4 medium sized jars than use a little one for the last bit.  If there is a bit leftover than go and get some vanilla ice cream... seriously.  Place the seals and lids on each and close just until it's firm but not tight.
Place the jars in the boiling water bath and keep them there for about 10 minutes (mine were in for about 12).
Remove from the water bath and cover with clean cloth.  Check the seal on the jars.  Let the jars sit under a  cloth for about 24 hours .
Will keep for quite a long time.

Rainbow Birthday Cake

July is seriously birthday month in our house.  Between friends and family I swear we've got about 10 birthdays during the month.  My love letter idea seems to have worked and my 'Dear Heat' has relented at least enough for me to bake just a little.
Admittedly, when it comes to actual food (you know that stuff that gives your body the crap it needs to survive and not just sugar) I'm totally and completely uninspired right now.  I'd much rather be making ice cream or.... cake.  Weird.
Cakes has been up and down for me over the last year or so.  I've been finding that some are just plain gross (i.e.  too sweet, too dense, too wet... gross) and I'm feeling a little hesitant and even anxious to just go out there and try something new these days.  I saw this cake and thought it sounded too good to be true.  Here's the thing... it's that good.
Yup.  That's right,  I looked my anxiety square in the eye and went ahead and made the cake.

So, let's just talk about birthdays for a while.  I'm the birthday Queen when it's my birthday.  I'd seriously take the day off if I could.  I start thinking about what I want and what I want to do months before the actual date.  I'm realising though that I've got a complete double standard.  I don't do well with other people's birthdays.  I'm really bad at doing the whole gift thing.  I don't enjoy it.  I don't know what to get.  I agonize over whether it's the right thing or not.  I wonder if they're just going to hate it.  Shopping is generally not my thing so... I'm not the greatest friend to have if you want elaborate, crazy crap for your birthday.
What I will do is make stuff for you though.  You'll probably get a cake (if you ask for one or happen to let slip what your fave is).  You'll get some homemade jam or rhubarb sauce (coming soon).  You might even get some cookies too.  My BFF requested bread... so I'm making her bread... and vanilla cupcakes. In fact, I'll make pretty much whatever you request.  You might also get a magazine or something totally lame that I saw and randomly thought of you.  Yeah, it's pretty wacked.

I made the awesome looking vanilla cake into a rainbow/marble thing that was pretty cool.  We all thought that the whole thing was seriously beyond.  The whole thing became like an art project for Kid #1 and #2 - getting the colour just right, mixing it and then blobbing it into the pans.  All in all, great cake, great texture, great colours and a great birthday.

Rainbow Birthday Cake
adapted from Sweetapolita
makes one 2 layer cake

6 large egg whites (approx. 6 oz) at room temp.
1 cup milk
2 1/4 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp (6 oz) unsalted butter at room temp and cut into cubes (I didn't really do that part though)
yellow, blue and pink (or red) food colouring PASTE  (i.e. not the liquid stuff)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour (use parchment as well if you like) two round 8 inch cake pans.
In a bowl combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup of the milk and the vanilla.  Set aside
In a larger bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix together well.  Add in the butter and 3/4 cup of milk (I used a hand mixer here) and mix for a couple of minutes.
Add in the egg mixture in 3 batches mixing for about 20 seconds after each addition.
Divide the batter into 4 bowls (I filled the white bowl with a little more of the batter).  Mix a little bit of the paste into each bowl - NOTE:  it won't take much to get a vivid colour so start small, I use the tip of a chop stick - until you get the desired colour.
Plop the batters into the prepared pans.  I kept my plops all separate and then used a chop stick to swirl them just a little bit.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.   Place them so that the tops are up.  Cool completely.

Whipped Vanilla Bean Icing

13 oz unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into cubes (whatever)
3 cups sifted icing sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt (I forgot that bit)

Using a mixer whip the butter for quite a while, until it's pale and creamy.
Add all remaining ingredients and mix low for a minute and then step it up a bit.  Keep mixing until the icing is light, fluffy and creamy.
Use as quickly as possible.
Frost the cake by starting with a thin layer of frosting over both layers.  Chill for about 30 minutes until it sets.  Then frost the cake as you normally would.  This will prevent any crumbling from happening (Nice trick, eh?).
Store at room temp for up to 2 days, fridge for 5 days.

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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.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
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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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