Potato, Kale and Kitchen sink Hash

I've inadvertently joined a book club at work.  I didn't know I was joining which is a long story in and of itself.  But, regardless, I've joined.
Of course the book that we're reading is... well, I'm sure that you can guess.  I just started the book yesterday.  My first conversation about the book was all about how much I'm gonna be blown away by chapter 7.  I can't say that I was waiting with bated breath or anything but I was curious.  So, for those of you who've read 'the book' (I really don't want to give the book any more press than it's already gotten - not that my blog will make a huge crap load of difference) you might understand how I was surprised to discover that the whole thing was basically a contract.  Sure it was a contract of the kind that we don't usually make a contract over... or do we.
I'd like to take this opportunity to declare that a contract regarding the terms of sex first of all isn't terribly erotic and secondly, isn't really a new concept.  In fact, I think that most of us create our own contracts when it comes to a serious relationship.  And we've been doing this for a really long time.  Marriage is our present day default contract.  It is legally binding and there are some pretty serious repercussions if we break the contract.  But sexual contracts have been around for a long long long time.  Pre-Judaism and Pre-Islam (and yes, I do realize that chronologically they are both VERY far apart) relationship contracts were quite deliberate and often quite different.  Our present day marriage contract is mostly straight-forward and inflexible (unless of course a pre-nuptual agreement is involved) but then 'marriage' contracts could take on just about any form.  For example, money could be left out of the contract completely, a couple could contract to be exclusive for a short period of time, a couple could agree that after a pre-set period of time that the contract would be renegotiated.  In other words, the terms were much more open ended than they are now.
When I read the contract in 'the book' I certainly didn't have a problem with the fact that a contract was being put on the table or the fact that there were some 'out of the ordinary' preferences being negotiated.  What bothered me was that the woman was not really being treated as an equal partner.  The contract was all about the preferences and limits required by the male in the relationship.  If we're getting into contracts and law and stuff then shouldn't the woman have taken the opportunity to say 'Thanks for this.  I'm going to go now and look it over and maybe talk to one of my lawyer friends (or not) and come back to you with a counter offer'.  The contract in 'the book' shouldn't necessarily have been taken as the end of the contract road but rather the beginning.  Relationships are all about negotiation - on a regular basis, always and forever, romantic or otherwise - and they should be about equality (especially when it comes to sexual relationships).  So a contract has to be flexible in order to be fair and equal.  Sure there will be some 'Never-do's' or 'Tap-outs' but otherwise it is negotiated and later possibly renegotiated and then again after that.
Now when it comes to 'the book', I'm only on chapter 8 so I definitely need to keep both an open mind and my fingers crossed that things get a little better for our heroine beyond some hugely satisfying 'coming of age' journal entries.
I'll keep you updated.

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep food in my kitchen and it seems to be mysteriously disappearing at an alarming rate.  I'm not sure where it's all going and in the middle of the week I found myself in the unfortunate position of having to get creative with these somewhat incongruous ingredients. The happy news is that after some deliberation... a little negotiational (not even sure if that's a word) coaxing maybe... this wonderful mess was the result.

Potato, Kale and Kitchen Sink Hash adapted generously from 'Simply in Season'
serves 4

6 - 7 small/med potatoes quartered or 'sixed'
1 onion or 3 spring onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
5 cups kale, coarsely chopped
1 lb sausage, cooked and coarsely chopped
1 boullion cube
1 tbsp grainy mustard
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper sauce or 1/4 tsp cayenne
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

Place potatoes in a pot and fill with water just until the potatoes are barely covered.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 7 - 8 minutes.  Drain but reserve about 1/4 of potato water.
Combine the reserved potato water, bouillon cube, mustard, maple syrup and Worcestershire sauce together.  Whisk until completely mixed and incorporated into a sauce.  Set aside.
Heat a large pot or wok over medium heat.  Add a couple of tbsp of your choice of oil.  Throw in the onion and garlic.  Cook together for about 2 - 3 minutes or until the onion is just starting to show signs of becoming soft.  Add in the kale and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly so the kale doesn't get stuck or burn - turn down the heat a little if necessary.  The kale should just be starting to wilt.  Add in the cooked potato and chopped sausage.  Mix well.
Turn the heat down a little more and toss in the bouillon/mustard mixture.  Stir everything until it's all coated with the sauce.  Cook for another 5 minutes or so over low heat.

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake... with Red Fife and Pear.

D just sent me (and posted on FB) this Guardian article about why our food is making us fat.  If you decide to read this article - which, after reading a few books on the subject myself, I found well researched and explained - please note that a st (or stone) is equal to 16 lbs or so here in North America.

Of course I've read about HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) before.  Of course it's adverse side effects are hotly debated.  Of course the salt content of our food is also an important issue.  Of course it all seems ridiculous that the food industry could be so corrupt.  And yet, of course,  it all makes a lot of sense.  And the whole thing just makes me really really angry.

I mostly feel angry that we've allowed ourselves to get 'led down the garden path' with regards to the food that keeps us alive.  Sure, a lot of the decision making has been covert and crucial information glossed over.  But it honestly isn't that hard to figure out that things aren't working.  That all of this 'low fat' stuff is too good to be true.  That when we can't even pronounce what our food ingredients are then there might just be a big hole that large corporations have worked to their own advantage.  I remember going to the grocery store to buy soft drinks for some party of other (and it wasn't that long ago - we haven't had those drinks around much at all) and being amazed at how cheaply the stuff was being sold.  I remember it disturbing me that something so obviously bad for you was so cheap.  (remember:  I was buying the stuff myself)

I'm also amazed that so many of us truly believe that cooking food from scratch is difficult and too time consuming.  Often when I get a little deeper into conversation I discover that cooking from scratch hasn't really been given a fair chance... mostly because a lot of people have no clue where to start.  Somehow the message that it will take a long time to cut up some onion, carrots and broccoli has been swallowed hook line and sinker.  We've given up to a certain extent.
There have been lots and lots of people out there saying that living this way is bad for us.  That red meat isn't the root of all evil and that lard won't kill you on the spot.  The problem is we just haven't been listening.  We've been busy... eating low fat yogurt and biscuits with 'Omega 3' infused margarine.  I've become more and more convinced that the last place I want to buy my food is a grocery store and reading articles like this one just reenforce that resolve.  I don't care if it's subversive or not.  It makes me feel more human.  I'm less and less embarrassed to admit to people that I eat bacon and that I save the bacon fat and cook with it.  I believe it's called 'rendering the lard' or something fancy like that.  It's been a revelation to me that beets actually taste good and rutabaga can be prepared so that it doesn't make me want to hurl.  That some of our winter root vegetables contain just as much vitamins and nutrients as the summer fruit and vegetables that we import from god-knows-where.  I've learned that canning my own fruits and vegetables isn't hard, it just takes time and some space.

I also believe that sugar isn't evil.  Not when it's used 'properly'... ie. not secretly added to basically everything that I put on my fork.  I use the word 'Properly' here in reference to real sweets.  The stuff that you might have as a little snack or at the end of a meal.  The stuff that's considered a little treat.  This cake uses sugar.  I use fair-trade organic cane sugar which I can get at my local bulk food store.  This cake also uses red fife flour which has been locally milled and farm eggs from my local mennonite store.  But most importantly it features rhubarb.

Sure rhubarb aren't considered the 'superfood' that blueberries or acai berries are but blueberries aren't in season yet and I don't even know where we get acai berries.  Rhubarb is tart and red, and it's this long stick kinda thing that grows in my back yard and it's awesome.  Real food.

Rhubarb Streusel Coffee Cake... with Red Fife and Pear  adapted from 'Canadian Living' Magazine
makes 1 9inch round cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (I use cane sugar here - if you are using granulated sugar than you might want to use just 1 cup of brown sugar instead)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or red fife flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups chopped rhubarb (or 1 cup chopped rhubarb and 1 cup chopped preserved pears... or peaches... or...)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp quick oats
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp (ie. a dash or so) cinnamon

Butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan.  Set aside
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all the topping ingredients and mix.  Set aside.

In a bowl combine both flours, the baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix well and set aside.
In a large bowl beat together the butter and both sugars until well combined and a little fluffy.  Add in the eggs one at a time and continue to beat until each one is fully incorporated and light and fluffy.
Add the flour and milk alternately to the butter mixture beginning and ending with flour.  Mix well after each addition (I only used 3/4 of a cup of buttermilk here because the cake batter looked wet enough to me so use your judgement - if it looks like it will be too wet then add less buttermilk)
Fold in the chopped rhubarb (if you are combining with other fruit like pear or peach then I wouldn't add those in with the rhubarb - I plopped my pears into the bottom of the pan and then added the cake batter over the top of them) and stir just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Spread out evenly.
Sprinkle the topping over the cake batter.
Bake for about 1 hr (1 1/4 hr tops) or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool slightly before cutting.

Potato Quiche Crust and Maple Syrup Salad Dressing.

Where do I begin?  This is a bit of a 'catch-you-up' post.
You ever have that feeling that you remember doing something and just can't remember whether that was yesterday or a week ago (or maybe even a month ago).  Yeah.  That's how I've been living for the last... I'm not sure.
What goes through my head:
'I need to call my parents - when did I last call? - I can't remember, maybe Mother's day - Damn, that was weeks ago - Crap'
'I have to return that phone call - when was that phone call - I'd better check my phone - Jeez, it was 3 weeks ago - heavy sigh'
'I know that my friend is having her going away party soon - she sent me an evite - I'd better check - ok Doof it was yesterday'

I'm not sure how exactly I've managed to get so accomplished at it but it now seems that scattered and frazzled is the new 'normal' for me.  Is this finally 'Soccer Mom' syndrome setting in.  Is it just what happens to women of a particular age.  Should I be asking my Dr why I need to ask my phone to remind me to bring my keys with me each morning.  I would love to hear your suggestions... and please don't be one of those people who sends me this message about how I need to take a month off and go to a spa or something completely beyond the realm of remotely possible.  I guess I want to know if this kind of thing happens to anyone else.  Time gets lost, timelines are fuzzy and remembered details are random events.

In the middle of the kind of week where I dragged my whole family to the wrong soccer field for Kid #2's game - argued about it for a minute, checked my email thanks to my phone, apologized to family, got back in car and drove straight to correct field - I've been living on some things both simple and fantastic.

I made quiche.  Not just any quiche but quiche with a potato crust.

Potato Crust adapted from 'The Moosewood Cookbook'
makes 1 quiche crust

3 cups shredded potato (I used about 6 med/sm potatoes)
1 egg
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tbsp melted butter

Grease or butter a regular sized pie pan.
Preheat oven to about 400 degrees F.
Combine the shredded potato, egg, salt, pepper and melted butter together.  Stir well.  Pour into the greased pie pan.  Using your fingers, spread the potato mixture out evenly over the whole pan and up the sides.
Bake for about 30 minutes.  Brush with a little oil or butter again and bake for another 10 minutes or so.  Remove from oven a cool slightly before adding quiche ingredients.  Done.

...You won't hear me talk much about salad but this dressing has kept my spring greens happy for the last week.  I saw it in one of my BBC magazines and thought I would try it.  Fan-Friggin-tastic.

Grainy Mustard and Maple Syrup dressing adapted from BBC GoodFood magazine

1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp grainy mustard

Combine everything in a bowl and whisk until it's completely combined.  Pour over some greens and freshly sliced radishes (perfect!) and go...

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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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  • Naparima Girls High School 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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