A tattoo is something permanent when you’ve made a self-discovery, or something you’ve come to a conclusion about. – Angelina Jolie

Going to do a few entries today, bring everything up to date. I’ve had houseguests and a change of employment status so my updating has been slack, but rest assured, I am back in the command chair and ready to blog!

As you can gather by the title of this entry (Don’t worry, there will probably never be another one from Angelina), if they ever had any relation to the post, it has to do with a tattoo. I got my 4th two weeks ago today and it has almost healed.

This is the quickest turn around time from getting the idea to getting it in ink. I’ll post all the pics then explain the meaning behind it.

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Design.

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The last time this arm will ever be bare.

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Stencil.

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Outline.

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Finished Product.

Explanation.

When talking with Marc Wright, my amazing artist, it started out as an owl with a frying pan, then became an owl sitting on a rack of pots and pans, like you would see over an island in a kitchen. The pots and pans were then switched out for forks and spoons. Then Marc came up with the final suggestion that was perfect.

My dad’s favorite animal is an owl, my mom is/was always in the kitchen cooking and has all these wooden utensils. Owls also symbolize knowledge and they both taught me how to cook, and so many other things about life and family….they’re also occasionally perched looking over my shoulder =P

To avoid crazy long posts, I’m going to keep this one tattoo centric and keep the food posts to the following two.

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Considering I told everyone I would update with more fun stuff yesterday, I felt that today was a good day to do it. Not that I thought it would be a good laugh to get all your hopes up, but yesterday was my dad’s birthday and it was a jam packed day of running around and cooking.

In an effort not to forget things, I’m going to jump back to where my last post and move forward. That means you’ll have to read all about it before you find out the AWESOME gift I got for my dad. I mean, you could just scroll to the end, but then you’d be cheating yourself out of a good read now, wouldn’t you?

I had gotten up much earlier than my other cohorts, so I was chatting with Josh and Emily (@JoshLyonsPhotos & @Emily_Ellyn on Twitter) about food, and Josh’s band Fell on Deaf Ears (definitely suggest checking them out!)

Emily had posted a photo of some amazing cupcake on Facebook andwhen I shared it, Sara, my houseguest, commented that we should have cupcakes for breakfast, then she came upstairs. My brain immediately started working and within a few minutes I had a recipe MOSTLY figured out in my head. I told Sara that her wish was granted and we’d be making Breakfast Cupcakes.

The Good Stuff

  • asparagus, cooked (follow recipe below)
  • leftover Make Ahead Potato, or some sort of potato (hashbrowns, mashed, fried)
  • 7-8 eggs depending on how many other ingredients make it into the muffin tins
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 coloured pepper
  • 1-3 stalks of green onion
  • Daiya dairy free cheese
  • Sea Salt and Herbs

So, the asparagus (pronounced Ass-Par-Agus forevermore, due to Sam’s dad). I have a very simple method and it turns out consistently tasty. set the oven to 400, lay the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil being a bit more generous in coating the tip (adds awesome crunch) and sprinkle some sea salt and pepper. I prefer using a coarse grinder for both S & P as I find it kicks up the taste a bit. Then it’s just a simple 15 minutes in the oven and you are off to the races.

This is a fairly simple recipe and great for making while still half asleep or while the coffee you’re drinking works its way into your blood stream.

the onion and peppers get a quick fry in a pan with some olive oil. Leave the green onions aside as they have more flavour going in raw.

The potato goes into the muffin tin first, to cover maybe 1/4 of the tin. Once again, the Make Ahead potatoes from the previous post work splendidly as a base and depending on the size of the group you served with it initially.

cut the asparagus halfway up the stalk and stick it in the middle of the potato so the tip sticks out like a flagpole once everything is added into the tin. You may need to poke a hole in the potato and then fill it back in around the asparagus.

The eggs and fried veg mixture can be mixed together in a bowl and poured into the tins evenly. Then sprinkle the green onion and cheese over top of each one and it’s into the oven at 350 for about 20-30 minutes.

it should end up looking something like this:

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Sam missed out on the initial creation and consumption as she was working. Once we did the dishes, we took the leftovers to her, which means we each had three AND all the asparagus we had left over. good hearty breakfast.

The downside to missing a few days of blogging is the events in between photos becomes a bit blurry….OH! Nevermind, I remember.

I could delete the above sentence, but then you may feel less involved in the process, and we can’t have that.

Sara, B, and I decided to buy some outdoorsy stuff since we were already at Walmart (Sam works there). We got a football, dog frisbee (they were cheaper), and a bocce ball set. We spent the bulk of the day at the soccer field playing and getting burnt by the giant fiery orb in the sky, all in all a great afternoon.

We got back and it was back into the kitchen for me. Sara had never had poutine before so we had to rectify that. But, as usual, I couldn’t just make a normal poutine, I had to be difficult.

Back on the 30th I attended a Heritage Party that featured all things Canadian, including poutine. Being lactose intolerant, I made my own and enough for others to try, cooked it all, put it in a casserole dish, and covered it with foil. When we got there it was tossed in the fridge and then into the oven when we were ready to eat. What resulted was the recently dubbed Poutinserole.

I replicated it, and I think it’s a keeper.

The Inner Workings

  • Fries
  • Gravy
  • Daiya Dairy Free Cheese
  • Sea Salt & Herbs
  • Ingenuity

with a bit of olive oil in the pan, & the temp low-medium toss in your fries, and once they thaw, throw on the Sea Salt & Herbs. keep frying them until they get a bit crispy, or your desired fry texture. In a pot bring whatever gravy you’re using to temperature (I used a can of mushroom gravy, which was excellent). Combine the gravy and fries in a casserole dish and then mix in the cheese. Make sure everything is mixed well, then cover the dish with foil and, as per usual 350 for about 18-20 minutes. You’re not cooking anything, you’re basically making it more awesome.

I’m giving you fair warning, Poutinserole is not photogenic, but tastes excellent.

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Baking allows it to be cut into squares and, if you wish, you can add some more gravy drizzled over top.

Given that we did a lot of running and jumping and such we were quite hungry and the Poutinserole takes some doing. As such I had an appetizer in mind that doesn’t take too long to throw together, but tastes like a lot of work went into it.

The Essentials

  • Shrimp (cooked and deveined)
  • Sea Salt & Herbs
  • Margarine
  • Garlic or Garlic powder (Not Garlic salt)

In a pan, toss in some olive oil on low-medium and once that heats up a bit toss in your shrimp, and once those get comfortable, hit them with a healthy dose of Sea Salt & Herbs, and keep them going on a low-medium temp.

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While they’re in the pan, mix your margarine (or butter if you prefer) with either minced garlic or powder and melt it down, either in a small pot, or microwave (which we opted for). Once it’s liquid pour it over the shrimp and keep tossing it in the pan until they are completely coated.

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Once they get a good coat of garlic butter, plate them and enjoy. Make sure you also have a little bowl of plate for the tails.

The reason for keeping it at a low temp is that these lovelies are already cooked and you are basically heating them up and locking in the flavours you have added.

This is where there I take a bit of a break from cooking as there wasn’t much time, we did a whole lot of running around those few days. Not only that but Sara made us an excellent breakfast one morning and gave me time to get some work done.

You’ll have to ask her what all went into it, but it tasted so friggin’ good!

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What I do know is that the sourdough had some becel underneath a heaping spread of homemade strawberry freezer jam my mother had whipped up the day before.

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Should last us a few days 😉

During the time away from the kitchen we went to Peggy’s Cove

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I get my picture taken with this sign each and every time I go to Peggy’s Cove

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spent another day at the field playing with our new toys, Sam was able to come this time.

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Sam had to go to work, and we three that remained were way to hot to cook so we went to Waves. We ordered Sweet Potato Fries and Chipotle Mayo to start and I got the same thing I get every time. Chicken Clubhouse without cheese or bacon.

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Waves has the best fries in town, and their sweet potato fries are no exception.

The following day the 4 of us were up early and off to Halifax, Sam and I played tour guide as we hit up the essential shops on Barrington. Renaissance (they sell Chucks), Rock Candy (Rock shop that I can never leave without buying something, Freak Lunchbox (candy store to end all candy stores), & Oddjects (wacky fun shop that can’t be explained unless you visit).

Dad’s birthday was yesterday and I KNEW I could find him something at Rock Candy. For a while, each gift giving event I would give him a Beatle’s CD, then I shot myself in the foot, gave him the gift of all gifts and presented him with the entire Beatles collection in stereo that they released a few years back. Ever since I try to find unique and inventive gifts, sometimes thinking very far outside of the box.

Normally any time you find something related to The Beatles and there are four of them, it’s very simply one for each member of the band. I found a set of four pint glasses with that exact motif, and it just didn’t do it for me. I thought it was too predictable and something I could have picked up anywhere with little to no effort and that, does not, a good gift make. One the other side of the store, under a Misfits alarm clock, I found THE gift. Again a set of four pint glasses, but instead of each being the face of one of the members, each was a different album cover. It was perfect, Beatles related, yet not something you could find anywhere, it was a treasure and would go splendidly with his Jimi Hendrix coffee mug.

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I also got him a M*A*S*H 4077th keychain, because we used to watch it together all the time when I was growing up.

Next we went to Oddjects and I found this black and white polka dot cookie jar that stood on four legs with green and orange leggings and little black boots/shoes with a tag reading $15. I couldn’t see a matching lid anywhere and assumed that was why it was cheaper. Now, my mother has a rather odd cake plate that this would compliment, it was originally given to her as a gag gift and she uses it proudly. As such, I knew the cookie jar was perfect. When I took it to the counter the lady told me it had a lid, I told her I must have missed it. When she went and got it for me, I knew why I missed the lid… It doesn’t match at all, it’s like two different people made the two halves….it’s AWESOME.

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Is this not the best cookie jar you have ever seen?!?!?!!

If you have a better one than this, please post a pic in the comments.

Dad loved the birthday gifts and mom loved the cookie jar and couldn’t stop laughing.

Yesterday was Dad’s birthday, we did it, we made it to yesterday!

We didn’t do much during the day, went downtown, talked to Marc, our tattoo artist. Sam, B, and I made an appointment for Monday (pics to come). Then we went to get donairs, Sam and I told B and Sara that they HAD to get a proper donair while they were here. In Vancouver we never could find one that tasted as good as they do here, with real donair sauce.

I can’t eat them anymore because of IBS and I’ve yet to try to make a Tony Friendly version, but I’m sure it will come.

When we got back from getting donairs I had to start making dinner. It can take a bit of time, but the result is well worth it.

I call them Loaded Chicken Burgers, and they are aptly named.

Components

  • chicken bacon, 7-8 strips diced
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 3/4 a good sized harder apple (not a mac), cubed
  •  3-4 stalks of green onion
  • 2 lbs extra lean ground chicken
  • Daiya dairy free cheese
  • several splashes of italian dressing
  • 2 eggs
  • stove top stuffing
  • cayenne
  • Sea Salt & Herbs
  • 5-6 mushrooms can also be added, we kept them out as Sara’s not a fan

You’ll need two pans for this one. Olive oil in both, low-medium temp, in one pan put the diced chicken bacon and cover the pan with foil. In the other add the onion, pepper, and apple (once again leaving out the green onion).

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Stir both occasionally and cook them down. You’ll be able to tell that both are done when the bacon starts to crisp (chicken bacon is already cooked when you get it) and the apples will still have a bit of crunch to them. The reason for that is the stove top stuffing will steal some of the juice from the burger, and the apple gives it back as it cooks down inside.

Mix the bacon with the veggies and set aside to cool down. In a good sized bowl, add the chicken and green onion, then toss in your veggies and bacon. Get right in there and knead it with your hands, have to make sure its blended well. Afterwards, put the cheese in, followed by the stove top, mix thoroughly, then add the Italian dressing and one egg. Knead again and form a patty freehand. If it looks like it may fall apart as it cooks, add the other egg. Providing it looks solid, don’t bother with the second egg. Sprinkle on the cayenne and Sea Salt & Herbs liberally as it has to reach its way through all the meat.

If you have a burger press, then that’s great and if not, simply eyeball them to the size you’d like.

I have a press and this made 20 1/4 pound burgers.

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Cooking method is up to you as well, it was a beautiful day so we BBQ’d. If the weather isn’t in your favor they fry up really well in a pan.

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That’s it folks, we have reached the end. I hope you all enjoyed our trip through the past couple of days in the kitchen and beyond. Let me know how you like the recipes.

In closing, This is the Sea Salt & Herbs I keep talking about.

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A father is someone who carries pictures where his money used to be.

I’m back! I didn’t forget about all you lovely faces I’ve yet to see, and some I have!

Father’s Day took roughly three days to plan, since Sam and I thought we’d be in Vegas. I must say, I’m honestly kind of glad it fell through because Father’s Day could not have gone any better. But I’m getting ahead of myself, Saturday came before Sunday, and that was a lot of fun too.

Our town has a Farmer’s Market, and I have a friend who plays music, when you add those together I had a friend who was going to be playing music at the town’s Farmer’s Market which meant I was going and so was Sam.

Patrick Thompson is a VERY good musician and one hell of a nice guy, I met him through a coffee house I hosted and he has been incredibly supportive and gung ho about the other events I’m working on within the town, which include a bi-weekly or monthly coffee house and a few top secret projects (deets to come). To the best of my knowledge he doesn’t have a music site, but this is his facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/patrick.thompson.144 His CDs are $10 and while there may be only 5 songs I haven’t taken it out of the stereo and they are all originals.

We didn’t go to the market alone, oh no, we brought one of our nearest and dearest, Ms. Brittany Francis, or B-Fran as I like to call her. She is an absolute gem and a recent culinary arts grad. We picked her up around 10AM, drove back into town, stopped at the parkade and walked the rest of the way (lots of walking Saturday) Apart from Patrick’s CD, I didn’t spend too much money, I bought some AWESOME homemade granola bars and some really awesome mint lemonade, heavier on the mint than the lemonade as they grow their own.

A lot of networking was done for the aforementioned top secret events, and I will be teaming up with B-Fran for some culinary expressionism for one of them. =)

Speaking of culinary, while intimidated, I like cooking for B-Fran because she is always cooking and its nice to give her a break. When we got back to my house I made the Any Meal Cassurreal (what I’ve decided to call it from here on out) that I posted in a past entry

MEMORY JOGGERNAUT

I used Sourdough for the bread this time around and I feel that it worked much better. It was a huge hit, and she wanted the recipe. I, of course, directed her here.

For Mother’s Day, Sam and I cooked for my mom, her mom, Nancy (back up mom) and Sam’s grandmother and the men were sent to Sam’s to fend for themselves (they didn’t make food, just drank rum and coke). But we ended up making the dessert while they ate their main, which stressed us out a bit. We wanted to make the dessert beforehand this time, we also wanted to make “Manly Cupcakes” so Saturday night we made Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with a Rum Buttercream Icing for…

FATHER’S DAY!!!!

psssssst, the one with the tie

Pete, Sam’s dad

True to form, I’d yet to get a card for either my dad or Sam’s and the presents we had got for them were still in transit as we were late to order them online, best children ever, so we hit the ground running once we rolled out of bed. We decided we needed to get them something that we could give at dinner along with the cards we were going to get. We got all the gifts no problem, the dads loved them, but the cards were a bit more difficult. Having done the same thing on Mother’s Day you’d think I would have learned and planned ahead, but if you know me at all, you know that I would do no such thing. We went to the Mall, we thought we’d have to fight off hordes of people to get good cards, but the mall was fairly empty. I was surprised, we were the only two in the card store, I don’t know if people are just better prepared for Dad Day because Mother’s Day comes first, or if dads are just more lackadaisical about the whole ordeal so people don’t put forth as much effort.

Regardless.

Sam and I spent a good 30-45 minutes looking through all the cards to get the perfect ones for our dads and dads-to-be. On that note, there are no damn Father-In-Law cards! Trust me, we looked, not even any backers for where they would be! They have Daddy from Daughter, Daddy from Younger Daughter, I’m sure they probably have Daddy from child who just discovered they were their own father. But not one single frigging Father-In-Law card. That meant trying to find cards that were Father’s Day cards without saying “To My Father” which is no easy task. We finally found the right ones, and stocked up for Sam’s mom’s b-day and my Dad’s  (July 15th and 12th respectively). Oddly enough I ended up with a Dad thank You card for my dad, but it was perfectly written for the relationship we have so I couldn’t pass it up.

The card store’s debit machine was on the fritz so we were there for a good chunk of time talking to the lady behind the counter about the dinner we were making, the dessert we had made, and what we had done for Mother’s Day. After she suggested that we should open our own restaurant, do catering, or come to her house anytime we want to cook but aren’t hungry, the machine came back online and we paid. As we were leaving she said  “just remember, 221B Baker st” (not her real address), waved, and went about her business.

We came back to mine and got all the groceries ready to go to Sam’s and cook, the dads decided we should do a big family meal rather than just them and have the moms go do something else. We had made enough cupcakes so that I could take some to the meeting I couldn’t attend due to cooking, so Sam iced those whilst I got my soapy soap on, showered, so I was presentable for the upcoming event. We decided to take two cupcakes to Anne, the lady from the card store, since we knew her address and figured she’d appreciate it. As fate would have it, we had found her street two nights prior while out for our nightly stroll.

She was elated to receive them as she was obviously not expecting us to show up, cupcakes in hand.

Everyone at the meeting seemed to appreciate them as well and Jason went so far as to describe them as “individual servings of life-changing deliciousness.”

The recipe was also requested, so at the bottom of this entry I’ll post the recipe to both the chocolate Guinness Cupcakes and the Rum Buttercream icing.

Supper was a rather grand affair, Pete, Sam’s dad, had been requesting that Lisa make tacos for at least the past month, so that was of course what was on the menu. We used extra lean ground chicken as the meat, and opted for soft tacos rather than hard shelled. He was also very happy to find out that if he buys “healthy stuffs” she’ll make him tacos.

Given that both Lisa and I are lactose intolerant we had all the usual topping choices, lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, cheese, sour cream, plus Daiya cheese, and lactose free sour cream.

My mother and I share the curse of IBS and she can’t eat tacos so we made miniature versions of what we made for Mother’s Day, which were essentially mini shepard’s pie in muffin tins.

*this is where the picture would go, but I don’t have one*

Don’t they look good!?

We also cooked up a crap load of asparagus as everyone in the family loves it.

They seem to love mine and my father’s cooking method which is very simple, but has excellent and consistent results.

spread asparagus on baking sheet.

drizzle with olive oil, making sure to cover the tips as they’ll provide the best crunch.

sprinke with cracked black pepper and sea salt.

cook at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

devour.

The night was topped off by three rounds of washer toss, which Sam and I lost to our dads, and everyone sitting around the fire talking until almost 11.

All in all a good night and a great day.

And the Icing

Word to the wise, keep the icing refrigerated until use, the rum will melt the icing when it’s at room temperature.

Enjoy and most importantly, don’t cupcake and drive.