happy anniversary to us!

haven't been able to post for a bit as i was afraid to see if i had completely destroyed my card reader. there was an incident with a leaky takeout box containing pastel de tres leches. if you've never tried it, you should, especially if you love sweet and sticky dairy products. just don't put it in a takeout container and then stick that container in your handbag. which should be obvious, but whatever.

anyway, the black radish recipe i ended up going with was the simplest one: the buttered black radish from israeli kitchen. basically, the recipe is this: slice them up and saute in butter till done. what could go wrong? nothing actually. the kiddo turn up his nose at them, but my brother in law polished off the leftovers and said "what is this stuff? it's good!"

and, as i said, it was our anniversary the other day. the traditional gift for a 7th anniversary is wool.



so sad to hear of the cuts at the nfb.

73 jobs lost, mediatheques closing. all to save less than $7 million, less than a rounding error on the cost of the unnecessary fighter jets we're so keen to purchase.

i worked at the nfb about a decade ago, albeit briefly. due to cost-cutting measures they had not at that time hired anyone on a full-time permanent basis in years - everyone was on contract. the terms of many contracts stipulated that they could only be renewed after a 1-month gap of service (i suppose to prevent any attempt by a contractor to argue that they were a proper employee and deserving of a measure of job security), so although my boss wanted me to stay, and wanted to re-hire me after my gap, i couldn't realistically afford to stay in such a shaky position.

it was a very frugal place to work. i remember once needing a floppy disc (remember those? worth maybe a dollar?), and having to justify my use of it to the office manager before she was willing to unlock the small supplies cabinet. our holiday party was a far cry from the lavish events i attended in the private sector - we all chipped in for pizza and boxed wine, then went out to karaoke at a dive bar. i don't think the nfb contributed a cent. we had a great time though.

i also remember the reactions i got from americans when i tried to explain where i worked. a government agency to produce documentaries and animated shorts? amazing! the universal reaction was that the nfb was one of those things that made canada truly awesome. the dozens of international awards and nominations demonstrate that that view is widely held.

a widely-respected organization that's fiscally prudent - what's not to love? apparently nothing is too good for the flaherty chopping block.


curly-writing cookies

so the kiddo asked me a week or two to show him how to read curly writing. he doesn't entirely understand that it's the same letters written a different way (i.e. he'll see a printed word and say "how do you spell that in curly writing?") but i thought cookies would be a fun way to learn the concept of making a letter out of a single line (or rope of cookie dough). also, cookies.

curly-writing cookies

these are just plain sugar cookies from the much-loved "cake and cooky cookbook" published by family circle 50 or 60 years ago. some are a bit thicker than others, so some needed a bit more baking than others. and someone lost interest in curly writing and just rolled out the dough with his very own rolling pin. they're tasty either way!

kiddo with his milk mustache

he doesn't have his own apron (yet), so he's wearing my old craft smock from when i was his age. my mother made it for me, same dark green as a chalkboard, with white bias trim and my name embroidered on the pocket!

sugar cookies recipe


weekend dinner with family

my cousin was visiting from out of town this weekend, a rare occasion, so i had her over for dinner (much easier to have a leisurely dinner at home - otherwise we sometimes have to make a quick exit due to the kiddo). she has some dietary issues - no wheat, no dairy, and a few other incidentals - so i begand the day by making a gateau a l'ocean and baguettes, and decided on ribs for our main course. yum.

braised ribs with chard

i was intrigued by a few recipes - esp the 48-hour ribs in the washington post, but i didn't have 48 hours. i settled on a recipe from sunday suppers at lucques because it only needed me to get cracking one night ahead.

i made a few changes of course - i don't have quite as many giant pots and pans as a real chef, and so i used less broth and rearranged the cooking just a little bit. also, i replaced the dairy in the potatoes, and added some garlic (which i find goes a long way to make up for the savoury richness that is lost when you take out cream and butter).

and boy were they good! rich, moist, tasty. i am actually thinking about leftovers right now (even though i just had a slice of leftover cake).

ribs marinating

braised beef short ribs with swiss chard - adapted from sunday suppers at lucques

6 beef short ribs, about a pound each
1 tbs plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus 4 whole sprigs thyme
1 tbs black pepper
36 yellow pearl onions
1/2 cup olive oil
1 c diced onion
1/3 c diced carrot
1/3 c diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups ruby port
2 1/2 cups red wine
4 cups beef or veal stock
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bunches swiss chard, center ribs removed, torn in pieces
s & p

mashed potatoes
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
1 1/2 lbs yukon gold potatoes
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 c unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk
1 c margarine

the night before, season the ribs with 1 tbs thyme and black pepper. coat well, all sides. cover and refrigerate. take them out an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. after half an hour, season them on all sides with salt. preheat the oven to 425f. toss the pearl onions with 2 tbs olive oil, 1 tsp thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, and grind on some pepper. spread on a baking sheet and roast 15 minutes, until tender. set aside and turn the oven down to 325f.

onions roasting

heat a braiser over high for 3 minutes. pour in 3 tbs olive oil, and let it get really hot. working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides. take your time with this to get them nicely browned, then remove from the pan and set aside. turn the heat down to medium, and add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. add balsamic, port, and red wine. turn heat up to high and reduce liquid by two-thirds.

browning the ribs

add stock and bring to a boil. return the ribs to the liquid, arranging them in a single layer. liquid should almost cover the ribs; i found it didn't really cover them but was about to overflow the braiser so that was that! tuck parsley around the meat. cover and braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

peeled onions

while that is happening, slip the pearl onions out of their skins, and prepare the potatoes. boil the potatoes in their skins with the garlic for 45 minutes, then when they are cool enough to handle, and slip them out of their skins. push through a ricer together with the garlic. when the meat is almost ready, heat up the almond milk in a small pot. warm up the riced potatoes and stir in the margarine. when it's melted through, stir in the almond milk. season well with salt, and keep warm.

potatoes after ricing

when the three hours are up, take the braiser out of the oven and let rest 10 minutes, and then transfer the ribs to a baking sheet.

this is when you start doing 2 things at once. one:

turn the oven up to 400°F. roast the ribs in the oven for 10 minutes, to brown. strain the broth into a small pot, skim the fat from the top, and reduce it over high heat till nicely thickened. season with a bit of s & p.


heat 3 tbs olive oil in a sauté pan, and toss in the peeled pearl onions. add the chard in batches till it's wilted. season with s & p.

to serve: arrange the chard & onions on a platter, and top with the ribs. pour over some of the sauce, serve the rest in a gravy boat alongside.

ribs in their juice