Quest for the Best Banana Bread – Ontario Style

Like the Falls, our quest keeps on going.

It’s back! Our quest for the best banana bread. This is our sixth installment and we still have a few more recipes to go.  Tonight’s Canadian version was sent to us by A_Boleyn and adapted from Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks. Edna Staebler is a Canadian author, known for a series of cookbooks which are based on Mennonite home cooking from the Waterloo region of Ontario. It only seemed fitting to include this recipe while we’re on our Ontario cooking adventure.

The recipe began in a familiar way. We creamed the shortening, eggs and sugar in a bowl.

My little sous chef was on hand as usual for the banana bread. She’ll be able to make this stuff in her sleep soon! Continue reading

A Little Plate of Sunshine

A carriage ride for our princess A.

We’re now on to our new international cooking destination. Mike is at the helm this time and has selected our neighbor to the north, Canada. Canada is the second largest country in the world, next to Russia, so we’re breaking it into regions and starting with Ontario.

On our epic road trip, we spent about a week in Ontario between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Toronto. One of our favorite days kicked off with a carriage ride through the downtown area of Niagara-on-the-Lake for Miss A, who was turning three the next day. You should have seen her little smile getting to ride in a princess carriage. 🙂

After our ride, the guide recommended a little place, Balzac’s coffee, for coffee, lemonade and in her words, “an amazing lemon tart.” Sold! Miss A and I both decided that we needed lemon tarts. So while dad and Mr. N enjoyed their beverages, Miss A and I gushed over our tarts. I don’t know if it was because I was hungry, that it was vacation or that this was just really that good; but this was the most delicious lemon tart I ever tasted. Even Miss A finished off her entire tart, and that’s saying something. Continue reading

Clamming Up

By Mike
(Kristy is recovering from sending Miss A to her first day of school. No tears from Miss A…and only a few from mom.)

I’ve never been one to kill my dinner, though as regular blog readers know, I’ve made exceptions when it comes to lobster.  However, we also tried two other live shellfish on our trek to Maine last month–steamed mussels (coming soon) and clams.

Live clams are gross.

They have these little finger-shaped things that stick out and sort of flop and leak seawater, and frankly the most accurate and vivid descriptions I can come up with for them aren’t really appropriate for a family blog.  What’s cool, though, is that if you tap the tip of these mouths, they come to life!  They stiffen up, spit water, and contract a little.  Tap them again with just a little bit of pressure and they retract back into the shell.  It took a few minutes of playing around with them to figure out exactly how they worked, but once I got the hang of it, it was fun.  Mr. N especially got a kick out of it, and liked making them squirt water.  The fun outweighs the grossness, and to our friend Kelly over at Inspired Edibles, we hope you have a chance and the fortitude to try cooking live clams on your forthcoming trip to Maine. Continue reading

Bowing Down to the Masters

I’ll spare you the Spice Girls tonight. 😉 That stinkin’ song was stuck in my head for at least 24 hours.

Tonight we’re on to something new; although something that is still often stuck in my head as well. Sushi. I love sushi. This is a relatively new realization for me. I only tried sushi for the first time five years ago. Now I’m officially hooked. Addicted. It’s a must-have at least twice a month for me. It would be more often if it wasn’t for budgets and watching the mercury intake.  After all I don’t want to end up like Jeremy Piven.

So when A_Boleyn suggested we cook recipes from Japan – I knew sushi was going to be on the menu. Mike and I have made sushi the last few years on New Year’s Eve (also Mike’s birthday). After we put the kids to bed, we get cooking and have really enjoyed experimenting with various options. We’re not experts by any means, but that’s part of what makes this so fun for us. We’ve enjoyed some successes and tossed others in the trash – it’s totally trial and error. So after a sushi cooking class this past month, I figured we were ready to give it a go again – with the kids this time. Continue reading

What You Want

The literal translation of Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake is, “what you want” for Okono, and “grilled” or “cooked” for yaki. I wanted to title the post with a play on the Spice Girls song, but Mike’s not a fan. I don’t think I was ever a fan, but I have to admit I know all the words to that song – rightly or wrongly.

As we mentioned last week, the prize winner of Miss A’s giveaway was A_Boleyn with her selection of Japan.  Last week we made a variation of one of A_Boleyn’s recipes for a tonkatsu and donburi. This week, we’re taking a suggestion from Charles over at Five Euro Food. While he wasn’t the winner, he too suggested Japan and offered up his recipe forOkonomiyaki. Thank you Charles! I know many of you know Charles, but for those of you that don’t – make sure to check out his site. His humor, common sense/down-to-earthness (if that’s a word) and clever recipes make him one of my favorites.

We also mentioned last week that outside of sushi, we’d never eaten Japanese cuisine. So when we saw that the Okonomiyaki was a cabbage-based pancake, we weren’t sure what to expect. I have to admit, not being a fan of cabbage, I wasn’t hopeful. We started by slicing a quarter of a red cabbage and one whole onion horizontally and finely. Continue reading

Grill Some Goodness This Weekend

Now that summer is winding down, we have but a short time to get outside and enjoy the pleasant (albeit buggy) evenings before it begins to get too cold, too dark and filled with homework. So before these golden days are past, we thought we’d share a great grilling recipe from our adventures in the good ol’ state of Maine – Grilled Lobsters with Herbed Butter.

We again adapted this recipe from Lobster Rolls & Blueberry Pie by Rebecca Charles and Deborah DiClementi. Can you tell that I couldn’t get enough of this book while we were at the cabin? I think it’s actually the first cookbook that I read cover to cover. It’s full of wonderful family stories about summers spent vacationing on the coast of Maine.

Cooking from this book with my family on vacation somehow made me feel part of something bigger – part of a tradition; and traditions from around the world are, after all, what this whole cooking adventure with the kids is all about. I hope that it’s a way for them to experience old traditions, enjoy new traditions and to learn about the many cultures around the world. After all, food is such a large part of many traditions, making cooking a wonderful way to teach them, learn with them and most importantly spend time with them. Continue reading