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Lemonade from lemons, Bouillabaisse from the open freezer door?

I admit it… I once again left the upright freezer door open. I know, I need to slow down and make sure I shut it without anything hanging off the door to prevent its sealing… I have done it before…and not just once before…  For me this is like blasphemy. Losing food because of bad actions.  One year I had freezer issues 3 times.  First our little 20 year old 2 cubic chest freezer threw in the towel… actually she threw in the motor… and I didn’t open the freezer for probably a week.  By then, I had wine.  I used that particular freezer for fruit and veg. Don’s dad found me crying in the freezer room because we had spent so much time freezer everything and now it was all gone!  I replaced the little one with an upright that has an alarm on it… but that only works if you actually hear the alarm.  At least the next time, I didn’t lose the whole freezer.  Then I left the meat freezer open. It doesn’t have an alarm.  I lost about 1/3 of the meat that time.   Now I don’t cry… I usually just swear and get really mad and stomp around. And vow to not be so careless.

Fast forward to yesterday and the meat freezer had been open overnight.  I have gotten a little smarter, I put things that aren’t as affected by warmth in the areas of the freezer that lose coldness first when the door gets left opened.  Might as well play to my weakness.  Tonite’s dinner was determined then.  My parents are coming over for an Easter meal so now we are having pork blade… it was one of the items that thawed. Actually half of it did.

We were going out last night to friends place for dinner so instead of making this last night, I made the best of the lemons I got handed and today’s lemonade was Bouillabaisse with scallops and shrimps.

Awhile back at the hairdressers I read a magazine that had what sounded like a fabulous recipe for the seafood soup.  I googled it when I got home, made some adjustments and now have a fantastic recipe for Bouillabaisse.  Here is the recipe from the magazine:

  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 900 ml container of chicken broth
  • 236-mL bottle clam juice
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 Spanish or red onion
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 small orange grated rind.
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp each dried thyme leaves and salt
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads,
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1 lb sea or bay scallops
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen large uncooked tiger shrimp
  • 1 cooked lobster

The adjustments that I made are:  I used crab stock because I had some frozen.  I replaced the clam juice and chicken broth with the crab stock.  I used 4 frozen whole tomatoes from last summer’s garden.  I just removed their skins and cut them up a bit. I didn’t have jalapenos, so I used dried chilis.  I had cilantro and forgot to put it in.  I used some shallot and red onion.  I used lots of thyme and twice as much orange rind.  I also only used shrimp and scallops.

Chop the onions and saute in butter.  Meanwhile heat the stock etc, when simmering, add the softened onions and butter. Add everything but the seafood.  Bring to a good simmer and cook for 5 -10 minutes for flavours to blend.  Turn down heat and add seafood.  If using mussels, start by only adding them and cooking until they open.  Then add the rest of the seafood and only cook until opaque.

This will keep in the fridge for 2 days.  It is actually a better dish the next day.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in Food, Recipes

 

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London…food, fun, friends…

The days in London have been just stunning. We arrived on Thurs afternoon to glorious sunshine and unseasonable temperatures. Most of us relate London to London Fog… There is a reason that company chose that name to sell coats!

In all our visits here, we have been very fortunate with the weather. I can count the times that I have had to use an umbrella. Don insists that its the sun that follows us around…

Lucky we had a suitcase full of warm weather wear for our imminent Italy portion of this trip. The best way for us to combat jetlag is to go walking outside during the day and visiting in the evening. The combination of the light and talk therapy does the trick.

As soon as we got here on Thurs, our friends from Reading, Andy and Djura met us at our hotel. The London Grosvenor Square Marriott had once again provided us with a suite and some champagne and red wine, so we met up in our sitting room. My phone had a breakdown so the pictures from the first day are missing….

The next night we met up with Graham and Lucy and hit a great tapas restaurant, Salt Yard. It is such a popular place that we had a set allotted time of 2 hrs, 630 – 830 pm.

Don and I had been there in the past and it was even better this time. We stopped in at a pub on both ends of the visit and then saw Graham and Lucy off on the train to their home in Faversham.

Graham has just started a food blog himself so in the future we will be swapping ideas and recipes. Looking forward to staying in touch over the miles in all things related to food and travel.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device in Europe

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in Food, From the Travel Files

 

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From the travel files…Paris in the Springtime…oops I mean November

It all started in 2005…  My husband and I, who travel frequently, could not agree on going to Paris.  I was interested and he was not.  So around my 38th birthday, while chatting with my world-traveller friend, Steffany, we devised a plan to go for my 40th  birthday.    She went as far as suggesting we try it in November,  6 months after my birthday, but what the heck, I could celebrate the milestone all year long if necessary.

A year before the trip, we cashed in some points and booked business class flights to Paris.  3 months out, we started researching hotels.  As the day drew closer, we almost couldn’t make it happen due to conflicting schedules, but somehow we made it work and on November 10th we were flying across the pond ensconced in our own little beds on Air Canada.

Upon arrival at Charles De Gaulle, we groggily stumbled into the baggage area,  here we just stood and laughed.  Here at a world class location, there was about 4 feet of space between the row of carts and the baggage carousel.  It was quite a sight, with everyone contending for their opportunity to hoist their oversized bags onto carts.  We just waited out the chaos.  I guess there is no need to upgrade it as people will wait for their luggage regardless of how long and arduous the process is.

Our schedule was as such: 3 days in Paris, 2 days in the country, 3 days back in Paris.  We had booked a 3

Champs Elysees

star hotel to start, 2 star in country, 5 star on the return Paris trip.   We got 2 out of 3 right.  We stayed in the Opera district both visits to Paris.  We spent 2 nights in the Loire Valley, supposedly a 2 hr trip from Paris (more on that later).

Our 3 star hotel was fabulous.  Great location, spacious room, thick towels, washcloths, superb front desk staff.

3 star Paris hotel

One employee informed us that 2 star was all that was required when traveling to the country.  We were happy, we were lucking out with our hotel choices.  You only need a 2 star in the country because the rating system will not bump you into a higher category unless you all the criteria.  You could have 5 star accommodations, but if you do not have, for instance, say bathrobes, you would

2 star Country Inn...with a sitting area

still be a 2 star.  This is valuable information to know when arranging your own accommodations.

As our first 3 Paris days drew to a close, we found out that a Metro strike was scheduled for the next day.   At the time we had no concept of the impact that a Metro strike would have on us.  Good thing we had booked a car.

Good thing we had booked a car…. that was actually there.  A Metro strike in Paris means, that there are no rental cars, no taxi cabs, a zillion bicycles, a million motorcycles and 5 times the amount of cars on the roads than a normal day.  So the car we booked was not there, but a nice manual transmission Passat station wagon was.  So after 15 years of not driving a stick shift, I drove up out of the parkade and onto the streets of Paris to exit the city… or at least try.

A metro strike means that there are protests and blockades throughout the major routes.  A metro strike means that you sit still for ½ hour at a time.  A metro strike to me, meant driving in the bus lane.  My reasoning was that with no busses running, who would be in the bus lane?  We were lucky,  we did not get a ticket, but meant just being in the right place at the right time.  After an hour and a half, we found the peripherique(ring road) and eventually the toll highway and left the city and the strike behind us.  We were more than happy to pay the 17 Euro to drive on the high speed motor way (140 km/hr was slow!).

5 star meal (Loire Valley)

The Loire Valley was surreal.

 We stayed at a small Auberge (Inn)

The Auberge in Limeray

that had a 5 star restaurant.  4 courses for 23 Euro.  Considering that in Paris, a glass of wine at the George V is 23 Euro, this is great value.  Satiated we wandered to our spacious room for a very quiet, restful, country sleep.  The next day we drove 150 km around the Valley, taking in the scenery, the wineries and the wine caves

Wine cave

(wholesalers who store and sell the wines for the wineries).   We had booked both nights at the Inn’s restaurant due to its high ratings, and so after a nice afternoon nap, a bottle of local red, another gourmet feast awaited.

The Paris metro strike was supposed to last 2 days but in fact, it lasted 10 days.  So our plans were changed.  Upon returning to the city, after another harrowing experience getting to our new hotel, we found out the computerized underground trains were running,  or should I say, train.  Number 14 train was running.  For some entertainment, there are some youtube clips that show trying to get on these trains.  They are accurate, it gives new meaning to the word sardine.

We spent the last 3 days at a posh, 5 star hotel.  Don’t bother, would be our recommendation.  The staff is more likely to be snooty, the hotel old, the drinks expensive.  One redeeming quality was the location, good if you have to walk, which we did.  The weather had taken a turn for the worse, so our planned site seeing took

5 star Paris room

the back seat and we spent more time shopping and wandering around our local area.  Galleries Lafayette and Le Printemps are great department stores in Paris.  We had no trouble filling our time with shopping, eating and drinking wine.

The one last bit of excitement for this story happened on our departure day.  We had pre-booked a shuttle service to return to the airport. This is recommended because sometimes it is very hard to get a taxi and when you do, you have to pay from where it is hailed. So if the taxi has to drive 10 minutes to pick you up, you pay

sitting in the cab going to the airport

from that point.  We confirmed the pick up the day before but the morning of, at 8 am, the shuttle company phoned and cancelled our ride.  It took 45 minutes for the bellman running up and down the street to get a taxi  (at a 5 star hotel) and once again a 90 minute journey to exit the city with long bouts of just sitting and not moving at all.

We did make our flight, we had left ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport, our intention had been to get to the airport early, sit in the business lounge and reflect on the week over some lovely French wine.  The only change was that we reflected once in the air instead of on the ground.

We had quite a trip, laden with our purchases, fully bellies, and joie de vivre.  We both lost some weight due to all the walking.  We were both elated and amazed,  so maybe it is true that French women don’t get fat.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in From the Travel Files

 

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