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I don’t know where I learned to do this. I swear it was something I watched Jamie Oliver do, but upon searching my books and the net for some kind of proof – none was to be found. So now I will take full credit for this stunningly simple but amazing side dish. If you don’t have a microwave, bake them in the oven like normal. Still simple, just takes longer.

This was a part of my Saturday cooking demos at Cardamom and Cloves. So if you’d ever like to try a bit of what I’m making, or just want to watch what boils down to live Food Network, minus celebrity chefs plus me – come down to 440 Preston Street in Ottawa at 11 am any Saturday and enjoy!

Sweet potato

Smoked Spicy Sweet Potato Mash

Serves 2-4 as a side dish, or just me as a main because making other food seemed like too much work.

Ingredients
One lemon cut in half
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in half
2 TBSP olive oil or butter
1.5 TBSP smoked Spanish paprika
Fleur de Hell salt
Smoky Don Smoked pepper

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In a microwave safe bowl, arrange sweet potatoes and lemon halves. Sprinkle with a good pinch smoked pepper and wrap in two layers of plastic wrap. Cook in your microwave on high for 10 minutes.

When you remove the bowl from the microwave, poke with a knife or fork to allow steam to escape. Be careful, it’s hot! Remove plastic wrap and lemons and toss. Add olive oil or butter, and paprika and mash. This will probably be super easy at this point. If it’s not, re-wrap and microwave another 3-4 minutes.

Once mashed and mixed with spice – top with a nice pinch of spicy Fleur de Hell sea salt. Serve right away!

Everyone likes baked goods – my pup is no exception. So when I got the chance to buy a tub of cookie dough to support a dog rescue, I was all in! But they only have a few ingredients and since then I’ve gone ahead and made my own from scratch featuring my dog’s all time favourite… peanut butter. Best part is… they are so cheap compared to the all natural dog treats at the store.

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Here is the recipe below – Lemon tested and Lemon approved!

Ingredients
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1 cup peanut butter (whatever you have at home… I usually have the low fat creamy stuff, but I’m sure chunky would work too)
1 cup low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Stir in milk, mix. Next add peanut butter. Mix well.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out shapes. Or roll into small dime sized balls and press down with your thumb on the cookie sheet for training sized treats. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

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The other day I watched a documentary called DIVE! About dumpster divers and food waste in the United States. Here is the trailer –

 

I know it happens, but I’m still shocked at the amount of food waste in our world. With so many hungry people, it just seems unthinkable that we are tossing perfectly edible food. This is a really good look at exactly what dumpster diving is all about, or the Freegan movement (Freegan – a person who rejects consumerism and seeks to help the environment by reducing waste, especially by retrieving and using discarded food and other goods.)

But I still can’t get my head around eating food that has been in a dumpster. Once it’s in there, it’s trash. I mean, you have no idea why it is in there in the first place. I’m sure you can guess – but do you know the real reason?? And who knows how long that meat has been sitting there. Guesses are great, and if you cook it to the right temperature you are most likely getting rid of MOST of the food born illness possibilities.

Every time I think about dumpster diving all I can think about is this sketch from Portlandia:

 

My solution – let’s not put it in the trash! If you have  that much food, let’s give it away. Shelters and loads of hungry people would be thrilled to get food that is a day before it’s “Best Before Date” … not inedible. Nothing wrong, just not the quality that the store is willing to sell. Honestly, I’m willing to eat any of it… until the moment it gets put in the dumpster. Then the idea of it makes my stomach cringe with worry of potential parasites.

I guess it all comes down to this scenario. You see an éclair with a bite taken out of it sitting on a piece of paper in the garbage can on top of a stack of newspapers. Do you eat it?? George C0stanza would. But I think I’ll pass.

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I love these new food trucks. I know a few people think of them as a fad that will eventually pass, but I think there is something to be said for being able to get really great food on the go for a price that equals or is lower than some fast food chains. Because, let’s face it, if there is anything I am it’s in a rush, hungry and broke.

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On just such an occasion of being hungry, broke with a bazillion things to do, I stopped at Urban Cowboy (Bank Street and Glenn). Being the bad vegetarian I am, I had already decided that there was no way there was going to be a veggie option at a Texas street food truck. WRONG. They may not have many options (most days there are 3 entrees and 2 sides to pick from) but there is usually one veggie! And one fish, if you are one of those I don’t eat meat but I eat fish kinda folks.

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Not just any fish either… but Ocean Wise certified fish. Yep. Even this food truck does it’s best to make sure that any seafood you are putting in your gob has been sustainably fished so that there will be even more tastiness for years to come.

I tried the Portobello mushroom sandwich – BBQ sauce and goats cheese were a super delish combo. But the star of the show wasn’t even something I ordered. By some fluke, I ended up with sweet potato fries instead of the grilled corn side dish I had asked for. But again, hungry and in a rush I didn’t mind. It’s like someone saying – oh we’re out of salad… can I give you a chocolate bar?? The answer is always “Yes, hell yes!! Gimmie Gimmie!!!”

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And I’m telling you… BEST. Sweet potato fries in Ottawa. Maybe the world. My exhaustive search of the word’s sweet potato fries is still ongoing.

Why are they so good. The answer is three fold.

1. They are wedges… not matchsticks. So when you bite in you actually feel like you are eating a sweet potato not just something vaguely sweet with a delightful fried crunch. For a moment I actually felt healthy eating fries. Not something easily accomplished.

2. They are tempura battered so they have the most amazing crunch. Each and every fry.

3. The dipping sauce is so good I would bathe in it. Seriously… or at the very least happily put it on every other food in the world from now on.

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So if you find yourself on Bank and Glenn can I kindly ask you to grab me an order of fries. Extra sauce. Thanks.

 

Here is something you may not know about me, internet friends. When I am left alone to eat – it is disgusting. I eat quickly. And messily. Like a dog trying to scarf down something dead and decaying it found in a bush before you can get it out of his mouth. (That may have happened while walking Lemon one day… was my birthday last year if I remember correctly. Little guy just trying to get me a gift.)

I simply do not eat food when there is no one around to judge me. Half of me attempts to inhale large portions at once… while the other tries to absorb food that has landed on my face, neck, legs and hands through the skin. All the while just taking shots of the condiments straight from the container. I tell ya… there is something about soya sauce straight from the bottle.

It is quite a sight.

So believe me when I tell you that I’m practiced with the art of stain removal.

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I’m going to go ahead and guess melted butter from popc… no, no! A Bagel!

Here are a few things I’ve learned about how to get out tough stains.

1 – The sooner you realize that you have salsa all down the front of your dress, the better. Try to get to it as quickly as possible. If you don’t carry those little tide pens, try to keep the stain wet. It’s harder to get to once it sets. Should it dry, scrape off what you can before starting to clean.

2 – Pick the right drying method. After you wash the stained clothing, make sure you check the stain before you dry it. A drier, it can cause the stain to set, but if you put a little white vinegar or lemon juice on it and dry the item in direct sunlight it can cause it to fade. Keep in mind, fading might not be what you want with a dark coloured pair of jeans. At the very least, give it one more go with a stain fighter and some extra detergent before drying it.

3 – Dish soap does wonders for grease spots. Little melted butter or olive oil doesn’t stand a chance with a bit of dishwashing liquid. I have used it as a pre-treater before throwing the clothes in the washer, have also used it to spot clean my shirt. Depends which meal I have just dribbled down the front of my shirt and how much time I have to change.

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So happy it is clean again! Heaven forbid I have to start wearing a bib.

4 – Do not use soap on sticky fruit stains. It can actually do more harm than good. In this case look for detergent, an enzyme presoak product is perfect in the warmest water approved for the type of fabric. If you don’t get all the sugar out, it can leave a brown stain as it caramelizes with the heat from an iron or the drier.

5 – For tomato based sauce stains (pretty much 75% of my stains), soak in cool water with 1/2 tsp dishwashing liquid and 1 TBSP vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse. If it is still there rub a little bit of laundry detergent on the spot and let sit for 10 minutes before throwing it in with the rest of your laundry.

Which food stain gives you the most trouble?

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It has been a long time since I have been a devoted subscriber to a magazine. Sure I buy them every now and then, but to trust that each month’s articles are going to be worthwhile… not since I was 10 with my National Geographic for Kids. Which, by the way, I’m still kind of bummed that I tossed out. Especially the month about optical illusions.

But in July I picked up a copy of Food and Wine in a doctor’s office. When I found myself wondering if anyone would miss it if it fell into my bad, I decided a subscription was in order.

It was great! And it actually inspired me to make these little babies. Apparently the future of steaks, is vegetable steaks. According to chef Joshua Lawler from The Farm and Fisherman in Phili, “Steak is boring, vegetable steak isn’t”.

It had never actually entered into my head to slice a thick piece of cauliflower, marinade and grill it like a steak. Not once. But I knew after reading about it that I had to try it.

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Also, I had for some reason thought I was going to eat a head of cauliflower all by myself and was quickly reminded how much that actually is to a person on their own.

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks
Makes one steak

1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBSP red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp finely chopped capers
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper
1 inch slice of Cauliflower, as if you were cutting a piece of bread from a round loaf

Season the cauliflower with salt and pepper as you would a piece of meat.

Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and pour over cauliflower steak. Allow to marinade for at least an hour.

Grill on medium heat, 5 minutes aside until desired consistency. Enjoy!

I love meeting friends for after work drinks. Who doesn’t really? But in the winter, when the sun is setting at 4pm and it’s colder than you imagine Siberia on a bad day, it can be hard to do much more than stock up at the LCBO and try to coax your friends to come visit you instead of making you go out. ** Crap my secret is out…**

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BBQ Duck Lettuce Wraps featuring lettuce and pickled radish from Acorn Creek. Veggie option available too with smoked tofu in place of the duck

To make up for it I go out more in the summer. Even in sticky, humid, heat waves like the one we are in right now… the right patio and the right combination of drinks and snacks can make that all go away.

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Confit Pork Shoulder Taco with charred pineapple and feta cheese from Clarmell Farms and that fabulous pork I was raving about the other day from Upper Canada Heritage Meat.

Le Café at the NAC easily has one of the best patios in the city. Right on the canal, and so close to all the action down town, all they are missing is a happy hour menu with some affordable tasty treats and drinks. WRONG! They have that now. It’s called 8 for 8 and until September 2, from 4-8pm every Monday – Saturday it can be yours!

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Fish n’ Chips Pogo – the potato in the potato dill batter comes from Savour Ottawa member Acorn Creek

Your choice of 8 cocktails, wines or beers for $8 each.

Or check out one of 8 tapas plates for $8 each!

In the name of being a good food blogger I tried a bit of everything. If pressed, my favourite dish of the night was the Tempura Prawn Po’Boys. But there were a few others that were very close to the top spot. I might need to go back very soon just to be 100% sure.

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Mmmmmm … Po’ Boy. The smoked chili aioli makes this dish. It might be large, but just unhinge that jaw and go to town! Oh… only snakes can do that jaw thing. If you say so…

Another thing I love about this menu, is the use of Savour Ottawa farmer’s ingredients. So now you can eat great, local food on an amazing patio to beat the heat.

Get ready to save up these moments to look back at fondly while you are huddled under blankets with woolly socks drinking mulled wine just because it is warm… and wine. What could be better??

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Veggie Poutine with chips, Le Chopin mushroom herb gravy, caramelized onions and red pepper jam and brie from Les Folies Berger Fromages

The saying is ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. If you can’t reduce your waste, try to reuse it in another way to save having to throw it out (which is still what you are doing when you recycle… though it has a prettier name). So in the spirit of re-using kitchen gadgets and items to bring new life to them, I present:

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If there is hope for this cake pan… there is hope for anything.

Ok… it may not be a real word. But it should be. Smallenfreuden is a fun, made up word that refers to putting your tiny, every day purchases on your VISA card so that you can rack up points and use them for something awesome!

I plan to do just this for 100 purchases that I’ll be keeping you in the loop by tweeting and facebooking. At the end of the  100 purchases I’ll let you know how worthwhile this was. Basically I’m going to flaunt what I get with my credit card points. That’s not all… I’m also going to run a contest that you can enter to win $100 from VISA!

*waiting for the cheers to die down*

Exciting right?!?

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In the mean time I’m going to give you a chance to save some money on tickets to the Great Canadian Cheese Festival! The artisan cheese and fine foods festival that is in Prince Edward County on June 1 and 2. They say there is going to be more cheese than ever before! EVER BEFORE!!

So click here – HERE and use the promo code : CF13FRESH

Hope to see you there!

Going through a breakup can be rough. Not only emotionally but physically. Sleepless nights, poofy eyes and even the creation of a few wrinkles and grey hairs. Personally, I’m trying to limit the damage this is doing. Especially since the nights of wine with the girls followed by some not so healthy fried foods aren’t doing their part to help the dark circles under my eyes.

Have no fear, food to the rescue! But while I’m not yet ready to give up my comfort foods (try as it might a salad is just not a hug in a bowl the way mac and cheese is), there is still something for food to do. Here are a couple of recipes for face masks, skin scrubs and a hair mask to hopefully bridge the gap until I’m more interested in greens on a regular basis.

Cucumber Mask – for oily skin

1/2 cucumber
1 TBSP aloe vera gel

Peel a cucumber and chop into pieces. Add cucumber pieces and gel into a food processor and puree into a nice paste.

Spread the paste gently and equally with fingertips over a clean face and neck. Leave the mask for 30 minutes. Wash off with cold water.

Baking Soda Scrub – for all skin types

2-3 TBSP Baking Soda
Small amount of water

Mix the ingredients into a paste, apply with a circular motion to your face and gently scrub

Oatmeal Scrub – 3-in-1 scrub: Smooths, tones and hydrates

1 TBSP ground oatmeal (steel cut oats)
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp yogurt

Combine and apply in a circular motion. You can either rinse off right away or leave on a few minutes as a mask before washing it off.

Avocado Hair Mask

1 ripe avocado
2 TBSP olive oil

In a small bowl combine avocado and oil. Apply to damp hair including scalp and ends. Tuck your hair into a shower cap.

After 20 minutes rinse out of your hair, shampoo as usual.

Tell ’em Reba…

I Say Random Things On Twitter…

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Instagram Photo Oddness...

Awash in hickory smoke... This Kansas City BBQ blend is in this month's subscription! Can't wait to hear what you think. 
#instoretoday #reicpesthisevening #bossmommacandoitall #coffeeplease Multitasking. Listening to this on the way to #spicebaby's 4 month check up.

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Past Foodie Adventures…