Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Recipes from the Corn Addict

    Face glistening with butter.  Butter running down your arms.  Your shirt covered in huge dark grease stains from dripping butter (lending you the look of a street person who likes corn) Picking corn out of your teeth for the night.  These are the joys of corn season!  It is my favourite time of the year.  I'm going to be completely honest, as I shared yesterday ... I have a problem.  I could easily just eat fresh corn and new potatoes every single night of the week in the summer.   Did I mention that I am addicted to corn?  

    Normally I am a traditionalist (by traditionalist I am really saying that I am normally pretty childlike and don't like to try new things) when it comes to corn preparation.  I husk it, and throw it in a huge pot of boiling salted water, and come back in 1/2 an hour.  It's easy it's the way it's been done in my family for generations!


    This year I have turned a new leaf.  I have been stricken by the barbecue bug.  I'm being a big girl and trying new things!  Yay me!  I'm going to be honest with you.  The only reason that I have fallen in love with barbecue corn is because our friends Bev and Eric invited us over for dinner a few week-ends ago.  Eric cooked the corn on the barbecue.  When you are at someone else's home it is considered bad manners to shout at them "you're cooking your corn wrong!"  I was polite, I pretended to think this was a great way to cook corn.  I even acted like a polite guest and tried the barbecued corn (knowing that I would hate it), and do you know what, I began a love affair with barbecued corn.  The best thing about having a love affair with barbecued corn is that my husband doesn't mind... it's not even considered cheating.  Somehow barbecuing the corn seems to increase the corn's natural sugars.  It's like corn on flavour steroids.  Delicious steroids.
    The correct thing to do when you have learned a new recipe is to make it for everyone and pretend that it's your own personal recipe.  "Oh yeah, it's just a little something I made up."  It's important that people think that you are some kind of a food genius and not just a thief who goes around taking credit for other people's stuff.  Suffusive to say I have now introduced my Dad to this way of cooking corn, and he's hooked.  (I don't know where I could ever get my addictive personality from?)  The best thing about this recipe is how easy it is.  You just soak the corn in a tub of water.  I use my kitchen sink.  Let the corn soak in the water for an hour or so.  Then you just put it right onto the grill husk still on it... how easy is that?  You have to keep an eye on it because the flames do like to like at the husks and try to burn the house down, oh and you should really turn it around a bit with your tongs.
    This way of preparing corn on the cob not only lends itself to the backyard barbecues but would be perfect for roughing it camping.  You could even take the corn up to the campground in a big water jug so that it could be soaking on the trip and be ready to put on an open fire for dinner time!

    My next newest corn on the cob discovery is foil wrapped corn.  I took a square of tin foil, and sprinkled it with a dribble of extra virgin olive oil.  I then sprinkled my other newest obsession, my barbecue rub onto the olive oil .  I put down my piece of husked corn on the top of my olive oil and rub, and repeated the same process.  Next I tightly folded over the top to the foil and then the sides so that the olive oil would not leak out and cause a huge fire that may well burn off what is left of my eyebrows.  I rolled the corn around on the grill with the tongs so that it would be evenly cooked.  By the way, I should add that I was a success and still have eyebrows!
    This would also work great for camping.  I would wrap up the corn and put them into a ziplock bag to travel.  This could probably even go right into the fire itself.  
    Here is what I really like about this corn recipe.  Although I do LOVE butter, you don't need to add butter to this corn.  The olive oil and the rub are all the flavour you could need.  This would be great for people trying to cut back (like I should be, but like food to much).  Oh and I really did make this one up, unlike the husk on barbecued corn that I stole from Bev and Eric and pretend that I made up.
    So there you have it, two great and simple new ways for you to be a big star at your next back yard barbecue.  Just make sure that you tell everyone that you got the recipe from The middle aged woman who lived in a shoe, and don't do what I would do and pretend that you made it up.. not cool.

My Corn Addiction - Thanks A Lot Walkers!

    My body is covered in cold clammy sweat, my hands have a slight tremor.  I feel a panic overwhelming me, I'm checking my purse for change, crawling around under the couches, the car.  My mind keeps envisioning that rich butter sliding down the side of that steaming hot corn cob.  Freshly cracked pepper and a dusting of salt accent it all.  It's like corn porn (is there such a thing I wonder?  Maybe this is a niche I could market....hummmmm) I NEED MY CORN FIX... NOW!

    Corn beautiful corn,  to be more specific, Walker's Sweet Corn.  Every summer I eagerly await the arrival of the corn shed across from Tim Hortons.  I find it cruel how they tease me at the beginning of the season.  They put the shed out usually a week before they're open.  I drive by every day, my mouth watering in anticipation of that sweet, sweet corn!  That first week that "closed sign" taunts me.  I do a little happy dance when I drive by and discover that window open.

    I am a regular customer, and that comes with it's little privileges.  I like it when it's Verna who serves me.  I always get "Hi Tristan" and she begins to fill the bag with my corn before I even ask.  Yesterday she told me that Will (that's Verna's husband) had just dug the potatoes that afternoon, that was a definite sell for me (like I needed a reason to buy new potatoes).  Usually when Verna is working her little adorable blonde helper is there with her.  I always get this beautiful shy smile.

    In addition to the corn, and new red potatoes, I also purchased purple beans... intriguing.  How could I not try them?  Verna warned me that they don't stay purple once they are cooked.  I bought them anyway.

    My purple beans did turn dark green when they were cooked.  They did retained a purple ting.  I boiled the salty water first, then added my beans.  I set my timer for 5 minutes.  This gave me the perfect tenderness.  These beans had a different taste than your regular green or yellow beens.  They had an ever so slightly stronger taste, but it was really good.  Oh they tasted so good!

    Oh, this is a wonderful time to live in a farming community.  Fresh meat, fresh produce, sweet air, oh life is good.  By supporting my local farmer I am ensuring that they can continue their passion.  I say "passion" because the majority of farmers that I know have to take a full time job to support their family, as well as their full time farming job.  These amazingly dedicated people are obviously not in farming for the profit... it is a passion.  To them I say THANK YOU.  I am supporting my local hard working farms, and I am feeding my family amazingly fresh, wholesome foods.  I know that these foods have been farmed in the right way, because these farmers also feed their own family the food that they themselves sell.

    Last night I drove home from the Walker's Sweet Corn stand with a smile on my face.  How can I not smile now that my corn withdrawal is about to come to an end?  I may have been humming.  I went right to the deck to begin to husk the corn, I enlisted a helper to make my job go faster.

    I was filling my basket with corn husks, and my bag with the now naked corn cobs, when... "Corn Husk Fight!"  Was shouted from my helper.  My face soon after that received a nice rain of corn silk.  I then returned the favour.  Soon the "corn husk" fight led to a certain little someone shoving corn husks down the back of my shirt and then the back of my pants.  We filled the air with screams of laughter (I'm sure the neighbours were just loving us).  Gracie and I were a comical sight by the time we had called a truce.  I looked a little like the Jolly Green Giant threw up on me.

    Let me say that last night's dinner was delicious!  There is such pleasure with the amazing whole tastes.  You truly can taste the freshness.  Oh I love this time of year!

Stay tuned to tomorrow's blog because I am going to share two new amazing corn 
recipes that I have tried this summer... 
oh they are good and perfect for the barbecue or camping!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Barbecue "A" Team

    Summer, glorious summer!  I know, I know this has not been our typical summer weather.  The nights have been cold, the days unseasonably cooler, but still I'm loving it.  I don't like extreme weather, I don't like it in the winter when it's unbearably cold, and I don't like the summer when it is insufferably hot.  I like this weather, there I said it!  I also like cooking on the deck!

    In past years the barbecue has been Christopher's domain.  He has guarded that barbecue of his with pride.  Up until this year I have given him the impression that the barbecue was indeed his (it's always good to give them a false impression in case you change your mind and actually want what is theirs.  It gives them a false sense of security).  To be honest, for whatever reason, the barbecue has always scared me a little.  I don't like cooking and suddenly flames shoot up, I admit it I'm a coward.  I should qualify that, I "was" a coward.  That fear has left me.  I now deftly dodge the flames, getting an adrenaline rush every time I dodged probable third degree burns.
    Why the change?  I've made a discovery.  I have discovered rubs and the world's greatest barbecue sauce.  This all began rather innocently.  There was nothing on television one night when Christopher and I decided on watching a barbecue show on The Food Network.  We became inspired, and then obsessed with BBQ.  It was the next day that I began my quest for the perfect rub.  I have never used a rub before, did not understand why you would need such a thing, ignoramus that I was.  My quest was more one of intrigue than need.  I searched the internet, and found a simple one.  From that became the barbecue quest.
    I changed the recipe ever so slightly the more I made it, until it was perfect for us.   I am so generous that I will now share this winning rub (o.k. it hasn't won any awards ..... yet).  It's at this point in the blog that I need you to hum either in your head or out load if you feel so inclined the theme to the 1980's smash hit television show "The A Team".

The Lindsay's Super Rub (oh that sounds dirty)

                1/2 cup of white sugar                                  4 tbsp paprika
                 2 tbsp onion salt                                           1 tbsp garlic powder
                 1/2 tsp black pepper                                     1/2 tsp chili powder
    You can add more chili or another hot spice if that more suits you.  We are not a family with strong stomaches so we prefer a hint of heat.  I usually mix my rub in a large mason jar, and then just shake it up.  I make this in really large batches because we go through a lot of it.                            

Sweet Sassy Molasses Sauce
                    1/4 cup cider vinegar             1/2 cup  prepared yellow mustard
                              1 cup molasses                        salt and pepper

        Pour all of the ingredients into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  
When it's come to a boil, take it off the heat.  
It will look soft brown in colour.

     For those of you who are like my former self you may think it's a waste to both rub and sauce your meat... it's not.  I use two techniques to put the rub on.  For chicken I put a half cup of rub in a large bag and shake the chicken in it, not unlike shake and bake.  It really even coats the meat.  The other technique that I use is I just shake it on.  This uses less rub.  I let the outside of the meat sear a little with the rub before I add the sauce.
    Originally I turned my nose up at the idea of using a sugar coating on meat.  It just seemed gross.  For once in my life however I decided to take a risk and try it even if it seemed odd.  That risk was a huge flavour success.  The sugar seems to melt and seal the meat, so that the juices stay in.  It also adds huge flavour.  

    Here is what I learned about using a rub and a sauce.  The rub seals in the natural flavours and moisture, plus it adds a different level of flavour.  The sauce gives an extra layer of protection to the juice/ moisture, plus it gives that initial taste when you're eating.  Together they combine and form a beautiful taste on every single meat I have tried them on.  Unlike so many sauces, this one goes great with chicken, beef and pork.  I even use this combo on my burgers.  

Watch Out Christopher, I'm moving in on your territory!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

$1 movies!!!!!!

     If you read the title of today's blog and wondered if you had somehow been sent back in time to the 1950's, nope it's still 2014.  The second question you may be asking is "did she do a typo?  She really meant to write $10 movies".  You get excited even at the typo because $10 for a movie these days is still pretty cheap!  You read correctly, I paid $1.00 for a movie.

    As I have been seemingly non-stop sharing this is the summer of cheap.  My goal to give the kids an amazing summer while not breaking the bank.  So far I have had a great streak.  The upside is not just entertaining my children, while saving my sanity and bank account, but also we have been doing these trips with my friends and their kids.

   I discovered accidentally that one of favourite movie theatres, The Boulevard Theatre in Napanee Ontario.  The Boulevard offers affordable movies at the best of times (adult admission is always $7.50).  This summer they have been offering movies that are either just leaving the theatres or almost ready to go to DVD for $1.00.  I was able to purchase tickets for myself and the five kids, plus a juice box for each of them and a large popcorn for them to share all for $11.50.  That is less than I would have paid for a single ticket for myself at the big box theatres.

    We watched Mr. Peabody and Sherman and laughed our butts off.  We had a great time with great friends and it was affordable.  Needless to say we are planning to attend movies at The Boulevard once a week.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Let's Go Fly A Kite----

I can't see this picture and not smile!
    When you think about flying a kite, if you are like me, you in your stupid idiot mind's eye see it as something passive.  Standing holding a bit of string, almost meditatively.  It's the warm glow of childhood (a childhood that none of us really had).  It is everything good.

    This past March we took a family trip to Virginia Beach.  It was AWESOME!  We had such an amazing family vacation.  On one of our last days we visited one of the higher end beach shops.  The big thing for ocean beach shops other than t-shirts, and beach apparel, is kites.  You quite often see people along the beach with these amazing kites that you know cost more than my mortgage.  The funny thing is it's usually people who don't have children with these fancy kites (I think it's because those of us with children cannot afford these high end kites).  When we were in this shop in Virginia Beach I came across a sock monkey kite.  For those of you not in the know, I have a bit of an obsession with all things sock monkey.  I had to have it!  Christopher rolled his eyes when I began to beg like a child for this kite.  I began to convince him telling him how much the children would enjoy a kite of such beauty and good make.  He rolled his eyes and reminded me that I have never taken the kids out to fly their kites... sadly he had made a good point.  Not a good enough point to stop me from buying said awesome kite!  My happy kite made it's way home to Canada, where it has sat on my laundry room shelf ever since... until today that is.

    Today I decided to seize the day.  All too often I make these great plans in my head for activities that I will do with the kids while I lie in bed at night.  By the morning I have lost my ambition.  I have wasted more valuable time with my children, than I care to tally.  Today I decided to be fun.

    We headed over to the soccer pitch to fly said sock monkey kite, finally freed after it's long wait up on the shelf.  When we arrived, we saw an old man playing golf.  Hum, I don't think that's what they intended the field for in the off season.  The kids and I went out onto the field like we owned it.  The old fella wasn't too pleased, but I was o.k. with that.  I didn't care if he thought I was a jerk, what was important was that I was making memories with my babies.

      Traditionally my kids have always received kites from the Easter Bunny every Easter.  It is sad to say, but the Easter Bunny is a cheap son of a gun!  He always buys them those cheap plastic kites that have the current cool cartoon character on them.   You will see the skeletal remains of these kites in your local trees after Easter.  These are the kites that rip as you try to sail them.  If you are one in a thousand, and actually manage to get that cheap piece of garbage up into the sky, inevitably the plastic ring that attaches the cheap thread to the cheap stupid kite, tears off and the kite sails off, usually into a tree.  There is plenty of tears (often from me, as I debate running away from home to get away from the crying kids).  I think that is why I am always reluctant to fly kites with the kids, that and I'm super lazy.

    In my head the whole approach to kite flying seemed so easy.  One person runs while the other person runs behind them holding the kite, and then at the exact perfect moment when the wind catches that beautiful kite, that person lets go and your kite takes off into the blue sky, as you shade your eyes from the sun to see it's ascent into the clouds.  I thought that I had done a great job explaining this to the kids, but apparently I was wrong.  On their first attempt my little rocket scientists ran in opposite directions.  Calmly I told them to stop, and re-explained to them that they must run together, in the same direction.  Try number two saw one of the baby geniuses head directly for a soccer goal post, there is a whole wide open field, and that individual decides to run toward the goal post.  It is at this point that I begin to wonder if one of the few times that I had left Christopher to watch the babies he had systematically dropped them one by one on their heads.  Wouldn't I have notice bruising if he had dropped every single one of them on their heads?

    By this point I am loosing my cool.   Each of them is crying out "Can I do it, can I do it".  I may have shouted at them "NO!  None of you is doing this, watch me!"  I know I had added "you little idiots" in my head, but thankfully it didn't escape from my head.  I go out there, I'm going to show those little idiots how it's done.  Then a terrible thing happens, where a minute ago I was most pompous about what the correct way to fly a kite is, but when it came time for "Mommy to show them how", I realized that I had forgotten.  Oh God, I don't remember how to fly a kite.  Christopher didn't drop them all on their heads, apparently stupidity is inherited on the mother's side.  So I am standing there in the middle of the field, praying that no one is watching us, stalling for time, trying desperately to remember how to fly a kite.  I'm pretty sure that there was the smell of burnt rubber coming from my brain.  Maybe it's like riding a bike I told myself and them remembered that no good ever came from this accident prone ninny ever riding a bike.  Thankfully at that precise moment the wind took pity on me and grabbed the kite.

    I gave a sad looking run / waddle down the field pulling the kite here and there, willing it to go up into the air.  It did, it did go up into the air.  The kids let out a squeal of glee.  They looked at each other like their mother was some kind of a kite genius.  I stood there beaming, letting out string watching that adorable, high quality kite sail higher and higher.  Then it happened... when I was taking the protective plastic off of the giant roll of string, I knicked one of the strands of string.  I was certain at the time that it was no big deal... I was wrong.  The sock monkey sailed high up in the sky, suddenly made a run for it, and escape attempt if you will (I think it was punishing me for all that time on the shelf).  The spot on the string that I knicked, was actually a cut, and the kite sailed away.  The kids were all letting out hysterical shrieks, it was just like with the stupid, cheap, plastic kites all over again, only this one cost more than 20 of those stupid kites!  Someone was looking out for us, because the wind suddenly died, and the runaway monkey took a nose dive down to the ground, but gently glided as it actually hit the ground.

    After I had tied the string back together with what may have been 100 small knots, we were ready to go again.  The kids all took turns running excitedly with that kite.  Squeals of joy filled the soccer pitch.  I had forgotten how much exercise kite flying was.  There is a lot of running involved.  It is not the passive activity I had remembered.  The kids tore up and down the field the kite trailing behind them.

    Children have short attention spans, at least mine do.  Soon after the initial elation had subsided they were hot, hungry, thirsty and tired oh and hot and thirsty.  They wanted to go home.  I in their place was telling them "just one more time."  I ran/ waddled up and down that field harnessing the wind.  Eventually I gave in to the whining and packed up my beautiful sock monkey (that and I was pretty sure that my legs may actually fall off if I ran any more).

    As is the case every time, kite flying was not what I had envisioned in my semi-delusional mind.  It was not that passive just holding a kite.  It was excersise.  We had fun and exercised in the fresh air, on a beautiful day.  For a tiny second I was a hero, I will take that.  Our initial expense was my awesome sock monkey kite, but other than that it didn't cost a single dime.  I had set my inner sock monkey free.