A re-energising trip

D and I recently returned from a whirlwind trip to London, Paris, Reims and Marseille, where we went with a dear friend to celebrate a significant birthday he was having. Our friend, who is an artist, was dying to go see an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London of John Singer Sargent’s portraits of his friends, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to turn this into an extended birthday celebration, and have a few nice meals at the same time. It all started modestly enough. We were to go to London to see the Sargent exhibition, and then take the train to Paris for a couple of nights to explore the food scene there, and then fly home. As things tend to go with us, however, a small side-trip got added here, and another there, and next thing we knew, a 4-night getaway had turned into a 10-day holiday with additional stops in Champagne and Provence. […]

Do-it-yourself orecchiette

Last summer, Daniel and I went to Apulia, Italy for a holiday. We ended our stay a little early because the weather in the beach town of Gallipoli promised to be steady rain for 7 days … and you don’t want to be in a provincial beach town if you can’t go to the beach. About the only thing you can do if it’s raining is sleep, eat and drink … and based on the spectacular meals we had had for the first few days, we knew that if we stayed, we’d put on 20 pounds each. Because Apulia is known for pasta.  Beautiful, toothsome, fattening pasta.  It is featured on menus at both lunch and dinner; I was led to understand that most families eat it at least daily.  And one type pasta in particular is practically a trademark of Apulia: orecchiette. […]

A career in high-tech isn’t for me. So what if it only took 28 years to figure that out?

I mentioned in my first blog post that I am a technical writer by profession. Something happened yesterday, though, that has put that into question. Getting the news yesterday afternoon of the death of my childhood best friend’s mom, a woman I really liked, upset me.  I found my thoughts dwelling on Mrs. Gullberg, and how nice she had been, and I couldn’t really focus on work. So, I walked out of my new contract job only 3 days into it. […]

Why I love my pressure cookers (plus my Shortcut Chicken Stock)

(Skip ahead to Shortcut Chicken Stock)

Yes, that’s pressure cookers, plural.  I have three of them.

My pressure cookers. From left -to-right, the 3 qt T-Fal braiser, the 6 quart T-Fal electric, and my 9 qt Fagor stove-top model.
My pressure cookers. From left -to-right, the 3 qt T-Fal braiser, the 6 quart T-Fal electric, and my 9 qt Fagor stove-top model.

Actually, four, if you count the huge pressure canner that I keep in the basement. But that only gets used once or twice a year, unlike the others, which see use several times a week. I was always fascinated by the notion of pressure cookery.  It started, I think, with  my Aunt Gay, who had one of the Presto aluminum models from the 70s, with the pressure regulator that wobbled back and forth on top, hissing diabolically. (The other object of my intense admiration belonging to my Aunt Gay was her Hoover upright vacuum, but that’s another story.)  She used to to make all sort of things, but in particular, boiling potatoes to be mashed. Imagine, potatoes cooked in 7 minutes!  (Only later, when I begin putting together entire meals on my own did I realize that  the 15 or 20 minutes needed to boil potatoes the normal way gives the cook a bit of a respite in trying to pull together several dishes to be ready at one time. But I digress). […]

Another blog about cooking and food?

Claudia Bianchi, a colleague of my husband who is the culinary producer for the  show he developed and produces for The Food Network Canada, recently asked Daniel: “Why doesn’t Allan  write a blog about what he does in the kitchen?”  My first thought was “What on earth does the world need with another food blog?”.  My second was “What have I got to say that (a) hasn’t been said already, or (b) hasn’t been said better by someone else?”.  There are a LOT of food-related blogs out there. Some are terrific, like Joe Pastry’s baking blog. His site really reflects his passion for baking.  It’s got very high production values, and Joe is clearly a hugely-talented amateur baker. Then again, some food blogs are just ho-hum, which leads one to ask oneself: “Who reads this stuff, and who cares about it?”. […]