Another Leibster Nomination and Berkshire Pork Chops with Roasted Garlic Asparagus

A big thank you this week to Kumu, who blogs over at A Tea Spoon of Love who nominated me for the Leibster Blog Award! I was actually nominated for the award earlier this month as well. I’m so honoured to have fellow bloggers recommend my blog! That said, I love the questions and how they give you a better idea of who I am. However, I don’t think I follow enough blogs (let alone ones that meet the criteria of the award) to nominate another 11 blogs/bloggers. I’ll give it my best shot though!

liebster-award

Here are the rules of the Leibster award as I understand them. The blog/blogger nominated for the award…

  • Answers 11 questions posed by the nominator. (In my case, Jon has given me 7)
  • Nominates 11 other blogs (with 200 or fewer followers)
  • Creates their own new set of questions for the nominees.

Responses

  1. Favorite vacation spot of all time?
    1. This is difficult to answer! I’ll give you my top three: New York City; West Palm Beach, Florida; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yes, these are all in the U.S. As a full-time student, I don’t get much time to travel for a vacation. I love all of these locations for visiting family and friends. NYC is very interesting for walking and sight-seeing. I love snorkeling at the coral reef beaches in West Palm. And the gorgeous mountains and hiking in Santa Fe. At some point, I hope to travel much more! On my list of places I’d like to see is Venice, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Paris, and many more!
  2. Favorite book and why?
    1. I assume this isn’t supposed to be the question that is overly difficult. Yet I find myself humming and hawing, changing my mind, second guessing my answer. Do I pick something I enjoyed reading? Something that I’ve ready that has been very useful afterwards? I decided to go with books I’ve enjoyed reading for the sake of reading. My favourite, momentarily, is probably Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I love both the book and the movie. This is one of the few adaptations I’ve seen that dares to change the ending of the story. I saw the movie first and read the book just last summer. I couldn’t out it down and, despite having seen the movie, loved every moment reading the book. Other notable candidates, in no particular order, include:
      Sabriel by Garth Nix
      – The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
      The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
      Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
      The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
      The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
      The Legends of Vancouver by Pauline Johnson
  3. Food tradition you love?
    1. Family dinner! I love when my large extended family gets together for a day of cooking, eating, and spending time together. I’m very fortunate that this tradition happens a few times per year!
  4. If you could go to dinner with any 5 famous people (dead or alive) – who?
    1. 10-year-old me is screaming THE SPICE GIRLS!!! I think I’ll go with that. 🙂
  5. Favorite cuisine?
    1. Not sure I could choose! Probably Guyanese food. Not only is it delicious, it has nostalgia. Growing up, my next-door neighbours (who were really more like my second family) would cook Guyanese food frequently and share it with my family. I remember loving most of it, except the really spicy wiri pepper hot sauce (that was so hot is once made me cry). When I visit them in New York, I eat them clean out of food, the spice doesn’t both me as much as an adult. I’ve even tried to replicate a few of the recipes at home.
  6. House is on fire – family made it out – what is the one thing you grab? (you can only grab one)
    1. I’m counting the cat as family that has got out safely. My camera bag. It has my camera, lens, and ALL of my photos in it. I tend to buy huge memory cards and keep them as back-ups.
  7. Favorite type of chocolate?
    1. Dark chocolate, hands down. My favourite is 80% cocoa with almonds.
  8. Favorite beverage?
    1. Moroccan Mint Tea with honey
  9. Movie you most relate to.
    1. I’m not sure I really relate to any movies. I can’t think of anything… but my all time favourite is Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
  10. If you can trade places with a famous person for 24 hours, whom would you pick?
    1. I’m drawing a blank on this one. I’m quite happy not to be the center of attention, even if it just for a 24 hour period.
  11. A TV show you love to watch.
    1. We don’t have cable or Netflix. We mostly watch shows on DVD (ones that come highly recommended by friends) or are available on YouTube. We most recently watched and enjoyed Game of Thrones. I’ve also been sporadically watching episodes of The Dog Whisperer. I also like Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and probably many more that I cannot think of at the moment.

Nominees

In no particular order…

  1. Sophie’s Foodie Files
  2. MJ’s Kitchen
  3. Dominican Heat
  4. from the Bartolini kitchens
  5. Whip a Dish
  6. Love Bakes Good Cakes
  7. Doggie at the Dinner Table
  8. Lisa is Cooking

Questions for nominees:

  1. What 3 words would you choose to describe yourself?
  2. Do you have a blogging mentor who has made a huge difference along the way?
  3. Have you met any of your blogging friends in real life?
  4. What inspires you to continue writing your blog?
  5. What is your favourite family recipe?
  6. Which of your own blog posts are you most proud of?
  7. What is your favourite type of food?
  8. What is your favourite pastime?
  9. Where would you most like to go for your dream vacation and why?
  10. What is your favourite genre of music?
  11. If someone made a film about your life, who would you want to play you?

As if this post wasn’t long enough… I’d also like to share some recipes today!

Bryan asked me if there is a testimonials section for the blog… I asked him to leave a comment. Instead, he asked me to inform you in this post that: “This food-girl makes the best noms.” Thanks Bryan!

Berkshire Pork Chops with Smoked Paprika and Espelette Pepper

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in Berkshire Pork Chops (about 3/4 pound each)  – approximate cost $10.50
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika  – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon espellette pepper  – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Heat grapeseed oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add pork chops (you should hear them sizzle when added to the frying pan).
  3. Cook for 4 1/2 minutes.
  4. Turn.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, died sage, and espellette pepper.
  6. Cook for an additional 4 1/2 minutes.
  7. Test for desired doneness and cook more if necessary.
  8. Remove from frying pan and let stand for 3-4 minutes.
  9. Pour half of the glaze over each of the pork chops.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt  – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil  – approximate cost $0.15
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced  – approximate cost $0.30

Method

  1. Turn the oven to broil.
  2. Place the asparagus in a large roasting pan.
  3. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and garlic.
  5. Broil until the asparagus turns bright green.
  6. Flip the asparagus.
  7. Broil until the other side is bright green and the tips begin to brown.
  8. Remove from oven.
  9. Serve with pork chops and enjoy!

Note: These dishes take about the same amount of time to cook. I started the asparagus first then cooked the pork chops.

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $7.98 per serving).

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Trout with Caper and Butter Sauce and Roasted Balsamic Asparagus

Did you hear about the big storm that hit KW last Friday? I’ve never seen anything like it. The wind and rain was intense. The thunder and lightning actually worried me less than the former. It seems almost everyone in the city has their own story to share… and we’ve been sharing stories all week!

I was at Vincenzo’s, a local grocery store, when the storm hit. The winds were so strong that we could see and hear them shaking. My little brother was on a bus at the time. The bus had to pull over due to poor driving conditions. A tree was struck by lightning nearby and fell onto a hydro pole, which then fell on the bus! I’m happy to say that my brother and everyone else on the bus is ok. We exchanged text messages and a few photos — he was bored being stuck on the bust for almost an hour afterwards!

Trees and branches are still being cleared even today! Check out some images of the damage the storm caused:

I’m also happy to tell you that my garden made it through the storm! No planters were knocked over or damaged. My neighbourhood seems to have missed the worst of the storm.

I started my garden quite late this year. I didn’t plant anything until mid-June. I have two lovely tomato plants, a basil plant, chives, and mint. The tomatoes are from my aunt at Sun Root Organics (if you’re in Ontario, check out her blog and Facebook page). Despite planting the tomatoes later than I’d have liked, they’ve really taken off and are growing like crazy! I took the photos a few days ago, and the tomatoes are more plentiful already! The basil is from a vendor at the St. Jacob’s Market, and the chives and mint came back from last year. I have been using the chives in my cooking recently and can’t wait for some fresh basil and tomatoes!

Since the storm, it has cooled down enough to cook again! Hooray! I’m quite enjoying being back in the kitchen. 🙂

Trout with Caper and Butter Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound steelhead trout fillet – approximate cost $8.50
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 cup butter – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 100 mL jar capers – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Preheat a frying pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add butter and grapeseed oil.
  3. Heat until butter is melted.
  4. Add garlic.
  5. Cook until garlic is fragrant.
  6. Sprinkle salt over fish.
  7. Add fish (skin-side down if there is skin on the fillet).
  8. Cook until about 3/4 cooked.
  9. Turn the fish.
  10. Add capers.
  11. Cook until done.
  12. Remove from frying pan.
  13. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Balsamic Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Turn the oven to broil.
  2. Place the asparagus in a large roasting pan.
  3. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Broil until the asparagus turns bright green.
  6. Flip the asparagus.
  7. Broil until the other side is bright green and the tips begin to brown.
  8. Remove from oven.
  9. Serve with trout and enjoy!

Note: These dishes take about the same amount of time to cook. I started the asparagus first then cooked the fish.

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $8.25 per serving).

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Creamy Asparagus Soup

For those of you who follow regularly, you might be a bit confused just by the title of this post. Creamy soup? What is she doing? I thought Amber was lactose-sensitive?

Well, turns out I can have milk… I just had to shop around for the right type! How exciting is that?!

I still can’t have most dairy. I still have to be careful when eating out, asking if and how much dairy is in a dish. I still have to politely decline milk products when visiting friends. But, when I cook at home… I can have as much as I want! I’ve been enjoying a glass of milk with my breakfast every morning… just because I can. Seriously, I didn’t realize how much I missed copious amounts of dairy in my diet until I found a way to enjoy it again.

Guernsey cows — the blurry one was trying to lick me as I took the picture!

(This is yet another post that was a long time in the making… I started drinking milk again in late February and have been cooking with it regularly since about April.)

So, what makes this milk different? It comes from a different breed of cow: the Guernsey (most milk comes from Holstein cows), and it is A2 grade (most milk is A1). The Bovine‘s article “Mercola advocates raw milk, discusses A1 A2 beta casein in connection with autism, diabetes, heart disease, etc.” gives a good explanation of the differences between A1 and A2 cows:

The type of proteins in milk, and the proportion of various proteins, varies depending on the breed of cow and the type of animal (sheep, goat, cow, etc.).

One of the major proteins in cow’s milk is casein, the predominant variety of which is called beta-casein. In older breeds of cows, such as Jersey, Asian and African cows (called A2 cows), the beta-casein contains an amino acid called proline.

In newer breeds of cows like Holstein (A1 cows), however, the proline has mutated into an amino acid called histidine.

[T]he proline that exists in A2 cows has a strong bond to BCM-7, which helps keep it out of the cows’ milk. The histidine in the newer A1 cows, however, has a weak hold on BCM-7, which allows it to get into the milk, and also into the people who drink the milk.”

Guernsey Cow

Back in February, I visited an A2 Guernsey cow farm. The farmers showed me around, explained their product, and shared delicious samples with me. They even insisted I wait around for at least 1/2 an hour so I would be somewhere comfortable if I had a negative reaction. So kind of them! After a wonderful experience, I signed up to buy a share in the herd of cows. I now get my milk straight from the farm. (Which I LOVE visiting… the cows are docile and let me pet them, the farm dog is friendly and always greets me enthusiastically, a few of the barn cats are friendly, and I love to look at the gorgeous horses) The benefit? I enjoy dairy and no longer fear the consequences of accidentally eating a bit too much. I am confident that I will not be ill when consuming milk products.

Sylvester the Barn Cat — this handsome little guy LOVE attention (and the camera)

I’m excited to make and share family recipes that I had given up for the last 10 years or so! 😀 Today I’m sharing my family’s Creamy Asparagus Soup recipe.

And I’m going to share a little secret… we usually make this with the “scrap” pieces of asparagus. That is, when we cook asparagus, we save the ends that we snap off for this soup. I like to buy an extra small bunch of asparagus so we can reserve a few spears to make a pretty garnish. However, this is not necessary if you don’t like a smooth soup. This is a great way to use up something that would otherwise go to waste.

Please, please, please share any great recipes you have that use a large amount of dairy products. I’m so used to cooking without milk, I find it hard to come up with anything but soups. I need more ideas of delicious milk-based foods that I can now enjoy without worry!

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chicken broth – approximate cost $1.25
  • 4 cups asparagus pieces, spears reserved – approximate cost $2.50
  • 2 cups whole milk – approximate cost $2.66
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add the asparagus pieces (reserve the spears if you would like to use them to decorate your soup later).
  3. Cook the asparagus in the broth for 7-10 minutes (the broth should reduce by about half and the asparagus will be very tender).
  4. Allow the asparagus and broth to cook slightly.
  5. Move asparagus and broth to a blender and add half of the milk (1 cup).
    1. Note: An immersion blender is not ideal for this soup because you will need to strain it.
  6. Blend until smooth.
  7. Pour the asparagus through a fine strainer back into the soup pot.
  8. Press the asparagus gently to help release the liquid from the tough pieces. Be patient, this can take a while!
  9. Discard the pieces in the strainer.
  10. Turn the burner on medium-low.
  11. Add the remainder of the milk (1 cup), sea salt, and black pepper.
  12. If you reserved any asparagus spears, add them now!
  13. Cook the soup until it is steaming.
  14. Serve hot with crostini pieces or your favourite sandwich.

Makes 2 large servings (approximate cost: $3.28 per serving).

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