yum

Easy as Pi: Quiche Inspired Breakfast Pie with Broccoli, Bacon and a Pine Nut Crust for Pi Day

Since today is 03/14, otherwise known as Pi Day, it is a requirement to have pie. This is one math rule I can get down with. But I also didn’t feel like starting the week off with a heavy pie, so what to do? I decided to make a “quiche inspired” breakfast pie – without the pastry. This was 100% an experiment, so I’m really pleased that it turned out. Not only did it hold together, it was absolutely delicious. I won’t say that it is the healthiest pie you could ever envision, but it does pretty well. It can be totally gluten-free by easily substituting the “glutenful” breadcrumbs with gluten-free ones, and could probably be adapted to be vegetarian by substituting the bacon. (The problem with that, though, is NO BACON.) Even without those substitutions, you’re getting a fair amount of eggs and broccoli without the heavy pastry of a quiche. I did this by using a pine nut crust which worked surprisingly well. *Short story – I knew a long ago ex-boyfriend was not the one for me when he lost his mind over the cost of a bag of pine nuts I had bought at the grocery store and tried to return them. I also knew that my future husband was the one for me when he recently suggested we buy the giant bag of pine nuts that Costco sells, the one I had been eyeing but was nervous to grab. Love is nuts.* Since it is a Costco-sized bag of pine nuts I had no qualms using them for the crust, but it may work with other normal priced nuts as well.  It’s hard to see the nut crust in the picture, but you can see how well the pie holds together. It also cuts cleanly, so it wasn’t falling apart as we tried to eat it…always a plus.

Overall it was simple, delicious, and easy as pie to make.  Happy Pi Day!

 

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 crown of broccoli chopped into small florets
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup finely grated (good) cheddar
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs *can substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs to make this entirely gluten free
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375º F. Chop the bacon into one inch chunks and fry on medium in a non-stick pan for 5 minutes. Drain excess fat and add in onions and broccoli and fry on medium for 5 to 10 minutes until onions are clear. Spray pie plate with cooking spray and line the bottom of the plate with the finely chopped nuts. I used a food processor to chop the nuts, but be careful that it doesn’t become a powder. Beat the eggs, milk, paprika, oregano leaves, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper together in a bowl and set aside. Take the mixture of broccoli, onions and bacon from the pan and arrange on top of the pine nut crust in the pie plate. Now take the egg mixture and pour into the pie plate. Put pie plate into the oven and cook for 20 minutes until it has risen almost all the way. (It should still have a slight amount of liquid in the middle.) Mix cheese and breadcrumbs together and layer over the “pie”. Bake for another 5 minutes and then switch to broil. Watch the pie as it broils, since it may only take a couple minutes to get it golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Cut it into slices and serve.

Advertisements

An Open Letter to The Open Letter

I recently came across a little rant of mine from a couple years ago, clearly a different, angrier time for me as I come across extra curmudgeonly. But things were different then, we had crack-smoking Rob Ford as Mayor in Toronto (how was that a real thing????) I actually worked all the time instead of merely posting sporadically on this blog, and of course we lived in Toronto back then in our little hippy-filled apartment (which involved the odd “play” in the backyard by our neighbours, also someone was learning to use an accordion.) It was a grouchier time, for sure.

So I found this little diatribe, and while I don’t quite agree with the passionate but venomous take I had on it a couple years ago, I still find it somewhat relevant. And also funny how angry I was about people over-using the Open Letter format.

I will preface this harangue with my (quick) updated sentiments. I do agree with my past self that the Open Letter format is overused and thus abused. I’ll say that due to its inherently passive aggressive nature, it doesn’t come across with the same verve as a strongly worded statement. But I also think I came across a little harshly saying not everyone is special. I was trying to say that not every single person’s opinion is worthy of a revolution, but that you won’t know if yours is unless you make a strong statement and see what happens. If you hide behind a passive-aggressive Open Letter, you’re trying to hide behind the court of public opinion. Sometimes that is appropriate, but most times it isn’t. Two years later the Open Letter is still an annoyingly overused medium, although I am less angry about it at least.

Herewith, some surly grousing from my past self:

 

Dear Open Letter,

I am writing to you because – excuse me? Are you not listening to me? No f***ing way! But I addressed it to you! I am completely in shock that this doesn’t have your full attention {sarcasm}.

Except I am not really writing to the “Open Letter” I am writing to all of you. In fact, I am writing to all of you to JUST STOP with your open letters. You, the public, have effectively open lettered to death a once interesting form of communication. It has been done to death, and needs to stop. Better yet, allow it to just take a break and only come out for special occasions. Your famous Hollywood dad abused you as a child and you are uncomfortable with the support and vindication he is given by Hollywood? Go ahead, open letter your heart out. You’ve decided Winter gets too much hate so you’ve written an open (love) letter to the polar vortex? Shut the f*** up.

An open letter, to borrow from the be-all-and-end-all that is Wikipedia, is used for a number of reasons, foremost among those “as a last resort to ask the public to judge the letter’s recipient or others involved, often but not always, in a critical light.” To reiterate the first four words in that statement – AS A LAST RESORT. Too often it is the first resort for any individual that wants to share their thoughts and so up it goes on Facebook, Internet comment sections, and badly-spellchecked blogs [edit: ouch, guess I didn’t see myself having one of these two years later!]. You are not the most special person to ever have an opinion. Not everyone is special and certainly not everyone’s opinion. You want to make a statement on the crackiness that is Toronto’s Mayor? Have the cahones to do it. Do not write an open letter to him. You know and I know that it isn’t for him at all. It isn’t even for the people who will read it. It is for you and your own vanity, your belief that your opinion is special and needs to be shared and heard. Maybe it is. But if that is the case, you don’t need an open letter on Facebook to prove it. We live in an age where information is everywhere and everyone has a chance to be heard. If your opinion really is so special, there is a significant chance it WILL get heard. Make a statement! But if you and every other yahoo with access to a computer throws down an open letter then it loses its importance; it’s just one more in a string of insignificant open letters to scroll past while looking for funny cat videos.

IMG_7182-

Here’s a kitten. See? Open Letter can’t compete with this fluffy cuteness.

That’s not to say that you have to keep all of your opinions to yourself. If you have something to say, this is the age you want to live in. Communication and the ability to self-publish proliferates throughout blogs, Twitter, Facebook [edit: and Instagram and Snapchat too] and other easily accessible mediums.

The “saying” isn’t the problem – but how you say it and what you say, that’s the issue. By using a tired medium, your message becomes tired automatically. Not to mention the passive aggressive nature of an open letter. By definition it is indirect – you are addressing someone by addressing the general public. You are inviting judgement on the addressee, but asking the public to look at the situation through your eyes, through your argument. Why in the hell should we listen to you? You don’t even have the gall to really come out and ask us to listen to what you have to say. Instead, you throw up a whiney open letter to someone else hoping the mob mentality of the “Internets” will hop on their bandwagon, pitchforks out, and share your letter with the smug self-satisfied pretension of those that click but don’t do.

At the end of the day, if you’re writing an open letter to everyone, you’re actually writing it to no one.

Fresh Milk Musings on My Love of Tea

 

Today, like every day, the first thing I went to do was make a cup of tea. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I have always loved tea. Not the herbal kind, which is lovely on occasion, but my true tea passion is black tea. I like English Breakfast, Orange Pekoe, and Earl Grey. One of the first times I stayed at the house of the man I would eventually marry he made me a cup of tea that was Cream Earl Grey. It was my first time having it and I fell in love with the creamy richness…of the tea, him I would fall in love with later. He also introduced me to our household staple, Yorkshire Gold. It’s the best Orange Pekoe you’ll ever have. But I’m not really picky (with tea, anyway.) Whether I’m in an authentic diner, Starbucks, Tim Hortons or a even a nice restaurant, I’ll simply ask for “black tea” and be satisfied. As long as there is milk and sugar, of course.

Tea, for me, is more than simply a drink to kick off the morning. It is a way of life. It is my religion. In hard times I do not pray, I make a warm cup of tea. And as I wrap my hands around the mug and drink in the scent of it before even taking a sip, things feel a bit better. Similarly, at work, if I was having a mental block or if I was tired from not moving from the computer for hours and hours on end, I would go get a tea. Sometimes I wouldn’t even drink the whole thing, it was often the idea of tea more than the tea itself that allowed me some mid-afternoon computer-reprievement.

But the ‘idea of tea’ has always been as significant as the tea itself. It represents comfort, history, fortune-telling, warmth, delicacy, and community depending on the day. For me, since I have always been, resignedly, an anglophile, tea has been another connection across the sea. The idea of afternoon tea, in its most British sense, is put on its own exalted throne in my head. Cucumber sandwiches, scones and tea together are like sunshine on a dreary day for me – brightening and beautiful. When I was in England I was so pleased at how much they really did have tea, further cementing that it will always be a warm connection for me and that crazy island.

When I studied Russian Studies, and briefly became a slavophile as well, I was overjoyed to find reference after reference to tea peppering the pages of all my favorite Russian literature. It was like meeting a new friend and becoming ecstatic at the shared similarities and interests – “oh you like tea? ME TOO! We were clearly meant to be friends”. Russians, the long, dead and published ones anyway, had such a reverence for tea that it was one more thing to pull me in. Between the black humour, poeticism of their prose, and love of tea it was no wonder that I fell headlong into love with Russian Studies. I even tried to drink tea “Russian style”, minus a samovar (which, to this day, I am still hoping to have one day.) In the Russian Studies department (this is all I can speak to having never been anywhere close to Russia) they drank the tea black with a bit of sugar. I made a valiant attempt at adopting this style but it wasn’t to be, the tea was too dark for me. (Rhyme unintended.)

On the other end of the spectrum is The Captain who drinks his tea with milk but no sugar. In an attempt at healthiness I thought that I, too, would drink my tea sans sugar, but that quickly fell by the wayside as well. I do try to use less sugar than I used to, and console myself with the idea that my tea is at least marginally healthier than a certain someone’s father, who likes the tea weak, the milk plentiful and the sugar heaping, which The Captain pointed out is essentially milky sugar water. What my tea and the milky, sugar water share is, again, that it is the act of having tea that supersedes the importance of the tea itself.

And I’ve had my own experiences with super sugary tea, although it was when I was first introduced to what would become my great love (tea, sorry captain.) I was just a little thing, probably five years old, when I had my first cup of tea. My mother and I were over at a friend’s house for a playdate, and my friend’s mom made me a tiny cup of tea that was mostly milk and sugar. But I got to have it in a tiny, blue teacup that made me feel like I was some sophisticated, grown up woman. My mother was not pleased that I was having tea, but really it was barely tea in the end. It would be many, many more years before my mother ended up making me some tea, the first of many times. By the time I was drinking tea regularly, I was completely addicted to the romanticism I had associated with tea.

file1231337572098

Cuppa Tea

One of my favourite gifts from my mother was a beautiful tea set she brought back from a trip when I was a teenager. There were six tea cups and saucers, each one in a bright Easter egg version of their colours: blue, yellow, purple, crimson, green and pink, with gold trim on each. The tea set came inside a round, yellow box that reminded me of old hat boxes from the fifties. As a teenager I wasn’t having many tea parties (or any) but I cherished my tea set and kept it with me through the years as I travelled to live in Halifax, Calgary and back to Toronto. On my twenty-sixth birthday I finally made use of my treasured tea set and had a pre-party tea party with four other friends. I made tea but no one except me had any, the guys putting whiskey into their teacups that I forced them to use. But the five of us cheersed our little tea cups together to celebrate my birthday and that was all I needed.

The tea set now rests in a wood and glass cabinet in the kitchen, the exposed brick background behind the cabinet contrasting the delicate white china of the tea sets inside. My colourful tea set sits side by side with tea cups from my grandma, and The Captain’s grandma, and each morning I sit at my table by the window, sunlight streaming in, a mug of tea in my hands and the beautiful tea sets preening from their position of preeminence in front of me.

Almost every morning. I remembered this morning, after I had made the tea of course, that there was only a dribble of milk left and it was past the due date anyway. I wasn’t going to be able to start off my morning with tea! An unmitigated travesty, of course. Except when I opened the fridge door, sitting there on the side shelf in all its glory, was a brand new jug of milk that The Captain had grabbed on his way home from work yesterday. A captain and a hero, clearly.

I poured the deliciously fresh milk into my tea and sat down to revel in my enjoyment of it. It was going to be a good day.

My Salad Odyssey: Learning to Love F***ing Salad

00028

Lettuce Not Eat This

I hate salad. And, for some reason, salad hates me back. Countless times I have had both simple and complex salads that left me quite sick afterwards. In some cases, the salad was so livid with me that it wouldn’t even stick around post-consumption, and would instead proceed to flee from me with alarming alacrity. I won’t go into details.

So salad is not something I generally make. Nor do I always hate it so. My stepmom always makes great salads that I enjoy. But if I were to eat them on a daily basis, I’d have the same salad-fleeing issue as mentioned above.

So what to do? I stopped eating most salads. Out for lunch and craving something lighter? Too bad! Have a heavy burger. Or sandwich or wrap. And fries on the side. And while I know that having a burger and fries doesn’t sound terrible, I think anyone can admit that sometimes you just feel like some lighter fare. Other times, I’d like to at least pretend that I have some inclinations towards healthiness.

So my restaurant orders, bereft of most salads, started to include a lot of caesar salads, but I’m not convinced they are much better than fries. It’s that creamy sauce. And ironically, I prefer the healthier caesars with less creamy dressing, but not enough restaurants make a really good caesar salad. Which, those bastards. It’s not that hard! More garlic, less cream. I am lucky that The Captain makes THE BEST caesar salad at home, which is wonderful. But also terrible. Because that is what ruined me for those other, horrid caesar salads. After a lengthy (restaurant) caesar salad break, I’m back at least tolerating them. Although I stand by the fact that I much prefer the authentic, less creamy ones. But still, I’ll at least now have a side caesar with my meal instead of fries, so some slight salad improvement at least.

At home I still wasn’t making salad, except of course for Crack Salad. Crack salad is THE MOST delicious salad you will ever have. Why do you think it is named after crack cocaine? Shout out to my wonderful stepmom Lisa for the recipe, and Lionel for nicknaming it Crack Salad. Essentially you fry Oriental Mr. Noodles in butter with almonds and sesame, and put it in with green onions and lettuce. Then you dress it up with the most delicious, garlicky salad dressing imaginable. Crack may be whack, but Crack Salad is ambrosia. It is food of the Gods. But it does not count as salad. It is not healthy. In my head, salad has to be healthy to count as salad. And since I don’t eat fruit (another post for another day) it is very hard to have a delicious, healthy salad. Particularly one that doesn’t make me feel like I’m a rabbit.

file4851245125125

Me Eating Salad

Well, I finally found it. I’m on a health kick right now, and I lasted one healthy week of eating a ridiculous amount of broccoli before deciding that I can’t ignore salad anymore. I realized I needed to make my peace with it. I needed to find the answer to a delicious salad that didn’t have Mr. Noodles (fried in butter) in it. And due to the issues alluded to in my first paragraph, it couldn’t contain a lot of cheese and nuts together. So what to do? Well, who doesn’t love caramelized onions? Really, who? “No one” should be the answer. Anyway, caramelized onions are the shit, so I made some. Except I used coconut oil with a touch of butter, and they turned out absolutely fantastic. They literally brought tears to my eyes, although I will admit that was during the chopping process. I also toasted some chopped raw almonds, and added some turkey. Then we “gobbled” it up. Actually, first The Captain made a garlic/balsamic dressing that is so good, it should get a goddamn oscar for “Best Dressing” in a salad production. Unfortunately due to the balsamic it isn’t white enough for the academy, so that bastard caesar salad will win again.

Even if it doesn’t win officially, it won for me. I was surprised at how great it tasted. It was as good as it was simple and healthy. And I had no issues afterwards. I think the lack of a cheese and nut combo, as well as its simplicity, was what sealed the deal for my overly sensitive stomach.

I can’t come out and say that I suddenly love salad and that I am now one of those salad girls. I am not. I hate eating like I am a goddamn rabbit. But, encouragingly, there wasn’t one moment that I felt rabbit-like as I consumed my turkey onion salad. It’s a small step, but a big one. Besides, the first step in an odyssey always is.

I guess this means that when it comes to salad, I can no longer “leaf” it alone.

Boom.

In the Beginning…

The Exile from Young Exec to Captain’s (House)wife

Moving from “the big city” to a little “city” was never our plan, but sometimes the best laid plans of captains and women gang aft a-gley. Or, in modern parlance, shit happens.

Last March my fiance wound up with a new job that took him away from the city. For awhile we tried to avoid moving there, but eventually realized it was the best overall option. I gave up my burgeoning advertising career (okay just the job) and temporarily took on a new role: small town housewife. Working for one of the big telecoms certainly had its moments, but it would take me years and years (and years) to reach the amount my future husband makes now as a captain. I’m not sure what that speaks to, the lack of captains or the overabundance of wannabe advertising sales reps. Probably both. Certainly one of these jobs requires a lot of work to even get into, and it isn’t mine. Either way it meant that we were better off moving. If it had been the reverse, he would have happily been the one to stay home in an instant. But that was not to be.

I’d like to just appreciate the time at home to put our little place together and settle in before I look for work, but I often feel the need to over-justify it. I think growing up with a “I don’t need no man to take care of me” mentality still can’t quite reconcile that I’m (even temporarily) a stay at home wife (to be.)

(For simplicity’s sake and “phrasing sound” I said captain’s wife but technically it’s a…hopefully (ha)…prophetic title as we are not yet wed. The planning is in the works and the date is set for the end of this year.)

I may go into more details at another date, but suffice to say that we found an adorable little flat about 20 minutes from The Captain’s work (henceforth, he shall be referred to this way). This house also has a seafaring history, in that it was originally owned by a Canadian shipbuilder – not that the house ever spent time on the high seas. It’s 150 years old, built in 1865, and we have an upper flat in this, thankfully renovated, house. There’s lots of exposed brick, crown moulding, and fireplaces. It’s a great little spot to be a stay-at-home anything, particularly as one half of a young, childless couple. So we’re happy where we’re living and adjusting to the change of pace. In the city I worked long hours that often didn’t coincide with The Captain’s, but here we’re able to get reacquainted. Still, we both grew up in the city and going from six million people to a hundred thousand is…different. Working all the time to not working at all is also…different.

The flat is our new little kingdom, our Isle of Exile, and this blog is my “well if I’m not working I might as well start a blog” blog. Welcome!