Holiday Leftovers

We enjoyed a variety of food over the Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day that we do not need to prepare meals for the next few days.

Half of our fridge is filled with storage containers of a variety of foods. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cheeses, meats, desserts and all of the other sides that went with the meals. If the kids get hungry- they can mix and match the leftovers.

Yesterday and today I’ve been working on a turkey soup as well. Boiling the remainder of meat off the bones. It has created an excellent aroma in our home that adds a coziness to our castle. That’s tomorrow night’s lunch/dinner. Later today we will make what we call “Turkey Slop”. Mashed potatoes, gravy and turkey meat all mixed together in a pot. I cannot wait to enjoy it this evening.

Did you make an abundance of food over the holidays? Do you enjoy leftovers as well? Let me know in the comments what you do with your turkey leftovers.

Dinner: Disassembled

One of our favorite meals involves using wraps. It’s a fun and easy way to serve dinner. Plus it means the kids have to do some of the work.

Fresh vegetables this time of year are a must. Crisp green lettuce and firm juicy tomatoes add to the enjoyment. Sometimes we slice up an avocado or peppers as well.

Seasoned ground beer is our most commonly used main part of the dish. Using a Cast Iron pan keeps the meat warm and is great to go from stovetop to oven as well. (Sometimes we substitute grilled chicken with taco seasoning.)

Add a bit of sour cream and shredded cheese, wrap it up and enjoy. Wraps are very versatile. We also make a wicked garlicky grilled chicken caesar wrap. On quick meal making days, a can of refried beans, salsa and leftover rice makes a tasty burrito.

Since it’s dinner at home, a cold beer or some tequila is a great way to wash it all down. Lots of smiles and full bellies afterwards “wraps” up a family dinner.

Grilling on a Long Weekend 

This weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday. So naturally people have a long weekend planned.  Either today or Monday off.  I’m planning on enjoying the time with my family tomorrow during the day.  An old friend of mine will be visiting in the evening for dinner.  Pretty subdued and relaxed. My favorite part of the weekends in the summer? We are going to BBQ!  

I forgot to Instagram my dinner tonight.


Smart shopping and preparing meals is another aspect of my father that I took away from him.  Sure, when I was younger I just wanted to take off instead of help.  But I did learn a lot about being a savvy shopper when it come to meat.  I learned to buy in larger quantities and separate the meat into meals.  Today I bought some grilling steaks and divided them into three meals for the five of us.  As I trimmed the fat off the meat, I remember clearly my father explaining the easiest way to do this to avoid waste.  

I also recall late afternoons on weekends, my father would come home from his morning golf game and we would watch PBS.  Sometimes it was “This Old House” or “Fawlty Towers”, usually it was “The Frugal Gourmet”.  I would sit on the floor and play with my Transformers or Lego and the show would be on as background noise. The room we had was segregated from the kitchen with a half wall. When cooking at the stove, you would face the tv.  My father would be in the kitchen preparing our weekend meal and talk to no one in particular about “what a good idea” when he saw something on the tv.


Maybe it was subconscious.  Maybe I took my father’s acknowledgement of the show as intelligent.  Whatever it was, I have become a great chef in our home.  I can make some of the most flavorful meals around with some of the simplest ingredients.  I love experimenting with foods and spices.  Not to mention accompanying sides.  This summer, I look forward to all of the meals that we can cook and enjoy outside.  Hopefully I can convince our children to help out.  Maybe they could learn a thing or two.  Sort of how I did- even without my father being aware of it.

Restaurants

I worked in kitchens a few times throughout my career. Working in a fast food burger joint at age 16 taught me that people are assholes and expect first class dining on a shoestring budget. I have nothing but the utmost respect for McDonald’s employees when I see them working hard.  For a brief time when I worked at the movie theater, I worked in the kitchen (which was similar to a pub) and learned what a real dinner rush was. People had limited time to enjoy their meals before a showtime, & other staff members also had limited break times.  


My best experience working in a restaurant was Chuck E. Cheese’s. I loved the kitchen- I mastered every aspect of it. Ordering produce, preparing dough, rotating stock, and getting creative in my own personal pizzas. The staff began to beg me to make pizzas all the time because I made every bite count. I diced vegetables and spread them evenly. Or I marinated the chicken with Italian dressing for a bit before using it.  I’ve always loved cooking.


Last night we had some people over for a little BBQ to celebrate my wife and I being married for 15 years.  I made deep fried pita bread for the spinach dip my wife made.  My wife had marinated the pork kebabs that I grilled up.  I made my “fancy sandwiches” and my wife set up cupcakes with edible butterflies on them. Part of being married for so long is that we can complement each other’s styles of foods thus creating a caring and fantastic feast for our friends.  That’s not something you can learn in a restaurant.  Sure, you can learn what foods pair well with which wines, but putting love and care into your food is something you feel.

Sometimes at dinner we ask the kids to list off the ingredients they can taste in the meal.  More often than not, one of them will answer “Love” is an ingredient.  After last night’s dinner for our friends, I believe it to be true now.  My wife and I put “Love” into what we cook on a regular basis.

To quote a song from The Kids in the Hall: 

I guess you want to know what’s in this pie.

Well… there’s two cups love, a cup and a half of understanding,

A tablespoon of good old-fashioned compassion,

Sugar to taste,

And you know what? The ovens are our hearts

Opening up

It’s not very often that we have company stay over for more than just one meal.  Sharing a meal is about all the time we can squeeze out of our busy lives.  In other cases, that’s about all the interaction we can handle with other humans.  So opening up our home and inviting a non-related adult person for a weekend is a rare occurrence.  Almost like the Olympics it seems- about once every four years. 

We gladly open our home, but only every four years.

 
The last time we were in Calgary, a friend of ours whom we met years ago through the convention circuit, mentioned she would be out our way.  We offered to meet up with her and spend some time away from the comic con lifestyle and just shoot the shit.  She was attending a work summit in Whistler, BC so we drove out to meet her.  We returned to our home and had this other person stay with us for a couple of nights.  Of course not only did we have to supply a private room​ and clean linens for our guest, I even had to feed this person.  Not just dinner, but numerous meals.  I’m not going to lie to you, I enjoyed it.  

I love to cook.  I love to show off my mad culinary skills.  I love to discuss how I make the food- from preparing to cooking to displaying to eating.  The majority of my friends know that if they want to meet up for a dinner with my wife and I, I never suggest a restaurant.  I would much rather make a home cooked meal.  Even our children’s friends want to come back for meals more often.

Not only did we set the table, I built it from scratch as well.


Besides patting myself on the back about how amazing I am at being a chef, I am also a perfectionist when it comes to food.  I time everything to be ready at the same moment.  This can often lead to a bit of organized chaos in the kitchen/dining area/patio (or all three) as the meal is being finished.  

But the best part is the enjoyment of eating the meal.  Every meal I made this weekend brought pleasure to our guest.  Not just, “Thanks.  That was good.”  But a pleasure you could witness by the silence.  After our last meal with her, she commented on how great the weekend was and also said, “Seeing someone’s ears move during a meal is a better sign than hearing someone rave about the food.”  This really made me beam inside.

Take a break from life.


She also told us she hasn’t slept that well in weeks until she stayed in our home.  Our lifestyle is laid back.  We didn’t make any plans with her to race around town.  Instead we just woke up when we wanted, relaxed in the backyard,listened to music, shared a few drinks and stories.  It’s a huge sigh of relief to most people when they come out to experience a little bit of nothing.  We gave our friend undivided attention, barely ever reaching for a mobile device.

Perhaps it’s time to invite more people to stay more often.  If you ever want to get away from it all for a couple days of R&R- come to our castle.  You will be greeted like family and treated like royalty without even realizing it.

Home cooking

We returned home yesterday afternoon from our vacation (more like a rather fun business trip) and my wife & I decided that we’d do one more meal out for dinner.  We unloaded the car and then hit our favorite sushi restaurant- Nikko Sushi with the kids.  It was like a celebration for a job well done at the conventions and another successful family road trip.  

 

Volcano Rolls. sooooooooo good.

 
Driving for two days means we often stop for fast food (In-N-Out Burger FTW) and neglect our fruit & vegetable intake (French fries don’t count according to my wife).  When we returned home, our fridge was only filled with condiments & beers thus requiring a quick run to get groceries.  The major staples such as bread, eggs & cheese will have to wait- we needed fruits and vegetables STAT.  Luckily we live so close to farmlands that we went to a local vegetable market and stocked up.  Time to eat healthy again!

It also appears that we brought back the nice weather from California so we will be grilling within the next few days.  I’m looking forward to making our own meals and I know my family is as well.  We make preparing mealtimes a family affair. The art of cooking is something I love teaching my children.  They ask about how to make stuff, why we do certain things to the food, and they often want to get in and help on the stove or BBQ.  They help set the table and everyone takes part in serving the food.  However, washing & drying dishes is the chore grumbled at by everyone.

I’m looking forward to our first home cooked meal tonight.  Ribs, roasted cauliflower and a spinach salad are on the menu.  We even have the next few nights planned out as well (BBQ pizza and smokies).  My mouth is watering thinking of all the home cooked meals we are going to make.  Summer is almost here, so I’ll be heading out this afternoon to prepare our vegetable garden for the season.

Good eats everyone!