Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Thankful Tidbits

Thankful Tidibits

I hope everyone had a wonderful 100 Mile Thanksgiving. I have plenty to be thankful for. Let's start with the fact that I got to spend a wonderful evening with my DH and his family down in Victoria last night. DH was initially scheduled to work yesterday, but he got unceremoniously bumped off the schedule and so we packed ourselves into the car and headed down island and see his folks. What started as a spontaneous drive down island and to take his folks out for lunch, ended up with us joining his family for a delicious postponed Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and even a wonderful pumpkin chiffon pie. Isn't it wonderful how things just kinda fall into place?

All along the way, we saw mountains of pumpkins at all the local farm stands. They were orange beacons of autumn lighting our way down the highway.

This Thanksgiving weekend started with a trip over to Gabriola Island for their 10th Annual Thanksgiving Studio & Gallery Tour. Of course, I stopped over by the farmers market beforehand to grab some veggies and pick up my studio tour buddies who had the inside scoop on who to see. Along our tour route, we also swung by the Good Earth farm to grab some good earth food ;)

I’m amazed by the talent and range of artwork on this tiny island. There was work in every medium imaginable from metalwork to intricate woodcarvings to photography to textiles. I enjoyed chatting with the artists as much as I enjoyed seeing their work. It’s a great way to meet with the creative energy behind the art and in the most gorgeous of settings.

I got a chance to meet Sheila Norgate, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists. Her installation, 'Dangerous Curves', showed in the Nanaimo Art Gallery earlier this year and was a poignant mixed-media critique of women’s bodies and etiquette. She had two series, a dog series and a bird series in acrylic showing in her studio this past weekend. Both had a clever, whimsical style to them and carried a wonderful sense of play. Another artist that stood out was Marcelle Glöck-Picot, a Mudge Island potter. Her pottery style embraces the art of wabi sabi with simple west coast touch. She even uses Mudge Island clay for some of her pieces. A 100 Mile potter!

I also managed to make my way to Indigo Moon Silks to revel in Trish Moon’s naturally hand-dyed ethically harvested raw silk and local wool yarns (I’ll write more about her in another entry soon). She is an amazing weaver and had some deliciously woven shawls and ponchos on sale. A whole day dedicated to local food and local art! I was one thankful kid!

DH and I had a mini-Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday evening. It was nice romantic dinner for two (awwwwwww…ain’t that sweet).

We had a lovely roasted free-ranged chicken from Piper's Meats. Piper’s sells local free-range, properly raised and fed critters of all sizes. A quick massage of olive oil and herbs and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper was all it needed. A properly raised chicken doesn’t need much more.

I threw it in the roasting pan with some baby potatoes, peppers, carrots and onions that I picked up at the Good Earth farm. We also had roasted garlic and pumpkin mash and, of course, gravy. For dessert we had a simple baked bosc pear crumble.

You don't need a fancy schmancy crepe pan for this. Any non-stick pan with do. I used a small non-stick saucepan and a non-stick wok. I don't use any fat in the pan. If your pan bottoms are truly non-stick you don't need any.

Heat up the pans over medium high heat. If they're cooking too fast for you to handle, then bring the heat down a notch. Once the pans are all heated up, bring over your batter, your crepe scoop ( I use a measuring scoop but a ladel or measuring cup will do), plastic turning over doohickey tool (aka spatula), and a plate with a cover to receive the cooked crepes.

I use about 1/3 cup of batter for each crepe. I hold the crepe pan slightly tilted with my left hand and with my right, ladle in the crepe batter into the pan. If you think of the handle as 6 o’clock, pour the batter onto the outer uphill edge of the pan at about 10 o’clock. The batter should start running down smoothly and as it does just slowly tilt the pan around so the batter moves to cover the largest area possible. It doesn't have to be round. Put it back onto the heat. Do not touch the crepe until it's ready to be turned!

So how do I know when it's ready?
You'll see the batter getting bubbling and cooking through and once the edges start getting the slightest bit of colour, lift up one corner of the crepe. The rest of the crepe should lift up easily with it. Flip the crepe and let the other side cook. It shouldn't take too long. If you can slide it back and forth by jiggling the pan it's pretty much ready.

The first crepe is the sacrifice crepe. Sacrifice crepes are a special crepe that is the martyr of the group and allows itself to be used to test the pan's temperature and the batter's consistency. Judging from the sacrifice crepe, adjust your heat and batter accordingly. The sacrifice crepe must be consumed by the cook while cooking the rest of the crepes. It's one of those esoteric French culinary laws. I suggest smearing some Little Qualicum's fromage frais and a drizzle of local dark fir honey onto the crepe then rolling it up for easy handling while you finish cooking up the rest. You wouldn't want to upset any of those French crepe gods, now would you?

Place the done crepes in the waiting plate and keep cover. Throw it into the oven just to keep warm and out of your way.

We had our crepes with fresh local fruits, water buffalo yoghurt from Fairburn farms and some cranberry/blueberry compote.

Crepes are one of those culinary chameleons. You can have them for every meal or as a snack. I tend to make a double or triple amount and freeze the extras. I simply stack them with parchment paper between them and toss them in the freezer. Whenever I want one, I just peel one off and toss it into the nukebox for 10-20 secs. There have been many a times I have been thankful I had a stack of crepes in my freezer.

For sweet crepes just add a spoonful of sweetener to the batter. I prefer honey but you can use sugar or maple syrup or flavoured simply syrup. You can add any ‘sweet’ spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or even a spoonful of cocoa powder for chocolate crepes. You can make them savoury by adding a few pinches of salt and some dried or fresh herbs or even curry powder. Or toss in a spoonful of tapenade or Thai green curry or pesto into the batter. Or leave them for plain-jane-easy-peasy-blank-slate-simply-deliciously naked crepes. For the flour, you can use pretty much any flour from kamut to spelt to buckwheat (which will give you a very French and wheat-free crepe).

The key is to add just a touch of seasoning to the crepe batter but to go full out for the crepe filling.

The filling possibilities are endless. Pretty much anything can be used from leftover curry to seafood salad to a simple smear of butter, sprinkle of brown sugar and squeeze of lemon. You can roll them up like burritos or stuff them to make pockets.

One of my favorite treats as a breakfast or dessert are baked fruit crepes pockets. It’s nothing harder than plopping a spoonful of leftover baked fruit into the centre of a crepe and folding the edges over to make a little fruit filled pouch. Place the pouches with the seam side down onto a baking dish and bake for 15 mins in a 325F. A sprinkle of powdered sugar is all you need to finish off this simple but elegant dish.

That's it for now. I’m hungry. Must eat.


Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge

1 comment:

Gina said...

Great blog!
I love all the cooking tips and ideas. You make it all seem so easy.

Thanks for the crepe tutorial. I made a batch this morning and it was so much easier than I thought it would be.