Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Just wanted to pass on a great memoir with some hilarious food-related content: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen. She lists the top 5 Shame-Based Foods for Mennonite Youth Lunches, this took me back to my jealousy over my friend's Mr. Noodles, oreo cookies, and juice box lunches (the water fountain was the Reems' school beverage). While not Mennonite, but with not so distant Dutch immigrant roots, I now fondly appreciate the homemade goodies, and cheese and mustard sandwiches of my youth.

My favourite food moment in the book was her mother chugging the leftover 'tuna juice' from the can!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Monkey Cake for Monkey Baby

Hey Rach -

Well, the pictures don't need a lot of explanation- here is confirmation that Coby has inherited the Reems sweet-tooth.

The princess is one. My how a year has flown by. It doesn't get any better than a big slobbery-monkey kiss from that little girl.

To make your own monkey cake go here (thanks for the idea Carolyn!).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Apples, Walnuts, Currants: Bread

Hi Smoochy,

(If you are not familiar with Haley's various nicknames, they include the likes of Mooch, Moocho Babe, Achoomy Baab, Smoochy, Haley Bailey, and, not to be forgotten, Baby Baluga.)

Here I am, substituting in a computers class, trying to fill the hours until three o'clock. Basically I circulate through the room and ask the kids (teenagers) how their projects are progressing, they grunt, I lean in, look at their screens and murmur words of encouragement and approval, really having little to no idea what the numbers and lines indicate. Excel: one of the reasons I never took computer class.

It's warm. The computers are buzzing. One boy continues to giggle in a hicuppy sort of way.

So I thought I'd send you a little happiness in the form of an apple-walnut bread recipe.

This recipe is based on the one I made at your house exactly one-year ago, when I was similarly sporadically employed. (As a substitute teacher I find myself with a lot of spare time in September. In October the permanent staff start dropping like flies and I invariably get some work and some colds. Handling sick people's pens and pencils is a quick way to a chest infection).

The impetus for this recipe came from one of Beth Henspberger's books; I switched up the ingredients and the technique. Mine is quite a different beast, but a delicious beast.

Apple Walnut Bread

1 Tbsp yeast

2 Tbsp oil

1/4 cup milk (110 degrees - warm)

3/4 cups water (110 degrees)

1 cup oats
1 and 1/4 cups bran
1 Tbsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp all spice

3 cups peeled, coarsely chopped apple

1/2 cup currants

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3 plus 1/4 cups flour

Combine the oil, milk, water, yeast, and one cup all-purpose flour in a bowl. Mix well and then let it stand for one hour. It will be very bubbly and active after an hours rest.

Add all the remaining ingredients except for the flour. Mix. Add the flour 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Give the dough a good final stir. It should be sticky but it should come together in a big wet ball. Like this:

Now, cover it with a tea towel and let it rise until about double, one hour to one and a half hours.

After the dough has risen prepare your counter by either coating it with oil or flour. The dough will not stick to either surface. Use a spatula to pour the dough onto the counter. Prepare two round casserole dishes or pots, or two loaf pans by coating the vessels in oil.

Use a knife or bench scraper to divide the dough in two. Wet your hands (which prevents the dough from sticking to you) and shape the dough into two rounds or into two loafs. Put the dough into your pans of choice and let it rise for another hour.

Before the dough has finished rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the loaves for about 45minutes, or until nicely browned and hollow sounding when tapped.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Million and one Zucchini

Hi Haley,
Your salmon post inspired/made me really hungry, and I'm picking up some wild salmon this afternoon. I think it's going to be wild.

We might need to put our childhood-nostalgia-recipes project on hold for a few weeks as there are so many seasonal recipes to take advantage of right now. I'm having trouble squeezing in the time for those buttery kidhood favourites.

So this post is for you, as I imagine you've got a small army of zucchini (tricky to spelling, somehow) in the garden, but it's also for our cousin Sonya, who always grows a million and one zucchini, and always asks for new and original recipes, which we fail to supply. Whatever we suggest, Sonya's already tried it. So really, Sonya, if you've already made zucchini pancakes--not breakfast pancakes, but a sort of dinner fritter--then maybe you can just humour me, sooth my ego a little with a, 'looks good, rach, never thought of that!'

I've made these a couple times now, and they've been enjoyed by all who forked full. The recipe is pretty much a cinch, grated zuch, a couple scoops of flour and a couple eggs. The trick to success, is patience in the cooking process. These babies take time, so let them fry for a good eight minutes (ish) on each side, otherwise they will break up in your pan and you will needlessly curse my name aloud.

You can count on one pound of zucchini per 2 adults, and if you're math is as iffy as mine, I'll save you the brainpower: the following recipe feeds 4.

Zucchini Pancakes
2 pounds zucchini, weighed then grated--if you're two lazy to weigh, about 6 medium zuchs
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
salt (at least 1 tsp)

Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Heat up 1-2 Tbsps olive oil on medium heat in a large pan--I use a big skillet. Spoon the mixture into pancakes in the pan, cooking about 4 at a time, and cook for about 8 minutes on each side, depending on your heat, the thickness of your pan, etc. But you want the pancakes to be cooked through or they will be slimy and will fall apart on you. So be very patient.

Top the pancake with one or more of the following (or invent your own topping):
  • corn and tomatoes
  • diced tomatoes with fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil, and coarse salt
  • sour cream
  • yogurt cheese
  • pesto mixed with yogurt
You get the idea.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

No-Flip Barbecued Salmon

Rach (or Auntie Sach as you're known in these parts)-

First of all, we've often discussed our blog weakness - not our fabulous recipes and prowess in the kitchen, not our witty writing, nor our inflated egos - no, it is our photography skills, or lack thereof. However, we are getting better (if you disagree please go to our earliest posts). Your pics have reached the point where I've been secretly submitting some of your photos to the Foodgawking site. After a few were rejected I gave up; then I recently found out about Tastespotting and hoped that they would be friendlier to us amateurs. They were, and I am happy to report that you are no longer just a self-published food photographer you have made it to the fleeting world of food photography fame.

In Chilliwack, all anybody talks about is this year's record breaking Sockeye salmon run. I am feeling slightly nervous for the future of these mighty fish, for it seems that the entire Fraser Valley population is at the river with a fishing rod, or on the reserves getting a great deal. I was feeling that though a bit behind on the salmon mayhem, I needed to join in the excitement. So while Finn attended a 3-year old birthday party I made my inquiries. I felt that I had the right crowd - these were local Chilliwack-ians, the kind of people who would be able to direct me to my rock-bottom-priced, back-of-the-truck, fresh-off-the-river sockeye. The next thing I knew I was being given my party goody-bag, 3 nice packages of already filleted salmon from one of the next door neighbour's four stocked freezers.

You'll appreciate the thrill of free fish, and the added excitement of already filleted fish. While you and I, with the aid of Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking, have recently tackled a salmon filleting project, I was quite happy to turn this task over to Chilliwack's fishing elite.

I've made salmon a few times this summer, I was given some good advice from Julie, Mike's aunt, who uses a no-flip barbecuing method. I have always wanted to love salmon, but was never quite there. Julie's salmon changed this for me. I've tried this method a few times this summer with good success. I've deviated from her brown sugar marinade and used maple syrup, soy sauce and rosemary. The picture is a travesty, as it was taken earlier this summer with a poor old frozen Safeway special. The fish that graced our table last week was of a whole other caliber.

No-Flip Barbecued Salmon

You need at least 1 Salmon Fillet

Combine marinade (optional, you could just use lemon, salt, and pepper):
1 T chopped rosemary
1 T soy sauce
1 T (or so) maple syrup
pinch of pepper

Pour over salmon in dish. Cover and refrigerate for as much time as you have.

Put salmon on preheated (medium heat) barbecue grill, skin-side down. Cook with the lid down for 15 minutes.


Stay tuned for another Krentenbroot update. We are in the midst of devouring our second loaf.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rach - I'm loving our new look but am concerned that I'm the gingerbread man.

Haley- How fast are you?

Well, I've run away from a little old woman, and a little old man, -and though you're the runner in the family, given that scary rolling pin- you can't catch me because I'm the gingerbread man!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting Sauced


That got your attention didn't it? Apple sauced, that is. It's September, and we're deep into apples. I suspect that apple peeling is going to be annual photo shot. Just another way of sneaking kiddie photos into a food blog.

Here's last year's apple peeling pic. What a difference a year makes- from snoozing to sneaking apple peels -the little princess is turning one in a week today. And Finn is hard core into apple preparation (get it? core?). He asks me several times a day if he can peel apples, now if I could just channel that enthusiasm into laundry folding or toy pick-up..

The exciting (for me) difference between the two pictures is that I got smart and realized that the base of the peeler would suction onto my patio table. For indoor peeling I actually need to crank with one hand and hold the thing down with the other. We were seriously considering getting rid of the outdoor table and picking up a smaller table for the deck, but due to its secondary apple peeling function, the table has managed to stave off a purge.

I'm actually posting on cake, not sauce. Do you remember that mom had an almond apple cake recipe floating around the counter last year? I lost my old apple cake recipe and turned to the almond apple cake. Since I didn't have any ground or whole almonds I had to completely modify the recipe. In fact, I think that the only thing I kept the same was the topping. Which is good because I can't remember the original recipe source. It tasted great and in an effort to save this recipe for future repeats, I am blogging it.

For non-Reems-readers: Joan, our tiny little mom (she's small, I can almost fit her in my pocket), has a stack of various recipes newspaper clippings, torn magazine pages, and photocopied cookbook pages from work colleagues, all in a stack, usually on the counter by my parent's phone. I have a similar muddle of recipes in a basket at my house. I would hazard that 95 % of these recipes are never actually tried. However, it is great fun to browse through them - I often copy these recipes down and continue to not try them at my house.

Apple Cake

5 largish apples, peeled and sliced


Mix together wet ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract (optional, could use vanilla)

Then add dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Mix the whole lot together with 2/3 cup butter milk (Or do as I do and use regular milk with just shy of 1 T lemon juice).

Layer half of the apples in a greased 9 inch springform. Spread over half the batter (will be a thin layer). Next layer the rest of the apples and top with final batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min

Then top with topping and bake for a final 10 min


2 T melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup toasted chopped pecans or slivered almonds

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You've inspired me to make a batch of tomato sauce this September. I'm going to be needing some short cuts this winter; my baby is turning one next week, so it's back to work. it's only half time, which in theory should give me the other half of the week to make meals and organize our lives - but you know me- you're my sister, and beyond that, you've helped me organize my pantry. That might be an interesting psychology study: What does one's cupboards reveal about one's life? Well, at least mine would rule out any Obsessive Compulsive tendencies (well, besides the need to buy oatmeal..).

OK, I'm rambling. I just wanted to exclaim over your beautiful cans, and to marvel at the labels - which I'm assuming are Caleb's contribution to the Speller pantry.

Summer's End Tomato Sauce

Hi Haley,

I was sorting through my pantry cupboard and thinking of you, and of last year when you and I tackled the job of reorganizing your kitchen…I’m getting sentimental, particularly when I think of those raisins strewn throughout your pantry. Pantry cleaning is very boring without you. My pantry doesn’t have nearly as many hilarious surprises (ten bags of half-finshed oats). Although, I did find a small bag of peanut butter chips. I don’t even like peanut butter chips, but I made the mistake of undoing the twist tie and suddenly they disappeared. You know what it’s like embarking upon a distasteful task; food is such a comfort.

Anyhow, the point of this post is to pass on to you my end-of-summer tomato sauce. I know we are supposed to be posting nostalgic recipes from childhood but this recipe just couldn't wait.

Your garden is likely overrun with tomatoes, whereas Caleb and I celebrated the growing of three single tomato plants this summer. We actually were really happy because in our absence these last two months, they didn’t receive a lick of water, except for what was sent from above, yet they managed to survive and bear fruit, but not enough for a pot of sauce. So I went down to SunWing farm and picked up a giant flat.

I like to can the sauce but you can also just toss it in your freezer. I jar it because I don’t have a large freezer, and I also like to have it right on hand, no defrosting necessary, so when I’m home from work and out of ideas for dinner, I can just toss it in a pot with some veggies.

The recipe calls for 5 pounds of tomatoes. I wouldn’t attempt doubling that unless you have a very large pot. Also, don’t use an aluminum pot or a cast-iron pot or your sauce will taste funny as tomatoes don’t do well in these materials.

And I think that’s all.

Except for the Sauce.

Basil Tomato Sauce

5 pounds tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
one handful fresh basil

Wash and quarter the tomatoes

Heat the oil in a large pot and add the tomatoes and basil.

Let simmer until the tomatoes are soft, about 30 min.

Pass the tomatoes through a food mill. (You can buy a food mill at any kitchen store or at a thrift shop. They have a handle that turns and pushes the food through a seive. This way, you end up with a suace and the tomato skin and seeds are left behind. You cannot use a blender in place of the food mill.)

Return the sauce to the pot, turn the heat up and reduce the sauce to the consistency of a thick juice. Voila, you are done.

If you would like to can the sauce, place clean jars in a canning pot as you make the sauce. You must boil them for 15 minutes to steralize the glass. Keep the jars hot before filling them with the sauce. Return the jars to the canner and process in boiling water for 30 minutes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oma's Krentenbrood Take 1

Well Rach -

In our first childhood nostalgia challenge, I'm not ready to post my final recipe for Oma's Krentenbrood (Dutch for raisin bread). The first loaf was heading in the right direction, but it's not there yet. I have a few adjustments to try in order to replicate a true Oma loaf. I carefully followed her recipe (as dictated to me post-swim over coffee last year in the Commonwealth Pool cafe), but have to do some tinkering.

For those who haven't had the pleasure of a slice of Oma Krentenbrood, I'll give you a quick run down. Oma is past her baking days, but in her prime she was the queen of several recipes that she sporadically produced from her kitchen (Oma would rather read a book or go for a swim then spend an extended amount of time in the kitchen). She was infamous for showing up with her signature dense rectangular loaf, packed full of raisins and Christmas peel. This was not a light, airy bread, but you couldn't beat anything like a toasted slice of Oma's raisin bread slathered in butter (or of course, in our childhood home that would be margarine). Looking back, I feel that Oma was somewhat smug about her grandchildren's love for this bread, and knew that part of the appeal was the scarcity of supplied goods.

My issues were along the lines of texture and shape- I feel that an unusual pan shape is key to reaching the childhood long rectangular slices (no rising dome top to this bread)- maybe you should go have a rummage through her cupboards one more time to find the necessary loaf pan - definitely bigger than your average loaf pan, but I feel like it was smaller than a 9 inch square pan. I also think that I need my dough needs to be a bit wetter. I'm going to increase the liquid next time.

That said, we are down to our last two slices, the kids and I are fully indulging in our chock full of dried fruit, white flour deliciousness.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More Cheese

Love the camping nachos! I see great potential for our California surf/camp trip next summer, particularly as Southern Cal is the land of avocados--at farm market stands specializing in avocados,you can expect to find five or six varieties. Who knew such wonders lie south of the border? Arnold is not the the only state phenomena. (He once tried to pick up Caleb's mom, as a matter of fact. That's a little piece of Speller-family trivia for you).

Anyhow, I thought I'd better follow up on my cheese story. Otherwise, you'd think I failed miserably. When in fact, I experienced roaring success, and a small ovation from my dinner guests that evening. I ended up mixing the cheese with a little pesto and serving it as an appy. I sent my friends home with the recipe and their committed to experimenting with more cheese related products.

Okay, so I decided to make yogurt cheese because it's the easiest cheese to make. One doesn't actually have to do anything...Except buy a piece of cheese cloth, which is sold at ANY self-respecting grocery store. So, Haley, no trying to substitute a random piece of fabric you have floating around the house because you can't be bothered with going down to the store and ferreting out a proper piece of cheese cloth. Go. Buy it. No excuses.

Once you have your cheese cloth, you double it over a couple times and the place it in a colander. Then you scoop a lump of yogurt into the cheese cloth. Set the colander into a bowl. It's nice if you can get the colander to sort of hang on the edges of the bowl because the moisture from the yogurt is going to drip through the cheese cloth and the colander into the bowl, leaving you with extra thick yogurt the consistency of cream cheese. This will take six hours or more, so just pop the whole mess in your fridge and go tend to the young ones.


P.S. I can't wait to start our nostalgia cooking series. Readers--Haley and I will be featuring recipe favourites from our youth. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Camping Nachos

Well Rach,

While you were bread and cheesing your way across Europe, we were snuggled up in our Trillium. Yes, we've kicked up our camping a bit. No more tenting for the Campbell family, no we're a yuppy RV family now.. well, about as posh as a 1970s bowler with walled-carpeting (no, not wall-to-wall, carpet ON the walls). But isn't she a beauty?

Lately I've noticed that it seems to be trendy to make lists of awesomeness. And since I'm nothing if not trendy, I'm going to provide you with my list for today:

Uninterrupted Sleep: Wistfully Awesome
Uninterrupted Meals: Elusively Awesome
Washroom Privacy: Wouldn't that be nice Awesome
Personal Space: What's not to love about 2 small bodies permanently attached to your lap, hip, neck, leg kind of Awesome
Finn smearing his whole body with Old Spice deodorant: Hilariously Awesome
Finn referring to said deodorant as 'pit stick': Inappropriately Awesome
Nap time: Blissfully Awesome
Baby slobber kisses: Heart-meltingly Awesome
Roughing it with the Trillium: Retro-y and Cozily Awesome
Camping Nachos: Awesome

While planning a camping trip with the Vermettes this past August, we hadn't yet realized the brilliance of having a personal chef and handy man a short tent trailer away. After a few nights of camping- eating gourmet meals and sleeping in the luxury that is the Trillium- staying in a hotel, or even living in our own house, now feels a bit like we're slumming it.

If you don't have your own personal Jeff, then here are his directions for making your own camping nachos:

Before you go
-buy inexpensive non-stick cookie sheet
-modify sheet with drill by drilling 1/4 inch holes at 1 inch spacings
-use Dremel to remove burrs/sharp or rough edges left by drill
-NOTE: can also buy perforated non-stick cookie sheet - in the bbq section of local big box store. saw some at canadian tire. but of course it's way more fun to make your own

Camping Nachos
-preheat BBQ on highest setting for 10 minutes
-(can also be cooked over fire, so in that case - prepare coal base in fire pit (if no fire bans))
-spread out layer of nacho chips of choice on cookie sheet
-layer nacho ingredients of choice (we had - cooked italian sausage meat, tomatoes, olives, jalapeƱos(?), and of course, lots of cheese)
-repeat for 2 or 3 layers
-lower BBQ to medium, and cook nachos with lid on, about 10 minutes, till hot, and cheese is melted. Bottom chips will be slightly toasted, and any cheese that falls on the pan will be crispy bits (yum!)
-if cooking over fire, try to cover with something (foil?)
-serve with salsa, gauc, and sour cream

-fresh lime juice
-tomatoes - diced really small
-ground cumin
As far as we can remember, that was it.

Of course any ingredients people like on nachos can be used, but this is what we had on hand camping. If we were more prepared, we may have brought along: banana peppers, red or green peppers, onions... (these are mostly items Jeff would add).
Other meat ideas: Cajun flavoured chicken breast, diced up small; ground beef cooked with taco seasoning...

Well Rach, there you have it. Camping nachos. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Brote met Kaas

Dearest sister,

Our culinary experience in Europe can be summed up quite simply by three Dutch words: 'brote met kaas.' Translation: bread with cheese. In Germany, it came on pumpkin-seed buns slathered in butter then blanketed in thick wedges of soft cheese, followed by tomatoes and leafy lettuce. We found these sandwiches in train stations, bus stations, subway stations, neighbourhood bakeries, mall food-courts, and coffee shops.

In Holland, the quality of bread slipped marginally; the vegetables disappeared, and cheese was served with or without a generous portion of ham. Here, the gouda reigned supreme. A breakfast spread was not complete without a plate of sliced gouda, both plain and spiced, snuggled up against a selection of sliced meats. (Naturally, in Holland we were also treated to the likes of liverwurst, cheese pate, frites with mayo, olibollen, panekoek, croquettes, and raw herring.).

We crossed the border into France and were promptly handed a baguette lined with cheese and our choice of veggies. We each ate one, yes, a whole baguette, in a graffitied bunker in the rain, before resuming our bike journey to Paris. We quickly learned the meaning of the word 'fromagerie.' The prices were just as wonderful as the cheeses. In the south of France we ate fresh cheve, just delivered by the farmer to the bin. We tried stinky cheese, and grey cheese, but not bright orange cheese, which Caleb balked at. In Ireland there was cheddar and squash bread and scones, and those giant, weighty loaves they call soda bread.

Yesterday I popped into the grocery store for a few necessities. I stopped at the cheese fridge and nearly cried. Little scraps and squares marked eight dollars, or blocks of Kraft, dyed bright orange, for a more reasonable price.

Tomorrow I will make a pot of spreadable cheese. If I am successful, I will post images and a recipe. If my experiment goes awry, you will hear nothing more on the topic.

Your loving sister,