Welcome to the Workshop

Welcome to the Workshop

Monday, December 12, 2011

Casualties of Expatting.

Expatting is a great adventure. New sights, new sounds and new smells. New faces and friends. 
We have now arrived on the other side of the trickiest part of the process and are happily awaiting a nice, cold Christmas in Toronto.
It is now that I find I have time to reflect on our adventure to date. I certainly have no regrets, and there is a great deal to look forward to still. But let's take a look at what has gone awry.
Certainly the wheels have fallen off of the business 'wagon'. That will be addressed in the new year. Promise!
Possibly the greatest casualty for me has been the loss of my cooking mojo. 

image via here

Once upon a time I loved cooking.  I made sauces from scratch, whipped up fresh pasta and pizza dough and did all sorts of things in the kitchen with my kid. I helped create a recipe book as a school fundraiser, as I just loved the idea of compiling and sharing really useful recipes from other parents. 
And yet, after moving through various kitchens, including family kitchens and hotels, I'm finally settled in my new kitchen but I don't seem to be able to make it 'work'. If you've moved house you'll be familiar with that nesting period in a new place, in which you forget how to boil and egg and seem to burn everything you touch.
My new-found cooking 'Alzheimers' seems to encompass how to boil pasta and make fresh pasta and everything in between. I can't remember what I used to put in my fail-safe risotto or vegetable soup. I can't find ingredients which resemble the ones from home. The vegetable stock (broth) here is MUCH saltier than the one at home so we have all overdosed on taste from time to time as I experiment my way from one culinary disaster to another. Tofu is different, sliced bread is full of sugar (in fact, the sugar content in a lot of things is as disturbing as the levels of salt which seem acceptable!) and even the smell of the bread can make me queasy. There are some great bakeries around offering sour dough and fresh bread options which are a great relief.
Thankfully spaghetti bolognese seems to be truly fail-safe. Phew. Doubly thankfully (interesting word choice) we have been eating out a lot lately. There are lots of great places to eat around here, but in true North-American fashion there are an awful lot of carbs on the menu. If I see another sweet potato fry I may just scream.
There have been a few successes, I even managed to cook a rather nice steak for Husband a few weeks back (the butcher wrote the instructions down for me!).  Not bad for a vegetarian.
And that is another complication. By the time I've figured out a decent meal for my family, I've forgotten to provide a vegetarian option for myself. I wouldn't darken the door of any restaurant which didn't serve a vego option. Yet I rarely provide myself with a nourishing meal (and it's worth mentioning here that I have a very vegetarian-friendly husband, so no excuses there).
Hellooooo Scurvy! Lately I've been inhaling an apple a day in a crazy bid to put something healthy into my system. Enough already.
I've decided to force myself to try a new VEGETARIAN recipe every week. And the only way I will actually be held accountable is if I put that recipe and it's results on the blog. You can all nag me if you notice a lack of food posts. Please.
So here is tonight's dinner....

Cream Of Mushroom Soup
30g butter/margarine
1 tbsp olive oil
half an onion, chopped (I only had a red onion in the fridge)
about 300g mushrooms, sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup cream (I used milk)
salt and pepper to season (if you live in a world with low-sodium broth options)
juice of half a lemon
chopped fresh parsley (nup, didn't have any fresh herbs handy)

1. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan, fry the onions and mushrooms over a medium to high heat for 5 minutes, until softened and most of the juice has evaporated.

2. Add the potato, stock (it's always nice if you can have a French translation on your stock, to add a bit of 'ooh la la' to your cooking) and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

3. Puree the soup (I used a hand blender), stir in milk and gently reheat. Ladle into bowls, squeeze in some lemon juice, top with that fresh parsley that YOU, of course, have on hand. 

We had ours with some crusty baguette and it was actually quite yummy. Husband isn't a big fan of mushrooms but he liked it too. I didn't push my luck and expect Poppet to eat it. Not many kids eat mushrooms after all..

Yay for me! I cooked, darn it.


  1. I think your dilemmas holds as many dilemmas as cooking for one does....I managed to grab hold of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg Everyday Cookbook....it might solve your dilemmas...and it may just get you back into the cooking groove. Vic x

  2. will keep an eye out for it. the bookstore has so many hundreds of cookbooks, it's too much to sift through! i picked up a nice simple vego book from the chemist for 8 bucks. and like some of jamie oliver's new stuff. fingers crossed.

  3. Jen...here is another book that I ordered from Amazon that turned up today...it's a vegetarian book as well....I'm trying to have more meat free meals per week now....This book is beyond fabulous....it was recommended to me and I'm recommeding it to you...although you may already know about it. Vic x


  4. thank you! i haven't seen that one. good excuse to hit amazon...


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