Saturday, September 13, 2014


Actor Boy has this idea that doing a theatrical piece with his mother is an interesting work to create.  We started this voyage with a simple improvised stage piece that we (he did most of it) performed for small theater festivals locally and on the west coast.  It was reasonably successful and we had alot of fun comments about how cool for a mother and son to go on stage together.

Not enough.  Actor Boy decided we should do another piece.  Our ancestry is from Poland so his idea was to travel back to Poland and research our geneology and find our Polish roots.  It's been quite a ride and I just returned from our second trip to Poland.  The first trip in November 2013 was about research.  We drove all around Poland's countryside, went to both my parents' home towns, were able to find documents and history, met alot of people and ate alot of Polish food.  It was good.  This trip was slightly different.  We spent 2 weeks in a theatre that was entirely black (they call it a black box theatre - imagine that), working on creating a piece of work, or part of it and then performing for a couple of audiences who would give us feedback and suggestions.  We would start early in the morning and work until about 8 p.m. and start all over again the next morning.  That shattered any notion of this being a trip to a foreign country being even remotely romantic.

The one thing I managed to salvage for my own interests was learning more about Polish food.  Most local food is heavily meat laden but since I was travelling with 6 other people, most of whom were either vegetarian or vegan we didn't spend much time sampling local meat meals.  I did learn to take some meat meals and adjust them and learned a whole lot about salads.

My favourite salad, a potato type salad is called Sawata.  I had to come home and make it right away.  It's a little time consuming with all the tiny chopping but so worth it and I even found some shortcuts.


3-4 potatoes boiled in their jackets and cooled
3-4 hard boiled eggs
2-3 dill pickles, diced small (I used Vlasic pickles)
peas and carrots - I used 1/2 bag of frozen peas and carrots - worked great
(if you prefer you can boil 4 carrots with the potatoes, dice small and add canned,drained peas at the end)
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 heaping Tbsp dijon mustard
3-4 Tbsp mayonnaise


1.  Boil potatoes and cool before peeling
2.  Dice potatoes, eggs, dill pickles really small and add to bowl
3.  Add 1/2 bag or more (1 1/2 cups) frozen peas and carrots
4.  Add mustard and mayo and gently combine all finishing with the chopped parsley.

So so good.  This salad is a staple for all Polish celebrations.  There's really no set way to make it and I've seen it with boiled parsnip in it as well - equally as good.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cream of Potato Soup with Garlic Scapes and Swiss Chard

I mentioned in my last post that my favourite son in law will occasionally send me an email asking for new recipes.  I'm glad that he enjoys cooking and actually he's pretty good at it.  What I particularly like about R's style is that he doesn't cut corners.  He reads the recipe, gives it consideration, makes sure he has all the ingredients and if he doesn't, goes out to get them and spends the time and gives the energy into creating his works of art.  A good attitude goes a long way so I'm always happy to help resource what he's looking for.

This time R sent out an SOS because they had an overabundance of scapes.  I went through my Pinterest boards and sent him about 6 or 8 links to chose from.  After consideration, he chose
Cream of Potato Soup with Garlic Scapes and Swiss Chard.

Now, in my last post I also mentioned that R goes to great lengths to get to me.  For That Girl's sake
I'm sharing R's response to me after he sent me a link and a picture and suggested I post it on the blog..

Your last post was mediocre. It didn't capture the emotion or the spirit of the salad. In order to mitigate the the risk of another mediocre post, I am instituting creative control on all future posts about my meals. Please prepare the post for my approval within three working days. Also, I want 80% of the revenues related to posts about meals I prepare.

In spite of the fact that I'm leaving the country tomorrow for a couple of weeks I did promise R to have this up before I left.  When he told me that this soup was a total keeper I was thrilled and am happy to share it with you.  It does look pretty delicious, if I say so myself.

Sorry R, I don't have 3 working days for you to execute your creative control .  AND, you can have 100% of all the revenues since there aren't any.
2 Tablespoons Butter (or olive oil for vegans)
5-6 Garlic Scapes
2 cloves regular garlic, minced
3 russet potatoes unpeeled, diced
4-5 Cups homemade vegetable stock (enough to cover potatoes)
1 bunch of Swiss Chard, stemmed
1 stem of fresh Oregano
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 of a Lemon
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Cup of Sour Cream (optional, but highly recommended)

Saute Garlic Scapes in butter for about 2 minutes. Add minced Garlic and diced potatoes. Stir and saute in butter or olive oil another 2 minutes, add some kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Add vegetable stock, bring to boil. Turn to low and cover- let simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, check to see if potatoes are done. They should easily be pierced with a fork. It's okay if they are a little over cooked because they are going to get pureed anyway. Add fresh Oregano, parsley, and chard. Let simmer on low another 5 minutes. Turn off heat. 

With an immersion blender, puree the potato soup, leaving some lumps. 
Season with Juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 1/4 cup of sour cream.
Garnish with any combination of the following: fresh parsley, chive flowers, fresh ground black pepper, crispy bacon crumbles, or crunchy onions.

The picture would look even better if you used the good camera and not your Iphone :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quinoa Chickpea and Feta Salad

My favourite son in law "R" (he's also my only son in law) and I have this rather interesting relationship.  The banter between us (zinging is probably a better word) is pretty ongoing.  He loves to get to me and two of his favourite topics are usually around our well known mayor Rob Ford or how dedicated we are to posting on the blog.  He probably cares very little about each topic and when I give it right back to him, he'll turn to whoever happens to be in the room and say "you see what I have to put up with".

Occasionally I'll get an email from him asking if I have any good recipes.  He's always attracted to the healthier vegetarian recipes and he'll review what I send him and surprisingly will find something that interests him and he goes ahead and makes it.  Pretty impressive.

Recently he went on one of his rants saying he'll be doing a guest post and make sure he puts both Psychgrad and me to shame.  The rant goes something like this:

R:  I haven't seen you post anything lately.  What's going on???

Me:  I posted not long ago.

R:  I take pictures and nobody ever puts up what I make.

Me:  You want me to put up something you made?

R:  Well, don't you think you should be? .... you get the idea.

I recently sent him a blogpost for Quinoa Chickpea and Feta Salad and he made it.  I asked him where the picture was and he actually had taken a picture and sent it to me.  WOW!!  So "R" here's your post. Your salad looks pretty darned amazing.

1 cup quinoa (beige or red or black)
1 cup water
1 can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
1 1/2 chopped unpeeled cucumbers
1 pint cherry or baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup sliced baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
To taste Salt and pepper

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, spinach and about half of the feta.

Gently toss in the cooled quinoa; do not overmix or stir.
Whisk vinegar, salt, honey and smoked paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle over the combined salad ingredients; toss gently. Add vinaigrette; avoid overdressing. Top with feta; serve immediately.