Category Archives: About Food

Food Waste Reduction Challenge 2010: Week 2

Food Waste Reduction Challenge - February 2010

Week 2 is done!!

So far, not bad. I only bought items that we needed for the week, and we’re doing a great job of using them up. I didn’t actually make my goal for the week – to start a freezer bag of veggie ends to use in the making of a broth. Boo! I really didn’t have many ends of things in the dishes I made… so no real need for it yet.

Goal #2: Make some room in the crowded freezer by using stuff up!! I already started with some rhubarb that I got from my mother-in-law’s garden, then froze. I’m also trying to think of something yummy to do with the ends of artisan bread (any good recipes, guys?). Those guys are taking up way too much space in my freezer!!

This week’s wins:

  • Bag o’ frozen rhubarb – I’ve had this for around 2 years, and was worried it would taste like death freezer burn. It was just fine! So I used it to make a nice sauce for my crêpes. I did end up putting two portions of sauce back into the freezer, but these are two really narrow freezer bags that take up MUCH less space than the big bag of frozen rhubarb.
  • Remembered to use up the tomato paste – you know how sometimes you only need a spoonful, and then you put the rest in the fridge and you find it a couple of weeks later growing its own ecosystem? We nicely avoided this by using the rest in a pizza sauce.
  • The rest of a lonely mozzarella ball was also put to good use on the pizza. We prefer stronger cheeses, so sometimes its hard for us to use up mozzarella before it turns into a bouncy ball. Another good use of leftover mozzarella is in a cheesy broccoli soup.

This week’s casualties:

  • A wee bit of what was once an edible rind from a soft cheese that was incredibly ripe (the rind gets really bitter when it’s overripe… so I had to sacrifice it). The middle was still tasty, though.
  • Some once delicious MIL-made strawberry jam that has seen better days. These things hide in the dark corners of our fridge, until one day we dig them up and wonder how they stayed there so long. I’m not sure how this one moved here with us… and now it comes back to haunt me in a month where I’m trying not to throw out food.


The thing about challenges is that they are, well, challenging.

Part of the reason I started this blog is to challenge myself to try new things, learn some new dishes and have fun. I was told about a site called the Daring Kitchen, where challenges are issued each month and members are required to follow the same recipe (with few alterations permitted). This was just the kick start I needed, so I signed up for an account. I won’t actually hear back about starting the challenges for a couple of weeks, however.

I decided to try one of their prior challenges to get warmed up, jumping right into an area that I have never tried before – pastry. I started with the recipe for Salmon en Croute.


Salmon en Croute – fresh out of the oven!

I’m not really much of a baker, so I enlisted the help of my husband, who helped by making the short crust and rolling it out. Neither of us have worked with pastry crusts before, so we found it to be pretty tricky to work with. It did not turn out exactly as described in the recipe, or the helpful video tutorials. After much work, and a little creativity, we managed to wrap the salmon in the pastry dough and get it into the oven.

Imperfect, yes, but still a success! It was a fun learning experience, and it tasted great!

Complete! Salmon en croute for dinner.

Complete! Salmon en croute for dinner.


Squid may be a little scary, but it’s one of the simplest, tastiest and least expensive seafood options out there.

On our recent trip to St. Lawrence Market, we picked up some nice cleaned squid and made a simple, but delicious meal.


Market Squids!

For those of you who are not fans of squid, or like to pretend that they don’t have tentacles, you may want to skip the next couple of paragraphs. I’m about to discuss “squid parts”.

Cleaned squid is really a great thing, for those of us that are not fond of guts. Many moons ago, I picked up a box of frozen mini squid from Chinatown, and quickly found out that they were not just nice clean white tubes, ready for cooking! After thawing, I had to do some gross things like pulling off heads, pulling out guts, and dealing with ink. Squids have a couple of places that contain ink sacs – one is in the tube part, and the other is around the single staring eye. The preparing of these squids was kinda gross, lots of work… and, in the end, the squids just weren’t that good.

I did not prepare squid on my own again until recently when I discovered the glory that is cleaned squid!! For the most part, the icky work is done for you – guts and ink sacs are removed (sweet!), along with the creepy eye. The plastic spine may or may not be completely gone, and the first time I got these there were still beaks in the head (did you know squids have beaks!??!) Also, you have to pull off the heads and deal with tentacles. This is really not a big deal. I even pulled off the beaks with no trouble. Other than that, all you really need to do is rinse them off and prepare them for cooking!

This time around, we opted to prepare the squids with tubes intact (not cut into rings) using our grill pan.

We found that it fit four small squids just perfectly.

Squid has a very delicate flavour, and a texture that can range from perfectly chewy to rough rubber-bandy; so you will need to handle with care.


For seasoning, I keep it basic: garlic, wine, butter, lemon and a light dusting of herbs & spices (dill & cayenne, usually). You want to be careful not to over cook the squid, otherwise you end up with the rubber bands. I found that the grill pan was perfect for this.

Combined with some veggies, baked sweet potatoes and a healthy glass of wine, it was the perfect meal!


Our Dinner… still working on my presentation skills. 🙂

Food Waste Reduction Challenge 2010: Week 1

Food Waste Reduction Challenge - February 2010

Week 1 is done!!

I think I haven’t done too badly, but it’s just the beginning, yes?

I have been trying to plan out meals, buy just what we need and then use it. I also had a “use it up” pasta sauce that made good use of an interesting combination of leftover items.

I’ve also decided that I would do my best to use as much of an item as possible. For example, we regularly cut off the ends of broccoli and the whole peel of a lemon once juiced. I’ve already started zesting all of the lemons before I juice them (having some dried lemon zest on hand has been great!) and next week, I will start a freezer bag for veggie ends, to be made into an aromatic broth sometime in the future.

Some challenges encountered this past week:

  • Cilantro – can only buy this in a big bunch, and we only use a little bit. To our advantage, we planned two meals that make use of fresh cilantro. But what to do with the rest?? Fresh cilantro is always best, but I did freeze some and dry some. The only stuff we threw out were the handful of stems that had already started to go bad — it goes fast, so there was really no preventing it!
  • Spinach – I used it up, but there were a few baby leaves that were already on their way out.
  • 1 -2  tbsp cut off pastry dough from a recipe I did — it just made more dough than I needed, and I couldn’t think of anything to do with it.
  • 1-2 tbps Some sourdough starter that went funky