If you have been following our blog for a while, you will know that we are in the process of having our cookbook published, or rather, our Un-Cookbook! It’s called the Un-Cookbook because, when I cook, I don’t really follow traditional recipes but rather use them the way an author would start with an outline before actually writing his book. As you will see, our book does contain recipes but they are meant to be used as idea starters and general guidelines rather than full-blown recipes.
This past week, I reached an important milestone, since I have approved the final proof and the book is now in the pre-press stage. I will keep you updated as to its progress! Also, this past week, our son Ian returned to France and we held a goodbye supper for him and some of our close friends. Right until the day before, I had very little idea exactly what I intended to prepare except that it needed to be easy to prepare and use things that we had on hand rather than requiring a shopping expedition. This is, after all, one of the main thrusts of our book! As it turns out, without planning it that way, – planning is not really one of my strong points anyway – everything that I prepared ended up coming right out of the pages of the Un-Cookbook.
As an appetizer, I did not want to give in to the temptation to simply put out bowls of chips or nachos and salsa, but also did not want to go to a lot of bother. What you see pictured on the right was an ideal compromise. The only work involved was hard-boiling three eggs. Otherwise, it was just a matter of assembly. The peach-ginger jelly on the crackers with brie is locally produced by Ashton Station Garlic and is delicious. The other canapés pictured are based on a Sardine & Egg recipe on page 103 of our book, although since we didn’t have sardines, I substituted tuna. The cherry tomatoes used for the garnish are from our garden. The substitution caused the mixture to be somewhat more moist than it would have been if we had used sardines. Therefore, to prevent this from turning the cracker soggy, I placed a small piece of lettuce underneath!
September is the time to enjoy locally-grown corn. Normally, when cooking just a couple of cobs for ourselves, this would normally be done in the microwave. However, seven cobs is too much for our oven to handle at once, so we reverted to cooking on the stove-top. A whole section of our book is dedicated to cooking this way without using water which leaches out vitamins, minerals and flavour. Once you’ve tried it, you will not go back to boiling anything except rice and pasta! The special treatment needed for corn appears on page 51
I mentioned at the outset that I wanted something easy to prepare. Therefore, for the main dish, I chose spaghetti sauce. For one thing, right now, we have an abundance of tomatoes ripening on the vine! Secondly, spaghetti sauce is best when prepared a day in advance. Another plus is that it freezes easily and you can prepare a large batch at one time and have quick, nutritious meals ready in a few minutes. Even the most fussy guests will usually like this dish! Our outline for spaghetti sauce appears on page 68.
I must admit to being somewhat of a dessert fan. To me, a meal is not usually complete without a touch of sweetness to round things out. It does not necessarily have to be something elaborate or heavy. A case in point is our Mandarin Mousse shown here. This is a jello based dessert made of two layers. The first was lime jello with whole mandarin pieces placed into individual glasses and allowed to set. Next we made up tangerine jello and set it aside until almost set, when we beat in whipping cream to form a light fluffy mousse which is then layered into each glass. Finally, this is topped with grated chocolate and garnished with a raspberry and mint leaf from the garden. Again, the basics of this recipe can be found in the Un-Cookbook on page 109.
This particular evening, we were to be doubly blessed since Karen Arner had brought a dessert along. Although she protested that her chocolate pie had ‘cracked’ en route, once it was slathered in whipped cream, no-one would have known the difference. I must admit though that cutting this into slices was a mighty challenge. It was delicious though.
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