Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oven Roasted Chicken Wings

I did not alter the color! This is real!!!

In a way, there is no recipe. I have marinated my version of regular sized wings  (as opposed to ostrich sized wings that I usually cook) in Char Siu sauce overnight, massaging them and turning them over every 8 hours or so.
Preheat oven to 375 °F, place wings on a rack over a baking sheet and bake for90 minutes. Start with good side down (outside of the birds wing) and turn over after 40 minutes. Baste both sides with the marinade that was reduced to almost jelly consistency and turn over. Bake for another 50 minutes till golden brown.
Serve, eat and enjoy.  

Ready to turn over after 40 minutes.

Ready for the plate.
I just love the crunchy wing tips!

New post on Pottery Blog

There is new post on Pottery page featuring my clay Golf Shoe and Glove.
Have a look and leave some comments.

First Golf Shot of 2011 Season!

Ok, so it wasn’t a real first shot of the very first game of the season but I did hit a tee shot on 200 yard par 3, 1st hole, at Tillsonview Fairways. I hit it straight down the middle to the front of a green and all Marjo could say was: ”Wow!”. Then few more shots with same results. Ben, the owner said that maybe they will open this weekend. Now, as usual, it is up to weather.
The clubhouse at the Club got a big facelift and entrance ramp and deck is being rebuilt. Also, they are replacing all the Adirondack/Muskoka patio chairs with similar chairs made out of cedar. This course is improving every year.

Ben will be hard at work for a while yet.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Pottery Page Update

I have finished the Orchid Pots page on The Clay Work blog. All the orchid pots I made in 2008 are there. Also, there are new pieces on Pottery page and later tonight I will start with Sculptures and then it is on to Raku page. I want to complete this project before outdoor gardening season starts and before golf courses will open, which most likely will be in 3 or 4 days.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


What will I do with all the salmon I bought plus extra sushi rice and other sushi roll ingredients I always have on hand? I think that the decision was made for me, as usual. This time I wanted to add pickled ginger to the roll and in the process I forgot to use Tobiko or Flying Fish Roe. They give the sushi such a nice crunch. Oh, well, next roll. Pieces of Makizushi with a soy sauce in a bowl and some pickled ginger on side is such a nice snack!
Here is my process I did today (it will not be the same next time):

The Clay Work Page is Being Build!

Finally, I had some time to work on my pottery page. Of course, the first order of business is to take picture of all ceramic pieces that I want to show. Not an easy task, I found out. I have already built a light box last year but with shiny glazes it doesn’t work that well. Only practical solution was to build “light tent” which is basically just a box frame that has a white fabric wrapped on sides, top and back and with free flowing and changeable back curtain. So, off I went to hardware store to get some plastic tubing and fittings and then Wal-Mart to buy some white fabric, cheap desk lamps and light bulbs. But, I’m still having hard time to get rid of sharp and bright highlights on some very round pieces so I guess I will have to fix it in Photoshop.
Here is one jar that gave me fit with those sharp highlights. I'll figure it out, I have to. Looks like there is a Google session on my timetable.

Tuna and Salmon Sashimi

Yesterday morning we went to Zehrs to get some salmon portions that were on special. As I was talking to fish counter manager I asked what the tuna looks like. To my delight they have just received it but she didn’t open the box yet. When she showed me I was so delighted! The freshest looking and smelling tuna I have seen since moving out of Toronto 6 years ago! So, I bought a nice chunk and the meal for a day was decided.
All I had to do is to steam some rice, make a wasabi, get gari, slice cucumber, cut the fish, heat up sake and serve. It was the best we had in years. It is nice to know that I can get high quality tuna in this town!
Nice dining experience.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wonton Soup with Enokitake Mushrooms.

What a great soup this was. This was strictly do-once improvisation driven by available ingredients. I had a Vietnamese Pho stock, I had my own wontons and there was coriander and Enokitake mushrooms that I bought last Sunday on a trip to London (London, Ontario, that is). Since everything was on my mise-en-place table it took just 15 minutes from start to plating. Nothing wrong with this type of “cooking from scratch”, if you ask me. After all, I did make the stock, I did make the dough for wontons and I did make the filling. Not at the same time, but I did make it from scratch.

Growing from Seeds Update March 23, 2011

Winter came back for few days!
Things are moving quite fast on our seedlings front.
The Lobelias were transplanted from cells into 3” pots; now we have 15 pots that could have been divided easily into 50 pots. My hand was a bit heavy when I spread the seeds, I guess. Lesson learned.

Cosmos have new home and doing very well and so do Petunias, Zinnia, Red Millet and Black Eyed Susan Vine. The Snapdragons slowed down in their growth for some reason but are healthy.
Snapdragons and Zinnias

Black Eyed Susan Vine, Red Millet and Cosmos

 I wrote about my little Snapdragon experiment before but I have to post an update. Few weeks ago I snipped the top of one plant to force it into branching. Instead of throwing the 3/8” long tip in the garbage I dipped it in growth hormone powder and planted it in a Jiffy Pot.  Last week I have notice roots growing through the pot sides. It penetrated the sock! I am sure that If I clip same plant and repeat the process I could grow hundreds of Snapdragons from one seed! Amazing, isn’t it?

Anyway, this plant will join its mother and rest of seedlings in a hanging basket.

Arugula and French Tarragon
Some tomatoes were also transplanted and so were some peppers and all eggplants. Things are looking good.

Crazy Spring Weather!

Even though we were expecting it because of weather forecast, it was still a bit of a shock! Yesterday, I was raking the lawn and this morning the same spot was covered by 4” of snow! What a bummer! On top of it, yesterday we went to golf course and talked to the owner and he was expecting to open in three days. Not very likely now, is it?
Following two pictures were shot only 16 hours apart.

Anyway, with all the trees and shrubs covered in wet snow I got a chance to take some nice flash pictures in the dark. They came out OK, I think. You’ll be the judge.

This was taken at 6:30 AM with manual flash and all manual settings on camera. The point of light at top of Norway Fir is street light. A the top is almost full moon partially covered by low clouds.

I shot this frame on monochrome setting. You can see reflection of flash in neighbor's window. Easy to fix in Photoshop.

Snow is a good sculptor. There are two faces at bottom right and what looks like Homer Simpson at top, fifth plank from left.
I am going to have fun with this camera!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shiitake Mushrooms Update

Well, it looks like I was a bit too optimistic when it comes to my very first harvest of Shiitake Mushrooms. I have sent email to Ken Fosty from Gourment Mushroom web store where I bought my spores and asked him to have a look at my post. He did and here is what he told me:
Wow, great job. Nice site too.
The incubation period is one year.
Once it warms up, move the logs outdoors into shaded, moist location.
You'll be in mushrooms approx June, 2012”
So, all I can do is wait. Next post will be when I can see something happening.
Bummer, I had my fork ready J

Monday, March 21, 2011

I am growing Shiitake Mushrooms!

No, it is not picture of my log. Just a wishful thinking.

Let me rephrase that: If everything works out as it should, I will be growing Shiitake Mushrooms by late summer or early fall.
For couple years now, I was looking at the possibility of growing my own Oyster or Shiitake mushrooms or both. There are quite a few kits listed on Internet and seed catalogs so it’s not hard to get them. To start the “mushroom farm” you get inoculated plugs and then, in the case of Shiitake, you get freshly cut White Oak log between 2-1/2” and 5” diameter, drill holes in zigzag pattern 2” and 4” apart, drive the plugs in, set it in cool and moist place and wait. And then wait some more. Then, 6 months to a year later you can harvest your very own mushrooms. Apparently the log will keep producing for up to 8 years.
I will be posting updates when something is happening with the logs.
Getting the kit is easy part. What struck me as odd was fact that even though I now live in a country, I found it very difficult to get hold of freshly cut white oak branch. I have solicited help from my friend (retired farmer) and after I located nice branch that was ready to be cut in an overgrown patch of friend’s bush he got his trusty chainsaw and truck and off we went. Not even half an hour later we were back with very fresh wood.

 I cut it to manageable size logs on my chop saw, drilled the holes and hammered in plugs that were already showing signs of white mold. I wonder if I started too late but I had no choice. In retrospect, maybe I should have got hold of the wood first or at least have a reliable source. Well, I am learning something new every day.

Holes are drilled, plugs are inserted and ready to be driven in.
Plugs allready show a sign of mold.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Garden and Regular Crazy Spring Weather

Yesterday it was such a nice day to work in the garden. Nice sunny day and it was warm, 17 °C.
 I even went shopping for mulch in my shorts and short sleeve shirt. Then it turned cold and extremely windy. So windy that my BBQ plans got trashed. Still, it was nice to have a preview of things to come. It is amazing how fast some plants react to warmer weather. There is one nice plant that is all light yellow green, including the flower, that Marjo calls Helleborus Lenten Rose.  It is now in a full bloom!
Also, I have planted garlic bulbils that I have discovered in paper bag, sprouting. I gave them a soak of water overnight and hope to have some garlic shoots in few weeks, 2 months maximum. Next to bulbils I have planted red-green scallions. Interesting plant: it is a green onion that has a red bulb and rest is green. I had it last year and it tastes just like regular green onion but is more attractive.
Marjo is very happy that all Heuchera plants survived the winter and rabbit attacks. Last year the rabbits decimated the flowers. They just cut them and left them on ground. We need some foxes around here.
Now I have to turn my attention to lawn. We started raking the thatch this afternoon but it was too cold to finish the job. Maybe Monday. Then I have to get it rolled because it is so bumpy, again. Never ending job that lawn is!
And, what would middle of March be without American Robins attacking our sun room door and windows. They are so persistent and it looks like most of our neighbors have the same problem. There is no point in washing the windows and doors during Spring Cleanup until robins are nesting. It is amazing how high they jump and leave marks with their feet and wings.
Spring is here, no question about it!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yakitori Chicken – My Way

For a while now I was craving Yakitori Chicken after reading about this traditional
Japanese street
food. If done right, the meat is tender, juicy, sweet and salty with crunchy green onions.  When Yakitori is eaten with rice and cucumber salad on side, it turns the street food into good dining. Since I was at Poultry Specialties two days ago I picked up some chicken thighs, besides couple of bags of chicken feet for my Ultimate Stock that I have posted earlier.
Unfortunately, when I have decided to finally make it, the BBQ was out of question because of 40km/hour wind and I didn’t want to use broiler for 6 short skewers. Then it hit me: I’ll do it just like duck breast in cold skillet. If it works for duck with skin then why not for chicken thighs? The meat was already cut into strips and lightly marinated (just a 1 Tbs. of Yakitori sauce for 4 thighs). I coated bottom of a skillet with 1/2 tsp. of peanut oil with few drops of sesame oil, put the thigh strips skin side down in a skillet, placed the pan on my large gas burner and turned the heat on medium high. I shook the pan almost continuously to make sure that the skin doesn’t stick to bottom. If it does, just move it with spatula.

When the skin got nice color, turn over and cook for another 4 – 5 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of Yakitori sauce, move the meat around and reduce the sauce until it is thick.  Never raise the heat above medium hot. Remove to serving plate and enjoy.

Yup, it was that good!

Yakitori Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Mirin
1/4 cup sake
1 garlic cloves, crushed
1 slice fresh ginger, peeled (1/8 inch thick)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, sugar, Mirin, sake, garlic and gingerroot.
Cook over medium high heat 3 to 4 minutes.
In a small bowl, blend water and cornstarch.
Stir cornstarch mixture into soy sauce mixture.
Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
Strain sauce.
Keep at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ultimate Chicken Stock

I might shock few readers but there is no better chicken stock then one made with chicken feet. Yes, the feet, not foot-less legs or any other part. If done right, the stock is super rich with incredible mouth feel and so gelatinous that after cooling it will have a consistency of cold aspic.

Chicken Feet Stock at room temperature.

The secret to very clear stock is always to blanch the meat for couple minutes, drain and wash the meat under running hot water to remove rest of the scum and fat and only then put it in stock pot and simmer on low heat for hours. Never let the stock boil or the fat in stock will emulsify and will be cloudy with an off taste. Since I was making Chinese stock I used just green onions, ginger and garlic and for aromatics I used little bit of soy sauce, star of anise and cassia bark. Since I used slow cooker it was completely trouble free. Six hours on low and I had incredible stock.

Golf Season 2011 is around the corner!

This afternoon we went to see our favorite golf course, the Tillsonview Fairways.  Tee decks, fairways and putting greens are free of snow and from where we were standing, looked in great shape. While we were there the owner showed up and he said that maybe in one week the course and driving range will be opened. Without a doubt, Tillsonview Fairways has best practice area for short game and driving range in area, maybe even our tri-county. All tees are grass plus there is a covered area with mats. This place will be very busy when they open. Always is.
Our bags, clubs and shoes are ready, the ball are marked and we are ready to go!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spicy Beef & Broccoli with Rice Noodles

What a nice and relatively easy meal this is. Just marinade the beef and prepare vegetables, soak rice noodles and you are on your way. I can publish detailed recipe if you ask for it. We just love anything that has rice noodles in it. I just wish I had access to fresh rice noodles like I had back in High Park area in Toronto.

Growing from Seeds Update March 16, 2011

Spring is almost here, judging by arrival of American Robins, Grackles and Turkey Vultures and hundreds of Tundra Swans going south.
Our seedlings are doing really well. Soon, I will transplant Zinnias, Cosmos, Lobelias, Petunias and Pearl Purple Millet from cells to larger individual containers where they stay till transplanted permanently into containers or ground. Also, 2 days ago I came across French Tarragon that I have overwintered in our unheated garage and it was looking all dried up. I removed all dead growth all the way to soil level and put it in a bucket of water. Next morning I couldn’t believe how fast it woke up and how much it grew in just few hours!

My tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are also doing well. They all had excellent germination rate. Tomorrow I will move my bonsai Juniper from cold frame into a pot and in its place I will plant snow peas and sugar snap peas and see what will happen. Last year I have planted them way too late.

Outside in garden the crocuses are about 1” high and so are tulips. Yup, Spring is here now, not almost!