Thursday, December 24, 2009

Beaches and Sunshine and Seafood

Hey folksies! Today was such a gorgeous day, I cannot believe it! It is good and bad: good obviously because it was so warm that I got HOT in just my hoodie walking along the sun lit beach, and bad because it does not feel like Christmas at all today! Just look at this...I feel like it's summer!

Tatomme, Chloaye, Ian and I went for a nice little walk on the beach this morning (pretty shortly after I woke up, so I didn't have a chance to eat any breakky) and it was SO BEAUTIFUL!

Here's a little picture of my gorgeous cousins and I!

And here is a picture of my slightly "out of it" little brother and I...

And here is proof that I've always got my blog in mind! You have no idea how many pictures I take now a days (especially since I've over come my public photo taking fear) alone I took 245 photos!!!

This is my favorite beach in the whole world...mainly because there are SO MANY edibles on it! For example: it's a little chilly for wading in December, but in the summer when the tide is low you can wade right out and catch amazing, delicious dungeness crabs!

Also in the wonderful summer months, you can go clamming and fill bucketfuls full of these delicious little creatures!

And of course...oysters! But you already know all about these puppies! I am very happy that ONE of these three seafoods are easily attainable during the winter months!

Look at these incredible! And this beach and the weather!

Side note...I have recently taught myself to crochet...and I whipped up these little mittens on this little vacay! I am quite proud of them...

After our walk we headed back to the condo for a little bit of lunch! Aunty Daphne made this amazing soup, and I had it with a rice cracker with cream cheese, cucumber slices and salt and pepper! Delicious and filling, and good healthy fuel for the afternoon's busy schedule!

After running around doing a couple of errands, we finally got back on track doing some "food related" activities! We went to this great little fresh seafood place in French Creek to pick up some things for dinner...of course we have to have a huge seafood feast before we head off to Victoria! This seafood store is great, it's just tucked away in the marina at French Creek where all the fishing boats dock. It was so pretty there by the time we had gotten there! Industrial...but pretty industrial.

Here's the ocean view from the French Creek, just incredible.

This was a little spot of rust on a dumpster by the fish store...but it was so pretty I thought.

After we stocked up on HOARDS of seafood at the marina for dinner, we drove inland a bit to Cathedral Grove to go for a little walk amongst the humungous cedars! Inland there was a little bit of snow on the moss and trees which was a little bit of a surprise!

Here is the WHOLE Flan gang at Cathedral Grove...I love my family!

And the classic shot...

Our little walk really worked up an appetite, so it was straight home afterwards to cook up the feast! We started off toasting up a little bread with olive oil to sop up the delicious broth from the seafood.

Uncle Peter volunteered to cook up the seafood, so I helped out with salad duty. It was just a super simple salad: romaine, tomatoes, green and orange pepper, and parmesan.

The dressing was just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a little dijon, salt and pepper and (this is weird...but it tasted really yummy...) caesar drink rimmer!

Tonight to drink there was more wine, more caesars, and the addition of some tasty vodka sodas!

Here's a shot of Uncle Peter (literally) whipping up some food...doin' a little deglazing.

I have to admit, us girls were a little worried about his cooking techniques at some points of the preparation, for example when we said "did you de-beard the mussles?" and he replied "what's debearding?!?!", but our insecurities in his seafood quickly vanished when we saw the final product...and then tasted it! Oh my god!

He presented us with a huge pot of mussels, clams and scallops steamed to perfection in a beautiful butter, garlic, red curry, coconut milk and white wine broth. It was the perfect combination of a little heat, richness and well as montrous volume...there was SO much food!

On top of that he also fried up some halibut and snapper! It was equally incredible. He fried it up in sesame oil, and topped it off with a little more red curry paste. Wow.

Oh yeah...we had some crab steamed up too...Oh my god!

Look at this plate!!!

The feast of seafood was so of the most flavorful, delicious meals I have had in a while! I love seafood so much you have no idea. Especially seafood while in Parksville! With my amazing family.


Anyways, LOTS of pictures for today! I have many more to come too! I wonder how large the Christmas dinner post will be...I can't wait.



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Family and Wine and All Things Sweet

Hi everyone! Today was such a wonderful day. The other Flanagan's have arrived in Parksville, and this little condo has turned into one loud, rambunctious place within an afternoon! And I am so, so happy about it. Today was filled with great food, great family, and great (and hilarious) stories.

My day started off with a plain old breakfast, a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, and a good glass of eggnog.

I'm not a huge breakfast person, somedays I skip straight to lunch!

After breakfast we went into town quickly before everyone arrived to pick up some more groceries, and I got a quick sub from Quizzies to tide me over from dinner, no picture though...

Finally the family was here! And we all pitched in making dinner as we drank yummy wine and (more) caesars. I helped out making some bruschetta.

I am quite fond of anything garlic, so I thought it was appropriate to take a lil' photo of the thing itself...

Tasty fresh flavors ready to be tossed up and spooned onto little crostini.

I popped a whole wheat baguette into the oven set on broil before I spooned the bruschetta over it so it could crisp up nicely without getting soggy. Before I put the bread in the oven, I drizzled a little olive oil over it, and some S & P.

Here is the bruschetta topped crostini ready to go back into the oven for a quick minute to melt up the parmesan sprinkled on top.

Melted cheese...always amazing. There was a ton of garlic packed into these bad boys, and they were extremely tasty! More of an appetizer...but we ate them with dinner anyways.

My cousin, Tatomme, is vegetarian, so my Mom whipped up a little number from the Hippy Gourmet cookbook (we finally used it!) It was so good!

Here's the exact recipe from "Hippie Gourmet":

"Wild" Rice and Steamed Veggies

This recipe gets a bit wild with the addition of an entire head of garlic. Ginger juice brings up the heat and the flavor. You can buy ginger juice in health food or some high-end cooking stores.

Serves 4

2 cups short-grain brown rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 head garlic, peeled and sliced
2 cups broccoli, including tops and peeled stems
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow crookneck squash, sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 package (8 ounces) seasoned tofu (any flavor)
1 teaspoon ginger juice

Place the rice in a dry pan over medium-high heat to toast.
Mix constantly until you hear a slight crackling sound, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the water and salt. Stir.
Bring to a boil, boil for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to low and cover.
Let this simmer for 45 minutes.

Heat the sesame oil in a small pan over a medium flame.
Add the garlic and stir until golden brown.
Remove from heat, and strain the garlic. Reserve the oil.

Add enough water to the bottom of a pot with a steamer insert to cover by about 1 inch.
Bring to a boil, and put the vegetables in the steamer.
Cover and cook for about 7 minutes or until vegetables are steamed to your liking.

Add half of the reserved sesame oil to a small pan, then add the tofu.
Cook until just heated - 2 or 3 minutes - flipping once.
Slice the tofu into thin pieces after it is cooked.
In a serving dish, layer the rice, 3, tofu, and garlic.
Sprinkle with ginger juice.


We also had a little bit of BBQ'd chicken with dinner for a bit more protein for all the non-vegetarians...

Dinner was delish and really healthy!

I have to say my favorite part of dinner was the bruschetta...honestly, I LOVE garlic!

After dinner everyone had tea and coffee and we pulled out a nice little tray of sweet things.

The tray consisted of: imperial squares made by my mama, little dried fruit bars made by my mama, bought nanaimo bars, and delicious almond butter balls made by aunty Daphne!

So pretty and so incredible.

That was it for today, lots of love and lots of food! I'm sure there will be plenty of photos for tomorrow...two food bloggers under one roof and about 6 cameras to the 8 of us!



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Iron Chef and Oysters and Dino Steaks

Hello! I have got a pretty exciting post for you today! The day (culinary wise) started off pretty basic, with a little bit of a twist. After watching an Iron Chef marathon this morning, I was feeling inspired to cook up something both visually and tastefully appealing, so I decided to put a little twist on a classic, bacon, eggs and hash browns!

I made the "hash browns" first, just by chopping baby golden and red potatoes into medallions, and frying them up in a little olive oil with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and fresh rosemary. Then I cooked up the egg (my favorite way, sunny side up) and bacon at the same time. I just prettily tossed this onto the potatoes, and minced up the bacon and sprinkled this on everything instead of eating it "whole"! It was so flavorful, and you got a little taste of the egg, potatoes, bacon and rosemary in every bite! A very good start to the day, and my breakfast was so pretty (I am a strong believer in "you eat with your eyes")! The plates they have here don't hurt the presentation factor either...

To drink with breakfast, I had a big glass of eggnog. I cannot get enough of this stuff at Christmas!

After a nice and relaxing breakfast, I headed down to the beach (finally) with Ian!

It was rainy on and off today, and overcast the entire day, but still so warm (especially compared to Edmonton...I can't get over it)! I was very happy to see this gorgeous bay again as we rounded the corner on the path down to the beach!

And of course I had to take a photo of the beaching-during-the-winter specials: my yellow rubber boots. I love them! I should really wear these everyday.

With a mind that is hard to get the idea of food out of, I forced Ian to come search for oysters with me (we know exactly where the good ones are)! The rest of the beach is sandy, but there is one spot that's rocky, this is where all the oysters hide out! It was so much fun, and the bay was full of sea lions barking, I love that sound!

A little sampling of the oysters we collected!

It started to rain again, so we headed back to the condo with our goods to shuck these bad boys for a little appy before dinner!

Here is a happy food-lover with fistfuls of oysters fresh from the beach:

Eating oysters raw from the shell is the absolute best way (besides cooking them on an open fire on the beach, but it was a little rainy for that today). If you are like me and a major weakling, here's a trick to help you shuck!

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the oysters (or clam, or whatever) on a baking sheet, and pop them into the oven, but watch them closely!
As soon as you see them start to open a teeny, tiny bit, pull them out!
Then you can use just a butter knife to pry those suckers open!
Easy as pie.

Then just serve them on the half shell over ice! I like mine with horseradish. So tasty.

And of course we had to have caesars with the oysters...

As another appy, Mom made some labaneh! All she did for it was strain some greek style yoghurt over night in cheese cloth, and then add some fresh garlic, parsley and olive oil into it! Serve with crackers, pita or anything you've got! It is so flavorful.

For dinner I had one of the largest steaks, ever. It was incredible... As you can see, we eat quite a bit of steak in our family...

We just steamed some green beans to go with it, and had more rosemary potatoes! Very filling!

It was such a good day full of incredible flavors. I absolutely love finding my own's so exciting, and rewarding! Hopefully the tide goes out soon so I can dig some clams and make a nice pasta with garlic, butter, parsley and white wine! That has got to be one of my favorite dishes ever, and one of the most simple ones too!