Category Archives: Recipes

Perfect roasted chicken every time

If you follow only a couple rules, you can have perfectly browned, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside roasted chicken every time. Using the following two rules, it’s impossible to overcook and dry out the meat. It works for all cuts of chicken, but works better if the skin is left on

The rules:

1. Use a rack that fits into the roasting pan. This will keep the chicken elevated above the juices

2. Baste every 10 minutes. If there isn’t enough juice to cover all the pieces, supplement by adding a little oil to the pan.

Ashta’s best chicken recipe

(used on whole roasters, legs, thighs, wings etc. Be sure to use locally-grown, hormone-free meat.)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Gather a huge handful of all kinds of different herbs. Chop em up good. Rub or toss the herbs all over the chicken.

Place the chicken in a rack sitting in a roasting pan.

Put in the oven.

Take it out and baste thoroughly every 10-15 minutes

Cook until brown and crispy (about an hour, depending on size)

That’s it!

Cooking and the Joy

A couple weekends ago, we saddled up 3 families and drove across the big island to Tofino for a surfing getaway retreat weekend at a chalet we often rent. With plans to create some delicious meals, Jamie was sure to bring his copy of the iconic book The Joy of Cooking (the chicken chasseur was devine, by the way). One night, I picked it up and became absolutely fascinated by the seemingly endless well of food knowledge.

No other cookbook I’ve known about is as encyclopedic or comprehensive about food as Joy.  The recipes are written in a fluid easy to understand way, unlike the common format of listing ingredients then listing instructional steps. I’ve learned so much about cooking in general, because whenever I open the book (and most often its not even to follow a recipe), there are paragraphs explaining a bit about each little method, custom, history, trick, or variation of a given dish or type of food.  It’s been revised 8 times since it’s original 1931 release. Upon returning home, I immediately set out to find my own copy, and ended up with the 6th edition (1975) found at the literacy center downtown Nanaimo for an unexpected 25% discount. Another reason I friggin love it, is because it’s so big that when you open it, it stays flopped open to your page when placed on a surface.

It seems that my affinity for cooking has taken really long to develop, but after watching the following video, I realize it’s not just me who’s been misled.

Trending on Facebook now with the heading “After watching this, you’ll never eat McDonald’s french fries again!”, this video of Michael Pollan’s short form talk does a great job at summarizing a pretty substantial concept: cooking and our relationship with food is important to understand. I first heard of Pollan’s work when he was a guest on Democracy Now! talking about the book he wrote while actually learning how to cook. It’s called Cooked: a natural history of transformation and it’s on my list of most wanted books (along with the latest edition of Joy, hint hint). Brilliantly, it’s made up of 4 parts: Fire, Water, Air, Earth – describing his own new understandings of cooking with each of these elements.

Fire: creatures of the flame
Water: a recipe in seven steps
Air: the education of an amateur baker
Earth: fermentation’s cold fire

Here is a video review of Cooked

No-crap jerky recipe

Since Pat started hunting, we’ve had pretty ample supplies of various cuts of meat. When you’ve got meat, you gotta make jerky. Smoky, salty, chewy, all-around delicious little morsels that store well, and make for easy lunch additions. Finding the right recipe was actually easier than finding a store-bought mix without the ingredients that are crap. ingredients that are crap: -MSG -Nitrates -preservatives -mystery chemicals -glutenous fillers. 

Here is a simple recipe for the yummiest no-crap jerky using stuff you’ve probably already got at home. Continue reading No-crap jerky recipe

A Wee Update plus Bonus Recipe

Last week’s radio show was pretty cool. Besides getting a late start, it was better than my previous week of sleeping in. It’s a good thing there was a random playlist of CHLY’s newest arrivals to make up the variety for me. This past week featured music from the Pesky Alders, and Pretty Lights. I read an excerpt from Pinchbeck’s latest book Notes From Edge Times  titled “Mission Possible”, and then hosted Jason from the Vancouver Island Regional Library for Librarians on the Radio. He interviewed a local author on the phone about her new book and talked about up-and-comings at the libraries around Vancouver Island and the outlying islands. After that, we had a riveting segment of Your Sense Too, the live call-in show asking for your two cents. A listener called in from an alternative library in Washington, and then we heard from John on Hornby Island about politics in general. This Wednesday, we’ll be featuring John in his very own segment! 

See all of the recent episodes of the Sweet and Sour Variety Hour here

Personal blah blah blogging commence!

Living at peace or contentedly has been more of a labour than usual. Beginning in August, a new stress at work has unfortunately drained my mental and emotional well-being stores. My workplace is a living organism that changes dynamics about 60 times each week, every week. It’s a complicated multi-faceted volunteer-driven beast, while somehow having to remain a unilateral effort. The unfortunate story accompanying the reason behind my own recent unrest is a lengthy one spanning more than a decade that I won’t get into right now. One thing is certain, though: communicating complicated emotions through 010101101000010010101 is ineffective. Knowning this, I continue typing like many others. Trying to figure out how this Gutenburg-Guillotine Press really works…

001011010100101011010101010010010010010010100101010011110101010100101010 010100100101001010101101010100100010010101010111010100110010010010010100 1010100111101010101001010100101001001010010101011010101001000100101010010 01001001010010101001111010101010010101001010010010100101010110101010010 001001010101011101010010010101110101001000010 know what I mean?

Leaving last week behind me, I begin a new stretch of 7 days. My nutrition perhaps accounting for some of last weeks depression, this weeks endeavor is to give my body the nutrients it really needs. Important minerals and vitamins are currently being siphoned out by my growing child, so I have to give extra care to battle the inaccurate cravings coming from my brain. For example, my misguided brain says I need a sour cream glazed donut, but the reality is that my body needs protein. Overcoming the body with higher logic is tough practise. Tough, but necessary to acheive a happy life. So I’m told, and so I’ve learned in some ways. The fleeting moment when that sugary glaze melts and the dense cake dissolves between my tounge and the roof of my mouth, is worth little when it’s realized that my child will literally be made out of what I intake at this time. Studies have even indicated that infants and toddlers highly favour the foods the mother ate during pregnancy, and will show no interest in foods she didn’t eat. I guess this goes to show you really are what you eat! I do want my child to have an interest in eating healthy foods so that they will be a happy child. I will use this motivation to overcome my own cravings and distastes of the moment.

Mantra: Hemp hearts and carrots for a happy human. Hemp hearts and carrots for a happy human. Hemp hearts and carrots for a happy human. Hemp hearts and carrots for a happy human.

Okay, giving myself enough credit, I have been eating some healthy stuff. I credit this mainly to pre-pregnancy habits such as the purchase of dark rye and early plantings of tomatoes. Wild salmon and halibut from Pat’s recent fishing trip, and freshly hunted deer from a more recent excursion mean close-to-the-sun energy for all members of the family. Even our cats can savor the thick salmon skin.

A nice half-way is a recipe for a staple found in bakeries and vendors all around Trinidad and Tobago: Aloo pies. My aunt’s family is Trini and I have memories of my cousins gradmother making these delicious seasoned potato-pockets at birthdays and holidays. I made them for the first time last night, and can certainly see making them again, as they are inexpensive and delicious. They’re also vegetarian!

Recipe Time!

Here is what you’ll need to make 9 big aloo pies, or 18 mini:

Potatoes, flour, baking powder, cumin, salt, pepper, water, oil for frying.

Venture into the area of samosa-creation by adding other stuff like hot pepper sauce, fried onion, thawed frozen veggie combo (peas/carrots/corn), and cooked ground meat.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Mix together in a bowl: 2 cups of flour (I used stone ground whole wheat) 2 even teaspoons of baking powder, half a teaspoon of salt, and 3/4 cup of water. Knead together and set aside to relax, covered with a wet cloth.

2. Peel and boil potatoes in salt water until tender.

3. While the potatoes are boiling, I sauteed some finely chopped onion, and thawed a handful of frozen veggies under running water.

4. Drain and mash the potatoes.

5. Add to the potato: fried onion, veggies, a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of salt, ground pepper, and a spoon of hot chili pepper sauce. Mix this thoroughly. (at this point, get your frying oil heated up)

6. Take your resting dough, and divide in half, and half and half and half until there are 9 or 18.

7. Roll out the balls as flat as you can (I had to use a clean wine bottle), and fill one half with the potato (aloo) mixture. Use sprinklings of flour to keep everything from sticking.

8. Fold over and seal completely. Press and press and press! Make sure there are no breaks in the seal. Use water to moisten the edge so it’s easier.

At this point, you can freeze the batch, seperating with parchment in a sealed container.

9. Flatten pie between hands as much as possible

10. Fry in oil, deep enough to cover half of the pie,  until golden brown

11. Drain on paper towels

12. Serve with a yummy dipping sauce like chutney or my favourite: tamarind sauce mmmmmm

Quichiest Quiche that ever Quiched

Simple recipe for a delicious pie. Great for lunches! As long as you’ve got the main ingredients eggs cheese and cream/milk- you can add anything you want to it. Here’s what you’re gonna do:

Take out a frozen pie crust and let it get room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350
Fry up some onions/garlic/shallots/spinach
Add a handful of greens and a little olive oil
Wilt the greens, mix it all up. Set aside
Grate at least a cup of cheese. Oh man. You can never have enough cheese.
Crack 6 eggs in a bowl, add a cup of cream or milk.
WHIP IT! WHIP IT GOOD! more bubbles the better
Pepper pepper pepper pepper pepper
salt if you want
Stir in the pan-fried stuff
Stir in the cheese
Pour into pie shell
Top with dill/thyme/parsley/rosemary
Bake for 35 minutes

Stuff you could add:
Cooked meat (leftovers work well)
Roasted peppers
Cooked asaparagus
Sundried tomatoes