Monthly Mélange: May 2010


What, No Challenge?

May has been a pretty slow month for cooking. I was going to set a challenge for the month, but then I didn’t have time to cook much in the first week, and figured I’d wait until June or July to set another monthly challenge. There’s no point in having a month-long challenge when I’m not home to cook…

I did set a couple of short-term challenges for myself, though. As usual, I did the Daring Cooks challenge.

I participated in an ‘Adaptation’ challenge, where you pay homage to a recipe on another blog by adapting it and making it your own (and, of course, giving due credit to the original post). This was almost a cop-out for me, because I do this kind of thing quite a lot. That said, I like to give props to the blogs I enjoy, which you’ll see more in the coming weeks.

I decided to find and make a Turkish (or Turkish influenced) dish before my trip to Turkey at the end of the month. This ties into my spice of the month, so I won’t bla-bla about it here. Let’s get into the rundown!

Just say ‘No’ to Food Waste!

Always in the back of my mind, I am continuing with a less formal food waste challenge. I continue to “freeze my bits”, and try not to buy more fresh food than I can use. Sadly, a couple of husks that were once heads of garlic had to be sacrificed to the bog of eternal stench. Scratch that — it makes it sound like I compost, which I sadly cannot (yet). Indeed, when I do find a condo-appropriate composting option, I will have to name it “The Bog of Eternal Stench“, after the movie Labyrinth. My garbage will now be known as the “Almighty Trash Heap“, after a character in Fraggle Rock.

The Almighty Trash Heap

Margery, The Almighty Trash Heap (photo from

Monthly Spice
Sumac. A few weeks ago, I bought Sumac for no real reason. I just remember that I saw it used on something and that at the time I had thought I should get some. So I did. I later realized that I saw it on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, in an episode where they went to Istanbul. Ta-da!! Sumac is used all over the Middle East, but isn’t mentioned much here in North America. It has a bizarrely tangy and smokey flavour that you really can’t compare to other spices. Since buying it, I’ve seen a number of really great things I’d like to try with it (like Za’atar). This month, I used it in my mini-challenge to make “something Turkish”.

Party in My Mouth
I’ve actually been staying away from the sweet stuff, after last month, so there isn’t much to report here. Instead, I’ve been really excited about the new herbs growing in my container garden. Fresh is best, and I love running out to the balcony to snip a few stems for a meal. They add a freshness and intrigue to everything – dinners, drinks and even desserts.

I Made This!
J was pretty impressed with the Turkish inspired Encrusted Fish & Tomato Pilaf. This was the first time I’d tried breading fish, and it went really well! It was also pretty yummy reheated — not as crispy, but it kept the fish from drying out. Pretty fun. I think I have to vote for the Daring Cooks challenge again this month. The Crab Enchiladas were really impressive, and I liked roasting the peppers and tomatillos, making the sauces and playing with spices. Yum!

Mystery Ingredient
Fresh green onion. This is the first year I’ve tried growing onions, and I’m really enjoying having fresh green onions to top every dish. It adds a mild punchy onion flavour, freshness and a nice pop of green. OK, this sounds like my writeup about the herbs in my garden. It’s true, though! Right now, I’m trying to resist the temptation to pull the green onions right up. The longer I leave them, the more likely I’ll end up with actual onions at the end. Not sure I have enough space for it, but it will be interesting to see how things turn out.

Shameful Secrets
I gave away the rest of my Jelly Bellies. They were actually hurting me, and I had to let go (at least for a while). I’m sorry I didn’t give them all to you, but you weren’t there at the time. Mea culpa.

The next few weeks will be full of adventure, and no doubt I’ll have lots to post about when it’s done. So excited!! In the meantime, I have some fun posts planned.