Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Freedom, in all its shapes & forms

There are many milestones in all of our lives, marking the rights of passage and the passage of time.  I include degrees of freedom in those milestones, and slowly but surely freedom is creeping back into my adult life.  For instance, when child number three no longer required diapers and went to full-day school, or when our daughter was older enough to babysit her brothers, my husband's vasectomy nine Valentine's Days ago, and most recently - our panini maker.  
It is a big hit with the kids, all three of them create after school snacks, hypothesize about the feasibility of certain ingredient combinations, and the reason I bought the thing in the first place - they are making their own lunch sandwiches!  Bingo!  Another degree of freedom attained.  I was making a lot of lunches: school lunches, weekend ski lunches, March Break ski trip lunches, soccer tournament lunches etc....  My daughter even has the choice of buying hot lunches from school, but prefers the homemade versions.  I am hoping that the interest in the panini maker doesn't wane and that I will have gained a full twenty three minutes every morning because the kids are just that much more autonomous.  When it comes to freedom, every little crumb counts.      

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Girl in Town

I love cheese, and I recently attended yet another cheese event!  This particular evening at The Cheese Boutique and was in honour of the newly released "Guernsey Girl" cheese made by the Upper Canada Cheese Company of Jordan Station, Ontario.  Prior to the event itself, selected chefs had submitted recipes incorporating Guernsey Girl and the invitees were asked to vote online for their top three selections.  At the event, the said chefs were present and whipping up their recipes for us to sample.  They were all delicious, however we were asked to vote once again and Jason Bangerter's Artichoke and Guernsey Girl Terrine emerged as the overall winner.  Runner ups were Lora Kirk's Slow Braised Short Ribs and Guernsey Girl Poutine and Andrea Damon Gibson's (owner of Fred's Bread) Guernsey Girl Goes Mediterranean.  
I had the opportunity to chat with cheesemaker Lauren Arsenault, who told me that this fresh cheese takes about 24 hours to make, and that the milk used yields from one herd of local Guernsey cows.  Unique characteristics to the cheese include its ability to hold its shape when fried or grilled, the fact that the surface caramelizes evenly and quickly while the interior becomes supple.  When not heated, the cheese has a lovely ivory colour and the flavour is midly herbaceous - both of these qualities will change slightly as the herd's diet changes.  
In Lora Kirk's recipe, she made french-fry shaped Guernsey Girl cheese fries to accompany the potato fries in her poutine.  A fun twist, and both kinds of fries had gorgeous colour.  Jason's terrine slices were seared, and the Guernsey Girl cheese held its shape beautifully, while  Andrea grated the cheese as part of her recipe.  
With my package of  Guernsey Girl, I made cheese croutons for a large salad.  I cubed the cheese and heated it in a non-stick pan, it gave beautiful colour, crisp exterior and a soft & warm interior.    All to say that this cheese has diversity in terms of uses, it is fresh & fun.  Next on my "cheese wish-list" is a road trip out to Upper Canada for a tour of the facility!  Other cheeses made by Lauren at the Upper Canada Cheese Co. are Comfort Cream and Niagara Gold.