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Urban Leaving to Country Living

Weekend Cooking: Middle Eastern Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs


When the days get shorter and I’m making supper when it’s dark outside, I want to make something cozy. It’s then that I often turn to eggs.

I could – and do – make scrambled eggs and toast, or fried egg sandwiches, but even my eight-year-old grandson recognizes these as a “last resort” supper. This classic egg dish, on the other hand, never raises his suspicions.

The recipe for this Middle Eastern dish, also called shakshuka, ran in Canadian Living magazine a couple of years ago. The flavours are beautifully intense, and two eggs and the sauce are surprisingly filling as a single serving. I serve it with crusty or garlic bread to mop up the extra sauce.

Middle Eastern Eggs photo IMG_3517 450_zpsfwpkijlg.jpg

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
half sweet red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 can (796 ml/28 oz) diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
6-8 eggs

1. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion and red pepper, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and light golden, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in garlic, cumin, paprika, half each of the salt and pepper, and the cayenne pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

3. Scrape into 12-cup (3 L) casserole dish; sprinkle with all but 2 tsp of the feta cheese.

Using a spoon, make 6 -8 wells in the tomato mixture; crack one egg into each well. Sprinkle remaining salt and pepper over eggs.

Bake in 375ᵒ oven (190ᵒ) until whites are set but yolks are still slightly soft, 15 to 18 minutes.

4. Remove from oven; tent with foil and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining feta cheese and chopped parsley (if desired).

Note: To my mind, the tomato paste is an essential ingredient but I’m loathe to put out three times the money for a tube (great idea) as for a can of the same size. My solution is to divide a can into 3 or 4 “servings” and freeze them in baby food jars or small plastic containers. When a recipe calls for a small amount of tomato paste, I slip a container out of the door of the freezer and into a bowl of warm water until the paste is thawed enough to slide out of the container.

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I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.

WEEKEND COOKING – The Fibromyalgia Cookbook by Shelley Ann Smith


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Weekend Cooking 05Nov16, sponsored by Candace at Beth Fish Reads, is a chance to share the food love. Follow the link to see what delish dishes other bloggers are talking about this week.

My daughter-in-law gave me this book as a gift. Thank you, Lyndsay!
Fibromyalgia Cookbook by Shelley Ann Smith photo fibromyalgia cookbook_zpsmifh71ds.jpg

The Fibromyalgia Cookbook is a small and slender soft-cover book printed on non-glossy paper. There are no illustrations or photos: this cookbook is all business! After a two page introduction in which she succinctly sets out the tenets of her cooking philosophy, and a short, two-page glossary, there are “more than 120 easy & delicious recipes”.

The first recipe I tried was Garlic Chicken Breasts. The glaze for them was made with chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and garlic, and they were delicious. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo.

So I tried again: this time with Baked Chicken [Thighs] in Yogurt Sauce
Baked chicken in yogurt sauce 275 photo chicken amp yogurt 275_zpsew0t5jxu.jpgThis dish was better than delicious. The chicken was moist and tender, and the sauce cheesy and creamy.

It was easy to make and needed just a few ingredients, all of which I had on hand.

Baked Chicken in Yogurt Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1½ tablespoons prepared mustard (I used horseradish Dijon)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
2 tablespoons spelt flour

Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.
Arrange the chicken in a casserole dish. In a small bowl, combine the cheese, mustard, thyme and chicken stock. Stir well.
In a medium bowl mix the yogurt and flour together. Add the cheese mixture. Stir. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
Bake covered for 40 minutes; uncover and continue to bake for additional 20 minutes.

Serves 4.

* * * * *

I can’t speak to how using strictly these recipes would affect fibromyalgia but, based on the two I’ve tried, I’m more than willing to incorporate them into my diet. If nothing else, this book seems to be full of easy recipes for yummy dishes. (If only it would lay flat!)

How about you? Do you need your cookbooks to have photos?


P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.


WEEKEND COOKING: Fish & Chips & Dressing (with Gravy!)


Last week I accompanied my husband while he made a business trip to St. John’s Newfoundland. We had a wonderful time, in summer-like temps that seemed to descend for the week on most of Eastern Canada, and I may share some bits of our trip with you in future posts.

But right now I want to talk about fish & chips. Specifically, fish & chips in Newfoundland where you often find them served with dressing & gravy. When Bill told me about this after a previous visit to St. John’s, I was skeptical. Nonetheless, last week I ventured to try this dish myself: not once, but twice in five days.

 photo McMurdos Lane 150_zpsl5kxdnbx.jpg The second order was at the Duke of Duckworth, a downtown St. John’s institution of sorts. It hides on McMurdo’s Lane, a stairway that climbs the cliff between Water Street (below) and Duckworth Street. I’m afraid my attempt to photograph it doesn’t do it justice. Fans of CBC’s uber-popular Republic of Doyle may recognize the location.

Duke of Duckworth sign photo Duke of Duckworth sign 150_zpsdrfpgqkh.jpg
West Jet Magazine advises:

This popular downtown pub, just a few steps down McMurdo’s Lane, [ .  .  .] is a star in the show (the Doyle brothers actually “own” it, and the distinctive orange office building above the bar is the exterior of the Doyle PI office).


But back to the food at hand. Doesn’t this look terrific? It was!

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The dressing was light and fluffy, and the gravy was the perfect topping.

It’s important to note that this is ‘dressing‘, not ‘stuffing‘, the matter being one of terminology only, I believe. Newfoundland was the last province to join Canada – in 1949 – and retains a lot of its British roots, as my family did when I was growing up in 1950s and 1960s small-town southern Ontario, Canada. As far as I can remember, the only place I heard ‘stuffing’ then was in books, or in reference to plush toys.

The language of most mainland Canadians has been so strongly influenced by American culture and advertising over the last five decades that one seldom hears ‘dressing’ these days. I’m reminded how my Floridian cousin was highly amused to hear my teenage self refer to the ‘chesterfield’ in the living room. That’s another Britishism of my youth that has been replaced in everyday speech, by the American ‘couch’ or ‘sofa’.

But enough of my Heritage Minute and back to the food.

Although the dressing and gravy were wonderful, the absolutely best part of the Duke’s fish & chips is the fish itself. You can see that there’s some on my fork: as soon as I tasted that moist, white flesh I knew I had to blog about it and dragged out my phone to take this photo.

If you are lucky enough to get to Newfoundland in this lifetime, be sure to try the fish & chips & dressing & gravy. If you are in St. John’s, get them at the Duke of Duckworth!


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I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.



WEEKEND COOKING: A Taste of Dordogne with Les Americains


Beginning French by Les Americains Neumeier photo beginning french_zpsikc9nfv1.jpgIf any of you have been enjoying my recent Weekend Cooking posts from rural France, then you may enjoy looking at this menu supplied to me by the author of Beginning French: Lessons from a Stone Farmhouse.

I featured a recipe from that book in this post.

Now, here’s the whole shebang, an easy three course dinner: A Taste of Dordogne.

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Sara, the chef in the family, will walk you through these recipes so you can easily succeed on your first try.

Interesting note: The French call this area La France profonde, or ‘deep France’. It’s famous for its flavorful produce and unspoiled landscapes.

Thanks to Eileen and Marty – and to chef Sara!


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I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.




P.S. I received my copy of Beginning French courtesy of NetGalley and the author. This did not affect my review.


More Rural French Cooking – à la Bruno – and Les Américains


The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker Bruno photo crowded grave_zpsxh0jh4yd.jpg

As I’ve said before, one of my favourite mystery series is Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police. The books are set in Dordogne in southern France.

In the latest book that I’ve read, The Crowded Grave, Bruno is entertaining a visiting Spanish official and introducing him to the foie gras that the region, particularly neighbouring Sarlat, is so justly famous for.

He cut the baguette into five portions and brought out a small pot of onion marmalade he had made the previous autumn.

“Bon appétit, and welcome to the gastronomic heartland of France,” he said to Carlos. He took some of the yellow duck fat he had used to preserve the foie and spread it on the baguette before adding a healthy slice of pâté and a small dab of marmalade.

I happened to read this shortly after finishing a charming memoir-of-sorts by “Les Américains” called Beginning French: Lessons from a Stone Farmhouse. In it, Marty Neumeier tells the story of how he and his wife Eileen McKenna, Americans from California, ended up buying a house in Dordogne, in the very same area that the fictional Bruno lives. It was very intriguing to see French country life from the point of view of real-life North Americans.

Beginning French by Les Americains Neumeier photo beginning french_zpsikc9nfv1.jpgThe couple is joined by their daughter Sara who is a chef, which is a happy circumstance considering that they are now in the “gastronomic heartland of France”. (see above)

I loved Marty’s accounts of the town and village markets, particularly the night markets of which I was not previously aware, and which add to my list of reasons for revisiting southern France. At one of these night markets, the family enjoyed duck burgers with an onion jam.

There are several actual recipes in Beginning French. Many involve using duck breast and other ingredients which are not readily available in rural Nova Scotia, but I was intrigued by the instructions for the onion jam which Sara replicated when she returned to the house.

Onion Jam

Sara’s note: We keep this on hand especially for duck burgers, but it’s also good combined with goat cheese in baked stuffed vegetables, or as a condiment with other roast meats or cheese.

6 large red onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Confit d'Oignon photo onion jam 300_zpsq0m43b8g.jpg Heat oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and beginning to turn golden, about 15 minutes.

Add balsamic vinegar and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until onions are a rich brown, 20-30 minutes. If during cooking onions begin to stick to the pan, add a few tablespoons water (or wine) and stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge any brown bits.

Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

We had no duck burgers or foie gras to try our onion jam out on, but it was delicious on our sausages in a bun.

And I will be sure to have this delightful book with me when I next stay in France. Our rented stone cottage had a full kitchen and I’m sure I’ll be able to source the proper ingredients for a genuine French feast.

P.S. The Crowded Grave goes on:

“This is wonderful,” the Spaniard mumbled through a mouthful of fresh bread and foie gras. He took a sip of wine, and his eyes widened. “Magnificent. They were made for each other.”

The wine that “the Spaniard” is referring to is Monbazillac, a sweet white wine produced in the village of Monbazillac on the left bank of the Dordogne River just across from the town of Bergerac in SW France.

I’m going to be sure to get some of that when I’m there, too.


Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg

I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.




P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.
Also, I received my copy of Beginning French courtesy of NetGalley and the author. This did not affect my review.


Weekend Cooking – On the Scent of Truffles


Last weekend I posted an excerpt from Black Diamond featuring Bruno, Chief of Police. It included directions for making a Crème Brûlée with Truffles.

Truffe noire du Perigord photo Truffe_noire_du_Peacuterigord_zpsjnaacdll.jpgOne of my readers asked if anyone knew what truffles taste like. They’re a fungus that usually grows in tree roots, and one wouldn’t think they’d go with dessert. (Mushroom pudding, anyone?)

Truffles are one of those things that I’ve heard about all my life but have never tried. So I’m putting it out there: if you’ve tasted truffles, please share.

I think there a number of ingredients that fall in the same category for me – things I’ve heard about, know a little about, but have never had the pleasure of imbibing.

What food is in this category for you? Mussels? Anchovies? Caviar? I’ll start the discussion by admitting that I’ve never tasted capers.


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I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.



Rural French Cooking – à la Bruno, Chief of Police


Black Diamond by Martin Walker photo black diamond_zpsvcdqrqij.jpgOne of my favourite mystery series is Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police. The books are set in southern France about 100 km (60 miles) from where we stayed in 2014. We did, indeed, take a couple of day trips into Bruno’s territory, before I had ever met Bruno.

Part of what I love about this series is the atmosphere – the life and ways of modern French villages, being bought out by wealthy foreigners (chiefly British), but valuing their heritage, including their cooking.

This is not a cozy series and does not include recipes. But Bruno is no slouch as a cook, and in Black Diamond he makes a dessert for a funeral gathering. I was particularly intrigued because I had considered buying a jar of truffles (scraps and trimmings, no doubt) while I was there but wasn’t sure how I’d cook them, or whether I’d be allowed to bring them back into Canada since fresh truffles are definitely banned from import.

Here then, is the closest to a recipe this series comes.

Crème Brûlée with Truffles

Now for the dessert, he said to himself. He had decided on crème brûlée with truffles and began by taking a jar of truffle scraps and trimmings and tying them firmly into a small bag of doubled cheesecloth. Then he poured three quarts of heavy cream into a saucepan, turned on the heat and dropped the bag of truffle trimmings into the thick liquid. As it heated, he began—with thanks to his chickens for their fecundity even this late in the year—to crack two dozen eggs, tipping the egg halves quickly back and forth over a bowl so that the whites slithered out and the yolks were left in their half shell. In a separate bowl, he mixed the egg yolks with a dozen tablespoons of sugar until they were thickened and had turned pale yellow.

creme brulee 400 photo creme brulee 2_zpsvyhbgc2o.jpg

The cream was about to boil, and the heady scent of truffles began to fill the kitchen. He turned down the heat, poured in the egg yolks and whisked until the mixture began to steam. Careful not to let it boil, he tested it with a wooden spoon to see if it would coat the wood, and once it did he poured the mixture through a sieve into his largest soufflé dish. He chopped one of the black truffles he had been saving into the mix and set it aside to cool. He’d leave it in the refrigerator throughout the day to set, and then all it would need was a layer of sugar on the top and a minute with a blowtorch to melt it. The result would be a dessert fit for royalty. Fit for Hercule, he thought sadly.

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I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.





WEEKEND COOKING – Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert


Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg
Weekend Cooking 16Apr16, sponsored by Candace at Beth Fish Reads, is a chance to share the food love. Follow the link to see what delish dishes other bloggers are talking about this week.

Patty at Books, Thoughts and a Few Adventures has mentioned the wonderful recipes in the cookbook Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert a few times over the last few months. So when I saw a copy of it discounted at Book Closeouts, I snapped it up.
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Sheet Pan Suppers is a beautiful book to behold: all glossy photos and heavyweight papers, although I do wish it would lay flat so that I could more easily stay on the recipe. But, of course, the true test of any cookbook is the recipes. And the recipes look wonderful!

The first recipe I tried was Lemon & Herb Sole on Crispy Potato Rafts. Gilbert notes that haddock, halibut and cod are also good choices for this dish so I used the wonderful frozen cod I get from the “fish guys” who come to my door in their truck once a month. I substituted dried thyme for the fresh and I skipped the capers because I didn’t have any on hand. I’m sure that made some difference in the finished product but the recipe still came out a keeper.

Fish & potato rafts photo sheet pan - fish amp potato rafts_zpsv9wgl58p.jpgMy seven-year-old grandson whose usual comment on my cooking for the past year-and-a-half has been consistently only “good”, pronounced these potatoes as “GREAT”. I’d have to agree. As Gilbert says: “They’re hot and crisp and supremely garlickly, a noble base for the delicately light, flaky, herb-, lemon-, and butter-flavored fish fillets.”

You can find the recipe here.


P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

WEEKEND COOKING: Navy Bean Soup with Spinach


This weekend’s weather forecast called for 10 to 15 cm ( 4 to 6 inches) of snow on Nova Scotia’s North Shore. But what started out as fat white flakes on Friday evening turned into heavy sloppy rain all day Saturday. Cold. Damp. Bitter. Chill. You get the idea: ugh.

Fortunately, Beth over at Budget Bytes (“My stomach is full and my wallet is too”) featured a great recipe last month for navy bean soup with sausage & spinach that sounded like just the thing for getting through winter’s last (I hope, I hope) fling with us.

Since I didn’t have smoked sausage on hand, I adapted Beth’s recipe a bit but I still give her full credit. You can get her recipe here, or see my (very slightly) modified version below.

And, by the way, this soup was wonderful: easy to make, beautiful to look at, delicious to eat, filling, and economical. What more could one possibly ask from a recipe? Thank you, Beth!

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1 Tbsp olive oil
6 oz bacon or ham (I used a combination)
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 lb carrots
2 cups dry navy beans
2 whole bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
10 cups water
6 cups fresh spinach
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1. The night before, sort through the beans to remove any stones or debris. Place the beans in a bowl and cover them with cool water. Allow the beans to soak in the refrigerator overnight.

2. Chop the meat and add to a large soup pot along with the tablespoon of oil. Sauté over medium heat until nicely browned.

While the meat is browning, dice the onion and carrot into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Add the onions and carrots to the soup pot. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté a minute or two more.

3. Drain the soaked beans and give them a good rinse with fresh water. Add the rinsed beans to the pot along with the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, pepper, salt, and the water. Stir everything to combine. Cover the pot. Turn the heat up to high and allow the soup to come to a full boil.

4. Once the soup boils, turn the heat down to medium-low to gently boil for 2 to 3 hours. You want the beans to go past the point of tenderness to the point where they are falling apart. Stir the pot occasionally.

5. When beans are of desired consistency, use a large wooden spoon to smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. This will help thicken the soup. Stir in the fresh spinach until wilted. Lastly, stir in the apple cider vinegar. Serve hot.

(This soup reheats well the next day too.)

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Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads. Have a food-related posted this week, why not join the fun?

WEEKEND COOKING: Julia’s Cheese Things


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Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads. Have a food-related posted this week, why not join the fun?

We had a death in our congregation this week. After the memorial Saturday afternoon, we served refreshments, both sweet and savoury. These cheese squares are one of my stand-by items for any get-together.

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I don’t know if the original “Julia” of the official title of these squares was that Julia, but I tend to think of these as Julie‘s, after my sister who introduced me to them.

(Recipe from Nifty Nibbles by Cathy Prange and Joan Pauli, authors of Muffin Mania


1 pkg refrigerator crescent rolls
4 tbsp. butter
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup broken salad olives
1 onion, chopped
4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Dash cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce

Unwrap crescent rolls and pat into a lightly greased 9×15 pan, smoothing out the seams.

Mix all the remaining ingredients and pour over the dough.

Bake 350◦ for 15-2 minutes, until set.

Cool and cut into squares. May be served warm or cold, but taste best at room temperature.

These freeze well: After cutting in squares, put on cookie sheet to freeze. When frozen, put in freezer bags.

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WEEKEND COOKING: Best-Ever Banana Muffins


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Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads. Have a food-related posted this week, why not join the fun?

This is the first time I’ve joined this meme.

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In the 1980s, I bought or received a copy of a small spiral-bound cookbook called Muffin Mania, written by two sisters from Ontario Canada, Cathy Prange and Joan Pauli.

The book has become somewhat of a cult classic, at least in Canada. Cathy & Joan followed up with the great Nifty Nibbles, as well as Veggie Mania and Sweet Mania, but none attained the commercial or fan success of Muffin Mania.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost my copy of this treasure of a book and so had to turn to the Internet to find the recipe for the muffins I made often for my daughter as she was growing up. They’re aptly called:

banana muffins photo weekendcookingmuffins30Mar13003_zps81d30040.jpg


3 large ripe bananas
3/4 c white sugar
1 slightly beaten egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c melted butter

Mash bananas. Add sugar and slightly beaten egg. Add the melted butter. Add the dry ingredients. Mix until it is thoroughly moistened but not smooth. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes one dozen.

I used to add a cup of chocolate chips to the batter for Jen’s muffins. This weekend, I made half plain and half with that addition.

Does Muffin Mania stir up any memories for you? Have another good muffin cookbook you can recommend?

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