To Feed You is to Love You.

There is nothing I detest more than feeding someone I do not respect. To many this probably seems like an odd proclamation but to those who know the meaning of food, it is not so crazy a statement.

I learned this particular aspect of myself a few years ago. While travelling with an organized climbing group called Hot Rock, in South America. We all had certain daily duties to perform as well as a rotational roster for cooking duties. I won’t go into details but essentially over the course of the trip I learned that there was one particular person I absolutely resented cooking for. She was the one non – climber on the climbing trip whose sole purpose was to cause trouble and tension between everyone else. Yeah… you know the one.

Anyways, we always shared our cooking duties with one other climber so it would be less laborious for one person. Every time it was my turn to cook the mean girl would never thank me for my food and would exaggerate her gratefulness to the other cook, (on top of other mean things she would do). Thus began my realization of how much love I put into my food and how hard it was to feed someone I did not love.

I began cooking at the age of 6 and I have always loved to feed other people. Since that experience on that trip, I have interestingly enough, put more love into my food than ever before. It has become increasingly apparent to me how much I value people in my life. I have always tried my best to recognize and verbalize the great qualities I see in the people around me, but in recent years I have redoubled my efforts.


This Pies for You.

Lately, I’ve been addicted to making pies. Not the sweet pies but the savoury ones. I love savoury food and even more so savoury pies! However, these aren’t your traditional pies. It has suddenly dawned on me that I can put whatever the heck I want inside a flakey pastry. ANYTHING! Mind blown right?

Today I have made three different kinds of pies.
1. Beef Stroganoff with Wild Shaggy Mane mushrooms picked by yours truly.
2. Butten Chicken with A Twist (Cottage Cheese instead of Paneer)
3. Cream of Bacon, Beer, Aged white Cheddar and Shrimp.


I spent the morning making the pastry, using a dumpling technique I saw a the Ginger Beef Restaurant. I cut the butter, crumbed it into the flour and gently kneaded some milk into it. I made large coils of the dough and tore off little balls of dough, of which I made into flat circular pieces. I stuck those babies in the fridge while I began making the Stroganoff filling. The butter chicken was already ready from the day before.


Thinking of you.

While all these amazing things were happening, I started thinking.

I thought of you. My friends, my family. I thought about what you were doing for the holidays and I was hoping that maybe i’ll get a chance to see you. I thought about how wonderful you were and all the good things you have done and all the things you have achieved thus far in life.

I thought about how excited you would be to see me and let me put yummy things in your belly.


Time to chill the fillings. I put these out on the balcony as I prepare to wrap the first batch of pies. I thought about who would love the wild mushrooms in the Stroganoff. I also started to think about how lucky I was to have so many creative, loving, adventurous, open minded and intelligent people in my life.


I started to preheat the over to 400 degrees F. I began to wrap the butter chicken pies. I thought about who would like these and that I better make sure there’s a little piece of chicken in each one. Crap that ones leaking. Oh well someone will eat it.

I thought, crap I didn’t make any vegan or vegetarian option. I usually do. Exactly, I usually do and in those cases those people get special treatment so this time the meat and dairy people get a turn! I still feel bad.

Then I started thinking about the Veggie people in my life. I wonder what kind of pies I can make them next time. How will I make the crust? Im starting to fill the Stroganoff pies. I tried a coconut oil crust last time but it was so dry. I’ll figure it out. I miss my Veggie people. One of my best friends is a Veggie and she’s all the way down in Texas. My other Veggie friends are Kiwis and they’re so far away too. I hope they’re all having a good time doing stuff and things right now.

I realized I still had a bunch of pastry left, what else could I do? Bacon. Everyone loves bacon! Then I began to make the third filling. Bacon with mashed yam in a creamy cheesy filling. Yum. I put the other pies in the oven.


By the time I finished the third filling I was getting fatigued from all the cooking and wrapping. Instead of waiting for the filling to cool I just started spooning the hot creamy stuff into my pastry. I forgot the yams. Damn It. Ouch! Crap I’m burning my fingers! I modified my technique and finished the Bacon pies. They look a little wonky but thats okay it will make them easier to distinguish.

Finally Pies.

After a few hours, my pies are almost done. I am sitting here sharing this odd post with you all because I wanted to share a glimpse of what goes on in my mind when I’m cooking. You.


I think of you when I’m cooking. Cutting, Simmering, Boiling, sautéing and burning myself. I think of you when I put in spice or no spice. Meat or no meat. Onion or no onions. I think of you when I wash all the many dishes that come along with cooking, so that when you come visit me there’s a nice clean kitchen. And when I pack these up, I’m going to try make sure they don’t get crushed or broken, because I’m thinking of you.


This is what it means to me when I feed you. Every time I cook I think of all the people I enjoy feeding and how mush happiness we have brought into each others lives. So next time you take a bite of my food. I did it because I love you, and when I say I feed you because I love you, know that it’s true.

The secret ingredient is Love – of course – but it’s not a secret. I feed you because I love you. End of discussion.

I Made Noszki! A Polish Delicacy 

Besides climbing, one of the main reasons why I love to travel, is so that I can experience the world through my palate. This is also why I take pride in being able to recreate a lot of dishes by taste alone. Play by Ear? I Cook By Palate

One of the things I fell in love with, when I was visiting Adams birthplace, Warsaw, Poland, I was introduced by Ciocia (Auntie) to noszki. 

Noszki is a savory seasoned jelly filled with tender pork and typically peas and carrots. Like most cultural dishes there’s many variations including, using shredded turkey, boiled egg, and grzyby (mushrooms).

When I am creating traditional dishes I try to emulate the origianl recipe as much as I can. For those that know me, when I travel you’ll often find me asking about the local staple dish and then tirelessly ordering and eating the same thing in various places. 

I do this because it gives me a better idea what the staple dish tastes like. From this form of surveying I dedeuce the ingredients that are common in these dishes and try my best to make my own version applying the secret methods of preparation that I have learned over the years. 


The first time I had noszki it was in a prepackaged process form, and I didn’t really care for the flavor or texture. However I knew that this was a widely eaten dish and I endeavored to try it again… and again and again. 

The second time I tasted this dish was at a 50’s style milk bar diner  where you were able to experience the whole Milk Bar charm. Piece of bread roughly cut and carelessly buttered the. slapped onto a plate and place in front of you. A misshapen overturned bowl of noszki offset on a plate garnished by a smirk from your server. 

This was the most amazing noszki ever. A squirt of fresh lemon and a dash of Maggie sauce and my taste buds were exploding. The gelatin was delicate and melted in your mouth and the meat was perfectly spiced with bay leaves and peppercorn with a hint of nutmeg. 

From that point on every noszki I tried was delicious. Though not comparable to the milk bar I suddenly understood what it could and should be like. 

I find that in most cases. Until I try a very delicious version of a dish, I can’t quite grasp what it should be like. Perhaps it’s the contrast from a terrible rendition to a exquisite one, that allows me to finally crate a palatal spectrum. That’s definitely it, because from here I can imagine all the things in between! 

To those that love to eat and those willing to try things, here’s my recipe for noszki. 

(And to new readers, when I give recipes I typically only provide the method and the ingredients. This is because I practice cooking to taste so I find giving exact measurements makes it difficult to create the best outcome. )

“Cooking is an experience of the senses, one must learn to listen, taste, and feel in order to understand what the outcome should be.” – M.S

Ingredients

– Pork Hock / Feet 

– Gelatin 

– Fresh Parsley

– Carrots

– Celery

– Onion

– peppercorn 

– salt

– garlic

– marjarom /savoury/ thyme/ oregano (I didn’t have marjoram so I substituted with the other three, using very little oregano) 

– bay leaves 

– nutmeg

Method

1. Place pork in a pot with just enough water to cover. Add fresh carrots, parsley, celery, onions and garlic. (Leave the whole) Add bay leaves, salt, peppercorn, nutmeg, and marjoram.  Boil on medium, until meat falls off the bone. (The longer the better, I boiled mine for about 4hrs) *Add water as needed. 

2. Strain the broth through cheese cloth/ fine strainer and return broth to pot.

3. Let meat and vegetables cool enough to dice. Return to pot.

4. Add more water if needed just enough to cover the ingredients. Add more fresh chopped garlic and extra spices to desired flavour. Should taste like a nice stew. 

5. Add roughly 1/2tbsp of gelatin per 1c of liquid. Bring to a boil. 

5. Remove from heat and pour into moulds! 

6. Chill overnight and serve with fresh lemon juice and Maggie sauce on toasted Ozery Morning Rounds


Please let me know how it goes and feel free to share your photos on Facebook or Instagram with #MelbasKitchen 

Cooking in Poland! Jajka Faszerowane. (Stuffed eggs)

Day 4 April 8 

  
One of my passions when traveling is learning about as many aspects to the countries culture. This includes languages and cuisine.

Before I met Adam my knowledge of Polish cooking was pretty much limited to pierogi, kiełbasa , cabbage rolls And borscht. In the last few years I’ve learned a couple more dishes from his mother.
Today I’m going to show you one of the classic breakfast dishes of the polish people. 

Stuffed eggs! Jajka Faszerowane.

This is one of Adams favourite ways to prepare eggs and if made right you will experience a fresh, tangy, crispy and eggy delight.
As mentioned in my previous recipes like those who play by ear, I cook by palate. Meaning I don’t actually have exact measurements of ingredients but rather I rely on my senses to recreate dishes and I challenge you to do the same! 

I also practice in efficiency and practicality so my recipes are written in the way that, whatever takes the longest is done first. It may seem I jump around a bit but read it first to avoid confusion and all will be clear! 

Ingredients

Equal portions of :

Fresh dill

Fresh chives (or green onions) 

Many Eggs
Salt

Pepper

Fresh lemon

Much Butter 

  

Method:

The secret to crispy Jajka Faszerowane is to ensure you have soft-medium boiled eggs. You want a little bit of the yolk to still be soft so that when you mix the stuffing it will stick together as it cooks.
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and then add your room temperature eggs. Set a timer for 7-8 minutes. (Factors that can affect this time; elevation, humidity, “room temperature” whatever that means). 
While the eggs are boiling it’s time to prepare the stuffing.

    
2. Finely chop the dill and chives. I usually bundle both these together and chop it all at once. Place in a medium mixing bowl.

3. Add salt and pepper and a healthy splash of lemon juice. Mix well. 
*** 4. Once the timer goes off remove the eggs from heat and pour out the water and rinse with cold water to arrest the cooking process.

  
5. Using a sharp knife cut the eggs IN THE SHELL, in half, lengthwise. We’ll be using the shell to hold the shape of the filling.

  
6. Gently scoop out the egg, without breaking the shells and put the boiled eggs in the mixing bowl with the dill and chive mixture. Set aside the empty half shells for now. 

7. Mash the eggs well with the dill and chive mix. Taste to see how you like the balance of salt to pepper to lemon. Should be a little tangy but not sour. 

8. Once you’ve happily and thoroughly mashed the eggs, gently fill and pack the stuffing back into the shells. 

  
9. Heat a medium sized frying pan on low- medium with enough butter to lightly coat the entire pan.

  
10. Place the stuffed eggs on the frying pan with the shell up and filling down. 

11. Cook the filling until golden brown (10-15min).

  
12. Serve with a touch of mayonnaise and mustard. (Don’t eat the shells !) 

  
I hope you enjoy this little bit of Poland and please let me know what you think! 

Travel Mug Review Contigo Vs. Starbucks Vs. David’s Tea

If you’re someone who loves hot drinks, teas and everything that is associated with tea culture, this travel mug review will come in handy.  I have always been a lover of tea and tea related things; so much so, that I have a section of my home dedicated for all my tea things.

One of the reasons I became fascinated with pottery, was so that I could make my own tea vessels, and beyond that, I even spend time in the bush gathering and preparing herbs to make my own teas.

Needless to say having the ideal travel mug to keep your drinks at the temperature you want them is essential to this way of life. Continue reading

Black Bean Pasta With Espresso Balsamic Vinegar Chicken And Chanterelle Mushrooms

Here’s the recipe from my YES Friends canoeing in the Rockies adventure with my friend Sam.

For the video click here: YES Friends: Part 2

Vermillion Lake

Vermillion Lake

All my recipes are improvised and I encourage you to alter the recipe as you see fit and use it only as a guideline to tummy happiness!

Black Bean Pasta with Espresso Balsamic Vinegar Chicken and Chanterelle Mushrooms

Black Bean Pasta with Espresso Balsamic Vinegar Chicken and Chanterelle Mushrooms

Continue reading

Sheperds Pie : Melba’s Kitchen

Comfort Food

I spend a lot of time cooking, so much that it’s not unusual for my friends to know that when they invite me over for a meal, it will probably result in me cooking for them! A common thing I hear from my friends is “I miss [Melba] cooking in my kitchen!” especially when I haven’t been around for a while. So really “Melba’s Kitchen,” is a metaphor and not necessarily always a physical location.

Melba’s Kitchen is a metaphor for sharing meals made with love.

Continue reading