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Posts tagged ‘potatoes’

Potato Cakes

Some people call them potato LATKES while others call them potato pancakes.  Although in my opinion the pancake is just that…..a more of a pan cake item.

But whatever you want to call them, one thing would have to be yummy!

Click here to look at wonderful pictures of potato products!

Whether you are making them for a traditional meal like a Hanukkah feast, a fancy brunch or like I did as just a tasty side dish, it is pretty much all the same technique give or take, unless your Bubby tells you different!!

Here is what you will need:

  • 1 poundish peeled potato ( I used half yam for extra nutrients!)
  • 1/2 a medium onion
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup or more flour
  • a sprinkle  ( 1/2 tsp) of salt & pepper

After you have peeled the potatoes you will need to grate them.   If you are doing it by hand, you will need to keep the grated potato in a dish of cold water so they don’t discolour on you.

But if you are a slacker like me and grate them in the food processor which only takes seconds…..they don’t even seem to have time to go brown!!

So grate you potatoes as you will and then grate the onion, but DON’T put the onions in the water!!

Once you have both items nicely grated and ready to go, put them together in a CLEAN tea towel and squeeze the dickens out of them over the sink!  This is an important step if you want nice crispy cakes!

After you have squeezed them……try and squeeze them a bit more…..or get someone with bigger hands to have a go!

Then dump that out of the towel into a mixing bowl ( make sure you dump out the  soaking water!).

Working quickly…….add the flour, egg and seasonings.

Mix it all up very well, with your hands is best, making sure that all of the potato is covered with flour and egg.

Meanwhile, heat up some nice oil in a shallow ( non stick is most effective) fry pan.   Just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, no need to have them swimming!

Once the oil is hot, add in spoonfuls of your potato mixture and squeeze them down so that as much surface as possible is touching the pan.

The size is your choice depending on what you are going to do with them.   You can have small ones like I am doing this time, or one big honkin one that takes up the whole pan.

Whatever you like.

Cook till you see they are starting to crisp on the bottom then CAREFULLY turn them over.

Once done, place on a baking sheet lined in parchment or even a bit of paper towel and keep them in a very low oven just to stay warm till you are ready to eat.

The traditional accoutrements are apple sauce or sour cream.

But as you can see, I’ve just used them as my “potato side dish” with dinner.

Have fun.

Potato Cakes

Warning:  These ARE addictive.

Growing stuff – July 20

Well the summer is progressing along and things on the balcony garden are still growing.

But the weather this year has been so weird that I’m not sure how things will turn out.


The potato plant is still growing like gang busters.  I’m not sure when I am supposed to harvest that.   I had trouble last year and so they never got to fruition.

Potato plant


The arugula is looking fantastic and we hope to eat some of that this weekend!



Bit of trouble with the cabbage.  Seems that some sort of florescent green little worms have been eating their fill of it.  I caught them in the act munching little holes all over, so I “removed” them.   I will have to keep an eye on them.

red cabbage


The beets are doing great, but again, don’t know when they will be “ready” to pick?






No tomatoes on the plant

The tomatoes continue to disappoint.  I can’t believe after growing them from seed starting in like January….and coddling them in the living room window all winter and giving them painstaking care…..that there is still as yet not even ONE tomato growing anywhere on the plants!   Sad, very sad.


And then the Chard is FINALLY doing very well after a challenging start!


Swiss Chard




And last but not least, I have a very pleasing batch of lettuce going.   But as usual, I had to move it inside because the BIRDS love lettuce and will keep eating it until they fall over!  Maybe that’s the answer!



Happy Gardening!


Growing things and veggie storage tips

What with it officially summer now and the growing of produce in full swing, I thought I would share this veggie storage chart with you to help maximize the life of your produce!


Meanwhile, life on the balcony garden is doing as well as can be expected.


The cabbages are growing like gang busters!  But cabbage is a hearty plant so I suppose we can count on them.

But I don’t know, in the close up I’m not really seeing what will be a head of cabbage some day.  I don’t think that these big leaves suddenly curl up in a ball??


The beans are still pushing away.  But doubt anything will come of them with their late start in the season!



The tomato plants have lots of flowers now but no little tomatoes yet.   The wind lately has just been relentless and so I think it has tired them out.



And the potato plant is so big and strong and flowering.  I only hope that the potatoes growing underneath are half as hardy!   And I really have to resist the urge to “look at them”!  Last year I couldn’t help myself and pulled them up way too soon.   But luckily I shoved them back in the dirt and they kept growing until that “unfortunate incident” that occurred last year!  ( click here to see that )

Potatoes going strong


I have had an unfortunate development with the patty-pan squash plant.  Heart breaking really, for no apparent reason he seems to have given up the will to live.

It was neither over watered, nor under-watered, nor do I see any evidence of foul play when it comes to squirrels or other critters.  The only variable to report is the incessant wind of late.  Maybe he just got exhausted.  He started off so strong and healthy.   Sad development.

Poor poor patty pan

I did however add some arugula seeds to the rest of his box and they are sprouting beautifully!


The beets are in fine shape, but I guess like the potatoes, I will have to be patient and not yank them out to see “how they are doing”!



And last but not least, I am very pleased to say that the Swiss Chard has made a fine come back.  It was touch and go there for awhile.

Although, I must admit, I have not yet let them stay outside.  They continue to be in the living room away from those nasty birds!

Swiss Chard


Happy Gardening!

Click here if  you would like to catch up on my adventures in the balcony garden.


Growing stuff – June 8th

The weather hasn’t really been co-operating too much this year.

It hasn’t been very sunny or warm, but things are still doing their best to grow!

I have had to bring the poor chard back inside because those pesky birds had a go at it!  I’ve never had so much trouble trying to get something as usually hardy as chard to grow!!

Swiss Chard


I also had to bring the tomatoes back inside as well.  They have been outside for a couple of weeks but it got so windy the other day, I thought they might fall over.   I have tied them up on sticks but I wasn’t sure it was helping.  They are only now starting to show a couple of flowers here and there.  Will be lucky if I get tomatoes by October!



There is a new addition to the balcony garden.  Last week at the farmer’s market I picked up a patty pan squash plant.  I’m hoping that will turn out to be fun!

Patty Pan Squash


The potato plant on the other hand, is freakishly big and thick, I hope the potatoes grow a big!

Potato plant


The purple cabbages are coming along nicely but today I was being terrorized by two squirrels playing tag all over the balcony and stomping all over the cabbage.   I chased them and squirted them with the water bottle but they just laughed in my face!

Purple cabbage


The beets are coming a long nicely, but much like the potatoes, we can only see what’s going on with the foliage and not what’s growing underneath!

Beet plants


And last but not least, I am FINALLY seeing a few bean sprouts squeezing through the dirt!  I had just about given up on them.

Sprouting beans

Growing stuff – May 25th

Another week on the balcony garden.

Added a few new friends to the mix.

Got some little red cabbage pants but I only had a shallow pan left for them.   I will start them there and if they grow too big and seem unhappy, I’ll have to get them a bigger bin.

Red cabbage

Also added some beet plants.  They got the last available deep pot because they are underground growers after all.


Got a couple of mint plants to go in the window box with the oregano.  Mint and oregano…..that should go….they live together all the time in Greek food!!

Mint and oregano

And the potato plant literally seems to get bigger every day!!  But the beans I planted two weeks ago have not yet showed any sprouts at all.  Maybe the seeds were bad, but I won’t give up on them yet!

The Balcony Garden

Slitty potatoes

Have been seeing these everywhere lately and thought it was time to try them.

I have reason to believe they are really called “Hasselback” potatoes and are originally Swedish in nature.  Although I have seen Laura Calder on the Food Network’s  “French Food at Home make them on her show too so I imagine a few cultures lay claim to them.

So start with some nice potatoes.

Mine weren’t too big, about goose egg size.  That way they cook quicker.

Oh and turn on the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and dry the potatoes, then very carefully start at one end and make a bunch of evenly spaced slits along the whole length of the potato.

Be careful not to cut all the way through.  You want to stop just short of going through the skin on the bottom.

Meanwhile, and this is up for interpretation, but what I used in this particular incidence was……..

In a small bowl mix a few spoonfuls of soft butter, a couple of shots of olive oil and some very finely chopped fresh rosemary sprigs.   Stir that up well.  You could also just use olive oil if butter isn’t your thing.

Then take each potato and slog on this mixture, being sure to get some down into each slit.

Repeat until they are all covered.  Then give them all a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Then bung them in the oven for up to 45 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes.

But obviously keep an eye on them and give them a poke near the end to know if they are done.

Feel free to add a little more butter or what ever you please once they are done!  I’ve added a little blue cheese to mine.


Serve with your favorite meal.

Growing stuff – May 4th

We are rapidly approaching our “Victoria Day” weekend here in Canada.

To some it is to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria which is May 24th.

While others use it as the opening to party season and refer to it as “the May two-four weekend” which if you are from around here, or Ontario in particular, that refers to a 24 pack of BEER!

But then there are others who consider the Victoria Day weekend as the kick off to gardening season.   Thought of as…..although this year we can’t be sure…….a safe date to assume it will no longer SNOW!   And therefore safe to plant things!

But luckily here on the West Coast we can get a jump on planting early.

So here is an update on how things are going on the “Balcony Garden“.


This is the lone flower produced so far from the weird mystery plant that was supposed to be Swiss chard.   As suspected, it seems to be some sort of sunflower.  But the plant is rapidly dying.  Either because the birds are picking at it, or because it is simply too crammed into that pot!

random sunflower


Sprouting potato plant?

And could it be?  That my little potato eyes that I planted what seems only a week ago is already growing?   How wonderful.

They’ll be French fries for everyone REAL soon!!


Sad little chard sprouts

And I’m afraid that the “real” Swiss chard pants are progressing very well at all.  Not sure if it is because I have them covered with a basket to keep the birds from taking them, or if they are just slow starters?


And then there are the tomato plants that I started inside from seed!  Those coffee grounds as fertilizer SURE seem to be working!!  They are almost two feet tall now!  I don’t think they are supposed to grow quite THAT big…..they are only Roma tomato plants!   Hopefully they will stop growing tall and start producing some flowers that will turn into tomatoes!!

Out of control Romas


And finally as a little treat I really MUST show you a couple of nice Spring pictures from the near by park.

Flowers a bloom

Just waitin around

Last one in is a rotten egg!

Happy weekend and happy gardening!


Growing Stuff April 20th

I’ve decided to try and grow some potato on purpose this year. 

Last year I was trying to grow cauliflowers when suddenly a potato plant started growning in the middle of them and took over the whole party.  I suspect it was from peels that I had tossed in to compost.

Potatoes growing in the cauliflower! ( last year )

So this year I have a nice little potato with some eyes on it.  I’ve cut it into a few bits.

Potato buds

Then I have planted the bits in a nice deep tub of dirt.

I’ll let you know what happens.



If you look REALLY closely you can see a few tiny weeny Swiss Chard sprouts trying to grow from the new batch of seeds I planted outside.  I really think these ARE chard because they are red!

Chard sprouts


I am happy to see that the oregano plant has a few little leaves trying to grow.  Last year it was completely dead but then came back full blast!

Oregano trying to grow




I found out that a friend of mine is actually an award winner tomato growing expert!!  The things you find out about people! 

Anyway, I had been telling her my growing troubles but commented on how pleased I was with the progress of my tomato plants that I am growning inside from seed.

She told me that it is very important to mound the dirt around the base of the plant.  This helps make it stronger for when the tomatoes appear.   So that’s what I did!

AND I added coffee grounds to the dirt as a fertilizer

( click here to read from Grounds to ground)





As for the mystry plant?

The concensus is……..that is it some sort of sunflowers!

Rogue Sunflowers!

Not so buttery Butter Chicken

Imagine my surprise when I found out that there isn’t actually any butter IN Butter Chicken!

But don’t get your hopes up because it still isn’t exactly “skinny friendly”!

Last Sunday, the Chef and I were busy and running around trying to get everything done and both realized that neither of us was particularly keen on being in charge of dinner.

In fact neither of us could even think of what we might like to eat.  I’m sure you’ve had days like that, where nothing really appeals.

I just knew that I wanted something warm and comforting in my belly after a long day of errands and could picture some nice bowl of something or other while watching the Grammys.

Then I got the bright idea that I would like some Indian take out!  No one has to cook and it’s warm and comforting!  But….trying to find something like that on a Sunday afternoon around these parts can be a challenge.  We stopped by a few of the regular suspects but they were closed on Sundays or wouldn’t be open till much later.


I guess I would just have to make my own damn butter chicken and like it!

As it turned out…..we LOVED it!  Unfortunately it was probably one of those magical alchemy scenarios that I will never be able to recreate exactly again……but thought I’d write it down for you while it’s still fresh.

So it isn’t “technically” a recipe, but it’s what I did at the time and hopefully you can recreate or make your own version even better!

Start with:

  •  skinless, boneless chicken ( as much as is appropriate)

Cut it into 1 x 1 inch chucks and add to a hot skillet or dutch oven with about 2 tbsp olive oil.  Cook on all sides till you no longer see any pink on it.  Then this is where the need for magic spicing powers comes in.  The only thing I can say is a “sprinkle” of each of these in a way that looks like enough.  Does that help?  No.  Well then, anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp according to taste, of the following:

  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Paprika
  • Tumeric
  • Garam Masala
  • Chili powder
  • Chili flakes
  • salt

In no particular order.

Keep cooking and tossing till all the chicken bits are well coated and then transfer to a heat safe bowl.

Chicken sautéed in spices

Then in the same pan….DON’T clean it….cause you want all the tasty bits from the bottom……toss in:

  • 1 coarsely chopped red onion

Chunky red onion

Cook for a few minutes till the onion starts to get wilty.  Don’t worry if anything sticks or even seems a bit burny because anything stuck will come off later and add a bunch of flavour.

Once the onions have worked a little then add:

  • 3 -5 cloves of minced garlic ( or whatever your garlic tolerance is)
  • aprox 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and minced

Toss those around and get them real friendly with they onion.

carmelizing onion, garlic and ginger

Then add a tin or jar of diced tomatoes.  I have to admit that I only had half of a can that was left over from something else, but I’d wished I’d had a whole can.

The other thing is I had about a tablespoon of dried oregano in with the tomatoes because I bought too much at the bulk section and it simply wouldn’t fit in the jar and I didn’t want to waste it!!  So the oregano is optional, because it isn’t really a traditional Indian spice, but then again, might have been the thing that made the dish!  Hard to tell.

Mix the tomatoes in well with the onions, garlic and ginger.   This is where you are gonna want to start scraping the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan.   Try to get as much of them up at this point.

Let that simmer up a bit and then…… it comes…….the “no butter, butter” of the dish…… will need to add:

  • 1 cup heavy cream ( or more depending on how much you are making)

Stir all the other bits well into it and then bring the whole pot up to a boil then turn it down a little and let it “reduce” as the Chef likes to say.

Reducing the sauce

Once it gets to a nice creamy consistency, turn it down and the add the chicken back in.  Give it a stir and then put the lid on it and let simmer a bit to make sure the chicken is well cooked and all the elements have exchanged phone numbers!

So that’s all fine and dandy but what are you gonna do, just sit there with a big old bowl of butter chicken?  Well, I mean I know I could but…….

Butter chicken

I had some plain old small potatoes in the pantry so I quartered them and boiled them up in some salted water, just to the point of cooked but not so soft that they were ready to mash……if you know what I mean?

While they were boiling, I chopped up some baby spinach and some garlic and added them to a heat safe bowl with some olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper.   Then mixed that stuff up together before adding the boiled potatoes.   This way it would coat the potatoes evenly and with less wear and tear on the potatoes which might be a problem if I added things the other way around.

When the potatoes are done, drain them and toss them with the garlic and spinach mixture then let them sit.

Meanwhile, put on your rice.  Eating Indian food is one of the rare occasions that I actually eat white rice, although I am getting used to the brown basmati rice too.   When cooking the rice, to give it an extra zing, I try to add a few cloves and a couple of pods of cardamom.  But it helps to fish them out again before serving, biting down on either of those can be quite startling.

When your rice is almost ready, heat up a skillet and toss in your potatoes just to warm them up and give them a little colour here and there.

Spinach garlic potatoes

When everything is done, put it all together, and you got yourself one FINE little meal.

Butter chicken with spinach potatoes and rice


Tragedy in the balcony garden

I really don’t know WHAT to make of this one!

For those of you who have been following the progress of my little balcony garden since the Spring will know that I have been having some trouble from time to time with the critters who seem to frequent the area.

The birds insisted on eating the seeds and then chomping away at the mint plant and the young lettuce and chard seedlings and then who ever took a bite out of my one lone tomato……?

But this new desecration is just despicable!

When we last left off I had just harvested one lot from the rogue  potato plant and was anxiously awaiting the right time to harvest the bigger plant.

I was eyeing it yesterday, thinking it looked a little droopy and that it might just be a perfect time to pull it up and see what golden nuggets were attached.  But as I pushed the greenery aside to see where I would be pulling from, I spied the most curious and unfortunate of things!


Just sitting there on the dirt!

What’s worse is it was a partially chewed ant trap!


Ant trap

I don’t know HOW it got there?  Nor how long it had been there leaching toxic poison into that beautifully composted dirt I had been nurturing all year.  But how could we now possibly eat the potatoes growing beneath?  Could we risk that they hadn’t been contaminated by the ant poison??

I was just devastated!  Who could do such a horrible thing?

I’ll tell you who…..that damn squirrel!   He is always parading around the balcony poking his nose in everything and digging away at the plants!  Not even my well aimed squirt bottle will deter him.  He just laughs at me.

One day I had left the balcony door open and was doing something at the kitchen sink and could see something out of the peripheral of my eye.  I looked down and there he was, the cheeky thing, standing under the kitchen table!!!

So the only thing I can imagine is that he stole the ant trap from someone else, found it to be delicious in some way and had come to stash it in MY healthy dirt!  Perhaps he got poisoned before he could finish the job and staggered off?

Lost potatoes


I had HOPED that.

I dug up the potatoes and was sad to see it was a nice little yield, but I’m just not comfortable eating them.

Turns out that wasn’t really a problem because as if things weren’t BAD enough, this morning when I went out to the balcony to check on things, my pile of potatoes that I managed to dig up were GONE!

But the chewed ant trap was still there!

This neighbourhood is getting rough!

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