Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recipe: Homemade Oktoberfest Style Mustard

No! I won’t buy your mustard just because you stop carrying the competition! – my personal view

Munich Oktoberfest. Photo: kloppster, Flickr ccl
I’m posting this recipe in response to the Atlantic Superstores in Halifax pulling Schnieder's Oktoberfest mustard from their shelves when they introduced their President's Choice branded mustards. It’s part of their ever increasing drive to have the shelves filled with nothing but Superstore branded products, or so I believe. 

Photo: paulhami, Flickr ccl
We've been checking for the Schneider's periodically for months, and it's been a no-show. The weird thing is, Superstore doesn't even offer an Oktoberfest mustard. 

Their hot and sweet just doesn’t cut it. It’s not even close atop an Oktoberfest or Knackwurst sausage (try to find those there too...) to the Schneider’s they “exiled.”

Many Superstore products are superior and at better price points than the competition. My main problem with their product line is that the Superstore is not in it for the long haul. If a product doesn’t sell…poof, it’s gone. 

At least I don’t have to worry about becoming addicted to any of their mustard products. Obviously someone was asleep at the switch when they approved them. So what does the home chef do? Make their own, of course.

I would cite where I found the bones of this recipe, but it’s in so many places who know’s where it originated. I believe it is an older recipe, so if longevity counts for anything, this one is good. I’ll be making more this Sunday. And probably making sausages as well.

One of the posts even said this was better than Schneider’s Oktoberfest, so I really can’t wait!

Note November 2012: Schneider's is back, and several of their mustards are no longer offered. Lesson learned? Of course not. You can also get Oktoberfest and Knackwurst sausages regularly now too.

Photo: Sebastian Mary, Flickr ccl
Oktoberfest Style Mustard
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds, whole
3/4 cup beer
2 tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
5 tbsp dry mustard
1 cup cider vinegar (important - it’s less strong than white)
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp allspice, ground
1/4 tsp tarragon, dried & crumbled
1/4 tsp dill seed
3 tbsp light corn syrup

In a saucepan, combine the mustard seeds, 1/2 cup beer, dry mustard and 1/2 cup cider vinegar. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat and let sit for3 hours on the counter.

In another saucepan, combine the remaining vinegar and beer, onion, honey, salt, garlic, cinnamon, allspice, dill seeds, tarragon and cloves. Bring to a boil, and let boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for at least 1 hour. Strain, pressing the solids to get out as much moisture as you can.

Photo: Fotoos Van Robin, Flickr ccl
Put the soaked mustard mixture and spiced liquid into a blender. Purée the mustard. If you like smooth mustard purée well, or stop at your desired graininess.

Pour the mustard into the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, or a mixing bowl over a pot. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking often, until the mixture is noticeably thicker. 

Remove from heat, add the corn syrup and pour into a storage jar. Do not cap.

Let cool, uncovered, then cap and refrigerate. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Booze of the Week: Lavender Honey Liqueur

Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness. – Seneca

Photo: max_thinks_sees, Flickr ccl
Homemade liqueurs are very diverse, but have you ever thought of floral liqueur? Using essentially any edible flower you can infuse a liqueur. Some would be better than others, for certain. Two common infusions are lavender and rose petal. Even those can be combined further with herbs or spices to create unique tastes that would make your martinis and mixed cocktails one of a kind.

Rose liqueur (front), pepper behind.
Photo: QuinnDombrowski, Flickr ccl
Floral liqueurs—in this case lavender—are in a bit of a category of their own from other liqueurs. Often in the case of liqueur, for example coffee (posted previously), you get more of an alcohol smell than taste. In floral liqueurs, you get neither alcohol smell or taste. The scent of the flower overpowers the vodka base quite effectively. Perhaps a little too well… Very deceiving.

In this recipe I made the simple syrup base with half sugar and half honey. This gave a golden tinge to the finished product which would not have been there if sugar alone was used. It is countered with the food dye, which brings it back to more of a soft pink. (Great for "girlie" martinis!)

This recipe uses dried lavender. If using fresh, double the amount. This should also result in more of a lilac colour than dried. You will also note that the recipe includes cloves and black pepper. They are there to give a bit more complexity to a liqueur which could very easily be overpowered by strong florals.

Make no mistake, this is no "old lady's cordial." I'm sipping some right now. Contrary to what you may think it is not lavender to the power of 10. After the recipe I have included several recipes that use this liqueur. The Desert Flower sounds particularly intriguing.

I'm thinking of a few more florals as the growing season gets into swing. Nasturtium is one. The other is a secret, but if I can pull it off it will be a stunner. Stay tuned for more on that one later.

The final product. Delicious.
Lavender Honey Liqueur
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup liquid honey
1 cup water
1/4 cup dried lavender flowers
3 cloves, whole
peel of 1/4 of an orange (no white pith)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 1/2 cups good quality vodka
food colouring (1 drop blue; 3 drops red)

Place all ingredients except for the vodka in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Cool slightly, place in a well sealed container and refrigerate for 5 days.

Strain, combine with the vodka , add the food colouring and bottle.

Here's some cocktails using lavender liqueur:

Sparkling Spring Punch
4 bottle dry sparkling wine
1 bottle cognac
1 cup Maraschino liqueur
1 cup Loft Lavender liqueur
1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice

Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl. Make an ice ring with fruit suspended in it. Sliced strawberries, peaches and whole raspberries would be a nice combination. Optional: add several dashes of Angostura bitters

Desert Flower Cocktail. Slightly dangerous...
Desert Flower
1 oz. Lavender Liqueur
1 oz. Tequila
1 oz. Lime Juice

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into glass.

Lavender Martini
1 oz. Lavender Liqueur
3 oz. Vodka

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into glass.

Lavender Lemonade Cocktail
1 oz. Lavender Liqueur
1 oz. Vodka
4 oz. Lemonade

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into glass.

Lavender Daiquiri
3/4 oz. Lavender Liqueur
1 1/2 oz. White Rum
1/2 oz. Agave Nectar (a liquid, natural sweetener available at many groceries)
3/4 oz. Lime Juice

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into glass.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

Recipe: Shrimp Gyoza with Pomegranate Dipping Sauce

It's so beautifully arranged on the plate—you know someone's fingers have been all over it. – Julia Child (on Nouvelle Cuisine)

No fingers all over these. Photo: Sifu Renka, Flickr ccl
Have you ever had gyoza at a Japanese restaurant? Gyoza are dumplings made of a thin skin of dough with a small amount of (usually pork and chinese cabbage) filling.They are sealed like a turnover and most typically fried and then steamed. They are delicious.

The Chinese were first off the mark in history with this dish, where they are called "Jiaoza." They were not introduced to Japan until the 1940s, most likely adopted after WWII. They have become so popular in Japan that there is a Gyoza Stadium in Osaka which also has a museum with history and information about the different kinds of dumplings.

Great gyoza is very easy to achieve at home. As with most Asian cooking, the preparation takes longer than the cooking. That's a large part of the beauty of cuisine from that area of the world. Quick cooking retains the individual character of each ingredient. So keep that in mind when preparing your gyoza.

Gyoza would be a nice recipe to make when having a get together with friends. They can cut down on your workload and share in the fun!

The secret to crisp yet well cooked gyoza is to fry the bottom and then steam right in the same pot. Gyoza can be boiled and then fried, but I find the fry/steam method gives a far superior result. 

The pomegranate juice with this recipe makes a deep red, sweet, tart dipping sauce that nicely complements the shrimp. 

Using pre-made wrappers isn't really cheating and greatly simplifies the overall process. They're all the same size and thickness, which is difficult to achieve if you roll your own wrappers. But if you wish to go the extra mile, feel free!

Closing the filled gyoza.
Photo: travellingmcmahans, Flickr ccl
Shrimp Gyoza with Pomegranate Dipping Sauce
Prep: 50 minutes  | Cook: 6-8 minutes per batch

2/3 lb raw shrimp, chopped
2 green onions, chopped (3 if skinny)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 double package of round wonton wrappers, from your local Asian or other grocery
1 tbsp canola or other non-flavoured oil (not olive)
water, as needed (see directions)

Pomegranate Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup pomegranate juice (fresh, or bottled such as POM)
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp chilli oil, or more to taste

Combine all the gyoza ingredients, except the wrappers, in a bowl, mix well and allow to marinate for 1/2 hour on your counter. 

Mix together the ponzu ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Taste and adjust as desired.

Take 1 tbsp of  the filling and place in the centre of a wonton wrapper. Moisten the edges and close to make a semi-circle. Press together well so the gyoza doesn't separate during cooking. Sit on a cookie sheet and press down lightly to make a flat bottom with the sealed edge pointing upward.

Repeat until all the filling is used.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a wide saucepan that has a cover. When hot, place gyoza flat side down and fry. Do not crowd. You will have to cook the gyoza in batches.

Let cook until the bottoms are well browned and they release from the bottom of the pan. This will take between 3-5 minutes.

Pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan with the gyoza and immediately cover the pot. Allow to steam for 3 minutes.

Remove the gyoza from the pan and keep warm while you repeat with the remaining gyoza.

Serve with the dipping sauce.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gardening: So what’s in your garden now? Winter interest is key.

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. – William Blake

Teasel in winter. Photo: Howard Dickins, Flickr ccl
So on the East Coast of Canada, and Northeastern US, this is the season of hope. The snow has passed in almost all places. In Halifax, crocus and eranthus are already up and blooming. Hyacinths, daffodils and tulips have pushed through the ground and are showing their leaves, but still have weeks to go before bloom.

This is the time to take stock of the “bones” of your garden. How did it fare over the winter months? Did you have enough off-season interest to make your garden a pleasure through the cold weather months?

Left: Juggling Mom; right: things pondered; Flickr ccl
“Bones” refers to both built structures and plants that, either because of branches or leaves/needles, make your garden interesting when nothing tender is growing. For example, red twigged dogwood or blue spruce add colour to a wintery landscape when there’s little other colour to be seen (besides white and gray).

But it's not just trees and bushes that can add interest through winter. There are perennials (and biennials) that structurally last through the snow as well. 

Simply put, a perennial is a plant that lives through the winter and re-grows from the existing base of last year’s plant. They spreads through seeds or spreading roots. 

A biennial is a plant that will seed and form a low flat rosette of leaves the first year, and bloom the second, thus seeding and repeating the cycle. After blooming the parent plant dies. It will not come back the next year.

Photo: Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden, Flickr ccl
Annuals (like their name) are usually planted when all chance of frost has passed. They flower, seed and die all in one year. If you want more the next year you must collect and store the seeds. Most ornamental annuals do not have seeds that can last through the cold of winter, but some do. Those are referred to as “self-seeding” annuals.

One of the more interesting biennials is Teasel (or Dipsacus). Teasel can grow between 3-6’ tall and are native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Teasel can usually be purchased (either in plant or seed) in two main forms: Fuller’s teasel, or common teasel. Common teasel has smaller flower heads. The spiny, dry heads of the larger Fuller’s teasel have been used since Roman times to raise the nap of woolen fabrics in a process known as “fulling” (thus the name). 

We were given some teasels last summer from a friend and they settled in perfectly. The dead flower stocks also stood through a winter where we received our fair share of snow. The good thing about being a biennial is you can, if they do pop up in an undesirable spot, just dig them up and relocate to a better location.

Photo: raysto, Flickr ccl
Teasels are easily identified by their prickly stem and cupped leaves that hold water when it rains. They have small purple/pink or lavender blooms that form on the flower structure. The first blooms begin opening in a belt around the middle and then bloom from there up and down the rest of the head. The dried heads are great for flower arrangements, or if you leave them in the garden add a great deal of interest through the snowy months.

The seeds are a food resource for some birds, notably the European Goldfinch. Teasels are often grown in gardens and some nature reserves to attract them.

One word of caution, teasel is considered an invasive species in the United States. It can, if allowed, crowd out native plant species. Therefore it is discouraged and/or eliminated in conservation areas.

If you want something unusual that has winter garden presence, try teasels.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gardening: When water retention isn’t a bad thing. And how to make a rain gauge.

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. – Nelson Mandela

Photo: Andrew Rollinger, Flickr ccl
Water—that commodity upon which the foundation of all life on earth rests. In recent years we have been warned of a looming water crisis. Large scale impact on the issue is best dealt with by national and international policies. But that does not mean individuals can have no impact. There are micro ways to better manage our water consumption, and one of them is if we garden. A small thing yes, but as water drops can form an ocean, every little bit counts. 

Water management will benefit not only your gardens but you. You can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend working in, as opposed to enjoying, your gardens. Gardens need a constant source of moisture to flourish, so can contribute greatly to our overall water use. All that watering not only uses a precious resource but also uses your time.

Halifax Public Gardens. Photo: ndh, Flickr ccl
What do I mean by garden water management?
What I refer to is water retention in your soil. If you have proper water retention, your plants will have more nutrients available from the water and you will use less water for the same amount of benefit.

By ensuring optimal water retention in your soil you will benefit the plants and also reduce your need to artificially irrigate your gardens (drip hose, spray, etc.). You get the same garden results with less water use.

What is water retention in gardens?
Water retention is the rate that your garden soil retains/looses moisture after becoming wet. If you have too little water your plants will either wilt or grow stunted; if you have too much water roots are more susceptible to rot. You need optimal mixture of drainage and moisture retentive material to have maximum benefit from whatever water your garden receives.

Halifax Public Gardens Bandstand.
Photo: Kelly Mercer Collection, Flickr ccl
How to check for water retention
You need to find out how fast your soil drains after rainfall/watering, and amend as necessary. 

To check retention water a portion of your garden thoroughly. After 2 days, dig a 6” deep hole and check the soil. If your soil is somewhat damp at the bottom of the hole your soil is reasonably water retentive. 

If it is dry, you may need to work organic matter into your soil. Organic matter (dead leaves, compost, etc) retains water when it is suspended throughout your soil. 

If it is wet, your soil may need a lower ratio of organics to drainage material. Drainage material, such as sand or very fine stone, allows water to leech away and the ground to dry out more quickly.

The majority garden plants require a constant state of some level of moisture for optimal growth.

Different plants have different water needs
Uniform water retention is not necessarily a good thing. Plants require different moisture levels as much as they need different amounts of light.

Some perennials thrive in moist soils; other detest it. Delphiniums, jack in the pulpit, astilbes, Japanese primroses, lupins, ferns, sambucus and monkshood all benefit from high moisture retentive soil.

Drought tolerant perennials prefer to dry out between waterings. These include salvia, lavender, Russian sage, lewisia, thyme, potentilla, phlox and many more.

As always, when purchasing or planting from seed check the characteristics your plants need for optimal growth. Then plant in a suitable site with suitable soil. Every garden has varying soils, unless you had all your ground trucked in.

Homemade and purchased water
gauges. Photo: mulsanne, Flickr ccl
Make a Rain Gauge 
Remember, Mother Nature tends your garden too. Track how she is doing with a rain gauge. Be more aware of the rainfall in your garden. It may be completely unnecessary for you to water your garden.

Either purchase, or make, a rain gauge. Making a rain gauge is actually quite easy. Install it (purchased or not) in the open where it won’t be affected by runoff from overhanging plants or structures. 

You will need a ruler, a straight sided clear jar or plastic bottle, something to make it stable (either a block of wood, rocks or a stake in the ground) and some rain.

1. Make sure your rain receptacle has straight sides. If the top curves in the measurement won't be accurate.

2. Set your measurements on the receptacle. Attach a ruler to the jar so you can measure the amount of rail collected. Alternatively, you can draw measurements right on the jar with a permanent marker.

3. Make the rain gauge stable. Depending on your chosen jar, attach in an appropriate way to make it stable. If it's plastic you can screw or nail it to a post; if glass glue it to a block of wood or similar to prevent it from falling over, or it could be wired to a post or stake. Use your imagination, just as long as it won't fall over.

4. Wait for rain, and then write down the rain amount in a journal.

You can track per rainfall, or week, or longer simply by writing down the measure of rainfall. As I said above, you can draw your marks directly ON the rainfall “catcher” if you don’t want to use a ruler. But your hand drawn divisions won’t be quite as accurate. 

I would suggest getting a 6” plastic ruler from a discount store. You could also get a more stylish container than a jar or pop bottle, as long as it has straight sides and can be attached securely to something so it won't tip over.

Note: The photo above shows a pop bottle with rocks in the bottom and the zero mark starting above them. I highly doubt the accuracy of that method as the rain would have to fill the spaces between the stones before making its way up the gauge. You could fill with sand, but it would have to be packed pretty tight to avoid rain from seeping in. Or before you expect rain fill the bottle up to zero mark with water. Who wants to do that?

There are ways to accurately use this method, though a little complicated. For example, pour 1" of water in the bottom before putting in the rocks or sand, measure where the level is after adding the rocks or sand, mark that point as 1" and  start your further measurement divisions from that point up.

One final note about watering
Never water your garden from above at any time of day. Overhead watering wastes water and encourages the spread of plant diseases on upper portions of plants or on their neighbours. 

A common myth is that water droplets can harm leaves by acting like mini magnifying glasses and cause burning. This myth has been around since the mid 1950s. Studies have found that the water droplets evaporate long before being able to generate enough heat to damage plant leaves.

This myth really doesn’t make any sense. Think of a gentle June rain shower, followed by the sun bursting through the clouds. If nature allows it, and plants are still surviving, it can’t be true. But it's been around for decades.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share it using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Election 2011: Coalitions. Just the facts, not the bulls**t.

My Mission: Speaking Truth to Power

FACT: Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe have all been involved in proposals, or discussions, of Coalition governments to replace a sitting Minority government. 

Tattered, but still flying proud. Photo: cuppojoe, Flickr ccl

I am not for, or against, coalition governments as a concept. As I said in an earlier post it works perfectly well in other Commonwealth countries. Case in point: the UK where Prime Minister David Cameron currently provides "strong and stable leadership" in a Conservative coalition government with the support of Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat.

Are coalitions in Canada legal and legitimate?
Short answer. Yes. 
It is a constitutionally legal option in parliamentary democracy. It is usually not preferable, but legitimate none the less. Most often though, they are formed in times of war or political upheaval. It is not a way to usurp power or to wrest control from a duly elected government.

Keep in mind, no leader has the power to force a Coalition on the Canadian people. It is entirely the decision of the Governor General, if in his wisdom, he thinks it is in the best interests of Canadians to ask a coalition to form and seek confidence from the House of Commons.

Are coalitions agains the will of the people?
Most voters assume an elected government reflects the will of the majority of voters, but in the last election these were the results of the popular vote and resulting seats:

What this shows is that 62.35% (nearly 2/3) of Canadians voted for parties other than the Harper Conservatives, yet 37.65% formed the government. That's how our parliamentary system works. The Greens, even though they had 6.78% support, gained no representation.

The above is why people get their knickers in such a twist over proportional representation. That system would give seats based on the proportion of a party's popular vote. For example, the Green Party would have had 2 seats.

So what is the truth behind suggested coalitions 
over the last few years?

Michael Ignatieff's Coalition
Photo credit: Michael Ignatieff, Flickr ccl
(posted by him, believe it or not...)
As Liberal party leader, Michael Ignatieff has never formally proposed a coalition with anther party. In fact he withdrew the Liberal Party from Dion's proposed coalition. What he DID say, on December 7, 2008 in the midst of the Liberal leadership process, was "A coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition." 

This is a quote from macleans, ca, the online arm of Macleans Magazine (dated September 29, 2010):

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff categorically rejected the notion he’d formed a coalition with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to defeat the Conservative government. “There is no coalition, period,” Ignatieff said. “What there is is a big red tent, a Liberal Party that is going to defeat this government at the next election. That’s what they’re actually afraid of, right?” Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet ministers have for weeks been repeating that the choice Canadians face in the next election is between a Conservative majority and a coalition. Last week, for instance, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty referred to the “Ignatieff-Bloc-NDP coalition” 14 times during a speech in Ottawa.

If anyone was watching CPAC on Friday night you heard almost every Conservative member who rose to answer Opposition questions insert the word "coalition" at least once somewhere in their answer.

Minority government: 
Stephen Harper Conservatives 2008
The Liberals and New Democrats (not the Bloc Québequois) signed an agreement to offer to the Governor General Michaëlle Jean their service as a coalition government if the Harper Minority fell. An accord was signed between Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe, but that was not the offer which the GG would have had before her as a possible government. 

The Bloc was to have no representation in Cabinet, but agreed to support a Liberal/NDP coalition for 18 months on "confidence" votes that would otherwise topple the coalition government.

Of course the idea of a government with the sworn separatist Bloc is a poison pill an overwhelming majority in Canada will never swallow. But that's not the facts. Read what's next.

It is a fact that the BQ put themselves in the same kind of relationship with the Harper Minority by voting with the Conservatives in 2006. Their support provided the Conservatives with the votes to pass their Throne Speech and the first two Conservative budgets, as well as several “confidence” votes—that is votes in which the government would have fallen had it lost.

Did the Harper government reject the support of the Bloc's votes? No.

I guess Bloc support is only good when it helps the Conservative government survive.

Minority Government: 
Paul Martin Liberals 2004
It seems disingenuous at best when the Conservative Party speaks about the evils of a coalition taking power from a Minority government.

This is from a letter sent to then Governor General Adrianne Clarkson:

"As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program. We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority. Your attention to this matter is appreciated."

Letter to the Governor General signed by Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper
9 September, 2004

As the head of Her Majesty's Official Opposition at the time, it would have fallen to Stephen Harper to head a coalition and become Prime Minister.

So it appears perfectly legitimate when it's Harper's coalition (or as he phrased it "co-opposition") but not when it may be to his detriment.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share it using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

Object of Lust 8: The Gift for the Person with Everything? The iGrill

If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger. – Frank Lloyd Wright

So here's an unusual product for the barbecue fanatic and techno-geek in your family. The iGrill, manufactured by iDevies of the USA, is a nifty little invention that keeps track of the temperature of up to two different meats on your grill. It comes as a piece of hardware and an app for tracking it on your iPhone, iPad or iPad touch.

Simply set the device up next to your barbecue (at a safe distance), stick the probe(s) into the meat, set your desired internal temperature and you can monitor the progress from up to 200' away on your iPhone, etc. via Bluetooth®. It will also alert you via your Bluetooth® device when the meat is done.

If you don't have an iPhone, or iPad that's OK too, as it will act as a stand alone thermometer in the old fashioned sense. 

So bring your friends over to your backyard and party it up, knowing you are safe in the knowledge that your iGrill will track the progress of your dinner and let you know with certainty when it is cooked to perfection.

Out of the package with one probe, you can purchase a second probe, and the software and app will track the temperature of both cooking items separately, at your desired settings.

It also can be purchase in either black or white, to match your iPhone or iPad.

Product shot from
From the site:
iGrill is revolutionizing the way we cook & grill today!

The iGrill combines standard function, technical innovation and impeccable style to produce the most complete cooking thermometer on the market today.

Equipped with long-range Bluetooth®, useful Apps and a range of amazing features, iGrill turns your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad into your own personal Sous-Chef.

Comes with:
• One iGrill Probe
• 4 AA Batteries
• Purchase your iGrill today!

*iGrill ships in approximately 4-5 business days from time of order.

Price: $99.99 USD


As far as technology comes, you have to admit that's not a steep price.

Summer's coming. Order now! What "i"-thing will they think of next!
Available online at


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Recipe: Homemade Donair Pizza. Even the meat!

Red meat is not bad for you. Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you! – Tommy Smothers

Donair pizza, completely homemade (except for the tomatoes and onions)
but those will be too this summer.
Just finished dinner. It was homemade donair pizza. The "Halifax" kind. Picture a donair with all the usual toppings, but on a pizza crust, and with mozzarella cheese. Tasty! If you didn't see the donair post, Halifax donairs are a unique culinary item created in Nova Scotia, but slowly spreading as Nova Scotians move to other parts of Canada and the world.

In that post I gave the recipe for homemade donair meat and sauce. When I made the meat mixture I doubled the batch. I knew I would find a use for it. A single batch of donair meat (1 lb) made enough for 4 donairs which was enough for the two of us. But the donair sauce recipe made enough for at least 8, so I had that hanging around in the fridge. Not any more. 

The donair meat recipe is as close to pizzeria donairs from Halifax as you'll find. So you can well imagine that this pizza was everything you would hope, and more.

I did have to decide on a pizza crust recipe. We have had excellent results in the past with a honey pizza crust using "regular" toppings, but I really loved the pita breads that were posted on March 11 that are used for donairs. So this pizza crust recipe is a combination of the two—a complete original, which was never seen on earth before about 6pm tonight. And it was a success!

The crust was puffy and light, yet crispy and golden. The honey helps make it golden. I would suggest you try it, regardless if you make donair pizza or not. I'm already thinking of several other non-pizza uses for this unusual crust.

I would strongly suggest you double (or even triple) the donair recipe. I froze what we didn't use for donairs for a week and it was perfect when thawed.

Halifax Style Donair Pizza

Main Ingredient list
donair meat, sliced (make 1 day ahead)
donair sauce (make 1 day ahead)
donair pizza crust (recipe in directions)
3 roma tomatoes
2 medium onions, sliced
2-3 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

1. Make the donair meat the day before and refrigerate. It slices very easily after overnight in the fridge. The recipe for the meat can be found at,, or in a previous post on this blog (search "donair.")
(Docaitta note June 30, 2011: I've made this donair meat a few times now and I think I would do half beef half lamb.)

2. Make the donair sauce. The recipe is posted on on the same page as the donair meat. It can be made at the same time as the donair meat and refrigerated.

3. Make the donair pizza crust. Mixing and raising twice before baking will take about 1 hour.
3/4 tbsp yeast (yes, tablespoon)
1 tbsp honey
1 cup lukewarm water (110° - 115°F)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine the yeast and honey in a large bowl. Add the water and allow the yeast to proof in a warm place for 15 minutes. It will be frothy after that time. If not, your yeast is bad.

Add in the flour, salt and olive oil. Mix until it comes together in a wet, rough mass. You do not have to knead this dough. It will not look like a normal pizza dough.

Cover the bowl with saran wrap and a cloth and sit in a warm place for 30-45 minutes until doubled.

4. Baking
Preheat the oven to 425°F.

After the first rise, oil a large (11"x16") cookie sheet. Turn the (still unpromising looking) dough into the pan and with oiled hands press out. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Dimple the dough with the tips of your fingers to reduce some of the raise that has happened.

Sprinkle some of the cheese on the bare dough. Then add the sliced donair meat, onions and tomatoes. Top with the remaining cheese. The sauce is not baked with the pizza.

Bake on the centre rack of the oven for 23 minutes. 

Serve with the donair sauce poured over the top, to your personal preference.

I will definitely be making this again.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share it using any of the links below.
Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?