Well, it’s been a busy summer. I haven’t been doing a whole lot of writing, and I haven’t been doing a whole lot of cooking. But I’ve missed you, Internet friends. And I’ve missed you too, weird foods. And as for weird friends? Hopefully I still have lots of those.
Because I just finished writing this post and found it a bit dry (the writing, not the cooking) I am adding this paragraph and the next number of points as a humorous preamble. So … um … here are six weird facts about me and/or my weird friends. Feel free to guess which are mine, and to add any weirdness about you at the end of this post. Weird is good, people. Most of the time.
- I’m friends with women who can pee standing up, without any use of appliances. If you’re jealous, you can too — knowing how is only a Google result away. It’s very handy in certain situations (or … um … so I’ve been told).
- A certain someone I know was obsessed with Irish Spring soap when she was pregnant. She had to stash it in her desk, under her bed… She sniffed the boxes, and even ate it. Obsessed.
- One friend began having blackouts from beer, so she had to quit drinking it. She told me with a straight face, “So now all I can drink is vodka.” These are the kinds of friends you want, people. Who likes a quitter? (caveat — she has never had a true alcohol problem, in which case quitting would be the thing to do — she’s just Irish. And is not the Irish soap eater)
- Another friend loathes belly buttons, including those of her kids. The thought of them makes her gag. She’s also a cop who has a different wedding ring for work because it’s less likely to capture bits of perps when she has to subdue them. I find her choice of what to gag over interesting.
- I used to date a guy who could hear shapes. Or smell colours. I forget which, exactly, but it’s called synesthesia. I like to think I smell pinky-purple and that I sound like bubbly ovals.
- One of my friend’s babies ate a button she was about to sew onto a sweater she had knitted. She liked the button, so she “retrieved” it … afterward … and they now call the sweater “the poo button sweater.” Now that’s what I call conservation.
What would life be without weirdness? Boooo-ring.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program. I missed weird foods so much last week that I was determined to find some at the Bulk Barn.
Not Canadian so you don’t know it? It should really be called “scoop yourself up some goodness,” although its legal name is a bit catchier. I go there when I want to pay 10 cents for two tablespoons of coriander seeds instead of $5 for a jar. They have everything dry that your recipe calls for, guaranteed. How do they make money when I only pay them 25 cents, you ask? Because I have to bring my darn kids and they break me down until I buy them $87.50 worth of sour keys and liquorice nibs, that’s how. (PS they didn’t pay me for this endorsement because no one pays me for anything, really. Now is when you say “Thank you, Ann, for not making us enter a contest to win toenail enhancing barbecue tongs.”).
So I went. And found dried “sour apricots” right beside the bin of regular dried apricots. I imagined the fruit version of sour keys and got excited, but … they tasted quite like dried apricots. Oh well. I found this recipe for apricot beef stew, traded out the beef for lamb because I thought it would be nice with the turnips/apricots/prunes and added a dollop of sour-cream/goat cheese to round out the sweet with some cream. I fed it to the slummy mummies (my wine-guzzling mom’s group) and they raved.
And so, in preparation for that cool, fall, dinner-in-a-pot weather (and not the 30 degree late-summer heat I insanely tried to cook this in)…
Sourpus Apricot Lamb Stew
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
- 1.35 kg lamb, cubed
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp (10 mL) ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each cinnamon, and ground allspice
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups (750 mL) sodium-reduced beef broth
- 1 cup (250 mL) dry red wine
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp (10 mL) Worcestershire sauce
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 2 white turnips, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) pitted prunes, chopped
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) dried apricots, chopped
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) cold water
Directions: In large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1 tsp of the oil over medium heat; cook onions, celery and carrots, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Scrape into bowl.
Toss together lamb, salt and pepper. Add remaining oil to pan; heat over medium high heat. Cook lamb, in batches and stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes.
Stir in garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion mixture, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and bay leaves; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Stir in broth, wine, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
Stir in turnips, prunes and apricots; cook, stirring occasionally, until turnips are tender, about 45 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
Whisk flour with cold water; whisk into stew. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
Dollop topping, created by Ann, but essential to this recipe: Whisk together equal parts sour cream and soft herbed goat cheese.
Like I said, the mummies raved about this one, asking for the recipe. Rating: 4 yums. A great fall option! You could throw this sucka into the crock pot and let it go most of the day as well. Not sure the sour apricots made a difference, but go ahead and give this a go.
Happy back to school! (This is where the moms/dads yell “yahoo!’ and the kids and teachers say a swear word. Go ahead and emote as you see fit). And bring on your weirdness in the comments after this post!!