Through the Kitchen Window

Every once in a while, I get the “nesting” bug. No, I’m not “in a family way”!!! More like I get an urge to do something to shake things up, domestically. Now, before you go getting all excited and popping the popcorn, keep in mind that for me, domestic is more related to the house and how the place looks, than anywhere near where YOUR minds were going. ;p

So, we’re talking about doing a bit of redecorating. An activity that’s fraught with peril for me. How on earth am I supposed to decide on just ONE colour for the walls??? What if I don’t like it once it’s up??? And if you’re my extremely amenable, very helpful painter Jonathan, (also the son of one of my best friends, so he SHOULD know better!!!) and you’ve given me BOTH of your colour swatch books, then you’ve just magnified the problem a thousand-fold!!!

So I start by deciding to eliminate, sight unseen, the larger of the two swatch books. Step One!!! Then, I thought I’d narrow it down to my favourite colour. Green. Step Two!!! Well, not so fast. There are SO many different greens!!! But wait, some of them don’t really look like green so they’re easy to eliminate. Good. Step Three. Then I eliminated any with too much blue or grey. Step Four.

Now don’t get excited, because I still had no less than eight swatch sheets, each with six different shades of green!!! Yikes!!!

Jonathan was ready to start tomorrow. I put him off for two weeks. That SHOULD give me plenty of time to pick my colours. Right???

I have a couple of girlfriends who have decided to get married. A decision slightly more life-changing than what colour to put on my walls. ;) Since I love to entertain, and I think that occasions of this magnitude deserve to be celebrated in style, I decided to co-host surprise showers for each of them. Wendy’s was just this past weekend and it was a lot of fun. Michelle’s will be the weekend after next, allowing me to back burner the colour decision.

I got to work on planning what I would make instead. MUCH more fun and far less stressful.

For Wendy’s shower, I decided to make something that most people make without thinking, but that I had seriously never made myself. Pinwheel sandwiches made with wraps instead of bread. I know, shocker, isn’t it??? I had these lovely fresh tomato wraps that were about twelve inches across that I thought would be perfect. And I made four different fillings. Well, three fillings really. The amounts below each give enough filling to make three rolled wraps in each flavor.

Tuna Salad

    To four cans of flaked tuna, drained, add one bunch of green onion sliced thinly (no dark green parts), salt and pepper to taste and just enough mayonnaise to bind them all together well.

Egg Salad

    Hard cook a dozen eggs, peel and chop coarsely (I like my egg salad a bit chunky). Season with salt and pepper and a bit of cayenne and add mayonnaise so that it becomes a nice smooth mixture.

Cream Cheese & Salsa

    Mix together till well blended, equal parts of softened cream cheese and sour cream. Also make sure to have on hand a jar of your favourite salsa. I used an organic hot salsa that packed a nice punch on its own, but because of the cream cheese and sour cream, no one found these wraps too spicy.

So far, so simple, right??? My first attempt was a dismal failure. I spread the filling too close to the edge and when rolling up the wrap (jelly roll style) all I ended up with was cream cheese and salsa ALL over myself and my work space!!! Lesson learned though!!! After that one, I made sure that I left about an inch and a half of uncoated wrap across one side, for the extra fallout. The wraps worked out perfectly after that!!!

Tuna and egg salad are self explanatory, just spread the filling to within about a half inch of the perimeter of the wrap, remembering to leave about an inch and a half uncoated along one side. Roll up jelly roll style. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to slice them.

After spreading the cream cheese mixture generously on the wrap, I then spread my salsa on it as well and rolled the same way I rolled up the others. Well, actually, I did these first so it was a cream cheese and salsa ooze that attacked me and my work space!!! ;) After I had done three this way, I still had about half the mixture left over (I used two tubs of cream cheese and an almost full 500ml sour cream). One of the girls that had arrive early to help, mentioned how she did something similar but added crab meat to her wraps. Which I just happened to have in the fridge!!! So I did three more wraps with shredded crab meat. I’m sure they’d work equally well with shredded lobster or baby shrimp too. When it came time to cut them into rounds, we used a serrated knife and made pinwheels that were about ½ to ¾ of an inch wide. They were a huge hit, even with the guys.

Wendy’s sister was bringing THE cake and a couple of the other girls were making squares so I decided I’d do up a platter of assorted cookies. Several different varieties of Indian style shortbreads that I knew from past experience were always a hit with the girls.

There’s a bakery not too far north of my neighbourhood, called Shy’s. Shy’s is run by a wonderful East Indian woman named Jasmine. They make the most wonderful cookies and other savoury treats, most of them steeped in generations of traditions, but some very new as well. What I love about visiting Jasmine, besides the nankhatai, is that she always has something new for me to taste. I invariably end up bringing everything I try home with me as well. And she never tires of my unending questions about what goes into this or that and how they’re made. So, if you’re ever in the north east end of Toronto, pay a visit to Shy’s bakery, inside Zain’s at Kennedy Road south of Finch Avenue. You won’t regret it.

Thanksgiving is our next big do, coming in mid-October. The second Monday of the month, in fact. As usual, we’ll be celebrating with a huge turkey dinner and all the fixin’s. I love the holidays and the fact that they afford us time to spend with family. I look forward to spending this Thanksgiving with my kids and their partners around me. I know I’ll have plenty of stories and recipes to share next time, too.