Politics and Bacon [Bacon Fried Wild Rice with Asparagus & Pea Shoots]

Let me open by saying I am going to keep this short and sweet. It’s the Canadian Leaders Debate and I’m trying my hardest to focus and take it in.

Because we’re friends, I’m going to level with you. I abhor politics. I know it’s important to be an informed citizen. I know. You need not wag the finger of shame at me. I do vote, and I try my best to make informed decisions. But when it comes to reading articles about corporate tax breaks or costly F-35 fighter jet purchases, I just can’t help but bob my head in an effort to stay awake. So I’m trying to make a valiant effort tonight. Though, since we’re being honest, my writing at the same time as ‘watching’ is probably not the best way to stay focused. But um, I’m trying? Assuming something shiny doesn’t catch my eye, of course. I should also mention that, in my case, ’watching’ can be defined as ‘making fun of outfits, accents, and chuckling about leaders trying to relate with the 20-something generation’. I’m a very responsible Canadian. (Please don’t deport me).

I was so excited to share this dish with you that I don’t even care that it’s another wild rice recipe. I hope you feel the same way once we’re finished here. It’s a perfectly easy, not-especially healthy take on fried rice. Bacon fried rice, actually. Did your heart jump there? Maybe just a little? If not, maybe we shouldn’t be friends. Ok, we can still be friends. But you owe me. I rounded out the recipe with some lightly roasted asparagus and raw pea shoots. The fresh flavour from the asparagus and shoots really helps cut the rich bacon flavour which I loved.

Vegetarians, feel free to use a vegetable oil in place of the bacon fat. Some browned tofu would be lovely in place of the bacon.

This would make a great side dish, but is equally satisfying as lunch or dinner.

Bacon Fried Wild Rice with Roasted Asparagus & Pea Shoots

3 cups cooked wild rice
6 slices bacon, cut into 1” pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2+ tbsp dark soy sauce, based on personal taste
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 egg
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 1-2” chunks
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls fresh pea shoots + extra for garnish
3 green onions, sliced diagonally

Preheat oven to 350. 

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the bacon and stir occasionally until crisp. Reserve 2tbsp of the bacon drippings and discard the rest. Let bacon drain on paper towels until ready to use. 

In a roasting pan, add the chunks of asparagus, and a good drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Roast 5-6 minutes, just until it’s bright green but still has some bite to it.

In a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat, add the 2tbsp bacon drippings and diced onion. Cook until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the rice, soy sauce and sesame oil and cook until warmed through. Make a well in the centre of the rice and add the egg. Whisk slightly with a fork and toss with the rice until cooked through, 5-6 minutes. There shouldn’t be much liquid left in the pan at this point. Taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce or sesame oil as needed.

Add in the bacon, asparagus, pea shoots and green onions. Toss briefly until combined and serve garnished with fresh pea shoots.


The Woes of Dietary Restrictions [Wild Rice Salad with Cashews, Cherries & Feta]

Isn’t it funny how your views on age change as you get older?

We were heading to Cornwall this weekend to celebrate my Dad’s 60th birthday. I remember when my Grandparents were in their 60s and I thought they were old. Now that it’s my dad that’s 60, and both his parents are still alive and well, it doesn’t seem as old anymore. I can’t even picture turning 60 and still having my parents around. He’s lucky, my Dad. I can only hope we’ll be that fortunate. Unless of course he’s crotchety, as we suspect he might be. But that’s the fun of getting older, isn’t it? You get to do and say whatever you damn well feel like without consequence. Man, I can’t wait.

I was asked to bring a salad to the celebration that would feed everyone, including my Nana with Celiacs disease, which in short is an intolerance to gluten. My first response to this request is usually to panic. I start thinking about all the things she can’t eat, rather than focusing on the things she can eat, which is still quite a bit. I find my usual reaction to dietary restrictions is usually to panic first. Which is funny since most restrictions are pretty easily worked around. Unless you’re one of those people who can’t have gluten, dairy, meat etc, etc. Then I’d have to ask you to eat before you come over. I’m kidding. Sort of.

Some of the acceptable staples in a Gluten-Free diet include: rice (including flour/bran), quinoa, millet, flours from nuts/beans/seeds, and chickpeas. It’s really not the worst thing in the world. If nothing else, it forces you to be a more concious eater, which we could all benefit from immensely. If you don’t want to buy the expensive gluten free dressings, vinagrettes, sauces etc, then take the extra 5 minutes and learn how to make them at home on your own. That way you know exactly what is in them. The same thing could be said for non-gluten free items, as well. Knowing whats in your food is important and you should be paying attention as often as you can.

After taking a quick peek through Gluten Free Girl’s archive, I decided on a nutty salad based around her Wild Rice Salad recipe. She combines wild rice, chanterelles, sour dried cherries, and toasted cashews. I bet your mouth is watering after hearing that line up isn’t it? The dried cherries were enough to get me stuggling not to drool all over my keyboard. I opted out of the chanterelles since I’ve been on a bit of a mushroom kick lately and needed a break. I also decided to add some feta for a bit of a salty kick. It played perfectly well with the cherries and cashews, while the wild rice pulled it all together for the perfect crunchy, chewy, sweet, salty, nutty bite. It got the seal of approval by my Nana and the rest of the clan, as well as Mr GL, who even enjoyed a small serving.

I had the leftovers for lunch yesterday and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it both cold and hot. I usually have a strong preferance one way or the other, but this was just as lovely cold as it was warm. This would make a perfect pairing with poultry or a vegetarian main course, as well as on it’s own with a poached egg or some fried tofu.

I should also make quick mention of how easy this salad is. With no dressing to worry about, the hardest part is waiting for the rice the cook. I don’t know that I’d even call it a recipe, just a list of ingredients and some suggested amounts. Use your imagination and make it your own by adding greens, herbs, roasted veggies or dressing of your choice. I had bought some tarragon to add in at the end for some fresh flavour and colour, but forgot to add it after all. My brain is kinda doughy these days. Forgive me, will you?

Wild Rice Salad
based on Gluten Free Girl recipe.

You might have a hard time finding cherries at your grocery store, but most bulk-stores or health-food stores will carry them. Substitute dried cranberries in a pinch.

If you feel inclined to add a dressing, a light lemon vinaigrette might be a good option.

3-4 cups cooked wild rice, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup toasted cashews
1 cup dried cherries, rough chopped
1 cup feta, cut into small cubes
small red onion, diced fine (optional)
1/2 cup herb of choice, tarragon was my choice (optional)

Are you ready for this?

Toss everything together.
Get yourself a fork or spoon.
Scoop up salad.
Eat salad. 

You can also go ahead and wipe your brow. I know how much you must be sweating after all that hard work.

Why don’t you get yourself a glass of wine or sparkling water, and have a seat.


Stuffing. Over and Over.

I’m a little late to the draw on this one, but better late than stuffing-less. Or something like that.

I’m not quite sure what I was thinking making stuffing after a full, gut-bustingly filling, buttery, amazing Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend… but, here we are. Talking about stuffing. Eating stuffing. Stuffing things with more stuffing.

Oh my, where was I?
Stuffing. Right. Vegetarian stuffing to be more precise. One that fills and feels like a good ol fashioned family recipe passed down through generations. It even makes you sleepy like regular meaty stuffing. And that’s a good thing, right? Goat cheese, wild rice, crusty bread… oh boy is it ever good.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it… but I love goat cheese. A LOT. Sometimes, when no one is home and the animals aren’t looking, I’ll spread an inch thick layer on bread (or really, anything that can hold it) and eat one, two, maybe three of them in a row. It’s shameful behaviour but I can’t help myself. I won’t.

Wild Rice & Goat Cheese Stuffing
adapted from Bobby Flay’s Recipe (which contains Chorizo, for those interested!)
Serves 6-8 so cut in half if you don’t want that much.  

2 cups wild rice
6 cups water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 loaf of day-old crusty/french bread, cubed
2 to 4 cups veggie stock (a good one that you would actually drink on it’s own, otherwise just use water)
12 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Coarse Salt

Combine the rice, water and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large sauce pan, bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the grains open all the way, about 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes. The rice should be very cooked (not chewy). Strain, place in a large bowl and set aside.

Heat the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook until soft. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion mixture, bread, goat cheese, parsley and 2 cups of the veggie stock to the rice. Mix to combine. The mixture should be quite wet; add more stock, if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the mixture to a large buttered baking dish and bake, uncovered, until heated through and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.


If you want to serve with roasted squash: slice squash in half and clean out the gunk/seeds. Rub both exposed sides with butter and poke all over with a fork. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and coarse salt. Bake on 400 until fork tender. (45 minutes +/-).