First Day of Spring Fail

Yesterday was the first day of spring, which despite clear skies brought with it a morning temperature of -20°C (-4°F) with the wind chill. Even though it felt like the warmer weather had started to arrive a few weeks ago and we even broke out the grill, after teasing us a bit the temperatures dropped back down again. It’s unseasonably cold here, even for this part of Canada! Usually by the end of March Break we’re looking at some bare grass, at least. Six years ago, it was -25°C (77°F) on this very same day, which I will grant you broke a bunch of records… But the average is usually somewhere in between.


Yep, this snowman is over 1 story high — and he’s still decked out for Saint Patrick’s Day.

I guess I wouldn’t be so down about the weather (freezing temperatures mean no bugs, after all) if the rest of the day had gone better. Right before supper, Thing 1 knocked my camera off of the kitchen table and busted the motor on my primary lens. I am lucky that I have a backup salvaged from an old camera of mine, but I still have to do some testing to make sure the camera body is okay. I didn’t find out that I had a replacement until after we ate, though, so please excuse the cell phone camera pictures.

Honestly, though, I don’t think that a better camera would have made this meal look yummy. I used my new-to-me air fryer machine (a T-Fal Actifry) to make sweet potato fries using this recipe that I followed to the letter. The fries turned out tough and chewy and not at all fry-like. Not only that, but as soon as the sweet potato touched air, it turned all kinds of unappetizing colours. Usually I’d use an orange sweet potato, but the white-fleshed kind was the only one that they had at the grocery store today. Maybe the orange kind would be better — or even the purple kind? Or maybe I’m using the machine wrong, or it’s busted? It will take further experimentation to find out.

At least the burgers turned out tasty, if not what I’d intended. I made up the burgers using a bit of onion soup mix, and I topped them with a fried egg, which was actually pretty good. I’d wanted to top them with thin slices of avocado as well, but every single avocado in the package I bought just today was rotten inside. So that put the kaibosh on that.

All in all, I ended up with a barely palatable meal that Gordon Ramsay would not hesitate to roast. I was so disappointed. And it all took almost two hours to make from scratch.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Spectacularly Ugly Gnocchi

I’ve been getting a lot of my kitchen inspiration from Tasty lately, probably because they’re constantly showing up on my Facebook dash. In an effort to widen my online cooking exposure, I subscribed to a few other feeds today; if anybody has any in particular that they’d recommend, do drop me a line!

Anyway, the one that I tried over the weekend was Easy Homemade Gnocci. I have to say, this dish was anything but easy. It was disaster after disaster, really. I don’t know how much of that was the fault of the recipe and how much of it was my own, but nothing seemed to go right.

First of all, I prepared the potatoes exactly the same way as the video showed, but my mashed potatoes ended up being a gluey mess. They were either too moist to start or I should have prepared them differently; they definitely weren’t overcooked, since the center of the larger ones were still a little raw (I discarded those pieces). After perusing the video comments, I learned that some people bake their potatoes instead of boiling them to prevent excess moisture. Also, many people recommend a potato ricer instead of a masher, as it keeps the potatoes from turning gluey. As a bonus, if you cut the unpeeled potato in half and press it through the ricer, you don’t even have to peel anything — it kind of works like a giant garlic press or a modified of food mill.


My homemade gnocci served with baked herbed chicken thighs and corn.

I’m pretty sure that the potatoes were too moist, but I think they were also too large. The recipe calls for 3 to 4 small or medium russet potatoes, but that’s very subjective. Since vegetables can come in all different sizes, I much prefer a measurement by weight or at least by volume, as I’ve talked about before. Due to the moisture, I had to use twice as much flour as the recipe calls for just to get the dough even close to firm enough — and I think I really could have used more. I’d read online that too much flour can make the gnocci heavy and stodgy, and I was trying to avoid that… I don’t think I succeeded. The gnocci that I made did not hold their shape for long after forming and were much too floppy for the fork method to work at all. I made the mistake of letting the noodles touch before boiling them and they just congealed back into a large mass of dough, so I had to form them again. The dough was so stretchy that they didn’t keep their shape in the water.

In the end, I liked the flavour of the gnocci fried up in butter and sage, even if the pasta was misshapen and stodgy. I think I’d like to try this recipe again with modifications until I get it right. For that reason, I don’t think that this recipe is an easy beginner dish — I think that the original article misrepresented it as such. But it could eventually be quite nice, with practice. Perhaps I can find an Italian nonna who is willing to teach me the finer points of this dish, if only to keep me from massacring a tradition so badly next time.