The first thing that has happened is that Lucas started art classes at the amazing Arts Umbrella, which offers high-quality visual and performing arts instruction to children from preschool through high school. The school is located on Vancouver's famous Granville Island, which is packed full of art studios, galleries, restaurants, and the amazing Public Market, where I now spend a couple of hours every Friday busting our food budget for the week while Lucas takes his mixed media class. Even with the best of intentions, I can't help but return home with bags stuffed with endless varieties of delicious goodies -- lately I can't resist the pyramids of neatly stacked strawberries and blueberries, the multicolored bunches of kale, and the huge variety of grains, spices, and other nifty ingredients at the Grainry. And I never fail to stop by Oyama Sausage Co., whose massive selection of creative sausages made from local high quality meats has become the center of our Friday dinner. I can't even bring myself to look at their full selection of charcuterie, pate, and cheese, or I might never leave.
|Sausages with herbed couscous, stewed zucchini, and fruit plate.|
Yes, Friday night is Sausage Night. Each week, I select three or four varieties (this is hard! they have dozens and dozens, and the selections change daily) and as soon as I get home I pop them into the oven while I put away all the produce and other tasty bits, and put together some simple and quick side dishes (couscous is a favorite). I've started cutting up a little fruit plate for Lucas and Baby Gateau, so at least they get some plant matter into them.
This week we sampled Toulouse pork sausage (mild and perfect for kids), Chicken with Preserved Lemon (a little dry, but tasty), Elk with Huckleberry (gamey in a good way), and Pork with Prune (delicious, but deemed "too fruity" by the kids). Others we've tried have included Duck with Truffle, Smokey Bison (Lucas's favorite), Pork with Red Wine and Herbs (fantastic), and Japanese Chicken (kids raved).
The ham, cooked with a simple maple glaze, served us for umpteen meals. The first night, I served it with mashed sweet potatoes and a green salad, but everyone clamored for "regular" potatoes, so I made that the next night too. The ham showed up in school lunch sandwiches, in cold cut platters at home, and finally its bone and last scraps of meat produced a phenomenal French Canadian Pea Soup with yellow split peas.
|My bella chicken.|
French chef-type roast chicken is not a set-it-and-forget-it project. You have to baste and turn that bastard every 10-15 minutes, but boy is it worth it. It came out succulent, with a well-seasoned, brown and crisp skin and gorgeous drippings for a gravy. I roasted some potatoes in a dish alongside it and served a bowl of my favorite flash-fried kale with lemon, and it was a truly fine meal. It was big enough to give us a second night of roast chicken, plus its carcass tipped the balance and allowed me to clear out my freezer stash of chicken bits and vegetable trimmings to make the best chicken stock I ever made, following Gabrielle Hamilton's instructions in the Prune cookbook. I'd added a few extra drumsticks to the pot, and the meat from those later went into a batch of chicken tacos, while about the stock is what made that pea soup so rich and delicious.