green, eggs and ham

Diane Thompson's green, eggs and ham

With all this rich food during the holidays, I find myself craving fresh, crunchy, healthy fare....something with more raw nutrition and less butter and sugar. I love a big salad for dinner; one chock-full of tasty morsels such as toasted nuts, cheese and lots of colourful vegetables. Sometimes more is more. Add some nice bread and a good bottle of red wine, and you quickly have yourself a fine meal. This salad is made from simple ingredients found in most food stores.

Spinach Salad With Eggs & Prosciutto

Spinach for 4 people, washed and dried
1 yellow belle pepper, diced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/4 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped

2/3 cup goat feta, crumbled
150 grams of prosciutto ham, thinly sliced
4 soft boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half
(bring water to boil, add eggs, reduce heat to low simmer, cook eggs 8 minutes with the lid on)


1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl, except for the eggs and prosciutto. Mix dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl and pour over the salad. Toss. Serve salad on 4 large plates. Wrap the prosciutto loosely around the outer edges of the plate, nestling it into outskirts of the salad. Finally, place one still warm egg on top of the centre of each salad. Serve immediately.


peace on earth

Hand beaded crystal snowflake by Karin Paul.
Wishing you and yours a delicious holiday and a happy, healthy New Year.
xoxo Diane @ global peasant.


culinary school.....here i come

“Cooks, I had learned, came to cooking not to fulfill a desire, but rather, by chance, to fulfill something already in their nature.”

Micheal Rhulman - The Making of a Chef

Ever wonder what it would be like to attend culinary school full time? I’d never given it much thought, until one day last August when I found myself checking out Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. I had been drawn through their front doors by little more than vague curiosity. And I really liked what I saw. Dedicated, energetic instructors and a light, spacious facility all made their 15 week professional culinary program seem very appealing. I left the school thinking that someday that would be a really cool thing to do.

When it comes to the world of food, I have always considered myself to be a dabbler; someone who lingers in its corners and nibbles on its edges. In my working life, I run my own interior design business, lead community kitchens teaching youth how to cook, and (seem to) regularly make lots of friends and family happy with my own self taught version of home cooking. I am still not quite sure how I went from ‘tire kicker’ that fateful day back in August to enrolled student, but somewhere along the way I made the decision to take a sabbatical from my own business and other obligations, in order that I may immerse myself fully; living, breathing, slicing, dicing, julienning, pureeing, simmering, roasting, reducing, straining, grating FOOD. To keep you abreast of my trials and tribulations I will be writing a weekly update, to be posted here @ gp every Saturday (during the program's 15 weeks), starting January 5, 2008.



When most of us are happy to sleep in at least until 7:00 am, Sandrita has already been awake and industrious for hours. Simply put, she loves to bake. Originally from Toronto and now living in Sayulita with her Mexican boyfriend, she found herself craving foods from home. Opening a bakery at the beginning of October not only satiated her own yearnings, but also helped to fill a culinary void felt by other gringos who have chosen to settle or spend longer periods of time there and are looking for a departure from the readily available tacos and tortas. Menu items include cinnamon buns with maple syrup glaze, spicy cornmeal cheese bread, daily cookies, tarts, pies, breads, pastries, muffins and, of course, good coffee. The day I dropped in she was also busy baking made-to-order pumpkin pies for American Thanksgiving and experimenting with a version of Asian rice noodle salad wraps.

Sandrita's Bakery & Cafe is located 2 1/2 blocks in from the beach in a sweet little courtyard she shares with Liberia Sayulita, a wonderful secondhand bookstore and internet cafe. Sandrita describes the cafe's decor as 'strawberry shortcake'. With all its baby pink and 'girlie' sensibilities, it really is....sweet.

pollos asada

Pollos Asada (grilled chicken) is one of those meals that will forever remain one of my all time favourite food memories. From what I can tell, this item is usually served only on Domingo (Sunday), which is also known in Mexico as family day. Ten years ago, my dad and I took a bus trip to Sayulita, arriving just in time to meet the dusty heat of midday and to see the women who had set up in the street under makeshift tarps, cooking half chickens over smoking grills made from vertically split oil drums. Served with potatoes and salad, this simple meal was so flavourful, so tasty and such a warm welcome for two hungry travellers. Real Mexican comfort food. Then the tarp came down and everyone went home....until next Sunday.

This last trip I arrived back in Sayulita on a Sunday morning. When I inquired to one of the locals, I was assured that Pollos Asada would be cooked and available later that same day, Domingo.


the dinner goddess

I met the dinner goddess by chance, while drinking my morning coffee. I'd already seen her striking turquoise and red business card around town and loved the name. I was delighted to talk to Lila Shaw Lash, to learn about what made this Texan transplant tick in San Miguel de Allende. It didn't take long to mutually realize that, in many ways, we are kindred spirits. We both love the obvious things about food, the immediate, but are just as drawn to and deeply moved by the people, places, history, culture and stories around food. Lila calls it culinary archeology, a term which I love. We share a desire to express our eclectic culinary experiences and observations through more than just the food itself, and also share a joy for communication and storytelling; to pass on that which has touched and inspired us, in hopes that others may feel the same.

During her days (and likely some of her evenings, too), the Dinner Goddess is a personal chef and catering service available to clients in SMA, and also writes her monthly column in one of its newspapers, Atencion San Miguel, where she also serves as its assistant editor. Lila is extremely knowledgeable about the local food scene and generously willing to share what it has to offer. I was sorry to not have had more time during my travels, to pal around with her a bit and learn more about some of her favourites.



Sorry....got a little side tracked there. Where was I? Oh yeah. Relaying some details about my recent Mexico trip....

Another activity I chose to do during my stay in San Miguel de Allende was to attend a cooking class. Sazon is a beautiful facility, offering all kinds of classes taught by a wide array of visiting and local chefs. The focus is most certainly Mexican, quite refined and elegant. The recipes, techniques and dishes are quite different from the popular, quick, cheap and easy street food I gravitated towards during most of my culinary mardi gras. It was exciting to be reminded that the world of authentic Mexican cuisine is stunningly rich and complex, while at the same time being simple and subtle. My day at Sazon turned me onto the fact that the world of modern Mexican cuisine is very much an exciting reawakening of culinary history, being celebrated by chefs from all over North America. Diana Kennedy, I learned, is certainly one of the biggest and best known contributors to this rediscovery. Now 84 years old, her list of published cookbooks is an impressive and inspiring body of work. The recipe below is from her book 'The Art of Mexican Cooking'. It was the first dish we made in class that day....light, delicate, and subtle.

Our class was lead by Chef Kirstin West, who relocated to San Miguel de Allende only 11 months prior, having been recruited from Chicago where she worked for American-cooking-Mexican chef / restauranteur Rick Bayless. One thing's for sure; there are a lot of people out there who are very excited to cook, eat and learn more about Mexican food.

Sopa de Fideo y Espinacas
(Vermicelli and Spinach Soup)

2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped, unpeeled
1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 white onion, roughly chopped
small piece of chile serrano (optional)
1 tbsp lard or safflower oil
6 cups well seasoned chicken broth
1/2 lb spinach washed, stems removed, roughly chopped
sea salt to taste
2 medium eggs, separated
3 ounces fine vermicelli (dried)
3 tbsp finely grated queso anejo (optional- could sub with parmesan)
safflower oil for frying

Put the tomatoes, garlic, onion and optional fresh chile into a blender jay and blend until smooth. Heat the lard in a soup pot, add the blended ingredients and fry at medium heat, stirring from time to time and scraping the bottom of the pot, until reduced and thickened- about 4 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the spinach and stir for about 10 minutes. Taste for salt.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Beat in the yolks one at a time with a pinch of salt. When the yolks are well incorporated, crumble the uncooked vermicelli into the beaten eggs and add the optional cheese. Stir until the vermicelli is well coated with the egg.

In a frying pan, heat about 1/4" of safflower oil. When hot, add large spoonfuls of the egg, vermicelli mixure (make 12 of them, about 3" wide, in shapes similar to crab cakes or small hamburger patties). When they are pale golden brown on the underside-about 1 minute- turn them over and fry on the second side (if they become too brown, lower the heat). Drain on paper towel. There should be about 12. Place them in a single layer on the top of the broth and simmer, turning them carefully once so they do not break open- about 12-15 minutes. Serve in deep bowls, 2 tortas per person with a lot of broth.


tuesday market

The next stop on my Mexico trip was San Miguel de Allende. This scenic interior town can be reached from Puerto Vallarta by bus; about a 12 hour ride north east via Guadalahara (I opted for the the 'overnight' time slot, so as not to lose a precious vacation day to travel time). I've enjoyed visits to SMA in the past, but this time I had an extra incentive to go; my friends Martial, Tara and her daughter, Maxine are living there these days. They are renting a house, working (Tara is a jewellery designer and Martial is a scientist, able to work remotely from his laptop, and Maxine attends a 'Waldorf' private school), befriending the locals, speaking excellent Spanish, driving through the cobblestone streets on their scooters and motorcycles, and living the life. I believe it is always a bonus to visit a place when you have friends already living there. Tara and Martial were fantastic hosts, really showing me a great time and sharing many of the wonderful things SMA has to offer.

One day Tara took me to the Tuesday Market, located just a short drive out of town, next to Plaza Real de Conde. I was keen to go, as I am a big fan of markets and any place selling used....anything. This sprawling open air flea market takes place all day every....you guessed it, Tuesday. You can buy everything here from fresh fruits and vegetables to used shoes and clothing, pirated c.d.s, expired license plates, chicken feet, bicycle repair parts, puppies, fish and meat. The market proved to be a super fun way to spend a few hours, ending with a delicious shared lunch of fresh batter-fried fish served with crunchy corn chips, fresh salad and lots of hot sauce. All that shopping can really make a gal hungry.