Monday, 31 October 2011

Eerily Easy Cakes

We are in the final hours of Halloween and I am afraid that between travel, shows and crazy apron preparations I have been quite negligent this year. I saw these brilliant cakes on the Sweet Paul blog (who really should be my new best friend) and was impressed by his genius transformation of store bought cakes into something spookily spectacular.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Wise Quote to Live By

Found this lovely quote on A Cup of Jo. Wise wise mantra.

"I must learn to love the fool in me - the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool." -- Theodore I. Rubin, MD

Friday, 28 October 2011

Oat Bar Fail

I had a million and one things to do before heading off to L.A. (can't wait to see you dear Mr. Sunshine!!) and then to Vancouver for the Circle Craft Christmas Market. You know how it is sometimes when you have a gazillion things to do but you suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to do something completely unnecessary? I guess it is the procrastinator in me. I stumbled upon this recipe I had torn out of a magazine. There was a feature on favourite picnic food and I was mesmerized by an oatmeal "flapjacks" recipe. They looked like oatmeal squares but with a touch of lemon. Packing and prepping be damned, it was time to make some oatmeal squares. I rationalized my stalling tactics by telling myself that I could take them with me on my travels as a healthy snack.

I should have known that things weren't going to work out. The instructions were in weight measures rather than by volume. Who knows how much 200 grams of butter is? I searched on the internet for a conversion and instead found persnickety online conversations along the lines of, "Well, you know the weight of a solid isn't the same as a liquid" and blah, blah, blah. Who cares? I just wanted to know how many cups of flour and butter I needed. The recipe called for golden syrup, which, thanks to my persnickety internet teachers, I learned, isn't the same as maple or corn syrup. It is a treacle, more akin to honey but not quite. I was getting tired. I almost packed it in when it called for Muscovado sugar (huh?) which is a dark brown sugar that isn't quite the same as brown sugar. Just how exotic were these oatmeal bars?!

I carried on to the best of my abilities, figuring out the measurements, using a combination of honey and maple syrup and hoping for the best. In the end my bars are more like a flaky baked granola - a far cry from packable tasty oatmeal bars. I guess I should have stuck with the packing and prepping.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Snacking Pumpkin Kitty!

Halloween is almost here! I am not prepared with a costume, a pumpkin, decorations or anything else but what more does anyone need once they see a kitty dressed as a pumpkin making adorable grunting and noshing sounds while feasting on chicken?

Found on The Daily What

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Delicious Food Show

Time to tempt those tummies and get ready to browse through aisles and aisles of food porn! The Delicious Food Show kicks off with an opening night party tomorrow at the Better Living Centre and then continues on for a full weekend of yumminess. There will be celebrity chefs (rock stars in my world), demos, grape stomping and tasty nibblies galore. It is a foodie's paradise. I'm so excited to be participating. It just makes sense to have aprons at a food show, doesn't it? It's one of those perfect pairings, like peanut butter and chocolate, wine and cheese, apple pie and ice cream.

Domistyle will be in Booth #126. I expect I will be eating a lot. Come by and tell me about all the delicious things you have sampled and the tasty inspiration you have witnessed.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Mighty Centenarian

Yesterday Fauja Singh broke the record as the oldest person to ever complete a marathon at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I have a new hero. We're never too old to surpass our own and everyone else's expectations.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A Good Soup Day

It has been a blustery and wet weekend. After being spoiled by near summer-like weather, it feels like a bit of a mean contrast. There was no easy transition into fall, it is full on grey and nasty. Oh well, if you can't beat it embrace it. If it is cold and dreary outside the best thing to do is get warm and cozy inside. With that in mind I put on woolly socks, looked at knitting projects and put on a pot of soup. Split pea soup seemed like the perfect choice. It is a stick to your ribs kind of soup, the kind that feels hearty and soothing and the perfect foil for a chilly evening. Suddenly a blustery, wet weekend feels just right.

I used this recipe from my fave go-to soup goddess, Deborah Madison. It is from her bookVegetable Soups From Deborah Madison's Kitchen:

Cream of Split Pea and Fresh Pea Soup
  • Soak 1 cup green split peas for at least 1 hour.
  • Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a soup pot and cook 1 large diced onion, 2 diced carrots, 1 diced celery stalk, 1 tbsp chopped rosemary, 2 tbsp chopped parsley and 2 bay leaves for around 15 minutes. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves, 11/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika and cook for a few more minutes.
  • Add the soaked split peas and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about an hour until the peas have broken down.
  • Add 2 cups frozen peas and cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Puree the soup with 1 cup of milk (she calls for half and half or light cream but I find milk is fine).
  • Add some fresh chopped rosemary, the zest and juice of 1 lemon (which brightens everything and makes it so fresh and heavenly) and more salt and pepper if needed.
She suggests topping it with homemade croutons fried with a little butter, rosemary and an extra squeeze of lemon which would be delightful I'm sure. I opted for thick slices of hot buttery toast which fit the bill just fine, thank you very much. I put up my woolly socked feet, listened to the wind and felt perfectly warm and fortified.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Take Along Caramel Apple Kit

Caramel and apple is one of life's great combos. Like peanut butter and chocolate, macaroni and cheese, and pie and ice cream, some pairings are just magic. I love this idea for a DIY caramel apple kit that I saw on Oh Happy Day. If it ever stops raining I would love to plan a fall picnic, bundle up in a cozy sweater, pack a basket with tasty snacks and a thermos of hot soup and gather a group of friends for a final salute to al fresco dining. What could be a more appropriate addition to a fall picnic than caramel apples? While I'm waiting for a dry day I will experiment with some tasty apple combos on my own, all for research purposes of course.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Belated Thanksgiving Stuffing

The weekend was crazy busy with Thanksgiving festivities. I managed to plow through two dinners and am now trying to atone with yoga. Even though the festivities had come and gone I still felt like I wanted more so I made a wild rice stuffing last night and stuffed it in a red pepper. It was delicious and autumnal and it felt like I was preparing something celebratory. When things get super hectic it is time to take a deep breath, pause and eat something special.

Belated Thanksgiving Stuffing - adapted from a recipe I tore out from Vegetarian Times magazine in 1999 (an oldie but a goodie)
  • Cook 11/2 cups rice in 3 cups vegetable broth ( I used 1/2 cup each of orzo, brown rice and wild rice) for about an hour.
  • While the rice is cooking heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and cook a chopped onion. Add 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp each of paprika, thyme and oregano with a dash of cayenne. Add 6 minced cloves of garlic, 2 stalks of chopped celery and a chopped pepper to the mix and sautee for around 10 minutes. Stir in a cup of raisins, 11/2 cups of diced apple, 1/2 cup chopped parsley and 1 tbsp each of fresh sage and rosemary. 
  • Mix vegetable mixture with the rice and 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans.
  • Mix in 2 tbsp rice vinegar (the original recipe called for umeboshi vinegar but I have no idea what that is and knew for certain that it wasn't in my pantry), 2 tsp balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp soy sauce.
  • Serve it as is or stuff it into a vegetable and bake it.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Suede Elbow Patches

I spotted a couple of sweaters with elbow patches and now I am obsessed. I can't think of a better way to feel autumnal, cozy and collegiate. I plan to follow Martha Stewart's tutorial and transform an old cardigan into an elbow patched new favourite.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Pink Bubble of Love

I did the Run for the Cure for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation yesterday on a cold and gloomy morning. I was surrounded by friends, loved ones and a huge mob of runners and supporters. It was moving, inspiring and empowering. I don't think any of us felt the cold or the rain. We were surrounded by a giant pink bubble of love.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

I Heart Free Stuff!

I am excited to be attending an uber clothing swap today in Leslieville. It is such a good way to clear out the closet and walk away with new (to me) goodies. Nathalie-Roze of Nathalie-Roze and Co. has organized a massive swap from 11am till 2 pm. at Queen East Presbyterian Church, 947 Queen Street.Admission is $8 and a donation of cast-offs to swap. In return participants can stuff one large tote bag with goodies. I love the thrill of the hunt and any opportunity to recycle and reuse It is win win all around. I will purge my closet, sharpen my elbows and do some mining for cast-off gold.