Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Truly, the most special day of the year. I love the expectation that is still in the air of what is to come.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. A safe and joyous Christmas.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gingerbread Cake

I've been thinking about making some gingerbread cake for a while and as I was going through some old copies of Cooks Illustrated looking for the vegetarian mincemeat recipe that I've made for the last couple of years, I came across this recipe.

Whipped it up last night and served it with slightly sweetened whipped cream. Awesomeness.

Gingerbread Cake 
(Cooks Illustrated Holiday 2009 issue)

 2 1/4 cups all purpose, unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting pan
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmet
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3/4 cup mild or light molasses
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
Confectioner's sugar for dusting, optional

1. Adust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 9 inch square baking pan; dust with flour and tap out excess.

2. Whisk together flour, ginger, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.

3. Beat butter, molasses and sugar in large blowl with electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in egg until incorporated. Gradually add buttermilk and milk until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed (do not overmix). Scrape batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake until top springs back when touched and edges pull away from pan, about 35 to 40 minutes. Set pan on wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Dust with Confectioner's sugar, if desired (or whipping cream) and serve warm or at room temperature. (gingerbread can be wrapped in plastic, then foil and refrigerated for up to 5 days).


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas project?

I like to have a project to do during the holidays and decided that I would knit something for myself instead of for the shop or gifts. I love the yarn and patterns from Swans Island (not to mention their blankets), so I purchased some yarn and the the cable wrap pattern above to knit up while I'm taking a little winter break.

Monday, December 3, 2012

More goodness in the shop

Finally into December. My favorite month. I've recently hand stamped these jar covers and tied them with red and white gingham ribbon. They're festive to give out for gifts to teachers, crossing guards, etc.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gingerbread Men

I made these gingerbread men for a bake sale recently. They turned out amazingly well, although I find that if you find your dough too sticky make sure you add a little more flour or your cookies will not cook well. This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.

Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.

3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened slightly
3/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp milk

1. In food processor, process flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together until combined about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal about 15 seconds. With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk, process until dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds.

2. Scrape dough onto counter; divide in half. Working with 1 portion of dough at a time, roll dough to even 1/4 inch thickness between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Leaving dough sandwiched between parchment layers, stack on baking sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20 minutes (or refridgerate for at least 2 hours or overnight).
3. Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Remove 1 dough sheet from freezer; place on counter. Peel off top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over; peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into 5-inch gingerbread men, transferring shapes to prepared sheets with tide metal spatula, spacing them from 3/4  inch apart.set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until sheets are full.Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely retains imprint with touch very gently with fingertip, 8-11 minutes, rotating sheets fron to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cook to room temperature.
5. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 2 and 4. Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used. Decorate with icing.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I have cats, and I do think that they are intelligent, and I also think that they can be this dumb. :) (image found on Pinterest)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like.....

No, I won't say it already. It's still too far away. But I have been putting Christmasy things in the shop.

Will be adding some more advent calendars as they are selling out fast and I can't keep up. Will start earlier next year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween in the shop

Have put these little egg cozies in the shop, also have put the pattern in the shop in case you want to make your own.

Christmas in the shop

I have finally finished the advent calendar and put it in the shop. There will be this one and one more with all red toques available this year. They take a lot longer to make than I thought. So this will be it for this year.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Who Knew Thomas Edison was such a Fascinating Guy

While on holiday, we managed to get in a visit to the Edison and Ford winter estates in Fort Myers, FL. It is called the Edison and Ford estates because they are next door to each other. Thomas and Henry were great friends and when the estate next door to Edison went up for sale, Ford jumped at the chance to live next door to his great friend and mentor.

Other than some small inventions (like electricity and cement!) I really didn't know much about Thomas Edison. Now I'm fascinated. More so with his wife, Mina, than with him, but who knew what a fascinating life they lead.

On the way to the estates I asked the husband why the Edisons and Fords with all their money would choose to build on the Caloosahatchee river instead of on Sanibel or Captiva Islands. It seems that they made a good choice, it was incredibly beautiful and I can only imagine what a paradise it was back in the day.

One of the perks of inventing cement is that you have the first pool in Florida. 

To keep out the curious eyes of those boating on the river, they hid the pool and its famous
inhabitants from view with banana trees.

The Edisons had two houses next to each other, one for their family and one for guests.

Edison's wife, Mina, was an avid traveller and garderner and brought back plants from around the world. She also liked to mix it up and was known for attaching plants such as orchids and ferns to palms and other trees. The horticulturists who take care of the estate today have kept up this practice.

 Lime trees

Mysore tree from India

The Moonlight Garden named as such because Mina included plants that are enhanced by the light of the moon.

There's so much more I could post about this visit, but it would be endless. I'll just share the rules for guests as posted by Edison's daughter, Madeline. It is definitely tongue in cheek.  I'll include more photos on flickr.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


A few shots from our holiday.

A palm tree made from shells

Storm across the Gulf of Mexico but beautiful on our side

Looks like Hemingway at the bar.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Ice Cream Chronicles - Cite aux Glaces

Yesterday, the wee man and I started our ice cream chronicles. We went to Cite aux Glaces at the Atwater Market next to the Lachine Canal.

Apparently, there is the same ice cream shop at the Jean Talon Market that has lots more flavors than the one at Atwater Market. We only had the following flavors to choose from:

 - Dulce de Leche
- Chocolat Noir
- Creme Brule a l'erable
- Vanille
- Pistache

There were quite a number of sorbets, but we wanted ice cream. I took the creme brule a l'erable and the wee man had dulce de leche. And the verdict is - both disappointed. I had heard such good things about both of these flavors, but neither one of us finished our cones. We found the dulce de leche to be wayyyyy too sweet. The wee man said he felt that after a few licks he was eating cookie dough (and not in a good way). I found the creme brule to have a bitter after taste even though the initial taste was sweet.

I'm just not sure that we picked the right flavors to say outright that we give it two thumbs down. So, we will go back this weekend and try again. This time I will choose either the vanille or the pistache. The wee man wants to try the mango sorbet. I wasn't going to include sorbets in our taste test, but why not? Bilbouquet in Westmount has a killer mango sorbet so we have something to compare it against.

To make up for the disappointing ice cream tasting, we went boating on the Lachine Canal. That was probably the best part of it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Best Lobster Rolls

I'm not a huge lobster fan, but I have a weakness when lobster is mixed up with a little butter, a little mayonnaise, some salt and pepper and put on a toasted hot dog bun, otherwise known as the lobster roll.

The only problem is that most places away from the ocean believe in death by mayonnaise, which makes me crazy. You can't taste the lobster at all. And isn't that the whole point of a lobster roll?

Then last summer we found, quite by accident, MuvBox. It's a shipping container that becomes home to one of the best lobster roll take out places I have found this side of New England for the months of May - Sept.

The perfectly toasted hot dog bun loaded with tons of lobster that is light on mayo and has just enough butter. And all for the grand price of $10.95 (it went up a $1 this summer). Match it with their not too shabby clam chowder made with chop clams and bacon and it's a great meal. It's just missing the chilled bottle of Chardonnay.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I'd forgotten how much I like weddings

The husband's younger brother was married yesterday in a vineyard in Ste. Dorothee.

The temp was 35C but there was a breeze and it really didn't feel that hot.

His daughters.

His daughter, Gabrielle, about to play the love theme from Romeo and Juliette on her violin.

 The groom

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ice Cream

My whole family loves ice cream. I adore ice cream, and being lactose intolerant doesn't stop me. I am willing to put up with a little discomfort for that dish of creamy goodness.

When we travel, one of the first places we seek out is the ice cream parlor, especially in Maine and Massachusetts where they have the most amazing flavors. Who can resist a flavor called Moose Paws? I especially love blueberry ice cream from Maine. And grapenut, which is not so easy to find anymore.

Last summer when we went to Florida we found a couple of really good ice cream shops and visited on several occasions. But since we spend the majority of our summer in Montreal, I thought it might be a good idea to expand our repertoire away from our local neighborhood ice cream shops, especially since there are some really interesting places opening up with intriguing flavors.

I suggested to the men that we try a different place in a different neighborhood every week. So this is the list, more of less, of the ice cream parlors that we will try this summer. The only rule being that we each have to try a different flavor.

1. Creme Glacee Bo Bec
2. Havre-aux-Glaces
3. Kem CoBa
4. Leo le Glacier
5. Les Givres
6. Cremerie Meu Meu
7. Point G
8 Ripples

And just because they are in our neighborhood we will also re-visit the following:

9. Ben and Jerry's
10. Bilbouquet

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer hats

I love hats, but always feel a little weird wearing one if I'm not at the beach.

My go to beach hat is one with a big floppy brim that I bought at Ogilvy years ago, but I decided to upgrade this year before we leave for Florida. I've sent for this hat from Amazon with SPF +50, hopefully it will arrive this week.

I need to get this one from Tilley for the wee man before we leave. He's so fair the sun is brutal to his skin. The husband also has a Tilley hat, but for some reason he insists on wearing this weird, geeky hat that says Gloucester, Mass. on it. I try to pretend that I'm with someone else when he wears it.

I hope this tastes better than it smells

Yesterday the husband brought home a bottle of Marmite and dared me to try it. I don't know if you've tried it, or like it, but damn it smells bad.

So I let the wee man try it. I took from the spitting noises into the sink he wasn't that crazy about it.

So I stuck to my mojito, which was amazing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Painting the deck

I decided that I was going to redo our deck this summer. It's a fair size deck that has a painted brick wall (white) and a blue railing. We have a round dining table with a taupe umbrella where we eat on occasion. We used to eat outside more, but I am finding that we now don't eat out so often. It also overlooks our garden that I have worked very hard on this summer. While the colors of the deck are ok, we've never been that keen on it but just didn't know what to do with it.

Then I had the inspiration the deck needed to become a different type of outdoor room. We love to sit outside, so I  thought that it might be good as an outdoor living room. I decided to strip the paint off the brick wall and leave it exposed and paint the deck black and put wicker sofas with lots of greenery. And even put up a gauzy curtain for privacy.

Then I tried stripping the paint off the bricks. The paint comes off fine. The primer, not so much. I am really disappointed as I was hoping that this would work out and I would have an exposed brick wall. I'm not afraid of a little elbow grease, but I just don't think that the primer will come out of the brick. Now I"m not sure what to do. I discussed it with the husband and we will strip the rest of the paint and then prime and possible paint a glossy black. But a black deck and a black wall. I'm not so sure. Especially in winter, it might look very harsh.

I have to decide over the next week or so. Any suggestions are welcome.