Friday, November 26, 2010


Having not grown up in North America, Smores was not a treat I was familiar with. I might have heard about it, but never actually tasted one. When I was pregnant the first time I got this inexplicable craving for smores. I had seen this camping ad on TV where they all hung around a fire at the beach and enjoyed big Smores.

I had never tasted it, but I wanted that combination of graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate desperately. I have to also confess that during my pregnancies, advertising had a much bigger impact that it normally would. I talked about Smores for weeks and finally my hubby broke down and got all the ingredients. We made a whole bunch of them, took our first bite and.... well, that's not that great is it? I don't understand why everyone loves these things?

A recent post by S about her dislike of cupcakes, reminded me of this story. It seems socially not acceptable NOT to like Smores - come on, where you never a kid - what's wrong with you, etc.

So I thought it might be because I was pregnant, but another try a few months later resulted in the same dislike. I think I just don't like graham crackers that way and I am definitely a chocolate snob. A couple of months back I tried again, but I changed the ingredients. The main marshmallow stayed, but I used Norwegian ginger snaps and a dark Swiss chilli chocolate. Now you're talking! This IS good! A beautiful marshmallow texture, sweet zing of ginger and that heat added to the dark sweetness of!

I might not like a good ol' American Smore, but give me some expensive European ingredients and I'm sold!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A tidy junk drawer

Human's seem to come along with a lot of stuff. Be it masses of clothes, books, movies, furniture, pots and pans and dishes. Keeping things organized has always been a challenge and is something I did already as a teenager, but at a much smaller scale. Back then I had tons of stuff! Even my father who loved the modern minimalist look, had stuff - hidden behind vast built-in closets and storage spaces.

When I moved to Paris for university I took a lot of my stuff with me. So many suitcases filled with trinkets, books and clothes - at least half of which I never even touched in my three years of living there. One year I lived in a peach coloured bachelor apartment the size of a small walk-in closet. It was so small that the table was attached to the wall and I could not open the microwave door without stepping out of the kitchen. Despite it's size I managed to fit all of my stuff - I bought shelves at BHV and jammed them in next to the armoire - I organized boxes in the armoire and under the futon bed - honestly I have no idea how I was able to live in a place that small, but it shows how you adapt to the space you have. I did see the eiffel tower from that apartment though!

After that I moved in with S and I recall our walk-in closet (what a novelty in Paris) to be jammed packed and our cook books teetering on the breakfast bar.

And then I moved across the pond and I had to make decisions on what to take with me. I had to give away, sell, dispose and minimize everything. My mother was not willing to keep her basement filled with my boxes, so I purged! That experience taught me a lot. I still have stuff, but now I purge on a regular basis. My husband hates me for it, but I keep pulling out things and saying, if he has not used it in the past 12 months it's out of here. With kids I do this even more, because since having them even more stuff has come along and the fact that they don't clean up after themselves drives me bananas!

I've managed to get our kitchen to where I like it. It's the one space my kids don't really get into things (except the pots and pans drawer which functions as their drum set) so I've been able to organize and keep it organized.

The last thing I did was my 'junk drawer' past September. Look, it's still tidy, because even my hubby knows where everything goes. My dishes are organized, my cook books in one place, my husband can find his wine glasses and souvenir beer glasses with ease. My favourite is my knife block in the drawer. I hate knife blocks on the counter and this puts them away neatly and safely.

I am lucky though that my upper cabinets are 3.5 feet tall and that I have a 9 foot high pantry. This allows for all the off-season stuff to go up high and the accessible stuff to be organized for everyday use. And I know I'm not the only one that dreams of organized spaces, there are many books out there, blogs dedicated to the topic and magazines to read. Now, if I could keep my closet and dresser this organized I'd be in seventh heaven!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Miracle in a paper bag

I wrote all summer long about my huge bounty of tomatoes, the recipes I was working on to consume all of the fruit and how great it was to have the fresh produce. When October came along with freezing nights, I ventured outside one afternoon, cut back all of my plants, tidied up the yard and harvested an enormous amount of green tomatoes. I filled two large paper bags with these green tomatoes, gave one bag to our dear friend M and kept the other bag on our kitchen counter.

Wow - I was amazed! Every couple of days I'd look in the bag and find a couple of red fruit. I was amazed because I had never done this before and find it fascinating how I was able to save much of our bounty this way.

So last week I took out the last ones out of the bag - a full month after taking them in. I decided to do a variation on the recipe I did in September, combining cheese and breadcrumbs with tomatoes, which turned out to be a winner with my kids. This time I added shrimp and we ended up with a great dinner. Shrimp is a staple that works in so many different ways and both M and D gobble them up like chips.

Now the season has definitely come to an end, and I should probably not be making this recipe with store bought fruit. But I might break down and try it again - it's yummy and my kids eat it - what choice do I have?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finally unpacking that box

We bought our house a year ago and I knew right away that I wanted to change the powder room. It had glossy dark blue walls, peel and stick vinyl tiles, an ugly light and a Home Depot MDF vanity special. As soon as we had the paper work done I went online and bought a vessel sink that would be part of our new and improved powder room. Well, a year later we unpacked the box and I'm glad that I still liked the sink I chose 365 days earlier!

As you already found out from our other renovation experiences, it took a little longer than expected, but the results are great . B built the vanity himself. He had a lot of fun with the wood working and I know that if he had more time he'd be building all kinds of furniture for our house.

We finished off our powder room with a beautiful Kohler faucet, which I am sure pleases my friend M. It's all come together now and links perfectly with our finished mudroom. J said yesterday that it looks like a modern take on a school house design - I like that description. So, do you think B should become a full time woodworker?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our first spook fest

This is the first year we really got into Halloween. A few things pushed in that direction: First our house being on the corner, a perfect site for a display of tombstones, ghosts, lanterns and pumpkins.

Second, three and a half year old M getting very exited about Trick'rTreating and finding the perfect costume. Princess, Chef or Pirate...mhhh, what will it be? Pirate it was for both her and little D.

Third, Halloween fell on a Sunday, a perfect time to host a Halloween Brunch. Spooky food, a collection of costumes, kids galore and bubbly to drink - no better way to spend a Sunday, right?

Our menu consisted of eggs and breakfast sausages - still amazed at the amount people ate. A beautiful French Toast casserole by our dear JP. Selected cheeses, fresh baguette and spooky dark fruit. Dark Tortilla chips with a great fresh guacamole that I whipped up quickly that morning. My butternut squash/bacon soup in shot glasses and spicy citrus mozzarella bites following Claire Robinson's recipe. To finish off our gruesome brunch, a raspberry loaf with fresh berries, curtesy of JL - accompanied by a glass of bubbly or devilish beer.

A great get-together to share food and drink, socialize and see those costumes that were covered later on that night with heavy coats - who expected snow? Thanks to all of you that came out - we had a great time and really enjoyed your company.