Hi everyone! I hope you have been enjoying your summer so far! Have you had a chance to visit a patio recently? Restaurants are now investing in patio layouts amid the pandemic, which was a very smart move for business owners. I recently dined on a patio over the weekend, and as part of a date night, we visited the Wildfire Steakhouse. It was fabulous food, and exceptional service, but when I got home I became very ill. No, it did not have anything to do with COVID. The doctor let me know in the past that I had gallstones, and the meal had given me a bad reaction.
Red meat has been another obstacle in my life that I am currently weighing in my mind. As I get older, the foods I used to enjoy have now become foods that cause me to be sick. This change happened almost overnight, and as a result, has been changing my thoughts and ideas on diet. If your body reacts negatively towards certain foods, it should be acknowledged as a strong warning that something is wrong. Not only should you listen to your body, but you should also explore what would make it content.
As I examine the Vegan diet closely, I realize that my body has been desperately in need of a change. I owe it to myself to explore what the diet has to offer, and how it will change my life for the better. I have reached serious crossroads, and now have to make a choice for the good of my personal health. The challenge will be difficult, but I vow to read and study on the concept and benefits of what Veganism has to offer me. If anyone has began the conversion recently, I’d love to hear from you! I would like to know how you have been dealing with changing your diet, and how you are coping with the temptation of the foods you have left behind. This is another juicy topic! Be sure to get in on it. Lots of love to you out there, and happy Tuesday everyone!
We are taking another night drive tonight, and the destination is Guelph. Guelph is a city in the province of Ontario, that was founded in 1879. The city is approximately one hour away from Toronto, and sits along the banks of the Speed River. Guelph is best known for its limestone architecture, cultural diversity, and high standard of living. Home of the University of Guelph, the school houses nearly 30,000 students every year, and the popular Veterinary Medicine program ranks fourth best in the world.
The city is vintage enough to take some really amazing photos! Taking in history through a lens can be quite the learning experience, and not to mention, an extraordinary story to tell.
I’m ready to head out tonight, just to see the sights of what Guelph has to offer. We are piling the kids up in the car, doing a Tim Hortons run on the way to our big Friday night adventure! The children are pumped, and I am ready for the drive. I hope you all find a great place to discover tonight. Enjoy yourselves and be safe. Happy Friday everyone!
Ready…set…go! The berry season is winding down, and we need to get out there and pick for jams, pies and whatever else that may tickle our fancy! Berries are a beautiful thing if you pick them in season, and there is nothing better than a fresh, juicy mouthful on a hot summer day. Of course we know there are benefits to having them in our diet. They are loaded with antioxidants to help keep our immune systems strong, they help to fight inflammation, and they also lower cholesterol levels, just to name a few. However, there is also an advantage to cooking or baking berries, as some of the nutrients are easier to absorb in the body.
A win-win situation all the way around! So, of course, I’ve taken the liberty of finding a berry recipe that I know you will enjoy. Now, I can’t promise you the calories are as beneficial as the nutrients, but I will suggest that you partake in modesty;)
4 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
For the batter:
6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Slice butter into pieces and add to a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place the pan in the oven while it preheats, to allow the butter to melt. Once melted, remove the pan from the oven.
Add blueberries, sugar and zest to a bowl and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl mix together the batter ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk, just until combined.
Pour blueberries over melted butter in pan. Drizzle batter over the top. Sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, or until lightly golden on top.
Serve warm, with a scoop of ice cream, if desired!
*Recipe taken from tastesbetterfromscratch.com
Nothing goes better with cobbler than a great vanilla ice cream! Am I right? If you go so far to find that perfect ice cream, you know you will have to invite the company to enjoy it with you. I am willing to be your guinea pig if you need a trial run;) Until next time, happy Thursday everyone!
Vintage kitchens are a snapshot of life in more simpler times, with a lived-in feeling that adds warmth to any dish prepared. Storing utensils and spices on countertops made cooking a cinch, and also gave your guest a good sense of your culinary abilities. The sweet smell of pies in the oven, and worn recipe books on stands takes you back to a life we can all remember. The motto for kitchens today is, “the less the better,” with stainless steel appliances, and sleek cabinetry. They are fancy, but lack character, making them a dime a dozen.
I write all this to inspire those who are passionate about vintage character, to consider sprucing up their kitchen by customizing the pantry door. Repurposing an old screen door with some paint, and a creative idea, you can make an ordinary kitchen, the talk of the town.
Go wild with primary colours, or keep it conservative and elegant, but any way you slice it, it will be a gorgeous addition to your kitchen. The doors could roll with a built in track, or be hinged to the frame. I much prefer the doors you can see through, as it shows off the inside of the pantry, using the screen as a pretty frame. The measurements for hinged doors must be precise so that they fit seamlessly into the frame. That way, the screen looks as though it was meant for the opening. There could be a little more flexibility in a “barn door” style, as it only has to cover the pantry’s opening.
I found this idea on Pinterest, and I instantly fell in love! You could have fun with the hardware, or even stencil words or phrases on to the surface. Anything is possible when you use your imagination! I hope you will be inspired to take on the challenge to give your kitchen that unique appeal. Putting your special stamp on your home recreates the memories, and unveils the real you. Have a good one, and happy Wednesday everyone!
Today I thought I would investigate the origin of “Buddha Bowls”, and why they have become such a popular trend in the culinary world. The bowl represents a plentiful amount that resembles the Buddha’s belly. The idea of a bowl to fill that belly is almost comical if you ask me! It is a one-dish meal consisting of a carb, veggies, and protein. Buddha bowls are commonly vegan, so the protein portion would consist of beans or tofu. The representation of fresh and clean foods in this dish ties in with ancient Chinese and Japanese medecine. The concept of raw and/or simply prepared ingredients falls in line with the ancient asian principles of keeping the body and mind healthy, and energetic.
Understanding all of this, it only makes sense to consider the option including of a nutritious Buddha bowl into a dinner this week. Learning how to prepare fresh and fast meals will be your ticket to a long life, filled with vitality! Fast, clean meals are your friend when it comes to quick dinner fixes, so keep this recipe on hand:
Turmeric Chickpea Buddha Bowl
Turmeric Chickpea Buddha Bowl is the ultimate, anti-inflammatory, plant-based buddha bowl! It’s loaded with nutrient-dense superfoods and drizzled with a zesty lemon tahini dressing. Everyone needs a nourish bowl in their meal prep arsenal. Come and get this!
Heat oven to 400°; toss together BEETS, SWEET POTATO, OLIVE OIL, and SALT; place on baking sheet; bake 15 minutes, or until tender; set aside to cool.
For the salad:
Chop KALE, ORANGE, AVOCADO, and WALNUTS; portion out the POMEGRANATE, QUINOA, TURMERIC CHICKPEAS, and SPROUTS; if you’re meal prepping this buddha bowl in advance, store all ingredients separately until ready to use.Kale tip: Add a little olive oil and salt to the kale and massage gently with your hands until kale starts to become tender. This makes it more palatable and delicious!
For the dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together TAHINI, LEMON JUICE, WATER, LEMON ZEST, and (optional) SALT until combined; if needed, adjust the consistency by adding more tahini or water.
Evenly divide ALL ingredients across 4 bowls and drizzle with lemon tahini dressing; serve immediately or store in airtight containers and refrigerate up to two days. If serving later, wait to add the dressing.
*Recipe taken from thekitchengirl.com
So, the question is: To be or not to be Vegan? That’s a huge topic for discussion! I love injecting the idea of a Vegan lifestyle into our food talks because it has been proven that it is the healthier way to live. Although I am not a Vegan myself, I respect those who dedicate enormous time and energy into making healthier choices, even though it might be a bit more complicated when dining out. I think the dining out part would be biggest issue for me, and although I have been to some fancy Vegan restaurants here in Toronto, I would be saddened to not be able to order a steak every now and then!
I guess you could have a change of heart for all of that over time, but the important thing is to make changes now, so that your body will thank you for in the future. I would love to hear your opinions on Veganism, and if you are one, how you do meals from day to day? What is life like on the social front for a Vegan? Also, do “vegan meat” dishes only fuel the fire for the real deal? This topic is juicy so get it on it! Have an amazing dinner tonight, and happy Tuesday everyone!
Sunday came and went, and I have done a bit of everything from pulling weeds in the backyard, to cleaning toilets! I even managed to get out for a few hours and shop around with a friend for some furniture. It’s the long civic weekend in Toronto, so a proper bbq is in order tomorrow. We will have a few friends over, and the food will be fabulous as usual, with grilled corn and Pineapple Jerk Chicken Kabobs. I’m going for gold everyone! For dessert, I’m making a Red Velvet cake with cream cheese icing, and right about now, I bet you’re wishing that you were invited, right? It’s okay, I’ll do one better and share a recipe with you so that you can enjoy with me:
Grilled Pineapple and Jerk Chicken Kebabs
For the Jerk Chicken
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Skewers
1 large pineapple, cubed
1 teaspoon paprika
Jerk Chicken (from above)
2 large red peppers, cubed
1 large red onion, cubed
Preheat grill to 400ºF.
Mix all spices for the jerk chicken into a bowl. Then, massage spices into the chicken breast with your hands. Cut into cubes.
Sprinkle paprika on pineapple cubes and prepare your kebabs by placing peppers, onion, pineapple, and chicken onto skewers (alternating between the four). Repeat until all ingredients are gone.
Set kebabs on the grill for around 20-30 minutes rotating kebabs every five minutes.*
Remove from grill and enjoy!
*Recipe taken from fitfoodiefinds.com
My neighbour was a little under the weather yesterday, and I thought to myself, “He needs a cake, too!” Needless to say, I baked a Red Velvet for him, and baked extra for the bbq. Two birds with one stone is what I call it, and it came in very handy. I now have a happy neighbour, and less prepping for Monday! Fantastic! If you decide to try out the kabob recipe, be sure to take pictures! You know how I love to see your creativity at work! Enjoy your night, and happy Sunday everyone!
Currently, most of Canada has headed into a Stage 3 in the global pandemic. That means restaurants and bars have finally received the green light to open doors, malls and gyms, salons and spas as well. Even the movie theaters have announced they are back and business, and ready for action. Hooray for Canada! We have beaten the numbers of infected down to non-threatening, but still take social distancing rules very seriously. We played our cards right, and can now reap the benefits of being on what we called a “total lockdown.”
This is great news, but I wanted to focus in on the future of the world in its various stages of emergency, and reflect on how we as people, will cope with the changes in the upcoming years. Is anyone wondering whether we will ever be back to our old routines? Or have we stumbled upon a new way of life? I was in the car with my daughter today, getting ready to go to the store, and I forgot to take my mask with me, and she reached out for my mask, reminding me not to forget it. I looked at her and wondered if this life of being “pandemic ready” will be her new reality as she grows up.
They are preparing kids to go back to school with face masks, and are suiting up the teachers in full PPE attire in September. Schools will begin to look like a laboratory rather than a place to learn, and I wonder what kind of effect it will have on these young minds over time? The truth is, there is no real end date for this pandemic, and we could just be getting started on a rollercoaster of repetition. There are nations being brutally hit by the virus, while others are well on their way to recovery. The problem is, we can’t stop the world from moving. Sooner or later, what is a problem in one country, will quickly spill into another, making it impossible to stop the spread. A vaccine is all we could hope for in this time, but how will we be ready for the next big virus? What can we learn from today that we can use tomorrow? With a better understanding of how viruses work now, this will largely impact our social practices in the future. Can you picture yourself two years after the pandemic? I’m curious to know what it looks like in your mind. Happy Saturday everyone!
Figs! Can you believe that I’ve never had a fresh one? Shame on me. I have to admit that it wasn’t something we would eat in my mom’s kitchen, but there is still no excuse. My daughter and I were in the grocery store today, and she pointed to the figs, and asked me what they were. That’s when I felt the pang of guilt for not exposing her to more than peaches and plums. This baking session is dedicated to exploring outside the box, and discovering the beauty of exotic food!
Fig trees grow especially well in the Mediterranean and Middle East area, as it tolerates seasonal drought fairly well. Common figs have female flowers that do not require any pollination in its reproduction, but produces seedless fruit as an outcome. Smyrna figs are completely different, and rely solely upon the fig wasp to cross pollinate in order to produce ripe fruit. Without the pollen, the immature Smyrna fig drops to the ground.
Figs could be eaten fresh or dried, and made into jams. They do not transport or keep well once picked. Figs are in season from August to early October, and when they are being cooked they should be plump and soft without bruising or splits. If the figs smell sour they have become over-ripe, and slightly under-ripe can be kept at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Here is a recipe I found that incorporates figs into our weekly baking:
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease a 22cm round springform cake pan and line with baking paper.
Place butter, sugar and vanilla seeds in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat for 5 minutes or until thick and pale. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt until just combined. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside.
Clean and dry mixer bowl. Add the eggwhites and a pinch of salt to bowl. Return to stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high until soft peaks form. Stir one-third of the eggwhite into cake batter to loosen, then gently fold in remaining eggwhite until combined.
Spread half the batter into prepared pan. Press fig, cut-side down, into batter. Add remaining batter and smooth with a palette knife. Bake for 90 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool in pan.
For the sticky figs, grease a baking tray and line with baking paper. Increase oven to 250°C. Toss fig in a bowl with grappa and maple syrup. Place fig, cut-side up, on prepared tray. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes or until fig is golden and bubbling. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, for the zabaglione, place egg yolks, sugar and grappa in a heatproof bowl and whisk until well combined. Set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water) and whisk for 5-8 minutes or until you can draw a figure 8 that holds for a few seconds. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
When cool, place sour cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk until soft peaks form. Add half the zabaglione and fold through, then, with the motor running, add the remaining zabaglione until well combined. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form.
Spoon cream onto cake and top with sticky figs. Drizzle over any sticky fig juices to serve.
*Recipe taken from delicious.com
If you didn’t know much about figs before, you have no excuse now! Next time you are in the market, go ahead and grab a couple to experiment. You never know, you just might fall in love! Happy Thursday everyone!
For those of you who are currently sunbathing on the deck of your cottage, don’t look for my excitement;) My location is nothing close to as luxurious as yours! I won’t take it personally though, if I had a cottage of my own, I would be doing the same. So, the cottage life, eh? It has to be a Canadian thing. Us Canadians start making our way up north every weekend, from the time the weather hits double digits, until the leaves turn autumn colours. We take cottage life very seriously around these parts, and hold true to the fact that we really savour the outdoors. It’s why I shop for groceries on Friday mornings in the summer, knowing that the cottage crowds are well on their way to their home away from home!
For this week’s challenge, I thought it might be interesting to make something that you can find at any lake. I think you will love this one! Check it out:
This is a simple, yet unique way to spruce up your cabin for the beautiful nights under the stars. All you would need for this is hot glue, a string of christmas lights, and of course, some seashells. The shells will show a gorgeous glow, as they are opaque in colour. You could jazz up your deck with these, along with hurricane candle holders, half-filled with sand and a candle in the center. Make it a “lake” themed night, complete with a seafood platter, and biscuits to compliment.
I’m sure that sooner or later I’ll be living that life too! It’s in my blood. for those of you who are heading out early this weekend, remember to be safe, but have a fabulous time in the sun! Enjoy your night and Happy Wednesday everyone!
A fabulous evening can start with a juicy read and a glass of wine! All of your friends can get in on it, and a book club could emerge from a great storyline. Finding the perfect novel has always been my challenge, and when visiting the library, I could wander through aisles over and over again in anxiety. If this is also you, I’ve decided to put together a list of a few popular novels that might help you beat the stress of finding the right story. These days, you have the option of using a kindle or your tablet is the more trendy way to read. For me personally, the smell of worn paper, the words in black ink, and the sound of turning pages always thrills me. That is a true book at its finest!
Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. Beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers, and half of a teenaged golden couple. Ellie was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.
And then she was gone.
Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.
Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?
*Synopsis taken from play.google.com
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
*Synopsis taken from play.google.com
The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office. What Bolton saw astonished him: a President for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy—and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them.
He shows a President addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton’s telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment. “The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a President who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal—about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place.
Bolton’s account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the National Security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria’s chemical attack on the city of Douma, and the crises after that never stop. As he writes in the opening pages, “If you don’t like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk—all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made, and sheer amount of work—and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else.”
The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there—from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played.
*Synopsis taken from play.google.com
Three interesting reads that I know will have you chatting on the phone for hours! Don’t forget the fireplace or candles, and cozy up in your La-Z-Boy for the ultimate comfort. If you have a few other suggestions on good books to read, please share! I would love for you to add to the list. Have a good night, and happy Monday everyone!