Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cooking and quilting

No, these are not truck tires, but the best tasting cinnamon rolls I have ever made. These are Yukon Gold Cinnamon Rolls and the recipe is from the March 2009 issue of Bon Appetit. Except for one slight change ( I could not find Yukon Gold spuds so I used white ones) I followed the recipe and what comes out of the oven are these moist and tender, very tender rolls.
Breakfast this morning was a quiet one as everyone enjoyed the rolls. Yes, they leave you speechless and after having one you just want to have another. They are that good!
Saturday nights dinner was another new recipe and it's a keeper. Egg, bacon, and spinach pie with lots of onions and Parmesan cheese. I don't remember where I got this recipe but if anyone wants a copy let me know and I will oblige.
This is the Red Lion amaryllis that I have been waiting for since November. So far, of the seven that I started, six have bloomed. There are no such thing as grey days with this around.
Today I found out that it is possible to cook and quilt at the same time. It's possible if you have someone to carry your sewing machine upstairs and set it up on the kitchen table. It's possible if you have someone who will run to the store to buy ground pork for the meatballs, and bring up the white wine from the cellar, and cut up all the onions and garlic for you. Today, I managed to finish Maura's t-shirt quilt plus make tomato sauce with meatballs.
Cooking and quilting sounds like an impossible mix but give it a try - someone will be very happy that you did.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cooking in Pajamas

I know it was sunny and I should have gone for a walk. I should have finished the sewing project that's still sitting by the machine. I should have dusted and mopped. I should have done some laundry. But because it was sunny I decided to stay in pajamas all day (this is not the first time this has happened) and enjoy the flock of birds coming and going at the bird feeder. Wrote a long letter (yes with paper and pen) to daughter # 1. Worked on my scrapbook. Started a new book by EG. Sorted some new recipes to try this week. And while still in pajamas, I made another version of Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon for dinner. Sadly this one did not taste as good as the first time I made it. This time I used French wine instead of Italian. Did not have beef stock so I mixed chicken and veggie. Added mushrooms - last time I left them out altogether and did my own thing with potatoes.
It's Sunday so I set the table with my favourite dishes and tablecloth and while still in pajamas, I enjoyed the fancy french beef stew on rice.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cowboys and Italians

This morning we decided to throw tradition out the window and try a new coffee shop right here in our very own neighbourhood. We love the name and the location but as we walked through the doors there was definitely something missing and too much of something else. We waited while the customers ahead of us were served - how did they know what to order as there was no blackboard listing all the types of coffee available? I glanced into the miniscule glass case - where are the freshly baked muffins and scones and croissants? All I could see were piles of iced biscotti and bianco nero ( nutella spread between two slices of white crustless bread). I had plenty of time to look around as we waited - the chandelier, the shag rug, the velvet chairs, and fluffy pillows strategically placed on the high back settee were just too much. We quickly walked out - we were not acknowledged walking in and no one seemed to mind that we had left.
When we visited Perugia five years ago we tried quite a few coffee bars. Two that stand out are Sandri which boasted about having the 'best coffee in Perugia' and the other was Caffe di Perugia whose claim to fame was 'the best coffee in Italy'. Every chance we had we frequented Sandri not only because they had the best coffee but they also had the best food - sweets and chocolates and hot lunches. The bar was one long glass case filled with every imaginable dolce and along the other wall set above the tiny tables and chairs were more glass cases filled with chocolates in every colour, shape, and design. The baby blue ceiling with angels looking down on us was another delight for the senses for those of us who looked up to thank the heavens for guiding us to this wonderful place. And so this morning we returned to our favourite coffee shop, the place that has the best of everything - the coffee, the warm muffins and croissants, and the staff that remember what kind of coffee you like.
Breakfast never tasted so good as it did this morning at the Lookout. We had company - I think they were hoping that there might be something left for them.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beignets for breakfast

One of my favourite breakfasts is zabaione which is eggs beaten with sugar and coffee. Just plain bread with coffee is always good. But if you spread some Nutella on the bread, it's even better. At a hotel near Cortona, we had the most amazing apricot torta, enjoyed with double cappuccinos. This morning I went all out and had beignets with cafe au lait dip. Found the recipe in the latest issue of Good Housekeeping. I have always wanted to try making these powdered fritters but never have because they are deep fried. Finally, a recipe for baked beignets and yes they are addictive and so good and the dip is yummy. Tomorrow morning, back to porridge.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January sunshine

The warm January sunshine lulled me into thinking it was a different time of the year but as I walked around the frozen backyard I could still see patches of snow in the shade. Unfortunately, the cherry tree is covered in tiny buds and July is a long way off.
Do I dare to have a look at my sage plant; the old leaves blackened by the cold but I know as in other years, the soft grey green leaves will soon appear.
The garden is still at rest but these days of sunshine make me walk the garden, inspecting and hoping that all will survive. I am always amazed at the resilience of my lavender, buried under piles and piles of snow in the front garden but come April, come lavender.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Books, flowers and camera

I have always loved to read and that is one thing that will never change about me. My bookshelves are crammed with books that I have read and enjoyed and with some that I have never read but thought that I should have a copy because it's on a list of the 100 books you must read or else you are wasting your time. Books like 'Ulysses' by James Joyce or 'The portrait of a lady' by Henry James or 'Middlemarch' by George Eliot. I am hoping to read these books one day but there are so many new ones that it is hard to choose. I just finished reading 'A tree grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith and I loved it. Also 'Julie and Julia' by Julie Powell which was a great read. Nick Hornby is always good. 'After River' by Canadian Donna Milner was the kind of book you just want to read in one sitting. And then someone recommends a book and even though you know what kinds of books this person reads, you ignore that and read the book anyways and regret it but you can't quit because you are halfway through so you carry on and vow never to read Debbie Macomber ever again.
On a lighter note, this is amaryllis # 3. Her name is Florence (yes, after the city in Italy) and she is the loveliest shade of red. Two blooms have opened up and two more are still curled up but by the time she makes her debut at the library on Tuesday, they should all be unfurled.
These are the first images taken with my new camera, a Canon Powershot SX200IS with 12X optical zoom. It is a lot bigger then my other digital and I just love it. Plus it is made in Japan. Bonus.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Introducing Sydney

Yesterday it snowed all day - big, fat, heavy flakes. The front garden had disappeared except for a few tips of lavender. The cedar, the alberta spruce and the white pine trees looked like they had been iced with thick vanilla frosting. It took me a little longer then usual to shovel the driveway - I kept stopping to enjoy the quiet of a snow muffled world. Then the fog crawled in. By morning the temperature had dropped, the wind had picked up, and the soft snow had turned to mountains of ice. But inside we had Sydney.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nothing says Merry Christmas like fried bread

or cannelloni
or risotto
or polenta.