Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just a hike

Just a hike, the three of us, the icy wind and a hot winter sun, on a trail with ice in the shade, a tree festooned with baubles, and a view that never fails to delight.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas guest post

I’m sure you all read this blog and smile, and enjoy it, and relate to it - ensconced comfortably as you probably are, in your own well decorated, wonderful smelling homes filled with craft-iness and terrific food. But imagine the experience of coming here to visit after spending months in a nearly bare apartment in the student ghetto of a crowded university off in the outskirts of a huge trembling city like Toronto. You might say it was a transformation, like moving from this:

To this:

A transformation that can only be described as a healing experience, just what a person could ask for in a short week-long vacation. This house is in fact the ultimate in R&R.

We won’t even get into the airline travel I endured that Christmas day, because I shouldn’t complain. Yes there were delays and hectic lines and crying babies…but it is an amazing thing to be able to step into a tin can on one side of a continent and step out of it just hours later, thousands of kilometers away.

Nevertheless the trip had me more than a little drained and stepping into the house that afternoon was not unlike stepping into some magical winter wonderland. The smell of turkey practically satiated on its own. The living room packed with homemade decorations and stuffed to the gills with quilts and books and family memories made me want to curl up on the couch that minute and never move. I was treated to a particularly kick ass welcome home lunch of leftovers from the night before: a ridiculously delicious immune boosting meal of garlic fried rapini, rice, and fresh BC salmon. ‘Nuff said. Spending the afternoon unwrapping gifts was a goofy, fun time – before long everyone was full up with lotto tickets, socks, and all the other random stocking stuffers we had managed to find for each other.

Dinner, need I even go there? The turkey on its own tasted so amazing it needed no embellishment. But, that didn’t deter us from indulging in homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, and piling our plates with side dishes of roasted brussel sprouts and mashed sweet potatoes (the YELLOW not the orange kind, of course). Not long after the feast I was pretty ready for a nap, and what better way to recharge your batteries than stretched out on the bed in your former room, head resting on a lambswool pillow, wrapped up in a star-pattern custom made quilt. I pulled the brass chain on my banker’s lamp and, plunged into darkness, fell into a deep restful sleep.

Friday, December 23, 2011

On Holidays

There is nothing better at this time of year then to gather round a crackling outdoor fire, breathing in the crisp winter air while enjoying a cup of cheer and making wishes on the starry sky for the new year.

Merry Christmas and lots of happiness in the New Year to all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mother of all wreaths

I have been collecting mother of pearl buttons for years. There are jars and bowls all over the house full of these iridescent treasures from the sea. I try to include some of the pearly buttons on cards that I make. I worked for days encrusting a wood box with the shiny buttons; it is my favourite. But it only took me two days to transform a ribbon covered wreath into a magical one.
As soon as she saw it she put it in the window of the store.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bread and flowers

A sure sign in our home that the holidays are just around the corner are the white poinsettias and a fruit-filled or chocolate panettone from Italy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ponderosa Pine

I don't remember where I got the idea (we're talking thirty years ago) but as soon as I saw it I had to try it. You soak a plank of pine wood until it is saturated with water. Then using a really sharp plane, you shave off nice thin curls of pine. Keep the curls in water as you work with them. I made quite a few ornaments and some have survived all our moves around the province over the years. But I absolutely love the pine chain that we made. Each curl had to be cut to a certain length, glue applied and then clamped together with bobby pins. This year instead of the tree, our fragile garland graces the doorway into the livingroom. It is such a long chain that we had to use our ice bucket to hold the extra rings of pine.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Barefoot Contessa wannabe

No, this is not Ina Garten's blog but she is one of my favourites and her recipes always turn out just the way she said they would. To christen our new stainless roaster we roasted up a chicken and vegetables a la Barefoot Contessa. The bird was tender and flavourful, the veggies al dente.
This new addition to our kitchen is huge, had to rearrange a cupboard just to make it fit. But come turkey time, I will never have to worry about the size ever again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Counting the days

This is our version of the advent calendar. A few pieces of scrap wood hammered together, the tiny hearts cut out of pine wood with our trusty jigsaw. Thirty years and still counting.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend chef

Somebody made their first apple pie ever and it was great!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Work trees

It took me about an hour to remove all the plastic doodads and tinsel from these two bottle brush trees and replace them with an assortment of buttons and crystals. My windowsill at work is looking festive.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quick weekend

This was a quick and easy six-pocket tote to put together. I really like that the handles are stitched on first which creates the six pockets.

A little crowded down at the park yesterday morning as we enjoyed our Cowboy breakfast.

Today went by in a blur as I spent five hours selling at the flea market. I've had better days but it was fun and am going to do it all over again next Sunday.

And for those of you who have asked about Mr. Cowboy's chicken and sage recipe, here it is:
Chicken breasts thinly sliced or pounded, salt and pepper on both sides. Dip each piece into a beaten egg and then coat with flour. Saute in vegetable oil until cooked. Remove chicken from pan. Into drippings add sage, white wine and juice of half a lemon. Once this has simmered a few minutes return the chicken to the pan and heat through. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Easy scones

The last Farmers Market I bought two sugar baby pumpkins; they were slowly roasted and then scooped out of their shell and frozen right away. And then one morning they were gently mixed with flour, spices, buttermilk, and then baked until golden and crispy. It takes a lot of planning to make a scone.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lunch time art walk

It's amazing what you'll find when you walk down the back alleys of the city.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Zero calories gingerbread

This is a little something I made over the weekend from an old Fons and Porter Sew Many Quilts magazine dated November 1996. It brought together some of my favourite things; buttons, rickrack, ribbon, and a little bit of hand quilting.

I made five of these little babies; four for the store and one for our charity auction.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Two favourites

We can still go out to the garden, even though we've had a bit of snow, and pick some sage for this chicken recipe. The best part of this dish is the lemon, sage, white wine reduction sauce; the plates are licked clean.
And someone really outdid himself today with this dinner; Beef Stroganoff with lots of mushrooms, onions, and tender beef. I really like the pasta he chose; Pennoni Lisci.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Quiet post

Yesterdays remembering brought tears and sadness
but then the sun came up and again I was filled with hope.
I filled my lungs with crisp morning air.
Pausing in the quiet of the morning knowing it would not last long.
- A D

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Master Thesis: Tiramisu

1. How long should the lady fingers soak in the coffee-booze mixture?
2. If they have not absorbed enough of the liquid, it will be difficult to cut through the dessert with a fork. Left too long, it all becomes mush.
3. Having consulted numerous research papers, a definitive answer is hard to find; most are vague and leave it all to guess work on your part.
4. The best methodology would be to set-up several mixtures of strong coffee and liquor such as Marsala and Grand Marnier. The lady fingers are immersed, the timers are set at one minute intervals, and forks at the ready to taste test each one.
5. Never again will you have to guess at a crucial part of an iconic dessert such as this; you will confidently serve your guests without worrying about the embarrassing moment when the fork meets the layers of cheese, cream, and well-soaked savoiardi.

Monday, October 31, 2011

No tricks, one treat

No kids, no candy. We live on a very quiet street with no little kids running around. We usually watch a movie and indulge in our favourite pumpkin cookies.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Barefoot in the kitchen

One of those neat mornings; the fog rolls in and it makes half the city disappear.

The last Farmer's Market is always sad so we stocked up on pumpkins and walnuts and apples. I even treated myself to a new mug; I can never resist the pottery tables.

As usual we had our Cowboy breakfast down by the river with the ducks and the geese and the seagulls.

A crowd-pleasing deli dinner on Saturday night. The sausage-stuffed mushrooms are from Ina Garten's new cookbook - How easy is that? Well, for this recipe it all sounds easy but it takes about an hour and a half which includes the 50 minutes to bake the mushrooms. What makes these so good is the mascarpone cheese that gives the filling a creamy goodness that knocks your socks off.