Monday, February 21, 2011


Sometime in late January I suggested we have a potluck lunch at work and boy, am I glad I did. Although the day before the potluck I wasn't so glad; I was wondering why exactly I would suggest a potluck the day before I was hosting 20 JK/SK children at my home for my son's sixth birthday party. But I had offered to bring chili. And since I had made a large batch a few weeks ago and frozen most of it all I really had to do was thaw, heat and serve.

Signs of Spring

For one brief shining moment last week, it was Spring. The sky was blue. The breezes were balmy. On the walk to school my youngest son kept asking 'Mummy, what's that smell?'. (Spring, my friend, Spring!) We could see grass peeking through the snow on front yards. It felt so good to leave a few layers at home and walk through the concrete beach at work without being assaulted by gale force winds. Or freezing pellets of snow. Sigh. We all knew it wouldn't last. And it didn't. Today we woke up to fresh snow. But Friday, Friday was beautiful. I hope the memory will hold us until the next Spring thaw.

The small taste of Spring we had has put me in a very green frame of mind. I ordered a new bedspread and stuck with my traditional neutral colours but ended up picking a design with a touch of green. I started adding some Spring touches to my mantel and found a great floral bunting on Etsy that features orange, pink and green. (I seem to have developed an obsession with bunting. More on that later). Then I made some zucchini and carrot bread that I found on a blog called Coconut & Lime. This recipe caught my eye because it included cardamom (along with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon) in the batter. I bought some cardamom for a cookie I made recently and have a fresh bottle in the pantry. So it felt like fate - appropriately Spring-ish and using ingredients I had on hand. The result was lovely. A cross between spice cake and zucchini bread with the added kick of carrot. Yum.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Birthday Cake

While I always enjoy the opportunity to make a cake I must admit I don't love cake decorating. Maybe it's because I tend to look before I leap. I'm the type of person who gets an idea and thinks "How hard can that be?" and mid-way through the execution of said idea, I discover just how hard 'it' actually is. Birthday cakes are my baking Achilles heel. They either look good or taste good - rarely both. A brief history of birthday cakes my household has known:

This I made for my son's first birthday. It's a 3-D cake and it doesn't look bad but it was unremarkable in terms of taste. As I recall it was also difficult to serve. Watching your mummy set fire to then dismember a duck doesn't make for a happy first birthday. Next.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Slice, slice, baby...

Wow. That's possibly the worst title I've come up with so far. And now you have Vanilla Ice stuck in your head. Sorry about that.

I finally got around to cracking open the mandoline I got for Christmas to make a Sunday dinner dish. I actually bought this for myself a couple of weeks before Christmas at the William Ashley Warehouse sale, an event I have never attended before but was introduced to in 2010 thanks to my SIL. Wow. Let's just say the mandoline was one of many purchases I made that day. Kitchen stuff. On sale! See you in 2011 Will!

My mandoline is a Zyliss. I had never used a mandoline before this weekend but I had heard many horror stories of people cutting off fingertips when using these devices, so the first time I used it I sliced some beets as practice. I figured if I cut myself I wouldn't freak out because the blood would just mingle with the beet juice and I'd be none the wiser. Except for the missing digit. Thankfully, the beet experiment went just fine, meaning I didn't cut myself. So I moved on to potatoes.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

My kids both attended a wonderful pre-school program called the University Lab School. My husband and I both loved this school but more importantly, both of the boys loved it too. We all learned a lot of things at 'the Lab School' and made many great memories. One of my favourites was watching the kids celebrate Chinese New Year. They did it up right, every year, with a 'snack' feast of Chinese favourites and a parade of noisy revellers wreaking havoc through the halls, warding off evil and helping to usher in a prosperous New Year. I don't do a ton of theme menus for our Sunday dinners but this week, with Chinese New Year approaching, I couldn't resist.