At the market last week there were these huge bins of pears. They were all so beautiful in jewel tones of ruby, emerald and topaz, I couldn’t resist buying way more than we needed. Where some have a weakness for jewelry or an addiction to well-made handbags, I have a thing for pears. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the craftsmanship of an Hermès Kelly bag, or that I would turn down a diamond if offered, but there is something so aesthetically satisfying in a bowl overflowing with pears. Like a Baroque era still life, I love to have big bowls of seasonal fruit sitting in the centre of the table and on the counter tops. It’s part of the ever-changing landscape of our kitchen. The thing about pears, though, is, like avocados, they ripen and then turn in the blink of an eye. When I saw that they were getting a little soft, I whipped together a quick batter of eggs, flour and cream, and made this pear clafoutis. It’s a delicious way to keep them from going to waste if you happened to have overindulged a bit at the market.Continue reading “Pear Clafoutis with Whipped Mascarpone”
A savory stew and a few fall updates
The mountains of Colorado were glowing in the warmest shades of gold, amber and ruby. Though it lasts only a few days, I look forward to this time and always like to plan a little getaway right when the leaves are at their peak. The children got an unexpected day off from school a couple weeks ago, which perfectly aligned with the changing leaves, so we packed a picnic and headed into the mountains for the day. As a little girl, I spent so much time in the mountains riding horses and foraging for chanterelles and wild rose hips which my grandmother would make into jam, I feel most at home here. The mountains are a little like a mother to me, wandering through the steep, shadowy valleys feels safe – like being held in her embrace. Of course, in the fall I always keep my eyes peeled for mushrooms and juniper berries, out of habit. It’s a little too early for the wild enoki mushrooms that grow, in the fall, beneath the thick aspen groves, but one can hope. I love to collect pinecones and acorns to decorate the house with during the fall, and we always pick up a few leave to press between the pages of books. It’s wonderful to open up an old book in the dead of winter and discover a beautifully preserved leaf that was forgotten months or years ago.Continue reading “Roasted Sausage, Butternut Squash and Apple Stew”
It’s been very quiet here on the blog for the last month, so I thought I should give you an update. The kids started school several weeks ago: one in-person and the other via distance learning. The distance learner has now transitioned to a part-time hybrid schedule and since each kid is on a different schedule and the school is in the city, I’m spending a large part of my days in the car driving to and fro. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the need to be flexible and to roll with the punches.
I won’t bore you with the details of my children’s various educational models because the big, and far more exciting news of the month is this: we adopted another Belgian Malinois, our third!Continue reading “Calvados Baked Apples with Cinnamon Ice Cream”
The still life arrangement of seasonal fruit and vegetables on our kitchen table is slowly transitioning from winter to summer. It makes me think of the living statues you find at carnivals. Looking at them, it’s hard to perceive any change in movement at all, but if you walk away and return five minutes later, the statue is in an entirely new position. It’s the same with the table – bowls that contained oranges and apples suddenly contain fresh berries and lemons. Asparagus, chive blossoms and herbs from the garden are appearing next to aging pumpkins and squash. Continue reading “Butternut Squash Spaghetti”
Baking bread, for me, is a meditative process. The repetition of mixing and kneading the dough helps me relax and collect my thoughts after a long day. When I first became a mother, I read somewhere that the best way to soothe a crying baby was to rock him to the same rhythm as your heartbeat. It’s true – it worked every time. I’ve thought about that principle often, and find that any repetitive motion, especially kneading bread dough, is always the most soothing when done to the tempo of a heartbeat. Speaking of that, do you remember playing with PlayDoh as a child? Perhaps not. But if you’re a parent then maybe you remember getting out the dough for your children. Showing them how to roll it and shape it, it’s almost impossible not to join in on the fun, and in doing so it brings you right back to your own childhood. Even the smell is transportive. For me, baking bread at home is the same. The smell of wildflower honey and the warm yeast working its magic, fill the kitchen with that slightly earthy and ultra comforting aroma. The feel of the dough as it comes together into a ball beneath my palms is so calming. Baking bread is one of the most relaxing and satisfying experiences, and I love to repeat the process almost weekly. Continue reading “Rosemary Country Bread”
It’s Thanksgiving week here in the US. I like to take this week, not only to plan the menu and shop for the big meal, but also to tackle all my fall cleaning tasks. Replacing old blinds and washing the curtains, polishing the furniture and the silverware, scrubbing the baseboards and cleaning the ceilings in the bathrooms, changing the linens from summer to winter – it all makes the house feel cozy, bright and ready for a stream of holiday guests. Maybe it’s weird, but I absolutely love fall cleaning, even more than spring cleaning. There’s something so completely satisfying in making the dull and dingy shine again. For Christmas one year I was given a book called, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, and it’s still one of my favourite books today. It’s like a cookbook, but with instructions on how to properly clean anything and everything in your home. Continue reading “Normandy Pork with Apples”
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m a bit of a history nerd – especially when it comes to my favourite branch of history: Cocktail History. I find it fascinating to delve into the mystery and legends surrounding the Golden Era of Cocktails. (And by “Golden Era” I, of course, mean prohibition era, whence all the best cocktails originated.) It’s always useful to have a few fun facts up my sleeve about what I’m serving, if only to pull out as a bit of small talk to liven up the conversation should it happen to run dry.
In the canon of classic cocktails, the Sidecar tends to get a bad rap or is simply overlooked as a stuffy libation lost in the smoke from bars of the past. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s because no one on Instagram has endeavored to make it “cool” again in the way they have the Negroni or the monotonous Margarita, but it seems to me that the Sidecar has been pushed to the side in favour of more socially lucrative drinks. Strange, because a drink with such an elegant blend of fine French liqueurs seems like it should warrant a little more “Insta-attention,” don’t you think? Continue reading “The Sidecar”
“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” –Morticia Addams.
There are “normal” hand pies, and then there are my Halloween hand pies. I’m not a huge Halloween person, actually. Out of all of the holidays, it’s one of my least favourite. Of course, there are elements of Halloween that I love – the earthy magic, the subtle eeriness, black cats and classy black candles paired with winter-white pumpkins, carving Jack O’Lanterns with my kids, the sense that the veil between this world and the next has been lifted for just one enchanted evening – but I try to carry this magic with me throughout the whole year, not just on Halloween. What I don’t like is that here in the US the holiday has been distorted and come to symbolize something dark, morbid and evil. It’s used as an excuse to be tastelessly gory with violent images decorating houses and bloody costumes, or it’s a reason for people to simply act ridiculous. I don’t want to sound old-fashioned here but, to me, Halloween is deeper than just a child’s holiday. It means Samhain bonfires and forest magic; harvest celebrations with apples, pumpkin and corn; the turning of the seasons; light to dark; a night to feel closer to family and friends who have passed on; and for the little ones, trick or treating! (Little ones only!) In my opinion, the guts and gore take away from the etherial mystique that surrounds Halloween, and they’re anything but classy. Continue reading “Halloween Hand Pies”
This traditional garlic soup is similar to a vichyssoise, with the leek being replaced by garlic and sweet shallots. It’s my cure-all for everything from relieving a simple headache to treating the full-blown flu. Garlic has so many antibacterial, antiviral and medicinal benefits, I’ve always said it’s better than antibiotics. For ages, women have kept their families healthy by making healing garlic soups to fend off sickness and disease. Don’t let the whole head of garlic in the soup turn you off – as it cooks, it becomes sweet and buttery, and the bite is tempered by puréed potatoes and a splash of milk. Continue reading “French Garlic and Potato Soup”
Yesterday my husband and I made a little bet. He said it couldn’t possibly snow this early in the season. It’s not even Halloween yet!
I said, “Anything’s possible.”
It felt more like December than mid-October, with the snow falling in giant flakes outside the kitchen window, and there’s nothing I love to do more when it’s snowing outside in December than to bake holiday cookies. So I queued up my winter playlist (which includes a few Christmas songs for good measure) and set about baking these fun little Halloween treats. And that’s how I happened to be carving Jack O’Lantens while listening to Christmas music yesterday.