Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Good day!

Merry Christmas from our mainland home, to where ever you are!

Some holiday pics...


Hoarded cards for display

My favourite felted wool ornament

Lots of glass and sparkle

Little mini buns from grammy's vintage tin tray

A whittled santa from poppy



All the best to you and yours!

K.

Christmas Happenings

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Sorry I have been MIA folks!

Ya know...the hustle bustle of the holiday season.

Hockey practice mixed with wine hangovers mixed with bloatedness of overeating.

What's not to love?

A.'s christmas party was this past weekend, at the Mackinnon Cann Inn.  If you live in Yarmouth/Yar Co. definitely worth a check out.

Ever since I had gnocci (a potato pasta) about a year ago, I love trying it out in whatever restaurants that serve it.  Honestly, I loved the gnocci from Mac-Kinn Inn, more than the serving I had, at the Bicycle Thief, in Hali!  Makes me put gnocci on some random cooking-bucket-list in my head (until you read a scary recipe). Plus the service was A-1.

Also, this past weekend we decorated our christmas tree.  Emma only broke one ornament.

I feel like that should win some sort of award.  (My kid is totally better than your kid because they broke less ornaments?)

It's really interesting, because growing up in Newfoundland, you only bought a "Nova Scotia" Christmas tree if you were rich. Now all the Christmas trees around, are from Nova Scotia! (except the ones made in China).

It seems much less fancy!

I really enjoy having a lovely, evergreen in the house....and thankfully we have hardwood floors, that only minimally hide the needles everywhere.

Our christmas tree is fairly traditional...which made me think about if a mix of mid century/vintage/scandinavian christmas decor might work in our hopefully new house!

Here's what I found:

http://www.madefromscratch.co.nz






http://www.doublevisiontwinsblog.com
(I can't ensure that these are the original posters of these pics..others I couldn't find the source.  Damn you pinterest!)


Anyhow...as you can see...lots of white, black, contrast, metals, wood....swoon.


Makes me wish I lived in a scandinavian country. (That and their health care systems.)

Hope you are enjoying these last few days before the big day!  

K.



Katie's Favourite Christmas Recipes: Edition #3

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


So if you have ever watched HGTV, you know Sarah Richardson is the bees knees.  Her mid century modern house, is a house that even Don Draper would be proud to own (Cuz Don Draper's got style....although he might slosh scotch, all over her white furniture..).

I also love S.Rich's flamboyant sidekick, Tommy (whose hashtags on Instagram, make me smile).

A few years back, Sarah and Tommy did a Christmas special where they make these cookies called Pecan Puffs.  Basically, a Pecan shortbread.



I happen to have a freezer stash of pecans...so it's a perfect recipe to make this time of year...and again...so few ingredients!

It does require a food processor, which is a pain for those that don't have one... (again, my favourite is my 14 cup Cuisinart food processor!)



Here is Sarah's recipe:

2 cups of pecans
1 cup of butter
2 tsp of vanilla
4 Tablespoons of brown sugar
2 cups of cake and pastry flour (although I have made it before with AP flour and it was fine)

You process the pecans until it has a sandy texture and looks granulated.  Add the butter, sugar and vanilla.






Blend again until incorporated.  Add the flour in increments. Mix until blended well and dough looks "puffy".

Here's what several cups of cake and pastry flour look like on the floor. Culprit is stage left.

Scrape the contents into a bowl and chill in the fridge for an hour.  After well chilled, use a small ice cream scoop to help shape the dough into balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie tray.



Sarah says to bake for 45 minutes at 300 degrees.  I baked mine for 37 minutes at 300 degrees.  Basically keep an eye on them after 30-35 minutes and take them out when they start to brown on top.

Let them rest for a few minutes on the tray.

Then remove and place on cooling racks (with your fingers or a fine edged metal spatula). Make sure you have paper towel, wax paper or another cookie tray under the cooling rack.

Generously, sift icing sugar on top of the cookies while still warm (this will make a yummy, almost-glaze).  Sift more icing sugar on top of the cookies, again, after they have fully cooled.



Hot tip: when eating, try not to inhale the icing sugar.

These cookies are super delicate.  They are best eaten with 48 hours of making.  In addition, they should be left room temperature (the condensation in the fridge makes them crumble).

Overall, a wonderful, light cookie.  Super festive, and the kids (i.e. me) love sifting the sugar on top.

What's not to love?

K.

Katie's Favourite Christmas Recipes: Edition #2

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Hey guys,

How's the weekend going?  Christmas party season, in full swing?

Last night, I got together with some friends and I had to make my friend's favourite Christmas square (they are sorta my favourite too). They are the most "salt-of-the-earth" cookie/square, you will ever come across: the Five Star Bar.



I have been eating them since my mom made them years and years ago...

One Christmas, I couldn't find my recipe for them and ended up googling "Five Star Bar".  I found the recipe on a website dedicated to recipes from "the Rock" (www.rockrecipes.com) Perfect!

Incidentally, I also found some recipes for other holiday favourites on their website like Apricot Raisin Cake (Click here for the recipe!), Gumdrop cake, and snowballs.

Anyhoo, this recipe is perfect to get kids to help with. I had two not-so-serious helpers yesterday, and their attention lasted the 5 minutes, it took to put these cookies together!

 

Feebee was pretty pumped that the girls were making cookies instead of making her dance

Here's what you need -

Base:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups of unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp of vanilla
1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Topping:

4 small dairy milk bars


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ingredients for the base in a large mixing bowl. Press into a parchment lined 9x9 or 8x8 square pan. (This recipe easily doubles by the way!)

 


Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the top is no longer shiny, and starting to brown.



In the meantime, in a double boiler or microwave, melt the chocolate bars.

When the base is ready to come out of the oven, spread the melted chocolate on top. I like a thick layer of chocolate.

 


Leave on the counter until the pan is close to room temp.  Then put the pan in the fridge and cool until chocolate is set.

When solid, lift out of pan and cut into squares.

Snarf.

Appreciate the fact that so few ingredients could make something so delicious...

(These squares freeze well and are best kept in the fridge).

Enjoy!

K.





Recipe development: Soup Tales!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

I did it guys!  I developed my first recipe!

Whoot! Whoot!

But I must say...I struggled to come up for a name for the soup. I would never claim to be an expert on thai/vietnamese/asian-inspired cuisine.  Plus, I know my soup omits a lot of mainstays of this type of cuisine (let's list a few: coconut milk, lemon grass, ginger...)

But whatevs.

It's damn tasty soup and I really try to achieve the most important part of this type of cuisine: balance!

A little bit savory, garlic-y, salty, sour, spicy, sweet, nutty and fresh.

Here she is! My second baby! She's a beaut! (Just like ma first!)




Katie's Tasty Thai-inspired soup (serves 6....or 4 if you live in my house)

Ingredients:

One large onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups of julienned carrots
2 cups of baby bok choy, chopped or other similiar green veggie (cabbage, chard)
1 handful of cilantro chopped


A bok choy flower!

1 Tablespoon of Red curry paste (I used Patak's hot red curry. This amount, makes a medium spice soup. If you wanted to be aggressive with the spiciness, you could do 1  1/2 tablespoons, 1/2 tablespoon if you wanted mild )
2 tablespoons of pure sesame oil (don't accept the oils that combine canola and sesame)
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
3 Tablespoons of Natural peanut butter (I haven't used "regular" peanut butter so I can't promise that it would substitute well)
Juice from one Lime
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tsps of canola oil


8 cups of no-salt chicken stock (you want the no salt kind, as there is sodium in fish sauce and the curry paste)
2 "nests" of rice noodles (I used Oh Ricey! vermicelli noodles)
3 chicken breasts*, chopped and cooked (we slowed cooked the chicken but you could def saute in a pan, separately)

*Alternatively, to make this vegetarian, you could substitute sauteed tofu.


Possible Garnishes:
- chopped dry roasted unsalted peanuts
- Lime wedge
- Bean sprouts (I love bean sprouts but the bean sprout situation in Yarmouth, is usually heinous to questionable...so you can take a chance or grow your own...which I haven't ever done... but I digress)
- chopped green onions
- extra chopped cilantro



Phew! I know that seems like a lot of ingredients...but it comes together really fast, especially, if you pre-cooked the chicken.

So..what to do:

Get a large pot or dutch oven, warm up two to three teaspoons of canola oil in it. Saute chopped onion, then add garlic, and carrots. Continue to stir until fragrant. Add a tablespoon (or to taste) of curry paste and stir until incorporated. (Hot tip: Don't use the sesame oil to saute as it as a very low smoke point and you don't want burned onions and garlic in your soup!)

Add fish sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, lime juice and peanut butter. Immediately add chicken stock.

Bring to a boil/simmer. Cover the pot, and cook 5-10 minutes, or until carrots are softened, but still have a bite. Add chopped bok choy, rice noodles and cilantro. Finally, add the cooked chicken. Simmer for 5 mins to ensure noodles are soft and chicken is warmed.

Taste to ensure the soup is balanced to your palate.  Season, if necessary.





Serve and garnish as desired!  I went with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Oh man....my nose was running up a storm, after this bowl.

If that don't grab ya..

Enjoy!

K.






Hey Rosetta! and Brotherly Love

Saturday, 28 November 2015

So anyone that spends any time with me, knows how proud I am of both my brothers.  They are both very accomplished, in very different ways. One bro (Daniel), is a motivated lawyer, for an independent firm, in St. John's, and has an awesome little boy and partner. The other (Mark), is a graphic designer, filmmaker, photographer and artist (and that greatly simplifies his creative abilities!).

Anyone that knows me, also has to listen to my frequent bragging about Mark's, collaborative and  creative efforts.

Just to list a few: documentative film making with Mary Pratt and Christopher Pratt, respectively; frequent collaboration with The Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland and Fogo Island Arts; cinematographer and producer for an award winning short film at TIFF. (I know, right??)

So when my brothers and I, made a trip home in the summer of 2014, for my dad's 65th birthday, I wasn't surprised when Mark told me, that he was editing a music video that he shot on Fogo Island, with Hey Rosetta!

No bigs.

Mark had spent a lot of time on Fogo that year, and all of his projects were running together. He is also intensely shy about his work (at least to his family) and really doesn't reveal too much, before he has completely finished a project (wait a minute....maybe he's being....PROFESSIONAL!)

By the end of the vacation, he gave us a sneak peak at an early draft of the final video for "Soft Offering" (check it out below).




I was hooked.

And so....since then...I had been trying to catch a Hey Rosetta! show.  Which isn't an easy feat when you live three hours away from the nearest city centre, and these guys travel all over. I had tried to get tickets to two shows in the year 2015 (in Halifax and in Hubbards) and was shut down (argh).

Now, I was goal oriented.

I managed to get tickets to Hey Rosetta! 's show, at the Rebecca Cohn/Dalhousie Arts Centre, for Friday, Nov 27th.

It was the last show, of their most recent tour, with Yukon Blonde, before heading home, to NF, for the rest of the year.

Yukon Blonde was the opening act. I had just recently discovered them on instagram and rdio.com.  Super energetic group, with lots of hits of synth pop (which if you see my post on NS music week, you will find I am a huge fan of). It was Jeff, the lead singer's birthday and Hey Rosetta!, came out part way through Yukon Blonde's set to surprise him with a cake, and a serenade. It seemed as though these guys were pretty tight (confirmed by the encores they played together, which became group sing-a-longs...audience included). This demonstration of appreciation and affection, definitely amped up Yukon Blonde's energy. Thumbs up, from this cat.

Yukon Blonde

Then came Hey Rosetta! 's set (Jeez guys, punctuation is a challenge with this band name).

First off...don't know who the set designer was for the show but...in spite of myself...it was frigging amazing (How's that for literary genius!).

Gold. So much gold.

Loves me some gold.

Plus all these (strategically placed, it turns out) mounted, singular, vintage-inspired, incandescent, lights.



My gawd, it's not even fit, ya might say.

Myself and my date for the evening, Christine, knew that these kiddos were gonna be above average, in concert.

But again...the same as when I went to NSMW...I got so overwhelmed with the realization that people can create music, in such a complex manner; so effortlessly, but passionately.

Like what the hell?  Romesh can play the cello and the keyboard at the same time? Did I see that?

Mara can make a french horn sound so sophisticated? (cuz let's be honest folks...the french horn you hear, in a high school band....)

And Phil played a glockenspiel.

Any group that sits down to collaborate on writing the music to a song and says....guys...we need a glockenspiel for this part...is A-OK with me!

Seriously, though. The band-nerd that I was, (?is?) loved them even more, by the end of this show.

The highlight for me, was when Tim Baker said that they were going to play "Carry Me Home" ....cuz they were leaving the next day for Christmas in Newfoundland..home for many of the group.



Ugh.  It gave me the feels.... Cuz, I miss Christmas with my bros, more than anything...and that's where they both will be this Christmas: Newfoundland...

So after their full set and a fantabulous encore set...I made it my mission to meet these close collaborators and friends to my bro, Mark.

Christine told me I found some ovaries and I managed to approach unsuspecting Kinley, as she came out to meet her family and got invited to come back stage.

About 20 minutes later, Christine and I had met all the members of the group (except for Josh...sorry we ran out of steam, Josh!) plus Rich Aucoin, who I had seen in performance, just weeks ago at NSMW.

Definitely a cool experience...to meet people who see another side of Mark...that I only get to hear about...or see on a screen, if I'm lucky.

They were all lovely and gracious... and hopefully, I didn't "fangirl" too much...cuz Mark would never forgive me..

Thanks for the memories, Hey Rosetta!

K.

Encore













Katie's Favourite Christmas Recipes, Edition #1

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

So as the Christmas season is coming up soon, I wanted to share some of my favourite recipes that I have ever learned. 

EVAH!

I only make today's particular recipe at Christmas. It's frequently called "Christmas crack" by those who eat it. So addictive, and hits so many taste-and-texture-nails on the head: crunchy, creamy, nutty, salty, sweet and buttery.  I make about 6 batches of this candy per Christmas season...cuz we be right savage for this candy. 





I have to say I had to wait a loong time to get this recipe. This recipe actually comes from the friend of a friend's grandmother (aren't those the best recipes?) and I had to lie, cheat, and steal to get it. (She won't mind if I share it, right?)

The recipe is so damn simple, it's laughable:

1 can of nuts of your choice (I use a mixed nut variety for most batches, but it's equally awesome with peanut free options e.g. I use salted roasted almonds for my bro that is allergic to peanuts)
1 cup of butter (use the real stuff here...it's Christmas, right? You can use salted or unsalted depending on what you have around.  If you use unsalted add some generous pitches of salt)
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1-2 large chocolate bars ( I use pretty large dairy milk bars)

The real key to this recipe is the technique. 

Some people feel comfortable making candy by winging it or using your visual cues or the old water glass trick (click these words to link to this specific technique)

Not me!

Again, I am a control freak in the kitchen and I don't want to risk wasting a full cup of buttery goodness and an expensive can of nuts (the cost of nuts is nutty! Haha.....ha.....ha....haaaaa) 

To ensure the most amount of control while candy making, I use my friendly-neighbourhood-Sobeys candy thermometer. Best 7 dollars I ever spent.



Best rule of thumb: prepare everything first, prior to starting the candy making process. (Cuz once you start stirring...you can't stop....and no body likes burnt tasting candy..cuz there are some things that even chocolate can't fix)

Grab a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. 

Sprinkle your can of nuts on the parchment paper.



Then you can start the candy. In a large pot, with the candy thermometer attached to the side, you melt butter and brown sugar and vanilla over medium heat.



Stir constantly with a silicone spatula, once the butter melts and starts to boil. Continue to stir for what feels like forever, but is somewhere between 5-10 minutes. Wait until the candy thermometer reads 305 or 310 (the mixture will look dark amber and smell amazing) and pour the hot liquid candy on to the nuts, on the parchment paper. (Ooh, sounds sexy right?)




The candy is good to leave for a few minutes to prepare the chocolate topping. In a double boiler, (which is a metal bowl sitting on top of a simmering pot of water) melt two chocolate bars. Then pour over the partially cooled candy. Spread the melted chocolate as evenly as possible over candy, with a knife. 





It's ok if the edges aren't perfect..cuz who are we? Martha? (Hi, Martha!!)

And the edges are just as tasty as the rest. I promise. 

Let the candy cool to room temp and then break into pieces. 

If you are impatient like me, you can cool it some, in the fridge (but I guess food scientists frown upon this as it raises the temperature of the interior of the fridge overall, which may affect other foods...but I live on the edge at Christmas time...when it comes to candy..:except for the candy thermometer part, ahem). 

You can store the candy in a sealed container in the fridge, on the counter, or in the freezer! So versatile; this treat! (I actually prefer this candy chilled.)



And then, try not to eat it all in one day. Or you could give it as a gift. But trust me, this is stuff you want to save for yourself.

Maybe a child if they are lucky. 

Stay tuned for Christmas Recipe #2! Enjoy!

K.

Christmas gift fun

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Hey folks,

How's it going?  Got your Christmas gifts planned out?

Andrew and I decided not to exchange Christmas gifts this year.  It sounds really...bad? trite? appropriate? It really comes down to the fact that we really, independently buy anything that we need...and if we want something..we plan it out, mutually. Yes, one could argue that it might take the fun out...but we really don't need to give gifts to each other for the sake of giving gifts.

Christmas time is an expensive time, and we usually spend money up in Halifax buying clothes etc. on Boxing day. (After all...for Andrew and I, Christmas is a lot about the food!)

In the meantime, I love picking out gifts for others. :)

We have definitely streamlined our gift giving to focusing on gifts for the kids in my life (my nephew, Noah and Emma, of course).

Emma has been working on her santa list and is drawing her santa list. It looks something like this:

Note the coffee stains





 This is a representation of some heinous, expensive unicorn called a Fur Real and a pair of pale pink, sparkly boots she saw at Old Navy.

This mom is on top of her game and have secured both...the unicorn on a super-sale at superstore and the boots from oldnavy.ca (online shopping is the bees knees when you live in Yarmouth).

In the meantime, some of my other gifts I have been looking at on etsy.com.  I have also been looking for decorative objects and jewelry on etsy!

Here's what I found (Click on the caption to link to the etsy store):
Rose Gold plates studs


Look at this gorgeous Hudson's Bay Coat from Halifax's vintage store: Fancy Lucky Vintage
Vintage 60s necktie perfect for Christmas
Gorgeous Impressionist painting of a buoy from a Newfoundland artist: Jeanette Jobson

Mid century brass is the new silver! 



And so many more awesome things!

And if it is within your means...pick up a toy and an article of clothing for families looking for Christmas gifts through the Salvation Army.  In Yarmouth, you can pick up gift tags in the Yarmouth Mall! It would mean so much to these families to be able to give their children a Christmas!

Good luck in your shopping endeavours!  

K.