Friday, July 30, 2010

If I lived in the Country...

...I would want these things:
Martha Stewart's old home on Turkey Hill

not an unreasonable thing to ask for, right?
A smoke house to smoke some mean meat.
John's going hunting in the fall. Bass Pro mailed him their all-hunting-all-the-time flyer. A smoke house will be necessary at some point in the future.

An Apiary.

Bees are smart, industrious insects. I have mad respect for them. Any tiny creature that expresses their needs, feelings, directions to the best flowers through dance is okay by me.
There are probably more things that I would want, like a pond with a beautiful wooden bridge across it but I can add to this list later on. Like when I have money.
Now I'm off to run a laundry list of errands and then off to the cottage for the fam jam long weekend!
Back on Monday

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Raspberry Coulis

Last day of work - then tonight the big cottage dinner grocery shop and tomorrow the rest of the errand-running - including, but not limited to: finding my fantastic wolf sweater, looking for birthday running shoes, and picking up more than I need from Dollarama.
I have a new list of things to get from the much beloved dollar store as John's brother is leaving for La-La Land for the month of August!
I think it's wonderful that he's heading to the West Coast (love this song by Jason Schwartzman''s coconut records) to get his name out there in the music biz. What an adventure!
So I have to put together a little L.A. survival package for him, obviously. Things he will find within said package may include a disguise, a guide to the paparazzi hotspots, an US Weekly, madeleines (made fresh this morning with lime instead of lemon), an autograph book.....other items will depend on what the dollar store has to offer.
In other news, I needed to find a basic recipe for raspberry coulis so that John and I can make it for our grilled peaches with vanilla yogurt desert.
Martha never let's me down. Simple and elegant.
Raspberry Coulis

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, boil 12 ounces of raspberries and 3/4 cup of sugar for 10 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Strain through a fine sieve, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture resembles a sauce. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Doesn't get any easier than that!
Don't know if you've seen this yet but THIS VIDEO is great.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies


After much practice yesterday, I am happy to report that I have successfully mastered the art of the fishtail braid.

This is a victorious face, despite the fact that it looks like I'm in pain.

I promised the staff at work that I would make them cookies so this morning I decided to raid my baking cupboard and throw together a cookie loaded with ingredients.
May I present to you

Jamie's Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread 1/2 cup of shredded coconut over the surface. Toast in the oven for 5 minutes.
2. In a bowl, mix together 2/3 cup butter and 1 cup of brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add in 1 egg and 1 tbsp of vanilla extract and mix until combined.
3. In a seperate bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups oats and 1 cup flour with 1/2 tsp of baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp of salt. Mix into the butter mix in 3 additions, stiring well after each.
4. Add in the toasted coconut and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. If you like raisins, add in 1/2 cup raisins. Mix until combined.
5. On the same parchment lined cooking sheet you used to toast the coconut, drop spoonfulls of the dough onto the parchment and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Let cool, then enjoy!
Today, tomorrow, then cottage weekend begins!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wanted: New skill, new sweater, new recipe

I am really good at french braiding hair.
I don't mean to sound like a braggart but it's a skill that I've worked hard at and am quite proud of. I can even reverse french braid so that you braid under instead of over, which makes the braid look like it's lying on top of your hair.
I have always wanted to learn how to fishtail braid my hair. Recently I came across a "how-to" article in LouLou magazine while I was browsing through it at work. I spent probably a good five to ten minutes attempting and re-attempting to create a fishtail.
To no avail.
So I came home and youtubed it. Hey, it worked for knitting. But, alas, the videos made it look so easy and my clusmy hands failed to acheive hair greatness.
But I WILL learn. I'm determined. And I have a whole long weekend coming up in which to practice.

If you want to try and acquire a new skill with me let's learn together.
Another newbie I'm after is of a sartorial nature.
On Friday, I'm going to Value Village in search of a beauty similar to this:

Well, why not?
It's the ultimate cottage sweatshirt. Worn in, won't matter if it gets dirty and saturated with the smell of campfire smoke, and it really puts the wearer back in touch with nature. The majesty of the wolf - can you resist?
Cross your fingers for me that Value Village has one of these just waiting for me.
Lastly, for the Saturday fam-jam dinner, we've been brainstorming a quick but still delicious desert idea. I wanted to make a no-bake cheesecake but to keep it simple and quick and easier to feed upwards of 20 people, we've decided on grilled peaches with cinnamon, honey, and a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
So obviously I've been craving peaches.

Farmers markets say they've rippened sooner than usual this year so get 'em while they're hot.
The best peaches I've ever had were these gigantors from a fruit/convenience store in the plaza across the street from the outdoor pool I used to work at. True story: I did a replacement shift there one day last summer and made a beeline to the peaches during my dinner break.

I'll post a recipe for it once we figure it all out.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mango Salsa + Countdown to the Fam-Jam

Countdown to the long weekend cottage fam jam: 4 days.
Four more days (of work, no less) then it's off to the lake!
Cannot wait to try out the new noodle hammock chair I bought at the dollarstore.

For the dinner I'm helping to make on Saturday, I've come up with a cute favour-ish idea.
It's more of an interactive type thing than a cutesy gift but it'll depend on whether I find what I'm looking for at the dollarstore on Friday morning.
It will involve 2 things:
1. Spice jars

2. Scrolled paper
and on the scrolls will be some trivia questions to get a bit of a game going during dinner.
I think it's a cute idea.

For an appetizer we've decided upon tortilla chips and a mango salsa so because I haven't posted too many recipes as of late, here is a Martha recipe for mango salsa that I'll be bringing to the lake with me

Mango Salsa

1. Peel and cut 2 medium mangoes into 1/4 inch cubes and place in your salsa serving bowl.
2. Add to the mango 1 medium seeded and minced jalapeno pepper (leave seeds in if you want it spicier), 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, and 1 tbsp minced shallot.
3. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cupcake Photos

The BBQ was a lot of fun and the cupcakes went over very well.
John even did some baking yesterday and made ice cream cone cupcakes. I don't think I have a picture of it uploaded yet so I will get one on here in the next few days.
I made mini pies and apples.
I was so sure I was going to get kicked out or at the very least spoken to while standing in Sugar Mountain picking the red smarties out of the bin. And they're were no blue ones! I had to use jelly beans instead.

These apples obviously do not look as nice as the ones in the book BUT I could not find red muffin cups nor could I find green tootsie rolls or bulk standard ones. Sugar Mountain, you failed me. But the rootbeer liquorice worked well enough for the stem and mint leaves made due for the leaves. I also didn't dip the cupcake into the red sprinkles, just sprinkled them on by hand to avoid wasting the entire jar. Not bad for a first try I guess.
Now I can focus my energies on next weekend's cottage fam jam.
Everyone has taken on one meal - breakfasts, lunches, dinners, etc - and John and I have volunteered to tackle a dinner.
We're doing a test run tonight to see what works and what needs tweaking.
I don't want to give too much away but I have focaccia baking in the oven right now and it smells goooooooood. Baking bread is definitely one of my favourite smells.
We're not going as all-out as we did last year because we want to have a bit more time out of the kitchen and more time to spend with the family that we don't get to see all that often.

And no, that's not a statement to throw off the other dinner-makers :)
I'm just really looking forward to good food, good people, and good times.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lady Gaga

From the concert at the ACC on July 12th.

She is FANTASTIC live. What an entertainer and what a voice!

Friday, July 23, 2010

On a More Serious Note...

As you all know, I use and abuse this blog with my random thoughts, rants, etc. But every once and awhile I like to think I do some good by talking about worthwhile causes.
Today I'm using the blog to talk about a serious but unfortunately ignored disease that has hit close to home: Lyme Disease.
My best friend's sister has been ill for some time now. She went through a period where she literally could not walk or move because her joints were so bad, among a slew of other horrible symptoms. She was diagnosed with Lyme disease and much to everyone's relief got better. Her family even threw her an emotional but fabulous "lyme" party to celebrate.
About 6 months ago, she relapsed. Not for the first time, as she's relapsed before, but this time has been absolutely awful.
She can't eat, has had days where she has literally seized all day from mini seizures, her joints make it impossible to move again, and worst of all feels like sometimes she can't go on. Worse than the symptoms, maybe, is the fact that more than once she has been refused treatment by doctors who don't believe that Lyme disease is a real diagnosis.
I won't try to convince you that it is, but to refuse someone the treatment they need when they are clearly suffering is so wrong that it's infuriating.
So today I would like to bring to your attention a very worthwhile cause.
My friend and her boyfriend have organized a sky diving event on August 15th to raise money and more importantly to raise awareness!
They are still recruiting jumpers so if jumping out of an airplane is on your bucket list, then I may be able to help you out!
Please visit the site here for more information.
Any donations are tax deductable, just an fyi ;)

We love you, Jamie, and you're not in this fight alone.
P.S. John and I are on the fence about actually jumping out of the plane. I would love love love to do it but seriously doubt I posess the cojones to physically maneouver myself not only out of the plane (yes I know someone will be strapped to me and I will have no say in the matter) but I think getting onto the plane will be an issue, knowing how I'd be getting back to earth.
I will keep you updated.
P.P.S. My sister's doing it with three of her best friends.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

Last night I baked the first batch of cupcakes for the weekend BBQ.
While I won't give away the decorating ideas just yet (expect that on Friday night or Saturday morning) I will give you the recipe for the first batch.
Applesauce Spice Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with muffin cups or grease well.
  2. In a bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter with 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time and then beat in 1 tsp vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, mix together 3 cups flour, 2 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 3/4 cup tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp allspice.
  4. Stir the dry mix into the butter-sugar mix in 3 batches, alternating with 1 1/2 cups applesauce and 1/3 cup buttermilk.
  5. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool.

Hey so in other news, John and I are growing potato trees:

We can't bring ourselves to eat them.
Sick curiosity wants us to see just how high these growths will grow.
I think Pochohontas said it best, "how high will the sycamore grow, if you cut it down then you'll never know..."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New Obsession

There are 2 books I am currently reading.
One is 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' (really good so far, highly recommend it and cannot wait to start the next one after this!).
The other is this one:

I bought it at Costco last weekend and everyday when I come home from work I browse through it again. I think I've picked exact days now for when I will make each cupcake design.
John's aunt and uncle are having their annual family BBQ this Saturday and there are 2 cupcake ideas I want to try. That's a lie; there are actually numerous ideas I want to try but I've managed to narrow it down to two.
I'm going to start the process tonight (making the cupcakes) so that I can have all morning Friday to decorate them.
I could tell you what I'll be making but I'll leave it as a surprise. Depending on how well they turn out....
Methinks a devoted reader (Andrea) may have this book as I saw a cupcake design in here that she made recently....
And now that I've become obsessed with this cupcake book, I want the other one!

If you're curious, the writers have a blog here
and if you want to see some pictures of cupcake ideas visit them here (p.s. both ideas I'll be attempting are in the pictures along the top)
I'm going to subscribe to their newsletter!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jamaica Does Chicken and She Does it Well

As you may have all assumed, I ate my fair share of chicken in Jamaica. I had it jerked (several times), I had it fried, I had it blackened, I had it in a patty, and I had it stuffed. And not once was I was not disappointed.
Jerk chicken is amazing.
Now that that's out of the way we can continue.
I had it our first night in Montego Bay at a quaint patio restaurant called the Pork Pit. Picture 2 guys standing around a giant BBQ pit cooking up chicken after chicken along with many a piece of pork. I even ate the bride's sister's leftovers. Like we're talking picked the bones clean.
Yep, that good.
I had it again at the wedding when the bride and groom surprised us all with an 11 o'clock buffet or jerk chicken, pork, and shrimp. Thankfully I did not try the shrimp as it was reported (by several seperate sources) to have given people "runny tummy" syndrome the next morning due to it's very spicy nature.

Wedding jerk

Jerk chicken with rice and peas and roasted veggies at our last dinner in Jamaica
I also had jerk chicken from a vendor 2 or 3 times. Served with hardo bread - it's amazing. I want to try and make hardo bread. It's essentially white wonder bread but thicker and more dense and moist.

At the jerk vendor, getting hungry

The first night in Negril we went to a place called Alfred's for dinner and the promise of live reggae music later on. The blackened chicken was pretty tasty AND it was my first helping of rice and peas.

Blackened chicken, brought to you by Red Stripe Beer.

We also got pattie's a few times. Having sampled the beef. the chicken, and the veggie, I feel fairly confident saying that the chicken was my favourite, followed closely by the beef. The chicken was spicy which gave it the edge it needed.

Using cocobread to keep my fingers from burning off.

In Negril we went to this fantastic restaurant called Kuyaba. If you ever find yourself in Negril SEEK OUT THIS RESTAURANT!

I got the 'Bird of Paradise' which was chicken stuffed with cheese, carrots, and callalloo (a Jamaican spinach). Came with a baked potato and papaya. Yum.

Chicken was not all I ate however. You can't go somewhere and not try all (or as many as you can) of the local favourites.

oxtail (left) and curried goat (right), again brought to you by Red Stripe

Ackee and saltfish (breakfast food) with plantains, veggies, and fried dumplings. Ackee is a fruit but when you cook it it looks very similar to scrambled eggs. Tasty too. Not sweet like you might expect from a fruit.

I think that's it for today. I have a picture of festival too (which is similar to an old fashioned donut) but I'll save that one so as not to bombard you with pictures of everything I ate.

Honestly, this blog is my saving grace because it gives me a reason to take pictures of my food. Huzzah!

Having a picnic on the beach tomorrow with my lady friends - need to make a salad. Hope it doesn't rain. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Number 63: Done

On my list of 101 things to do before I die (which really only currently consists of 63), I have crossed out only about ten of them. But this Jamaica trip allowed me to cross of one more.

And enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wedding Food!

As I'm sure many of you are aware, I am one of those people who love taking photos of their food.
And I don't discrimminate.
Whether it's food I've made or food someone else has graciously made for me, I will take a picture of it.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you the photos I took of the food from the wedding.
First up: Ginger Pumpkin Bisque

It was probably one of the best tasting soups I've ever had. I want to try and recreate it. I doubt I'll be able to get it to taste as good but I think come autumn I'm going to be doing a lot of experimenting with pumpkin soups.
Next: Insalata Caprese
Simple and elegant and delicious. I love tomatoes and I love them even more drizzled in blasamic vinegar and olive oil. Add in buffalo mozarella and some basil and forget about it.

Palate cleanser: Ortanique Granita
The first time I had a palate cleansing course was at a fancy Italian place in Ireland with my aunt and uncle and I wondered why I'd never had one before. Actually that might be a lie, I may have had one at an Italian wedding I went to but I was 15 and can't remember things from a decade ago. Regardless, the sorbet/granita idea is fantastic. I also have a good recipe for a healthy melon granita that I'll try and remember to post at some point this summer.

Main course: 1. Herb dusted mahi-mahi fillet with pimento compound butter
2. Roasted chicken breast stuffed with coconut curry sauce
3. Parmesan mashed sweet potato
4. Carmelized brown sugar plantain
5. Roasted local vegetables
We thought we had to choose between the fish and the chicken but surprise! We got to try both. I'm not a big seafood person but the mahi mahi was pretty good. Everything on this plate was incredible and I didn't leave anything behind.

Desert: Coconut rum creme brulee with flambeed bananas
There was a thick layer of rum on the top of this to make it flame up so well. We all discovered this fact when we dug in and put the first spoonful into our mouths. Pure rum. Haha once we stirred it up a bit it was fine. And amazing.
Then there was also wedding cake which I don't think I have a picture of....but it was chocolate with 3 different types of icing layered in. SO GOOD.

Unfortunately I have to get ready to head to work but I will post again tomorrow morning :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Home again, home again jiggity jigg

Jamaica was AMAZING.
There's no other way to describe it.
The wedding, the food, the adventures we went on....just an amazing way to spend 10 days with close friends and some new ones.
You better believe I'm going to milk this trip into about 2 weeks worth of posts. I have probably about 30 pictures of food so there will be lots of reviews. The final verdict on food though is SO GOOD. So good.
Let's start off with some wedding pictures.
I stole these from one of the bride's cousins cause I didn't take any of the ceremony....didn't think I'd be able to successfully hide a camera in m bouquet.
Here's my walk down the aisle. What's going through my head is "don't fall, don't trip, don't fall, don't trip..."

Here's the beautiful bride making her way down with her father. When we drove up to the venue the rain was POURING but somehow, like magic, the rain stopped right before she had to get out of the car and start her walk.

The wedding party

And another nice glamour shot of the party.
Just overall a beautiful ceremony and a beautiful reception.
Tomorrow if I have time I'll post pictures of the food from the wedding :)
In the next few posts you can look forward to things such as:
  • Jerk chicken, several times over
  • Curried goat & oxtail
  • Festival
  • More wedding pictures
  • Trips on a catamaran, to waterfalls, parasailing, and many beach shots

OK party people, I have to get ready for work...I know, what a bummer having to go back to work right away :( haha back to the real world.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A 25th Birthday Idea

I've been thinking that since I will be turning 25 in just over a month's time I should celebrate the quarter century landmark by throwing a birthday party I would have had when I was 5.
I'm talking balloons, streamers, loot bags, a pinata, ice cream cake, party hats, etc.
Not like I don't do all of that stuff every year regardless but this year would sort of be the kiddie party to the extreme.
Now I'm not so sure I want to do that but as I was browsing through the Martha website I came across a section dedicated to kid's birthday party themes.
This one caught my eye only because I want this exact image set up in my parent's backyard:
The Pixie Party

This reminds me of Brownie and Girl Guide camping at Camp Makeewah in the Magical Forest. There was a toadstool that the Brown Owl always put a loonie on top of and it was a race to see who got to the toadstool first.
Gosh I loved Brownies.
I do have to say, though, that I'm a little disappointed with some of the theme Martha & Co. came up with.
For example, the 'Flower Power' theme was described as 'Flowers and balloons are the theme at this party'........
I'm sorry.....what?
Since when does putting out flowers and balloons count as a theme? That's just called a party.
I've come up with much better themes than that.
Like last year's 1950's garden party.
Anyway, I'll keep you updated on birthday plans as they come along.

In other news: umm..... I am getting excited for THIS!

I embrace my Harry Potter nerdiness and if you do too then perhaps we should all organize a get together to watch the 2nd of the two final films next summer.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer Craft Idea : Candleholder Edition

Hello friends!
Even though I'm curently in Jamaica, I thought I'd be kind and pre-write some posts to pop up every few days while I'm away!
There won't be any interesting stories because I can't guess the future so these posts will be a lot of craft ideas, recipes, etc.
The meat and potatoes of this blog, basically.
So getting back to Martha basics, here's a summer inspired craft for those of you looking to spruce up your backyard/balcony ambience:
Leaf Covered Candleholders
To make this craft you will need:
  • Plant leaves - the sturdier the better such as hostas and calatheas
  • A craft knife or box cutter
  • Double sided tape
  • Glass candleholder and tea lights
  • Thick string, thin rope, or twine
  1. Using the craft knife, cut a strip from the leaf the same height as the candleholder. When in doubt, cut higher than the candleholder. As my grade 6 design and technology teacher told me, you can always cut more off, but you can never add more on. Make sure the leaf will wrap around the candleholder with some overlap.
  2. Attach the strip to the candleholder using the doble sided tape. Make sure the leaf lies flat against the candleholder and all edges are held down nicely with the tape.
  3. For a nicer finish, tie a peice of twine, string or rope around the leaf. Set the tealight inside and voila! You've got the tropics on your table.
And if you're looking for a recipe to make some home cooked goodness to place on your leafy backyard table, Kraft has a really delicious sounding recipe for biscuits.
Cheddar Biscuits

To make these yummy and cheesy biscuits:
  • Prehat the oven to 450ºF. In a bowl mix together 1 cup flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt.
  • Cut in 1/4 cup cold butter (cut into cubes) with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Add 1/3 cup milk; stir until mixture forms soft dough.
  • Place on lightly floured surface and knead eight to 10 times or until smooth. Pat out the dough into a 6-inch square. Cut it into nine squares and place the squares on ungreased baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 min. or until golden brown. Spread each split warm biscuit with 2-1/2 tsp. of chive and onion cream cheese spread. Serve and enjoy!

Congratulations, Kristian & Marion!

Today, two of my best friends will be walking down the aisle and making a life-long commitement to one another.
I am so excited and so happy for them!
They truly are meant for one another and to see them finally able to put the madness of wedding planning behind them and celebrate as husband and wife will be amazing!
So congratulations Kristian & Marion!
I love you both very much and wish you nothing but absolute joy for the rest of your lives together.
To celebrate, let us watch some of my favourite wedding youtube clips.
Sorry that there is some overlap but whateverrrr this is my blog and I can do what I please.
The best entrance ever (that I'm sure everyone has seen at least twice), which begot this scene from the Office (which still makes me sob every time I watch it).
This video I actually attempted to learn to pure failure. I'm no Beyonce as much as I like to think I am. This is fun to try if you are alone, in a safe place, and have no shame.
And finally, not wedding related but hilarious none the less.
Haaa, Haaa, Haaa, Haaa, Haaa

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"What Part of Jamaica?" - "Right By the Beach...Boyyyeee"

First Off-
I think this is the first year I won't be spending it in the country!
That could be a lie but if it is it's not an intentional one.
I love this country quite a bit, so happy birthday old girl.
Not to rub it in but while you are reading this, chances are I'm either flying to Jamaica or am sitting on a beach in Jamaica.
Nah, if I'm in Jamaica I'm probably running around setting up wedding stuff so don't feel too jealous until tomorrow.

I've written a few entries to post while I'm away - they should post every other day and I'll try to sneak in a post or two when I find internet access.
Til then, please know that I am well and likely doing something along these lines: