January 27, 2012

Photo Friday: Landscape Photography from your Car

Alberta Prairies

I love landscape photography but alas I am not an outdoor person. I much prefer to be "Miss Daisy" and snap pictures from the warm comforts of my car. And to boot, Hubby isn't interested in pulling over every time I see something of interest (which is often).

I often joke that I should do a book called "Landscape Photography from your Car".

Seeing the Forest through the Trees

What do you think? It would probably sell as a coffee book, no? Move over other New York Times bestsellers! haha.

(But seriously, if any publishers out there do think it's a great idea, shoot me an email, ok?)


Have a great weekend!

January 26, 2012

Eating Out: Dishcrawl Edmonton, Old Strathcona

If you haven't heard of Dishcrawl yet, I'm certain you will soon enough. If you were lucky enough to be on twitter or know someone who tweets, then might have got the information in time and bought a ticket before DishcrawlYEG sold out.

Much like a pubcrawl, dishcrawl is a guided tour of 4 restaurants with a group of other foodies. Two days prior to the event, ticket-holders were told where to meet and then from there, the eating began, from one restaurant to the next. This particular dishcrawl was based in Old Strathcona.

The Sabzy, Edmonton
We started at the The Sabzy, a family-operated resto, with all sorts of Persian eats. Quinoa tabbouleh salad, saffron rice with barberries, pita with hummus, skewered chicken.

The King and I, Edmonton
We were then led to the infamous The King and I. (I was given 2 varieties of skewered meat as I could not have any shellfish). Panudulus chicken in a banana leaf, poppy shrimp and spring rolls.

Meze by Koutouki, Edmonton
Third stop was the newly opened Meze by Koutouki. Greek salad, saganaki cheese, pita & hummus to start.

Meze by Koutouki, Edmonton
And in true hospitable Greek style, one must EAT so we were given even more food! Keftedes, dolmades, spanakopita and sweet end with bougatsa.

Accent European Lounge, Edmonton
At this point, we all rolled our full bellies back down whyte avenue to Accent Restarant and Lounge. Topped off the taste of caprese salad, Innis and Gunn beer-soaked baked oyster and chocolate avalanche cake.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I got to go to restaurants I have not been to before, met a bunch of new people and had a lot of fun! Until next time!

Read about the experience also at: The Edmonton Journal

January 24, 2012

Coconut Macaroons - low carb version

Low Carb Coconut Macaroons

I've been low carb eating as of late. It's my version of a new year's resolution cleanse diet, though I'm looking to continue on with it.

If you have read or heard of Good Calories, Bad Calories, which I call my hubby's "bible", then you might know Gary Taubes has a new book called Why We Get Fat. He is a scientific writer and in the first book compiled all sorts of research showing "Obesity is caused... not by the quantity of calories you eat but by the quality." And in the followup novel writes that "...certain kinds of carbohydrates—not fats and not simply excess calories—have led to our current obesity epidemic." The second novel is an easier read, since the first one is compiled with a lot of research data. (Quotes from Gary Taubes website)

Coconut Macaroons low carb

Whether you are interested in the low carbohydrate lifestyle or not, these are very good reads. I foraged into the low carb world very seriously at one time and I will tell you it worked for me. As I mentioned earlier, I am currently low carbing but with time will gradually return to a more modified version. I can't give up cake, cookies, fresh bread and other delicious carb-ful goodies but I can limit them and more importantly work on having the bulk of my meals contain little to no carbohydrates. Carb-filled foods will be my "sometimes" treat (hopefully!).

This is where my coconut macaroons come in. I wanted something sweet and this fit the bill. I broke down the nutritional values, based on the values input into the USDA library. If you are against using sweeteners, then this recipe is not for you.

Happy low-carb eating!

January 20, 2012

Photo Friday and some links

Photo Friday
(another photo from my Vanilla bean ice cream blogpost.)


Thought I'd offer my some food-related links from my twitter feed.
  • For those of you working on health-related new year's resolutions, eaTracker is a great tool. It has been overhauled since I last saw it.
  • Anyone going to Dishcrawl on Wednesday? I am! See you there!

January 19, 2012

Dried Fruit & Nut Galette

Dried fruit and nut galette
(I'm standing on a chair taking this picture. Notice my fuzzy blue slippers in the picture? tee hee!)

I love having healthier snacks for the kids so I often have a large stash of dried fruits and nuts during the fall/winter months. But sometimes, I get ahead of myself and realize that the huge volume-packed bags I bought are not moving as fast as I like and I'm not a fan of rock-hard dried fruits or rancid nuts.

So I decided it's time for a pie. Well, a "galette", which is a free-form type of pie. It's actually my favorite type of pie to make since it's easy and doesn't require 2 layers of pie dough or cutting out fancy lattice designs on top. Rolling out and folding over the edges which is super easy to do.

Dried fruit and nut galette

This recipe is drier than your usual fruit-filled pies so don't forget the vanilla bean ice cream or a large dollop of whipping cream!


January 17, 2012

My Dining Room

Dining room
...because I've had people ask for pictures.

Late fall, after we returned from our travels, we finally got the go ahead with a permit from the city to start our renovations. We never any intention to do a dining room extension. It all sort of fell into place by a chain of events.

It started with the need to re-shingle the roof this upcoming year. My hubby also decided that he would like to extend the roof so that we have a standard overhang all around our house (our house is built in the 50's and there is no overhang). Several years ago, our 50 yr old spruce tree came tumbling down during a violent storm. Since then, the hubby and I disliked the look of the front of our home. The tree was such a beautiful focal point and then it was gone. Sure, hubby created a front yard oasis that has yielded yearly front yard in bloom nominations but still, the house curb-appeal was ugly.

That is when I came up with some ideas again. I figured since we had to redo the entire roof, now would be the time redesign the front of the house! And since we both liked the idea of putting in a porch, the add on of a "minor" 6 foot dining room extension really wouldn't be too much more cost or time, right? Oh boy.

I am sure that there are many times my hubby is afraid to come home, especially when I greet him at the door with a smile and a "I had an idea" remark. I don't blame him but I do come up with good ideas! But being DIY'ers means that there is a lot of work, time and energy being committed to our projects. I have a really good hubby :)

Dining room table

Remember the spruce tree I mentioned earlier? Well, that exact tree is now our dining room table. When the tree came tumbling down, we had a tree removal company come and clean up. However, hubby requested they leave a 10 foot long piece of log behind. He wasn't completely certain what he was going to do with it and then came the barrage of questions from friends & folks in our neighborhood.

"What are your plans with that giant log?"

"Ohhh, maybe we'll carve a canoe!"

"Wouldn't a totem pole be fun?"

"Log Driver's Waltz , anyone?"

Who knew that 2 years later we'd have constructed this beautiful, once living, thing into a functional piece of furniture. We purposely left the wood slabs to have a living edge, just removing the bark, which I LOVE so much.

We're not quite done as I'm uncertain what I want the main wall to have but that will come with time. We have already hosted multiple dinner parties so for someone who loves to entertain, this is a dream come true!

January 12, 2012

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

For most of my life, I never quite understand the popularity for vanilla ice cream. There are so many flavors to choose from, why would you choose vanilla? I always assumed it would go the way of dinosaurs and become extinct.


I worked part time at an ice cream store for several years while I went to University. I fancied my ability at guessing which flavors people would gravitate to when they came up to the counter. I noticed a trend that mature folks often chose vanilla, butter pecan and other milder, classic flavors.

An elderly gentleman, one of my regulars, and his little dog used to come by at least twice a week and order a single scoop of vanilla ice cream every time.

"Cup or cone?" I asked in my pleasant, perky 20 year old voice.

"Cup", he would reply gruffly. And off he went.

One day he came in and asked for his usual vanilla. "We have lots of different flavors!" I suggested. "Would you like to sample or try anything different?"

"No!" he exclaimed with fervor.

"Ok! Cup or cone then?" getting back to my routine of questions.

"Cup", he replied again. As I was putting in the spoon to go with the cup, he barked "I don't need the spoon either!"

Weird. Maybe he's environmental and brings his own spoons? But then why doesn't he want a cone? Whatever! I thought to myself

The next time I saw him I asked if he wanted his vanilla ice cream in a cup or a cone before he even was able to put in his usual order.

"Why do you ask me that every time?" he replied in a grumpy ole man voice.

"But I have to, it's part of my job."

"But, the dog can't hold a cone?"



Delicious vanilla bean ice cream

Maybe it has something to do with getting older but I have come to appreciate vanilla ice cream. Its simple and pure flavor is a wonderful treat on a hot summer day and it pairs wonderfully with other desserts, like a pie or tart.

Ice cream isn't just for the kiddies and dogs, you know.


January 11, 2012

Madagascar Vanilla Beans

Vanilla Beans

This is the first time I have ever bought vanilla beans. I became a pure vanilla extract user for my baking early on but I'm surprised to took me so long to get around to buying the source!


I can easily conjure up memories of vanilla sugar my mom used in her baking. She always bought the packets of vanilla sugar and I can still smell the aroma in the air when I think about it. It seemed to permeate the room as soon as the packet was ripped open, sweet and floral. When my mom wasn't looking, I'd take the empty packets and stick my tongue into the packet and attempt to lick clean every sweet surface area possible.

"Sweet memories"


Vanilla from the source

Until I come up with uses for all my Madagascar vanilla beans, I will be removing them from the container they came in and popping these lovely pods into my sugar container and creating my own sweet memories.

January 5, 2012

Beet and Apple Salad

Beet & Apple Salad

What better way to start a new year than with healthier eating? I know many people will do cleanses or start a diet but I rather try to incorporate more vegetables and fruits which hopefully replaces some of the not-so-healthy-foods.

I do admit to being a total junkfood-aholic. I have a love for chocolate that will move mountains, or at least move my hubby to retrieve the chocolate that I asked him to hide in the first place. And let me tell you, that is no small task :)

I find that incorporating more vegetables and fruits into meals isn't as easy as one thinks. It takes time and preparation. Washing lettuce, peeling and chopping vegetables is time consuming and laborious. I have often had my fresh fruits and vegetables go bad before I was able to use them. What a waste.

But I have found a few shortcuts. My last post, I made spicy butternut squash soup and I used frozen cooked and diced butternut squash that I found in the freezer section of my grocery store. Sure, fresh is always best, but if it comes down to whether or not you incorporate fruits and vegetables in your diet or not, I'd rather take my shortcuts.

Beet and apple Salad

This salad was made with canned beets that were already cooked and sliced. Cooking and peeling my own beets just wouldn't happen on a weeknight or even some weekends. This way, I made and ate a great salad versus not at all. Would it taste better with fresh beets? Probably, but I'm ok with the trade-off.

I regularly buy pre-washed salad greens. Sometimes I buy those mini-carrots that are already pre-peeled so I can quickly and easily give my kids healthier snacks. My freezer is stocked with frozen blueberries, raspberries, peas and corn.

Maybe I'm just tired by winter of all summer/fall harvest & preparation of fresh fruits and vegetables from our yard and garden. Or it's just the slow down pace of winter that has me wanting to be a couch potato versus peeling potatoes in the kitchen. Whatever the reasons, I'm grateful for the choices.


January 3, 2012

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

spicy butternut squash soup

Happy New Year!

It is the time for new goals and resolutions. I haven't really come to any resolutions myself as of yet but I am looking forward to a sense of routine and having things back to "norm" after living through some renovations the last couple of months.

Now that my dining room renovation is mostly done, I have the desire to cook and bake again. December had my dining room table in my kitchen, my side buffet in the front room and various dishes and pots/pans strewn in every nook and cranny. I had no interest in maneuvering around everything. Let's just say that the month of December consisted of many sandwich lunch and dinners.

Butternut squash soup

I have also had the desire for comfort food. I don't often make soups from scratch but I was really wanting a homemade version. New Year's Eve is where I made this spicy butternut squash soup for a large crowd of family and friends I was hosting. I love curries so red curry paste is a wonderful way to add some heat and lovely aroma to an already tasty butternut squash soup.

2011 was a good year but I am hoping 2012 brings even more adventures, challenges and exciting new endeavors. Hoping it's a good year for all of you too.


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