Monday, January 28, 2013

Rainy Days and Spring Flowers

Today is the most dismal of days. Our snow is slowly melting in a foggy rain and the skies are gray and heavy.
It doesn't look like we'll be seeing the sun for a while.
Until then, the spring bouquets I picked up this weekend will brighten up the house.
How dreary is this?
A perfect collection of spring flowers from The Watering Can.
White Hyacinths, White Tulips and some Pussy Willow.
I also picked up a bunch of Forsythia branches to force.
Their bright yellow flowers are the epitome of springtime.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Shop Tour - Stitch

I'm of the opinion that a beautiful shop should invite it's visitors in, instantly making them feel at home, and usher them out feeling wonderfully inspired.
Welcome to Stitch.
This "sanctuary for knitters, quilters and needle artists" does just that.
Owner Jocelyn Chamberlain has pulled together the most inspiring collection of materials and displayed them amongst a stunning collection of vintage treasures. The moment you walk into her shop, housed perfectly in a quaint old cottage, you can't help but want to do nothing more than make yourself a cup of tea, retreat in one of the many inviting chairs, and stitch happily away.
She's located in Jordan Village and worth a lovely afternoon out.
Her shop exudes personality. Everywhere you look, your eye falls on something unique and colourful and inspiring.
The back of her shop houses a bright, comfortable sitting area that provides the perfect retreat for a group that meets weekly to chat and work on their projects. Opposite this is a gorgeous harvest table, perfect for quilting projects and lessons. And in the middle is a massive brick fireplace that makes the entire area so perfectly cozy.
She even has a tiny kitchen off the back complete with tin ceilings and open cabinets stocked with pretty red and white dishware. It's like a little English cottage kitchen.
The front of the shop is filled with every shade of yarn, every pattern of fabric and anything else you could possible need for whatever you project might be working on. And it's all so beautifully displayed. Old cabinets house yarn and material. Vintage notions are tucked here and there amongst rustic antiques. Even the shop itself is stunning with it's exposed beams, brick walls, bright old windows and worn old floors.
Stop in and find something beautiful to work on during these next few winter months - the projects are endless.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Caesar Salad

I love salads.
They are a favourite for lunch, and an easy dinner when I'm home and Ryan is working late. But when I'm eating a salad for dinner, I need substance. I'm not looking for a simple pile of lettuce.
Bold dressings, berries, crumbled cheese, sauteed meat, candied nuts, seeds, eggs!
Now those are salads.
The possibilities are practically endless.
Here is my favourite Caesar salad.
It's especially delicious with homemade croutons and crisp prosciutto.
However, I'm trying to be good.
A few key ingredients - Crisp Romaine, Freshly cooked chicken breast, cucumber, Parmesan shavings and a delicious homemade dressing.
I was never one to add eggs to my salads, however, it really is delicious. I like mine soft so that the yoke mixes with the dressing and makes it even creamier. Plus, it's more protein, which means I'm full longer.
On one date, Ryan and I went to a classic Italian restaurant in the city and our waiter, who wasn't young, came out with a rolling cart stocked with ingredients. He crushed anchovies, mashed garlic and prepared the entire salad from scratch right in front of us. It was the most amazing (and expensive) Caesar salad I've ever had.
The dressing recipe is from Martha Stewart, however, I don't make it exactly and tend to free-hand. I don't add near as much lemon juice, nor the anchovies as I never have them, and I like to make it the consistency more of a vinaigrette by adding oil and finely grated Parmesan.
Though he won't touch a salad, he still loves snacking on fruit and veggies. Maybe because he can make his cucumbers into mustaches?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


With the unusually mild weather we had a few days ago, I couldn't help but pick up a pot of Spring bulbs from the grocery store this past weekend.
They're a perfect reminder that it won't be long until Spring.
White Hyacinths are my most favourite.
Their fragrance fills the whole house, so only a few are perfect.
These are in our dining room. They're the first thing to greet you when you walk in the door.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Spelt Pancakes with Strawberries

In an effort to try to be more healthy this year, I recently began experimenting with more health-conscious pantry ingredients. I've tried to eliminate my processed flours and refined sugars, and replace them with things like spelt and coconut flour, palm sugar, agave nectar and honey.

Trying different recipes has actually been quite fun, and though not everything I've tried has been a success (pureed cauliflower to name one), there are a few so far that have been pleasantly surprising.

Spelt Pancakes has been one of them.

If you asked my son, who is three, what he would like for breakfast, he would respond (as he does every morning) "Pancakes, scrambled eggs and dry toast." Yes, dry toast.

So you can imagine, I was a little worried that it would be hard to find a new pancake recipe.

I'm happy to report that he didn't even notice the difference. Though they were slightly different in texture, the taste wasn't far off.

Spelt Pancakes with Strawberries

1 cup Spelt Flour
1/8 cup Coconut Flour (it thickens the batter up a little nicer)
1 tbsp. Palm Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Egg
1 1/2 cup Milk

They cook exactly like any other pancake and this morning, they were topped with fresh strawberries and syrup.

Though strawberries are far from being in season here, I happened to find these at the grocery store earlier this week. They are already a few days old and they are still nice and fresh. I froze some for smoothies later.

We are spoiled each March with a gallon of pure Canadian maple syrup from my mom. It's a treat that lasts us all year long.

As I'm getting ready to post this, I'm sitting at my office window, watching Willen play outside. It's the 12th of January and my thermometer is reading 13 degrees. I'm not complainging... It might as well be spring. But I wasn't quite ready for the snow to be gone just yet. After all, we are in Canada.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Birthday Dinner

Last weekend, in celebration of my mother in law's birthday, I decided to throw a small dinner party.
It's not often I get to cook dinner for her, so when the occasion does arise, I try to make it a special one.
It's been a while since I've been able to enjoy a glass of wine, so bottles over the past year and a half have been collecting in our cellar. I thought this was the perfect occasion to dust a couple off and enjoy them.
I paired each course with a local wine.
Seared Diver Scallops with Pancetta, Garlic Aioli and Parmesan Tulles
 2010 Trius Dry Riesling
Pork Chop with Garlic Mash and French Beans
2009 Hillbrand Showcase Pinot Noir
Artisan Cheese
(Brie, Bella Vitano and English Stilton with Pear, Grapes and Crisps)
2007 Peller Estates Private Reserve Icewine
Chocolate Cake Three Ways
Needing to seat six, I had to move out our little pedestal table and use our desk for the evening. It worked perfectly.
I kept the table simple for lack of extra space.
For dessert, I decided to do chocolate cake three ways. This was her chocolate cake with Swiss buttercream.
I also did chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and white chocolate-dipped chocolate cake pops.
Happy Birthday Mom!
[all photos belonging to The Grower's Daughter]