Thursday, October 29, 2020

sunset at peggy's cove

The first time we saw Peggy's Cove it was late March. It was grey and you couldn't tell if it was rain or  icy spray being whipped off the water. The waves crashing into the rocks at the base of the lighthouse could be seen over the tops of the hills as you drove into the cove, even before you even saw the water swirling white and fierce. We couldn't actually get in to see it because it was barricaded off for Covid, but even at a distance, it was still something to behold.

Now that things have reopened (with precautions), we decided to drive the lighthouse route again and see it up close. We arrived just before the sun started setting, and unlike our first visit, the water was unusually calm. It isn't until you're standing on the rocks that you can fully grasp their scale. These giant boulders seem to have been hurled up from the ocean and thrown on top of one another like mere pebbles. The boys ran wildly all over, climbing and jumping around, laughing and trying to outdo each other until the sun disappeared and it was time to make our way home.

As we made one last loop around, the sky was brilliant orange and pink, the pools of calm water in the inlets reflecting the sunset perfectly.

It's a beautiful place.

Legend says that on a stormy October night, sometime in the mid-1800's, a schooner ran hard aground. With the powerful waves and the sleet and the fog, all aboard were lost, save one young woman who managed to swim ashore. Her name was Margaret, or "Peggy" to those who knew her. She never left the area, and eventually married a local man. Having quite the tale, she became well known, and over time, people began to refer to it as Peggy's Cove.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

baked pumpkin french toast

Sunday mornings, in our home, are slow mornings. They're for sipping coffee while flipping pancakes and whisking eggs and crisping bacon - a big breakfast to sit down and enjoy together before heading to church. There are some Sunday mornings however, when I don't have time to sit and spend an hour at the stove (or don't feel like it!). This is the perfect breakfast for that kind of Sunday morning. The kind where you'll be spending a great deal of time getting Thanksgiving dinner ready, and the thought of doing another big meals is just a bit overwhelming. Or maybe you have guests, and you want something special to serve, but would still like to sit and visit over coffee? Being able to make this the night before means that by the time your coffee has finished brewing, the oven has already preheated and you've popped it in!

I tried this recipe for Pumpkin French Toast first, and then tweaked it, which I will post below. The first was tasty, but it was for doing one at a time on the stove top. I wanted something I could bake in the oven - in this case, in a 9" cake pan. I also tried it in a 9" x 13" baking dish and it worked well. The trick was good old parchment paper. I simply lined a greased cake pan, fanned all the dipped bread as best as I could, and then baked it. To remove, I simply lifted it out of the pan, peeled away the parchment and quickly set it on a cake plate.

I prefer Brioche when making my French toast, so that's what I used for this. Also, while this is called Pumpkin French Toast, the pumpkin flavour is subtle. It's really more of just a lovely autumn flavoured French toast.

Baked Pumpkin French Toast

Set aside 16 slices of brioche. Roughly a large loaf.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the following together:

5 large eggs
2/3 cup of cream (you could use milk)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (pure, not pie filling)
3 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Quickly soak a few slices of day old brioche and then arrange in buttered and lined dish. Repeat, until all slices have been arranged. It was easiest for me to do about 10 slices around outside, up the sides to make an outer edge. Then, tuck the remaining 6 slices on the inside, between every other outer piece or so, to make a tighter inner circle that is overlapped. Really, this isn't so important, it's just how I preferred it. You could even just line them up in rows in a square baking dish. Pour whatever liquid is remaining evenly over the top.

Cover with tin foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350' for about 35 minutes, or until puffed and no longer soggy. I removed the tinfoil for another 5 minutes or so of baking to crisp up the edges a bit.

Remove after a minute of cooling, and place on a serving plate. Serve warm with syrup and whipped cream. I added a splash of maple bourbon to mine.

The first time I tried it, I added pecans to the top. I enjoyed that, but the boys aren't crazy about them, so I left them off this time.

I liked that we could just cut wedges and add a dollop of cream. It was a really simple thing to put together and an even easier breakfast to serve the next morning - perfect for the holidays!

Friday, October 16, 2020

a saturday in downtown halifax

I had every intention of sharing this day with you a month ago, but somehow, an entire month has passed, and doing so had completely escaped my mind. This was from the beginning of September. We had decided to take the boys for the night into the city. We had some errands to run, so we booked a hotel room, not far from the Public Gardens. We ate pizza in bed and stayed up late watching a movie. Then in the morning, we picked up breakfast and brought it to the gardens. We ate while the boys ran up and down the paths and flung quarters into the fountain. We walked the historic district, then went down to the farmer's market at the port. I even managed to pop into a new (to me) shop downtown while the boys swam back at the hotel before check out. It was a really lovely day. While I love living in a smaller town, I also love that the city isn't too far away - for days just like this. I thought I would share how I love to spend a Saturday in the city.

The Public Gardens are always a favourite. There's something about the quiet in the midst of the bustle of the city.

It's the perfect place to start the day. Grab a coffee and a pastry, and take an hour to wander. Watch the ducks as they nest along the bank of the pond, then head along the alley of trees towards the main gate. When your coffee is finished, wander down Spring Garden Rd, towards the waterfront. When you reach Queen St, pop into 31 Westgate for a quick look around.

Finding this was such a wonderful surprise! There's just so much to admire.

From there, continue to head down Spring Garden Rd. We walked through The Old Burying Grounds and then around the Government House.

Having been founded in 1749, there are so many historic homes and buildings in this area. I love wandering around these blocks.

On Saturdays, down at the Seaport, which is just a few blocks further, there's a farmer's market year 'round. A Saturday market is something I just love.

If you had the rest of the afternoon, I recommend continuing your walk up around Queen Street. There's a great book shop called Schooner Books, not mentioned a couple streets of charming old homes.

Because we don't get to the city very often, we usually head out in the afternoon, as the ride home generally requires a stop at Costco. But there are a few breweries to enjoy in the city, as well as a number of great places to go for dinner. Or, if you're really adventurous, you could make the drive out to see the sunset at Peggy's Cove, which happens to be a very doable 45 minute drive away. 

I'm looking forward to heading back again this winter. Maybe for a little Christmas shopping this time, to see the city all decorated and lit up. But really, every time we head back, we discover something new, and that's what makes our time in the city feel so special.