Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rustic Fig & Honey Goat Cheese Tart



"The measure of your life is the amount of beauty and happiness 
of which you are aware." ~ Agnes Martin 

The earth is quietly opening up around here.  Today I looked at the teeny buds on the lilac bush in the front yard, and on the apple and plum trees behind the house.  Tentative first steps of the beauty that lies ahead.  It's been a warmer than usual spring.  Typically there should still be snow lingering, but it's been gone for a couple of weeks now.  Even the grass is beginning to turn green, and the cats couldn't be happier.  Their little mouths chomp down voraciously on the fresh chlorophyll until they eat too much and...we all know what happens when cats eat too much grass.  I too have the spring fever and can't wait to don a new pair of garden gloves and begin peeling back the layers of mulch in the flower beds.  I'm always pleased to see the fresh growth underneath.  I silently congratulate the perennials for surviving another bitter winter.  Like us locals, they too deserve a pat on the back for enduring another multi-month Saskatchewan deep freeze.  As the cats roamed the perimeter, I sat in one of the dusty patio chairs hauled out from the garage and turned my face towards the sun (I wasn't even wearing a jacket!) grateful for another season of fresh, happy starts. 


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rose Pavlova with Raspberry Pomegranate Sauce



"And the Spring arose on the garden fair, 
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere; 
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast 
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest."  ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Springtime in Saskatchewan.  You never know what you're going to get.  Yesterday, as I was photographing this pavlova, the windows were open, furnace was off, sandals were on - showing off my freshly pedicured toes, and the cats were roaming the perimeter of the place, no doubt scouting for any animal trespassers.  And today it's a blustery affair, with dark brooding skies and a mood to go with it.  Furnace is back on.  As is the winter uniform of leggings, slippers and sweater.  A stark contrast to the day that came before it.  A season still trying to figure itself out.  Which I get.  I think at the core that's all we are trying to do - figure ourselves out.  Over the weekend I watched the HBO series Olive Kitteridge.  If you get a chance, I highly encourage you to do so, too.  It's lovely to look at - the opening credits alone made me crave a doughnut and the woods, though not necessarily at the same time.  It's a story of a family and a small town, of lasting love and the turbulence of life over the span of 25 years.  I love movies and books where the characters age and every five or ten years you check in with them to see how they're doing and how they've changed and mistakes they've made.  Love it.  I won't give anything away, but this series packs an emotional whammy.  The last hour alone made me weep like a baby because it took Olive most of her lifetime to figure herself out.  And it wasn't too late.  It's never too late.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Le Sandwich: Croque Madame with Dijon Béchamel Sauce





Sometimes a sandwich can make your life.  True story.  And it doesn't have to be a particularly fancy one, piled high with vegetables and herbaceous spreads.  Honestly, just give me good meat and good cheese, tucked between good bread with a little bit of butter and mustard.  Forget the tepid tomatoes.  Forget the lettuce unless we are pulling out the stops and feathering in some arugula.  I like it simple.  Mainly because of all the time working in professional kitchens these past 16 years lunch often consisted of that:  good meat, good cheese, good bread, wolfed down while leaning against a counter.  This is the kind of stuff they don't show you on reality TV cooking shows.  (Oh, if there had been cameras following me around all these years, the tales I could tell).  Even at home with all of the time and ingredients available to me, I honestly just want some sort of combination protein and cheese sandwich, be it bacon and brie, tuna and cheddar, turkey and Swiss and more often that not I want it hot and toasted, oozing cheese all over the plate.  Only this time, eaten while seated. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Coconut Chia Pudding with Bluberry Ginger Compote



"One could not get enough of the nimble air.  Every morning I wakened
 with a fresh consciousness that winter was over."  ~ Willa Cather

Well my friends, we made it.  Another winter finished and into the books.  I know, I know, there's still snow on the ground and flannel sheets are still on the bed, but for all intents and purposes, spring is here.  Hallelujah praise the lord.  And I just did a few jumping jacks, scaring the bejeezus out of the cats.  Spring is my most favourite season.  I love the whole reassurance and resurgence that comes with it.  Just like the blades of green beginning to poke through the earth, so do new ideas, dreams, intentions and goals.  Not only is it the equinox today, but a super moon and a solar eclipse.  There are good things happening up there in the cosmos and timing couldn't be better for a little system restart.  What do you want to do with all of this rebooting energy swirling around you?  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

On the Cusp: Grapefruit & Olive Oil Pound Cake



"Just say yes and you'll figure it out afterwards."  ~ Tina Fey

Cusp.  I like that word.  It's defined as the point of a crescent, like the moon, and a point that marks the beginning of a change.  Like, Renée is on the cusp of a new era.  Holy shit.  The past couple of weeks, well, the past month really, have been really terrifying and exciting.  I did something either totally brave or bonkers, though I'm leaning towards the former:  I left my job without another full time job to replace it.  Bold, ballsy, bad ass.  I did it.  Not a decision that came easily or quickly - impulsiveness isn't quite my style - but one I brewed over the past few months especially.  I won't bemoan the reasons for leaving, though I know we've all been in situations that aren't working, be they professional or personal, and the time comes when a departure is required, if for nothing else than our happiness.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Braised Lentils and Chickpeas with Kale & White Wine



I love me a good challenge.  It seems like every so often I take a deep breath and do something tremendously brave that both excites and terrifies me, and no doubt keeps my mother awake at night.  Sorry mom!  I've gone and done it again, and fingers crossed I'll land on my feet like I always seem to do.  More on this little shake up in a future blog post when I'm ready to spill the beans, but until then you'll just have to hold your horses.  Speaking of challenges, I've entered a recipe into another Canadian Lentils Recipe Revelations Challenge and I'm super excited for you to try it.  White wine, paprika, kale, it's a one pot little wonder that will have you licking the pot.  Or wait?  Is that just me?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Roasted Carrot, Parsnip & Thyme Soup from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars. Plus a Giveaway!



Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.  Isn't that just the catchiest name of a cookbook ever?  Thanks to lovely Aimée Wimbush-Bourque of Simple Bites fame, you now have another cookbook you must add to your collection.  Thanks to the generosity of Penguin Random House Canada Limited, I'll be giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader.  I hope it's you!  If you don't win (sorry!) one click on Amazon, and away you go!

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