Saturday, February 6, 2016

Five Whole Years (!!) and a Few Favourite Things

When I first started writing this blog, I had no idea what I was a) doing, and b) getting myself into.  I never in a million years expected it to be anything more than a little chat about what I was making in my little green kitchen.  But then I fell in love with my little corner of the internet universe, and like anything else when it comes to love, you work at it.  Often.  I'd come to this space whenever I had a second or two free from my full-time chef gig, with hopes (and dreams!) of one day writing more at home and working in kitchens less.  Five years later, that is my current reality, which still blows my mind a little.  Okay, a lot.  I've come a long way since that very first post about pears and waffles.  Don't laugh at those photos!  I had no idea what I was doing!  Besides being a creative outlet, the blog has opened up all kinds of opportunities for me.  I've been lucky and traveled to Washington State, Toronto, Montreal, and Southern Saskatchewan, twice.  I've met other bloggers who've turned out to be sweet, sweet friends.  I've gotten freelance writing gigs for newspapers and food magazines.  And of course, I'm near the end of writing my very first cookbook.  All because of this blog, and hard, hard work.  In short, Sweetsugarbean changed my life.  This was not what I had in mind when I sat at my computer in January of 2011 and pressed "publish" for the first time.  But holy smokes, I'm so happy the way things have turned out.  Thanks to all of you who have been with me from the beginning, and to those who have just joined in.  I'm so happy to have you here!  Giant hugs and kisses all around!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Pulse Pledge: Chickpea and Lentil Curry with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Eleven days into the new year, and how is everyone doing?  Apart from the clothes fitting noticeably tighter than perhaps a month ago, things are swell here.  I also just got back from Toronto, where I was fortunate to meet up with old friends and pretty much eat all the things.  If you were following me on Instagram, you probably saw the divine burger from Burger's Priest, or the crispy chicken bun from Momofuku, or my first ever Krispy Kreme doughnut.  I totally wasn't messing around.  Then there was the fantastic private lunch with Chef Michael Smith and a handful of other Canadian food bloggers at the beautiful Fairmont Royal York.  We enjoyed a bit of a tapas menu featuring pulses - lentils, chickpeas, dry peas and beans - and one day I hope to recreate a chickpea beignet like the one I tasted there.  So good.  Then there was Pulse Feast, a party to kick off International Year of Pulses.  I mingled with pulse growers from the prairies, other food media and chefs.  It was a grand time, full of inspiring conversation and fantastic food, featuring pulses of course.  I swear there was a platter of lentil fritters following me around all night.  Sweets!  I can't escape them!  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Good Feeling: Sweet & Spicy Rosemary Pecans

"Anything can happen, anything can be!"  ~ Shel Silverstein

One of my favourite songs ever is "Good Feeling", by the Violent Femmes.  The general gist is how you wish for that good feeling to stay with you, just a little longer.  I suppose that's how I feel about this bright and shiny new year.  All of the good stuff that came my way in 2015, I want it to stick around for as long as possible.  2015 will be remembered as the Year of My Amazing Luck, which is a nice upgrade from the years of "Enough Already", and "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"  2013, 2014, I'm looking at you.  I like the turning over of a new calendar year.  Like our buddy Shel said, anything can happen.   That's the brilliant thing about a blank slate - you can set intentions for how you want your life to unfold.  Obviously you won't always get what you want, but then again, you very well may.  I hope that 2016 is full of magic and adventure, courage and creativity.  May there be more laughter than tears, and more hellos that goodbyes.  I'm sending off 2015 with a grateful heart, and I'm eager to see what this new year will look like.  No doubt it won't always be smooth sailing, but I've got a good feeling we're all gonna rock it.  Happy New Year!  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Oh Joy! Chocolate & Espresso Yule Log

"The room was very still while the pages were softly turned and 
the winter crept in with a Christmas greeting."  ~ Louisa May Alcott

Happy first day of winter, friends.  It's a frosty one here this morning, with me in my slippers and a mug of coffee warming my hands.  There is much packing to me done yet as I leave for a few days to see my family and I couldn't be more excited.  From what I hear, my nieces want my assistance in building a snow fort, and are addicted to UNO, so I know what I'll be doing upon my arrival.  These are the best days, when all that really matters is just being together with those who love the bones off you.  As their little hands clasp mine, leading me to the piled up snow, that will be the best gift right there. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Merriment & Mayhem: Mushroom and Bacon Quiche

So, how's everyone doing?  Christmas is in one week, and I hope y'all are finding some merriment amidst the mayhem.  I just finished writing page 170 of my manuscript, so high five!!

 Everyone is super busy, so I'm here with just a quick little post about this mushroom and bacon quiche I made recently for the fine folks over at Mushrooms Canada.  If you've never baked a quiche using puff pastry as a base, you're in for a treat, because it makes the whole thing come together so easily.  The mushroom filling can be made up to 4 days in advance, so it's a time saver on really busy mornings (or evenings) over the holidays.  I used dried porcini, as well as fresh cremini and shiitake mushrooms in the quiche, and a good amount of chopped bacon.  You all know how much I adore bacon, and it happens to be best friends with mushrooms.  So, win!  I've reheated slices all week for my lunch, and as expected, it's still delicious.  Find the recipe over here on the Mushrooms Canada Blog.  And with that, I wish you happy last weekend before Christmas.  I'll have one last post before I leave to see my family.  You guys.  I made a Yule Log and you need to see it! 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sweet Holiday Favourites and Glad Tidings!

This past week alone I've gone through almost five pounds of butter.  I guess you could say I'm back at recipe testing, AND baking up some favourite sweet things from holidays past.  I couldn't imagine Christmas without these Rosemary Oatmeal Shortbread, or these Brown Sugar Shortbread with Toblerone Chunks.  Last year I brought a tin of these White Chocolate & Rosemary Cranberry Blondies home to the family, and they were a surprise hit among the 6 and under crowd.  They'll be packed in my car again this year as I head home to see my fam jam in just 10 days.  I'm totally counting down the sleeps. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Baked Brie with Caramelized Pears and Bacon

"Nothing was so likely to do her good as a little quiet cheerfulness at home." ~ Jane Austen

This week was not how I intended it to be.  One week ago I had visions of powering through recipe testing for the book and getting a good jump on my Christmas baking.  None of that happened.  Instead, I woke up last Friday with what felt like knives hanging out in my throat.  No amount of honey or tea would soothe it.  Next day the tickle at the back of the throat started and so came on the incessant cough that stole my sleep for the better part of this week.  That, combined with congestion and aching bones kept me out of the kitchen and away from the computer, except for deadlines which had to be kept.  There's not much one can do with a foggy brain and aching body except cozy up on the couch and watch movies until you drift off, only to be awakened by the soft padding of kitten paws rearranging themselves on your legs.  This bit of forced rest has done me good - a reminder to not get too overloaded this holiday season.   Lord knows there will be busier days ahead, but if I need to take a break and watch Little Women, then so be it.   

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