Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Yeasted Brown-Butter Waffles & How Ren Got Her Groove Back

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of.  If you find you’re not, 
I hope you have the strength to start all over again."  ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

This post title sounds like it could have been an episode of the Oprah show, but bear with me.  There's a waffle recipe at the end of it.  I've never been on a roller coaster, but 2013 sure as hell felt like it.  Highs, lows, good, bad and everything in between.  It started off badly, with a break-up not unlike the Post It Episode.  Just swap in a text message and you get the drift.  I was very, very sad then very, very angry.  Looking back, it's hard to read those early 2013 posts.  My mind and my heart were all over the place, and at times the sadness was all consuming.  I leaned on my family and friends as much as I could; surrounded by all things that made me happy and gave me comfort.  The kind words left here were like a warm blanket - thank you.  I prayed for time to quicken so I could get out of the darkness.  Somewhere along the line, a few months in, I realized that the sadness and anger weren't doing much for my complexion nor my spirit.  When I looked in the mirror I didn't recognize the eyes staring back.  Bloodshot, tired, not bright and shining.  Enough was enough. I couldn't change what had happened, but I could change how I carried on, forging forth.  I went away for a bit, which helped tremendously.  A change of scenery always does a girl good.   And then there was that pesky gallbladder surgery to deal with.  Never had I been more afraid, but obviously, I survived to tell the tale.  The downtime also did me good - got me thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up; what I could change that would me happier.  As serendipity, or luck, or whatever you want to call it would have it, a phone call out of the blue changed my career path, and because of that one phone call I'm doing something I love so much.  There's plenty to be said about being lifted out of a rut - emotionally, professionally, mentally.  Once one thing falls into place, so many other good things follow.  And that's where I sit now.  As I cross the threshold of a new year tonight, I will for sure give a little whoop.  I did it.  I plowed through obstacles that at times seemed insurmountable.  With those last dying seconds before midnight, I will be grateful for it all.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twinkle, Twinkle: Sparkling Cranberries

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, 
everything is softer and more beautiful." ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas Eve is upon us.  Are you ready?  I'm not quite there, but I want to spare just a few minutes to wish you the sweetest of holiday greetings.  And to share these lovely sparkling cranberries.  I've made them as a garnish for cakes, and luckily they've lasted long enough to be dropped into glasses of prosecco tonight.  It's time to put our feet up, tuck into the cheeseball, have somewhat competitive (not combative) games of Yahtzee, and more than one viewing of Christmas Vacation.  My whole entire family is gathering together - the first time in five years - and I'm looking forward to seeing the twinkling eyes of the young and not so young.  I hope the magic of Christmas surrounds you and yours.  RenĂ©e xoxo

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Reflector: Brown Sugar Shortbread with Toblerone Chunks

"After years in New York City, Georgia O'Keefe moved to rural New Mexico, from which she would sign her letters to the people she loved, 'from the faraway nearby.'  It was a way to  measure physical and psychic geography together.  Emotion has its geography, affection is what is nearby, within the boundaries of the self.  You can be a thousand miles from the person next to you in bed or deeply invested in the survival of a stranger on the other side of the world." 
~ Rebecca Solnit, from "The Faraway Nearby"  

I'm sharing this quote for a couple of reasons.  1) I've always been a bit obsessed with Georgia O'Keefe.  In art school I tried to emulated her style, with little success.  She was bold and brave and loved the sky, as do I.  Plus she lived to be almost 100.  I swear one day I will make a pilgrimage to New Mexico, that's how much I love her.  And I love how she ended her letters.  I might just have to copy-cat that.  2)  This past week was bonkers busy, with work and deadlines and me feeling a tad under the weather didn't help matters.  But I still managed to put 40 or so Christmas cards and packages in the mail.  Some were sent to old friends and new; across the globe and to downtown Saskatoon.  With each address I scripted - especially the ones with destinations so far abroad - I wondered if I would ever see that person again.  Circumstances wrangle us in so many ways, and while we come together for brief or long periods of time, in the end our paths won't always run parallel.  But those who make a lasting impression will always carve themselves into my heart.  That's why at Christmas, I'll always sit down with a stack of cards and a good pen.  While the greeting may be brief, the intention runs deep.  The holidays are about hope and blessings and goodwill (and good eats!), but for me I become a bit of reflector.  What I wouldn't give to have every soul I've ever loved in my living room.  But at Christmas, in a way, they are.  The faraway nearby, indeed.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All Curled Up: Chewy Molasses Cookies

Greetings and salutations from the land of butter, sugar and flour.  My little green kitchen is in the throes of a baking marathon, so the next few posts are going to be about cookies and sweet things.  Hope you don't mind.  Yeah, didn't think so.  Lest you think I'm living on cookie dough alone, I've also been throwing together hearty soups and stews, though by the time I sit down to dinner the winter light has faded earlier and earlier, thus no snaps of my turkey and cabbage pottage, which tastes much better than it sounds.  I scribbled down a few notes so it may make an appearance here in January, when none of us want to go near anything with a carb.  But (thankfully) we're not there yet, are we?  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wild Mushroom & Bacon Crostini

This is a sponsored post - I was compensated financially.  However, you know I wouldn't tell you about something unless I really loved it.  And I love me some mushrooms.  

Everyone loves a good appetizer - especially at this time of year.  Heck, sometimes appetizers are my dinner.  True story.  Mushrooms Canada asked me to create a recipe using, you guessed it, mushrooms, and what better way to taste their deliciousness than in an appetizer.  Now, I'm a terrible entertainer.  I always leave things to the last minute, and run around like a silly person doing my hair while sweeping the floor.  It's not pretty.  What I love best about this appetizer is that you can make it ahead - a bonus for bad entertainers like me.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Little Balance: Persimmon & Pomegranate Salad

Full disclosure:  I wasn't going to tell you about this salad.  A light, simple supper of fruit does not shout from the roof tops "killer blog post idea!", but here it is and for good reason.  This salad is kind of awesome.  I know you've seen persimmons in the grocery store and not known what to do with them.  I've been there.  You pick some up and let them hang out on the counter, glancing at them daily just to make sure they're still there.  A week goes by and you do a google search to find out if yours are ripe yet.  They are.  Now what?  Sure you could bake with them, or eat them with yogurt and granola, or dip them in chocolate, but they are also quite wonderful when paired with the other seasonal fruit - the bodacious pomegranate.  The ruby-like arils complement the persimmon's sweetness perfectly.  And heck, don't they just look so pretty side by side?  I've heard of people whacking the pomegranate to death to get at the fruit.  Such violence is not my style.  I like to remove the nubby top with a pairing knife, score the sides and pull the pomegranate in half.  There's something incredibly meticulous and pleasurable about peeling the membranes off the arils - one by one.  Time consuming, yes, but taking the time to enjoy the beauty of fruit - well call me crazy, but I call that fun - especially with a little Christmas music in the background and slippers on the feet and snow falling outside.  Sunday afternoon bliss. 

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