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!

This post is all about things I'm loving lately - from links, to recent recipes I've written elsewhere, to stuff that kind folks have sent me in the mail.  Bit of a mixed bag, really, but it's good to catch up, isn't it?  I'm throwing in some behind the scenes cookbook shots too, because that's pretty much what my life has been for the past few months.  That, stretchy pants, and lots and lots of tea.  Okay, I drink lots of hot chocolate too, especially with homemade marshmallows!  I'll never buy another package of jet puffed again! 

First off, I have to tell you about these crispy rosemary roasted potatoes, featured in the first shot.  The recipe is from Aimée's beautiful book Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.  If you don't have it on your book shelf, you really should hop to it.  The potatoes ( I used 3 large russets) are par-boiled for a couple of minutes, then tossed in 2 tbsp cornmeal, salt and pepper, then fried in about 1/2 cup olive oil just to coat them.  This does seem like a lot, but it's worth it.  Throw in fresh rosemary and about 8 whole cloves of garlic, too.  Bake in a 425F oven for 15 minutes. Stir, then bake another 20-25 until tender.  Sprinkle with salt and chopped fresh rosemary.  Divine!

Speaking of potatoes, I made these yummy scalloped for the January/February issue of Culinaire Magazine.  So yum!

This soup recipe I wrote for the local newspaper is also in heavy rotation around here.  By the way, have you taken the Pulse Pledge yet?  I have a Pinterest board devoted to the powerful pulse - be sure to check it out for lots of great recipes. 

If you are watching your sugar intake, these crispy peanut butter and granola energy balls have no refined sugar in them.  Just dates!

The last thing I need is to get sick this winter, so this ginger lemon turmeric tea is my winter's brew!

I drink loads of tea and the kind folks from Ariel Tea and Terra Coffee sent me the sweetest package of lovely goods.  The tea is quite wonderful - unique blends (the lavender chamomile is what I drink before bed) in biodegradable pyramid-shaped tea bags.  If you love good tea, it's worth checking into this small Montreal company.  The coffee is roasted in small batches and quite delicious.  A portion of proceeds from their products go to support local and foreign non-profit humanitarian organizations, which is pretty cool.

Speaking of a good mail day, I received the sweetest note from a loyal reader of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix - the paper I regularly write food columns for.  She took the time to tell me how much she enjoys my writing, and that I have a special gift.  I'll be darned.  What a bit of inspiration, just when I need it.  And from a stranger, too.  Oh, and that baked doughnut with raspberry glaze...Oh dear.  I told you I've been busy! 

Now to some good stuff I've read lately...

How David Bowie went out and about in New York City. 

The healthy benefits of knitting. 

Julia Child on Letterman.  Oh man.  So funny.

It's casserole season!

Nigel Slater on the pleasure of cooking.

Ten best food sketches on Portlandia.

Advice on writing.  Timely indeed.

I think we're totally caught up now.  Thanks for making it to the bottom of this post - it's a long one!  Now it's time for me to go whip up some dinner, fold the laundry and get caught up on my PVR.  I'll be back soon with a killer chicken and mushroom recipe - perfect for a cold winter night like tonight.  I'll leave you with another kitchen counter full of baked goods shot.  You guys.  I can't wait for you to eat all of the sweet things I've been baking!



  1. happy anniversary Renee! Your blog is one of my favourite little spots on the internet and I'm so glad that we got to meet each other because of this little blogging thing we do :)

  2. Thanks Melissa! You're very kind. I'm so glad we got to meet because of this whole blogging business too!


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