Wednesday, June 29, 2011

sumac kale chips

I've posted about kale chips before > here. I really love them, when else are you going to eat a whole bunch of kale in one sitting? The curly kale in our garden is growing like crazy and when I was there watering today after a visit to the swings with Hannah, I cut a good big bunch.

I wanted to make kale chips with nutritional yeast, but we didn't have any, so I made up my favourite combination so far.

Sumac Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp ground sumac
sea salt

Preheat oven to 350ª. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Tear the kale into bite sized pieces (remove the stalk), wash and thoroughly dry kale in a salad spinner. In a large bowl add the kale and toss with olive oil, sumac and sea salt (be generous with the salt)to coat well. Spread in a single layer on cookie sheet, Bake for 5 minutes and turn over, bake for another 4-6 minutes, watch carefully and don't let them burn. Remove from oven when they are crisp and move them to a drying rack until they are cool.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

gazpacho on a summer night.

Our dear family friend who lived across the street from my family in Toronto always had gazpacho in her fridge (maybe not always, but my memory is that it was always there). I remember many a lunch at the kitchen table at their house by the amazing vintage stove that she lit with a match, sitting with her four kids having gazpacho soup.

I've made many different versions, but this is my standby. We had it tonight for dinner before I ducked out to a friends to drink wine and have a lovely catch up. I rode my bike for the first time this summer there and home, I had forgotten how much I love my bike and how great it is to ride around East Van in the early evening . Matt gave it to me for my birthday a couple of years back and I love it so much. It's a vintage Raleigh bike in British racing green.

Summer Gazpacho
makes enough for about 8 - 10 good sized servings

3 1/2  pounds tomatoes (I used 10) peeled, cored and chopped
1 red pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1  cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar or sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons kosher salt

a few dashes of woster sauce
lots of fresh ground pepper
a few dashes of Tabasco to taste

In batches, pulse the tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, celery, jalapeno, parsley and tomato paste until almost totally pureed, I like to leave a little texture to mine. Pour the pureed veggies into a large bowl. Add tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, woster and Tabasco. Chill for at least one hour before serving. The soup keeps really well in the fridge for a few days, and like most tomato based sauces, tastes better the next day!

I garnished ours with avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Monday, June 27, 2011

vanilla cupcakes


Vanilla Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Icing
I'm not much for sweets, so when I do have them I really only like a bite.
These are one bite cupcakes and they are delicious! 

Vanilla Cupcakes
I used mini mini cupcake pans and the recipe yielded 32, if using standard muffin trays - yield is 12.
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease cupcake pan.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
I baked the minis for 10 minutes. For regular cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes.
Strawberry Icing
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Roughly chop the strawberries and place in a saucepan with a tbsp of water. Let simmer for five minutes, remove from heat and mash with a potato masher. Put the mash through a strainer, pushing the mix through with a spatula. Discard the pulpy bit, put the juice aside.
In a stand mixer, or with beaters beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add icing sugar, beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use), mix until just blended. Don't over-mix, frosting should be thick and creamy. You may need to add a little extra icing sugar.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

the end of the birthday weekend!

We are exhausted, like feet dragging, heavy lidded tired. We've successfully planned and had two birthday parties for Hannah's first birthday this weekend. Today was a party in the park with our friends and her friends with pink lemonade, treats and balloons. It was a great day, Hannah was a bit overtired (from yesterday's party) but she rallied and held her cool. She's a lucky little girl with wonderful new books, clothes, toys and music makers.

Our friends are so sweet and generous and we're so lucky. Check out the mini Hannah doll Åsa made for Hannah!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

first birthday

We had Hannah's family birthday party today at my mom and dad's house. It was a fun and relaxed first birthday party and Hannah was showered with gifts. There were four generations represented by Matt's family.

Hannah had so much fun and had her first ever dessert - a mini pavlova with strawberries and cream, a huge success!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

more terriers

When I was little I would read the Dogs In Canada Annual before bed, memorizing the dog breeds. I love shaggy dogs, big dogs, floppy eared dogs, but above and beyond, I love terriers. They make my heart happy. 
When we're in a position to get a dog, I have a few dream breeds that I would love to have - Kerry Blue Terrier, Airedale, Irish Lurcher, Afgan, Irish Wolfhound . . . Matt has promised me when we move to a house from our condo we can get a dog. My only rule for getting a dog is to go through either the SPCA or a rescue program - until then I can pass the time finding terrier photos I love on Flickr.

1. wheaton terrier
2. wirefox terrier
3. welsh terrier
4. westhighland terrier
5. kerry blue terrier
6. tibetan terrier
7. kerry blue terrier

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

summer solstice hannah

Happy Birthday Hannah Grace, your first year has been the happiest year of my life.
We love you forever!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

father's day.

Happy Father's Day to the most generous, sweet and wonderful father a girl could ever want. 
Love you Dad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

fresh spring dinner

This is a super easy throw together with whatever you have in the fridge dinner with a few pantry staples. It's one of my favourite lazy night dinners, everything is ready by the time the protein is cooked.

Kind of a Vietnamese Salad

• rice noodles  - qty depends on how many you are serving. Cook according to package, rinse well in cold water and then reheat under hot tap water before you serve.
• grilled protein (we had organic chicken but it's great with tofu, pork or steak) marinated in a combination of satay sauce and sweet chili sauce.
• a couple of handfuls of chopped fresh basil and cilantro
• chopped green onions
• a mix of chopped veggies: tomatoes, bean sprouts, pea shoots - whatever you have on hand.
• steamed veggies would be great - broccoli, green beans, carrots. I added some garlic sauteed gai lan - spinach would work too.

Dressing for 2 servings
juice of a lime
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons water
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp of sweet chili sauce (if you don't have it - 1/2 a red chili finely chopped and 1 tbsp of sugar)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp of oil
a few splashes of fish sauce
Whisk together - Add more sugar if you prefer it sweeter.

Put rice noodles in a serving bowl, layer with veggies and herbs and pour dressing over top.
Garnish with toasted, chopped peanuts if you have some handy!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A bittersweet day.

Today was my last weekday of maternity leave, on Monday I go back to work. I'm as lucky as can be that a) I can go back part-time and more importantly b) my mom and dad are taking care of Hannah while I'm at work until September when we will start a nanny share with friends and their little guy. It makes it easier, but there are still late night tears (from me, not Hannah).

Hannah and I had a fun day today, we played at home, went to Commercial Drive to shop, and here, there and everywhere running errands. Hannah was a treat to be with and it breaks my heart that I'll be leaving her Monday morning. I've been feeling sad the past few days, it's a combination of heading back to work and what happened here in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Watching The National and seeing the videos of the riots over and over again - the unthinkable violence and destruction is so hard to comprehend - that these people live here and that they are Canadians is frightening.

There's so much I want to say about the riots, but it's all been said so well by so many other people. I think Rex Murphy said it best.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I also like to read YA

Young Adult books, I love them, I have no shame. I have read the following books more times than you need to know.

In no particular order:
Who is Francis Rain? - Margaret Buffie
The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
Bridge to Terabitha - Katherine Paterson
A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Homeward Bounders - Diana Wynne Jones
Number the Stars - Lois Lowry
The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - E.L. Konigsburg
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Charmed Life - Diane Wynne Jones
The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
Boy - Roald Dahl
The Lives of Christopher Chant - Diana Wynne Jones

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kale Chips

They aren't pretty. But they're really good for you and pretty darn tasty too. I've made the classic recipe that's been circulating food blogs for the past year, they're good, but I wanted to play a bit with different flavours.

Tahini Lemon Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
1 tbsp tahini
juice of 1/2 a lemon 
1 tbsp sesame seeds
sea salt (I used a coarse salt and it was really nice with the crunch!)

Preheat oven to 400ª. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Tear the kale into bite sized pieces (remove the stalk), wash and thoroughly dry kale in a salad spinner. In a large bowl whisk tahini and lemon juice. Add the kale and toss to coat well. Spread in a single layer on cookie sheet and sprinkle with sesame seeds and sea salt. Bake for 5 minutes and turn over, bake for another 4-6 minutes, watch carefully and don't let them burn (guh, they are super gross if they burn.). Remove from oven when they are crisp and move them to a drying rack until they are cool. 

Enjoy, knowing you're eating one of the healthiest foods on earth!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

i like to read.

I got to thinking about my favourite books today. I have a mixed bag of favourites, these are a few of the ones I could read again and again.

In no particular order:
Mr. Vertigo - Paul Auster
The Emigrants (the series) - W.G. Sebald
The Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
The Baron in the Trees - Italo Calvino
Prep - Curtis Sittenfield
The Book of Illusions - Paul Auster
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
The Crimson Petal and the White - Michael Faber
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
The Glass Palace - Amitov Ghosh
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards 

Friday, June 10, 2011

number 5

Five years ago today, I married my best friend.

After a three year engagement and seven years together, we got married at Crescent Beach with almost all of our nearest and dearest with us.
It was a wonderful day, with music late into the night. 

I'm as happy and as in love today as I was then. Matt, I love you to the moon and back.

Going through our wedding photos I came across the food shots and I had forgotten how amazing the food was. We made the menu ourselves and with generous and skilled help from our families, we made it all. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011


It was a short vacation, but a great one.
We took a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure bay on Vancouver Island, drove through Coombs and saw goats on the roof, all around Tofino and we drove to Ucluelet for an afternoon trip. Above and beyond all that, we spent almost all of our time on the beach, in the sun - and it was perfect.

Tofino, like Saturna leaves me wondering what I'm doing with my life. I live in a province that is so beautiful and there is access to so much activity. I watched wistfully at the beautiful Tofino girls riding their bikes with surfboards strapped to the side of their bikes, I watched guys biking to outlooks to see the surf and then rushing back to get their boards and I was jealous. But then as we drove back in to Vancouver over the Second Narrows bridge and was able to look west over the ocean with the setting sun, then getting back to our cozy and lovely home, I'm just happy that we're lucky enough to have vacations that make me wistful, we're really blessed to live the life we do.

Also - I ate the best damn cookie of my life. I do not have a sweet tooth, but this cookie was amazing. Tacofino makes a cookie called the Diablo cookie, its spicy, chocolaty, sweet and salty - heaven. I was trying to figure out the recipe and then I googled it and  the recipe is online! I might have shrieked a little.

Here's a few photos from the trip. 

1. Watching the ocean
2. Hannah and her bucket
3 On the ferry
4. View from our kitchen, amazing place to stay!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

la vacance

Relaxed sunny weekend with a picnic and a birthday party, evening walks with a chatty Hannah followed by late night packing and organizing. 

We're off to Tofino tomorrow for four days and I can't wait to get out of town. A few things that I'm excited for (other than Hannah in the sand, me in the sand, hot tub on the beach, big walks on Long Beach . . . ) are:
• Days off with Matt and Hannah at one of the most beautiful places on earth. 
• A sunny sail on BC Ferries
• The Old Country Market in Coombs, they have the most amazing foods, imported home stuff and goats on the roof.
Tacofino , primarily the tortilla soup and the tunatataco.

I've been feeling like I need a little recharge trip, life has been busy and I feel like I've been drifting through days and days have been drifting past me. I'm not sure if its that I know that my year of maternity leave is almost up, if the dreariest spring on record has given me a case of seasonal affective disorder or if I just really need a vacation with my family, a good book and my toes in the sand. I'm pretty sure it's the latter that I'm craving.

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

hockey night in canada.

Living in Vancouver right now feels like we're making history. The Canucks have just won the second game in the Stanley Cup finals and it's hard not to get swept up in the excitement. Matt is a Canucks fan through and through, he grew up in a hockey loving family. A game is never missed at our place, I'm generally pretty neutral but I watched tonight and cheered when Burrows sneaked the goal in.

My grandfather, my Pops, was a NHL player. I pulled this write up from Ottawa Hockey Legends:

Meet D'Arcy Coulson - hockey's first millionaire hockey player. Granted Coulson did not earn his millions from playing hockey. He was the son of an Ottawa based millionaire, making a fortune in the hotel industry and owned a golf club.

Coulson played hockey recreationally in the Ottawa Senior leagues where he earned a reputation as one of the nastiest and dirtiest players. A stay-at-home defenseman, Coulson was invited to the Philadelphia Quakers camp in 1930 and made the team. He played in 28 games, but scored no points. He did tally a surprisingly high 103 PIM that season though.

The Quakers franchise bit the dust with the Great Depression setting in. The players were dispersed and Coulson was claimed by the Montreal Canadiens. However Coulson never reported to Montreal, and did not play anywhere competitively for the next three years.

He did resurface in the Ottawa Senior leagues by mid-decade. By then it was believed he had joined his dad in the hotel business. 

Pops and Rudy (the St. Bernard) on the way to our family camp.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

mmm budgie's.

Rainy June 2nd.
Matt brought Budgie's Burritos home for dinner, I love their tortilla soup and the Johnny-O burrito, Matt is partial to the JameDog. I am full and happy after a rainy day spent visiting with my parents, an hour at the gym, a swim at the pool and going through old photos.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I'm the youngest of four children. My sisters are sixteen and seventeen years older than me, my brother is eight years older. So as much as I'm the youngest of four, at home it often felt like I was one of two and then once my brother was off to University, I was an only child. I can't imagine my family any other way, it's perfect as it is.

My sister has two daughters, I was nine when the first was born and eleven with the second. I was the youngest aunt I knew. My nieces have often felt more like a mix of nieces and sisters. I love them lots, just don't see them as much as I should.

I love my big family. My parents have heaps of brothers and sisters - like any good Irish Catholic family does. I have more cousins than I could ever begin to count. Not a single one within a few years of my age. They were all either years older or years younger. At the equestrian centre that my aunt ran in Luskville, Quebec where we spent most of our weekends, I learned to entertain myself - I hung out in the barn, went for big walks with the dogs and read a whole lot while lying in the fields. I always wanted cousins close to me in age.

I married into an amazing family. I love my in-laws. Matt's siblings are all wonderful people that I love dearly, they are some of my closest friends. In many respects we've grown up together over the past twelve years.

I am so excited for Hannah to grow up with her cousins from Matt's side of the family. Between three of us we have four under the age of four. I can't wait for sleepovers and holidays. 

We went to the park today with Matt's sister and her two girls, one is five weeks old, the other is getting close to four. While the baby slept, Hannah played with her cousin and when her cousin was off playing with her friend, Hannah watched her every move.