Moving On

I am officially moved out. There’s still a lot of organizing to be done, but the biggest step is done. The closing was on Wednesday, and today for the first Friday in almost 5 years no mortgage payment came out of my account.

For the next 15 months or so I will be living with my parents while I wait for my new place to be built. I didn’t think I’d be able to sell as quickly as I did, but I’m glad the process is over. The last few months have been incredibly stressful for me, I’ve lost more sleep than I’ll ever be able to catch up on, and I even found a few gray hairs (the horror!) In the end I really just wanted to get out as fast as I could.

 

 

That doesn’t mean I did have any good times in my old condo. It was my first place, and I’ll alway remember it fondly. The space was huge, with lots of great light and a wonderfully long countertop.I’m definitely going to miss the kitchen. In honour of the big move I thought I’d take a look back at some of my favourite things that have come out of that kitchen, sort of like an In Memoriam post.

 

I’ll Never Be a Princess Pie

Probably my favourite post. I made them in honour of William and Kate’s engagement. The news was heartbreaking, but the hand pies were delicious and comforting.

Bacon Jam

What I loved about making the Bacon Jam was that I had no idea how it would turn out. Even after looking at all the ingredients I couldn’t really imagine the taste. The first bite was really quite magical.

Chocolate Nutella Bites

Another experiment. This was the first time I tried inventing a recipe for my blog, and I was really pleased with how the cookies turned out. It’s hard to wrong with a Nutella filled cookie!

Chicken Sliders With Pear Ketchup

Who knew pear ketchup could taste so good?

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Egyptian Date Crescents

During our baking marathon last Friday my mom and I also made some cookies, including these Egyptian Date Cookies. We make them every year at Christmas and Easter for my dad. As we shaped these Egyptian cookies, my mom told me stories about what Easter was like when she was growing up in Poland. There was so much cooking and baking to do, the whole family would work for days in advance. Everyone you saw was invited to Easter dinner, and often people you hadn’t seen would just show up, so they had to be prepared for a lot of guests. On Easter Sunday no work was done. Everyone would go to church and then families and friends would all get together to celebrate.

Things are a little different now, as it was just my immediate family at our celebration this year. We still had quite a feast though. First was breakfast made up of Polish sausage and ham, rye bread, hard boiled eggs, and babka. It’s a very Polish meal. Then after a quick visit to the Saint Joseph Oratory on Mount Royal (a beautiful basilica with very challenging steps leading up to it, every time I go I hear the Rocky theme music in my head), we got to work on dinner. Roast lamb, stuffed vines leaves, rice, potatoes, salad. Then came my favourite part, dessert; a light cake and these cookies.

One of the advantages of having my mom around while baking is that I was able to take “how to” pics. Here’s a visual on how to form the crescents:

Egyptian Date Crescents

Makes about 50 cookies

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 lb butter at room temp, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 package pressed dates
  • icing sugar for coating
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Using your hands, combine the butter and flour until it holds together when squeezed and there are no large pieces of butter.
  3. Add the rose water and milk. Stir until well combined. The dough should have a play dough like consistency.
  4. Take about a tablespoon of dough, form it into a ball. Press the center of the ball down, creating dent in the dough. Place a small amount of the pressed dates into the indentation. Close the dough up, then twist into a crescent. (See pictures above)
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, until the bottom of the cookies are just golden.
  6. Let cool completely, then cover in icing sugar.
These cookies will keep in an airtight container for about a week.
Enjoy!

Canadian Beef Tacos

The people at Canadian Beef are giving five Canadian bloggers the opportunity to go to Eat Write Retreat this May. Eat Write Retreat is a food blogging conference with workshops on writing, cooking and photography. And I’m dying to go.

Although I have several vegetarian posts up, I am a meat eater. I often mess up beef so when making it for myself I tend to stick to simple recipes. These tacos are incredibly simple,perfect for a weeknight meal. They are by no means authentic Mexican cuisine, just a combination of flavours I enjoy.

I used sirloin tip steak. This is not the same as top round; if not marinated or cut very thinly it can be chewy. This recipe calls for both of those steps, so the meat works well in the tacos.

Canadian Beef Tacos

  • Sirloin Tip Steak
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Chilli powder
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Red and green peppers, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tortillas
  • Avocado, mashed
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  1. In a large Ziploc bag, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and chilli powder. Add the steaks to the bag, seal and marinate for 20 minutes to an hour on the counter, or up to 4 hours in the fridge.
  2. When ready to serve, sautee the onions and peppers for a few minutes until slightly softened but not cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the steaks from the plastic bag and dry them with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet on high heat, fry the steaks for 2-3 minutes a side. Let rest of 5 minutes then thinly slice. While the meat is resting warm the tortillas.
  4. Assemble the tacos. Place some meat on a tortilla, then the peppers and onion, and top with the mashed avocado.

Enjoy!

Hockey Night In Canada

Tonight the 2010-2011 NHL season begins. I’ll be watching the Habs take on the Leafs in Toronto, as will Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice. Unfortunately she’s rooting for the wrong team, but her blog is still wonderful.

Ivonne has asked that food bloggers and hockey fans post their favourite hockey meal in honour of the start of the new season. I would love to participate but my laptop seems to have died on me. Even if I don’t think I’ll get my post in by tomorrows midnight deadline, I can still promote the event. If you’re a food blogger and a hockey lover, check out Ivonne’s post for the details!

Go Habs Go!

Honey Bees and Hens

I’m a little behind in my news but there’s some exciting food stuff happening in Montreal. A pilot project is being considered for next summer in the Plateux district allowing residents to raise honey bees in the city. Montreal will be following in the footsteps of Paris, Toronto, Chicago, Seattle and New York. If you speak French you can read more about it here.

Next up, CRAPAUD, an environmental sustainability group,  has started a petition to allow backyard chickens in the city. If you live in the area and agree with cause, you can sign the petition at www.mapouleamontreal.com . If you want more information, click here.

Magazine Monday Update

In my Healthy Pear Plum Crisp post I mentioned that I would be submitting my recipe to Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Mondays. Ivonne is away, however Tina from Life in The Slow Lane At Squirrel Head Manor has graciously hosted this weeks edition. Check out her site to see what everyone has cooked up!

mmm muffins

I have an addiction. Every morning when I get to work, I must have my fix. This addiction is damaging my waistline and putting a dent in my wallet. It started when a Starbucks opened in my office building. No, it’s not coffee; it’s the muffins. I don’t know what the Starbucks people are putting in these things to make them so yummy.

It has to stop. There must be like 500 calories in one of those things. Quitting cold turkey isn’t going to work for me though, so I’m going to start bringing my own my muffins to work.

Here’s the first batch, whole wheat plum and apricot muffins.

Whole Wheat Apricot and Plum Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 6 apricots, halved or six small plums halved.
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs together, then add butter, milk and extract to the eggs.
  3. Create a hole in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the wet ingredients in and then stir until well combined.
  4. Divide the batter into a lined 12 muffin tin. Top with apricot or plums.
  5. Bake at 400 for 25 to 30 minutes.

Like This!

A Bad Baking Week

I’m having a bad baking week, and it’s only Monday!

Yesterday I went to the market and bought some of season’s first Lac Saint Jean blueberries. I had too many to eat before they spoiled, so I decided to throw some into blueberry muffins (yesterday was also National Blueberry Muffin Day, for those of you who are interested).

I’ve made so many muffins in my life that I rarely even think about what I’m doing anymore. I threw the batter together, folded in the blueberries, and popped ’em in the oven.

Then I turned around and saw the baking powder container sitting on my counter.

Unopened.

I’m not one to clean as I go, so if the container was closed it meant I never opened it.

Disaster.

I let them bake even though I knew they wouldn’t rise. I thought maybe they would just be dense but edible. I was wrong. After 45 minutes in the oven a tester came out clean, but the muffins were still raw. I think they were just too dense to cook through.

So my Lac Saint Jean blueberries went to waste. Sadness.

Since I wouldn’t be having muffins for breakfast, tonight I decided to make some granola. I don’t have a long dramatic story to tell about the granola. All I can say is I burnt it. More sadness.

These back to back baking fails are making me reconsider my dream of quitting my day job and baking for a living. Or maybe this is just a sign that it’s still too hot to bake , and I should just take a break from the oven for a bit.

Heat Wave

I haven’t posted in the last few days because the heat has made it impossible to cook anything. I’ve been living off salad and popsicles. I hope everyone out there is managing to keep cool! I think most communities have set up cooling centers, so if you’re melting please head to one!

(Picture from The Montreal Gazette. See the haze over the city?)

Tomorrow is National Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Omelet Day, so I’ll try to muster up the strength to make one. It’s also National Sugar Cookie Day, so for those of you who can turn your ovens on it might be a good time to make some cookies! I think they would go great with some sorbet right about now.

Happy Canada Day!

This is probably the coldest Canada Day I have ever experienced, the high for today is just 17 degrees! (that’s about 62F). For the rest of Canada, that might put a damper on the Canada Day Festivities, but here in Montreal we celebrate Canada Day by moving. I don’t know why everyone in the city moves on the same day every year considering the chaos that ensues, but we do. I personally am not going anywhere, but some friends of mine have just come back from two years in Australia and I’m off to help them get their apartment all cleaned up. I’m really anxious to see them, and meet the son they had while they were down there!

Maybe afterwards we can hed down to the Old Port for some Beaver Tails! Don’t worry, there is no beaver meat involved in a beaver tail, just yummy deep-fried dough covered with a variety of sweet toppings.

Happy Canada Day!