Monday, May 31, 2010

A Salad - For Dinner!

Even though it's only the last day of May, we are already into summer weather. The lilacs are done, the lavender is close to blooming and the humidity has already begun. Ugh, the humidity! Some people love the hot sticky, I do not. I get stupid and slow like molasses. Oh yeah, and cranky too, just ask Mr. Sweet Kitchen. Some people can't eat when it's really hot, I can. I only wish I wouldn't get hungry, but I do. Sigh, my appetite knows no limits. But who wants to turn the oven on - certainly not me - but I'm hungry. Enter the dinner salad. Thinking of this salad makes my mouth water I love it so much. The recipe is based on the "Louisiana Black-eyed Pea Salad" from the Moosewood Daily Specials cookbook and it rocks, well now it rocks with all the changes we've made.

Louisiana Black-eyed Pea Salad

serves 4 - 6

1 19oz can black eyed peas
5 oz dry whole wheat macaroni

3 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t Tabasco, or more to taste
1 T sugar
1/4 t liquid smoke
1 T pureed chipotle in adobo sauce
1 T Tabasco Chipotle sauce
1/4 to 1/2 t ground cloves
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C BBQ sauce (any of the Diana's brand are good and they are preservative free)

1 C small dice celery
1 C small dice red pepper
1/2 C small dice red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz aged Cheddar small dice
salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni to al dente stage. Please don't cook it until it's soft because it won't hold it's shape when you start mixing it all together and the texture of soft pasta is just awful, so don't do it. Drain and cool in fridge. Drain canned peas and tip into large bowl. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and taste, adjust seasonings if need be and set dressing aside. In my opinion a small dice on the veggies is what gives this salad it's appeal. You get bursts of flavour and a bit of crunch and it all works so well together. Go ahead and dice the veggies, garlic and cheese and add to the peas in the large bowl. Add the cooled macaroni and now add the dressing. Toss to mix well, adjust seasoning and let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.
This salad is flexible - feel free to add cherry tomatoes, or use all beans and skip the macaroni, or use smoked Gouda instead of the cheddar - it's all good!
If you have a side burner on your BBQ, use it to cook your macaroni instead of your stove to keep the kitchen cooler.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I am a bad, bad blogger!

So it's been almost a year since my last post. Holy crap, that's not good, but you probably know that already. I had started this blog for me and my dogs, Tessa and Maizie. Then they both died 9 days apart and I had a hard time returning here. It didn't feel right to me. 2009 was a hard, hard year in terms of loss. We lost our beloved girls, but we also lost our two ancient cats too. Pippit and Moses left us after 18 years on this mortal coil and compounded with losing our two girls, it was a lot to get through. Blogging took a back seat to drowning in work and working through grief. It's funny the decisions you make in grief. For some it is unthinkable to get new pets because, somehow, it doesn't respect the memory of the departed. For others, the need to love is so strong and the hole so big, it must be filled and as soon as possible. I am in the latter group. When I last left you, we had welcomed Bella into our home. We hadn't chosen Bella for us, no, no, we had chosen her for Maizie. Maizie had been inconsolable after Tessa'a death and had wandered the house looking for her, crying, waiting for her, completely lost without her. We chose Bella for Maizie, to help her through this rough time, not realizing that Maizie had decided life was not worth living without Tessa. Maizie died the night we brought Bella home. Sometimes life kicks you in the teeth...
So then we had Bella. A dog who had come from a home with so many other dogs, we knew she must be missing them. She was sad. We were sad.
Bella was being retired from the breeding programme at the breeders place and

Jethro was one of the pups from her last litter.

And then there was a photo of Jethro.

How could you look at this picture and not open your home to this face? And so Jethro joined our family.

We've never had a puppy. We've never had a high energy puppy. We were completely unprepared. WOW! Jethro! When we went to pick him up, Bella sat in the back seat opposite to me so she could stare daggers at me the whole way home. She was not happy, to say the least. She had gotten used to having two people all to herself and she kind of liked it, now she had this puppy she thought she had said goodbye to 3 weeks before and here he was again. W T F ????

Jethro's favourite thing to do was hang off Bella's neck. He was part lamprey, I'm sure. But on walks, Bella got her revenge...we literally thought she was going to kill him. She would just fly at him, biting low on the legs, pushing him in the grass, flattening him, barking at him. She was lightening around him. He was the eye of the storm and she the tornado. A few frantic emails to the breeder reassured us that Bella was tough with her kids but she wouldn't go to the point of hurting them, it just looked that way. And through it all Jethro would beg for more. No hard feelings, Mom, lets go again! We couldn't believe it.

Jethro loves everyone and Bella mostly loves everyone. Bella is a little more guarded of the two, but it doesn't take much convincing for her to warm up to you. These two dogs have been a lifeline for me. When I could've stayed in bed forever after losing our girls, they had to be walked. They brought us back to the world and made us hold on when sometimes we didn't want to. They have made us laugh.

They have made it easy to love them because of who they are.

They're not Maizee and Tessa,

they're Bella and Jethro and that's a good thing.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I would like to thank everyone for the condolences for Tessa, Maizee and my Mom. I've come to realize just how special my friends are, but also how truly compassionate people you don't even "know" are. I am so very lucky to have these connections in my life and thank everyone for making the world a much smaller place!

So it is with some excitement that I present Bella:

We had decided to get Bella, to help Maizee through Tessa's death, but sadly Maizee died the night we brought Bella home. I think they would've been terrific friends, but for Maizee there was no replacement for Tessa. I think she left once she knew Bella was here to look after us.

Honestly, if we hadn't brought Bella home, and Maizee had died anyway, I think I'd still be in bed mourning for my girls. She has given me a reason to get up and on with the day and see our surroundings through new eyes. Bella is a bouncing bean and very, very busy - exactly what we need right now.

Her birthday was this week and Bella is now 7 years old, but most people we meet seem to think she's still a puppy. She is silly, pretty, athletic, friendly and just soooo lovely. Yes, I'm love and so is Doug. We're so lucky to have this lady in our house and I think we all realize it. Welcome Bella - let's have many, many years together....

Monday, July 13, 2009


How many times have I started to write this? A few.

I have been negligent in writing what must be written, but I guess here it goes.

I officially hate the month of June. My Mom died the 26th of June in 07. Breast cancer. Way too soon, as it is with most of our parents. She had so much left to do and so much more to contribute, but it wasn't going to be. Mom was a going concern with a full social calender that I know I could never see happen in my life. Her death left many spaces at many tables including her bridge club, her quilting guild, her nursing alumni, her occupational health group, her friends, and most importantly, her space at the family table. I miss her terribly and think of her daily.

June is now even sadder, as we lost both of our girls one week apart, at the end of June and Doug and I were devastated.

Tessa had a fibrosarcoma in her mouth which was originally diagnosed June 20, 07 and was given 3-7 months to live. We thankfully had her for 2 more years. Those were a great 2 years, where we did all the things she loved and just spent really good time with her appreciating all she brought to our lives.

Maizee was diagnosed with hemangiopericytoma 5 months after Tessa, but it wasn't horrible news. It was a slow growing tumor in her front leg that could be removed. It was removed, but it grew back and we had made the decision to remove the leg this July. It was not to be.

As Tessa got sicker, we made the plans to have a home euthanasia, but she went downhill very quickly and we had to have it done at the vet's office. Even though we knew it was coming, it was still so hard to let her go. It was the right thing to do - she wasn't ever going to improve - intellectually making the decision to end her suffering, but emotionally just shattering.

One of the reasons we wanted her to go at home was because I wanted Maizee to be able to spend time with Tessa's body and know that she was gone. Maizee looked to Tessa for her social cues and depended on her completely. I knew she would have a hard time of it. Maizee spent the week after Tessa died, roaming and circling the house crying, whimpering and barking for Tessa. It was agony to see her miss her friend so much. Tessa's breeder offered one of her retiring girls to us to try to help ease our pain and we said yes. I picked up Bella on the Sunday morning, brought her home Sunday afternoon and by 8:15, Maizee was dead. The vet feels Maizee died of a hemangiosarcoma. This particular cancer is blood based, extremely virulent and kills within months of forming. They can develop in the spleen or liver and show no symptoms until they burst and like in Maizee's case, bleed internally and kill quickly.

I cannot express the depth of our pain, because nothing is adequate. I closed the business for 2 days and just tried to deal with the scope of our loss. I have come to find that with every death, brings the deaths that have gone before. I mourn all those who are gone from my life, but also to try to appreciate what they have brought to my life, what they have taught me, how they have contributed to who I am today and think how much richer my life has been for having shared time with them. I cry for the loss, but try not to dwell in the negative, it serves no purpose. Life is for celebrating. Life is fleeting. Death is inevitable - it's what makes life precious. Love remains to remind us of the wonderful memories we have of those who are no longer with us. Love sustains us and comforts us. Love deeply and with abandon and it will take you to some really special places. Give someone you love a hug. Appreciate them now 'cause you never know....

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fun Cakes

So, life kind of took over for the month of May and I didn't get a chance to blog anything. Holy crap, sorry for that.

I've been working hard and have had a lot of cake requests that have taken up a lot of time, but it's been really fun too.

Our dog, Tessa, has been taking up a lot of our energy too and I'll write about that separately, soon, when I have a bit more strength to deal with it.

Anywhooo, this past week was just an avalanche of work and I had a few 7:30am to 2am days, so didn't have much time for anything other than working, eating and sleeping. There are some very exciting things happening in The Sweet Kitchen that are going to keep me chained to the ovens very soon, but it's going to be fantastic. Again, I will blog about that soon too, but I may start a different blog just for the business side of things. I just need to find the right blog designer and find the time to blog on it...

A good friend had a birthday this week and her husband requested a birthday cake with their dog's face on it. It turned out really well, but didn't get a pic as they showed up to pick it up just as I was icing it and I didn't feel I could ask them to wait some more while I set up a photo shoot. They promised to take pics and will bring them over when they can. I can't wait.

But THE BEST cake request came for a retiring biology prof at Trent U. The prof that ordered the cake asked if it would be possible to include some of the animals from the invitation to be included on the cake. Absolutely, no problem, I said and waited for the emailed images to arrive. I'm thinking a maybe something cool like wolves, bears etc. and was getting quite ahead of myself in what it was going to look like, when the email arrived. Umm, are you sure this is what you want on the cake?????? Let's just think a little smaller in terms of animals. How about a cod? How about a frog? Maybe a crayfish? And lastly, wait for it, a SEA CUCUMBER! I swear to God, I'm not going to do anymore cakes for men. It's all sports and slimy animals. How am I going to make this look good? So I put it off and I put it off and the day got closer and closer and I panicked more and more...and then inspiration hit and I started to think this was going to be really fun. And it was.

I decided to put a bit of a marsh scene with the frog, bull rushes, lily pad and water lily.

I had watched a few videos on sea cucumbers and they're not a nice looking creature, so I decided mine would be a burrowing sea cucumber and that took care of about 80% of it. He was going to be in the process of burrowing into the cake, which is kind of gross, but I figured the biologists could handle it.

Then, I decided to place the crayfish on the corner just curled over the edge of the cake.

The cod? Didn't make it. I just couldn't find a way to include it, but I think I did OK otherwise.

Then I had a request for a nice girly cake which brought everything back to normal again, YAY!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Market 2009 Begins

YYYYAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!! The Farmer's Market is open, the Farmer's Market is OPENNNN!!! After a long winter the Lindsay Farmer's Market is open for the 2009 season (until the last weekend in October) and it was a great day.

The sun was shining, for the most part, and the turn out was solid.

Our day was a disaster from the get go. The van refused to start. At least Doug tried it before it was all loaded up, so that was the silver lining. We started loading the Echo, drove down at 5:30, unloaded and Doug left me to start setting up. An hour later the second load arrives and we maniacally throw everything together and were almost ready for 7am opening.

In our haste, Doug was unloading a container of tea in glass jars and guess what - the bottom fell out - tea, broken glass EVERYWHERE. Ugh, so let's stop and clean that up shall we?

Start to brew the coffee, nothing to open the bags with. Borrow scissors from Shirley next door and we're in business. Shirley, by the way, makes THE BEST roti and curry, flavourful hot sauces, breads (both sweet and savoury) and is a wonderful, fun person to boot! We love Shirley! Oh and she's Doug's Aunt, so I'm not just saying it because she's family, I'm saying it because it's true!

Everything's brewed, hot water ready for tea, get 1st tea order, no teabags. Now I have to make a 3rd trip home for all the other things we forgot. It was like we had never done this before - a sign of age when you can't retain information for 6 months - sad really. I could not for the life of me remember if it was 80 or 90 grams of beans per pot of coffee, so I went with 90, but I should have gone with 80 - oh well, it was early and I think extra caffeine never goes amiss.

Things settled into a familiar routine, once the day got going and it was so great to see all our "regulars" again. Lindsay really supports it's Farmer's Market, rain or shine, and we are so happy to be a part of it. The start of the market is always so full of possibilities and such a welcome sign of spring that it's hard not to be happy.(shadows of the disastrous morning faded quickly, and all was good again)

Here are some photos of some of the very best vendors you will ever encounter, and we'll give you updates as the season goes along.

These are the Van der Veens, who grow amazing potatoes and Pat makes wonderful jams, jellies and preserved veggies. Her daughter Emilee makes jewellery that helps finance her higher education - isn't that great? Helping to fund a young adults' education is a noble thing and you'll look prettier with the added bling - so do it!

This is Franklin Farm Herbals and Jill, who makes fabulous soaps and also supply The Sweet Kitchen with honey for their tea and coffee!

King's Wharf has beautiful perennials and will have native plants as the season goes on. It's a good thing to have native plants and owner Bev - is a master gardener and always willing to answer a few questions about gardening woes.

This is Doug, tending The Sweet Kitchen, while I wander around taking photos. Isn't he cute?

Sam makes great soap that'll make you not only clean, but you'll smell good too and that's always appreciated by everyone.

Since this baking and dogs, we have to add a picture of one of The Sweet Kitchen's favourite dogs - Bronson.

Isn't he awesome? He is part of the Jim and Nancy (favourite regulars of The Sweet Kitchen) family and is a Cairn Terrier mix that just overflows with personality and sweetness - until he sees a big dog and Bronson starts with the "trash talk - yo' mamma bit". Too funny!

So we look forward to seeing you this year and who knows - you may end up on the blog. If you don't live anywhere near here, find your own local Farmer's Market and support it - it's worth it - you'll meet the people who grow your food and help support your local economy which is VITAL given the current economic climate. You'll feel good about your choices and you'll meet some pretty terrific people who are passionate about what they do.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers April Challenge

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Oh cheesecake, how I adore you! I love your versatility, your softness, the crunch of your sweet crust, the comfort you offer without reserve, your stunning good looks, your - hey wait a second, maybe I should have married a cheesecake instead. No that's just stupid - or is it... no it's stupid.

So the Daring Bakers have been around for a while, but they've just put together their own website called, The Daring Kitchen that is fabulous and you should check out. Someone in the group chooses a recipe for the monthly challenge, which the members make, put their own spin on it then present it on reveal day. Up until then, the topic is kept secret (except for those involved). This is my first challenge - and I couldn't be happier.

I love cheesecake - in case you missed it - but the Husband does not. When we were first dating and it came time for his birthday, I decided to surprise him with a cheesecake birthday cake. I did a vanilla cheesecake with chocolate swirls and swirled his name into the top of the cake. I was quite proud of the results. In those days, I didn't have a stand mixer, but a trusty Braun stick mixer. I burned out the motor creaming the cheese and sugar, but it was worth it - the results were lovely. Doug was touched and said he loved it, even ate a piece, then declared it was delicious - for cheesecake. I deflated instantly - I had wanted everything to be perfect for him, and I had made him the only dessert (except for anything lemon) that he hates. Ah, young love, so fragile. But then I quickly recovered, realizing that now I had the whole cake to myself. BOO YAH! Little Jenny Foo Foo scores a big one. Life was good again. Needless to say, I don't get to make cheesecake at home for my consumption very often, so I was so grateful to Jenny for her choice.

I didn't change anything about the recipe except for not doing a crust for them because I wanted to add that later to play around with some different bases. I love different sauces with cheesecake so I played with that too.

I used my silicone pans to make individual cheesecakes, so I could freeze them, and not eat them in one sitting - or so the planning goes anyway.

So here they are.

How about frozen cheesecake sandwiches. It's all about the crunch with this one. I used a raspberry, white chocolate cookie and painted the chocolate/raspberry vodka ganache on with a pastry brush. You could also do a pool of ganache for dipping...just sayin'.

Just in time for spring, a rhubarb/Grand Marnier compote with fresh strawberries. This was definitely my favourite, but not as pretty to look at.

Last but not least, the ganache topped, a chocolate biscotto on the side. A wonderful mix of textures that I had to add a bit of colour in the strawberry on top.

This was a fun challenge that could literally go on forever with the changes and permutations of the adornments, not to mention the cheesecake itself. I would make this again and who knows what I would do to it with all the summer fruit ahead of us - ginger and lemon, lavender, praline, peaches - oh my god peaches - , raspberries, ...