Monday, August 30, 2010

More than just a paper doll

A few years ago, my grand-mother came to me with a small worn yellow cardboard box. She handed it to me and smiled. I didn’t know what to expect but it was to my greatest delight that I discovered little cardboard girls with an abundance of colourful paper cloths and accessories.  She then explained to me that she had received these as a child, 7 or 8 years old, and had preciously conserved them all these years. That makes the treasure around 75 years old. She then explained that these paper figurines weren’t just any characters. Five young girls in different poses. They were the Dionne quintuplets. The first set of quintuplets to ever be born and all survive in Canada. Born in 1934, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, Marie and Yvonne quickly became famous.  

I immediately fell in love with the 5 sister paper figurines and knew that I wanted to make a special place for them. I placed the 5 girls as well as their 6 sets of cloths behind glass so that I could expose them for everyone to see. This is by far my favourite frame.






Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Liz’s Banana Muffins

Tonight I really felt like baking up a little something something.  What better then banana muffins to help get past hump day! Here is my sister Liz’s famous banana muffin recipe.

- 1/3 cup butter
- ¾ cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking soda
- pinch salt
- 3 bananas
- 1 ½ cup flour
- 1 cup chocolate chips (optional… I didn’t put any in this time)

- Preheat oven at 350F.
- Mash-up the bananas into a purée (I like to use a fork).
- Mix all of the wet ingredients together (butter, sugar, vanilla and bananas).
- Mix all of the dry ingredients together (baking soda, flour, salt).
- Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.
- Add the chocolate chips if desired!
- Pour mixture into muffin moulds (I like to grease the moulds, that way I don’t need to use those little muffin papers and for some strange reason I find that muffins without the little papers taste much better).
- Bake for 20 minutes

Voila!!! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jamie’s Perfect Roasted Chicken

 So I must admit that my all-time, by-far most favourite chef is the very talented Jamie Oliver.

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 I can’t seem to find the words to express how I feel about Jamie and his cooking. His passion and philosophy about eating, cooking and sharing food is exactly how I feel and how I wish everyone around me would feel. I just love his authentic and intuitive way of making really great food accessible to everyone. Ok so enough of me throwing flowers…lets get down to cooking!

Tonight as I was coming home from the office, I got the slightest whiff of autumn in the air.  Don’t get me wrong, I love summer but every fall  I can’t help but get excited about the changing season and all of the great things that it brings! I suddenly got the urge to prepare a fall inspired supper so I dove into one of my Jamie Oliver recipe books and decide to try his recipe for the perfect roast chicken.

I got the recipe from  The Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver, pages 121-123.

I pretty much followed the instructions but as usual, I put my own little twist on things.

Jamie’s Perfect Roast Chicken

-    1 small 2 ½ -3 ½  lbs chicken
-    salt and freshly ground black pepper
-    3 small handfuls of fresh herbs ( I used fresh basil, chives and thyme picked from my balcony garden), finely chopped
-    ¼ cup olive oil
-    1 lemon, cut in half
-    4 bay leaves (I left this out as I strangely seemed to be out of bay leaves)
-    2 springs of fresh rosemary

I also decided to add:
-    2 onions, chopped up coarsely
-    4 cloves of garlic
-    8 smallish garden carrots
-    1 package of white mushrooms

- Preheat oven at 425F.
- Wash the chicken inside and out and then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Rub the interior cavity with salt.
- By slowly sliding your fingers gently separate the skin from the chicken breast making sure not to rip it. This step is actually much easier then it seams!
- Sprinkle salt down into the cavities that you have just created between the meat and the skin and then push in the chopped-up herbs.
- In the main cavity of the chicken, stuff in the lemon with the fresh rosemary springs as well as the bay leaves.
- Tie up the chicken with kitchen twine. I wasn’t sure how you’re supposed to do this so I improvised and I think that it turned out not too bad.
- Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and then sprinkle salt and fresh black pepper.

- I then added my onions, garlic and carrots to the bottom of my roasting pan and sat the chicken right on top.

- Cook the chicken for 1- 1 ½ hours.

- I added the mushrooms about 20 minutes before the chicken was ready.

The verdict: AMAZING!!! I think that this is my new chicken roasting recipe to use every time!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Good Old County Fair!

This weekend was the annual Cookshire (the home town that I grew up in) County Fair. Established in 1845, it’s one of Quebec’s oldest agricultural exhibitions that still takes place every summer.

I hadn’t been in years so I decided, along with my parents, to renew our old County Fair habits. Just as I had remembered….. hardly nothing has changed. The same old rides (that now seem a lot less challenging), hot-dog stands, cow barns and pie contests as I have in my childhood memories.

So we did the usual round. We looked through the old wood main building where all of the craft making, flower arranging, vegetable growing and pie baking contest winners of exposed. We walked through all of the animal barns and even sat down in the big wooden Grand-Stand to watch a few horse and buggy competitions.

Farm wives expose their gardens nicest flowers, hoping the win the title of the most perfectly shaped bloom! I always loved this section with all of it’s nice and colourful hand-picked floral arrangements.

Here’s for the first prize winning over-all vegetable garden crop.

A little cereal competition never hurt anyone!

The best pies in the county!

The best jams in the county!

The traditional cattle showing.

This one is a fierce competitor!

Some exhibitors put a lot of energy into decorating their stalls. I really like the wild flower arrangement. I think there should be a competition for the nicest stall… lets spruce up the barns a little bit!!!

You can’t go to the County Fair with-out eating some County Fair food! No, no, no I didn’t eat any pogos or onion-rings! However, I did eat a piece of maple sucre à la crème made by a local maple syrup producer. What a real treat!

I hope that you enjoyed this little flash-back into my childhood! I sure had a great time!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My very own little summer wedding Part 2

My grandma has this old superstitious saying that if you want to avoid rain, you have to hang a rosary on the close-line. I’m not superstitious but that’s exactly what I did… You know what? The weekend of the wedding was the best weather we had all summer! Thanks grand-ma!

As I mentioned in my last post, we really tried to create a wedding that would embrace both my husband’s culture as well as mine. The wedding was a true melting pot of Moroccan and Canadian bridal traditions.

Here goes for the ceremony.

After the ring exchange, we did a typical Moroccan wedding ritual where the bride and groom feed each other milk and dates.

A toast to the lovebirds!

Canapés in the grass…

Cake time!

Our first dance!!!

Dancing with my daddy!

Us in traditional Moroccan wedding clothing. My dress is actually called a Kaftan. You probably noticed some of our other guests wearing some of these beautiful hand-crafted dresses.

Delicious Moroccan cakes… all baked with love by Amine’s mother. Yummy! And yes, those are actually marzipan stuffed dates!

Instead of having our guests sign a guestbook, I made postcards (all different) on which they all could write a message. My mom then sent us the postcards by the mail… A mailbox full of wedding wishes, how fun!

So that’s my little wedding! I really had a great time putting everything together! It almost makes me want to renew our vows or something…. Just so I can start the planning and the decorating all over again! I hope you enjoyed this little personal slice!
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