Here's wishing everyone a very happy and healthy 2009!
The year 2008 flew by so fast, and yet looking back, so much happened! We've smoothly adapted to a rounded out family of four and all the excitement, noise and action that brings. It's been fun!
I haven't kept much of a journal since the babies came along but this blog has been a wonderful substitute and helps me document events even though it's food-focused. Brew yourself a coffee and join me as we take a quick look back at some of the highlights of 2008 at Under the High Chair...
In January I was eight months pregnant and eating everything in sight. I was craving comfort food such as French Onion Soup and Chili, but it was my Lemon Ricotta Pancakes that caused a bit of a ruckus and can safely be called my sexiest flapjacks to date. A recipe for Focaccia came with a story describing how I got my start in the culinary world. Who would have guessed that one night behind the stoves in a gourmet kitchen would change my life forever?
February brought plenty of excitement as we anticipated the arrival of our second baby. One of the highlights of the month was a pregnancy photo shoot with the ever amazing and talented Tim and Angela Chin and a lunch of Berbere roasted guinea hens. Featuring tender gnocchi and my favorite new spice blend, this might have been the best meal of the month--or maybe it was just hormones! Severe back pain kept me from cooking as much as I would have liked in February, but I did share seven things you never knew about me and surprised a few of you.
Finally, on the 29th, Leap Year, little Mateo Jules joined us and captured our hearts forever.
I narrowly survived the hospital 'food' during those early March days. I was planning to blog about the traumatizing experience (the food, not childbirth) but fortunately I managed to block it completely out of my memory and move forward. We weathered this cold month snug inside our house, made a few toasts to the latest arrival, and bonded as a new family. I shared my top ten kitchen items, but cooking was minimal. Potty training, however, was in full swing.
April brought promises of spring with young asparagus in the markets and I made a dead-easy and most memorable tart. We saw some personality start to emerge from the littlest member and took our family for a true Québecois family spring outing: Cabane à Sucre or 'Sugar Shack'. Here we filled up on split pea soup, pork every way, pancakes, and maple syrup and saw how the 'tire d'erable' was made. A session of rolling home style meatballs got me reminiscing a few years back back to an evening I worked with Rocco diSpirito. If you didn't realize he has an ego the size of Texas, you will be enlightened after reading my account of the evening.
May brought showers in more ways than one. Every weekend I attended either a baby shower or a wedding shower and I think I made enough desserts to satiate every lady present. That month I blogged about a pretty Strawberry Galette, a decadent Chocolate Chai Cheesecake, and a Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake, but that was just a few of the sweets that my kitchen turned out. I also combined Cajun spices, oregano, lobster and butter to make my favorite pasta dish of the year: Seafood Creole Tagliatelle. May also brought the first of the garden updates as my little kitchen plot started to grow.
June was another fury of good eating! I was immensely proud of my original creation of a Warm Salad of Lobster, Green Grapes and Bacon, served with Poached Rhubarb and Fiddleheads. It was the perfect summer dish, although I'm sure I lost a few readers over my 'how to dismember a lobster' video. I shared a recipe for a Maple Glazed Pork Chop and ranted far too long over our chaotic mealtime around here. Many of you responded in a kind and understanding way, which helped me through that rough patch. Thank you!
I was the matron of honor in a friend's wedding and also decorated the cake for the event. This required some juggling, especially with a four-month-old baby, but I learned that I can get dressed up in under two minutes. After another afternoon on the town and an extensive tasting effort, I gave you Montreal's Best Cupcake Part 2. You're welcome! Finally, I celebrated Canada Day by creating my ultimate favorite appetizer, Foie Gras Sushi, which featured regional ingredients such as ice wine and foie gras. It's pictured below as well as the lobster salad.
In July my parents flew in from British Columbia for a visit and the great eating continued. I was often away from my stoves (and computer) as I dragged my parents all over town and country so they could sample food at some of my favorite hangouts. As my dad is an avid jazz fan, we frequented the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. I'll never forget one particular late night concert where Mateo was lulled to sleep in my arms at a free outdoor show with Chris Botti's trumpet.
Still, there were some memorable pulled pork sandwiches that I blogged about and another wedding cake, so the month wasn't a total vacation!
In July we got our share of amusement park food during a few trips to the zoo and Park Safari. We discovered that unless you call Dippin' Dots a culinary sensation (and some do), the highlight of these outings is the animals, not the food. Trust me.
August was hot, dang hot, but these raspberry ice cream sandwiches helped keep us cool. The editors at Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine decided they liked my blog and named Under the High Chair 'best food blog' in their August issues 'Sites to Surf'. In response, I proceed to spill my guts to my readers and show off some photos of my boys, my daily inspirations.
The scent of fresh summer peaches at the market drove me so crazy that I bought bags and bags of them and for a whole week we consumed nothing but insanely good peach cobbler.
Oh, and I turned 30. I had one evening of mourning my twenties and then I was over it.
In September I listed my Top 10 Camping Foods from our end-of-summer family camp-out and we celebrated birthdays. Under the High Chair turned two and I invited everyone for a virtual dinner party which was well attended. Also Noah celebrated his third birthday and blew out the candles on a Banana Chocolate-Chip Cake with Maple Frosting.
This month I was in the kitchen making jam in preparation for my Jam, Jelly & Preserve Swap and our cat, Cassis, made an appearance on the blog. Hello Kitty!
In October an innocent post about everyday breakfast here at UtHC (hot oatmeal) generated one of the most enthusiastic responses to date; I suspect this was because I brought up the touchy issue of weight.... I harvested my garden, well, what I could see of it, as the weeds unfortunately reigned supreme in it this summer. (Watch out, weeds; next summer, it is ON!)
Thanksgiving was a production that inspired a mini blog series that just kept getting better and better: Sweet Onion Rolls, Turkey & Co, Side Dishes, and Desserts. For the first time, cooking took a backseat to photography as I played around with my early Christmas present from Danny: a Canon EOS Rebel XSi with a 28mm f/1.8 lens (nicknamed the 'sexy lens'). We attended back-to-back weddings and went apple picking several times so we could keep with our addiction to this Tonka Bean Apple Cake.
After an inspiring outing to a local pumpkin patch in November, I brought you a series of pumpkin recipe including brownies, muffins, cake and fudge and had fun playing around with the colorful squash. I also welcomed about twenty-five people to my first ever Jam Swap and stocked my pantry with two dozen varieties of decadent homemade jam. The exchange was a huge success and is sure to become an annual event.
December kicked off a baking session to be remembered and one of the busiest months of the year. Noah and I bonded over a snowflake cookie decorating session (favors for my mother-in-law's Christmas wedding). We kept the ovens hot and hardly left the kitchen as we turned out our traditional holiday gingerbread and baked dozens of cookies for my annual swap.
I had an epiphany about chocolate cake and tossed out an old standby recipe for a new Sour Cream Chocolate Cake. Another new recipe added to my repertoire was for traditional Panettone.
Then, in a flurry of snow and brisk winds, the holidays were upon us! Kicking off with a family wedding and finishing with a memorable New Years Eve, they flew by, as we sandwiched Christmas and nearly a week of parties in between.
So you'd better believe that I'm taking it easy today! There's still plenty of leftover party food to graze on and I've got nothing more ambitious planned than getting dressed. Hmm, too bad we finished the champagne last night!
Happy 2009 Everyone!