Monday, January 24, 2011

An Interview and an Initiation

Photo by Tim Chin.

This post is going to be short as I've got a zillion things to do to be ready to leave for Nashville and Blissdom tomorrow. K, where did January go again?

Meals for Others.
First of all, a big thank you to everyone who opened up and commented on my last post. I asked you if you ever received a meal during a difficult period in your life -or if you were in the habit of passing along food to friends and family.

Your answers warmed my hearts and assured me that, yes, random acts of kindness are still alive and well in 2011...Look for more on this topic soon, as it is research for an exciting new project I am working on!

Interview with the Canadian Weblog Awards.
I'm thrilled to be featured today on the CWA homepage in a interview I had with the organizers. Head HERE to read about where I find inspiration, who my mentors are, how offline people react to my online writing and much more.

My Husband, the blogger.
Well, not really, but he's been initiated! In 2011 he joined the Simple Bites team of contributors as the only male (brave soul that he is).
Today marks his first ever blog post and he tackles a major issue. You won't want to miss it. Head HERE to read the post and welcome Danny to the wonderful world of blogging.

Now, I'm off for my first ever blogging conference! You can follow along on my Simple Bites Twitter stream,as I'll be tweeting much of the event.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Food for thought: Meals for others

Recently I've been thinking a lot about cooking for others and the meaning behind the action. I don't mean carving up a roast chicken for dinner guests around your table (although that also has its qualities), but meals that are made with care and delivered to someone in need.

It could be someone...

~ in bereavement
~ going through a divorce
~ caring for a new baby
~ moving house
~ fighting in court
~ ill or caring for the ill
~ on bed rest
~ out of work
~ overworked
~ writing exams
~ getting married
~ caring for a special needs family member
~ fighting a long term illness
~ in financial crisis

Think about it. Do you know anyone who is struggling with one of these life situations right now? I know I do. In fact, there are dishes rattling around in my trunk frequently because I'm often making a drop-off.

They say actions speak louder than words.

Two weeks after Mateo was born, I was hit with a nasty post-op infection and ordered to be on bed-rest. Yeah right. I had a two and a half-year-old and a newborn to care for.

Dear friends and neighbors came by with boxes of food, kind wishes and prayers; that sustained us during a particularly rough patch. The fact that they eliminated the need to cook allowed to me spend more time obeying the doctors orders.

Here's what I wrote about receiving an apple cake :

"After the hospital food (which I barely survived), the cake tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten. I'll never forget standing in my kitchen with Danny, eating it straight from the pan. It was as though we knew everything was going to be okay now. We have this cake."

We could have brought home newborn triplets, and I would have felt fully equipped."

There's a lot to be said for the benefits of good, home cooked food when you are emotionally and physically low on reserves.

Have you ever received a meal during a difficult time from a well-meaning friend? How did it make you feel?

Have you ever brought a meal to someone in need? Cookies? How was it received?

I'm curious to know if this happens regularly. Please chime in and leave your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Holiday Highlights

Nearly two weeks into the new year, and I'm finally feeling ready for anything. The last few traces of Christmas have been packed up, the remaining cookies sent to Danny's co-workers, and we've hit a comfortable grove.

Now a menu plan is in place, the fridge has been overhauled (good-bye triple cream brie, hello kale), and Noah is back in school. That alone forces a routine into our daily goings and comings, and the rest falls into place.

I've been cooking and freezing food for Danny and the boys to eat while I'm gone to Blissdom, (uh-huh, leaving in two weeks for a little blogging conference in the States), brainstorming like crazy for blogging in 2011 and getting out with the boys everyday for walks and sledding.

Since this winter feels like it's flying by, I thought I better do a holiday recap before Easter is upon us. At first I didn't think I had anything to recount, as we took our two weeks very slow and laid-back. For once I didn't invite guests over for practically ever day, and declined to many events with regrets (sort of).

It was lovely. And memories were made, great food enjoyed,

Skimming through iphoto showed that we did do enough to warrant a recap, so here are some of the best holiday moments, in no particular order (because they uploaded all wonky).

The Christmas morning table at my in-laws, bracing for the load of blueberry pancakes, bacon, sausages, fruit salad, bagels & lox, and some 19 guests.

The boy cousins on my husband's side, sporting handmade vests from Grandma D. My two there on the left.

Homemade gingerbread ornaments that kept the house smelling like Christmas. No scented candles here.

Good times playing with food and cameras with these kind folk on New Year's Eve. I'm all for simple entertaining on New Year's.

Our pot-luck menu for eight:

  • Homemade tourtiere (Quebec pork pie)
  • Salad of fennel, pecans, pomegranate, and feta.
  • Potato & parsnip gratin
  • Butternut squash & ancetta risotto
  • Asparagus with lemon-dill compound butter

One of our many NYE desserts, Berries & Cream Pavlova. The perfect finish to 2010.

Midnight came while we were still sipping the last of our coffees and we toasted with champagne, kissed, set off fireworks, and celebrated my double win in the Canadian Weblog Awards. Incredibly, Simple Bites took home Best New Weblog and third place in Best Food Weblog. !

New Year's Day. 3am. Good times with A and A.

Christmas Dinner at home. (I told you these photos were all mixed up!)
Relaxed and fun. More or less this menu. Should have done away with the hideous candles, though. Cook, I can, dress a table? Not so much.

Admission: we fed the kids, then put them to bed before sitting down to dinner. Aahhhhhhh. Peace, quiet, adult conversation, and the chance to savor hot food.
Best Christmas present ever.

A Christmas day game of Memory, of course.

Christmas Day dessert: Black Forest Trifle with home canned cherries, which seemed like a better idea than it was; I didn't love it. I think Black Forest is best left in cake form, and one should not mess too much with a perfect, classic trifle.

We also savored the mincemeat tart pictured at the top of the post. Served warm with whipped cream, I could have eaten half of it. Maybe I did.

Sisters. And gifts. The best gift was escorting each other to this spa a few days later, though.

My homemade gifts this year consisted of:
And each child had their own gingerbread man with their initial. Simple and handmade.

Horrible wrapping paper, but it brought such smiles. The gingerbread didn't last long at all.

Between Christmas & New Years, I took time to make a vibrant batch of pink grapefruit & pomegranate marmalade.

And this outing to Montreal landmark, Wilensky's, was memorable and fun. Loved all the feedback I got over the Wordless Wednesday post!

So there you have it!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Frosting for the Cause

Happy New Year!!

Twenty-Eleven launched a sweet project that is particularly personal for me.

Beginning January 1, 2011, a total of 365 sugar cookie & cupcake bakers/decorators and bloggers from across Canada and the United States will take turns doing a guest post at Frosting for the Cause.

By signing onto this project every guest baker/blogger has committed to not only donating a batch of their cookies or cupcakes to their local Women’s Hospice but they have also committed to making a personal $25.00 donation to either the Canadian or American Cancer Society to be directed to research projects that are working diligently to find cures specifically for cancers that affect only women.

The ambitious project is spearheaded by Paula Bourque of Vanilla Bean Baker (who also happens to be my aunt!).

It’s an incredible honour to help kick off this noble project. My rather personal post is featured today and in it I share one way I've been touched by cancer, plus a cupcake tutorial you won't want to miss.

Frosting for the Cause is an absolutely genius idea to use our blogging voices and baking talents to raise funds for cancer awareness and cures. If you haven’t yet signed up, I hope you now do so without delay.

Head here to read my guest post on Frosting for the Cause.


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