Back to Rhubarb

As a privileged, white Canadian I know that I am not the demographic for which last night’s election results are the hardest to swallow. Not even close.

I believe there’s a lot of good in this world, but we must continue to hold our own government to account – on climate change, on Indigenous rights, on social justice – and not fall into divisive and fear-based politics. We must amplify the voices of those more vulnerable, and be better allies.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been telling myself to assuage the knot in my stomach.

I stayed up til the wee hours of the morning to watch Donald Trump’s victory speech (file that under things that feel surreal to type), so ended up feeling a bit like a zombie today. Between sadly watching HRC’s concession speech with coworkers and clicking through countless articles and tweets dissecting the election results, it didn’t feel possible for much else to occupy my thoughts today. (We treated ourselves to ramen, though, which was a bright spot.)

But in an attempt to multitask and focus on something apolitical while watching the coverage last night, I turned to my much neglected drafts and decided that the blogosphere could probably use a drink. So we’re going back to rhubarb…DSC_0335 copy Continue reading

in and out of bloom

I’ve been tracking the summer’s passing in the coming and going of some of my favourite blooms (or the ones I recognize, which, to be fair, are not very many). The lilacs in my parents backyard were some of the first to show off before I noticed their perfume all over town. Next there were the tulips, the peonies, the apple blossoms…all of them seeming to peak and fade before I stopped to smell them.

Then, I was lucky enough to take two classes at Blumenstudio (my dad and I had the same idea when it came to birthday gifts for my mum, apparently). We made dreamy little succulent terrariums and learned about throwing together garden bouquets. When Kat opened her second Blumenstudio in the west end of town, I wrote about it for Ottawa Magazine – and so I happily spent a lot of time around her pretty plants and Klaus the dog.

Then, there were lush little gardens lining streets in Montreal, beautiful blooms on the farm, and tiny doggy flower crowns.

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Then, one of my best friends got married. One of the bridesmaids, Michelle, happened to have worked as a florist for many years (she’s also a brilliant scientist and communicator, there is nothing this girl can’t do) and so she took on doing all of the floral arrangements for the wedding. This also left her responsible for leading the rest of us bridesmaids through making our own flower crowns, something we were super excited about.  Once we actually started, though, I was struck with analysis paralysis (was I making it too heavy on one side? Did the colours clash? Was I crushing delicate blooms?). Over mimosas and Top 40 tracks we crafted our crowns, left them to stay fresh in the beer fridge during last minute prep, and then our friends got married! The wedding was absolutely beautiful and our flower crowns lasted a whole night of dancing – I don’t think I’ve ever cried so many happy tears, or taken so many selfies.

THEN, as I went for a run along the canal yesterday evening, brown leaves fluttered on to the path in front of me and suddenly summer seemed like a blur. There are still another 20 days of summer left on the calendar, so there’s still time to squeeze out every last humid, sweaty drop (and Continue reading

on the move [grapefruit ricotta pudding]

SONY DSCSONY DSCJokingly, I told Tristan that upon moving into our new aprtment, my first order of business would be to get a little Christmas tree. Strangely, once we moved, my priorities shifted slightly — suddenly I was more concerned about getting a real mattress (off the floor!), and having vegetables in the fridge. But Tristan took me seriously, and a week after the move he delighted me by suggesting that we best go pick out a tree.

So, with my priorities straightened out, we’ve been settling in nicely. We hosted our first little shindig the weekend before Christmas and it was so fun to see our friends in a place we’re calling ours.

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on sundae

vanilla ice cream with balsamic syrupThe old aphorism “opposites attract” probably best describes this pairing. The slightly acidic tang from the balsamic syrup with the softly sweet vanilla is a winning combination. Elegantly simple. Vanilla pairs perfectly with so many things that we made the ice cream our vehicle for taste testing several different flavoured balsamic vinegars. Fig, black cherry, chocolate, pear…just a few of the versatile vinegars from the Unrefined Olive, and all delicious. David Lebovitz’s recipe for vanilla ice cream has been my go-to. I was so excited to get a double batch done while family was visiting (so that we could have our balsamic tasting experience!) that the second batch might not have been completely frozen…I tried to pass it off as soft serve. Continue reading

berkeley birthday

In contrast to the chilly October weekend that just passed, my twin brother and I celebrated our birthday last year in sunny California. Between hiking along the coastal beaches and under sequoia canopies, and roaming the hilly street of San Francisco, we spent a night and a day with most of our family in Berkeley.On our birthday-eve (not something we typically celebrate!), we wandered through town in time to hear the tower bells on campus, and back too late for the farmer’s market. Upon having our ID checked at Jupiter, we were challenged to a birthday beer race by our server (we lost, obviously). There were birthday candles floating in our stout which was a big enough win for me. We ate pizza and then my brothers and I fell asleep while watching Harry Potter in the motel room; a great way to ring in another trip around the sun.

Before driving across the bridge to San Francisco the next day, we had a late lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe. I will attribute the same-day reservation that my parents made to being a birthday miracle.

My mum had introduced me to the name Alice Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse many years ago. When the assigned reading for my high school French class was Marcel Pagnol’s Marius & Fanny, the connection to the character named Panisse, in my mind, was the Californian restaurant. I thought it was an exciting coincidence at the time. (It’s not a coincidence, of course.)

The significance of Alice Waters’ influence on American cuisine is expansive – extending far outside of Californian kitchens, into farms, schools, and global communities. Many more skilled writers and cooks than I have described her impact in the industry and beyond. I’ll just add that it was a real treat to sit in the sunlit café on my birthday, with some wonderful people, eating delicious, simple food that was a testament to all the good things I had heard before getting there. Another birthday candle, this time in my persimmon pudding, was icing on the (birthday) cake. I can’t wait to go back.cali bday (1)
We left with one of Alice Waters’ cookbooks, with recipes ordered by season and ingredients. It’s almost encyclopedic, and wonderful to flip through for inspiration. The recipe I’m sharing is certainly not Continue reading

Out Like A Lion [Cream of Walnut Soup]

slow thaw (12)Driving in the sunshine today–I had the windows down and radio turned up–it felt an awful lot like the big thaw was on the way (granted, I was still wearing my big winter jacket). And then a few hours later the sun dipped behind the clouds and winter let us know she wasn’t quite ready to pack up and go.slow thaw (6)slow thaw (1) So it would seem that winter will be going out like a lion. Spring has been postponed; it’s #winterforever, if you’re into prefacing your thoughts with a pound sign. The snowbanks are shrinking, though we welcomed the first day of spring last weekend with a slushy snowfall. I can’t deny that I am eager to be able to run out the door without all the layers this winter weather requires, but I don’t mind the cold. It’s a little more conducive to sitting at my desk and getting work done. Or making rich desserts. Both of which I would like to count as being productive.espresso(Or! Great weather to do fun Ottawa things: we stayed warm last week by ducking into the National Gallery, one of my favourite buildings in Ottawa (the M.C. Escher exhibit is fairly mind boggling) and running across the street to peek inside the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica (it’s certainly not on the same level as the Notre-Dame, but it’s pretty and I couldn’t believe I had never been inside), before getting cozy for dinner at town, where I tried bone marrow for the first time and had a delicious cocktail made up of whiskey, nebbiolo and sherry– that’ll warm up your innards.).slow thaw (2)slow thaw (3)slow thaw (5)slow thaw (11)The recipe for this walnut soup Click to continue reading…