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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Fauxtography: Summer in the City

duskcanalchamplainLike all good things, my summer vacation came to an end with a return to school last week. I was funemployed for the first couple months of the summer, and for the first time in a long time had (almost) zero commitments. It felt a little weird at first: no set schedule, no job (no pay-cheque) and no classes, but I adjusted pretty quickly…it was glorious.gatineau I decided to fill some of my free time with a class (couldn’t resist some kind of organized activity, I guess.), and signed up for a beginner photography class at SPAO.national gallerymaman Ever since starting this little blah-blah-blahg of mine, I’ve wanted to set some time aside to properly figure out what I’m doing with a my camera, and this summer seemed like as good a time as any to get the basics under my belt. I’m still learning (but when aren’t we?), and I don’t think I’ll ever call myself a photographer, but hopefully the quality keeps improving around here. My favourite aspect of the class was that it set aside some time to go out into the world with the sole intention of taking pictures. This meant tinkering around with my camera of course, but it also meant that I got to enjoy even more of Ottawa’s summer beauty through my lens. backyardDSC_0891I took an awful lot of pictures of flowers. And Dunlop. Flowers and Dunlop together! And food, of course.dunlopSONY DSC Click to continue reading

Ginger Spice Cookies

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I’m away from Huelva in Madrid this weekend, but my roommate texted yesterday saying that we finally got a new stove and oven in our apartment. Hallelujah!! I haven’t baked at all since I came to Spain (one whole month without an oven! Does that count as roughing it?), and so I’m pretty excited that we can start making some warm comforting food as even Huelva is starting to get a little cool. Cookies definitely need to happen soon.

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I made these just before I left for Spain, to go with our pumpkin spice lattes. Along with pumpkin flavoured anything, around this time of year I love ginger and spices in desserts. These soft cookies feature flavourful flecks of crystallized ginger and are a perfect taste of fall with some hot apple cider and sharp cheddar.

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My First Ice Cream Cake on My Twenty First Birthday

To be honest, when I realized my birthday was three weeks after arriving in Huelva I thought I might not really know anyone and didn’t think I’d do anything special, but it was a really nice night and my roommates and I put together a fun little party. I was a very happy and grateful birthday girl:) We hosted a little birthday dinner shindig and invited the friends we had made so far in Huelva.We told everyone that they were more than welcome to bring a friend or any housemates, so I don’t think I actually knew about half the people who came, but we made a lot of friends and met some new neighbours, which was awesome!
To make things even more memorable, my fabulous roommates surprised me with a cake at the salsa club the next night and after they told our salsa instructors that it was my birthday I was made to dance with all the men at the club– I’m sure I looked more inept than Jennifer Grey at the beginning of Dirty Dancing, but it was so fun I really didn’t mind!
Now, my twin is visiting me in Huelva after a an awesome twin-time/sightseeing weekend in Cordoba — I couldn’t be happier.

I made a modified chocolate ricotta mousse tonight in Huelva to celebrate TShap’s arrival!

Without a working oven, I decided to improvise and make an ice cream cake. Our kitchen set up is really basic, so I didn’t make a crust or anything. It was literally just layers of ice cream, with homemade ganache, crushed Oreos and peanuts in the middle. It was the first ice cream cake I had ever made, and after some initial issues with the free form bottom layer on the plate melting before I could get it in the freezer it worked out super well! I’d even go so far and say it was a hit, but people might have just been nice since it was my birthday…but really, ice cream, chocolate, crumbled cookies and salty nuts? It seems like a winning combo no matter what!

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No Oven? No Bake Chocolate Cake

When we moved in to our apartment in Huelva,, our bubbly and seemingly lovely landlady (who is an older Spanish lady from Sevilla) told us upfront that our oven was currently not working, but would be replaced “mañana”.  Well, three weeks have gone by, and that’s a lot of mañanas.  We’ve called our dueña several times, and she keeps reassuring us that a new oven is on the way, but we’re getting impatient over here! We will persist, por que no es vale!

To make things worse, our microwave broke last week (we’ve been told that it will be replaced mañana, too…), so when I said I would bring a dessert to a little “international” dinner I went to last week, I realized it would have to be a “no bake” recipe for sure. Cue this amazing No Bake Chocolate Cake from Heidi at 101cookbooks.  With only two key ingredients (I did manage to find all of the ingredients, though, in our little local grocery store!), it is a cinch to make, and can easily be done with super low key kitchen equipment.  (I used a plastic container lined with parchment paper as my “cake pan…it works!)

This cake is basically a decadent chocolate ganache or fudge in disguise. Make sure there are other people around to help you eat this, or you could end up eating it all yourself….not that that’s necessarily terrible.
I tried to make my cake a little more “Canadian” for this international shindig, so I decorated it with some maple candies and chocolate loonies that I brought from home (they are really for my students, but I figured I could sacrifice a few!).  It needed a little gussying up since I was lacking any cocoa powder or powdered sugar to make it look a bit more sophisticated.
This recipe was really easy to follow and the results were delicious — I’m really looking forward to making it again (maybe for (y)our birthday, Thomas!), but I’m also really looking forward to having an oven…fingers crossed.
Hasta luego!