Cardamom and Cloves [Moroccan Carrot and Red Lentil Soup]

c&cCardamom and Cloves brings a world of spices to Ottawa’s Little Italy. Nestled among the restaurants on Preston Street, Jodi Samis’ shop has pretty much every spice you could ever think of needing to get cooking.
SONY DSCSONY DSCWith jar upon jar lining the shelves you’re also bound to find ingredients you didn’t know existed, but Jodi will be happy to educate you. I met my parents at the shop last week for a workshop dedicated to a spice that’s ubiquitous in many kitchens, but that I honestly couldn’t have told you much about: cinnamon. As we sipped our apple cinnamon infused water, Jodi cooked and taught us about some of the history of the spice, the differences between “true” cinnamon and cassia, as well as some of it’s lesser and more commonly known health benefits. Jodi has a whole bunch of great workshops (only $10!) lined up this fall, AND (bonus!) there’s a great little deal on Groupon right now — go spice things up!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSONY DSC Click to continue to recipe

I’ll Be Home for Christmas [Spanish Spice Cake]

I can’t believe it has almost been three months since I first came to Spain, and a whole year since I started this little blog. (Something about time flying?) In one week, I’ll be home in Ottawa for a quick visit over the holidays. I am having a great time here, but am excited to be with my family and friends at home in snowy Canada!

My puppy at home on a frozen pond -- picture by tomshap :)

My puppy at home on a frozen pond — picture by TShap :)

Before I left for Huelva, my mum planned a really lovely send off. There was a band, an awesome mix of my friends and family, and of course, great food. The food was Spanish themed (but of course) and alongside the pitchers of sangria, Spanish meats, olives, and tapas there was a great spread of desserts. My wonderful mother organized everything and I basically showed up and enjoyed myself. So I did as I was told, and stayed out of the kitchen; the only thing I made was this Spanish Spice Cake.SONY DSC

A few days before the party, my mum was trying to think of what Spanish things she could include on the dessert table. As she was falling asleep, she suddenly remembered a “Spanish” cake that my nana used to buy from A&P when she was a kid. The next morning she googled “Spanish cake A&P” and that is how we came up with this recipe! It’s dark and moist, with a good touch of cocoa. This would fit in perfectly as a holiday dessert with the warm spices that are featured here (Also, cakes like this are the best “air freshners’. Cake in the oven? Best smell to welcome guests with.).

Dunlop enjoying some of the party decorations the next morning.

Dunlop enjoying some of the party decorations the next morning.

Aside from the people, one of the things I miss most about home is my time in the kitchen. The kitchen is in the centre of our home, and the area is opens up into the family room, so the kitchen is where everyone gathers to chat and relax (and cook, obviously). I made this cake during one of my last evenings in Ottawa while one of my best friends sat chatting with me at the counter and sipping on tea. I love that easy feeling of getting stuff done in the kitchen surrounded by your favourite people — I guess it’s what I would call my happy place. Looking forward to being with them back in that kitchen in just a few days! I may or may not have been singing “I’ll Be Home From Christmas” a ridiculous amount this weekend…

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Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Gratitude

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My silly twin in action. No one takes me seriously at home.

I know I’m not being original in proclaiming my love for all things pumpkin once fall arrives, but I figured (Canadian) Thanksgiving was an appropriate time to fawn over my favourite season and its treats. Autumn is just so wonderful: sweater weather, the breathtaking trees with their coloured leaves, sunny days and the crisp air, warm comfort food, pumpkin galore…I did scrounge the grocery stores here for pumpkin purée, but no luck so I don’t think we’ll be tasting a pumpkin pie this weekend. That’s really quite alright, though, because I am in España!
These coffees were actually the last thing I made at home before hopping on a plane over here — my lovely mother, (silly) twin, and I sipped our lattes and enjoyed my last fall morning in Ottawa until next year.

When I first started spending (wasting?) my money at Starbucks I could only handle the flavoured coffees, and pumpkin spice was my favourite by far. I would anticipate that day in early September when pumpkin was back on the menu. I don’t have anything against Starbucks, I just can’t afford to maintain that habit– so it was pretty thrilling to enjoy a homemade pumpkin spice latte, that also tastes a lot more like coffee and less like syrup.

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I’m so grateful for the exciting experience I have been having so far, the great people I have met, and my super supportive/loving/overall excellent friends and family — some of whom are coming to visit me soon; I’m grateful for that, too!! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in Canada! Enjoy your dinners, the long weekend and those marvellous fall colours. I’ll be at the beach!

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20121005-145127.jpg Pumpkin Spice Latte