Michael turned 32 on Saturday. He prefers being 32 over 31, so that's good. This is the only photo that I managed to take on his birthday. He's standing outside our apartment building at the outset of a full day. Festivities involved a dutch baby pancake, a Where the Wild Things Are matinee (the plot was questionable in parts, but we loved it all the same), Prima Strada pizzas and a cake. It doesn't sound like much, but it wiped me out!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Michael celebrated his birthday on Saturday! I didn't make him a cake last year because he was supposed to be out of town, and then he came home at the last minute. I wanted to make up for it with a proper layer cake this year, so I decided to make Smitten Kitchen's best birthday cake.
This cake is so easy to make, so I highly recommend it for that reason alone. Also, it tastes just like those suspiciously good boxed cakes, as promised.
The most important part, however, is the icing. It's so simple! It doesn't involve a candy thermometer! Or beaters! Because there are so few ingredients (!), I used high quality chocolate, sour cream and vanilla, and I skipped the coffee. I also skipped the sprinkles because my striped candles were pretty festive, as was the gelato that we served with the cake.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
This Taken By Trees cover of Animal Collective's My Girls is so sweet:
Taken By Trees is Victoria Bergsman's latest project (she used to be the voice of The Concretes). I read that Noah Lennox (Animal Collective's Panda Bear) adds his vocals to a track on the Taken By Trees East of Eden album; I shall buy it when I get home.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Everybody's making savory biscuits and scones. In the last two days, Posie Gets Cosy made a Chicken Stew with Biscuits; Emma Bowen made Gruyere and Herb Scones on Design*Sponge; and Smitten Kitchen made Jalapeño-Cheddar Scones. I want to make some too.
What's the difference between a biscuit and a scone? Also, do I really need biscuit cutters to make these recipes?
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Michael and I got a little obsessed with this puzzle a few weeks back. It was so satisfying! Now we have no idea what to do with it. I know that we should just take it apart and start a new one (like, maybe this one), but I can't bear to do it. For the time being it's on the floor in front of our TV -- a natural place for a puzzle.
I really enjoy jigsaw puzzles, even though I've only worked on a few in my day. It seems like such a fuddy-duddy activity, but it is really addictive AND it's good for your brain.
We saw this painting -- The Birth of Venus -- when we were in Florence. Examining the details of the painting as we put the small pieces together was so satisfying, and we found ourselves doing research about Botticelli as we made progress -- wonderful side benefits to the puzzle-making!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
It's not too late for a bush pie, friends. Michael and I saw some folks having a barbecue in a provincial park just yesterday, so if you don't mind a cold nose with your camp fire, you should try one. Otherwise, make a tentative plan for next summer.
When I attempted to buy a bush pie maker before a camping trip in July, I couldn't find one that I liked. I grew up with the one pictured here, and I'm so happy my parents passed it on to me when I was visiting in August. I prefer it to others I've seen because it's round (like a pie) and because it has a latch to keep it closed while in the fire.
We made this pie when we were in Tofino last month. Since it was my first try (in many years), we kept it simple: salami, cheese and tomatoes. This savory version is basically a grilled cheese sandwich, especially since you butter the outside of the bread before placing it in the mold.
After clamping the mold together and pulling off the excess bread, your pie is ready for the fire. I think ours were in for a total of five minutes, but I opened them every minute to make sure they weren't burning, so that's just a rough estimate.
There are limitless savory fillings for these things -- when I was a kid, I preferred a Hawaiian pizza bush pie -- but there are sweet options too. I haven't explored the potential here, but I'm looking forward to trying apple pie filling and cheddar cheese.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
We had our fall/fowl supper last night, and we nailed it. Four of us roasted a chicken, potatoes, garlic and onions (à la Nigella Lawson), and sautéed green beans with pistachios (à la The Globe and Mail). We also threw in some garden fresh kale for kicks. Everything was perfect. We even sat at the table, which I set with place mats that match our chairs. It was all very civilized.
We even had a proper dessert: pumpkin swirl brownies.
I've never roasted a chicken before, but I've wanted to do it for years. I'm not sure what took so long, but now I plan to do it on a regular basis. I love the idea of roasting a chicken on Sunday, making stock for soup and using the leftovers in other recipes throughout the week. What a cost-effective project.
Also, dinner parties! Let's have them more often.
We made pumpkin swirl brownies for dinner last night.
Jen swirled the pumpkin and chocolate batter. My favorite thing was the chocolate part of the brownie (we used Cocoa Camino bittersweet chocolate). My least favorite thing was the cayenne pepper. I didn't mind the spice when the brownies were hot out of the oven, but today it through me off. We served the brownies with vanilla ice cream, so maybe that helped balance the spice. It did feel nice to have a warm feeling in my chest after lovely dinner, and cayenne is good for you (I hear it fights high blood pressure and improves circulation).
Friday, October 09, 2009
Jen sent me the link to The Big Picture's Autumn Scenes collection today, which reminded me to add the website to my RSS reader. I love that RSS allows me to follow wonderful websites with no personal effort.
The last few days have been sunny and cool, and they smell a certain way. You know what I mean? We don't always get this kind of weather on the west coast, so I'm trying to appreciate it with lots of outside time.
I spent a particularly rainy fall in Ucluelet a few years back, and I fantasized about heading to Maine for some coloured leaves. It's still a tentative plan.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Michael and I got to fulfill a long standing tentative dream a few weeks ago. We spent a night at the Wickaninnish Inn.
I've wanted to sleep in that place since I found out it's considered one of the best hotels in North America. Who wouldn't want to experience that?
When we were living in Tofino we ate a couple of brunches in the restaurant and drank a couple of drinks in the lounge, and last February we had a steam in the spa; but while amazing, these experiences didn't satisfy my curiosity.
I schemed about celebrating my university graduation with a night at the Wick, but I just couldn't justify the price. The standard rooms are almost $500 in the summer months! We also considered spending our honeymoon there, but we decided to go to Hawaii (for some much needed Vitamin D) instead.
So, how did we find ourselves at the hotel when it has such a hefty price tag?
It happened like this. We were at a dinner party in Tofino and the owner ended up sitting beside Michael. He found out we were camping. He looked out the window and noted that it was pouring rain. He confirmed that there was room at the inn. He offered us a "camping" deal. We accepted.
Not only did he help us fulfill a tentative dream, he kept our butts dry; when we returned to our tent the following afternoon, our mattress pads were soaked through.
It was hard to return to the campsite after experiencing that double jacuzzi bathtub. And the view. The private deck, king size bed and gas fire place were pretty nice too.
We lingered in the room as long as was acceptable before checking out, and I think my curiosity has been thoroughly satisfied. That said, I wouldn't say no to another night or two down the road, just to be sure.
If you want to see some actual photos of the room (to satisfy your curiosity) and some others from our trip, check out these Flickr photos.
Monday, October 05, 2009
You know how I like Jason Schwartzman? You know how I like HBO? Well...
We've watched three episodes and we really like it. It helps that I'm developing crushes on Zach Galifianakis, Ted Danson and Kristen Wiig (sadly, she only makes a guest appearance).
I also like Parker Posey, so I'm excited to see that she'll be making an appearance at some point.
Yes, it's a real love fest again. Just like with True Blood. Oh, HBO.