Recently I’ve been super surprised and very pleased to be nominated for some really great blog awards. I want to take the time to thank my nominators and to put forth my own nominees:
First up are two lovely awards bestowed upon me by my new friend at Transplanted Cook. She’s an American expat living in England and I love her delicious posts and connection to history. She and I have quite a bit in common and I think we have found in each other a kindred spirit.
I am accepting the Inner Peace Award because I feel as though I’ve grown so much over the past year. Blogging has become like second nature to me and I enjoy sharing the food that I make with family, friends, and readers of Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen. This blog has brought me inner peace. I’ve finally found something I was born to do.
I would like to nominate:
The only “rule” for the Inner Peace Award is that you write a short piece on why you are accepting it.
During my first year as a blogger I learned more about myself when I included my family traditions and stories in the blog. Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen became more than just a food blog, it became like a scrapbook where I could collect thoughts and memories online. A good chunk of my family isn’t online so I’m not lucky enough to get feed back and support from them. It’s sometimes difficult and that is where my ‘WordPress Family’ comes in. I’ve met so many interesting people all over the world who take the time to read what I have to say and offer kind words of encouragement. It means the world to me!
I’d like to nominate:
1 Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2 Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and a link back.
3 Nominate up to 15 bloggers for I’m a part of the WordPress Family Award, provide a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
4 Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog.
A good while back I received the Liebster Award from Because I Like Chocolate. The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. So, what is a Liebster? The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Blogging is about building a community and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs.
My questions from Because I Like Chocolate were:
Nepaliaustralian has decided to run her own Blog Awards for 2013. She took nominations for several categories including: Best Blog 2013, Best Photo Blog 2013, Best Travel Blog 2013, Best Fashion Blog 2013 and the list goes on! I was very excited to learn I have been nominated for Best Food Blog 2013. The winners are determined by vote so if you want to stop by and have a look or maybe even swing a vote my way! Check out Nepaliaustralian.
I don’t have a lot of time these days to sit and read magazines but for some reason I just keep on buying them. They are piling up beside my reading chair looking cast aside and lonely, just waiting for the day when I can sit and look at them. I don’t know about you but I do notice that I don’t read as much as I used to and I used to read a lot. These days with technology so readily available I’m more likely to use those 15, 30, and one hour breaks to check up on blogs, emails, or the worst time-wasting site ever invented… Facebook.
I am currently reading The Saucier’s Apprentice (Bob Spitz), mostly before bed which is a horrible time to read. I don’t really remember much and it is painfully slow because I can really only read a couple of pages before I feel like nodding off. That’s not to say the book is boring because it happens with every book I read in bed.
The only time I get to look at magazines is on slow Monday nights when I’m volunteering at the YMCA. So I guess it was pretty much by luck that I happened upon the recipe for Salted Pistachio Sablés in the newest issue of Bon Appetit. They looked so enchanting and delicious I knew immediately they deserved a space on my holiday goodie platter. The fact that you make the dough into a log and cut it just before baking made these cookies even better because you can make the dough and forget about it until you actually need to do some baking.
The recipe called for unsalted pistachios but then had large flakes on top of the cookies. I don’t really have any large flaky salt and the pistachios I had were salted so I figured there would be enough of a salt hit and I was right. They are quite delicious! If you are looking for a salty, chocolaty addition to your Christmas goodie platter, look no further!
Chocolate Pistachio Sablés (Bon Appetit Magazine)
DAY 8: Nutella Marbled Cheesecake Bars
Cheesecake and Nutella. I don’t think any more enticement is needed.
An easy cheesecake bar recipe that will feed a crowd, and you don’t have to fight with a water bath.
Nutella Marbled Cheesecake Bars
2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers (about 1 ½ sleeves)
6 Tbs butter, melted
2 Tbs sugar…
It seems strange to think that 2013 will soon be drawing to a close. December sometimes rushes by so fast we barely get a time for reflection and introspection. It’s nice to slow down and take time to sit with a cuppa and remember all the good times we’ve had this year. I’m a bit behind with sending out my Christmas cards this year as I usually have them out by December 1. I’m having a hard time focusing with all there is to do so yesterday I went to Starbucks and made myself sit there distraction free with a latté. I was determined to get those cards done but I couldn’t help spreading a bit of Christmas Joy a là ‘Paying it Forward’. If you can’t read the card it says ‘To the Next Occupant of this Chair, Merry Christmas!’. Inside the envelope is a Starbucks gift card inside a Christmas card. I have four more gift cards to randomly place….
I know it’s a bit old fashioned and each year fewer and fewer people are sending out true blue Christmas cards in the mail. I do look forward to catching up with everyone and I hand write each note in the cards that I send. I remember watching my grandma get her cards ready for sending and I do it in part to keep her memory alive.
There are several really old ornaments that I put out every year. These Mr. and Mrs. Claus kissing salt ‘n’ pepper shakers belonged to my Grandma Leaderhouse and are probably at least from the 1950′s.
Sometimes when I unpack the ornaments there are few that have broken and need a slight fix or their batteries have gone dead. This Christmas pickle is a newer tradition in our house. His singing is slightly annoying but the kids beg me to put him out every year so I guess I’d better find some new batteries.
And some of my ornaments are remade every year like this orange and clove pomander. To make it you need to pick a blemish free round orange that is nice and plump. Stick the whole cloves into the orange in a pattern of your choice. I always just load them up! If the skin seems too tough or thick you may need to pierce it with a toothpick first.
And I have had a bit of a head start with the Christmas baking though there is plenty more to come! Here are some Chai Shortbread.
I was going to stop there but my sister just sent me this photo taken while Grandma was teaching her how to make doughnuts. These doughnuts are so special and I thought Grandma’s secrets would be lost forever. She always says she’s too old to make doughnuts (she’ll be 90 in June) and I was thinking I would love to learn from her before the recipe is lost forever. I’m so happy that my sister was able to convince her to make some this year.
Merry Christmas and all the best in 2014 to host Celia of Fig Jam & Lime Cordial, all In My Kitchen participants, and readers of Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen.
The snow has fallen and the temperature has dropped. These are sure fire environmental cues that tell my body and brain to start the oven and ready the freezer for the cold long winter ahead. People joke about Canadian winters because that’s all you can really do. Take those winter days as they come because you can be sure that you won’t be wearing shorts for at least seven months out of a year. In the Great White North we turn to comfort foods and long slow braising in the oven and then finally; the Christmas baking.
It’s funny. You don’t realize how important those physical cues are until they are gone. When we lived in Australia, December just kept on getting hotter and hotter. Not only did it not feel like ‘Christmas’ to me but there was no way I was going to bake with the weather that hot. Could you imagine roasting a turkey when it’s 40 C outside? Some people do and I did have a go at cooking a ham on the BBQ but the best Christmas we had there was when we embraced an Aussie tradition…the Christmas seafood feast. In Western Australia Christmas coincides with Rock Lobster season. For our feast I took advantage of the fresh seafood selection and also bought a kilogram of fat prawns and two dozen oysters which I made two ways. I cooked that all on the barbeque and it was fabulous. Still, it wasn’t home.
Our first Christmas back home in Saskatchewan was magical. First of all there was snow! (hard to believe now we were excited to see it back then) We were able to catch up with so many relatives and eat all of our favourite foods (including goulash!). It usually is my job to do most of the sweets while mom and my sister make appetizers. Recently my youngest sister has been contributing her portion in chocolate bark. Mom still keeps her French Canadian Christmas tradition alive because she makes the Tourtière. She doesn’t make a large pie, but small individual sized pies that we eat on Christmas Eve when we get home from midnight mass. I’m not really sure why we eat so much at 2 am but I guess it’s a Christmas tradition. Besides, we need all that stamina to open presents and stay up until 4.
I had never made Tourtière before so I had to call my mom and ask what she put in her version. Apparently she does a pork/beef mix and adds in mashed potatoes, sage, and thyme. Basically poultry seasoning. Just because I asked her didn’t mean I would take her recipe to heart and with me being me I decided to ‘amp’ it up a little bit. What resulted was probably the best (and cutest) pie I’ve ever made.
As you can see I decided to make a huge tourtière and celebrate pork by using all lean pork mince. I was worried it would be a touch rich but the pork had a really nice fat content. I browned it and then added thyme and ground sage, as well as a half teaspoon of cloves. I got worried for a moment that the cloves were too overpowering but after everything was assembled it turned out to be the right amount. I cooked up a pot of potatoes and mashed them while in another pan I browned three sliced onions. When they were done I added them to the potato mash. To the pork, I added about a third of the potato mash for the mixture that went in the bottom of my pie. I had some cauliflower mushrooms left over so I carefully laid them out in a thin layer over the meat and potatoes. Then, I took the rest of the potatoes/onions and made them into the top layer of my pie. I didn’t really mean to do a layered pie, it kind of just happened as I cooked. It is definitely not a traditional Tourtière.
Are you hungry for more Canadian Christmas traditions? Check out The Canadian Food Experience Project which began June 7 2013. Where we (the participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences. We strive to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. This month our theme is A Canadian Christmas: A Regional Tradition though in my particular case, Tourtière is more of a cultural tradition.
Christmas baking started a bit earlier this year when I got opportunity to throw a baby shower for a new mother. I was happy to try out some new recipes and make use of some old ones but one cookie that I knew I had to make was Chai Shortbread. I had made Chai Shortbread previously for my Christmas goodie platter but that was before I started this blog. Who knows where I left the recipe…I sure don’t! Not to worry, the internet is a marvelous invention. A quick internet search and I found this super recipe from Delicieux that looked to be a great substitute for the original.
I love cookie recipes that can be made ahead and refrigerated until you need to bake them but I can attest to the fact that shortbread ALWAYS tastes better with a little age. If you can, make the cookies a couple of days before the big event and you will be rewarded with great flavour.
Shortbread is another Christmas staple in our family and it always will be. When I bake it I always end up reminiscing about how my late Grandma Leaderhouse loved baking, especially anything with a lot of butter. She made the best shortbread and always made sure to make a batch to give to my dad at Christmas. He really looked forward to having his own little treats all to himself. This year, I’m having a difficult time figuring out what my dad would like for Christmas but now I think the answer is right here. Don’t you?
There are many days that call for celebrations in a food blogger’s lifetime. I’m so pleased and honoured to announce that Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen has reached 200 followers just shy of my very first blogiversary. I’m just really excited to have so many people interested in something that is so important to me.
I couldn’t help but take the opportunity to bake a cake for this occasion so I chose a special cake from one of my personal favourite bloggers and cookbook author, David Lebovitz. Any cake I have made using his recipes has turned out splendidly and so when I have a special cake to bake my first look is always at David’s site. Of course, he didn’t disappoint and I found this amazing recipe for a Chocolate Stout Cake.
I also wanted to experiment a bit today so when I hit the Co-op liquor store I didn’t get a bottle of Guinness but instead brought home a delicious sounding Longboat Chocolate Porter by Phillips Brewing Company. I had a rich, dense cake in mind marked with a bit of sweetness from coconut so this was a great opportunity for me to try baking with coconut oil. I replaced half of the butter in David’s recipe with an equal amount of coconut oil. In addition, I added some shredded coconut for a bit more coconut flavour. I thought maybe I could get away with just a light dusting of cocoa powder…
But who am I kidding? I’m pretty sure David included a ganache for a reason. Now, who’s coming over to celebrate?
food lover, food maker, food dreamer