Wednesday, July 20, 2011

cheese please

'Cheese is milk's leap towards immortality.'

Ever since the days of Scott and Joey I've been a big fan of cheese and few weeks ago I made my first paneer. It was so easy and satisfying I can't believe I'd never tried it before and can't wait to experiment with more fresh cheeses. This video from the etsy blog just inspires me further!

(Also I would like some goats. But that's another blog post!)

Urban Cheesecraft from Etsy on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

below the surface

barnacles and seaweed on an old weir stake

One of the things I love about kayaking is the new perspective it gives you on the intricacies of the coastline - even along short distances - because you can paddle in so tight to shore.  Adding in an underwater camera on my recent paddles has given me another  fresh perspective of what's happening beneath the surface of our cove.  Normally you only get to see rockweed laying heavy and limp on the rocks at low tide.  Love to see it gracefully swaying in the current with sunlight streaming into the water.

new kid on the block

Gathering lots of great pics from my island visit but had to share these pics of baby Noah who I met for the first time on this visit.  Smiley snugly baby goodness for a Sunday morning!

Noah and his great-grandmother (my grandmother) Betty.

Sitting on my mom's lap.

Check out those two little teeth.  Nom!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

a royal glad girl

Of all the great accoutrements the Duchess of Cambridge has donned during her Canadian tour, her best accessories have to be her big toothy grin and unflappable, unabashed enthusiasm.  

I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.
Audrey Hepburn

One of my favourite "Kate" moments came in PEI when she was dressed down in jeans, a hoodie and still sopping from her dragon boat race.  Security was trying to round up the Royals for the departing motorcade and while they were focused on Wills, Kate scampered back to the crowds for a few last handshakes.  I mean, Her Royal Highness practically skipped.  It was adorable.  

Macleans magazine has put together a cute slideshow of "Stuff Kate Middleton is thrilled about in Canada" with some of the her best expressions and cheeky-sweet lists of what she's thrilled about in each.  

In a world where fashionable cynicism often reigns, a tip of the fascinator to the royal glad girl!

Monday, July 4, 2011

chill out: strawberry-mango-mint sorbet

Growing up  we had to wait for snow to pack into the bucket of the old ice cream freezer. This meant home-made ice cream was, ironically, a winter treat.  Having traded in the old wooden bucket model for a stainless steel Cuisinart, when the mercury rises I can cool down with home-made ice creams and sorbets. (Although a bowl of my grandfather's chocolate ice cream is a must on Christmas holidays!)

I whipped up a quart of tangy and refreshing strawberry-mango-mint sorbet this weekend.  It was really kind of a "kitchen sink" batch aimed at using up some of the fruit in my fridge. The thickness of the mango puree actually gave this a very "creamy" texture without any dairy. 

 sorbet or sherbet? there is a difference between the two desserts. They both start out with the same ingredients but as soon as you add dairy, it stops being a sorbet and becomes sherbet (sherbet can also contain eggs) So if you want to cut the fat stick to sorbets. (Of course, the sugar means it's not entirely guilt-free!)

Here are some simple guidelines for sorbet - play with the fruit combinations to your taste - if you can puree it, you can make it into sorbet.  This will make about a litre/quart of sorbet.

* 3/4 cup sugar
* about five cups of fruit
* 1/4 cup fruit juice

Combine the sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan to make a thick simple syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for two minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before adding to the puree. 

Chop up about five cups of fruit.  I used 4 mangoes, about a cup of strawberries, and handful of mint for good measure.   You can play with flavour combinations and proportions.  Toss the fruit into the blender and puree.  Depending on what fruit you are using and the texture you want you may want to press the pureed fruit through a fine mesh sieve for extra-smoothness. 

In a medium bowl combine the puree, the simple syrup and 1/4 cup fruit juice.  I used freshly-squeezed lime juice to add a bright tanginess to the mango and strawberry.  Toss the whole lot into your ice cream maker and follow the machine instructions.  The mixture will still be slushy after you remove it from the maker, put it in a container and pop it in the freezer until it hardens up.
 Home made ice creams and sorbets will melt more quickly than commercial products so you may want to chill your dishes before serving.

The mango-strawberry combo came out in a bright shade of coral.  I love pinks, corals and yellow together so I'd love to do a batch of this, a batch of straight mango and a batch of straight strawberry and serve three mini-scoops on a vintage banana split dish!

Don't have an ice cream maker? The benefits of the ice cream maker is that the spinning and the dash introduces air into the mixture and keeps crystals from forming while cooling it, keeping the texture smooth, light and crystal free.  There are methods, albeit a bit more labour-intensive, for making ice cream or sorbets without an ice cream maker and a quick Google search can give you some tips.

real simple

A bottle of simple syrup is a must-have for cold summer beverages.  Because it's liquid, sweetening iced teas, cordials or cocktails is easier with this syrup than granulated sugar that may not dissolve or distribute easily.   It takes less than five minutes to make and can be kept in the refrigerator indefinitely. 

In a small saucepan, combine equal parts sugar and water over medium high heat.  I use a wooden spoon to gently stir the mixture just until the sugar is dissolved and then just swirl it occasionally (stirring can release sugar crystals on the sides of the pan into the liquid).  Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.  Once the syrup is cooled, transfer to a bottle and store in the refrigerator for your next gimlet or glass of home made iced tea.

How simple is that?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

happy canada day!

Hope you had a wonderful holiday celebrating our great country!  (and for any American readers hope you have a great 4th on Monday!)