Archive for March 2015

Piano, Piano – aka Slowly, Slowly!

That’s how our kitchen renovation is progressing! One wee step at a time! Good thing we started this process in November!

DSC_0826 nx2A pricey custom kitchen would be wonderful to have and if this were twenty years ago, would be well worth it!

So, we opted to go for an IKEA kitchen only to discover the Swedes had decided to change their kitchen systems! I probably mentioned before how choked we were to discover the upper cabinets have been increased from 12” to a 15” depth which they figured is much better for all our large North American kitchens…apparently they think no one lives in condos!

So, after a meeting with our contractor, where we discussed cutting down the upper cabinets from 12” to 15” then cutting down the cabinets themselves from 40” to 36” because 40 “ is way too low; then cutting down the doors.  IKEA’S only other option are 30” tall cabinets…not an option for our needs! After the quote came in on the cost of cutting down everything, it just seemed plain crazy! On to, yup, you guessed it…Plan C…

Plan C led us to a kitchen cabinet place in Port Coquitlam to check out what they have….success! They have all the right sizes…no cutting down required and not only that they have a 21” deep lower cabinet with drawers that we think will improve traffic flow! It seems like a miracle! The quote comes in, the price is right! Woo hoo!!! Cabinets will arrive assembled, meaning we spend less money for the contractor! Great news, we’re now happy campers!

Next step….back to Port Coquitlam to finalize the deal.

They quoted on the Caesarstone too…so we’re going to simplify our lives and do the one-stop shopping thing! Never was a big fan of IKEA anyway!

Just think…next week we can move on to ordering all the other bits and pieces and get the contractor and flooring install dates set up…like I said…piano, piano!  Stay tuned!

Phyllis Signature_01

 

A Gardener’s Hope

Or, maybe it should be “a hope and a prayer”…

DSCN0646 nx2The radish seeds I planted are up as of yesterday!

I’ve been thinking about the planting of seeds lately. It seems to me that gardeners are people whose glasses are half full and they are people full of hope for the future.

Year in, year out, first it’s the lettuce seeds and radishes. But best of all and the most rewarding are the arugula seeds! Throw them into a space, give them a nice warm spot, say on the front porch, add some water off and on and within a very short time period there’s the little green beginnings…it always brings a big smile to my face!

Before too long it will be time for the basil seeds with their promise of wonderful things to eat come the summer. These days I overplant them and then carefully thin the little seedlings to add to a salad or scatter over a dish of pasta…they look so cute and it’s the first early taste of Italian seedsthe best herb ever! Where would summer be without basil and tomatoes…it just wouldn’t be summer that’s where!

Most gardeners are over-run with zucchini during zucchini season…but zucchini is one of the most versatile veggies ever! From savory to sweet you can count on zucchini! I’m still scouting around for the Italian zucchini seeds I like to plant. When grown they are a medium green colour with vertical ridges down the length of the zucchini which makes them so darned good looking once cut…and they are not all about good looks either…they taste so good! Here’s two varieties you might like to try: Zucchini Lunga Fiorentini and Zucchini Romanesco.

Look for and buy some Italian seeds…the packages are beautiful, or at least in my eye…I often just prop them up on the kitchen window …instant art!

I’ll be thinking of you when I’m roaming about outside and playing in the dirt!

 

Phyllis Signature_01

Traditions (Is It Easter Yet?)

The coming of spring meant lots of things when I was a little girl. Easter school holidays (hey, it was the 1950’s so it was still called that), were high on my list, not being that keen on school! Then there were new “Easter” dresses, purses, hats and fancy shoes for me and my sister to wear to church. It was loads of fun dying eggs with our mother the day before, experimenting with all those colours and making up designs! There was the annual “Easter Egg Hunt,” held outdoors, weather permitting. Before we went to bed the night before, Sharon and I would leave a glass of milk and a carrot on the kitchen table for the “Easter Bunny.” Poor dad! That Easter egg hunt was almost as good as Christmas morning!

_DSC0447.jpg nx2 pt1When I got older I was assigned the task of making dessert for Easter dinner. At our house it meant “Daffodil Cake”, a recipe mom probably tore out of the newspaper. I can’t tell you how many little gumdrop flower decorations I made for those cakes over the years!

And then…time for Easter dinner. The menu was written in stone and included the usual suspects of baked ham with mustard glaze and pineapple rings (thank gawd those days are long gone, or at least let’s hope so), baked sweet potatoes and some overcooked vegetables (like I said, it was the ’50’s!) I always thought one of the best things were the devilled eggs, sitting there prettily on their special gold trimmed blue, devilled egg plate, made from all those dyed eggs!

New traditions have been adopted along the way. I just have to make, hot crossed buns for Easter morning, and devilled eggs topped with new chives, fresh from the garden, served with a slice of leftover ham and some new crop French Breakfast radishes for lunch the next day.

My husband and I always make a nice “Easter Sunday” dinner, whether we have company or not, just because it’s a nice thing to do. This year’s menu looks something like this: we will be cooking up a Swedish ham (from Oyama Sausage) that needed to be pre-ordered. Not sure about the glaze yet…mulling over some new ideas. I think we might start the dinner with small bowls of pale green leek soup. There might be some asparagus and scalloped sweet potatoes. And then…because it’s a special dinner, and because I seem to have eggs on the brain, a special but easy to make dessert: Italian Lemon Puddings.

Of course, a nice bottle of wine will not go amiss either!

**To make easy Hot Crossed Buns, click here.
**To contact Oyama Sausage, click here.
**If you wish to bake a ham, click here for the link for a delicious one that’s dead easy to make.
**For the recipe for the leek soup, click here.
**For the recipe for the Italian Lemon Pudding, click here.

Phyllis Signature_01

A Man and His Bread

Am I glad that we can eat wheat!

batardOtherwise, I would be beyond unhappy about missing out on my friend Chris’ amazing baking.

I have been an enormous fan and supporter of Christopher Brown’s many delicious offerings ever since he opened Ecco Il Pane here in Vancouver in the early 1990’s. When that bakery cum restaurant closed their doors it was a sad day indeed and he was sorely missed.

Then one day, a few years ago, surprise, there’s Chris at the farmer’s market we frequent under his “Rise Artisan Bakery” banner! That was a very, very happy day!

Chris and his business partner have recently opened a new venture; Batard Boulangerie and Café Moderne between 24th and 25th on Fraser Street. Part bakery, part cafe with sandwiches, soups and the like along with his delicious breads and amazingly good pastries…the lemon tart, always a favourite of mine has reappeared and something new, a golden, crunchy, caramelized kouign-amann. Cannot say enough about those! The kouign begin as a croissant type dough but oh my…they are out of this world!

DSCN0637 nx2The menu has a special “beef dip” …now I am not a fan of beef dip…but coffee crusted, thinly sliced medium rare, tender roast beef in a baguette and a dipping jus that’s the real deal…nothing from a packet here! A little salad on the side and did I enjoy it or what? My lunch companion really liked her black bean soup too! Besides the roast beef dip there is a great sounding shrimp dill remoulade sandwich and a few good looking salads went by on their way to other tables…ah well…next time!

Batard Boulangerie and Café Moderne is a comfortable spot with friendly staff where you can buy the breads by the half or even quarter…a good thing indeed! They have been busy since they opened their doors and you better get there early if you want the kouigin-amann!  http://www.batardbakery.com/

Phyllis Signature_01