Posts filed under ‘Home’
This sweet brown vase was a gift earlier this month: it’s the latest addition to a collection of tiny vases that are perfect for my small garden.
Once again these vessels are filled with spring flowers. I’ve been enjoying the zen-like art of flower arranging once or twice a week lately and it’s a reminder that few things make me happier than walking outside to my own garden and cutting flowers for a bouquet.
I love photographing them, too, and the small arrangements are the perfect size for my teeny studio.
This is an adaptation on a the cranberry and lavender scone recipe I posted a few weeks ago. I’ve made these scones with regular flour rather than gluten-free since pumpkin is not a popular flavour with anyone except me in our house. Substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour for a GF version.
The cream cheese frosting was an after-thought, but I had some in the freezer leftover from another recipe. A rich, sweet indulgence, but we all deserve a treat once in a while on weekend mornings.
Makes 8 scones
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup flax seeds
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 cup canned pumpkin (or freshly cooked pumpkin if you have it)
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon demerara sugar (coarse sugar) for sprinkling on top
1 tablespoon of flax seeds for sprinkling over finished scones
Zest of 1 orange for sprinkling over finished scones
Cream cheese frosting
1 cup cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon milk
Combine flours, flax, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, yogurt and egg and then pour into flour mixture. Gently fold until the ingredients are just combined. Tip the dough into a greased glass pie plate, score the dough with a knife into eight pieces and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake in a 375F oven for 20-30 minutes or until scones are baked through (be careful not to overbake).
Mix together frosting ingredients in a mixmaster or with a spoon until smooth and drizzle over top of the scones once they’re cut and removed from the pan. Sprinkle with flax seeds and orange zest and serve with orange slices.
The frosting freezes and refreezes well, so pour the remainder into a jar put it away for the next time you need it.
It was a glorious day here in Vancouver this past Saturday, full of sunshine and spring. On the way home from a long, long walk we passed a giant rack filled with tulips grown in the Fraser Valley. $10 for three lovely bunches, so of course I came home with an armful. It’s a bargain when you consider the joy of them, plus the much needed cheer they provided when it poured rain all day Sunday.
I always put a couple of pennies in the bottom of a vase of tulips: the copper in the coin keeps them standing up tall instead of flopping over. There is controversy that this is just an old wives’ tale, which may be the case. However, I’m convinced that it works and I’m also attached to the ritual of watching the penny float down through the water, and hearing the sound of it plinking in the glass vase, so I guess I’m siding with the wives.
Up until this weekend my plan was to ditch the excess pennies cluttering up my world since they’ll soon have no monetary value. But now, thinking of the tulips, I’m alarmed at the meagre size of my stash. Imagine all the years ahead, all the future tulips, the copper they crave. I searched around the house and put the pennies I found into a jar for safe keeping.
Beware the penny drop, tulip lovers!
Every once in a while I make something to eat at home that receives glowing reviews from my dear dining mate. This is no easy feat and like all hard-to-achieve praise, it is sometimes hard to understand. This is just mushroom soup – there are some fancy things to add at the end if you wish – cream, a bit of chopped spinach (my favourite), a few drops of truffle oil, a sprinkle of chives – but it is just mushroom soup, and it is easy to make.
The hardest part is the patience needed to cook the onions and mushrooms slowly so the flavours have lots of time to develop and mingle – make sure you do that.
I made this soup for a quick Friday dinner before we went to see Life of Pi, which was very well done – a great movie adaptation of a great book. Like many people, I’m a Yann Martel fan (especially his ‘What is Stephen Harper Reading’ project, which I enjoyed even more than Life of Pi), and it makes me very happy to see Canadian literature turning into Hollywood films. I remember seeing Yann Martel’s books at the Livraria Lello in Porto a few years ago and wondering if he was as pleased as I was to see his books translated into Portuguese. I think his star just took another giant leap.
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (or dried thyme)
Lots of fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups sliced button mushrooms
3 cups sliced portobello mushrooms
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used oregano and basil)
Optional add ins (for four servings):
1 cup chopped spinach (frozen is ok, but thaw it first)
4 tablespoons whipping cream
Slowly cook onion in oil over low-medium heat until it begins to carmelize. This will take a while, maybe 15 minutes. Add in the dried herbs, pepper and red wine; stir for a few minutes until the wine starts to reduce. Add in the mushrooms and cook slowly until they begin to cook down, about 10 minutes. Add in the vegetable stock and fresh herbs and remove from the heat. Let the mixture cool down to lukewarm and then puree in the blender (do not blend hot liquid, not ever!). Return to the pot and heat through. Stir in any of the optional add-ins above. Or, if taste differences prevail in your house as they do in mine, add what you will to the bottom of individual bowls, ladle in the soup, stir and serve.
Do not think that you can just throw a pile of freshly picked plums into a plate pressed with pastry along with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon and imagine that a perfect pie will emerge on the other side. It will look beautiful, yes, and it will smell divine. But it will be SOUR! Your dinner guests – in laws, no less – will take a bite and then look at you with an expression that your husband helpfully calls “bitter beer face.” Your dreams of domestic bliss will be shot down once again.
Instead, use a recipe that calls for lots and lots of sugar. Or pour honey on top of each slice of the failed pie, along with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, to help drown out the taste.
Luckily I have about 10 pounds of these beautiful golden plums sliced up and packed away in my freezer thanks to the fruit-laden tree just outside the front door of my parents’ new place on Vancouver Island. I will try the pie again. You are all invited.