Monday, November 29, 2010

house update

We got into the house this weekend and were surprised to find kitchen cabinets!

I really wanted white cabinets, but I hated the style of the doors and that was the only option for white. You wouldn't believe how old fashioned builders still are! So I'm extra interested to see how the darker cabinets look when the flooring goes in. Dark floors, dark cabinets? I hope it looks all right. Also notice there is no backsplash. That's because what was chosen for the floor tile (see below) was also what would go up as a backsplash. No. Just. No. I'll choose that myself, thankyouverymuch.

Here's the gorgeous quartz countertop. For some strange reason, I thought it was a lighter grey, but no worries! It's still so pretty and smooth and grey and sparkly. I'm looking forward to kneading bread on it, that's for sure.

The tiles for the front and back entrances have been installed. It's hard to see, but they're a grey-black. Here's another option we lucked out on for looking at least slightly more modern than the others. The tile options, man. They were so 1985.

The linoleum in the bathrooms had all been installed, as well as the cabinets in the bathrooms and fixtures throughout. I do not like any of the fixtures, actually, but in a way, that's a good thing. They're not terrible, so I can spend some time and find ones I do like (read: more modern) and install them myself. See? Even though it's a new house, there's still going to be plenty of projects to work on.

I do really love how the doors and trim are all in a darker, contrasting colour to the walls. It's a lot more interesting than typical white.

I thought I'd also share the ceiling texture since that was such a worry for me. It reminds me a lot of a wall texture I've seen, but it's a lot smoother (it doesn't look that smooth in the picture, but it's not as rough as it seems).  Now that I've got something to compare popcorn to, knockdown makes the ceiling feel a lot lighter and higher. I find that popcorn makes the ceiling feel lower and almost cave-like (total stalactites).

Finally, the outside door has been painted teal! I really think it makes the siding look more green than grey. But do you notice a problem? There are STILL no eavestroughs! Houses that were started after ours have them and we still don't. It's driving me bonkers. The front steps are covered in dangerous ice because of it. Argh!!

Overall, I'm really happy with it, but it feels like a builders, out-of-the-box house to me. It has absolutely no character and looks like all the other showhomes. I'm sure most people don't even think about painting or changing the light fixtures when they move into a newly constructed house, but it's our house and I want it to reflect our personalities and not the limited options (and design esthetics) that someone else made me choose from. So never fear! It may be a new house, but I'll definitely be showing you before and afters as I change things and decorate!

Friday, November 26, 2010

christmas cactus and football?

Did you have a great Thanksgiving? Seeing all the recipes and hoopla this last month really made me jealous for a proper Thanksgiving feast (since I've only been making small two person meals for the last few Thanksgivings). The thought of having another pumpkin pie and some stuffing totally entered my mind. I think that's one of the nice things about having Thanksgiving earlier. We can opt in for a second go if we want to!

But since Thanksgiving for Canadians is in October, our November celebration usually revolves around the Grey Cup. We'd have a party on Sunday where we'd watch movies and snack all day and not even bother with dinner. And, yes. You heard right. We never watched the game. No one really cared for football even though we still called it a Grey Cup party. So to this day, when I suggest having a Grey Cup party, I'm really suggesting we snack all day and watch movies with zero football interruptions (and one of those movies has to be boring as hell, so we can possibly have a little nap during it). I guess that explains why I'm so not in the mood to make a 'meal' this week, and I just want some little bits to snack on instead. Weird, hey?

Anyway, Edmonton is going crazy with football fever since we're hosting it this year. Are you watching the game?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

dinner recipes to ponder

as Idle Husband lovingly refers to it

I've been having issues with meatloaf for a while now. Whatever recipe I use (or don't use, cuz usually I just improvise), it always ends up crumbling into chunks and we have to scoop it out of the loaf pan with a spoon. I kind of have this idea that meatLOAF should hold its shape. You know, like a loaf should. I want to be able to cut off a nice slab, and I want to be able to lift it out of the pan in one piece. I also think it would be pretty great if the leftovers could be sliced for a sandwich for a nice and unique lunch option. That's the kind of meatloaf I'm talking about. So for the last while, we've been having meatloaf every week, because every week, I try a new recipe.

This meatloaf with apple cider ketchup is the first recipe I've tried that's actually held its shape, was sliceable, easy, and delicious. As soon as I mixed it up and pushed it into the pan, I knew. I knew this would be the one we'd stick with. It also has sneaky, hidden vegetables in it, but I think the next time I make it, I'm going to opt out of the spinach. We both agreed the spinach was a little too overpowering. Maybe that means I can push some more carrots through my meat grinder instead. Yes, you heard me. I had to grind up pork for this recipe which meant I had to get my meat grinder out and get it dirty (bummer). So I didn't want to mince the vegetables with a knife (hello, forever), and I didn't want to dirty up another appliance, so I threw caution to the wind and stuck both the carrot and the onion into the meat grinder (crazy housewife fun!). It worked perfectly and gave me tiny little nibblets that were barely visible. And no, I didn't make the apple cider ketchup. I only made the loaf, though I'm sure the ketchup was delicious.

Can I just riddle you something? Why do recipes for apple cider call for apple cider? Am I the only one that's like, wha-what? Cuz I did some looking for apple cider that I could make myself since I had apples, but like, every recipe goes like this: for apple cider, get some apple cider, add some cinnamon...So here's a special bonus recipe from me to you: to make a frosted cake. Get a cake. Put some frosting on it. Done.

onion varieties currently in my house

Onion pandade was like the most delicious thing ever. I'm one of those people who sautes onions for something else and ends up eating half of them straight out of the pan. I really could just make a batch of caramelized onions, plop it in a bowl, and eat it for dinner. In fact, I just might for pork chop night this week as the two remaining pork chops are rather tiny. So one of us (me. Always me) will have to forgo meat, and if it means suffering through a big dish of caramelized onions, well, I guess I'll just have to take one for the team. Also, why did I not eat more caramelized onions for dinner when I was single? Why, world?! 

For this particular recipe, I used my plain homemade sandwich bread so the result was extra pudding-y. More so than her picture leads me to believe it was supposed to be. So you should really probably opt for 'rustic' bread (which in my brain translates into, so crusty you can't even handle it without a million dry pieces of crust flaking off). I'm also thinking of using croutons for a super delicious onion stuffing. Mmm stuffing. There's another thing I could eat all on its own (ok, with cranberry sauce mixed in. I have to mix cranberries into any stuffing. It's a rule). And what's even better about this recipe? There are only five ingredients so it comes together in a snap.

Not a recipe, but rather a word of advice. If you want to make cabbage rolls, steam the cabbage before rolling it. I'm feeling like this is a fact that everyone knows about, but I only just recently discovered it today when a friend was asking for a good recipe and then I got curious as to what the hell would comprise a cabbage roll recipe. Ummm (squinty eyed pondering), meat, rice, cabbage leaves, tomato sauce? Why's that hard? Last week, I was all, I'm going to make cabbage rolls with leftover jambalaya! I'm super awesome and super clever! I don't need no freakin' recipe! And then I couldn't remove the cabbage leaves without tearing them and then they wouldn't stay rolled and then I didn't cook it long enough so it was a. complete. disaster. And if there's one thing about this job of stay-at-home wife I take very seriously, it's dinner. So when I serve sloppy, uncooked garbage, I take it rather hard. And then I read about the steaming and it was like a total facepalm moment (oh hello. I'm the resident idiot). I still haven't recovered from it and I hope by talking about it today, I'll be able to get over that hurdle.

And sometimes, the best dinners really do come from just throwing things together. I had absolutely nothing in the house to eat on account of me being too much of a baby to drive in the cold and snow wanting to wait for everyone to get used to driving in the winter before I went out. So on Monday, I made rotini, hamburger (the only meat I had in the freezer. You could hear echoes in there), and nutritional yeast cheese. Basically a rendition of every mom's classic glit. Oh, what? You don't know what glit is? Is that even how you spell that? Is it a word even? It's what my mom always called it and it was always comprised of these important good (an' cheap) foodly items: macaroni, hamburger, onions, carrots, tomato sauce and/or cheese. You can grow up on that stick-to-your-ribs meal. I'm not saying you should, but you can (I'm here today, aren't I?). And there's something so bad and devilish about combining vegetarian (the fake cheese) and meat. It makes me feel very naughty.

And if you happen to have some fish lying around, you can use my chicken finger blueprint and make fish sticks. I had the strangest craving for them yesterday. I also have no idea why I never thought of them for vegetarian day before (see? It's not technically meat, it's fish so it counts. And yes, we changed the rules about vegetarian day about two weeks into it cuz I couldn't think of anything else to do with tofu and beans). Anyway, fish sticks rank right up there in my top dinners. And I specifically wanted sticks. Actually, rectangles of fish. That's how I think a proper fish stick should be. So I was kinda bummed that I could only find fish filets instead of the frozen squares of fish mom always used to buy (and force feed me). At least I still managed to cut them into somewhat rectangular shapes.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Today, I decided to collect all of my vases from the top of my kitchen cabinets and get them wrapped in paper and tucked in a box for moving. It's not like I'm going to be needing a vase in the next month, right? I shouldn't be.

They're all in need of a good wash and scrub after being in the kitchen for a couple years (I'll do that once moved). I saw this tip over on Shelterrific last week and I'm definitely going to try it out. It's really hard to clean the insides of skinny necked vases, you know?

Since I have them all down (and arranged in heft and size cuz I'm anal like that and I figured it would make boxing them faster and smarter), I thought I'd share with you some of my all-time favourite vases. All of them are special and favourites, but these are my favourite favourites.

When I first thought to take pictures of my favourite vases, this is the one I immediately took a picture of and then I thought, hey. I've never even used it. But it doesn't matter cuz I'll never get rid of it. I love the colours and bizarro nature of it.

I never kept this one on the top of the kitchen cabinets, but I thought I should pack it anyway since it is a vase afterall. I keep this one on my bedside table. It holds every rose (except for three) Idle Husband has ever given me. I thought it was fitting for that role because of the bright blue and almost Greek-like swirls on it.

I love the heft of this one. And the bumps. And the silver rim. And because it's so understated, I actually use it quite a lot for bouquets. It's one of those interesting but subtle vases.

Obviously, the fish really appealed to me when I bought this one. The colours in general actually. Brown-grey and yellow. It's very peaceful, just like real goldfish.

Hobnail milkglass. Need I say more? Another bumpy, interesting, subtle vase that's super functional. Mom has the rest of this collection.

This small vase is the one I probably use the most on a daily basis. It fits shorter stemmed flowers perfectly and looks good with any sort of arrangement. I'm usually cutting tiny flowers out of the garden (like poppies), so I always look through all of my shorter vases with the intention of using something different, but I always end up using this one. There are butterflies on the opposite side of the bird.

These three crystal vases were my grandmother's so they hold a very special place in my heart. I distinctly remember that the smaller one in the front (with the bird on it) was the one she used most, and it always had a cluster of roses in it.
So those are my favourites out of a whole lot of them. I wish I could take a picture of every one of them, but I'd be blogging all day about it and they still need to be wrapped and packed! I'm hoping to do something different with them in the new house rather than just keeping them on the top of my cabinets all year, so I wanted to try to get them all in one box so I'd be able to store them nice and orderly-like until I'm ready to display them (summer). Actually, let's be realistic here. It's going to require two boxes... maybe three.

I also just lamented the fact that I didn't share my favourite decorative tins when I was packing those up, but I'll try to remember to do so when I'm unpacking them. There are some really pretty tins in there.

Friday, November 19, 2010

friday fixations

Happy raisin bread
is happy

current fixations

{fonts} I know that's kinda vague, but there's nothing better than a good font. So it's no surprise, then, that I was very excited about Design*Sponge's Design Your Own Alphabet contest. There were so many amazing fonts, it was really hard to vote. And since I could only pick one there (total bummer), here are my favourites (from each round of voting) that I would have downloaded, like, yesterday: Moss, Dog-Eared, Chesthair Grooming, Loose Knot, Mangy Sasquatch, Clover, Soft Wonder, Bandit, Ribbons,  Peacock, Bachata, Copperprint, Skunkling, and Yarn And Glue.

{pink and orange and gold} When I saw this amazingly styled birthday party, I immediately fell in love with the decorations. I would duplicate the wreaths, pompoms, and fireplace flames. They're all so gorgeously clever. This Christmas would definitely be a pink one if we weren't moving.

{conan} I can't tell you how happy we are that Conan's finally back! I haven't laughed so much during dinner, well, since he left (sorry previous dinner background noise, John Stewart). Conan's also in the best commercial right now. Anytime I see it while fast forwarding, I have to stop and watch it again (and again). Here's the (most awesome) extended version:


{fried cheese} We had an official Greek dinner on Sunday (I get the cravings) which involved me desperately trying to fry some calamari (I suck at this) and then trying to fry up some saganaki cheese (which you can pick up at Hellas Foods for pennies) as little appetizers. Usually, saganaki doesn't need anything but some flour and a heat source (I've made it rather successfully on my pancake griddle), but for whatever strange reason, I thought I could plunk it into my hot calamari oil and still get the same lightly brown, crispy result. Nope. It was too hot and thoroughly melted a cheese that's actually pretty hard to melt through conventional methods. So I kinda let it flounder around in there, panicked (like, what else is new?), and threw it in the oven with the fireplace meat to 'keep warm.' Whilst staying warm, it melted down onto the pan and produced the most delicious, crispy cheese pieces evah. And don't even get me started on the crispy melted cheese pieces that came out of the oil. Like, I'm still dreaming about it. (And no; that's not how saganaki's supposed to be done [and it will never be done that way again], but it was a very beneficial [and highly caloric] flub.)

{my old winter farm boots} Yesterday, I made the executive decision that style just didn't matter anymore. Maybe I'm getting old but keeping my feet warm and dry is much higher on my priority list than having cutesy boots. Therefore, faced with the prospect of either a) wearing my super ugly furry camel coloured winter boots (which were bought out of a bad lot of boots in desperation three years ago); b) suffering through the snow with my converse sneakers until I could find more fashionable footwear; or c) wearing my green rubber winter boots (which I only wear to shovel snow off the driveway); I decided to go with the rubber boots. It was only going to be a temporary measure aimed at keeping my feet warm and dry for this one walk. I would continue with my boot-finding quest later. And then, surprise of all surprises, I put the rubber boots on with my skinny jeans tucked in, Idle Husband's warm woolen socks sticking out the top, and the laces tied up (which I've never done before), and suddenly, I felt quite stylish (or rather trendy without trying, like her). Fashion accident! I love them so much dressed up that I'm going to wear these all winter instead of bothering with 'fashionable' boots that neither keep your feet warm nor dry (FYI: I think I got them at Peavey Mart -- over 10 years ago).

{gift guides} I love a well put together holiday gift guide. I kinda go nuts on magazines at this time of year just because I adore looking through simple spreads of cool stuff. I don't think it's the actual stuff I covet, just the overall layout of everything. There's something to be said for good compositions (I definitely need to learn a thing or two on that subject).

{snow shovelling} When it comes time to mow the lawn during the summer, I bitch and complain and put it off until it's obviously weeks overdue, and then I have to mow it twice at different settings just to get it down to looking like a proper lawn again. When it comes time to shovel the snow, I'm anxiously pacing by the window waiting for the flakes to stop so I can get out there and clear it off. I went outside on Wednesday (the first day it started officially sno-wing) just to take out the garbage when I decided to quickly shovel off the porch for Idle Husband; and then I decided to shovel a path to where his car door would end up; and then I decided I might as well shovel the whole driveway; and then I thought I'd do the sidewalk cuz what the hell. Which is all very weird considering snow shovelling is much more work than lawn mowing.

special addition! Idle Husband fixation!

{super meat boy soundtrack} He loves the repetitive gamer music, what can I say? Honestly, though, the soundtrack isn't half bad. Some of the tunes are pretty catchy and addictive (I think the 8-bit ones are super cute). I'm sure this would be appreciated as a man-gift for any gamer in your life (I think it's the perfect stocking stuffer since the whole album is only [a minimum of] $3.99). Stream it here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

from a very snowy day

and just like that, winter realized it had been lacking in the snow department

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

moving music

Look at me! Packing well ahead of schedule!

Listen to what I'm listening to after the jump!

Monday, November 15, 2010

pumpkin risotto

You would be so surprised to know how damn easy this was. Seriously. I can't even make regular rice. I really can't. I burn it or undercook it or overcook it every single time which is why I invested in a rice cooker last year. Good ol' rice cooker. How did I ever live without you?

I had this crazy idea mostly because I seem to have bought quite a lot of canned pumpkin recently and I don't remember why. I bought some for the pie that much I know, but that recipe didn't even use the whole can. So I used some for an attempt at pumpkin pie granola (epic fail), and I was even able to make some half-assed pumpkin butter with the rest. So I had it finally whittled down to one acceptable jumbo can of pumpkin for just-in-case pumpkin cravings, and then I went and bought another can last week. Why? To keep the first jumbo can of pumpkin company in my pantry, obviously.

As I was trying to think of something clever for vegetarian night (damn, I hate coming up with meatless meals sometimes), it hit me. Pumpkin risotto! I've always wanted to try making risotto. I've enjoyed it at many restaurants. I like rice quite a lot. I just made two batches of chicken stock, so I finally had stock just waiting around to be used for something other than soup. It seemed perfect! (I just realized that the inclusion of chicken stock doesn't make this a vegetarian meal in the true sense of the word. But we are not vegetarians. Our meatless nights more or less translate into no obvious inclusions of meat.)

So I thought I could easily find some sort of recipe for pumpkin risotto, but that search netted me absolutely nothing. Well. Not nothing, but nothing that had canned pumpkin. Oh, take your little sugar pumpkin and cube it and cook it and blah blah. I have two jumbo cans of pumpkin in my cupboard already, and I've never seen a sugar pumpkin in a store ever.

So instead, I consulted Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. He really does tell you how to cook everything. I'm not saying all of the recipes are great (cuz they aren't), but at least you can learn the method for cooking certain dishes which is honestly half the battle for any type of cooking you do.

Now I don't want to toot my own horn or anything, but this was the best risotto I've ever had. And I've only ever had it in restaurants, so I feel like that's really saying something. As with all dinner recipes, this is just a guideline. You may have to add more or less stock depending on the rice you use. Maybe you'd like it cheesier. You may have some vegetables in the fridge you want to use up. Have fun with it. It's only dinner.

Pumpkin Risotto (serves 2 for dinner or more if used as an appetizer)
based on Mark Bittman's vegetable risotto from How to Cook Everything

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (I feel like I could have used more)
5 dried shitakii mushrooms, soaked in boiling water until softened, sliced (optional)
1 cup rice (I used jasmine. I think arborio's ideal, but it obviously doesn't matter)
3 cups stock (chicken, beef, vegetable whatever you want), kept at low heat in a pot on the stove
salt and pepper (to taste)
paprika and red pepper flakes (to taste)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup (or more) parmasan cheese (I just used the boring shaker style. I should really buy the real deal next time.)

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft. Mix in pumpkin and mushrooms (if using). You may need to add an extra tablespoon of oil here (as I did), but if the mixture isn't too dry, you probably don't have to bother. Add rice and stir until completely coated with the oil and pumpkin. A couple minutes of stirring should be fine.

To start, add about 1/2 - 1 cup of stock to the rice and pumpkin mixture (I used a soup ladle to add my hot stock which made the whole process a lot easier). You don't have to stir it continuously, but stir it frequently enough so it doesn't cook to the bottom of the pan. Keep adding stock, a little at a time, just as the last addition is almost completely absorbed into the rice. You don't want the rice to be either thick and sticky or wet and soupy, you want to keep it at a nice creamy consistency. After about 20 minutes, you can start tasting the rice to determine whether it's done, and you can also add your salt and pepper and other spices to taste. I learned from MB that the rice is supposed to be cooked like pasta, a little al dente, as it will continue to soak up liquids even after you stop cooking it. Once you reach the point where you've determined your rice is finished to your liking (soft with a slight bite to it), add the butter and cheese and mix until fully incorporated and melted into creamy goodness. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 12, 2010

there are a lot of maybes in this post

I've been feeling pretty uninspired lately. Maybe it's because I have the move and packing on my mind or maybe it's cuz I haven't been feeling well this week or maybe it's cuz I bit my lip at some point this week and it hurts like crazy and it won't get better and it's totally bumming me out (it really is. I can't even tell you how irritating it's been).

Anyway, I had a moment of inspiration on Wednesday and took out my film SLR and started taking pictures with it again. Since I've been lacking in post ideas this week, I was really really counting on this one idea to completely inspire me, but unfortunately, it's only reminded me that I've forgotten everything (or what little I did know) about taking pictures with that camera.

When I saw the results, I felt completely deflated. I guess feeling professional while using a great camera doesn't necessarily equal professional looking photos.

I scanned all of the pictures into my computer, because I hoped I could fix at least a few of them in Picnik. Let me show you some before and afters.

Aren't those befores terrible? The afters aren't that much better, either, though I think I'm a bit better at manipulating photos than actually taking them.

Now, I'm extra considering taking a photography class (that means I've been considering it a lot this week). I think a lot of my better pictures have only been lucky breaks. So I could really use a course that teaches me how to use a camera rather than just relying on my ol' push some random buttons and hope something turns out well routine. I'd really love to find one that also covers composition. I could totally use some help in that area, too. There are a lot of great courses offered in Edmonton, I just have to find the right one. Right now, there seem to be more digital SLR courses than photography in general. Maybe I should get a digital SLR. Christmas is coming, right?

And I should mention (because there's nothing better going on in this ramble) that those were the first persimmons I've ever bought. I thought I'd be adventurous and try them out. I actually had to look up how to eat one. I really didn't have any idea! I peeled them, and I guess you don't have to, but the skin was a little chewy (and not in a good way). The only thing I'm still unsure about is how soft they're supposed to be. Mine were quite firm, but they were still nice and sweet. I think they'd make a really great jam or chutney. Maybe I'll buy them again. Maybe.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

remembrance day brunch

I saw this recipe on They Draw and Cook, and honestly, I was a little nervous using a drawn recipe. I can't see the finished product, and all the comments are about the drawing itself. But I had some sausages I didn't know what to do with, so I thought I'd take a chance. Good thing I did, cuz the recipe ended up turning out rather fantastically.

Normally, I don't like really like sausages either, but I really did enjoy President's Choice brand uncooked Hot Italian pork sausages. They weren't too spicy, salty, or fatty. Just make sure to cook them before adding them to the souffle dish. The recipe was a little unclear on that part.

And check out They Draw and Cook for more amazing recipe illustrations.

Monday, November 8, 2010

fig crisp -- it's all right

We headed over to the Italian Centre Shop this weekend mainly to pick up a spinach feta twist. It's kind of a bum idea cuz it's almost 100% worth it to drive all the way over to Hellas Foods for a tyropita (cheese pie) instead, but the (mostly) spinach (not really tasting of) feta twist is still good, even if they only cooked them from the easily accessible frozen twists in their grocery department. While there, I thought I'd pick up some tomatoes and lettuce just to get us by until I could go for a serious grocery run, when we serendipitously stumbled upon flats of figs again.

How exciting! Actually, ICS had a lot of interesting produce. Fresh dates (what does one do with fresh dates?), fancy mushrooms (enoki are so cute!), and persimmons (I should really try these at some point in my life) among others I can't remember, all fairly budget friendly. Of course, I'm sure I've said it before, but they have lots of interesting products. Their pasta aisle alone is pretty amazing.

So back to the figs. Honestly, I really just wanted to use my new oven proof bowls, so I spent a lot of Saturday trying to figure out what I could do with them. Originally, I thought of making a galette, but I didn't think it would cook up crispy like it's supposed to if pressed into bowls. Instead, I revised a rhubarb crisp recipe I had (and, like, really revised it. I revise it for rhubarb now, too, because the original was super full of sugar), and I divided it among the bowls. I like that part the most about this. Preportioned = perfect.

Fig Crisp
(makes 4 ramekins or one medium sized round baking dish)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup melted butter or canola oil (I think you could get away with a little less if you wanted to)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
7-8 figs, peeled and sliced (this depends on the size of baking dish)

In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and melted butter and mix together with a fork until crumbly and moist. If using ramekins, put about 1/4 cup of the oat mixture into each bowl (divide the mixture in half if using a larger baking dish and use half of the mixture for the bottom).

Using a fork, press the oat mixture down firmly into the bottom of each ramekin.

Take the sliced figs and arrange them on top of the oat mixture so there's an even layer for each portion (if using a larger baking dish, you might want to double up on the figs).

Gently sprinkle the remaining oat mixture (about a 1/4 cup per bowl) on top of the figs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top (it should take 45-55 minutes for a larger dish).

These would be delicious with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream right when they come out of the oven, but we enjoyed them plain with a small drizzle of caramel sauce.

{fig jam}

I still had a little over a pound of figs left, so I made another jar of jam. If you'd like that recipe, check out my previous fig post. In my many fig searches, I also bookmarked some interesting ideas for fig jam, including an appetizer, on grilled cheese, fig poptarts, and fig newtons (music auto starts on this link, fair warning). But I think I'm going to come up with a savory dinner idea. For some reason, I can't get the idea of figs and black pepper out of my head. Hmm...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday fixations

I thought I'd revisit some of my past recipes since Christmas is fast approaching (and Thanksgiving for Americans), and I'm quickly getting too bogged down by moving details to even think about baking right now (gasp! What am I going to do for Christmas presents this year?!). This is the first recipe I posted over at Tasty Kitchen. It's my Gram's original tomato soup cake recipe, and it actually made the home page when I first posted it. I can't tell you how super excited I was about that!

Anyway, this cake is very easy to make and tastes more like a spice cake than tomato soup. So don't worry, you could easily sneak it past any picky eater. You can also adapt it by omitting the walnuts and raisins or by substituting another nut/fruit combination, and it goes perfectly with cream cheese icing but it's definitely delicious all by itself. I think it would make such an interesting dessert for any dinner or party. What a conversation you'd have!

Here's where I blogged about it, and here's where you can find the recipe on Tasty Kitchen!

curent fixations

{plate bowls} Yes. I love plate bowls. There should be no plates and there should be no bowls. The two should only exist in their combined state. So even though it went completely against my nature, I didn't think it would matter too much if I broke up an already lacking set of china just to have four cute vintage-y plate bowls. I definitely would have paid more than the $1.99/bowl I did pay just for the fact that they're not accosting my eyes with 'Pasta! Pasta! Mama Mia!' in green and red with spaghetti entwined around the words.

{super meat boy} I don't think I've mentioned it entirely enough, but I love cute video games. It doesn't really matter that they're bludgening squirrels, it's the fact that they're doing it cutely that makes it so wonderfully enjoyable. Super Meat Boy does just that and it also has wicked hard game play. Ok, maybe not wicked hard, but you are going to lose a meat boy or two (or more) on most levels. And that's what makes it so fun and fun to play together with Idle Husband. No, it's not two player, but we swap the controller back and forth for each level, old school. So when I can't pass a level, IH has a go at it and neither of us ever gets frustrated. It's also got unlockable content (big surprise), but it's unlockable gameplay with different characters which makes it more interesting (and not another cheap stuffing of minigames to fool you into thinking you got a bigger bang for your buck). We only just started the game when we accidentally stumbled on a warp zone which then zipped us over to another set of entirely different levels with a different character with different abilities and seemingly impossible levels forcing us to figure out how to use those abilities. And did I mention the graphics or the music? Both are adorably indie and interesting and fun and artistic. Final bonus? If I want to sit back and enjoy the story without playing (a definite must for me on any game we play), I can because it has that, too, and yes (you guessed it), it's crazy cute. Another $10 game (for a limited time only!) worth its salt. It makes you wonder why you ever bothered with that $60 game you got exactly one day worth of fun out of.

{the island of dr. gateau} Start learning about food and science and the study of all things having to do with taste written in the most clever and entertaining way, all while looking at ridiculously delicious photos of highly scientific food you'll probably never cook because it's so...well, scientific. Amazingly delicious.

{liz lemon} Actually, I adore Tina Fey as Liz Lemon. Tina Fey is my hero. Anyway, I'm assuming that by now, it's no secret that Liz is a little frumpier than most leading lady characters, and I love that honest and real quality about her. So even though she's not dressed in ridiculously fashionable (and mostly unattainable and unrealistic) Hollywood style, her look is absolutely adorable and completely do-able. On a more recent episode, she paired a long sleeved plaid shirt with a short sleeved sweater, and I'm totally planning on rocking that look as soon as I can. Other cute Liz Lemon inspired stuff: nerds, lemonade, necklace, postcards, glasses, blurgh, and check out fuck yeah liz lemon for quotes that will make you giggle.

{rose hips} I'm suddenly very sad I kept deadheading my rose bush with such gusto during the summer. I forgot how lovely rose hips are and how much they add to a fall bouquet. Only four escaped my cutter, so I stuck them into a tiny dried bouquet I already had.

{the edmonton vestiary} Finally! A stylish photo blog from our fair city! It's so refreshing to see real-life fashion that comes straight from the streets of Edmonton. If you love people watching (and ever had the notion that Edmonton was unstylish), I suggest you visit the vestiary tout suite!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

a breath of fresh air

This is my first day home from taking pictures of land for a photography job . I can't tell you how difficult it is taking pictures of bare land. Especially at this time of year. It feels like there's absolutely nothing (pretty) to focus on. On the other hand, there's something so incredibly calming about large empty (quiet) spaces. It's something extremely rare in the city.

Here are some outtakes:

the sun was an unexpected challenge

gloves don't work very well for blocking the light!

I loved these so much I had to pair them