Archive for June, 2009

Canning: Beer Mustard!

June 21, 2009

About a week after our first experience with canning, we once again bought a ton of rhubarb for cheap and made a nice batch of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie filling… which we’ve still not made a pie from! Hopefully that will come soon.

This weekend we canned once again – starting with Beer Mustard. We’ve had this idea for awhile that we would like to make our own condiments… don’t ask why, it just sounds like a fun thing to do. Unfortunately I’m not so sure this first attempt really turned out so well. The good news is I do think it’s something we’ll try again with a different recipe. Mustard from scratch is really quite easy:

Mustard seeds

Mustard seeds

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Our Garden, Week-by-Week: Week 3

June 21, 2009

June 21st, 2009

I’m pleased with the progress so far. Things are growing nicely!

Pictures:

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The first rose!

June 16, 2009

Our rosebush is in bloom! Okay, okay – so we only have one bloom, not tons. But still – that’s exciting! Based on the number of buds, I think there are many many more coming in the next week.

Check out this beauty:

The first rose of 2009.

The first rose of 2009.

Blueberry Oat Scones

June 15, 2009

I’ve been searching for good summer recipes lately – and one thing that caught my eye while doing a random search on epicurious was Blueberry Oat Scones. Quite indulgent (nearly 2 cups of half and half!), but the recipe looked too good to pass up.

Meet our breakfast for the week:

Blueberry Oat Scones

Blueberry Oat Scones

The recipe made 15 scones – probably too many as it’s likely not going to last us more than a week (before they start getting stale, that is). Next time I’ll either half the recipe or make plans to invite people over to share!

Our Garden, Week-by-Week

June 14, 2009

Week #2!

Not a whole lot of change since last week – but here are some updated photos:

The Garden Plot - Week 2

The Garden Plot - Week 2

I’m very impressed with the rose bush. I hope that they bloom soon! So many buds!

Brunch with friends at The School Bakery & Cafe

June 7, 2009
The School Bakery & Cafe

The School Bakery & Cafe

Brunch is a big deal in Toronto.  But while Cari and I consider ourselves bonafide foodies and avid restaurant patrons, the truth is that our experiences going out for brunch are quite limited.

I first read about The School Bakery & Cafe in Now Magazine, shortly after the restaurant first opened its doors.  The place, located on Fraser Avenue in Liberty Village (near King St. W. and Dufferin), now serves dinner but remains sought after for their brunch.  From the menu we could see why… toblerone-banana belgian waffles, super cheesy french toast, potato-sausage omelet with melted brie… our mouths were watering well before we ordered.

The School's menu was a one page document attached to a clipboard

The School's menu was a one page document attached to a clipboard

It took us all quite a while to narrow down our choices, as everything on the menu sounded incredible.  In the end, I decided on the toasted coconut pancakes, served with a warm caramel sauce and whipped cream.  Cari ordered strawberry shortcake buttermilk pancakes.  Both were plated nicely, with small pancakes stacked tall alongside a shotglass of maple syrup.

Adam's toasted coconut pancakes with caramel sauce and whipped cream

Adam's toasted coconut pancakes with caramel sauce and whipped cream

Cari's strawberry shortcake buttermilk pancakes

Cari's strawberry shortcake buttermilk pancakes

Thankfully both of these dishes were as mouthwatering as they sounded.  The coffee was also very good, and refilled regularly, a good sign for a breakfast/brunch spot.

Ultimately The School lived up to our expectations.  From the innovative menu choices to the decor to the quality of food, everything amounted to a great dining experience.  We’ll definitely be back.

The School Bakery & Cafe is located at 70 Fraser Avenue in Toronto.

A late lunch at Stockyards

June 6, 2009

It’s not every day that an exciting new business moves into our neighbourhood, so when Cari and I first noticed Stockyards on our walks to the Green Barn farmer’s market, we knew this barbecue joint was something we needed to check out soon.

A few days ago, I was flipping through the pages of Now Magazine and stumbled upon this glowing review.  Apparently we really needed to give this place a try!

So today, after spending hours in our backyard garden planting, we decided to reward our efforts with some tasty barbecue at Stockyards.  We were greeted by Tom Davis, the owner/chef I had seen profiled in Now just that week.  He apologized in advance, telling us that because of the success of the previous night’s rib night, many of the menu choices were unavailable.  Hardly fazed, Cari and I were glad to hear that business was going so well.

I placed our order at the front and chatted with Davis about the Now review, the Friday night barbecues (soon to be expanded to other nights as well), and the fact that he roasts and smokes his own meat behind the restaurant.

Then we chatted with the cook as he prepared our lunch: a caprese sandwich for Cari and a hamburger with aged cheddar and smoked bacon for me.

Both were absolutely delicious:

We also both had homemade limeade which was very good.

Just as we were finishing up the last of our meals, we overheard someone asking if they sold their own meat.  Apparently the owner used to sell his meat at St. Lawrence Market.  Go figure.

Definitely a great place to have in the neighbourhood, Stockyards is located at 699 St. Clair West.  Hopefully next time they’ll have the pulled pork and pastrami for me to try.

Our Garden, Week-by-Week

June 6, 2009
Adam prepping our garden plot.

Adam prepping our garden plot.

We are *far* from amazing gardeners, but we were lucky enough to end up with a house that has a nice big garden plot in the back. We’ve gardened with varying success every year – and this year we’re going to try to keep better records of our successes (and failures) in the garden.

We’re going to try to document our gardening attempts for a few (good?) reasons:

  1. We have a lot to learn. Maybe others reading will have tips/tricks for us to try and improve.
  2. It will keep us on top of things. If we vow to take photos every week, well – we’ll want to make sure the garden is nicely weeded before we take the photos, won’t we?
  3. It will be interesting! Well, it will be interesting for us. We’ll get to see how much change is noticeable over just a week’s time.

We may not post about our garden every single week – maybe every other week – maybe once a month, but we will have photos for every single week. 

This weekend we finally planted. A bit later than we’d like, but I think we’re finally past the fear of too-cold overnight lows. So, what did we plant?

The veggies ready to be planted.

The veggies ready to be planted.

  • Tomato: A must for us. We ended up with 8 plants – 4 roma and 4 regular tomatoes. 
  • Eggplant: We’ve never done eggplant before… hopefully it works out for us! We got the classic variety.
  • Zucchini: We had AMAZING success with this last year. It’s almost too easy to grow, and it grows huge. As a result, this year we only planted one.
  • Planting some tomato.

    Planting some tomato.

  • Cayenne Peppers: We’ve done sweet peppers before and have never had the best of luck. Curious to see how these work out! We planted 3 total – one in the main garden plot, and one each in two planters.
  • Romaine Lettuce: A big hit last year. We loved being able to walk out into the garden and get lettuce for a quick salad. It bolted towards the end of the year, so hopefully it’ll last longer this year. We planted 3 total.
  • Arugula: We wanted more types of lettuce this year, so we planted 4 arugula plants, and
  • Red Leaf Lettuce: 4 total – two in the main garden plot, and two in a large planter (which are probably too squished, but we’re trying).
  • Spinach: 4 plants total. I hope this works!
  • Basil: 4 plants total, two each in large planters.

We also have a rosebush, planted last year – that seems to be thriving. I should probably prune it back more, but I’m a bit intimidated about messing it up. Behind the rosebush there is also a small flowering vine, but I have my doubts that that is going to survive the season:

Our rosebush.

Our rosebush.

I can’t wait to get some roses from our garden in the house. There are a *ton* of buds, so I have high hopes.
 
And here is the entire plot on week 1, June 6th:

Garden Plot Week 1: June 6th

Garden Plot Week 1: June 6th

And finally – proof of why garden shoes shouldn’t have holes in them:

My feet, post planting.

My feet, post planting.

Product Recommendation: Balsamic Pesto

June 5, 2009
President's Choice Balsamic Pesto Sauce

President's Choice Balsamic Pesto Sauce

Gnocchi is our go to quick and tasty dinner. When we’re in the mood for something really yummy and comfort food-ish, but neither of us are in the mood to actually cook anything real, we almost always go for gnocchi. In the past we’ve always gotten the indulgent vodka sauce, but on a recent trip to Loblaws we stumbled upon this unusual product: Balsamic Pesto. 

BEST THING EVER.

It’s a really thick and luxurious sauce that goes a long way. Full of a nice rich flavour. Highly recommended when you’re in the mood for something a little different. I’m sure it would also make a great pizza base, but it’s glorious on gnocchi.

 

 

Gnocchi with Balsamic Pesto

Gnocchi with Balsamic Pesto

BBQ Club: Part 1

June 5, 2009

The first of our weekly summer BBQs was last night… what a great evening. Thanks to those of you who were able to join! 

Nothing too exciting this time… our menu was pretty simple:

  • Burgers: Lick’s Homeburgers and Lick’s Natureburgers
    Happy to support Lick’s more than ever now. Their burgers are not only crazy tasty – but they are a food sponsor for this year’s Relay For Life. I’m happy to find more excuses to enjoy some Lick’s goodness.
  • Hamburger Buns: Homemade, of course
    This is actually the norm for us now… it’s so easy! And so tasty! (…and it leads to the obvious-but-ridiculous joke about everyone enjoying my firm and tasty buns) I made them bigger than the recipe called for this time – making 10 from a batch instead of 12. Worked out well.  Next time perhaps I should try a whole wheat variety? Hmmm.
  • Salad: Super super simple – mixed greens with oil and balsamic.
  • Dessert
    – Emily’s yummy yummy homemade blueberry apple pie! Photos coming soon!
    – Homemade strawberry ice cream. Turned out well!

We also had a nice mix of beer, wine, and soft drinks. A delicious and relaxing evening.