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Our Christmas Promise

December 18, 2016


When Donald Trump was elected in November, I was gutted. I didn’t sleep that night, and cried more than I’d like to admit over the next 24-48 hours. “President-Elect Trump” kept being repeated, and it felt like salt in the wound. And this is not because the Republican candidate won and I was pulling for the Democrat.  And it was not because I proudly wore an “I’m With Her” t-shirt and button and was rooting for America to have its first female president.

The United States of America had just elected a man who terrifies me.

As an American living in Canada, I can’t tell you the number of times over the last 12-18 months I’ve been asked about Donald Trump. “Is this guy actually going to win?” people would ask. “Why does he have so much support?” At first, I would laugh it off – – “I have more faith in Republicans than for him to actually get the nomination – he’s nuts!” and “Well it’s not like he can actually get elected” I’d reply. I obsessively watched fivethirtyeight as the graph got scarier and scarier, and then less and less so.

As the election day neared, and he was the Republican candidate and debated Secretary Clinton, I watched the debates with a glass (or three) of wine and would get angry. I listened to commentary on CNN and would yell at my radio – – “THIS IS NOT NORMAL” I’d yell. How could this man have such support? So much of what he said was factually false, and so little of it was taken to task. Not even debatable – not “grey” or “half truth,” but just… not based in reality or fact. At all.

I’ve heard it said that Trump supporters took his words “seriously but not literally,” while the rest of us took his words “literally but not seriously.” And I think that really, that seems to sum it up.

And yet, he’s won. He’s going to be our president.

I’ve moved past mourning, and have tried to move into action. I’ve already contacted the Democrats Abroad and am looking to ways I can get more involved moving forward.  Adam and I have vowed to do what we can to make a positive difference and counteract some of the terrifying things we are seeing. My extended family decided to forego Christmas gifts for the adults this year and instead donate to causes in the US that can help. As for Adam and I, we’ve given what we can to:

  1. The Sierra Club – to help protect the environment from a man and administration who believe climate change is a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.”
  2. Planned Parenthood – to help protect women’s basic health care and rights from someone who clearly doesn’t have a clue about how an abortion actually works (btw, no babies are “ripped from the womb the day before they are due” – that’s called childbirth).
  3. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – to help protect civil liberties and make sure basic rights that Trump doesn’t seem to understand are protected.
  4. Anti-Defamation League – to help fight against anti-Semitism as leaders in the alt right (*cough* Neo-Nazis *cough*) are emboldened and given cabinet positions.
  5. Communities in Schools – to help provide a bridge to education and fight against drop out rates. Maybe a higher educated populous is the biggest thing we need right now.

I’m not sharing this to look good or for a pat on the back. I’m sharing this to encourage you to do the same. We can’t stand back and expect things to change on their own – we have to be that change. We have to get involved – make phone calls (calls to your state and federal representatives *can make a difference*). Voice your concerns and peacefully protest when needed. Make it clear that we will not stand for racism. We will not stand idly by while rights are dismantled. And we must fund the groups doing that work.

Bread without a Bread Maker

March 15, 2016

We used to have a bread maker and rarely bought bread, opting for homemade instead. The bread maker takes then guesswork out and really means you don’t have to know much about making bread… it does all of the kneading, times the rise times, and even bakes it right in the machine. We loved it!

It stopped working quite awhile ago, but I’ve found a recipe that makes pretty tasty bread pretty easily. Two loaves even! And my family of four can go through two loaves pretty quickly. If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, it’s pretty fool proof:

Basement Renovation

January 14, 2015

Our blog has been neglected for quite awhile – trying to get back into it as it’s been a great resource for us for re-finding favourite recipes. It’s also a fun outlet for various home projects, and I just found this draft for a blog I wrote a year ago but never published. Our basement renovation, for anyone who may be interested.


His Name Is Lee

May 7, 2013

The slaw, as it arrives to your table.

Chef Susur Lee is a legend amongst the Toronto culinary scene.  He’s opened some of the city’s top restaurants, set up shop in Singapore, Washington DC and New York and even appeared on Food Network, in a (tie) battle vs. Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America and later on Top Chef: Masters.

Cari and I decided my birthday would be a good excuse to finally give Lee Restaurant a try.  Of course, we made that decision on Thursday at which point our reservation options were 5:45pm or 9:15pm.  We dropped Violet off at my parents and opted for a late dinner.

Upon our arrival, we overheard a patron leave, announcing “What a great restaurant.  I can’t believe how good that restaurant was.”  Good sign, we thought.  We took a seat at the bar as we were waiting for our table and sampled two expensive but unbelievably good cocktails.  I had the Mayan Winter ($17), an infusion of tequila, gin and lime juice with julienned apple and cucumber and a small red chili.  Refreshing, spicy, delicious.  Cari opted for the Burnt Orange Manhattan ($18) – bourbon, sweet vermouth, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, orange cream bitters and a burnt orange peel to finish.

Once seated at our table, our waiter gave us some background on how Lee operates.  All plates are intended for sharing and for the two of us he recommended 3 or 4.  He then took us through some of the dishes he would recommend the most.  Eager to go outside of our usual comfort zone, we more or less followed his suggestions.

We started with the Singapore Slaw, a dish Susur Lee is apparently famous for.  “I know what you’re thinking,” the waiter said to us.  “Why would we waste a course on a slaw?  But trust me… it will be the highlight of your meal.”  And it was!  They brought it us in a giant pile on a plate and mixed it.  What we smelled was unbelievably appetizing.  The server took us through the full list of ingredients… green onions, taro, rice noodles, cucumber, carrot, jicama, daikon, tomatoes, sesame seeds, pickled onion, roasted hazelnuts, fried shallots, edible-flower petals, basil, beet greens, daikon sprouts, pickled ginger and a salted-plum dressing.  Phenomenal.  And of course we had to add the sashimi tuna as an add on… of course.

Up next was the Caramelized Black Cod.  Neither Cari or I are that into fish, which is part of why we wanted to order it – the whole “going outside of our comfort zone thing.”  I know black cod is often the epitome of high class dining and this dish was moist and extremely flavourful.  It was also served on a dim sum turnip cake, which is one of my favourite dim sum dishes.

Our third course was a special… a pulled beef with mushrooms, goat cheese and a marsala wine sauce.  Astounding.

It seemed like the meal came and went in a flash, probably because we were so absorbed in our three dishes that time just disappeared.  Next thing we knew it was nearing 11pm, we were full and satisfied.  Ah, but dessert.  The French & Chinese Tong Yuen was described as something of a sweet rice paper dumpling filled with  warm ferrero rocher.  That’s exactly what it tasted like!  A great finish to a great meal.

Lee is not the most cost-effective meal, but it is an experience you will remember.  If you appreciate food as much as we do, you’ll definitely want to give it a try.

Macaron from Ruelo Patisserie

July 11, 2012

A hint of the selection from Ruelo’s website.

While we don’t have much experience with macaron, we understand it is one of the most difficult French pastries to make. We stumbled upon Ruelo Patisserie and couldn’t resist giving them a try. We were impressed by the fun selection of flavours they had – including green tea sesame, creme brûlée, earl grey, and pistachio raspberry. Upon visiting their website, we’ve found a few flavours we need to go back for – including rose lychee raspberry, balsamic vinegar, and wasabi grapefruit. They had a black truffle as well (as in the mushroom, not a chocolate), but we couldn’t justify a $5 tiny cookie since we’d never even tried this place before. $16 later we left with a selection of 6 to try, and we weren’t let down.

The price means this will be a bit of a special occasion treat, but we were glad to have that treat this weekend. Give it a try if you’re in the Yonge & Eglinton area – and let us know if you do. Not being macaron experts – we’re curious what others may have to say (or other places you’d suggest!), but for now we’re happy to have found Ruelo and expect to return.

Tomato Soup w/Broiled Cheese

October 11, 2011

Tomato Soup w/Broiled Cheese

I think we can all agree that part of what makes French Onion Soup great is the involvement of bread and cheese.  So what if a similar strategy were applied to tomato soup?  In the case of this one, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, the classic American favourite of grilled cheese and tomato soup is rolled together into one bowl of heaven.  Cari surprised me with a generous sampling of this soup one night and I am already eager to have it again.

We were lucky enough to have leftover fresh tomatoes from our ketchup making experiment, so we were happy to put a lot of them to use here.  Head over to Smitten Kitchen and give it a try!  You won’t regret it.

Announcing Violet August Miller!

January 24, 2011

Born at 6:35am on January 23rd in a surprisingly fast and unexpected home delivery.

2010 Food-In-Review

January 1, 2011

2010 was a great year for food, beginning with indulgences carried over from our New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day continuing with great meal experiences at home and abroad, and it closed with some of the best things we and our friends have ever eaten.

A few highlights from 2010: (more…)

Acorn Squash Soup

October 1, 2009

Not a whole lot to say about this one – but it’s got all the right things for a weeknight meal: It’s super simple, it’s really tasty, and it’s quite filling.

The full recipe is here.

We did a few substitutions but it still worked out… no granny smith apples on hand, so we just used a red one we had on hand. Not as tart as it would’ve been, I suppose. Also we only had one acorn squash so we sort of cut it into a third, which ended up with the right quantity for two people.

Two years ago today…

August 5, 2009


It’s hard to believe it’s been two whole years.