How I spent the summer of 2010

A picture tour of some of the highlights and favourite memories of the summer of 2010:

A favourite way to spend a summer night in our newly landscaped backyard! We just didn't do this often enough!

* Wright Landscaping

Hot dogs taste best cooked over an open fire and eaten outdoors - slathered in condiments!

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Chocolate Crepes

Want a decadent brunch or dessert recipe? Perhaps something to serve this Easter weekend?

At the Chocolate class I taught at Thyme to Cook in Guelph a couple weeks ago, one of the recipes I made was Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling.

You could easily use another filling of your choice for these crepes: chopped fruit, caramelized bananas, ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, pudding, or ????  What do you suggest?

Or, you could simply roll up the crepes and drizzle them with fruit syrup, maple syrup or chocolate sauce.

Chocolate crepes filled with chocolate ice cream and topped with strawberries and a sprinkle of icing sugar

Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling

(Makes about 18 small crepes or 10 large crepes)

2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cocoa
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter
Vegetable oil
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Chocolateville – where all your chocolatey dreams come true!

Chocolateville! I want to live there!

How positively amazing is this!! A winter village scene – made out of 5,000 pounds of semisweet, milk and white chocolate – complete with mountains, a running chocolate waterfall, chocolate gondolas and two moving chocolate trains!

Hats, no, touques off to Executive Pastry Chef Ned Archibald and his staff at Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colorado for this incredible work!

How to be Canadian!

Happy Canada Day!

Thanks to my friend, Carol, for passing along the video for Canadian, Please. The song and video were produced by Julia Bentley and Andrew Gunadie. Want the lyrics? You’ll find them on YouTube.

Now go eat something red and white!

Ice cream, strawberries, chocolate sauce and peanuts

Strawberries and ice cream, anyone?

Feasting on fish on Good Friday

Fish and chips from The Fish Hut in Kitchener

Fish and chips from The Fish Hut in Kitchener

Eating fish on Fridays during Lent or specifically on Good Friday was not part of my religious upbringing and is not now within my current religious traditions, however there we were tonight, in line at The Fish Hut in Kitchener, waiting for our take-out order of fish and chips.

The Fish Hut is our favourite place to go for fish (halibut) and chips. Tonight it was the location of choice for many others as well. The place was hopping! In fact, it was so busy the phone went unanswered as the staff steadily fried vats of fish and chips and rang up sales. Before heading to the restaurant, we had tried calling a couple times to see if it was open, but no one picked up. We decided to drive down to check things out and found the OPEN sign shining brightly and cars coming and going.

The restaurant (take-out and eat-in) is not big, and the place is not big on ambiance, but the fish (at least the halibut, which is all we ever order) is very good. The batter is crisp, not overly greasy, and not so heavy that you can’t even taste the fish. The hand-cut fries are also good. We typically share a two-piece dinner with an extra piece of fish.

I imagine that most people who came and went through The Fish Hut’s doors this afternoon and evening were Catholic as it has been their tradition to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, especially during Lent. However, surely some of those who left clutching their brown paper bag filled with fried fish were Protestant like me.

Why was I dining on fish on Good Friday? Perhaps religious solidarity with my Catholic friends and neighbours. Or maybe it was a way to commemorate the day and its religious significance in a very practical way. (Fish has meaning to Protestants too!) Or it could be that I just didn’t feel like cooking, or that we just had a hankering for fried fish. And possibly, it was just something to do.

Whatever the reason (probably a combination of all of the above!), the fish and chips tasted especially good tonight. If you live in Kitchener, you just might find me there on another Friday night. Or perhaps a Thursday…..or a Wednesday……

The Fish Hut
24-450 Westheights Drive
Kitchener, Ontario
(519) 584-2325

Recipe pranks for April Fool’s Day


Is it a fried egg?

Be on guard tomorrow. It’s April Fool’s Day.

All may not be what it appears. Even at the breakfast or dinner table.

Nope! It's a Chocolate Egg Pop!

Nope! It's a chocolate fried egg on a stick!

With the following “recipes”, you”ll be the one planning the surprises, serving “cake” for dinner and “spaghetti and meatballs” for dessert. Don’t be fooled into thinking these ideas are difficult. Read on to see how easy it will be to play food pranks on your fellow diners tomorrow, or any day of the year.

If you want more wacky food ideas and recipe pranks, there are additional suggestions and videos at Family Fun magazine’s website.

  • Fried Egg and Toast? – Serve breakfast for dessert. Create a faux fried egg by spooning vanilla yogurt or sweetened whipped cream on a plate in the shape of the white of a fried egg. Add the yolk by placing a well-drained canned apricot or peach half, round side up, on top of the yogurt or cream, a little to one end. Toast a slice of pound cake. Spread with a thin layer of jam. Serve with the fried egg.
  • Drink Up! – Prepare fruit-flavored gelatin according to package directions. Pour into drinking glasses. Place a straw in each glass. Chill until set. At serving time, garnish rim of glasses with fruit. Serve and see how long it takes for someone to request a spoon to eat the “drink”.
  • An Antsy Cake – Turn a layer cake, ice cream cake or cheesecake into an anthill with this easy treatment. On top of the cake, carefully pour crushed vanilla wafers or nuts in a small mound to resemble an anthill. Arrange ants parading around the top of the cake and climbing up or down the side of the cake and/or the anthill using a chocolate-covered almond for each ant body and a chocolate-covered raisin or caramel (e.g. Skor Bites) for each  ant head. Pipe on eyes and legs using a tube of black gel icing.

Meat Loaf Cake

(Makes 8 to 10 servings)

Favourite meatloaf recipe (use 2 to 3 lbs/1 to 1.5 kg) ground beef
Hot mashed potatoes (about 4 cups/1 L)
Cherry tomatoes

Prepare meatloaf mixture as usual but before cooking, divide mixture in two and place into two 8-inch (20 cm) cake pans. Bake as usual, allowing a shorter time since meatloaf will likely cook faster as the mixture will be thinner than usual.

Meanwhile, prepare mashed potatoes using boiled or instant potatoes. The mashed potatoes should be fluffy and spreadable. Keep mashed potatoes warm until meat loaves are cooked.

Once cooked, drain fat from meat loaves. Invert one loaf onto a round pizza pan or heatproof plate. Cover with a thick even layer of mashed potatoes. Place second loaf on top and “frost” the top and sides of cake with remaining mashed potatoes.

If desired, some of the mashed potatoes can be spooned into a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip and piped around top or bottom edge of cake.

Place cake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven for 10 minutes to warm through. Remove from oven and decorate with halved cherry tomatoes. If desired, write a message on top of cake with ketchup. (If the opening of the ketchup bottle is too large to write a message easily, spoon some ketchup into a clean piping bag or a squeeze bottle with a small top to write your message.)

Spaghetti and Meat Ball Dessert

(Makes 1 serving)

Small slice of pound cake or half of a cupcake
Homemade or prepared icing
Yellow food coloring (if desired)
Strawberry sauce
2 of 3 chocolate malt balls or small truffles
Ground almonds or grated white chocolate
Chopped white chocolate or chocolate chips or candy melts
Lady fingers or biscotti
Toasted coconut
Green sprinkles

Place pound cake in the centre of a plate.

If desired, tint icing with food colouring to resemble the colour of cooked spaghetti. Spoon icing into a decorating tube fitted with a large circular tip; pipe icing in a looping fashion around the sides of the pound cake (don’t frost the top) to resemble spaghetti.

Spoon strawberry sauce (meat sauce) on top of the cake to cover it. Drizzle a little over portions of the spaghetti.

Using the dull side of a knife or a grater, rough up the surface of the malt balls (meatballs). Place them on top of the sauce.

Sprinkle ground almonds (parmesan cheese) over sauce and meatballs.
Carefully melt white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave oven; stir until smooth. Spread chocolate over lady fingers (garlic bread). Sprinkle coconut (garlic) and green sprinkles (parsley) over top. Serve with spaghetti and meatballs.

St. Patrick’s Day recipe ideas. Green food colouring required for some!

istock_000005210471xsmall-4-leaf-cloverCount yourself lucky to find these great recipes to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun being Irish for a day!

Cooking Quarters blog:

Kraft Canada’s website:

McCormick’s website:

The Tea Room at Robinson-Bray House in Mississauga, Ontario

A couple weeks ago (the day after Valentine’s Day to be exact), Murray and I made the 50-minute drive from Kitchener into Mississauga (Streetsville to be exact) to have afternoon tea at The Tea Room in the Robinson-Bray House (223 Queen Street South, Ph: 905-542-7674).

Robinson Bray Tea Room in Streetsville (Mississauga), Ontario

The side entrance to The Tea Room at the Robinson-Bray House in Mississauga, Ontario

The house was built in 1885 and owned by at least two families – the Robinsons and the Brays. In 1983, it was designated a building of “architectural and contextual value” by the City of Mississauga. It now houses several businesses including a gift shop, spa and The Tea Room.

The Tea Room is in the back of the building. You can enter either through the front or the side of the House. When we left through the front after finishing our tea, I noticed that a large room at the front of the house was vacant. The space had a lovely bay window looking out onto Queen Street. My first thought was that it would be a lovely area for The Tea Room to expand or move into.

But I’m ahead of myself. Let me share our tea experience.

You could order off the menu but we really didn’t give it much consideration as The Tea Room was serving a Valentine’s tea ($23 per person) which sounded really nice. It started with a delicious garden salad with sliced strawberries and cucumbers and pralined pecans. This was followed by a two-tiered stand filled with tea sandwiches, and heart-shaped chocolate chunk scones served with devon cream and preserves.

Sandwich Plate

The tray of tea sandwiches included (clockwise from top right) egg salad on a mini croissant (which turned out to be a roll as you can see above), chicken and brie on a slice of baguette with sweet mango chutney, a roast beef and horseradish mayo wrap with caramelized onions, salmon mousse in a phyllo cup, and a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich.

Then, because we hadn’t eaten enough yet (!),  it was time to choose a dessert. I don’t recall all the choices; the first couple our server described were all we needed to hear. Murray chose a Chocolate Crepe with Amaretto Cream and Mixed Berries.

Chcocolate Crepes with Amaretto Cream and Mixed Berries

Chocolate Crepe with Amaretto Cream and Mixed Berries

I opted for the Passionfruit and Mixed Berry Trifle, served in a tea cup.

Passionfruit and Mixed Berry Trifle garnished with a chocolate-dipped cooked and berriees

The Passionfruit and Mixed Berry Trifle was garnished with a chocolate-dipped cookie and berries.

A tart-sweet ending to a delicious tea.

Whipped cream, passionfruit custard, cake and berries - a tart-sweet ending to a delicious tea!

Everything was washed done with a pot of Earl Grey tea for me and Assam tea for Murray.

The Tea Room’s servers were friendly and attentive. The decor of the two-room tea room was nice enough, although nothing outstanding.  I’ll confess I wanted to straighten out the slightly askew picture hung off centre under a shelf on one wall of the room we sat in, but to Murray’s relief I managed to suppress the urge.

Other than the egg salad that was served in a slightly soggy mini roll instead of the promised croissant, the food was very tasty, especially the salad and desserts. Needless to say, we didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day!

What Cupid brought for Valentine’s Day

Flowers…..ah, carnations!

Flowers from my sweetie

Flowers from my sweetie

A bouquet of flowers sweetly arranged in a vase was waiting for me when I arrived home from work on Thursday night.

My sweetheart wasn’t going to be able to spend Valentine’s Day at home with me as duty called and he needed to hang out in a few hockey arenas for the day and evening, scouting for players for the rebuilding Kitchener Rangers.

Being the thoughtful guy he is, he picked up flowers (including carnations, my favourite flower – I just love the look and smell of them!) and a mushy card ahead of time.

What a good guy! I think I’ll hold on to him. He’s a sweetheart the other 364 days of the year too!

Cards that included a sweet reminder of the joy of cupcakes…..

Valentine's Day card

1 puppy + 1 cupcake = 1 sweet Valentine's Day card

A few valentines arrived in the mail including this cute card from my brother’s family (full credit to my sister-in-law who no doubt picked out the card!).

Inside the card (made by Carlton Cards) it reads – “It’s my Valentine smile – I’m supposed to have little frosting smudges around the edges. Hope your day is sweet!”

Aaaahhhh……a puppy and a cupcake! How cute!

Cupcakes are so popular these days. These mini desserts can be baked in many flavours and the decorating possibilities are endless. If you’re a cupcake fan, here are a few blogs you’ll want to visit:

Chocolate…..both sweet and salty

Murray and I don’t usually make too much fuss about Valentine’s Day. I did pick up some chocolate to share with him when he gets home tonight.

Lindt Fleur De Sel chocolate

Lindt Fleur De Sel chocolate

Lindt Milk Chocolate pieces

Lindt Milk Chocolate pieces

I saw a couple new (or at least new to me) chocolates at the grocery store this week. First I found a bar of Lindt Excellence Fleur de Sel – dark chocolate with a touch of hand-harvested fleur de sel, or sea salt. (Chocolate and a hint of salt go very well together.)

I also found Lindt Lindor milk chocolate in  a chocolate bar form, or so I thought.

Had I examined the picture on the box a little more closely, I may have clued in that the box contained chocolate pieces, not a solid bar.

Nonetheless, if you like Lindt’s Lindor chocolates (those foil wrapped round balls of chocolate with smooth and creamy centres), you’ll love this box of Lindor pieces.

I’ll confess I’ve sampled both chocolates already, and pronounced them good. Let’s hope there’s still some left by the time Murray gets home.

Lindt chocolates

Lindt chocolates - Fleur de Sel bar (left) and Lindor milk chocolate pieces (right).