Monday, September 30, 2013


I titled this post in the literal sense, but I guess it applies figuratively too. The pants and top are from a consignment store and a clothes swap, respectively. The bolero blazer is part of a Calvin Klein ensemble. You can see it worn with its matching sheath dress here. I love the cut of the blazer but it's tricky to style on its own. I've also worn it with a slim fitting tank, skinny jeans, boots and layered necklace for a night out. Do you ever break up matching sets? If you have other style ideas for me, I'd love to hear them - leave a comment below!


Blazer - Calvin Klein via Winners
Blouse - Banana Republic via clothes swap
Pants - BCBG via consignment store
Booties - Old Navy
Necklace - ?
Bracelet - Hand-me-down
Earrings - Laura

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Classic brown (veal) stock

This is the Cordon Bleu's classic recipe for basic brown stock. When people ask how French chefs get their soups and sauces to taste so luscious and deeply flavourful, it's not just the duck fat, butter, or heavy cream. At the base is a good-quality stock made from scratch. You may want to take a few shortcuts with this recipe but I thought I'd give the authentic version, which I only have the energy to make maybe once a year (I freeze individual portions in ziploc bags). Most high-end butchers sell homemade veal stock, but you'll pay through the nose for it. 

This recipe is not for the impatient cook or those with limited kitchen equipment. But if you have a quiet rainy weekend spent at home, this recipe will pay dividends for months to come. The yield is about 8L. 


Start with 5-6 kg of beef or veal bones. Get your butcher to cut them into pieces 3-4 inches long. Do not wash or blanch the bones for brown stock, because they will not colour properly during roasting. Brush the bones with a little vegetable oil, then spread in a roasting pan in a single layer. Roast at 375F for at least an hour, until well-coloured. (Ideally, use a roasting pan that is also safe for the stovetop.)

While the bones are roasting, prepare the mirepoix: peel and chop 2 small cooking onions, 2 large carrots and 3 large stalks of celery into 1-2" pieces. Prepare the bouquet garni: tie one bay leaf, a couple of sprigs of thyme, 5 or 6 peppercorns, 6 parsley stems and 2 whole cloves in a piece of cheesecloth. 

Once done roasting, remove the bones, place in a large stockpot and cover with 10L cold water. Bring water to a simmer. As a frothy whitish scum builds up on the surface, carefully skim it off and discard.

While the water is simmering, drain the fat from the roasting pan and set aside. Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan, then heat over the stove and deglaze by scraping gently with a wooden spoon to loosen pieces stuck to the bottom. Add this liquid to the stockpot. Dry the roasting pan with a paper towel.

Place the mirepoix along with the reserved fat into the roasting pan and brown well in the oven at 375F. Remove and set aside. Once the stock has been simmering for about 3 hours, add the mirepoix, the bouquet garni and 500g tomato puree. Continue simmering for another 3-5 hours, continuing to skim the scum as necessary. Add water as needed to keep the bones covered. 

Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth, then cool. Season to taste.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

An 80s moment

My Mom introduced me to Olsen, a UK brand, via a few of her hand-me-downs: this neutral jacket, this stripes-and-florals dress, this silky tank and this button-down blouse. Their clothing is always well-made and well-cut. It's not uber-trendy, but the collections usually have a few standout pieces, like this jersey printed cardigan. In Canada, this line is sold at the Bay. (Note: This is not a paid promotion) 

I loved the 80s vibe of this sweater when I picked it up at a thrift store recently. I updated it with chunky jewellery, ripped and cuffed skinnies, a bold red lip and black pumps for pizza lunch and wine with some girlfriends.


Sweater - Olsen via thrift store
Jeans - Guess
Shoes - Guess via Winners
Multi-strand chain necklace - Jones New York via thrift store
Gold interlock necklace - Banana Republic
Locket necklace - Claire's
Watch - Hand-me-down
Earrings - Gift

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Garlic-marinated roasted chicken thighs with lemon and fresh herbs

My love of lemon and fresh herbs is nothing new, as evidenced by my lemon-herb roast chicken and my lemon-rosemary roasted baby potatoes. Oh, right, there was also baked cod with fresh herbs, lemon butter and olive foccacia breadcrumbs, and a salmon, leek and artichoke bake with lemon and dill. I can't get enough of these garden-fresh flavours. It's no surprise I'm also lusting after lemon-lavender bars I spotted on a blog earlier today. If I thought there was a hope in hell our 24-grocery store stocked lavender I'd be seriously contemplating a late-night trip! This recipe serves 4. 


Whisk 1/3 cup olive oil, 5-6 cloves of mashed garlic, and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Pour into a large Ziploc bag and add 12 chicken thighs. Shake bag, then allow to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. 

Slice 2 lemons into rounds about 1 cm thick. Layer the bottom of a 11" oval pan with lemon rounds, then top with chicken thighs and marinade. Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs on top (I used sage, marjoram, rosemary and basil. Tuck a couple of extra lemon wedges amongst the chicken. 

Bake uncovered at 375 for about 35 minutes or until chicken juice runs clear when pierced, turning chicken once during cooking.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


This is the last of my 'summer outfit' posts and also the last photo of my stolen blazer/pins (sniff). We have a sweetheart of a cleaner in our condo building who asks me every time I see him if I've recovered it yet. He looks so crestfallen when I say no. He's obviously a recent immigrant and for the longest time B and I referred to him as 'OK'. His English has since improved, but that used to be his reply to everything. 'Good morning!' 'OK!' 'Have a great day' 'OK!', followed by a throaty laugh. His cheery attitude is as much a pick-me-up as these bright colours. 

Who - or what - brightens your day?




Skirt - DKNY outlet
Top - DKNY outlet
Blazer - Banana Republic outlet
Shoes - Nine West outlet
Earrings - Gift
Brooches - Thailand market

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lentil-sausage salad with vegetables, feta and cilantro

I haven't experimented with lentils much, other than my Mom's tried-and-true lentil-vegetable soup with cheese curds. A container of them have been staring out at me from my kitchen cupboard, taunting me with their indefinite shelf life. ('We're still here.....') When I finally put my mind to coming up with a hearty lentil salad recipe for dinner one night, I realized what I've been missing. 

This recipe is already a household favourite and could lend itself to endless variations (vegetarians, take note). I think the key is that the lentils, with their floury texture, play a supporting role to bolder flavours coming from juicy chunks of crisp-skinned sausage, tender-crisp vegetables, morsels of feta cheese and fresh cilantro. Bonus: This recipe won't break the bank. It serves 4-6.


Pick over 3 cups of dried lentils, then place in large saucepan and add enough cold water to just cover. Allow lentils to soak overnight. 

Core and quarter 2 red peppers. Place on a baking sheet along with 6 sausages  (I used a mix of Italian and white wine/shallot). Broil peppers and sausages at 450 for about 20 minutes, turning once. Reduce the cook time if you don't like your sausages extra-crispy. Chop sausage and roasted pepper into bite-sized pieces. I kept the skin on the peppers.

While sausages and peppers are cooking, add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth to the lentils, or enough to just cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft. Drain any remaining liquid and set aside. Fill the same pot with water and bring to a boil. Add 2 cobs of corn, husks removed. Cook until water returns to a boil, about 3-4 minutes. Remove corn and cut off kernels.

Finely slice 3 stalks of celery and 3 green onions, and finely dice one jalapeño (see note). Chop 3/4 cup cilantro. In a small mixing bowl, whisk 4T extra-virgin olive oil and 4T lemon or lime juice. 

In a large bowl, combine lentils, sausage, red peppers, celery, green onion, jalapeño and cilantro. Add 1/4 cup feta cheese and vinaigrette. Season to taste.  

Note: I used 4 feta-stuffed jalapeños packed in oil from a jar, but listed them as separate ingredients for the purposes of the recipe. I scooped out the cheese, then finely diced the jalapeño.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Zucchini-yogurt muffins

For a baked good, this muffin recipe crams in a whole bunch of healthy ingredients: zucchini, Greek yogurt, applesauce and flaxseed. They're fluffy yet slightly moist, and best eaten hot out of the oven. I very lightly adapted this recipe


Prepare 2 cups of grated zucchini, place in colander, and squeeze with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and allow to drain. 

In a stand-up mixer, beat together 3 eggs and 1/2 cup brown sugar until frothy. Mix in 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/4 cup honey and 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Separately, in a large mixing bowl, sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup rolled oats, and 3T ground flaxseed, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 2-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg and 1/4 tsp ground cloves. Working in batches, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in grated zucchini.

Scoop mixture into muffin cups (about 3/4 of the way up the side). Brush muffin tops with a little honey, then bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cutouts and cubicles

I liked my $40 DKNY outlet cobalt skirt so much, i picked it up in beige too. One of my favourite trends this years has been cutouts. It can be a risqué look for work so a variation, like this button-down with a leaf pattern and sheer mesh, is a safer bet.

A plain black pleather headband is a wink to fall's leather accessories. 


Skirt/belt - DKNY outlets
Blouse - Signature by Larry Levine via Winners (also here and here)
Headband - Ardene
Earrings - Craft show
Sandals - Bandolino via Winners

Monday, September 02, 2013

Second go-around

This outfit is pretty much an (unintentional) repeat of this one, but throwing the blazer over top makes it more business-like, so I thought it was worth a second go-around! The lighting varies in these photos; it was close to sundown, and we were experimenting with flash/no flash.

Hope everyone is enjoying a great Labour Day weekend! B and I hoping to squeeze a quick trip to a friend's cottage between helping my grandparents' move into an assisted-living facility and spending Monday at the office with my boss working on an urgent file for the higher-ups. Hoping to regain some work/life balance later this fall; this 'busy stretch' has been going on 6 months :S 


Skirt - Zara
Blazer - Banana Republic
Blouse - Thrifted (Liz Claiborne)
Shoes - Guess via Winners
Sunglasses - Andrea Jovine via Winners
Necklace - Banana Republic
Earrings - Gift