Monday, July 30, 2012

Shrimp rice paper rolls with grated apple and cabbage

Sometimes it's not worth messing too much with a good thing. These shrimp-filled rice paper wraps are a variation of ones I posted on the blog over a year ago. My earlier version was rounded out with cucumber, yellow pepper, carrot, water chestnuts, green onion, basil, mint and sweet chili sauce, and served with Wafu sauce. This time, I kept the  shrimp and pepper, but added thinly sliced cabbage, peeled, grated apple and sesame seeds. My beloved Wafu sauce made a repeat appearance, first as a dipping sauce then added directly to the filling. If you don't have the Wafu brand one, substitute an Asian sesame salad dressing or marinade. If you buy precooked shrimp, you won't even need to turn on your stove, oven, or BBQ - who wants to do that on a hot summer night?

Friday, July 27, 2012

A story about princesses and millions of tulips

Every year in May, nearly three million tulip bulbs bloom throughout Ottawa. The Canadian Tulip Festival was born out of a friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. During WWII, Canada granted refuge from the Nazi occupation to the Dutch Princess Juliana. During that time, she was due to give birth to Princess Margriet. The maternity ward of the Ottawa Civic Hospital was temporarily declared international territory, so that Margriet would be born in no country, and would inherit her mother's Dutch citizenship.

Every year since, the Dutch have sent Canada tens of thousands of tulips as a token of their gratitude, with the rest purchased from Canadian and Dutch distributors. Lucky for me, some of them are planted right outside my work. The last shot was taken along the canal during a bike ride (a very Dutch activity indeed).

I'd love to hear - does your hometown have any funny/inspiring/heart-warming stories?



Pants - Hand-me-down (Tuzzi) (last seen here)
Shirt - Thrifted (Carolyn Taylor) (last seen here)
Blazer - Thrifted (George) (last seen here)
Necklace - Dynamite
Earrings - Gift
Sunglasses - Andrea Jovine via Winners

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lemon-herb roast chicken

This recipe makes a really nice roast chicken. I came up with it after trying a few variations from online sources. Underneath a crackling skin, the meat is succulent and nicely enhanced by the flavours of lemon and fresh herbs. If you plan to make it while you're hanging around at home anyway with housework, the long cooking time will fly by. If you want save even more time, as I did, double the quantity and cook two birds at once. You can use leftovers in soup, sandwiches, wraps, salads, stirfrys or casseroles.

To make seasonings for chicken:
Set out 1/4 cup unsalted butter to soften slightly at room temperature. Finely chop 1/4 cup of whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. I used thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano. Grate the rind of one lemon, then cut in half and set aside. Mash the herbs and lemon rind with the butter. Cut one head of garlic in half horizontally. Peel and cut one small white onion in half.

To prepare chickens:
Preheat oven to 350F. Remove any giblets from two whole chickens, then rinse inside and out with cool water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken cavities with juice from the lemon halves, dried Italian herb seasoning, salt and pepper. Then insert 1/2 onion, 1/2 head of garlic and 1/2 lemon in each cavity. Truss the chickens. If you bought your chickens trussed, unhook the drumsticks from the string to access the cavity.

Cut a small slit between the chicken thigh and breastbone and use fingers to gently loosen skin from the meat. Spread herb butter mixture under the skin.

To cook chicken:
Place chickens in a large roasting pan fitted with a wire rack. Surround chicken with baby potatoes and vegetables, tossed in a small amount of olive oil (I didn't have space for my vegetables and roasted them in another dish). Roast without a lid for 1 to 1-1/2 hrs depending on the size of your birds and your oven. Baste chicken with pan juices every 20 minutes. The chicken is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165F. 

To prepare gravy (optional):
When cooking is complete, remove chickens and potatoes from roasting pan, tent chickens with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. If your roasting pan is safe for stovetop use, bring pan juices sprinkled with flour to a boil over high heat, scraping browned bits with a wooden spoon. Otherwise, transfer juices to a saucepan. Once pan juices are boiling, add 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup white wine. Reduce heat and simmer for several minutes to concentrate flavours and thicken. Add 3T butter and season to taste.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sand dollar

Two weeks ago, we held a bachelorette for one of my besties, M, at a cottage generously lent to us by friends of her in-laws-to-be, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron. I was told ‘and by cottage we mean house’. When I got there I realized ‘and by house we mean mansion’. Between games, drinking and lots of laughter I ogled everything from the Viking professional range in the kitchen to the walk-THROUGH closet in the master bedroom. The sandy backyard and earthy colours made the perfect backdrop for a set of blog photos taken by another of my besties, L (thanks darling!).

While this abode was breath-taking, I had an equally great time at the much humbler cottage B and I rented an hour south of there, in Grand Bend. Nothing says summer like canoeing, swimming, picnicking, BBQing…and reproducing the Corona commercial in a beach photo.

Top – Consigned (Max & Co.)
Shorts – Forever 21
Belt – Buckle via Pac Sun
Bikini – Victoria’s Secret
Sunglasses – Boathouse
Earrings – Walmart

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Limoncello martini

A sultry Saturday night in the summertime calls for a sweet-tart, citrusy cocktail. This recipe is a slight variation on a version given to me to B's coworker.

Combine 2 oz vodka, 2 oz limoncello, 7 T simple syrup made with 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a couple of ice cubes in a shaker cup. Shake well, then strain into a martini glass dipped in a cosmopolitan rimmer (I used this one). 

Garnish with a frozen cherry and blackberry.

Note: If you prefer your drinks less potent (as I quickly realized I do), add cranberry juice to taste.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A punch of citrus with black and white

I'm usually freezing at work, even in the summertime, but this day was hot enough for my short-sleeved polka dot blazer. I wanted a punchy colour to play off the black and white, but didn't want to repeat my fuchsia tee from last year. Instead I reached for a tangerine top with an asymmetrical neckline I got at a clothes swap this winter. I followed advice from my latest issue of InStyle and wore a lipstick in the same colour, but a shade darker (it's actually two colours layered together). 

We capped off our photo session with goofy pictures on a piece of playground equipment that matched my outfit. Staying on while it spun in heels - that was a challenge I couldn't refuse!


Blazer – Limite (also here and here)
Top – Swapped (Costa Blanca)
Skirt – Zara
Shoes – Liz Claiborne via Winners
Ring – Le Chateau
Earrings – Le Chateau?
Watch – from my Dad’s closet

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Let's talk about belts

If you haven't brought some belt love into your wardrobe, now's the time, and here's why. 

 1) You can build up a collection cheaply by thrifting your belts (as I did with most of the ones in this post). For those who aren't sold on thrift stores yet, belts are a good place to start. They're not a very squeamish item to buy and are usually clustered in one spot for an easier hunt.

2) They don't have to fit a conventional mold. My past 'belts' have included a tasseled string of pearls, a brooch pinned to a satin ribbon, a gold chain and a bow-tied silk scarf.

3) Multicoloured belts can can pull together disparate colours or highlight a colour in an outfit.  

4) Bold belts that make a statement on their own can really complete an outfit.

5) Belt loops should be seen as guidelines. You don't need them to add a belt to your outfit. 

6) Some items of clothing come with a belt in a matching colour and fabric. These can be swapped out for a low-commitment punch of colour.

7) Want to wear that floaty sundress into fall? Just add a belt and a blazer in a heavier texture and darker colour.

8) Not as adventurous? You can never go wrong with classic brown leather.