Monday, November 29, 2010

Beautiful Bogota

"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul."  ~Luther Burbank

I can't say I love the cold.

In fact, the older I get, the more I am beginning to dislike it!  

In the history of my existence, I believe there was one winter that I actually enjoyed the cold, and didn't spend the entire winter complaining about it.  It was 2007... I was pregnant, hormonal, and having hot flashes all the time! 

I know what you're thinking... my poor Husband...

I often think that too.

Given the nature of my job as a flight attendant, it is so wonderful to have the opportunity to travel to warmer destinations during the cold winter months.  A lovely little escape from the chilly Canadian winter.

This is a huge benefit for someone like me who otherwise may not survive the cold winter months, but I believe it is a bigger benefit for my husband as he gets to rest his ears for a few days from the nagging of yours truly.  

I truly believe it is what gets me through the winter some years.

To date, I have 3 favorite winter "work" destinations: Lima, Peru; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Bogota, Colombia. 

Although Bogota is never overly hot, it is perfect weather for me.  It is warm enough to thaw my bones, which is really all that matters.  

And lets face it... it has the world's BEST coffee and the most amazing flowers.  What's not to love! 
Doesn't this photo make you feel better already?

For me, a layover in Bogota wouldn't be complete without a visit to the fruit and flower market.  This is the place where you can purchase a dozen roses for $2 (I have even bought them for $1 per dozen before)... it's pretty crazy! 

The flowers are driven in by the truck load and set up in an open market.  The colours are absolutely astonishing, and it honestly takes everything in me not to buy a truck full.  Not that I could take that many on the plane!
I like to go early in the morning for the best selection.
There is nothing like bringing home fresh fruit in the dead of winter
Beautiful crates of fresh fruit

Couldn't you just sink your teeth into one of these?

After going to the fruit and flower market, I make a trip to the Juan Valdez coffee shop to purchase my monthly supply of coffee.  The smell that comes from my suitcase when I open it up at home is absolutely Heaven!

Juan Valdez is my favorite coffee in the whole world!

Beautiful Bogota.. I do miss you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For the Love of Chocolate

Nothing says love like a chocolate brownie... At least in my world!

For those of you wondering about the brownie I had yesterday after my dentist appointment, it was this one:
Martha Stewart's Double Chocolate Brownie And it was Delicious!

My Sister-in-Law Zarine, gave me This Martha Stewart Cookie Book which so far... I love!  I have only  tried a few recipes, but they have been really great.  What I really love about the book is that there are pictures to show you every single cookie... Who doesn't love that!
Butter, Chocolate & Cocoa
Melted Chocolate, Cocoa and Butter 
Whip Eggs & Sugar
Add Chocolate
Mix until Chocolate is incorporated
Don't let the look of them Fool you.. they are 
Cut and devour!
There are a couple of differences between the recipe on the web and the recipe in the book, but nothing major.  The first ... the book calls for Dutch Process cocoa, and coarse salt instead of regular salt.  I didn't have Dutch process Cocoa, so I used Natural and it worked well.

There is a good explanation of Cocoa and the difference between Natural vs. Dutch process on the David Lebovitz website.
Cocoa Powder- Natural vs. Dutch Process

Now if only I could find my camera charger, perhaps I could take a half decent photo...

Happy Baking!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Trip to the Dentist

I love having my teeth cleaned.  The poking... the pain... the scraping... the bleeding... the flossing... the bleeding... the pain... the water splashing all over your face... yes, It's so attractive...

Oh, and the vacuum in the mouth or suction, or whatever it's called.  You know the thing that sucks out every last little bit of saliva from your soul.  Your mouth can never be too dry, I guess!

A little more talk, talk, talk, scrape, scrape, scrape...oh my god, I'm going to bleed to death... oh wait, false alarm... that's not blood... it's chocolate.

Did I mention that my appointment was at lunchtime?

Lady, I'm hungry.. and I'm afraid if you don't hurry up and get your fingers out of my mouth, I may bite one off and eat it.  Haven't you seen the amount of chocolate you are scraping off my teeth?  Just sayin...

On my way home, I thought...  I should really go on a Dental Hygienist diet.  I could have my teeth cleaned twice a week... perhaps I wouldn't be able to eat as much from the pain and I could lose the extra 25 pounds I am carrying.

That thought lasted until I got home, and instead I had one of these...

chocolate Brownies
I had too.

I can't lie though... The feeling of clean teeth really was great while it lasted!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Perfecting the Pie

          "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe".       
          ~Carl Sagan 

It's no secret... I can't make a pie!

Producing a beautiful, light, flaky pie crust requires patience, cold ingredients, and very little mixing of the dough.  I know the rules, but for some reason I always have this urge to knead the day lights out of it...

I think I add too little water in the beginning and then over mix it.  After I realize it's too dry, I compensate by adding more water and then I mix, mix, mix.  Needless to say it's not good...  In fact, I’m not going to lie... it’s pretty terrible!

Now,  coming from a family of amazing pie makers, it's pretty embarrassing that I have yet to accomplish this task.  

So... My goal?  I have decided that while I am on Maternity leave, I will learn to perfect the pie!  You know, the beautiful pies with a top crust and a pretty fluted edge.  If that means I need to make one thousand pies in order to do so... then SO BE IT... I will do it!  If that means I have to kidnap my cousin Steve to teach me... I said I will do it!

My husband, being my number one taste tester, was extremely supportive of my decision to take on this task... well, making pies, not kidnapping my cousin Steve.

Having made this promise, I began searching for the perfect pie crust recipe.  Of course when I stumbled upon this recipe "best ever pie recipe" (based on 625 people), I had to try it.  Who wouldn't?  It says it's the "best" right in the name.  What could go wrong?

My first attempt at this recipe was not so terrible.  Perhaps I had finally found a recipe that I could work with.
Not the best looking dough, but 
definitely not my worst!
Apple pie is my first challenge
Ready for the topping
Oven Bound
Fresh out of the oven

Do you remember I said I wanted to make pies with the pretty fluted edge?  This is definitely not what I meant!

There were a few things I would have done different.  I think I added too much water and I didn't leave enough dough to make a fancy edge on the pie.  Overall the flavour was pretty good and I will be attempting this recipe again!

Round 2-Second attempt at the same recipe

 At first glance, the overall appearance looks 
better than the first, but...
If you look closely at the pie in the upper left corner, you will notice the cracking in the dough.  I reduced the water in the recipe (apparently too much), and for some reason, the crust was not as tasty as the first (Yeah, don't know what I did there!).  I got more of a fluted edge this time, but the crust was a mile thick... too thick!

Oh well... back to the drawing board!

Until the next Recipe!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Celebrating George

Today we celebrated a very special day.  On November 7th, 1973,  my older brother George was born.  
Seriously, is this not the cutest picture ever?
George and I were always incredibly close growing up..  Yes... we were incredibly close... to killing each other that is!   J   

When I was 5, our parents divorced, and  George decided he would become the man of the house... the “protector” of the family...  He was 8...
He took his new role pretty seriously
There wasn’t anything George couldn’t do..  He could fix anything, and he could do anything.  It was quite amazing actually. What was more incredible was his ability to convince me to do anything... Looking back, I don’t think I was the smartest kid!

Today we were reminiscing about the time George talked me in to letting him pull my loose tooth.  "It will be quick and painless" he promised, but what I think he meant to say was it would be slow and painful.  The next thing I knew, my tooth was tied with a string, and the string was tied to the door, and my dear older brother was slamming the door over and over.  It was Lovely!  

Okay, so perhaps George couldn't do "everything", as this trick didn't give me much more than whiplash and perhaps a crooked tooth (that's right, I blame him for my imperfect smile!).  Luckily for the rest of the world, this experience kept George from becoming a dentist!

In honour of George, his lovely wife Zarine, hosted an incredible birthday lunch at their house.  I regret not taking pictures of the delicious spread she had for us, so I could post them, but I did manage to come away with a few pictures of the kids (courtesy of the hostess with the mostess)... :)
As George is probably the hardest person in the world to buy a gift for,  I opted to bake one of his favourite treats... Butter tarts.  
I know, you are probably wondering why I didn’t get him 
a comforter like the one we are sitting on
It’s pretty sweet!

But I figured he would be happier with 
Despite his inability to pull my tooth, I truly cherish the brother I have today.  George is one of the kindest, most generous and giving people I know, and he would do anything for anyone...(he got these traits honestly from our parents).  

K Happy Birthday Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Beautiful Soul

"A friend is someone who reaches for your hand, but touches your heart."  -Kathleen Grove
Today I spent the day with one of my dearest friends in the world; my 82 year old {Great} Aunt Marion.  Despite our difference in age, we have a special friendship that I truly cherish. I am so fortunate to have her in my life.  

Aunt Marion is the type of person who can entertain at any given moment, without stress or worry.  Even when the unexpected guest pops in, she always has something delicious to offer.

The following pumpkin loaf recipe is one that was given to me by my Aunt Marion, which was passed down by her mother.  What I love about it, is it's simplicity, delicious flavour and the fact that it retains it's moisture even after a few days.  

Pumpkin Loaf Recipe 


2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1  1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup oil
1 cup pumpkin

1.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  In a large mixing bowl (or kitchen aid bowl), add eggs, sugar and pumpkin.  Mix until combined.  Add oil and mix again.
3.  In a separate bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Stir until well blended.  
4.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and combine until there are no lumps.  
5.  pour in to a lined loaf pan and bake for one hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Pumpkin, oil, eggs and sugar 
Add dry ingredients
mixed batter
 to Line a loaf pan with parchment paper
Place loaf pan on top of parchment paper 
Cut parchment paper large enough so
that it reaches the top of both sides of the 
Cut four vertical slits (they must reach
the bottom of the pan)
Parchment with 4 vertical slits
Fold parchment in four (at the cut lines)
Parchment folded in four 
Unfold the parchment paper
Cut four horizontal slits to remove the
Parchment with corners removed
Pop the parchment in to the pan
and glue it to the sides with the
smallest amount of butter.
Run a palette knife through the center
of the batter
Loaves have a tenancy to form a large peak in the center of them when baking.  Running a knife or palette knife through the center of the batter helps it bake more evenly.  

The recipe is for a single loaf, but it can easily be doubled.  You may as well make two and keep on in the freezer for those unexpected guests! 

Happy Baking!  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Love is in the Air

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love".  ~Albert Einstein
 I'm a sucker for a great engagement story and I love hearing all the "details" of wedding planning.  
Just ask anyone close to me who has planned a wedding in the past couple of years, and they will tell you the thousands of questions I have asked them along the way.  

Yesterday, my dear cousin in Mexico (Gus), had a day planned for his girlfriend (Michelle Aline).  What she thought was a day of skydiving, ended with a very important question being asked. 
I get goose bumps just seeing the pictures!
Meet Gus and Michelle
The unsuspecting bride-to-be looking a little nervous about the days events
But she got on the plane and took a leap of faith
"Aline, my love, Beautiful, will you Marry Me?"
Gus down on one knee
And She says YES!!
 I wonder if he had a back up plan if she did not get on that plane?  And more importantly, I wonder what her bridal colours will be?  :)
Lucky for Michelle, I live too many miles away to be bombarding her with questions on a daily basis.   A big CONGRATULATIONS to the two of them!
"A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for".
Author Unknown
Yesterday was a "good news" kinda day.  Another cousin of Mine, Kris and his wife Tammy welcomed their first child in to the world.  A little baby girl by the name of Georgia has joined our family!  Congratulations to the two of them during this super exciting time in their lives!    Just having had a baby myself 3 months ago, I know that there is no single event in ones lifetime that can change you like having a baby will.  

I can't wait to meet their precious little bundle of joy!

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