December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays


It has been a few weeks of some good celebrating around here. We kicked things off with an amazing supper at the Red Ox Inn for our fifth anniversary on December 16th, then followed it up with a champagne breakfast the next morning at home.


Last week there were some elaborate Christmas preparations, including many cookies baked (you have to try these gems) and my first gluten-free Acadian pâté (meat pie), which was a resounding success on Christmas morning.

There was lots of feasting in the past few days, with turkey dinner on Christmas eve at Jacques’ brother’s house, and a 13-pound fresh ham here for Christmas dinner. More meat has been consumed in the past week than we usually eat in months – and there is lots left in the fridge.


(Just noticed in the above picture that of course, the Sriracha makes an appearance even on the Christmas table)

Another hit was our first homemade rillettes – made, surprisingly, with sardines. Rillettes is usually made with pork or other meat that is shredded and mixed with its own fat, then spread on bread. We fell in love with it in France a few years ago. The rillettes made with sardines was different, of course, but with green onions, cream cheese and lots of lemon juice, it was absolutely delicious.


I also made our traditional Danish rice pudding for Christmas eve. This time we swapped out the almonds for hazelnuts and walnuts and it was fantastic.

Something else amazing we discovered this holiday season? Mulled wine! I used this recipe (minus the eau-de-vie) and it got raves at our holiday party. Definitely going on the annual favourites list.

Lucie was, of course, incredibly spoiled with many beautiful gifts. This time of year definitely makes us realize how loved she is. Our gifts for her grandparents were photo books I made online with the best shots from her first six months. I was so excited to make and send these, and it was great to see my mom and Jacques’ parents open them over Skype. The reactions were great!

After looking at several sites I decided to make the book using Pinhole Press. Though it was on the pricier side, I really liked their designs and I’m really happy with the end result. I’m sure I’ll be creating more of these books as Lucie grows. We also received a beautiful photo book of my sister’s baby, Cash. So lovely!


As wonderful as the holidays are, I am really looking forward to starting the new year and getting back into routines. It’s kind of a crazy thing to say, since my life right now has very few routines compared to the way it used to be. But seeing January 1st on the calendar really makes me think about life in a new way, even now. It’s a time to set new goals and create new habits, and reflect on the past year. 

I hope to be back in a few days to talk about just that. For now, I hope you all enjoy the rest of the holiday season!

November 29, 2012

Gluten-free apple spice cake for six months


Lucie turned six months old the other day. And we held a little party.

Why not celebrate six months? It seems like a pretty big accomplishment to us. Recently, I was talking to my sister, whose baby boy is 4 and a half months, and we both said we used to wonder why parents held parties for little kids. What’s the point? we thought. Like the kid cares. It’s all for the parents.

Now we get it. Exactly! It is all for the parents. And the parents need those parties. It’s a way to say, “Look! We made it! You are six months old and you are still alive and healthy and happy!”

November 17, 2012

Coffee in Halifax


Still playing catch-up around here, and this one is a long time coming. I wanted to write about these cafes a year ago after I visited them in summer 2011, but it just never happened. On our trip to Halifax this past September, I stopped in at one of them again, and I’d like to tell you about it.

November 15, 2012

Gluten-free Nova Scotia oatcakes


Growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, oatcakes were a coffee shop staple. A cross between a cookie and a biscuit, they were the size of pucks and nearly an inch thick, and sometimes dipped in chocolate. I remember often buying them and almost always being disappointed – they were usually far too sweet and far too dry, with a texture reminiscent of sawdust. But somehow I couldn’t stop giving in to the oatcake temptation.

I was reminded of oatcakes a couple of years ago when talking to a colleague who worked in Nova Scotia for a while. During that conversation I realized for the first time how regional the oatcake is. I had never thought about the fact that I didn’t really see them anywhere but in Nova Scotia.

November 9, 2012

The Junction


I’d like to tell you a bit more about Claire and Alex’s great neighbourhood in Toronto. I feel I got to know it fairly well after staying with them for three weeks and getting out and about quite a bit.

(P.S.- can you believe the Junction was a dry neighbourhood until 2000?? That explains why there are still very few liquor stores…)

I’ve already talked about Crema – a great neighbourhood coffee shop – and the Junction Farmers’ Market. Here are a few other highlights:

November 4, 2012

Toronto Farmers’ Markets


Since I was in Toronto for three weeks, Claire and I had lots of time to visit different farmers’ markets around the city – another one of our favourite pastimes. I was there in late August and September and this was the perfect time of year for these markets. The produce stands were full to bursting with a rainbow of tomatoes, peppers, greens, fresh beans, zucchini, mushrooms, corn, and summer fruits like berries, peaches and nectarines.

In the summertime in Toronto, you could visit a farmers’ market nearly every day of the week. And, unlike Edmonton, which also has its fair share of farmers’ markets, all the ones in Toronto seem to be accessible by public transit.

November 3, 2012

Hooked Fish Store – Toronto, ON


One of the reasons Claire and I went to Leslieville was to visit Hooked. Claire is a chef and she had heard from her colleagues about this great fish store. I haven’t been to many fish stores, but Hooked is an incredibly cool place. Its focus is on sustainably caught fish and seafood. The two owners, a husband-and-wife team, are professional chefs who really care about where their fish comes from. They buy direct from fish farmers and fishers across Canada. There is tons of selection, and the staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Overall it’s just a beautiful place to shop. They also carry a selection of sauces, marinades and pickles made in-store to complement your fish meal. Hooked even runs a teaching kitchen where you can take classes on fish preparation.

We picked up some oysters and fresh sardines for supper. It was a delicious fish feast, and only my second time eating oysters. The first time was after my father’s funeral 8 years ago, and I wasn’t a fan of the slippery sensation. This time I really enjoyed them! The taste reminded me of mussels, and I loved the salty brininess. They tasted like the sea. Dad loved oysters, and I think he would have been pretty proud to see his chef daughter cracking them open and the three of us knocking them back.

We broiled the sardines, and their firm, creamy flesh had an incredibly rich flavour. They were, however, on the large side (about 8 inches long) and full of bones. The meal was a long one – and at the end of it, we were all left with sticky fingers and plates covered in tiny fish bones. But it was worth it.


888 Queen Street East
206 Baldwin Street
Toronto, ON

October 25, 2012

Coffee with babies


Toronto has some great cafes. Like, really great. So great that I was spoiled for three weeks, and missed them once I was back in Edmonton.

I don’t mean to say Edmonton doesn’t have any good cafes, because it does. A few of my favourites are Credo, Transcend, Remedy, da Capo, and Elm. But to my mind, none of them manage to combine great coffee and wonderful atmosphere (not to mention GF baked goods!) like several of the cafes in Toronto.

It was so wonderful to have such an extended visit with my sister Claire. Especially since we both have little babies at the same time. Claire and Alex’s son Cash is just seven weeks younger than Lucie. What could be more fun?? The four of us (sadly, Alex and Jacques were both working) spent a lot of time in various Toronto cafes, one of our favourite activities. We relaxed, nursed our babies and our lattes, and enjoyed the good life of mat leave together. Claire and Cash, Lucie and I miss our cafe times!

Crema – 3079 Dundas St. W (also other locations)


I visited Crema a handful of times during my visit. It is Claire and Alex’s neighbourhood coffee shop, located just a few blocks away from their apartment in the Junction. It also has some of the best coffee in the city. The baristas here were always friendly, there were plentiful GF baked goods, and when Jacques arrived in town he really enjoyed the panini. What’s not to like? Well, I guess my one quibble is the decor and atmosphere are a bit stark … but I’d still happily go there all the time if I lived in the neighbourhood.

Te Aro – 983 Queen Street E.


We went to Te Aro on one of my best days in the city. Claire and I took the long trek on public transit out to Leslieville, a great neighbourhood in the east of Toronto. We started our day at this hip cafe, which roasts its own beans. The lattes were truly delicious and the atmosphere on the outdoor patio was perfect (the first shot above of Claire nursing Cash is also at Te Aro). Lucie slept in the stroller throughout this whole coffee date, allowing me to drink my latte before it got cold. What a treat!

Rooster – 489 Broadview Avenue


We truly visited cafes all over the city! Rooster is an amazing place tucked away even further east, in Claire and Alex’s old neighbourhood near the Danforth. We managed to make it here on one of my last days in Toronto, and I’m so glad we did. Site of the epic “two babies on one lap” photo shoot (see above), Rooster has cozy, eclectic neighbourhood charm in abundance. The clientele is wonderfully diverse – we chatted with an older woman, and I observed a few families with elementary-age kids dropping by after school for a pick-me-up. Rooster gets its beans from Te Aro, so you know the coffee is good. And again, GF baked goods! There is one baker in Toronto who peddles his or her GF muffins all across town, and I was happy to run into them almost everywhere I went, especially the orange and fleur-de-sel variety.

Writing this is making me miss these great cafes even more. For now, I will rely on Edmonton’s best cafes and our own home espresso machine with delicious Transcend beans. Maybe that’s not so bad after all.

Other places to get great coffee in Toronto:

Dark Horse – 215 Spadina Ave. (also other locations)
Ezra’s Pound - 238 Dupont St. and 913 Dundas St. W
The Common – 1071 College St. and 1028 Bloor St.

October 23, 2012

The Calgary Farmers’ Market

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Jacques and I were in Calgary for a few days in July, right after we left Canmore. Since we were in the city on a Saturday, I wanted to check out one of the farmers’ markets. There are many of them, but the one that seemed the biggest and easiest to get to from our hotel was the Calgary Farmers’ Market.

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The market is big, and since it’s open four days a week, many of the stalls are semi-permanent. In that sense it reminded me a bit of Halifax’s Seaport Farmers’ Market, though it’s bigger. There is a great mix of vendors, with lots of ready-to-eat food stalls, and plenty of people selling meat, vegetables and fruits, and cheese. We started off with some delicious coffee from Fratello Coffee.

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Jacques went for some dim sum. He loves it, but hardly eats it anymore since there isn’t much choice at dim sum for celiacs (that I know of).

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There were also many stalls selling desserts and baked goods, including the one below which specialized in middle eastern sweets. I’m not sure what exactly these kataifi are, but they look good. Jacques enjoyed his baklava from this stand.

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I was excited about visiting Miss P’s Gluten Free stand. Here are some of her cupcakes. I bought a loaf of focaccia bread and some chocolate chip cookies, both of which I enjoyed. The bread had a delicious flavour, though the texture was on the dry side.

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I had a gluten-free buckwheat galette for lunch. A galette is a type of French crepe made with buckwheat flour. I chose a filling of spinach, tomato and goat cheese, and it was tasty.

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We really enjoyed strolling around the market. Lucky Calgarians who get to shop there all the time! Though I love our markets in Edmonton, it would be great to have one that was open more than one day a week.

Calgary Farmers’ Market
510 77th Ave. SE (Just off Blackfoot Trail and Heritage Drive)
Open Thursday – Sunday 9 am – 5 pm

Life these days


Being at home with Lucie is awesome. I love the relaxed pace of my days, my morning coffee ritual, going out with Lu to run errands, being able to meet friends whenever I like. It’s really great.

Lucie is doing wonderfully. It’s hard to believe she is almost five months old. It sounds like a cliché, but we find ourselves loving her more and more every day. She changes all the time, becoming more aware of her surroundings and interacting with us and with her toys. Last week Jacques’ parents were here for a visit, and they remarked that she had changed so much even within the course of the week they were in Edmonton.

One of the best parts of maternity leave is having so much time to cook and bake. I have been spending lots of time in the kitchen, and I hope to share some of that with you soon. Despite the cold weather here, I definitely felt ready for the change of season, and we have been enjoying delicious autumnal meals: lots of soups, baked casseroles, and the hearty flavours of lentils, squash, swiss chard, and kale.

I still lots of catching up to do from the summer here on the blog, however. Over the next week or so I hope to write a bunch about my travels and culinary adventures on the road. Hope you enjoy it!

August 18, 2012

A little trip to Canmore

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I was happy I got to go back to Canmore this year. Jacques and I visited the little rocky mountain town for the first time last summer and really enjoyed ourselves. Canmore is right on the edge of Banff National Park, so you don’t have to pay the park fees to stay there. Though it’s a small town, it has a definite yuppie and hippie feel, and we find it’s more diverse and interesting than Banff.

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We were in Canmore for three days in July with Jacques’ show. It was so nice to be among the mountains, though with a 6-week old baby we didn’t do any hiking. But you get spectacular views from right within town. It’s truly a beautiful place. Our hotel was right along the train tracks, a short walk to the downtown, which is a fun place to stroll around.

Last summer I discovered a pizza restaurant there with gluten-free pizza, the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company. Unfortunately, this time around the restaurant was a disappointment, with pizza that I found overly salty, and really bad service. But I was able to scout out some other gluten-free options this time as well.

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Once I started looking around Nutter’s Bulk and Natural Foods store, I couldn’t believe I had never been there before. It’s a real shame the store doesn’t have a location in Edmonton, because Nutter’s (at least the one in Canmore) sells a cornucopia of gluten-free products.  They had many brands and products I have never seen before, and I found the selection better than at Planet Organic, which is where I usually buy specialty GF items. I picked up some GF instant miso soup packets, which I thought would be helpful on the road, and a really yummy granola bar made by Canmore company Fiddlehead Foods.

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Our last day in town, Jacques heard about a cafe that had GF baked goods. Of course I had to go try them out. The Rocky Mountain Bagel Cafe has gluten-free cheesecake, brownies and at least one other item that I’ve forgotten. I tried the brownie, which was tasty but super-sweet, which is not my favourite.

While sitting in that cafe I read something in a dining guide about another cafe in town with GF options. So I continued my cafe-hopping while Lucie snoozed in her carrier.

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I visited the Communitea Cafe, a beautiful space with a modern interior, lots of natural light, couches, and several people working on laptops. They had some delicious-sounding food, including several GF lunch options, and a large tea selection provided by Edmonton’s Steeps Tea. I went straight to the sweets again. There were many to choose from, including the same granola bars from Fiddlehead Foods, and some of the same baked goods they carry at Wild Flour Bakery in Banff (the two cafes have the same supplier for their GF products).

I ended up going for a Chai cupcake, since GF cupcakes are a rare find (though actually very easy to make). It was light, fluffy, and delicious, though the frosting had the greasy mouth feel of margarine or shortening.

While in town, we also stumbled across the Canmore Farmers’ Market and had some delicious Indian food there. I was surprised by how many vendors were at the market, including several fruit and vegetable vendors and lots of prepared foods. There was even a booth selling homemade, organic dog food. Like I said, it’s a yuppie town …

I’ve visited many Alberta towns this summer with Jacques as he tours the province, and Canmore was probably my favourite place of all. It makes me even happier to know that I’ve discovered some more great GF choices there too.