Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Halloween 2014

Halloween has taken on a whole new meaning now that Lenny is in school.  On our way to school Friday morning, she kept pointing at all the kids walking down the street in their costumes.  "Mom! A Witch!!! A Ninja! Mom!!!" and then, simply, "This is the BEST."

I let her take the lead this year and decide on her own costumes, except the first one, which was a surprise from our friend Emily who found it online.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Buddy the T Rex from the ever popular Dinosaur Train.  We have spent countless hours watching the show and even more playing make believe with the characters.  She was beyond thrilled to be her favourite dinosaur first thing on Halloween morning.  She tells me she stomped her way through the costume parade at school, just a like a real T Rex would.

When she got home from lunch she was ready for a change (Buddy's head was starting to get itchy and hot) so we improvised this beauty.  Meet the "Lady Bug Pirate".  I wish you could hear her squeak "aaaarrrrr matey" in her little Lady Bug voice.  Sweeter than all the fun-sized chocolate bars in all the land.

After school it was time to do some pumpkin carving.

Hey! Look! It's the World's Ugliest Pumpkin!

Happily, even ugly pumpkins produce beautifully delicious seeds to roast with olive oil and sea salt.

After a quick dinner it was time for the main event.  Trick or Treating.  For the past year Lenny has been planning her costume.  And while it may look thrown together in these pictures we spent lots of time planning it out and it is exactly what she wanted.

Hang on to your hats!
It's...NO NOGGIN!!!

She was so happy, you guys.  I think her favourite part of the day was handing out treats, which is, again, adorable.  The best thing was when a couple of her classmates came to our door.  The best.  They're all so cute I can hardly stand it.

The next morning, still buzzed from a great Halloween she asked us "when's Christmas?" Yeah, she's ready.

Recipe: Jamie Oliver's Epic Roast Chicken Salad

This is one of those recipes you come across and immediately think "I MUST COOK THAT!"  Jamie never fails, you guys.  We know that.  And while this was a little more work than I thought it would be it was definitely worth it.  The leftovers were killer too, which was a huge surprise.

What you'll need:

  • olive oil
    1 x 1.2 kg chicken
    sea salt
    freshly ground pepper
    a small bunch of fresh thyme
    1 lemon
    400 g mixed cherry tomatoes
    1 bulb of garlic
    1 country loaf (roughly 300g)
    6 slices smoked streaky bacon
    200 g green beans, topped
    extra virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
    cider vinegar
    a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
    a bunch of fresh mint
    6 green onions


Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Drizzle olive oil all over the chicken and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Pick and scatter over the thyme leaves (reserving the stalks). Rub the flavours into the skin, then halve the lemon and put it inside the cavity along with the thyme stalks. Pop the chicken into a large roasting tray (roughly 25 x 32cm) and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes, then smash up your garlic bulb and discard the papery white skin. After about 30 minutes, throw the tomatoes and garlic into the chicken tray, ideally holding the chicken up with tongs while you slush everything around and coat the tomatoes in the juices underneath. Put the chicken back on top, then return it to the oven for the remaining 30 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and the juices from the thigh run clear when pricked with a knife.

Transfer the roasted chicken to a plate, cover with tin foil and leave to cool. Tear the bread into the roasting tray in thumb-sized croutons, then toss them in all the cooking juices. Spread the croutons out in the tray and lay the rashers of bacon on top. Pop back in the oven for around 15 to 20 minutes, or until everything is crispy, golden and gorgeous.

These tomatoes were from our garden.  I can hardly believe it.  They were delicious.  What a sense of accomplishment I had cooking and eating something I grew.  Who knew!

Meanwhile, remove all the chicken skin and set aside, then use two forks to strip every last bit of meat off the bone. Pile the meat into a large bowl and drizzle over any resting juices from the plate. Cook your green beans in boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until cooked but not squeaky when you bite them. Quickly drain and add them to the bowl of shredded meat, with 5 to 6 tablespoons of good-quality extra virgin olive oil, the wholegrain mustard and a few good swigs of cider vinegar. Chop up the parsley and mint leaves and finely slice the spring onions. Add them to the bowl. Toss everything together, then have a taste and adjust with more vinegar or seasoning if you like.
Once the croutons are golden, quickly tear the chicken skin into the roasting tray (skip this if you want a healthier salad, I did) and put back into the oven just until it crisps up again. When it's looking lovely, tip everything from the bowl into the tray or on to a large serving platter. Toss everything together and serve in the middle of the table.

Does it sort of look like a dog's breakfast?  YEP.  But it tastes AMAZING!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Programming Note: All new season of Curious George starts on PBS this week!

Today CURIOUS GEORGE: A Halloween Boo Fest returns to PBS KIDS! Anyone who has already seen the Curious George Halloween special knows that it is an instant classic, so, you know, hold on to your hats!  If the kids in your life are anything like Lenny then you've been watching it all year long.  The big news?  The annual airing of Boofest is kicking off season 9 of Curious George with a whole week of brand new episodes!
Season nine!!! That's staying power.  I'm starting to think that the new season of Curious George is becoming as much of ritual in this house as picking out a pumpkin, enjoying the colourful foliage and realizing I don't like Pumpkin Spice Lattes as much as I think I do.  A big part of last Fall was the season 8 premiere starring Carol Burnett.  Lenny still wants a front-loader and I still tear up a little bit when I think of George tugging on his ear.
This year the new adventures with George and my not so secret crush, The Man with the Yellow Hat, debut on PBS KIDS October 28-30.  Plot lines include George testing his super spy skills and exploring an aviation museum. October 28 features the premiere of “Submonkey,” an underwater adventure that includes the song “Down, Down, Down,” performed by Belinda Carlisle (be still my grew-up-in-the-80's heart!).
The week of Halloween will also feature Halloween-themed episodes from other PBS KIDS shows, including DINOSAUR TRAIN, DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, WILD KRATTS, and more. Check your local listings.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Celebrating Twenty Years of the Beach Studio Tour

At Nathalie Vachon's beautiful home, Studio 12 on the tour, where you can also see the work of Sandra Greenwood, Lampwork and Glass Jeweller.
This afternoon I had the pleasure of getting an exclusive preview of the 20th Anniversary edition of the Beach Studio Tour.  For the past 20 years artists and artisans in the Beach neighbourhood have been showcasing their work (and their workplaces) every Spring and Fall.  It's easy to see why this tour has such staying power; the art, which is exceptional, is the draw but the homes and gardens that you get to experience are a very close second in terms of appeal.

Decorative and functional pottery by Paula Childs, showing at Studio 13 

I am currently obsessed with the beautiful, light-filled paintings of Michaela Nessim, showing at Studio 10

Some stops on the tour have dogs, too!
Louisa LaBarbera's wearable art is as popular as ever (showing at Studio 10).
Honestly, the homes themselves are so beautiful and the gardens are breathtaking.  Feast your eyes on this. Seriously.

Elizabeth Berry's watercolours and her home felt almost inseparable.  That said, you should totally buy one.

Roderik Mayne's beautiful portraits, oils and watercolours fill Studio 8.

John Dowding has some captivating photographs showing in Studio 6, including this one shot in Cuba.

One of the highlights of the studio tour is getting a glimpse at how these artists work.  Designer and Hand Weaver Lucille Crighton (Studio 6) has this amazing operation taking place on the top floor of her house.  You'd never know the kind of garment production that takes place in her beautiful home if you were walking by it.

Shelley Cinnamon (showing at Studio 5, just steps from the Leuty Lifegaurd Station) has an enviable array of supplies set up near a window by her kitchen.

Artist Bev Quinn is showing gorgeous abstracts in Studio 4
Also in Studio 4, sculptor Noriko Yamaoto who is showing whimsical fish and angels as well as this striking nude which brought to mind Henry Moore.

The paintings and linographs of Heidi Burkhardt and the work of Woodturner Jennifer McKinnon are so well matched (both showing in Studio 3) it's hard to imagine them apart from each other!

First stop on the tour (Studio 1) features striking photos from Shabnam Khosrowshahi and Textiles from Mixed Media Artist Janet Donaghey.

Also, not to be missed on the tour, Felicity Somerset's abstract photography (Studio 13),  the charming ceramics of Karen Franzen, which look good enough eat, tour veteran Diane Shelton's breathtaking paintings (both Studio 7) and the almost unbelievably evocative textile work of Sheila Thompson (Studio 2).

There is something so special about not just hearing about the art from the maker themselves, but seeing how and where the magic happens.  I would highly recommend getting yourself down to the Beach this weekend, grabbing brunch or dinner and visiting some (if not all) of these studios.  The artists are all very welcoming and in some cases, even provide treats, drinks and live music!

Click here for a comprehensive guide to the tour including information on the artists and the studio locations.

The Beach Studio Tour takes place today, Friday October 24th from 6pm - 9pm, Saturday October 25th from 10am - 6pm and Sunday, October 25th from 11am - 6pm.