Venice Beach crazy

In LA, had a full day out. Kicked off the day at Venice Beach and walked along the boardwalk to Santa Monica Pier. Drove to Mailbu, then back around up Sunset Bld to the strip. Stopped at Hollywood Blvd to check out the stars and the Oscars red carpet. Venice Beach s definitely my fave, everything from dancing dogs to pink tinsel bums carrying empty suitcases. Who carries an empty suitcase? Very symbolic don’t you think? Not one person at the beach looked unhappy. All smiles and looking up towards the sun. Something to be said about not having to live by anyone else rules such as the norms of society. I appreciated the carefree lifestyle.

Help abandoned animals on National Cupcake Day this Feb 25th.

The first ever “National Cupcake Day” to help support Humane Societies, SPCAs and local shelters is February 25th. While the event is new to Canada it has had huge success in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. This is a great cause to help raise critical funds for abused, abandoned, neglected or no longer wanted animals.

The Kingston Humane Society is a non-profit charitable organisation established in 1884 for the welfare of animals. This organisation is one that will benefit from this fundraising campaign locally. They receive no government funding and count on your community support to provide its services. Many have previously collected funds in lieu of birthday gifts, why not a cupcake party? Your support will assist with much-needed funds, toys, beds and medical treatments for your local community.

I am the proud mama to Lulu my seven year old Cairn terrier and Dakota the “baby” husky lab cross. Lulu relocated with us from New Zealand. She settled into Canadian life fast. Her first snowfall was a delight where she danced about unsure of the cold flakes. She claimed it home upon discovering squirrels. Dakota (much larger of the two) likes to sleep legs in the air or with his head propped on my keyboard. When his heavy breathing turns to a snore, I gently move his drooling mug. This is only until the waiting is over so we can hit the trails for the afternoon walk.

I am fortunate to work from home. The cuddles and walks with them keep balance in my days.  They are the best “work” colleagues. Each enjoys deliveries, greeting each visitor with an assertive friendly tone, sending them on their way after a pat down. Better yet, you won’t find them at your desk endlessly nattering about their boyfriend troubles either. They will however drop a ball at your feet in an effort to solicit more walks. Eating lunch is a joy, as they sit alongside you and never talk with a mouth full. The occasional office “bust up” lands them outside, much easier than general office politics. They are the best in times of crisis and celebration. Nothing seals the deal like a wet nosed kiss. I can assure you my furry colleagues will not find themselves unwanted, unloved or homeless.

You can make a difference this Feb 25th – participate in this national fundraiser for all those animals who do not have loving homes. Register online at nationalcupcake.ca to host a Cupcake party at work, school or home.  Set a goal then invite your friends, families and colleagues whom attend to donate to taste your wares.

In an effort to keep office peace, I whipped up an extra batch of cupcakes for my furry friends. Check this recipe out and don’t forget to register for National Cupcake Day online at nationalcupcake.ca. 

PUPcake recipe (for your four-legged friend) compliments of Sydenham Vet

Ingredients:

2 ¾ cup of water

¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce

¼ tsp. vanilla

4 cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup dried apple or fresh fruit

1 tbsp. baking power

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp. honey

 Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spray cupcake tin with cooking spray.

Mix wet ingredients together thoroughly. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients slowly. Combine well.

Pour batter into cupcake tins. Bake for 30 mins.

Cool completely and serve.

 My mates loved these new treats and I may have to whip up a weekly batch.

To share your favorite recipes or let me know a local restaurant that you’d like me to check out email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook.

It’s impossible to overeat when you enjoy every bite.

Feb 13, 2012

In life one should enjoy the experience of food and mealtime. I am nourished by the simple act of cooking and I try to ensure each mealtime is dedicated to the savouring and celebration of food.

I seek out good eating wherever possible. I lived overseas for several years in New Zealand and Australia. After returning home, I worked as a Marketing and Sales Manager for the K-Rock Centre and then more recently with Cirque du Soleil and DreamWorks live entertainment shows. As a Mom and an owner of a small business, cooking is my welcome release at the end of the day. My food manifesto is to dine always for the benefit of the experience. It’s impossible to overeat when you truly enjoy every bite (although sometimes I give it a good try).

My creativity and passion for cooking surprised even myself. When I was a child, Mom requested my presence in the kitchen to learn all her baking secrets. She claims I often appeared frustrated, as she showed me how the pastry should feel and the secret to getting the temperature just right. Every holiday you would find me in the kitchen helping prepare for the season of visitors. We still continue this tradition today, and during the years when I lived overseas it was one of the things I missed most.

But my disdain for cooking became a fierce passion? When I met hubby, I knew something would need to change given my lack of skill and knowledge in the kitchen. I did not learn to cook because I felt this was the way to a man’s heart (Although I do believe cooking is the way to everyone’s heart). In the early days it was my husband who won me over with his knowledge of cooking. He introduced me to many wildly tasty evenings in his kitchen. Ladies, I am sure you can all attest there is nothing more seductive than a man in an apron. And when what he created tasted just as good, well I was done for. Today, while my hubby is still a keen foodie, I am the main cook in our house. Food and the experience of cooking have become the way I show love. Without a place to carry out this ritual I feel like a gym junkie without my daily fitness class.

Since those early years, we’ve enjoyed many enjoyable days and evenings at the table. While there have been disasters as I learned the knack, I want to encourage as many as possible to embrace the art of cooking. I am excited to share some of the crazy goings on in my kitchen from new recipe books, family favorites and restaurant reviews. Any good chef knows that a recipe has to be made your own. So, my plan is to check out new cookbooks and maybe even spend time with some of our local chefs.

To begin, here’s something to assist you all with your Valentines Day wooing. Many of you will be hidden away at some delicious restaurant, while others may be dining at home. Either way, why not charm your sweetie post dinner with a dreamy vintage chocolate recipe. Food should always be made with love, and what better way to show your beloved that he or she is the one.

I must confess, while I like to cook, I am no baker. So, generally most of my cakes (not so secretly) come from a box. But, I thought I would try to kick this cake-box habit!

Image“Dreamy Chocolate Cake”

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar

1-¾ cups of all-purpose flour

¾ cups of cocoa

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp of baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup of milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup of boiling water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C), Grease and line cake pans with parchment paper or grease and dust with flour.

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 mins. Stir in boiling water.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Batter will be thin.

Bake in oven for 30 – 35 mins.

One 13 x 9 inch cake pan: bake for 30 – 35 mins*

Two 8 inch or 9 inch round or square cake pans: Bake for 20-25mins*

* A fully baked cake springs back when touched in the centre and it also draws away from the side of the pan. Check before removing, as these timings are only a guideline depending how hot your oven is.

When cake emerges from oven, allow to stand for 10 mins so it can settle.  For sheet or layer cakes, invert onto a cake rack and peel off parchment paper.

FROSTING

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of butter

2/3 cup of cocoa

3 cups of powdered sugar

1/3 cup of milk

1 tsp of vanilla

Instructions:

Melt butter, stir in cocoa alternatively add powdered sugar and milk. Beating with electric mixer to spreading consistency. Add small amounts of additional milk if needed, stir in vanilla.

Spread between layers and overtop and sides of cake.  You may also top with fresh flowers, strawberries, shaved almonds whatever you enjoy most.

Makes 8-10 servings

To share your favorite recipes, tips or let me know a local restaurant that you’d like me to check out email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com