Trifle Matters – Don’t Be Fast, Easy, Cheap or Fake – July 18

English Summer Trifle

English Summer Trifle

EMC Lifestyle

My husband and I were reflecting at the breakfast table on how life has changed these past few years.  Was it our collective years of wisdom now that we are well into our forties? Perhaps the change in careers, lifestyle, daughter’s first year of high school or all of the above?

Today we are in a happier place than ever before.

In 2007 we moved to Canada after living overseas. A great lifestyle change from the busy face-paced working environment we had both grown accustomed to juggling. The goal was to take a year sabbatical to kick back and discover our needs for the next phase of our lives.

It’s always important at any age to take the time to reflect. We could have just kept going, pushing forward, but what we realized (thankfully none too late) was that pushing forward never gave us the time to really be present in our lives.

So many careers are changing. Everyone rushing from one thing to the next. The use of cellphones to keep track of each other means there is never a time when we are not available. Individuals are subjected to office bullying and fears of job loss just to appease power hungry bosses. Take the time to stand up for what is important to you. Change can make all the difference.

Our priority as parents never change. We would jump hoops to make a school trip, concert and be home in the mornings and evenings. But, as soon our daughter was snug in bed we were back working again (Funny, I write this now as she sleeps soundly upstairs). Although, the difference is that it’s work that doesn’t feel like work.

While not the answer for everyone, taking a break and evaluating what is important was essential to our wellbeing.  You only get one life. Live it to the fullest.

My husband was previously in a sales and marketing position for a company in New Zealand. As luck would have it, the company changed to a distributer model and gave us the financial opportunity to return to Canada.

I resigned my position and he his and we moved to Kingston to have more time as a family.

We relished the time we had to walk our dog, eat lazy breakfasts and pick up new hobbies. Hubby taught himself to play the piano and electric guitar, we volunteered at our daughter’s school and generally had more time to think about what makes us happy.

After six months of our sabbatical, I took a job, which excited me and enabled me to continue doing what I love. Hubby decided to return to school. He studied the Wind Turbine Industrial Electrician course and has never looked back.

He has a job he loves which contributes and makes a difference to the well being of others and the environment.

That day at breakfast, as we looked back, we learned that we are happier since we took the time. We are more comfortable with this new life.

I saw this great line written: you are what you eat so don’t be fast, easy, cheap or fake. I think it’s a good mantra for everything in life.

Change is never easy. Returning to school was timely and financially difficult but better than being a fake in a dispensable world. Life is too short not to live it to the fullest.

This week’s recipe sums it all up. Trifle is not fast, easy and if done right it tastes best when its not cheap or fake. So, don’t skimp on those berries and get the fresh whipping cream. Mom (who makes the next best trifle in the world) claims this recipe is now her new favorite. She suggests adding shaved almonds to the topping too. Enjoy this lovely summer berry dish!

English Summer Trifle:

Serves 12   Recipe from Summer 2013 “Food and Drink” Magazine

Ingredients:

2 pkgs (195 g each) individual sponge cakes or dessert shells, about 12

½ to ¾ cup (125 to 175 ml) dry sherry

2 cups (500 ml) each of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries

16 oz (500 g) strawberries

1-cup (250 ml) lemon curd

1-½ cups (375 ml) whipping cream, divided

2 cans (425 g each) Devon custard (I made the custard from scratch using Horne’s custard powder – recipe on back of tin. But’s easier with pre-made Devon custard.)

1 tbsp. (15 ml) granulated sugar

Icing sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. To dry cake a little so it will absorb the sherry, cut into 1-inch (2.5 –cm) pieces and spread out on baking sheet. Leave, uncovered, on the counter for a few hours or overnight.
  2. For trifle, turn sponge cake pieces into a big bowl. While stirring cake, drizzle sherry over-top. In a separate bowl, combine the blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Hull strawberries and cut in half or quarters. Stir with the other berries, then set aside about 2 cups (500 ml) for decorating trifle. Put lemon curd in a separate bowl and stir in ½ cup (125 ml) of whipping cream until evenly blended and smooth.
  3. To assemble, choose a 12-cup (3-L) straight-sided glass-serving bowl. (I have a Pampered Chef Trifle bowl and love it.) Cover the bottom with half the cake. Pour 1 can of Devon custard overtop and gently spread almost to the edges. (I went over a little. Trifle is messy but tastes sooo good.) Spoon the lemon curd overtop and use the back of a spoon to swirl over the custard. Scatter with half the fruit. Repeat the cake, custard and lemon curd layers. Add the remaining fruit. If making a day ahead, cover and refrigerate.
  4. To serve, whip remaining 1 cup of cream with granulated sugar until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Mound on the trifle. Decoratively arrange the reserved fruit on top and sprinkle with icing sugar, if desired.

If you have any questions or have any suggestions for recipes I should try, restaurants I should visit email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, or follow my blog at LadyDinesalot.com or on Facebook.

Blissful Day at Fort Henry’s Outdoor Battery Bistro – July 10

Sangria Cocktails and Caesar Salad

Sangria Cocktails and Caesar Salad

EMC Lifestyle

Within the walls of Fort Henry, we gazed across the lake, lunching and sipping Sangria cocktails. Inside the fortress, the sounds of the drums and flutes echoed as a reminder that we were dining in this unique slice of history.

The Battery Bistro is a new outdoor restaurant located on this world heritage site and is home of Kingston’s largest waterfront patio. If you ever needed a reason to revisit Fort Henry now is the time.

Fort Henry is managed by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and guards the convergence of the Rideau Canal, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. It is designated as a National Historic Site for its defence of these waterways, this region and its role as a key historical fortification site.

You can learn so much from those that came before us. Museums once a building of old collections for groups to view, now offer more interactive ways for guests to connect and experience history. Fort Henry has always led this model and offered unique activities for you to see and hear through artillery demonstrations, soldiers dressed in 1800 attire, school life and other historical activities to give guests a flavor of life 150 years ago. Especially with the new Discovery Centre there is even more for the history buff and the not so sure to enjoy.

We try to attend a sunset ceremony each summer and of course our teen can’t miss out on the spooky spectacular of Fort Fright when it returns in the fall. However, there is so much going on at the Fort from the new concert series, Sunset Ceremony redevelopment, Trade Market and the opening of the Battery Bistro – it’s a great place to visit this summer break.

When I suggested to a visiting friend (she lives 35 km away) that we visit Fort Henry with the kids for lunch I was amazed to learn that she hadn’t been since she herself was a child.

The Battery Bistro opened in May this year just in time for summer visitors. The 200-seat restaurant is a long outdoor patio butted up against the fortress wall, dappled among old cannons. Opens daily from 11:30 am till 9pm throughout the summer till Labor Day. New hours for the fall will be established according to event schedules.

It’s a sublime view of Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, the Royal Military College and the City.  The five of us dined at the railing so we could look directly across the water at the scenic wind turbines and boats passing by. We arrived in the afternoon so the lunch rush was over and given it was a Wednesday preparations had begun for the live entertainment on the patio for evening dining guests to enjoy before the Sunset Ceremony kicked off.

The Fort has adopted a live music program this year featuring several local artists including; Rob Carnegie, Chris Koster, Emily Fennell, Greg Ball, Kris and Dee to name a few.

The best part there is no parking or admission fee to visit the Battery Bistro or the Trade Markets. Drop in and shop in the square, which features local artisans, stay and enjoy lunch or dinner in the Battery Bistro and listen to a local musician.

Guests simply pay a $1.50 service fee per person, which goes directly to Fort Henry to assist with maintenance of the World Heritage Site.

Our group was two adults, two teenagers and a child. The menu offered a variety for us all to enjoy.  We ordered the Gazpacho soup (a spicy chilled Spanish soup served with onion, cucumber and basil); deep-fried wedges of dill pickles, a fresh melon and strawberry salad, the haddock fish and chips, traditional kids chicken fingers and the tasty chicken Caesar salad. The menu offers a different variety to the Sunset Ceremony casual BBQ and fine dining Candlelight dinners. Thankfully the same quality and attention to detail that Paul Fortier and his team at Jessop Foods has offered for years at the Fort carries through to this unique dining experience.  It can get hot on the patio so umbrellas have arrived to offer shade in this sensational spot.

Tasty Fish and Chips at Battery Bistro

Tasty Fish and Chips at Battery Bistro

Melon Salad

Melon Salad

The Bistro is a wonderful addition with a wide choice of light snacks and upscale main courses enjoyed on the stunning new patio. For a full list of the menu or reserve a table visit foodandheritage.com or call 613-530-2550.

Enjoy this special spot before many of the Fort Henry events this summer:

Sunset Ceremony – a tradition at the Fort. Check out this new show with its updated features, including the Fort Henry guard and a historical context through a video story along with enhanced light and sound on select Wednesday’s and Saturday nights.

Cannonball Rush – July 21st  – 10 am – Join the obstacle race across the Fort Henry grounds. Register online at forthenry.com Cost: $65 (Individual), $60 (Team/ 2 or more), Military Discounts apply.

This is year is the 75th Anniversary of the Fort Henry Guard: July 27th kicks off a week featuring several celebrations to mark this special occasion. Avoid disappointment purchase your tickets today for all events online at forthenry.com

Military Tattoo – July 27th   7:30 pm – a premier event showcasing the drill and music skills of various Canadian and International Acts.

*75 Years of Modern Music – Friday August 2nd @ 8 pm performance by the Kingston Symphony Orchestra along with the following artists:

  • Patricia O’Callaghan: a sensational and distinctive cabaret singer
    Jon Harvey: lead singer of Juno Award-winning rock band Monster Truck
  • Christopher Dallo: Canadian tenor
  • Derke Ballard:  front man of the rock band Gentlemen Husbands
  • Emily Fennell: Kingston native and voice of rock and soul
  • Jay ‘Smitty’ Smith: local singer/songwriter

Sunset Ceremony – August 3rd @ 8:30 pm – finishes the weeklong celebration with a special ceremony honoring the Fort Henry Guard, including fireworks and honor parade.

*Country Rocks the Fort – August 9th at 6 pm – Tickets on Sale now! Cost: $45 – $65 plus applicable service charges.

Johnny Reid returns to Kingston along with Doc Walker, Tim Hicks, Autumn Hill and Kingston’s own Rob Carnegie.

For more information or to suggest a restaurant or recipe I should try email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow my blog ladydinesalot.com or on Facebook.

Food – Things To Cook In July

Everything Cool

 

Source: elli.com

WHAT’S IN SEASON.

-Apricots
-Arugula
-Basil
-Beans
-Beets
-Blackberries
-Blueberries
-Cherries
-Corn
-Cucumbers
-Eggplant
-Fennel
-Mangoes
-Melon
-Okra
-Peaches
-Plums
-Raspberries
-Sorrel
-Strawberries
-Summer squash
-Tomatoes
-Watermelon

 

Grilled Avocadoes with Herbs and Cherry Tomatoes

Grilled Avocadoes with Herbs and Cherry Tomatoes

Recipe here.

Source: chimeraobscura.com

 

Ginger and Vanilla Peach Upside Down Cake

Ginger and Vanilla Peach Upside Down Cake

Recipe here.

Shrimp Po’ Boy with Mango

Shrimp Po' Boy with Mango

Recipe here.

Caramelized Pork Kebabs with Chinese Eggplant

Caramelized Pork Kebabs with Chinese Eggplant

Recipe here.

Grilled Caprese Naan Pizza

Grilled Caprese Naan Pizza

Recipe here.

Source: ohmyveggies.com

Sorrel Frittata with Mozzarella and Parmesan

Sorrel Frittata with Mozzarella and Parmesan

Recipe here.

Source: bonappetit.com

Greek Pasta Salad with Crab and Feta

Greek Pasta Salad with Crab and Feta

Recipe here.

Beef Kalbi Short Ribs

Beef Kalbi Short Ribs

Crowd pleaser. Recipe here.

Source: johnmahoney

Cherry, Arugula, and Quinoa Salad

Cherry, Arugula, and Quinoa Salad

Recipe here.

Source: tablefeast.com

Grilled Peach Salad With Mint Pesto

Grilled Peach Salad With Mint Pesto

Recipe here.

Bacon Corn Hash

Bacon Corn Hash

Recipe here.

Source: 

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Gourmet Delights in the Great Outdoors

EMC-Lifestyle

Time to soak up the sunshine with long weekends and family escapes. Our family enjoys summer camping vacations. Cooking in the outdoors is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I would even argue that meals cooked in the outdoors taste better.  A little planning and organization is all it takes to enjoy gourmet delights in the great outdoors.

We still use a tent, forgoing the luxury of a trailer. This can make it more difficult given the lack of conveniences but its a fun and inexpensive holiday. We revel the chance to bond over late night campfires sharing stories, roasting marsh-mellows or gazing at the stars. It’s the “sleeping outdoors” experience when one can have some of the best and deepest sleeps.  Although careful to ensure your bed is not on a rocky surface. It can end being your worst nightmare.

Check the fire regulations to see if you are able to cook over an open fire (my most favorite), BBQ or you may have to make do with a camp stove. This will determine if you need firewood, charcoal, matches, or propane bottles and BBQ utensils and water (drinking and for washing up). Always make sure you bring enough of each with you. My friend Lesli and I have taken the kids camping without our fire chief’s (a.k.a hubby) and the consensus is life is easier with fire-starters on those wet damp days.

We spend as much time stocking the cooking ingredients for the camp kitchen as we do for general supplies. Along with careful meal planning to ensure we don’t run out of essentials.  Plan to bring a variety of fresh herbs, garlic, ginger-root, soya sauce, salt, pepper, oil and lemons as basic must haves. You can prepare and season anything with these such as a quick meat marinade, salad dressing, or squeeze of a lemon to preserve freshly cut fruit.

Ideally you want to prepare as much in advance and eat the hard to keep items first. Try and coordinate snacks and main meals that can turn into another meal the next day. You can over do the groceries so ensure you have a well thought out menu plan.

A simply delicious recipe I like to use is for Crab Cakes. If you catch your own fish use in place of the crab if you’d like but the tin crab is easy to keep while outdoors. This recipe can serve up as a snack, lunch or dinner by serving on a baguette or paired with a side salad.

Crab Cakes with Fresh Citrus-Tomato Mayonnaise

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Ingredients:

1 tbsp. of unsalted butter

1 onion, finely diced

2 ribs of celery, finely diced

6 oz. (175 g) fresh crabmeat or 1 small can, drained – which I generally take camping given the ease.

1 ¾ cups (200g) Panko breadcrumbs (Panko is my preference but you can use any breadcrumbs. You could event process an old loaf of bread you brought with you)

½ cup (125 ml) crème fraiche

A few fresh chives, minced

A few fresh basil leaves, minced

1 large egg

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Light oil for frying

For the Mayonnaise:

1 large egg yolk

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. strong prepared mustard (I often use Dijon mustard)

2 cups of sunflower or corn oil (I use Grape Seed oil in place of these traditional cooking oils)

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced

½ tsp. paprika, preferably smoked

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Make the crab cakes:

In a skillet over medium heat BBQ or on grill, melt the butter and sauté the onion and celery for about 4 minutes, until translucent. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Flake the crabmeat into a bowl and add the cooled onion and celery, half of the breadcrumbs, the crème fraiche, chives, basil and egg, season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Shape the mixture into about 8 little balls. Slightly flatten them and coat the patties all over with the remaining breadcrumbs.

In the same (non-stick pan), heat some oil over medium heat. Fry the patties for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown on both sides. Let them drain on a paper towel.

Make the mayonnaise:

Whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice and mustard until foamy. Pour in the oil in a thin trickle until the mayonnaise becomes a thick mayonnaise. Stir in the tomatoes, paprika and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the crab cakes.

There are some great cookbooks as a resource when you are planning your summer camping trips. Check out “Homemade Summer” by Yvette Van Boven to find this recipe plus loads of other yummy treats and “Family Camping Cookbook” by Tiff and Jim Easton useful for recipes, tips on supply lists etc.

Wishing you all a safe and happy summer break! If you have any restaurant suggestions or recipe ideas to share email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow my blog Ladydinesalot.com or on Facebook.

When The Bee Stings

ImageI am blessed to have a job that mostly allows me to work from home. But on those occasions when I need to travel the airport becomes more than a transportation port.

When I worked in an office, I’d arrive having felt like I’d work a full day already. For the past two years, I have worked from my home office. Less busy? No. But the plus of all the little after-school chats and time to actually be present outweighs the negatives.

A negative is when I have to travel for work. You may ask… how can that be a negative? Well, working from home means business hours at headquarters is twenty-four seven. Mom is the glue that holds everything together. Thankfully, to my wonderful mother and mom friends I have reliable help when the need arises to travel for work.

I have never understood, but Dad’s go away and it seems easy. They pack a bag are comfortable in the knowledge that everything is fine at home. I am not knocking men, my husband misses his family very much when he is away and we need him too. But, reality is he packs a bag and walks out the door.

Moms never truly experience the same exit. As I said before I love my child, my home, my job, but there are days when I look up at all the balls in the air and feel as if my head is going to pop off.

The airport is my temporary shift in headquarters when I travel for work. As soon as the car approaches ‘park and fly’ my cellphone is powered up. Taking work calls, following up on emails and calls from home.  I have bought a house between connecting flights, averted disasters at work commonly referred to as a “work fire” (definition when your boss needs something they should of asked for yesterday and you have to find a clever way to do it from afar), assisted with a tick removal from the family dog and located the butter from the one place no one ever puts it in a butter dish.

My job is to coordinate the marketing for live touring shows’ – mostly I can do this from home office. But at times I fly in for opening night to ensure things go well for the artists and the opening night media.

One such trip, I was onsite for opening night. When you work in entertainment, there is nothing like the hush of the audience as the house lights dim and the show begins. I love it. This particular night the lights dimmed, and I felt a sharp pain in my right hand. I brushed it away and carried on.

Just before the second act, my hand started to swell. It turned out the sting I had felt earlier was from a bee. It began to throb and swell twice the size. About the same time the rather large flying prop in the live scene got stuck mid air. By now, the hush turned to a mutter and loudly grew when the frustrated children looked confused as the house lights sprang on. (In this business, you never want the house lights up unless its intermission or the show has ended.)

I glanced down at my watch; it was time for the media to be ushered in for photos and clips to capture for the show. I rushed in to damage control.

While running down the hall, my mobile phone rang. It was my daughter; she was at the hospital. Apparently, she was suffering from a sore tummy, maybe had appendicitis but was being sent for tests.  The world stopped and crashed to an abrupt halt.

My child needed me. It didn’t matter that my hand was burning and that I had 8,000 people in the next room waiting for a prop to drop. My child was sick and I was thousand of miles away.

I took a deep breath to clear my head (the show must go on) and continued to put out the fire. I told myself  – I was only a plane ride away. We organized intermission early and I went to greet the awaiting media with smiles and no one was the wiser until…someone looked at my hand.

By this time, it was three times the size it should be, my face was white and suddenly I needed the medic. Thankfully, being in a concert venue medical staff were onsite. They looked me over, discovered the stinker still in my hand, removed it, applied ice and just like that sent me on my way.

I continued the event, with updates from my daughter. It turned out it was just growing pains and all was fine. The show was the same, a few growing pains but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. As for me, I arrived at the airport (my second home).  Powered up the phone in time for a call from my husband. “What’s this I hear about an appendicitis?” I smiled into the phone, “Crisis averted.” I said and gazed around at my choices, the Coffee Roaster or the Martini Lounge? I look at my red hand, less swollen than the day before and marched into the martini lounge. Lets face it; it’s five o’clock somewhere, right?

For a refreshingly sweet summer Martini, the Peartiniis the perfect choice.

Total Time: 3 minutes

 

Yield: 1 Cocktail

Ingredients:

Preparation:

1. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

2. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat.

3. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a pear slice

If you have any restaurants for me to visit or recipes to try email me at ladydinesalot@gmail.com, follow my blog www.ladydinesalot.com or follow me on facebook.