Monday

Ottolenghi's Plenty More - definitely something to look forward to!


I literally squealed with delight when I discovered that Yotam Ottolenghi was writing a follow-up cookbook to his highly celebrated vegetarian cookbook, Plenty.

Seriously, that cookbook changed my life! I know that's dramatic, but honestly it completely revolutionized the way I cook. And clearly I couldn't be more excited for the follow-up book, which will include 120 new vegetarian recipes. I can't wait to see what kind of crazy - ingenious - flavour concoctions he will come up with this time!

The book is titled Plenty More, and is set to be released in North America October 14th.
:)

(above: the UK version of the cover)


Thursday

Life Lately... I'm feeling pretty lucky



Oh glorious summer! Life feels so full and ripe these days, and I just can't get enough of it.
Maybe it's because I'm pretty deprived and cooped up in the arctic most of the time, or maybe it's because summer is just so darn wonderful, but I am feeling overwhelmed with gratitude these days. What did I ever do to deserve such sweetness in my life?


We've been hanging out in parks a lot these days. Zac is at the perfect age for this. Everything is so exciting to him... the texture of the sand, the birds, the squirrels and ants, the other kids, the fountains.   It's so refreshing to re-experience the wonders of the world through the eyes of a toddler. He makes us slow waaayyyy down, to examine every crack in the sidewalk and every fallen twig, and that's not a bad thing. It's summer after all, and we've got nothing but time.


We've had a lot of "firsts" lately... first dinner outside on a restaurant terrace, first haircut, first trip to the dentist. And to my surprise, all of them went smoothly. He's become such a sweet little boy. 
Man, I adore that kid!


Our balcony garden at our Montreal apartment is growing abundantly despite our neglect, and we've been enjoying fresh herbs in our salad and fresh mint in our tea.


We spent some time at my parent's place out in the countryside. Zac went crazy for the fresh local strawberries from the farmer's market, and now has permanent strawberry juice stains on most of his t-shirts.


My adventures in bread-making have gone to a whole new level. I've been making my own pain-au-levain from a homemade starter which I feed and care for every day. I've started doing a sort of hybrid technique between this guy and this guy, and the process has been a lot of fun (and eating a lot of delicious fresh bad hasn't been a bad pass-time either!).


 And over the last few days, we've been hanging out at my in-laws place near Toronto.... Eating delicious food, relaxing by the pool, enjoying the free babysitting and jetting off into the city to see a baseball game ;)



Yup, life is pretty sweet and I am so grateful!
And as if it couldn't get any better, tomorrow the entire family will be hitting the skies on an overnight flight to the south of France for a week. I cannot wait to be by the Mediterranean sea.... the epitome of summer!

(wish us luck on the red-eye flight with a rambunctious toddler! Any tips would be greatly appreciated!)

Sunday

A recap of Spring (it has been a while!)


For the most part, spring has been wonderful this year. Zachary is 18 months old now and he's become such a fun little guy to hang out with. Of course he is still the strong-willed little monkey he's always been, but it helps so much that he really understands us now and is able to communicate his needs more and more. This truly is a great stage.


In May we went to Vancouver for a week for a friend's wedding. Vancouver is such a beautiful city, and we kept saying "why don't we live here?!" the whole trip. Seriously, that place has everything…. Mountains, forests, the sea, the beach…. Everything, except our families. Big sigh.

Instead of staying in a hotel (which is always so much fun with babies, right?!), we rented a big apartment on Airbnb with my friend Brianna and her family. This worked out better than we ever could have imagined. They have 2 little kids, so all the little ones played together and entertained each other, while we got to hang out, drink wine and make delicious meals all together. Having your own kitchen makes all the difference when travelling with babies. I don't think we'll ever go back to hotels again… at least not until Zac is older.

 ^^ we took up a lot of sidewalk space! ^^


My friend Rebecca's wedding was so lovely. She got married at the Van Deusen botanical gardens, so the backdrop was simply stunning. And my little man looked pretty handsome too :)


After Vancouver we were back in Montreal only briefly, and it was such a tease! At that point it was still snowy and miserable up north, and for those few days in Montreal we were dining al fresco on our balcony, playing in the parks, and eating out at restaurants on their terraces. It was really hard to leave it!



Back up north, the snow did eventually melt away, and gradually the grass came out and leaves grew on the trees. Zac really does seem to like it up here. He is learning to speak Cree because he attends the local native daycare. He probably already understands more Cree than we do, and that's pretty bad considering we've been living up here for 3 years now!

^^ this boy loves to watch the washing machine run - he could watch it forever! ^^

Our next door neighbours are using our backyard for their teepee… which is a great arrangement for us because we get a teepee in our backyard!  I love looking at it when I wake up every morning. It reminds me of what a cool experience we're having by living up here.

Putting the teepee up was a lot of fun. Only the first 3 poles are tied together, then all the remaining poles are merely balanced on each other. And somehow the whole structure is incredibly secure.


The night we finished putting it up, there was this amazing halo around the sun (aka a sundog - which I'd only ever seen on really cold winter days). And as the sun set it encircled the teepee in that enchanting sort of way that takes your breath away and makes you feel like life is magical.

This is what it looks like inside a real, authentic teepee. The Cree use their teepees mainly to cook wild meat. They hang geese from the cross bars over the open flames and roast them for hours. Zac loves to watch. And he also loves to eat roasted goose (which they call Sigabon up here), he can eat an adult's portion of that stuff!


It's starting to feel like summer up here in the last few weeks. It's been warm , the black flies are back with a vengeance, and the days are long… really long! The sun rises at 4am these days and the birds are so loud they wake Zac up, and I can hear him say "tweet tweet tweet!" in his crib (he's all about animal sounds now). Thankfully he has learned to tune them out and go back to sleep…. most of the time.

So that has been our spring so far. As nice as it's becoming up here in the north, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dying to be back home in the city. I just adore Montreal in the summertime. Two more weeks!

I'm sorry I haven't posted in forever, but right now, life is feeling manageable once again… so here you go. And I've missed you!
I hope you are doing well out there wherever you are.
oxo
Vanessa.

Tuesday

This place would do nicely...






I could definitely live here. That kitchen is amazing!

Although this place on Pender Island is still my absolute dream home.

(via)

Sunday

Dreaming of the French Riviera… Because that's where we're going!


That's right, we are heading to the French Riviera at the end of June! We will be spending a week in a small fishing village on the Mediterranean called Cassis. I keep doing Google image searches of it, and it's getting me so excited! This place looks AMAZING!

So of course I'm dreaming up a beachy wardrobe to go along with it…

 ^^ the summer stuff from Madewell is just gorgeous! I want it all! ^^


^^ I love this Milton Carter beach towel ^^


But I'll tell you what I'm not looking forward to… the overnight flight with a rambunctious toddler! 
But it will all be worth it when I see this…


I can't wait!!

(Last photo via, all other photos from Madewell.com)

Monday

Adventures in (no-knead) bread-making...


If you are already familiar with this incredible method for baking no-knead bread, which steams inside a pre-heated dutch oven and transforms into the most perfect bakery-worthy crusty bread in the world, then there is nothing new for you here.

But I only recently discovered it.

And oh my my! I am completely addicted. This bread is just so good. And so fool-proof! 
And the recipe is incredibly versatile too… you can make endless variations of this bread. 

Like this cheddar-jalapeno bread...


 Or this flax seed bread…


You don't need any bread-making experience to make this bread. It is so easy! You will blow yourself away, and your friends will tell you that you should quit your job and open up a bakery ;)


All you need is flour, water, yeast and salt... and a dutch oven. I use my small Le Creuset pot. But you can use any oven-proof pot with a tight-fitting lid that can handle the heat. My friend made hers in a tajine and it worked wonderfully.

Read on for the instructions and recipe… it will change your life!

Friday

Healthier fruit & nut chocolate truffles


I've been on a bit of a health kick lately. Spring has a way of doing that to me. But no matter how healthy I aspire to be, I will always have a sweet tooth. I always need that sweet little bite of something-something after I finish dinner.

... And these little chocolate truffles definitely hit the spot. I call them "guilt-free truffles" (although that is a total lie, because they definitely contain fat... but it is all good fat, and we all need a bit of that!).

So here's a recipe for healthier chocolate truffles... made with ground almonds, dried figs, nut butter, coconut oil, and honey. And they are SO SO GOOD!


ps: they make a wonderfully nutritious protein-rich snack for toddlers too!

Read on for the recipe...

Wednesday

Spring comes slowly this year...


The transition from winter to spring always feels like an epic battle of sorts. Warm days arrive and winter fights back with a vengeance. We know, of course, that spring will win out in the end, but why does it have to take so long?! 

And this year the winter has been particularly cold and steadfast, and the inevitability of spring feels rather doubtful. Will it ever really come?
I usually try to stay optimistic, but I have had it. I AM SICK OF THE COLD! 


Of course, it is much milder than before. The temperature fluctuates between minus 10 and zero degrees these days… which is much, much better than minus 35… But still, I don't know many people who would equate those kinds of temperatures with a lovely spring day!

It does, however, make for perfect cross-country skiing weather, but I would trade all that in an instant for yellow raincoats and daffodils. 


So I've been spending the weekends compulsively baking and drinking hot cups of coffee. 
(And if you are so inclined, these madeleines are such a treat. Everyone always falls madly in love with them. They are unassuming and wickedly addictive, and I highly recommend them).


It is customary in Quebec to celebrate the maple syrup harvest by visiting a sugar shack every spring. But since sugar shacks (and maple trees) are non-existent in the north, we decided to recreate a proper sugaring-off party with some friends. We had all the classic fixings: pea soup, omelet, bacon, fèves au lard, cretons, pancakes, baked spiced ham, homemade bread all with a generous slather of maple syrup of course!


We even made our own tire d'érable (aka sugar-on-snow or maple taffy), and we dipped strawberries in it for an exotic twist ;)





 In other news, this little boy of mine is now 17-months old and it is such a fun age! He still keeps us on our toes with his bottomless well of energy, but oh how he melts our hearts and makes us laugh out loud. And it honestly just keeps getting better and better!

^^ 1. hanging out in the public baby pool - this place is awesome. 2. feeling cuddly. 3. We are trying to toilet train these days, and Zac loves to escape from the bathroom and run through the house completely naked. It's liberating. 4. Loving the bath - refusing to get out. 5. He's such a boy - hammer in one hand, truck in the other. This boy LOVES trucks! 6. He has no interest in watching TV but this twinkle-twinkle video is like baby crack. I think 1 million of the 3 million views are from us.^^


I hope you're having a lovely week, and I hope your weather is warmer than mine ;)
oxo
Vanessa.

Tuesday

Lately… taking life a little more slowly


March came and went so quickly. Is it really April already? 
Up here in the north, it doesn't really feel any different. For all intents and purposes, it is still winter. Just a milder, more humane sort of winter.We can spend prolonged periods of time outside now. We play in the still 6-feet deep layers of snow. We cross-country ski. We snowshoe. We stare out the window and daydream of warm summer days that never get dark.


We spent the weekend at a friend's cabin deep in the woods this past weekend. No running water, no electricity, only a wood stove to keep us warm. It was quite lovely, actually. Of course there were minor stressors because a toddler was involved - but it was all well worth it.



It felt so refreshing to unplug from everything, and just be
And lazing around with lovely people and cooking delicious food all together. That's what we all need to do every once in a while.




As you may have noticed (if any of you longtime readers are still out there!) I haven't been posting very much lately. I've been finding it really hard to find the time and energy. And I am of the belief that blogging should be inspired, and not forced or contrived. So I've decided to simply let go… and wait and see what happens. If an exciting recipe, song, or story comes my way I will certainly make an effort to share it with you. But I will wait for it to happen naturally. Right now, I think I need to focus on being a good mom, a loving wife, and a devoted physician. And right now, that's a very full-time job!

I hope you are doing wonderfully out there.

With lots of love,
Vanessa.


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