Tuesday

Cooking my way through Ottolenghi's Plenty More cookbook (a review, so far...)


I've been counting down the months for the North American release of Yotam Ottolenghi's second vegetarian cookbook, Plenty More. But when I first brought it home from the bookstore last week I actually found myself a little overwhelmed. There were so many ingredients I'd never heard of before (what on earth is kecap manis?)!

Though the pictures are incredibly beautiful, the ingredient lists are long (in typical Ottolenghi fashion) and a little overwhelming. But I finally put my hesitations and insecurities aside and dove in. And I have not been disappointed yet.


So far, my favourite recipes are the Braised Kale with Crispy Shallots (pictured at top of post), and the steam-baked aromatic Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice (pictured below). They were both unbelievable!!

^^ I loved this new-to-me technique of steam-baking the rice. It literally transformed ordinary basmati rice into something otherworldly! ^^

I've also made the Cauliflower Cake (delicious!), the Tomato and Pomegranate Salad (incredibly flavourful, though I would add half the allspice next time), the Sweet-and-Sour Leeks with goat cheese (also delicious), and the Steamed Eggplant with Sesame and Green Onion (not pictured above but it was absolutely amazing!!)

I have about 50 other recipes flagged that I'm dying to try in the future… Pink Grapefruit & Sumac Salad, Hot-and-Sour Mushroom Soup, Honey-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt, Smoky Polenta Fries… just to name a few!

So yes, I would definitely recommend this book. Don't let the weird ingredients discourage you. This is a great way to expose yourself to new cooking techniques and novel flavour combinations.

~ * ~

I'm curious, have you fallen in love with Ottolenghi's recipes too? I seriously want to travel to London just to eat at his restaurants!

If you do buy this book, I'd love to hear which recipes you try out and what you thought of them :)

~ * ~

^^ ps: I also highly recommend Ottolenghi's other cookbooks. I made the above chocolate babkas (Chocolate Krantz Cakes) from his Jerusalem cookbook the other day and they were OUTRAGEOUSLY, sinfully delicious! Recipe available HERE ^^

Monday

Well these coats are utterly gorgeous!






If it weren't for my six-month pregnancy bump, I would definitely be buying one of these gorgeous wool coats this winter. I love the turquoise… such an unexpected and uplifting colour for winter.

Images: 1, 5 - The Chateau Parka, 2 - Wool melton toggle coat, 3 - Mixed tweed toggle coat, 4 - Majesty peacoat. All from  J. Crew.

Thursday

Is it bad that it's not even Halloween yet and I already feel like decorating for Christmas?!




It's not my fault, I swear. I blame the holiday catalogue from Restoration Hardware that arrived in my mailbox last week (I have no idea why I received this catalog in the first place considering we don't even have this store in Canada Quebec!). Anyway the pictures were so pretty, and I became flooded with holiday cheer.

And to make matters worse, I then strolled into West Elm...
And they were putting up their holiday displays. And I swooned all over again...





It's hopeless.  I'm hopeless!
I know how annoying it is for most people to see Christmas stuff before November, but I am just not one of those people!
I could care less about Halloween... bring on the snow!!

(photo credits: top 3 via Restoration Hardware, bottom 4 via West Elm)

Wednesday

Life Lately: October is my favourite colour


We have spent the last two weeks in and around Montreal, soaking up the last bits of autumn as much as we can. We missed the peak of fall colours this year while up north, but I was happy to at least catch the tail end of it.



While visiting family in Toronto, we took Zac to a nearby farm. He's at the perfect age right now to marvel at pumpkin patches, tractor rides, domesticated farm animals, and corn field mazes. He was in heaven!




The main reason for our visit to Toronto, however, was to meet our beautiful little niece, Lola Ray. We all fell in love with her instantly, especially Zac. His positive reaction to his new little cousin made me really excited (and relieved) about intruducing the next member of our family this coming February.


Lola is a little dream baby, and our jaws nearly hit the floor to experience a newborn so serene and at peace with the world (what a difference compared to own experience in those early weeks!).  It was especially nice to see my sister-in-law Natalie settling into motherhood so naturally and effortlessly. She was calm and confident, and nothing like the distressed first-time mom you typically see. 


Oh how I hope my own upcoming newborn experience is more like this the second time around...


We also spent time out in the country with my parents, going on walks, enjoying the sound of leaves crunching under our feet, eating homemade apple pie, and other idyllic autumn pursuits ;)



Meanwhile, this pregnancy of mine is just flying by, almost unnoticed.... except for this enlarging 24 week belly that came seemingly out of nowhere!

(my dear friend Rebecca and I rubbing our baby bumps together)

Well, I guess that's all for now... We fly back up north on Sunday and then return to Montreal at the end of November. I hope you're having a beautiful October, wherever you are.
oxo
Vanessa

Easy weeknight meal: Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Cake


Cauliflower CAKE??? That's what I thought when I read the recipe title from Ottolenghi's newest cookbook, Plenty More. But I know from experience to trust Ottolenghi - if he says a recipe is worth making, it's definitely worth making. And he was right, once again. This savoury "cake" (really more like a quiche) is irresistibly delicious!

All I had in my fridge was a head of cauliflower and some uninspiring staples.... and somehow this was transformed into an incredibly flavourful vegetarian main dish. I think that's the true beauty of this recipe - how simple it is. And how unexpectedly flavourful it is.

(please excuse the off-colour, grainy cell-phone photo above. I wasn't expecting to post this recipe and didn't plan ahead. Believe me, it tastes much, much better than it looks!)

Read on for the recipe....

Friday

Have a magical weekend!


It feels like there is magic is in the air these days. We've had some unexpectedly (and much appreciated) warmer weather, we got to see the northern lights twice this week, and most importantly my sister-in-law gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl.

And now the weekend is here! 
Life is good.


I wish you a wonderful weekend, wherever you are.
oxo
Vanessa.

Monday

Twenty Weeks - The "halfway there" bump


This second pregnancy is just flying by. I hit the halfway milestone this weekend, and I realized this morning that I haven't taken any pictures of myself, or my growing belly, at all this pregnancy. 
What a difference from the first time around!

So to mark this twenty week milestone (and to outwardly acknowledge this second baby a little more), I got my husband to snap a few pictures early this morning while we were getting ready for work (Zac was only half-dressed by this point but insisted on being in the pictures... and showing off his belly too!)


So there you have it. Twenty weeks in, twenty weeks to go.

Sunday

Weekend Moments: wild cranberries and first snowfalls... this is September in the north


Earlier this week we awoke to a light dusting of snow all over the yard. It was incredibly beautiful, but it certainly came as a surprise. September is pretty early for snow, even for the north.



On Saturday night, we made the most incredible homemade pizzas (using the dough recipe/method from this amazing book). I had recently bought a pizza stone off Amazon, and I was eager to try it out. Folks, it makes for some pretty amazing thin crust pizzas! You have to preheat your oven/stone to 600 degrees first, then you slide the pizza in and it cooks in just 5-7 minutes! It's really fun to watch.

The next morning I used leftover pizza dough to create a buttery apple-cinnamon breakfast pizza. It was indulgent, and spectacular! My little toddler devoured it (as did his parents).



On Sunday we drove out to the bay to pick wild northern ocean-side cranberries (or lingonberries, as they call them in Scandinavia). Despite their tartness & bitterness, Zac ate them raw by the mouthful! I kept warning him, "I don't think you'll like that, we need to cook them first", but he kept eating them and asking for "mo canberries"!


This kid of ours just keeps on getting cuter, by the way.


He's a handful all right, but he's so delightful and brings this entirely new dimension of joy into our lives. I always knew that I would love being a mamma, but I had no idea it would feel so right. Like this is what life is truly all about. At least for me.

I think I've finally reached the point where I can say that it's hard to remember what life was like before we had him. We must have had sooooooo much free time!! Honestly, what on earth did we do with all that extra free-time?! 
I guess I just blogged a lot more ;-)

Yesterday's Solar Storm, from our backyard


A huge solar storm hit the earth's atmosphere yesterday, and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse  of it. Unfortunately the sky was clouded over but you could still see the auroras dancing between the cloud breaks.


The clouds add a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to these images...  a spooky, pre-halloween eeriness that I actually really like.


According to Space Weather, it was the most intense geomagnetic storm of the year! Wish I could have seen more of it, but shortly after I took these pictures the sky completely clouded over and that was the end of that. Still, witnessing the northern lights is always spectacular, no matter how fleeting.

Friday

Can't wait to read: This Changes Everything


I'm really excited to read Naomi Klein's (author of No Logo) newest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. Apparently it's "a book about climate change for people who don't read books about climate change". Sounds intriguing enough. And supposedly it's not depressing or fatalistic, and won't leave you feeling hopeless like other books in its genre.

But coming from Naomi Klein, it's bound to be radical.

I have a feeling it's going to be EPIC. And cause quite the stir. And I can't wait to get my hands on it!

And for those who don't want to read the book, it's going to be made into a movie too. Here's the trailer:




The book is available for pre-order now, and will be officially released next week, Sept 16th.
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