Thursday, 21 July 2011

MOVING - New address

Funny that, Toby has been taking me around to open house after open house looking at places we might want to move to in a year or so to get Q into a nicer school district but that's not what this post is about. I've bit the bullet and gotten myself my own little url and everything. So, if you're kind enough to follow me over here I'd be pleased as punch. mmm punch.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tasty Thursday - raspberry / strawberry mini cheesecakes

Here's my first Tasty Thursday blog hop recipe contribution. If you'd like to go find more head to the how to mommy and link up!

As we have had the fortune of doing in the past, we spent Canada Day with some dear friends of ours. It was a potluck and as luck would have it Toby and our host were speaking on the phone before anyone else had confirmed. What could we bring? Toby's response - we'll bring the desserts. (Oh and just so you know, our hosts have an awesome blog themselves over here lots of lovely recipes and such)

For my US friends, especially the one who asked what Canada Day was!, like US Independence Day, Canada Day is a day to celebrate our becoming a nation with the requisite ceremonial blowing up of things and also by LOADS of red and white.

Q says Happy Canada Day!

But this is about the desserts...

I was thinking of a recent twitter conversation I had with @omakase_ninja about how "smaller" treats were better: his logic, based on an article we were reading was that you could eat more and not feel guilty; my logic was that you could try different flavours.

This (plus two eggs) will be cheesecake
So there you were. From those innocent remarks I went off in search of a mini cheesecake recipe - thanks to a recent Costco expedition we had loads of cream cheese in the fridge. What I found was a nifty blog (that's been added to my list of places to go spend some time...when I have any) called Rainy Days and Sundays (LINK) and a posting from 2007 about mini cheesecakes. Armed with that info, and the link there to a Food Network recipe, off I went.

So changes I made - no chocolate wafers here but I had some left over graham cracker crumbs so used that instead. A little less sugar too because I think graham cracker crumbs are pretty sweet, and in all honesty I've never had anyone complain that a dessert I made wasn't "sweet enough."

Like the blogger, I didn't use orange zest, opting for the more universal vanilla. You see I wanted to use raspberries on some, strawberries on others. Cherries were also considered but decided against for no better reason than I had no cherry jam. Different flavours means less guilt in having more than one right? Oh and I made a double batch of the Food Network recipe as I was aiming for 24 mini cheesecakes (the size of my mini cheesecake pan). I ended up with 22.

So here's the recipe with my modifications.
Tools: mini muffin pan and a baking sheet with a rim.

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

(okay, I REALLY wish recipes would just all go by weight of ingredients that are larger than a tablespoon but that's a whole other vent)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (yep, I use C for the weather, kgs for my weight, cms for my height and F for baking!)

Mix the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter. Spray the mini muffin pan liberally with baking spray or use your favourite grease-type-product. I used spray.

Portion out the crumbs to fill the mini muffin cups. Again, I was comfortable with the volume in 22 (the other two I put some water in when baking - not sure where I picked that info up from but there you go).

Press the crumbs down firmly. I found that using a shot glass (well, whisky snifter actually) with parchment paper wrapped 'round the bottom worked great. Put the pan in the oven for about 5 minutes to set the crusts. NOTE be sure the crusts are cool before adding the filling!

In a food processor combine the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Blend until smooth. When you think you're done, add 10 seconds to be sure. I even put the stuff through a sieve before proceeding. You don't want lumps.

Put the mini muffin pan on the baking sheet with the rim. My pan has 24 spots and so this worked beautifully. If you're doing 12 then a smaller baking dish should work. Pour the filling into a measuring cup or something similar (a vessel with a spout). Portion out the filling.

Right before it goes in the oven add enough water onto the baking sheet to come halfway up the sides of the mini muffin pan. Or, forget about reading that like I did and just make sure there's enough water to cover the sheet and not spill when moving it from the counter to the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes. Put the mini muffin pan on a rack to cool for about 30 minutes then in the freezer for another 15. I used a small offset spatula to loosen the cheesecakes from the pan. They popped out and I put them in little red and white paper cups.

Just before service I topped each with a bit of jam and some fruit. They were a HUGE hit, especially with the kids but they were very fiddly to make. I'll definitely do them again when the presentation matters but not as an everyday kind of dessert.

found a place for the cherries too

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Wordless Wednesday - motivation

Women's Half-Marathon May 2009

Acura 10 miler - July 2009
Midsummer Nights Run August 2009

Day 1 July 11, 2011

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Thirsty/Tasty Thursday

Well, for a blog called “drinks like fish” I guess I better get around to talking about liquids other than coffee eventually.

An online friend runs a great blog called the how to mommy. She organizes a tasty Thursday recipe swap blog hop. It sounds like a great idea but I don’t have a recipe ready to share with pics and the whole shebang so I think I’ll alternate Thursdays – today will be a Thirsty Thursday for me and next week I’ll have a recipe post to contribute to the blog hop. So if you’re here today from the recipe hop I’ll understand if you want to just skip on by. Unless you like whisky of course. Or whiskEy if you’re American (or Irish).

This first post is mostly just an inventory really. I am, fortunate or otherwise, possessed of a family of enablers. My dear darling husband often goes shopping on December 24th, or if he thinks of it, on the 23rd. Consequently I am guaranteed of two things – something silver in a lovely blue box and something liquid from the LCBO. When we were in England in 03-04 there was this awesome whisky shop within spitting distance of the flat. I never ever went in. It would have been too risky. But there the tradition was solidified. Toby would get a Le Creuset pot and I would get a bottle of whisky. Stereotypes? What Stereotypes?

And so it continues. I was 8 months pregnant at Christmas 2010. I still got a bottle from Toby and one from my folks! Enablers, the lot of them.

The Glenlivet was my christmas present in 2008 I believe. We opened it during a pilsner tasting we hosted in October 2010. Damn, gotta finish it up soon. Damn, we've got to host another tasting night soon too! Anyway, it's 21 years old, the most amazing amber colour. The taste is sort of sweet and peaty. I am in love.

That Snow Grouse is one you'll have a hard time finding. Apparently PEI is quite the test market for whiskies and during one of Mom and Dad's visits (my brother and his family live out there now) Dad stumbled across this in the liquor store. He bought the last three bottles. There was only one of another kind. He kept it for himself!

My in-laws draw names for Christmas and that Isle of Jura Superstition was my present from my sister-in-law C. It's not been opened but with a name like Superstition I'm torn between trying it now and holding on to it as long as possible.

The Dallas Dhu we picked up on 2004. Toby's nephew was just born so he flew from London England (where we were living for a year) to Victoria British Columbia to go meet the little guy. My Dad flew to the UK and we took a train up to Scotland and hired a car. Next time we hire a driver too. Or take a coach tour! Oh and that distillery closed in the 80s so not sure how much more they've got to sell.

Monkey Shoulder. Sort of like Superstition; torn between keeping it around and cracking it open!

I'm going to have to go through the cupboard again. Do I really have TWO Snow Grouse? Damn! I do. I guess I know what's just jumped to the next on the list to be opened.

These are half bottles. They should do more of these. That way I can try more!

Ah this bottle is all gone now. Lovely golden honey colour. It was sweet with a hint of lemoniness. It will be missed. 

This is an AWESOME tasters pack I got from a dear friend for Christmas in 2009. 

And yeap, Canada is represented too.

There are a couple of bottles missing from this inventory though...Hmmm. I need pictures of the Japanese whisky and my birthday bottles! I'll add those as soon as I can.

July 4, 2011 EDITS - here are the bottles I was missing earlier:

Japanese - one of those "last minute" purchases from Toby

I had to go look this one up. I'd never heard of an Indian whisky before.

Yep, from Mom and Dad - $160 at the LCBO. Enablers I tell you. 

Monday, 27 June 2011


Yes, I know it’s the end of June.

I was talking to some friends about Easter at my mom and dad’s place and I figured that as there might not be another one (at least not at that house) I really ought to do a post about it even though it’s a couple of months late.

Yes, my mother has an Easter Tree
I think my mom divides the year into Christmas, Christmas prep, Easter, Easter prep and Hallowe’en (Dad's in charge of the Hallowe'en prep). To say she loves the holidays would be a bit of an understatement I think. But Easter at their house is something else. I really don’t remember how it started, or when. I have some vague memories of my brother and I hunting around the house we grew up in but it was nothing like what goes on today.

It must have been sometime while I was in high school and my cousins, who are all years younger than my brother and I, were all wee ones. Start adding some friends of mom and dad’s who didn’t have other places to go on Easter, and then some friends who’d come by before or after their own family obligations. Add some of my brother’s friends, then some of ours. Then throw in everyone’s kids now and it’s a bit crazy. I think at its apex there were easily 150 plus people through the house on Easter Sunday. It’s gone down a bit to a more manageable 60-70 or so with about an even split between adults and kids I think. 

When I send out our email invite to our friends I always include something along the lines of “Easter Egg Hunt – so long as you define “egg” as chocolate.” Anyway, back to being in high school. I remember waking up at 6 a.m. to help Dad sort out the chocolate. We would have spent Friday and Saturday labelling all of it and then a couple of hours on Sunday planting it all around the yard, cars, window ledges, bird feeder, tree etc. Yep, you read that right. LABELLED. Kids have to find 12-14 pieces of chocolate. Adults get 6-8. There’s no way to actually HIDE 800+ pieces of chocolate so it isn’t that you have to find any 14 pieces of chocolate. You have to find YOUR 14 pieces.
We’ve had Easter in the snow (actually my third favourite kind of Easter) and Easter in the rain (not as bad as it sounds but not ideal). We’ve had cold and crisp Easters (my second favourite kind) and we’ve had blazingly hot Easter (the absolute WORST kind of Easter – everything melts. It’s the only time we actually didn’t place anything and just handed out bags of chocolate. No fun at all). And, more often than not, we’ve had Easters like this year – a little cool, a little overcast, but nice enough to eat outside. My favourite kind – perfect.

Hunting for chocolate

Getting lunch ready

Hanging with Dad
Q and Uncle George
This year was obviously also Q’s first Easter. He was a champ. He got passed around from family member to friend and on again. He maintained his standing as the world’s easiest baby by hardly fussing at all and sleeping in his stroller in the backyard.