21 September 2015

banana bread the domestic goddess way


When it comes to baking, I trust Nigella Lawson with all my heart. Her fairy cakes? Fail-safe and tasty. And spiced Christmas cookies? Wonderful. Baked goods aside, she also has a peanut noodle dish that I have been eye-ing up on her website. So when life presented itself in the way of ripe 59 cent bananas at a local grocery store, the only smart thing to do was to bake banana bread. 

This recipe is one of the best, my mum said so! The rum-soaked raisins add just the right, spiced touch. Plus, you can just dump all the yummy extra rum into the batter as well, instead of draining it away like the original recipe said to do because that would be a silly waste of rum. I'm sure that this banana bread can be made vegan easily enough; just substitute the eggs for flax eggs or a mix of oil, water, and baking powder. 

However you make it, this banana bread will leave your place smelling wonderful (and bring all the boys to the yard?). Cut yourself a thick slice then enjoy with a mug of hot tea and a wooly blanket. Because you deserve to. 

Ingredients:
  •  cup dark raisins
  • 5 tablespoons spiced rum
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (unbleached is preferable)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • ¾ cup sugar (I used raw coconut sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small very ripe bananas
  •  cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Put the raisins and rum in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for about an hour so that the raisins absorb most of the liquid. Drain once they are nice and plump and loaded with rum.
  2. Preheat the oven t° F. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt with a wooden spoon until well combined. 
  3. In a larger bowl, blend the melted butter and sugar. Add in the eggs one at a time, stirring with your wooden spoon, then mix in the pecans, drained raisins, and vanilla extract. 
  4. Now it's time to add the dry to the wet. Pour the flour mixture one third at a time into the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Pour the batter into a parchment lined loaf pan, place in the oven, and bake for 1-1¼  hours. 

27 August 2015

France & Morocco | photo diary












I arrived home a few days ago from my family trip after a wonderful and destination filled three weeks in Morocco and France. As a family, only my mother has had the opportunity to visit Morocco with her sister, whose place we stayed at outside Casablanca, and as a result the rest of us had a blast of the new continent lifestyle when we arrived. Never mind the 45° C temperatures in Marrakech, it was the fruit vendors on the side of the highways, donkey carts driving next to the regular taxis, resounding calls to prayer every few hours, and the tiny markets open until 2am that made me cherish this new culture shock. Our time in France was calm but just as amazing. We saw some long time family friends and were able to explore the adorable little villages that scatter the countryside. One thing I noticed about the south of France, specifically Aveyron, was how wide the organic style of living was. Everyone was growing, raising, or passionate about organic food! I think that fact alone will bring me back for an extended period of time. 

Three weeks was a good amount of time, not too long that we became tired with each other but not too short that we found ourselves wishing we could do more. A Goldilocks happy medium. On our last night we had dinner at The Chartier on Rue du Montmartre in Paris and it was outstanding. It's been around for over 100 years and looks like something out of a Manet painting; I had to give it a shoutout!

That's all for now- I've been up since 5am (I guess jetlag hasn't left me yet) but I hope you're all having a wonderful end of August. 

1 August 2015

travels, sweet scents, and endless cereal



As of this Sunday I will be on vacation with my family for the next three weeks. We will be flying to Casablanca and taking a weekend in Marrakech, then making our way back to France to visit friends in the south and north regions. Finally we conclude our trip with a couple nights in Paris to be surrounded by as much art as possible. Or at least that's my plan. This is most likely our last big family trip, at least as one group together which is why I want to spend as much time as possible with them, absorbing the new sights and cultures, and as little time on my phone. It's a whole new level of relaxation when you aren't attached to some sort of gadget. So goodbye phone, laptop, and all other social media forms, I'm unplugging. 

And that's my life for the next three weeks! I hope to have a lot of pictures by the end of it- mostly of the colours and olives of Morocco. Lots and lots of olives. 

Earlier this week I had a burst of inspiration and decided to make a mood board. It took me a while to figure out GIMP which has been sitting unused on my computer for well over a year now. The result is the above mishmash that I'm quite proud of. Hopefully you get the vibe that I've been feeling recently. 
  1. Oh Gorilla Munch, you wonderfully simple cereal. Who knew three ingredients could yield so much love. 
  2. I recently went to Lush with a friend of mine after wandering around downtown for a while, catching up and rediscovering our city. I got sprayed with Vanillary and immediately fell in love. Then I fell even harder as it developed with hints of sandalwood and caramel. I'm all about those sweet scents, what can I say!
  3. Pemberton Music Festival was last weekend. I might be still scrubbing off the dirt and trying to ignore the lingering ringing in my ears BUT I had an amazing time. One of the best shows I saw was Father John Misty. His album I Love You, Honeybear is perfection, check it out!
  4. I've been admiring the jewelry on Anomie for a while now. Basically since Chelsea opened her online store. With a second ear piercing in now, I've taken a big interest into earrings because now I have two options per ear! Not too sure if they ship to Canada however, but I am head over heels in love with this simple uncut gemstone style. Hopefully there's a place in Vancouver that sells similar ones? I would be all over that. 
Au revoir for now... 

29 July 2015

spiced vanilla plum jam

After the little plum gleaning trip I did on Sunday with a friend of mine, I have copious amounts of small wild plums. I'm talking a good couple of pounds here! I had no definite plans or recipes that I wanted to make with these bright little fruits, but I knew whatever jam I was going to cook had to involve vanilla. I found this recipe online and while my version might have follow it quite closely, I still wanted to share this recipe. 

I have used agar agar only once before when making raspberry jam. Even the mention of the ingredient brings back such wonderfully strong memories of a farm I worked on in France. I remember standing over a hot stove, stirring a giant pot of raspberries with both hands, listening to Timber Timbre on the radio... That was the only other time I have used agar agar, but I gotta say this experimentation with the algae-based agent was a success. The trick is not to overcook the jam and trust in its gelling powers; all will be well when the jam cools, trust me. 

For this batch I think I added too much clove. It's a very strong spice so I also recommend adding it "to taste" instead of just trusting the recipe. I never trust recipes... That might be a bad thing. Not only does the orange zest contribute pectin to the jam but it adds a much needed alternate flavour, because basic plum can be a little boring. The vanilla bean and cinnamon tie everything together and you are left with something sweet, spicy, and rich where all the flavours mingle in the sugary goodness that is homemade jam. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 lbs wild red plums
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • zest and juice of one orange

  1. Wash and dry the plums gently with a tea towel or paper towel so as not to bruise the fruit.
    Place the whole plums in a large cooking pot, the pits will be removed while cooking.
  2. Cook gently for approximately 25 minutes or until the plums are soft and pulpy. Using a slotted spoon (or potato masher), squish the softened plums so the pits are loosened and can be spooned out.
  3. Add the sugar, agar agar, and lemon juice, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Bring the jam quickly back to the boil and cook for approximately another 20 minutes or until the jam is thick and reaches setting point. Make sure you're always stirring; you don't want the fruit or sugar to burn.
  5. Pour into warm dry sterilised screw cap mason jars. Fill until around 1cm from the top. Finger-tighten and, using a tea towel as to not burn yourself, turn the jars upside down and let cool for at least 4 hours. 
  6. Label the jam jars and allow them to rest for 2 weeks. Then enjoy!

19 July 2015

sunday night roundup | #2

Hello, hello! I hope you had a very lovely week filled with sunshine, adventures, and good drinks.



The past couple of weeks were pretty great overall! I managed to make it to the art gallery with my dad to see the Italian religious exhibit and got a couple of swims in throughout the week. Otherwise I have just been working (#nannylife) and reading. One of my goals for my twentieth year is to read all the Harry Potter books because when I was younger I only made it halfway through Order of the Phoenix then I quit and just stuck to the films. BUT I've been reading since last Wednesday and I just started Prisoner of Azkaban. I'm swept up in the magic all over again.

I also went plum gleaning with a friend recently and now I have about 3 pounds of little red plums just waiting to be canned. Jams and chutneys are in my future.

Oh, and I did a little garlic haulin' from our garden! This years crop is a few weeks early, but you can never have too much garlic.

Without further rambling, here are some internet-y things that have interested me in this past week! 
And finally, some tunes to get you in the mood to dance, go wild, and let loose. All rap/hip hop this time- some of my favourites and some new ones. But all with a sick beat to fuel whatever needs fuelin'.



Until next time...