I love being able to delight my family with holiday treats that include a twist. Traditionally, my family would serve sinfully delicious ice cream in special dishes reserved for entertaining. The kids would sit at a special table, fully decorated for the festivities. I get giddy just thinking about melding tradition with new recipes and décor that are more on trend and appropriate for my family at this time. We all grow, change and develop, and this year I will be cooking and entertaining without using dairy. The beauty of this type of change is that you don’t have to alter much in order to change a lot. Using the right products, traditional dishes can be morphed and elevated to something exquisitely better than the original. That’s what growth is about.
Stroganoff is one of those dishes passed along for generations. A comforting, hearty winter meal, I envision my grandparents dining in front of a roaring fire while watching the snow fall. The only issue for me is that traditionally, it is meats (and leftovers) that are turned into stroganoff. My husband despises turkey, and I want to entertain over the holidays with elevated dishes that give a nod to the past without using the double creams favoured by generations past. In order to satisfy all of my goals, I decided to alter the original recipe to include a variety of mouth-watering mushrooms, replace the dairy with Silk Almond Beverage and present everything inside a delectable puff pastry cup that uses no dairy.
I never met my husband’s mom, and it makes me sad every day. I wish I could thank her, cherish her and appreciate her in person, but the family lost her to cancer before we met. I have seen photos and heard stories, but that’s not always enough. There is, thankfully, one holiday tradition she began that I can continue. Every Christmas morning, we make her special German Omelette recipe. Through the flavours of this delicious strata, I connect with her on special occasions every year, and am able to share in some small part of the blessings she bestowed on her family.
I am a super-collector of thematic decor. Seriously. I actually have an entire room dedicated to Hallowe’en garden gnomes, spring-themed cookie cutters and Christmas nutcrackers. The latter were acquired a few years ago from Canadian Superstore, and the store has since upped the ante with full-on Canadian hockey nutcrackers. (Don’t worry – I put a word in with the designer requesting goalkeeper versions). I will be lining up this year to snag a few of these.
Our family gets giddy for holidays. Knowing me as you do, it shouldn’t be a shock that I have an entire storage room dedicated to wreaths, décor and cookie cutters divided meticulously into seasons. Yes.. I do. And I gently rotate them throughout the year so that the next holiday’s treasures are easily accessible. Beloved traditions have permeated every Hallowe’en, Christmas and Easter in order to make memories and bond as a family. We have special recipes and songs, outfits and stories handed down through generations. While all of this adds sparkle to life, sometimes these traditions aren’t entirely selfless. At times, I focus more on the spectacle than actually spending real time with my kids. My heart races as I just admitted that.
I remember as a little girl – saving all of the ‘used-almost-to-the-bottom’ candles for the whole year to use for Hallowe’en. Our jack o’ lanterns would house a cornucopia of bright red and gold Christmas candles and a few yellow Easter ones. I would be a bit rattled that my beautiful pumpkin was getting red wax dripped all over, and then completely dejected that whenever I passed my own house (as I was doing the neighborhood candy marathon) the pumpkin would be dark. A gust of wind had just spoiled a child’s excitement at boasting artistic achievements to her friends. I’d quickly apologize and run up to grab a lighter or matches. And I can’t remember being anything other than a princess in chiffon so that + matches was clearly a bad idea…
I have been passionate about food and drink my entire life. I have been a culinary broadcaster and writer for over 20 years. Long ago, I became weary of fads and gimmicks in the food world passing as new “essentials”. So when I am delighted by a new product, it usually is accompanied by an element of surprise reminding me of what I still love about food and food people. Barilla Pronto Pasta delighted and happily surprised me when I dared it to star in my traditional, Boston inspired, Fourth of July celebration.
Dads are hot. Yes, you read that right.
DADS. ARE. HOT!
And they also like hot things. And cool things, because they’re also kind of cool.
It’s pretty commonly accepted around town that husbands and dads aren’t the bomb-diggity anymore and single guys have all the game. But, a man who can be an amazing life partner, help his little girls play softball, teach his son how to drive, and cook us all an amazing dinner—I’m telling you, that is the real definition of hot.
That time of year is upon us again, ladies, when we ask ourselves the age-old question: tie or socks? I usually like to go rogue and get him both but this Father’s Day, I want to think outside of the ‘workwear accessories’ box. My partner is a great dad and an incredibly thoughtful man; he does the things that I don’t even realize need doing, like restocking the fridge with cream for my coffee and making sure our toddler treat cupboard is well-stocked. And he is always ready when he knows I need a break, a few minutes to decompress. I keep these things close to my heart when I come home to his dirty socks on my living room table: because marriage, right?
Diala’s Kitchen is one of my favourite new food blog obsessions and after getting gluttonous on the (terrible, curse on whoever invented this) “Eat What You Want Day” with a bowl of popcorn to carry me through from breakfast to lunch, an inhaled curry pad thai for dinner, and half a huge bag of dark choc almonds to follow—let’s just say that I woke up this morning hungover, overcome with guilt, and looking to redeem myself.
Diala to the rescue with a dish that’s fresh, healthy, totally yummy, and makes me feel like I might not have to wear a T-shirt over my swimsuit during baby swimming lessons this summer.