Sunday, June 10, 2012

Depression Glass

I've never been much of a collector.  Perhaps of stickers, rocks and dolls as a child but, beyond that, I can't recall anything specific.  Despite this, I've always wanted to collect something, I just couldn't find anything that I cared enough about to track down, display and store . . . until I met depression glass.  

Depression glass was inexpensive dishware produced at low cost at the time of the great depression.  It was considered "low quality" and was sold very cheaply or given away for free as a sale incentive.  It took me a while to warm up to depression glass.  Some of the styles are very ornate and some of the colours are very unappealing.  It was milk glass that eventually won me over with my initial purchase of cream and sugar bowls and a little vase. 

My first purchase on the left and
my newest (3) purchases on the right.   

Twenty-five cents each!

Milk glass, however, is not my true love.  It is the jadeite and delphite that I adore.  Due to influence from Swedish Modern design, these two colours/styles have a simplicity that is lacking in the white and clear glass, which tends to be over-the-top in design.  Alas, these styles are very difficult to find and too pricy for my budget.  I did find a beautiful bowl set and a very cute lemon juicer locally, but at $200.00 and $60.00 respectively, I just couldn't do it.

Instead, I have settled on an "under $25.00 an item" budget and green and rose clear glass.   These two colours are widely available although it takes some dedication to find the right combination of form and function.  Of course, that is part of the fun!

I love the deep bowl of my lemon juicer and can't believe how much I've used it in the month or so I've had it.  It will be perfect for making Lemon Drop Martinis this summer, if the weather ever warms up!

Making lemonade!

My rose glass collection consists of two items, a bud vase and a pitcher.  The pitcher was originally outside of my budget and I waited semi-patiently for it to go on sale.  A risk that paid off!  Rose glass seems to be the most widely available right now and I am planning on focusing my attentions in this direction for the future.  While it does not compare to my favoured jadeite, I do love the summery look of rose glass and I can't wait to see what I can find for my collection next!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Soft Tacos

I've decided that soft tacos are going to be my food of the summer for 2012.  Flexible, healthy and oven-free, they are the perfect hot-weather food (not that I've had to worry about that . . . yet).

Tacos can be as light or as decadent as you wish, making them a winner for someone counting their Weight Watchers points.  They are also the ideal food for picky eaters and parties as everyone can pick and choose to suit their own dietary needs.

My current favourite combo:

* 3 (30 gram) corn tortillas - 5 points
* 45 grams baked pinto beans with onions and spices - 1 point
* 30 grams Greek yogurt - 1 point
* 80 grams roasted sweet potato cubes - 2 points
* 1 mango - 0 points
* A handful of cilantro - 0 points

A delicious, filling meal.  All for 9 points.

My other favourite toppings include: shredded chicken, Pico de Gallo and cheese but, really, the options are endless.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

To Market, To Market

Don't worry, life's not all about counting Weight Watchers points.  

This Cidre Pomona Ice Cream Sandwich was purchased from Cold Comfort at the Moss Street Market last Saturday.  The best thing I have eaten in ages.  Amazing!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


One side effect of Weight Watchers is that I can no longer (most of the time!) resort to food or drink as treats in those movements of celebration, despair or just plain boredom.  Instead, this sort of energy has moved over to buying "stuff" as treats.  While I am sure that there are some who would say that this is a lateral move, I don't really care.  It's a pretty good trade-off in my mind.  Buying a treat here and there allows me to have my moments of impulsivity (and who doesn't have these?) in a way that doesn't mess with the other goals that I am working on. Plus, my home gets a little bit prettier with each purchase.

Is a canning jar a treat?

A tiny silver tray.  The cream and sugar dishes were a gift.

Not only that, it's a fairly equivalent financial trade-off.  While I'd never buy $100.00 of gelato and cookies in one sitting, my weekly spending at my favourite cafes and restaurants has decreased significantly over the past 6 months.  And, although I am an impulsive shopper, I don't shop just to shop.  I have a running list of items I am searching for and buy them when I see them!  The hunt is a big part of the enjoyment for me.  

A serving platter.

I've been looking for a platter with this shade of red for ages!

Almost everything I've bought recently has been second-hand.  And, I must say, impulsivity is the key to shopping vintage, if you don't buy it when you first see it, it will be gone!  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cornmeal Mini Muffins

When I bought the cornmeal to make polenta, I remembered how much I love cornbread.  Especially warm with butter and drizzled with maple syrup.


Unfortunately, this combination is not particularly Weight Watchers friendly.  A serving of this treat would probably be 7-10 points, depending on the particulars.

I decided to try to make a light snacking size, perfect for alongside a salad or soup.  They turned out perfectly!


Set oven to 400 degrees.

(1) Combine .75 cup of yellow cornmeal and 1.25 cups of soy (or regular) milk in a bowl.  Set aside for at least 10 minutes.

(2) In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine.

(3) Add .25 cup white sugar, .25 cup vegetable oil, .25 cup unsweetened applesauce and one egg to cornmeal mixture.  Stir to combine.

(4) Combine flour and cornmeal mixtures.  Stir without over-mixing.

(5) Spoon batter, by the tablespoon, into lightly greased mini muffin tins.   Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly golden.

Makes 34 mini muffins.

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 1 per mini muffin.  WITHOUT the butter and maple syrup!  But, still delicious!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spring Vegetable Polenta

Polenta has been a great discovery in my Weight Watchers experience.  While no food is completely eliminated from the Points Plus plan, carbohydrates do add up quickly and bowls of pasta are best avoided.  On the other hand, 1 cup of dry yellow cornmeal (12 points), expands to 6 cups of polenta, giving you a whole cup of the porridge-like grain for 2 points!  It's filling and, while a little bland, can easily be fortified with a little vegetable broth or parmesan.

As soon as I saw this recipe for Spring Spirit Polenta, I knew I had a winner!  I replaced the ghee with regular butter and could not find wild leaks, but I otherwise followed the recipe.

Points Plus Value: 8 per serving

Monday, May 7, 2012

Beef Bourguignon Light

I rarely eat beef.  It's a once-a-month kind of food for me.  And, when I do eat it, it is usually for a special meal, out at a restaurant.  But, having had a delicious meal of Beef Bourguignon at Oak Bay Bistro a few months ago, I had been itching to try making it at home.

However, after searching through a few cookbooks, I discovered that Beef Bourguignon's Weight Watchers points (plus) value: 18 - 20 points per serving, depending on the recipe particulars!  Along with the required bread or potatoes, this could easily use up most of my daily points.  Ouch!

So, I set about searching for an alternative version and finally found one, originally published by Weight Watchers.  And, honestly, it's really good!  I served it with mashed sweet potatoes and oven braised greens.

I made two recipe adjustments, replacing the beef broth with organic mushroom broth and replacing the olive oil with two slices of bacon.  While olive oil is certainly healthier than bacon, I didn't think that this flavour element should be compromised.  This did not change the point value per serving.

Beef Bourguignon Light (8 points)
Mashed Sweet Potatoes (3 points)
Oven Braised Greens (1 point, for a little olive oil)

Total = 12 points, for a delicious and hearty meal

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Chocolate Book Gone Light?

I've been neglecting my little Chocolate Book lately.  I realized this today when I was scanning through old photographs and saw all of my foodie pictures from last spring.

The truth is, I have a confession to make:

I joined Weight Watchers last October.

And, I've felt a little weird about posting this on here, where I ramble on about chocolate and cupcakes.  There are also a million dieting blogs out there and I didn't see myself jumping on that bandwagon (neither the dieting bandwagon nor the writing about dieting bandwagon).  That's just not me.

But, I have to say, Weight Watcher is going well.  I like it and it's working for me.  And, as I reach the 7 month mark, I'm feeling the need for some inspiration and motivation.  So, here I return, to The Chocolate Book.

Now, don't worry, this isn't going to become a blog of celery and Splend@.  I've seen so many of my Weight Watchers peers focus on volume over quality of food.  I've seen many of them forgo a food group or try to keep their daily point totals as low as possible in the hopes of making things happen fast.  I've seen them completely eliminate treats and eating splurges from their lives.  But, that that has not been (and won't be) my path.  I've done that before and it hasn't worked over the long term.  Instead, I follow my familiar food rules: "eat food, not too much, mostly plants".

I've learned a lot.  More than I thought I would.  I've always been a 90% nutritious, 10% crap kind of eater.  This seems pretty normal to me and I didn't understand where I was going wrong.  But, the biggest lesson I've learned is that, nutritious often = very high in calories.  I've also learned that I need to "make up" for splurges within any given day or week.  But, that doesn't mean I've said goodbye to nutritious or yummy foods.  I've made choices.  I have given up granola and my afternoon coffee run.  I rarely add nuts to my salads anymore.  I NEVER buy treats from the bakery case at St@rbucks.  But, I still go to St@rbucks.  And, I refuse to give up butter or real (cultured) yogurt, in place of their inferior uber-processed alternatives.  I still go out for delicious meals with friends, but I'm more mindful about it.  Being realistic and flexible is what allows me to stay on track.

However, it's not easy (which I why I am here!).  For the uninitiated, Weight Watchers runs on a point system and the points just keep on dropping.  I began with a daily point total of 33 but, over time, this has reduced to 27 points per day (the lowest option available is 26 . . . I am almost there) and I find it tricky to get below 30.

Today, I was five points over my assigned daily total.  This is what that looks like:

Plain yogurt (5) with applesauce (0) and chia seeds (2)
Tall homemade latte (3)

Soft Pretzel from the farmer's market (6)
Peach, banana and coconut water smoothie (2)

Strawberries (0) with vanilla yogurt (3)

Polenta with spring vegetables (8)

2 squares of a good quality chocolate bar (3)

= 27 daily points + 5 (these 5 come from my 49 weekly flex points)

It was a healthy, realistic day.  I had treats, but I also made good choices.  The flex points are there to be used, I just wish I wasn't relying on them (or smoothies) quite so much.  What I am doing has worked so far, but I know I am going to have to compromise some more to move forward.  I've got work to do!  But, can I do this as a chocolate loving gourmet?

I am hoping that my Chocolate Book will keep me heading in the right direction.

Hallelujah for local berries!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I almost bought a house a few weeks ago.  Really, it was *this* close.

But, then I didn't.  It seemed like a good idea and then a bad idea and then there was just a void.

So, I went shopping.  I am forever on the hunt for strategies and decoration ideas for my condo.  My condo was built in 1981.  The early 80's was not a pretty time.  Nope.  It was a time of cheap constriction, weird angles and laminate everything.  I've done a lot to spruce it up, but it is a work in progress.

Last week, I made a few steps forward.  There is more pretty here now.

I went back and looked at this vintage print at least three times before I took it home with me.  I loved it more each time and finally ran back to get it, full of anxiety that someone else might have bought it.

Doesn't it look like it belongs here?

My biggest purchase was a new-to-me bed frame.  I have been planning to buy a twin frame for my second bedroom for a while, but I had no idea what I wanted.  Actually, I wanted this frame, but had no idea how I'd get it here.  Plus, it was a bit too pricey for me.

Then I found it:

I have no idea what type of frame this is, but the joints say that is about 100 years old.  I love it!  And, I will love it even more when it is painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (shhh . . . don't tell the seller I said that)!

The best part is, even with new slats, a re-paint AND a new mattress, it will about the same price as the original frame I wanted, above.

Last, but not least, I bought a 1840's clock case, refinished and sold by one of my favourite new spots in town, A French Touch.  I can't wait to find little treasures to display in side (and on the hooks at the bottom).

Lots of pretty.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Brunch

Happy Easter!

Easter has never been a holiday that I have formally celebrated.  I did hunt for eggs as a child and attended a few church services.  We always had a nice dinner.  But, it has also been a holiday that I've skipped without remorse; it's not "big" in my mind.  

Despite this, I do love the symbolism of Easter and it's associations with spring and renewal.  Plus, there are flowers, pastel colours and chocolate.  All delightful things!

This year, I decided to have an Easter brunch in place of an Easter dinner.  I was not feeling inspired to cook a roasted meat of any kind and the sweet sunniness of brunch seems to suit the holiday perfectly.

My Easter table.

I even found a second hand pink tablecloth last week.  It is a bit "much" next to my blue walls, but I couldn't resist.  I love the collection of second hand finds that I am gathering.  There are so many at this table!

Brunch was crepes with a bevy of delicious toppings: bananas, chocolate, whipped cream, raspberries, strawberries, coconut yogurt, maple syrup, lemon and sugar.  There was even some local bacon on the side!

A delicious new tradition has been born!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Container Gardening Update

I planted my last batch of seeds early last fall.  I thought I might be able to squeeze out a winter crop of veggies.  It is theoretically possible, here on the west coast, but it didn't happen.  Everything sprouted beautifully and grew, very slowly, well in to December.  I even got quite a few batches of salad from the plantings.  But, late December and January put a hold on everything.  Sproutlings died or went into hibernation.

I thought I'd have to start again.

But, in March, things started changing and my mini garden has come to life!  The carrots are thriving and I ate my first container garden salad, using homegrown spinach and lettuce, a week ago.

The carrots have grown, even since I took this picture.

I also have beets and swiss chard in this planting.  I am no longer sure which is which and I am curious to see if they work out as container plantings.

I haven't decided how how far to go with my container gardening this year.  I'd love to go big and rely on it for veggies, but my options are limited with my northwest exposure.  Leafy greens and root vegetables seem to work well, while strawberries and tomatoes do not.  Everything else is just an experiment!

Another garden season begins!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Food for a Rainy Day

I must admit that I cooked this food several weekends ago.  Perhaps even a month ago.

And, it is still raining now.  Or, at least it feels that way.

I love cooking and baking on rainy days.  The chopping, delicious smells and warm oven can make even the most blustery day feel cozy and productive.

Blustery days are perfect for Caramelized Red Onion Soup and Roast Chicken.  What day isn't, really?

This Red Onion Soup is one of my favourites.  It's basically a vegetarian version of French Onion soup and, I would say, so much better!

Waiting for caramelization

Roasted Tomatoes

After the soup was made, I toped a serving with toasted bread chucks and gruyere before broiling it in the oven.  Soup heaven!

With lunch out of the way, I moved on to dinner.

A Perfect Roast Chicken:

 Roasted on a bed of carrots and onions.

Alongside some smashed veggies.  Why have mashed potatoes when you can have mashed potatoes, broccoli and peas?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Got Chocolate?

Do you have a friend in need of some chocolate?

If so, I would suggest making these most delicious Chocolate Covered Almonds.  They are seriously good.


They involve all sorts of the very best things.

Like roasted almonds.

And cinnamon sugar syrup.

And chocolate.

Lots of melted dark chocolate.

And we can't forget the cocoa!

All in a pretty little box.

These sweeties may look humble, but believe me, they are not.  One taste and you will be smitten.

Yep, it's true.  You will be smitten over almonds.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chocolate, Chocolate Cupcakes

I recently baked cupcakes for a retirement party.  

When I asked the retiree to name her cupcake preference she said, "Chocolate.  Chocolate, chocolate".  And, so I baked. 

There was a lot of chopping involved.    

Chocolate Babycakes

With Chocolate Ganache

Devil's Food, indeed!  They were delicious.  I didn't wait for the ganache to fully set, as called for in the recipe . . . it was getting late!  Instead, I dipped the cupcakes in the thickening ganache and left it at that.     Not pretty piping, as I had planned, but perfect all the same.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I Dream in Green

No, the Christmas cookies are not gone from my freezer.

And, I was gifted a monster box of chocolates upon my return to work in January (which I should have given away, but can't seem to part with).


Right now, I am all about the green.  Crunchy and leafy and bittersweet.  My balcony lettuce is starting to grown again!

If you want to join me in my praise to green, do this:

Take an apple

Add some spinach and a banana (and some frozen green grapes)

Throw in a pinch of fresh mint

Top it all off with a milk of your choice.  Blend it for a little bit.

Then, drink up the green and banish those January cobwebs.

I drank this smoothie for breakfast all of last week.  It was so good.