Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The snowman- an update

We recently heard from a very reliable source (my dad) that some people were making fun of the size of Seyfi and Alara's first snowman. You know how you are- apparently you live in Bracebridge...

Well, Seyfi being the competitive man that he is, immediately did three things:

1. Pointed out that the snow that day was too powdery, making it difficult to make a proper snowman.

2. Put on his snow boots, and toque and made the biggest snowman he could.

3. Made me take pictures of it and post them here.

So here is Seyfi's huge snowman, it looks in our living room window and scares me every time I forget it is there.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gluten free butter tarts

I'm Canadian, an if there is one food that is truly Canadian, it has got to be the butter tart. People in Canada debate where you can buy the best butter tart, who makes the best butter tarts, and what is the seceret to the best butter tart all the time, In fact, I remember listening to a rather heated debate about where to buy the best butter tart a few years ago on the CBC.

Now, I can be very honest here and tell you that butter tarts are not my favourite dessert, and I probable would have gone my whole life without making a single one, if it hadn't been for my husband. Seyfi absolutly loves butter tarts. During his first visit to Canada, he was introduced to their sweetness, and now, everytime we go back, he always wants to have some. (My wonderful grandfather is usually the one to supply him with his fix!)

Since we haven't been back to Canada for a year, and we are not quite sure when we exactly we will be going, I thought that for Christmas I would make Seyfi some gluten free butter tarts.

I used Gluten free girl and the Chefs recipe for pie crust for the shells (which turned out perfectly), and my dad's recipe for the butter filling. They turned out perfectly. Just like I always remembered them to be, only for some reason better. Maybe becasue it has been so long since I last ate one. I generally don't eat the ones that have been bought for Seyfi (he doesn't like to share his tarts!)

This is how much I am enjoying them this time, as I am sitting here typing this up, I just finished eating one with my cup of tea, and am seriously thinking about eating another one, Alara and Seyfi are sleeping, no one would know...

Anyway, I just thought that I would share my dad's recipe with all of you. It is really easy and soooooo delicious. Go ahead have one, and then sneak two more when no one is looking.

Dad's Butter Tarts

12 tart shells (uncooked, homemade or store bought (no judgement)

1 cup raisins
1 egg
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350*F

Soak your raisins ( I acutally don't use raisins, some people put in nuts, I don't do that either)
Beat egg, beat in butter and sugar, add raisins or nuts and vanilla
Spoon mixture into unpricked tart shells, bake 10 – 12 minutes

These really are something else! Make them and join in the age old Canadian argument about who makes them better! Or let me know where you think the best butter tarts come from!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas lights

For the past eight years, while I had been in Turkey, I could feel the holiday season approaching as the shopping centres got themselves all dressed up for Yılbaşı (which is actually to celebrate New Years). Everything gets so beautiful and festive, but outside of shopping centres, you don't tend to see a lot of decoration on people's homes.

In our littlw town here in Belgium, there are some lights out, lots of Santas falling from windows and dioramas set up in windows, it really is quite nice. So, we went for a walk around our neighbourhood to look at them all. It was cold, but lovely.

Then, I heard that there was a little town near us where everybody lights up their house for the holiday season. We got very excited, we bundles up Alara, got into the car and drove to Neufmasion for their holiday lights.

It was beautiful. Alara loved them, and it was really nice to see houses all lite up like that again. If you live in this area of Belgium, I recommend taking the drive out there.

It is really nice to be able to see the build up to Christmas this year in a new country. To be honest, I haven't really been in any shopping centres, or markets, but just seeing how our neighbours here celebrate Christmas is very nice, and something we will hold onto forever.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gnocchi= Yummy!

Alara has been home from school off and on for the past two weeks because she has got such a bad cold. A cold that I assume is from started a new school and being introduced to new people (and there germs!)

Having here home is really nice, and I absolutely love it, but when she is not feeling well I need to have something easier to make because she really becomes a 'mommy's girl'.

I was looking through the cupboards and fridge, trying to decide what to make, when I saw that we had an unusually large amount of mashed potatoes left over. Other than potato pancakes, what could I make with mashed potatoes? Then it came to me... gnocchi.

I first ate gnocchi when I was a early teen, I remember it because my sister had gone out for lunch somewhere with my grandmother, and came home raving about these potato things called gnocchi. Our family then proceeded to incorporate these potato pillows into our meal rotation, and really enjoyed them. We did however always buy them, I can't remember if they were fresh or frozen, but I think they were frozen.

With these being a gluten free family, that pretty much leaves any 'ready made' gnocchi out. So today I made my own gluten free potato pillows and they were yummy. How yummy? So yummy that Alara ate three plates of them!

The girl with the cold, who has been eating very little lately, ate three plates of gnocchi!

Here is my recipe for gnocchi (it can be gluten free or not, depending on your flour)

2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of flour (I used gluten free, Schar C mix)
1 egg
1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients together to a dough.
Split the dough up to smaller workable pieces.
Roll out the down into a long roll and cut 2cm pieces.
Push down on the back of each piece with the back of a fork.
Cook in a pot of salted water until they are floating.

I then take them from the water and saute them with butter, olive oil, onion, garlic, tomato, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with cheese.

From begining to end these take about 45 minutes. So easy, cheap, and satisfying!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making a gingerbread house

When we were younger, we would sometimes make a gingerbread house at Christmas time. I always loved doing it, and wished that we could do it more often. Then, a few years ago, before Alara, I made a huge gingerbread house, and thought, this is a lot of work and would be more fun with kids...

Then a few weeks ago, my friend Jane called from Ikea and said she was picking up a gingerbread house kit, and would I like one too. Making a gingerbread house without having to do all the work? I'm in!!!

So, today, after school (where nobody was crying), Jane and her daughter, Melisa, Alara and I decorated our gingerbread houses, well sort of...

You see, our box had fallen while I was cleaning up the shelf, so as we opened our box, we could see that not only was it broken, it was completely shattered, we wouldn't be able to rescue it.

Luckily, Melisa's house was completely fine, so we just traced her house onto the two boxes and cut it out, and stuck it together. Really, other than the lack of gingerbread smell, there was no difference.

We had all kinds of candies, and Jane had made some different coloured icings, and we let the girls make their houses, with some helpful guidance from their mother's. The candies were stuck lovingly onto the houses, and some were eaten, we laughed, and enjoyed a lovely winter's afternoon with good friends.

Alara and I loved doing our house together, but I think that next year I am going to get two kits, one for Alara, and one for me, I don't like sharing!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pierrefonds- France

Last night, my brother called me to wish me a happy birthday. My birthday was a week ago, but that's ok! He's a busy guy, I don't judge;-) Anyway, I was telling him about a castle that we had gone to a few weeks ago, when I realized that I hadn't posted any thing about it.

When my sister in law was here, we decided that we would do one more trip into France after our 'rain out' trip to Paris. I had gotten an email about this castle in Pierrefonds, and it looked amazing.

The castle was originally built in the Middle Ages, and is absolutely huge. As we drove into the small village where it is located, it really was the only thing that we could see. It took over the whole area (which was also very beautiful, turning colours during the autumn months).

The castle was also one of the castles on the programme Merlin, a show that I have never watched, but that some of my students were big fans of.

The castle itself was interesting, situated on a hill, with views of the area. It was full of large, echoing rooms, staircases, and beautiful sculptures. I really enjoyed visiting this castle, the size alone will knock your socks off, however, as a personal preference, I like it when the rooms are not empty, I like to see a bit more of the 'daily life' of the place. This castle did not have a 'daily life' aspect to it at all.

On thing I will suggest, if you ever get a chance to visit this castle, there is a little bakery in the village that had the best baguette I have ever eaten!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Building a Snowman

It is so wonderful heading into winter and the Christmas season with a two and a half year old. This year, this season actually means something to her. She wants to play in the snow, decorate our tree and meet Santa. In fact, she keeps asking when Christmas is coming.

Last week, it snowed, not a lot, butt enough to cover everything, and make it a magical time. To see everything covered in a blanket of white was something that I haven't seen in early December, for a long time, it was wonderful.

Alara also thought so, all she wanted to do was play in the snow, throw snow balls and most of all, make a snowman. On Saturday afternoon, Seyfi and her did just that. There wasn't a lot of snow, but there was enough to make a little snowman- the first of the season.

After makeing their snowman- we sat down together with our hot chocolate and cookies, and watched the animated Frosty the Snowman. It was here that Alara learned the fate of snowman (i.e. the melting).

It sure is a good thing that she learned this important life lesson, because, in typical Belgium fashion, it RAINed the next day, and our beautiful white blanket, and our lovely little snowman were washed away... Until the next time.