Wednesday, September 29, 2010


A client of mine is brainstorming for her daughter's first Birthday. She wants the theme to be giraffes. I took some time to look online for some ideas and
(re)discovered how cool giraffe spots are! I had been making cookies for another client, so I had extra cookies and icing, so I made a prototype of a giraffe spot cookie. I am in love with how it turned out (except for the two spots that are touching) and hope that I get to make these cookies at some point in my career.

Parker's Beef Stew

Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, makes delicious food. I have all of her cookbooks and they are all well-used! I love that her recipes are easy to follow, and always turn out and look like the photo...not all cookbooks deliver in this way.

I have started making food for other people. I test-drive a recipe with my family, and if it is a hit, I make it for my client. I went to the butcher to buy the beef for this recipe as the last time I made a stew (years and years ago) I bought meat from the grocery store, and it was TOUGH. Now, this could have been because of me, but I wasn't taking any chances this time round.

I think the stew turned out wonderfully. The leftovers became very thick, so needed to be watered down some before it was heated up.

Recipe courtesy of The Food Network

Parker’s Beef Stew
• 2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine
• 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
• 3 bay leaves
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Good olive oil
• 2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
• 1/2 pound white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in 1/2
• 1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
• 2 cups or 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) chicken stock or broth
• 1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary
• 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas
Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.
Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.
Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.


Friday, September 24, 2010


Kim, from the TomKat Studio, was interviewed on the Project Nursery site today. She is an inspiration to me as she is also a stay at home Mom and her business is super successful and growing bigger every day! Her interview reinforced to me how important it is to stick to it, and not to expect it to blow up right away. She started her business a year and a half ago, I only started last November, so I must exercise patience and keep working hard. My big break will come sometime soon. If only there was a Canadian equivalent to Martha Stewart...if you know of such a person, let me know!!

I am inspired by Kim for the fact that she is self-taught. It all started when she wanted to create a fun, cool, theme for her daughter's Birthday. I have used Illustrator in the past, but am very 'green' with it, so ideas take a long time to come to fruition. Again, patience :-)

Thank you to Kim and her staff who introduce me to other talented individuals every day through their Facebook posts. I am excited every day to see whose work has been featured.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

capturing moments...

Is it possible to capture every moment with a camera...I once thought "yes," but learned yesterday that the best moments are captured with our hearts. I only wish I could guarantee that those moments wouldn't one day be lost in my memory. I was playing photographer yesterday while Zack was looking at a butterfly and Maggie was picking soybeans from the field. My camera battery ran out, and it was at that moment that the sunshine shifted to that beautiful orangey-hue and father and daughter were perfectly cute. I tried to click my mental camera as Mike turned and did the same to myself and I wish I could remember these moments forever. It makes me teary to think that they will one day not want to look/poke/discover/listen and talk about everything with us and I guess my hope is that I continue to have a fun and precious relationship with them, for their entire lives. I think my parents have done that with me. I am radiating LOVE LOVE LOVE these days. I am so happy.