Monthly Archives: December 2012

Post-holiday cleansing

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Now that the holidays are in full swing I’m thinking about how to get myself back on track from all the food and treats I’ve been eating. Now I would never do the lemon juice and paprika cleans, that’s a bit to radical for me, but I could do a juice cleanse that wasn’t over the top.
imagesThere are a lot of benefits in doing a 7-10 day cleanse once in a blue moon, you might lose a few pounds, your skin should clear up, and your digestion will be restored. A cleanse doesn’t have to be expensive, most of the items needed are readily available and cheap too. During your cleanse, it is important to avoid sugar, refined and processed foods, dairy, red meat, salt, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other drugs. Make sure you have all those tempting holiday leftovers out of the house before you start your cleanse, if you don’t have them you won’t be tempted to eat them. Eating out is also something you maybe shouldn’t do on your cleanse unless you have a great raw food restaurant you can go to.
Books to help you detox
The raw food detox diet by Natalia Rose
The new detox diet by Elson M. Haas
The detox strategy by Brenda Watson
The beauty detox solution by Kimberly Snyder
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Christmas Eve traditions

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There are some great Christmas Eve traditions out there. One of the ones I found this year that I want to make a tradition in my family is a Christmas Eve Box. You open it on Christmas Eve and it has things in it to make your night really memorable. You can put anything you want in it, new pj’s, popcorn, hot chocolate, favorite movie or cookies. I’m making one this year for my family and one for my boyfriend to take home to his parents.
sticky-buns-lgI don’t know about you but I love to have something sweet for breakfast on Christmas day. Why not make it a tradition to all help out and make the Christmas breakfast the night before. This way no one has to miss out on any part of Christmas morning because they are making breakfast. My personal favorites are sticky buns or cinnamon rolls. I’m making sticky buns with my mom this year for Christmas morning.
A great tradition that kids_christmas_books_2008encourages literacy is to read a new Christmas book before bed. Whether you read a new book that you gave as a gift or one from your local library it’s a great tradition to start. It can be so exciting for little kids on Christmas eve so keeping a bit of their normal bed time routine will help them sleep.
Titles pictured above
Bear stays up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
Gingerbread friends by Jan Brett
Christmas farm by Mary Lyn Ray
Snow party by Harriet Ziefert
A very Marley Christmas  by John Grogan
The lump of coal by Lemony Snicket
Amazing peace by Maya Angelou

Seasonal cooking: Winter

I don’t know about you but winter is one of my favourite times to cook. You can make Sunday roast anything with roasted veggies and gravy, hearty stews, pot pies, and almost any comfort food you can imagine. I love spending a snowy afternoon in the kitchen in the winter, the smell of something amazing in the oven, seeing the snow falling outside and being nice and toasty by the stove just makes me feel so happy. I also love how the smell of hearty winter cooking brings people in to the kitchen to see what is being made, whether it’s an amazing stew, a roasting chicken or simply a squash roasting, everyone wants to know what that amazing smell is.
This is one of our favourite stews, we never have any leftovers. Sometimes we make this with dumplings on really cold nights.
1 lb good stewing beef, preferably organic free run but anything will work.
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 carrots
1 or 2 parsnips
2 potatoes
1 or 2 celery stalks if you want
2 medium tins of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
olive oil
dried oregano
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a pot or deep frying pan. Chop the onion and put it in the pot when the oil is hot, cook them just until they begin to get soft. Mince the garlic and add it when the onions are soft. Roughly chop the carrots, parsnip, and celery and throw them into the pot.
When the carrots are just starting to get soft add your stewing beef. Make sure you pat away any moisture from the meat or it will not brown. Make sure all the sides of the beef are browned before adding any liquid.
Once the meat is browned add the tomatoes and red wine. Chop the potatoes into small just slightly bigger than bite sized pieces and add them to the stew making sure they are submerged. Leave the bay leaves whole and submerge them in the stew. Add the sea salt, pepper and dried oregano to taste. Let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes remove the bay leaves and enjoy.
Winter cook books:
Roast figs, sugar snow: Winter food to warm the soul by Diana Henry
Delia Smith’s winter collection: comfort food DVD
Stonewall Kitchen winter celebrations: special recipes for family and friends by Jonathan King
Winter gatherings: casual food to enjoy with family and friends by Rick Rodgers
The ski house cookbook: warm winter dishes for cold weather fun by Tina Anderson

Cooking out of my comfort zone

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To continue my post about cooking out of your comfort zone I have a story about making potato latkes. I love latkes, something about them screams comfort food to me. I think this might be because they are fried potato that you get to put sauces on, who wouldn’t like that?
Because I have a wheat allergy I can’t eat latkes if they are not made with gluten free flour so the Whole Foods ones are out. I finally took the plunge and made them myself. I don’t have a food processor so I had to grate each potato by hand. This is so hard to do, I know why I never did this in the past, it was so hard to keep a good grip on the potato and not grate your knuckles. Once you have grated the potatoes you have to put them in a tea towel and wring out all the moisture. I was surprised by the amount of liquid that came out. The place I had the most trouble was frying them. They turned out perfect it went so well except when I went to flip a larger one. I splashed hot oil all up my arm. My arm looked like I worked on a fry line. I would highly recommend making your own latkes, they were so good and even reheated nicely.

Antiquing

I love going out on a nice weekend to go antiquing. I love the smell of the antique shops and the amazing things you can find. One of my favorite places to go antiquing is in St. Jacobs Ontario at a place called Artefacts.
Chris and Scott, who own the shop, have been salvaging across North America for over 20 years. Unlike traditional antique shops filled with knick knacks, Artefacts is filled with amazing architectural pieces like 100 year old doors, salvaged window shutters, old tiles, and anything you could want for your home. I love just wandering through this massive store to take in all the pieces that have been saved from being bulldozed or put in the dumpsters. I can’t help but imagine the beautiful building they might have belonged too and how much has changed since they were first constructed.
Here are some books to help you decorate using antiques.
Antiques at home: Cherchez’s book of collecting and decorating with antiquesue by Barbara Milo Ohrbach
A passion for antiques by Barbara Milo Ohrbach
Judith Miller, a closer look at antiques by Judith Miller

Christmas Decorating Ideas

It’s hard to believe but Christmas is almost here. One of my favorite parts about this season, besides the food,  is seeing all the houses dressed up with lights, ceder bows, and big bows. You can do so much with your house from elegant and understated like the house above or over the top with lights like Clark Griswold’s pictured below.

You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to appreciate all the wonderfully coloured lights at night. I just love them for the warm feelings that seeing a lovingly decorated house can bring up and knowing that someone did that to make others happy. (It sounds sappy I know but what can I say, I’m a sucker for fell good things.)
Country living, merry & bright:  301 ideas for celebrating Christmas
Martha Stewart’s Christmas: entertaining, giving & decorating in the holiday season by Martha Stewart
Decorating for the holidays: Christmas with Martha Stewart Living