Friday, 27 November 2009

Wishes from far away

Today I am celebrating my little brother's birthday!!!  My brother (isn't really so little) is one of the funniest, smartest, bravest and heroic men I know.  Last year he celebrated his birthday in Afghanistan, which probably included going on patrol, eating some rations and trying to stay alive...this year he is living it up in his totally lush new pad in Toronto overlooking the lake.  What a difference a year makes!

I miss him a lot.  I miss his humour, his devotion to sci-fi tv shows and the unit, his insistence on watching scary movies and shows even though I know I will have nightmares.  We got to hang out a bit while I was visiting Toronto this past month and it was so much fun!

I am so proud of my brother and everything that he does...even if he refuses to answer his cellphone before 6pm!

Happy birthday Charles!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Girl's Gotta Mix!

Cue music...

"I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it....I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!!!"

My cute little kitchen is practically complete!!! hasn't been renovated or redecorated or anything like that...there is simply a new member to our appliance familiy!!! I'll just show you a picture cause I can't possibly do justice to my excitement with a few words...

no no isn't the toaster (which is tres cute and a gift from David's mum) it's the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!!! aka MIXMASTER!!!  I am super excited and totally overwhelmed and giddy and all those things that come with getting something so amazing! I don't even own a food processor and yet...I have a beautiful mixmaster.  It is gorgeous and sleek and fits so well in that corner of my counter (which was being wasted, cause what could possibly fill in a corner so well as a mixmaster?)!

My wonderful mother and Aunt Sandi threw me a totally elegant and sophisticated bridal shower while I was visiting Toronto and this incredible and amazing gift was the outcome! I actually bought it over here in the UK, there was no way it would a) fit into my suitcase and b) be under the weight restrictions imposed by British Airways (they obviously have never thought about packing a fricking heavy mixmaster) oh and also because c) it needs the proper electrical plug (duh).  So I dragged poor David with me on Saturday to the friendly neighbourhood department store that just happened to be having a SALE!! Poor pack mule David lovingly carried it all the way back home for me.  He's not a big guy on a good day and so it was very heroic and sweet of him to lug it home for me.  Not to mention the fact that he doesn't get why anyone would need a mixmaster (WHAT???). Luckily he could sort of understand that it was a GIFT from my family and friends who wouldn't be able to come to our wedding.  Bless him and his Kitchen Aid virginity. 

The only sad thing was that I had already made that drool worthy marble cake on Friday and so had to wait wait wait to use the silly thing!

Neverfear! The maiden voyage of the Kitchen Aid was embarked on last night with Toad in the Hole! Not that I need a Mixmaster to make Yorkshire Pudding batter....but that's not for David to know. Teehee. 

siiiigh, can you see all those bubbles?? so lighty and fluffy and beautiful! I don't own a set of handheld beaters, so this is actually very exciting for me...there is no way I would ever get so much air into a batter just using my whisk...without losing an arm.

25 minutes later, ooooey gooey crispy and crunchy sausagey goodness.  Who knows if the mixmaster actually aided the finished product...all I know is that it was damn quick to mix and my arm didn't ache and it hardly matters anyway cause it is a gorgeous and lush piece of kitchen equipment. 

Here's to many more mixing adventures!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Check it out!

You can now FOLLOW me!!! It has taken me a while to figure out the whole formatting and settings thing of this blogging deal...finally I have started to grasp it somewhat and have managed to include a FOLLOW button!!!  maybe??? just maybe??? Someone will follow me???
xo Victoria

Saturday, 21 November 2009

home again home again...jiggity jig

On Thursday in the wee hours of the morning I returned to England, and David, having been in Toronto for the past six weeks. Although it was sad saying goodbye to my parents I was so excited to get back to my little house and, well, everything else here in Chelmsford.
David was there to greet me at the airport and upon arriving back at the house I quickly gave it the once over...nothing terribly dirty, nothing noticeably missing, nothing broken...everything perfect (or so I thought). He failed to mention that he had tried to defrost a PLASTIC container of soup IN THE OVEN...and can imagine what happened....needless to say the oven was VERY clean when I went to use it Thursday evening to make nachos....and when I say VERY clean...I mean very clean. The remnants of a cooking explosion I had a few months ago was gone (and I had scrubbed that mofo).

On Friday David had to go to class and left me to catch up on some sleep and to potter about and to do my thing. true housewife manner I planned supper (chicken stew using left over chicken thighs from the night before) and well...of course...I baked a cake (duh!).

So I spent my first afternoon back in the house baking a lovely, moist and totally moorish chocolate and vanilla marble cake. The recipe comes from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros. A recipe I stole from my housemate Becky's cookbook. A recipe that is so easy and delicious you can't help but make it a staple. Tessa adds single cream into the batter which makes it just out of this world!

When 5 o'clock rolled around and David came home I was like "check me out, I made a cake...I am just about to start the stew....I am totally NOT jet lagged".... And then I had what I think of in my head as a total Julie Powell moment. Julie Powell is the government secretary turned blogger turned famous author. The author of Julie & Julia....basically I am in love with her, and Julia of course, and on Friday night I found myself having a classic Julie Powell moment. If you've read the book/seen the film you will get this.

So I'm totally cocky, cake is baked and I am ready to remind David of what he's been missing the last six weeks...I go to the fridge, I take out carrots, celery, wine. I go to the cupboard, I take out potatoes, onion, canned tomatoes. I cut some fresh thyme (somehow it survived). I am already to peel and chop and brown the chicken...THE CHICKEN!!! "um David, where did you put the left over chicken?"

"oh, I put it in the freezer"

Dinner is ruined! The chicken is in the freezer, we have no other meat, only veggies. And this is when I had a classic Julie Powell melt where only her husband Eric can make things right. Throughout her project Eric, on countless occasions, poached eggs...ran to the store for provisions, flipped crepes, mixed drinks....anything to avert or diminish crisis...

And that is what David did for me. "We could just have vegetables? Or we can defrost the chicken in boiling water?" EWWWW on both accounts...but the veggies on the counter and the thought of just vegetables for my welcome home meal together depressed the kettle was filled up and put on the stove and we waited...and waited...and waited....

Defrosting chicken in boiling water is disgusting...especially when it has skin on it....I had this vision of browning the skin making it nice and crispy then slowly cooking the chicken in the stew till the meat fell off the bone.....well when thighs are defrosted in boiling water first, the skin is basically boiled and it smells and it looks gross and so, in the end off with the skin, out with the bones and the meat was instead chopped up.

I put too much wine in the stew, leaving nothing for me to enjoy while waiting the hour and a half it took to cook....but in the end, it was yummy and warm and the meat was tender and the sauce was just winy enough.

Thank you David and thank you Julie Powell for making me accept my meltdowns. And in the end I knew I could count on my cake! And...I could

Sunday, 1 November 2009

waistline watching...

One of the most exciting things about visiting my parents in Toronto is that I am having my wedding dress made whilst I am here! My mum's aunt is a seamstress and she is working away at having it done in the few weeks that I am here.

Two weeks ago my mum, her aunt and I went and chose the fabric and I had my measurements taken (yikes!). I am so happy that I am having my dress made whilst I am here, not only is it a totally special experience that I get to share with my mum but it is being made by her aunt adding that little extra special touch and feeling to the whole process.

The downside is that the body that I have right now is the body that I am stuck with for the Big Day. Now, I am perfectly happy with my body and definitely wouldn't be dieting or boot-camping anytime in the near future BUT it also means that any toning that I do over the next four-ish months (gak) has to be well planned and minimal....or else, all that hard work of my dear aunt will have gone to pot!

I have been working very hard to tone my waist line in the few weeks that I have here and have vowed to cut out extra sugar and fats from my regular diet...

HOWEVER...I have been drooling over Martha Stewart's Cupcakes cookbook...

Surely vegetable or fruit based muffins (MS calls them all cupcakes) are ok right? The amount of sugar is minimal in these sorts of cakes as is the fat content. So they are an ok balance right? right?

Well, I just couldn't help myself. I have already confessed to David so it is ok to publish this here...Yesterday I made these fabulous carrot cupcakes and today I iced them (cause MS says you have to) with cream cheese and orange icing. I promised myself when I made them that I would give some to my brother, and I only made 1/2 the icing recipe...which still left me with plenty.

I'll do extra crunches for the rest of the week as my penance. I just couldn't pass this up!