Thursday, 25 April 2013

Emerged in French Culture in my Ottawa Home

Above you see a night view of, what I consider, the centre of ByWard Market; Le Moulin de Provence. ByWard market is the heart of downtown Ottawa. The soul of ByWard you will find at Le Moulin de Provence. 

When I first moved to Ottawa, I was intrigued by this big building, which seemed to be attracting the most attention. Inside I found a plethora, no, that isn't the right word. Ah, a WORLD of decadence to last me 19 lifetimes. This a patisserie, deli, and bakery; a pinnacle of artisan gourmet. 

Every product at Le Moulin is made fresh, on site, every single day. The pastry, the bread, sandwiches, cookies, quiches, meat pies, 15 different cold salads, hot meals, soups, just to name a few. An intricate art is put into every product, which you can see without ease. Approximately 10% of all new guests at first just come in to be in awe. 

Everyone who works at Le Moulin de Provence speaks fluent French. That is, except for me. Sadly, I can only speak enough French to barely get me through a few phrases. Yesterday, I worked with Carlos. He does not speak much English, so we balanced each other out for the day. From working with him, I learned to understand some of the french common phrases. I have no problems directing you to the restrooms, or even the bus stop in French. I can make your coffee order, and serve which loaf of bread you order if you say it in French. Although, it may take me a few repetitions to solidify your request in my mind. Carlos threw me into the water and by doing this I was completely emerged. It helped toughen my skin.  

I am excited to keep working for Le Moulin de Provence, and learning more about French foods, language, and culture. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Buttermilk Biscuits!

           Buttermilk biscuits are one of my favourite baked goods. You can heat them and eat with jam or butter, they can be used as the base for a bacon or sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich (my personal favourite use), or you can integrate your own personal flare to the recipe by adding cinnamon and diced apples, or maybe some allspice and chopped pork sausage. No matter what you do, buttermilk biscuits are a simple, and delicious staple to bake and to keep in the kitchen! Here is my recipe for buttermilk biscuits (12-15 servings):

  • 2 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Grease a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones) or line with parchment paper- reserve
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients for approximately 2 minutes
  4. Using 2 knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you have course crumbs
  5. Whisk the egg and buttermilk (in a separate bowl or make a well in your crumbs and whisk in the same bowl) and add to the dry ingredients/butter crumbs
  6. Stir mixture with a fork to make a soft dough
  7. Flour your hands to pat the dough into a large ball
  8. Flour a surface and gently knead for 20 seconds (approximately 10 kneads)
  9. Pat down and flatten to approximately 2cm in height
  10. Portion 12-15 rounds 
  11. Optional step: Mix and apply egg-wash once on your baking sheet (one egg, small splash of milk, and 1/4 tsp of sugar)
  12. Bake in the centre of your preheated oven (12-16 minutes until golden brown)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Marble Cupcakes!

          Today was the day! I have a wonderful cupcake recipe to share with you as well as a simple frosting to top your cakes! Next to anything red velvet, I love chocolate cakes. Marble cakes look beautiful and it is oh-so-simple! Excuse the picture above! I forgot to take the picture before frosting. They tasted like heaven. Here is my recipes for the marble cake:

TIP: What I usually do is make the batter, separate it, and then add the cocoa powder to one half. It is more efficient!

Cupcake batter:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted, or whisk dry ingredients for 2 minutes)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (mix into one half of the batter once separated; Remember to sift/whisk your cocoa because it lumps easily)
I like using the buttermilk because of the unique richness it provides a chocolate cake... Or any cake for that matter! Now, you know the drill: preheat your oven to 350 degrees, mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (large bowl preferred), and then add your wet ingredients. In your cupcake sheet-lined muffin tin, lay down a sequence of vanilla and chocolate batter to fill the tin approximately half way. I like to take a knife to fold and swirl the batter for aesthetic purposes. Bake for 25 minutes. 

The frosting I use for this cupcake is simpler than you can ever imagine: 

Cream cheese frosting:

Make a chocolate ganache using the chocolate of your choice (I used a large Cadbury Caramilk for this cake) and add to softened cream cheese. It is that simple:
  • Take one package of room temperature cream cheese and soften it with the back of a spatula or a wooden spoon - reserve
  • Take about 1/2 cup-1 cup of milk or cream and let it come to a simmer (medium heat)
  • Add a large brick of chocolate of your choice (make sure you break it up roughly)
  • It will take a while to melt, and it may look pretty gross, you might wonder if you messed up- YOU DIDN'T! I promise
  • Once the chocolate beings to melt, you will see the mixture become glossy and thicken
  • Add the chocolate to your cream cheese and mix - again it may look gross at first (I would transition to a whisk for optimum results!) 
  • Let this sit for 15 minutes to cool before frosting your cakes - It will be thicker if you wait
There you go! One of my favourite, simple, delicious, and care-free recipes. Tomorrow is buttermilk biscuits! Stay tuned! 


Attention All Yarn Crafters: Dream In Color Yarn


Researching for a baby blanket that I am crocheting for the summer, I wanted a voluptuous and rich colour scheme matched with quality baby yarn. I went through the motions of the usual brands I use, but nothing seemed to pop. This blanket is for my partner's cousin. We have bee dating for a year, so I still find it crucial to make good impressions on the family. I honestly love them.

In downtown Ottawa, there is a tiny yarn store called Yarns Etc. This store has the most eclectic inventory of yarn I have ever seen. On their website I found a provider by the name of Dream In Color Yarn. People... I am telling you that this yarn is the the most amazing quality and rich colour schemes I have ever seen!!!!

 Below I have only a few colour schemes found in the Dream In Color baby yarn area of the website. The below hanks are the schemes which I am personally considering for the crochet baby blanket. If you have any thoughts for which colour I should use for the baby girl on the way, PLEASE comment your feedback!!!! How delicious are these hanks?

The Dream In Color Yarn website: 

Let's talk about Mitch Albom

          You may know his name from the New York Times best-seller list of novels, or maybe you have seen his made for T.V. movies. Mitch Albom is an incredibly talented story-teller with an honest spirit. Like I have told many of my friends and family, when you read his books you are enveloped by a friendly and familiar voice; like a cousin or an old friend. To be perfectly honest, I am a little uncertain as where to begin to give justice to the talent and nature of Mitch Albom.

I'm going to begin with my first experience. I was 17 or 18 years old I was taking a business management course at my high school. My teacher was Mr. Marcus, and he told us that no matter what the curriculum demanded, or what our priorities were that day, he would stand up at his podium every Tuesday and read Mitch Albom's Tuesday's with Morrie. Mr. Marcus never got around to reading the novel in its entirety. Mr. Marcus did read us the first few pages; I was drawn in. But, as the semester continued without another word about the book, I soon forgot it. Months later I was at Costco shopping with my step-mother, Jenn. In the book section of the store, I stumbled upon to the smallest, and simplest looking book. For One More Day was a tiny yellow and blue covered book with a single linear drawing of a small house. I turned to read the back when I saw: "Author of the #1 New York Times Best-Seller Tuesday's with Morrie." For One More Day was the first book I read by Mitch Albom, and I have never looked back. The book was about a man who had officially hit rock bottom: alcoholism, wife left him, daughter won't speak to him, and is pretty much going no where in life. Going back to his childhood home he finds a familiar voice, and a comforting face to bring him to terms with the conditions of his life (past, present, and future). 

When I tell you that reading one of Mitch Albom's books feels like you're speaking with a cousin or an old friend, I mean to say that Mitch Albom does not over-complicate his stories, characters, or the structure of the novels. The stories effortlessly unfold before your eyes. It never takes me more than a couple of days to fully read one of his books; they are impossible to put down. Two of Mitch Albom's novels, Have a Little Faith and Tuesday's with Morrie, are both true stories. This humbles Mitch Albom's words, and grounds you to your very core. I have read from his website the inspirations for his other works in both theatre, movies, and his novels. They are genuine, and you can honestly feel that emanate through the pages. 

Mitch Albom's themes of family, time, faith, virtue, and personal struggles through life (and how one deals with them) are so simple and straightforward, yet they prompt a brand new ideas or understanding. This individual is a truly gifted storyteller. I cannot stress how much I enjoy his work. Please find below a link to Mitch Albom's website, and my personal recommendations of his works. When perusing your local independent book store, library, or a Cole's, Chapters, Indigo, or any other discount bookstore, look out for his name. You may have otherwise overlooked these simply wonderful books. 

Mitch Albom on the net: 

Lolita Chameleon's personal recommendations:
1. For One More Day
2. Tuesday's with Morrie
3. Have a Little Faith
4. The Five People You Meet in Heaven
5. The Time Keeper

Monday, 11 March 2013

Up Next: Bake Day!

March is when we lose an hour of sleep, the snow hasn't yet melted, and the constant overcast weather doesn't help much. It's about time for a pick-me-up. 

Buttermilk biscuits are a March tradition around the house. Biscuits are so versatile! You can make them into breakfast sandwiches, eat them with butter or jam. I cannot say how excited I am about them! To make this a true bake day, I will also be making marble cupcakes (debating red velvet marble) with a marble cream cheese frosting. 

Recipes, details, and pictures to be posted!