I’m introducing a new feature on the blog, called Life, Inspired — The Weekend Review. This is a weekly column where I’ll take a step back from the recipes so you can have a wider look at what’s been inspiring me, moving me, or just catching my fancy out there in the life beyond my kitchen.
For me, food blogging is a creative pursuit, incorporating as it does the intellectual challenge of developing new recipes, all the sensory aspects of cooking them, and design skills to style the photoshoot. Then there’s the skill of the actual photography (which I’m making a concerted effort to take to a higher level, by the way) and writing. Oh, writing. I actually started my blog because I wanted to write, and the decision to make food the subject came after that.
Creativity for me isn’t expressed only through cooking and blogging. I also do a number of crafts and sew. Life, Inspired will be a venue to share some of that with you as well.
Being creative is a true source of joy and peace in my life. I talk on the blog about ‘kitchen therapy,’ but the restorative effects of creating occur outside the kitchen as well.
The inspiration for my creative life springs from many different sources. There are the sights and sounds from my morning walks, what I’m listening to, what I’m reading or something I’ve eaten while out and about. Pleasing my family or friends with something I know they’ll enjoy also sparks my creative spirit. And, there’s the excitement of never knowing just where I’ll next find inspiration.
I hope you enjoy this new column, which I’ll publish Saturday or Sunday mornings in future. Do let me know what you think!
My Morning Walks
I spent a lot of time outside this past week, especially early on when it was so unseasonably warm. I often take photos when I’m walking. I’m drawn to colour and patterns in nature. If there were a theme this week, it would be gold. Although many trees are barren, those that are still in leaf tend to be gloriously golden. How lovely it is to walk along a pathway cushioned in gold.
Remembrance & Gratitude
Tuesday, November 11 was Remembrance Day and for the first time I attended the service at London’s Cenotaph in Victoria Park. There were over 10,000 people in attendance for this moving ceremony. As I stood there under the blue sky, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face with golden leaves raining down in the gentle breeze, my thoughts turned to all the war stories told by my parents. They lived through the horrors of war and occupation, and now that they are both gone it’s up to me to ensure that my children and grandchildren know their remembrances and understand the deep gratitude we owe to all who fought for freedom.
Here is a beautiful photo from the event, from The London Free Press.
I was out of the kitchen and in the sewing room for a good week in October, making a Rapunzel costume for Littler Miss. It was one of the most gratifying projects I’ve worked on in a long time. The look on her face when she saw it was worth every stitch. “Oh Nana,” she said, in her squeaky two-year-old voice, “It’s boodiful. I love it!” If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram you’ll already have seen a picture; here it is again.
I like to listen to interesting podcasts and books when I’m out walking. It’s not only a way to nourish my mind, but especially at this time of year those earbuds keep my ears warm.
I’ve been listening to two different food-related podcasts recently. The first is The Splendid Table, the radio program hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper on American Public Radio. The episodes are engaging, interesting and lively. Right now I’m listening to Episode 544, called “Turbot Souffle.” What’s caught my attention in it are the story on the blurry line between food and candy (around the 15-minute mark) and another on coconut oil (around the 23-minute mark). Time well spent!
The second podcast is Talking With My Mouth Full by David Leite and Renee Schettler Rossi, of the website Leite’s Culinaria. This series offers another interesting look at food and cooking, presented in a fun, entertaining and sometimes irreverent way. There were 12 episodes released in 2013.
Is anyone else out there a Top Chef junkie? I recently finished watching Top Chef Duels and now I’m on to Top Chef Boston. What can I say? This is my kind of reality TV. And yes, I go back and re-watch whole seasons. Then again, I’m the kind of person who also reads books more than once. I could fill a whole post about that, but I won’t.
I have quite the collection of cookbooks as you might imagine, considering that I’m an avid reader and a lover of cooking. Yes, I will sit down and read them cover to cover, like a novel. I’m reading a great new cookbook right now, featuring many creative and delicious looking recipes. It’s all the more enjoyable because the author is a fellow Canadian food blogger whom I know and like. It’s The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie. I’ll be posting a review of it soon; stay tuned!
My copy of Simple Scratch Cooking, the new quarterly journal by Jennifer Perillo of the blog In Jennie’s Kitchen arrived in the mail this week. It came with a hand-written address label; a very nice touch. I’m looking forward to curling up in an armchair soon to read it!
Around the Web
Here are a few interesting posts that have caught my attention around the interwebs lately. Note that in a surge of patriotic fervour, I’ve selected from only Canadian blogs this week. Check them out!
It’s definitely soups and stews weather around here. I’m a member of Food Bloggers of Canada, and they’ve just released a two-part round-up of recipes for these cold weather comfort foods. I just happen to have a recipe included in part two.
I’ve been wanting to make marshmallows for the longest time. What am I waiting for? This recipe on Friday is Cake Night just might get me inspired to get sticky in the kitchen this week.
In a healthier vein, I’d like to dive right into this Autumn Nourishing Bowl on Candy Eye Popper:
Do you have holiday decorating on the mind? If you don’t, check out this post from the ever-so-elegant Barb over at Just a Smidgen. What better DIY combo than easy and lovely?
Do you find that getting a new gadget or tool for the kitchen inspires you to cook up a storm? Well, this week I bought a 40-quart stock pot (40 quarts!) and a supply of one- and two-litre canning jars. My intention is to do a lot of batch cooking, and stash the results in the freezer or share them with the offspring. I’m off to a good start with eight quarts of split pea soup (a double batch) and six quarts of spaghetti sauce made with a mixture of ground chicken and turkey (a quadrupled variation of this recipe; new recipe coming soon).
Yes, I know, I’m using litres and quarts interchangeably. I do know how to measure, but both are close to four cups, and I don’t fill the jars precisely. Just go with the flow!
In case you missed them, I posted two recipes on the blog this week. The first was a luscious chocolate mousse that just happened to be vegan and featured avocado as the base, and the second was creamy leek and potato soup.