Category Archives: Personal time

A busy weekend- what to focus on?!?

Halloween Party or Tiny Dinner Party?

Ok- you get both – with visuals!

Halloween party:

This weekend, along with being Diwali (happy Diwali to this who celebrated), many local Halloween parties happened.

Traditionally,  hubby and I would have attended the Witches Gathering, but last year was the last of this fabulous event, after over 20 years of the organizers donating their time and making a community event that rocked.

Back to the present – another group, Vixens Victorious Ottawa, has been hosting an annual fundraiser for the past few years in October and this year they decided the theme would be Nightmare on Kent Street- perfect!!!

It was fun!

We went as a ghost bride and her stoic but distraught widower from the Victorian era ( stylized of course)

We won a prize in the couples category! Woot!

Congrats to the organizers and all the other winners  – looking forward to next year!

————–and now….

Tiny Dinner Party!

A few months ago, I set up a sub group, Tiny Dinner Parties, on FB to an existing social activity organizing group, and have been test driving it and having some fun!

Note: I am torn about my use of FB as a social connecting space; I mainly use it for positive shares and as a means of connecting with multiple folk at once where conversations can be easily perused and organized.)

The concept:

Create a space that will allow a larger group of loosely connected folk a chance to both host and attend smaller group events without pressure or guilt. No need to fee pressure to host or attend, but if it works out timing and energy wise, join in!

  • You want to host a party? You set up an event.
  • You only have room for 3 people to join you? Indicate it.
  • Your menu will be based on a specific food/style- ie. vegetarian or bbq or turkey dinner? Indicate it!

You then share the event with the full group and the first 3 ( or your chosen number) people to hit “going” have snared a spot at your table!

As a guest, you read through the description to make sure it’s a party you will enjoy before hitting “going”, offer your contributions if requested, and then venture out for a fun evening with friends- maybe folks you would not normally get a chance to meet!

Turkey Dinner Time:

Brined turkey is the best!

I hosted my 3rd last night and tried a new configuration for table set up- full on eat in kitchen!

We had a lovely turkey dinner – sorry I did not get pics of the Kale salad, sweet potato casserole, Brussels sprouts with bacon, nor the mashed, stuffing and gravy – but it was all amazing.

Wine and club soda and iced tea and a general feeling of “be comfortable” was the goal.

and a ” please, get out of the kitchen between courses so that I could clean up” – with the assistance of two lovely dish washers – MOST APPRECIATED HELP OF THE DAY!

Then,  there was the most lovely Sticky toffee pudding for dessert along with 3 types of cookies!

So if you are feeling disconnected from the world, and want to gently reach out but are unsure of how, maybe you can set up your own Tiny Dinner Party group and try to get together with people around the table… or picnic blanket, or whatever works!

Revisiting an old recipe

Charki Can or pumpkin soup a la Norma!

Based on my loose memory and the really vague recipe I wrote out years ago…

Charki Can

Peel and chop roughly, just cover with water and cook in a large soup pot until tender:

  • 500 grams pumpkin
  • 750 grams potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • Puree or mash well, leaving the water in, and set aside.

    Brown together in a separate skillet:

  • 300 grams ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely.
  • Oregano and Cumin to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Add to the puréed pumpkin mix and stir well, let simmer on low and add

  • 250 grams snow peas, chopped in halves
  • 1 can kernels of corn, drained
  • Cook 5 more minutes.

    So, this 2019 variation had:

      ½ medium onion, chopped and sautéd in olive oil in a medium saucepan

    I added:

      1 tsp curry spice powder
      ½ tsp each cinnamon and ginger powder
      Salt and pepper

    Then stirred in:

  • 2 cups Pumpkin-roasted and puréed
  • 1 can sweet peas ( drained)
  • 1 cup of chopped pre-cooked chicken
  • I served it with some homemade carrot and cabbage coleslaw and freshly made whole wheat/ cornmeal biscuits.

    The Gnarly Cherpumpberry

    I’ve made piecaken/ Cherpumple in the past and this smaller version has one other difference- the Lemon Cake with Blueberry pie baked into it.

    It is also Dairy free, with the substitution of lactose free margarine in the buttercream icing, coconut oil melted with the dairy/nut free dark chocolate drizzle, and reduced fat in the cakes, using apple sauce instead of oil.

    The gallery shows the stages- the concept being to have 3 pre made and baked pies, mix 3 cakes up and put cake batter and a pie in each cake pan.

    Bake for longer than recommended, about 20 minutes extra.

    Chill each layer completely for at least 3 hours before assembling.

    Apply a crumb coat to the cool cake.

    Chill again and then frost fully and decorate as you wish.

    The spiderweb was created by melting coconut oil and dark chocolate together and drizzling it onto the surface, letting it drip.

    The gnarly cake bits were cut off from the overflow that happened when the cakes were baking. I thought there might be some spillage, so I put each tin on a cookie sheet, and the overflow looked like cooled lava! Great fluke that added to the finished look!

    Cake drippings create a fab gnarly texture!

    Inside – the 6 desserts in one!
    Pretty even layers, the layer of “buttercream” was very sweet, but it offset the tartness of the blueberry lemon layer and the cherry layer!

    An evening of Cider, Carbs and Chillin’ with good folk!

    The 2nd annual Ottawa Craft Cider Celebration took place at the Experimental Farm and 6 of us headed out to enjoy an aassortment of craft cider, pretzels, shortbread, cheese and donuts!

    It was a beautiful evening and very well organized!

    I liked that they changed the layout this year – last year, the cider tables were along the outer edge of the gazebo, and the patrons were corralled inside. It made queueing up a bit claustrophobic.

    This year, the ladies at Savvy changed the layout and had the tables in the middle and the partons could spill out onto the grassy area if need be, or quickly grab their sample and shuffle off the to the numberous tables set up for us to enjoy a quiet < or raucous> drink and conversations.

    The band provided gentle back ground music, and while some of us found the pretzels #StaleAsF@#K, I was happy to have them available to offset the imbibing! and the Donut Rain on my Parade food truck provided a simple concept for flavour coated mini donuts that were enjoyed by all!


    Hot Cows in the city
    Checking out the Bovine!
    drunken squirrel was nibbling on something that cause much falling over and stumbling.
    Dar brought a snack to share!
    tried for an aerial view…
    Check in here!
    this one was great!
    Rood < Red in another language> was pretty good.
    tried all three- pretty good
    Disco Lemonade – light and waaaay easy to drink.
    Elderflower – ok..
    and the band played on.
    pretty good
    Yum – like candy
    mmm okay… but I like bubbles. #flatcider
    Selfie 1
    Selfie 2
    Selfie 3
    Shiny with Pinot Noir – was pretty nice!
    Enjoying their samples!
    this one was great!
    Rood < Red in another language> was pretty good.
    twas very good
    La gang la – thanks to our neighbour table who offered to take our pic for us!
    OMG yum – like light caramel…
    I’ve lost track now – I think it was ok.
    and the textured clouds framed the setting sun as we trundled into an Uber to head home!

    Ancient and Awesome

    She’s old and yet youth erupts from her very pores.
    She is gnarled in the truest sense.
    She has depth carved into her from years of living.
    She has tendrils of new life reaching out of her towards to sun.
    She is shelter for those scrambling into her arms, support for those who need fuel to fly, and a presence to be witnessed.
    She’s all people of age and wisdom and beauty.
    She’s respect and appreciation for the “Imperfect”.
    She’s a moment in a vastness.
    She’s a gift and a reminder to see beyond and within.
    She’s Ancient and Awesome

    It’s a tree. It’s an analogy. by Tracey Vibert

    OMG – The Schadenfreude Pie a la John Scalzi – Canadian Style

    So, apparently, back in the early fall of 2006, John Scalzi made an awesome pie and posted the recipe here.

    Somehow, over the past couple of months, this link came through my social media feed – and I clicked through and thought – yeah, that does sound perfect.

    “Dark. Rich. And oh so bittersweet.”

    So, today. For Christians it is “Good Friday”; for the Jewish community, it is Passover; and in the US today is National Garlic Day and tomorrow is Husband Appreciation Day… before I get lost down that rabbit hole, coming back to Canada and for me, today is the beginning of some cocoon time over this weekend, having even sent my furbaby off to visit her Aunt D.

    And I suddenly wanted to make pie.  And then I remembered the Schadenfreude Pie!

    With it having been Aunt D.’s < Sprocket’s “Aunt”/ 2nd mom, not my Aunt> birthday recently, AND Happy Belated Kristine, <John Scalzi’s lovely wife>,  I could make 1 for us, 1 for her  and a mini so that I could make sure it was actually as good as the recipe sounded before sending a fresh pie off with her! The mini was amazing – will share our remaining pie with the hubby to show him appreciation… even here in Canada…

    My modifications bring it across the border into Canada < northern US could use these variations too, I’m sure!> as well as being based on what I had in the cupboard.

    The original ingredients < be sure to visit the World’s First Schadenfreude Pie post for the rest of the mixing and baking directions>:

    What I changed:

    1 cup dark corn syrup – 1 cup dark maple syrup – or any colour maple syrup

    ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips.    ¼ cup white chocolate chips and ¼ cup black cocoa

    Along with the cinnamon, I added 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger

    I skipped the booze as I did not have anything handy – but would try it in the future!

    and I rolled out some previously made frozen pie crust – classic style- and split it into 2 smaller pie tins and 1 mini and I prebaked them for about 10 minutes before filling them.

    Beyond that, I followed the original recipe and it is perfect.

    Thank you, John Scalzi, for bringing more enjoyment to my world – he’s a fun writer too folks!

    I would probably serve with whipped cream < Aunt D’s suggestion> and maybe have a shot of dark rum or the suggested booze with it, or just a nice dark coffee…

    Oh, and if you are wondering  what Schadenfreude is:

    An afternoon of tea, wings and colourful characters!

    Today, a cluster of good friends all headed out with bird themed, fairy themed and awesome themed characters to join a bunch of other similarly dressed folk for an afternoon tea!

    The Tea with the Fairy Queen event brought out amazing costumes ranging from steam punk, to garden party, to dark fairy and more – all in the cause of raising funds for the Wild Bird care centre .

    Organized by Christina of Caz Designs and her crew of amazing folk, this event gave us a chance to do good while being silly!

    Here’s some pics of the ladies I enjoyed the company of this afternoon!

    Another Birthday, Another Kitchen Adventure

    Mom is having a significant birthday in a few days, and for scheduling, the BIG PARTY was this weekend.

    I offered to make her dessert. Upon asking her what she wanted, her quick response was Black Forest Cake – I got this!

    We have a few varied dietary needs withithn the family realm though and so I also offered to bring something non-dairy/gluten free as a side snack for those folk.

    Another awesome baker in the family, Sarah, offered to make a cake as well to cover the full-on healthy desssert option. Her cake is amazing:

    Sarah’s cake

    My plans: cake, moulded roses as an accent, and a variant on my granny’s butterscotch cream pe – meringues …and then I went way off road for this “variant” – maple curd

    Black Forest Cake :

    • 3 layers of chocolate fudge cake – a box mix using the lower fat option – baked in 8 inch pans
    • 500 ml Whipping cream with added Oatker Stabilizer as this puppy has to travel!
    • 1 can cherry pie filing – ½ sugar very – but yes, in a can
    • 1 block from a full size bar, shaved chocolate – I hate making shaved chocolate, but I had a lovely Lindt dark chocolate bar so I was able to shave the minimum I needed to cover the patchy whipped cream sides of the cake.

    Once the alyers were baked, I shaved the domes off the layers to make them flat. Assemble: layering cherry pie filling on the bottom layer, then filling and whipped cream on the 2nd layer. Cover with whipped cream in the style of your choosing and sprinkle the shaved chocolate and few saved cherries on top to make it pretty.


    • 4 egg whites at room temperature
    • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
    • ¼ cup icing sugar – too much – I’ll use less in the future

    Whip it up good, pipe onto parchment lined cookies sheets and bake for 55 minutes at 250 degrees, then turn off the oven and let them sit for another hour or more.

    Maple Curd:

    The big adventure…

    In a sauce pan, mix together really well:

    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons coconut milk powder

    Then add and mix all together

    • ½ cup maple syrup
    • ½ cup water

    Cook on medium heat until it boils and stirring constantly let it reach 105 degrees on a thermometer – maybe higher would have been better – that’s just what I did.

    In a small bowl, beat

    • 4 egg yolks

    Then pour some of the hot syrup into the bowl, mixxing to heat up the egg yolks, then pour the mix back into the sauce pan and let cook for another 5 minutes.

    Bring off the heat and add

    • 1tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

    Stir well and pour into mason jars. Cool and store in fridge. Shake well before using.

    This created a sauce that was drizzled over the meringues – giving a light sugar kick without dairy or gluten – but does have eggs.

    Moulded chocolate roses:

    Based on the method from my previous post about using moulded chocolate, I once again melted the chocolate and added the honey, then covered it with plastic and let it chill on the counter for a few horus while I did other stuff.

    • 120 grams  of white chocolate discs
    • 1 ounce of honey by weight
    • I am canadian and thus bilingual when it comes to measurements – my scale has both

    After kneading the chilled chocolate, I then played witha few ways to create the roses.

    The first one was made by shaping small bits of chocolate into flattened petal shapes, but they had a lot of length to them and I wouold cut it off at the abse after adding it.

    For the next one I tried rolling a tiny ball in my hand then squishing it with my thumb to create each petal, and placing them overlaping around a started bud/blob. This worked better and I continued with this method for the remaining ones.

    Eventually, with both techniques, it built up a lot so I have to cut off the base on each one so that it was not too thick.

    I think I did pretty well for a first time! *pats self on back*