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A lot of our canning expeditions begin with an inspiration at the farmer’s market. This trip to the market began looking for cherries – we love canned cherries. On the way there…we got distracted by the beautiful beets and radishes. We were particularly inspired by the variety of radishes. This recipe makes a delicious clean picked radish that is perfect on sandwhiches, hot dogs, or tacos. We love this on a pulled pork sandwich (with lots of delicious cumin) because it gives a fresh, tangy and peppery flavour. The radish blend is something you can experiment with. We like an even mix of Easter egg, French breakfast and black radishes. They look beautiful in the jar and all contribute to the flavour in the jar.


6-8 cups of thinly sliced radishes
4 cloves of peeled garlic
4 tsp. whole black peppercorns
2 cups fresh dill


3 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coriander seed


Place 1 clove of garlic, 1 tsp peppercorns and 1/2 cup of dill in each sterilized jar. Top with sliced radishes.

In a large pot, combine all the ingredients for the brine. Bring to a boil, stirring gently.

Ladle hot brine into jars. We like to do small batches of radishes as fridge pickles. In this case, let the jars cool and top off with additional brine. Cover and store for 1 month. If you want to process the jars, fill with brineand drop in a hot water bath for 6-8 minutes to seal.

Makes approximately 4 pint sized jars.

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The sight of a delicious basket of Portabellini mushrooms at the farmers market inspired this dish. We love to find great vegetarian recipes – this is one of them. These have a clean, earthy and healthy flavour that gives you a delicious, guilt free summer slider to savour. We love a good Portabello burger but this slider sized biteful is our new summer favorite.


6 Portabellini mushroom caps
3 medium garlic cloves
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped swiss chard
1tsp grainy mustard
1tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp worcester
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup feta
Salt and pepper to taste


Rinse the mushrooms thoroughly. De-stem the mushroom, trim the end off the stem and dice finely. Mince garlic. For a quick and easy approach we throw the garlic in our mini food processor and add the remaining ingredients in the order below pulsing each time. Grind the almonds to a very fine chop. Give the parsley and chard a rough chop. Stir in diced mushroom, minced garlic, mustard, vinegar, worcester and olive oil. If you use the food processor remove the mixture and put the filling in a bowl. Stir in feta leaving it coarsely crumbled.

Stuff the mushroom caps with the filling and grill on the BBQ until the stuffing starts to bubble and the mushroom softens. We like to serve ours on brioche slider buns, with a little mayo and homemade relish. Happy summer vegetarians!


We have been working on this recipe for a while. We love pulled pork Sunday at our house. You can throw the roast in the slow cooker and go about your day. At the end of the day you have a delicious pulled pork sandwich and a great protein for the week’s meals. You can throw the leftover meat with some peppers, onions and fresh corn for a delicious pulled pork taco or used it to top a quick dinner of pizza or perogies.


4 lb. pork shoulder
2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. yellow mustard seed
2 tsp. black mustard seed
2 tsp. toasted fennel seed
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. toasted cumin seed
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. celery salt

3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1-2 tbsp. of dried chili flakes (to your desired spice level)
6 tsp. brown sugar
1 cup tomato purée


Toast the fennel and cumin seed in a dry pan on medium heat. Remove from heat when you can smell the herbs being careful not to burn. Grind the seeds to a fine powder. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and stir to form a rub. Crust all the surfaces of the pork shoulder with the spice rub. Heat oil in pan and brown all sides of the pork shoulder. Place browned pork in the slow cooker – add tomato, chilies, brown sugar and vinegar. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or until the meat begins to fall apart. We like to serve the pulled pork on a bun with fresh coleslaw.

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This recipe comes from a freelance hobbyist sometimes known by the name of Guitar Blair. Perhaps it’s the influence of the delicious Indian food in the South Okanagan but this blend of spices brings great balance and depth of flavour to any curry dish. We are particularly fond of it in our creamy curry roasted cauliflower soup. The best tip for curry blends is to use fresh ingredients and make it often, so it always tastes fresh! Keeping track of spice variations in each blend helps hone the mix that best suits your palette!


3 tbsp. coriander seed
2 tsp. cumin seed
1 tsp. fenugreek seed
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. yellow mustard seed
1 tsp. black cardamom seeds
2 tsp. crushed peppercorn
6 whole cloves
2 tbsb. turmeric
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)


Break open the cardamom pods to reveal the seeds inside. Slow toast all the seeds in a dry skillet being careful not to burn! When you can start to smell the spices take them off the heat. Cool seeds. Add the peppercorns, cloves and red pepper flakes. Grind the blend till fine, stir in turmeric and start cooking!

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This is an annual hobbyist canning tradition and signals the end of winter and beginning of canning season. Along with a delicious marmalade the first signs of spring means making Preserved Lemons. This is one of the easiest things to can and it has so much versatility for cooking. We inevitably devour ours over the Fall and Winter months. Since you eat the peel of the lemons we always use organic lemons. Regular table salt will give them a chemical taste so be sure to use kosher or sea salt.


10-12 lemons
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt


Wash and dry the lemons. Slice off the stem end and place flat part down on the cutting board. Cut a ‘X’ through the lemon stopping about 1/2″ from the end. Pack salt into the lemon (1-1/2 tbsp. per lemon). Repeat, stuffing salt filled lemons into a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. When the jar is full press down on the lemons firmly to get the juices flowing. Cover and let stand overnight. In the morning press them down again to release more juice. Repeat this for 2 days. If you need extra liquid squeeze the juice of an additional lemon into the jar to cover the salted lemons.

Put the finished jar(s) in the fridge and wait 4-6 weeks. When they are ready to go, scrape out the pulp and slice or dice the peel. This is a fun one to experiment with so be creative. We love it tossed with some quinoa, shallots and roasted vegetables. It is also a hobbyist favorite on naan bread pizza. Enjoy!

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We recently read an article in the NY Times about designer’s frustrations with a lack of appreciation for good design. Its a common complaint by architects and designers that the subjective value of their work is overlooked. The risk and reward of design comes from its personal nature – taking a piece of your soul, putting it out there for the world and hoping it moves people. Architecture is about a creating an experience or emotion through the built environment. If you are a designer and need a reminder about why you got into this field read the full article.

Sometimes you stumble on a space that surprises you. We are notoriously addicted to boutique hotels. They offer cutting edge and modern design that you might not want to live with everyday (like a shower in your bedroom) but are fun experiments for a few days. At the Acta Mimic we came for the location and the playful architecture. What will brings us back though is little sunken courtyard at the back of the building, squished between its neighbours.

After sleeping in (as one does in Spain) or returning to rest your feet after a day of hiking the city, guests make their way to the basement for espresso. The heart of this space is the outdoor courtyard, tucked below ground, acting like a giant light well for the adjacent buildings. Perched in a simple chair in this space you are surrounded by Barcelona and not the built city but the people of Barcelona. The hotel side of the courtyard is shielded from view by a large graphic screen, with a pop-art, cartoon image reminiscent of a Gorillaz video. The other three sides of the courtyard surround you with the heart of the city, its people. From one balcony, the sounds and flashing lights of spanish cartoons flicker, a cat winds its way in and around the balcony rails. Overtop the white noise of whirring fans and rustling laundry, snippets of conversation, laughter and maybe even a morning disagreement echo into the courtyard. Windows are opened or closed depending on the time of day. Laundry is shaken and hung to dry from any surface available.

The smooth, almost sterile, simplicity of the modern architecture perfectly juxtaposes the pixelated fineness of real life. If you’re lucky, and we were, its sunny and warm. The mass of the buildings shield out most of the city sounds, creating a calm, serene space to do nothing but soak in the sights, sounds and smells of living in Barcelona.

Architect EQUIP Xavier Claramunt.

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Our most recent search for a new purse (they never seem to last) took us to M0851. A friend (or few) had told us about the amazing bags at M0851 and for a special birthday we decided to spoil ourselves. The range of styles and colours is fantastic so you’ll run out of excuses to treat yourself before you run out of drool worthy presents! The biggest selling point for these bags is that unlike most things we buy these days they get better as they age. If you visit the store ask the sales clerk to show you their bag. We did and wanted to buy their TEN year old bag for full price. The leather is so rich and supple but age gives it a beautiful patina and softness.

You will love these bags so much you will protect it earnestly but if you do damage it – they can repair the leather or lining at their factory in Montreal. As somebody who hates waste and feels guilty throwing anything away, even if its broken, this is money well spent. Cheers to the 10, 20 or maybe even 30 year purse!

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Location: Spain – Laxe
Designer: Ensamble Studio
Completion: 2010

Sometimes you stumble on a piece of architecture that has a beautiful simplicity. The truffle house by Ensamble Studio is one of these. It has an organic feel that is perfectly at home in it’s surroundings. Using topsoil from the site combined with concrete the exterior ‘stone’ walls were mounded atop a pile of hay. A calf named Paulina was brought in to eat her way through the interior mass of hay and unveil the interior space. The building’s skin emulates mineral formations creating the illusion of a runaway boulder whose cave like hollow makes way for a rustic and simple abode. We love the whimsy of the singular highly stylized window.

To this hobbyist it looks like the perfect place to escape the city. Just cozy up and grab a book to read by the fire.

Some believe that all good things begin with a dream. Cartems Donuterie in Vancouver is proof this is true. Currently housed out of a shared kitchen space on the Drive, with an additional pop-up location on the corner of Carrall and Hastings, it began with a dream by owner Jordan Cash. In 2002, while teaching English in South Korea (which he told a captive audience in the shop waiting for his next batch of donuts, is what you do when you don’t know what you’re doing with your life) he had a dream. Jordan dreamed about opening a donut shop, about serving donuts with a knife and fork and about a name for the shop: Cartems.

Fast forward 10 years later and the little donut shop that could (and opened only 3 weeks ago) is taking the Vancouver food scene by storm. The donuts aren’t served with a knife and fork (yet) but they are delicious. Finding Cartems’pop-up shop in Gastown proved easier that we expected – the line of customers out the door gave it away. If there is no line to guide you – it’s in the Pennsylvania Hotel. We joined the line, waiting in the drizzling Vancouver rain to see what all the fuss was about. When we got to the end we were part of a few waiting for the next batch to arrive. For the next hour a well-spirited crowd of donut-seekers waited eagerly for a fresh delivery from the kitchen on Commercial. The happy chattered ranged from the changing neighbourhood (we shared an ice cream sandwich from nearby restaurant Meat and Bread), other donut hotspots in the city(or lack thereof) and as is inevitable in Vancouver the price of housing. The owner’s and their friends who volunteered on this unexpectedly busy day chatted with the waiting crowd until an hour later, a vintage green Porsche arrive, with a rubber bin full of donuts.

We took home one of each flavour available: early gray, sweet heat, citrus zest, triple chocolate threat, carrot cake and a classic. We rushed home warm box in hands to devour two while they were still warm (the other four were going to some much deserved Hobbyists for dinnertime dessert). The first two we tried were delicious. The classic was just that: a plain donut with a slightly crispy, but moist vanilla bean glaze. The kind of donut that reminds you of your childhood, but just a little more gourmet. The outside of the citrus zest had that fantastic deep fried crunch with a moist cake inside. The zest was surprisingly potent, creating a sweet citrus tingle on your tongue. The two favourites at that night’s dinner party were the sweet heat and earl gray. The amount of heat in the sweet heat was pleasantly surprising. If you love a good chili/chocolate combination this is donut for you. The heat lingers and the cinnamon in the dusting rounds out this full flavour combination. The earl gray is beautiful looking and has a subtle but unmistakeable flavour. For this donut texture pulled it to the top of the list: soft crunch to the icing, crunchy donut outside and moist middle. If you like carrot cake you will like the carrot cake donut. We were missing the candied carrots and oats topping (they ran out) to give the donut that extra blast of carrot flavour. The triple chocolate was a little bit dry and heavy – our least favorite of the day. We will try it again – even a donut has an off day.

The donuterie has been open for 3 weeks. They have gone from making 60 donuts a day to over 700 – who knew Vancouver foodies were yearning for a great donut? Apparently the team at Cartems Donuterie did. If you are in the area stop by. We’ve already got a coffee and donut date planned for next weekend – so you can count us in as repeat customers.

Ever since we had their version of this soup at Edible Canada Bistro on Granville Island we’ve been utterly infatuated. Fitting that we post this recipe on Valentine’s Day because we are in love with this soup. Who knew that blue cheese and cauliflower were meant to be together. If you can get your hands on some bacon salt to garnish the top you won’t be disappointed. We haven’t tried using roasted cauliflower but think it would add terrific flavour. We will be sure to try it next time and report back. Paired with a delicious riesling (like the Pressing Matters R9 Riesling) or gewurztraminer and you have a great meal ahead of you.


1 medium head of cauliflower
1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp. smoked paprika
3 tsp. all purpose flour
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled
1 tsp. ground pepper
2-3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar


Chopped fresh chives, bacon salt and fresh extra virgin olive oil.


Break down the cauliflower into small florets. Over medium heat, melt butter in large saucepan. Add onion, leek, celery, and cauliflower. Cover and cook until onion is tender, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Add flour, paprika and pepper and stir for two minutes. Gradually stir in broth and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer until vegetables are tender and soup has begun to thicken (about 20 minutes). Puree soup in blender and return to saucepan. Bring to a simmer and gradually add the stilton cheese. Once the cheese has combined into the soup add the apple cider vinegar. Season to taste with white pepper and salt.