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Bread and Sons is a wonderful little bakery in Centretown. It’s the perfect spot to pick up some mid-morning treats, a delicious lunch or even a pizza on a Friday night. Actually, one of my favourite maternity-leave moments was right at the end of my leave when my daughter was in daycare – I met a friend for coffee and some treats at Bread and Sons. It was sunny and warm, so we sat on the small tables outside the bakery and chatted for close to two hours. We each grabbed a second coffee and additional treats as we people-watched and talked about graphic novels, school and work. Some people might complain that there is not enough seating but I actually like this feature. It means that there is a high turnover rate for their coffee and baked goods and everything is super fresh. The busy atmosphere means you need to decide quickly what you’d like to eat. Also, it forces you to get outside and enjoy the bustle of the downtown core. Another plus of this bakery – they try to source as many local ingredients as possible – they even have a map painted on their wall with their local vendors displayed! And, if you’re eating vegan they offer almond milk for your coffee which is a great perk since most places only offer soy milk.  Overall, I think it’s a great place to stop and get breakfast or lunch. Below, I’ve reviewed a few of my favourite foods from Bread and Sons.Bread and Sons Muffin and Cofee

Breakfast

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins
By far my favourite vegan offering at the bakery. Moist, sweet (but not too sweet) with crunchy pumpkin seeds on the top. Get there in the morning before they all sell out. Perfect for fall or anytime of the year.

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Cookie
Delicious! These don’t look the prettiest, are little on the pricey side and chances are they will leave chocolate all over your hands as you eat them but they are well worth the mess and the price.

Lunch

Pizza – All the World’s Green – Vegan
Before going dairy-free I loved all of their vegetarian pizzas – they have the right balance of cheese to toppings to crust. I never paid attention to the vegan choice assuming it was boring. Turns out this is one of the best choices for pizza regardless of whether or not you are avoiding dairy. It has kale, spinach, arugula, red onions, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted garlic, red peppers, olives and mushrooms. I know, it sounds busy but as a vegan I loved the variety on the pizza – the greens are in perfect harmony with the mushrooms and the olives. And, I adore the taste of the roasted garlic. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the pizzas are named after Tom Waits songs.

Sandwich – Avocado
A great sandwich, actually one of my favourite lunch choices. The avocado is always perfectly salted, the bread is always tasty and the sunflower seeds are a great surprise when eating the sandwich. Well worth the price.

Salad – Avocado and Roasted Tofu
This is the one lunch choice that is “just okay” in my opinion. The tofu is a little bland although perfectly pressed. The avocado shines as the star.

Overall – great place to go for breakfast or lunch.  Highly recommended.

My daughter started daycare the other day and it was difficult for both of us.  It was her second day and when I arrived she was the only baby there.  Our primary daycare worker held out her arms to grab my baby and said, “Go take a walk, take an hour or two to yourself – leave her with me so that we can bond.”  It wasn’t what I expected.  I expected to spend an hour or two at the daycare with my daughter getting her acquainted with the space.  And, as I walked out the door I didn’t know what to do with myself.  In my mind I debated about grabbing a coffee, shopping for some records (there is a great music store in the neighbourhood) or browsing at the local library.  But, I knew that I would be anxious if I did any of these things.  So instead, I decided to do something productive for my daughter.  I went to the grocery store to buy her favourite foods.  I loaded up on colourful organic carrots, candy-cane striped beets, lovely sweet potatoes, delicious apples, and reliable bananas.  I picked out three new foods for her to try – tomatoes, green beans, and millet (one food at a time).  I took them home and started to cook – I wanted to have a nice meal ready for her when she came home from her stressful day.

I mention this story because while my daughter was starting her daycare journey I was reading Cooking for Gracie: The Making of a Parent from Scratch by Keith Dixon.  In this memoir the author recounts his experience with cooking during the first year of his daughter’s life.  He writes about how important cooking was to him to develop a bond between himself and his daughter.   He recounts his experience trying to get his timing right with various recipes so that his dinners did not burn while the baby was having a melt-down.  As a new parent I could relate to his stories; I found myself nodding in agreement and reading passages aloud to my partner as if to say, “see we’re not the only ones who experienced this or worried about that.”  I could relate to the feeling of pride when you cook something your child seems to really like.

This is an excellent book for anyone that loves to cook and is a new parent.  I think that everyone can relate to the author’s stories about sleep deprivation and how it affects your ability to complete even the simplest tasks (like cooking dinner!).  But, I have a confession – while I earmarked a number of the author’s recipes to return to and try, I never cooked a recipe out of his book.  I find my schedule now is all about making meals that my daughter, my partner, and I enjoy, so I’m tending to cook familiar and easy recipes.

What I liked about the cookbook portion of this book:

  • Recipes that have been tested by a new parent with instructions that are helpful for time management.
  • Separate instructions on how to make a portion of what you are eating for your baby.

What I disliked:

  • Lots of meat recipes (obviously if you are a meat-eater this won’t be a problem.)
  • A bit ambitious for a cookbook geared toward new parents – I never made homemade pasta before my daughter was born and I’m sure as heck not going to start now.

Borrow this book from your local library. Or buy a copy for an expectant mom or dad who loves to cook.

Title: Cooking for Gracie: The Making of a Parent from Scratch

Authors: Keith Dixon

Publisher: Crown (May 10 2011)

ISBN: 978-0307591876

Well, you may have noticed that it has been a while since I posted on here.  I totally have a legitimate excuse.  Our little family of two has become a family of 3!  Since our little lady arrived cooking has become more of chore than it was before – even when I was pregnant the idea of coming up with original recipes (and taking pictures and writing them out) for this blog just seemed like too much work.  When the little lady was a newborn we were living off of soups and stews that I froze before her birthday, now that’s she is eating solid food my time is spent making separate meals for her.  But, I miss blogging – I miss sharing about food – having conversations about good food, good cookbooks and good recipes so I want to continue working on this blog.  I don’t think I’ll be posting many original recipes on here but I will post about food related events, cookbook reviews, and maybe even some restaurant reviews sometime soon too.  Looking forward to getting back into the blogging world.  Cheers!

Caramelized hazelnuts for my "Sweet Winter Slaw"

This past weekend, we held our 3rd potluck for our book club.  This time we selected the cookbook  – Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Quinoa salad with lime prepared by Angela

I received a copy of this cookbook for my birthday last year and it has easily become one of my go-to cookbooks.  I’ve made a number of dishes out of it and when company is coming it is the first cookbook I pull off my shelves to plan with.  The quality the recipes produce are consistently delicious and pretty.

The day of the potluck all the dishes were amazing.  While there were minor complaints about the clarity of the cookbook there were no disasters and very few people needed to adjust their recipes.  My friend Sarah who hosted, set up her dining room so it was like a big buffet table and her home was a welcoming place to share a meal.  The group not only talked about food, but also about family, travel, and summer plans.  We also discussed the new gourmet doughnut shop, Suzy Q, that just opened in Hintonburg.  The feeling of community is one of the great things about being together and sharing a meal like this.

How did the cookbook fare in our conversation?  Overall, everyone seemed to like this cookbook.  Some people even mentioned buying a copy if they didn’t already have one.   Below I break down some of my likes and dislikes:

Stuffed peppers prepared by Anna (from Ottolenghi's recipes on the Guardian's website)

What I liked about this cookbook:

  • Great flavour combinations – if I was cooking for someone who was not a vegetarian I could use pretty much any recipe in this cookbook to impress them.  Also, as someone who has been cooking vegetarian for many years I’ve seen a lot of standard flavour combinations:  white beans and kale, mozzarella and tomato, etc).  Ottolenghi adds something strange to these standard flavours and the recipes end up working in his favour.
  • Home-cooked versions of the recipes actually look like the photos in the cookbook!
  • The recipes are organized by vegetable which is really handy if you do your shopping at a farmers market and pick up random beautiful vegetables intending to improve with them!

Roasted cauliflower gigli with pine nuts and currants prepared by Katrina

What I disliked:

  • This cookbook is written for someone who really knows their way around a kitchen.  While the instructions are well written they could be a little more detailed. A novice cook might become overwhelmed or worse yet start a kitchen fire with Ottolenghi’s instructions on how to caramelize.  Ottolenghi admits in one of his headnotes that he forgot an important step in one of his recipes that appeared in the Guardian. He forgot to write that you need to stab an eggplant with a fork before roasting it to let the steam out. He received many complaints from people who had eggplants explode in their oven!  That being said, with the recipes I’ve made so far out of the cookbook I’ve been okay.
  • My friend, Angela said this cookbook should be called “Plenty of Time” because the recipes take a long time to prepare.  Also, the recipes do not include an estimated time to prepare which is pretty standard in a lot of cookbooks now.  It’s true without a sous-chef the recipes will take some time to prepare but it just means I wouldn’t use this cookbook for a weeknight.
  • Many of the recipes will not make a whole meal and there are not a lot of menu suggestions.  So, you need plan your menu wisely.

Highly recommended to buy!

Surprise tatin prepared by Cara

Title: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London’s Ottolenghi

Authors: Yotam Ottolenghi

Publisher: Chronicle Books; Reprint edition (Mar 9 2011)

ISBN: 9781452101248

This past weekend some of my friends from undergrad made the trek from Guelph and Toronto to visit us here in Ottawa.  When friends come to visit I love showing off our best local venues for food and drink.  This time we had amazing meals at both Chez Lucien and The Manx. We picked up some seasonal beers from Beau’s to enjoy and luckily for us on Friday night Chez Lucien had Kichesippi’s 1855 on tap.

1855 is easily one of my favourite local beers.  I usually don’t drink dark beer but the 1855 is more amber than dark and I find it very easy to drink and refreshing.  It pairs well with most foods because the taste is not overly complex and the after-taste is slightly bitter but pleasant.  I paired my pint with the vegetarian chilli and some sweet music from the jukebox.  A great meal, a nice beer and some good conversation with friends was the perfect way to spend the early evening waiting out the snow-storm.

Originally, when my friends first booked their trip to Ottawa we had planned to spend one day skating on the canal.  Since the weather didn’t work out in our favour we needed something to do on Saturday.  Friday we had spent some time at the National Gallery and we wanted to do something else inside that was not a museum.  As we were planning all the possibilities I happened on the Kichesippi website.  Kichesippi offers tours on Saturdays – and as an added bonus for someone who does not have a car – it is within walking/busing distance from the Wellington West area!

Our tour guide was awesome – she was super friendly and answered all my random questions about mashing, fermentation, and carbonating beer.

Cooler where they store the delicious kegs of beer

Beer is constantly brewing here – it only takes 15 days to condition/age a batch of the Natural Blonde but the demand for this brew is growing all the time.  This micro-brewery will need to get some bigger digs soon enough!

Where they add the yeast and age/condition the beer

It was really nice to hear what a strong emphasis Kichesippi places on connecting with the local community.  Local farmers feed the leftover grains to cows, local musicians cook with it, and they always seem to be available at fun music events here in the City.

One exciting thing we learned during the tour is that Kichesippi will be selling their Natural blonde pale ale in 6 packs at local LCBOs (see details here)!

(Also as a side note if you have a chance go see the clock piece at the national Gallery – it is mesmerizing!)

Cookie exchange

Cookies

Last weekend I went to a small and intimate cookie exchange hosted by my friend and fellow blogger Cara of the Polka Dot Apron.  For my contribution I made:  Snowball cookies and Vegan chocolate covered cookie dough.  I liked both but not as much as the other cookies at the exchange. While the snowball cookies were tasty I think they would have benefited from some coconut added to the mix.  And, the chocolate covered cookie dough was overly rich for my taste.  But that being said, I think I will make them again  – maybe with peanut butter cookie dough next time.   As a side note,  these recipes called for coconut oil.  I saw some at Herb and Spice the week before but refused to pay the price they were charging.  When I settled on making these cookies I changed my mind and decided to suck it up. But when I returned to Herb and Spice they were sold out!  Luckily for me, the Natural Food Pantry in Westboro had some.  Even more lucky for me it was on sale!  Long story short:  if you are looking for coconut oil, the natural food pantry is the place to go.

 

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