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Christmas is almost here!!! Can you believe only 6 more sleeps!?! Need some recipe ideas or DIY foodie gift ideas?? C’est Bon Cooking and Constantly Cooking have you covered. What can I offer??? Well…

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I  have a picture of Jamie Oliver in a Christmas Sweater! That’s pretty good too.

I also have a pretty interesting tick I picked up while doing some reading and research on salt. I’d like to make a sarcastic remark here about it being super interesting… but it actually was. Hate when a joke is ruined by the truth. Dang.

Anyway, here goes. If you want to chill wine fast, add ice to a bucket and pout 1/4 cup of salt on the ice. It will lower the melting point of the ice creating more of an ice bath that will surround your wine bottle. Just put in your bottle of wine that needs chilling and it will be ready in about 6 minutes time!

Salt, what can’t you do??

Here is hoping you all have a relaxing and joyous holiday and that you get to spend it with the ones you love the most in the world. Cheers!

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say that my dog, Lemon, isn’t quite right mentally. I often make jokes that his parents were first cousins, or that he was dropped on his head when he was a baby. But the truth is… Lemon has extreme anxiety.

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It’s something that he has had since I first got him at 8 weeks old and I suspect he was born with it. Either that or the thought of having to live with me for the rest of his life damaged him in deep, scarring ways.

Here is a list of things Lemon is frightened of just off the top of my head. There are probably loads more – but these are the main ones:

– keys
– utensils
– wine bottles clanking together
– plastic bags
– paper bags
– the sound of anything sautéing on the stove
– the sound of water boiling
– wheels of all kinds from cars to granny shopping carts
– all large vehicles
– bath time
– water (that you would go in, not drink)
– hair cuts
– nail clippers
– car rides

Recently it has gotten a lot worse. His list started to include:

– sunlight
– being anywhere except in his crate

What’s dog anxiety look like?? Well, for Lemon it includes licking his paw obsessively (it used to be until he bled, but luckily that has stopped), tail between the legs, and trying to make himself as small as possible while shaking and quietly whimpering and sometimes making himself sick.

After a couple weeks of not seeing him. And having to carry him outside where he would reluctantly go to the bathroom then try to run back inside. I knew I had to do something. Luckily my brother and his wife really know their dogs so I was pointed in the direction of the latest in dog anxiety treatment.

Lemon

Better days

It might sound ridiculous… and I will say I scoffed at the idea, but it’s called a Thundershirt. I never wanted to dress my dog up. I thought it was a waste of money. Even though I’m sure he would rock a bowtie like no body’s business… I am, above all things, cheap. I mean… practical. So first I made him one… I cut strips off of one of my t-shirts and made him a homemade straight jacket.

To my utter amazement. It worked. Apparently the gentle constant pressure works like swaddling a baby… or a Jodi in a snuggy.

So I went out to get him a real one so he wouldn’t look so silly. No one should be seen in public in a homemade straight jacket. There I found calming treats and spray. He hates the spray (which works by combining pheromones with lavender and chamomile) but I like the way it smells, so too bad buster. But the treats make a significant difference.

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I may be bias… but I think he rocks that Thundershirt.

The combination of all three has us going for walks again, sitting on the couch to cuddle while watching movies and over all just a much better behaved dog.

Another thing he really seems to like is the scent of vanilla. I made a French toast loaf the other day, recipe below, and found him sitting in front of the oven while it cooked. And yes… I joined him. Because it really does make your house smell fantastic.

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A warm, sticky mess of goodness… just like Lemon!

French Toast Loaf

1/2 loaf of bread
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP vanilla
1/2 cup apples cut into small cubes or dried fruit like cranberries
pinch of salt

1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, milk, first amount of cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and a pinch of salt. Tear the bread into chunks and add to the egg mixture. Allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes to soak up all the eggy goodness. You can leave it overnight at this point if you want.

Add the fruit – stir to combine and dump the whole mixture into a loaf pan or muffin tins that have been sprayed with oil, lightly.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, salt and second amount of cinnamon in a separate bowl. Pour over top of the bread/egg mixture in the loaf pan.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes until the egg has set. Serve to your bestest buddy.

Here is something you may not know about me, internet friends. When I am left alone to eat – it is disgusting. I eat quickly. And messily. Like a dog trying to scarf down something dead and decaying it found in a bush before you can get it out of his mouth. (That may have happened while walking Lemon one day… was my birthday last year if I remember correctly. Little guy just trying to get me a gift.)

I simply do not eat food when there is no one around to judge me. Half of me attempts to inhale large portions at once… while the other tries to absorb food that has landed on my face, neck, legs and hands through the skin. All the while just taking shots of the condiments straight from the container. I tell ya… there is something about soya sauce straight from the bottle.

It is quite a sight.

So believe me when I tell you that I’m practiced with the art of stain removal.

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I’m going to go ahead and guess melted butter from popc… no, no! A Bagel!

Here are a few things I’ve learned about how to get out tough stains.

1 – The sooner you realize that you have salsa all down the front of your dress, the better. Try to get to it as quickly as possible. If you don’t carry those little tide pens, try to keep the stain wet. It’s harder to get to once it sets. Should it dry, scrape off what you can before starting to clean.

2 – Pick the right drying method. After you wash the stained clothing, make sure you check the stain before you dry it. A drier, it can cause the stain to set, but if you put a little white vinegar or lemon juice on it and dry the item in direct sunlight it can cause it to fade. Keep in mind, fading might not be what you want with a dark coloured pair of jeans. At the very least, give it one more go with a stain fighter and some extra detergent before drying it.

3 – Dish soap does wonders for grease spots. Little melted butter or olive oil doesn’t stand a chance with a bit of dishwashing liquid. I have used it as a pre-treater before throwing the clothes in the washer, have also used it to spot clean my shirt. Depends which meal I have just dribbled down the front of my shirt and how much time I have to change.

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So happy it is clean again! Heaven forbid I have to start wearing a bib.

4 – Do not use soap on sticky fruit stains. It can actually do more harm than good. In this case look for detergent, an enzyme presoak product is perfect in the warmest water approved for the type of fabric. If you don’t get all the sugar out, it can leave a brown stain as it caramelizes with the heat from an iron or the drier.

5 – For tomato based sauce stains (pretty much 75% of my stains), soak in cool water with 1/2 tsp dishwashing liquid and 1 TBSP vinegar for 30 minutes. Rinse. If it is still there rub a little bit of laundry detergent on the spot and let sit for 10 minutes before throwing it in with the rest of your laundry.

Which food stain gives you the most trouble?

I think we’ll all agree that the nice summer weather was late to the party this year. As such, I found myself somewhat recently making soup. Onion soup no less.

I make this soup all the time. So much so, that 10 year old – onion hating me, would be shocked. Dismayed even.

So why, when for once, I was planning to share said soup with visitors did I decided I would try to change it up?? The only word that comes to mind is stupidity. In my quest to somehow make my favourite soup better – I destroyed it.

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You had such promise onions on their way to being caramelized… but then you met me… woopsie.

Onion soup is ridiculously easy to make. In its most basic form you caramelize some onions and add water on top… let it simmer away until magnificent. If you like, you can substitute wine or broth or beer for the water. But BE CAREFUL.

This is where I made my mistake. In place of some of the water I decided to add some beer. In it went, before I tasted it. Like I said… stupid. It was an incredibly bitter beer. Which of course, made an incredibly bitter soup.

I had a couple of hours before the girls arrived for dinner. Enough time to try three techniques to save the soup and therefore the dinner. In the interest of saving you the time of doing an internet search – here are your options when you have an incredibly bitter soup to deal with.

Option 1 – Add a little sugar. This works well if the bitter taste isn’t too overwhelming. A little maple in a parsnip or carrot soup can actually be quite lovely. Add a TBSP of sugar to the pot. Stir and wait 2 minutes. Then give it another taste?? Still bitter – don’t add more sugar! Strangely enough something can be sweet with a bitter after taste… also known as bad.

Option 2 – Remove 1/2 the liquid and replace with new broth or water. This will only help if the bitterness is in the liquid. If it is because you have slightly burnt your meat or vegetables before they went in, or the veggies themselves were just bitter (not uncommon for older root veg) this is not going to help much if at all.

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Looks pretty good… but I assure you it tasted like poison.

Option 3 – Call it. It’s dead. Time to start again. Sometimes, as painful as it is that you have just wasted that time, money and food… not to mention that you perhaps have already cleaned up and it’s time to get dirty again, you just have to do it. In my case this is the road I ended up having to travel. Though there wasn’t enough time… or onions for that matter (and honestly by this point it had gotten warmer and I wasn’t feeling soup so much anyways – aka I dumped you not other way around soup). So my ‘fix’ was to make salad instead.

Of course… had I tasted the beer before it went into the soup… or attempted to remove all the liquid and start again right from the start I wouldn’t have been in this mess. But as I said in the beginning… stupidity was the name of the game.

recipes

Every now and then, or basically every 20 minutes since I started using pintrest, I come across something hilarious on the interweb that I just want to share with everyone! Today I’m reaching beyond my circle of facebook friends to show you this amazing recipe I found. For ice cubes. Why would anyone take the time to write and post the recipe for making ice??

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Been there lady.

So the recipe for ice itself is smirk worthy.

photo 2But in the grand tradition of internet jokes such as binder of women, banana slicer, and the grand-daddy of them all… 3 wolf moon shirt, The punch line is in the comments. Here are a couple choice ones. For the full joke check out food.com

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I keep reading this next one with different accents in my head and laughing until it hurts… yeah… I need something better to do with my time. photo 5

Today is my day off and it is a lovely one. Full of puppy cuddles and walks, sunshine and this really amazing beer documentary that I had to share with you! I’m sure that my beer loving friends may have already seen it. In fact I seem to remember Shaun and Amanda recommending it to me some time ago… but I think there is something for everyone to love!!

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That’s right Tracey… there were other photos like this out there.

Did you know that beer is responsible for the creation and development of the written word, farming and math?!?! Seriously. Stuff like that blows my mind. And as someone who enjoys a good beer (can’t be wine all the time people… it just can’t. What if the white isn’t cold enough yet? Back up plans save lives), this 45 minute documentary is really entertaining.

As a side note I LOVE the narrator. He sounds like he is doing movie trailer announcement for spoof movies, or 1950’s Grindhouse films. Amazing.

I’ve mentioned that I’m a world class procrastinator. Part of that is the uncanny ability to distract myself with anything.

Back in 1997 that ‘anything’ was the internet. Ooohhh baby that was amazing to a 13 year old kid in the country with nothing better to do. It was dial up, so it took forever, but waiting for things to load was part of the game.

During this time I would make myself some pretty simple things to eat. You know, typical kid crap. KD, grilled cheese and my favourite, which was an entire broccoli and cheddar rice side dish that I would just eat as a meal.

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It was only a matter of time until one day I was making said meal, and also trying to chat/play on the net in the back room. This of course led to me burning about a 1/2 inch of butter, milk and rice to the bottom of one of our pots. Cue panic. What the hell was I going to do?? So I called my best friend – who’s Mom happened to be a Chef. I explained what I did and asked what I could do.

The answer was simple. Scrape out what you can – fill with water and add a few spoonfuls of baking soda. Put the pot back on the stove and let it heat up the water a bit. Not boiling but enough so that the warm water can start to break up the stuck on food.

Worked like a charm.

I use that trick all the time now on all my heavily caked on baking and cooking disasters.

Best part of all, baking soda is cheap. When you use as much of it as I do… that is a very good thing.

recipes

Everyone is good at something. I am a spectacular procrastinator. Spectacular. But sometimes that isn’t a good thing. Say, hypothetically of course, you were baking brownies and you didn’t check in on them maybe as much as you should…. and they are dry. Not burnt mind you. But so dry that you can’t even cut them with any kind of knife. They could be used as a weapon.

Luckily, the second thing I’m good at is fixing my fuck-ups. It might not be what you originally intended but it is way better than those bricks you call brownies.

First step: If there is anything salvageable – scrape it off and put it in a bowl.

Step two: Add a few tablespoons of butter in little pieces all over the dried, stuck to your pan brownies. Put them in the oven at 200 degrees until the butter melts.

Step three: the melted butter will loosen up that brownie no matter how much you swore it was never, ever, coming off the pan. Put those scrapings in the bowl with the other brownie pieces. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look pretty.

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Step four: Add one egg and 1/2 cup of milk for every 1 cup of dried brownie pieces. Add a splash of vanilla. I realize these aren’t exact instructions, but not following instructions properly is most of the reason we are in this situation in the first place.

Step five: put them in a muffin tin or ramekins that has been sprayed with oil. Bake at 350 degrees until the liquid has evaporated and the texture is like a soft muffin.

Step six: enjoy your now soft and awesome brownie bread pudding… because that is exactly what you meant to make.

I Say Random Things On Twitter…

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Instagram Photo Oddness...

Ah crap... Just a smidge too long under the broiler. Summoning up my inner Julia Child for the umpteen time today. .
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#turkey #sesoning #pastry #quiche #wfd #wfl #brunch #juliachild #wwjcd #whatwouldjuliachilddo Turkey Sesoning spiced savoury pie pastry!

Half is being frozen for chicken pot pie later in the week and half is being turned into a smoked cheddar, ham quiche. Knowing me...it will look "rustic". ;) #spice #spiceshop #fresh #organic #handblended #ottawaeats #brunch #wfl #wfd #dayinthekitchen This is an accurate representation of my day. The cherry on an invigorating and simultaneously exhausting week. 
Equal parts good and bad, high and low, home and work. #momboss needs a #coffee lol

Past Foodie Adventures…