West End Bouncy Castle - Pure Self Promotion

Dear Fellow Readers,
Please disregard the following post if you are looking for a new recipe. I have some in the works so I promise I will start posting again. This post is about my little side business of bouncy castle rentals. It's my attempt to continue staying at home with my kids and still bring in a little grocery money. If you are looking for a solution to an approaching birthday party or family event, please continue reading.
My budding business is West End Bouncy Castle and we provide commercial grade inflatables for Toronto families. It makes a party with kids so effortless you may want to have a party everyday! I am so not exaggerating. Really I'm not.
While I'm at it I will also promote my husband's business as well. Anonymous, online customer feedback for the service industry at Virtual Comment Box. Now there are certainly a lot of restaurants and hotels that are in need of some feedback. Strive for excellence people. Don't hold back!
My self promotion post is now over. Now go make yourself a good meal and be done with it.



October is a busy month around here. Two of my daughters have their birthdays, there's Thanksgiving and then the ever entertaining Halloween. What is also awesome is Lindsey. She is a local baker in my neighbourhood who makes fantastic cakes like the one above. She's affordable and she delivers right to your door. Plus she's got the cutest little voice. You'd think she just inhaled some helium but really she sounds like that all the time. Maybe it's from all that flour and icing sugar she's consumed. What I like most about her is that I don't have to bake to have a great looking cake for my kid's birthday.
So happy birthday my Ruby and kudos to Lindsey and her fantastic blue ballerina birthday cake!

When I am forced to bake I always use the following fail safe icing recipe.

Chocolate Icing
from Marilyn Smith's ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health

2 tbsp unsalted non hydrogenated margarine
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 tbsp chocolate soy milk
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup natural cocoa powder

Heat margarine, chocolate, and soy milk over stove at low heat. Pour melted mixture into medium bowl. Add icing sugar and cocoa powder and beat until smooth. If it's too thick, add some more soy milk until desired consistency is reached. Spread over baked good or eat straight from the bowl.


The C Word

Yes, it's true, I haven't posted in a while. I have good reason. My mom's Lymphoma has morphed into Leukemia. Her doctor has advised her to get her will in order and gave her a life expectancy of less than two years. She consistently amazes me with her optimism and general perspective on life. She walked into the doctor's office expecting to be given months to live but instead has potential years. It's not good news but better than she'd hoped. As she put it, she's "had a good run of it".
I lost my dad suddenly almost a year ago. He was perky and over for dinner on Friday and dead by Monday. There was no chance to say goodbye.
Now the clock is ticking. I have one parent left and only for a short while. I really can't imagine a world without my mom, and it makes me cry every time I think about it. This whole death thing really sucks.
Through all the tears there are glimmers of joy. I am enjoying my husband, my mom and my kids more than ever. We all went out for dinner on Friday night and we laughed so hard I almost peed my pants and drooled ice cream at the same time.
My mom has taught me that life can always be harder. Recognize and enjoy the positives of your situation. Right now, at this minute, my mom is alive and well, and I'm going to see her tomorrow. I won't always get to say that, so I guess I'm having a pretty good day.

It's hard to know what pairs well with Leukemia. Pork chops seemed like a tasty option. I made these for my mom last week.

Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins
Tyler Florence Real Kitchen

Pork Chops
1 gallon of water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sea salt
1 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 fresh sprigs of thyme or rosemary
4 bone in pork chops
sea salt and fresh pepper
olive oil

Spiced Apples and Raisins
2 tbsp butter
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme or rosemary
1/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch of cardamon
pinch dry mustard
sea salt and fresh pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine water, sugar, salt, apple juice, peppercorns, and thyme in a large pot. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Submerge chops and put pot in fridge to tenderize the meat. Do not brine longer than 2 hours or your meat will get mushy.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sear pork chop in heavy skillet. Brown 4 minutes per side. Place in large baking pan and roast chops for 30 minutes or until done.

While the chops cook, melt butter in clean skillet over medium high heat. Add apples, and thyme, and coat in butter. Cook and stir for about 8 minutes. Throw the rest of the ingredients in the pan and stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples soften. Spoon spiced apples over pork chops and serve.


Haikus of My Summer So Far

Crap, it's summer break
Too many kids, too much time
September please come now

Crafts, parks, bikes, splash pads
I can do this, it won't beat me
Am I Supermom?

Burgers on the grill
Ketchup, mustard, relish, bun
Cold beer, I need some

Water and sunscreen
Cheese sticks, crackers, apples, lunch
Ferries, Centreville

Summer is fleeting
Precious time with my wee kids
It all goes too fast

Buttery Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1/3 cup butter
2 tbsp fresh minced rosemary
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until 3/4 cooked. Drain and set aside. On stove top, melt butter and add rosemary. Heat gently for 3-5 minutes. Toss potatoes with butter mixture and wrap in foil. Place on BBQ on medium/high heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.


Cancer Free Cobbler

I recently dropped off some food, including a peach and blackberry cobbler, at my friend's house. Her mom was going through chemo and she was worried. It's a scenario I know well. There's the diagnosis, the worry, the treatment, the sickness, and the ever present waiting. You are always waiting for more news, hoping it's good, anything but bad. The last thing you want to do is concern yourself with the mundane task of making dinner.

My friend got good news the other day. Her mom's treatment was a success. Some think it was the chemo, but my bet is with the cobbler.

Cancer Free Cobbler

2 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 cup of blackberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of salt

1 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
1/3 cup yoghurt

Preheat oven to 425 F, and place rack on lower level. Toss peaches and blackberries in sugar and let sit for 30 minutes. Drain fruit and save juice. Whisk 1/4 cup of juice with corn starch, lemon, and salt, and mix with fruit. Place fruit mixture in a greased glass pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
With a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter and pulse until grainy. Transfer to a bowl and mix in yoghurt. Form six dough balls and place on fruit mixture. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 minutes, and let cool 20 minutes. Enjoy.
Sorry about my lack of a cobbler photo but it was eaten too quickly.