• Life

    Brave No More

    It’s St Patrick’s Day and usually I would be thinking of Ireland and my pals there but the only thing on my mind today, again, is New Zealand and the terrible events of the past week. I was born in England and I live in Canada now…but I spent 45 years of my life in New Zealand and identify as a Kiwi. I am proud of that heritage. On Thursday night I saw the news via a post from Gracie, my niece, and had all the same shocked reaction as everyone. No need to describe the disbelief, fear and panic I felt – we ALL did.   Inadvertently one of…

  • ricotta lemon
    Recipes

    Heavenly Lemon Ricotta Cookies

    Lemon is one of my favourite ingredients for both cooking and baking. My lemon cupcakes were for sure one of my personal favourites and by far the most fiddly and complex: a rich lemon cake, filled with home made lemon curd, glazed with lemon syrup, frosted with a rich buttery frosting and topped with a slice of candied lemon. Today I made Lemon Ricotta Cookies..a Giada De Laurentiis recipe I knew they were going to be gorgeous when I looked at the batter. I tasted it (quite a lot) and it was delicious! The Ricotta makes the mixture very moist and light. I was very generous with the lemon juice.…

  • Recipes

    Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

    GLUTEN FREE – EGG FREE – DAIRY FREE and DELICIOUS!   I had 2 groups of people recently staying for several days and two (one from each group) was gluten free, AND dairy and egg free. I’ve got GF and DF pancakes down to a fine art. People always ask for seconds, but I wanted to do some baking for them too. I came upon an oatmeal recipe I liked the look of (probably because it had coconut in it) so I set about making the cookies. When I had the cookie dough all ready to measure out onto the baking tray I had a dizzy moment and threw a…

  • Life

    For The Birds

    I don’t call myself a “birder” (heaven forbid) but I do love my wildbirds: we’ve counted 25 different birds who’ve visited our feeders and property. Man, they cost us a pretty penny too: I go through a 20lb bag of seed every 2 weeks then there are big sacks of whole peanuts, suet blocks by the dozen and woodpecker seed and nut squares. My guests LOVE the birds and many of them spend hours taking pictures of them. Europeans are particularly crazy about hummingbirds, as they’re native to the Americas. I love seeing some of the amazing “traveler photos” on tripadvisor on my B&B page. Jim built a great feeding…

  • Recipes

    Pear & Pecan Ricotta Galette

    This pie was almost like a “Pantry Challenge”: I bought a huge bag of pears on special at Superstore and wanted to make something that would be good for breakfast. I also had ricotta in the fridge – I bought it at Costco for gnocchi and of course only needed ONE of the 2 tubs, so finding a use for the second one was becoming critical. I scoured dozens of recipes…and finally settled on a pear and ricotta galette which I adapted to make it more “Canadian”, eh. In other words I swapped out the walnuts in the original recipe for pecans. What I love about this pie is that…

  • Recipes

    Egg Free Banana & Coconut Pancakes

    One of the questions I ask guests before they arrive is “do you have any allergies or food preferences?” It is so much better to be prepared and nothing worse than being told right before breakfast that someone is lactose intolerant or allergic to eggs. I prepare my buttermilk pancake batter the night before so it can do its bubbly, ferment-y thing. So when the nice German couple arrived home from dinner and Stephi told me she was lactose intolerant I had to find a plan B. I had coconut milk. I love coconut. I found lots of coconut pancake recipes but after reading them I wasn’t really convinced any…

  • Crafty

    Crystal Towers

    A few years ago I saw some of these cool glass towers or “totems” on Etsy and Pinterest – and then I was having my nails done at Carolyn Manchulenko‘s house and she had made a couple of beautiful, elegant and quite whimsical ones…which of course got me inspired. Our balcony is 55 ft long and it seemed like a great idea for my pot plants, so I made a bunch of them. Six summers later and most of them are still intact. When they break, I throw them out. This little red one (above) is the first I ever made – I’d had the little cake plate for ages…

  • Recipes

    Lovecakes Gourmet Cupcakes

    Lovecakes Bakery was a huge part of my life for several years and I got so much satisfaction from seeing people truly enjoying my baking and being thrilled and amazed by the decorating. I cringe, absolutely squirm in my seat, when I see pics of some of my earliest icing attempts. Dear Lord. But I did get better and since there is no longer any record, anywhere, of my creations (I’ve closed the website and facebook pages) I thought I’d post some of my favourite cake pictures here for posterity. And this one deserves its own moment of glory! Breakfast cupcake with maple buttercream frosting topped with candied bacon and…

  • Recipes

    Blueberry Lemon Glazed Scones

    Sometimes I think I’ve actually become my mother because I make scones now once or twice every week. My Grandmother was a dab hand at baking scones and hers were deliciously flaky and loaded with plump sultanas. She served them warm with lashings of butter. I am pretty sure she baked them practically every day. Only one of her daughters had the slightest interest in cooking or baking and luckily for me, that was my Mum. She would knock up a batch of scones at the drop of a hat…usually they were fruit (of the dried variety) though sometimes she’d make cheese ones at lunchtime. Yummy. I used to always…

  • Life

    Gifts From Abby

    Our friend, Angie, lost her beloved best friend last week and it affected me deeply because it brought back the loss of our dear, sweet, unique and very naughty Abby. Abby was not a rescue dog from a shelter, but it transpires that we actually DID rescue her from, what we later discovered, a puppy mill. She was the runt of the litter, and was so cute, she really chose herself. She was a shih tzu/yorkie cross and we were smitten, as you are, with her puppy antics. Seven years later, she still entertained us with her puppy antics. She was incredibly playful and had a vast collection of toys:…