Lovin’ Vancouver! Our favorite places : the Secret Garden

It’s a restaurant, it’s a shop, it’s a destination, it’s an event – the Secret Garden!

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Every year for the past 5 or so years, I have taken the girls to the Secret Garden for “start of summer” lunch. Well, ok, I’ll admit we go a lot more often than that… But we love it! It’s quaint, it’s pretty, it’s YUMMY. What more do we gals need??

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They do serve “high tea”, which you MUST rsvp for. It’s a real treat, but don’t let those tiny little sandwhiches deceive you – it’s filling. We have never – ever – finished the entire thing. We generally order breakfast : french toasted croissants or apple pancakes; lunch : shrimp salad on croissant with roasted tomato soup; or demi-high tea : a smaller sampling, also very filling, of the yummy tiny creations.

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Yum.

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The tea is a pleasure, too. Lots of great flavors, although I must say I always order the same thing. I’m a real creature of habit – either vanilla or strawberry rooibos. Hmmmmm. It comes in your own individual little pot and they refill your hot water frequently.

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Their wall of teas – you can go sniff ’em out before you order your flavor. Or take some to go, like I did – Buckingham Palace and Secret Garden teas. Hmmm.

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My favorite part?? THE SHOPPING, of course! Throughout the middle of the store and the cash area (of course) are alllll kinds of cute little things TO BUY! Especially handy if you know or have any wee girls, but I always seem to find something pour moi. Oui!

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We were stuffed and had to take our desserts to go. The puffy thing w the gooseberry on top is TO DIE FOR YUMMY! Well, maybe not, but it’s super super yummy.

Definately one of our absolute favorite places in Vancouver.
To get in on a weekend, you almost have to make a reservation or JUST happen to hit it between high tea sittings. They only take rsvp’s for high tea, so you  may as well just make one and have high tea ;-). Oh, the sacrifices.

Enjoy!

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Food, Glorious FOOD!

Haven’t had TONS of time to cook this past year, but we still see to manage to eat well !

p3300002Grilled trout, with lemons + parsley

p4130006Eldest daughter, B’s from-scratch Angel Food cake – YUM!

p41400251MMMmmmm – crabbies and clammies, in hot garlicy butter, with caesar (of course!) and fresh-squeezed lemonade to boot!

p4140014Even Boo is getting all gourmet – care for a San Pellegrino anyone? That trip to Italy really stuck with him…

p4130047And you know it’s warming up (slightly) when the roasting of the sh’mallows begins… perfect toastiness is an art form ;-).

Happy Eating from our house to yours!

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Other posts you might enjoy:

Family Dinners

The Wonderfully Versatile Baguette

Dinners around the World – France Edition

Family Dinners

If you’ve read any of my site, you know by now I love food. Good food – not just any food, although I have been known to eat the odd Big Mac. One of the other things I love is my family, so it goes without question that eating food with my entire family is bliss.

While we generally all eat breaky at different times, the boys and I last at around 8:30am (gotta LOVE homeschooling!!), and we’re usually apart at work/school/out for lunches, but dinner is ALWAYS our together time.

I love that we always eat dinner together as a family, even if it’s only a 15-minute dinner between various volleyball practices. I don’t even mind that it’s sometimes rushed, as long as we’re together.

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And because it means so much to me, I usually find a way to make it special. With a special dish, with special place settings, with special fancy lemonade drinks, whatever I can find, even if it’s just set at the kitchen island.

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For the ceasar salad recipe, go here.

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This was a “fancier” dinner, but sometimes I set the table like this for no reason. Or because it’s Wednesday. Or because I had nothing else to do while my roast cooked. Well, not with the centerpiece, but you get the idea.

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Sometimes it’s just soup and sandwhiches, in pretty little new bowls for spring…

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A pretty table makes for a little celebration.
And, any time my family is together for a meal, it’s a little celebration!

Enjoy a dinner with your family!

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Other posts you might enjoy:
The Diet – Spreadsheet version
Happy Valentine
Dinners Around the World – France Edition

The Diet – Spreadsheet version

I’ve been doing ongoing “healthy eating” research to come up with a diet plan for myself, and my family.
It’s all this “at home” time since I’ve stopped working as much – I can always find projects to be done.

Anywho, I developed this spreadsheet based on a few popular eating diets.
If you understand nutrition, it’ll be easy – enough – to follow. If not, just nod your head and smile.
A meal plan index is soon to come that should be FAR easier to relate to!

Do note, that as no one in my family is currently under any immediate health concerns, I don’t plan to follow ANY plan absolutely 100%. My personal hope is to follow strict – buy yummy – eating habits most of the time, and still enjoy a completely banned meal once in awhile. Who, really, could ever give up goat cheese? Or white wine? Ahhhh, food.

In general we keep our dinners mostly to a portioned size of meat and bowlfuls of veggies, which seems to follow every diet listed.
I rarely eat fruits anyhow, but when I do I now try to keep mostly to the “supers” – blueberries, cranberries, goji’s, things like that.
We’ve tossed all our white rice for wild brown and I LOVE it so much more.
I need to sort out still appropriate breaky’s + lunches, so that’s my next step.

Anyhow, for all/any interested, here is my research to date!
(Aaaaannd, if I were a little more tech-savy, I’d have a downloadable pdf. But I’m not. If anyone knows how I do this, feel free to let me know!).

foods-1foods-2foods-3foods-4If you’re a vegetarian, you’re on your own figuring out how to use this matrix ;-). I’m not familiar with meat-substitutes and don’t eat many a bean.

More to follow!

Enjoy!

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Other posts you might enjoy:
The Diet – update
The Diet – or just plain eating healthier
Dinners Around the World : France Edition

10 Things I LOVE : 09.03 Recipes!

I had a usual post of my 10 Favorite Things all set up, but I felt like posting my favorite recipes instead.
I grew up hating cooking, not wanting to be chained to a stove cooking for some man while his feet were up and his newspaper out. God is laughing at me. Again. I do ALL the cooking now for ALL 6 of us.

It came upon me slowly – my brother taught me a few things, I dated a chef or two, I lit the odd kitchen fire, took a few cooking classes, and spent my entire salary on expensive restaurants. That was my 10 years of single life. I loved it!

Then I got married to a wonderful Hubby and two kids, and began to realize I enjoyed cooking FAR more than doing dishes, so that’s how we split up the chores. Besides, we could no longer afford to eat out three meals a day PLUS pay a mortgage. *Sigh*. The sacrifices.

My favorite food to cook by far is French. I will never – EVER – be a chef. I have a “grab the recipe and hang on for dear life” approach, and fortunately most of the time it’s worked. I’m a follower, not a leader.

Here are my TOP 10 Favorite Recipes I LOVE to follow!!

  1. Currant Glazed Turkey. From Williams-Sonoma book “Roasting”, it’s very, VERY, good. I even buy fresh blackcurrants when they’re in season and freeze them specifically for Thanksgiving so we can make this turkey. Even the turkey noodle soup we make post-turkey has an extra special punch to it from the dressing. YUM!51ecveraxdl_sl500_aa240_.
  2. Candied Yams. I hate veggies, but once a year at Thanksgiving I can force down BUCKETS of these candied yams. I’ve modified the recipe quite a bit, by just boiling the yams to soft and mashing them like potatoes, then adding in the maple syrup, brown sugar, butter and other yummy goodness then adding the crunchy crispy topping. Yeaaahhh, baby.http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Candied-Yams-104474
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  3. Lemon Sabayon. I found this on Thomas Keller’s “French Laundry” website a few years back. While I can’t find it there now, it’s probably in his “French Laundry” cookbook and I managed to find one online recipe here. Once you’ve made the crust, you only use 1/3 of it, so you can actually freeze 2 more tarts’ worth to whip out at a moment’s notice. It’s one of Hubby’s FAVES.http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Lemon-Tart-231349
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  4. French Butter Cake. I have no idea where I found this recipe, and I’m not sure about copying/posting pages out of magazines, but I’m posting it anyhow because I can’t find anything online that’s even close. It’s YUM. We make it often – it’s quick, easy and tastes amazing with fruit and whip cream.dsc_2005It was “Dessert of the Month” in May 2002 of some magazine – if anyone knows which, please tell me so I can give credit!n1313716605_80425_2917
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  5. Black Currant Grilled Duck Breast. I made this for the very first time, when I had just started to cook, in my tiny little Kitsilano apartment for a dinner party of 4 couples. And it worked, so it can’t be all that difficult! If I can do it, so can you.http://www.foodtv.ca/recipes/recipedetails.aspx?dishid=240
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  6. REAL Caesar salad dressing. Not that thick white crap most restaurants try to pass off. I’ve adapted my Nana’s recipe and will share it with you if you promise to never order thick white crap caesar again. Promise? Good.
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    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 large clove of garlic, minced or finely chopped
    • 3 drips of Tabasco
    • salt, pepper
    • 2 smooshed anchovies, or a dollop of anchovy paste
    • 1 drip of Worstershire
    • juice of 1/2 lemon (we like it really citrusey)
    • dollop of dijon mustard
    • 1 tsp or tbsp of red wine vinegar (I actually use Pomegranite wine vinegar) (yes, how fancy!)
    • mix it all together w/ a fork
    • keep stirring to add in 2 tbsp or more of extra virgin olive oildsc_1956

    Notice my measurements are all vague?
    Because I don’t measure. It’s a bit different every time, but I like that. Just keep tasting and adding. I know “real” dressing would be prepared in a wood bowl with tender loving care, but I have 4 kids. Five if you count Hubby, and time is generally of the essence. ‘Nuff said.

    Once all mixed in with the (dry) lettuce, I add parm (grated with my zester) and mix it again, then top with chopped green olives.
    Et Voila! C’est tres, tres bon.
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  7. Tuna Nicoise Sandwiches. There used to be this place, La Collette? I can’t remember, anyhow, in Victoria that’s gone now that had these amazing Tuna Nicoise Sandwiches. At any rate, it’s not hard to make at home. And we have. MANY times. They’re especially great “to go” because they are made with sturdy baguette.
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    • Sturdy Baguette or Cibatta bread. Cut ends off, make sandwich size and slice open.
    • lettuce. layer on top – I use leaf lettuce.
    • add slices of hard boiled egg
    • add slices of red onion
    • add canned tuna and a thin slivered line of olive oil
    • add diced or chopped nicoise olives
    • sprinkle with salt + pepper
    • Voila! wrap in plastic tightly to keep it all together and go!

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  8. Macaroons. I made these for B’s French-themed family bday dinner, and I LOVED them. The ones I made are from Thomas Keller’s “Bouchon” cookbook, but I found a few other recipes online as well.dsc_8075.
    Check out these hazelnut-mocha ones! OOOoooh, ya. (Click on photo for recipe on FoodNetwork.com).
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  9. French Toasted Baguette. This is my newest favorite – crusty day-or-two-old baguette all soaked up in eggy/milky goodness and cooked soft again. I also sprinkle with cinnamon after the egg/milk mixture, before cooking in melted butter.dsc_0525Add warmed blueberries, some pure CANADIAN maple syrup 😉 and some powdered sugar and YUM!!!
    Next winter I plan to try it with eggnog instead of milk.
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  10. French Onion Soup. I love every recipe in this book, but particularily the French Onion Soup. I’ve had soup in “authentic” french restaurants that didn’t taste as good as this soup! Just go get the book. Today.We’ve also loved the Tarragon Chicken, the Coq Au Vin, the desserts, the appy’s, the everything. Yep – go get it. I have a smaller version of the same book as well, from Chapters.51m157ff96l_sl500_aa240_1
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Go forth and cook!
Enjoy!

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The Wonderfully Versatile Baguette

I’m not a “breads” person, but I love a good baguette.
Crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy in. Ahhhh.

We stop every Thursday at our local Granville Island markets and pick one up.

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We eat.
We feed birds.
(Don’t they look skinny and starving?? ya, riiiight.)

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We have a few slices with our dinner.
Then it’s left in the bag to stale overnight.

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Stale baguette – sounds… crunchy.
In the am, we have stale baguette french toast, with syrup and blueberries. It softens up juuuuust so nice.

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At noon we finish it off with buttered baguette toasties, goat cheese and tomato slices. Ahhhhh.
It also makes for great thin-sliced, garlic-and-cheese basted crackers with dinner.
OR plain and stale to soup as biscotti to a latte.

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Wonderful, versatile.
YUM.

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Food Photos

Until I can find some better sidebar widgets AND figure out how to use ’em, I’ll post some photos here in this neat-o slide show. You can even attach music! Although my speakers aren’t working, so I have no idea if I attached a good song or not.

Naturally, the photos are all of food.
Unfortunately they’re not staged, or well-lit, or anything fancy, taken with any one of the many cameras floating about here, so some might be fuzzy.

But does your mouth not water?!
And they all bring to me the memories of meals shared with my family.

Suddenly I can’t believe it’s only 10lbs of middle girth I’m at war against – I really should weigh much, much more with all the food we eat around here.

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