Tag Archives: autumn

Forget the Turkey, Let’s Talk Cranberries

Next week our American friends will be celebrating Thanksgiving and cooks across the country are busy planning a feast with all the fixin’s.  Unfortunately, for many this will include the monstrosity that is canned cranberry sauce.

cranberry sauce from a canImage: Zipongo

This processed product has ruined the concept of cranberries for many people, which is a shame because this tart fruit is the perfect counter for the rich, heavy foods that grace a Thanksgiving table.

homemade cranberry sauce by Smitten KitchenImage: Smitten Kitchen

Do yourself a favour and pick up a bag of fresh or frozen cranberries and make your own sauce this year. With a few simple ingredients and about 20 minutes you can make a dish your guests will really love. Smitten Kitchen has a great collection of recipes for the cranberry sauce novice.

cranberry cookiesImage: Ocean Spray

While you’re at it, pick up a few extra bags for treats to last through the holidays and beyond. These versatile gems work well in both savory and sweet recipes. If shortbread is part of your Christmas baking ritual, why not mix it up a little with a blue cheese and cranberry version?

baking with cranberriesImage: Wives with Knives

I’m a little addicted to Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps, especially the Cranberry Hazelnut ones. However, I can’t always find them where I live now so I was thrilled to find a copycat recipe posted by Wives with Knives.

cranberry, bacon, chestnut dressingImage: BBC Good Food

Why limit yourself to cranberry sauce at your holiday table? I often add apples to my stuffing but cranberries would work well too. BBC’s Good Food offers up a delectableChestnut, Bacon, and Cranberry Dressing that can be baked or rolled into balls and fried- fun!

Image: Healthy Happy Life

If vegetarians are joining you, Healthy Happy Life’s Cranberry-Soy Sauce Sticky Sweet Tofu Steaks make an excellent meat-free entrée.

liquor and cranberries

Image: The Endless Meal

Cranberries also work well in cocktails, though most people never venture past the standard Cosmopolitan. The Endless Meal shakes it up a little by replacing the vodka with bourbon in what they call The Best Bourbon Sour. I’m eager to see if they are correct!

cranberry coctailImage: The Corkscrew

If tequila is your tipple of choice, you should indulge with a Razzelberry Dressing Margarita, full of antioxidant goodness.

orange, clove and cranberry infused bourbonImage: My Recipes

I love making my own infused alcohols and Orange, Clove, and Cranberry Infused Bourbon sounds like the perfect antidote to winter’s chill. This is also the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for guy on your Christmas list.

cranberry sorbetImage: Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Sweet-tart cranberries can help you end your large meal with a pucker.  Fresh Cranberry Sorbet would be a great palate-cleanser or an indulgent addition to apple pie or pecan pie.

cranberry curd pavlovaImage: Supper in Stereo

If you really want to wow your guests, skip the pie and make Supper in Stereo’s Cranberry Curd Pavlova. I’m sure it is as delicious as it is stunning.

pino cranberry gemsImage: Food Shed

I love the idea of sending guests off with a little treat to enjoy when the food coma wears off and Food Shed’s Pino Cranberry Gems, a boozy take on traditional French pâte de fruit, is the a perfect way to say that you enjoyed their company.

cranberry heartImage: The Southern Vegan

No matter how you be spending the holidays, I hope that you will have lots to be thankful for!

4 Asian Soups

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Curry laksa. Image from Bidu Recommends.

As the weather gets cooler, don’t we crave more the warmth of hot hearty soups? Let’s venture into exotic territory with these Asian classics. One thing these have in common is that they pack a punch in terms of flavor. They’re not the soothing, comfortable types — they’re passionate and intense, fragrant and fiery, rich and spicy. They make quite a food trip.

Another thing they have in common is that they’re very complicated to make, if you’re making them from scratch, because they either involve a lot of ingredients or a whole lot of steps. The good news is you can buy packets that can give you the real thing with very little time and effort.

Tom Yum

It’s a classic Thai soup with fierce hot and sour flavors that make me perspire just thinking about it. It’s smells heavenly — with a light freshness from kaffir lime leaves and cilantro, and the heady earthiness from the shitakes and whatever protein, usually seafood, that is in it.

Image via No Such Thing

Try making it from scratch or get tom yum mixes from Asian Home Gourmet,


Image via Rasa Malaysia

This one’s a well-loved staple in Singapore and Malaysia. There are many different variations on this noodle soup, but my favorite is the coconut milk based curry laksa. The soup itself is rich, thick, and creamy. It’s spicy and has a riot of flavors from different spices in it. There’s also a salty and seafood-y base flavor from prawns. Here’s a recipe if you want to make it from scratch, or get it from a Prima Taste box.


Sinigang is basically a sour soup, and its variations are derived from the different sources of the sour component. My favorite is the tamarind-based soup, and though we had a tamarind tree in our backyard, I never saw my mom make sinigang old school — by cooking the tamarind to a pulp and straining the liquid through as sieve. The soup mixes are really quite excellent, and I grew up with this one made by Knorr, and available at the Filipino Store. But if you want to make it from scratch, here’s a recipe. You can also try this sinigang from the Kitchn.  The soup is made with either prawns, milkfish, pork, or beef, and a selection of vegetables — string beans, water spinach, radish, chilies, and taro.


Via Rasa Malaysia

Bak Kut Teh

It is basically a slow cooked pork bone soup. Literally, its name means, “meat bone tea”. There’s no tea in it though, but it is flavored with numerous spices such as cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and fennel — all wrapped in muslin that stays in the pot for the entire cooking process, and fished out just before serving. The tricky part in this is gathering the correct blend of spices, so using a store-bought ready-made bak kut teh spice bag is definitely a good way to go, and you can get it from Prima Taste. But if you want to conquer this particular mountain, here’s an excellent recipe for making it from scratch.

Image via Almost Bourdain

Posted in Food | Tagged , , ,

Fall Back In Style

I must be the only archaeologist on the planet who isn’t a morning person. While others are wide awake, trowels in hand at well before dawn, I am likely to sleep ‘til noon without some assistance.

Bedroom furniture by Greentea DesignImage: Greentea Design

An alarm is a necessity for me. Since my clock radio died a while back, I have been relying on my iPhone but this is a less than optimal solution, since I have a tendency to either knock it off my nightstand in the morning or leave it tucked under a pillow when I go to school.

Bird alarm clockbird alarm clock reverse sideImages: YLiving

Since I hate the jarring sound of an alarm, I would love the Bird Alarm Clock from Japanese-based IDEA International, which wakes one up with birdsong. The settings buttons and digital display are hidden on the back, so it looks more like a sculpture next to the bed.

rolling alarm clockImage: Nanda Home

I often turn off my alarm and go right back to sleep; apparently designer Gauri Nanda had the same problem when she was a graduate student at MIT.  Her award-winning solution was to design Clocky, the über-cute little alarm that jumps off the table and rolls away to ensure that sleepy-heads are up and at ‘em when they should be.

Tocky the rolling alarm clock by Nanda HomeImage: Nanda Home

Not content to rest on her laurels, Nanda introduced Tocky in 2010. This version waddles away and has the added ability to record personalized wake-up messages or up to two hours of MP3s.  Both models come in super-cute colours; I just hope they don’t make me go this far in the morning to turn off my alarm:

Soil Clock Alarm ClockImage: Marieke Staps

I am always on the lookout for green products, so I love this Soil Clock by Dutch designer Marieke Staps. In a display of science that goes beyond my comprehension, a chemical reaction creates enough electricity to run the clock. You don’t even need the plants, though they certainly add to the aesthetic appeal and, as the designer points out, they remind you that the soil must be wet for the clock to work. Sadly, I’m not sure my thumb is green enough to keep this one running.

Wake'n Bacon alarm clock via Design PublicImage: Design Public

Many of the alarm clocks that I found online are actually still in the design stage. My favourite of these is the Wake n’ Bacon, which cooks up pieces of everyone’s favourite pork product when it is time to wake up. Seriously, who doesn’t love the smell of bacon in the morning? I’m shocked that the business-savvy entrepreneurs on Shark Tank didn’t back this obvious winner.

Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour before going to bed this Saturday for Daylight Savings Time and enjoy that extra hour of sleep!

Posted in Design | Tagged , , ,

A Homemade Halloween

Alice in Wonderland homemade costumeDIY Alice in Wonderland via Misha Lulu

5 MORE DAYS!!!!!

Is my enthusiasm coming through? That’s five more days until little ones will be hitting the streets looking for candy and big revellers will be heading to parties and bars looking for grownup fun. I think I’ve already mentioned that Halloween is a big deal in our house. With a little kid around it’s hard not to get caught up in all the spooky excitement.

Some of my favourite childhood memories of Halloween are of the weeks and days leading up to the big event, when my mom and later myself would be putting the finishing touches on my homemade costume. It was so amazing watching the vision I had for what I was going to dress up as come into being. Nothing beats a homemade costume if you ask me. If you’re debating making your own costume for yourself or your family there’s still time, and if you need a bit of inspiration here are some of the best DIY costumes on the web for little and not-so-little trick or treater’s.

DIY owl costumeDIY owl costume by Designing Moms

The owl trend is getting a little overdone but I have to admit I still find those big-eyed birds immensely charming. This is one of my favourite owl costumes I have seen. The combination of fabric feathers and that adorable capelet make it couture worthy.

homemade beekeeper's costumeBeekeeper Costume via Martha Stewart

Costumes for grownups are harder to come up with than ones for kids. I find Martha Stewart manages to come up with creative costume ideas for adults every year and this beekeeper is a great example of what can be accomplished with a few simple materials.

Golidlocks and the 3 bears family costume, handmadeGoldilocks and the Three Bears via A Beautiful Mess

I’ve noticed a number of fairytale and storybook themed costumes popping up online this year. This family’s re-creation of Goldilocks and the three bears is a fun take on the children’s story. It’s more Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mister Fox than Disney, which makes it a bit more charming in my opinion.

painted skeleton costumePainted Skeleton Costume via lookbook

A skeleton is a classic halloween costume that can be done in so many different ways. I love the illusion created by painting on top of a black slim fitting suit. Very Jack Skellington and edgy. If you don’t have confidence in your painting skills I’m sure there are templates you can find online that would create a similar effect.

Bloody Mary Makeup

Sometimes all a simple DIY costume needs to make it become a wower is the right makeup. There are tons of makeup tutorials on youtube for the gruesome and not-so-bloody look you are going for. I am impressed by this “Bloody Mary” makeup job, and all you need for the rest of your costume is an old fashioned dress and some white body paint.

DIY Vincent Van Gogh costumesvia oh happy day

I’m going to file this one under “costumes I will never force any child of mine to wear, but man are they awesome”. Right along with this one (David Bowie in Labyrinth). Who knows, maybe you know a pint size fine-art lover who would be happy to dress up as Vincent Van Gogh.

School Photo CostumeSchool Photo Costume via A Cup of Jo

This costume idea is sure to get a few laughs if you’re going to a Halloween Party. So easy to do, just attach a cheesy cardboard background to your back and put on the nerdiest clothes you can find. Her oversized glasses and nerdy smile really seal the deal.

felt masks, no sew!No Sew Animal Masks via Prudent Baby

Even if you can’t sew you can still whip up a homemade costume before the big night. This template from Prudent Baby will allow you to make a number of different creature masks with only felt, glue and a few simple trimmings. Pair with an appropriately coloured hoodie and attach a tail, tentacles or whatever you need with safety pins to the seat of your kids pants. Voila, instant cute costume!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Posted in Culture | Tagged , ,

Autumn Festivals

Oktoberfest in Munich Tent

Image vie Wikia Travel

Autumn is a great season for festivals. Around the world, autumn heralds different types of celebrations according to place, religion, and culture. While most autumn celebrations are specific to the temperate climate, they usually have something to do with the harvest season and have roots in the culture that celebrates them.

In the United States, the most well-known celebrations equated with the autumn season are Halloween and Thanksgiving, which are both very soon! Their approach reveals the imagery traditionally associated with the autumn season here, including pumpkins, pie, turkeys, and of course, the warm colors of foliage.

Around the world as well, there are a number of festivals that happen during the later months of the years, which can be specific to a culture or religion. Here are a few, some well-known and perhaps less known festivals celebrated this season.


An aerial view of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Image vie EzineMark

This German festival is for beer lovers. It is usually held from the last few days of September until the middle of October, where it derives its name from. Throughout different cities around the world, people gather to celebrate the harvest by drinking beer throughout the days, especially seasonal brews that are introduced for the occasion. Although the festival is celebrated worldwide today, it originated in the city of Munich, where the main festival continues to be held faithfully every year.

Waitress with mugs of beers

Image via EasytoBook.com

In the Munich festival, the name “Oktoberfest” also refers to type of beer served, which is specific for the occasion. The beer served is known as Märzen or Märzen-Oktoberfestbier, and is brewed within the city limits of Munich. The beer typically has medium alcohol content (5-6%), and have a rich and toasty flavor. It has a specific, specialized brewing process that begins in the spring and continues over the summer until the festival in the fall.

Mooncake Festival

Mooncakes for sale

Via The Accidental Wino

From the other side of the world is the Chinese mid-autumn festival, or mooncake festival. Despite its name, it is also usually celebrated early in the season, around September. The mid-autumn it derives its name from is the season in the Lunar calendar.

Image via Grand Centre Point

The harvest moon is celebrated at this festival, and people eat mooncakes baked with bean paste filling.

Jewish Sukkot

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Celebrates Sukkot

Image via Zimbio

This Jewish festival follows the solemn celebration of Yom Kippur, one of the biggest holidays in Judaism. It commemorates the years the Israelites spent in the desert, and also has an agricultural significance.

Image via The Big Picture

During the holiday, Jewish families build temporary shelters called Sukkah, where they eat their meals for the duration of the seven-day long holiday. Some families sleep in these structures as well. As family event, it has connotations similar to the American Thanksgiving holiday, especially since it takes place after Yom Kippur.

Image via Treehugger

The Sukkah shelters are very iconic of the holiday, and have come to be the architectural representation of this tradition. You could say that it is similar to the modern pavilion – and in 2010, an exhibition called Sukkah City took place in New York that showcased modern conceptual designs of these little habitats.

Autumn is certainly a season of pleasantries, with good food, drink, and quality family time in abundance. No matter where you are in the world, the celebrations herald the forthcoming holiday season, making the season a certainly festive one.

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