A peek inside a beautiful Ottawa home

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

I read that women bloggers tend to blog less in the summer because our attention gets pulled elsewhere: to gardens, to kids (if you have them) because they’re no longer in school, and because of holidays. This is true in my experience.

Just when I think to sit down and share with you a great recipe, an interesting link or an opinion of my own, I get side tracked by life. Potted flowers need watering, the lawn needs mowing, or I need to be outside and take in the beauty of the season. And kids, even though they may be big (like mine are) need attention, too. I write this while in the midst of getting ready to join Simon in Cape Cod for five days. Sans enfants!!

Something else that occupies a good chunk of my time lately is helping to organize the Glebe House Tour. So before I leave for Cape Cod let me give you peek inside one of five homes on this fall’s Tour.

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy
It was built in the early 1900’s and recently renovated, guided by the vision of its homeowners, Jenny and Alain.

I love this home. It’s welcoming, comfy and elegant. I love its spaciousness even though it’s not an open concept home. In fact, no walls were torn down during the renovation. However, hallways were widened and openings were created in some walls allowing for very pleasing sight lines into adjacent rooms.

And light! Maybe it’s because I feel I have to wait for or seek out good light in our home that I was so taken with the abundance of beautiful light in this one. Not only light, but beautiful views to the outside as well. In fact, there are window views of Ottawa’s Rideau canal from practically every room.

Add to those qualities a wonderful blend of custom-built and antique furniture plus great finds from Home Sense and Ikea, and carefully chosen fixtures and original art, and you have yourself a very beautiful home.

We’re so happy to have it on this fall’s Tour.

Thank you Alain, Jenny, Tom and Molly the dog!

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

stained glass window glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

family pet glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

AGA cooker glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

glebe house tour| suzanne mccarthy

Glebe House Tour | suzanne mccarthy

 

Easy summer eating: pasta salad, two ways

pasta salad made with soba noodles

pasta salad, soba noodles

pasta salad, soba noodles

Common knowledge suggests people eat less when it’s hot.

After a recent string of hot breezy summer days, I answered the call for lighter fare with pasta salad. I was reminded what a great dish it is for hot weather, and how well it lends itself to variations.

pasta salad made with rotini

pasta salad

 

pasta salad

Regardless of the type of pasta salad you choose to make, here are a few things I learned about how to make it taste great.

  • Give your salad flavour right from the get-go by boiling your pasta in heavily salted water.
  • Short pasta shapes, like rotini, are good choices for pasta salad if you don’t want to eat by twirling with a fork. Their small size makes them easy to serve and eat, and their little folds and crevices provide plenty of spaces to trap dressing, herbs, and small ingredients.
  • Cook pasta until it’s just past al dente. Pasta hardens and gets more chewy as it cools so it needs to be cooked just right, soft but not mushy.
  • Drain pasta and rinse under warm not cold water. Once drained, transfer to a cookie sheet or large platter and dress with oil while it’s still warm.
  • Serve pasta salad at room temperature. It helps the pasta have a more appealing texture (no congealing of oils, no chewiness) and really lets the flavours loose. Make sure you don’t let it sit out for more than a couple hours to avoid food-poisoning.
  • Good quality oils like extra virgin olive oil and are just the ticket. So are fresh herbs and nuts.
  • Don’t dress the salad all at once. Keep some of the dressing and pour it on right before serving.

summer eating, pasta salad

pasta salad, summer eating

Soba Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

250 grams soba noodles

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cup julienned carrots (I used the ones that come in a bag already prepared)

1 cup fresh coriander, chopped

1/2 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

juice of 1 lime

4 tablespoons sesame oil plus more for drizzling over noodles

1 generous spoonful peanut butter

2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

fresh mint for garnish

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Throw in the pasta, boil until just past al dente, drain and rinse under warm water. Transfer to a cookie sheet and drizzle with oil.

Chop the onions, and coriander. Add to bowl along with carrots and pasta.

Combine minced ginger, lime juice, peanut butter, sesame oil and tamari. Whisk well. Thin with warm water if needed.

Drizzle over the salad, add peanuts and toss well. Transfer to serving platter or bowl. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint, a few extra chopped peanuts and serve.

If not serving right away, save some of the dressing and peanuts to add later, just before serving.

Tabouleh Inspired Pasta Salad with Preserved Lemon and Pine nuts

500 grams of pasta of your choice. I used gluten-free rotini made from corn

1 small container grape tomatoes, halved

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 handful of fresh mint, chopped

1 half of a large red onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced.

1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped along with a good splash of the brine. Or, the juice of 1 lemon

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pine nuts

crumbled goat feta (optional)

freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Throw in the pasta, boil until just past al dente, drain and rinse under warm water. Transfer to a cookie sheet and drizzle with oil.

Chop the tomatoes, parsley, mint, and onion and add to a bowl along with pasta.

Combine minced garlic cloves, chopped preserved lemon, brine, oil and pepper. If using lemon juice, add sea salt to taste. Drizzle over the salad and toss well. Mix in pine nuts and serve.

Crumble goat feta for folks to sprinkle on top (opptional).

If not serving right away, save the pine nuts and some of the dressing to add later, just before serving.

 

Beauty heals

beauty heals - peonies

“We need more joy to fight all the f-ckery the world keeps serving us.” That’s what one of my favourite bloggers wrote last week and I couldn’t agree more. I would add beauty to that sentence, too. More joy and beauty.

beauty heals- peonies

beauty heals-peonies

beauty heals - peonies

beauty heals - peonies

Our backyard garden is delivering beauty via beautiful blossoms on an almost daily basis and, lately, I’m acutely aware of its calming and grounding effect.

I feel an uncomfortable knot in my stomach and, after a short putter in the garden, a feeling of ease arrives. The tightness dissipates. I can hardly believe how well it works at soothing a dark and fretful mood. It’s one thing to know it intellectually, it’s quite another for the healing power of beauty, of nature, to be a real felt experience.

beauty heals - peonies

beauty heals - peonies

beauty heals - peonies

As I write this, the peonies are fading fast. Those in vases are dropping their petals at a startling rate, and those left on the bush are exploding into beautiful messes.

beauty heals - pink rose

The pink rose bush is up next and from the looks of things there will be plenty of blooms. Soon after, the day lilies start producing their cheery orange trumpets.

beauty heals - marigold seeds

beauty heals - marigold seeds

beauty heals - marigold seeds

DSC_2744

And the marigolds, I can hardly wait to greet the marigolds. I started them from seeds gathered from last years flowers. I was a little late starting them so I have a bit of a wait. But when they do finally flower, unlike the peonies, they tend to stick around longer. Stay tuned!

xo

beauty heals - marigold seeds

Bathroom revamp reveal

bathroom revamp revealOur new bathroom is just like the old bathroom, only better.

The old fixtures were removed and replaced. We now have a beautiful and deep soaker tub to better accommodate the tall folks in our home, a new sink (not at all unlike its predecessor in its pedestal design), and a new high tech toilet with hands-free functions to keep the toilet cleaner for longer – the less often hands touch things the cleaner things remain. The toilet was Simon’s choice and, although it took getting used to, I think I’m beginning to like it. Especially that it seems to stay cleaner longer.

Faucets and towel holders were upgraded.

bathroom revamp reveal - soaker tub

bathroom revamp reveal - pedestal sink

bathroom revamp reveal - pedestal sink

bathroom revamp reveal - free standing faucet

bathroom revamp reveal - sink and faucet

 

bathroom revamp reveal - towel holder

 

bathroom revamp reveal - toto washlet

You can program the toilet so the seat opens when you enter the room, flushes itself once you’re finished and closes a few minutes later.

Everything is in the same place as before (except for a light switch) and the footprint hasn’t moved a smidgen. Yet the bathroom feels bigger because we installed a pocket door.

bathroom revamp reveal - pocket door

bathroom revamp reveal - pocket door

The floor is also new. I love the look of hexagon tiles and how good they feel on bare feet.

bathroom revamp reveal - hexagon tiles

We kept the wainscoting and only removed it from around the chimney to expose more of the brick.

bathroom revamp reveal - exposed brick

Ceiling, walls, trim and wainscoting are painted the same colour, “parchment” by C2.

bathroom revamp reveal - soaps

bathroom revamp reveal

 

 

Almond meal cookies with coconut and cacao nibs

almond meal cookies with coconut and cocao nibs

almond meal cookies with coconut and cocao nibs

almond meal cookies with coconut and cocao nibs

I’ll be sharing before and after shots of our recent bathroom revamp very soon.

The bathroom is up and running with only a final few details to complete before ready for its closeup. I’m still getting used to the new toilet. It does just about everything except speak to you. I’m not kidding.

In the meantime, let me share with you a very good cookie recipe. I’ve made this several times and it’s never failed. Readers looking for a gluten-free cookie will be particularly interested in this recipe.

almond meal cookies with coconut and cocao nibs

If you don’t have cacao nibs, feel free to use chocolate chips instead. Although the cacao nibs offer a little more intensity and are less sweet.

Either way, this recipe is easy and straightforward, and results in a satisfying cookie that’s sweet and chewy with lots of flavour. Your house will smell wonderful while they bake, too.

I double the recipe and keep half the dough stored in an airtight container in the fridge, to bake on another day.

They store well too.

Enjoy!

almond meal cookies with coconut and cocao nibs

 

Almond Meal Cookies with Coconut and Cacao Nibs (from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook by Sara Forte)

Makes: 18-20 small cookies

1 1/4 cups almond meal

1/4 cups cacao nibs

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)

1 egg

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond meal, cacao nibs, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In another bowl, beat the egg very well until it’s a uniform color and doubles in volume. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Refrigerate bowl for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Roll the chilled dough into 1 inch balls using your hands. Place on baking sheet with 1 1/2-inches space between them, and slightly flatten with a gentle press with the palm of your hand or with a fork. Dipping the fork into a glass of cold water after each press helps to prevent sticking.

Bake until edges just begin to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

almond meal cookies with coconut and cocao nibs

 

 

Make your own preserved lemons

preserved lemonsBesides loving the taste of preserved lemons (a bold lemony essence but more mellow and less tart) I also find it comforting to make them and have a jar or two sitting on our kitchen counter. Something beautiful to focus my attention on when worry comes calling. A little colour therapy.

I like waking up in the morning and taking note of their progress as they change. I love seeing how they soften and slowly nestle themselves down inside the glass jar. I get pleasure tracking them as they change from bright yellow to vivid golden orbs. They practically light up the room.

preserved lemons

As far as preserving projects go, this one is easy: some scrubbing, trimming, slicing, and packing with salt, and a little squeezing for juice. If you’re a visual person you might appreciate this how-to video.

Although they only take about 20 minutes to prepare, preserved lemons can take a month, certainly not less than two weeks, before they’re ready to eat. But then they last practically forever.

You can make as many or as few as you want. It depends on the size of your jar(s) and the size of lemons you’re using.

preserved lemons

preserved lemons

preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Glass jars

Salt (sea salt or kosher)

Lemons (some to preserve and some for juice)

Spices are optional: add fennel or caraway seeds, cinnamon sticks, bruised cardamom pods, bay or kaffir lime leaves, crushed dried chilies or whole black peppercorns.

Thoroughly scrub the lemons.

Trim the nubs of both ends of each lemon.

Quarter the lemons from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom.

Stuff salt inside the opening and reshape.

Place enough salt to cover the bottom of the jar.

Pack in the lemons and push them down, adding more salt, and the optional spices between layers.

Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons.

Fill the jar with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Make sure the lemons are completely submerged. If not, push them down further into the jar and add some more juice if necessary.

Seal the jar and let sit on counter. They don’t require refrigeration until after you open them.

Check on the lemons for the next few days. Upend them from time to time and give them a shake to redistribute the loose salt.

When they’re ready, pluck one from the jar and rinse it under cool running water to remove excess salt. If you choose to skip this step hold back on adding any salt to the recipe.

Use the whole lemon (remove any seeds first) or discard the pith and pulp and stick to adding the rind only.

preserved lemons

How to use your preserved lemons:

Mash with butter and fresh herbs and smear on top of grilled fish or roasted vegetables.

Chop and add to yogurt with bit of honey.

Pair with olives in a tapenade.

In a risotto.

Finely dice and mix with green beans, peas or carrots.

Add thin strips to braising liquid during the last few minutes of cooking.

Whizz them into your salad dressing.

Make ice cream.

Chop and add to guacamole and hummus.

Use the lemony brine in a cocktail.

They make a wonderful gift for the enthusiastic cook or foodie friend.

*If you want to sterilize your jars, wash them well in hot soapy water, rinse and place into a preheated oven at 250 F for 20 minutes. Sterilize lids in boiling water for 5 minutes.

This and that

Here are five things that caught my attention this past week:

1.these gardening gloves

suzanne mccarthy | la vie quotidiennebecause I plan on taking better care of my hands this summer. take that age spots!

2.these branches

suzanne mccarthy | la vie quotidiennebecause they brighten this dark room and my spirits considerably.

3. this boy and cat

suzanne mccarthy | la vie quotidiennebecause he was unbelievably brave despite having the muscles in both of his eyes cut and moved. and this cat because he is an elixir for speedy healing.

4.these eggshells

suzanne mccarthy | la vie quotidiennebecause they make perfect seed starting vessels.

5.these marigold seeds

suzanne mccarthy | la vie quotidiennebecause I collected and saved them last fall, and now it’s time to bring them to life.

 

Noticed elsewhere:

even the guys on stage don’t know where Prince’s guitar went

can an animal understand magic? yes!

miscommunication with emojis

this new comedy series

going to see this wednesday

edible flower recipes

 

Oven-roasted radishes

roasted radishes

I’m going to suggest something that may seem strange: the next time you’re looking to have a roasted vegetable as a side dish, choose the humble radish.

Perhaps you think of radishes as a raw-only vegetable. I know I did, but they’re also delicious roasted. Brief high roasting mellows their vibrant colour, tames their peppery bite and gives them a softer fuller flavour.

The green tops are edible and highly nutritious, too. My green tops were looking a little sad so I didn’t roast them, but you can rinse and roast them on the same baking sheet. They add color and amp up the radish flavor.

Roast radishes alone or with a medley of other vegetables. Carrots would be good. Or use them as a salad topping. Or eat them right off the tray for an after school snack as my son and I did.

roasted radishes

roasted radishes

roasted radishes

roasted radishes

Oven-roasted radishes

This is a basic recipe. Feel free to personalize it with your preferred herbs and oil. Browned butter would be good or maybe some lemon zest. I haven tried it but adding a wee bit of honey might be interesting.

2 bunches radishes, fresh (not the ones in a sealed plastic bag)

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

flaky sea salt

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Rinse radishes.

Slice in half from stem to root. I leave a little of the stem and root on mine because I like how it looks but feel free to trim yours.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. I like to turn mine cut side down on the tray. I like how they caramelize that way.

Bake until radishes are tender and caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley (or herb of your choice).

Season with flaky sea salt

Enjoy!

roasted radishes

This and that

One of my favourite bloggers runs this series on her blog called “my week in objects.” I love it so much I thought I’d run a similar series on mine. Here are things that have captured my attention lately:

1.these biodegradable and compostable straws

suzanne mccarthybecause they’ve upped our smoothie game big time.

2.this street sign

suzanne mccarthy

because there will be less dust and debris and now we can safely wash our windows.

3.this garden succulent

suzanne mccarthy

because the snow has melted and the garden is waking up.

4.these eggshells

suzanne mccarthy

because I’ve been collecting them to pulverize and spread about in the garden.

5.these tiny spring bulbs

suzanne mccarthy

because they make my heart glad and I scored them at the local grocery store. Three small pots for only $2.99 each.

 

Other things that have caught my attention elsewhere:

the rich social environment of dogs without collars

looking forward to seeing this in June

this paint colour

this watercolour and ink

been loving this artist for a few years. her latest here and here.

this kitchen

 

Roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

roasted carrots with spinach, pine nuts and raisins

 

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

 

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

Wondering where we’re at with our bathroom renovation? Well, the tub is finally out of the living room and installed in the bathroom.

It’s a five-foot long deep soaker tub. Since water weighs a lot (one kilogram per litre) our contractor wanted to be certain we wouldn’t come crashing down through the floor and into the kitchen on our first dip into the bathtub.

Rather than fill the tub with water (and risk having THAT mess to deal with should the floor not be able to withstand the weight) he chose a static weight; he placed in the tub several sand bags, totaling hundreds of pounds, and then jumped in to add to the load.

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

Turns out this old house’s structure is sound enough and we can bathe without anxiety. Phew!

Speaking of certainty, I was roasting carrots to feed my family the other night, certain I had prepared enough for my hungry crowd. But when I pulled them from the oven they had considerably shrunk and the amount seemed scant.

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

My wise daughter suggested I add spinach to bulk things up. So I added several handfuls of tender spinach to the hot cookie sheet, tossed it among the carrots (which helped it slightly wilt), added salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and voila!

Coincidently, I recently came upon this recipe, which inspired me to take this dish to the next level by adding spices, pine nuts and raisins. The result is a flavourful and hearty dish, packed with nutrients. It’s colourful and pretty, too. And I love to eat pretty things. Don’t you?

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

These are the amounts I used to feed five hungry people as a side dish.

Roasted carrots with pine nuts, spinach and raisins

14 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons spice of your choice (I used freshly grated nutmeg)

3/4 cup raisins (or dried cranberries or cherries)

1/2 cup pine nuts (or pumpkin seeds)

juice of 1/2 a lemon

Several handfuls of tender spinach (or mesclun greens)

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss carrots with olive oil and spice of your choice. Spread out on prepared baking sheet and roast 20 minutes or until carrots are tender with golden brown edges.

Remove from oven. Scatter raisins and pine nuts on hot baking sheet and gently toss.

Add spinach to carrots and toss gently.

Finish with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste.

Serve directly from baking sheet.