I’ve gotten into a wonderful little habit. Fridays I work late, and I’m up early on Saturday… earlier than I want to be anyway, so I’ve started using JustEat.ca - it’s an online ordering system that lets me peruse take out menus of local restaurants in my area and then I can order takeout in Ottawa online. Pay for everything right there, including tip (so that I’m not standing in the door way like a fool trying to figure out how much to give).

Home-Alone

 

These may seem like small little upgrades to ordering take out – but as a single lady with two ridiculous pups who believe their main job is to defend me from anyone who knocks on my door, sometimes these little improvements make the experience all the better. For instance, I wanted to try out a local pizza place (Preston Pizza). I ordered everything online and picked a delivery time for after my dog’s walk so I knew I would be home. That’s right – another little convenience, pick the time you would like your food delivered! Give you time to finish grocery shopping, or get home from work and BAM there it is!

Pizza was a bit early and the delivery guy, my food, my pups and I all arrived at my front door at the same time. But I could just take the food, thank him and get down to the eating! No need to stand there with a credit card punching in my pin while I wished it wasn’t so freaking cold out and that I could just get inside and sit down to watch some Battlestar Galactica already.

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Then there come the times when it’s not just undesirable to be on your feet for an extra 2 minutes, it’s nearly impossible. Sick, head pounding, unable to do anything but sleep and get hungry. That was me a week ago. Being able to go online, order hot chicken soup and pay for everything without having to subject some poor restaurant to my mumbling, cold pill ramblings was a win-win situation. Then when it arrived, I was back to the groove on the couch in less than a minute – soup in hand.

Another little perk – it holds on to your order history. So if you really liked a particular spot or dish, someone else is remembering those details for you. Hell, you can even just reorder the same order and not even have to click all those pesky buttons again.

It might not change your life – but it’s a my favourite way to order food in Ottawa!

**

Full disclosure – JustEat.ca did offer compensation for this post, but I really do enjoy any chance to be extra introverted.

When is a sample more than a sample?? When it’s a cooking lesson too!

Starting after the Easter weekend – Saturday samples at Cardamom & Cloves will change. Just come on down to the store at 440 Preston, Saturdays at 11 am to see what all the fuss is about. There will be a recipe demonstration and the first 4 people to arrive will be guaranteed a sample of what was made. Depending on the recipe – there might be more to sample – but the first 4 will always get something tasty!

Easter-Eggs-1

Aren’t you excited to see what recipes I will come up with  fueled by a chocolate mini egg bender?

Each week a new, seasonal, easy to replicate at home recipe. If there is anything you have learned about me from reading this blog, it is the following: I hate dishes and have a hard time following instructions. What does that translate to? Meals and recipe ideas that are no fail (even if you move step 4 to step 8) and are easy to clean up. What more could you ask for?

What about this Saturday?? This Saturday we will be sampling Lavender Lemonade in the warm Spring sunshine*

And Easter weekend?? Cardamom & Cloves will be closed Friday and will not re-open until Tuesday! Who am I to resist chocolate eggs and taking way too many pictures of my dogs and friend’s kids wearing bunny ears?? Watch out Instagram.

Until then – happy chocolate egg hunting!

 

 

*As long as mother nature co-operates… I’m only providing the lemonade – the sun thing is all her.

 

Before I opened up Cardamom and Clove and my days at C’est Bon Cooking, I worked in the non-profit world. United Way Ottawa, The Catholic Center for Immigrants, The Canadian Council of the Blind and a couple others. One of the organizations I had always found interesting was Farm Radio International - an organization that provides resources and training to broadcasters so that radio programs about farming and agriculture that are being produced and broadcast in Africa are at their most effective. It’s an amazingly effective way to get information to those who are living far from urban centers, have limited reading skills and no access to other communication methods like telephone or internet.

farm

May 1st is Farm Radio’s 35th Anniversary and to celebrate they are throwing a wonderful event! Called African Harvest – a night of cooking demonstrations, African inspired food, local beers and wines and a live and silent auction to support Farm Radio.

The Chefs involved are Ottawa’s own Andrèe Riffou from C’est Bon Cooking and Jeff Crump the Executive Chef at the Ancaster Mill and author of Earth to Table cookbook. The dishes they are creating are a surprise – but I do know that they will be using some African spices from Cardamom and Cloves!

If you are looking for a night of international food and fun – click here for more information and tickets. The night gets started at 7pm at St. Bridget’s on St. Patrick in the ByWard Market. If you need some more information contact info@farmradio.org or 613-761-3678. As a shameless plug, tickets are also available in person at Cardamom and Cloves at 440 Preston Street.

 

recipes

This past Saturday at Cardamom and Cloves, I made a quick fig and star anise jam for the Saturday sample. Start to finish it took about 30 minutes, and for much of that time I was watching TV waiting for the mixture to cook down. So easy and so yummy. A great way to spice up brunch, or top ice cream – I’ve been guilty of eating this stuff by the spoonful.

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Fig and Star Anise Quick Jam

Ingredients
15 figs roughly chopped
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of sea salt
6 star anise pods
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar

Add sugar, star anise and pinch of salt together in a thick bottomed pan.

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I don’t normally remember to take pictures as I’m making something – but this was so easy and pretty I had to share! I used a smoked salt just so you could see it against the sugar. With just a pinch it doesn’t make much difference to the final product.

Next step – heat over medium heat until the sugar melts and begins to caramelize.

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Then add the figs and vinegar and allow to cook down over medium heat until jam is the consistency you are looking for. Let cool, remove the star anise pods and enjoy!

 

 

recipes

The name of this recipe is a mouthful – and so is the cake. Mouthful of ninja level awesome that is. Try making just the crumble as an awesome topping for yogurt, ice cream or hot cereal. I can even imagine how good it would be mixed into some carrot muffins.

Cardamom crumble cake

Cardamom Olive Oil Crumble Cake

Ingredients

Crumble
1 cup oats
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt

Cake

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup olive oil

Combing the crumble ingredients in a bowl. Set aside

In a large bowl mix together the dry cake ingredients. Make a well – add the wet ingredients. Stir to combine. Mix well.

Pour cake batter into a 9 inch, greased cake pan. Top with crumble and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a fork inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

I’ve decided to just ignore winter until it gives up and goes away. The internet, a very strong imagination and the stubbornness of a mule are helping me to succeed. This afternoon my attention started wandering to gardening and herbs. Before my thoughts danced over to BBQ, I spent some time looking for ways to label the plants in my garden. I found these great examples of cute DIY markers.

brickGot bricks? Got paint?? You have herb markers.

burn

Dollar Store wooden spoons and one of those craft wood burning kits – mine would not be this nice.

lids

Reuse frozen juice lids

paint sticks

Paint sticks!

marker 3

This one is super cute – and for people like me who would mess it up some how, you can find it on etsy!

garden marker

I may have a few dozen laying around…

marker

Purdy.

legs

For creepy gardens

pins

Just an excuse to go buy clothes pins and paint!

spoon

Or if you are less artistic like me, you can use black board paint and just write the name!

And one extra – this will be the one I use:

marker 2

recipes

This Monday I was on Rogers Daytime – it was a lot of fun! I made this flavourful Island Marinade. I used it on chicken but I can imagine it would be fantastic on pork or cauliflower as well.

It’s the allspice that make this dish ‘island’. It’s a staple of Jamaican cuisine and is found in all the best jerk recipes. This one is mild, but if you wanted to punch it up, just increase the amount of Cayenne power or think about adding a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce. Every bite will remind you of beaches, warm sun and sweet drinks with little umbrellas.

All Spice

Allspice

Island Chicken

Ingredients
2 TBSP Garlic powder
1 TBSP Onion flakes
3/4 tsp Thyme, dry
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp Allspice, ground
3/4 tsp Black pepper
1/3 cup Brown sugar, packed
1 Pinch Cayenne
1/2 tsp Ceylon Cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp Cloves, ground
3 TBSP Canola oil
1/2 cup Red-wine vinegar
4 Chicken breasts

Grind all spices together – add to other ingredients and pour over chicken breasts and marinade for 2-24 hours.

Grill, bake or BBQ Chicken as you normally would until cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

 me

One day it will be warm again… it’s just gotta.

recipes

This is a ridiculously simple recipe that makes me so happy. Not only does it taste amazing – but it makes your house smell fantastic while they are baking. I had them available as a sample at the store last Saturday – this Saturday will be a cardamom spiced cake – come out and try some!

Sweet Cinnamon Pretzle

Sweet Cinnamon Pretzel

Ingredients
1 large bag of pretzels
1/2 cup of canola oil
3 tsp freshly ground true cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Pour pretzels into a casserole dish big enough so that they can spread out in a single layer.

Mix the oil, sugar and cinnamon. Pour over pretzels and toss to coat evenly. Bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice through the cook time.

Serve warm to room temperature.

This has been a particularly weird winter. Say what you will… it was cold. Pretty damn cold at times. And while that hasn’t presented me with any additional challenges, it has for Barbara Schaefer and her farm full of the rare breed of pigs known as “Large Black Pig” – ok. Not the most creative name, but they are an endangered breed that Barbara is helping to bring back from the brink by farming them. As the demand for this fantastic pork – and it is fantastic – increases, she hopes more farms will want to raise the pigs and their numbers will return.

This winter has been particularly tough – with the pigs eating twice their normal amount to gain weight to deal with the cold, and the extra bedding to combat this dickish polar vortex. I’ll let Barbara tell you more about it in her own words:

Any amount you can donate will help these cute, smart and delicious animals.

Here is the link right to Barbara’s Indiegogo campaign - a very worthy foodie cause that only takes a couple dollars and a two minutes to make a big difference. Cheers! http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-large-black-pig/x/5015243

recipes

With the store now open at Cardamom and Cloves on 440 Preston Street… it’s safe to assume I have the best spice cupboard in the city. So what is a girl to do?? Add spices to everything! The first thing I made was in an attempt to satisfy my sweet tooth when the snack selection in my kitchen was dangerously low. Luckily this, almost caramel like popcorn does the trick. Sweet, salty and yummy – everything a snack craving tummy needs.

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Cinnamon Brown Sugar Popcorn

Ingredients
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
2 TBSP butter
1 TBSP packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground Vietnamese cinnamon (or any kind you have – I like the Vietnamese because it is a touch spicier than true cinnamon)

Pop your popcorn how ever you like – in an air popper is great, or you can put it in a paper bag and microwave it. I put mine in a pot on the stove.

Melt butter – add all other ingredients and pour over popcorn. Mix together with large spoons and allow to cool for a minute before eating – the hot sugar will cool on each kernel like caramel popcorn. Enjoy!

 

 

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Much too cute. Sometimes I geek out when left alone at work. The Buzz is buzzing about you @cestbonchef !

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