Autumn Fairy

November 12, 2015

Fall has fallen. The leaves are yellow against the dark blue-gray sky and the winds have picked up. The winds that are still warm and force your eyes to close in the silent reverence to the sensations on your face when they brush past. You can almost hear music in it, carried from somewhere far too far away just to meet you on this day. Where does the wind go, where does it sleep at night and what secrets shouted into it does it carry past our ears? I am listening, I will always be listening. Whisper to me.

                                                                                                                                     ~ Tyler Knott Gregson

This Autumn Fairy is called Lea. I had the pleasure of photographing her genuine young beauty glowing naturally through the perfect autumn colours. 
If you have an idea for a photo shoot or want me to capture the lovely moments of your life, I will love to hear from you. I believe we can create beautiful stories together.    

Maman & Le Collectif Food Styling Workshop

October 18, 2015

In the heart of the Toronto Financial District there is a little heaven of simple and rustic French aesthetic that makes you feel like you may have just stepped into a small piece of Provence. Painted cabinetry, vintage chairs (imported from France), old glass bottles, pitchers and baskets, a long wooden communal table, blue-patterned tails and china, lavender and thyme create an idyllic atmosphere – the perfect contrast to the industrial-style downtown hangouts. Called Maman, this bakery café is the second outpost of the popular New York city SoHo bakery, launched by a Michelin star chef with La Chassagnette (a restaurant in the south of France) in partnership with a group of friends. Their passion for authentic food is tangible through the deliciousness of croissants, baguettes, thyme madeleines, lavender loafs, pumpkin quiche (divine!), salads and sandwiches like croque "maman".
I couldn't think of more perfect place then Maman to host together with Le Collectif – two talented young women, the most charming and beautiful food styling workshop and brunch gathering I have recently attended. From the fresh baked goods and the lovely flower arrangements to the pretty props we got to play with, everything was organized in an elegant and tasteful manner. "Less is always more" was the leitmotif of the food styling tips Danielle and Meg shared with all of us. It is something I have always believed in, but I am not sure if I am always able to attain simplicity, especially when it comes to styling food. I am also not convinced that it is necessary on all occasions. This brought a number of old and new questions to mind such as, what is style and how do we define a personal sense of style.
If style is a personal "manner of doing something", can style be taught? Is it a combination of interests, desires, beliefs, inspirations, lifestyle and choices of clothing? Are there certain techniques that can help us develop style or is it something innate that we grow and live with – unique as our thumb prints? And if it is in fact personal, then how we dress, how we style our homes, cook our food and feed our souls should be a unique part and reflection of who we are.
Candidly, I took part in the food styling workshop because I love what Maman and Le Collectif do and wanted to support their efforts. My reason wasn't necessarily to attain this popular minimalistic look of food styling which I adore but isn't always who I am. I am simply curious and open for new knowledge. And I am grateful for the wonderful experience I had on this early September morning – being surrounded by beauty and good food, I met those young, proactive people (among whom, I guess, I was the only middle-aged woman :) who reminded me how important it is to stay true to myself and my personal sense of style. Style, I believe, is authenticity, first and foremost. 

"Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it" ~ Julia Child 


October 12, 2015

"My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird–equal seeker of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums. Here the calm deep in the speckled sand. 
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished. The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture. Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here, 
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up calm, telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever." Mary Oliver, Messenger 

I am grateful that there is love, soul, beauty, art, imagination, peace and good food in my life. Thankful that my legs can dance, my heart can feel and my eyes can see the gifts given to me. All the precious gifts of this generous giving earth. This gorgeous graceful light. Those challenges that take me back to the simplicity of here and now. Hardships that make me value them for the growth of the spirit. Breaths that fill me up with kindness and common sense. Encounters full of wisdom. Lessons that teach me patience and humility. Crossing paths with people and words that help me remember how to fully be human. And the gift of motherhood that fosters devotion and the selfless "I". I am grateful that there is LIFE – simple and complicated, brimming with wonders and ordinaries. I am grateful that I am finally aware enough to understand and practice gratitude. 

        Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Chocolate – Cinnamon Pear Loaf

(inspired by this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens, I think that this simple, beautiful and really tasty loaf would make for a perfect Thanksgiving dessert)


3 Bartlette pears
2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. orange juice
3 sticks cinnamon
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup olive oil
white baking chocolate, melted
finely shredded orange peels


Core the pears from the bottom, leaving the stems intact. In a large saucepan combine the water, 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice, cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add pears and reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes until pears are tender. Remove from the hear and drain liquid. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease the loaf pan and set aside. 
In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl whisk together egg, buttermilk and olive oil. Add to flour mixture and whisk until smooth. 
Pour batter into pan. In a small, shallow dish combine 1tbs. flour, 1tbs. cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Roll each pear in the mixture to lightly coat. Place pears, stems side up , down the center of the batter – pears will exposed at the top, while the batter will rise up around them during baking. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove, cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.  
Drizzle melted white chocolate over loaf. Garnish with orange peel. 


Taste Local, Love Local

October 1, 2015

Autumn is here!
It is the season of harvest. The time of gathering earth's bounty from juicy fruits and vegetables to grains and nuts. New ingredients to our hearty meals and a Thanksgiving feast with an intoxicating aroma of roasted turkey make the season extra special. Grapes are brought to their peak ripeness and winemakers are busy picking, processing and fermenting them to produce the best wines. I am fortunate to live in an area close to some of the best wineries in the country. Even though I am not a drinker at all, I grew up with a grandfather who made his own wine all his life, so I can appreciate a glass of the elegant "drink of the Gods" letting the glorious fruit flavour enhance the taste of every bite of food in my mouth. Even more so when the wine is local, from our own community, made with passion and integrity. Canadian wineries have had a hard time being taken seriously in the wine market especially competing with century-old producers in Europe, but there is no denying that the Canadian soil and climate are perfect for crafting quality wine. Only Ontario has three main wine regions: the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County and nearly 100 wineries. Therefore, I was intrigued by the invitation from Wine Country Ontario and LCBO to celebrate the fall harvest at their media event "Taste Local, Love Local". We were treated to delicious Ontario wines paired with an early unique Thanksgiving menu prepared by celebrity chef and locavore Lynn Crawford: Rich Chardonnay with Ontario cheeses, Sparkling Trius Brut with Salt-Baked Pear Salad, Dry Riesling with Pork Rib Roast & Ham Hock, Apple & Sauerkraut Bread Pudding and Ice wine with Pumpkin Cheesecake & Cranberry-Orange Topping.
While meeting local winemakers, chefs and food artisans, we were reminded that in a world of mass-production, the local artisanal goods take on extra value.

Here is the recipe of chef Lynn's 

Salt-Baked Pear Salad with Aged Cheddar 
serves 8


10–12 cups (2.5–3 L) kosher salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) whole pink or black peppercorns
8 whole star anise
4 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
4 firm, ripe Bosc pears, washed and dried
8–10 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 small Belgian endive, trimmed, cored and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
2 bunches red watercress, washed and dried, thick stems removed
¾ cup (175 mL) crumbled aged Canadian cheddar
½ cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
Brown Derby Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Toasted sliced almonds for garnish


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).  In a very large bowl, stir together 10 cups (2.5 L) salt, peppercorns, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven large enough to hold pears upright in a single layer and deep enough that they don’t sit above the pot’s rim, stand pears on blossom ends. Carefully spoon salt mixture over and around pears so they’re completely covered except for the stems, adding remainder of salt if necessary.
Bake, uncovered, until pears are tender when pierced with a wooden skewer, about 30 minutes.
Let pears cool completely in salt mixture, then carefully remove them from the pot, brushing off any salt that sticks to the skins. Discard salt mixture.
Just before serving, cut each pear lengthwise into 8 wedges, discarding cores and stems. In a large bowl, gently toss pear wedges, radishes, celery, endive, watercress, cheese and cranberries.
Add enough vinaigrette to coat ingredients and toss gently. Divide salad among 8 individual plates. Sprinkle with almonds.

Chef Lynn's signature 

Brown Derby Vinaigrette
about 2 cups


Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) liquid honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp (1 mL) kosher salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard
1⅓ cups (325 mL) canola oil


In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and salt until salt dissolves. Whisk in mustard.
Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil until fully incorporated and vinaigrette turns creamy. Pour into a covered container and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Whisk well before using.

If you are passionate about  great wine, on your next trip to Toronto do not forget to include a visit to Wine Country Ontario or try some of the best wines at the LCBO. 
For all the wine and buy-local lovers, "Taste Local, Love Local", the 2015 Ontario wine promotion is taking place at 655 LCBO stores across the provence until October 10. 150 restaurants also across Ontario are pairing wines by the glass with special local recipes. More information can be found on LCBO's website. 



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