Evening Tipple: Drinks at the Haye Loft

If you’re ever toodling around Long Boat Key in Florida you may pass an old restaurant hidden behind a mess of palm trees on the one road on and off the island. This is Euphemia Haye. Feel free to make a reservation and enjoy sumptuous dining on the ground floor, but the real fun is to be found upstairs.

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In the Haye Loft, the bar above Euphemia Haye, you’ll find (at least four nights out of seven) a dashing older gentleman with a suave moustache mixing drinks and cracking jokes behind the counter. This is my uncle Eric. Go and tell him I say hi! Eric’s been a fixture behind the bar at the Haye Loft since its inception, and people come from all over to chat with him and sample his excellent cocktails and top shelf liquors. Here’s a nice rum with a delightful colour (not that I had any, but my dad said it was delicious).

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After finding out that the Pie’s favourite cocktail was the White Russian, Eric made him up a Smith and Kearns, which might be his new favourite.

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While you’re tippling away, avail yourself of the bar menu and give the hummus a try – it’s worth the experience.

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The Caesar salad is made up daily and bursts with flavour.

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And our unanimous favourite snack (which we never thought we would like) was the fried green tomatoes in a roasted red pepper sauce. It’s weird and not what you expect, but so good.

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If you still have room after all of that, go next door to the Dessert Bar. All these puppies are made fresh daily and differ depending on the season and the whims of the kitchen.

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The fruit crumbles shown here are the perennial favourite, though we preferred the berry crumble over the top-rated apple.

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If you’re in town, stop by and say hi!

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Berry White Chocolate Scones

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Every once in a while, I get a craving for scones, and they’re so easy to whip up that there’s really no point in NOT making them. I like to use this base recipe from Canadian Living for versions where I’m adding in buttermilk, and then I just kind of wing it from there. Today we’re adding white chocolate chunks and some frozen service berries.

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Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Grab your chocolate and roughly chop up a few ounces. Here I used 6 ounces white chocolate.

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In a bowl, dump about 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Give that a good stir.

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Cube up 1/2 cup cold butter and tip that in as well. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter up into coarse crumbs.

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Now tip in 1 cup frozen berries. If you’re using big berries I recommend a rough chop first. You can add in your chocolate chunks too at this point.

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Give them a stir until everything is coated in flour.

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Whisk together 1 cup buttermilk and 1 large egg.

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Tip that into the mix and stir until just combined.

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It will be sticky and gross.

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Form it into a rough ball and tip it out onto a floured surface.

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Dust your hands with flour and pat the dough into a flattened cylinder that is about 1-1 1/2 inches thick.

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Slice that sucker into as many pieces as you want. Twelve is always a good number.

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Line ’em up on your baking sheet – if they’re sticky then flour the parchment as well.

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Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until the scones are dry to the touch and slightly browned. If you are using extra frozen fruit, you may want to add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

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Serve immediately for breakfast, lunch, or dessert – or just a snack!

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Wingin’ It Wednesday: Just a Pinch

Happy birthday to Grenadier, the star of Ali Does It and the furry love of my life. He’s FIVE today!

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Tired snow dolphin. #corgisofinstagram #corgistagram

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For a very long time, I’ve had a certain fascination with the giant and colossal squid. Next to polar bears, they’re my favourite animal. I’m not sure why mega-predators of the Arctic and sub-Arctic are my thing, but that’s just who I am I guess. Knowing this, friends and family members often purchase me trinkets related to my love of those horrible tentacled things; however, because squid are WAY less cute and cuddly than other sea creatures, they’re hard to find. So more often than not, I end up with octopus-related items. Don’t get me wrong: the octopus is a great and noble creature. But it ain’t no squid. And I have a large amount of octopus-related paraphernalia these days. So NOW people think that I have a love for the octopus. So I get MORE. It’s a good thing that the octopus is still pretty cool. And that I have a decent collection of other marine-related fauna. Anyway. I got these for Christmas. Aren’t they adorable?

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The issue is that we prefer our pepper and salt to be freshly ground, so we have these overly expensive grinders that we adore.

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But those are too cute to put away, so what can I do? Why not put in some other spices that I should use more of in my daily seasonings? It’s a good alternative to salt, if you’re one of those people who uses a bit more than you should. Just give your favourite herb/spice combo a good whaz in your grinder to make sure it doesn’t clog up the holes in the shaker.

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I used a funnel to pour in my newly ground spice – just a small amount so it doesn’t go stale.

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And now it’s ready to add some extra zest to my life!

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Pretty Pomegranate Parfait

Merry Christmas!

Pretty Pomegranate Parfaits

I remember as a kid on Christmas morning it took my parents a Herculean amount of effort to peel us away from the treats in our stockings and get us to eat a half-decent breakfast before our day of gorging ourselves on candy and chocolate. With the promise of that in store, plain cereal or toast just seemed too … BLAH to eat, and we ended up picking at our food and being cranky later on.

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This quick dish might tempt even your most stalwart refusers this morning. Pomegranates are in season now and they’re an amazing superfood, full of antioxidants, vitamin C, and a satisfying crunch. The whole thing is just yogurt, pomegranate seeds, and granola, but you can assemble it in seconds and it looks like a fancy treat.

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Grab a pretty glass (it is a special occasion after all) and scoop in a bit of granola, followed by some pomegranate seeds. Layer in a bit of yogurt and smooth it so it touches the sides and sort of “seals” in the layer.

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Repeat until you get all the way to the top, and garnish with a sprinkling of granola and pomegranate seeds (maybe a sprig of mint if you’ve got it handy).

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Scarf it down and have the energy to start your day!

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Fast Tip Friday: Nonono ‘Nanners

FACT: If you wrap the tops of your banana bunches in plastic wrap, they will take longer to go brown.

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That’s why when you buy organic bananas at the store they usually already have that plastic thingy on their tops – because they turn brown faster.

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I am not even joking with you. Give it a try.

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Experiments in Grilled Cheese

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I’m trying to change up the way that I make food that I know is crappy for me. I figure if I make it well, with conscious effort to be precise, then it somehow makes it less crappy. Early on in our relationship, the Pie schooled me on the correct way to make a grilled cheese sandwich, and today I’m going to start playing with it to see if I can’t jazz it up a little bit. Today I’m going to add some tomatoes to the mix. Because tomato/cheese sandwiches are a favourite of mine.

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So we start with our bread. The Pie prefers a solid white Texas toast or thick-sliced sandwich bread to be his base. Everyone has their own preferences of course, but I do like how light and crispy white bread gets when you grill it, and it’s pretty much the only time we eat white bread so we figure that’s okay. Next, sparingly cover one side of each slice of your bread with margarine. This is the only time (aside from making those margarine cookies) that we use oleo in the house. Normally it’s butter, but we find the butter tends to burn too quickly in this particular case.

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Make sure to go right to the edges with your margarine. And don’t add too much – this is already a grease pile of a snack so you don’t want to overdo it. This is also why you don’t put margarine on BOTH sides of the bread. That’s too much.

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Now you can plop one of the slices of bread, spread-side down, on your warm griddle (medium heat is best), and add your cheese slices. We like to use high quality old Canadian cheddar. Because really it’s the best.

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I also had some cheese curds in the fridge so I added those as an experiment.

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Then I added on my slices of tomato. I think it helps if your tomato is at room temperature so it doesn’t interfere with the melting of the cheese.

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Then my second slice of bread and more cheese. I need the cheese on the second slice to melt enough to stay in place when I flip it down over the tomatoes.

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Of course when I flipped all the cheese curds fell out into the pan. But then I got some warm fried cheese curds, which were great. Like mini haloumi.

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And now you cook it long enough for everything inside to get gooey. Some people like their cheese only lightly grilled.

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Others, like myself, prefer a tougher exterior.

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Serve with a glass of milk and some pickles on the side. Always. How do you do YOUR grilled cheese? Next time, I’m going to try avocados!

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Road Trip Snacks: Apple Slices

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Today the Pie and I are actually on our way back from our first vacation in forever. We ended up driving to and from our various destinations because we like road trips, and one of the best parts of road trips, aside from oddities you stop at and the stellar conversation, is road snacks.

I made these before we left out of 2 apples that had been sitting in the fruit bowl for too long.

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This is a super simple operation. Preheat your oven to 225°F and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.

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Now slice up your apples. Give them a good scrubbing and run them through a mandolin cutter or food processor so you have super thin slices. You don’t have to worry about coring them, but you will want to remove any seeds you find because those are poisonous. And poisoning yourself is never a good idea.

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Plop them on your parchment and season if you like (options include cinnamon, Chinese five spice, lemon, and maybe a little bit of sugar if you have tart apples). These ones are unseasoned. I also only had room for two baking sheets so the apples overlap. This means they will stick together once dried, but I’m okay with that. Apples is apples, after all. If you want individual rings (instead of a fun sheet you can break apart) then make sure to keep ’em separated.

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Bake the apples for 1-2 hours, until they achieve your desired level of crispness (this will depend on how thick the slices are). Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

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