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More nesting. I apologize. But these are particularly good nesting moments that needed to be shared. They happened post-Christmas, which was technically part of the same vacation as the last post. But I couldn’t bore you with 60 images in one sitting. Or you’d never visit this site again, and that would make me so very sad.

You may recall from the last post that I’m working on obtaining my PhD in nesting. Some of you also may know, from experience, that getting a PhD – whether it be in biophysics, mechanical engineering, or the art of relaxation – is hard work.

I spent the first day of 2015 ingesting healthy foods. Which is challenging when someone with a horse tattoo is trying to steal your spiced pumpkin seed garnish.

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And I’ve been working on strengthening the mind/body connection with my spiritual guru. He’s an industry leader, having developed a patented set of progressive methods to induce relaxation. Furthermore, he’s published numerous papers in several relaxation journals, and is frequently cited by Psychology Today as one of the great minds of the 21st century.

Let me introduce you:

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Central to his theory of relaxation are 1) find a comfortable spot, preferably an off-limits bed and 2) follow a rigorous set of stretching, snoring, and other breathing exercises.

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I’m going to cop to a few facts here. These brownies:

  • with the exception of a few minor tweaks, are an exact replica of the recipe created Gaby Dalkin for her blog What’s Gaby Cooking. Don’t mess with perfection. Unless you’re adding espresso powder and swapping in bittersweet chocolate. 
  • were not meant to be eaten solely after winter sledding activities. Although this would make an optimal time for consumption.
  • are the tastiest baked good you’ve ever laid eyes on. Although if you’re one of those hedonists foolish/brilliant enough to wait 2 hours for a Dominque Ansel original cronut, you may have encountered a baking miracle a ½ notch above this.

Here’s another admission: these aren’t really called Sledding Brownies. Meander over to Gaby’s website looking for “Sledding Brownies” and you’ll get an ominous looking “NO RESULTS FOUND”. SO JUST BE AWARE OF THAT AND READ ON. I WILL ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS IN DUE TIME. But do visit Gaby’s website for all manner of delicious food. Really, she has everything: gluttonous treats and healthy eats. Check out her roundup of 10 healthy dishes to start 2015 before you get into trouble with the molasses cookies and brown sugar blondies.

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I saw Gaby post these brownies a few months ago, and they’ve been a bee in my bonnet ever since. I hesitate to use that expression since my Dad’s ex girlfriend used it ad nauseum when she referred to a vexing list of nonessential needs. His bathroom needed fluffier towels!  The bedroom walls required a crisper shade of white! The masonry over the fireplace!!! Well, couldn’t you see that it wasn’t wide enough? So, with that…brownies, chocolate cookie layer, Oreo-stuffed. [bzzzz]

My parents were at the lake over Christmas, and every time my Mum comes to visit, she brings two bags of Oreo cookies. These aren’t just ordinary Oreo cookies. They’re Canadian Oreos. Made with different ingredients altogether. The center is creamier, the cookie layers, richer. If you don’t believe me, I urge you to write to Kraft or Mondelēz or whatever they’re calling themselves these days and ask them why the Canadian version is superior.

Or, if putting pen to paper seems like an arduous task, enlist your favorite Canadian friend/relative/Parliament Member to send you a box and conduct a taste test in the privacy of your own home.

That’s what we did. Double blind. Rodney + the kids acted as the official judging panel to ensure accuracy and more important, eat the leftovers. The Canadian Oreos won by a landslide.

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Many people dread the coming of winter, the solstice, the shortening of days. In some ways, I crave winter. It’s my time to hibernate; to stay indoors unapologetically, to go to bed early and be awakened by a tip-toeing 3-year-old.

We were at the lake for the last two weeks and I steadily worked on my nesting PhD. So much so, that when Rodney arrived several days after us, he was shocked to find out that we’d barely set foot outside. The kids were happy, I was happy. We LEGOed, puzzled, cooked and watched nightly movies. Caught up on the classics: The STAR WARS trilogy and Back to the Future; The Parent Trap and Polyanna. We prepared for Christmas – the kids’ grandparents came to visit. We continued our nesting in full force: we ate; we traveled the globe one cocktail at a time: Manhattans, white Russians, apple cider Dark ‘n stormies.

It was the rest that I needed. The rest that we all needed. Unharried and unscheduled.

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There was a time, only a few months ago, when shakshuka wasn’t part of my cooking rotation.

I’d come across these eggs, baked with Moroccan or Tunisian ingredients – usually a mix of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, and sometimes with some additional spice (e.g. harissa) and/or cheese (e.g. feta). Smitten Kitchen has a version, the New York Times has one too, David Lebovitz – well, of course, he’s based in Paris, a city that thrives on North African food. The Italians even have a version, called “Eggs in Purgatory”. Shakshuka is – as my 102-year-old grandmother would say – all the rage. Check out Feed Feed where your search for shakshuka will deliver nearly 200 results. That’s a lot of spicy eggs.

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Once you’ve made shakshuka – or any kind of spicy baked egg dish, you’ll see why it’s become so popular.

1. It’s super simple, taking only minutes to cook…just a little more tim than it would take to remove the dreaded Eggo from the freezer, pop it into the toaster, and be doused in maple syrup.

2. It’s endlessly adaptable….this version of shakshuka has barely any tomato – and virtually no sauce. The eggs are cooked in a bed of onion and green pepper, and then topped with whatever ingredients I had available in the fridge. Add this dish to the arsenal of fridge dumping meals that includes fried rice and vegetarian lasagna. And don’t we all need a few more fridge dumping meals in our lives? Your wilting vegetables would clearly prefer a spicy shakshuka fate than a trip to the garbage can.

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It’s December 29, just a few short days before New Year’s Eve. I’m spent from this holiday. In a good way…but suffering from that specific type of exhaustion that comes from raising young kids.

Today was more of the usual: we made breakfast, we cleaned. I cleaned. We got dressed for skiing. We drove to the ski resort where the green Magic Carpet still isn’t open. I walked their skis up the bunny hill. I chased them down. I yelled “pizza not French fries! Don’t forget the pizza!” They prefer French fries. Skis railroaded, out of control, heading towards netting, SLOW signs and other beginners. Nobody was injured, at least not today.

I drove back home. They took naps while I dreamt that one day, I might be able to take one of those again.

I went grocery shopping. We made sandwiches for dinner. Sam no longer likes avocado. Emma no longer likes crusts. Fortunately she doesn’t ask me to cut them. She just rips them off her sandwich and scatters them onto the floor. Crusts no longer interest Jackson either. He sits and waits for the high-ticket items: the dropped turkey slice; the leftover cheese.

And me? I’m biding my time until 8:30PM when I can give the kids a nuzzle, tuck them in, fix myself a warm milk & Bailey’s and relax in bed with a good read. I have so many photos to share from the holidays, but I’m saving them until next week. Next week, life gets back on track, work resumes, the kids are back at school, and I can ease myself back into the business of blogging. With some exciting new directions for this space, so stay tuned.

Until then, I wanted to share with you some images that I took a few weeks ago at the launch party for the new Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York. I was covering social media that evening for Tarallucci e Vino, the museum’s new restaurant, so the images are iphone only, but still give a sense for the space. The new Cooper Hewitt Museum is housed in the old Carnegie mansion, built in 1899. The juxtaposition of old and new design is omnipresent, and highlighted by the modern Tarallucci e Vino café, which sits on the ground floor of the Museum.

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