Monday, November 17, 2014

A Little Wedding Teaser

I have spent the last several days wiping giant happy tears off my face. 
With a nice bottle of wine, Mr. A and I spent Friday night watching our wedding video. Then with a nice cup of coffee, Mr. A and I spent Saturday morning watching our wedding video for a second time. Finally, yesterday night, with a nice bowl of soup, I watched the video with my sister.

I thought my happy tears would dry out a little bit at a time with every viewing but Oh! How I was wrong. Every time I watch the video, I feel like my heart is ballooning at an exponential rate and is being filled with overwhelming feelings of love, gratitude, happiness, excitement and many other foreign but beautiful feelings that I will welcome with open arms. I can still taste that delicious cocktail of amazing emotions that we had at our wedding; that cocktail is getting more and more delicious by the second.

Unfortunately, I cannot share our wonderful wedding video on a blog (it's too long), but here is a short teaser for you to enjoy. The video is from Raffi and his amazing team at Yeraz Media.

Thank you to all vendors and loved ones who made our wedding day as brilliant and beautiful as it was. It was full of love, full of joy and full of unforgettable memories.


video

Tania & Armand - September 6, 2014
Hall: Montreal World Trade Centre
Caterer & coordinator: AVOCADO Traiteur
Videography: Yeraz Media
Photography: Prizma Productions
Entertainment: DJ Klix & Marco Mr.TamTam
Flowers: Les Petites Excuses
Rentals: Joe's Prop House & Celebrations

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sugar & (Pumpkin) Spice

As I hear the clinking clanking sounds of tempos going up, it has finally hit me... snow really is right around the corner. Although I am not a very big fan of the bone-numbing, face-hurting cold that is about to hit us soon, I really do love the jolly spirit winter comes with. The chilly nights that are perfect for movie marathons and hot chocolate (or maybe some spiked eggnog), the nostalgic Christmas songs, colorful decorations, Christmas cooking and baking for the whole family...

Before getting in the festive spirit prematurely, I decided to take more advantage of Fall. By now, many of you have probably overdosed on pumpkin-flavored everything. I am very late at entering this pumpkin game. I tried my very first pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks very recently. I decided to make the treat extra-decadently calorific so I ordered it with whipped cream on top.

I eagerly took my cup to my seat and dove in. I needed to finally understand why these pumpkin-spice lattes were so popular. I indulged in the soft, white cream with a spoon that had subtle hints of the pumpkin-flavored treat below. After devouring those cloud-like peaks, I stopped and looked down at my cup. I raised an eyebrow and started to wonder.

Why was my drink such a bright shade of orange? Pumpkins are orange but since when are they Oompa Loompa orange?



Maybe some of you already know this (and maybe some of you don't)... I eat everything! A bite at a time, I would proudly eat anything that is smelly, ugly, or slimy. I never discriminate and will try everything at least once. 




My biggest weakness though is sweets. I have never come across a sweet treat that I did not like... until now. Unless I am extremely full, you know that there is something terribly wrong with the food or drink in front of me (especially if it's sweet!) if I do not finish it... I didn't finish that orange disgrace of a latte and dumped that overpriced liquid-chemical-mixture straight in the garbage. 

If you're not tired of pumpkins yet (who can ever get tired of pumpkins?), here is an amazing recipe for the chewiest pumpkin spice cookies. These cookies are completely VEGAN and can be made in one bowl (easy cleanup!).

Indulge in what's left of Fall and get ready for Candy Cane/Mint-flavored everything once the snow hits. Oh! Deliciously magical times ahead!


Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Ingredients
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup sugar (plus a bit more to sprinkle on the cookies)
- 1/2 cup pumpkin purée(canned or homemade)
- 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 1 1/2 tsp Maple Syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup raisins
- zest of 1 orange

Directions
1- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2- Put the flour, oats, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix until they are all combined.
3- Make a well in the middle of the mixture and add the rest of the ingredients.
4- Stir until well combined.
5- Spoon mixture on the baking tray(I used a small ice cream scoop) and sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of each cookie.
6- Bake for 20 minutes.


Pumpkin Spice Cookies & Chai Latte




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Murphy & Emmanuel

When everything is going happily and smoothly, you can expect Murphy's law to suddenly come into effect at the worst possible moment. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.





Our honeymoon was breathtaking. Full of love, full of fun and full of action.
We had an amazing time in San Francisco; got a little drunk (the classy way) in Napa Valley while hot-air-ballooning over the vineyards at dawn; partied in Vegas while admiring the majestic strip; and, after a short 10-hour stay back in Montreal, were on our way to the Caribbean to relax with our feet in the sand and cold drinks in our hands. From Vegas, we took a flight back to San Francisco, then flew to Dallas and finally, came to Montreal. Once we landed in San Francisco, we only had 55 minutes to get on our Dallas flight. If we missed that flight, we would miss our flight to the Caribbean as well. This is when Murphy's law kicked in...

Knowing that having less than an hour between flights was quite risky, we took precautionary measures by travelling only with carry-on luggage and by downloading our boarding passes on our phones for the flight leaving for Dallas. 

So... what can go wrong? A lot of things!


Murphy 1 - Newlyweds 0: Our first flight was delayed-- suddenly, the 55 minutes ticked down to 50 minutes... then 45 minutes.. then 40 minutes. 

Murphy 2 - Newlyweds 0: We finally landed and were obviously pretty eager to debark from the plane; however, Murphy scored again. Turns out the airplane was not well ''parked'' so we had to wait another 5-6 minutes until the jet bridge was well-aligned with the door of the plane. 35 minutes left...

Murphy 3 - Newlyweds 0: When it was finally time, we grabbed our carry-on luggage and ran out like contestants on The Amazing Race. As we were running and looking for our gate, we came across another one of Murphy's tricks: the gate of our next flight (that was in about 30 minutes) was at another terminal. What does that mean? We had to go through security AGAIN! As we were approaching security, we met HIM! We could hear his high-pitched and nasal voice from several meters away. He was a short and slim middle-aged man likely of Filipino origin. He was wearing an ill-fitted burgundy suit jacket, dark pants with a big walky-talky hanging by the side and big, old-fashioned glasses with a silver frame. He was the bodily equivalent of Murphy's law; he was EMMANUEL!

Murphy/Emmanuel 4 -  Newlyweds 0: Every once in a while, you meet someone whose sole purpose in life seems to be to ruin yours. Emmanuel's job was to check travelers' tickets and to ensure that their carry-on luggage were of appropriate size before going through security. We had been on multiple flights with the same carry-on luggage and nobody had a problem with the size... nobody except, inevitably, Emmanuel. 

Yes, our bags were somewhat big (especially with the beautiful beach towels I got from Vegas!) but we were trying to explain to him that we had been on other flights with these bags before and that our next flight was to leave soon. He did not care. His high pitched voice got even higher as he told us that he was doing his job and that we had to check our bags in at the counter. As we arrived at the counter, the woman behind it told us that it is too late to check anything in for our flight. 

We ran back to Emmanuel and told him that he had to let us through with our luggage because we could not check our bags in. He pointed at the small compartment in which our suitcases were supposed to fit and kept repeating in his continuously-elevating voice "I have to do my job! There are cameras everywhere. I will call security if you try to pass!". He was clutching on to his walky-talky when he was mentioning the word "security".

Mr. A and I had now reached levels of stress that we did not know existed. Some *beep* words were uttered as we opened our suitcases and started emptying its contents and stuffing whatever we could in my purse and wrapping other things in my beautiful beach towels. 

We zipped up our bags, made it fit in the compartment and uttered a few more not-so-classy choice words to Emmanuel as we made our way to the next step.

Murphy 4 - Newlyweds 1 (YES!): Luckily, after hearing us and seeing our stress, many kind travelers let us pass before them in the queue. Finally, our streak of bad luck seemed to be ending. Just a few more steps before we could be on our plane.

Murphy 5 - Newlyweds 1: Spoke too soon. Murphy played another one of his cards when it was time to show our boarding passes. As mentioned, we only had electronic boarding passes on our phones and (surprise surprise!), the scanner was not reading them. We spent another 5-6 minutes in front of the absent-minded agents who were looking at us in a very dull and unimpressed way. It seemed like they did not have an ounce of sympathy or urgency in them.

Finally, with the help of some very kind fellow travelers, we zapped our boarding passes. We zoomed through the following security steps and, with our shoes still halfway on, it was time to sprint. 

I felt like we were running at such a speed that could put Usain Bolt to shame. We arrived at the gate mere minutes before the plane took off. Still somewhat trembling, sweating and holding giant, stuffed beach towels, we made it to our seats while telling eachother "Never again!" 

As stressful as this all was and as unforgiving Murphy and his law can be... THE NEWLYWEDS WON!

Our first meal on our honeymoon was lunch at the Hog Island Oyster Company in the Ferry building. Fresh oysters, warm clam chowder and comforting grilled cheese. The grilled cheese was completely different than the others I have tasted. The bread had a delicious crunch and the gooey center was filled with melted, sharp cheesy goodness. Perfect meal for a windy and chilly day. 


Hog Island Oyster Co.


Grilled Cheese (Hog Island Oyster Company style!)
*recipe from Leite's Culinaria
yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients
- 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 8 thick slices of sourdough bread
- 4 ounces Fromage Blanc cheese
- 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
- 4 ounces Cheddar cheese , grated
- 4 ounces Havarti cheese, grated

Directions

1. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices (butter side down) on a board and spread the fromage blanc on the plain side. Top each of these with the Gruyère, Cheddar and Havarti cheeses. 
2. Heat a large skillet for about 2 minutes. place 1 or 2 sandwiches in the pan, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes (until golden brown). Turn the sandwiches and press on them firmly with a spatula. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. 
3. Remove from the pan and let cool for a few minutes (if you can!). Slice diagonally and serve.





Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Wife

When I was young, I used to think that, as per tradition, I would get married and would leave my father's house with a dowry on my wedding day. I used to tell myself that there aren't too many incredibly special moments in life and I wouldn't want to deprive myself of the joy and excitement that came with starting a new life after getting married. 


Those thoughts changed a short while before Mr. A and I started living together in June 2012. We were living as husband and wife long before we said "I do". Of course, I knew that I would be exuding happiness on my wedding day but, in the back of my mind, I would wonder just how excited of a bride I would be considering that, once the celebrations were over, Mr. A and I would go back to the same house and live the same life we were living for the past few years. 

Our Magical Day! ©

Nothing could have prepared me for the delicious cocktail of emotions that came my way on our special day. A very powerful and comforting feeling rushes through you when you are surrounded by people who have come from near, from far (and from even farther!) who are full-heartedly and sincerely happy to celebrate your love and your union. 

As the champagne bottles were popped and high heels were swapped for dancing shoes, the day flew by like a magical dream full of smiles, laughter, tears of joy and with overwhelmingly humbling feelings of love and wonderfully foreign and exponentially-growing levels of jubilance. 

With smiles on our faces, love in our hearts and slightly tanner skin, we're back. Back home, back to our happy life and back to reality. Still drunk off that delicious cocktail of emotions, forever grateful for the presence of the wonderful people who joined in the celebrations and for the precious memories that will eternally be engraved in our hearts. The Prep Wife is now an official Wife... and is slowly polishing her skills as a Prep-Mom!


Mr. A and The (Prep) Wife! ©

Thursday, August 28, 2014

50 Shades of Brown

There are those mornings when you wake up feeling relaxed, energized and ready to take on the ups and downs of the day. And then there are other mornings... Mornings when morning comes too soon; when your snooze button rudely interrupts your dreams 10 times before you finally surrender and crawl out of bed; mornings when your eyelids refuse to let go of one another and mornings that are simply not complete without many cups of coffee and its wonderfully delicious shades of brown.

I've had a lot of those mornings lately. At one point, first thing in the morning, one of my colleagues asked me "Are you ok? Are you sick?" No, I was not sick... I was exhausted.

Up until recently, I never hit the snooze button when it was time to wake up. Once I was up, I was up. Now, I count the number of times I hit snooze and between each hit, I start rationalizing with my sleeping-self.

Tania, if you wake up now, you'll have time to exercise, shower, have coffee, breakfast and catch a recorded episode of Will & Grace.
*SNOOZE* 
Tania, if you wake up now, you'll still have time to exercise, shower, have a quick breakfast and watch half a Will & Grace episode... probably no time for a full cup of coffee.... who needs a full cup anyway?
*SNOOZE* 
Tania! You can still exercise and shower; coffee is definitely out of the question but you can have a quick bite and watch a few minutes of Will & Grace... I don't need to watch a full episode; I know them all by heart anyway.
*SNOOZE* 
Tania!! Just get up. Breakfast will be on the run. No time for anything. Just get up and go!! Thank goodness there is a coffee machine at work.

Nobody told me how laborious this wedding planning business would be. I am not complaining at all; I am enjoying every single most seconds of it. Wedding planning is not difficult; you just have to be organized. The difficult part is making sure that all other aspects of your life (like work... or blogging!!(haven't exactly passed with flying colors here)) stay afloat. Honestly, don't employers know how time consuming planning a wedding is? I say, just like parental leave, there should be a plan-your-wedding-leave!

It is now crunch time!! My mind is racing on all the things that need to be done and, in turn, I feel like Mr. A and I are racing against the clock. 8 days and dozen of cups and shades of coffee to go... still so tired but so grateful and excited.

Coffee comes in all many shades and shapes. Here's an amazing recipe for Mexican Coffee Granita. Beautiful brown crystals of frozen coffee. Yum!

Mexican Coffee Granita

Ingredients
- 2 cups strong black coffee or espresso (lukewarm)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 3/4-1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions
1- Combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves.
2- Poor the mixture in a pan and place it in the freezer.
3- Scrape and fluff the mixture with a fork every 30 minutes for about 3-4 hours until it is thoroughly frozen.
*Serve with sweetened whipped cream if desired. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Babies, Birthdays & under-Beds

If you have read my older blog posts, you probably remember the one where I explained how, since my mid-teens (even before I met Mr. A), I had been collecting random objects that I liked and would need for my future home. I had drinking glasses, a vast variety of kitchen utensils, table runners (that were out of style by the time Mr. A and I moved), candle holders, frying pans, etc. For years, I would keep everything under my bed while impatiently waiting for my knight in shining armor to sweep me off my feet and give me a home in which I could put everything I had collected over the years. That blog post was "Under the Bed" and you can read it at the following link: http://www.theprepwife.com/2013/10/under-bed.html. 

I went to Toys'R'us a few days ago to find a gift for the first birthday of my cousin's incredibly adorable twin boys. Yes, twins! I changed my first diaper and it was wonderful! I love babies. Crazily enough, every time there is a diaper to be changed... 



As I stepped into Toys'R'us, I felt like I had just landed in a new country and was asked to find my way without a map. Basically, I was lost and clueless. I strolled through the aisles quickly scanning the toys and stopping in front of anything that said "12 months and above". 

Without much success, I found myself in the clothing section of the store. I think the feeling I had in that department was close to the feeling that the 5-year-old-Me had when entering Toys'R'us. Surrounded by everything in miniature, the under-the-bed-Tania/my inner-prep-mom started to surface. I gawked at the tiny pajamas and socks that would look wonderful on the baby that I don't have yet! I told myself "I have to buy them! I have to stock up! They are so small. They won't take up any space!". Imagining Mr. A's reaction to my coming home with baby clothes (it would have probably been a mix between happiness, confusion and a slight dose of fear), my logical side eventually kicked in and I left the store only buying gifts for the twins.

Either way, very disappointingly (or perhaps thankfully), our bed is very low and there is not a lot of space to hide things under it... and I have already filled all the cupboards and closets of our house to (almost) full capacity. So I either have to resist buying tiny pajamas or find a house with bigger closets. I'll resist for now.

Because no birthday is complete without cake, here's a recipe for a classic Victoria Sponge Cake from the Queen of Cake: Peggy Porschen. I've baked with Peggy's recipes countless times and trust me when I say they NEVER disappoint. 

I know the recipe seems long but it's a lot easier than it looks.

Glorious Victoria Cake

Recipe from Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen 

Makes one 15cm (6in) round cake, serving 8–12 slices

Glorious Victoria (peggyporschen.com)

Ingredients

For the sponge:
- 200g unsalted butter, softened
- 200g caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Seeds of ½ vanilla pod
- 4 medium eggs
- 200g self-raising flour

For the sugar syrup:
- 150ml water
- 150g caster sugar
- Scraped vanilla pod

For the buttercream filling:
- 300g unsalted butter, softened
- 300g icing sugar, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- Seeds of ½ vanilla pod
- Small amount of pink food paste color
- 3 tbsp any good-quality raspberry jam

Equipment
Three 15cm (6in) round sandwich tins
Cake leveller or large serrated knife
Non-slip turntable
Flat disc to place on top of the turntable 
 (Peggy uses the loose base of a 30cm (12in) springform cake tin)
15cm (6in) round cake card
Metal side scraper
Two plastic piping bags
Medium star piping nozzle
Plain round 4mm (¼in) piping nozzle

Directions
Bake the sponges one day ahead of serving. Make the sugar syrup whilst baking the sponges. Prepare the buttercream filling and assemble and decorate the cake on the day of serving.

Preheat the oven to 175°C/350F.

Prepare the sandwich tins by greasing and lining them with greaseproof paper.

To make the sponge
Place the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla seeds in a mixing bowl and cream together until pale and fluffy.

Beat the eggs lightly in another bowl and slowly add to the butter mixture while whisking quickly. If the mixture starts to separate or curdle, stop adding the egg and beat in 2–3 tablespoons of the flour. This will rebind the batter.

Once all the egg has been added and combined with the butter mixture, sift in the flour and stir until the batter is just combined. This will ensure the sponges stay light and fluffy.

Divide the batter evenly between the sandwich tins. If you find it difficult to measure by eye, use your kitchen scales to weigh out the amount of sponge mixture for each tin.

Bake for 15–20 minutes, depending on your oven. If you are using deeper cake tins, the sponges will take longer to cook.

The sponges are cooked when the sides are beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tins and the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. If in doubt, insert a clean knife or wooden skewer into the centre of each sponge; it should come out clean.

To make the sugar syrup
While the sponges are baking, prepare the sugar syrup for soaking.

Place the water, caster sugar and vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Set aside to cool down slightly. Discard the vanilla pod.

Once the sponges are baked, let them rest for about 10 minutes outside of the oven. Using a pastry brush, soak the tops of the sponges with vanilla bean sugar syrup while they are still warm; this allows the syrup to be absorbed faster.

Once just warm, run a knife all the way round the sides of the tins, remove the sponges from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and then rest them overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed in and the sponges firm up to the perfect texture for trimming and layering. When trimmed too soon after baking, the sponges tend to crumble and may even break into pieces.

To make the buttercream filling
Place the butter, icing sugar, salt and vanilla seeds into a mixing bowl and cream together until very pale and fluffy.

Add a small amount of pink food colour to the mixture and stir through until combined and the buttercream is a pastel shade.

To assemble the cake
Trim and sandwich together the three sponge layers using one layer of buttercream filling and one layer of raspberry jam, and the vanilla sugar syrup for soaking.

With the remaining buttercream filling, cover or mask the top and sides of the cake.

To decorate
Place the cake either on to a cakestand or on top of the turntable covered with a piece of greaseproof paper.

Place a star nozzle into a plastic piping bag and fill with a generous amount of the remaining buttercream. Place a round nozzle into another plastic piping bag and fill with a small amount of the remaining buttercream.

Divide the top of the cake into eight equal segments. Using the star nozzle, pipe a ring of C-scrolls around the circumference, revolving the turntable as necessary. Next, pipe a shell from the middle of each C-scroll towards the centre.

Where all eight shells meet, pipe a rosette on top at the centre of the cake top. Using the round nozzle, pipe a small dot between each shell.

Using the star nozzle, pipe eight fleur de lys evenly around the sides at the top edge, with a single upside-down shell underneath at the bottom edge.

To finish, pipe a small dot between the fleur de lys and shell. If the cake has been placed on greaseproof paper, chill until the piped dots are set before transferring to a cakestand.

Serve the cake at room temperature. This cake is best enjoyed within 3 days of baking, but it can last for up to 1 week.

Glorious Victoria (peggyporschen.com)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Brunner

We had a lovely Brunner last weekend.

Brunner is the meal you have when you have planned a brunch for 1:00pm but realize that the Wimbeldon finals are on TV so you push it to 2:00pm. You then realize that the game is getting longer than expected so you push it again to 2:45pm. Finally, you make it to the restaurant at 2:44pm with your stomach singing the feed-me-now chant because you refused to eat a decent breakfast to leave room for the delicious hollandaise sauce-drenched goodies to come. You sit and wait for the fashionably late while chugging down coffee to stop the stomach-chanting that is quickly turning into stomach-chanting-and-dancing. At last, the "fashionable" arrive and a big plate of calorific goodness is placed in front of you at almost 4:00pm. You think to yourself "I got this!" and attack.

Starving, you suddenly feel like you have the special talent of unhinging your jaw and start hoovering up the food on your plate (and a little off your neighbor's plate). A little more than halfway through your giant meal, feeling like an abundantly stuffed Thanksgiving turkey, you notice that your now silenced stomach chants will turn to stomach pains if you keep eating. Nevertheless, you keep picking at the remaining food on your plate thinking you should take one more bite because it would be a sin to waste such scrumptiousness. (Thankfully, Mr. A gladly volunteered to help me clear my plate.) 

That, my friends, is a Brunner. Brunch that is of such wonderfully epic proportions and deliciousness that it automatically and unintentionally turns into dinner as well. 



Liquid gold

We went to L'Avenue on Mont-Royal; a magical place where Mr. A and I once enthusiastically waited in line for at least 45 minutes in -15 degrees of winter cold (remember those days?); where liquid gold (aka REAL maple syrup) flows in abundance and where the food is as enchanting as the bathrooms.

L'Avenue - Bathroom!

Because my eyes radar in on anything on the menu that has goat cheese, I had the Mr. Séguin: Eggs Benedict with goat cheese, sauteed mushrooms & spinach... and it was well worth the wait.


The Mr. Séguin


If you're a sucker for hollandaise sauce like me, here's the simplest recipe e.v.e.r. It is from Julia Child so you know it's good. All it takes is a blender, a few ingredients and less than 5 minutes.

Julia Child's Blender Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp salt
- a pinch of pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)

Directions
1- Place the egg yolks, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a blender and blend for 5 seconds at top speed.
2- Uncover the blender and (still on top speed) add the melted butter in a thin stream.
3- Season to taste. You're done! Serve immediately or place the jar in lukewarm (not hot!) water to keep it from solidifying.