Hot Polka Dot
11Mar/13

The Grape Escape.

Great Grape Pie because change is good via @hotpolkadot

Do you ever get stuck in a rut? All your favourite shows are on hiatus, you're eating the same boring meatloaf every monday, all your socks are white, you order the same entree at the same restaurant every date night, the Tim Horton's barista finishes your sentences and even your shampoo is boring you.

You need to mix it up! Routine is efficient, but, without any relief, it becomes stale and uninteresting. Be spontaneous, take chances, experiment and try new things. I'm not saying you need to go out and buy a motorcycle, dye your hair blue or go skydiving.

There are safer ways to be adventurous, ways that don't result in road rash or parachute failure. Try out that new Indian restaurant around the corner, give meatloaf night a rest, give that new latte a taste test and buy some polka dots socks for crying out loud!

Or maybe try putting some grapes in your pie. Never heard of it? Now you have! Sound weird? It's delicious!

Great Grape Pie because change is good via @hotpolkadot

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6Sep/12

From The Family Kitchen.

This recipe is adapted from a long-time family favourite. Whether we were gathering for Christmas dinner, Easter lunch or just a casual dinner party, my Oma would be lovingly coerced to bring Cherry Delight. Failure to bring said dessert would result in chiding and lots of disapproving head shakes. I wouldn't go as far to say that Oma would be denied turkey, but maybe not the choice slices.

For as long as I can remember Oma would make it in her tried and trusted vintage baking pan. The kind made of tarnished waffle-textured tin. We'd all wait patiently as the tea and coffee was poured and the heirloom spoons were distributed and fought over. We'd sit there salivating as the pieces were carefully sliced and passed around. We weren't allowed to eat until everyone had their fair share, until piece after piece was passed down the table. My aunt always scraped off the cherry topping from her slice and handed it over to the closest wide-eyed cherry lover. My uncle eats his layer by layer. Oma always had a sliver and I would usually have two.

Graham cracker crust, simple cream cheese filling, topped off with cherry pie filling. Easy, fast, basic. To anyone else it's just another no-bake cheesecake, nothing special. To us it's an institution, a tradition, a phenomenon.

Many of the recipes I share with you are adaptations of family recipes. Opa's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Grandma's Grasshopper Pie. Oma's Lemon Loaf. Mom's Angel Icebox. I've even explored recipes my distant Dutch and Indonesian relatives would have enjoyed like Kue Lapis Legit and Speculaas Cookies.

Food is an integral part of our family history. Food is what brings a family together, be it at the end of a busy day or after years of distance. That's why it pleases me to tell you I have a lovely book to give away on this very subject!

From the Family Kitchen by Gena Philibert-Ortega is a beautiful exploration of how food defines us and shapes us. It talks about how recipes handed down generation to generation have become treasured traditions and even guarded family secrets. These recipes, whether hand-scrawled on stained index cards or dictated and translated countless times, have a story to tell us over the decades and offer special insight on our genealogy. This book even includes several recipes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which demonstrate how much food changes with time, culture and circumstance. There's also a recipe journal included for you to document your own family's recipes and what special memories they're attached to.

If exploring your family history and recipes is important to you, please enter to win your own copy of From the Family Kitchen! For inquiring minds, take a look at the digital preview.

The reason there are no photos of a slice is because lunch guests usually frown upon dessert that's been already hacked up. When I learned my aunt and cousin were coming for a timely visit, I knew it was a perfect chance to make my version of this family favourite. And, wouldn't you know it, even with my homemade Cherry Sauce, she still scraped the topping off and gave it to me!

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15Jun/12

The Cleanse.

One slice of tart never made anyone fat. One day of exercise never made anyone fit. The magic happens somewhere in between.

I am a firm believer in eating the foods that you love in moderation while balancing it with exercise. No cutting out carbs, no avoiding pizza like the plague, no cabbage soup, no meal replacements, no swearing off cookies, no pills. Just good old fashioned eat your dang food groups! And make sure to indulge every once in a while!

Eating is easy, exercise isn't. We only ever have time to work, cook and clean anyway so why not work exercise in there somewhere?

Forget Jillian Michaels, forget Ab-Doer, forget Bow-flex! Just clean!

Jiggly arm fat? Try some bathtub scrub pushups and dish brush bicep curls.

Mummy tummy? Bust out the Pledge and do some floor wax planks and silver polishing sit ups.

Thunder thighs? Do some laundry lunges and Windex squats.

Throw in some vacuum cardio for good measure and finish it all off with duster stretches.

You'll look fabulous and so will your house! Your thighs will thank you and so will your floors!

While you bask in the glittery glow of your immaculate house and soak your tired feet, why not indulge a little? Slice yourself off a piece of this Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Tart. A crumbly salty pretzel cookie crust with a rich chocolate ganache filling swirled with smooth peanut butter.

Come on. You deserve it.

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13Sep/11

Magic Beans.

As promised, here is the most amazing thing you could possibly do with your homemade Dulce de Leche. Ok, maybe not the most amazing thing, but certainly the most amazing thing that I'm currently aware of. If you have any other ideas I'd love to hear them!

I recently bought a bulk pack of fifty bourbon vanilla beans. I haven't used extract in months and I'll never look back. Vanilla beans are far sweeter with a brighter, potent flavour without the alcohol aftertaste and they have those adorable little specs to decorate your food. Like built in sprinkles! These truly are the magic beans Jack was talking about.

We bought an entire case of peaches so the pie was absolutely essential. I can't have all that peachy goodness going to waste now can I? It was fate. A match made in heaven. Sweet peaches with velvety Dulce de Leche, flaky vanilla bean crust and top it all off with fresh vanilla bean whipped cream. It's a triple vanilla experience! My mind is blown!

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9Jun/11

Thick As Thieves.

Two of my very favourite things are in season right now. Cherries and lilacs. To celebrate I thought I'd combine the two.

I made you a Chocolate Hazelnut Cherry Tart and planted my very own lilac bush.

The latter was no easy task. Let me explain.

First you must know that you should consider me a frugal person. Not cheap. Frugal. If I can spend little to no money on anything I'll go for it. Who wouldn't, right? There are things I do not scrimp on. Cream cheese for one – why anyone would put anything other than Philadelphia in their mouths is beyond me. Eyeglasses – Gucci, Armani, Versace yes please. Laptops – sorry, but I'm not going to let an off brand hard drive anywhere near all my photos, videos and documents for fear they might spontaneously combust.

Pretty much everything else is up for grabs. All the clothes hanging in my closet were either very reasonably priced or very much on sale. I compare prices on flour. All the boxes in my pantry are generic brand or the next best thing.

So you can understand why I was not about to spend money on something like a lilac bush when they grow free and wild. I was also not about to be caught cloak and dagger in my neighbour's backyard absconding with their precious lilacs, pail and trowel in hand. So we took a drive. A long drive. And wouldn't you know, the further we got outside the city the less and less prevalent the tiny little flowers became. We drove down muddy roads, over potholes and through neighbourhoods we had no business being in. No luck and no lilacs.

So after all that we ended up spending less money on a lilac bush at the garden center than we spent on gas to fuel our little adventure. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a lilac thief.

Biting into this delicious tart makes me feel loads better though. At least I have that.

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