strawberry quick jam | sevengrams

One can never prepare for bad or unsettling news, or how we might handle it. Six pounds of strawberries later, I can tell you that I buried myself in the kitchen and let the strawberries be a distraction. Some were chocolate dipped, others were pulverized with campari, lemon and sugar and turned into popsicles, some were diced and frozen for smoothies, some we buried and baked into a whole-grain galette crust, and the final pound were destined for jam. This jam.

It's been a hell of a week, and I'm glad to know its Friday and we'll soon be cruising into the weekend. Here's to health, strawberries and quick jams.



rhubarb coconut ice cream (vegan) | sevengrams

I don't talk about it very often, but I'm lactose intolerant. For years I fooled my body into thinking otherwise by popping a dairy pill just before devouring a pizza, a soft serve cone or a big bowl of yogurt. On the cusp of turning 30 though, my body has decided that its done with the pills and now chooses to just reject dairy all together.

Sure I'm a bit bummed, but I'm taking this on as a new culinary challenge. Pizza toppings need to be more exciting to make up for the lack of cheese, breakfast can't just be yogurt and granola, and ice creams need to be coconut based. So here I am, almost exactly one year later, trying to replicate last years rhubarb ice cream goodness, but without the dairy.

If you've been around here long enough, you'll know that my love for rhubarb runs deep. We inherited a garden that's bursting with perennial rhubarb (winning!) and I couldn't be more excited. This week alone there's already been crisp, compote, this ice cream, and dreams of this cake. Its going to be a good couple of weeks. Happy end of Spring friends!



Fattoush Salad with Sumac Dressing | Sevengrams

Recipes have been few and far between around here lately, and though I feel a little sad about that, I've accepted that life comes first. Evenings and weekends have been busier than usual, juggling larger commitments at work, planning a wedding and reading up on gardening in hopes that I'll develop a green thumb in time for summer (fingers crossed). Don't be mistaken though, we've been cooking tons and eating loads, I just haven't had the 'umphf' lately to photograph recipes and write about them.

But, last weekend was different. We were unexpectedly in town and I was able to take a few day light shots as I prepped and cooked my way through this fattoush salad - destined for Monday's desk lunch. Sundays have always been, and continue to be my meal prep day. I start out by planning my way through a menu for the week, develop my grocery list from that menu and then hit the market.

This salad though, needs to be mixed just before serving -- otherwise the lettuce gets soggy and the pita chips loose their crunch. So instead of dismissing this recipe from the blog because I couldn't get final "beauty shots", I decided to just roll with real life, and snap a pic of my tupperware at work. Yep, real life -- unedited, messy and in a tupperware.



Bangkok, Thailand | Sevengrams

After a week in Hong Kong and a few days in Bali, we headed to Bangkok to met up with my parents. Spending a handful of days with my parents and new fiancée (!!!) in Asia was like a dream. We templed, we tuk-tuk'd, we ate all the thai curries and mango sticky rice, we resisted buying everything at the weekend market, we dined under a condom chandelier, we ventured out of town for a historically charged day trip, we ate dinner on a boat cruising down the chao phraya, and we popped bottles at a fancy hotel. It was seriously fabulous.


Bali | Sevengrams

After Hong Kong, we headed to Bali, quite possibly my favourite place in the whole wide world. All the fabulous memories that I held onto from 5 years ago still held true, and I left feeling more in love with the island than I did the previous time.

We only had 4 days, but we were determined to see as much as we could. We split our time between Ubud, the island's 'centre' filled with crafts and dance, and surrounded by rainforest and rice terraces, and Sanur, a beachfront town on the southeast coast. Our Ubud hotel was absolute bliss, and I worried I may never want to leave. We saw monkeys and offerings, ate all the nasi goreng and mie goreng we could get our hands on, pampered ourselves with affordable massages, and strolled through the local streets and markets. We day tripped to the rice terraces, water temples and 11th century rock carvings. We took in the unforgettable Balinese sunsets, with a Bintang in tow, and hopped over to Lembongan for a quick island tour. And then, on our last morning in Bali (January 5th), we got engaged. It was the perfect end to an unforgettable few days in one of my favourite places.


Hong Kong | Sevengrams

I had the best intentions of writing about our Asia trip as soon as we got back. In January. Whoops.

Well, better late than never, right?

We spent just over two weeks in South East Asia back in late December/early January. Our first stop was Hong Kong, followed by Bali and Bangkok. The week was spent with a handful of local friends who had all the insider information on what to do, see, and eat. And boy did we eat. Our first day consisted of morning dim sum in the New Territories, followed by a traditional Chinese wedding in the evening -- filled with mahjong, 10 wardrobe changes for the bride and an epic 12 course meal (birds nest soup anyone?). The rest of the week flew by in a blur of ferry rides, day trips, lots of walking, food and more food. I can honestly say that we ate our way through mainland China without actually leaving Hong Kong. It was incredible.



How to host a cookies + punch party | Sevengrams

The problem with hobbies, it that they often end up taking the back seat when life gets busy. Case in point - this space and my commitment to the blog. I've totally dropped the ball over here lately, and can't quite pin it on one specific reason why.

It took the holiday season to kick me back into gear. I've been busy decorating the apartment, baking all the cookies, and planning some of the best custom christmas gifts ever. This time of year I also love hosting. There's something really special about setting aside a night to just spend some quality time with friends. We realized last year that December weekends fill up quickly, so suggested a weeknight holiday soirée with friends.

In an attempt to establish a new holiday tradition, we hosted our second annual cookies and punch party this past Tuesday -- an excuse to menu plan, decorate the house, and share in a little holiday indulgence. Weeknight hosting isn't as tough as you may think, you just need to plan ahead. I've done my best to break it down below. Wishing you all a festive and happy holiday season!