They All Grow Up

Last night I returned from a week in Northern BC.   I decided that I needed to see my oldest daughter and thought a spring road trip was in order.  I headed off solo, equipped with snacks, water, coffee and loads of music and podcasts.  The first 5 hours were great.  I was singing, sipping and feeling inspired by the landscapes and the wisdom of the podcasts I had chosen.

After about 7 hours the novelty of the trip was wearing off and at 12 hours I decided this was down right ridiculous.  Although the landscapes are stunning, when you are by yourself a 14 hour drive is a little long.  It was my  plan to arrive while there was still some daylight but this was not to be.  My daughter was at work when I arrived and after taking a wrong exit and arriving in the ‘seedy side’ of town, I required a phone call to her at work so she could talk me in .  Geez, you would think I had never driven before.  The lack of lines on the road because of all the ploughing and sanding was not conducive to finding my way into a city I  was not familiar with.

After letting myself into her house and sleeping in the cozy bed she had ready for me, I awoke to get the coffee and myself ready for her arrival. ( she was working night shift when I arrived)  You know, it’s so strange to see your child grown up.  I know this might sound cliche but to see her arrive home with all her lunch containers, purse, keys and sporting the little “nurse jammies’ just seemed strange.  I sort of expected my happy little girl to show up and fall comfortably into her role of child and I her protective, wise mother.  Not so.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased to see her “all growed up’ as my niece used to say; but man, is she ever a going concern.  She did not go to bed when she got home from night shift, we went all day; choosing  material to reupholster her dining room chairs, getting groceries, perusing the shops and preparing dinner and an hors oeuvres for the party we were going to after dinner.  The whole time the music was playing in the car while she had conversations with me and then texted as we shopped and chatted.  I felt exhausted from the flurry of activity.  Upon reflection, it was so interesting to see what I used to be like. She is me to a tee at that age, always going never wanting to miss out on anything.  Oh, did I mention that she could barely walk from the X-Fit classes and personal training she does?  Yikes, slow down please.

That being said, we had an amazing time and I grew to realize that she is a young woman, fully capable and equipped to live a good life.  She loves sports, works hard, loves to hike and hunt and is a great cook as well.  She prepared me moose burgers, BBQ salmon and a delicious moose steak salad.

She has loads of friends and aqaintances, three jobs and a man who loves her and whom she adores. She is kind, generous and compassionate.  What more could a mother wish for in her daughter?

Below is a picture of the delicious salmon meal we shared at my daughter’s friend’s home while looking out at the frozen lake they live next to. The evening was finished with a soak in the hot tub while chatting and enjoying the scenery of the stark frozen lake and the northern woods.






Baker goes Primal for 21 Days




A Spring day on the coast

Last night was Day 3 of the 21 Day Challenge I have set out for myself. My goal is to drastically cut the carbs for three weeks in order to shake a little winter hibernation weight and mood off.

While walking yesterday, I contemplated how my moods seem to mimic the Spring winds.   It can be sunny and warm, cloudy and dark, windy and cool and even snow or hail, all on the same day here on the coast.

I find my moods mimicking the weather.  One minute I am on top of the world rocking it out to my favourite tunes and the next minute I am in the depths of despair listening to Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, otherwise known as ‘The Funeral March.’ I crave fresh, green food and then a moment later I can feel like diving into a gooey cinnamon bun.

Seriously, I need to get it together.  So, on that note I have decided to give myself a challenge to measure up to.  Yup. That’s right.  I am going to attempt to stick to something for 21 days, as opposed to my recent flitting from one thing to another, like a hummingbird gathering nectar.

As you know I love to cook and especially bake, so this plan does not exactly fit in with what I love to do but no matter.  I used some recipes from Primal websites for the first day and then in true Lauraleah fashion I ditched that tactic, knowing I could do better.

Last night was no exception. Our landlords live out on an island off the coast of Tofino and the last time they were here they gave us a bag of prawns.  I love fish and shellfish and am already tired of chicken so I thought prawns would be a nice change.

I looked through several recipes but in the end decided on something very quick and simple; Coconut prawns.


The preparation was so simple, anyone could handle it.

I simply peeled the prawns, rinsed them and patted them dry.

In two separate bowls I put one beaten egg and in the other some organic, unsweetened, shredded coconut.

In a frying pan I added a dollop of coconut oil and 3 cloves of chopped garlic.

Once the garlic started to sizzle I added the prawns which I had dipped in egg and then coconut and let them brown before turning.

In less than 15 minutes I had a scrumptious plate of prawns.


Coconut Prawns just out of the pan

My partner made the salad and I made the dressing and that was it.  Gourmet Primal, Lauraleah style.

To serve, we placed the prawns atop our salads, added a drizzle of dressing and dove into the meal.

We had enough leftovers to have for lunch the next day so when lunch rolls around today I don’t have to think about what we can eat.  Its in the fridge, plated just waiting for a drizzle of dressing.

Day 4 underway!


Coconut Prawn Salad

Spring Tidying

Comforting Lunch

fresh oat cakes, asiago cheese and figs in ginger syrup



lunch consumed, a cup of tea and a great read on a rainy spring day.




Today I have been spending some time learning more about setting up my blog.  One of the issues I have been struggling with is how to categorize my recipes so that they are easier for reader to locate on my blog.  Finally, I get it.  So today I created drop down menus under the Recipe tab on my blog which will allow readers to search more effectively for a recipe.  Most of the recipes I have are ones that I have used in previous blog posts.  I notice that I am missing some so I will spend more time today updating those.

I also spent a fair amount of time trying to insert the Pinterest hover button so that my photos could be pinned.  No luck. As far as I can understand my WordPress theme does not allow for plugins. If anyone knows differently please let me know.  I am so not a techy.

Of course what would a morning of blogging be without trying out a recipe.  I have been thinking about the oat cakes my Mom would make now and then when I was younger so I looked up a recipe online and quickly adapted the recipe to suit me.  They turned out great and as you can see by the photos I indulged in two for lunch accompanied by asiago cheese and some figs in ginger syrup that I canned last fall.  I used the immature second crop figs, which usually just freeze and drop to the ground before ripening.  A fine treat for a rainy spring day.

You should also notice that I have changed my blogroll and updated. Do check out some of the blogs I have listed.  I am especially fond of local milk right now.  Fantastic photo styling and recipes.

After a walk in the rain and a quick lunch I have had enough of technology and am moving on to knitting and weaving.

The Bread Pan Story




The Beacon Rise and Shine Kneading Pan purchased in Stonewall, Manitoba circa 1971




Check out this bread pan.  This is a large blue enamel bread pan that belonged to my mother.  It is an item in my kitchen that holds special meaning. ( really which items do I have that don’t?)

I remember exactly where and when my mother bought this item.

We were a long way from home travelling to visit my oldest brother who was living in Manitoba at the time.  It was of particular significance because it was our first long road trip as a family.  Me, my Mom and two older brothers piled into Mom’s Austin Cambridge, sans seat belts and headed east.  We left Vancouver Island and travelled for three days of straight driving if I recall correctly.  I remember being a little nervous as the semi-trucks headed toward us on the other side of the highway because as they passed they would create so much air flow that we would get drafted towards them and the car would shake as my Mom held steady on her side of the white line.

I recall several arguments about who was sitting in the front next but mostly I remember the sense of adventure I felt.  When we arrived at my aunt and uncle’s farm where my brother was living it was full on summer and hay season.

I have fond memories of horrible tasting water, fresh milk from the dairy, picnic lunches delivered to the men in the fields working, including my brother, and most of all the pies.

My aunt would make numerous pies for the hard working men and boys and have them cooling on the kitchen table.  My most embarrassing memory was when there were several lemon meringue pies on the table and I noticed many flies swarming the pies.  I thought I would be helpful (and try out the fly swatter) and swat a fly off one of the pies.  Imagine my horror as I swatted at a fly where upon lifting the swatter to see if I got it, realized the swatter had lifted the entire meringue topping and I had missed the fly completely.  Yikes.  My aunt was very good humoured about it but my Mom gave me a stern look and a few disapproving comments.

We delivered lunch in the back of a pick-up truck each day and would join the men in the tailgate picnic and the return back to the house to complete the day’s chores, gardening and dinner preparations.

On one day I remember being particularly excited because Mom was going to go shopping.  I went along with her and we stopped in several places looking for a ‘bread pan.’  What she was looking for was not a pan for baking but rather a large pan that would accommodate  the mixing and kneading of her bi-weekly bread making ritual back home.  She would make large batches of bread twice a week to keep us supplied with bread for toast, lunches and the like.  With three hungry kids this was no small feat while working full time and running a household.

Finally, when we were in Stonewall, Manitoba she found what she was looking for.  I believe the pan was hanging from the ceiling or up on a high shelf because I remember someone having to get it down for her to examine closely.  I had never seen such a pan before but I remember the ambience of the old hardware store and how good it felt to be there with my Mom looking for such a utilitarian item.

Since then that pan has housed many a batches of bread dough.  Eventually, when we all grew up and moved away Mom no longer needed to make large batches of bread.  I inherited the pan and began making my own bread dough in it.  This pan has been used for many other purposes in my house, one of which is steeping elder flowers to make elder flower champagne and another is for  ‘slaking’ green figs to preserve in ginger syrup.

As usual, this useful kitchen item brings back happy memories and keeps my stories alive as I go about my everyday rituals in the kitchen.  I look forward to passing on the pan and its stories to one of my children one day.


Comforting Ourselves


Rib Eye the way Mom made it.


Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa.

When I think of comfort the first thing I think of is food.  Whether I am feeling down, wanting to celebrate or even planning a camping trip, the first thing I think about is; what food should we have so we feel good?

Some might say using food as comfort is an unhealthy emotional disorder but I beg to differ.  I think using food as part of a solution to ‘the blues,’ to celebrate or to remind us of pleasurable times is a healthy.  That being said, I don’t disagree that when food is our only coping strategy to fluctuations in mood and circumstance then we have a problem. What I am talking about is something different.

The other day I was faced with an example of the circumstance I am referring to.  I was planning on spending a day with my youngest daughter who is just two weeks away from finishing her 3rd year of studies at university.  As is to be expected, she is rather wound up about all the assignments that are due and the worry that she will run out of time to get them done.  As I prepared for the trip down to see her I remembered myself in the exact same circumstance many years ago.  As well as spending time with her I wondered what I could do to make these last days easier for her.  The answer was rather obvious I suppose.  Food.

That’s right.  Food that reminds Hanna that she has a Mom who cares about her and who took the time to make her meals and treats memorable as well as delicious.  I arrived at her little place with Apricot Loaf, Salted,Double Chocolate Cookies, Oatmeal Bars and Blueberry Muffins.  I plunked the bag of treats on her kitchen table and said, “that should get you through the next few days.”  She replied, ‘yikes Mom,’  but I knew she was pleased.  As she toils away on her last papers and spends late nights in the art room, I imagine her sneaking a couple of cookies to stay awake and motivated while all the while knowing that she has a Mom who is there for her and wants her to succeed.

Another reminder of how food comforts  came in the last  few text messages that I received from my son, also away at university but far away in another country.  Sending him treats is out of the question because of the cost of shipping and the fact that by the time they arrived to him they would be stale or in pieces, not to mention he is an athlete on a scholarship and needs to stay in top physical condition, so he doesn’t often eat sweets during the school year.

The first text I received came after a brief phone call from my son about what cut of steak would be good for him to purchase.  A couple of hours after giving him some guidance I received a text of a picture with the most delicious, beautifully presented steak salad, complete with fresh cilantro garnish.  I was so proud of him and so pleased that he remembered a meal that I used to make when we only had a small amount of meat and needed it to stretch for the whole family.  I would make up an Asian style salad dressing, prepare a large salad, barbecue a steak and then slice the steak very thinly and place it over the salad.  After that I would put out a little dish of rock salt and the salad dressing and we would dress our own salads according to personal taste. I remember he used to really like this meal and I used to feel so smug, knowing I had fed my family with as little as one steak and a few fresh produce ingredients.

My son is getting near the end of a very long school year and because of his location it is still snowing and blowing while we bask in Spring here on the coast.  He has had more than enough of school and winter but needs to gather one last bit of steam to make it through the next month.  I guess the fresh cilantro and lime juice were flavors he instinctively knew would not only remind him of meals at home but also of fresher more green times to come as he prepares to return home to the island.

I received a second text message picture the following evening of a delicious looking grilled chicken breast with what looked to be fresh mango salsa, complete with cilantro, red pepper and onions.  I can’t explain how pleasing it is for me as a mother to know that my kids appreciate not only the nutrition food provides but the emotional nutrition we can give ourselves and our families when we make a habit of taking the time to prepare real food and present it in aesthetically pleasing ways each and every day.  I like to think of it as a big hug and an ‘I love you’ wrapped up in every bite.



Sheer Indulgence

unnamedSometimes when we have worked hard or perhaps need a little motivation or (bribe) it feels right to indulge oneself. This past week we took a break from work and so I took the opportunity to indulge myself in many ways.  I spent the week adventuring fairly close to home, hiking, walking to do errands and exploring new places in the wilderness.  I also did some spring cleaning, recycled and took a large bag of tired sweaters and clothes I never wear to the thrift store.  It felt good to purge and clean out after the ‘cozy wintriness.’  I feel ready for space and green and blue skies and warmer breezes now.

To reward myself for all this I turned to something I love to do, bake.  I spent time perusing my favourites Pinterest pages, delving deeper through the layers of amazing food photos and discovering new websites and blogs that inspire me.  One of the sites I discovered is a site called Local Milk.  Beth Kirby creates this inspiring site and besides being an amazing photographer with a fashionable, vintage flair, she is an enthusiastic, creative baker.

Part of my reward for cleaning and exercising and freeing myself from the constraints of everyday business was trying out one of her recipes.  Among the many recipes that had me salivating and itching to get in the kitchen, one stood out.  Salted, Spicy, Double Chocolate Chilli Cookies.  Are you kidding me?  Salt and double chocolate anything works for me, so, I just had to try these.  I have become partial to a coffee called a Mexicano, at a local coffee house this past year  and this recipe reminds me of a cookie version of the same flavors.

So with great fervour I hauled out my mixer and blocks of deep, dark, Callebeaut chocolate and began to create.  As usual, I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes and since I knew I would be giving most of the cookies away I substitued really good quality cinnamon for the cayenne pepper.  As well, instead of mixing the salt into the recipe, I chose to wait and sprinkle pink Himalayan salt on the tops of the baked cookies, just where the chocolate was oozing out of the thick, rich, dough.   I didn’t want the chocolate to totally dissolve so I waited a few minutes after I removed them from the oven and then carefully sprinkled the salt so it would be visible to the ‘consumer’ when biting into the delicious morsel.


The results?  Let’s just say I have dubbed these the most divine cookies I’ve ever made.  I mean the most ridiculously delicious, divine, indulgent, rich, dreamy taste I’ve  ever savoured.  I am not sure how but I did have the restraint to wait until the cookies were cooled and set (although I did sample the dough), before I tested one and let’s just say I was more than satisfied.  In all, I ate three cookies over the course of a couple of days, before packing them up and taking them to my daughter,who is in the final weeks of her second year of university.  I figured they would be good study treats, a reason to keep going even when she has had enough and just wants to pack up and head home.  I hope she is as delighted with them as I was.

My son is also at university but much too far away to send cookies, so he received a text message with photos of the cookies.  He inquired what was in them and asked for more details because he also could use a little ‘pick me up’ treat but unfortunately he had to make due with the pictures.  I will definitely be baking up another batch of these when he gets home.


How about this breakfast?


Since my last post I have been making a real effort to eat breakfast.  I still eat it later than I should but baby steps, right?  At least I am eating something in the morning.

One of my creations that was so delicious was a refried bean, egg creation.

It was really quite simple.

First, I sliced off a piece of thick sourdough bread.

Then I opened a can of organic refried kidney beans (the kind that don’t have lard or hydrogenated oil in them), and put about 1/4 cup into a pan, added a little walnut oil and some water.  I stirred this up and heated it so that the consistency was nice and creamy.

Next, I moved the beans to one side of the fry pan and cracked an egg in the same pan and fried it, over easy.

While the egg was cooking, I used 1/2 an avocado, juice of one key lime and some salt and pepper to make guacamole.

To assemble, I simply spread the beans into a circle on top of the toast, topped them with the egg and then carefully placed the the guacamole atop that. To that I added a sprig of fresh cilantro for garnish and viola!

The whole process took about 10 minutes.

This breakfast was able to satisfy my need for interesting, unique flavour as well as provide me with good nutrition and a full tummy for  most of the rest of the day.

Try it.



For my birthday last week,my daughter got me the most amazing book.  It is a coffee table size book, hardcover and a work of art. The book is called Kinfolk.  I found the title as I was perusing Pinterest one day.  As I clicked through, I kept finding the most beautiful photographs of people eating together in the simplest and yet beautiful settings.  The photos embodied everything I am about; sharing food and nature and conversation with my kinfolk, in unpretentious settings. Further investigation led me to the Kinfolk quarterly publications and the recent cookbook.  Just weeks before my birthday, I knew that this book was something I needed to add to my wish list.

Hanna, my youngest daughter came through with the prize and presented me with the book on my birthday. She is studying art and physical education at university and she has always been the one of my three children with an aesthetic sensibility similar to mine.  We have spent many an hour scouring thrift shops hoping to find that one special item that causes us to gasp with delight while imagining the story attached to it or strolling through neighbourhoods admiring the architecture, gardens and creating stories about who we think dwells in each of the places we see. It is fitting that she would be the one of my three children to give me this gift. I can’t wait to share it with her.  I can actually imagine Hanna creating a book such as this. She is getting to be quite the little photographer and artist.  Who knows, maybe we could embark on our own  venture together; she creates the art, photos and settings and I create the food and do the writing. Anything is possible.

So, this leads me to how I found my little Saturday project that I am going to experiment with today.  I think you know I like to forage, re: chanterelles, herring roe, hazelnuts blog posts.  Well, I have decided because of something I read in Kinfolk that I do not want to be know as a forager but rather a Wildcrafter.  According to Kinfolk, the entomology of the term ‘forager’ has negative connotations which refer to pillaging or ravaging nature. Since I do not want to do that or be referred to by a name that infers such meaning, I am now officially a ‘wildcrafter,’ and that is what my little experiment is going to be about today.

My intention is to head out to the forest, aka my backyard and carefully clip some new spring growth off the fir, pine and possibly spruce trees if I can find one.  After that I am going to attempt to make conifer infused vinegar and and Belgian chocolate truffles infused with spruce or pine.  Cool hey?  I’ll post photos and continue the story after the experiment.

Chat soon, I’m off to wildcraft.

What Do You Eat for Breakfast?

I don’t know about you but I never know what to have for breakfast.  First of all, I actually don’t like to eat until later in the morning.  I enjoy my first cup of java so much that I don’t want to ruin the pleasure of savouring the  steamy dark magic elixir from the same mug every morning.  After I finish my coffee I am not hungry and so I get on with the business of the day and realize at ten or eleven in the morning that I have not eaten yet.

I remember my Mom not eating breakfast and wondering ‘how could she possibly go without food after a long night of starvation?”  I also remember when she began drinking lemon water every morning and forcing herself to eat a bowl of oatmeal before she left for work.  I guess we all turn into our mothers sooner or later.  I recently began the lemon water routine and I am working on the breakfast.  I do like oatmeal but can’t imagine eating it early in the morning and certainly not every day.

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On that note, this morning at about ten I thought ok, I have to have some breakfast.  I gazed longingly at my empty expresso pot but talked myself out of another coffee and turned to one of my favourite blogs for inspiration on what to eat for breakfast.  I have been making smoothies a lot lately and so when I saw a mango, orange smoothie I thought I would give it a try.

I put 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1/2 banana, 1 orange and 1/2 lemon into the blender.  After whirling it around I decided I would add some extra goodness so I threw in a Tbsp. of flax seeds and about the same of chia seeds.

The result was tasty but the chia seeds gave it a pretty weird texture.  Seriously, why do I even have chia seeds in my house?  I think it is because I fell for some good marketing at the health food stores and magazines. Chia don’t even grow around here and what are they anyway.  For that matter, mangos, oranges, bananas or lemons don’t grow near here either.  So much for my ‘eat local and with the seasons’ motto.


What was I thinking?  I guess some oats grown in the prairies or at least somewhere in Canada might be a better alternative.

I guess mothers really do know best.  Even when it comes to breakfast.

So what did your mother teach or tell you eat for breakfast?  What do you like to eat for breakfast?  Send me some comments and ideas.  I would really like to get a grip on this.