covid year one: eat and drink locally

Guess what everyone, we did it! We’ve made it through year one of the pandemic. One full year since life as we knew it completely changed in a matter of a few days. A year ago, today, we cancelled our Disney trip 10 hours prior to take-off. Wow, like now, thinking back about March 2020, how naïve was I thinking we would probably have to wait a few weeks before we’d be able to go back to our daily routine. Looking back, maybe I was wayyyy too optimistic, or maybe I simply had no clue how lucky we were back then. What I know is that we were taking our daily life for granted and hopefully we’ll never get back there once the pandemic is over.

So I have been quiet here lately, and to be honest, the last 6 months have been really hard on me. I haven’t been myself at times, feeling down, and lonely, and tired of all this, not knowing when things would be better. With weekdays and weekends blending into one, and weeks becoming months. I know I am not the only one going through a rough time, and I feel for all of you going through something similar. So to everyone else who feels like every day is the same with school, work, cooking, cleaning, housework and then going to bed, well hang tight. I’m usually big on celebrating everything but there wasn’t much to celebrate in the last year. Yet, I feel like we’re about to turn a corner here. Finally! The pandemic isn’t over, and there’s probably still a long way ahead before I can go to Disney with my family and go buy some avocados and chips at the grocery store without wearing my mask, but the days are starting to get longer and I’m feeling more and more like myself, I can feel spring is coming, baby lemons are growing in my lemon tree, we will be opening our summer cottage in less than 2 months, and all this is making me so very much happy!

I’m proud of us and how we’ve handled the pandemic so far, you know, trying our best to do our part to limit the spread, staying home, staying safe, and being conscious of the regulations and public health measures, while also supporting our local businesses, restaurants and breweries!

I mean we’ve always enjoyed eating out and encouraging local restaurants before, but since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been trying to do take-out once a week, ordering from different places, and I thought I’d let you know all about it. Of course the boys would prefer to have Domino’s every week, but I now prefer my pizza in a long rectangular box, and once you’ll try this pizza, so will you! So here’s some of our favorite spots we’ve been ordering from in the last year:

1- Farinella: As I just said, my favorite pizza now comes in a long Farinella box. I’ve been obsessed with this place since I’ve heard about it 2 years ago. It’s a bit of a drive for us, but oooh so worth it! Our favorite ones are the Frank Pinello and the Salamino! So we like to try different ones when we eat there, but when we order out, we’re boring and go with what we know we’ll like. And those two are such a great combo. But I am not done… guess what else they do? Freakin gelato!!! Yeah, their gelato is to die for! So if you go, don’t make the mistake of simply buying a pint or two like I did on my first time, nope, buy as much as there’s room in your freezer, and you won’t regret it! Pistachio, Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut are my favorite ones. So this place has been our go-to take-out restaurant on Saturday night over the last year, and I will continue to order out but can’t wait to go there on a sunny Saturday afternoon and try all of their pizzas and gelatos!

2- Vert Fourchette: So not everyone here will know about Vert Fourchette as this is located in Vankleek Hill, about 50 minutes away from Ottawa, but we just love everything about that place and you will to after a single visit. It’s fresh, inspired and always delicious. They’ve created an awesome pick-up menu during the lockdown, and now even if the dining room has reopened, you can still order to go or get some of their delicious frozen meals. They also have special charcuterie boxes for special events. For Valentine’s Day, we ordered the 4 course meal and it was so much fun to prepare and even more fun to eat. The best thing we’ve tried is the chèvre chaud with bacon and fig… I can’t describe it, but oh boy was it good. Brian had the salmon while I had the Beef Wellington for diner, which was delicious, but I would have been okay simply eating more and more chèvre chaud as my main meal. It was that good. Can’t wait to go for tacos on the terrace.

3- Beau’s Brewery: Talking about Vankleek Hill, well of course I had to have Beau’s on this list! At first we were getting Beau’s delivered at home, but after a while we started to go to the Brewery to get out of the house. And now that their Tap room is OPEN, guess where we’ll be on Saturday! If you can’t get to Vankleek Hill, you should order some of their beers online. But if you can visit the brewery, you should! What I’m most excited about is their outside setup, as a few benches and fire pits have been installed outside the brewery where you can enjoy a beer by the fire and catch up with friends. Beau’s will always make the list, pandemic or not! Now, let’s hope this thing goes away fast so they can bring back Oktoberfest in 2021!

4- Black Walnut Bakery: We are so lucky to live about 7 minutes away from this perfect picture family owned bakery. If you live too far to visit the bakery, simply follow them on Instagram to see all the amazing items they make! Their French croissants, lattes and loaves of bread are sooooo good. During the pandemic, we’ve been ordering online in advance and picking it up at our scheduled time. If you simply want to walk-in you still can, but the place is usually packed! People are lining up on the side of the road every weekend to get their hands on one of their freshly baked goods. On my to-do list will be to reserve a spot for the Sourdough Pîzza Evenings they are hosting in the summer. Wasn’t lucky enough last summer, so keeping my fingers crossed that I can get my name on the list this summer!

5- Orleans Brewing Co.: So Brian discovered this local brewery at the beginning of the pandemic when it got easier and safer to order directly from the breweries rather than going to LCBO, and let’s just say that he’s been quite happy about it! OBC have some great beers and they also offer local delivery, sometime even on the same day. Talk about awesome customer service! We haven’t been out to the brewery for food yet but our friend Phil did, many times, and every time he’s there he posts whatever he’s having on Instagram and it always look so delicious. So this is also on my to-do list for the next few months. Now if we could only have a babysitter for a night out at the brewery!

6- Cucina Da Vito: This has been our other go-to place this winter. Fresh and amazingly delicious Italian pasta. Brian has tried different dishes, his favorite one being the Penne alla Speck, while I’ve kept ordering the same thing over and over. Their gnocchi dish has ruined any other pasta dish for me, it’s like eating a cloud! Like literally, and I couldn’t get tired of it. We haven’t had dinner on-site in a while now, but their restaurant is beautiful and classic, and I can’t wait to go back. The take-out menu is great so if you don’t feel like cooking tonight or tomorrow and you’re hungry for a delicious meal, give them a call and you will be amazed.

7- La Ha Tacos: If you know me then you know I could easily eat tacos every day and I would be happy, like realllllly happy. La Ha Tacos is a local food truck that happens to be 3 minutes away from my workplace and they have the best tacos in Ottawa. The warm tortilla chips and fresh salsa, and the Hibiscus Tea are just the best way to lead to my favorite dish, the Chicken Taco. La Ha Tacos’ food truck is usually closed for the winter and it breaks my heart every year, but this year they found a location not too far away where they kept on serving their amazing food during the winter. Visit their website to place your order in advance and then simply pick it up and enjoy!

There’s a few other places that I want to try in the upcoming weeks, Gongfu Bao on Bank Street in Ottawa, Cantina Gia for Italian food, Brauwerk Hoffman, a new brewery in Rockland only a few minutes away from home, and Sundae School, for some awesome ice cream!

I’m ALWAYS up to try new food or restaurants, so if you have any recommendations for me, please send them my way! And I will be sending a 50$ gift card to the place of your choice from the list above to one lucky follower who shares my post and leaves a recommendation in the comment section. What better way to start year 2 of the pandemic than with free food or free beers. Cheers everyone, stay safe and enjoy spring time, I know I will!

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spicy pesto chicken on the barbie

Summer may be kind of over already, but it’s never too late for a nice BBQ! This Spicy Pesto Chicken recipe has been one of our favorite and go-to BBQ meal all summer long and it’s so good that I have to share! 

You can do this recipe with any cut of chicken: whole, breast or even thighs. Our go-to has been with a whole chicken cooked on a beer can chicken holder! I suggest marinating the chicken at least 4 hours to really get all the flavours inside. Serve with grilled veggies and some pesto aioli.

This recipe is perfect for entertaining or for a school night meal. Prepare everything in advance and just cook when you’re ready. So much flavours! It’s September, but there’s still plenty of time left to enjoy some more BBQ, so let’s do it and cook this one soon!

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our homemade bread

Well that what quite the turn of events… On Thursday March 12, at about 4 pm, 14 hours prior our flight departure, we pulled the plug on our long awaited Disney World trip due to the coronavirus/Covid-19 crisis. We were completely heartbroken. So while the boys and I were crying our hearts out, Brian was on three different phones, calling the airline, hotel, car rental, etc. It was a real mess… but he was so patient with all this, knowing he was not the only one in this situation. After countless phone calls and hours on hold, he was finally able to get everything cancelled by Monday morning. So since then, like most people, we’ve been shackled down in our home, which I guess is not that bad. Our new daily routine includes taking walks, playing millions of games, drawing and crafting, as well as, since Monday morning, homeschooling the boys. I’m use to being with the boys for long periods of time, aka SUMMER, so the real adjustment has been with Brian. He’s really not used on staying home for long period of time. To say it’s been an adjustment would be putting it mildly! He had to get a hobby. And I am so glad he did! So while it’s getting trickier to run to the store to get some groceries amid this crisis, my husband has decided to make his own bread… and to my surprise, it’s not bad! 

Our first try was really a test. But now that he’s tweaked the recipe, it’s actually just perfect! So I’ve decided to share it with you since you probably also have a bit more time on your hands and making bread is definitely now one of the highlights of our days!

Baking, bread, family, food, comfort food,
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summery greek salad

First, I want to say how sorry I am for having gone MIA. No excuses, just life happening a bit too fast, and with the end of the school year, I felt a bit overwhelmed. But I’m back, with so much to share! I know I haven’t finished posting about our last Florida trip. I have a “Best of Disney” coming up and then a full-on, over the top Wizarding World of Harry Potter post that will be way to long but nevertheless amazing! 

But let’s start with a summer dish/meal to kick off the season. I feel like it took a full extra month to get the summer started, but now that we’re right in the midst of it, all I wanna do is spending time outside, either on our backyard deck or in the pool, while eating light and refreshing food. 

We have so many BBQs and family gatherings lined up, and you probably do as well, so next time you want to prepare something quickly, you need to try this one! This summery Greek Salad is simple to make, with no cooking, and it takes no-time at all, which means you can spend more time entertaining your guests instead of making a mess in the kitchen! 

I’ve already made this a couple of times in the last few weeks and I can’t get enough. Perfect with burgers or grilled chicken breast. Or serve it on top of leafy greens for a light and delicious lunch. So, I’ll stop raving about this recipe and let you go fetch your veggies and prep this baby up. 

You probably have most of the ingredients on hand, so make it tonight and it will become your go-to summer recipe. It’s full of veggies so you can indulge on more ice cream after dinner! Happy summer my friends!

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white chicken chili

Now that we’ve been dealing with what seems to be like a week long winter storm, my first recipe of 2019 had to be a comfy one. The cold is really getting to me, and all I want to do is stay inside and eat warm and comfort food.

After eating way too much during the holidays, I’ve been trying to be a little more health conscious lately. So when I decided to try a new slow cooker white chili recipe, I had that in the back of my mind, and I ended up with an healthy and delicious meal! Easy, cheap and full of flavour. All you need is a few ingredients that you probably already have, plus a slow cooker. If you don’t have one, borrow one from your mom, I know she has one!

Perfect for dealing with this crazy cold weather or after coming back inside from a nice snowshoeing hike. That’s what I did and it was the best bowl of white chili I ever had!

Make this recipe this week, you won’t regret it! Or for watching the Patriots win next weekend!

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best chewy ginger cookies

So for a month that is usually pretty long and boring, November literally just flew by. It was a crazy busy month and it doesn’t seems like December will be any different. At least it will be a joyful month, as the house is fully decorated, I’ve received our Holiday cards, Christmas music is playing non-stop on our record player, and the smell of the freshly cut tree makes me really happy every time I come in. There’s still a lot to be done before the 25th, including all my Christmas shopping, which is definitely my least (yeah right!) favorite December activity. One of my new favorite activity: sitting in front of our Christmas tree with a homemade Hazelnut latte and a delicious homemade cookie. I don’t know if you drink latte, but as for the cookies, I’ve got you covered!

Last year, a mom from my school brought some homemade cookies to the admin staff… I initially didn’t have any but when my co-worker told me how delicious they were, I took one. Literally, this was a life changing event as I had just discovered my new favorite cookie! They were simply the most delicious ginger molasses cookies ever, and even tasted like Christmas. I hadn’t finished my cookie that I was already emailing the mom to thank her… while also asking for the recipe, of course! I was so happy when she agreed to send it to me. Well, even if SHE made the best cookies, I clearly didn’t. I tried the recipe 4 times with no success! I spoke to her, checked the recipe… nothing was working, and just could figure out why I couldn’t get this recipe to work. 

So fast forward to 2 weeks ago, I was craving for that said cookie and decided to go on the hunt for an another recipe, one that I could make. And I found it!!! 20 minutes later, I had baked the perfect Chewy Ginger Cookies. They are really easy to make, and guess what, I’d say they’re kind of as good as the one I tasted last year! So I really want to spread the cookie love and share this recipe with all of you. Fast and easy enough to bake after diner or early Saturday morning to enjoy all weekend long. This recipe will give you about 16 large cookies or 22 small ones (just make sure you bake them a little less).

You guys have to try these this December or for Christmas. I’m already on batch number 6, as we just can’t seem to get enough. These stay fresh for a week in an air-tight container. But I don’t think they will last that long! You’ll just have to whip up another batch. Pretty sure these would be awesome as ice cream sandwiches as well… mmm, yep, will definitely try it this weekend! Let me know what you think. Enjoy!

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pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

You know the feeling when you get craving for a certain taste and it just doesn’t go away until you have a bite of it? Well it was early October and I was in the mood for some chocolate chip cookies: gooey, soft and moist. Not the store bought kind, but the warm, directly from the oven kind! I just love baking cookies, and while most of the times the already premade cookie dough will do the thing (this dough is sooo good uncooked right out of the package… someone please tell me you can’t actually dies from eating this raw, right?), well this time, I felt like I wanted to add a little something extra to it… a little pumpkin extra! 

Well, why not!? It’s pumpkin season, I’m obsess with everything pumpkin, so let’s do this!

All you need is to buy a can of pumpkin puree and within minutes you will have amazing cookies.

One of the best October idea ever: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Ice Cream Sandwich! Oh yes, this is a thing, I’ve tried it, and you’re welcome! Splurge into your favorite fancy ice cream and place a scoop of it between two cookies. Pumpkin Heaven!

Make it this weekend and this will become an immediate Fall favorite of yours. And don’t expect any leftovers for Halloween, these will all be gone by Monday morning. I will probably make some more this weekend, I kind of feel another craving coming now that I’m thinking about it!!!

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pumpkin cinnamon rolls, bet you can’t eat just one

 

Even if it’s super-hot outside and still feels like we’re mid-summer, all I seem to be craving for right now is comfort food. Bake pasta dishes, hot spicy chili, pot roast, homemade donuts and these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. So if I could tell you only one thing about this recipe is that –OMG– the smell in the house as they bake is as AMAZING as what they taste!

So I baked one batch and I swear that Liam could have eat it all by himself, easily. But that will never happen because I, for sure, had to have a few as well!

Liam just love Cinnamon Rolls. Every time we go to a shopping mall, he sniffles around to see if he can find a Cinnabons’ store around the corner! And when he does find one, we always take a break, share one, and then continue along with our shopping, full and happy. The soft dough makes these simply the best! So when I told him “Are you up to whip up a batch of cinnamon rolls with me?”… he was all too happy to help… but also a bit impatient during the rising phase! I did let him have the first one, which he did few minutes after they were out of the oven. He was way too excited to wait… I understand you buddy, don’t worry!

So buy all the ingredients you’ll need, and next Saturday or Sunday morning, wear your comfiest pj’s and start baking. Your house will smell like Fall with all the nice scent of the pumpkin spice baking!

Then, all you have to do is grab a book, sit outside in the crisp morning air with a warm blanket and eat your delicious pumpkin rolls! You can also invite me over if there are some left over. Happy baking my friends!

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lavender and honey cheesecake

     I wasn’t planning on sharing this cheesecake recipe at first, but since I received many requests to share it this week after posting a picture on Instagram, I felt like I kinda had no choice but to do so!
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good food, awesome food

Well, this is not my first time talking about the Good Food company and it probably won’t be my last. As I am writing this blog, it’s Monday night, which is swim lessons night for the boys, which is usually a real complicated and busy evening for us, and although today I was too sick to make it to work, and too sick to go to the grocery store, making diner ended up being as simple and as delicious as possible! (Which is the usual feeling at home on Good Food dinner day).

So, are you feeling like you’re often eating the same meals, over and over again? Stuck in a dinner rut, with the same pasta dish every week, or with your go-to chicken-veggies-rice (the boys hate this so much!)? Well, if you haven’t tried the Good Food box deliveries yet, I’ve got what you need… so you should continue reading!

We’ve been ordering from Good Food for the last 5 months now, about 2 or 3 times a month, you know, depending on the meals selections and our schedule. We have boring eaters at home, who would be more than happy to live on pizza, spaghetti, chicken nuggets and Kraft Diner. As much I love all of these, we started to do the Good Food thing months ago when I started to feel like our weekly meal rotation wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. Since I’ve been back to work, it seemed like my grocery list was becoming more and more the same week after week, while never having the time and energy to cook after a day of work or always missing an ingredient to cook that special meal. Well, no more!

The Good Food website is super easy to use. You can select your meals a few weeks in advance or skip the weeks you don’t want any delivery. We have chosen to receive our boxes on Mondays, and we try to cook from the box on that night, and then on the Tuesdays and Thursday. We try to have a pasta night on Wednesday and then on Fridays we usually have plans, so it works out perfectly! Like I said, we’ve been using this food service for a while now and we still get excited every time we get a box. I still find that the packaging is just the best! I was talking to my girlfriend last weekend (she’s using Good Food too!) and we both talked about how we felt like we were on a cooking show while making dinner! Our childhood dream!!! Maybe one day Vero. Either that or our very own bakery!

So far, we have tried about 30 Good Food recipes, and to be honest, I can only recall 3 that I didn’t like. And in those cases, it was either not our taste, or texture or whatever… but I’m okay with that since of course that’s bound to happen when you’re trying out new recipes. It’s actually happening way more often when trying new recipes on my own.

So I’ve kept all of the recipe cards we’ve tried (and liked) and we’ve added some of them to our go-to list. I had never had a pork burger before, but since trying them out from one of our Good Food recipe, I can now probably say that I prefer pork burgers to regular beef burgers! All the meat is fresh, never frozen and so so good! We’ve tried so many dishes we had never heard of before, I’m talking about you Daikon! It’s been quite the learning experience for my entire family. Brian is good trying out anything, but for the boys it was harder at first, but now, they rarely complain. Another great point is that everything can be recycled: the box, bags, ice packs… ALL OF IT! Good for you, good for the Earth!

By the way, I’m NOT getting paid for talking about this. I genuinely write about Good Food because I love it and because I couldn’t live without it! And I just want to share all of this with you one more time! Everybody needs a little help sometimes, and for those of you already using the Good Food services, you probably know what I’m talking about; but for those of you who don’t, I got the thing right for you: a FREE Good Food boxes GIVEAWAY!

I have 3 FREE Good Food boxes to give out! All you have to do is subscribe to mylemondroplife.com, follow my Facebook page and tag a friend in comment! Easy, isn’t it! I can’t guarantee they’ll deliver where you live, so please don’t be mad at me if you win and they don’t, but if that happens, I will give the box away to someone else and send you something else, I swear! Also, after winning the box, you won’t have to commit to another box or anything, you can just try it out and then decide if you want to continue after, or not. You can easily cancel your account if you wish to terminate your subscription. And if you’re not one of the contest winners, you can always sign up using this link GOODFOOD40$ and you will get 40$ off your first box! Now that’s a bargain! Contest ends in a week on May 2nd, 2018.

So what do you have to lose? Your grocery bill will be lower and you will try some amazing new recipes. So go ahead and register to this amazing contest! Seriously, only good things can come out of this. Bon appetit mylemondroplife’s foodies!

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