Monthly Archives: December 2013

Drink of the Week: Norfolk Flip

I attended a holiday party a couple weeks before Christmas and the host shook up this delightful — and light — take on a traditional eggnog. It’s called a Norfolk Flip; the recipe is featured in the latest issue of Culinaire magazine. Traditionally a ‘flip’ was a drink heated with a fire poker — this method caused the liquid to steam and bubble, a technique called flipping. Eventually bartenders began using eggs to create the desired frothy effect.

A delicious alternative to a traditional eggnog.

A delicious alternative to a traditional eggnog.

The beauty of this drink is it’s made without milk or cream, but still tastes smooth and rich — the secret is the egg (and the spiced simple syrup). This cocktail makes a nice fireside sip throughout the holidays, or toast with it on New Year’s Eve. Cheers!

Happy holidays everyone!

Happy holidays everyone!

Norfolk Flip

  • 1 oz cognac (I used Courvoisier VS)
  • 1 oz dark rum (I used Mount Gay Eclipse)
  • 1 oz spiced syrup*
  • 3 drops bitters
  • 1 whole egg
  • Nutmeg garnish

*Spiced syrup

  • 1:1 raw sugar to water boiled and steeped with a desired amount of cloves, green cardamom, pimento and fresh grated cinnamon.

Combine the fresh cracked egg and liquid ingredients in a shaker. Dry shake to emulsify egg, then add ice and shake again. Strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube inside. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.

— Recipe modified from Culinaire, by Tarquin Melnyk

Drink of the Week: The Nash Splash

Rumours have been circling for months that chef Michael Noble of Notable fame is opening a restaurant in Inglewood. Those of us who live here assumed it would be either, a.) A second Notable location or, b.) that Chef Noble would be moving Notable from Montgomery to Inglewood. And so it was with surprise and delight that I learned last week at a gathering in Inglewood’s historic and lovingly restored National Hotel (929 – 11 St. S.E.) that Noble will be opening an entirely new restaurant and lounge on the ground floor of the building. Set to open its doors in fall 2014, the resto will be called The Nash. Yes, there will be cocktails.

Get ready for good craft cocktails and spirit-forward sips, like  The Nash Splash, in Inglewood.

Get ready for good craft cocktails and spirit-forward sips like The Nash Splash in Inglewood.

Stiff sips such as The Nash Splash (see recipe) and other craft and classic cocktails will be featured in a bar called Offcut (layout-wise, the lounge is an “off cut” from the rest of the space). I am the first to support businesses in Inglewood, and that includes dining out at restaurants like Sugo, Without Papers Pizza and Rouge, or grabbing a casual pint at Swans, The Blues Can or Ironwood Stage & Grill. But the options outside of pub grub, pizza, western Chinese, Italian and fancy French are limited. Inglewood really needs a casual-yet-delicious restaurant with a more eclectic menu and I think The Nash will deliver. And since there are currently zero Inglewood lounges, Offcut will be a welcome addition for thirsty Inglewood residents and shoppers. Cheers to this exciting news!

It may just be the charred orange syrup that makes this cocktail.

Is it the charred orange syrup that makes this cocktail? You decide.

The Nash Splash

  • 1 oz Woodford Reserve bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Cinzano sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Fernet Branca
  • 1/2 oz charred orange syrup*

Mix all ingredients over ice, strain into a chilled martini or coupe-style glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.

Charred orange syrup

  • 1 whole orange, sliced and charred on a hot grill
  • Zest of one orange
  • 2 pieces whole allspice
  • 300 mL hot water
  • 200 grams white sugar

Place all ingredients into a heatproof container. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain. This syrup can be stored in a clean container at room temperature indefinitely.

— Recipe courtesy Michael Noble

Consider this our family Christmas card 2

Last year I wrote a holiday blog greeting and it was so well received I’m doing the same thing again this year.

The Kadane-Ford family Christmas card: 2013… We survived a flood and a PUPPY!

One of only two family photos taken this year, in Sedona, Ariz.

One of only two family photos taken this year, in Sedona, Ariz.

It’s been a big year for the Kadane-Ford household. After almost losing our house in the June flood, we have permanent water restored, a basement that is almost completely renovated and a new if somewhat alarming view of the Bow River. Still no front street though. Santa, can you help with this?

A "hardened" river bank but still no street access.

A “hardened” river bank but still no street access.

We travelled a lot in 2013, including a family trip to Arizona, many ski weekends, a visit to Arkansas at Easter, a summer road trip through B.C. and most recently a visit to the Pukiest Place on Earth (a.k.a. Disneyland). We have shown growth as a family and are better horseback riders, skiers, baby alligator holders, bologna slider eaters and salmon fisherfolk than a year ago. We can also ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds as a family of four and there’s only one word for that: lunacy progress. Here’s the highlight reel for each family member:

Blake really upped his volunteer game in 2013. Not only did he volunteer as a chip runner at two casinos that raised money for our kids’ schools and donate his slot machine winnings from those nights to our travel fund, he raised money for MS research by mountain biking 75 kilometres in Canmore in August. He also raised money for and awareness about men’s health by growing a moustache during the annual Movember campaign. While this wasn’t a great move for his personal sexual health, it provided a boost to his mental health and self-confidence while in Disneyland, where he was photographed with many Disney princesses.

Frozen Elsa and Anna are hot for my hubby, natch.

Blake Ford, ageless. Repelled by, or attracted to, the mo? You decide.

Another highlight for Blake was the acquisition of a “man chair” for the living room. Since I forbade an ugly La-Z-Boy, we now have a stylish-yet-understated Arts & Crafts swivel recliner that Blake sits on, coffee (or scotch, or scotch-laced coffee) in one hand, potato gun in the other, to lob spuds at approaching children. Of course, Bennett delights in sitting in it and rocking maniacally in a chair-breaking manner as soon as Daddy leaves the house.

Avery continues to amaze us with her sense of humour — like how just yesterday she asked us for a pet eel! Haha, funny girl —  kindness and intelligence. She’s burning through books that I read in Grade 10 5, including The Incredible Journey and Where the Red Fern Grows. She enjoys playing with her Playmobil and Lego Friends, which have taken up such a permanent residence on her carpet that her messy room provided the impetus for one of my Today’s Parent stories.

Avery Ford, age 8, Grade 3.

Avery Ford, age 8, Grade 3.

She is also maturing at an alarming rate: she asked Santa for an iPod touch for Christmas. And her questions about biology and specifically, reproduction, had grown in complexity to the point where, earlier this fall, I had to talk to her about the “birds and the bees.” She initially asked a boy in her class but he refused to tell her stating, “It’s really gross.” So, after I sat her down and explained about the ‘sperm delivery method’ she said, “He’s right. That is gross.” Yes it is, Avery. NEVER DO IT.

Bennett found out last spring he was accepted into Renfrew’s Grade 1 program and he is having a good year so far. He has certainly had some challenges to overcome in 2013, including a weird stint of stuttering, the zoo being closed all summer and a gastrointestinal bug during our trip to Disneyland. His latest obsession is Super Why, and Blake and I have had to suffer through the Jack and the Beanstalk episode 5-million 84 times since the babysitter introduced him to Netflix in early November (thanks a lot, babysitter… though to be fair it was payback for Bennett yelling at her to “Go away!” like, 10 times, before I slunk out the door. Yeah, we don’t use her anymore).

Bennett boards his bus all smiles on the first day of school.

Bennett Ford, age 6, Grade 1.

We continue to love Bennett’s teasing ways, which he comes by honestly (ahem, Danny, Greg, Blake), like how he pulls off Avery’s Santa hat in a stealth manoevre then sprints away laughing hysterically. We are sure he’ll keep us on our toes in 2014 and continue to charm his grandparents, who will be looking after him while Blake and I compete on The Amazing Race Canada to win $2,500, a snowmobile and two one-way tickets to Costa Rica courtesy of Air Canada.

Our family is now officially complete since Piper, our Brittany spaniel puppy, flew WestJet cargo from Saskatoon to Calgary to join our crazy household in April. Everyone told me puppies were freakin’ nuts but did I listen? No. Which is why we are now down a pair of shoes, a couple of stuffed animals and a plastic toy (Piper recently chewed the foot off of Avery’s new Playmobil horseback riding girl). Piper has also started eating her own poop (I caught her with a snow-covered morsel just last week), which is not only disgusting but kind of insulting. What, aren’t the heaping dog food bowls and endless liver bribery treats enough for you, you piggy little thing?

Tom Campbell Hill, Calgary

Piper at the dog park with Avery.

On top of that Piper is hyper and the only way I can cope with her energy demands is to take her for 2 10 walks a day. Which is why I never get any work done. My only consolation is she hasn’t chewed up our furniture or drywall, or mauled Bennett, who constantly bugs her. She’s also really sweet and cute and I have to say my heart swells with pride at the dog park when she bounds confidently through the snow while other owners have to carry their finicky little kick-dogs, who are wearing sweaters and booties.

Lisa (that’s me) has had a fun and challenging year. I volunteered on the committee to build a new playground at Avery’s school and our awesome mommy team wrapped up that hellacious project after two years. I wrote a lot this year, including a personal essay for Swerve about Bennett’s genetic condition. But it wasn’t all work. I managed to squeeze in a press trip to Paris, where I drank my face off learned about champagne and Cointreau while eating lobster, caviar and truffles.

Champagne

Champagne in Champagne!

I continue to binge on netflix read classics like Anna Karenina, blog sporadically (sorry), and mix Blake 5 o’clocktails in my spare time. And I’m always dreaming of, and planning, our next vacation. Coming up in 2014: San Diego.

In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s  celebration with family and friends and we sure hope Santa delivers a new road next spring. Happy holidays!

Bennett and Avery after trimming the tree.

Bennett and Avery after trimming the tree.

Drink of the Week: Kahlua Gingerbread Woman

Yes, “Kahlua Gingerbread Woman” really is the name of a cocktail. It is not a great name, and for some reason when I say it the song American Woman by The Guess Who starts playing in my head, especially the part about how she’s “gonna mess your mind.” I suppose, after drinking several at a Christmas party, that would actually happen.

This Kahula Gingerbread drink tastes like a spiced Kahlua milkshake.

This Kahula Gingerbread drink tastes like a spiced Kahlua milkshake.

I would not normally blend up this milk-based drink, seeing as I’m lactose-intolerant (apologies in advance, honey!), but when a limited edition bottle of Kahlua Gingerbread (so limited in fact, it’s not even listed as a flavour on the website) showed up in a thoughtful Kahlua-themed care package, complete with Kahlua bottle-shaped gingerbread cookies, I set about looking for a suitable recipe in which to try it.

I’ve always found Kahlua to be a bit of a conundrum. What exactly are you supposed to mix it with? Coffee? Coke? Or do you break out the Kahlua shooters at a party? Someone please explain. I had a vague recollection that it goes well with milk (remember paralyzers?!), so the Kahlua Gingerbread Woman resonated with me — it sounded like a spiced Kahlua milkshake. Yummy. And so it is, but it’s awfully sweet — if you’re feeling lazy at your next dinner party, blend this up for a liquid dessert. Feel free to play around with the proportions, though. I’d add less Kahlua and more milk. Oh wait nevermind. I mean Lactaid.

Kahlua Gingerbread Woman

Kahlua Gingerbread Woman

  • 1-1/2 oz Kahlua Gingerbread
  • 1-1/2 oz milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 drops vanilla
  • Nutmeg sprinkle garnish

Blend all ingredients except nutmeg for about 30 seconds. Pour into a rocks glass, dust with nutmeg and serve.

— Recipe adapted from a recipe found on Food.com.

Drink of the Week: Pomegranate Gin Martini

I love pomegranates. I always buy a couple in the fall, take them apart and use the pretty and tart fuchsia-hued seeds in salads throughout the winter and spring (I freeze the lot in a ziplock). I also like pomegranate juice, but rarely buy it because it’s so expensive. I picked up a bottle of Pom juice this past weekend though because I had a cocktail in mind: something tart and tasty with pomegranate and gin and lemon juice. I dubbed my creation a Pomegranate Gin Martini.

Tart and festive, this seasonal sip makes a lovely after-work unwinder.

Tart and festive, this seasonal sip makes a lovely after-work unwinder.

The key to this drink is achieving the right balance between the pom juice and lemon juice. Too much lemon and it renders the pom impotent; not enough and it takes away the drink’s tart factor. The gin, fortunately, plays nice with both juices and its amount can be raised or lowered depending on how strong you want your drink to be. I think 1-1/2 oz is enough so you’ll taste the gin, but not so much to make you fuzzy. I also love the drink’s colour — it’s beautiful and festive and works very well this time of year.

The pomegranate seeds make a lovely, edible garnish.

The pomegranate seeds make a pretty and edible garnish. I didn’t have a sprig of holly so I improvised with sage.

Pomegranate Gin Martini

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice
  • Juice of half a lemon, or less, to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 oz simple syrup, to taste
  • Pomegranate seeds for garnish

Combine gin, pomegranate juice, lemon juice and simple syrup with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake, then fine-strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Down and out in Disneyland

Disneyland promotes itself as the “Happiest Place on Earth” and under normal circumstances — my belly stuffed full of churros after riding Space Mountain, or breezing through no line-up at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride — I’d have to agree. It’s a park built on the idea of family togetherness through shared experiences, whether marvelling at different cultures inside It’s a Small World (the characters all dressed up for Christmas this time of year), or being wowed by the nightly parade (complete with Santa and his elves).

One of many Disney characters who wandered over during breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen.

Alice in Wonderland at Goofy’s Kitchen.

But bringing a child with autism to Disneyland is a game-changer. Suddenly, the crowds, lights and chaotic rides that make Disneyland well, Disneyland, can become obstacles to enjoyment. But, I reckoned, with fast passes, gluten-free options at all Disney eateries, and the resort’s commitment to accommodating people with disabilities, we’d have a relatively smooth trip. Right?

I pitched the idea of “Inclusive Disney” to up! magazine (watch for my story in the spring) and soon the whole family was booked for the Disneyland World of Colour press event. We’d get to see Disneyland all decked out for the holidays and take in the World of Color — Winter Dreams water spectacular at Disney California Adventure Park. What we didn’t count on was Bennett contracting a nasty stomach bug en route to LAX.

Here’s how it all went down (or, more accurately, came back up) in Disneyland:

1 p.m. Nov. 13, Air Canada flight 860 from Calgary to Los Angeles, Row 26. Bennett says his tummy hurts, makes a retching motion, then vomits into the airplane barf bag (good news: they actually work). Thinking it’s a one-puke kind of airplane ride, I am unprepared for round two and must “catch” it in my hands (bad news: this is not an effective containment method). “Clean-up in aisle 26,” Blake tells the perky flight attendant as we disembark the aircraft.

6:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Disneyland. Having rallied from his earlier tummy upset, and after some French fries and applesauce at the Rainforest Cafe, Bennett is keen to board the monorail. During the ride into the park he spies the Matterhorn mountain’s iconic peak. “Can we go up the mountain?” he innocently asks. “Sure,” I say, forgetting completely how freakin’ fast and frightening the Matterhorn Bobsleds are. On we go, Bennett in front of me, clutching my hand as we climb up a hill in darkness… only to scream down past a RED-EYED YETI that jumps toward our sled. I’m not sure when Bennett starts whimpering, but by the time we get off this is all he has to say: “And I was scared up there.” Nothing quite like initiating our autistic son to Disneyland by making him go on the scariest ride at the park. #ParentingFail

9 a.m. Nov. 14, Breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen, Disneyland Hotel. Bennett is not at all hungry for his Mickey Mouse-shaped gluten-free pancakes, but still poses for a picture with Pluto. Thirty minutes later he is in melt-down mode and Blake takes him back to the four-walled hotel prison room.

Forget princesses, says Avery. Pluto is where it's at!

Forget princesses, says Avery. Pluto is where it’s at!

12:30 p.m., Nov. 14, Jingle Cruise, Disneyland. Blake hauls a fussy Bennett into the park and we meet up at the “Jingle Cruise,” a re-imagined holiday version of the old-school classic Jungle Cruise. Bennett is inconsolable so I take him back to the hotel, while Blake* escorts Avery to see Elsa and Anna from Frozen. (*Note: Blake participated in Movember, so he looks like a porn star pervy 80s TV cop in our Disneyland photos.) We are making memories!

Frozen Elsa and Anna are hot for my hubby, natch.

It’s getting hot in here, with Frozen Elsa and Anna and my moustachioed hubby.

6 – 8 p.m., Nov. 14, A Christmas Fantasy Parade and World of Colour Winter Dreams. The kids love the parade and we all enjoy using Bennett’s Disability Access Service Card, which acts like a Fast Pass and enables us to get on Autopia and other rides quickly. Unbeknownst to us, Bennett’s flu bug is staging a last stand and he loses it on the march from Disneyland to Disney California Adventure Park for World of Color. I look like a child abductor dragging a screaming kid all the way back to the hotel.

7 a.m., Nov. 15, Disneyland Hotel. Bennett pukes repeatedly and is unable to keep anything down, including water. Blake takes Avery to Disney California Adventure Park for Extra Magic Hour, a perk of staying at the hotel. I stay inside Cell Block C with a moaning boy.

4 p.m., Nov. 15, Urgent Care. Bennett receives two IVs of fluid for severe dehydration. All topped up and ready for the Matterhorn!

6 a.m., Nov. 16, Disneyland Hotel. More puking, followed by a visit to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Bennett has a miraculous recovery on the taxi ride and proceeds to drink an entire can of Gatorade upon arrival at the hospital  — as if he’s feeling great! — thus revealing to hospital staff that I’m one of those crazy Canadians who runs to the emergency room every time my child has a runny nose. They send us back to Disneyland and charge my credit card $5,000 for the Gatorade.

2:30 p.m., Nov. 16, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar. I park myself at the bar and order a margarita. It tastes heavenly — like tequila with a splash of lime. I feel like a Zombie, but not the kind you drink (also on the menu). Blake brings Bennett down from the cell room and orders a Shipwreck on the Rocks, which at that moment describes our holiday. I ask for a to-go cup for my tequila.

I love how squeaky-clean Disneyland has a tiki bar where parents can get blotto.

I love how squeaky-clean Disney has a tiki bar where parents can get blotto.

4 – 7 p.m., Nov. 16, Disneyland. We tear ourselves away from Trader Sam’s and finally return to the park as a family of four, knocking off Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Gadget’s Go Coaster, Splash Mountain and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Bennett is actually smiling, and I realize he much prefers straight-forward outside rides like Dumbo to the “trippy” character-driven rides such as Splash Mountain, where it almost seems like you’re “inside” a TV show or movie (I think Bennett has a hard time separating fantasy from reality on those rides and it freaks him out). Meanwhile, Avery loves all the thrill rides, including California Screamin’ and Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California; this disparity poses another challenge to experiencing the park as a family.

I love my boy's big smile on this ride. It's his second favourite after Autopia.

I love my boy’s big smile on this ride. It’s his second favourite after Autopia.

11 a.m., Nov. 17, Disneyland Hotel. Bennett is back to his teasing self as we board the Disneyland Express back to the airport.

You know the kids feel great when they start fighting again.

You know the kids feel great when they start fighting again.

It would be tempting to label our Disneyland trip a bust, but that wouldn’t be fair. The parks are fantastic and the staff friendly and helpful — for example, I showed up at Goofy’s Kitchen on Saturday morning looking for eggs (Bennett’s first food request in three days); when I explained my son has autism and that he’d been sick, the restaurant manager packed him up a meal-to-go at no charge. Indeed, the Disney complex runs as a customer-driven, well-oiled machine. If you take advantage of perks like Extra Magic Hour and use Fast Passes on popular rides, you’ll have a great time. I truly think Bennett would have enjoyed a lot more of both parks if he hadn’t been sick — and if his first ride had been Autopia instead of the Matterhorn. #WhatWasIThinking?