I consider this the best pumpkin pie recipe in my repertoire .   AND THE EASIEST!!  I have been making pumpkin pie for more than fifty years of Thanksgivings.  Trying various recipes.  One that almost made the best pumpkin pie had pecans and a super sweet topping.  But this recipe tops them all.   Sweetened condensed milk  creates a delicate yet rich,  creamy texture.    An intriguing combination of spices is perfectly matched to the pumpkin flavour.

The filling is easy as pie (so to speak) to make.  If pastry making is not your forte use a gingersnap crust or try my favorite pie crust.  The secret to the perfect pumpkin pie (which is a custard) is to ALWAYS blind-bake your pastry.  You’ll eliminate soggy crusts.  Use canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling).  And this is one time that canned is better than fresh (unless you have access to sweet pie pumpkins).

Come into the kitchen and make PUMPKIN PIE with me.  Mrs. Butterfingers.








We all love appetizer recipes that go together quickly and have easily obtainable ingredients –  preferably already in your pantry.  Rillettes de Sardines (sardine pâté) fills the bill to a T.

I found this recipe in a cookbook by David Lebovitz – My Paris Kitchen.   I’ve tweaked the recipe giving it an extra punch of flavour.  The main  ingredients are canned sardines,  cream cheese and unsalted butter .   Mash this up and add some scallions, capers, lime juice and Sriracha hot sauce.  The results are divine.  Even better the next day!

I serve Rillettes de Sardines with toasted rounds of French bread.  I cut the slices very thin.  Brown them on both sides under the broiler.  Rub a clove of garlic on the crisp rounds then brush them with olive oil.  Sublime!

Follow me into the kitchen and whip up this highly addictive  SARDINE SPREAD.




by Cecilia B.W. Gunther with Melissa Hassard


Sixty eight women wrote this anthology about menopause.    They wrote  from the heart.  They bared their souls.  They shared their most intimate thoughts.  They did this for Cecilia Gunther who asked them to join The Fellowship and help her explain menopause to her younger sister.

 Celi or Miss C. is the mistress of The Farmy.    She takes you into her world with engrossing stories of life on her tiny farm in the blog THE KITCHEN GARDENS.   We who daily follow Miss C. wrote comments about our experience with menopause.  This was the beginning of what is now the book LETTERS FOR MY LITTLE SISTER.

Today my copy of  LETTERS FOR MY LITTLE SISTER arrived from Miss C.  I started reading the first letter. Then the second letter.  I realized I was holding my breath.    Their honesty was defying. Deliberate.  Nothing held back.

LETTERS FOR MY LITTLE SISTER is a book every women should read and then share with the men and women they love.  I read the book in one sitting.  I have given the book to my daughter-in-law.   LETTERS FOR MY LITTLE SISTER will help her.

LEAF LARD . . . the creme de la creme of lard!



This summer my neighbor and I  decided to raise our own pork.  We loved the idea that we would know exactly what we were eating.  We were taking the consumption of  organic meat to the ultimate level.

What was not expected was the opportunity to obtain organic leaf lard. The very highest grade of lard.  There’s about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds per pig and it comes from the area around the kidney.  Once it is rendered it is snow white, odorless and the cleanest fat.  The crème de la crème of lard.

It has always been known by the cognoscenti of pie makers that lard makes the flakiest pastry.  Bakers use it for light biscuits and tender cakes.   It produces flakier crusts than butter.  Butter begins to melt into the dough at a lower temperature; even the small amount of water present in butter may cause the dough particles to stick to one another – rather than separate into layers that constitute flaky pastry.

Naturally rendered lard is mostly monounsaturated fat in the form of oleic fatty acid which is very healthy and great to use in almost any recipe that calls for fats. Butter is primarily a saturated fat.  Lard by percentage is primarily an unsaturated fat.  Lard is lower in fat and cholesterol that butter.

Using your favorite pie recipe and the combination of half butter half lard for the fat  results in flaky pastry with butter flavour.

You can purchase rendered leaf lard at quality butchers.   You should be able to purchase leaf lard  to render your self from butchers who specialize in farm-gate meat cutting .

Rendering leaf lard at home  is a simple, uncomplicated process.  You don’t need an special equipment.  For the easier instructions simply click on RENDERING LEAF LARD.   The recipe has lots of how-to photographs .

There’s another bonus to rendering leaf lard.  You end up with delicious and decadent pork crackling.






There is no doubt in any woman’s mind – the Parisian woman is the epitome of chic.    She is a fashion maven but not a fashion slave.   Style follows her.

Oh that we could be that woman.  One pours over fashion magazines.  The answer is not there.    The Parisian woman’s style is a state of mind.  No matter who you are.  Where you live.   How much you spend on fashions.   How old you are.   You can have Parisian chic.


Four engaging, stunning and accomplished Frenchwomen – Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas collaborate  i n a witty, irreverent, funny tell-all book  HOW TO BE PARISIAN WHEREVER YOU ARE  *  Love, Style, and Bad Habits.

“Fashion rules the world and Parisians rule fashion.  Fine, it may not be true but the world still needs fairy tales.”

How can you not love a book that tells you how to be mysterious and sensual AND look natural.   It’s a very, very funny quick read.  When you finish the book you’ll feel so very, very chic and très Parisienne.  Can you ask for anything more?

P.S.  If you are single there some chapters you might just devour.   Others, depending on your age, you will ignore.  I promise you this.  You definitely will dress with more elan. Even cook differently.    It won’t cost you a fortune.  You will fill wonderful.





I keep a collection of baskets by the kitchen door.  A trip to the garden requires one carry the right basket for the occasion.  A small square basket for strawberries.  A very deep basket for kale.  Something larger and round with a sturdy handle for root crops like beets    Snip lots of dill heads, add a few carrots and a potato or two and you have the ingredients  to make a big batch of borscht.

There must be a hundred different recipes fo beet borscht.  Everyone is the right one.   This is one of my favorite recipes.  It has tons of vegetables.  It is made with a rich chicken stock. Has a tangy sweet sour flavour.  Served with a generous dollop of sour cream it is positively define.   You could add little bits of spicy sausage.  Or make the recipe with beef stock.  You can serve borscht hot or cold.    You get the picture.

Though there are potatoes in the recipe the soup freezes beautiful.   Don protective gloves and start chopping beets .  Click on BORSCHT for the recipe.  Bon Appetit




Ours is a house of many exterior doors.   The important  front door.   The door to the garage.  The boot room door (originally used by those coming into the house from the dairy barn).  The side door to the back garden.  The glass door to the covered patio. The big double garage doors.

We believe in remake, redo, remodel, rejuvenate, recycle, rediscover, reuse.  To be responsible citizens of our world.

The saga and the zen of painting doors begins with our front door.




It had been protected by a screen door but the dated glass inserts called for a major makeover.



Thirty pieces of plywood cut  individually to fit each (not quite the same size) square.  These were glued to both the exterior and interior of the door.


The front door was primed with Zinsser water based primer.



Three coats of semi-gloss Benjamin  Moore black paint and the welcoming front door is complete.  The door cries out for the perfect door knocker.  Something not too shiny.  A door knocker to provide the perfect jewelery for perfect front door.  I’ve started the search.



Initially we thought the overhead garage doors were beyond redemption.  They had been painted  with oil base paint but over the years it  had bubbled and blistered.



Two weeks of scrapping and sanding the doors are ready for priming and painting.



The ugly duckling doors turn into beautiful swans.



When we took the screen door off the garage door entrance we realized our battered, paint blistered door had wonderful potential.   Sanded, scraped, wood-filled it morphed into something rather special.


The cris-cross panel.   The small window panes.  What a beauty we uncovered.

Life is all about doors.

Doors we never open.

Doors we choose to pass by.

Doors that reveal  new opportunities and experience.



Doors to entice you to open and step into another place.

Doors that promise sanctuary.

Doors strong and bold to protect you from the elements.

Doors that speak loud and clear.

Then there is this door.  The one that says welcome – welcome all to this home.





Not that the House had ever been taken for granted.

The roof and walls that sheltered.

Windows that let in the  glorious light.

Doors that protected.

The House was   just a little paint worn and shabby.

Showing its age  around the edges.


IMG_1071 The transformation began.

First splendid new  windows.

IMG_1358 Then the reflection of colour.

A colour respecting the vernacular of  the country surrounding the house.


Cromwell Gray.

A gray found in the massive river stone front.

A gray that caught and reflected the green of country fields.

An elegant, erudite shade of gray.



When the painstaking  work  was done.

When the sheltering house shone freshly in its painted glory.

She carefully painted its address.

Then proudly hung it by the shining door.




This is the zen in the art of painting a house.



( We have been asked the name of the gray we painted our home.  This perfect shade of gray – Cromwell Gray is a Benjamin Moore paint colour)









I have a magic zucchini factory in my garden.  How can one not believe this is a magic vegetable.  Sun bright yellow flowers appear and POOF  over night a slender, elegant zucchini.    While you’re in the garden gather mint, dill and Italian flat leaf parsley to flavour your deliciously crisp fitters.  They are wonderful as hors d’oeuvres or as a start course. They don’t require sauce.  Simply sprinkle flaky sea salt and a little crumbled feta cheese on top.

I’m in the kitchen shredding zucchini.  Click on ZUCCHINI FRITTERS  and join me.














All things hip and wonderful and so completely cool one doesn’t even the utter the word cool  … This is my favorite street in Toronto.  QUEEN STREET WEST.

I didn’t need Vogue Magazine to tell me  that.   Queen West is a two minute walk from the place I call home in Toronto.  Vogue September 2014 issue listed the ten coolest streets in the world and Queen West was Number Two.


My day in Toronto frequently begins at Clafouti’s on Queen West. A little worn, a bit shabby and totally delightful Clafouti’s is so totally unassuming, so beautifully French one looks for a copy of L’Express to read with your morning croissant.



The Spice Trader and The Olive Pit – oh the wonders of this perfumed exotic shop.  When I first discovered this purveyor of organic spices and oils it was a tiny shop.   Like Topsy it grew and I filled my spice cupboard with their small square green tins and fine extra-virgin olive oil.



I never walk Queen West without popping into Châtelet .  Another tiny shop filled with irresistible objects that speak of France.  The small Eiffel tower in the outside display called my name.  Now it shares a place of honour in my French butler’s pantry.



Then there’s one of my favorite corners.  It has three shops.   The first store – Artists’ Material  – long and narrow and crammed with paints, papers, artist brushes.   Everything you need to create  your own work of art.  Mokuba is in the centre and it is the centre of my sewing universe.  Mokuba with a preposterous amount of magnificent ribbons in every colour, texture, width and pattern.  On the corner a place I call “the magpie store”  brimming over with a collection of items you didn’t know exist and absolutely must have.



The very finest oysters in Toronto.    Oyster Boy –  a two minute walk from home.  Can life get any better than to have these briny bivalves a hop, skip and a jump down the street.



My fav pizza restaurant – Terroni on Queen West.  I love the aroma of baking pizza.  The  buzz of conversations that fill the room.   You linger over a glass of wine and simply people watch the evening away.

This is just a little bit of my Queen West.  I have walked every block and investigated practically every shop, art gallery and restaurant.

Queen West ..  a street that is more than a little outrageous.  Totally cool.  Enormously hip

Queen West … a street with so much presence and absolutely no pretension.






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