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Many Happy Returns to a best friend

It’s birthday season in my world it seems. I just wrote a post remembering my Dad’s birthday. Now I have another day of note worth mentioning, so I hope you’ll indulge me, and my loved ones.

Today is Simon’s birthday. He is 10 years old today. Everyone deserves to be celebrated on their birthday, even someone as egocentric as Simon. You see, Simon is my husband’s German Short Haired Pointer.He is a well-trained and handsome dog, but he loves me for my throwing arm. ImageSo, any tribute I make in this article is directed much more towards MY best friend, Ella, the Chocolate Labrador you see gracing my photos in this blog. She is the one who nurses me through my sinus infections in winter, and watches over me when I garden in the summer, and always looks back when we walk to make sure I am still there. (Simon, on the other hand, could care less till it’s dinner time where I am.)

In honour of all four-legged best friends, I am contributing a recipe for healthy dog treats to my archives. You can just feed your dog popcorn as a natural treat, or slow roasted sweet potato slices (cook them in the oven at 200F, or a dehydrator, for about 6 hours). This is a fun recipe to do with kids, and it gives them great practice at kitchen skills. It’s also a great gift to give a fellow dog owner. I once even hosted a canine birthday party at the local park where we walked our dogs, and gave out homemade dog treats as a take-away. Dog owners tend to be really sociable people; it was a fun party!

Of course, if you’re not a dog owner, your best friend would likely enjoy a more decadent birthday treat. For this kind of celebration, I suggest chocolate. One of my favourite special desserts is my husband’s Chocolate Souffle. ImageIf your friends are more into simple fare that is not so decadent, how about Pavlova? It’s even gluten-free, for those who don’t eat wheat.

Whether your friends are two-legged or four, you could hold a party with just balloons and still elicit many smiles. But I am a firm believer that birthdays deserve a cherry on top, if you know what I mean. Gathering people together to share a taste of something special makes for a great memory.

Here’s to doing back flips for birthdays!

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I’m Giving You a Raspberry!

I wanted to create a post that would showcase something elegant for a summer garden party. I was thinking of keeping up to Martha Stewart and all her beautiful flower arrangements amidst pastel-coloured cocktails, or perhaps Alice Waters-style with sprigs of just-snipped herbs on every plate. Well, I never got the time to put an idea together. Instead, here are my impromptu notes…

At Rabbit Hollow we have what we call an edible fence. Our property line is covered on one side of the yard with all kinds of fruit trees and berry bushes. The most prolific of these are the golden raspberry canes that are now in their fourth year here. They are wonderful fruits, a bit less tangy than red raspberries and certainly more exotic to look at. The ones we have are everbearing, so from June through November we get to nibble on these little delights every morning if we want. I usually sneak a few after I walk the dogs and water the garden in the morning. There is something wonderfully rebellious about stuffing mouthfuls of raspberries into your mouth even before you’ve put your business clothes on 🙂

The catch is, the little bit of nibbling is not keeping up with production anymore. As a result, I have started to look for recipes that highlight their delicate flavour, and Raspberry Financiers are just about perfect. They are a lovely afternoon tea treat, but I have found that they make a decadent Sunday breakfast. You can be lazy and add them to pancakes, but this recipe is sure to impress everyone at the table.

So, this post is a reminder for you to combine the irreverent and the elegant occasionally, just for fun. Be serious about having fun. Life is short and it is meant to be enjoyed and shared. Have an extra mouthful of berries and let yourself smile.

Bon Appetit!

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