Monthly Archives: February 2012

Pear Spice Cake

Diets. I hate trying to diet when I am not working outside of the house. When I am home all day, it seems like every time I walk into the kitchen, I want to eat something. Let me tell you, I’m not hungry, I just want delicious tastes.
I’m actually not on a diet (don’t worry mom!), but I did have a baby two months ago. And although I am back into all my old clothes, I need to be eating healthier.
The problem is two fold, one I had gestational diabetes and was on such a strict diet during my pregnancy that now I am going crazy with the sweets. But according to the doctor, I should still be eating carefully. This is not helped by my second problem, breast feeding.
I love breast feeding, but it makes me crave a ridiculous amount of sweet stuff. When I was breast feeding Alara, I was eating a chocolate bar a day. However, I was working in a school and much more active than I am now.
Until last week, my dad was here with me, and he didn’t help with my sweet cravings (I’m not blaming, simple stating a fact). Every day we would have a ‘treat’ from the local bakery. My treat of choice, a chocolate croissant with chocolate ganache on top and cream inside, heaven!
Now that my dad has gone home, and Alara is back to school, I’ve decided that this week is when I will start to get my healthy on. So far it is going…
Well, this is what I’ve decided, I can still have sweet treats, but the have to be something that I’ve made, or small pieces of dark chocolate. It’ll work right?
Anyway, yesterday my good friend invited me to her place for lunch. I knew that she is also trying to get healthy, but loves a good sweet treat herself. So I decided to make this cake. It’s not too sweet, but still satisfies that craving. Plus, it’s got fruit in it!
I only made a small batch, half is this recipe, just enough to make four little loaves. This way there wouldn’t be a lot left over. It satisfied our sweet tooth, and didn’t leave us feeling too guilty.
It worked, I only ate the cake yesterday, but I just left the kitchen wondering what I should make today.
Pear Spice Cake
adapted from Joy the Baker
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons speculoos mix (similar to all spice)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cups buttermilk
3 pears, peeled, cored and diced into roughly 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 to 1 1/4 cups of fruit)
Make cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour bundt pan. (I used little loaf pans)
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Beat together butter, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, add in the eggs, one at a time. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches, mixing well after each addition.
Spoon batter into loaf pans and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

Expat Living- an Introduction to my Life

A few months ago, I found an old high school friend on Facebook, she asked me the question that everyone I know, but haven’t seen in a long time asks me- ‘Where are you now?’

‘Where am I now?’ I sometimes think that people assume that if you are not living your native country, you are out traveling the world, living out of a backpack, sleeping in hostels, eating in restaurants, basically on an extended holiday.

To her, it seemed strange that I had never returned, she’s married, she has children too, but she lives around the corner from her parents.

To me, it seems so strange, I’m married, I have kids, I’m not living out of a backpack.

I’m in Belgium now, I’ve been here for a year and a half, but before that I’d been in Turkey for nine years. Basically I haven’t lived in Canada for ten years. I’m not all over the place, I’ve got a family and a home in these countries.

It’s just a different life.

Why am I an expat?

I honestly have no idea how it started, well, I guess I do. I moved to Turkey right out of university to teach English. I was going to give myself two years, and then go back to Canada and ‘settle down’ (whatever that means).

What happened next is your classic expat story, a met a boy. He was my student. We fell in love, and got married. Now we have two beautiful girls. We have made our home in Turkey (We are here in Belgium is temporarily because of his job).

Living abroad has opened my eyes to so many new, interesting, strange, wonderful experiences, people and moments. I am so blessed to live this life. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I can say that I became an expat by accident, but I’m so happy I did. Every Tuesday, I will write something about my expat experiences, the good, and the difficult. Some will be about Turkey, some will be about Belgium. I hope that you will enjoy my stories.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Gluten Free Earl Grey Chocolate Cake

Winter in Belgium this year has involved a lot of cold days, no snow, only a bit of rain, but generally cold. Well cold for Belgium, my Canadian family would not be impressed by what I am calling cold these days.

It is cold enough to want to come into the house, get under a blanket and curl up with a hot mug of tea, or in my dad’s case, coffee.

I love tea, especially Earl Grey. I love chocolate (I’m very lucky to be living in Belgium). I love cake (don’t trust anyone who doesn’t). So when I saw this recipe come along on one of my new favorite blogs ( I knew I had to make it.

The combination of chocolate and Earl Grey tea is one that I fell in love with last year while I was in a chocolate shop in Brugge, Belgium. I had never tried a tea paired with chocolate and instantly fell in love.

The unfortunate thing is that after, I couldn’t find it anywhere else. Then I had the gestational diabetes, and I wasn’t looking for it. I thought it was a distant memory, a taste never to be enjoyed again.

Then last week I was out for Valentine’s day lunch with Seyfi, at our favorite salad restaurant, Boule de bleu in Mons, when with my coffee, comes a little piece of Earl Grey chocolate.

The taste was back!

A day or two later, this recipe was out, and I made it instantly. It was delicious. I can now make the flavour combination in my own kitchen.

I’ve made this recipe twice now, the first time using normal flour. I just wanted to see how it would taste. I was so good, that I ate all of it, (ok, probably 3/4, and it was over three days…) I also wasn’t sure if Seyfi would like the idea of tea in a cake. But after he saw me enjoying it, he wanted me to make him some too.

All I did to make this recipe gluten free, was change out the flours. I also made it in little loaf pans. Delicious!

This cake is super moist, I would recommend using the darkest chocolate you can find.

Here is Shutterbean’s recipe (and link) with the adjustment for gluten free.

Earl Grey Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)

6 Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
4 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350° F.

Coat an 8-cup fluted tube pan (that’s a bundt, right?) with cooking spray. (I used little loaf pans)

Brew the tea in the water 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags or strain the leaves and set the brewed tea aside.

Using a mixer, beat the butter, eggs, and granulated sugar until fluffy. Blend in the chocolate. Beat in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, yogurt, and brewed tea. Pour into pan.

Bake 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.

Turn out of pan and cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.


Look at these smiles!!

I hope that they will always be this happy together!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday Favourites- Downton Abbey

Isn’t ITV’s period series Downton Abbey all the rage right now? It shows in Britain in the autumn and then in North America in the winter, making its buzz last for so long, and does it deserve it? In short, yes!

There are so many levels that this series hits the mark on…

Each of the characters is developed so well. No one character gets all the attention, whether it is a member of the family, or the staff, each one has a story, a story that is developed and linked to the other characters. The people of this house are all fundamentally joined together, their character development is based on each others.

Who is my favourite character? I don’t know, from ‘upstairs,’ Sybil. She is a modern lady. She has grown into a woman who knows her own mind, and does what she thinks is right. I love the development of the relationship between her and Branson, how many times was I just screaming at the television for them to just kiss each other! I’m so happy with her decision to ‘give it all up’ for the man she loves.

My favourite character downstairs must be Daisy. How that girl has grown! She has become so much smarter and confident throughout the two seasons. I respect how she felt about William’s death, and cried when she realized how much his father and her needed each other, and how they made a family.

The historical events that are used to map out the time line of the plot are so interesting. Starting with the sinking of the Titanic, moving through the war, to the 1918 influenza, each of these historic events touches Downton Abbey, shaping the story of the residents lives.

The costumes are also fabulous, I love a good hat! And boy does this programme have a lot of great hats! I also like the way the clothes change as the years (on the show) pass. Such beautiful examples of the fashion of the time.

The plot of the programme movies along so beautiful, there is never a dull moment, I am forever suggesting to friends that they should watch this series, in fact, I am often giving them all of the episodes to watch, many of them watch them all at once because they can’t stop. I think I’ve watched the two seasons, and the Christmas special at least four times now…

Have you watched Downton Abbey? What did you think?

If you too are a fan of period films, check out this site, it’s no longer being kept up regularly, but it is a great resource.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Funny Things Kids Say

For a long time I’d been wanting to try kale, but I could never find it here in Belgium. Finally, a few weeks ago, I managed to find some at the big grocery store in the area.

So I set out making smoothies for everyone. Seyfi and Alara had strawberry-banana and I had kale. I thought the kale smoothie would be just as good as my past green smoothies. It wasn’t. So bitter, so chunky, so not delicious…

In my disappointment, I wondered out loud, ‘why does my smoothie taste so disgusting?’

Alara looked at me, and stated very seriously ‘because you put SALAD in it!’

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Easy Chocolate Cupcakes

When I registered Alara at the local school this summer, I forgot to get a year calendar to know when all the holidays would be. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem because I would always be told if the school would be closed the next day.

So months ago I made a doctor’s appointment for this week, and told my dad that it would be fine if he left on the eighteenth, I had no idea that it would leave me all alone, for the first time since Ela was born, at home with Alara, and needing to go to an appointment.

I am however so lucky to have a great friend who offered to take care of Alara for the afternoon of the appointment. For Alara, this friend of mine comes with a friend for her, a big girl who loves to make tents, put on costumes, and generally give Alara all the attention in the world.

What do you bring to a friend who is doing such a big favour? Well, since I woke up at six o’clock the morning of that appointment, giving me lots of time, and I had just bought a new, heart shaped cupcake mold, I decided to make chocolate cupcakes, with pink whipped cream frosting.

These cupcakes turned out delicious. They are a nice, dense, rich cupcake,
that I made ‘healthier’ by adding ground up flax seed to the batter.

I hope my friend knows how much I appreciate her, her wonderful daughter and our friendship. Here is the recipe…

Easy Chocolate Cupcakes


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2 tbsps ground fax seeds (optional)


Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, add the vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and the milk milk; beat well.
Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven.
Frost when cool.


Now that Alara’s cold has cleared up, she’s allowed to go near her sister again… Love the flowers in Alara’s hair!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Gramdpa’s Project

Since Ela’s arrival, my dad has been staying with us and helping us out. He has been great, it is so sad to think that he is leaving next week 😦

While he has been here, I have asked him to do a few odd jobs around the house, but the big project that I wanted done was a place for Alara to put all her costumes and accessories for dressing up.

Alara loves costumes, today she is Ariel from the little mermaid, yesterday she was a pirate. She likes wearing hats and putting on jewelry. The good thing for her is that she’s got loads of costumes, the bad thing for me was that she had loads of costumes, and no where to put them, (other than a pile on the floor).

When my dad got here, I described what I wanted, and how I needed it to be. It needed to be short enough for Alara to get the costumes and put them away herself, it needed to have hooks, rather than hangers, I didn’t want the box part to have a lid so that fingers didn’t get caught, and I wanted it to look good.

My dad listened to everything I said, looked at the limited amount of tools I actually have, and found a perfect solution, he converted a wooden bookshelf that you can buy at a do it yourself store and made it into the lovely costume station you see here.

Thank you dad for all your help! I’m going to miss you when you go back home!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Sentier de la Place,Mons,Belgium