Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Perks to Being an Angler's Wife...

Many of you already know, but for those of you who don't, my husband, Nuno, is a devoted angler.  When he's not at work or spending time with family, it is safe to say that he's probably out fishing or doing something or other that pertains to the sport.   We live just a few minutes drive from Lake Simcoe.  Nuno takes his boat out to the lake and enjoys fishing in the spring, summer and fall months.  Come winter, the lake begins to freeze over, the boat is stored away, and he excitedly anticipates the start of ice fishing season.   

Nuno belongs to the Barrie Bassmasters club of Ontario and is sponsored by several organizations.  He has different roles and responsibilities for each one.  It's not always easy being the wife of an angler, you know.  I have to share him with the fish on many occasions, but I know that nothing makes him happier than a day out fishing.  So, of course, I support him!  And nothing makes me happier than when he brings home perch!  

Yellow perch are my favourite lake fish.  They are relatively small, in comparison to the larger bass, pike, and trout Nuno catches, and they are absolutely perfect for pan frying!  Last week, Nuno caught so many, we decided to host a fish fry at home!  

I did say there were perks to being an angler's wife, right?  Well, it means we can get free meals!  You definitely won't starve to death with a fisherman living at home!  And, I never have to "fix" the fish Nuno catches.  He always cleans and fillets them himself.  

  Here are all the perch, perfectly filleted by Nuno; free of any skin or bones.

The only thing I have to do, is prepare the fillets for frying...

Here they are; dredged in flour, egg, and cornmeal 

Hot and crispy pan fried perch fillets, layer upon layer

While Nuno fried the fish, I set the table; cooked some rice and put together a garden salad.  

The only thing missing were the guests...

There is nothing like gathering around a table to enjoy a good meal and each other's company...

Here they are...my father-in-law and mother-in-law are sitting in the back, along with cousin Peter, who also came to join us.  My girls, Anita and Annabel, are sitting on the left and Nuno is sitting on the right.  And me?   I'm behind the camera.  You can see my still-empty plate beside Nuno on the table.

If you look closely, on the table, is my mother-in-law's still-warm, homemade bread.  She made it especially for the fish fry.  The meal was delicious!  I am so thankful for my darling husband and my wonderful family.  The blessings at this table are abundant!  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Making Palmiers

 Have you ever baked palmiers before?  I made them for the first time last week.  Aren't they pretty?  You won't believe how easy they are to make! Days before I made these, my friend Laura posted a photo of the palmiers she made.  They looked so gorgeous and perfect; I wondered how did she make those?  She kindly shared the recipe with me.  Thank you again, Laura!  I made them and posted a picture to Facebook and received several requests for the recipe.  Here is the link to Ina's recipe...  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/palmiers-recipe/index.html

I thought you'd like to see how I made them...

First, I sprinkled one cup of sugar onto my counter top.  Next, I rolled one sheet of cold puff pastry dough into a 13x13 inch square and sprinkled it with 1/2 cup of sugar.  I folded the edges towards the center, as you can see above...

I folded the dough again, so the two folds met in the center.  Finally, I folded it in half; like a book (as you can see in the above photo).  I ended up with six layers of dough.  I carefully placed the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper and put it in the freezer for fifteen minutes.  This step helps stiffen the dough so it is easier to cut and retain its shape.

After fifteen minutes, I removed the dough from the freezer and cut it into 3/8-inch slices.  I put them on a baking pan, flipped each slice on its side and slightly opened them up to form heart shapes. 

I baked mine at 425 degrees F for six minutes.  I flipped them over with a spatula and continued baking them for approximately five minutes.  It's important to keep a close eye on them, as the sugar can burn easily.  

Be very careful not to touch the palmiers with your fingers when you flip them.  I got a bad burn on my index finger - the caramelized sugar is really HOT!  Make sure to use oven mitts, like I did, after I got burned.  

Let cool on a baking rack...
...and watch them disappear before your eyes!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cheers to a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my friends and followers!  May 2013 fill your lives with an abundance of love, good health, and happy days!   I hope you all enjoyed a merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season!  I expect you spent precious time with friends and loved ones; opening presents around the Christmas tree; talking, laughing and reminiscing.  Did you share a delicious feast with all the trimmings?  Did you sleep in and stay in your pyjamas all day long?  Did you take a drive or hop on a plane to visit family or did family come to visit you?  Oh, aren't the holidays wonderful?!

Our Christmas tree

We at the Antunes residence have been keeping busy, hence, my blog absence for several weeks.  December was filled with many blessings.  We celebrated birthdays...four of them to be exact - my husband's, my father-in-law's, my sister's and mine!  We attended the school Christmas concert, exchanged gifts, spent precious time with family and friends, AND we still managed to get away for an overnight trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake to celebrate my birthday.

Singing happy birthday to Nuno at my in-laws' house
Annabel singing the Hawaiian Christmas Song
at the school concert 

A glimpse of early morning snow outside my kitchen window

Celebrating my birthday at
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
 named "The prettiest town in Canada" in 1996
Prince of Wales hotel, where we stayed ovenight
A special birthday breakfast
Birthday morning horse and carriage ride through town
A little birthday video...


But along with all the joy and celebration of the season, our family have been struggling with some difficult news.  Early last month, we learned that my dear father-in-law had a brain tumor. He has since had surgery to remove most of it.  The surgery went well.  He won that battle, but the war is not over.  We as a family are here for him and each other, as we realize there are tough days ahead of us.  We are strong and united.  The love, hope, and courage we share are going to help us get through this trying time.

One might think that this news put a damper on our holidays .  One may say that we couldn't possibly celebrate the joys of the season with this revelation looming over our heads.  But, then I might say, I guess you don't know my father-in-law.  He is a strong, happy, courageous man.  He celebrated his birthday, Christmas, and new year's eve in the same manner he has celebrated in previous years.  If anything, this Christmas was even more special than those of years passed.  We celebrated with every inch of our being.  We enjoyed each other's company and did not take for granted, not for one second, that we were all here, together, today, right now! 

This is how I want to begin this new year - feeling thankful for all of life's blessings, each and every day.  I don't want to take anyone or anything for granted.  Each morning, I am going to say THANK YOU!    Thank you for another day, another sunrise, another chance. 

Cheers!  To a fabulous new year!  Here's hoping all of our dreams come true!