How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

As Kristy promised the next few posts will highlight our latest road trip across North America. If you haven’t guessed by now, we like our road trips!Toronto
This time a business trip called me to Toronto right as school was ending for Mr. N and Miss A, and that was all the excuse we needed to jump in the car and head to the Great White North. The fact that some of our favorite bloggers are in the area made it an even easier call. After an all day drive on Friday, the first thing on the agenda was a Saturday morning trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hockey HOF
I highly recommend a visit. The trophy room is impressive to say the least – we actually got to touch the Stanley Cup before it was brought back home, and there are lots of interactive things for the kids to do. While Mr. N was clobbering me at NHL trivia (seriously), Miss A was trying her hand at the real thing. 2
Mr. N and I played the goalie interactive game, but it’s probably best there isn’t any photographic evidence of our performance. That evening, I took the kids to a movie, and Kristy got to have a girl’s night out with blogging friends Eva, Barb and Kelly. From all accounts, a great time was had by all. I’m told the conversation flowed (as did the drinks and food) and it was more a gathering of long-time friends than new friends. And don’t feel bad for me, after taking the kids to the movie (and getting them to sleep I might add) I got to kick back and watch the Hawks in a little playoff action. 3Like our weather at home,  Toronto was hit or miss, but the sun seemed to shine on the days we most needed it – like our second visit to Centre Island’s Centreville Amusement Park. (A few of you may recall we spent Miss A’s 3rd birthday at the park a few years ago.) Centreville
carousel
if the boat's a rockin
log ride
The next day, well, the weather was cold and rainy, but that didn’t deter Kristy and the kids. They spent the entire day at the Ontario Science Centre while I was at my conference. Now that the kids are older they can actually spend more than a few hours at a museum without needing a nap (us adults on the other hand…), so it was a FULL day of hair-raising fun. static electricity</a
mom and kids
Toronto was a non-stop whirlwind of fun with much of the thanks going to Eva, who provided a virtual tour book of activities for us including the other places we visited, the Distillery District, Eaton Centre, Marché, and Yorkville. We didn’t make it to everything else on the list, but the cool thing was that what we did see (except for Centreville) was new to us despite having been through Toronto twice before. Thank you again Eva. We’ll be back again to finish off the rest of the list for sure!

Now before we head back to the states (in our next post), and leave our Neighbor to the North we just had to make another stop at Niagara Falls. Niagara

Even though it’s our third visit, it amazes every single time. The amount and force of the water is just staggering. Every time. Again with the kids being older now, we figured a new adventure was in order (and no, not one that involved a barrel, much to the kids’ dismay). This year we braved the rapids on the Maid of the Mist. maid of the mist

And what can I say other than, it completely lives up to the hype. If you’re in the area, it’s an absolute must do. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves (photos were taken on Kristy’s iPhone since the ride is a bit wet): maid of the mist 2Maid of the mist voyage 1
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It was another good one for the books (or our memories anyway), there’s always a new adventure around every corner. Toronto and the Niagara region can provide weeks of sightseeing, and they’ll surely keep us coming back for more. (Not to mention – we’ve got some great friends to come back and visit again too!)

Later this week, Kristy will be back with the rest of our adventure. Until then, here’s something else that was new to us this year – lights on the Falls. Lights
Lights 2

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Like kissing your…brother?

An oft-repeated quote in sports goes like this: “A tie is like kissing your sister.” A google search attributes the origin of the quote to former Texas football coach Darryl Royal, Alabama coach Bear Bryant, Michigan State coach Duffy Daugherty, or Navy coach Eddie Erdelatz, but regardless of who said it first, it sure fits. A weird combination of completely unsatisfying, and could have been worse. We had a tie in last year’s Banana Bread challenge, and needless to say, we weren’t eager to repeat that again in our French Toast Challenge this year.

The final showdown pitted the top two seeds against each other, with #1 Bermuda French Toast taking on #2 Blueberry Stuffed. Bermuda struggled in the first round, but ultimately just had too much and managed to avoid the upset. Blueberry Stuffed prevailed in a tough battle in its previous match-up to earn its spot in the finals. Both recipes were at their best on challenge day, and it was clear when we got them both on the plate that we were in for an entertaining and enjoyable challenge. Continue reading

Spring in Our Step

Today we’ve got a special team post from both Mike and I. I’ll let him start with the March Madness update:

Like millions of office workers around the nation, we’ve taken a break from our regular schedule to fill out our brackets this month. We’ve also done some other stuff too, but more on that in a minute. First we’ve got another French Toast matchup to tell you about. This week’s clash paired second-seeded Blueberry Stuffed French Toast against the three seed, Grand Greenlandic French Toast, for the right to meet Bermuda French Toast in next week’s finals.

First out of the gate was the Blueberry Stuffed French Toast, and it brought its “A” game this weekend. Kristy sliced up the bread and made the blueberry syrup and pecans, while Mike whipped up the stuffing and tucked it into the bread pockets. We stuffed them a little fuller than we did the first time we made them, and that proved to be an excellent strategy. Continue reading

March Madness is upon us

While the rest of the nation has been filling out their brackets with their favorite college basketball teams, we’ve been stuffing our brackets (and bellies) with French Toast. About this time last year, we announced our French Toast Challenge, and since then French Toasts from around the globe have been battling it out for French Toast supremacy. We made 13 in all, but only four can be selected for the big dance.

But before we get to the competitors, it wouldn’t be March Madness without some controversial snubs by the selection committee. Miss A and Mr. N did a fantastic job on the selections, but two French Toasts found themselves on the wrong side of the bubble despite having strong performances. Romanian French Toast, a savory style French Toast surprised everyone, but fell just short of making the cut. The most controversial decision, though, was the omission of Bananas Foster French Toast. A top pick in the preseason, they fell short as the committee decided that two banana recipes was too many. Fans of Bananas Foster complained of the committee’s hypocrisy and argued that if they were in the top four, they should have been given a bid. Mr. N and Miss A were having none of it, though.

But enough of the also-rans. Here are the brackets: Continue reading

ChefDad at the Bat

It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood two to four , with but one inning left to play.
So when Cooney died at second, and Burroughs did the same,
A pallor wreathed the features of the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go, leaving there the rest,
With that hope that springs eternal within the human breast.
They thought, if only Casey could get a whack at that,
They’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.

–Ernest Lawrence Thayer, Casey at the Bat

When I was ten years old, my dad made me a deal that if I went a whole season in little league without striking out, he’d take me anywhere in the world I wanted to go for dinner. Now, at age 10 I didn’t know as much about cooking around the world as Mr. N and Miss A, and I think he figured I’d pick something familiar and local. I was, however, an adventurous eater and by about the third or fourth game of the season, I’d settled on Joe’s Stone Crabs in Miami. I’d never been there, but my dad would have occasion to travel there back then, and he always raved about it. In retrospect, he probably did some nudging to ensure that if I picked a place that would wind up costing him two plane tickets, he at least wanted stone crabs out of the deal. I also think he didn’t expect to have to pay up. Continue reading

Just when I thought I was out…

…they pull me back in.

Actually, I’m excited to blog this recipe for Potato Gnocchi with Creamy Tomato Vodka Sauce, one of our favorite things to make when we can find the time to do it. This time it was for Kristy’s birthday last month.

So, there’s that awful scene in The Godfather III where Andy Garcia is oozing his charm on Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter who is neither old enough, nor alluring enough, nor competent enough as an actress to pull this scene off at this point in her career arc. For the uninitiated (I refuse to link to a youtube clip), the medium the elder Don-wannabe uses to charm his prey is gnocchi. We’re supposed to be seduced by the mastery Mr. Garcia demonstrates in rolling the gnocchi across the tines of the fork while little Sofia looks on in heated amazement, but frankly I was just creeped out. Continue reading