How to host a harvest dinner party

An outdoor dinner with friends to celebrate the season, in partnership with Beau’s All Natural.

There’s been a slight chill in the air since we returned home from a road trip through Southern Ontario last week.

While Niagara-on-the-Lake was blistering hot – hot enough to really sweeten the peaches we were picking – I’ve noticed I need to grab a flannel shirt when I’m heading out to the garden in the morning and evenings. The changing weather is just one reminder that summer is slipping away.

Here on the homestead, another sign of the season is our annual harvest dinner. It is summer’s last hurrah, a gathering of close friends for no reason other than celebrating the bounty of August produce.

[Read more…]

Do-Ahead Cider Ribs

I‘m furiously trying to wrap up about six deadlines to clear my schedule for our vacation next week, but I had to leave you with this recipe for ribs.

I served up a mammoth platter of sticky, cider-braised, barbecued-finished ribs to friends at our recent Canada Day party. And they were a massive hit. And it was my first time to ever – ever– prepare ribs. So I’m here to tell you, this is not only a great recipe for entertaining, but it’s also one for the novice rib cook.

Along with the rib recipe, I’ve included a peek at our menu for the party. It was super easy to pull together; keep reading and you’ll see why.

[Read more…]

Backyard Cookout Tips + Coleman Get Outside Day

Ad. This post is sponsored by Coleman Canada and Canadian Tire.

All across the country, Canadians are counting down to Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation on Saturday. We’ll celebrate our country from East coast to West coast to the Arctic coast, each in our unique ways.

I’m guessing that most of us will be outdoors, because getting out into nature is what Canadians do best. In case you are entertaining friends or family on July 1 (or 4th, for my US readers), I’ve put together some of my best tips for a backyard cookout and I’m sharing them over at GetOutsideCanada.com.

Once again, Coleman Canada, in partnership with Canadian Tire, is championing a national Get Outside Day, encouraging Canadians to step out into the sunshine.

[Read more…]

How to host a BIG backyard gathering

Today, while wandering the homestead in a t-shirt with a cup of coffee in hand, I discovered my rhubarb and ramps have sprouted up from the ground.

The kids dug out a Frisbee from the garden shed and dashed around the soggy yard, obviously invigorated by the warm winds. Spring has arrived! It’s time to start planning the many ways we will take advantage of the glorious warm weather.

If you’re anything like me, your mind turns to outdoor entertaining just as soon as the last hunk of ice melts into a puddle on the deck.

The upcoming months hold many opportunities for celebration from a Mother’s Day brunch to a wedding shower lunch, but today I want to talk about throwing a BIG backyard party. The sunup to sundown kind of event, where more people pass through your garden gate then you usually see in an entire month. The kind of party you only throw once in your life – unless you thrive on this sort of thing, of course.

[Read more…]

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Hazelnuts, Feta and Yogurt Mint Dressing

Today my children go back to school, and I return to my desk as well to assume responsibility of my work life, both online and off.

As a closing note to the end of our carefree summer days – which were really and truly relaxing – I threw together a laid-back dinner on the weekend. My sister and brother-in-law had stopped by for a visit, so we put the baby to bed early, lit the coals on the kettle grill and opened a bottle of my favourite late-summer wine.

In a way, it was an intimate version of our harvest dinner which I host every August. My cookbook has more details and all the recipes from this annual backyard event, but essentially it is a slow dinner in the garden to celebrate the bounty of summer. It’s the one time of the year when I bring the white tablecloth and stemware outdoors –  a simple way to add elegance to a table with little effort.

[Read more…]