As I make this journey thru life it seems that each year that passes provides more opportunity for reflection. Perhaps there is just more to reflect on or certain life experiences that coax a new perception, a new way of looking at things.
As a chef I have always prided myself on providing the best meals from scratch, and in today’s factory made world something has to be said about those who take the time to give special attention to the little details. However, there comes a point when the extra effort doesn’t seem to be enough and one feels the need to do more.
This year, as I reflected back on my 38 years (has it really been 38 years?), I can’t deny the feeling that some things have gone unfinished, as though I wasn’t doing enough. Perhaps it’s living thru a major hurricane that causes one to realize what’s really important or maybe it’s being surprised (blessed if you will) with another child that makes one ponder what am I leaving behind, what will my legacy be and what am I leaving my kids and the world! The feeling wells up even more around the Holidays, while watching my children play with their young family and friends, completely unaware of the important decisions needing to be made in the world around them.
While growing up in Canada the holidays always revolved around family gatherings, big feasts and traditional recipes. Whether it was mom cooking a traditional turkey feast with homemade cranberries or my grandma’s apple sour cream cake all the food had something in common, fresh ingredients and lots of love. Back then we didn’t consider whether or not our ingredients were organic or conventionally grown, mind you back then it didn’t really matter as most food still came from the farm. Since then the fast pace of our daily lives its easy has left us often reaching for what is quick and convenient, but the Holidays give us an opportunity to slow down and give both our meals and our family the time and attention they deserve.
When the entire family comes together to celebrate such occasions, the true beauty is found in crowded kitchens and long meaningful conversations around a full table. It’s a time to make up for busy schedules and homes that our thousands of miles apart, and every bite of food deserves to be just as memorable as every inside joke or childhood story. I attempt to get the family together for a home-cooked meal weekly, but the Holidays are when favorite recipes take center stage. I dig deep into the family cookbooks and use the freshest ingredients I can get my hands on for that timeless flavor that always feels like home. In that moment I feel like I’m making a difference in the world, even if it’s teaching my own.
This Holiday season I invite you to take a little extra time to go that extra mile. Take the whole family to a local organic market to help them gather ingredients, and get little and big hands together to stir up something magical in the kitchen. Here you will find the recipe for one of my favorite Holiday Traditions, my Mother’s Peppermint Chocolate Bark, make them in your own home for the perfect Holiday treat. Nothing returns the love like an empty plate and a full stomach.
Peppermint Chocolate Bark
- 3 kilos dark chocolate (Tempered)
- 5 ml peppermint oil
- 2 cups toasted pumpkin Seeds
- 2 cups dried cherries (chopped)
- 1 cup golden berries (chopped)
- 1 cup dried blueberries
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 20 ml coarse sea salt
- 200 grams chopped candy cane
Temper chocolate in bain Marie until completely melted Add peppermint oil and mix well
Mix dried fruits and seeds in a separate bowl. Add 75% of dried fruit mixture to chocolate and mix well. (Reserve the rest for the top) Spread evenly over parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle top with rest of dried fruits and pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle evenly with crushed candy cane (optional) Sprinkle evenly with coarse sea salt… Chill in fridge for 24 hours Break apart and store in sealable container with parchment between layers.