How to Clean Dirty Pots

Here is a little trick my mom taught me for dealing with dirty, scrub-worthy pots and pans. No elbow grease required. It’s ideal for  Christmas dinner when you’ve got a pile of dirty dishes and an overwhelming urge to take a nap.

1. Don’t scrub. My favourite piece of advice ever, Mom. Merci beaucoup.

2. Fill pan/pot with one-inch of hot water and dish soap.

3. Put on pan/pot on stove and turn heat to high.

4. Bring water to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer.

5. Let cool. Finish digesting dinner. Drink ports and coffees.

6. Wash pot. No scrubbing required. Yeehaw and Merry Christmas.




I’m glad all the Toque Girls readers will benefit from “Christina Frangou Moves Home — the Thirty-Something Edition.”



Paleo Pumpkin Cookies

On our girls’ weekend in San Francisco and Monterey, Kelly and I chatted a lot about the Paleo diet. She and her husband have been following it and are loving the results.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Paleo, but it’s essentially known as “The Caveman Diet” that’s popular with CrossFit athletes. I’m simplifying here, but you cut all things processed, starchy and carby and ramp up on proteins, veggies and nuts. Kelly got into it when she read The Primal Blueprint and started taking CrossFit classes. (For a funny take on one man’s Paleo ventures, check out Dave McGinn’s story in the Globe and Mail.)

I don’t follow the Paleo diet purposely, but I do follow many of the same principles on my own. So, when Kelly offered to share her favourite Paleo cookie recipe, I took her up on the offer. She blended a couple of recipes and added her own touch to create these yummy Paleo Pumpkin Cookies. “I eat these whenever I need a snack on the go that is healthy and I’m craving something sweet, too,” she says.

In need of something sweet the other night, I made the cookies after a lengthy search for almond meal. For my Calgary friends: head to Community Natural Foods. You’ll also find the So Delicious line of coconut milk, which Kelly recommends for the recipe.

Paleo Pumpkin Cookies

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (I used almonds, chopped)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (from a can, organic preferred)
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely diced in a food processor (I don’t have one, so ended up dicing it with a knife and using bigger chunks, which worked out just fine)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger (powdered is fine)
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400F. Mix dry ingredients (almond meal, nuts, spices and baking powder) in a large bowl. Mix egg, maple syrup and coconut milk together in a small bowl. Add wet to dry and mix. Add pureed pumpkin and diced apple. Mix well. Add chocolate chips and mix. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; this really prevents sticking but if you run out, you can grease the sheets with butter. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes. Slide parchment paper onto counter top and let cookies cool. Store in the fridge to keep them for up to a week.
The cookies turned out to be very, very soft but also very, very tasty. They remind me of bite-sized pumpkin pie with a sweet chocolate zing. I’ve been popping one in my mouth every time I pass my kitchen, which probably undoes the “healthy” part about this cookie. Thanks for sharing, Kelly!




Blog Awards

Woot woot, friends! The Toque Girls received some great news this weekend. We’ve been nominated for some amazing blog awards!

But, maybe you already knew that.

It seems that we are among the last to know. On Saturday morning, we met up with our lovely friends Malwina Gudowska from Sweetspot.ca and Kelly Doody of Daily Ink for breakfast at AKA Bistro. Over giant quinoa waffles, we talked about life, blogs and other things. Then, someone (Kelly, we think) said, “You guys should tell people that you’re nominated for best Canadian blog. You should get people to vote for you.”

To which Malwina said, “You should tell people! I already voted for you.”

Michelle and I stared, stunned for a few minutes with maple syrup running down our chins. We burst out laughing. Apparently, we’re quite inept on the blog marketing front. It’s a wonder that any of you readers come back day after day. (Thank you for doing so!)

And then, to really drive home our ineptitude, on Sunday, someone else told us that we’ve been nominated in three categories in a completely different competition, The Canadian Weblog Awards! We’re nominated for Best Weblog about Fashion, Style and Design, Best Life Weblog and Best Written Weblog. A jury will choose the winners in this competition and the winners will be announced in January.

As for the Canadian Blog Awards, please help your inept Toque Girls out and vote for us! We’d be ever so grateful. And, it might even help you out, dear readers! For real. If our site grows, we could host more giveaways for things like fuzzy sweaters and booze giveaways. And wouldn’t that make you happy?

Thought so.

We’d be ever so grateful if you could vote for us here.

(Side prayer to the writing fairies: Our dear writing fairies, please spare us from silly grammatical errors over the next few months. Thanks, C&M)

Please vote for us. Remember, this could mean fuzzy sweaters and booze giveaways.


The Toque Girls

PS – Here we are stunned and quinoa-filled after breakfast:

(Note to Kelly: Chris is sorry for trying to touch faces with you in the photo.)


Things We Like Fridays

Happy Friday!

We hope you’ve all had an excellent week and are looking forward to a relaxing weekend. We Toque Girls are going to be engaging in one of our favourite kinds of relaxation: spa treatments. We can’t wait for the pampering to begin!

Speaking of Toque Girls, check out these cuties. Kelly (who ran the race in California last weekend with Michelle) bought these adorable toques for her girls, Christina and Allie, from a street vendor in San Francisco. Thumbs up for the Toque Girls in training!

Let’s get to our list for this week:

  • With winter descending upon us, it’s kind of nice to use a moisturizer called Summer Love. This Skoah cream is thick, smells great and reminds of us warm summer days.
  • To our American friends, happy Thanksgiving! One of our favourite blogs, The Lil Bee, had a hilarious post earlier this week about Thanksgiving. Read it here for a good laugh! We’ll be thinking of this on Christmas. “Why, of course, Mom, I’d love to shove stale bread up the bird’s ass for you.”
  • This is an amazing story about dads, family, health and motivation.
  • We both love the NY Times annual 100 Notable Books of the year, which came out this week. Great ideas for presents!
  • Another great idea: The Multiple makeup stick by NARS. We were recently introduced to its wonders and are impressed. Swipe the stick across eyelids, cheeks and lips and voila, you’re done.
  • Need your brows done for the holidays? You might want to check out The Brow Studio at Fashion Central. The bright and beautiful little spot, which used to be part of Quorra, offers brow shaping, maintenance and more.  

~The Toque Girls


Pebble Art of Nova Scotia

I swear on chocolate ice cream sandwiches that I went to the art market last weekend to buy things for other people.

Then I saw this and lost my head.



Artist Sharon Nowlan collects pebbles on the beach near her home of Pictou, Nova Scotia. She puts the pebbles together to make beautiful pictures. I love the one above because it reminds me of the dozens of times that S. and I hiked in the mountains. We sit at the top and eat PB’n'J sandwiches.

For a family, how incredible is this one?

You can find more about Nowlan on her website or her Etsy site. She’ll be in Toronto at the One of a Kind Show from Dec. 2-4 and in Edmonton Dec. 9-12 at the Butterdome Craft Sale. I’ll leave you with a few more favourites: