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The Christmas Congregation Festival of Trees Edmonton 2017

The Christmas Congregation Festival of Trees Edmonton 2017

I bet you came here thinking you were going to read about a gingerbread house or church in this case.

This post is about that and so much more.

It is about words and music, passion, loss and grief.

It is about firsts and creativity.

Personal goals.

A group of music lovers that have become to feel like family.

And charity.

That is everything that this years gingerbread build represents.

This was the first time I have participated in the Festival of Trees in Edmonton. Over the years I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of both the Festival of Trees in Grande Prairie and Barrhead. I have always wanted to be a part of the Festival in Edmonton and this year everything came together.

Nutmeg Disrupted At the Festival of Trees in Edmonton

I nailed down a design in late September and got to work on completing the blueprints. I started to bake pieces for the church early in October, between working full time and a road trip planned for mid October to Vancouver to catch a rock and roll show I wanted to get an early start. I knew that I would have a better time in Vancouver if I was not worrying about the build, feeling confident that I had a good start on it back at home.

The hardest part for me of any gingerbread project is picking the perfect name. It captures the essence of the project and hopefully is a fit for  what I am trying to create.  As I was planning the design I decided that I would have a minister standing outside of the church to welcome his parishioners and was tossing names around. Michael, Stephen, Douglas….nothing felt right. Putting it on the back burner I knew it would come to me, the deadline for turning in my project idea was approaching quickly, due the same day I was leaving for Vancouver. A few days before leaving on my road trip it all fell into place. With the trip heavy in my thoughts and needing to get my paperwork turned into the foundation I began brainstorming names at work. I whispered the name Father John and in that moment it came to me.

Father Gregory standing outside of the Christmas Congregation gingerbread church on Nutmeg Disrupted for the Festival of Trees in Edmonton in 2017

Pleased that I had nailed down the name and theme for the build I left for Vancouver ready for a few days of rock and roll and relaxation. This was the second time I have travelled to Vancouver to catch The Afghan Whigs. People have said,  “you’re going all the way to Vancouver for a concert, that’s pretty dedicated.” Indeed. Music is my fuel, my therapy, my everything. It is what has gotten me through the hardest days of my journey. Some people rely on friendships or family, others drugs and alcohol, sometimes food or extreme exercise to comfort them in the darkest moments of their lives. For me it is music that gets me through. It always has. I celebrate every moment with music. It is through the words and music that I search for acceptance or deal with defeat and despair, find resilience or hope, joy. I am able to explore my deepest darkest heartbreak and come out stronger,  better because of words that resonate so deeply that somehow, over time, they heal. There are only a few bands that I can relate with on such a deeply profound level. The Afghan Whigs are THAT band for me. In those dark broken moments in my life their music and Greg’s words helped me to find hope and move forward.

Dave Rosser

The Afghan Whigs know about dark moments and pushing forward. Their strength in 2017 was something to admire. They lost an amazing friend, musician and fellow bandmate during the summer. When I heard about Dave Rossers cancer it took my breath away. I couldn’t believe it. 2 men I admired now were stricken with cancer, both terminal. How is that even possible. As fans watched the Whigs tour Greg spoke of Dave at every show, and in some of those moments he was indeed there with them. The show that struck me the most was at the PukkelPop Festival. It was one of those chills passing over your body kind of moments when Greg spoke about Dave. Even though they were working through their heartbreaking loss, down one member of their team, they sounded amazing and my excitement for the Vancouver show was simmering beneath the surface.

Driving through the Icefields Parkway on Nutmeg Disrupted

The drive to Vancouver was amazing & exhausting. There is no more beautiful drive in Canada then travelling over the Rocky Mountains through the Icefields Parkway. 15 hours after we left we arrived at the AirBnb, I was grateful to be in the city ready to explore and discover.

Arrived in Vancouver for The Afghan Whigs show at The Rickshaw Theatre on Nutmeg Disrupted

It was Sunday evening, with the show being on Tuesday I had an entire day to be a tourist! That first day every free minute was filled, first we went down to the waterfront, took a drive out to Burnaby to do some exploring and ended up having some amazing seafood on Granville Island.

Visiting Granville Market on Nutmeg Disrupted

Tuesday we kept closer to the main part of the city exploring the Stanley Park then made our way through the downtown area.

Visiting Stanley Park

exploring downtown Vancouver

Deciding to check out the area around the venue to see the best place to park I spotted Rick Nelson and Jon Skibic crossing the busy street in front of us. With a quick drive around the block we spotted the tour bus, as if I wasn’t excited enough, months of planning for this day and it was finally here. The show was going to be spectacular!  And my god it was! I can still remember how I felt that night. The band, the venue, the music, the crowd.

At The Rickshaw Theatre to see The Afghan Whigs in Vancouver on NUtmeg Disrupted

The high you carry away from a live show can last for days.  Feeling every beat of the music encompass you is powerful. Electric. There is absolutely nothing like it. And you feel that electricity for days afterwards.  Reliving the show over in your thoughts.  Falling into bed that night I was so grateful that I could make the trip out, life is short and we have to grab as many of those moments we can.

Patrick Keelers Drum at The Afghan Whigs show at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver

Greg Dulli and The Afghan Whigs at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver on Nutmeg Disrupted

The set list from The Afghan Whigs InSpades show at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver on Nutmeg Disrupted

Morning came swiftly, it was going to be a long drive back home through the mountains and we wanted an early start. I stretched and grabbed my phone, seeing a message from a friend in New Brunswick. It took a second for my mind to grasp the words I was reading.

He simply said….

I hate to wake you up to the news….he’s gone Red 🙁     I wish I could hug you.

In that moment I went from the highest high to the lowest of lows.

Gord Downie

He was Gord Downie and the night before while I was rocking out with my beloved Afghan Whigs my hero lost his battle with brain cancer. Gord was dead. He was gone.

Coming home over the Rocky Mountains on Nutmeg Disrupted

The trip home is mostly a blur. Every gas station or restaurant we stopped in had the news on, it was all about Gord. Every radio station was playing the Hip and only the Hip. It was impossible to escape and more impossible to hold it together, nothing had prepared me for this day and I was beyond devastated. And hearing the music only compounded my pain. I sobbed openly, my heart shattered. As we traveled home heartbroken I played the Whigs. Searching for peace. Perhaps trying to outrun my grief. Broken, exhausted. Thankful for the time we had with Gord. The powerful energy of the night before fueled my emotional trip home.

Mourning one with the music of the other.

Driving into the Rockie Mountains on Nutmeg Disrupted

I took my grief and I channeled it into my gingerbread. Hard work has a way of being a distraction from the pain, it has always worked like that for me. When my son died it was hard work that got me through and this was no different. And as the days rolled into weeks my heart began to heal and a church was built.

The Christmas Congregation Gingerbead Church on Nutmeg Disrupted

I am thrilled at how The Christmas Congregation turned out and I am super proud of my work. It was a fairly easy and clean design. As I worked on some of the finer details of my minister and his special guest I shared images with a small yet special group of music lovers who love and appreciate the Whigs as much as I do. To some this is just a gingerbread church, to others it is so much more.

Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs a part of the Christmas Congregation gingerbread church on Nutmeg Disrupted

Dave Rosser getting ready for the Christmas Congregation on Nutmeg Disrupted

So to my fellow CGs thank you!

Early evening outside The Christmas COngregation gingerbread church on Nutmeg Disrutped

Outside The Christmas Congregation Gingerbread Church on Nutmeg Disrupted

Nutmeg Disrupted with the Christmas Congregation Gingerbread Church at the Festival of Trees in Edmonton

Nutmeg Disrupted with the Christmas Congregation Gingerbread Church at the Festival of Trees in Edmonton

As it was my first time attending the Festival of Trees in Edmonton I really didn’t know what to expect. Competiting in a Festival of this size I was nervous and excited to see the talents of those who I was sharing the space with. All monies raised at this years Festival go to the Emergency Department at the University Hospital in Edmonton.

The Christmas Congregation Gingerbread Church takes the GOLD at the Festival of Trees in Edmonton in 2017

The Christmas Congregation did well at the Festival and Father Gregory and Mr. Rosser walked away with the GOLD! Each Festival has its own set of rules and in Edmonton they do not share the sales prices of the items sold at the auction. I admit, I am not a fan of the rule. I invest 100’s of hours into each of my gingerbread builds and I strive to raise the bar every year. My only hope is the someone who attended the Gala happened to catch the sale price for the Christmas Congregation and reaches out to me. Or the other possibility is if anyone has seen the Christmas Congregation on display in Edmonton through the Christmas season contacts me to let me know where the church was spotted so I could inquire with the new owner about their generous donation.

If you have read this far, I thank you for following along on my gingerbread journey. All those years ago I never expected that gingerbread would become such as passion of mine and that I could take that passion and raise thousands of dollars for charity. What started as a simple build this year turned into so much more. What began as a fun idea for a build turned into a project that injected my love and grief for 2 men gone from this world far to early. Who music has been my saviour, my confidante, at times my only friend.  I am so glad I could share this extra special build with you all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Char-Broil Gratitude Post & the birth of a smoker.

Char-Broil Gratitude Post & the birth of a smoker.

I have been wondering how to start this post for a while now. It came to me quite clearly  a few days ago to just simply share the story I have been telling so many in the journey to build this smoker. Because how else do you let the world know of a company with customer service so outstanding that you want everyone to own their products? Of a company that stepped up way way above and beyond. A company I had the pleasure of working with last spring when they rolled out their Life Is Better Bbqed campaign.

Of course I am talking about Char-Broil.

My replacement Char-Broil BBQ on Nutmeg Disrupted

In the spring of 2015 I did a 3 post project for Char-Broil. They had a Spring campaign going on with Lowes and I was honored to be a part of it. As you know we love BBQ on Nutmeg Disrupted and to work with such an amazing team was a dream come true. I received a gorgeous Char-Broil BBQ from Lowes to review and grill with for the campaign. The BBQ was mine to keep.

Flash forward a few weeks after the campaign wrapped up standing in line at Starbucks…

My phone buzzed, it was a text from my son. A huge storm was rolling into town and a tree was down in the backyard. As I was standing there I was struck with a bit of panic. Tree down. Which tree. No way it could be the 1000+ pound tree beside the deck. Then he sent a photo from the inside of the house through the patio door. All you could see was leaves.

Indeed it was said tree.

I paid for my coffee then quickly made the 70 minute trip home.

A huge maple tree down from a summer storm.

Massive tree down during a summer storm on Nutmeg Disrupted

A bbq crushed by a massive tree on Nutmeg Disrupted

That was what I found when I arrived home.

I was devastated. Yes that is a bold statement to make about a BBQ, but in that moment I was completely devastated. It took a couple of days to get the tree bucked up and retrieve the crushed grill. Almost every inch of it was damaged.

The evening the tree fell I had Tweeted about the storm and the sad fate of my BBQ. I was thankful no one was hurt, had anyone been grilling out back I can’t even imagine how that would have ended. The smoker that was on the deck took a hit and was damaged but the full weight of the tree was on the BBQ.

What happened next was something so unexpected and wonderful.

Within 24 hours of my BBQ misfortune I had been contacted by the marketing company that represented Char-Broil during the Lowes campaign.

Char-Broil had heard about what happened and they wanted to make it right and send me a new BBQ to replace the one that was crushed. Talk about a company standing behind their product! Because I had done some work for them they were willing to replace their product, not because they had to, simply because they wanted to. Now that is a brand I want to stand behind and do business with.

I may have cried a little when I received that news. BBQ is a passion and to have not only my smoker but my BBQ also taken out in a brief moment was a huge loss.

Char-Broil customer service on Nutmeg Disrupted

After the tree was cleared away we took apart the BBQ to salvage any of the good parts. It felt like a such a waste tossing out such a new piece of equipment and the goal now was to repurpose what we could. Immediately it was decided that we would build a smoker. The only pieces not damaged were the handles off the doors, the temperature gage, the logo and the heating element area of the grill, though bent it was still functioning. With the salvaged bits stored away we set off with a plan of building a smoker. We had an idea of what we wanted for the body of the smoker and scoured the ads for upcoming auction sales. Everything we looked at was just not quite what we had envisioned until one day while in Canadian Tire after a year long search we found the perfect body for our new smoker.

Shopping for a new smoker body on Nutmeg Disrupted

The vision has always been to build a large smoker. Something substantial so that we had the area to do a large cook. Having catered weddings and hosted pig roasts we have had the opportunity to use some very large BBQs and we wanted our smoker to not only be impressive but have the power to do the job.

Adding the Char-Broil details to the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

From there everything started to fall into place. In conversation with Brian our butcher we mentioned that we were building a smoker and he gave us a great idea as to what we could use for the racking inside the unit. The heating element was a close fit and with a bit of work the smoker started to coming together.

Fitting the heating element into the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

We did a few small trial runs to work out the kinks and cooked for an event mid summer.

The first offical cook with the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

The smoker has been getting a lot of attention, it is a gorgeous piece of equipment and with every inquiry I share my Char-Broil story.

In closing I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Char-Broil. Not only have you made this girls BBQ dreams continue, you make a product that I love and your customer service is unmatched. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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Mother’s Day Grill

Mother’s Day Grill

Mother’s Day has always been about the food and the most amazing meals. As the years have gone by my dishes have gotten more and more elevated. Now Mother’s Day is one of the most anticipated days on my food calendar!

This year is no exception.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is so great for food because there isn’t the pressure of traditional holiday menus. So on Mother’s Day you can experiment with dishes. Maybe you’ll even start some new traditions.

My Mother’s Day menu changes every year but one thing remains the same. Amazing dishes full of flavour!

This year I went with a varied menu of beef, vegetables, salad and seafood. I found some succulent crab legs that I couldn’t pass up. They were the perfect addition to the menu. And of course, no Mother’s Day meal would be complete without a incredible dessert.

The Menu

I started with marinating thin strips of beef in a combination of soya sauce, maple syrup, crushed garlic, brown sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  I let those sit for an hour. To weave them on the skewers I just folded the meat back and fourth into neat little stacks. I stuck the skewers through the center of each stack and pulled the beef from the top up the length of the skewer. If you  can get the rouladen cuts of beef these work perfectly and saves the work of thinly slicing the beef. If you can not find the rouladen cut chose a nice steak.  Pop the steak into the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting. This makes for an easier job of achieving nice thin strips.

After you are done with the beef put the shrimp on to skewers. Run the skewer through the tail section then the head section for a nice snug fit.

In a small sauce pan place a few cloves of crushed garlic, a squeeze of lemon and 1/2 to 3/4 cup butter. Heat this on the side burner while you are grilling. You can use this to not only baste the shrimp as they are grilling but to dunk the finished crab into.

Set your BBQ to medium heat. Start with the crab legs. I cooked them from frozen. Just set them on the grill and give them a flip every once in a while.

Nutmeg Disrupted grilling crab legs with Char Broil for Mothers Day

 

After about 10 minutes you can add the beef and shrimp skewers. I added a few baby sweet peppers and lemon wedges that were drizzled with a touch of oil to the grill.

Nutmeg Disrupted grilling seafood with Chasr Broil for Mothers Day

 

Grill everything for another 10 minutes, basting the shrimp with the lemon butter.

Place the butter on a hot mat on the table. Remove everything to a large platter to be served family style with fresh salads and crusty bread.

Grilled maple beef skewers with fresh salad for Mothers Day on NUtmeg Disrupted

 

Sweet Dreams

We have the perfect dish to finish off any Mother’s Day feast.

Grilled pineapple topped with Nutella, freshly whipped cream and strawberries. Topped off with a few nuts to add a bit of crunch to this light dessert.

To prep the pineapple cut the top and bottom off. Stand the pineapple up and from top to bottom cut off the skin. Now you can cut it into nice thick slices. Place on the grill cooking until it has nice sear marks and has become tender. Remove to a platter.

Grilled pineapple with nutella & cream on Nutmeg Disrupted

While still warm add generous dollops of Nutella to the slices. Top with whipped cream, slivered almonds and fresh strawberries.

 

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Crab Apple Jelly

Crab Apple Jelly

Crab apples have been part of my existence since I was little. One of my earliest crab apple memories were of my Gido taking us apple picking. Though we never really got to do any picking as the trees were so tall that ladders where needed.

Then there where the trees in my grandmothers backyard. And though as I kid I wasn’t a huge fan of crab apples I was truly amazed at how fantastic her crab apple jelly was. It was the most wonderful pink color and not at all tart like the apples. After she passed away I remember one afternoon my grandfather giving me his last jar of crab apple jelly. It was the best gift I ever received.

Flash forward a few years. I was at work some someone had asked if I wanted some crab apples. My thoughts immediately went to the jelly that I enjoyed so much in the years before. I was excited at the chance to try and do this!

Crab apples on Nutmeg Disrupted

I went and bought jars, a box of Certo and began my journey into jelly making.

Crab Apple Jelly
 
Author:
Recipe type: Preserving
Cuisine: Condiment
Ingredients
  • To make juice:
  • 4 quarts of crab apples
  • 6 cups of water
  • To make jelly:
  • 7 cups of prepared crab apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 box of Certo pectin crystals
  • 9 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
Instructions
  1. Remove the blossom and stem ends from 4 quarts of crab apples.
  2. Half apples and place in a large pot, do not peel or core.
  3. Cove with water.
  4. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Crush pulp and cover and simmer 5 minutes longer.
  7. Place the simmered apples into a jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
  8. Now place in a colander and set over a large bowl or pot to catch the juice.
  9. For a clearer jelly do not squeeze the juice out, let it drip.
  10. Up to ½ cup of water can be added if you do not get sufficient juice.
  11. In a large sauce pan stir together crab apple juice, lemon juice and pectin crystals.
  12. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  13. Stir in the sugar.
  14. Add 1 tablespoon of butter.
  15. Return to a hard boil for one minute.
  16. Remove from heat.
  17. Ladle jelly into sterilized jars laving a ¼ inch of headspace.
  18. Apply lid and screw bands finger tip tight.
  19. Place the jars into a hot water bath and process 5 minutes.
  20. Remove jars and allow to cool fully.

Crab apple juice for jelly on Nutmeg Disrupted

Making crab apple jelly on Nutmeg Disrupted

Making crab apple jelly in Mutmeg Disrupted

 

 

 

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Honeymoon Suite

Honeymoon Suite

Honeymoon Suite in Wembley

Honeymoon Suite in Wembley

Honeymoon Suite in Wembley

Honeymoon Suite in Wembley

Honeymoon Suite in Wembley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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