Heavens to Etsy!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’ve been really looking forward to Etsy’s Made in Canada Day. Across the country this morning, Etsy vendors left the comfort of their computer chairs to showcase their wares in person at pop up markets. The Toronto stalls were housed in the bricks and mortar of the MaRS Discovery District and did not disappoint. Amid a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘awws’, hundreds of Torontonians swooned over felted fauna, boyfriend brooches, cross-stitched cuss words and parasaurolophus planters.

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The first 50 people to show up got Etsy swag bags filled with items from the vendors. My friend Nikki and I got in line 40 minutes before doors opened, and were probably initially within the first 50 people. Unfortunately, line jumpers pushed us back so we were about five people away from the last swag bag handed out. We still got goodies though, including vintage kimono silk samples & buttons, and other sewing odds & ends.

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Venerable Vendors

The iBakery

Custom cookies have stolen that place in Torontonians’ hearts once reserved for macarons and cupcakes. This was confirmed when they got their own BlogTO top ten list. iBakery is on the list and on Etsy, so owner Jacqueline Long was at the market today to show off her perfectly precise piping skills. She told us that the actual decorating goes pretty quickly (she obviously has a deft hand), but it’s the drying that is most time-intensive as each layer needs to set before the next can be added. I’ll be ordering bespoke baking for my office holiday party, so watch this space!

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Brooch Boyfriends

After hearing a lot of tinder horror stories lately, I can’t help but feel like Hannah Brown is offering the single ladies of Toronto a better option with her Brooch Boyfriends. You can request your own customized companion or go the celebrity route – she does felted versions of everyone from Conan O’Brien to the Fresh Prince. I wanted to get one but figured Kevin might get a bit jealous. Also, I’m holding out for her to do one of Benedict Cumberbatch or George Stroumboulopoulos.

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Crown Flora

I have a reputation at the office for having somewhat of a black thumb, which is really quite unfortunate as my mother is the most amazing gardener. She always tells me that succulents are very forgiving, so I was tempted by Crown Flora’s charming terrariums and planters. What better than a green brontosaurus with a crassulaceae spine to show my colleagues that my desk is capable of supporting plant life? Earrings across the hall seduced me away though, and since Crown Flora has a shop on Queen West I figured I could pick up a dino at a later date.

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Artsy Acquisitions

I came with a limited amount of cash because I know how addictive Etsy is online, and I figured it would be even enticing in person (spoiler – I was right). Many of the sellers actually took credit cards on their smartphones, but I was able to control myself. I did buy a pair of leather gold dipped earrings from Love at First Blush and a few ink and water colour greeting cards from Gotamago.

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After a busy morning of shopping we needed to refuel, so we nipped over to the nearby Reds Midtown Tavern for some brunch. This place is busy during the week with the work crowds, but quiet on weekends as it’s outside of the normal brunch neighborhoods. The patio was way too hot (it was 25 today!) but we sat right by the open windows with the fresh air coming in. I had the Hunter’s French Toast with applewood smoked bacon which was delicious. They’ve also jumped on the brunch tapas bandwagon, and you can order a bunch of sharing plates with things like apple fritters, donut holes, mini sausage roles, etc. Perfect for those who can’t commit to savory or sweet for breakfast!

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P.s.: I’ve been working on some autumn recipes and outfits, so tune in next week for the regular Frock & Fig programming!

x Dana

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Pique-nique Mexique

What came first, the frock or the fig? Today the outfit definitely inspired the plate, as you’ll see in the recipe further down…

I got this blouse shift on sale at Anthropologie for a trip to Mexico this past spring. I think it was on sale because of the confusing juxtaposition of the structured, quilted shoulders and the loose free-form skirt, which feels a bit too breezy outside of Cancun. It really works though, if you’re brave enough to belt it in sheer defiance of the unusually low drop waist (let the Man Repeller be your spirit guide). Maybe throw on a pair of black tights under it on a windy day. Add a messy fishtail braid, a beaded necklace and some neutral peep toes and you can call Blair Waldorf your best friend.

Are my pop culture references getting stale?

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Frock – Maeve at Anthropologie

Necklace – Loft

Heels – Aldo

Loaded Cilantro Lime Chicken and Bean Nachos with Homemade Guacamole

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When I was in university I worked at a fruit stand that was conveniently located right next to a liquor store. And conveniently located next to our cash register was a giant bucket of limes.

You’ll need some limes to go with your Coronas, we would say to  the liquor store customers. And while you’re here, why don’t you try a cherry. And a pluot. And a nectarine…

When I came across these ‘Cerveza’ limes at Sobey’s I reminisced about my fruit-hawking days and realized that the limes don’t need me anymore. They’ve taken the power of co-branding and upselling into their own hands.

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The components of today’s recipe can be used in all kinds of dishes – I often will wrap them up with rice in a burrito or toss them in a quinoa bowl. I have to admit, I’ve made them so many times that I usually just eyeball everything, but I’ve done my best to specify quantities here. Feel free to adjust the marinade to taste before adding it to the chicken.

For the Chicken

2 chicken breasts, cut into strips (I like Blue Goose chicken – it’s antibiotic free, they have stricter humane standards and it has a meatier taste/texture)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp of black pepper

zest and juice of one or two large limes (depends how juicy they are)

For the Beans

1 – 540ml can of beans, rinsed (I used kidney, but black or pinto would be even better)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp black pepper

For the ‘Chos (Not you, Kim Cho)

1 – 280 gram block of medium cheddar cheese, grated (I used Balderson’s)

Blue corn chips

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the chicken marinade ingredients and use to coat the chicken. Cover and put in the fridge for a few moments while you prep the beans. Rinse the beans and coat them in the salt, spices and cilantro, then put them aside.

Warm a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the chicken and all of the marinade juices. Fry until chicken is completely cooked throughout. The sugar in the marinade will start to caramelize a bit and the chicken will begin to brown.

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Remove chicken from pan and set aside, leaving any leftover juices in the pan. Add a few splashes of olive oil and the beans to the pan. Fry on medium for a few minutes, stirring until the salt and spices have dissolved somewhat into the oil and the beans start to break up a little. Remove from heat and set aside.

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On a baking sheet lines with parchment paper, spread out corn chips and top with 2/3 of the grated cheese. Place under the broiler in your oven until the cheese starts to bubble.

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Top with beans, chicken and a few more handfuls of grated cheese. Throw it back under the broiler until it’s all melted to your liking. Layer and repeat if desired.  Do you see what I mean about the outfit inspiring the food now?

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This is a great dish for a party – you can cook the chicken and beans ahead of time, keep them in the fridge and then warm them up in a frying pan or the microwave before constructing your nachos.

Bonus – Guacamole!

2 avocados

Juice & zest of 1 lime

1/4 red onion, chopped

8 cherry tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cumin

black pepper to taste

Mash avocados and stir with other ingredients. Don’t over-blend, respect the chunkiness of the avocado!

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Enjoy!

x Dana