Happy Birthday Blog and a GIVEAWAY!

by Michael on August 22, 2011 · 134 comments

Just over a year ago a few things unfolded. We moved into a new house, in a new city. Although just a short drive away, my old connections slowly disappeared. Vanished. Gone. We settled in to a new life, a new together. And we carried on. Everything stayed the same. Well, almost.

It wasn’t long after we moved in that my wife and I had a conversation. She knew I wasn’t writing with the regularity seen previously. I was cooking with reckless abandon in our new kitchen and my passion there had been reignited but my writing had altogether stopped. Died. She had recently started a blog and suggested I do the same. And so I did.

That was one year ago today. The 22nd of August.

It’s been an amazing process. Looking back, I sometimes wonder how I even made it this far, even though this far isn’t that far at all. One year ago stats and accomplishments didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was finding an outlet to write. And cook. And thankfully, at the end of the day, that stays true today.

I’ve learned so much in the past twelve months. Too much to list. In the end I’ve realized a few things. I’m thankful my wife pushed me in this direction, I’m grateful that you, my readers, continue to support this site and I have a very long way to go. Ain’t no stopping me now.

So, thank you! And keep coming back because I have some big things in store for my second year.

Now, onto your regularly scheduled programming….

As I sit here writing this I can feel the winds of summer slowly changing. The humidity has flat lined. The breeze is softer, cooler and nicer. I can see some colour in the landscape out my front window. And as I sit here reminiscing about my year of blogging, I start to think of the weekend that’s crawling to an end. The weekend that was.

I woke up Saturday morning without the assistance of the alarm and with only the soft morning sky to greet me. I showered my wife with a thousand kisses and went downstairs to start the coffee. It was T-minus 6 hours until we had a family to photograph. We were anxious and excited.

My camera was charging and my mind’s slate was clean. I was ready. So I left the house and went to the market to pick up some goods for the coming week. I strolled around the outside vendors with their trucks backed up to their assigned spot and watched families working the tables. The perfect beginning.

I got back in an hour or so later and put everything away. My wife and I had a light lunch, something to hold us over until after the shoot. And then we floated ideas off one another and waited. And waited.

Shortly after three, the couple arrived. Before they could get out, we hopped in our car and drove to this great outdoor area bursting with flowers and beautiful old trees, some standing hundreds of feet tall.

This was supposed to be a family shoot, and at times it was, but the three young daughters quickly stole the show. They didn’t need direction or ideas, they knew exactly what they were doing. Three sisters, aged eight, seven and two.

We followed them around for a few hours, shooting them doing what they normally do. Playing, laughing and having fun. We took pictures of them chasing each other, rolling down hills and playing in the playground. And with each snap, we captured life. Real life.

After our first stop we decided to head back here. And after a quick change ended up in the forest behind our house. There we saw the energy slowly leaving their bodies. But first we were able to watch a family interacting and quietly enjoying life. Together.

It was a great Saturday. We came back inside and ordered in some food. We sat at the big dining room table and laughed as the girls rushed through their meals. And we retraced the days steps in our heads and recanted some of the funnier moments that happened during the day.

It ended with my wife editing some pictures before joining me downstairs to spend some quality alone time. Just us. Just as the day started.

Today started similarly, only my wife was up and out the door early. I was in a fog as I watched her drive off to do another family shoot. This one smaller, and shorter. And I stayed at home prepping the food for her return.

When she walked through the door shortly after noon she looked exhausted. And hungry. So I quickly made up a batch of my garlic hummus with smoked paprika and pita chips and we shared it outside as she told me about her day. She loves her work and I love watching her tell me all about it.

We took the dog for a walk through the neighbourhood after that and then came home and decided to go for a bike ride. We cut through the streets to the park path out back and strolled our way in and out of the area we live in before making our way back home. Tired. Hungry again.

While I started getting everything ready for dinner I decided to make us a cocktail. Some fresh Ontario plums and blueberries turned into a boozy lemonade. We sipped on them out back and talked about the shoot from the day before and those crazy, beautiful little girls.

I went back inside and made these steak sandwiches. They were incredible. And so easy! While the steaks were grilling, I put together the baguette. And we sat around our table eating these and we couldn’t believe the weekend that just started was now about to end.

From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!

And now, the giveaway!

The fine folks at Calphalon were kind enough to give me an incredible product to review, The Removable Plate Grill. I made these amazing steak sandwiches on it. I was completely impressed. No, I was more than impressed.

I loved the fact that I could grill indoors, which will be important as we head into the colder months, and I really liked the fact I could set a temperature, much like an oven but with barbecue results.  So I could set it 450 degrees to get that sear I wanted on the steak and set the timer to remind me to take them off.

I’ll be using this product every chance I get, especially as we roll into autumn and I get my hands on some seasonal products and try out new recipes.

**For the record, my comments are my own. I wasn’t asked to say anything about the the product other than my own opinion. No strings attached.

**International shipping on this product will be available in September, 2011. One more month! It’s now available for purchase in Canada and the United States, which is fitting because this giveaway is open to North American residents!

The best part about this great product? One lucky Verses from my Kitchen reader will get the chance to win one right here!

To enter, you must leave a comment saying what you would make first using this product.

Additional entries:

  1. Like Calphalon on Facebook and, once you’ve done that, leave a message here letting me know you’ve done so.
  2. Follow @Calphalon and, once you’ve done that, leave a message here letting me know you’ve done so.
  3. Follow @MikeVFMK and, once you’ve done that, tweet the following (and then come back here and let me now you’ve done so):

Enter to win a Calphalon Removable Plate Grill from @mikevfmk http://tinyurl.com/3jpat43 #giveaway.

The contest, open to Canadians and Americans, will end at 12PM (noon) EST on Sunday August 28th. I will then announce the winner in my post on Monday, August 29th.

Now for this steak sandwich, which I grilled on the Removable Plate Grill.

Steak Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 steaks
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 baguette, cut into two pieces
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch of watercress sprigs
  • 2 tbsp. goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp, dijon mustard

Prep:

  1. Using a small bowl, add in the butter, parsley and garlic and mix well. Set aside for baguette.
  2. Rub the steaks with olive oil and and season with salt and pepper. Heat your Removable Plate Grill to 450 degrees F, and cook the steaks for 3 minutes, or until medium rare, 145 degrees F. (Or cooked until your preference)
  3. Cut the baguette in half and toast under the broiler in the oven for a minute, or until golden brown.
  4. Spread the herb/garlic butter mix over the bottom half of the baguette slice and top with green onions and watercress and goat cheese. Place steak on top and drizzle with dijon mustard.
  5. Serves 2.

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{ 134 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken│hungry rabbit August 22, 2011 at 11:36 am
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