Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Trick or treating?

There are many stories as to the custom of trick-or-treating might have begun.

In the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain, which means "end of summer", the Celtic New Year. During Samhain, the Druids believed that the dead would play tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give the Druids food as they visited their homes.

An old Irish peasant practice called for going door to door to collect money, breadcake, cheese, eggs, butter, apples, etc., in preparation for the festival of St. Columb Kill.

Also a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.

Some people think that this led to asking for treats on Halloween in verses or rhymes. Such as:

Deal out, Deal out,
The witches are out!
Trick or treat, you're so neat.
Give me something good to eat.
Nuts and candy, fruit and gum.
I'll go away if you give me some.
Trick or treat, smell my feet.
I know you'll give us lots of treats.
Not to big, not to small,
Maybe the size of Montreal.
I hear a bang, bang, bang
On the door, door, door
A ghost, a witch, a pumpkin, a skeleton and more,
I hear a bang, bang, bang,
On the window too,
A knock, knock, knock,
They want to get you,
It's Halloween Night...BOO!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Candy Corn Parfait recipe

I love Candy Corn and after having shared the Candy Corn Macaroon recipe, I have now come across a fast and easy dessert recipe that will impress your dinner guests... IF they are familiar with Candy Corn! ;)

1 large orange
1 to 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
3 tablespoons lemon curd or custard
1/4 cup whipped cream
1 tablespoon crushed shortbread cookies (optional)

1.) Peel and segment the orange with a paring knife, removing the membranes and white pith.
2.) Chop the segments and toss with the orange liqueur in a bowl; set aside for about 10 minutes.
3.) Spoon the lemon curd/custard into a small liqueur glass or brandy snifter in an even layer.
4.) Top with a thin layer of whipped cream, then pile on the oranges and dollop with the remaining whipped cream.
5.) Sprinkle with crushed shortbread cookies, if desired

P.S. You can order Candy Corn at AFoodAve:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A lovely autumn day in Lugano

Last weekend was one those perfect autumn Sundays where Lugano works its magic on me and there is no other place I'd like to be in the world. AS they say a picture is worth more than 1000 words.

Stretching to see the Ponte de Melide

Monte Bre or the Vesuvio?

Tempted to jump off?

Souvenirs for tourists...

... and treats for the locals.

Vanini, the place to see and be seen over a coffee or Aperitivo

The delicatessen store in town

Feeling nostalgic

Lugano's latest addition: LAC

Lugano's new cultural centre, LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura was created with the aim of adding value to the cultural and artistic life of the city and the region.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Eco-friendly food shopping: a new kid in town

We are all concerned when it comes to recycling. If you live in Switzerland you know what an Eco center is, a place where you meet your neighbour on a Saturday morning - on your way to washing your car - to sort and throw out the recyclable trash accumulated during the week.

Packaging is an essential part of a product's sale. It's all good for those who appreciate the form, the aesthetics and the information it can provide. It's all bad for those who believe and/or work in daily task of reducing waste production.

Negozio Leggero promotes over 1500 cooperative goods in bulk. Just like in the olden days when having a bucket of milk was essential to transport it, you'll be helping yourself from a tap, filling containers brought from home with the desired amount.

Finally an alternative to shop without packaging! Great prices, organic products and there is everything: vegetables, soaps, pasta, wine, detergents, spices, teas and more.

So check out this new eco-friendly store where trendy presentation and emerging flavours will capture your attention and provide you and your kids with a totally new shopping experience.

Negozio Leggero, Via Lambertenghi 2, 6900 Lugano

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Stay Creative!

For some weekend inspiration I thought I'd share an infographic of "40 ways to stay creative".

Personally, my number 1 source of inspiration would to be go out for a walk or a run. It does not matter where, either in the woods or in the city, depending on my mood at the moment. What is your best way of getting creative?

1. Create an inspiration board
2. Get out more
3. Sketch more
4. Experiment!
5. Socialize
6. Keep up with trends
7. Learn a new skill
8. Read books
9. Use sticky notes
10. Break your routine
11. Be around creative people
12. Spy on the competition
13. Visit exhibitions
14. Collaborate with others
15. Travel
16. Get a new hobby
17. Challenge yourself!
18. Make lists
19. Meditate
20. Get feedback from peers
21. Listen to music
22. Watch films
23. Take risks!
24. Write stuff down
25. Declutter your workspace
26. Love what you do
27. Finish projects!
28. Visit museums and galleries
29. Keep a dream diary
30. Have sex!
31. Take naps
32. Watch motivational speeches
33. Go to the theatre
34. Practice!
35. Eat different cuisine
36. Stop comparing yourself to others
37. Question things
38. Turn off distractions
39. Let go of fear
40. Be curious

Friday, October 16, 2015

Candy Corn Macaroons recipe

It is not easy to get a hold of Candy Corn in this part of the world but I have found a way to put a French twist to my Candy Corn craving. The macaroons are both festive and delicious, making them the perfect sweet treat for the Halloween celebration.

The recipe sounds more complicated than it is. I have had lots of fun making these with my daughter.

Ingredients for Macaroon:
180g ground almonds, sifted
270g powdered sugar, sifted
150g egg whites, aged 2 to 4 days in the fridge and then brought to room temperature
100g granulated sugar
Yellow food colouring

Ingredients for Vanilla Buttercream:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Orange food coloring

1.) In a stand mixer combine the butter, sugar, sea salt and vanilla. Whip until smooth and light, this takes about 5 minutes. Tint with orange food colouring. Voilà, your buttercream is ready.
2.) Line four heavy baking sheets with good quality parchment paper and set aside. Also, set aside two pastry bags for the piping of the macarons.
3.) Sift together your ground almonds with the powdered sugar and set aside.
4.) Whisk the egg whites (at room temperature) on medium high speed to glossy firm peaks adding the granulated sugar gradually in four parts. You don't want to whip the egg whites too quickly, this should take a good 5 to 7 minutes.
5.) Incorporate the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites using a large rubber scraper and mix just until everything is combined then stop and divide the batter in half. Tint one half of the batter with yellow colouring.
6.) Fold each of the mixtures with a rubber scraper by pulling down the sides and flipping the mixture over. Do this until you have a smooth mixture that falls like a “ribbon” off the scraper.
7.) Transfer the mixtures into separate piping bags. Use rubber bands to close the piping bags. Clip the tip of the bags, one at a time, and pipe small quarter sized rounds, leaving 1-inch of space between each because they spread as they set.
8.) Leave to set for about 30 minutes or until the top has formed a crust and is not sticky to the touch.

9.) While they are setting, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
10.) Bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for about 12 minutes or until the cookie is firm, matte and doesn't wobble when touched.
11.) Leave on the baking tray until cool then lift them all off the parchment carefully. You may need to use a thin knife to help lift them off.
12.) Sort into pairs and fill with Vanilla Buttercream.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fox Trail in Lugano

Have you heard of Fox Trail, the latest addition to Switzerland's many activities? Fox Trail consists of a thrilling paper chase organised across the country. The ingenious team event leads you to a city's most charming nooks and crannies or even to a castle's bizarre rooms on the Fox' various trails. Every course is different: decipher messages, interpret clues and coax secrets out of intricate puzzles.

Whether friends, family, acquaintances, company or club: Fox Trail makes for a group event that is rich in variety, and suits curious people between 8 and 88 years of age and it always has a new surprise up its sleeve.

It is not a race or an athletic feat, but a fun and elaborate group event, which lets you playfully discover a city with investigative skill, creativity and team work.

Ticino's trail is called Galileo Galilei where you'll search for the mysterious green treasure chest in the centre of Lugano. The trail leads you from the train station directly into the hills of the city but do not let yourself be too distracted by the breath-taking view, as there is still much to do: knights have to be saved, old characters have to be deciphered or trails of blood pursued. Even an exclusive cableway will help you with the enigma! This extraordinary tour through Lugano ends in the city center and is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience.

Seek and book a trail right here: The organisers will tell you all in an e-mail. Happy hunting!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Researching in Lugano's Parco Ciani

To celebrate 200 years of existence of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT), the Parco Ciani will become a place to discover the natural sciences hands on next week.

Travel the cosmos in an inflatable planetarium, test your sense of smell and discover the microscopic life in a drop of water, all these exciting activities will be accessible free of charge from Thursday October 15th to Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 with a special programme over the weekend.

Park turned into Lab
In the science tent choose between different scientific activities such as "A gym for the senses'" or "So much life in the water!"

The wonderful universe
Four steps to the stars will take visitors on a journey into the cosmos inside a planetarium. Catch a  presentation every hour.

The amazing life below the ground
The earth is a multitude of strands of mushrooms, insects, worms and earthworms, roots of all shapes and sizes as well as some bigger inhabitants! Discover what's below your feet.

The event is coordinated by l'Ideatorio in collaboration with the Society of Natural Sciences and the Ticino Cantonal Museum of Natural History. Guaranteed lots of family fun.

For more information:
For the programme in Italian click here:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pumpkin Cranberry muffin recipe

These autumn-inspired muffins are perfect for breakfast, merenda or brunch. Loaded with dried cranberries, pumpkin, and bright orange flavors, they're extra delicious split and topped with cream cheese or your favorite jam. Just in time for the season. Try my Chestnut Muffin recipe too.

1/2 cup dried cranberries
juice from 1 large orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice blend
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon orange zest
brown sugar, for sprinkling

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners and lightly coat with cooking spray.
2.) Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan and heat until the orange juice is warm. Set aside to let the cranberries plump, about 5 minutes, then drain off the juice.
3.) Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
4.) Whisk together the butter, plumped cranberries, pumpkin puree, milk, eggs and orange zest in a large bowl.
5.) Add the flour-spice mixture to the pumpkin mixture and gently fold the batter together until it is just combined (it's ok if there are a few lumps).
6.) Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle the top of each muffin generously with the brown sugar.
7.) Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. 8.) Cool the muffins in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

30 Things You Didn't Know About Queen Elizabeth II

There's a lot more to Her Majesty than her colourful suits and flowery hats.

1. She backs over 600 charities and organizations.

2. Queen Elizabeth has received over 3.5 million items of correspondence over the length of her reign.

3. She speaks fluent French.

4. In 2005, the Queen claimed ownership of 88 cygnets, or young swans, on the River Thames. The swans are now looked over by a royal swan keeper.

5. She joined Facebook in 2010, through a page called The British Monarchy. It is not possible to poke her. She joined Twitter in 2009; a social media team at Buckingham Palace sends daily tweets.

6. Queen Elizabeth was the first British monarch to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary.

7. She is the only person in Britain who can drive without a license plate on her car.

8. She has visited Australia 16 times.

9. She has received a variety of live animals — jaguars and sloths from Brazil and black beavers from Canada — as gifts. They are now in the care of the London Zoo.

10. She has sent over 540,000 telegrams to couples in the Commonwealth and the U.K. in honor of their diamond anniversaries.

11. Although her birthday is April 21, she officially celebrates it in June.

12. She hosts an average of 50,000 people every year at receptions, banquets, lunches, dinners, and garden parties at Buckingham Palace.

13. She and the Duke of Edinburgh have sent out over 37,500 Christmas cards throughout her reign.

14. There have been six Roman Catholic Popes during the Queen Elizabeth's reign (Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI).

15. She learned to drive in 1945, when she, along with Winston Churchill's daughter, joined the women's branch of the British army.

16. She used the London Tube for the first time in May 1939, accompanied by her sister Princess Margaret and her governess Marion Crawford.

17. Queen Elizabeth has 30 godchildren.

18. She has sat for over 129 official portraits; two with the Duke of Edinburgh. In 1933, she was 7 years old when she sat for her first portrait, painted by the Hungarian artist Philip Alexius de Laszlo.

19. In 2003, the Queen sat for a hologram portrait, made up of 10,000 layered images.

20. She has opened Parliament every year except 1959, for Prince Andrew's birth, and 1963, for Prince Edward's birth.

21. She was the first British monarch to visit China, in 1986.

22. She sent her first email in 1976 from a British army base.

23. She loves corgis, and has owned over 30 during her reign. Her first corgi, Susan, was a gift for her 18th birthday in 1944. She currently owns four: Emma, Willow, Linnet, and Holly.

24. She introduced a new breed of dogs, dorgis, when one of her corgis mated with Princess Margaret's dachshund, Pipkin. The Queen has four dorgis: Cider, Berry, Vulcan, and Candy.

25. She owns the largest pink diamond in the world.

26. To celebrate her Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Queen hosted the first-ever public concerts in the Buckingham Palace gardens. The show, Party and the Palace, was one of the most-watched pop concerts in history, attracting over 200 million viewers.

27. She demoted a footman for giving whiskey to her corgis.

28. In March 2004, she hosted Buckingham Palace's first women-only event, "Women of Achievement."

29. She received her first pony, a Shetland named Peggy, from her grandfather King George V when she was 4 years old. She still rides at Windsor, Sandringham, and Balmoral.

30. The Queen breeds horses, and has about 25 horses training at the royal studs every season.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Festa d'Autunno a Lugano

On the first weekend in October, Lugano celebrates the beginning of Autumn with a festival dedicated to local products. The Autumn festival concludes the open-air events with a large fair in the pedestrian zone of Lugano.

The center of the city will welcome the visitors in numerous grottini operated by local companies which will offer typical Ticinese specialties, such as polenta with stew, beans and mortadella or roast pork, risotto, minestrone, gnocchi and many other exquisite local delights.

Taste and relish in cheerful company, the best Ticino's region can offer. Apart from the delights for the palate, musical groups, artists and various other entertainers will stage a series of shows.

This is a big festival for all, come celebrate the end of summer!

The official inauguration of the Autumn Festival takes place in Piazza Riforma, in front of the local Authorities and the Luganese Volunteer Workers, with the free distribution of bread cake on Friday, October 2nd at 18:00

Piazza della Riforma / Pier
Friday 02.10 / 16:00 - 18:00
Saturday 03.10 / 10:00 – 18:00
Sunday 04.10 / 10:00 – 18:00

In Piazza della Riforma, there are games and face-painting for children. There is also a Ludobus with wooden games and snacks on a boat. It’s a chance to play and for kids and parents to have fun together.

Piazza della Riforma / city center
Friday 02.10 / 16:00 – 20:00
Saturday 03.10 / 10:00 – 20:00
Sunday 04.10 / 10:00 – 18:00

People in traditional Ticino dress will be handing out grapes. A real grappa distillery will be on hand to offer demonstrations for anyone who is interested. There are also free excursions by boat or on foot.

Via Nassa, Via Pessina, Via Magatti, Via Soave.
Friday  02.10 / 16:00 – 22:00
Saturday 03.10 / 10:00 – 22:00
Sunday 04.10 / 10:00 – 18:00

Local culinary products and crafts add colour and excitement to the kiosks along the city streets. It ’s the perfect chance to catch up on Christmas shopping or pick up something special for your loved ones.

City center
Friday  02.10 / 16:00 – 02:00
Saturday 03.10 / 10:00 – 02:00
Sunday 04.10 / 10:00 – 18:00

Ten dining options, with more than 1200 m2 indoors, offering popular, typical dishes and excellent Ticino wine. Click here for menu:

Click here for the weekend programme:
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