Archives for posts with tag: coffee

hello lemon balm, mint and friends!

I like to go for coffee with friends a couple times a week.  These are always important times for me where I am able to relax and unwind and just be with my buds.   When you live in a city and you have such a small apartment that your living room is also your dining room, entertainment centre, arts and crafts room, library and home office, it feels good to get out and embrace the perks of living in a city by going to a favourite coffee shop.

Last week, I was at a famously ubiquitous coffee shop with my friend.  She wanted neither coffee nor tea; she wanted a smoothie.  The problem was that the smoothie cost over $5 once the taxes were included! And that was the ‘prepared’ smoothie; the ‘fresh’ deluxe one was upwards of seven. Yikes. My friend and I go for coffee a couple times a week.  $5 per occasion makes for $10 a week.  Do this around  40 weeks a year, and it all adds up to about $400.  This is a lot of mooola for a few leaves infused in water, a couple percolated beans or a cup of juice and blended fruits.  This calculation is not something new to me. I read about the Latte Factor a couple years ago in a book by David Bach; it still shocks me to figure out the annual expenses for some things.

After feeling a little soured over the high cost of smoothies, my friend suggested that we bring a snack and a thermos containing some sort of drink to a park.  I think this is a great idea, particularly in the summer when Montreal’s parks are so beautiful.

So, this week we are going to try it.  We will enjoy an hour in the park instead of going to the coffee shop.  I can’t rule out coffee shops all together, because they are weather-proof places for me to expand my space.  That said, parks are apart of my space too. I can enjoy fine company in an equally pleasant park as many times as my friends and I wish to do so throughout the summer and into the fall.

To accompany this economical twist to our tradition, here is the recipe for what I am going to bring to our tea-time in the park. It is practically free!

Almost Free Tea

Go to the garden and fill a 1 litre jar with several handfuls of lemon balm, mint and other leaves you can identify as leaves suitable for tea (don’t be a hero and pick something you sort of, kind of recognize… only pick the ones you really know!  🙂 .  Pour a litre of boiling water over the leaves and allow to steep for 15 minutes.  Strain the leaves and allow the tea to cool.  Add a little honey and/or a squeeze of lemon to the tea.  Pour into a thermos filled with ice.  Bring the thermos to a park and enjoy with friends.

*If you do not have a garden or cannot identify plants, then choose a pre-packaged dried tea that you enjoy. I suggest a tangy one made with hibiscus.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.

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Welcome to the world of De Farine et D’Eau Fraîche!

DF+EF is a dreamy new pâtisserie on Amherst that has the perfect combination of creativity and expertise. They have just opened and they are sure to be a huge success.  DF+EF is near Robin, right across the street from the community centre Ste-Catherine d’Alexandre which is also boasting a beautiful new mosaic trim and a new green roof.

Here is a baker’s dozen of the finest features that set DF+EF apart from Montreal’s pâtisseries.

  • A cordial proprietor and convivial staff.  The owner, Marilu, along with Cathy and the other staff always smile and ask how we are doing.  It’s so nice to chat a bit, and suddenly feel at home.
  • Sweet imagination. No need to head to Paris for a treat. It is all right here ranging from a small guilt-free bite to a larger indulgence; boule au chocolat et crème pâtisserie, tea cakes (à la rose is my favourite so far!), cookies in a multitude of shapes and flavours, homemade Pocky, caramels, muffins wrapped in charming brown paper, scrumptious cakes and pastries.

crème brûlée... Earl Grey flavouring

The earl grey crème brûlée was everything you want in a crème brûlée.  A nice crunch of caramelized sugar on top and incredibly creamy, nicely chilled down below.  I love the creative flavour combinations; earl grey, milk chocolate with earl grey and lavender, or vanilla.

works of art

Miniature wedding cakes are a specialty. Each one is a work of art; modern, sophisticated and unique.  I can see them being featured at many types of special occasions like graduations, showers, anniversaries and milestone birthdays.  I recently ordered a chocolate tart with caramelized bananas and Irish creme and it was perfect for my chocolate-loving friend.

  • Composting coffee cups for take out coffee.  Marilu rightly states that most people will not recycle a paper coffee cup, this is why she has made special efforts to import composting coffee cups all the way from Australia.
  • Fun. Over the last several weeks, we have done our homework in researching the place.   We have developed a rapport with the staff and they have occasionally brought a small taste of something to try.  While we have been in, we have tried to do our part in taste testing new caramel flavours, such as one with coriander and apricots (yum!), a little carrot cake, a new type of cookie, and bite of caramel popcorn.  We love it here!

    creamy caramels


  • sweet and savoury

    Something savoury.  If sweet treats do not suit you, then there is always a little something savoury.  I have a friend from New Zealand who has lamented for years that there are no savoury muffins in all of Montreal.  She is in for a treat when she returns to the city in April!

  • An enticing breakfast sandwich made with their own english muffin, 1 year old cheddar from l’Ile-aux-Grues, farm fresh bacon, an organic egg, little bits of green sprouts, red pepper and Kewpie japanese mayonnaise.  It is the best breakfast sandwich I have ever tasted.

  • Filling, healthy lunch features. The lunch specials are perfect for the type of weather we are experiencing at the moment.  They are hearty, real food, with home-made flavour, made by someone who loves to cook.  The lunch special pictured above is a curried chicken in a cashew sauce, served with jasmine rice.  This is my kind of lunch!  The paninis are unique, deluxe and satisfying.  The tuna panini is nicely accented with feta, artichokes and black olive tapenade. And if you like, it can be served with a small portion of potato chips and a soup or salad.
  • fine cappucinos

    Many people come just for the fantastic speciality coffees, teas and hot chocolates served all day long.

  • It speaks volumes that DF+EF uses organic sugar and eggs in all of the baking.  They also use organic milk, cocoa, tea, fair trade organic coffee and some organic spices.  Flavour is key, so they also use local meats from Nordest and local cheeses.

    boule au chocolat et crème pâtisserie

  • Fair-trade, organic Coco Camino sugar served with coffee and tea.
  • Beautiful tea service.


  • You can take it with you, too. Everything can be made to go and there is a plethora of little treats lining the counter, ready for quick pick-up.
  • comfort

    And I have not even mentioned the décor! Large elegant windows, fascinating wall treatments that remind us of icing as well as beautiful and comfortable furnishings with the adorable DF+ EF logo stamped on the tables.

So, take a little time and spend it in De Farine et D’Eau Fraîche.  You are in for a treat!

1701 rue Amherst

Open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm; Saturdays between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm; and Sundays from 11:00 am ’til 5:00 pm.

Find out more on facebook!

bisou!

Tammy Schmidt and Natasha Henderson, Montreal.

a participant during Nuit Blanche in Griffintown trys out Snow Painting

This past weekend during the Montreal High Lights Festival, we participated in Nuit Blanche in the Griffintown Cultural Corridor. It was a great deal of fun to put our recent experiments in Herbal Snow Painting to the test.

Despite the cold, we had many keen public participants join us in creating some snow paintings!

the first image was a tree with robins on a hill

We began the day with a large canvas; on this we painted a tree and birds using alkanet and plantain, cabbage, nettles, blueberry, turmeric, coffee, beets, and hibiscus. We moved the activity along the expanse of our large snow-hill, stenciling some simple leaf-shapes in amongst the poles and pilons that poked up through the snow. This intervention would hopefully give people pause on their daily walks.

The Community Participation area was a lot of fun to fill with boldly painted graphic designs.

a participant paints a snowy garden

There was a little shed at the end of this (regularly a parking lot) space, and it housed a fibre arts installation. The fibre artists in this shed were a little frustrated that people were not making their way to their exhibit, so we went about remedying that problem.

leaves amongst the poles

Patterned, stenciled leaves, boldly painted arrows, and beautiful colours glowing in the snow enticed people to enter this parking-lot space. They could see that it wasn’t just barren and empty; it was alive and vibrant with activity, colour, and interesting smells!

Tammy used a delicate touch to pour elderberries, then sprayed hibiscus... a dash of Love

We encouraged people to try out snow painting for themselves, and we had many takers. Some very beautiful temporary paintings were made that day, and we took great joy in documenting the activity.

an herbal graffitist...

We will be continuing with our Snow Paintings. We will paint around the city, and host some workshops on the subject in the very near future (before the snow melts!)

One concern we have with sharing the work in public, is that unsuspecting people might assume that the work was made with toxic spraypaints. To deal with this, in the future we will tag our creations with a stenciled “fleurbain” signature, and the words “herbal pigments”.

Hopefully over time people will recognise this means that the pigments we use are not only non-toxic and natural, but are even downright edible.

dribbled heart

Keep your eyes open, Montreal, for renegade Snow Paintings… and keep your eyes on our Workshops Page for upcoming events!

To see the full album of photos from this day, go to our facebook page.

spiral and leaves

universal herbalism

pilon button

the impermanence of plant pigments on snow contrast well with the bright lights of an electric city

tasting the paint... normally you can't do this with paint.

Natasha Henderson and Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

“Ooof! There is no time left, yet I still need a meaningful gift!”

No problem.  All you need is a couple jars, 2 or 3 commonly found ingredients and 5 minutes.

Ready, set, go!

Caffeinated Sugar Scrub

Caffeine is a very popular ingredient in cosmetics at the moment. Amongst it’s many attributes, it is said to increase circulation and thereby decrease the occurrence of cellulite.   Sugar is a popular exfoliant.  Oil helps to nourish the skin.  Put the three together, add some scented ingredients, if you wish, and you have a great scrub for arms and legs.

Ingredients:  1/4 cup fresh fair-trade organic coffee grounds, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup oil (sunflower, grapeseed and olive oil are a few ideas)  And what can be used to compliment this rather robust scrub?  I think 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp dried ginger goes well with the coffee and sugar.

Salt, Bay Leaf and Pink Pepper

All you need is rock sea salt, bay leaf and pink peppercorns. This can be used to season vegetables and meats such as fish and chicken.



Lavender Bath Salts

Ingredients: equal parts epsom salts and baking soda, *organic lavender essential oil.

Use 20 – 30 drops of organic lavender essential oil per cup of the epsom salts and baking soda mix.  Typically people recommend adding a 1/2 cup to the bath.

* Yes, organic lavender oil.  Lavender essential oils are some of the most adulterated essential oils on the market.  You want great quality, especially if you expect a therapeutic effect.

vanilla and spices to be covered with sugar

Vanilla and Spice Sugar

Ingredients: vanilla bean, sugar, optional spice including cinnamon stick and cardamom pods

For those who put sugar in their coffee, a special gift could be a little jar of sugar with a whole vanilla bean in it.  You could also add a cinnamon stick, some cardamom pods or whatever spice you wish.  This vanilla and spice sugar can be used for coffee, tea and even in baking.  Be sure to let the recipient of this gift know that they can refill the jar with sugar many times and the vanilla will continue to imbue the sugar with a vanilla essence.

You are not going to believe this… Compost!

Last week I received an exciting gift from my friends, Julie and Mer.  It was a box of vermicompost.  My friends compost fruit and vegetable scraps by feeding these scraps to a worm farm in their basement.  Julie and Mer found that they were rich in compost this year, so they packaged it up and gave it away.  Don’t worry, they did not send over the whole worm farm, just the compost.  I love this gift because I have a couple houseplants and it feels good to feed these little plants some “local” homegrown vermicompost from friends.

Happy Holidays from Tammy Schmidt in Montreal.

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