Champagne Cocktail

You won’t see a lot of drink recipes on this blog; I am a red wine drinker first and foremost.  But once in awhile there is a special drink that I am proud to share, and this is definitely one of them.

I love champagne.  It’s light and bubbly and people automatically think ‘celebration’ when they hear the word champagne or see it being opened.  It’s automatically a happy occasion if there’s champagne.

About 21 1/2 years ago my then boyfriend threw a lavish surprise wedding proposal.  It was in a park in our neighborhood right on Lake Ontario in the west end of Toronto.  It was a regular weeknight, I had worked that day.  As he was driving me home,

He suggested that we go for a walk in the park.  I really didn’t want to.  I was tired.  It was half raining and getting dark.  To this day, as we walked along, he quotes me as saying “this is NOT my idea of fun”.  Not sure why he continued, poor guy.

We walked right into a beautiful scene, a picnic in the park, with music from Il Postino, our then favorite movie, playing, candles, appetizers, champagne.  I remember thinking how pretty it was and how lucky the people who it was for were.

And then I was told it was for me.

After the proposal, to which I said yes, we walked over to a little gazebo that was in the park, right on the lake.  My now fiance pulled out the bottle of good champagne that he had saved up for and purchased for this occasion.

Then he began to shake the bottle.  Puzzled, I asked what he was doing.  He replied with something to the effect “this is how you do it”.

By that time, it was too late to tell him he was wrong.  He popped open the bottle and I watched as the smile on his face turned to confusion and disappointment …. as almost half the bottle ended up trickling through the cracks of the gazebo floor into Lake Ontario.  He asked what happened.  I replied that you never shake champagne.  He admitted that he’d only seen it opened at sporting events like the Stanley Cup.

Well that explains that.

We got about a glass each.  Frankly, I think the story is much more fun to tell this way then it being a picture perfect story, because life is never picture perfect, is it.

This drink can be poured within minutes, no ice or shaking required.  Please, no shaking.


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Calvados
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Champagne
  • grated orange peel


Put sugar cube in the bottom of the glass.  Pour in Grand Marnier, Calvados, and then fill glass with champagne.  Sprinkle grated orange peel.  Serve immediately.

Makes one drink

Cold Brew coffee with Vanilla Creamer

A few years ago we decided to try and open a little cafe here in Playa.  We knew quite a few expats who craved the foods that they missed from home like us, and thought we would try to open a little shop to fill these needs.

What did we learn from this? I like to cook but I’m not a great business owner.  Also, the logistics of opening and keeping any kind of business here was extremely difficult.  There were so many laws that we didn’t know of and understand and it seemed we constantly needed new permits and papers and all of that took away from the fun part, which was the cooking and baking.  Needless to say, the cafe was only open for a few months.

During those months, we learned how to make bagels, and, I’m not going to lie, they were GOOD.  Maybe not compared to Gryfe’s bagels in Toronto or any bagel shop in Montreal, but we fiddled with concoctions until we got it the way we liked.   We sold brownies, cookies, mini cheesecakes, and an array of frozen goods.  All of this kept us pretty busy.

Needless to say, our working days were looooong.  We would make the bagel dough the night before.  My husband would wake up at 4:30 a.m. to turn the industrial stone oven on.  Then he would wake up our then 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter on alternate days to help by 5 a.m.  (I was the one who opened the shop so I got to ‘sleep in’ until 6 a.m.)  My husband and kids would go through the bagel process.  With their not-so-adorable hair nets on, they would boil, top, then bake the bagels.  We only managed to get out about 50 every day.   That, combined with me opening the shop, and returning home to bake and cook all day long, my work days were amounting to, very often, 16 hour days.

And so this is when I started drinking coffee.  Yes, can you believe it? Even though I came from parents of coffee obsessed people and then even married one, I never quite took a liking to it until my 40’s.

But these were desperate times.

It also ended up being something that I sold at the shop.  It did well and  sold out quickly daily because, as I’ve mentioned, it’s always hot here and was a little more wallet friendly than the bigger coffee shops (you know who I’m talking about).

You can play around with this recipe until you get it the strength that you like.  I had to try a few times before I got it the way I like.  Also, if you don’t want to water it down, when you make your regular morning coffee, save the leftovers and freeze them for coffee ice cubes.  They’ll keep your coffee cold without it ending up tasting like water.

You can drink it black, but below I’ve added my vanilla cream recipe, which came about because buying it was not cost efficient and I am a big believer that if I can’t find it, or don’t want to pay the money for it, I’ll make it.  This is what it looks like before you stir it up


I found a tupperware-style jug with a lid to make the coffee in and bought two of them.  I would do the first part in one, strain, and pour it into the other to keep in the fridge. That way I always had coffee ‘brewing’ and ready to drink.  Find a good jug to do this in and adjust the measurements. Below you will see the measurements of mine.

Then, proceed to enjoy an iced coffee at home, saving those big coffee shop prices.



  • 2000 ml water
  • 250 ml coffee grinds of your preferred strength


Combine water and coffee grinds into just. Stir and or shake and secure lid.  Let sit at room temperature AT LEAST 12 hours.  I prefer 24 myself, sometimes I let it sit even longer.  Strain coffee grinds though a paper filter, you may have to do this twice.  Pour coffee into a container with a lid and refrigerate.



I use a 3 cup mason jar for this. Easy to shake up and store.


  • 1 (387 gram) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • (about) 2 cups up milk to fill up jar (I use light)
  • 1 TAB vanilla extract


Combine all ingredients in jar and stir with wooden spoon. Keep refrigerated.