November 30, 2011


Tomorrow is the first day of December and probably the beginning of winter. We had snow last week and there was potential for it this afternoon (thankfully it passed us) even though it is technically still fall. Some of the past few weekends have been so nice and sunny that it seems like a bit of a joke that winter is around the corner. The leaves have finally fallen from the trees, including the neighbour’s. It didn’t seem fair that we were raking up leaves when our tree still had most of its leaves. 

We had a visitor a few weeks ago – a little woodpecker. I could hear him and then I finally saw him. I enjoyed watching him hop along and stopping to drill away, thankfully in the neighbour’s tree. We found a small hole in our tree a few weeks before, and while our tree is not the best looking around, we don’t want to replace it yet. I was happy to see the little guy pecking another tree and not mine. 

With the days becoming shorter I haven’t been seeing my little bunnies on my way home. Normally there’s one on the neighbour’s lawn (he has better grass than us) and some across the street along the transit way (again, the grass is in much better shape than ours). 

This summer there was a little guy who I would see every morning. It was nice to see him grow as the weeks went by. You might have to look closely, he’s really little.

I’m going to miss going to the market for my produce. It was always so hard not to come home with more than I needed. It always looked so good, and of course, fresh.

The Parkdale will be reopening soon, albeit with Christmas trees and winter greenery. In the last month or so I’ve often left work when it was getting dark and getting groceries after the sun had set didn’t seem the same. And even though the supermarkets will still have Ontario produce for a bit longer, you can get some cool things at the market, like purple carrots or cauliflower.

There are a few upsides to fall (many if you love winter). I don’t need to battle with the squirrels over my tulips. They won’t get annoying until April.

And there are pomegranates. I love pomegranates and always have. I found some at Farm Boy the other day and I couldn’t resist picking them up. I know there are many ways to have them – salad, juice – but I like them eaten right out of the shell. I usually do it alone as I feel a bit like a savage, bent over my plate with a tea towel draped across my front and juice dripping from my hands. The Honey saw it once and he wasn’t impressed.

No more BBQing. 

No more watermelon.

And no more days eating in the backyard.

Bye bye summer.

November 24, 2011


It has been one crazy week; baking for some craft fairs, getting sick, and starting with a new student (hopefully she doesn’t catch my cold). To top it off we were having computer/internet issues so no posts were happening at all. As a result I have a bunch stockpiled waiting to be posted when the computer cooperated – finally problem solved (new modem!!) With this going on I thought a post about a summer trip was due, especially with our 8cm snowfall a few days ago.

This July my sister came up for a weekend of fun and adventure. We were going rafting!!

Last summer we had joined in with the summer program and we had a fabulous time. We couldn’t believe we had waited so long. This year we had the same plan, but with life sometimes plans change. The price with the summer program was more expensive this year and the students only do one run so we decided to forgo the Ottawa River and instead made our way to River Rouge in Eastern Quebec. 

I called up Eau Vive and made a reservation for a full day of rafting (one morning run and an afternoon run). I needed to send a follow-up email asking about lunch and if they could accommodate me. The office and kitchen said that they had some fruit and vegetables for the lunch, but they were unsure if the lunchmeats were gluten-free. However, I was more than welcome to bring something and they would be happy to bring it to the lunch stop. This sounded like a great idea and on the day of our trip I had a little plastic container with everything I might need to get me through the afternoon.

We left Ottawa early and arrived just in time for our safety lesson. We were so happy and excited – the weather was gorgeous and sunny. Once at the launch site we met our guide and rafting mates, and after some translating my sister knew what to do on the French commands (I realized my French is pretty decent). We received some more tips and jumped into the water – literally. We had to practice getting back in, and ironically no one wanted to as the water was the perfect temperature for a summer’s day.

Back in the raft we made our way to the rapids – some were small and some were fast. We had so much fun. We were the only company on the water for the whole morning and so we had ample opportunity to circle around and ‘play’ in the rapids. It was surprising how quickly lunch arrived and at the lunch spot I heard my name being called. There was my little container. I took out my Udi’s bread slices, drizzled on some mustard and topped it with fresh veggies. Along with my Taste of Nature granola bar I had some protein and vitamins for the rest of the day (plus an apple too). As we got ready for round two, the staff happily took my container back to base camp for me (at least they seemed okay with it).

Our second run was the same as the first. The sun was high in the sky and the warmth felt good; a little too good actually as some of our crew were losing steam. We made our way through the rapids, again having a blast and high-fiving at the end of each one.  During one of the larger rapids we managed to flip – at first a terrifying experience, but then you remember what to do. My cheap wrap-around sunglasses were pressed hard against my eyes allowing me to open my eyes a bit and I could get my bearings (rapids look so cool below the surface!). Because we had a good guide we all knew what to do and actually thought the experience was pretty cool.

It wasn’t long before we were nearing the end of our trip down the river. It was sad to be over, but also good because we were tired. Back at the base camp we had dinner – steak, potatoes, and salad. There was also dessert (squares and cakes of some sort) and fresh fruit. We didn’t stick around for long as we needed to set up our tent. It ended up being relatively simple and after we set everything up we just hung out with a beverage (coolers for my sister and Nickelbrook for me). We watched people milling about, collecting wood for a campfire, and then we got bored. We’re busy people and like to stay busy most of the time. We went up to the camp restaurant/bar thinking many people would be there relaxing after a busy day. We were surprised to see it was only staff hanging about. We got ourselves a cooler (the only gf option) and joined them. Being two anglo-girls the male guides were happy to practice their English with us (and most spoke English really well); it was nice as after a long day my French was not doing too great.

We returned back to our tent wanting and needing a good night’s sleep. Thankfully we had brought warm sleeping bags as the night quickly cooled down (it was cold!) and I say ‘thankfully’ because my sister only wanted to take a few blankets since the weather was so warm. Morning came faster than it should have and we had a small little breakfast in our tent (fruit, Udi’s and some gf salami). Needing some coffee we made our way to the bar. To our surprise they were serving breakfast (we didn’t know so if you book, check to see what gf accommodations they can make). The coffee was good and we just sat outside in the sunshine. It was going to be another beautiful day. We took a walk down the road enjoying the early peace and quiet. Some kayakers were out on the river already taking advantage of the warm water.

We had a blast at Eau Vive and if we go rafting again, there’s a good chance we’ll go with them (two runs with two meals, plus camping for $100). It seemed as though they were the only ones with two runs, although other places down the road had entertainment in the evening. After two runs, the entertainment may be wasted on me. There was also a small restaurant just a short walk up the road from the base camp that was serving breakfast. I need to remember that for next year. We had a decent breakfast, but theirs smelled better.

November 20, 2011


I had never heard of chimicurri until I read The Butcher & the Vegetarian where Tara Austen makes it to put on some steak. Ever since then I’ve been hearing about it from all over the place –in the paper, magazines, at restaurants, colleagues – really, everywhere.

Not sure what it is? Don’t worry I had no idea either and I think the best way to explain it is: like pesto, but with parsley and vinegar without the cheese and nuts. It comes from Argentina where people serve it with grilled or roasted meat. The garlic and onions give it a bit of kick, while the oil and vinegar balance the strong flavours.

With the pile of parsley that I still have outside battling the frost I decided to make a batch. In fact, I made a double batch since I have so much (my food processor made it super easy).

I might make some more if I’m home this week and pass it around to friends. Good old The Joy of Cooking had a recipe, and since I’ve never had it before, I don’t know how it compares to others. But I like it and sometimes that’s what’s important.

By the way, Tara had the right idea; it does taste great on steak (and chicken too).

Chimicurri     makes 1 ¼ cup           (from The Joy of Cooking)
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs oregano (optional), finely chopped
Salt to taste
¼ tsp ground red pepper
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Whisk together the oil and vinegar. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and let stand for 2-3 hrs to allow the flavours to develop.

November 11, 2011

Creole Sauce

Along with all the big cookbooks I have on my shelves I have this tiny one. I bought it years ago from a hardware store, possibly when I was still in university. It’s Bernardin’s collection of canning with tomatoes. I’ve made many things from it and every once in a while I make something new. And in doing this post I found their website which has all sorts of recipes, including this Creole Sauce.

Now, I’m not sure how authentic this sauce is, but it’s still tasty. Also, I’m not into blanching and seeding my tomatoes – everything goes in – so below is the one-pot wonder. It is delicious over rice, especially with the cooler weather. While I normally have the vegetarian version, once in a while I’ll add in some baked chicken. With shrimp playing a big part of Creole cuisine, one could also add some cooked shrimp. At this time of year you may still find the fresh vegetables at the market, which would be wonderful for this dish. This sauce is a nice way to welcome the chilly temperatures.

Creole Sauce          Makes 9-250ml jars
11 cups chopped tomatoes
1 chopped green pepper
1 cup green onion
4 tbs red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs gf Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs dried oregano
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne
Dash of salt
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir occasionally and let boil, uncovered, for 40 minutes.