May 29, 2013

Spring Has Sprung

Life in our house has been pretty calm and quiet, and we’re quite pleased. All too often The Honey and I found ourselves exhausted and full of guilt because instead of doing something, eating healthy, or tidying up what was dumped at the front door, we found ourselves on the couch watching T.V (sometimes even falling asleep early). Our change in mood can partly be explained by the change in weather. Longer days and warmer temperatures mean that we’ve got the windows open and are outside more often. Also, since leaving teaching I’ve had more energy and a desire to do something. The couch no longer beckons me from the front upon arriving home.

Without the long hours of my job I was able to see my garden break the soil, begin to bloom and see the cycle of growth. Although such a small thing, it is so enjoyable especially since the last two years have been “Oh the tulips are in blooms” and being completely unaware of what was happening outside my ever-shrinking world of teaching/managing.

As the evenings have been warming up we’ve been going out for more walks. It has been a bit challenging this year as the river was much higher than usual and the path was flooded in many spots. As we near the end of May some trees and benches are still submerged and we can see how much it has come down in recent weeks (If you look closely, you can see the different colours on the rock marking the high levels).

We’ve been enjoying the blossoms in the neighbourhood. Most days I could smell the lilacs inside the house from across the street. The fragrance was so uplifting.

On one of our walks I couldn’t help smiling at a tree covered in lush white blossoms resulting in the tree looking like a giant q-tip. The Honey thought I was crazy, but with winter getting me so down, it was finally nice to have something so minute make me smile.

We’re always on the lookout for bunnies and we finally saw a small family – a few little ones and a parent. The kitts were so small they took my breath away.

We were also pleased to see some goslings on our weekend walk. We’ve been expecting them for weeks, but with the water so high and moving so quickly in our neighbourhood we understand the delay (although there are a few broods at The Honey’s work). Here there were four small broods so we just stood around in Saturday’s cold wind and watched and listened (I love the sound of them nibbling the grass. It’s so calming).

We’ve also been keeping an eye on a pair of birds in our backyard. A pair of starlings took over the woodpecker’s treehouse and their eggs hatched last week. The parents have been going back and forth with food (leaving quite the mess at the foot of our tree in the process) and the young have been growing and getting more adventurous. They began popping their heads up for a quick glimpse then on Sunday their tiny heads began popping out for longer looks, sometimes when mom isn’t there.

Although starlings are not our favourite birds, we have enjoyed seeing the process (the excitement for the pair when they found the woodpecker’s hole was ridiculous). We expect flying lesson to begin this weekend. Unfortunately, the starlings have kept away the other birds that ventured to our yard. The songs of robins and cardinals can only be heard from a distance. Still enjoyable, but not as much as when they are outside your window/door (although something was happily singing away at 3:30 this morning).

So while I have been quiet here, my life has been picking up and being enjoyed more.

May 17, 2013

Corn Tortillas

I used to love rice tortillas. When they arrived in the city, they were so versatile and we used them all the time. We used them for burritos, quesadillas, wraps and sandwiches, and were perfect for my beloved peanut butter and banana sandwiches. 

But then something happened and these wonderful tortillas became the worst things around; they kept breaking and it wasn’t just us. It seems like it’s been such a long time in trying to track something else down.

Luckily, on a trip to Kingston I stopped in at the Silly Yak. While I don’t buy much baking anymore, I discovered small corn tortillas. I bought a small pack to see what they were like and they were quickly devoured as chicken tacos.

On subsequent trips we picked up more and in larger packages. We have fallen in love with them. Although we use them for tacos, there’s no reason not to use them for other things; just shrink the size of it. Instead on one p.b & banana sandwich, I’ve got two.

So far we’ve tried Mission (from Texas) and Calidad (from California) and we’ve been happy with them both. While corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free, these companies have labelled their tortillas as such.

May 4, 2013

Cat’s Fish & Chips

When I was growing up we had a great fish & chip shop a few blocks away. We would go once in a while and it was a tradition on Good Friday. We never ate there (Well, once. But it wasn’t the same.), take-out was the way to go.

Their fish& chips was perfect – the fish was firm, yet flaky; the batter crispy, but not thick; and the fries were fresh cut. They would wrap the boxes in newsprint and off home we’d go. At home, the fish would be sprinkled with vinegar and then dipped in ketchup. That shop set the standards high and as I ventured into adulthood we ventured further afield; sometimes impressed and sometimes disappointed.

Being gluten-free, fish & chips, let alone good ones, can seem like a dream. There’s Off The Hook in Toronto who make me dream about wonderful fish & chips again. But they’re in Toronto. Thankfully Ottawa has Cat’s.

Located on St Laurent (at Hemlock), this tiny restaurant serves gluten-free fish & chips, and they’re good. I assume their regular fish & chips are just as good because we have been on a weeknight and lucky to get a table. Cat’s also understands the gluten issues as they have a dedicated gluten-free fryer for us celiacs. Service has always been great. The only thing to make it better would be some gf beer to go  along with the gf fish & chips. Magners just doesn’t do fish & chips justice.