Three Weeks Early

8 06 2013

Although not active on the blog…been active it seems everywhere else. Work. Reno. Life.

Got the garden planted three weeks earlier this year on May 12. Crazy for Calgary, but it was super warm and I figured if it got cold I’d just put the insulated blanket on the wee ones. I did that once and even the tomatoes survived the last bit of low temperatures. Today is June 8 and this is what the beans look like already. <smiles>

Beans June 8-2013

Look at that rhubarb in the background. The kohlrabi to the right were planted like that and growing already. That’s sorrel beside the rhubarb – I still have a bag of frozen sorrel leaves from last year in the freezer along with blueberries, peaches and a gazillion cups of rhubarb. So it’s cobbler season around here.

And this is what my bathroom looks like:

Bathroom June 8-2013

After six months of basement dwelling (however, a very nice basement) and now all of the furniture upstairs somewhere downstairs or in the garage, I went to stay at my folks in the country. I needed a reno-life-break. Fresh air and love…and some puppy love. Cassius barks at everything except the neighbour horses, he walks quietly, sits and watches. I think he has a crush.

Cassius June 8-2013

How’s your spring…it’s weeks to summer, hard to believe.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat

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Maui 2013

11 03 2013

No recipes to post today. Just a moment in time. In my final days in Maui I am on the balcony of my condo, watching the sun set. Something that is revered in Maui. Hard not to be in awe of it. In only minutes it dips from the sky behind the blue ocean, to rise again from the opposite direction 12 hours or so later. Splendid.

Maui sunset 2013

Each night at this time the long-timers blow on their conch shells at the dipping of the sun on the horizon to offer their dreams to the golden hue and wish for good luck. They clap at the good and the not-so-good efforts of the other conch blowers.

The birds sing their final songs of the day, loudly and huddled together in the palm trees and flowers. Everyone is settling in for an early night. The birds start again at 6AM, at first sight of day light.

Maui bird 2013

It’s easy to eat well in Maui. For me the pescatarian, it’s poke, fish tacos and the like. I’m down two pineapples and two containers of spinach which I am sure my neighbours loved as these were blended up at 6AM and prepared for my ride home from yoga practice. Somehow I think they were up anyhow. The streets are alive at 6AM in Maui with runners and walkers. You feel like part of a special club with the ‘early birds’, who are the majority here.

Final days? Art shopping, sun set watching and deep breaths.

Aloha my friends, Aloha

Nat





I {Heart} My Neighbourhood

12 08 2012

How are you? Busy summer? I always feel like we try to cram a bunch of stuff into the summer and already the days are feeling shorter and the mornings cooler. Ah well, enjoy it while it lasts. The sun has been blasting down on the garden and the bounty is looking good. The lettuce varieties have been abundant. Each day is fresh pickings of swiss chard for green smoothies and I’m hopeful the tomatoes turn into something edible (minus the one my little friend John picked early this week 😉 ).

I don’t brag about much, but recently my neighbourhood, Southwood, was voted #7 in the city as per Avenue magazines’ annual survey. Last year we were somewhere in the 30’s I think. I know it is a reader based survey, but more readers are living in and around Southwood and must love it as much as I do. I’ve been here 13 years and have seen it change. Lot’s of my friends were building new homes in new neighbourhoods and living in hipster neighbourhoods closer to downtown, I rode it out in Southwood. Our friend who is a real estate agent said something like, people stay in a home an average of 7 years – based on how many times I’ve updated and now doing a full renovation, with each completed phase it’s like a new home every year! I guess that keeps me average. Seriously though, I don’t see us moving. We have an amazing home we designed and created, mature trees and a great garden with tons of sun and a retired neighbour lady that likes to be naked outside May to September. What more could one want!

Yesterday I ran out for errands, this is what I did and why I {heart} my neighbourhood:

First stop, Aviv Fried’s Sidewalk Citizen Bakery for some incredible baking. I have been meaning to get there for so long (I’ve sampled often after yoga as baking turns up there now and then). This goes into the ‘it’s a staple’ category. You know when you travel and there is something that just can’t be beat and you’ll search with no luck elsewhere? Like a croissant in Paris or a curry in India? Well the cheese sticks at this bakery are KILLER. I’ll be back (apparently they come in gorgonzola as well, ah oh).

I popped up to Britannia to pick up some books from Owl’s Nest Books and ran to the bank, open on Saturdays, nice. After that to my favourite market, Kingsland Farmers Market for the weekly produce I don’t grow myself. In and out in 15 minutes, cause I know what I need and I visit the same growers and shops each week. I picked up some aged gouda from Springbank Cheese (to go on the green olive herb bread I just got). Checked out the bulk fruit for sale. I’ve frozen blueberries so far, but next is peaches…not this weekend though. Gotta run.

Next I hit up the Wild Bird Store to get food for the yard pets, had a deep discussion about Finches and how my new feeding apparatus is keep the squirrels away. Victory.

On the way home a quick stop at Planet Organic for the rest of our food needs. Done. All in 1 hr 15 min. Now I know I didn’t walk to each of these places, that would be ideal but they are all in a 5 Km radius, that’s good. Even better, I get to drive around in our 1967 Beaumont (in which my dear friend Em today called a land yacht, hardly ;-)). 

What do you love about your ‘hood? Vote for it at Avenue’s survey for 2013 here.

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





Freezer Fruit, Quick Tip and some Aloha

13 05 2012

Well another season of growing has sprung. We’ve done our spring cleaning, prepped the garden and planted a few cool weather crops like radish and lettuce. A new home for the composter means new possibilities in the garden and space which we needed badly. The rhubarb is over a foot tall already, in its new home in the fresh tilled garden (we added our favourite sea soil again this year + our home made compost). The sorrel is a few inches tall and also has a new home in a sunnier location.

Frozen fruit ready for oven

In all this prepatory garden work, I realized I hadn’t eaten half of what I froze last year! I’ll have fresh rhubarb in weeks and bags of it in the freezer still. The past couple of months I’ve been baking fruit to make room in the freezer. Crumbles are such an easy and healthful dessert, they are a common write up here. The last one I made was a delicious mix of Okanagan peaches and blueberries and rhubarb from the garden. Just take the fruit out of the freezer, let it defrost for 30 min or so. Remember to freeze cut fruit and berries on cookie sheets first, easy to pull apart later. Here are some recipes: Rhubarb Crumble with Walnuts, Rhubarb Peach Apricot Cobbler and Blueberry Peach Cobbler.

Travel has limited my kitchen time. I have been sticking to old favourites and well buying lunch quite often, which I don’t love doing. I have discovered a place to get veggie chilli, and that got me through an entire week once. Last week I pulled a fast one – put together a quick version of my quinoa salad for lunch.

  • Bought a large container of quinoa salad from Planet Organic.
  • Added chopped and deseeded cucumber, diced yellow pepper, diced carrot and celery from my favourite market KFM and a can of chickpeas.
  • There was enough dressing and flavour in the salad from Planet – so I mixed it together and enjoyed for a few days.
  • Nice! Lunch for days in 5 min.

I hinted at Aloha last blog…here is a short food tour through Maui…I cry when I leave Maui, I love it there. From the moment we land we seek out the best fish tacos. My pescatarian diet flourishes near the ocean, fresh seafood everywhere. We have a favourite, Paia Fish Market. I think T loves those tacos more than me for brief moments ;-).

I also had the best veggie tacos filled with grilled Portobello mushrooms at Fred’s (thanks Joanne for the tip).

Each morning on the way to practice with Nancy Gilgoff, you’d drive past the sugar cane fields. They burn them to harvest, eek. We visited the museum last time, lots to consider. Sugar has taken over other less profitable and natural crops and has huge historical impact.

On the road to Hana, you gotta stop and pick up toasted coconut ‘candy’. 4 bags for $20, leave your money in a box and take the flavours you like, it’s an honour system. I grabbed vanilla, regular and candied ginger as well, which you may need if you get car sick on the way to Hana. 

Mmm and the Hawaiian purple sweet potatoes, so good. We ate at a new place in Kihei a couple of times, Three’s, we highly recommend it.

Mmm fish tacos (and a beer) on the beach.

Eat well, Be Well and Aloha

Nat





Taste of Life

18 03 2012

Whoa, blog void. It’s been three weeks since my last post and frankly, it seems like only a few days. What’s been going on? Well, no experimenting in the kitchen, but plenty of favourite healthful dishes have come and gone. It is a good thing when healthy choices of whole foods and planned meals make it into your kitchen and tummy on a habitual basis. For me these past few weeks has been made up of some of my favourites on this blog (click on the links here and in the photos to jump to the recipes). Three Bean Soup, Kitchery, one pot Moroccan stew, and Veggie Lentil Soup. Fast, easy and nourishing when life is busy. What is your go to healthy choice?

Something new we did – after having a gift certificate for over a year for the Cookbook Company we finally attended a cooking class last night. We had done this before, but a demonstration class (you watch, eat and drink). This time though, we did the cooking. Had a couple of friends with us, so it was a fun way to spend time together, but I think I like the watching, eating and drinking better :). On the menu, a goat cheese starter, bean and garlic soup, chickpeas and quinoa salad and baked trout with home-made mango coconut ice cream for dessert. I so want an ice cream maker, already thinking of the non-sugar healthful versions you can make with real fruit….In the spirit of the Big Taste 2012, a dining event that was going on in downtown Calgary till last weekend, we started our night at BorgoIf you haven’t been, go. Best Italian food you’ll eat. We ended the night with a glass of great wine at Divino. How can the night have been better?
Well, when you talk with friends about life and it’s preciousness it makes for an even nicer night. Yesterday a friend of T’s passed away from cancer. A gal full of life with a husband and little kids. Taken far too early. Gave us all something to consider last night. We all fret over what we’re planning on doing next year but what if you didn’t have a next year? Now, I don’t think we should ‘just do what you want’ and ‘giver’. Living gracefully, through life and death, thinking beyond yourself and not just what you need to be happy (which is the predominant story out there) is something I believe we should aspire to. It’s hard work. It’s way easier to do what makes you happy. The progress trap of ‘more is better’, ‘do what makes you feel good’ and ‘love is the answer’ are limited in their reach for what is needed today. Disciplined action and thoughtful inquiry are required, in good times and bad. We rarely think beyond our own feelings and immediate situation, but we should. Our environment, politics and economic situation would be a different reality if we did. Consider that for a moment and how you might live if you knew your time was up – well you already do, instead of weeks, you can assume years, so how will you use them?.
Eat well, Be well
Nat




The Beanpod and a Podcast

1 11 2011

I had the great pleasure to visit Fernie this past weekend with some very special and remarkable gals. We did the same trip last year and I had forgotten how nourishing the mountains and good friends are on the soul. I needed it, really needed it. You know who you are, thanks ladies.

On our tour we hit up main street for some shopping, tea, coffee and treats. You can not go to Fernie without visiting the new chocolatier called Beanpod. Seriously, so good. The quality of this chocolate is exceptional. T schooled us on how to taste chocolate, she learned on a tour she got the day before. Although we were super sad that they had sold out of their Salted Caramels, I took home a dark bar with almond and a dark salted bar, they are both incredible. The girls got coffees from there as well, not only are they roasting chocolate beans, but also coffee beans. You must go if you are in Fernie.

On another note, driving home from yoga practice on Sundays, I listen to the Vinyl Cafe on CBC. A couple of Sunday’s ago I was so moved by this story of Stuart Maclean visiting Fromagerie du Presbytere just outside of Montreal. Apparently it is national vegan day today and this post is in no way meant to disrespect 🙂 but I couldn’t help but share the podcast with you. Stuart Maclean has such a beautiful way of telling stories, this one of a small cheese producer, who won best cheese in Canada, Grand Champion this year with their Blue St. Elizabeth. I am now on the hunt. His retelling of meeting the brothers who walk the warm milk from one farm to the other to make cheese each day is delicious. They have line-ups of hundreds of people long on summer nights for their fresh curd. Stuart also meets Marie Chantal, a young cheese maker (and best in the country), who use to go from farm to farm to make cheese out of her van for dairy farmers  who otherwise would have to discard their overproduced milk (they have limits).

I highly recommend you spend 10 minutes listening to the podcast and let me know if you get to try this cheese. You can find the podcast here. Skip ahead to the 26 min mark, but the rest of the podcast is lovely as well. You can’t beat Stuart Maclean.

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Winnipeg, Yum!

6 09 2011

Summer, boy how time flies. I have nothing but outings to share with you these days because I feel like I haven’t been in the kitchen for weeks (well, to experiment and cook up new and wondrous things that is…I have plans though). This past weekend took us to Winnipeg for a lovely wedding. My pal Lenore and her man Jack got hitched at the Hitch’n Post in Grosse Isle, Manitoba. What a great spot and if you knew these two, you’d say the location was perfect. The wedding was outside nestled among the trees, you could hear birds chirping and a friend strummed a guitar as Lenore walked down the aisle. Lovely. Outside, all around and inside on walls and in the rafters were relics from days gone past. From old trucks to chainsaws.

The Happy Couple

L is a very clever-crafty-stylish gal that blogs at Lather.Write.Repeat. If you haven’t already made your way through my links section, do check out her blog and if you are ever in Winnipeg (with car) you might want to pick up a piece of vintage furniture she has freshened up to bring home. Her sense of style landed her a page in Style at Home magazine recently (September issue, at the back, spotlight on Winnipeg), and in it she shares some of her favourite picks in her home town. T and I decided the best way to see Winnipeg is follow the advice of a friend, so we spent a day doing just that. Here is our tour of Winnipeg.

We stayed at the Inn at the Forks, which is near the Forks Market. A public park along the Assiniboine River with restaurants and shops where we met the new bride for tea. You know me and my thoughts on sugar…if I am going to have it make it worth it, like a cupcake. Well I made it worth it with the best Cinnamon bun I have ever had from Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company. It was whole wheat, not that sweet actually, full of cinnamon and no gross icing. It was warm out of the oven. I washed it down with a tea from Human Bean Coffee and Tea Shop. T and I ventured out to hit up three areas of Winnipeg; The Exchange District, Osbourne and Corydon.

Tea Time Treat

I put together a sweet necklace at Silver Lotus jewelry shop. L bought me earrings and T cufflinks from there for our wedding.

T is for Tony

We picked up more sweets at Baked Expectations for dessert (holidays are for indulging right?). I chose the caramel pecan cheesecake, T picked the Key Lime Pie. More on this later. We headed to the Fort Garry Hotel to check it out. We heard from wedding guest Kelly that it was said to be haunted. Darn, didn’t see any ghosts. Before our flight home we settled in for an early dinner at Bonfire Bistro. This was the perfect spot. Ingredients of the season, modern Italian menu, nice glass of wine (I need a cleanse now). I know some of you LOVED that watermelon salad I posted a few weeks ago, here is another version. Try cubed watermelon, shelled edamame beans, cubed cucumber, thinly shaved radish with an avocado creme dressing (or dressing of your choice) and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. I have an avocado creme dressing somewhere…i’ll have to share that one day.

Watermelon Edamame Salad

I have to say, I wish we had more time than the afternoon to see the museums. A new Canadian Museum of Human Rights is being built right by The Forks and I plan on visiting that one day.

We got back to the airport with plenty of time to catch our flight and of course it was delayed, grrr. We had planned on eating our dessert on the plane, but the terminal would have to do. I love the box.

Baked Expectations

Now it is September, the harvest is among us (although I am patiently awaiting the redness of our tomatoes…wait, I see red!!!) and hopefully you are able to enjoy the extended summer if you are in Calgary. We might just get a ‘fall’ this year!

Eat well, Be well,

Nat