Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor Day Weekend - Food, Friends and Family

Rabbit Rabbit everyone!

Happy September!  May this month be filled with the remainder of summer -- sunshine and warmth, laughter with friends and more barbeque. And don't forget to finish those cocktails as well; they won't last until next June!

I went to a wedding dance this past Saturday.  It was held
on the couple's property in the country, well off the main road, down a dark, narrow driveway lined with votives in paper bags. When you got to the end, it opened up, and there were lanterns hung in trees and bon fires on either side. The dance was held in the newly-erected frame of the barn, and the bar was in the old barn adorned with tulle and huge Chinese lanterns.  There were tressle tables laden with food and music playing and babies and dogs and people dressed in whatever way made them feel comfortable -- which meant a wonderful collection of glitter and bling was mixed with dungarees and vintage 70's pant suits.  It was quite magical! 
The bride was my daughter's best friend whom we've known for 20 years.  And although there were lots of people there who were my age, most of the time I was the only one gal on the dance floor with the "youngsters".  What's with that, over 50-yr-olds? Regardless, I had such a lot of fun!

Besides my own 2 kids being home this weekend, I also picked up my "foreign children". Nagisa returned for her last 5 months.  And I have a newbie: 15 yr old Lena from Germany, a petite little girl with a mass of lovely wavy hair, big glasses and a sweet personality.  

 She was delighted to jump into the very cold Atlantic ocean with me on Sunday (as Nagisa sat and snapped pictures of us).  
Then she was doubly delighted to walk the boardwalk and eat Canadian ice cream; she said that Germany just has the regular flavors -- vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, etc.  She ate "Grizzly Tracks", I had "Double Decadent Chocolate" and Nagisa "Peanut Butter Cups". I can see we have a lot of ice cream to eat together!

Lena's a vegetarian who (thankfully) eats fish, dairy and eggs.  This semester will be another adventure in eating as we mix lots of good, nutritious vegetarian meals in with the occasional meat meal. She doesn't expect anything extra from me and would happily make do with whatever we eat minus the meat.  But I love to try new recipes.

This weekend, I cooked Indian as I already have a good base of vegetarian meals that I've cooked before.  But bloggie friends: If you have any suggestions for tried and true recipes, please pass them along.  

I do love a good mouthful!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The weary have returned!

Part of my time back home was wonderful (having Amy with me); and part was quite stressful.  (I lost someone in Newfoundland.) But the parts that were good were soooooo good.  Here are some pictures of our first week.

Day 2: Marble Mountain Ski Resort hike.  This short but gruelling uphill hike overlooks the scenic Humber River Valley in Western Newfoundland, with the city of Corner Brook (my hometown) in the far right corner of the lower left picture. The blonds in black are 2 of my gorgeous daughters.

On Day 4, we travelled "down the bay" from Corner Brook as far as you can go:  Bottle Cove and Little Port.  There are lots of hikes to take in this area (as in most of NL).  We choose the "full" hike in Little Port.

The1st half of our hike was a gentle 1.8 km to Cedar Cove and its rocky, driftwood strewn beach. 
We rested for a while ...... and then we got creative with the driftwood.

The 2nd half of our hike was deceiving.  See that sign that says 1.8 km to the Little Port lighthouse site?  Hmmm! 1.8 of extreme trail? Well, we thought: you have to go up and across and then down again.  We can do 1.8 km of that!

The sign actually meant 1.8 km UP the side of the mountain -- not all the way to the lighthouse site.  The knotted rope was a necessity and NOT a suggestion.  We plateaued at the top and met spectacular vistas. It was breathtaking! Then we went down the mountain another 1.5 km or so --- backwards with the aid of knotted ropes -- to the lighthouse site. Then we went down on a more gentle slope until we once again reached where we had started.

That sign lied!  That half of the hike was about 6 km total.  

OMG!  Legs! Lungs! Feet! Hands!

Large quantities of beer and chicken wings were needed afterwards!  Thanks Wing 'n It and Libby!

And that's just Week 1.  Ahhhhh, Newfoundland.  You're grand!

Still, it's really good to be back home in NS.

After all, taking a vacation is pretty tiring work!  

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Oh the rollin' of the sea is beckonin' to me.
Sayin' come my son I'll show you things you've never seen before
Come set your spirit free on the winds of history
Hoist your sails & charge a course & go out & explore.
Oh the rollin' of the sea is beckonin' to me.

It's that most wonderful time of the year again. This year, I have my lovely Amy to share it with.  There'll be lots of driving, an overnight stay with friends, a 6-8 hr ferry ride, and then more driving before we even reach our destination.  She'll sit moose-watch (very important when driving in Newfoundland); I'll drive.  

We'll see family; I'll meet old friends and she'll gain new.  We'll eat and eat and eat and eat -- cod fish, fish & brewis, jiggs dinner, toutins, chips 'n' dressing 'n' gravy.  We'll have to make a concerted effort to put green things on our plate.  We'll surround ourselves with family ...... and run away to hike when they become too much.  (And vice versa!)  Then we head East for a 5-day 3-member family road trip, eat more, drink a little too much, stay at quaint places with odd place names.    

Yup!  It's vacation time.

See you in a few weeks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Old Friends ..... Bookends!

What's sweeter than an unexpected visit from a long ago, absent friend.  25+ years since we'd sat and laughed and shared.  And although we'd kept up via others, it was wonderful to wrap arms around each other in greeting, look deep into each others eyes and say "Hi!  Long time, no see."

The weekend also contained beautiful sunshine, a trip to my local Frenchies thrift store (where I scored this pair of Tom's for $10), brunch at the farmer's market, and lots of relaxation on the deck with my Saturday crossword puzzle and a beverage.  

One of those beverages was a cocktail made from soda water and the Strawberry Vodka that I made last weekend.  Look at that beautiful color.  And it tasted like fresh strawberries.  So yummy!

I used the "bleached" strawberries and a couple of quarts of fresh strawberries to make strawberry freezer jam ..... but all the strawberries floated to the top of the jars!  Sad?  No; not at all. I get strawberry jam on the top layer and strawberry sauce on the bottom. 

The weekend included a much anticipated, much desired visit to 
Hell's Bay microbrewery  in Liverpool NS where I picked up a couple of growlers (large, brown jugs) of beer -- one as a gift and one as a sampler for Amy and I.  There's a lovely relaxed attitude between us both concerning things like formal mealtimes, so that means plenty of opportunity for impromptu snacking on delicious treats.   
Do try these "Beanitos"; they are scrumptious ..... especially with a roasted red pepper dip.  

Sunday morning, I attempted to counter my weekend indulgences with a 1/2 hr walk to meet another friend for our monthly coffee chat; and then my return walk home was to be on the trail/old railway line which I'd never attempted before.  What fun! 

Note of advice:  Do not attempt to walk for 1.5 hr at noon on a hot summer day when your water bottle is only half full and the last half of the walk is uphill! Oy vey! Thank goodness for the A&W at the 3/4 mark. That ice cold root beer and padded swivel chair felt soooo good.  I made it home in one piece thanks in part to Albert and Walter!

This week has been much less adventurous as my shins and feet are still recovering.  How easily we forget our age and ability, huh!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Boozy Berries and R 'n' R!

Summer berries!  Yummy!  I know that we never run out of wonderful ideas for using and preserving, but isn't it great that people keep coming up with new ones.

Because of Hurricane Arthur, I didn't get to take Nagisa strawberry picking as I'd promised.  So, Friday we visited a local u-pick and purchased berries:  8 quarts to be precise.  We cleaned and trimmed and bagged several quarts for the freezer.  But one new idea (new to me, anyway) piqued my interest.  So I gave it a try.      

Strawberry Vodka
I got the idea from a rabbit trail that began with checking out "Cherry Bounce" at The Runaway Spoon (another recipe I plan on trying) which led me to other boozy fruit recipes and then eventually to David Lebovitz and the simple recipe for strawberry vodka --- just the choicest fruit, a decent vodka and a week of your time.  I'll let you know how it tastes.

Saturday, Amy and I dropped Nagisa off in the city; she's headed for a month long summer camp.   And I was headed for freedom! She's a honey of a girl, don't get me wrong.  But sometimes Mama doesn't want to feed the babies on time; sometimes Mama just wants tea and toast for supper; or sometimes Mama wants to walk naked from the bathroom to her bedroom, etc. etc.

After we dropped Nagisa off, we went to several thrift stores Sally Ann had 50% off selected items; and of course, I had a 30% off coupon for Value Village.  Even more fun, we visited the Asian grocer for Japanese and Korean supplies.  Then we found this little gem:  Cafe Aroma Latino and stopped in for lunch.

The thing I most liked about Cafe Aroma (besides the food) was that you could order one of each thing:  the portions were small and the prices were as well.  

We began in Mexico with a beef taco as well as Colombia for a couple of empanadas; they were gorgeous!  Full of flavor and not at all spicy.  Then we visited Guatamala for chuchitos and a couple of tamales; but sadly, we were a little disappointed in them as they were fairly bland.  We probably should gone to El Salvador for pupusas.  Oh well!  Next time!  But overall, we were pleased with the meal and the lovely decor.

They also had a small shop attached where we filled our basket with mole sauce, purple tortillas, dried hot peppers, tajine, hot sauce and all sorts of other goodies.  Such fun!  I love finding new food sources.

I'm looking forward to my month of relative freedom.  Yesterday after work, Amy greeted me with an amazing super supper salad and yummy healthy cookies made from oats, almond meal, chocolate ships and coconut. Don't you love it when someone else does the cooking.

Later in the week, I'll show you my thrift store finds.

In the meantime bloggies -
It's summer!  

And eat!

What delicious items have been on your table lately?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Post Arthur Trippin'

Arthur "stormed" through my area Friday night and Saturday leaving a mess in his wake.  It was an odd tropical storm:  wind without the rain (well, other than an inch or so).  I fared very well:  my power didn't go out nor did my phone or internet.  But there are thousands still without either/or today.  I happened to cook a huge dinner and a dessert earlier on Saturday; so I was able to help a few friends later in the day when I found out their situation.  And there was just enough for all of us!  Serendipity!

I took advantage of yesterday's sunny yet somewhat cooler temperatures; and we set out for my annual hike through Kedji Seaside Adjunct.  It's about an 8.2 km loop through a forested path to the seaside, through another forest path, past an old sheep farm, marshes, along a rocky beach and then back to the beginning on a wooden boardwalk over the marshy bird sanctuary.  Here's my tall, willowy daughter, Amy aka Lill, who's home for the whole summer.  She's been away from Nova Scotia for almost 10 years and has never before had the luxury of visiting for this long.

Mama jumps for joy at the sheer bliss of sunshine and water together.  Dipped a toe in, but pulled it out quickly before it cracked in half from the frigid Atlantic ocean!
Now this is a girl who knows how to jump.  My lovely Nagisa enjoyed her day out. 

And here's Lill's reaction to sun and sand.  (She's an honorary member of the Ministry of Silly Walks.)
She spent a lot of time wandering the beach and climbing on rocks and found this lovely "handbag".  Mermaid's purse perhaps?  Either way:  she's couldn't resist posing with it.

When we were 3/4 of the way through our hike, we came upon a German couple standing on the rocky beach looking towards the fen.  They'd spotted a young Black Bear cub occasionally popping his head up from the long grass.  Eeek!  All 5 of us cautiously finished the hike together; and although we came across the foot prints of Mama and Baby Bear, Mama must have been out for porridge (thank goodness) for we didn't see her.

We made it safely back to the car and drove along the ocean side until we reached Liverpool where we enjoyed our picnic lunch -- delicious tuna nori wraps and individual trifles -- next to the Mersey River.  A little windy but lovely none-the-less.  
My tootsies complained a lot last nigh, but today it's just a dull whisper.  Still, I do wish I had a foot massage fairy under my desk ..... for ANY day of the week!