Goodbye Summer!

Well, that was fun.

IMG_2848We didn’t get to enjoy a soft land­ing this year, i.e: autumn, no, it just went straight to that. Heavy wet snow on leaves = tree mas­sacre. I was still in my jam­mies when I raced to find my snow boots, parka, gloves, then ran out­side to try to shake off and save what I could in the yard. Even with this effort, 4 trees were already bro­ken. I’m sit­ting here and try­ing not to look at splin­tered branches dan­gling out­side the win­dow. It sucks, because Cal­gary has so lit­tle green­ery to begin with.

I think ani­mals were just as con­fused as peo­ple - Greg saw a small black bear dart­ing across the road in our neigh­bor­hood this morn­ing. I’ve seen big mule deer here sev­eral times, coy­otes got in our yard once, and there was a lynx in the neigh­bor­hood over, but a bear? That’s a first. We’re on the out­skirts of the city and adja­cent to a wildlife cor­ri­dor to the moun­tains, so it’s unlikely but not impossible.

It’s all melt­ing now and it will be a big big cleanup. I heard it will take up to a month to get all the fallen tree debris sorted across the city, but at least we didn’t lose power.

Good times.

IMG_2834Sooo. Here’s some snap­shots from the past month. We spent the last day of sum­mer (that be last Sun­day) doing a great hike up to Nihani Ridge in Kananaskis. I love going there because it’s just a half hour drive, and has no crowds like the national park does.

20140907_132814_Richtone(HDR)-6And we saw wild chick­ens! The 5 of them strolled right in front of us on top of the ridge. Is it wrong that I kept won­der­ing if they’d be tasty?

20140907_143453We went to Salt Spring again and redis­cov­ered the joy and mis­ery of camp­ing. My camp­ing cook­ing is as laid back as loung­ing in the sum­mer heat… Salmon burger here, boiled corn on the cob there… We’d buy fish or sausage from the gro­cery store and sup­ple­ment every­thing else from the farms next door. How awe­some to wake up and walk over to your neigh­bors to buy fresh pro­duce? We spent the days hik­ing and read­ing, then walked into town at sunset.

IMG_2338Out­door shower, any­one? Con­tinue Read­ing…

IMG_2339The ceil­ing of our “house”.

IMG_2336They say when peo­ple go to hell, they ride B.C. fer­ries for­ever. The Dun­can cross­ing is not so bad, only 20 mins and nice weather, but the big ferry from the main­land is killer. So bor­ing! Don’t ever take me sail­ing, either. I’ll be jump­ing over and tak­ing the only lifeboat.

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Hik­ing up Mt. Maxwell with Dog Log.

IMG_2436Fresh­wa­ter cray­fish at Duck Creek Park. First time in my life see­ing a cray­fish!!! It’s like a mini lob­ster. We put it back care­fully… I did won­der if it would be tasty… but you’d need a lot of them and it’s kind of a waste, I pre­fer them enjoy­ing their life in the pris­tine creek.

20140806_171051Speak­ing of food, we camped near two small farms and got our pro­duce from them. When I was lit­tle I always wanted a baby chicken as a pet, and when I got older I often won­dered about keep­ing a cou­ple of ille­gal hens, you know, tucked away some­where. But if you ever smelled a chicken coop, you know that real­ity is less appeal­ing. And there’s the busi­ness of mur­der­ing and pluck­ing them when they stop lay­ing… So I’d rather buy my eggs at the store, thanks.

IMG_2421This big bas­tard crowed at 4:30am, which I enjoyed, strangely.

IMG_2381The best straw­ber­ries in the world. These are “hon­esty stands” on the side of the road. You show up with pocket change and buy based on an honor sys­tem. They’re all over the island, so in the sum­mer you don’t have to get pro­duce at the store at all. My favorite stand is at Ruckle Park.

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Here’s a plum stand in Ful­ford Valley:

IMG_20140728_162242This is when I went to Salt Spring last month, I took the plums as carry on when fly­ing back.

IMG_20140728_162226Part of Indigo farm next door. Two city pro­fes­sion­als have had it with the rat race and bought a farm — with zero farm­ing expe­ri­ence of their own. A few years down the road and they’re doing great!

IMG_2378IMG_2417IMG_2400IMG_2403IMG_2395Quick camp cook­ing below - French Puy lentils with Chorizo and basil. Yum.

IMG_2446Look­ing South East from “Indian Beach.” I think the moun­tains on the hori­zon are the U.S. San Juan islands. This beach is a beau­ti­ful spot to soak up the sun, or have a sun­set pic­nic. Good mem­o­ries from here.

IMG_2323Last but not least. The best biggest, juici­est figs I had in my life!!!

Orgas­mic!

IMG_2358Sold by this nice man on the side of the road.

They weren’t cheap. That’s why I still need a fig tree.

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Until next time!

Easy Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl

For the 4 peo­ple that still read this blog, hello! How are u? August ended, what a relief. The world is going to hell in a hand­bas­ket and work sh!t finally hit the fan closer to home — I’m spent. Fine, but spent. So I give you this easy lunch/​dinner bowl that doesn’t require much thought or prepa­ra­tion. What’s not to love?

Easy Mediterranean Quinoa BowlHere’s a bowl of quinoa with home­grown toma­toes, farmer’s mar­ket zuc­chini and local Ital­ian sausage. My bowl also comes com­plete with the world’s most expen­sive out of sea­son aspara­gus. Feel free to skip it. I just really craved it :P Top with some shaved Parme­san, torn basil leaves and a squeeze of lemon. It’s what we eat on the deck in the sun while we dis­cuss the lat­est dirt and say good­bye to the sum­mer. Con­tinue Read­ing…

Easy Mediter­ranean Quinoa Bowl
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingre­di­ents
  • 2 Ital­ian sausages, sliced
  • 1 yel­low zuc­chini, diced
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • few spears of cooked aspara­gus, sliced
  • hand­ful of black olives
  • hand­ful of cherry tomatoes
  • fresh basil leaves
  • Parme­san cheese
  • a cou­ple slices of lemon
Instruc­tions
  1. Slice the sausages and toss in a pan coated with olive oil until the sausage is browned, but not yet cooked. Add the diced zuc­chini and con­tinue cook­ing, stir­ring occa­sion­ally, until done.
  2. Mean­while, rinse and cook the quinoa accord­ing to direc­tions. When ready, divide into two plates and top with the cooked sausages, zuc­chini, and fresh cherry toma­toes. Gar­nish with basil and grated Parme­san cheese. Salt and pep­per to taste.

How to Make Your Own Blackcurrant Syrup (Ribena)

This is my cleaned-​up home­made ver­sion of how to make the pop­u­lar Ribena black­cur­rant syrup. I sure have enough black­cur­rants to go around! If you asked where we were last week, chances are it was in the yard pick­ing them. Hard work, let me tell ya! We didn’t weigh the result, but I think it came to about 15lbs — that’s a lot of hunch­ing over and pick­ing! The berries are way too tart to eat, but make great jam, or syrup, that’s exactly what I did!

How to Make Your Own Blackcurrant Syrup (Ribena)We always had Ribena in the fridge in my parent’s house, and some bot­tles found their way into my cur­rent fridge by way of my mom. Since I have all these black­cur­rants, I can make my own, and with­out any arti­fi­cial preservatives.

Here is what you do. Pour your black­cur­rants into a sink filled with water. This will make all the impu­ri­ties, leaves, and stray spi­ders, etc… rise to the sur­face. Skim them off, then drain the water. Trans­fer the black­cur­rants into large cook­ing pots, fill­ing about 3/​4 of the way up. Don’t worry about the lit­tle twigs and papery ends on the berries, because it will all get sieved.

How to Make Your Own Blackcurrant Syrup (Ribena) Con­tinue Read­ing…

#cleaneat­ing now faints:

How to Make Your Own Blackcurrant Syrup (Ribena)Yes, sugar, lots. If you have the means, feel free to sub­sti­tute coconut palm sugar, sucanat, or rapadura, all of which are great unprocessed white sugar alter­na­tives that you can swap on a 1:1 ratio. You can also use honey, but keep in mind that it doesn’t have the same thick­en­ing prop­er­ties and the syrup would be very runny, more like juice.

Black­cur­rants are very tart, so you def­i­nitely need a sweet­en­ing agent, but not just for taste. Sugar also acts as a preser­v­a­tive by lit­er­ally suck­ing mois­ture out of microbes. This will make sure you can store the syrup in the fridge for weeks. I give a rough guide­line for how much sugar you need in the recipe, but the rule of thumb is to use less and add more as you taste test to make the black­cur­rants palat­able. It’s always eas­ier to add than sub­tract later.

Now the siev­ing. See, I told you not to worry about stray twigs and ends on the black­cur­rants — after you cooked down the fruit and sugar mix­ture and it cools a bit, you sieve it through. The more vig­or­ous you are, the more fibre will sieve though, mak­ing the syrup richer and tastier. So put your arm into it!

How to Make Your Own Blackcurrant Syrup (Ribena)End result: LOTS of black­cur­rant syrup. This is not a small bowl, about 5 litres:

How to Make Your Own Blackcurrant Syrup (Ribena)Now how to store all this. I have more than I will use in the next few weeks, so I poured off a small batch into jars for imme­di­ate use/​gifts, and poured the rest into freezer bags. You can also freeze in plas­tic con­tain­ers, but remem­ber to leave enough space at the top for expansion.

How to Make Your Own Blackcurrant Syrup (Ribena)Note: It’s a good idea to steryl­ize your jars with boil­ing water prior to use. It will make them very hot… so what­ever you do, don’t cool them down with cold water. This makes them ker­plode. I know how stu­pid it sounds, but that’s pre­cisely what I did. I just shake my head!!!

Pretty syrup in the only jars I had left:

How to Make Your Own Blackcurrant Syrup (Ribena)Com­ments, ques­tions? Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.

How to Make Your Own Black­cur­rant Syrup (Ribena)
Author:
Serves: Makes approx 750ml syrup
Ingre­di­ents
  • 1lb black­cur­rants
  • ½lb white sugar, or alter­na­tives: coconut palm sugar, sucanat, or rapadura (use slightly more, or less sugar accord­ing to your taste)
  • 1 cup of water
Instruc­tions
  1. Pour the black­cur­rants into a sink filled with water and skim off impu­ri­ties like leaves and float­ing twigs, then drain the water. Trans­fer the black­cur­rants into large cook­ing pots, fill­ing about ¾ of the way up. Pour in the sugar and water and mix. Set the heat on medium and cover. Cook for 5 min­utes, then reduce the heat to low and sim­mer for another 10 min­utes, until all the juices run.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool enough to han­dle com­fort­ably. Pass the mix­ture though a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Pour into steryl­ized bot­tles, or freeze in plas­tic bags, or con­tain­ers for later use.
  3. Will keep in the fridge for 2 – 3 weeks. Use frozen syrup within 3 months.
  4. To serve, dilute the syrup in water, to taste.

Teriyaki Pork Noodle Bowl

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I've been neglecting my love for Asian cooking in favor of quick summer meals... so why don't we marry the two?  I love Thai and Vietnamese flavors, and I'll make Chinese once in a while, too. If you shy away from these cuisines because some ingredients are unfamiliar to you, or worse, because you associate Asian cooking with pre-made sauces from a bottle, then this quick recipe will debunk those fears! Nothing artificial from a bottle here.  Do you still buy pre-made teriyaki sauce? … Continue Reading...

Grilled Summer Corn and Quinoa Salad

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Quinoa salads have been my favorite this summer, same goes for new potatoes, and I probably consumed so much salmon while it's in season that I could grow fins. This salad here is awesome - leftover cooked quinoa I had sitting in the fridge, and what I found at the farmer's market - kale, red peppers, onions, and fresh corn. Summers are so short here in Calgary that I end up overwhelming myself with things to do. It's like every moment of each day needs to be stretched for maximum use of … Continue Reading...