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.


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.


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!!!


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.


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
Serves: 2
  • 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
  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)
Serves: Makes approx 750ml syrup
  • 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
  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


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


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...