October 31, 2011

We've been eating.

Look, I don't want to brag or anything, but we've been eating pretty well, though a bit unhealthy.
Butternut squash and black bean tacos with pickled shallots.  My beans are cooked with bacon jam, lime and garlic.
Cinnamon waffles, bacon jam, goat cheese, apple slices and a fried egg.
Hand-fried tortilla chips, homemade sausage and the ultimate nachos with pico de gallo and fresh guacamole. 

Yeah...yum!

Bellingham 2.0

Stephlynne, Heather and I took a Sunday and drove on down to Bellingham.  It was a rainy, depressing day and staying home all day was just not an option.  We had to drive through Langley to drop of Aislinn.  Thank goodness for the GPS, it took us directly to Aldergrove crossing.  We waited 25 minutes in line and without a hitch we were there.
 We arrived around 12:45 absolutely starved.  I remembered The Bagelry from last time I was down here, so we drove up.  The bagels here are very good.  I had a sourdough with plain cream cheese, but Heather's bagel had jalapeno cream cheese which was heavenly!  After a minor mishap where my bagel cost $2 and Steph's $4, we left satisfied but ripped off. 
Note to self: buy bagels to bring home next time.
 We did some wandering through the streets, browsing jewelry (!Iwant!), stationary and bikes.  Finally we happened upon a very large, somewhat rundown CD/record store.  We listened to all the CDs in those sample players that line the wall, all the good stores have them.  I remember listening to those players every chance I got when I was younger.  I also recalled that I haven't bought a CD in over two years!  I finally settled on The Wailin' Jennys, my favourite group, now I can listen to them in the car!
 Our next order of buisness was ice cream at Mallard Ice Cream.  You really should stop here when you visit Bellingham.  The ice cream is incredible.  Their ice cream is made with as many local and organic ingredients as possible; the espresso in ours was roasted locally (by the same company as was in the chocolate I bought last time we were here!) and the fruits in the ice cream are from farms within Washington.  Now that is sweet.
 We grabbed coffee at Woods and drove over to Fairhaven.  As we walked along that wonderful sea wall sipping coffee, our hair whipping around us, a train rode by causing quite a stir with it's noise and rumble.
 We darted in Village book trying hard not to buy anything.  I'm not sure how I'm ever going to have a library in my house if I don't start buying books!  Once we were satisfied we sped on over to the mall where we had one hour to shop.  Good deals were found but unfortunately both my Visa and Steph's debit card decided to stop working at the same time, so not all our purchases were to be had.
It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.  Thanks you two!

October 30, 2011

Fudge Cake


I made this ghoulish cake for halloween upcoming.  I've had it in the back of my head for a few weeks now, ever since I saw it here, (don't bother looking, her rendition is far nicer than mine!)  It was fun to put together and I'm glad I made it, for now my chocolate cake craving is thoroughly settled.
A few notes: My meringues were far from done at 90 minutes; they needed at least an hour longer, I didn't know this at the time, that is why mine are wrinkly.  The chocolate frosting is a great deal harder than it sounds.  I frosted the cake refrigerating between layers then layered a crumb coat and chilled that along with the chocolate in the pan for 10 minutes as well.  I had to be careful not to chill the chocolate to much or it became lumpy and lose it's sheen.  Finally the chocolate ganache had me going twice.  The first time I made it with chocolate chips and the taste was all burnt.  The next time I was more careful, using a bar of 72% chocolate I very slowly melted it with the cream.  It's not all shiny that is for sure, but the chocolate is there!  I think a nice chocolate buttercream on small cupcakes would have a better texture. I find when the chocolate cooled into the cake it made it fudgy and chewy, I don't like this  personally.  All and all I am very pleased with the results.

October 29, 2011

Goodnight

It is with the greatest pleasure that I announce: I am the proud owner of my first set of flannel sheets.  While the wind whistles cold at night (right into my bedroom, I might add) I will be snuggled up in the warmest, comfiest, cutest! plaid flannel.  Thank you and goodnight.

Taking Flight

I was walking by the Fraser River just a few hours ago when I heard a series of unmistakable squawks.  The kind of honk I know like the sound of my own dog's bark, that of a Canadian goose.  Those of us who know can describe it best as a sort of squeal-ish honk, lost and forever calling home.  The racket belonged to well over a thousand geese resting noisily on a large pond.  I walked past captivated and moved on.  Twenty minutes later my walking took me back by the pond.  The geese were stilling swimming, more arriving every minute.  Fifty feet over my head a bald eagle gracefully flew, calm and silent.  He was close enough that I could see the yellow of his beak and feet, the white of his smooth round head and his large black slowly beating wings.  Seconds after my eyes left him there arose such a mind-boggling cry that I stood still.  Clamoring for the sky, each one of the hundreds of birds was in personal pandemonium.  They honked and swooped, climbing and rushing, the sky was dark with beating wings.  The black cloud flew twice around the pond as if looking for an exit on a crazy ride.   Gradually they dissipated, each goose going it's own way and the turbulence subsided.  I slowly took my eyes from the sky and continued on my way.

October 27, 2011

October Hiking

Mom and I took a morning to hike to Lindeman Lake, we had to visit it while it's show of colour was flourishing.  It was wet and cold, very cold.  At the bottom of the hike it was zero degrees and at the lake the puddles were frozen.  What a fitting poem:

"Just before the death of flowers,
and before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festive season
When nature is all aglow.
-Unknown author

Canopies of yellow leaves
 
We stopped and listened a few times to absolute silence.  Absolute.  How wonderful the sound was.  In different days it would have been normal to hear nothing, in our times it is magnificent.  We did have to drive 40 km into the mountains to get it, but if I'm patient one day I will step into my backyard.
This photo hardly does it justice.  Lindeman Lake is crystal clear.  It's glacier fed and cold as the dickens.  When the wind doesn't whisper on the water, it's surface is like glass.
Awash in colour and a very low snow line.
Cu-uuuute hat mom!

October 26, 2011

Night


I looked out across a dark dark sky so early the time was still night.  Bundled up and walking I looked up into the black.
'Where is your master?' I called to the brightest star, 'The moon.'
'In bed tonight sir' he cried, little more than a boy's voice.
'Who will show me the way tonight?'
'We will!' he called and the stars brightened under their veil of cloud. Their luminosity scarcely more than a dim candle burning in an already illuminated room.

The darkness beckoned me into her shade, down my path.  A chill chapped my cheeks, rosy we would call them.  The scuffles under brush stop as I near, much like a show horse on display I can feel them watch me.  I see only black in the dim, where the light doesn't reach.  The water splashes, running around the rocks. Bubble bubble splish splash.  It's the only calming I can feel where my sight evades me.

I'm walking at a good pace, arms swinging to warm my long body.  There is poetry in my mind.  I can feel wet fall leaves line the path quietly and the clip of my heal on the pavement.  I've come to trust there is no one in the darkness I can not see.  If there is I might die of fright, but again I trust, I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.  They sing and flicker such a mournful seeming tune, it seemed I could smell their loss in the damp earth around me.

I returned from where I started as the day ever so lightly kissed the night. The darkest of blues seeping from the black where the mountains hid the sun.
'Goodnight stars' I called to where they seemed to a collective yawn, though the night was darker than ever just moments before dawn.  'I'll see your master tonight.'  I was listening to the silence.

October 25, 2011

October 25


Happy Birthday to my youngest sister!  It's a big day, you turn 16.  It was only five years ago for me. That's it?! I hope 16 lives up to your expectations, if there is one things we've all learned these past few years, it's that anything can happen.  Sixteen was the year I met my husband, so always be prepared.  May your new age bring you wisdom and clarity.  I'm glad you chose these cupcakes to celebrate, I love an excuse to be so indulgent.  Nutella stuffed cupcakes and a salted caramel buttercream, perfect.

Nutella Cupcakes & Caramel Buttercream

2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup nutella
350 g (1 3/4 cup) brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup milk
160 g (1 1/4 cup) flour
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
400 g (2 cups) icing sugar

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.  In a bowl of a stand mixer beat together oil, 1/4 cup nutella, brown sugar, eggs and milk.  Separately sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Spoon the batter into the into the cupcake liners so they are 2/3 full.  Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until the top of the cupcake springs back when lightly touched.  Do not over bake.

Cool the cupcakes completely. 

While the cupcakes cool start the caramel.  In a small pot combine the sugar and water.  Place over medium heat and cook until dark amber colour appears.  Imideatly add the cream and vanilla stirring until the mixture is smooth.  Let the caramel cool for at least 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.

In a mixer bowl with the paddle attachment beat the butter and salt together for a few minutes until it is lightened and fluffy.  Scrape down the butter and pour in the caramel.  Combine the two for a few minutes and then add the icing sugar.  Beat on high for two minutes, until the icing is light and airy and completely combined.  If the caramel was too hot when added the mixture will be runny.  Stick it in the fridge if this happens for 15-20 minutes.  Scrape into a piping bag.

To assemble the cupcakes remove the center of each of the cool cupcakes.  Dallop or pipe in nutella to fill the center.  Frost with the caramel buttercream.  Sprinkle the toasted chopped hazelnuts over the top along with a bit of sea salt.  Enjoy!  Makes 18-or so.

October 23, 2011

October 23

The best part of my days off is knowing I don't need to be anywhere.  Anywhere at all.  The only thing to make a day off better?  A sunny day.  The best (and maybe only) good thing about Shane working on my days off is that I can indulge in any way I like, like two hour long walks or days spent curled on the couch with a book.  That is exactly what happened today.  I slept in, (10 hours of sleep!!!) made oatmeal for breakfast, (just a little brown sugar for me) went for a very long walk and cooked the rest of the day away.  Cauliflower curry casserole, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, plum and pear upside down cake, mushroom and spinach lasagna.
I should mention that is not all I did.  I also did laundry, swept the floors, did two sinks full of dishes, entertained my dad for coffee, worked on my book and organized the closets.  That is what I did today. 

Cauliflower Curry Casserole


I'm not one to make a typical casserole.  There are no shepherds pies or tater-tot concoctions happening in my oven. I don't touch canned soup mixes (except in my very favourite childhood-sloppy joes) and I'm not really down with taco pie.  But I do love a good one pot meal, so you'd think I'd be a little more into this.  My grandmother made a chicken curry bake last time I was there for dinner which was pretty darn good.  I brought the idea home with me and stewed on it for a while.  Finally, with a head of cauliflower starting to mold I whipped it out, cauliflower casserole it would be.  Oddly enough my grandpa stopped by early this morning with a huge bag full of green beans, so in they went.  I really aught to call this Grandma's Curry Casserole except it's nothing like hers, thanks for the inspiration anyway!

This isn't a quick recipe, there are steps involved.  First you cook the rice.  While that is happening you start cooking the cauliflower and beans.  You whip up some milk and eggs and grate some cheese with your third arm and then it goes in the oven for a bit of a rest.  When it comes out all gooey, chewy and complex you are allowed to dig in.  Indulge really, it's good for you!

Cauliflower Curry Casserole


1 cup wild rice, cooked (makes 4-ish cups cooked)
3 Tbsp butter
1 head cauliflower, broken into smaller florets
two handfuls bean, chopped into inch long pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp powdered yellow mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375F.  Cook the rice according to package.  Mine needed 35 minutes boiling and then the extra water strained out.  While the rice is cooking heat the butter on medium heat in a saucepan.  Add the onions, garlic, ginger and all spices.  Cook for a few minutes until the onions start to fry and the spices smell good.  Add the cauliflower and beans to the pan, stirring occasionally.  Cook 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is mostly cooked through.  While the pans are cooking on the stove combine the milk and eggs in a bowl and grate the cheese separately.

Spread the rice into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on the rice, top with 1/2 of the vegetables.  Sprinkle most of the cheese on this layer.  Top with the rest of the vegetables and remaining cheese.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the casserole is set.  Makes 4 big servings.

October 21, 2011

October 21

Random Notes:

#1. I refuse to turn on the heat in the house, even though it's only a couple degrees at night.  Mom got a $500 heating bill last year.  'Nuf said.

#2. I spend all morning in sweat pants, every single day.

#3.  Work mentally exhausts me.

#4.  Shane made someone a $100 bet he could get into better than them before Mexico in 7 months.

#5. I didn't mention we're going to Mexico?  Yeah, we have to, for a wedding you see, no choice. 

#6. HA! Have to my butt, I just needed an excuse.  Mayan Riveria, May 2012.  Wanna see?

#7. Shane won't eat my baking.  See #4.

#8.  I haven't baked in three days....arrrhhhhhhggggg!  I don't know what to do with myself.

#9. My dog has an ear infection.

October 18, 2011

Cranberry Turkey Salad

This is a sandwich born from leftovers, though to be honest I was looking forward to them very much.  It's a turkey cranberry salad and very good.  It's not just turkey and cranberry though, it's apple, pecans and rosemary that really bring it into the light!  I find myself craving this for lunch more often than not, it's surprisingly addictive.  Turkey is what I used, but chicken would obviously substitute well.  Chicken salad is one of my all time favourites after all, right after a BLT, which is the ultimate in my book, but only available in tomato season.  Well that is not quite true, I slow roasted tomatoes and buried them in the freezer this year, to be revealed when my BLT hankering is to strong an urge to squash.  But that is neither here nor there since I didn't bring you that recipe!  Promise to set aside a little turkey after your next feast and try this monstrously good sandwich.
Cranberry Turkey Salad

Leftover roasted turkey, enough for four sandwiches (or poached or roasted chicken, 2 breasts)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, cut small
1/3 cup crisp apple, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup thick yogurt
2 Tbsp mayo
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped small

Cook the turkey or chicken any way you see fit.  Shred the meat into manageable bite sized pieces, about 1/2 inch cubes.

Mix together the yogurt, mayo, vinegar and rosemary in a small bowl.

In a larger bowl mix the turkey, cranberries, apple, pecans and shallot.  Add the dressing to the mix and taste for seasoning.  Serve chilled.

Pumpkins!

We carved pumpkins yesterday evening.  Mom, Heather, Steph, Hunter, Shane and I all carved our own pumpkins.  She spent the most time on his, it must have taken two hours!  But it sure looked awesome at the end of the night.
Hunter's tool broke.
Steph was super hyper if you can't tell.  It didn't help we filled her up with sugar.
Hunter's, Mine, Shane's little one, Heather's, Mom's and Steph's, in that order.
This is what Shane's looked like finished.  Awesome!

Bellingham

Shane and I had a day off together and I was itching for an adventure.  I thought about Princeton, 2.5 hours away and how beautiful the drive would be.  I thought about hiking in Manning Park 1.5 hours away, but remembered how much Shane dislikes hiking.  I thought about Seattle, far far away and how much I wish see.  I decided on Bellingham.  It is an hour away, so we could easily spend the day there.  I'm sorry to say the only piece of Bellingham I knew was the Guide Meridian, to and from Costco!  So it seemed a good place to explore.  We left around 10:00 in the morning, waited 20 minutes at the boarder.
We arrived around 11:45, starved and ready to eat.
 Thankfully I had found a place, The Boundary Bay Brewery in advance.  We got ourselves some beer, house-made of course and admired the atmosphere.  The walls were covered in sails, paintings, strings of lights and silly fall decor which made a real hodge-podge collection.  The service was great at this sort of restaurant, sort of pub. And the beer was fantastic!
 We each had our own beer-pork-sandwich and smoked salmon clam chowder.  It was delicious.  The last time Shane and I ate out together was in Europe, which made this a real treat.
We drove over to the Fairhaven district, downtown if you will, to Village Books.  This is an independent bookstore full of character and good deals.  They had a nice selection of cookbooks and many preserving books.  The only thing I left with however, were 7-used Berenstain Bears books.  What a nostalgic trip!  I grew up reading these books more than any other!  Over and over again, my mother must have hated them by the end of it!  We wandered up and down the floors, playing with iPads (I want!) and wondering who in the world has the sort of money they are asking for them.  We left after a while but I'm already anticipating our next visit.  
 
I got a recommendation from the bookstore lady to find Papa's Sweets.  She said their we could find Chocolate Necessities, a very good Bellingham chocolate maker.  We ventures across the street and asked Papa what to get.  He suggested Papa's Coffee Bark.  It was Chocolate Necessities' chocolate and his roasted coffee beans, together.  We were sold of course and bought a bag.  
We wandered in and out of stores finding an olive oil tasting room with over 50 kinds of oil and vinegars to sample!  We loved the few we sampled but we didn't buy any, I suppose we were feeling thrifty.
Shane and I bought lattes and found the ocean.  The boardwalk in Bellingham is so cool!  It actually comes away from land and over the water.  We found a bench to enjoy the view.  Sitting along the ocean is a favourite of ours and we'll stay out there until we get good and cold.  The air is cool, salty and refreshing.  A real breath of fresh air.  
On our way back to the highway we stopped at Rocket Donuts.  Their donuts were super fresh and delicious, we gobbled them down.  Shane's was a fantastic boston creme and I think next time I'll try a bacon one.
American towns are so much different than Canadian towns.  They are charming and sweet.  They are patriotic and have tons of character.  I do love to visit them.  Shane and I have said a few times that we would live in the States if we weren't so afraid of their healthcare system!  The following pictures were taken once we crossed the border back into Canada.  I drive this same route every single day for work.