Monday, January 31, 2011


Snow on a log or Snow Snake? Snow Snake!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Timely wreath

On the eve of curbside pickup for our yuletide tree—the same day we packed up all the Christmas ornaments for another year—I hung this wreath on our door. I'd been working on it for weeks here and there, and it had been a project in my mind long before that. Probably since I bought some Ikea curtains from which I removed the tab tops (to instead make a large casing for an ugly curtain rod). I added these fabric loops to my ever-growing pile of fabric scraps where they awaited their future life as a toy or craft, or, in this case, a wreath.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Monday Night Dinner: Beet Red

NOTE: Monday Night Dinners have temporarily shifted to Wednesday nights, because I’m taking a Hip Hop class on Mondays. I know, I know. No, you will not see me on SYTYCD, because I do not TICD. Not at all. But it’s fun.

So last night’s dinner extravaganza was Chickpea burgers & beets and a Super Salad! It seemed like a tasty, nutritious meal to make after work that wouldn’t take too long. I was wrong. We didn’t eat until 8:30. It took me 2 hours to prepare everything! I have come to the conclusion that not only am I unskilled in the kitchen, but painfully slow. (But at least I did read the recipes ahead this time to see if anything needed marinating overnight—something I usually find out as I’m going...)

I suppose I should have prepared some of this meal the night before, but that would require me to get my act in gear the day before I need to get my act in gear. I’ll work on it. But in the meantime, since that’s not likely to happen, I might have to stick with simpler, one-pot meals...

The kitchen quickly looked like a compost heap; pepper seeds and stems and onion skins everywhere.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More snowshoeing!

Mark’s parents came up for a visit this weekend, and yesterday we took them into Gatineau for a snowshoe. Even though it was bitterly cold (even worse than before!) we did the Healey cabin out-and-back again, and it was nice to visit the forest again after just two weeks, and see the pine branches still laden with plump clumps of white, leaning and drooping together, creating archways over our path.

We warmed ourselves up for a little bit by the fire in the Healey cabin, but couldn’t linger because we knew the light wouldn’t last. And though the sun was falling behind the trees as we went back, the forest glowed luminously in it’s white blanket, treating us to a shifting veil of colour. Yellows and golds that transformed into pinks, and lilacs and turquoise that faded into deeper blue.

The air froze our breath shortly after it left our mouths, and coated our hair and eyelashes in a fine, icy frost, making us look youthful and wizened at the same time. We returned, exhausted (well, I was exhausted, I don’t think the others were), and were treated to Mark’s homemade linguine in a scrumptious pesto sauce.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monday Night Dinner: Quiche!

I enjoy making quiche. It is one of the very few things that I make well. I love the latitude you can take with ingredients too, as long as you have the right ratio of eggs and milk to the other ingredients. Back when I first started dabbling in quiche—without a recipe (oh dear)—I would try to put as many vegetables in as possible, and just pour on an unspecified amount of egg-milk until it reached the top of the spring-form pan, which was the oversized vessel these experiments demanded. I couldn’t understand why my zucchini-mushroom-pepper-artichoke-spinach-tomato-onion quiche—that was 4 inches thick—would take 3 hours to cook.

Now I know better. I have curbed my overzealous need to cram too many ingredients into one quiche. I have a proper quiche pan, and now, pie weights (after the rice I was using kept getting reintegrated with the uncooked rice... sigh). I have a handwritten crust recipe (from who knows where) that I trust, and a filling ratio that allows me to try different ingredients. 

This time: curried apple-onion. Simple and delicious.

However, unless I prepare the dough ahead of time, giving it time to chill properly (which I failed to do this time), I should probably save it for a weekend meal when I have more time, or end up with a late dinner... So I only left the dough to chill for about 15 minutes, and the dough didn’t get a chance to cool before I added the mixture, but it still turned out.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The second snowshoe

Perhaps the other wonderful thing about shovelling at night is knowing there’s a fresh batch of snow to go snowshoeing in in the morning.

Armed with a toasted brie and fig confit rosemary panini from Cafe Molo in Wakefield we headed out, despite the sheer cold (-25 with the windchill...). The trailhead for #72 is at P17, just after the Wakefield turnoff. It also begins in an open field and, with the wind, can be a bit brutal; but it’s just a short distance along the edge of a forest before you enter the trees.

Map bunting

 Old maps and a bit of fabric = fun, festive decorations.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Shovelling at night

There’s something about shovelling at night after a fresh snowfall. The world is insulated in powdery white, the birds are asleep, and the regular sounds are hushed into a comforting silence. The city feels far away. You can hear the snow crunch under your boots and the boughs occasional creak from their new heavy coats. Lights glow gently, softened by their own golden star-shaped halos and cast this new, quiet world in sepia. Everything feels handmade, knitted into a cozy tapestry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Monday Night Dinners: PB soup

I love my Moosewood cookbook; I don’t think I’ve ever made a recipe from it that I didn’t like. So, because we had an excess of cabbage, I decided to make Indonesian Sweet Potato and Cabbage Soup, with a side of improvised pesto-garlic-cheese bread. I’ve made this soup before, but not for a while, and I love a meal that I can make in one pot.

I’ve found an online copy of the recipe to share. I love the savoury combination of sweet potatoes and peanut butter contrasted with the freshness and vibrancy of the cilantro, and the crisp bites from sprouts piled high on top. Tasty success!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The first snowshoe of the season

It snowed nearly non-stop for a few days before today; not a lot of accumulation, but enough. So it was an easy decision to bust out the snowshoes and head for the hills. We’ve both been itching to get out, and it’s sad that all of December passed without a chance because there hasn’t been enough snow. Come on, Ottawa, what gives? Last year was fantastic for snowfall, and we went many times (sometimes three times a day!).

One of the many great things about snowshoes is that they allow you to “off road.” While cross-country skis generally confine you to trails, with snowshoes you can go pretty much anywhere. And the more snow you’ve got, the easier the terrain is to traverse. Places otherwise inaccessible in the summer can now be easily conquered. Although my irrational fear of bears is always lurking in my mind somewhere, telling me that the large lump up ahead is a hibernating bear that I’m about to make very angry as I scramble up over top. But that’s never happened. The most exciting near-animal encounter was coming across large cat tracks last winter while snowsnoeing along a cliff ridge with some good friends last winter.