Sunday morning

A whole long weekend to myself. It feels long overdue. Yesterday Molly and I went for a showshoe in the woods near the cottage and had a great time. Today we’ll take a different trail and do the same thing.

I have an abundance of eggs these days. I generally get half a dozen delivered each week from Pam and Ken. Last week I got extra and I haven’t caught up yet. I decided that a batch of hollandaise would be a great solution. I whisked 2 eggs yolks with the juice of half a lemon, a bit of dijon, and a couple of drops of water in a double boiler. I added melted butter by drips and continued whisking until it was smooth and cooked.

While I was doing that I poached a couple of eggs, toasted some of those frozen hash brown patties (don’t judge), and cooked up a few slices of the bacon I made ΔΊast month.

So good. Bil-style eggs benedict.

Pam and I are in full planning mode for our trip to Scotland in May. We arrive in Glasgow and will stay there for the first night before heading to Edinburgh for a long weekend. After that we’ll tour up through the Highlands and spend a couple of nights on Skye. Then we have 3 unplanned days. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

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Lots of company

Last weekend Katherine visited from Saskatoon. We went snowshoeing in the woods, walking on the lake, skating on the Rideau Canal, and tobogganing on the local hill. So much fun.

I don’t think I’ve been on a toboggan in 30 years. It was a blast. I don’t think I’ll wait another 30 years to go again.

She hopes to make the winter visit a regular thing.

This weekend my friend Petr from Kitchener is visiting. We had a nice shoe shoe in the woods near the cottage yesterday followed by a walk on the lake.

Molly approves.

A busy winter week of food and whatnot.

I spent last weekend butchering some pigs. In total we did two full pigs and it took most of the weekend. My portion was a half of one, about a hundred pounds. My freezer is stuffed full of sausages, ground meat, chops, stew meat, and roasts. I have bacon in a dry cure waiting to be smoked, back fat and leaf fat portioned and frozen and many jars of stock. Abundance!

On Monday evening I had a board meeting. We also had a snow and freezing rain ‘event.’ The reward for the board members that made it out was a roast chicken dinner and 2 kinds of chocolate for dessert.

The Lions are hosting a Robbie Burns night this weekend, complete with haggis and bag pipes. Sadly I’ll miss it because I’ll be out of town on a spinning weekend with some friends. I did however volunteer to make the stew for the Burns dinner. 120 portions in all, about 40 litres. That’s a LOT of stew and it was a lot of fun doing it πŸ™‚ Kitchen time continues to be the perfect antidote to long full work days.

I also offered to make a ‘Sheppard’s’ pie for my retreat weekend. It’s more of a mooseherd’s pie though, made with moose meat instead of sheep. I live in rural Renfrew County, what would you expect! And in the spirit of using what’s in front of me, there are yummy sweet potatoes in the mash.

I managed to squeeze in time to ply up and wash the first skein of yarn for my 2018 resolution sweater. I look forward to doing test swatches this weekend.

And more big cooking events are on the horizon. Next week I’ll make pulled pork for a Lions dinner. We expect about 60 people to show. Then on the weekend I’ll be in the kitchen cooking a Lions pancake breakfast for about 70 people. And the weekend after that I’ll be making spaghetti sauce for 120 people for the Kids Book Festival fundraiser. Lots of fun. I also picked up 4 volunteer bartending shifts at the Lions Hall in the next couple of weeks and I have lots of company coming, Katherine next week amd Petr the week after that. A full winter for sure and it’s still on January!

Purging magazines and a game changer

I love polenta. It great all on it’s own, with butter and cheese melted in,  but it’s even better as the base for yummy flavourful toppings. I rarely ever make it though because it’s a bit of a pain and I’ve never really been all that good at it.  That just changed.

I spent much of the afternoon flipping through a stack of old cooking magazines, ripping out the recipes I’m not ready to part with yet, and sending the rest off to recycling. I came across a recipe for ‘easy weeknight polenta.’ I was skeptical but decided to give it a try.  Whisk a cup of polenta into 4 cups of seasoned water in a pressure cooker.  Put on the lid, bring it to pressure, cook 9 minutes, and release pressure manually. I didn’t have very high expectations. I even had back up dinner plans in case it didn’t work.  When I took off the lid I found the most perfect creamy smooth polenta I’ve ever made. I stirred in some butter and grated cheese and topped it with some leftover braised pork belly. So good. I’ll definitely make it like this again.

I poured the leftover polenta into a dish and put it in the fridge. The black flecks are pepper. Lots amd lots of pepper. It will firm up so that I can cut it, heat it up, and use it as a base for some other yummy dinner. This new method will, for better of worse, definitely increase polenta consumption. 

A successful day. A new way to make polenta.  Less old magazines around. And a new way to use my beloved pressure cooker. Win win win. 

Strudel and other resolutions

Last year at this time I resolved to conquer my fear of making strudel. I starting talking about it and, as if it was destined to be, a teacher appeared. After my lesson I practised every Sunday morning until I could turn out a pretty decent product. My favourite is sour cherry with pistachios. I haven’t made it since the spring but it’s nice to know that I can, just in case the pastry police show up.

Other highlights of the year include a week of spinning camp at Haliburton School of Art and Design, a couple of spinning retreats with friends, installing a cold storage room in the basement, lots of visitors, and a surprise bathroom reno with frog green walls. πŸ™‚

The yarn pictured above is a blend I made of Romney sheep wool and Alpaca that I’m currently knitting into a cable and lace scarf for me.

Looking forward to 2018, I resolve to spin, dye, and knit myself a cable sweater. That’s about 6 kilometres of spinning.  I’ve been talking about it for months now and I even have a pattern picked but I haven’t been able to actually make myself sit at the wheel and start. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. 

Happy New Year to all! 

3 days. 3 restaurants.


A work conference in Scarborough and a 50th birthday celebration in Kitchener provided the opportunity to do some long overdue shopping and to visit a few of my favourite restaurants. On Saturday I went to the Kitchener Market then headed across the street to Pho Dau Bo. I’ve eaten at a bunch of Vietnamese restaurants and PDB in Kitchener is the best one I’ve ever been to outside of a street stall in Hanoi. So good.

It had been a long time since I’d visited the Kitchener Market. I’m glad I stopped in but I much prefer my Combermere market now. Real farmers and real food win the day every time.

On Sunday I went to Dumpling House in China Town East in Toronto. Scott and I  had been there before and it was OK.  Dill dumplings.  Braised beef noodle soup. Roasted eggplant and potatoes. Overall pretty good but not outstanding.

And then,  my special treat. Saravanaa Bhavan is my favourite restaurant (of all time, bar none) and I ordered my favourite meal. The thali comes with 10 small dishes,  the rasam  and the sambar are outstanding. And papad,  poori,  and pickle. I love it.  I used to go to the one in Mississauga regularly and I miss it. It was a special treat.

Trips to southern Ontario are a necessary evil from time to time. Thankfully there are restaurants to make it all worthwhile.  πŸ™‚

Garden Chores

I haven’t written much about my garden this year, mainly because it was a big weedy out of control mess for much of the season. I was so busy in June and July that I couldn’t keep ahead of the weeds. There’s my confession. Judge if you want. I still got a bunch of food out of it.

I spent this morning putting the garden to bed for the winter. I spent about 2 hours with the rototiller, turning over the soil and expanding it a little. It now measures 20 X 27 feet. Then I planted the garlic in the main garden rather than at the back of the garage. I planted about 100 this year. 

After the garlic was planted I mulched with straw. It was a bonus to find nice clean seed-free straw for sale. The past few years I’ve used hay out of necessity and that always leads to weeds for me. Five bales covered the bed and another bale on the bed at the back of the garage. Next year I plan to plant my tomatoes up there. It’s good to move things around.

The pile of green in the bottom right corner of the pic is Brussels sprouts,  still on the stem. Once I took them off and cleaned them I had about 4 litres of sprouts. They should last a while.  This clump of green still in the garden are my prolific kale plants. I’ll be eating it for another month or so I hope.

Molly seems quite pleased that I’ve made her a cushy bed where the garlic used to live. 

Jerusalem artichokes waiting to be harvested

And now I  can start to plan next year’s garden. And I  promise myself that I will do a better job of weed control.