Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So. Ottawa.

You know, it's been ages since I've been to the Museum of Civilization. Ages.

Like, maybe 15 years.

Spirit of the Haida Gwaii
I think it was really great for Howard and Dorothy (and Phil and I) to learn a bit more about the First Nations and their respective histories. If the above statue looks familiar to you (and not because you've been to the Museum of Civ), it's probably because it graces our 20$ bill.


The statue in the museum is actually a plaster replica of one found outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington and one at Vancouver International Airport. If you're interested in learning more, check out this link.
Detail of Mouse Woman
Anyway, we got to wander around and take pictures of all sorts of fun things.

A beautiful, vibrant painting that I can't remember the name of...
Can anyone else remember? I wish I'd written it down!

Howard, Phil & Dorothy
In front of some totem poles in the Great Hall. I probably should have told everyone to shimmy to the right. Whoops!

After we finished with the Museum (I won't even go into our visit to the Postal Museum), we headed downtown for lunch in the Market.

Tomatoes are in season!
The last year I lived in Ottawa, I had an organic basket from one of the fruit and veggie sellers. I love this place.

Who could possibly resist such gorgeous veg?
I miss the Market. Heck, I miss Ottawa!

Parliament Hill
I interned at the Houses of Parliament one summer. It was pretty cool, but I totally didn't take advantage of it. They made me read and summarize the Somalia Inquiry. That was pretty painful for my 16 year old brain.

East Block
Did you know that Ottawa is one of 4 capital cities designed in the Gothic style? I learned that from Cranium.

Howard, Dorothy & Phil
It was nice to have the sun come out - especially after such a cold and dreary morning.

Parliamentary Library
I wanted to find the cat house, but was totally unsuccessful. Really, I had no idea where to look! Instead of kitties, I offer you a view of the National Gallery of Canada and the Ottawa River.

Don't you just love autumn?
I really want to move back here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

French Macaroon FAIL

It's my fault, really. While up at the cottage, my Mum did a Key Lime Pie (whipped cream on the side for picky eaters) for Dad's birthday, which meant we suddenly had a bunch of egg whites left over.
Happy Birthday Dad!
Perfect, I thought, I'll make that macaroon recipe from the Martha Stewart that's up here... but tweak it so it's lime flavoured instead of raspberry. I'd done the recipe before, so I was sure it would work out.

Ah the inevitable pride before the fall.

This is what macaroons SHOULD look like:
Keep that image in mind.

I made the recipe according removing the jam, and adding in some lime rind. Oh, and made one crucial substitution: instead of icing sugar, I used granulated.

You know what happens to French style macaroons when you use granulated sugar? You get meringues. Not macaroons.
A plate of sadness

Nope, these bad boys looked NOTHING like they should have. They didn't rise properly; the sugar didn't dissolve; they tasted gritty (again, the sugar). Disaster.

Ugh. Monstrosities.
Now the filling was a mixture of lime juice and zest, semi-sweet chocolate and cream cheese. It was tasty, but without the signature macaroon crust... well... it was a bit of a bummer.

I swear though, Martha's recipe (when followed correctly), is fantastic. You can find it after the jump.

Just be sure to use icing sugar.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eating a Beaver Tail

Tomorrow, I'll be posting a disaster recipe, if for no other reason but to show you that I can fail (and do) spectacularly in the kitchen.

Also coming up will be the story of this weekend's very quick jaunt to Ottawa to hang out with the ILs (who were, in turn, hanging out with my parents). Stay tuned for the Museum of Civilization (I can tell, you're brimming with enthusiasm), the Parliament Buildings, the Market, plus Howard (my father in law) tries canoing up at the cottage!

Parliament Hll
Even though our train got in an hour and a half late last night, I got to go to the Black Tomato and Cora's, which means I count this weekend as a success.

Photo from:
Now, Ottawa is famous for many things (one hopes that everyone knows it's the capital of Canada), but one thing has eluded my husband in all his trips there in the past 5 years: the Beaver Tail.

It's a Winterlude tradition here - in fact, I've only eaten a Beaver Tail once or twice outside of skating on the canal in the middle of winter, but as Phil hasn't been to Ottawa in the middle of winter, he's never had the chance.

Before I go any further, I should explain that a Beaver Tail is deep fried dough topped with deliciousness. No actual beavers were harmed.

At least, not to my knowledge.

photo not mine - found off google images
My favourite flavour is the Killaloo Sunrise (cinnamon, sugar and lemon). They have all these fancy, new fangled flavours that include skor topped ones, but I'm pretty sure they're sacrilegious. I'm a traditionalist in this regard.

Phil is unsure of what to do with the lemon
The best part of the Beaver Tails is where it gets all thin and crispy. Yum!

The first, delicious bite.
The fact remains though, that Beaver Tails aren't as good if you're not tottering around in -20º weather on thin metal blades. And if it's not accompanied with hot chocolate in a styrofoam cup, you can just forget about it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guest starring my husband

Phil is an amazing baker. A master baker, if you will. But he doesn't do main dishes very often.

Excuse the harvest gold appliance. We're in a rental.
I love it when he gets in the kitchen.

Last year, at Word on the Street, we picked up a cookbook from our favourite fun restaurant in Toronto, The Beer Bistro. Since then, we've made one dish out of it: coq au biere.

But, after Phil's triumph tonight, we've made two dishes, and now he's going to have to cook for me all the time.

Check this out:

Drunken Spaghetti with Clams and Stout

So, here's what I say: get yourself the Beer Bistro cookbook. If you have a man in your life who loves beer, but doesn't cook, give it to him. Make him cook for you.

Everyone's a winner!

Especially you. You're the real winner of the whole shebang.

If you don't have anyone to cook for you, that's okay too. Buy yourself the cookbook and be prepared to be a domestic deity.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eat, Shrink and Be Merry II: Livin' on the Vedge

I love this recipe. It's bursting with all sorts of veggie goodness, and the salty kick of sheep's feta just adds a lovely touch.

You start with a ton of veggies for roasting purposes. I used one each of the following veggies: sweet potato, zucchini, summer squash, red pepper, yellow pepper, and a red onion, cut into chunks. If you had a portabello mushroom, this would be the place to use it!

Mmm. Colour

Throw them in a bowl with a couple tablespoons each balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and a healthy teaspoon of rosemary. Add it one drained, rinsed can of chickpeas. Toss it all about and throw it on a roasting pan. Roast it for 20 or so minutes at 425º. It should come out looking like this:

Mmm. Roasted Chickpeas.
While everything is roasting, make up 1 cup whole wheat couscous according to instructions, stirring in the zest of one lemon at the after all the liquid has been absorbed. Set the couscous aside until the veggies are ready.

Toss the whole thing together in a bowl with a generous handful of fresh basil leaves and a crumbled hunk of feta.

Those black chunks are purple basil!
Be warned. This makes a ton.

Look at you, with your virtuous meal.
A great, tasty way to eat a filling, tasty, vegetarian dish.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welcome to the In-Laws

Saturday began in a blur. A sunny blur, but a blur nonetheless.

Wha? Where am I?
Confession: I don't do 6:00 am on weekends. I don't even do that on weekdays. But my in-laws, Howard and Dorothy, are visiting from England, and we promised to show them our neck of the wood.

So coffee was in order.

The blur had to go.

Ugh. Who left the light on?
That's better, right?

By nine o'clock, I was standing on the sidewalk of small town Ontario.

We brought Phil's parents to Niagara-on-the-Lake because both Phil and I thought the place was really cute.

And we had a private wine tour booked at Jackson-Triggs (which is just outside Niagara-on-the-Lake) for noon.

I like Niagara-on-the-Lake. It's just a shame the place doesn't open up until 10. I'm going to be honest, the wine tour was really the highlight of the day.

We began with a glass of their sparkling wine.

After that, our tour guide, Ashley, took us out to the vineyard to show us how the grapes grow.

Vines are planted north/south to maximize sun exposure.
These were chardonnay vines, grafted onto concord grape stalks. Apparently there's a bug in the soil that attacks foreign grapes, so all the vines have to be grafted onto native stalks.

Phil, Dorothy and Howard listen intently.
The guys who began Jackson-Triggs originally worked for Labatt's, and had a wine company with them in the late '80s. Can you imagine Labatt's Wine? Ugh.

Apparently it was a flop. They left Labatt's and began again.

Chardonnay grapes
We got to sample the grapes off the vine. The chardonnay grapes had thick skins (not as thick as Japanese globe grapes, but thick nonetheless) and a sweet tang.

La famile!
As we started moving inside, the clouds rolled in.

View of the vineyard.
From there, we moved inside the building to the production area.

Each tank holds enough booze to last you through years 25-60, apparently.
Both Phil and I thought the inverted beams looked really funky.

In front of a window overlooking the vineyard.
Why do I look so red? We hadn't even gotten to the samples yet! Unfair, I tell you.

Howard and Dorothy were looking much better than us.
But then we got taken down to the happiest place on earth: the wine cellar.

So, we learned that the barrels the wine is made in are all oak - either from France or from the US. Apparently the oak trade is so regulated in Canada, it's too expensive/difficult to get Canadian oak barrels.


Phil contemplates getting a barrel out of there.
It smelled gorgeous down there. Seriously. We should get way more involved in wine.

While we were down there, Phil snapped this picture of me.

Hm. Methinks he hadn't had enough coffee.

Afterword, we got to sample 3 wines: a Gewürztraminer, a Meritage (basically a Bordeaux), and a Gewürztraminer ice wine. Both Phil and I loved the two Gerwurztraminers. They were insanely lovely.

Best of all? We got to sample everything along with some food.

Mmm. Cheese + bread + meat = happiness
Really, it was just lovely. I wasn't expecting much from Jackson-Triggs, but it was a great time, and I highly recommend the personal tour.

Pinot grape at Peller Estates.
And to you, the humble grape, I offer my thanks. You make my favourite boozes.

Best of all? It was a great way to show my two favourite parents-in-law a neat part of Canada!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New bento box!

Maybe this is only exciting to me, but I got a new bento box today. In the spirit of September, it has a bunny and a moon on it (Ricecake festival time!).

I can't wait to use it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More cottaging goodness

A few of my favourite things:

1. When we cross over the Ottawa River on the ferry, it feels like the real world just melts away behind us.

Ferry landing at Quyon.
2. Playing on the swing set up at Coronation Hall.

Me behaving geeky.
Phil likes to get in on the action too.

3. Walking along the train tracks.

And then looking at the rocks for fossils.

Can you see the fossil? I can't.
4. Little flowers all over the place.

These were right up against the train tracks.
5. A late afternoon game of horseshoes. The light is just perfect.

Just before Phil's first victory.
6. Fresh donuts, pies and eclairs from the Pontiac Home Bakery in Shawville.

7. The obligatory run to Henderson's for snacks.

The Popsicle melted all over me.
Summer bliss, I tell you.
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