Saturday, July 30, 2011

would you still be my friend if...

question: would you?

mompoet - I hope so...

Grouse Grind

Fiona and I hiked the Grouse Grind on Wednesday. It was the first time for both of us. The Grouse Grind is about 3 kilometers of nearly vertical trail, with 2,800 feet elevation gain. It just goes up, up, up and up some more. We made it, and we're not even stiff after the hike. It sure felt sweet to get to the top! Hiking back down is not allowed, and I think it would be pretty scary even if it was allowed. We took the gondola back down. We'll definitely do this again!

question: do you like to hike?

mompoet - hiking (almost) straight up!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

fiona's birthday kayak

Fiona and I went out for a couple of hours on Monday, kayaking from Rocky Point. It was a great way to celebrate her 18th birthday. Fiona has canoed in the inlet with school, and we've both been out on boats for Golden Spike Days tours to Pacific Coast Terminals, but this was our first time on kayaks. I think a kayak has to be a near perfect way to explore a marine environment. It's quiet, swift, agile and low to the water. You feel like you blend in. We saw mom and baby harbour seals and an eagle perched on a log boom. The inlet seems much larger when you are drifting out in the open. The shoreline is totally different from the water, too, especially up close.

Rocky Point Kayaks did a great job of outfitting us and providing the brief instructions we needed. The pictures tell the rest of the story.

question: do you like to go out on the water?

mompoet - a happy adventure for a happy day

Monday, July 25, 2011

kitchen tools

Our kitchen is small, with less cupboard and counter space than it might have. Some time A.U. (after university) we'll remodel it, but for now we just have to be careful not to accumulate too many dishes or tools. I store infrequently used tools and ingredients in our basement pantry, which also helps.

Two of my favourite tools are two of my smallest tools. My lemon reamer and my citrus zester live in the drawer with our silverware, taking up hardly any space. It's a crowded drawer, nevertheless, so I have a rule: don't lift or shake the silverware tray. We have the standard, divided tray with a place for forks, knives, spoons and a couple more for etceteras. The tray doesn't take up the whole drawer, so there are also things around the edges: an ice cream scoop, carrot peeler, etc. Sometimes it's hard to see what you are looking for around the edges, and it's tempting to lift the tray and let all of the items slide to the centre, thus spreading out for better viewing. The trouble is, it's then impossible to replace the tray without taking all of the "side" items out first. This is something that nobody wants to do, so we end up with a tray tipply-floating on a sea of clanking sliding corkscrews and pie lifters. I'm not a neatinik nor an organizational stickler, but I do not like a wonky sliding silverware tray. So I have this rule (I don't have many): don't lift or shake the silverware tray.

I put these tools (and a few others) to use on Saturday. First, I marinated some chicken. The recipe is from Thrifty Foods website. Look up Greek Chicken Skewers. It calls for chicken breast fillets but they weren't on sale, so I just cut some regular skinless boneless chicken breasts into strips, and marinated them in fresh lemon juice and zest, olive oil, pepper, garlic (I'm not terribly fond of my garlic press, but that's another story), and paprika. While the chicken soaked up this goodness (and partially cooked in the lemon, like ceviche), I prepared the potatoes.

I boiled up a pot of new potatoes. No need to peel these yummy little babies, so my carrot peeler stayed in the drawer. Just give them a gentle wash, making sure any spots of dirt remaining from the field are removed. They take about 10 minutes at a full boil to get tender. I put the hot potatoes into a casserole with olive oil and Montreal Chicken Spice. Then I broke the potatoes up a bit, and tossed them in the oil and spices. I put them into the oven at 400 for about 40 minutes, turning once while they baked.

Next, the corn. I peeled and rinsed it, and broke each ear in half. It was so fresh that the kernels exploded when I broke the corn. Good thing I wear safety glasses in the kitchen. The corn goes into an even bigger pot, with a lid on top, and about an inch of water. It's going to steam, rather than boil.

Time to heat up the grill. We were out of propane for our barbeque on the deck, so I got out the trusty George Foreman machine. We use it almost every day, so it lives in a kitchen cupboard, even thought it takes up a terrible lot of space.While the chicken was cooking, I checked the potatoes. I assembled salad and turned on the stove for the corn. I put out condiments and set a bowl of fresh English peas out at the table for a casual appetizer.The corn cooks quickly. Once it came to a full boil, I gave it about five minutes. Good thing the skewers cooked quickly too.Oh my, the potatoes looked great. They tasted even better...I forgot to take a picture of the whole meal, ready and plated. It was just too darn good to stop for a photo. I served the chicken with tzatziki, and put out sunflower seeds and craisins with the salad for those who like some sweet and crunch with their greens.

The whole meal took just over an hour to prepare and serve, and it was a huge hit with the family. After supper, Andrew and Fiona made good use of another one of my favourite kitchen tools: the dishwasher. I enjoyed a nice glass of wine out on the deck.

question: what are your favourite kitchen tools?

mompoet - employ them, enjoy them, and cook with love and appreciation

Friday, July 22, 2011

harry potter

Last night Alex and I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. We had a wonderful experience. It was a very good movie, for sure, but more importantly, we had the memories of our Harry Potter book and movie adventures before it.

I began reading the Potter books out loud to Alex and Fiona in the 90s when they first came out. I remember the excitement of diving into the wonderful world of Hogwarts with them. When we found out they were being made into movies we just couldn't wait to see them. When Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone came to the theatre, I remember we bought opening day tickets in advance (a first for us). I took off work early and grabbed the kids from school. Alex was in Grade 6, Fiona in Grade 3. We raced to the theatre to get good seats. We were enchanted. I remember we stopped at McDonald's on the way home, for a late supper.

Ten years and 8 movies later, a week after opening night, Alex and Fiona picked me up at work. Alex had seen the midnight opening screening at the theatre where he now has a part time job. Fiona had seen it a couple of days later. Both bought tickets online in advance and drove to the theatre themselves. Alex was ready to see the movie for a second time, with me, so we dropped Fiona off to have supper with friends and went to the pub for beer and wings before the show. We weren't in a hurry because our seats were reserved this time. We pulled into the theatre parking lot about 10 minutes before show time and walked right in to the best seats in the place thanks to Alex who bought tickets a few weeks before, when they first went on sale.

Watching the movie, and seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione grown up and finished with their Hogwarts days was happy and sad all at the same time, like thinking about our kids, and how they are also at the brink of their adult lives. It's the right time for all of it, though. I'm happy to have enjoyed the parallel Potter experience with these two great kids. I'm glad we still like to see movies together, and that they have jobs and can drive themselves to movies with their own friends now. I especially like beer and wings better than McDonald's, and reserved movie seats are the best thing since beer and wings.

question: did you take the Potter journey with anyone special?

mompoet - good-bye Harry, hello new adventures of real life

Friday, July 15, 2011

seniors' lip dub

I first saw this on the wonderful Cameron Seniors' Society website. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

quite possibly the perfect food blog

I just love this blog. I hope you do too.

My friend Cathy sent me a link a few weeks ago. The recipe was awesome and the blog so lovely that I bookmarked it and have visited again and again. I love the photographs and simple instructions. Pam, the blogger tells about what inspired her to make each dish, and also how her family enjoyed eating it. A perfect recipe for a cooking blog if I ever saw one.

question: which blogs do you read?

mompoet - well, besides the obvious

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

before you leave for university

(the poem that I wrote for Fiona's commencement day)

sixty-five days (by my count) until the date on the airplane ticket
sixty-five days
for you
like a bowl of brightly coloured stars
blazing with promise

for me, like so many things I want us to do

before you leave for university we must
sit on the porch in the deepening dark
watch an electric storm slice the sky
shiver under a blanket
smell ozone
and talk about the dog
remembering how we fed her peanut butter from a spoon
to calm her fears during storms like these

before you leave for university we have to
put on a Barney CD and sing along in the car at the top of our lungs
you will remind me how I dropped your Baby Bop cake frosting-down in the carport
I will remind you how you were sure Barney lived in a tool shed at the campground in Osoyoos

we need to go to the library together
I won't make you join the summer reading club this year
but we can still take out a book on tape
and listen together at bedtime

I want you to build a fort in the living room one more time
invite me inside for a picnic supper
insist that I sit just there, just so
kick me out, fix up the blankets
and call me back in for cheerios and tea

before you leave for university
we need to go shopping together
we'll go to Galloway's to get ingredients for granola
(I want to send you away with enough granola to last until you come home at Christmas)
you don't have to ride in a baby backpack at the store, or chew on a dried apricot while I shop
but we will ask for fresh peanut butter from the peanut butter machine
and if you want, I'll buy you the smallest bag of smarties they will sell us

we need to go to the bookstore and buy your last-day-of-school book for the very last time
we need to try on bathing suits without freaking out
and bras without having to spell out B-R-A so nobody else will know what we're buying
we need to go to the grocery for water chestnuts and iceberg lettuce
then go home and make lettuce wraps for supper
yes, we can use the food processor this time, even though I like when it takes a long time
for us to chop up the vegetables

before you leave for university
I want us to go for a swim at our pool down the road
then come home and watch a dvd of My Girl in our pajamas
we will eat microwave popcorn
and I'll explain to you why we named you Fiona and not Vada Sultenfuss
although Vada Sultenfuss is a fine name too

I want us to go to ABC Family Restaurant for breakfast
I promise this time not to lie to you about the coffee creamers being milk cups for elves
I want us to fly a kite in Vanier park
I want to go with you to Maplewood Farm one more time
I promise this time not to let a pony bite your toe
besides, your toes have grown, so they definitely do not look like grapes any more

speaking of toes
before you go away to university I want you to paint my toenails
a new shade called “I will be fine”
I will paint yours a colour called “come home soon”

then we must dress up and go to the theatre to see a play about someone else going away
and someone else coming home soon
and pretend for a while that it's really a story

for now, let's bake some muffins
blueberry would be perfect
let's count the berries out like a bowl of brightly coloured stars
share them like promises
gobble them like there's no tomorrow
like where you are going they don't have blueberries
like I'll never eat another blueberry so long as we're apart

before you leave for university
make sure to taste the sweetness of every day, every day
tomorrow is “I will be fine”
the next is “come home soon”

question: will you say good-bye to someone this summer?

mompoet - come home soon

Monday, July 11, 2011

good things this weekend

Well, the photo is actually from last weekend, sitting on the lawn at the Golden Spike Days festival, but it evokes the same feeling that kept going this weekend.

Nothing momentous this weekend, just a bunch of nice, small, happy things:

  • Off work early Friday, I met up with Andrew and went for lunch at Golden Pita, a gem of a place across the street from my office. We shared a fattoush salad. I had a falafel, he had a donair. mmmm
  • Annual screening mammogram Friday afternoon. Good because of the good it does and it was quick and easy. I like to call it my "annual screaming mammogram," but it's really not like that at all.
  • Potluck supper for the ladeez on Friday evening at Myrna's. Happy 50th birthday Karen! I had to step out for a few minutes to pick up Fiona from her new job. We went back to Myrna's together for Karen's cake and gifts. That was really nice.
  • Sleeping in on Saturday morning, then eating breakfast on the deck. I did a bit of house cleaning and read this awesome book, recommended to me by Fiona.
  • Attended Andrew's work barbeque at his boss's house on Saturday afternoon. It was very relaxed and friendly. A great group of people and an awesome meal, cooked by Andrew's work friend Ed.
  • Got home early from the party. No kids to pick up later because they shared the car and drove for one another. Went to bed early (thinking I sound old when I say that's a plus!)
  • Church on Sunday all about Matthew and sowing seeds on the path, in the weeds, in the rocks and in good soil. Good thoughts and a meeting after to plan for our minister Julie's holiday coverage. I'll lead worship on August 7.
  • Coquitlam Farmer's Market after church. I found some local strawberries, right at the end of the season. Phew! almost missed my chance to make some jam for the coming winter.
  • Lunch on the deck. I love our deck!
  • Walk around the neighbourhood with Andrew in the afternoon. We once walked these streets every day with the kids or the dog or both. Now we tend to go elsewhere for our walks. We have a great neighbourhood for walking. There is no such thing as a flat walk near our hillside home, so good exercise too.
  • An afternoon spent in the kitchen making supper (taco salads), rhubarb crisp and strawberry jam.
  • Watched this lovely video before bed. Thanks for the recommendation and the loan, Diane!
  • Thought I was going to have to stay up to pick up Fi from the outdoor movie at Rocky Point Park, but she got a ride home so I had time to cozy in and read a bit more before sleeping.
It was a lovely weekend.

question: did you have a good one?

mompoet - hope so!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

yummy foods of summer part 3 - big summer salad with citrus dressing

It's July and everything is growing. Fresh vegetables are easy to find, cheap or free depending if you have a garden or know someone who does. Right now I have a bumper crop of kale, and a decent supply of lettuce and fresh herbs. Tomato plants are a riot of blossoms with friendly bees promising to do the work that needs to be done. Beans, peas and beets, planted late due to our chilly spring, are also jumping up out of the ground, playing catch-up with the kale.

I was lucky on Friday to receive a huge bag of leafy green lettuce and heart-breakingly fresh spinach from my friend Brenda at work. She's house-sitting at a home with what sounds like a half acre of lettuce, which she must harvest and distribute regularly. I am delighted to help by taking some (er lots!). Friday's bounty inspired a big, simple summer salad which I made last night for a pot luck supper. My recipe includes instructions for preparation and finishing just in time for the meal.

The dressing is made from a recipe passed along by another work friend, Stacy. I made the big batch and have been enjoying it as I need it, as it will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

The amounts are mostly estimates. Make lots or a little, depending on who is eating, what you have on hand, and whether it's for a side dish or a main course. Fresh salad keeps overnight if you set it aside and dress only what you plan to serve right at the moment.

Big Summer Salad with Citrus Dressing

The Vegetables
lots of green leafy lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
as much fresh spinach as you can get, leaves separated
chopped red onion
chopped yellow bell pepper
chopped orange bell pepper
sliced mini cucumber
chopped tomato (or halved cherry tomatoes)
fresh asparagus, lightly steamed and cut into chunksPut all of the vegetables in a big bowl. Make sure there's room in the bowl to toss the salad just before serving.

The Add-Ins
toasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds
shaved fresh parmesan cheese
For a potluck, put these into small containers and nestle them on top of the vegetables in the big bowl.

The Dressing
1 Tbs lemon zest, finely grated
1 Tbs lime zest, finely grated
1 Tbs orange zest, finely grated
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
pulp from the fruit that you juiced
1 cup olive oil
1 mint leaf, finely chopped
1 basil leaf, finely chopped
1 Tbs honey
salt and pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker container. Shake well to emulsify before pouring. For the potluck salad, pour off a smaller container, seal with a lid and nestle it on top of the veggies. Put a big lid on the big bowl and go to the party. Bring salad lifters and a lovely salad serving bowl too.

Finishing – Just before supper is served, toss the toppings, dressing and salad together in the big bowl. Gently move it into the lovely serving bowl. I meant to take a picture of the finished salad, but it was too yummy and was eaten lickety crunchity split!

question: what's your favourite thing to put in or on a fresh salad?

mompoet - sharing what's in my own back yard and gratefully accepting all of summer's gifts

Monday, July 04, 2011

yummy foods of summer part 2 - rhubarb pecan muffins

I'm pretty sure I've posted this recipe before, but it's so easy and so yummy, here it is again.

2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans plus 12 pecan halves
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp grated orange rind
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb

Combine all of the dry ingredients (except for the pecan halves) in a medium-sized bowl. Dump the wet ingredients, including the rhubarb, in on top and stir just until combined. Spoon into a greased and floured muffin pan. Put a pecan half on the top of each muffin. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

question: dhubarb you like rhubarb?

mompoet - mmmm mmmm mhuhbarb!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

yummy foods of summer part 1 - lemon mousse

My sister Barb amazed us with this tangy dessert when she came home from a year of au pairing in France. I have kept this recipe for a lot of years, and still love it. It is intensely sweet and tangy. You need just a small serving to instantly go to lemon heaven.

250 ml of lemon juice - 8 or 9 fresh lemons, juiced
grated zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour

Mix the egg yolks and sugar together in a cold saucepan. Stir in the flour until it's all smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it reaches a low boil and thicken up to a beautiful lemon curd. Set aside to cool.

When the curd is cool, beat the egg whites in a large bowl. Fold the curd gently into the beaten egg white until just combined. Spoon into serving cups and chill for an hour or more. If you are tansporting it, you can chill it in a covered dish, and spoon it into serving cups when you're ready for dessert.

Makes 6-8 servings

I served it on Thursday evening with a few fresh raspberries and a little puff of unsweetened fresh whipped cream beside each blob of mousse. It's really, really good.

question: do you have a mousse in yer hoose?

mompoet - loving the sweet and the tangy all together