metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)
The allergist's waiting room may be good for my writing, now that I've finished the Persepolis graphic novels (in the original French — my European-style swearing will be greatly improved) — thanks, [ profile] spacefem for the impetus! Persepolis got more personal and relatable as I got further along; the voice was funny and poignant and the drawing was always expressive. It is well worth the read.

I'm out on the bicycle for the season, although it looks like I may have a few days of bussing while the coming snow storm hits and melts. It feels good and makes picking up things and getting Viv to her dance class a lot easier, but I will have to be careful of my knees.

Elizabeth and the kids have a bunch of vegetable and flower seeds started in the back — marigolds, broccoli, tomatoes… I am looking forward to really getting the garden going. That and the new, more local, CSA we're signed up for should have us eating well this summer.

Easter was lovely this year — the egg hunt went on into Monday, the feasting was tasty, and soccer in the back field with kids and super-cousins was a blast. I'll leave talk of the bonfire to a picture post. It'll have to wait a couple of days at least, though.
metawidget: Sticker saying "you are beautiful" on a black background. (beautiful)
Here are some pictures from March to recently… we made it through the chilly spring, had a baby, discovered Vivien’s career aspirations, and hit the Ormstown Fair.

Viv in a swing

Vivien at the park.

twenty-nine more… )
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)
Vivien is walking and climbing and generally up to stuff!

Here are a couple of photos of Oscar and Vivien:

indoors and outdoors )

In other news, this week has been insane. Elizabeth has been mixing her album, I did an exam in our promotion process, and Saturday was full of busy with people dropping by and me biking out to Aylmer on a super-secret present-hunting mission. I think the exam went okay (but I'm not dead certain that I'll make it to the interview), the album is over at the mastering company, and I succeeded in getting the birthday present. Elizabeth lost her wallet coming home from finishing mixing, though, so she's not quite out of the woods yet. I've been working on the booklet to go with the album, which feels like it's going well. A few fill-in-the-blanks in the credits and front page, and some swaps of pictures into layouts already done, and it should be ready for the printers!

Our pear tree has been very fruitful:

a modest portion of our bountiful pear harvest )

...but I think it's done for the year. The kids really like pears, so it's contributed to our very limited use of the produce section during the warm months.
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)
  • Vivien turned one, and then took her first steps on the pine forest floor the next day.
  • I swam in the pond every full day we were there.
  • I won the "Wooden Chef" contest by acclamation with my green pepper stuffed with camp leftovers and raspberry-beer sauce — I guess everyone else was busy or had insufficient stuff in their coolers by Sunday night. This means I get to judge next year!
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)
We hosted a cooking and eating party in honour of the previous owner of our house, who left behind a box of handwritten and clipped recipes. For posterity (because I don't trust Facebook to keep the event around forever, and because not everyone here is on Facebook), here are the recipes that got made and eaten. They're all copied verbatim in English, French or something in-between.
here be recipes )
It was a fun evening, with eight kids at its peak, and lots of food, conversation and basically managed chaos. I think we may have to do it again; the recipe box has lots more for another round.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)

Zucchini come in waves, especially given that we grow some and our CSA does too (not to self: more pumpkins and acorn squash next year, one zucchini hill, tops). It is nice that these loaves work fine with frozen shredded zucchini, too. Elizabeth makes these more than I do, but we both enjoy them, as does my friend's mum, Anjuu, who is providing the impetus to get the recipe shared. The recipe is adapted from the Bon Appetit Cook Book (Fairchild, 2006), which is a massive tome similar to the Joy of Cooking, but a little fancier in general. These loaves have a nice light inside and a toothy crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two loaf pans.

1 cup
whole wheat flour
1½ cups
unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon
baking soda
¼ teaspoon
baking powder
large eggs
1½ cups
brown sugar or white sugar (both variations are tasty)
1 cup
canola oil
1 teaspoon
vanilla extract
2 cups
coarsely grated zucchini (about one zucchini caught before it gets unwieldy)
1 cup
chopped and toasted walnuts

Whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.

Beat eggs in a separate bowl until foamy, then gradually add sugar and keep mixing until well mixed and thick.

Beat in oil gradually, then vanilla.

Stir in mixed dry ingredients, bit by bit.

Fold in zucchini.

Fold in walnuts.

Pour into pans. Bake about 90 minutes, until knife in centre comes out clean.

Let cool in pan; we just serve from the loaf pans.

These loaves stay moist for a day or two in the bread box, and can be frozen.

Cross-posted to [community profile] omnomnom, my journal.

metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)

This recipe is adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure and is our go-to recipe for bread warm out of the oven. It's also very straightforward and doesn't require any particularly fancy ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

1¼ cups
white flour (unbleached if possible)
¾ cup
2-3 tablespoons
5 teaspoons
baking powder
1 cup
2 tablespoons
melted butter

Sift together the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Beat the egg into the milk, add it and the butter to the dry ingredients (separately — you get butter globules floating in your milk if you add the butter to the milk-and-egg mixture).

Spread batter in a buttered 9-inch pie plate or oven-proof frying pan (e.g. a one-piece cast iron one) and bake 30-35 minutes, until the top starts to brown near the edges.

This bread is at its best right out of the oven with butter, but it will still be nice the next day. It is excellent with baked beans and coleslaw, or on its own for breakfast.

I've sprinkled grated cheese on it before sticking it in the oven, mixed garlic, roseamary and/or chopped onions in, and done it up plain; it's a good base for improvisation.

Cross-posts: [community profile] boilingwater, my journal

metawidget: Co-sleeping kid taking up as much space as possible between co-awake parents. (co-sleep)

I've been thinking a little bit about chores that usually leave me in a better mood than when I started. Maybe this sort of counts as a gratitude journal, of the sort I've seen floating around lately. Here are some fun tasks that come to mind:

  • Driving: I should be careful not to enjoy this gratuitously, but I do like driving, for the most part. For now, it's one of my unique powers in the household, and because we rent whenever we need a car, it's often with a new-to-me vehicle (although I do have my favourites in the local Communauto fleet). I like driving reasonably well, and focusing on the task, or having that slow-paced driving conversation when Elizabeth can make it to the front seat.
  • Hanging laundry: Especially outside — it's going to be breezy, sunny or both and dry if it's hanging-outside weather; it can be quiet or I can eavesdrop on or converse with the neighbours or just be alone with my thoughts or a sleeping baby in the carrier. There are just enough finicky details I like to get right that it's not drudgery.
  • Cooking supper: I've sort of adopted this task most nights. I love improvising with what's in the fridge, riffing off something tasty I've had or read about. I like cooking with the radio on.
  • Carrying sleeping toddler: I seem to have the touch for this one, and getting Oscar to sleep on purpose is still often a bit of a battle, so when he's passed out en route somewhere, this is satisfying and useful. I'm losing the touch for carrying sleeping toddler during the day, though.
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)

Take the following list, and: Bold items you have, and use at least once a year. Italicize the ones you have, but don't use. Strike through the ones you had, but have gotten rid of.

pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels (Elizabeth does), meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic crushers, martini glasses, tea strainers (often not for tea, more for fishing things out of stuff), bamboo steamers (largely for kale, it seems!), pizza stones, coffee grinders (daily), milk frothers (Oscar thinks they're neat toys, though), piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers (the nice heavy pot part is nice, though, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, food processors, ice cream makers, takoyaki makers, and fondue sets (it's been too long; we should again!)
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)

This recipe is sort of a mushrooms Bourguignon, fairly easy to make and good comfort food. The original is double the size and considerably sweeter; I cut out the brown sugar and added a little flour to thicken the sauce. It's about an hour from start to finish, but 45 minutes of that is letting it simmer down.

Mushrooms Berkeley

Adapted from Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure

1/2 lb
Crimini mushrooms
Bell pepper
1/4 cup
Salted butter
2 Tbsp


1 Tbsp
Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp
Worcestershire sauce (I used Tom's vegetarian version)
1/2 cup
Red wine (fairly dry)
lots of
Black pepper, freshly ground

Start by melting the butter and chopping the vegetables: onions coarsely, mushrooms halved, peppers into chunks about as big as the halved mushrooms. When the butter is melted, put in the onion and flour. Cook over medium heat until the onions are starting to get translucent. Meanwhile, mix the mustard and Worcestershire sauce well in a bowl, then add the wine, mix well, and grind copious amount of black pepper on top (so that it almost forms a crust on the sauce).

When the onions are starting to become translucent, add the mushrooms and peppers, stir and let cook a few minutes until they start to darken a little. Then pour the sauce over it all, and cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes, until sauce thickens and everything softens.

Anna Thomas says the resulting dish will be "dark and evil looking," but I prefer to think of it as hearty and rich.

Cross-posted to [community profile] omnomnom
metawidget: My full geek code.  Too long for DW alt tag, please see profile if interested. (geek)

[ profile] stalkingsilence provided me with seven questions:

What is your current favourite song?
I think "Shake it Out", by Florence + The Machine. It's ludicrously catchy, anyway.
What is your ultiamate comfort food?
Galumptious Mac and Cheese, or maybe a bit too much Bridge Mixture. But there is lots of good comfort food out there, so it is hard to choose.
What book are you currently reading? Or what book would you like to read but haven't yet?
I just finished The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. It was a fun read; I think the characters were more relatable and had more interesting problems than in Oryx and Crake, but Atwood was still having the same sort of parody-dystopia-building fun.
What's your favourite part of being a dad?
Being a toddler amusement park is pretty fun, and so is realizing that my learning curve is starting to catch up with his (for now).
Favourite Canadian museum that you've visited?
I have a soft spot of the National Gallery. When I didn't live here, I would take a couple of hours to visit it almost every time I came up. I should go back more often now that I live here. It's too bad it isn't free like it used to be — it's a bit of a disincentive, particularly if I may be with an awake toddler with a short attention span, to pay by the visit. Maybe they could charge by the hour!
Describe the best holiday you ever had.
I think our cross-country train trip (wow, I didn't really blog that — here are some pictures, behind Facebook security in Elizabeth's account) may have been a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
What does a typical day off for you look like?
Breakfast could be the usual toast or baked goods, coffee and juice, or Elizabeth might make biscuits or pancakes. I'll manage to get some unstructured time to myself for reading or Internetting while Elizabeth and Oscar take a nap. I'll take Oscar with me on some errands to give Elizabeth a break to practice music. We may go as a family off to some happening out of the house, and we'll almost certainly get some Oscar playtime. I'll catch up on laundry, cat boxes and other chores, and Elizabeth will probably clean a bit and get the dishes under control. It's usually a pretty low-key sort of day off, but it's a nice change of pace.

If you want some questions to get your writing juices flowing, let me know in the comments!

metawidget: Oscar in a diaper, crouching as if to fit into the frame and looking quizzical (oscar)

I'm a little late in posting it, but here is evidence that Oscar basically gets spoons (with mashed potatoes in this case, which is about as close as he ever got to eating pureed stuff willingly).

Oscar with a spoon and mashed potatoes
metawidget: close-up of freewheel of a bicycle (bicycle)
[personal profile] con_girl and [ profile] foms dropped by after cyclist-spotting today, and in addition to being good company on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I think it was [personal profile] con_girl that suggested that if anything would get a cat to drink fluids voluntarily, tuna water was a pretty reliable choice. Pixel snarfed it down in about 30 seconds, and ate some tuna as well, and is keeping it all down so far. Noisette got some of the leftovers, too. I hope a feeding or two like that, plus the freedom from the cone, will kick-start kitty systems and get us a smoothly-recovering cat.
metawidget: Oscar around one month, with Pixel. (oscar and pixel)
Pixel only seems to like treats at the moment, so she is getting mass quantities of them. Talked with the vet this morning: we're going to take off the cone collar and see if she's nice to her stitches; the collar may have been cramping her style enough that she went off food. We have a kitty buffet set out for her, and she's looking a little more interested in it. Also, I now have our vet's cell number if we need it.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Yesterday Elizabeth, Oscar and I skated (and rode in a stroller, as appropriate) down to Pig Island and back along the Rideau Canal, and had tasty hot food from the Stone Soup truck and ritual beaver tails. No deportation back to Montreal this year :)
metawidget: A plastic wind-up teeth thing with a googly eye. (chatter)

The holidays went by pretty fast — it felt like we were doing something social nightly for about two weeks. It's a good thing Oscar generally seems to like parties!

Christmas eve, we went over to Elizabeth's parents' place for the traditional nut loaf, cookies, rum balls and gifts. Christmas day, we drove to Ormstown and joined 17 or so family at my parent's place, feasting extensively and helping the new people get names straight. I had been a little sniffly on Christmas eve, but by Christmas day, I was full-blown sick, so a bit subdued. Boxing Day was sort of quiet, but three generations of my parents' next-door neighbours walked over to admire Oscar and say hi. The 27th was the annual Christmas bash with white elephant gift exchange (aka "steal the present") — last year there was one kid there, this year there were three and we were all starting to feel a bit grown-up. We got together at my friend A's parents' place, about 20km past civilization — Enterprise was out of compact cars and gave us something with four-wheel drive, which got some use as we were whacking through snow drifts to get there. On the 28th, we celebrated [personal profile] dagibbs' birthday with food and drink and cheer at his place, and on the 29th we celebrated [personal profile] frenchzie's housewarming and birthday. On the 30th was our mostly-weekly D&D game at our place, and on the 31st we stayed in and rung in the new year with the upstairs people from House of Flail, Ticket to Ride: Europe and Dominion, and some mead from 1999.

The most memorable presents this year were Ticket to Ride: Europe from Elizabeth (a rather addictive little game), a huge jug of Beau's Nightmärzen from my cousin Erica, and a medieval-looking Garden Weasel from my parents.

I've had two tasty gift beers lately. Most recently was Nightmärzen, from my cousin Erica, which is a bright amber beer, Beau's hoppiest beer and fall offering. It reminds me a little of a darker Grolsch — same fresh, sort of pungent hoppiness, with a bit more sweet, and kind of light and easy-drinking. It's got a nice fizz to it and a modest head. I think it would be most excellent on tap when I'm expecting to stay for more than one pint somewhere. A little before that was Fuller's 2010 Vintage Ale, from [ profile] the_arachne — it's supposed to be a prime candidate for ageing, and I may get another bottle to stash away. Consumed at a few months old, it was like a light-ish, sweet barleywine (despite a lower alcohol content than most barleywines), with notes of somewhat rough port. It had big malty flavour as well, but definitely tasted kind of young and almost unfinished.
In resolutions and plans for the year, I'd like to build a trellis and get some peas and beans up this year, and maybe even manage to get pumpkins into our squash mix. I also would like to not buy stuff made with water that I could've reconstituted myself — juice from concentrate, any sort of tea in a bottle, and bottled water. This is inspired by seeing chai syrup for sale in our local fancy grocery store. I would also like to bike up into the Pontiac sometime this year, and get out on the bike sometime in every calendar month. To this end, I should really clean and lubricate my chain before I need a new one.

Places I've slept in 2010:

  • Eganville, ON.
  • Gatineau (Hull), QC. A lot.
  • Gatineau (Gatineau), QC.
  • Montreal, QC.
  • Mont-Tremblant, QC.
  • Ormstown, QC.
  • Ottawa, ON.
  • Quebec, QC.

In a little bit of rantiness, I've been fuming slightly over Google's ranking of restaurant pages. When I search for a restaurant, I probably want the official page (with menu, hours and phone) somewhere in the first hits, and failing that (or to help me decide), a review written by a real human with as much of that information as possible. The last thing I want is a listing scraped from the yellow pages, with Bing's best guess at where it is located, in which I can be the first to write a review or add information.

Recipe time

Oct. 9th, 2010 12:54 pm
metawidget: a basket of vegetables: summer and winter squash, zucchini, tomatoes. (food)

Elizabeth had a birthday potluck happening last night, and I supplied the cheesecake. It was tasty and the potluck was fun!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Based on CookingNook's recipe but scaled up for a bigger pan (I don't own a 9" springform, and we weren't totally sure how many guests we'd have and how hungry they'd be) and tweaked a bit.
details )

Lately I've had a few rave reviews of this zucchini spread, which also conveniently uses about two cups of zucchini per recipe (the same quantity as our zucchini loaf recipe requires, so Elizabeth freezes two-cup bags of shredded zucchini, spreading the zucchini joy throughout the winter).

Zucchini toast topping

The basic recipe was passed on to us by Amanda from my high school class. I've written in the tweaks I used last, but the recipe is very flexible.
details )
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Fuller's London Porter is a dark beer in a bottle whose label suggests it as a digestif, so I had it after supper, in a pint glass, cool, with some leftover baby shower cake. It is, as advertised, rich and dark. It has only a little bit of head, and not much carbonation. It comes on smooth with coffee and toffee tastes, and gets bitter after a few sips. There's a bit of a sweet aroma, but the taste is not too sweet and the beer is velvety and pleasantly heavy. Later in the glass, there is a bit of unroasted-grain taste — despite being dessert, it is still a beer. It is very much like St. Ambroise Noire (which I also like a lot), but smoother, a little less opaque, and with a bit of a time delay on the bitter taste.

I figured Mort Subite Framboise, a Belgian lambic with raspberry juice blended in, would sit somewhere close to wine (and probably sweet, fruity wine like the inexpensive Shiraz of my late university days) in taste, and despite my old roommate's quizzical "wine and pizza, c'est quoi ça?" remarks of old, I thought I'd pair it with steamed greens and tomato pizza (made with no name cheese pizza topped with yesterdays leftovers and a sliced tomato). The beer comes in a bottle with a cork wired down, and it opened with a satisfying pop. The pizza sort of disintegrated — the instructions say to cook it directly on the rack, but the extra moisture in the bonus toppings caused it to seep partway through the rack. Spooning pizza onto my plate, I tried the pink, slightly cloudy, bubbly beer with a moderate, creamy head. It is sweet, like good raspberry cocktail or sangria, with a little tartness — not at all like beer, with no discernible hops or grain. This is a tasty drink, but I find it hard to call it beer.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Sometimes music gets stuck in your head. Today a single word was rattling around all bike-ride home.

This somehow led to a silly poll.


[Poll #1554344]
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
This recipe was passed to me by my mom, adapted by her from Cook's Country TV somewhere.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Boil 1 lb. of macaroni; undercook slightly. Save 1/2 c. pasta water and set the rinsed pasta aside.

Prepare topping: rip up 3-4 slices bread (or procure an equivalent quantity of croutons), drizzle with 4 Tbsp. melted butter, add 1/4 c. shredded parmesan and mix. Set aside.

Prepare sauce in big oven-safe dish: over medium-low heat, start a roux of 4 Tbsp. butter and 4 Tbsp. flour. Cook to golden brown. Add 1 tin evaporated milk (or a bit less if someone ganks some for their coffee). Bring to a simmer, dash in hot sauce, dry mustard and grated nutmeg to taste.

Add lots of cheese, slowly: about 4 c. shredded cheese, mostly cheddar but add in Monterrey jack and/or brick or (once Peter Watts gets an apology, his coat and all charges dropped) American cheese.

Once everything is melty and homogeneous, add the macaroni and pasta water to it, mix well, top with bread topping mixture and toss in the oven at 350°F for 20–25 minutes.


metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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