Monday, December 6, 2010

Bearracuda weekend in Vancouver

So this weekend we went top Vancouver on the afternoon ferry on Friday. The event was Bearracuda.......a circuit party for bear men. We have never been to this type of event so this was a good first choice. To add to the event we met up with our friend Pam from Calgary who was in town for a course and just happened to be staying in the same hotel that we were.

such pretty lights at St Paul's Hospital

Lots of Santas
The party was fun and we got in at three in the morning. Not surprisingly we slept in till 11am then went into town for a breakfast and saw a whole lot of fact hundreds of them.

Then Pam danced with a lot of Santas.

And Yogi played with a bunch of other dogs.

We had a very nice sunset from our window.

But then things turned a little more subversive.

Then we didn't eat here.

And then we saw lots of trucks.

And then we got home and I spent a day getting things done round the house the next Monday.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's warm up here

We were thinking about getting some more heat in the house but didn'tn count on so many BTU's.

Today was the Grey Cup football match and once again Montreal Allouettes beat out the Saskatchewan Rough Riders and we had David and Tim, our big friends  on the island round for pizza and the game.

We started the fire to burn off the fumes from the paint on the fireplace at about 11am and then fanned the place out for a few hours till they arrived. This system is  whole palava but certainly does the trick for heat.

We had delicious pizza and watched the Rough Riders lose to the Allouettes by a hairs breadth but a miss is as good as a mile as they say. We were very hot as the hot box is very very efficient at heating up the's rated to do 1400sq feetand we also have the big open fireplace in the living room big hot heat was the order of the day.

Ok so this post is a total screw up .........who knows why except "Blogger" but even so I'll just post it and to hell with the crap!!

We are now ready for the terrible Winter that is early upon us and I am very happy so far.......even tempted to put in another hot box in the dining room too. But that is another whole renovation story that Greg is freaking about.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The first snowstorm of the Winter

The 22nd of November is usually the bang on date for the first snow storm round these parts but since this year is supposed to be the worst, coldest, most horrible and scary Winter in 50 years because of the La Nina combining with a periodic shift in the North Pacific oceanic oscillation it was no surprise that we were whacked with a big one almost a week early.

A small but strong low pressure system sat off the Vancouver Island coast pulling in lots of precipitation and a large high pressure system sat over the interior of BC. This high pressure system caused an outflow of cold air through Howe Sound and across the Straits of Georgia. When the two systems met just over the East coast of Vancouver island and the Gulf Islands the normally heavy rain turned to a big dump of snow.

Friday downtown Ganges was the usual presnow pandemonium with people buying up the stores as if there would never be food again. I don't know what the story is here but maybe some people don't store much food at home. My main concern is having enough beer!!

The snow arrived as predicted on Friday night and at about 3am there was a short power failure. I got up at about 5.30 and there was a big blue flash down the valley and all the lights went out. BC Hydro phone help said they expected the power to be on again at midnight Sunday so I was stomping mad and pissed off since they charge New York prices for their service and treat us like we're in Rwanda......a small wind storm and the lights go out..a snowstorm and we can be sitting around for days without power. It's like they can never sort out the weak link in the chain. Well we sat around all day, I got my photo montage project done, studied a bunch of mushroom propagation stuff for my Mycelium course in May and then started drinking lots of beer. Greg plowed the driveway and I shovelled a bunch of snow off the decks. All in all we got a foot of wet heavy snow.

The sunset was very pretty with a full moon coming up creamy in the pink and blue sky. This got me dancing in a wild and drunken fashion out on the deck to Florence and the Machine. Then I slipped on the ice and fell on my face. I injured my shoulder and that was the end of the fun and I had to sit next to the fire for the rest of the night while Greg cooked up some supper. The lights went on at about 7pm so that made it over 24hours earlier than BC Hydro said. For that we are supposed to be grateful.

Today I am hung over and sore and the snow has started again......the cars are still stuck at the top of the drive but I don't care since I have two more days off and enough beer to get drunk again ..........I think I'll make some Minestroni soup and post it here. This is a fabulous soup that is just the best thing for Winter snowy days.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Homer's Canned Caramelised Onions with a Canadian twist

Today was a quiet and cool Canadian West Coast day so I decided to bake a ton of bread and also try out Homer's caramelised onions ( albeit with a few West Coast Canadian variations. Homer is a Tucson archeologist who's blog I have followed for a number of years now and since he lives in the hot  Southwest of the USA where the sun is hot and intense and the light is demanding on the eye, so his recipes reflect this environment. His recipe here called for lots more sugar and vinegar and a little less onion but I adapted it to our more subtle light and super healthy Westcoast lifestyle. That said I would probably use at least a third less sweetness I used and maybe a quarter more onions next time. Even that said I think this is extremely tasty and a must for burgers and if you eat meat stuff it is a super taste enhancer. Thank you Homer.

Take 18 onions (next time use 24) and  slice them up. Put them in a heavy bottomed  pot with 3/4's cup of water, 3 teaspoons of Himalayan rock salt (otherwise just regular cooking salt), 1 cup of Maple Syrup and 1 cup of Demmarra brown sugar (use 1/2 cup next time).

Boil the lot with the lid on for at least 20 minutes. Then take the lid off and reduce for ages till the bunch is very reduced. Add 2 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar and reduce further till very very thick.

Canned onions with Walnut and Hemp Seed bread and Pumpkin and Hemp Seed Ciabatta Rolls.
Prepare the canning jars, fill them and process for about 15 minutes. Tighten the lids and there you are.......ready to spoon onto vege burgers of various sorts, vege hotdogs, cheese crackers or if you are a disgusting meat eater your choice of dead animal.
Onion topping for black bean burgers with fried eggs and Mache, Pomegranate and sprout salad.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Cold and rainy night's Batcheloring Pea Soup

For the next few days I am alone at home with my faithful Yogi dog and the weather outside is wet and bonechilling so when I got home from work tonight I thought a comforting pea soup would be the best way to go.

This pea soup is my own albeit a touch of inspiration from who knows where a while back to add the lettuce. This is an old English thing to change the stodgy texture of the traditional pea soup and also to add a delicate sweetness to the soup.

Here's the basics:

...325 gms baby/fresh frozen peas
...3/4s head of iceberg lettuce
...10 tablespoons of salted butter
...2 large shallots
...1 medium leek

...1 carrot
...4 cups of vegetable stock
...fresh Sage and Dill to your liking...these I like lots but be careful because this soup is very delicate and you don't want to overwhelm the subtle sweetness of the lettuce and fresh peas.
...salt and white indonesian style pepper to taste

The prep and the basic cooking should take you a max of 1/2 hour. Then you will be ready to relax with a beer or two and eat at your leisure with in this case some Pumpernickle bread toasted with a restraint of butter since otherwise you may be a fat batchelor forever in this World of youth and beauty and slimness........and wrinkle freeness........and doomed to cook this yummy soup alone for eternity. Unless a wandering bear comes along to rescue you that is.

So start by glazing the chopped shallots, carrots, leek in the butter with a twist of crushed salt and your liking of white pepper.

Add the shredded lettuce and cook till very wilted.

Add the Sage and Dill and mix around for a while.

Then the peas and the 4 cups of vegetable stock.

Just because I had them I added the mature sprouts from the sprouter and simmered the whole lot for a few minutes and then turned off the heat and left the mix to sit for as a while to cool off and let the flavours develop individually.

Time to sit down and relax with a beer........25 minutes in the making so far.

Now blend the soup and it's done and ready for the sipping or whatever with the restrained buttered pumpernickle toast.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Chocolate Cake with a very big Bear kick!!

This is my favourite chocolate cake recipe. I found it in a book by David Lebowitz called "The Sweet life in Paris". This is a very good resource written by a famous chef from San Francisco who's partner suddenly died and he decided to sell up everything and move to Paris since it was the city of his dreams and you only live once.

Well this is his recipe (from his neighbour madame Pellas) with my own added twist of the Extreme Espresso Bear Chocolate made by friend Colleen Bowen the owner of the Salish Sea Chocolate Company. A percentage of the sale of each chocolate bar goes to the Raincoast Conservancy in British Columbia to protect the Spirit Bear habitat in the Pacific Northwest Rainforests and since I love bears this addition is very apt.
Madame Pellas likes to store this cake in her kitchen cabinet with her Brie for two days before eating it and even carries a bit around with her to nibble during the day when the moment necessitates.

so here's the basics:

Always use the best quality ingredients you can afford. If you are on a limited budget just eat less.

9 ozs (250g) dark chocolate ( in this case I used half the Extreme 70% Espresso Bear Bar and half a regular dark chocolate chocolate)
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/3rd cup of sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt


preheat the oven to 350C and butter a loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper in the base to line.

In a double boiler/bowl set over boiling water melt the chocolate and butter until smooth, remove from the heat and mix in the egg yolks, 1/3rd of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour.

Whip the whites of the eggs with a pinch of salt and slowly add the remaining sugar till stiff peaks form in the mix.

Add 1/3rd of the whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten the mix then fold in the rest of the fluffy whites till the mixture is uniform.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 35 minutes. Rack cool and turn out.......then either eat straight away or as Madame Pellas does, store for 2 days and then indulge at whim on the bus, in the park, waiting in a movie line up or maybe just in the bath since it crumbs very well and leaves a trail of evidence around.  

Mushroom and pumpkin Ravioli

The first of a series of big fall storms has been pummelling the BC coast so this is essentially the end of the outdoor life for a while so we decided to get back into the routine of creating food again. So today it was a mushroom and pumpkin ravioli.
I went to the market and bought a piece of deep gold pumpkin, some shallots and some chanterelles and shitake mushrooms. Also a big celeriac root. David Wood's truffle and pepper goat's cheese and some of his Montana sheep's cheese.

this is very relaxing I am told
For the pasta I took three and a half cups of white flour, 6 eggs and 10 tablespoons of olive oil, began the mix in the mixer and then finished up by hand kneading it for about five minutes then placing it in a plastic bag to sit for an hour or so.

the basic chopped up
I soaked some Porcini mushrooms then glazed the shallots and added the chopped mushrooms with the porcini stock and some fresh sage. Once that was done and cooled, I added the grated celeriac and pumpkin, some crushed walnuts and the goat and sheep cheese and mixed the whole lot up.
mixing it all together

basic pasta hardware
rolling the circles 
spooning the mix
trimming the edges
Ravioli ready for cooking and freezing. Also the sprouts from the new sprouter after 3 days.
Then the arduous task of rolling and stuffing the pasta and making all this into 59 raviolis. I froze a bunch and cooked the rest and served it with a homemade basil and parsley walnut pesto I made in the Summer when basil was plentiful and cheap. Added to that a large Arugula and avocado salad with a white balsamic and birch syrup dressing and it was super yummy hiding from the storm with a big fire raging to keep the rain demons out.

With the left over pasta dough we made some linguini.