Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Basil Time!!! Can you smell it??

So the weather has been relatively normal....and my basil survived until now...and probably later if I had let  it. The thing is...our climate is so dry up here that tender plants like basil seem to last a bit longer than in a wetter climate (like the coast).  However, there were signs that the night time coolness was taking it's toll....brown spots on the leaves, I thought that yesterday I would pick it all and then sort it today. 
And I have done that.
Picked Basil - unsorted....this is about 1/3 done.
I usually pick pretty much everything and then go through it all piece by piece and separate the good stuff from stems and the tatty stuff which I set aside for basil broth. What is basil broth you ask??'s the broth that I get when I boil the stems and tatty leaves of the basil plants in water ( I guess one could call it an infusion) and then strain it (thoroughly) and freeze it. It's a wonderful way to season soups and sauces. The good basil leaves I usually grind up in the food processor and add olive oil, pack it into smallish containers, top with plastic wrap and the lid of the container and freeze it for winter pesto. Please note that I rinse everything thoroughly to get garden dirt and dust off  before making the broth or the ground basil.

Here is the sorted basil (about 1/3 done)    

...and here are 1/3 of the basil stems and tatty leaves.

 The whole process is somewhat soothing....the scent of the basil on my fingers, the sounds of the birds etc in the yard as I do it on the back deck for the most part, it's quite a calming experience.  All in all a job well done and will prove to be fruitful in the winter...and tasty too!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Update after the summer.....

I know, I's been a while....
Life is busy, and my mind is at times (more often than not) squirrelly.....
Quick update:
  • We are new grandparents...again, a beautiful baby boy weighing in at 9lb14 oz on August 14.  Mother and son are now doing well and we will see them up here on Canadian Thanksgiving.
  • Had a wonderful time in Osoyoos, BC, visiting wineries, having moonlight swims in the lake and thoroughly enjoying our yearly reconnect with friends who holiday at the same time every year.It was incredibly hot for September the high 30's Celsius so I spent a lot of time in the air conditioned room catching up on my reading and snoozing....I don't do high temps very well!! We had our daughter and son in law staying as well for a few days,to get some well-deserved rest and relaxation!We came home with a fair bit of excellent wine from some new (to us) wineries, some new estate wineries and of course our favourite Desert Hills. We also made our yearly stop at Tickleberry's  for the best ice cream ever!....and ......the ladies went for a Spa Day followed by lunch...I had a pedi and my tootsies are quite colourful.  The pedicure included a foot massage....and really!!....I had no idea that a foot massage could feel soooo good!!  Bliss!!
  • On our way home from Osoyoos, we picked up some tomatoes and apples and thus when we arrived home (after unpacking etc...) DH made 2 large batches of his "world famous" tomato sauce, and we made 3 large apple pies. Also, I managed to pick up the ingredients for my mothers recipe of Cucumber Relish and so we made about 18 pints of that....and in amongst all the chaos of preserving we had to clean up the garden, harvest tomatoes (still more to do) pick basil (still more to do) and in general try to make order out of the well watered (by helpful brothers) garden that had become quite overgrown in our absence of only a week!! Of course, after a mighty windstorm last night, further cleanup and repairs are necessary.....sigh!! 
  • It is also the official start of the symphony season this coming weekend...and yes, I am still playing in the orchestra. (Note: on the Home Page of the orchestra...there is a slideshow of pics on the right....the one with the timpani player and the hornplayer behind him?....the hornplayer is me!) It's a great concert .....Nordic Sojourn with challenging music and a wonderful soloist. I have had my head down (no...not sleeping!!) listening to much of the music to get it into my head and know my part. Our rehearsals start on Thursday night, with two more on Friday, one on Saturday and the concert Saturday night.
  • As for health issues....nothing new there...just the usual, arthritis, back, fibromyalgia.....etc..etc...and I am working on acceptance of me as I am, not as people want me to be. It's complicated and not something I really want to go into here....suffice to say, I don't want weight to be the focus in my life any more....I do want healthy living and happiness to be the focus. I may talk more about this at some point....just not now. 
  • Our dear little pooch, Chauncey the Bichon, is suffering from knee problems and back pain. He will at some point have to have surgery to correct the knee problems and we are dealing with the back pain with an doggie anti-imflammatory. So.....he gets more lifting rather than jumping, but he still loves his walks with DH and he quite enjoyed Osoyoos, after all he got to walk at least 4 times a day!! 
I do believe that's all for now....I know I continually promise to keep this updated and I will try.....but then...I had a good nights sleep...I'll promise anything after a good night's sleep!!

Seriously though.....I will try to do better!!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday morning.....

I have written about Mondays on my other blog but this is about a summer Monday morning....or at least an early summer Monday morning.

I could not get myself out of bed before 9 this morning........
However, once done, and after DH headed out to his workout.....I grabbed a large coffee and the paper and sat out on the deck/patio for a while, read and absorbed the ambiance of a young garden, a robin picking at the strawberries and the cackle of the magpies. It was lovely, not too chilly or breezy....just perfect.

I then headed in to make up my breakfast bowl of strawberries from the garden (picked by DH before the robin has his share), French Vanilla thick yogurt, chia seeds,  a dusting of Kashi Go Lean and topped with a small spoonful or two of cashew butter. It was delish....and I read my book of the moment whilst eating.....The Strangeness of Beauty by Lydia Minatoya.... Reading while eating is supposedly a no-no, but it works for me!!

I then grabbed my second cup of coffee and headed down to sit at the computer for a while.

All in all....a good start to the week.....:-)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anniversary day....

It was our anniversary yesterday. We did our usual Saturday morning thing….well not really usual…we didn't go to the market, however, Chauncey got his walk.

We had decided that a road trip was in order, so we headed out to visit a new winery in the area….Celista Estate Winery on the north side of Shuswap Lake in the North Okanagan, just over an hour east of Kamloops.  It was quite lovely as were the owners of the winery, Margaret and Jake Ootes. The wine was excellent, we did some tasting and bought a few bottles and then Margaret  gave us a complimentary bottle of white wine (Cuvee) for our anniversary....... totally unexpected and a delightful surprise!
Some pictures of our excursion.....
This is their living quarters (I think!) with the Tasting Room on the ground floor......with picnic and patio tables dotted around ...... of the many gorgeous views....

More view....

...the vineyard ....still early in the season.... with beautiful Shuswap Lake in the distance.

one of the many beautiful plants around

...closeup .....
.....their wine....delicious!!

 The drive there and back was interesting…so many changes in the area since we were last there. We then stopped to admire the loaded apricot and peach trees at my brother's home after which, happily for Chauncey, we headed home for a rest before going out to dinner.

In the evening we headed out to Storms restaurant in Kamloops for our anniversary dinner…'s on the river and we had asked for a window table, although if we go later on in the summer I believe I would like to have a table on the patio overlooking the river. Tonight it was just a tad too breezy for me.  Some picture memories of the occasion.....sorry I have no pictures of actual would have taken away from the ambience to be clicking over our the pics are after the fact .....:-)



Our lovely waitress Haley....and the menus (she was so patient with us!)

Our shared...sooooo good!!!

DH's 9 oz and tasty...

My entree....excellent!!

We did have dessert....a Banofee Pie (Banana Toffee) for me and a Truffle Mousse Cake filled with chocolate for DH!! They were exquisite!!  Unfortunately the picture of the dessert menu was terribly blurred you only have our word for it!! :-)
....and as for our wine..... Rigamarole from the Okanagan Valley's Artisan Wine Company....perfect compliment to the food!!

Dear DH and I have been together for 36 years and married for 34….and I wouldn't have it any other way.

To the love of my life….Happy Anniversary !!!


Saturday, May 07, 2011

Nut Butters, Breakfast cakes and mangos......

So I have just a few interesting little food items that I have tried and quite enjoyed and such...I .am sharing them with you.

First of all, I have become a devotee of nut butters other than peanut butter. That would be almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter etc...etc...etc.. Imagine my delight when I realized that I could actually make these myself and add some extra flavours to boot.

This information I got from Kath Eats and another one from (if I remember rightly) one of her followers in this post of Kath's (don't forget to scroll down for the recipe.) My first attempt at almond butter was ok....but I found it to be frustrating because of the size of my food processor.....too little food, too big a processor....and also I found it too easy to burn the almonds when roasting them. My solution... buy already roasted almonds and add the molasses and maple syrup into the mix. So the next time I did the Almond Butter, I doubled the recipe and it made a large 1 litre canning jar....which lasted for quite a while. As for the pumpkin seed butter, I ran into the same problem so I also doubled the recipe and bought already roasted sunflower seeds. I have no pics of the almond butter, but I have some of the sunflower seed butter.....finished product only I'm afraid and please excuse the bits of butter on the counter....I was in a hurry to get the photo done :-)
The other food item I have tried out....this morning actually...was a Breakfast Cake, which originated from Kath Eats  but was changed slightly and posted by Marissa on her blog Loser for Life. I changed it yet again by substituting applesauce for banana and kamut flour for oat bran.....the changes made because of grocery otherwards I didn't have any bananas (an unusual occurence) and I didn't have any oatbran. is the finished product....
and then toppd with Maranatha Almond Butter .....
It was quite filling and pretty tasty, but I did have to cook it for about 3 minutes in the microwave and it is very moist. I'll try it with the bananas and oat bran at some future time and see how it works......The good thing about this "cake" is that it is very quick to put together and cook in the microwave.

It never fails to amaze me how many different ways there are of preparing food.....a few years ago nut butters were not even on my radar. I thank my lucky stars that I have a daughter who is a total foodie and loves to try new things. She has opened my eyes to the myriad of options out there. For example... I happened to pick up some Ataulfo mangos   (they were on sale)and was raving about the good buy to her and she said...".oh yes they are the best....they are the only kind of mangos I get".....and they are the sweet that I now just peel them, cube them, sprinkle a little 5 spice powder on them and have them as a side to my lunch time sandwich. The produce manager in our market calls them the cadillac of mangos. I guess it's the season for them now because they are always on sale and nice and ripe too.

I could go on and on about the new methods and ingredients and recipes I am trying, but suffice to say....I'm having a blast!! My interest in cooking as been renewed !!

There will be definitely more posts on this topic.....but that's all for this one.

Have a great day!!


Friday, May 06, 2011


After I published the last post I thought I would feel better....and I did...for a while. However, as grief does, it attacks you in other ways...especially in your weakest areas. In my case I ended up in a lot of physical pain,compounded by the emotional pain of loss. It was a situation I was totally unprepared for. 
However, I am now on the mend...

It's been a deep dark hole I've been in... filled with pain and anguish....which I'm sure sounds very dramatic but it's the only way I can describe how life has been for me recently. The grief threw me into a fibromyalgia "flare" which caused depression, insomnia and much physical pain. Sorting it all out without counseling has been a challenge.   I have my "cave" to retreat to where my emotions can be taken out, sorted and examined without involving anyone else.....just me. Now I'm having much more positive experiences than negative and the longer days with more daylight have added to the positive side of things. I've also started jotting down  the more negative thoughts to expunge them from my mind so they don't contaminate the good stuff. I don't seem to have the ability to separate positive and negative within my head, so I have to get it out on paper where it makes sense and then I can dump it into the emotional trash bin. I have also allowed myself to remember and shed a few tears and finally things get put into perspective ...

Although I have lost a dear friend, I still have much to be thankful for.....a loving husband, great kids and the anticipated arrival of a new grandchild in August, the love of other family and friends and the chance to do whatever I please whenever I please....the benefit of old age and retirement.

Sure...there will be other times when the darkness will creep in....but having got through this and other past experiences, I get stronger each time.....


Saturday, April 02, 2011

A friend lost....

It's amazing sometimes how, when you lose someone, random memories come flooding back.
I lost a dear friend last almost 40 year friendship..... and since then I've been flooded with memories of our times together...and I don't think there is one memory that I would want to erase. I think it's a coping mechanism.....I still grieve...but the grief is peppered with smiles as I remember good times.

I met Jackie in 1973 as I was heading home from England after finishing a three year stint at the Royal College of Music. We were delayed for 13 hours in Gatwick Airport and so got to know each other quite well. She lived in Portland at the time and was flying home via Vancouver on a charter after a holiday in her home country of England. We went our separate ways but kept in touch by letter and phone and visits. She gave her approval of my choice of husband and proceeded to call him her boyfriend. She predicted I was pregnant with my firstborn.....and she was right. I believe she also predicted my second child as well.  She felt that those predictions gave her the position of honourary aunt which we had no problem bestowing upon her. She introduced us to her friends, bringing them up for visits to our home....and we returned the and all. At least one of those friends is still a close friend of ours.

After several years in Portland, at the age of 56, she moved back to England to marry her soul mate Jack.
Jack was a lovely man, Lancashire born and bred, and he adored his Jackie. They were two peas in a pod. She still made regular visits to Oregon and BC introducing Jack to the countryside and her friends.

We went over to the UK in 2003 and spent nearly two weeks with them, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Day trips with them to Morecambe, Blackpool and York, and then spending some time exploring on our own in Manchester and Lancaster Castle. We did hope to get back over there, but time and finances never did seem to allow us to do so....and now I expect we will go at some point, but there will definitely be a feeling of someone missing.

Over the years, Jackie amassed a collection of toy penguins...mostly plush, but some ornamental. She had  names for most of her "boys" as she called them and we used to make up emails, on the phone and in letters, about their exploits. She had a sense of whimsy and her ability to give them characters was wonderful. It was a place I loved to go with her....we seemed to be of like mind. She received a few parcels from us with "pens" as we called them stowed inside....and the scenario we used was that we were the layover before the pens finished their trip to "old folk in England" I had a few sources near where I live that I frequented to see if there were any new penguin visitors in stock. We even managed to get two quite large pens wearing toques that we bought during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. She had good times making up a story line for those two new acquisitions!!

Jack died in 2008 and then Jackie's brother Graham passed away almost exactly 2 years later. After Jack's death, Jackie's health deteriorated and in the end, she was really just tired and wanted to join Jack....which she did on March 22, 2011. 

As I always want to find an upside to any sad situation, the upside here is that they are together again.....and that's as it should be.

Love and hugs to you both double J's and I have two baby pens here who will take up vigil next to your picture in my studio. I see you smiling my's  all good.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Such a nice day.....

Today was a nice day.....
Warm enough to have the window open and the sun pouring in while I puttered ...folding sheets, updating my laptop, sorting through books.....

It must be a sign of spring...DH was pruning the trees, the cats were prowling and every so often the flicker would pierce the air with it's call to a mate.

...and DH saw a robin on his walk....

A nice day to be sure.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Recipes from the past....

For a while now I have been wanting to make Oatmeal cookies. DH has had a craving for them and all the ones at stores and bakeries seem to always be Oatmeal and?? otherwards with raisins, choco.chips, nuts etc....
I don't bake as much as I used to ....more a cooking person, but I went on a search for the elusive Oatmeal Cookie, trying to avoid using the internet. Instead I started sorting through my large collection of recipes in books and papers etc...etc.... I came up with a few recipes, but they just didn't seem to fit the had 1 cup of oil, another was a version of Dad's cookies with coconut etc...etc.. So finally I thought.....hmmmm.....I have my mom's recipe box here...I wonder if she had a recipe in there, after all she made a lot of oatmeal cookies in her day.

Well...I lucked out. A neatly typed recipe for Oatmeal Cookies using milk and no eggs was well worn and stained, thereby proving it to be one of her regulars for the cookie jar!!

I followed the recipe to the letter only adding a teaspoon of vanilla and they turned out great!!
Here's the first batch in (with my new silicon baking mats)....
...and the last batch out.....

My mom was strictly a recipe person when it came to her baking and cooking....but some of her recipes were memorable. I count myself lucky to be in possession of a goodly portion of her cookbooks and recipe many memories of family dinners, the ever filled cookie jar whenever we (and our children) arrived for a she liked and borrowed from aunts and cousins and friends. The freezer was a boon to her....she ended up getting a second freezer just to put baked goods in....and she was doing that well into her eighties.

The other night I pulled out some of the cookbooks that she had used over the years and thumbed through them stopping at the well worn pages that were stained and there was always a recipe for something I remember from my childhood. I hope to do more baking of these recipes over the next little while and I'll post when I do.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Lunch time!!

I love having lunch at home....
That's not to say I don't like eating out...I do, but lunch at home is made and designed by me and for the most part has the same or similar ingredients every time, and every time I always feel like more!!

What I Eat.... a sandwich, carrot sticks with a spoonful of hummus and a piece of fruit.
Now this all sounds pretty plain...but it's the making of the sammie that makes the difference!!
I usually use whole grain artisan bread which is not too too big, dijon mustard, olive oil mayo, my mother's recipe relish, and thin sliced cold cuts of either turkey or chicken. Sometimes I add sliced cucumber or tomato as well and then I pile on the greens....usually organic herb greens and this particular time I also added chopped cilantro...(I love cilantro!) The challenge then is to actually put the lid on the sammie....I have been known to keep it together with a toothpick a la restaurant style. We recently started adding carrot sticks (not sure why) and so one large carrot does both DH and I and I chop it in four large pieces and then make many thin carrots sticks evenly divided between the two of us. Today I had a slightly over ripe pear which was tasty. Usually I have a pear a little on the crisp side or an apple. If we don't have carrots we have dill...DH sweet.  This is usually accompanied by a cup of coffee or tea or in my case a glass of Perrier.

How I eat it.... We sit at the dining room table, he with his book and I with mine (usually propped up on something, in this case a recipe binder) using a place mat. I'm sure there are people who would say that sitting at the table eating together is a time for chatting etc....and we do...sometimes...but quite frankly we are both more comfortable reading and enjoying our food. Yes...we do taste our food despite getting engrossed in a book....because the food is THAT good!! I don't eat fast... I stop reading, look out the window at the gorgeous view, give the dog a tidbit of bread or all in all it's a very pleasant experience.

...and that's my lunch time!!

There are two more pics I wanted to share, of kitchen  things I got for Christmas....

Two bamboo cutting boards from our son and daughter in law and a new coffee mug from our daughter and son in law. I've needed new cutting boards for years and so put them on my Christmas list. One is for bread and one is for veggies....I have a separate acrylic one that I use for meat. I notice in the picture there are what look like white spots on the boards....they are just dry spots as the boards had been washed and were still drying out when I took the pictures.

The mug is huge and lovely and soooo me!!
It's made so one can wrap their hand around the mug and get the warmth.....just looove it!! Apparently the artist makes them for left handed people as well. How cool is that!!!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A walk on the dike......

Today was a glorious sunny and brisk day.....perfect for walking!
We have a path along the dike beside the Thompson River next to the airport. It's flat, in relatively good shape, and a favourite for those of us with long as you follow the rules....leashed and clean up. The leashed part of it is a new rule and for the most part is rarely followed. We leash our pooch when other dogs or people are around....if there's no one we let him loose to wander as long as he stays close....which he does. We clean up always but that's not always the case with other pet owners and that's frustrating....however, I digress....
I took a few photos, one when we started out and then the rest when I did my rest on the bench and DH and Chauncey wandered off.

When we arrived, the regular parking lot was flooded, so we parked onto one side and took a smaller and somewhat muddier path to the dike. That isn't our dog by the way....someone arrived as I was taking the pic.

After we walked to the bench....DH explored the rocks on the dike as he noticed others were on the sandbar with their you can see...he ....and Chauncey made the trek down. 
Now they're strolling across the sandbar....which, I might add, occurs when the river level goes down in the winter ...and also during the dry spells in the summer.
 Meanwhile I took some pictures of the airport.....
...looking back the way we came and the control tower in the distance.....
..and then back towards Kamloops...up river. I was going to take some more pictures of the path going west but my attention was distracted by my two men (human and canine) walking on the sand!!
 Heading toward the river...with Chauncey being diverted by..something....

In the distance....if you scrunch up your can see them....and I gather Chauncey stopped soon after this and refused to which point they headed back.
The background here is railway along the rivers edge and above is the transfer station for Kamloops' refuse (polite word for garbage) I have to give them credit's not too bad looking....neatly terraced. 
This is where I called Chauncey and he came running ....until he saw the rocks and then he waited for "daddy" to show him what to do......

 An interesting smell kept him occupied until DH showed up.....see his pompom tail???

Ah...finally..." OK Dad....tell me what to do now....where do I go???"
DH is coaxing him and he was through it in no time.  Whatta pooch!!!

So after we finished our walk.....we went into Kamloops to do a few errands and I took these pictures to amuse myself whilst DH was in buying dog food!!!
 Kamloops is a railway town...and everywhere you go...even during a walk on the dike, you see trains....downtown, in the eastern and western suburbs and the northern suburbs. The city is a hub for both the CN and CP railway and the Rocky Mountaineer
These two pictures show the trains that run right up behind the vet's where we get our dog food. 
     ...and this is just an interesting tree I wanted to take a picture of across the road from the vet's office.

Getting back to the trains....while we were walking on the dike, one long train went  by on the other side of the airport and two went by across the river and sand bar from where we were walking. We hear them at night rumbling along  on the tracks below our street...and in a way...I find it somewhat comforting. No matter what .....the railways always seem to keep going.


Monday, February 14, 2011

New acquisitions for the foodie in me and something else.........

Well...hi there!! Long time no see.

My life in the food and cooking lane has been eventful and over the next little while I'll post pics etc....

But for now....I just want to show pics of the three new things in my kitchen that I loooove....and one new thing in my workshop. 
My children and husband were generous to me this Christmas ....wish lists do have their uses...:-)

First of 14 cup GE Food Processer. This came about because I discovered the benefits of doing pastry in the food processor....quick and easy and very flaky. However, my old Braun Food Processor could only do a recipe for 1 double crust pie...and my favourite recipe makes enough pastry for 2 double crust and a single crust pie.....the old standby Never Fail Pastry. My daughter has a 14 cup food processor and from the moment I saw it I coveted it mightily. The hints began early and websites were perused...and between them, daughter and hubby came up with this GE surprise at Christmas.....

I have not yet used it for pastry, but I have made almond butter and sunflower seed butter in it and have plans for much more good stuff!! We still have a stock of pies in the freezer (stock meaning 2 or 3 which is more than enough for us for the winter) so I'm thinking that the pastry may have to wait until the spring. As it happens my 20 year old Braun kicked the bucket just before Christmas (through no fault of mine I assure you!) so timing was perfect.

The other kitchen delight I received for Christmas was new dinnerware. Our old dinnerware was bits and pieces from the years when the kids were in it definitely was time!!  This came from our daughter and her hubby....I had a specific style in mind and they caught it perfectly.

There is something about the white porcelain square plates that sets off a colourful food presentation beautifully. We even feel rather special enjoying our lunch time sandwiches and carrot sticks (with a spoonful of hummus on the side). It's all so...well....just right!! Then there's the yogurt breakfast bowl with fruit and granola...sigh.....words fail me!! So appealing to the senses!!

The last kitchen "acquisition" is something I bought for myself. I've been wanting a proper Dutch Oven for ages.....preferably enamel coated cast iron...a la "Le Creuset".....something I can start on the stove and finish in the oven. Pricewise they are pretty much out of my reach......however......
The other brand I love is Kitchen Aid and they also have the above mentioned Dutch Ovens....also quite expensive. ...but......Canadian Tire (bless their little pea pickin' hearts) had an oval one... regular price $99.00 on sale for $29.95. I really couldn't pass it I didn't .

To say I am over the moon would be putting things mildly. I can't wait to try it out. I so love the colour too. It's a perfect size for us, not too big...3.5 qts.....but big enough if we have company. My mind is whirling around with possibilities!!!

The last Christmas biggie that I got from my son and daughter in law and grandson was also from my wishlist....a small boombox that provided speakers for my IPod so I can listen to podcasts while I'm pedalling away on my recumbent bike. It's beautiful and works a treat....and is also an FM radio.

Listening to my IPod while at the gym using ear buds was ok, but I just couldn't get used to using the ear buds at home....I much prefer the "all round" sound of speakers....

So there you have it....
I have lots of ideas for further topics.....just have to get the mind up and running again after a long hiatus....