Friday, March 29, 2013

The Girl Can't Help It...

I really can't.  It's an obsession...an addiction perhaps.  I hope you haven't grown tired of photos of Okanagan Lake taken from the shores and bluffs of Cedar Creek beach, cause I'm not and I don't see the end of it any time soon!   Here's a few from yesterday morning.








Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Thousands of Miles Menu

No, it's not deja vu, I posted this photo yesterday on Wordless Wednesday.  I wanted to give you a closer look at the ingredients I gathered for the vanilla mahi mahi I made for dinner Saturday night.  I found the provenance of the ingredients to be very multi-cultural so in essence, Canadian!  I fear that those of you who are proponents of the 100 mile diet will be appalled by the distances driven, sailed across and flown over to allow me to make this tasty recipe, but if you're a regular you know what a fan I am of shopping for local products so I hope you'll allow me an occasional  indulgence.

First of all, the recipe is based on a delicious  meal we had at Norbert and Thildi's pension Tevahine Dream in Rangiroa,  French Polynesia.  (If you check out the link, fyi a "mosquito nest" is not one of their amenities, however they do have "mosquito nets".  I think the mosquito nests were on Huahine, but that's another story...) 

Unfortunately I have no vanilla beans left from the trip so the vanilla comes from Mexico.  My hubby picked it up for me when he was near Manzanillo earlier this month, helping to build an orphanage so I think we can call that one carbon neutral.  The creme fraiche has it's origins in French cuisine, the coconut milk appears to be from Vietnam and the Cruzan dark rum hails from the Virgin Islands.  I could have used some of the rum we brought back from Venezuela, but I like the Cruzan because at a certain angle it looks like my name is on the label.  

As for the mahi mahi I purchased it at Cod Fathers here in Kelowna. When I asked the clerk where it came I was surprised by the look of confusion that crossed her face.  She said she had no idea.  Further investigation on the Cod Fathers website shows me it came from Costa Rica.  Hmmm...how fresh could it be?  I have to say it was delicious.

The bad news is I can't find the online recipe I based it on.  The best I can do is to tell you to poach any mild fish (that's about a pound in the photo) in sauce that combines a small jar of creme fraiche, 1/2 can of coconut milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, two tablespoons of rum and dash of a sweetening agent like sweet n' low, agave or honey. Remove the fish when it's almost done, keep warm and cook the sauce down. I cheated and added a roux made from the sauce and a little flour to speed things up.  Pour sauce over  the fish when serving.

I hope you aren't offended by the high carbon footprint elicited by our Saturday night dinner.  I promise I'll make up for it with a with a delicious cuisine de terroir  evening I have planned for my Tuscanogan buddies some warm August evening this summer.  Not only will the main dish be prepared with local ingredients, the entire meal will be locally harvested, butchered and distilled well within 100 miles of my house, including locations like Okanagan Artisan Grocers, Tree Brewing, Carmelli's Goat Farm, Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm, My Country Garden, and Blueberry Haven.  I plan to visit a number of orchards, farms, apiaries and wineries yet to be determined.  There may even be cherry tomatoes and baby beets from my own garden.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Lens of the Beholder

No matter how many times I go to Cedar Creek Dog Park, I can't stop myself from taking at least 50 photos whether it's on my iPhone or with a DSLR.  Each time I visit, nature gives me a beautiful backdrop with which to compose my images.  The scenes are ever changing, depending on weather, light or who happens to be there.  Here's some of my favourites from this morning.










Monday, March 25, 2013

Gratitude Monday

The south end of the Mission Ridge Trail.






Try as I might, I could not come up with a new Gratitude Monday title today - no theme or pun for this post. This morning I am just grateful for the many blessings in my life, particularly:

the return of the sun.  It's been a frosty week but the sun came back this weekend and rumour has it temperatures will reach 19 C on Easter weekend!

my friend and writing buddy Anne Louise who despite being so very busy has been able to get together two weeks running.  She's a wise woman with great advice on writing and life's little challenges.

Max and Pitou who force me to get out of the house and into the fresh air every day.

the variety of places in Kelowna to take the dogs for a hike or a run off leash.  Last week we walked out to Paul's Tomb,  tramped around Mission Creek Park off Springfield, hiked up to Mission Ridge a couple of times, went to Cedar Creek Dog Park and hubby took them to Mission Dog Park near the CNC on the weekend.

that I managed to stop procrastinating and get things rolling on my sewing projects.  I must admit I was only a little disappointed when I found I couldn't sew a couple of my pillows without a zipper foot which seems to have stayed in Whitby.  Off to the sewing machine shop this morning!

my handy and handsome hubby who found some time this weekend to install some curtain rods, do some touch up painting and finish installing the new vanity in the guest bathroom.

the fact that my father-in-law and my son will be here for Easter.  Last year was the first Easter in 27 years that we didn't hide Easter eggs (which makes it really crazy that we found some in February this year).  Looking forward to reviving some Easter traditions.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Time to Enjoy the View


The sun was bright but the air was cool as we set off for a mid morning hike up to Mission Ridge.  In this photo you see the edge of a flat grassy spot.  The top of the ridge is about 50 yards father back.

The view on the way up the switchback. 


Looking South from the flat.




 The peak of the ridge.  Can you see the tiny bench at the top? A single click on the photo will help.





Friday, March 22, 2013

Pondering Proust

Besides a cookbook, I picked up a book called The Proust Questionnaire at Lakehouse this week.  I must admit I have never read anything by Marcel Proust, but I've heard people answer different versions of the Proust Questionnaire many times over in the past couple of years - mostly on the CBC Radio One program The Next Chapter.

Inside the Actor's Studio gives a questionnaire to it's guests as well, and it finds its roots in the Proust, with a couple of twists.  I think you can tell alot about a person by their answer to the question "What is your favourite swear word."  Actually I don't think that at all, but I'm a typical analytical, introspective Virgo and this type of thing is very appealing to  me.  

The book I purchased includes a reproduction of the original questionnaire, filled in by Mr. Proust in 1886 and a translation on the facing page. It does the same with Questionnaire # 2 completed 1890 - 1891. The majority of the book contains questions answered by people you may or may not have heard of like Bridget Bardot, Rosanna Arquette, Bernard Venet, Isabelle Anjani and Luc Sante. The book ends with some blank questionnaires.

You can find a full list of the questions at this site or you can stay here and ponder the ten questions I have listed below, thought not all are written in question format.  After much inner debate I decided to post my answers. Feel free to post your own in the comments section.

Your favourite virtue.    
kindness

Your biggest flaw.    
impatience

If not yourself, who would you be?  
Today I pick Tina Fey.

Where would you like to live?   
Barcelona in summer and fall, the Grenadines in winter and spring

Your idea of misery.  
Life without music

Your favourite painters and composers.  
Joan Miro, Monet, Rick Bond, Nicole Young, Andrew Young
Rachmaninoff, Debussey, Cole Porter, Danny Elfman, Adam Young
                                                               
Your favourite heroines in fiction. 
The Paperbag Princess, Pippi Longstocking, Idgie Threadgoode, Abilene Clark, and Sidalee Walker

For what fault have you most toleration? 
tardiness (in everyone but myself)

Your idea of happiness.
Time spent in nature with people I love.

Your pet aversion.  
ferrets.  haha.  But seriously being stuck listening to water gurgle it's way down a partly blocked kitchen drain will quickly push me over the edge.

Just for fun, here's the last question in the Actor's Studio Questionnaire because it's quite telling, the answers are often so touching and it's a good question to think about.

If heaven exists, what would you like God to say to you when you arrive at The Pearly Gates?
Betty White said "Come on in Betty, here's Allen".  (Her husband Allen Ludden died in 1981).


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Loving the Lakehouse

You might be surprised to see that this post is not about a house on the lake that's stolen my heart.   Regular readers might also be shocked to see that it's a STORE that I've fallen in love with. I've told you I hate shopping, but as I look back on my blog posts I'm discovering that's not the whole truth.  My  aversion to shopping seems to be strongest when it comes to groceries or clothes.  And then there's the fact that I don't like parting with my money unless I really have to.  I don't like shopping in chain stores and I don't enjoy shopping in stores that carry the same items as every other big box store in the country.

I do enjoy shopping in one-of-a-kind stores, stores that recycle and re-purpose items, stores that carry things that you don't see everywhere, stores with friendly, helpful staff.   I've visited Lakehouse twice in the last two weeks and discovered that this lovely shop at the corner of Bernard and Ellis meets all my requirements for a pleasureable shopping experience. The fact that it's locally owned is the icing on the cake.  

These photos, taken over my two visits show just some of the products found in this 4,000 square foot store. I still haven't had the chance for a really good poke around as I've had the dogs waiting for me both times.  You may recall what happened the last time Max was left a little too long in the car.


I'm loving these colourful salt and pepper mills.  If they look familiar you may have noticed a set in this post earlier this month. I'm very sad to say I have perfectly good metal and BPA free plastic ones that I bought just a couple of years ago.  I wonder if could pass them on to my daughter?


I'd love to fill my drawers (kitchen that is) with all the neat gadgets they carry. On my first visit I was tempted by a microplaner and some colourful ramekin bowls but I forced myself to focus on my goal and purchased a "Good Grips" potato ricer.  No more lumpy mashed potatoes! 


Not only does Lakehouse have great kitchen gear it has beautiful and elegant items for home decor and many household and lifestyle products with a playful twist of humour.


The photo above shows a number of paper placemats, napkins and table covers.  You can choose from designs that are pretty to the more whimsical, all drawn with soy-based ink.  The paper has recycled content and is itself recyclable.






Their cookware is gorgeous, high quality, and no it's not cheap.  But if I learned one thing from my mom it was the value of buying good pots.  When she was a single gal in 1960 she saved her money to purchase a full set of pots for $100.00.  That's got to be close to $1,000 in 2013 money. And if you knew what a penny pincher my mom was you'd understand that was quite significant.  Fifty three years later my dad is still using those pots - though the handles were replaced (under warranty) about ten years ago.


On my second visit I walked into the store just after they opened at ten and was greeted by the savoury aroma of Beouf Bourguigon.   Lakehouse offers monthly cooking classes  and April's class is French Bistro with a menu of Lavender Pineapple Lemonade, Celery Root Puree, Beouf Bourguigon and Blueberry Clafoutis.  For a mere $35.00 (plus tax) you can attend this demonstration class with 6-8 people, eat a delicious meal, do a little shopping after the class and receive a 10-15% discount on your purchases.  You can also arrange a cooking class for you and your friends at another time.  Just call 250-763-9500 to arrange it with Sarah or Kat.  (Ladies of the Board, expect an email from me soon!)

The women who staff Lakehouse are knowledgeable, helpful and great hosts!  Soon after I arrived I was offered the choice of a latte, cappuccino or an Americano, made in their oh so tempting Nespresso machine and I was offered a chocolate at the till.  


I was looking to treat myself to a new cookbook with some healthy recipes and The Fresh & Green Table by Susie Middleton filled the bill.  It has great photos, tasty sounding recipes and a wealth of information on cooking creatively with veggies.  I made the Creamy Double Mushroom Soup for dinner last night and it was really flavourful despite the fact the only liquid added was water.  You can look forward to me posting the results of some of these recipes in the future.

If you're disappointed that you can't shop at Lakehouse because you don't live in Kelowna or you live too far away to visit, do not despair!  Lakehouse has an easy to navigate website full of their products at regular and sale prices.  Bonus:  They have free shipping on orders over $100 within Canada.  Grab yourself a cuppa, have a browse and enjoy! 

P.S. Check out this great video that chronicles the assembly and birth of the store with another look at their great products.