Saturday, December 30, 2006

Politically Correct Holiday Greeting

I received this clever greeting from a friend and thought I'd share it with the rest of you. So for a politically correct holiday season...:

I wanted to send some sort of holiday greeting to you, but it is so difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without offending someone. So I met with my lawyer yesterday, and on his advice I wish to say the following:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practised with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that it is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/him or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the sending of this message; however, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

While it is still appropriate I wanted to post these pictures of Christmas decorations / lights / nativity scenes that I saw in Italy.

In Venice, I saw the most wonderful nativity scenes on display. They were part of a contest. Different groups entered the scenes that they had created. Many, such as the one you see above were very elaborate. The nativity in this particular display has been set down in the middle of a very European looking village with castles and Swiss style chalets in the background.

Throughout Italy, I saw various nativities and other festive scenes like the one above displayed in peoples yards or in parks. The one seen above and those below were in Camposampiero which is a little village not far from Venice (perhaps a half hour ride by train). While visiting Venice, I stayed in the small village of Fratte not far from Camposampiero and would usually make the trek over to Camposampiero at least once a day to frequent the restaurants or cafes there. Being just a little larger than Fratte, they had a bit more variety and choice. The food was excellent and the locals extremely friendly.

This elaborate display was actually in someone's yard. It looks like it was probably a fair amount of work to set up, but it certainly was lovely to look at.

This is part of the same display as above. This person's yard borders a little creek that winds its way through town.

Every town and city I visited had lovely displays of Christmas lights though their down town core. I particularly liked these ones in Florence as they looked like giant icicles dangling across the streets.

That's about all I have time for at the moment. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Foreign Crooning

Men in Rome sing. Yes, that’s right. When they want your attention, they start singing. The first time it happened, I didn’t think too much of it, or rather, I assumed that it was a unique occurrence. But after it happened a few more times, I had to acknowledge that a pattern seemed to be emerging. These incidents weren’t really too much of a bother, as soon as I looked in the direction of the singing man…or men, he/they usually stopped and smiled and occasionally waved. Of course all that being said, I have no idea as to the contents of the lyrics. I didn’t encounter this phenomenon anywhere else during my travels in Italy, perhaps if I had continued further south…but from Rome, I started heading north up along the west coast.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Travel Update

I've decided to strap on my backpack and take off for the better part of December, nothing like trying to travel off season. I will do my best to download my photos and post, but I imagine that it will probably be a little sporadic. Presently I am in Geneva. The people here are as friendly and polite as the last time I visited. They would give Canadians a run for their money any day in these departments, and overall I think Canadians are a pretty friendly polite lot. I'm off for Venice within the hour...but first, I need to get myself a good Swiss coffee. Swiss coffee will deserve a whole post unto itself. I think the Swiss do coffee better than anyone else in the world...but I have yet to taste Italian coffee. I hear it's pretty good too. A bientot!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lutefisk - Culinary Catastrophe

For those of you who have never heard of lutefisk, it is a Norwegian delicacy of dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution before boiling to give it a gelatinous consistency. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? I tend to look at Lutefisk like I do certain Scottish most likely started off as a dare. Coming from both Norwegian and Scottish origins, I figure I'm entitled to at least some opinion on such matters. I mean really, what were they thinking? Dig a hole in the ground, throw in some dried raw cod fish, cover it with lye, bury it, dig it up six months later and call it dinner? It kind of reminds me of a saying that I've heard regarding Scandinavians and their relationship to food: "Norwegians eat to live, Swedes live to eat, and the Danes eat to drink." Now I'm not sure about the Swedes and the Danes, but if Lutefisk is representitive of the best of Norwegian cuisine, then no doubt the part about Norwegians is true. In any case, I am not knocking all Norwegian cuisine. There are many Norwegian "treats" that I absolutely love and at sometime will hopefully be able to share with you in posts. But in terms of this particular delicacy, my advice would be: "Lutefisk, just say no!"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Winter Comfort Food

Winter arrived suddenly and with full force this week. With snow coming down and then rain and our little valley completely socked in, all I wanted was to sit in front of the fire with a steaming bowl or mug of hot liquid and a good book. In short, it was perfect weather for a good bowl of homemade soup. So yesterday I rooted around in my cupboards to see what I might find. The lovely little squash pictured above seemed destined to be the soup du jour.

You have to understand that although I sometimes follow a recipe completely from start to finish, more often than not, I am a mad-scientist type of cook. Basically that means that I am big on experimentation and tend to use what I have on hand and what appeals to my taste. My cookbooks are mainly sources of inspiration, ideas and suggestions.

The end result was delicious, so I'll attempt to give you a run down on what was thrown in along with rough quantities, but I encourage you to experiment until you get the consistency and taste to your liking.

Squash soup

1/2 a medium sized orange squash peeled and cut in medium sized pieces
2 apples peeled and cored
2 potatoes peeled and cut in medium sized pieces
1 onion - big hunks
1 large thumb sized piece of ginger grated

cover with 1 to 2 litres of chicken broth (depending on how thick you like your soup) and simmer until all ingredients are tender.

Blend until smooth, reheat gently and serve.

I can't help but think that this would be delicious topped with some brie, but alas, I had none. Still, it was perfect for the type of weather that we've been having and I can't wait to finish it off for lunch today.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Autumn's Finale

We have seemingly overnight gone directly from autumn into winter. I didn't dare check the temperature today, but I can tell you that it was chilly. The chill came as a shock to the trees in my yard as well as by this morning they had shed most of their leaves and left a lovely blanket of colour on my lawn. And all the things that I was hoping to accomplish outside before winter began! It looks like I'll now be raking instead.

Despite their beauty, I can't help but think how sorrowful the leaves look with the droplets of water. Perhaps it's just me suffering from melancholy at the realization that this will soon all be over and winter will be here.

This tree (sadly) is not in my yard, but I felt that I had to include it. It just seems so majestic and grand at this time of year.

On a more upbeat note, in honour of halloween, if any of you would like to see pictures of some creatively carved pumpkins, check out Scott Cummins' work at

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Chai Tea

With the temperature quickly cooling down there is nothing more comforting and satisfying than a cup of hot chai. So I set about to make a batch today. There is no end to the diversity of recipes when making your own chai, and I must confess, that each time I make it, it is a little bit different. But it always creates a wonderfully spicy aroma that fills the house.

Chai is basically black tea brewed with spices and milk, although I usually make mine with soy milk and find it just as good, if not better. For the longest time I either bought the mixture or treated myself to chai lattes at various coffee shops. This was until my good friend Cheryl shared her relatively easy no fuss recipe. I was hooked. The added benefit, I could control the amount of sugar used or simply use honey instead. I have since experimented with adding in a few other spices. This is roughly what I've come up with:


4 C water
1 large piece of ginger peeled and sliced (vary this depending on how much heat you like)
sprinkle of cinnamon (or throw in a couple sticks)
8-10 whole cloves
10 cardamon pods crushed

Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add about 6 or 7 tsp of black tea (or about 3 tea bags) and steep for 5 minutes.

Strain liquid and add 1 1/2 C of milk or soy milk and about 2 Tbsp (or more) of honey (or sugar) Reheat gently and serve.

If you feel adventuresome, you can try adding some peppercorns and / or star anise.

Ecological Footprint

What's your footprint? For any of you who have not already assessed the amount of resources that you use and whether or not these levels will contribute to the sustainability of our planet, there is a fun, easy to take quiz at the Earthday Network website. This Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard, giving you a rough idea of your ecological footprint relative to other people in the country in which you live. It is not highly detailed and they suggest not being discouraged if you score high but are already living a sustainable lifestyle as there are some factors that don't have anything to do with what you consume, i.e. where you live and the size of city in which you live.

As you can see from my test results, although I am below my national average, I still have a ways to go to contribute to the sustainability of this planet.

FOOD 1.5


So what am I going to do?
  • Well, I've been thinking for quite some time about the 100 mile challenge. This is a challenge to only buy food products that have been produced within 100 miles of where you live. Not only does this cut down on the distance your food travels to get to your table, but has the added health benefit of better nutrition as your food is more likely to be vine ripened. For more on the 100 mile diet check out this website.
  • I already compost and recycle absolutely everything, but where I probably fall short is I don't always remember to bring my cloth bags to the grocery store. I need to make more of an effort here.
  • Now here is the big one...I need to free myself from junk mail and flyers. Can you imagine how many trees we would save if everyone refused flyers. With the internet these days, I figure I can check out the specials online, or have a quick look upon walking into the store. This would also greatly reduce the amount of paper I take to recycling each week.

I'm sure that there are a ton of other things that I can do...but one small step at a time. I challenge all of you to take this short quiz and decide what you can do to make our earth a better place. Good luck!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Things I Love about Nelson # 2 - Heritage Buildings

Nelson has more heritage building per ca pita than any other city in British Columbia and about 350 of them have been officially preserved. But one of the favorites in the area that captivates many is the famous Blaylock estates.

Obviously this isn't your average heritage building. This Tudor style mansion was designed by the same Montreal architects that designed the Banff Springs Hotels and other famous CP hotels across Canada. It was originally a summer home for Selwyn Blaylock. "Now who was Selwyn Blaylock?" I suppose you're asking. Well I don't know too much about him other than he was originally from eastern Canada and came out to the Kootenays in the late 1800's for a job opportunity to manage a smelter plant in the small town of Trail. This is the smelter that later became known as Cominco and still is to this day.

This is the driveway that leads up to the wrought iron gates that mark the entrance to the 13 acres of Blaylock estate. I think it looks especially lovely at this time of year with the blanket of colourful maple leaves.

The grounds, in many respects, are the real attraction at the estate. I love the variety of trees and bushes set against the chiseled granite walls. I have had a chance to visit the interior of the mansion, and although it is beautiful and grand, parts of it are quite dated. A family that owned the estate in the 70's redid some of the rooms with a very "Dynasty" feel.

All the ground are in pretty much their original state, with the exception of a few trees that have unfortunately been removed in recent year. But I suppose on the plus side, it gives us a clearer view of the house that could very easily be the setting of any fairytale story.

From the moment you round the bend in the road and catch your first glimpse of the grounds, I am sure that Blaylock will capture your heart and fire your imagination as well.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Canadian Terrain

Today on CBC Radio's, "As It Happens," they were discussing what appears to be a giant face carved into a rock surface about 300 km south east of Calgary just north of the Trans Canada Highway. Curious, I had to check it out. The head, which is about 250 m wide, clearly resembles a native person in full headdress. And even more strange, as the host of the show commented, it appears that the image is listening to Ipod. This image was discovered by someone scanning the area using Google Earth. If you would like to check out the image, the coordinates are 50° 0'38.20"N 110° 6'48.32"W or you could simple click on the following Google Earth link. For those of you who don't know what Google Earth is, it's a program that was launched last year which lets you search, scan and zoom-in on hi-res satellite photos from all over the globe's surface. Very cool. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fall Photos

I love this time of year. The foliage is so colourful and the air so nice and crisp. This year has been especially nice as it has also been so dry, which as you can see from the photos has the added benefit of nice dry crunchy leaves...the perfect type to rake into a big pile and jump into to. It is equally lovely to go for a nice walk and hear them crunch beneath the feet. I also love the mixture of trees in this area. With so many different species there is quite a blend of different colours. I tried to capture that in some of these photos, although it looks like I mainly took pictures of yellow trees today, although, if you look carefully, you'll also see some of the red and orange along with the coniferous green.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Kootenay Lake

I found this poem in an old book at the library. Perhaps not totally politically correct, nor the best piece of literature, however, those who have visited the Kootenay's will undoubtedly remark that in close to 100 years, in some ways not much has changed in these parts.

Kootenay Lake

Down in the Kootenays,
Live a lot of Folkses
Some of them are human
And some are just jokses.
But all are very happy
In a quiet sort of way, --
Never very gloomy
And never very gay.

The climate is so temperate --
For Canada, you know --
It only get just cold enough
To put a coat of snow
Up upon the mountains,
Making them so white
And wonderful to look at,
On a moonlight night.

And then there comes the Spring,
When the birds begin to sing
And all the Kootenay poets
Make "sing" rhyme with "spring;"
But no one ever reads them
So it doesn't matter much
If they're written with a rhyme, at all
Or just in double Dutch.

But the Spring is quite delightful,
The water is so blue
One would have to be a Shakespeare
To paint it all for you;
When all the woods are washed
In a little April Shower
And all the mountains seem to get
Much greener every hour.

And then there comes the Summer
With its hot, dry, sun;
With its swimming, fishing, boating
And every kind of fun;
With everybody busy
The whole day long, --
Done nothing in particular
And that not long.

and after that, the Autumn--
Or as they say "The Fall"
Which aesthetic people claim
Is the best time of all;
With Nature running riot
In Brown, Red and Gold
And the trout cooking better,
For the water's getting cold.

And all through the year
There come the Kushanook,
The Nasookin and the Moyie
Into every little nook,
Wherever there's a settler
A Mine camp or town,
They call for freight and passengers
All up the lake and down.

Sometimes they will land you
Upon a solid wharf.
Somtimes upon the beach
They have to push you off.
But always quiet and courteous,
And always with a smile, --
Which makes it very pleasant
And a trip worth while.

That is why on our Lake,
Live a lot of Folkses,
Some of whom are human
And some are just Jokses.
But all are very happy,
In a quiet sort of way.
And after that, why after all,
There's nothing more to say.

Taken from Kootenay Kuts and Other Jingles --
A Small Collection of Rhymes and Reasonings of a Rambling Rancher
Pherewan Brown, 1929

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Hi everyone. Sorry for the absence. I really should have let you know before the fact rather than after, but I had company and finding time to get online just didn't happen. In any case, I should be back again starting tomorrow. Ciao.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Indoor Use of DDT a Clean Bill of Health?

I was shocked to read in the paper today that on September 15th the World Health Organization endorsed the indoor use of the pesticide DDT for malaria control in poor nations (I'm still not quite sure how I missed that anouncement when it first came out) . The shock came primarily from the article being a backlash against environmentalists for succeeding to create the ban 30 years ago in the first place. The gist of the article was that environmentalists created a unfounded / unresearched alarm to the pesticide resulting in large protests which in turn put enough pressure on governments to quit using the product. The article went on to say that none of these claims against the pesticide ever had any scientific basis. Upon doing a little more research, I discovered in a WHO press release that they do indeed now take the view that, "extensive research and testing has since demontrated that well-managed indoor residual spraying programmes using DDT pose no harm to wildlife or to humans."

Now I'm sure that malaria is a horrible disease and I would hate to see it go unchecked, however, I must wonder what a "well managed programme" looks like and who is responsible for overseeing that the use of this chemical remains "well managed." I also wonder who is really behind the push for the increased use of DDT as there seem to just as many on the opposite side of the fence who claim that there are better alternatives that are just as efficient for controling malaria. On one website it was stated that Mexico, who committed to ending the use of DDT by 2007, has been so successful in the use of alternatives that its DDT manufacturing plant has ceased production owing to lack of demand. Further, Jorge Mendez, Mexico's director of their malaria control programme, declared that it is 25% cheaper for Mexico to use alternatives. The Pan American Health Organization even went so far as to express reservations about the effectiveness of broadscale application of DDT for malaria after one of its studies showed that in the late 1980's and early 90's, malaria rates went up in Brazil even as spraying of houses with DDT increased, but rates dropped after Brazil shifted to alternative control methods.

Despite the WHO claiming that indoor residual spraying programs pose no risk to wildlife or humans, it seems that researchers in both Mexico and South Africa have found that humans living in areas where spraying took place have raised concentrations of DDT and it was estimated that breastfed children in those areas were being dosed at levels exceeding those recommended by WHO. Despite the fact that not all the dangers of exposure to DDT have been proven, I need to wonder if we want to be part of this massive experiment until they are.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How Does Your Garden Grow?

With diminishing daylight hours and the increasing chill as we move into October, I now feel that we are headed straight into Autumn...and yikes! beyond that winter. So I thought I'd share a few pictures from my garden while I still have the chance. I've been meaning to get out there (the garden, that is) and do a final "tidy," but thus far I haven't gotten beyond sitting still on the deck and trying to capture some warmth from the sun's fading rays. And despite the few weeds, I'm still enjoying the persistant blooms.

My roses are still blooming ferociously and probably will until the first frost (I hope). A lone poppy has made it's way into my autumn joy. I must be getting new poppies as my poppies were done long ago.

A few more pics of some of what else is still out there.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Things I Love about Nelson #1 : The French Bakery

There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.
Mohandas Gandhi

If you wander a half block up from Baker Street and turn into the back alley behind the bank of Montreal you'll encounter an intoxicating aroma of baked goodness that will transport you directly to the boulangeries of Paris. This hidden gem, an authentic French bakery, is called "Au Soleil Levant." Inside this cozy, rustic boulangerie, you will instantly feel a connection with the old world charm of France: open hearth ovens, neatly formed dough rising, baskets full of crisp bagettes, almond filled croisants, brioches, and fougasse.

This is a family owned and run business in the heart of what my friends and I jokingly call the "French Quarter." La société francophone is just around the corner and it is not uncommon to hear "la belle langue" in the vicinity or within the bakery. So go ahead and try out your French, as I'm sure it will bring much delight to the owners.

All the breads are as tasty as they smell. The wheat (or grains, depending on the bread) is freshly milled before being used. The bakery uses their own starter and has many alternatives for this health minded community. If you don't / can't eat wheat, you'll find breads made out of spelt or rye and occasionally they will have tartelettes with nut pastery. On different days of the week they offer specialty breads flavoured with various nuts, seeds, fruit, and of course...chocolat. For a quick inexpensive lunch, ask for a mini baguette with warmed brie and caraway seeds, or one of my favorites, a savory fougasse.

Bon appétit!!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Feature Fruit: The Plum

I was thrilled when browsing through some old cooking magazines to run across a recipe for Plum Clafoutis. I've only ever made clafoutis with cherries, but couldn't imagine why one couldn't substitute plums which seem to be so plentiful at this time of year. The concoction that I ended up making was a combination of the recipe I had found in the magazine and another one that I had made before with cherries. The one recipe had less sugar than the other and the other more eggs. So for a less artificially sweetened more custardy dessert, this is what I came up with.

Plum Clafoutis

about 6 fresh (tart) plums
1/2 C flour
1/4 C sugar
4 eggs
1 C milk
2 Tbsp melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush shallow pie plate with melted butter.

2. Pit the plums and cut into chunk size pieces, layering on the pie plate.

3. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the sugar. Gradually add the combined eggs, milk and butter, whisking until smooth and free of lumps.

4. Pour the batter over the plums and bake for 30-35 minutes. The batter should be risen and golden. Dust with icing sugar if desired and serve immediately.

Clafoutis is a classic French batter pudding, a specialty of the Limousin region. Clafoutis comes from Clafir, a dialect verb meaning ‘to fill.’

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Today was the BIG day! The day I finally got around to making antipasto. Okay, this wasn't a venture I took on by myself. No, I know much better than that. My Mom and I decided that it was something we'd make together and then split the spoils. I'd tried making it on my own once before, but it's a huge amount of prep. If you're doing it on your own, I would estimate at least 4 hours of prep and then processing time (read pretty much the whole day).

The most important thing when making antipasto is the recipe. There is just way too much prep and expense in ingredients to waste on a bad recipe. Lucky for us, years ago my Mom was given this particular recipe from an Italian neighbour. The end result is as good as any you might find in a fancy gourmet food store.


3 jars (32 oz) dill pickles fine cut
4 lbs pickling onions
4 lbs cauliflower
4 tins mushrooms
2 lbs of green beans
3 lbs green peppers
4 lbs red peppers
7 - 16 oz tins ripe (black) olives
6 - 8 oz tins tuna
4 - 11 oz bottles ketchup
3 - 16 oz jars stuffed green olives
2 - 13 oz tins anchovies - optional (I personally have never added the anchovies)

Boil cauliflower 3 min. Drain, set aside. Peel pickling onions, cut dills fine. Boil green beans (cut fine) until tender. Set all aside. Fry sliced muchrooms in oil. Add ketchup and cut green and red peppers. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Add all vegies, olives and remaining ingredients. Break up tuna (drained) and add to everything. Put into mason jars (pressure to seal).

Makes about 30 pints. Enjoy!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pear Coffee Cake

There's nothing like fall fruits cooked into desserts, so I decided to alter a Purity coffee cake recipe and add the mellow flavour of pears. A true comfort food that's not too sweet and feels good at any time of the day!

Pear Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 9" square cake pan.
Cream together:
1/3 C butter
3/4C granulated sugar

Beat in:
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Beat until light and fluffy.
Sift together:
1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with:
1C milk
Combining lightly.
Turn into prepared pan.

Peel 3 pears and slice into thin strips.
Insert wedges into the batter.

Mix together:
1/3 C lightly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C chopped almonds
3 Tbsp melted butter

Sprinkle over batter.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More Wildlife

Most the action these days happens in and around the hazelnut tree. For obvious reasons this tree is a great favorite among the wildlife that frequents the area at this time of year.

A Steller's Jay looking...well, very stellar. However, despite his noble pose, he's quick to give a variety of raucous calls and scolds to anyone who ventures too close to the tree while he's collecting the nuts.

Here he is again trying to crack open a nut. He's quite persistant. I find many empty shells when I'm out collecting some of the nuts for myself.

The squirrel is new to the area but he has been chatting up quite a storm. He's very vocal!

Somewhat curious too...just as long as you don't get too close or make any sudden movements.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Canning Frenzy

My parents arrived home from vacation yesterday bearing gifts of....tomatoes. So today I got busy and started canning, because really, what else is one going to do with 60 plus lbs of tomatoes. The timing was really great because I have not done much in the way of canning tomatoes this year and have pretty much used up my supply from last year. That usually happens, I use a ton of tomatoes in just about everything from spaghetti sauce or chillis to soup.

My bowls of scalded tomatoes above: we're just getting started ;)

And finally...the finished product. I think I completed about 50 quarts this afternoon. Whew! I think I'll wait until the weekend to get started on the Antipasto.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Book Meme

Cheryl tagged me with this book meme the other day and I'm only just getting around to responding.
1. One book that changed your life - hardest question first.
I’m figuring this would have to be something health related as there are many books that have inspired and encouraged me on my journey towards better health, improved nutrition and environmental activism. At this moment, I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one. Perhaps I’ll have to do a post on all my favorites at some point.
2. One book that you've read more than once.
Hmm…not something I usually do unless it’s related to health and then it’s usually just as a reference.
3. One book that you'd want on a desert island.

My first impulse would be to choose something long and entertaining such as Cheryl’s choice of the Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, but I think that ultimately a book on edible plants would be more practical.
4. One book that made you laugh.
Gilbert de la Frogponde: A Swamp Story by Jennifer Rae. It’s especially funny if read out loud with a French accent.
5. One book that made you cry.
The Good Women of China by Xinran Xue. This is one of those books you just can’t put down. It’s part memoir, part history, part tragedy and part social documentary. It’s an amazing read.

6. One book that you wish you had written.
I wish I’d written a ton of them…but one specifically? Perhaps the Life of Pi.
7. One book you wish had never been written.
This is a tough one. I don’t usually linger long reading books I wish had never been written. Perhaps I’ll come back to this one.
8. One book that you are reading at the moment.
Stiff – The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. As Entertainment Weekly’s review says, “One of the funniest and most unusual books of the year….Gross, educational, and unexpectedly sidesplitting.”
9. One book that you've been meaning to read.
The Kite Runner. I have it here, I just haven’t started it yet.

10. Tag five others that you'd like to do this meme.
Okay, I’m leaving this wide open. If you feel like responding, please do. I’d love to know what you’re reading.

In a Pickle

I didn't get around to posting on my blog yesterday. I ended up being too tired in the evening and then ended up going to bed late anyways. Go figure. In any case, all I intended was to share this picture of pickled beets that I finally got around to making. Whew! What a time consuming endeavor. That took far more time with far less to show than say canning tomatoes. I took the recipe from the "Bernadin Guide to Home Preserving." This isn't something that I've made often enough to have one favorite recipe, but I think this one might just be a keeper. I really like the combination of spices they used.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.
Hippocrates, 400 BC

What is a tonic?

A tonic is something that improves your well being. It helps restore balance to the body, and it nourishes. Rather than rectifying a specific problem, as a remedy does, a tonic supports health. It doesn't make you feel bad in the process.

I suppose that there are many definitions of a tonic. In traditional Chinese medicine, a tonic enhances immunity and supports normal functioning, as opposed to a remedy designed to attack the root cause of a specific illness or medical problem.

In European traditional medicine, tonics are generally bitter substances that improve digestion (think Swedish bitters). Thus they too generally improve one's energy and sense of well being.

For me, I tend to go with the definition of foods / drinks that support health and nourish our cells. Because of summer's abondance of fresh fruits, at this time of year, my favorite is the "fruit smoothie."

When making one of these smoothies, I usually just go with what I they are never the same, but always delicious. Today I've included fresh peaches (the last of the season), concord grapes, frozen blackberries and raspberries, soymilk, and a little flax oil for my daily EFA's. Blend together and you have happiness in a glass.

For any of you interested in some of the benefits of some of the ingredients included in todays smoothie, here you have it:

Grape. Rich in antioxidant compounds. Red grapes (but not white or green grapes) are high in the antioxidant quercetin. Grape skins contain resveratrol, shown to inhibit blood-platelet clumping (and consequently, blood clot formation) and boost good-type HDL cholesterol. Red grapes are antibacterial and antiviral in test tubes. Grape seed oil also raises good-type cholesterol.

Raspberry. Anti-viral, anti-cancer activity. High in natural aspirin

Soybean. Rich in hormones, it boosts estrogen levels in post-menopausal women. Has anti-cancer activity and is thought to be especially antagonistic to breast cancer, possibly one reason rates of breast and prostate cancers are low among the Japanese. Soybeans are the richest source of potent protease inhibitors which are anti-cancer, anti-viral agents. Soybeans lower blood cholesterol substantially. In animals, soybeans seem to deter and help dissolve kidney stones.

Flax seeds and oil. Used for constipation, cases of gastritis, colitis or other inflammations of the digestive tract. Lowers blood fat levels often associated with heart attacks and strokes. Reduces harmful blood cholesterol levels with its soluble fibers. Prevents colon and breast cancer through its rich source of lignins, a documented anti-cancer agent. Improves moods, diminishes allergies and produces healthier skin.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Best Fast Food

One of the joys of summer is the variety and availability of fresh ingredients. It is always with a bit of sorrow that I welcome the fall as I know my time to have truly flavourful ingredients is limited. Today I raided the garden of what was left to make this salad. Here's what I found: lettuce, tomatoes and white radishes. I threw in some pickled banana peppers and some of the raisins that I had made earlier this week.

I also always make my own salad dressing. I can't remember the last time I actually purchased a store variety, but when I do, it is almost always Little Creek. Today I went for an oriental flavour. I used flax oil (for my daily dose of EFA's), rice vinegar, some crushed ginger, tamari sauce, a pinch of djon mustard and a little honey and then I sprinkled the whole thing with sesame seeds. It was delicious.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


This is my lovely cat, Sage, who has been my companion for almost 10 years. Yes, I know, she looks pretty good for her age. Below is a picture of her walking very tentively on the grass.

I picked her up from the SPCA, apparently a stray...but I just don't believe it. You see, she is VERY domestic, and your classic "scaredy cat," a quivering puss who will run at the slightest noise. But as you can see from the pictures, I can occasionally get her outside. She never goes very far, and I've never had to worry about her leaving the yard. However, if I'm outside gardening, she'll act brave and do some exploring in the bushes.

Other things to know about Sage: as her name suggests, she is the gentlest cat that you will meet. Even if she is annoyed with you, although she might swat at you, she'll never use her claws. She has such a tiny little mew, that initially I thought she had something wrong with her voice. But I have since learned that she can be pretty persistant if she wants something...namely food.

Things she likes best: eating, sleeping, having her belly rubbed and a good cuddle. Who wouldn't like that?