Monday, June 22, 2015

Carefree Summers


I WAS BORN in the fifties. Helicopter parents were non-existent. Most of our parents were barely out of their teens themselves, so benign neglect skirting the cliff edge of negligence was par for the course, which was usually where you'd find the young fathers on weekends. "Go outside and play!" was our mothers' mantra. "And don't come back until I call you for supper, the street lights go on, or you're bleeding." The moms slathered on baby oil, held reflectors under their chins and discussed the merits of Toni® home permanents while we made our own fun.

Someone always had a soft red, white and blue rubber ball, or an India rubber ball which bounced a lot higher, but left bigger bruises after Dodge Ball. We played Red Rover, Red Light Green Light, Tag, and a game with linked elastics pilfered from the junk drawer. Some called it...

to read the rest of my story, go to WATERSHED MAGAZINE
 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cycling Through Life


MICHAEL PALIN SAID one of the most important days of his life was when he learned to ride a bicycle, and so it was with me. 

And every spring since, there has always been that one day that marks the turning point, when a whiff of freshly thawed earth and new grass hits me, and it's so intoxicating I am as sun drunk as a gamboling lamb.

As a child, warmer weather meant two things: I could...

If you want to read the rest, pedal on over to my column in Watershed Magazine.

Press HERE and with a wave of my magic wand, you'll be in.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Buddy is Busted

Doug and I had a date night tonight. 

A dinner out. 

A new place around the corner. (Lucille's. Very nice. Most Excellent plate of oysters on the half shell, calamari, steak and lobster rolls. A lot of extreme facelifts all around us, and I don't mean renovations to the restaurant. But I digress.)

We were gone...maybe two hours, if that. We were with Buddy all day, and in fact, when I went to the gym this afternoon, Doug waited until I got back before he did his errands so Buddy wouldn't get lonely. 

I took him for a long walk, fed him, and played fetch the monkey with him for twenty minutes. Even though that monkey was soaking wet with dog saliva and smelled like corpse, I picked it up and flung it over and over again because it made my furry little friend happy.

To Summarize: The Budster was well fed, amply walked and played with, so he wouldn't have the energy to get into mischief.

And yet he still felt compelled to do this tonight. How did he get in there, I hear you asking? Don't you make sure all doors are closed securely, knowing he has a history of murdering paper when he's alone? Well, someone (hey, no names, no finger-pointing, but there are only two people living here and it wasn't me) left a door ajar.

You tell me. Guilty face? Or unrepentant miscreant?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Italian Wedding Soup

How have I not heard of this before? I've gone to Italian weddings. I've eaten my share of soups over the years. And I've made my share of soups over the years. Soups like Corn Chowder, or Parsnip Carrot Ginger soup, or Tortilla Soup with Avocado, toasted tortilla strips and a sprinkling of cheese.

But this Italian Wedding Soup?

Best soup ever. Ever.

This is an outstanding soup. One of those soups that sits in the tummy like a warm hug. It fills your up without you feeling stuffed, and stays with you a long while. This came via my friend Julie Kentner who lives out in Winterpeg, so she knows from soup.

The original recipe came from a blog called thekitchn.

Try to find escarole if you can. I wasn't sure what it was or whether my local IGA would have it, but you'll likely find it in the lettuce section. It's a tad bitter, but once you cook it as directed, it gets sort of sweet and infuses the soup with a certain earthiness. I'm making it tonight, but I have to substitute escarole for something else (they were sold out! is it really that popular? is it because it's listed as "scarole"? is that really the French translation or was the label guy just lazy?)


 Here's hoping a mix of rapini and Swiss chard works as well.

If you have homemade stock, bring it, baby. If not, I like to use Knorr chicken broth or Campbell's in a pinch.

Here's the recipe. I changed a couple of things from the original. Most notably, I can't eat oregano, so I substituted basil. You can look at the original by following thekitchn link above to see the other cheeses etc. they recommend.

(Also, it says it serves 6-8. In what universe? We ate most of it in one sitting. Nom, nom, nom.)

Italian Wedding Soup

3/4 pound ground meat (I used a mix of beef, veal and pork or use turkey, chicken)
1/2 cup Panko crumbs
3 large eggs, divided
1 cup Parmesan/Reggiano grated cheese, divided
1 TBSP fresh basil or 1 tsp dried (so sue me, I read it wrong, I used 1 TBSP dried)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced (I used a Vidalia, which is sweet)
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 bunch greens (such as escarole) trimmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
 (about 6 lightly packed cups)
Red pepper flakes
Lemon wedges

Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, 1 egg, 1/2 cup of grated cheese, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then form the mixture into small balls, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. You should have 20 to 30 meatballs, depending on how large you form them.

In a large Teflon skillet, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over med-high heat. Add meatballs in batches and cook, turning, until browned all over, which will take only 3 to 5 minutes. (A bit pink in the middle is ok because they will finish cooking in the broth.) Place them on paper towels to absorb the oil.

In a large soup pot, heat the remaining 1 TBSP of oil over med-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, taking care not to let them brown (it will be as bitter as my grade one teacher Miss Campbell who clearly wanted to do anything but teach, and did not appreciate my inquisitive young mind) so, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Add the greens, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs and cook another 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the last 2 eggs and the remaining 1/2 of grated cheese and whisk with a fork to blend.

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot soup, stirring constantly.

Cover and simmer just until the egg is set, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately and add a dash of red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon, if you wish, which I did.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Hahahahahaaaa (wiping tears) leftovers, good one.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Goodbye to 2014

After a couple of days cooped up indoors nursing this wretched cold, I decided I needed some fresh air. We're at the cottage, and once you step outside, the only light you get is from the moonlight. It's disconcertingly dark after the bright lights of the city, and so silent you can hear the blood pounding in your ears. Well, silent except for the ice on the lake blindsiding you with a low moan or thunderous crack when you least expect it. 

It is windless tonight, thankfully, but a skin-numbing minus 16C. I armed myself with long underwear, and refused to let this stupid virus, or my fear of the dark, and that damned woo-woo-wooing lake, be the boss of me. (Plus I took Buddy and Doug along.) 

Oddly enough, there is almost no snow on the ground, crazy for this time of year and us being so far north, which meant we were able to walk with ease through the cedars and birch, guided by the moonlight, right down and then on to the lake. 

We hugged the shore and shuffled along the ice, marvelling at the sheer number of stars spread out overhead. The surface of the lake was like glass, the ice reliably thick, perfect conditions for skating literally miles without stopping, or hitting a bump or patch of snow but, as Doug pointed out, terrible for hockey because "if you miss the puck, it'll keep going forever!" 

A beautiful, perfect night and a wonderful way to say goodbye to 2014.


Happy New Year. May you find peace, happiness and joy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter in Montreal

And the view from my flat is holiday themed. This is the racquet club next door, a beautiful old Tudor style building.

This was taken very quickly out of my sunroom window one evening, on my iPad. No enhancements or post processing or filters. This is exactly what it looked like.

Note the bike leaning on the fence. Someone actually rode a bike to the club.

Winter is so not the boss of us, here in Montreal.