Wednesday, July 20, 2005


My cookbook fetish is no secret. When a cookbook is free, however, and the book itself is about frugal veggie-based cooking and is recommended by many, it's all good...right?

When I had a Sears card, I rarely used it. Sears gave up on me and issued me instead the Sears Mastercard, which is much more useful to me. I use it for nearly all my purchases, then pay off the balance each month, and enjoy the rewards program! I just spent my $50 gift certificate on The Victory Garden Cookbook and a couple of childrens' books. One, Little House in the Big Woods, is a childhood favourite of sorts - I used to pore over an excerpt of it in an old anthology of childrens' stories at the cottage. The other, The Secret Garden, is the only childrens' book I can't believe I never read, as it looks like something I would have adored.

I love the library, but when I know that I'm going to go back to a book time and time again, either for food ideas or a nostalgia trip, it's nice to have my own copy to wear to smithereens.

Monday, July 11, 2005

A week in scenic isolation

We just returned from a week at the cottage, which is situated on an inlet the feeds into Northeastern Georgian Bay. The water is as low as it's ever been this year, to our dismay, but there was much to make the trip worthwhile, like the scenery!

Imagine a week of that, only to return to a sprawling city in a heat wave. Happens most summers, and it makes me sick. Being up north relaxes me, reminds me of what I do know and understand, and makes me terminally allergic to smog, sprawl, crime, crowds, and traffic.

Anyway, we saw a baby eel!

The river - truly an inlet, as mentioned earlier, ends in a harbour that was one a thriving shipping centre, where iron ore would to travel and from Sudbury by rail - actually a little rail carrier called a "jitney" - and be loaded on and off large ships.` Eventually, the ore docks were dismantled, and the railway workers were so enamoured of the spot that they built cottages out of the wood from the docks. My family worked for the railway, and built its original cottage in the 1920s. Now only a cottage community remains - the real northerners call the cottage "camp"; the harbour industry had been reduced to a pretty neat ghost town. Here's a shot of the old power house and the remnants of the docks:

I could go on, and will some day. In the meantime, I just wanted to share one of the most important parts of me. Too many city dwellers are completely oblivious to life up north.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Boxed wine, no shame!

My poor father - he loves reading about wine, talking about wine, and thinking about wine, but he still had to ask me what a Merlot was last fall. He saves wine reviews from the community paper and picks up featured bottles for family dinners. (He gets stuck on a single idea forever. Sorry Dad - Stump Jump Australian red may be a good wine, but it was awful with Thanksgiving dinner, so you don't have to get it again, let alone read to us about it again and again.) He can't taste worth a damn, thanks to his brain injury. Wine tastes much the same to him, but he wants to know about it and talk about it like he can taste the difference. Again, poor fellow. Poor us, but choking down Dad's wine of the month is a small price to pay to give him a little thrill...

...almost as big a thrill as it was for me to pick up this box of Hochtaler today!

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This article on pairing wines with BBQ fare sure took me back. We love wine. To some degree we know wine, but that wasn't always so. When I was a kid, my family were never wine snobs - not that having a basic wine knowledge equals snobbery - but rather, knew what they liked and what distinguished it. White wine served in our homes, for example, was usually inexpensive Ontario stuff, like Maria Christina or Bright's. Or German, which I knew was generally sweeter than French. That much my folks could explain to me, only the German was usually Blue Nun, and the French most often Kressman or B&G. Red wine was just red wine, be it Cuvee Speciale, more Maria Christina, or the cheap French wine.

I like that stuff. I've never said no to wine out of a box - it's what we had. And while I'm deighted to know about the wines that can complement BBQed food, I think that nothing will ever make me happier at a BBQ than red Maria Christina from a box, or crisp, dry white Kressman from a 1.5 litre bottle with a screw cap.

Now I know much more about wine, as do my friends, though none of us are experts. We love our Shiraz, our Rieslings, our Cab Sauvignons, and now drag appropriate bottles to get-togethers faithfully. Somehow, after all these years, we've come to mock wine in a box, and feel trashy if we drink from a bottle that has dispensed with the formality of the cork.

No more. Back to my roots, eh. Hic.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Canada Day!

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Saying "Canada Day" makes me stutter. Canada-da-da d-day. I want Dominion Day back, if only for that reason.

I just scored 17/20 on the Canadian Economic History Quiz on the Globe and Mail website. Not too shabby, I think, and the quiz brought back some happier history class memories. Amazing how much has changed, particularly with Liberals and Conservatives trading stands on free trade over the last century. Our Conservatives used to be the protectionists, if you can believe it.

The heat is supposed to break today; time to clean. Bleah.

Possible Death by Magical Leeks

My Hella Fine birthday dinner last night consisted of lobster gratinée, followed by steak and lobster, to say nothing of cheesecake, washed down with half a bottle of Wolf Blass Yellow Label at the Keg Mansion, a beautiful, beautiful place that must never leave this planet.

Before we went there, I found I'd lost five pounds. Thirty-seven to go, so what do I do? See above.

Now I must eat just enough breakfast cereal to give me the strength to go the market for leeks, on which I will subsist for two days.

Considering the onionlike taste of leeks, and the fact that I'm still not an onion fan, unless they're cleverly disguised or drowning in broth, bread and mozzerella, this should be interesting.