Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Greetings!

We got our Christmas card done, just in the nick of time. I didn't want a replay of last year, so I made Michael change out of his pajamas to take this photo on Christmas day. I'm a jerk, I know. If you want to see our other Christmas cards, for old time's sake, you can find links to all of them here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

(Thinking about) making bread

I've never had the inclination to make bread. Before now. You can blame Tartine. I've gone to the bakery every time I've visited my sister in San Francisco (that photo of chocolate banana bread pudding is from a visit last spring), and in November I went to Bar Tartine for the first time. That's where I ate the best bread in the world. It was the best part of an amazing meal (actually, celebrating my dad's 60th birthday was the best part, but you know what I mean).

At dinner, after pointing out that Chad Robertson was eating at the bar, Shannon told me about this video, which (successfully) promotes Tartine Bread, a new cookbook which I must own. I like Marie Abe's portion of the video best, so watch the whole thing!

My stomach is growling.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas moments

Cardboard gingerbread men at Choux Choux Charcuterie:

A snowman and his cat in our backyard (who have since expired):

A snowman and his popsicle (obviously) at the Christmas tree farm:

Slippers, tree, lights and Michael in a rocking chair in our living room:

Lights on a giant tree at Government House:

Monday, November 08, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Making canned tomatoes

So in addition to making jam, I also canned tomatoes this year. I can't wait to dig into these in the coming blustery months. You can bet that I'll be making poached eggs in tomato sauce at some point. My parents recommended freezing tomatoes over canning, but I'm glad we went this route. The process is relaxing and the product adds to our emergency stores.

Friday, November 05, 2010


In August, Jamie Cummins opened a restaurant in Victoria: Relish Food + Coffee. Yes, he's a friend, but you guys. It's amazing. It has homemade everything. Biscuits. Muffins. Cookies. Bread. Bacon. Sausage. Gnocchi. Yesterday I had the homemade pasta with tomato sauce, a generous portion of fresh mozza and a ton of sauteed greens. It was simple and perfect.

Even though it's not located near my office, I often hustle over there on my bike to have lunch with friends (more often than not I'm meeting my buddy Susan from my old place of work). The cauliflower soup pictured here was one of Susan's meal choices shortly after Relish first opened, and it's the only decent photo that I have. If you want to see some additonal photos and read some additional gushing words, check out this review in Eat Magazine.

I wish Relish was open on weekends, so I could go more often, but I also don't want Jamie to burn out. Opening a restaurant looks like a lot of work, yo.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Belle and Sebastian Write About Love

After a few listens, "I want the world to stop" is my favorite song from Write About Love:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vancouver holiday

We went to Vancouver a while back, and I meant to share some photos with you. The new job has gotten in the way, friends. Also the new iPhone. I've been overwhelmed by a number of things, is what I'm trying to say. Even though life continues to be overwhelming, I do plan to continue with the blogging. I love this space, even though I'm often confused with why I bother.

But back to Vancouver. We ate one of Michael's favorite cookies (a Linzer from Meinhardt):

We had a close look at some of the public art of the Vancouver Biennale (this guy is from Wang Shugang’s The Meeting):

We biked around the sea wall in Stanley Park, which we never did when we lived in Vancouver:

Most importantly, we visited friends, including a new baby friend. It was a lovely Labour Day weekend.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Guest post: Making A Big Step

The above is one of the fruits of a very busy summer and fall (so far) of making things. Now that it's in the hands of its new owners, Allen and Laura, I can tell you about it! To date I've undertaken pretty manageable quilting projects. Nothing too crazy. Forgiving patterns of squares or log cabins (basically: squares). While these are great, and there is a lot to learn about doing them well, I always wanted to try some of the more ambitious-looking shapes, such as the above! There are lots of names for this, including the Lone Star quilt, or just the plain, descriptive eight-pointed star.

Planning this quilt was fun, but I wasn't sure it was going to work until I had done a lot of work. The colours in the centre and the middle of the diamond are most dominant once they are laid out, and I haven't had much/any practice visualising such a specific effect.

I was taken down hard pretty quickly once I got past the planning stage. This quilt pattern/form pretty much demands precision at every turn, and I was unprepared for the things that I needed to learn to pull it off. I can't say that I've mastered them all, but I am really happy with how it turned out.

This quilt is built using 4 different strips, cut at a 45 degree angle, and then sewn together in a particular order to form a diamond with a pattern that you want. You do this eight times, and all of a sudden, you have an eight-pointed star on your hands! As things come together, you can really tell how well every cut and seam were done. Luckily, I like this sort of demanding business!

The pieced parts are all hand-quilted, with a few ties for the white pieces to keep everything together. Hand quilting is the best. I love it!

This quilt was a really fun challenge, and I am feeling bolder for my next big project! Phew/Hurray!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Making jam

It was a long time ago, so I'm sure you don't remember, but my housemate Jen has been on my case about making jam for a while now. Well, I'm happy to report that I did it. I made jam with Jen. If you want to know the particulars of the process, check out her post from 2008: Making apricot jam. It is one of the easiest things I've ever made, and it is delicious.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


I have a few blog posts in the cooker, but I can't seem to finish any of them. While you wait for me to get my act together, I'm going to recommend that you listen to these end-of-summer mixes that I came across via For Me, For You:

> Tidal Wave (2010)

> Weird Summer (2009)

They provide a perfect soundtrack for this time of year. The Weird Summer mix also features a song that I've been trying to find since I heard it in a restaurant last year: Walkabout by Atlas Sound with Noah Lennox.

I think this cute comment for the video captures how much I like this song: "this song is very important. it makes me feel so special." I hope it makes you feel special too.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Summer photos

I posted some photos from our summer travels over on Flickr. After that post about Toronto, I never wrote anything about Oshawa, Saskatoon and Emma Lake. We went to all of those places to see family and friends in August. The journey was fun and hot and tender. And busy. As always. Now we're looking forward to a mellow trip to Portland in October. Can you believe that we're going with our house mates? Apparently we can't get enough of each other!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Government House

Last week I brought my new wool blanket, three new books and my camera to Government House for a little quiet time. I love that we live two blocks from this beautiful place.

These are the new books that I bought from Munro's: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg (on sale!); A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore; In the Garden of the North American Martyrs by Tobias Wolff. Those last two authors were recommended by David Sedaris during his book tour last summer. Remember when I saw him?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Everybody's happy

You know I love Improv Everywhere. This latest video is cute and simple, but the best part is the tender gentleman at the end. You have to watch it for that.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Making piña coladas from scratch

Summer cocktails! We have quite a repertoire in our house, and we now we have a new addition: the piña colada. This is a very simple drink, which makes me wonder why a person needs help from the myriad piña colada mixes out there.

Michael enjoys his with cinnamon -- that's how they were served when we went to the Baja a few years ago -- so that's what I've suggested here. I think you'll like the whole shebang.

Piña colada (makes four drinks)

8 oz white rum
19 oz can of pineapple, including juice
6 oz coconut cream*
2 cups of ice

Blend the first four ingredients in a blender. Pour into four glasses. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of each.

*We found this beside the coconut milk in our grocery store.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Making granola

Everyone Likes Sandwiches
likes granola. She's posted a bunch of recipes on her blog, so I figure she knows her stuff. That's why I tried her Everyday Granola recipe that she posted on Poppytalk. I'm not a granola connoisseur (I've never made it before), but I really like this recipe. The only thing I did differently is alter the baking time. I think I cooked it for twice as long as recommended, and it was deliciously toasted.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blueberry Beer

Yesterday I heard about Blueberry Pail Ale (a limited edition of Phillips beer) on Facebook, and I decided to stop in at the brewery on my way home. I wish you were here to enjoy it with me, because it's only available in Victoria. It's also a truly local product: "Every ingredient used to craft this refreshing beer has travelled 24 miles or less from farm to brew kettle."

It was my first visit to the brewery, and I'm glad I made the effort to stop in. I got to see Bill, a friend who works for Phillips, and I bought my first Growler. I love this brown jug and the fact that I can refill it with local beer. Blueberry beer, even.

The beer is delicious, by the way. And purple.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shiny people

On Sunday, Michael and I arrived home after a little summer holiday. Our first stop was Toronto, which we've been planning to visit for a few years now. Michael had never been, and I'd only had limited exposure during a high school choir trip in 1996. We went to see our buddies Jillian and Erin, and now we know the city inside out. No, but really. I never knew where I was, despite Jillian's attempts to drill a sense of direction into me (I might be able to find my way to Queen Street West, though). These photos were taken on the Toronto Island ferry, which was as hot as it looks, but worth the temporary discomfort. We got to spend the day in a park (big enough to absorb all of the Toronto families escaping the steaming city) with a picnic, popsicles and a quadracycle.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making s'mores

Look at that s'more! It's perfect. The graham cracker is browned. The chocolate is melted. The marshmallow is both gooey and toasted. I can assure you that it tasted as good as it looks.

If you want to make a perfect s'more, you'll need a proper grilling basket. Michael won ours at a staff golf tournament earlier this summer, but I'm sure they're easy enough to find. I was concerned the exposed graham cracker would burn, but Bex and Jen knew what they were doing. Look how excited they are!

If you need another reason to be enthusiastic about s'mores (if the possibility of achieving the perfect s'more yourself isn't enough), you should know that the name is a contraction of "some more." Cute! You should also know that the first recorded version of the recipe can be found in the 1927 publication Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts. Wikipedia!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Yes, there are local berries to be had. I like them best when served with pastry and vanilla custard at Fol Epi or when freshly picked and still warm from the sun. Whichever.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


You guys. It's summer. It's hot outside. I'm relieved.

I bought a badminton set with some birthday money back in May (we have a sheltered back yard, so the wind isn't a problem), and we've only managed to play three times since due to the cool, wet weather. It's time to step it up!

Making waffles (the basic kind)

So, I guess I'm documenting my birthday purchases today. I wrote about my new badminton set on Tentative Plans, and now I'm writing about my new waffle iron.

I've been planning to buy a waffle iron since March, but I got a little overwhelmed by my options. Sometimes the Internet is a little much with its product reviews. So last weekend I decided to trust my local kitchenware store, Muffet and Louisa, and buy the one they have in stock: the Chef's Choice Belgium Waffle Maker. We've used it once, and I like it.

The Internet seems to be really excited about waffle recipes (in addition to waffle iron reviews) -- I've recently read about different varieties on Orangette and Everyone Likes Sandwiches -- but I wanted to start with a basic recipe; that way I have a baseline by which to judge the other recipes. That's why I made the Joy of Cooking's basic waffle recipe on Sunday. I wasn't expecting much, even though Orangette's readers seemed to like it, but man. It was good. It was crisp and fluffy in all the right ways.

Michael ate his with maple syrup, pictured above (he couldn't wait to take a bite), and I had mine with Jen's strawberry jam, maple syrup and peanut butter. I did it up, friends.

Now I can branch out with my recipe experimentation. I think I'll start with my mom's pecan waffle recipe, which Michael is particularly fond of.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Making things grow

We started with this:

And now we have this:

When I say we, I mean Jen. She's done the bulk of the tending, but I guess I did help with the planting. I also helped with the harvesting and eating. We had our first home grown salad last night, and it was delicious. I've never had my own garden before (even though gardening is in my blood), so I'm still a little high on the whole concept. We grow our own food!

Check out some additional photos of our deck/garden on Flickr.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two sets of parents!

When our parents come to visit, we like to show off our scenic vistas:

Michael's parents came first for the May long weekend, and my parents just left us on Sunday. Both visits were so much fun! We toured the Cowichan Valley, we hiked up Mount Work, we went to the Highland Games, we watched the Snow Birds from the harbour, we fixed the barbecue, we used the barbecue and we ate great food.

We were a little bit worried about having so many house guests within a short period of time, but Marc and Jen were gracious. I think they understood the reality of our potential visitors before we moved in together. I hope so, anyway.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sharing a kitchen

When I tell people about our living situation, they wonder how two couples can share a kitchen. They expect to hear about an awkward arrangement, I think. Truth is, sharing a kitchen and cooking for each other has been one of many unforeseen benefits of living with another couple.

Currently, each roommate cooks dinner for the other three once a week. We've chosen specific days -- I usually cook on Mondays -- but the schedule is flexible since there are three remaining days up for grabs. On the days when no one cooks we eat left-overs and simple concoctions (scrambled eggs, anyone?), or we eat out.

We didn't have any plans on this front when we decided to move in with Marc and Jen. I had some schemes in mind, as always, but we figured we'd let the meals sort themselves out once we were settled.

They sorted themselves out pretty quickly, in the end. It started on a fortuitous evening when Michael and I were too tired to figure out dinner plans.

We both arrived home without groceries and without the energy to go out for dinner. We had just finished moving over the weekend, we were back at work and we were pretty burnt out.

We dragged ourselves downstairs to get ready to leave the house, and that's when Marc and Jen announced that they had just finished making dinner and that they had plenty of food to feed us.

It was a magical moment.

The following weekend, Michael and I made a dutch baby pancake for breakfast, which came out of the oven just as Marc and Jen woke up. We had made sure to make plenty for everyone. These two events were so satisfying that they set the stage for formalizing our cooking plans. There are still pleasant surprises, though, like chocolate chip cookies or brownies for dessert after a long day, and that's what makes living with friends so fun.

For those of you interested in logistics, I can tell you that we each buy the groceries for our own meals and we share the cost of things like olive oil and sea salt. As far as sharing plates, utensils and other accouterments, we've found our supplies to be surprisingly complementary. That, and our new kitchen is bigger than our former kitchens, combined, so there's plenty of space for doubles.

I'll start keeping track of the meals that we've been making on Things Worth Making, if you're interested. You'll find that the vegetarian recipes of Peter Berley figure prominently in our menus.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hang out to dry

Michael's parents came for a visit this weekend, and we got up to all sorts of fun. We strolled the Government House gardens. We ate waffles at the Highland Games. We sampled cider, chocolate and wine in the Cowichan Valley. Fun, right? On Monday, after we took them to the airport, I soaked up some sun along with some of my favorite tops. It was the first time that I've used our clothes line, and it was awesome.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Making sense of spices

I've always been on top of managing my spices, but I wasn't satisfied with my assortment of containers. They were hard to clean. They were plastic. I couldn't find replacements. It was awful (or slightly annoying, depending on how excited you get about these types of things).

When we moved, I saw a perfect opportunity to transfer our spices to small jam jars. Jade, a high school friend, implemented this method a couple of years ago, and I've been planning to replicate it ever since.

I bought my jars at Canadian Tire. I have a lot of spices, so I bought 3 boxes of 12. I also bought some cute lids to mix it up. The total cost was about $30.

There are many benefits to this system, beyond the low cost: the jars are glass; I can clean them easily; I can label the lids with a permanent marker and it won't come off in the dishwasher; I can find replacements easily; and, since the jars can be stacked, I can spot the spices I need (most of the time).

I have nothing but good things to say about these jars!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Tofino Feast

Remember when we stayed at the Wickaninnish Inn last fall? We were in Tofino for a dinner party organized by a friend, and I can finally share the details with you (and day dream about the delicious feast). Chris' article is in the current issue of enRoute:

British Columbia’s Iron Chefs: The West Coast's best chefs cook up a storm in Tofino, where life’s a beach and then it rains.

You can see a cute picture of Chris and Jillian, and you can see my silhouette in one of the photos. Most importantly, you can read about the best oysters of all time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Orange Bears

Cabin + Cub posted great photos of a public art installation that I gawked at from the bus during my last trip to Vancouver. I wasn't quick enough to take a photo, so I'm glad she took the initiative.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

California on Flickr

So, photos: the best way to share the finer details of our trip, I think.

The two photos below were a little tricky to include in the photo set, however, since they require a bit of an explanation.

1. This is a 1985 photo of Guns N' Roses at Canter's, an amazing Jewish deli in L.A.:

2. This is a half-assed recreation of the photo featuring cousin Bob Bowen, Michael, me, Shannon and Chris:

It's my kind of family photo.

Thanks for recommending the deli, Brie! In addition to the photo opportunities, the blintzes and the latkes were beyond.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Whew. We are home from a wonderful trip to California, and I'm just going to take some time to figure out how to tell you about the journey (and also to get rid of the cold that I caught on the last day). We did a lot! One of the obvious highlights was our stay at the Madonna Inn, where I drank that lemon drop martini pictured above. Our gift certificate to the inn, a wedding gift from Shannon and Chris, instigated the trip south. It didn't disappoint.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Making an indoor garden

Our new house has a window box in the kitchen, so we were obliged to start a herb garden, obviously. That beautiful basil plant in the back was from Ananda, but the rest -- pots and soil included -- were financed by my parents. I bought and planted the herbs a few weeks back, and they look (and taste) happy their new home.

I started with sage, oregano, thyme, basil and parsley. Since we already have rosemary in the yard, I think I'll add mint, cilantro and more basil in the future.

We've always had house plants, but I don't have any experience gardening, per se. Aside from a few herbs and a honeysuckle on our deck in Vancouver, Michael and I haven't grown anything outdoors.

While these herbs are in our kitchen, they are the precursor to our outside projects: namely, greens in the garden and tomatoes and strawberries on the deck. I suppose we'll have to get started on those in the near future, what with it being spring and all.