Monthly Archives: September 2016

friday favourite – the real cowbell

So, my sister is hiking in Italy. Killing me with the pictures. But really, I’m happy she is having a fantastic time. The food. The vistas. The wine.

But the best shot so far was this up close and personal cow, complete with a functioning, purposeful cowbell.


Which just begs for a link to this classic “more cowbell” SNL skit. A Friday favourite any day of the week.


back to the stove

My internal cooking clock has kicked in. Must have been right about when the night temperatures headed back to single digits (Celcius, that is) and the humidity disappeared.

I woke up last weekend and couldn’t wait to get to the farmers’ market. Absolutely everything is in season! I can’t help myself when I see all the local produce sold directly by the farmers in my community. The bag of harvested goodness was so heavy that the handles of the cloth shopping bag cut off the circulation in my hand.

I dumped out my haul – ginger gold apples, new potatoes, carrots, green onion, beefsteak tomatoes, zucchini, wild blueberries, snack sweet peppers, broccoli and more.


By noon I had made roasted vegetable soup and broccoli soup. The freezer is full of lunch-sized servings to keep me going for a week or two.

roasted vegetable soup – my own concoction

Chop up whatever veggies you have on hand. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbes de provence.

  • Roast at 350 degrees for 45 min to an hour.
  • After you have snacked on some. Simmer the cooled veggies in chicken or vegetable stock – I tossed in a few grape tomatoes – for about 30 minutes until everything is very soft.
  • Puree with hand blender. Add a little cream, white wine, lemon juice and season to taste.

creamy broccoli soup Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast

1 T olive oil, 1 onion (halved and slice), 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 4 cups chicken stock, 1/3 cup rolled oats, head of broccoli (cut into small pieces), salt and pepper

  • In large saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onion over medium-low heat for 5 minutes until softened. Add the nutmeg and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups water, oats and broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes until broccoli is tender.
  • Puree.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of soup I’m making or eating, I usually add in some kind of cheese – chevre, feta or parmesan.


Fall soups. Yum.



falling for it

One of my favourite sappy movies is You’ve Got Mail. There’s a line in it that I think of this time of year – “Don’t you just love New York in the fall?”

Well it’s not New York, and I don’t see Tom Hanks anywhere in the neighbourhood…but I love fall in southern Ontario. The sweet scent of ripening apples. Morning dew on the grass. The extra weight of the duvet on the bed. Yes, even long pants and socks.

I don’t think I could live in a climate without four distinct seasons. Each one is just long enough.

Fall for me means hauling out all my knitting projects that were cast aside during the summer humidity, cooking soups and stews and meatloaf, making apple crisp (for breakfast!), rediscovering all my winter sweaters, switching from white wine back to red, and hiking through the autumn colours.

What’s on your list for fall?



friday favourite – Armand Gamache

He’s not real, but he totally comes to life on the pages of my Friday favourite – the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series of crime novels by Canadian author Louise Penny. If you ever watched Foyle’s War – for me, the two lead characters share much of the same charm.


I think there are 12 in the series. I am working through them in order – I’ve just started #8 The Beautiful Mystery. It’s worth the discipline and the waiting as I reserve them from my local library.

It might get a little old and tiring for some, I guess, but I love how the characters in the fictitious Quebec town of Three Pines make up the cast in varying degrees in every novel.

Cooler weather is coming…snuggle in with Armand.


yet another zucchini recipe

I don’t grow my own zucchini. If I did, I might not be interested in trying yet another way to use it up. But I have made this recipe three times. It is delicious. I really need to invest in a better, wider vegetable peeler that can handle the ups and downs of slicing zucchini.

zucchini ravioli

4 medium zucchini, 2 cups ricotta, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1 egg (lightly beaten), 1/4 cup sliced basil (or dried), salt and pepper, 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce, 1/2 cup grated mozzarella

Preheat over to 375 F, and grease a large baking dish (9 x 12).

Made the noodles: slice two sides of each zucchini lengthwise to create two flat sides. Use a vegetable peeler to slice each zucchini into thin flat strips (bring your patience!). These are the noodles.

Make the filling: combine ricotta, parmesan, egg, basil, salt and pepper in bowl.

Assemble the ravioli: lay two strips of zucchini side by side so they are slightly overlapping. Lay two more noodles on top, perpendicular to the first noodles. This creates a T shape. Spoon about 1 T of filling in the centre of the T. Fold the ends of the strips into the centre – working one side at a time. Turn the ravioli over and place the seam side down in the baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over and around the ravioli. Top with mozzarella. Bake 20-30 minutes until cheese is melting and starting to brown on top.

This is so tasty. Little bit of al dente crunch to the zucchini noodles. Lots of gooey cheesy taste. It helps to have a big countertop to make this one – if you like the assembly line look of the little pillows of ricotta all set out in a row.


take a hike

We are heading to Italy this week for a walking/hiking vacation around Lake Como. The upcoming trip provided a good excuse to go for a hike over Labour Day weekend to make sure our hiking boots didn’t rub somewhere unexpected. My boots were fine, just lacking in some cushioning so I bought some new HOKA boots. (check out our friday favourite from last week to learn more.)

Ten years ago for some birthday one of us had, I bought a book of 50 Hikes in Massachusetts. We cracked it open and chose the very first hike, Alander Mountain, 2,239 feet and a prominent peak of the south Taconic Mountains.

It was a challenging hike with gorgeous views of the Hudson Valley in NY, NW Connecticut and Massachusetts. We enjoyed it so much we hiked Mt Wachusett in central Massachusetts this past weekend. We are fortunate to live only 1/2 hour from Wachusett mountain.

Fall is a perfect time of year to dig out your hiking boots (or buy some new ones!) and go take a hike!


friday favourite – hoka hiking boots

They make me feel like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh…I bounced all over Mt Wachusett last Saturday on the inaugural hike of my new HOKA hiking boots. They have tons of cushioning, were comfortable right out of the box and they are waterproof. All the things you need for happy feet while hiking. They are not cheap but since my last pair have served me well for 10 years, I think they are worth it.

These hiking boots are my friday favourite!


ginger syrup

People tend to either love or hate ginger. If you are a hater, stop reading now! However, if you can’t get enough of it, let me tell you about ginger syrup! Remember when you had a stomach ache as a kid and your mom told you to drink flat ginger ale?! That’s because ginger settles your stomach. I always travel with ginger candies for bumpy plane and car rides and now I have a jar of ginger syrup in the frig.


A friend of mine gave me a recipe for a drink with ginger syrup, fresh squeezed lime juice and vodka. I have made the drink several times and served it to friends – it’s like fun truth serum!

It starts with ginger syrup. Chop about 1/3 cup fresh ginger into small pieces (you don’t have to peel it). Add it to 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool and then strain it.

To make the Ginger Lime Koolaid

  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 oz ginger syrup
  • 2-4 oz vodka

Shake mixture over ice. Pour into martini glasses. Garnish with fresh lime.

I usually make a double batch of ginger syrup and store it in the frig. I add a spoonful to seltzer for homemade ginger ale and add it to hot water for soothing ginger tea. Try it and let us know what you think.




finding a routine, again

I love fall. I love when the nights start to cool off. And after the ridiculous, extended humidity of this summer, I can’t wait for long pants.


And I love getting back into some kind of routine. Much as I love the freedom of “I’ve got nothing planned!” – it isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

We were talking the other day about getting back into a good, healthy food routine too. Cooler weather definitely inspires my cooking side.

I roasted vegetables this weekend – I don’t think I’ve done that since May. I added feta to them for dinner, and will turn them into soup for healthy workday lunches.

And I’m trying to find ways to give my fitbit a workout. There are some nice steep streets in my neighbourhood – and they make a nice evening walk…as long as the temperatures stay in the reasonable range. I don’t know about you, but heat and humidity put a quick halt to my energy and exercising.

I’m thinking again about planning my meals – including overnight oatmeal and freezer muffins.

And trying to wind things down a little earlier in the evening so I can get 8 hours of sleep.

What fall routines do you have?


friday favourite – defying the nazis

Defying the Nazis: The Sharp’s War  airs on Sept 20th at 9pm on PBS. It’s a new documentary co-directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky about a little-known but important mission by an American minister and his wife from Wellesley MA to rescue refugees and dissidents in Europe before and after the start of World War II.

The story is compelling but the reason it is my friday favourite is because my very good friend Marina Goldman is the voice of Martha Sharp, alongside Tom Hanks as Waitstill Sharp!

Marina has boundless energy, unlimited talent and compassion to spare! Check out the trailer here and tune in on Sept 20th for the documentary.