Catherine Bussiere: veggie burger

I have been experimenting with veggie burgers lately
and, I have been juicing

I have loads of carrots, beets, and our apple trees are bountiful
good time to use a juicer
sometime the juicer feels a little over the top
really, couldn’t I just chew a little
but to drink fresh juice from the garden feels quite regal
so why not

I decided to make the most of it
and aside from drinking the most delicious juice
I would use the pulp left behind
here is this week’s recipe
healthy, nutritious, and tasty

Veggie burgers with quinoa

for a dozen large burger you may use

6 cups of shredded veggies (kale, carrots, beets, celery, onion, use what you have)
1 cup of quinoa (to be cooked)
400 gr of grated cheese (I like cheddar)
3 large eggs (I always get them from a local farm now)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup oats
2 Tsp hemp seeds, or sesame seeds or, again, whatever you have kicking around
4 Tsp za’atar (a delightful Middle Eastern mix of oregano, thyme, savory and sesame seeds)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Rinse the quinoa. Bring 1 1/2 cup of water to boil. You may add a little salt or miso to your water for flavor. Add the quinoa. Simmer for 12 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Let it sit for another 5 minutes.

Chop, grate, shred your chosen veggies. If you have been using a juicer and don’t know what to do with all that beautiful pulp, here is a good place to use it.

In a large bowl place all ingredients. Mix, mix, mix with your hands. Best tool ever.
Form patties and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet. If you don’t have parchment paper just oil the pan. Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until slightly brown and crispy.

Eat in a bun with garnish or with a side salad.
My favorite this week is a kale salad with one of those burger diced on it.
Tastes good, feels good!

ps. replace za’atar with your favorite herb, I used basil last week and it was delicious
pps. can’t eat them all, freeze them for later

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Catherine Bussiere: gardening

I dealt
or rather
I started dealing
with my greenhouse
this week

my greenhouse was like a jungle of mostly
dill, peppergrass, cilantro, and kale

I like to leave some plants go to seed
the reason I had so much kale this spring was because I let one plant go to seed last fall

I crushed and shook the dried pods around in October
In May I had a small sea of baby kale

at this point in the summer
the garden is giving plenty
and it got to the point where I could barely walk through the greenhouse
I did have room around the pepper plants and the few tomatoes and eggplants
but still
how many dill, peppergrass and coriander plants do I need for seeds

But it is so pretty
And fragrant as I walk through

sigh –

I got on my knees
I started pulling

inspired by a woman I met recently
I have decided to plant now
a fall / winter garden

I planted carrots and peas
I put the peas around the few tall dill plants left
I’m thinking that it is a brilliant idea
the peas will climb up the dill stalk
and it gives me a good excuse to leave a few around

I will transplant Swiss chard and reseed lettuce
I think I will put some bush beans in between the grown lettuce
by the time the old lettuce is ready to be pulled
room will be made for the growing beans
( unless I let the lettuce go to seeds )

I have kale and parsley
that should last a while

I’m experimenting

I want to be able to make the most of our old unheated greenhouse
I have a feeling we should be able to get fresh greens late into the fall

I’ll keep you updated

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Catherine Bussiere: Rose

it’s rose time
yellow roses
pink roses
they look like wild roses
are they?

I collect the petals
I bring 1 cup of sugar with one cup of water to a boil
I pour the syrup over two cups of petals
I let it steep half a day
or more
I pour it in a jar
it’s pretty
I pour it over ice and add bubbly water
lovely

I bet I could pour it over vanilla ice cream
now I’m talking

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Catherine Bussiere: dining on the wild side

nestled in a small village on the Bay of Fundy
between Cape d’Or and park Chignecto
the Wild Caraway restaurant propose some of the best dish this province has to offer
the secret is a blend of passion, curiosity, enthusiasm
mixed with the best, fresh, local ingredients available
you can’t go wrong with that
yet it is hard to find

every single time I go to the Wild Caraway I am intrigued
there is always a fine taste that hits me and makes me wonder

me: how do you get that smoky taste in the dressing?
Andrew: you smoke the sour cream
me: oh! … smoke the sour cream … of course

Andrew and his partner Sarah have been running this delightful business for a few years now and the fact that they are far far away in this isolated place that is Advocate harbor does not seem to deter anyone from making the trek.
It is that good.

This week Eric and I treated ourselves to their once a year foraging dinner.
I have been interested lately about wild edibles so I couldn’t let that dinner go by.
Several courses were presented to us featuring such things as squid ink rice cracker with smoked mackerel mousse (one of my highlight), pickles of fiddleheads, spruce tips, knotweed and dandelion capers, rose hip gel, grilled cattails, flounder goujonettes (isn’t that a cute word; goujonette), sea lettuce and oyster leaf, sea rocket and goose tongue greens, smoked halibut cheeks and flash fried squid …

One after the other, dishes were brought to us. All beautifully presented, all using land and sea to feed body and enlighten the spirit.

The final touch before sending us off was a selection of sorbets and ice creams. Violet sorbet, dandelion sorbet, sweet cicely flower ice cream, black currant leaf ice cream.
I never knew dandelion could taste so good.
A spruce tips shortbread happily dissolved in my mouth as I was sipping my tea.
Who would think of such delight. Really.

The sad news is, you most likely missed this foraging dinner. The good news is that their ever changing menu always involves something from the wild side.
Go for a drive and check them out. You will be both delighted by the scenery and your taste bud will beg for more.
www.wildcaraway.com

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Catherine Bussiere: week end

attending a workshop on medicinal herbs
I learned that the burdock root is not only eatable
but tastes as good as parsnip
that plantain is good for bites
and flower tea can be brewed by the sun
with leaves and flowers
collected from the lawn

went to visit someone who saves seeds
has a greenhouse
which is
at the moment
filled with tall plants of all sorts
some flowering
others about to

before too long
seeds will be collected
then sowed early fall
various greens will grow through the winter
providing fresh nutrient
in the leanest time of year

got transplants at my nephews
( they have big greenhouses )
tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants
contemplating the promise of wholesome food
rows and rows of greenery of all size
I get some lemon basil too

saw my niece who has an 8 months belly
little baby boy soon to be born
her first
she glows

spring time
some days already feel like summer

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Catherine Bussiere: fiddle heads & omelets

we went for a walk in the woods
we listen to nature waking up
the beauty of it all just makes me smile
I feel happy

we are out to collect fiddle heads
one of nature’s first edible
there may be others
only recently have we been going out to gather wild edibles
so far mushrooms and fiddles heads are what we collect
there is something quite enthralling about gathering food from the wild
I love it

by the river we find some tightly curled ferns
they’ve just started showing up through the leaves
you can’t wait too long
when nature wakes up she’s got no time to waste for stretches, coffee, and all
she’s on the move

this morning I made us a fiddle head omelet
for two people I used three large farm eggs
beat them up with a little cream, a pinch of salt, cumin and fresh ground pepper

I steamed a couple handful of fiddle heads
I grated some cheddar cheese and chopped some chives
I pour the egg mix onto a cast iron pan
when the egg mix starts to set I place chives, fiddle heads and cheese on one half of it
I wait a little
the cheese melts
I flip the bare half onto the dressed half

a nature walk feeds the soul, lungs, eyes
today, a nature walk also fed two hungry bellies

happy Sunday
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Catherine Bussiere: Claudia, Julia, Ines

It’s been quiet here these past few days
been rainy and stormy and grey
our guests are gone
there’s water dripping here and there
looks like it will be quiet for a few more days

I photographed and interviewed Claudia and Julia last week
they are both 30 (it was Claudia’s birthday)
they were both on vacation with their beau

I got to know them a little, took a few pictures and asked random questions
there is a topic now that I will keep on investigating
age, aging, time

here they are

 

Claudia and Simon

Claudia is from Germany, she is a lawyer, wants to make a decent living, wants kids.
She turned thirty during her stay in Sidi Kaouki. That morning I made her fluffy pancakes with honey syrup. She liked them so much she asked for the recipe.
Simon looked chill, I forget what he does but he seemed willing to stay home and look after the kids when the time comes. Attentive, he had bought a small cake for her birthday. With candles on it.

They were both lovely.

– How does it feel to be 30?
“Three or four months ago I didn’t want to get 30 but now I feel good.
The last year is that (when) I found the more and more what I am. When I was younger it was like what the world is expecting from me.”

Now she feels like she is being herself not meeting others’ expectation.

“I want to be happy, have a family, we want to marry.”
“I don’t like this word: old. Maybe you are never old. You can not fix it with an age.”
“You don’t get that much older when you go with the times. My grandmother has a strong will. She grew with the times.”

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Julia and Aurélien

Julia is French.
She is pretty, social, happy, generous, attentive.
She likes her coffee black.
She is a waitress.
She wanted to work with kids and elders
Do social work
For some reason the french system may not let you be what you want to be
Julia loves: the sun, Morocco, but most of all she loves Aurélien

What is your dream?
“A house in the country, a big piece of land, three sheep, chickens, a goat, a garden, a baby.”

What do you like about your work?
“The contact with people. To offer (the pleasure of) food. The contact with the kitchen: foods, smells, flavors.”

She likes the fast pace. “You don’t get bored”

A good waitress is…?
“Organize, efficient, always smiling.”

Aging? What is it to be old?
“It’s in your head” “ I’m thirty now, my twenties are behind me. I’m not happy to be thirty, to have lost my youth. It’s the Peter Pan complex.”

What is youth?
“It’s to have time ahead of you, the older you get the less time you got.”

About Aurélien she says:
“I’m a fan of our love.”

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Inès

Ines left us too this week
She is a beautiful, spirited young lady
She has claws and she can bite
for that reason she found a new home
before she left we had time to become friends

What makes you happy?
“meow, meow, meow” (sardines, half the bed in the middle of the night, ruling the house)

What do you think about age?
“ meow?”
(what you talking about?)

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I miss them all.

Catherine Bussiere: almond cake

Last Sunday I did make an almond cake

I don’t think I’ve given you this recipe before and it is one of the best cake I make

It barely has flour and the little it has could be replaced by a non gluten one

it has no butter or milk so it is dairy free

boring you’re starting to think

think again

this cake is mostly nuts, eggs a little sugar and can be covered with whipped cream

originally it was a hazelnut cake

I once replaced the hazelnut with almonds

I played a bit with proportion

and this past Sunday I did something very decadent and exciting

I made baklava syrup and poured it all over the cake once it was done

this is what I will share with you today

My new favorite almond cake

for the cake you will need:

2 1/2 cups of freshly roasted ground almonds (roast the almonds then ground them)

6 tablespoons of flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

10 eggs

1 1/2 cup of sugar

Beat eggs and sugar. Add the ground almonds. Mix in flour and baking powder.

Bake in a large dish 20 minutes at 350ºF.

Now you can eat the cake just like that or if you want bake it in two round cake pan and you can put raspberry jam in the middle then cover it with whip cream or skip the jam and make a ganache (melted chocolate with cream) and cover the cake with it, whatever you fancy, it’s already delicious.

But if you want my new version, once the cake comes out of the oven, pour this syrup all over it.

for the syrup you will need:

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

3/4 cup honey

1 cinnamon stick

5 cloves (if you have some)

4 lemon slices

4 orange slices

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and cool syrup.

To be honest I did not quite mesure the ingredients for the syrup. If you don’t have much honey put more sugar and if you don’t want to use sugar put more honey. The key for this syrup is the citrus and spices.

Also if you go with this version and think wow, too much sugar here, you can reduce the amount in the cake a little or just skip the syrup all together.

In the end it is a really easy cake to make and is absolutely delicious, nutritious, healthy and quite stunning if you go the whipped way. Speaking of, next time I will make it with the syrup and then serve it with a beautiful dollop of vanilla whipped cream.

That ought to be good.

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Catherine Bussiere: Christmas

December 21st
it’s hard to believe
I see the Santas here and there
a few decorations
but really walking around Barcelona
wearing a light shirt under a sunny sky
I don’t feel like Christmas is in a very few days

My son Sam joined us this week
we had said good bye to the hills of Provence
spent a day in Marseille
got off the bus really early one morning in the city of Gaudí
and a few days later Sam was here, on our door step
not in my computer talking to me on skype
but right there in front of me
sleepily standing between his brother and sister who picked him up at the airport
Could I possibly want anything else
my three babies for Christmas
my three adult babies
maybe that’s even more special

Barcelona is great and I should tell you all about it
but in a way
at this point in our trip
it is more like a shell that holds us all
a beautiful shell I must say
it is where we get together as a family for a precious amount of time
where we walk and talk
shop (mostly for food) and cook and drink
laugh and snuggle
where we just hang out and enjoy being together

it is precious isn’t it
once the kids grow up
once life takes us apart
when we all fly our own direction
to be able to take the time
make a pause
and reconnect with our dear ones

of course there’s always someone missing
make that a plural
my son’s fiancé
our moms and dads
brothers and sisters
nieces and nephews
the list goes on

But for what I have I am thankful

I wish you who may read this blog a happy Christmas
I wish you to spend time with anyone who is dear to you
may it be family or friend, make the best of it
Merry Christmas!

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Catherine Bussiere: Mr. Robert

monsieur Robert
is a gentleman
of provencal decent

at 82 (almost three)
he embodies
the essence of his time

one short meeting
and we are invited to his dwelling on the hill
an offer to a typical meal follows

salade sauvage is on the menu
excited we walk alongside the wise men through the olive grove
looking for a leaf an another that really
to me
looks like dandelion

the cabanon is simple and oh so cozy
in the corner an open fire burns
I – love – the – fire – place
it looks like olden days
later he will put a grill on the coals and roast some lamb chops
cooking on an open fire in an open room
I want this

Monsieur Robert speaks provencal
he speak french with a southern accent like everyone here
but he also speaks provencal
which has it’s own twist and flavor and sounds a little spanish to me
way cool

the meal starts with “l’apéro”
today an anise liqueur diluted in water
one may add currant syrup and call it “une tomate”
one could add mint syrup instead and call it “un perroquet”
fruit or bird it’s a good way to start off

we try anchoïade on croutons
anchoïade is an anchovy paste mixed with garlic and olive oil
yes, it is salty
and what is salty is also tasty
and addictive
add needs to be washed down with “l’apéro”
one must know how to dose
it’s all good

Monsieur Robert made us a “gratin dauphinois”
the french are very clever in naming dish
all sounds terribly fancy
when in fact all is mostly terribly rich
a gratin dauphinois is a potato casserole with lots of cream, some garlic
it is topped with cheese and if that was not enough Monsieur Robert likes to finish off with a yolk glaze
now we all have to agree that gratin dauphinois does sound regal
and it is
hence the spelling

Monsieur Robert treats us well
the chops are cooked to perfection
wine is served
conversation flows
all are content

then
after a little while
when we think we are done
one realize we forgot the salad
“Oh mon Dieu!” we can’t skip the wild one
and so it is washed and dressed and we all get a good portion

at the table I am facing: my daughter Charlotte, my son Isaac and his beautiful fiancée Haley
as we are all eating the most bitter salad we ever got to taste
(imagine a full bowl of dandelion leaves)
I refrain a growing amount of laughter from cascading out
everyone’s face is slightly distorted as we chew
it simply tastes awful
to our palate lets be clear
we’re just not use to this
we all do our best and mostly finish it all
Monsieur Robert, innocently asks us how we like it
he knows
secretly he is having fun with us Canadian

hours later after coffee, a shot of Chartreuse, some ice cream
after the game of Rugby
on tv
Toulon won
that was a good thing
hours later we leave
cheek, cheek, kiss, kiss
with this provencal saying:
“À l’an que vèn ! Se sian pas mai, que siguen pas mens”
which means:
“Until next year! If we are not more, let’s not be less”

Thank you monsieur Robert

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new this week: a french post on my website

 

Catherine Bussiere: Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse: a traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille.

I can’t say how long I’ve wanted to eat bouillabaisse
growing up I read Marcel Pagnol, a god amongst Provencal literature
his series: Marius, Fanny, Cesar take place in the heart of Marseille where Cesar, a lively choleric character, runs a bar
the world of Pagnol is a world like any: family, friends, love, foes, food, drinks
it is lively, it is flavorful, the language sings
it is french from the south, from the sea, with accent, punctuation, words like no others
The bouillabaisse is a classic dish from this part of the world
as it requires specific fish and spices one can really only eat the “real thing” here

Friday night we were invited to a party of ten at “la table D’eux” restaurant to eat the famous soup
and I was excited
as we walked into the restaurant I was taken aside right away to the kitchen to see a basin filled with odd looking fish covered with garlic, saffron and who knows what

Our host have been fantastic
we help out all week
we’ve mostly been cleaning up the olive grove; mowing, chopping, making it nice
we get a lovely place to stay, the best grocery, (I have a tab at the boucherie where I’ve been trying all sorts of local specialties)
and on Friday we go out

Now we could just go out and eat but Geraldine (she likes to be called Gerry but Geraldine is so pretty and she does look a little bit like Geraldine Chaplin) goes above and beyond
She knows we are curious so she makes sure to introduce us to the locals
She arranged a couple tours to local olive mills
Took us out to try the Beaujolais nouveau

In the kitchen of the restaurant the mother of the cook explains to me how the soup is made
the various fish have been sitting in a wonderful mixture of spices for hours
The broth is made
veggies are cooked
one by one, depending on their size, the fish will be added at the last minute so they cook to perfection

in the restaurant the table is set
as we wait we are treated to a few rounds of sparkling wine to celebrate Isaac and Haley’s engagement
the traditional plate of charcuterie sits on the counter
someone tells me to try this and that
I try everything

We are now ready to hit the table
Bouillabaisse has a special order of thing
first the broth is served pipping hot topped with rouille spread on croutons
rouille is like a spicy homemade mayonnaise with garlic and saffron

The broth is heavenly
rich, flavorful
the crouton soak just enough of the broth for an easy chew
the rouille tops it all
I am in heaven

Then comes two huge platters of fish
it has all those crazy fish I saw earlier in the kitchen plus mini crabs, mussels and squid
I try everything
Next you place any of the fish you want in your plate
grab a few potatoes if you wish and cover that with the broth that has been kept hot

we all go for several rounds
wine keeps filling our glasses
our bellies are getting fuller and fuller
there is so mush fish to be eaten

several hours later
that’s the way it goes here
a proper meal takes hours
the fish is gone and we are served an expresso followed by a few shots of Lemoncello
jolly and filled to the rim we exit the restaurant with kisses on the cheek to the cook, his mom, the waitress

another meal in Provence gone by
I am looking forward to next Friday
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Catherine Bussiere: Belgentier

it is later Sunday
almost 9pm
it was a busy week end
yesterday Eric, Isaac and I went for a nice long hike
about 18km up a cliff and mostly up and down a nature path that took us through forest, ruins and some fantastic stone pillars called “les aiguilles” (the needles)

the walk also took us to a monastery, closed this month, where the monks are famous for a liqueur they make called Chartreuse
apparently only three monks know the recipe
it involves about 130 different herbs
we were hoping to get some
maybe we will if they open their doors in December

Today we had a car so we took advantage of it and visited Toulon, Cassis and “les calanques”
Toulon had a great outdoor market
I bought some olives, fruits and veggies
we stopped at a bakery
every bread here, even the various forms of Baguettes have a name
I can’t tell you
I look at them all and say this one and that one
and maybe this one too
they are all so good
I could make a whole blog about that

My brother told me before I left that the bread was better here then back home
and so was the butter
now we do make really good bread home and have quite a variety
but the butter
it is so good
like it’s sweet, maybe less salty, maybe it’s the milk
I don’t know
the butter is very very good

The thing about the bread is that every single bakery I tried so far was great
The one in the village here makes the most decadent almond croissant
it has more than just a little almond paste in it
it is filled with this gooey almond mush that makes your knees go weak
so good
People buy bread everyday
it’s part of the daily routine
the baguette under their arm
totally true
daily
also bread and chocolate
you will often see kids being picked up from school chewing on some pain au chocolat

there, I was barely going to talk about this and you got me going
bread and butter
never had so much of both
I could also talk about the cheese but not right now
(so amazingly good if you love cheese)

what else
there were many highlight this week like trying the Beaujolais Nouveau at the local bar
that was fun
you order a glass and in comes a whole plater of charcuterie to go with it
after four glasses and as many plater you feel like you may just consider moving permanently to this lovely place

on Friday our host invited us to the other bar in town where the special was “moules frittes” (mussels and fries)
the fries were some of the best I’ve ever eaten
large cuts perfectly golden
crunchy and tender
the mussels were serve in a lovely little pot
they were bathing in a large quantity of broth made with generous amount of cream, wine, onions and secret spices
I had a word with the cook
I said please pretty please would you let me sit in one of these days and watch you cook
he said ok
he loves to cook and could tell I love it too
I can’t wait

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Catherine Bussiere: thanks dinner

I am walking around this morning
I go to the lounge
it is another stunning morning
crisp, fresh, covered in dew
the lounge sits empty yet I can hear the rumor
yesterday the two tables were filled with friends, family, neighbors

before our trip and just for shear pleasure
we decided to host a thanks dinner
for your support, for looking after us, for your friendship

there is something I really like about hosting
sitting people around large tables
having counters filled with food and beverage
being outdoors on a rainy windy day
and not caring because of a warm sweater and good company

I love to mix people
to introduce and say, this is so and so, she is an artist, he is a gardener
the conversation rolls
glasses and bowls are being refilled
people relaxing, taking time, enjoying

It was busy, it was good
we were thankful and we were pleased

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Catherine Bussiere: Back

I am back from a trip to Québec (again)
my mom was giving me her old car (not that old)
I have been without wheels all summer (that was fine)
but the freedom of a car (even an old one that isn’t that old)
is thrilling

it’s an overcast day in Beckwith this morning
we started the day with some of the most amazing almond chocolate croissants I’ve ever had
I picked them up in Trois-Rivières just before I left yesterday in a traditional french bakery
One must love art and tradition
that bakery is the embodiment of that
I must let everyone know in Trois-Rivières
such places must thrive
it’s called “Les Gâteries D’Oli”
Look it up if you’re ever there

I went out for my Sunday morning photo shoot
it’s the end of summer with some things in full maturity and some fading already
I go around my property so often
sometimes I don’t see things anymore
it takes a little walking around to get into it and find a few images that I like
sometimes you must work harder to be content

my Charlie cat follows me around
I have two cats
Buster and Charlie
they couldn’t be more different
in appearance and in temperament
Charlie is the embodiment of the independent cat
yet, pretending he is not, he is following me around
we just happen to go in the same direction (says he)

it is drizzling now as I am typing away
there’s always a little melancholia that follows my return from Quebec
leaving family, culture, language, … new found best croissant ever…

I’ll make tomato sauce later today
time to harvest!

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Catherine Bussiere: a kettle and a pan

I missed my blog last week
the Bash overtook everything
today you would barely know there was a music festival here
crazy how fast things go

This time of year, pretty much right after the Bash, is my wedding anniversary
To celebrate Eric and I have been going to Advocate at the Wild Caraway where Eric plays some tunes in exchange of a fine meal and a few coins
The Wild Caraway is one of the best place to eat in Nova Scotia
Andrew, the chef, is a passionate cook
The food always surprises me
In every bite I pause to figure out what went into this wonderful explosion of flavor that invades my mouth
Eric and I take different dish so the pleasure is expanded
I love everything about the Wild Caraway
the food, the presentation, the attention to service, the simplicity yet complexity of every dish
Andrew and Sarah use as much local, fresh ingredients as possible
Several options last night included Chanterelles
Straight from the woods
The potatoes salad I ate tasted smoky!!
How did he do that?
Home made smoked sour cream.
Every bite is a wonder
every bite is exciting
every bite is a delight

After the show Eric and I went camping on the stretch of beach between the Ottawa House and Partridge island in Parrsboro
Whenever visitors come to Cumberland County I always refer two places to go to:
The Wild Caraway and Partridge island
(of course there’s Cape d’Or and Chignecto, and Fiber Fest; the list goes on…)
That beach is one of the most stunning place Eric and I have ever camped at
and we’ve camped by the Grand Canyon, the Red Woods and Joshua Tree National park

When we got there we parked by a picnic table, built a little fire, admired the starry night, listened to the water bubbling through the rocks as the tide was coming up. There was nobody on the beach.

The next morning was the funnest part
I had packed up everything for a fine breakfast
a little kettle for hot water was all the was needed for a cup of cowboy coffee
a camping pan, fried up to perfection a couple fish cakes and some eggs
I had brought some hollandaise sauce (Fancy!) I had picked some blackberries and cherry tomatoes the day before, we had bagels and home made rhubarb sauce

I was playing Wild Caraway in the wild
fine food enjoyed in one of the most stunning scenery in the world
with a kettle, a pan, a fire, fine ingredients, a gentleman and a glass of wine
(that was a first for breakfast but I highly recommend it)

it was simple and grand

I love Nova Scotia for that
It’s rugged, it’s beautiful, it’s majestic yet there’s hardly anybody here.

Precious.

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Catherine Bussiere: it’s time

it’s berry time

it’s garlic time

it’s cherry time

it’s chanterelle time

oh my, not enough time in a day time

I love this time

chanterelle cherry garlic raspberryqueen anne

 

Catherine Bussiere: day off

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I can easily keep busy all the time
just one little task after another
my mom who is visiting is shaking her head

so after being busy for days I finally took the day off to hang out with my mama
first I took her to church
I don’t usually go to church but decided to stay as two teens that I knew were having their confirmation today
the ceremony was quite moving
how beautiful to see these youth engaging in something as big as faith
to say yes to goodness in front of their congregation
I was glad to be there

then I took my mom to visit a friend of mine who is a potter
I did have to do a short interview for a project that I’m working on but only for a minute
My mom marveled at her pottery and bought a few pieces
that was lovely

We kept going up the shore to have a bite at Whirligigs, a wonderful restaurant that specialize in delicious breakfast
we had some smoked salmon Benedict
I think I like anything Benedict

by the time we were done it was time to go to an opening at the Tidnish art gallery
A young friend of mine was having her first opening
she is 15, has been home schooled all her life, you should see the art work
it is done through a computer program with math equation
it is beyond my understanding and the result is a series of beautiful abstract images
loved it

as we drove home along the coast we decided to stop at a beach in Northport and went for a little walk
the water on the edges was nice and warm
my mother sat on a rock to let her feet soak for a while

Sunday June first in the maritime
I couldn’t ask for more

Local eating is no hardship…

I just finished preparing tonights supper and again it is all local, even the cook book by Micheal Smith of PEI. I am grilling tenderloins, five of them for $15 at Manasseh Local Foods in downtown Amherst. The recipe from Smith’s Chef at Home book is a favorite of mine, though this time I omitted the butter. We’ll see how that goes. The blue cheese is Dragon’s breath from the Dutchman in Economy. I am discovering that it is mot really a hardship to eat local. Mind you I do supplement it with somethings but all in all it is becoming quite easy. Since the local food store opened downtown I have tried to get my groceries there first, then I go to the bigger stores or the local Highland Market . It is fun to create the challenge of eating local and then finding new and interesting recipes to match up with that challenge.

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Catherine Bussiere: rhubarb and fiddle heads

I woke up to a warm morning
how glorious is a warm breezy morning in the country side
no bugs yet
no bitting bugs anyway

I put the kettle on for coffee
looked around… no husband
I thought, and I was right, he must be gone looking for fiddle heads

the water wasn’t even boiling that my son was up
to my surprised expression he responded: happy mother’s day
smile (awww)
then offered to make a smoothie

the smoothie was on it’s way when my daughter came down
with a gift and a card in her hand
!!!
awwwww
I really was not expecting anything

I like to make the most of my adorable, most willing to do something for me, children
I had invited my mother in law for brunch and was about to make the first rhubarb pie of the year
to the garden we go, help me gather enough for a couple pies
the rhubarb isn’t high yet
but with three sets of hands it didn’t take long
as we were picking my husband showed up with a bag filled with fiddle heads
it’s the first year that he gathers them
last fall he found edible mushrooms in the wood, now fiddle heads
there’s something quite fantastic about foraging
it has to be some of the best food one can eat

the meal consisted of fish cake Benedict (that is a fish cake with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce), steamed fiddle heads and rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert
we had some white wine with cassis liquor and frozen strawberries to go with that
which may explain why this blog is posted a little later than usual
a nap had to follow that scrumptious meal

it is a blessing to be a mother
to honor the ones that have nurtured us and to nurture in return

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Catherine Bussiere: Easter pancakes

Beautiful sunny day here in northern Nova Scotia

I was gone for three days last week with my daughter to a conference in Sydney.
Through multiple presenters we learned how and why the arts and crafts are a leading economy. It was interesting and inspiring; the creative economy is one to be reckoned with.

When I came back home a few things had happened that were of great excitement. First, the ice on the pond was gone. It may not seem like much but with the ice gone the pond gets fixed (by the beavers, instantly it seems, they come and fix any little or big leaks and the water goes up). A pair of ducks arrived for their annual visit and the peepers will soon, any day now, deafen us with their high pitch chorus. The sound of the peepers is one of my favorite. It’s the sound of nature celebrating the end of a harsh winter and the prospect of life about to blossom.

Oh, I love this time of year.

This morning I’m waking up to the smell of home made baked beans. My husband has been making them with beer and smoked pork lately and they are just divine. There is bacon slowly cooking and pancakes will be made. Of course this whole lot is also home made. Maybe I should share the pancake recipe with you on this Easter morning.
When I make pancakes I don’t bother, I grab the bag of premix flour, add an egg, milk, little oil and bam we go. They’re good. Fast and easy.
When my husband makes pancakes it goes up several notches.
First he takes say 8 eggs (maybe a dozen if they are small or 6 if they are extra large)
He separates the whites from the yolks. He beats the whites like he was making a meringue and set that aside. Then it’s the usual. Mix the yolks with milk, melted butter, a little vanilla if you wish. Add the flour but do not add any baking powder. See that’s the beauty of these pancakes, no baking powder or baking soda, none of that taste. When your pan or griddle is ready to go, gently fold the fluffy egg white in your pancake mixture. It’s like incorporating cloud bundles. Then gently scoop that up and cook it.
The result is the spongiest, tastiest, most syrup absorbent pancakes you will ever have.

I hope today is as beautiful and warm for you that it is for me. Enjoy spring, fine food and the presence of family.

Happy Easter!

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Catherine Bussiere: Souvlaki

There are mornings where I feel like cheating
Meaning I will not try too hard to write a blog
I’ll just post a recipe
It’s not really cheating
it could be seen as a gift
sounds much better
it’s all about point of view

speaking of view here is today’s weather report
it’s another grey day but there are no snowfall warning in effect (= improvement)
the sap is running
and the sun is trying hard to pierce through all these layers of grey
I have a feeling it might succeed

Last night I was hungry and inspired
those are two things that can equal into a good dinner
I happened to have all I needed to make a Greek style meal
I made my own version of souvlaki

You will need:

pork, chicken or lamb

for the marinade: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper

Chop meat in cubes. Marinate in oil mixture for 8 hours (for 1 pound of meat have 1/2 cup of oil mix – with lots of fresh herbs – looks and smells like a tasty dressing)

Cook meat on parchment paper in hot oven (doesn’t take long)

Serve on pita with tzaziki, chopped tomatoes and cucumber
or serve with rice and Greek salad

Tzaziki: drain 750 g of balkan yogurt in cheese cloth for a few hours. Put 1 grated cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle salt over. Let sit a couple hours to extract water. Rinse and drain cucumber (squeeze all that water out). Mix drained yogurt and cucumber. Add grated garlic, pepper, mint or dill. Taste, see if it needs salt.

* Lately I mix a small container of sour cream with half container of astro balkan yogurt and skipped the draining bit for the yogurt. Of course I get the 14% sour cream. Works well.

cucumber herbs red pepper souvlaki

Maritime Mary: Post Olympics

I am suffering from Olympic withdrawal. That’s right, I confess that an inordinate amount of time was spent in front of the TV during the last two weeks.

What a spectacle we were treated to in Sochi! The television broadcasts were filled with excellent stories of the athletes, their hurdles, their disappointments and accomplishments. We heard about Canadian athletes as well as those from other countries. There was so much heart in the games. I loved seeing the pride of those who reached the podium watch as their flags were raised and their anthems played. And the commercials, they were even entertaining.

And so yesterday morning, the TV remained silent and I again turned my favourite radio station on. To fill the void, many vegetables were chopped and I made an asparagus vegetable soup. Then I dug out an old recipe and made cinnamon loaves all while steel cut oatmeal was cooking in the slow cooker. The house was filled with great kitchen aromas as we were getting back to normal during this post-Olympic week.

One cannot help but be excited to notice that the daylight hours are lengthening, the sun feels warmer, and while we may have lots of winter ahead, it’s time to think about new projects. My winter afghan is completed and my hooking frame is coming out again!

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Catherine Bussiere: relativity

Christmas has just gone by and there is still New Years to come
yet this morning it feels like the holidays are coming to a close
one of my son is leaving for Cape Breton to be with his loved one
My holidays revolve pretty much around family
family home = celebration
family gone = back to routine
it’s not back to routine yet but it’s looming

Last night we had a little get together
a couple of friends were coming over for supper and last minute we decided to invite a few more
I’ve been wanting to have people over but with all these storms and holiday commitment  I was about to let it go by
last night was just perfect
We had plenty of food and on the spur of the moment my husband just made a couple calls
everyone showed up

I love to mix people up
People that may not know each other
different generation and background
all sitting around the table the conversation never stopped

After much delicious foods we kicked everyone out to go sliding
There really wasn’t any option
so these grown up friends
found themselves on crazy carpets
after what may have been 20 years or more
funny how we stop doing certain things
the sheer joy of sliding down a hill
the inevitable screams of joy
brought everyone back to their childhood

so
much
fun

it really is my favorite winter sport
if it is a sport

as the New Year is coming around
I have on my list to revisit simple pleasures
one thing has been
listening to records
thanks to my daughter who got a record player for Christmas
what a treat

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: stormy day

it’s the first big one
it’s been announced for days
last week the teachers were planing for it
“it” being, fingers crossed, school closure tomorrow
but that is tomorrow
today is Sunday
winter storm day

lovely this week, my boys are home for the holidays
I did The Big Grocery (which will most likely be followed by several little ones)
I stocked up on spirits
cooking and baking and wrapping has kept us all busy

This year we agreed to dig out our percussion tree
originally it was a large branch on a stand that was covered with percussion instruments for a performance piece
over the years it has been used off and on as our christmas tree
it’s kinda like a Charlie Brown tree but without the needles
or like a Dr. Seuss tree if we attach evergreen branches on it
I’ll show you next week when it’s decorated
I love it

This year the plan is to dig out the old train set
that is my husband’s train set
it will be placed around the tree
we are wrapping all of our presents in boxes and plain craft paper
each box will be painted as buildings and will create a town

We did that once when the kids were little
they decorated all the boxes
it was great
now that they are grown up they want to do it again
I love it

yesterday I made salty pumpkin caramels for the first time
in all my years of baking and cooking and jelly making I never bothered once to get myself a candy thermometer but once I saw that recipe online (and the beautiful video that went with it) I just decided it was time
you don’t want to mess up when it comes to candy
you can very much do it but, hey, I thought I was ready for a new utensil

today I’ve cut them up
just to give you an idea, those caramel contain: cream, sugar, maple syrup, butter, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, spices, and yes, corse salt to decorate, and enhance the whole melt in your mouth bring me to heaven experience

absolutely delicious
clic on CARAMEL for the link

alright, off I go, making tamales tonight!

Happy early Holidays

– hope there’s no school tomorrow –

 

 

 

 

Monday Lunch when you are friends with Heather

Heather is pretty unassuming. she is quiet, and she has been my friend since our kids were in playgroup. Now they are in university.
When she asks you to lunch you just say yes. On a Monday at one we had salad nicoise, open faced pear sandwiches with goat cheese and walnuts, and pavlova for dessert. I had never had salad nicoise even though I had studied it in french class. It is special.
So some friends can cook. Heather is one of them. We gabbed for two hours over our lunch, had seconds on the pavlova, told a few stories and just relished the food. She had invited two other friends as well.
Tonight for supper I feel like I should make some magic like Heather did but my guess is there is not a can of cream of mushroom soup in her cupboard.

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Catherine Bussiere: food and friendship

I was away this week end
amongst other things, I was visiting a good friend of mine who is moving away
it was a last chance to see her for a while
she is moving to Korea for several months and who knows where after that
as there is hardly anything left in her apartment I suggested that I would bring fresh goods from my garden and cook for her
aside from garden produce I had a prize item that I knew she would appreciate

for the past few months my husband has been passionate about wild mushrooms
if not everyday, every second day he will walk the woods to see what may have popped up
lately he has been searching for the great king bolete
it’s bolete season you see
in Italian it called porcini
whatever it’s called it is a star mushroom for any food aficionado

last Thursday my diligent men found “the king”
just imagine the excitement in the house
well that is for me and my husband
my lovely daughter could care less about fungus at the moment
someday maybe
so with whom could we share this wonderful treat?

turns out it was with my lovely friend Ambera

I do not have pictures of the meal I made for her in her empty apartment
where all that was left for tools was one small cutting board, two pots and a sharp knife
no more chairs or table
we were camping in the city
turns out all you need for a fabulous meal is a handful of fresh ingredients and good spirit

Before we left for the city I had picked : tomatoes, leeks, red onion, green beans, basil, parsley, I had a bulb of garlic and had brought some fresh homemade vinaigrette
Of course there was the king, all prepped up by my husband ready to be cooked
I bought red wine, cream and fresh linguini

Ambera had butter, salt and pepper
she had paper plates and plastic cups
and another bottle of wine

As soon as we arrived the first bottle was open
as they sat on the kitchen floor I got busy
First the leeks, cleaned and thinly chopped lengthwise
in a pan with melted butter I made them caramelize
just enough, then added the string beans with a little salt

that’s done
set it aside

chopped tomatoes, red onion and basil
put that on a plate with the vinaigrette
done

then,
so exciting because you know when you make something for the first time and you just know it’s bound to be delicious,
I melted a good chunk of butter and threw the kings in
I had them sautéed for a while until just brown
I added that whole bulb of garlic (minced)
mixed it a little and put in the rest of the first bottle of wine

by then there was about 1/2 cup left

I let that reduce as Ambera opened the second bottle

the wine was going down nicely and so was the conversation

when my wine had reduced to about a tablespoon (the one in the pan) I added the cream (1 cup of 35%)
you can’t go wrong with cream
In the meantime I had had the pasta cooking
by the time my cream had reduced (not too much) I added the parsley and the pasta and lovingly tossed that ensemble

I served my love and my friend
the paper plates filled with a meal fit for a king
glorious in it’s simplicity

on the floor of Ambera’s empty kitchen
we savored our friendship
in the most beautiful way
without artifice

with warmth, king boletes
and
oh what the heck, lets open one more bottle

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: Beckwith Bash

another stunning morning
can August be 90 days
90 days of August followed by 90 days of September
that would suit me very well
do I love those two months

today and all this coming week I will be busy
with all sorts of things to prepare and organize
this coming Saturday is our annual festival
a day filled with music, food and fun
we call it the Beckwith Bash
this year is it’s fifth anniversary

year after year this little event has grown
to something enjoyed by people of all ages
my highlight last year was a comment from a four year old asking if we could do this again cause it was so much fun
I like that
of course we will
you just keep on coming

this year we have several acts: blues, folk, rock and world music
something for all

the day starts with a drum circle followed by a yoga and a hula hoop workshop
that’s on my to do list of this week: finish those large hula hoops
fun
I like that on a list

a big part of the list is food
Gumbo is the star
I’d like to say that we make the best gumbo north of Louisiana
it is such a big claim I won’t say it
but it’s pretty good that’s for sure
then there’s treats like baklavas, brownies, oatcakes, butter squares
homemade ice tea
and for the next morning
fresh baked cinnamon rolls
those I prepare ahead of time, freeze them before the dough rise
get them out of the freezer at around midnight so by morning they are thawed and have risen just enough to put in the oven
it’s a nice treat for those who are helping with the clean up the next morning

if you are around next Saturday and don’t have much planned
do join us in Beckwith
good time, good food, good people

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credits this week goes to the beautiful Haley MacPhee who gracefully took pictures of the event last year

the poster is from my wonderful son Isaac

the video is mine with music from Fresia

it’s a family affair

Catherine Bussiere: boat rides and pies

it’s a drizzly day today
the sun is trying hard to break through
birds are hopping around delighted by all the worms coming out of the ground
my cats are sleeping
radio is playing
it’s a lovely Sunday morning

we’ve been invited my husband and I to a boat ride later today
If you’re thinking fancy styling boat think again
my friend who is man of all trade has inherited this old pontoon party boat
every time he invites us for a ride it is somewhat of an adventure
the tide is too low
we just about run out of gas
you never know
being a mechanic you feel safe enough that if something breaks he can repair it
plus we’re going down a river
we all can swim
the river’s edge is never too far

one thing that is always a given is that there will be plenty of delicious food
my friends love to eat and so do we

to add to the picnic today I will bring a fresh baked rhubarb pie
I have a huge patch of rhubarb in my garden and I just ignore the fact that rhubarb has a season and that the season may be over
as long as I see rhubarb there is potential for pies

Here is my recipe for 3 double crust pies

For the crust:

5 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 pound of shortening
about 1 cup of cold water with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (sometimes I mix an egg in my water)

Mix all dry ingredients well. Cut in the shortening until the shortening bits look like bits of oats. Add the liquid. Mix as little as you can to make it hold.
Put aside in the fridge until ready to roll.

Rhubarb filling:

You will need about 6 cups of cut rhubarb per pie and the sugar ratio is 1 cup of sugar for 4 cups of rhubarb. It’s neither too sweet or too tart.

18 cups of cubed rhubarb
4 1/2 cups of sugar
3/4 cups of flour (or tapioca)

The flour or tapioca acts as a thickening agent. Cooked rhubarb is really runny and no matter what, the juice from my pies always bubbles over and makes a mess in my oven.
If smoke is coming out of my kitchen chances are I’m cooking rhubarb pie.

Alright, I better smoke my kitchen

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: sushi time

sometimes one just has to learn how to make things because the things one wants isn’t available
in the food department there is plenty of that

in our cosy little villages and towns
you will find delicious fare
but because of lack of demand
the variety is limited

I love all sorts of food
sushi roll is one of them
it’s pretty, it’s healthy, it’s variation is infinite
plus, you feel good when you eat it

the secret in anything is the quality of your ingredients
aside from that the important thing with sushi is your rice
you will need sticky rice (or sushi rice) and you will need to rinse it well

Here is an adaptation of a recipe found online (I’ll put the link at the bottom)
It will make four sushi rolls.

For the rice:

1 cups sushi rice
1 cups water
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt

Place rice in a bowl and rinse with water several times until water is clear.
Put rice and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, cook for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed by the rice. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot and heat until sugar and salt is dissolved. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and fold in the vinegar mixture. Cool to room temperature.

To make the rolls you will need:

1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
4 sheets nori
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded
1 medium size carrot
1 red pepper
2 green onion
12 medium size shrimps
cream cheese (optional)

For serving:

Pickled ginger
Wasabi
Soy sauce

Cut all veggies into matchstick size. Lay 1 sheet of nori, shiny side down. Wet your fingers with water and spread about 1/2 cup of the rice evenly onto the nori. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds. Place veggies and in the center of the sheet. Grab the edge of the nori closest to you, keeping the fillings in place with your fingers, and roll it into a tight cylinder. Cut each roll into bite size pieces. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.

You do not need all the veggies mentioned above and you can replace shrimps with crab meat, fresh salmon, fresh tuna, or have none of it.
The beauty of these is that any of the above is optional except for the rice.
Although just rice might be a little boring

• You don’t like nori, use rice sheets instead (like the ones used for salad rolls)

infinite
I tell you

 

here’s is the link:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/california-roll-recipe/index.html

Look with Lorna

Hi Everyone, I would like to introduce you to Denny. She is Megan’s friend from Toronto  visiting for the week. We had fun learning about her and I think we taught her a few things as well. Norma was talking about going clamming and to our surprise Denny or Megan had no idea what that was. So on Wednesday I bought her a nice treat of fresh clams to try. I think she is hooked!  I did bring them another treat on Friday, chocolate puddin’ pie but honestly it was just because I knew I could eat the whole pie if I left it at home.

Denny

 

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Instead of Kiss the Cod, it’s Kiss the Quahog.

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This is what Denny was working on while she was here.

Pie 001

Pie 009

 

Diane Krys: Driving for Doughnuts

How far would you drive for a doughnut?  In my case, the answer is 300 kilometers or 186 miles: the distance from Edmonton to Calgary.  Last Saturday four of us jumped in a car and made a day trip to Calgary to sample Jelly Modern Doughnuts.  It was a bit of whimsy on a warm sunny day.

I think every culture has some version of a fried dough confection. I remember my Ukrainian aunties making a fried dough ball loaded with raisons.  It seemed to take forever for those raisons to cool down enough to eat but it made for a  fresh and tasty treat once they did.

On a daily basis, Jelly’s pastry chefs put their talents to work creating home made delights with a modern twist.  Instead of a hole in the center, there’s a depression filled with all sorts of creative concoctions like  Mexican chocolate cream topped with a candied slice of jalapeno or  vanilla chai cream topped with edible flower petals.  Even the basic jelly  is filled with homemade raspberry jelly.  I thought it was my  favorite until I remembered  the one with real lemon curd and   icing. It’s tangy with just the right amount of pucker for a lemon fanatic like me. With a group you get to do some sharing. Thank goodness.  It’s hard to choose one  when they all look so artful and delicious.

For anyone concerned about us having a day fueled by doughnuts and a 3 hour drive home on a sugar rush we did have a proper meal and got in some great exploring and walking too.  We ended our day in Prince’s Island Park. It was glorious to be in nature with kids, dogs, hula-hoopers and other strollers like us. There was a jailbreak glee in the air. We were all busting out of a long winter.

On the drive home that night I began thinking how we weren’t driving for doughnuts we were actually driving for excellence.  Something simple and abundant like doughnuts was elevated by someone’s passion and care. I first tasted them almost a year ago when I had a short stay in Calgary. Tales of this cute bakery cafe had the others keen to make a trip some day.  Excellence can do that. It can be a magnet. It can create an experience in relation to the thing itself and around it. Excellence begets excellence. I’m excited when I find someone doing something really exceptional  because it adds depth to my life experiences.  What would you go the extra mile for?  Do you go the extra mile for yourself  in your own endeavors? To me it’s not about perfection it’s about taking a step beyond the status quo and out of mediocrity to create something a little more personal and special.  It requires effort on both sides of the equation. I make the effort to support it in others and strive for it in my own life.    Excellence is about passion and passion always resonates for me , even in a doughnut. .

Catherine Bussiere: Sunny Sunday

it’s a gorgeous morning
the one we’ve all been waiting for around here
sunny, no clouds, it will be warm

this was a pancake morning
my husband makes the best
I’ll tell you what he does
he puts way more eggs then the recipe calls for
separate the whites from the yolks
beats the whites until light and fluffy
than gently adds it to the pancake mixture
(egg yolk, flour, milk, melted butter, vanilla – no baking soda or powder)

it’s like eating a cloud filled with maple syrup
slightly decadent

 

I really can’t sit here too long
so much to do
if only sit in the sun
and be thankful

I’ll most likely get my hand dirty
have a good Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: Grow a Farmer

 

Over the past few years
slowly but surely
there has been a movement
of young men and women
that have educated themselves
by school, trade or self
about the essence of who we are
our very core, implanted in us
to grow and gather our own food

a forgotten art

Taken care of by something so big that it has lost sight
and so have we
of natural beauty and perfection
in a need to control and profit
our health and our environment has been jeopardized

But it is so easy and we are so busy
to support such endeavor
I can go to one place
the world is there for me
from China to Argentina, Israel, Costa Rica
Fruits and vegetables, perfect, shined, preserved, waxed
flown express from unknown fields to impersonal mega stores

in the meantime the air is polluted
the water is polluted
those vegetables have lost their original traits
and we are made to believe that we should at all time eat
one cup of this and two cups of that

what to do, what to do
I’m so small and I’m just me

Well…

over the past few years
slowly but surely
there’s has been a movement
of young men and women
that have educated themselves
these men and women are working hard and are not hard to find

Go to your farmers market
join a CSA program (community supported agriculture)
buy locally grown produce
meet this new generation of growers
embracing the battle of health and well being
bring your neighbor
tell your coworker

It is an easy thing to do
it is a pleasant thing to do
it’s the right thing to do

A couple links for you
now that you are all excited about such a nice and easy way to promote beauty!

CSA in Amherst:  http://www.wysmykalfarm.ca

A great link for more csa and farmers market around Nova Scotia:
http://adventuresinlocalfood.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/2012-csa-list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Krys: Tulips, Tea and The Empress

I’ve been chasing spring to the lush, green tulip haven of Victoria, British Columbia. My husband’s work event was the catalyst so we extended the visit and made a little holiday of it. Since we were installed at the historic Empress hotel for the conference we embraced the experience and called it home for our entire stay. We’re pretty casual travelers so it was a treat to immerse ourselves in it’s lux ambience.

The hotel was built between 1904 and 1908 in  the Chateau style as evidenced by the steep slate roof and Gothic Revival gables.  The CPR ( Canadian Pacific Railway) ocean liners linked with  CPR trans-continental railway and a network right across Canada of grand “railway hotels” like the Empress.

It was such a different era in travel.  The world moved at a different pace and the features in the hotel reflected that with amenities like a writing room, conservatory, library, and a ballroom to name a few.  Changing times and two subsequent expansions  have seen the  detailed craftsmanship and general architecture preserved but most of the lavish original common spaces are now parceled off for meeting rooms or special events. Some ,like the writing room, were reincarnated. In 1954 it became the dark, exotic Bengal Lounge. In the past, it was all about luxury and leisure and I sense a different kind of dynamic now that it’s a hub for the hustle and bustle of many conferences.

The Empress is filled with beautiful black and white photos of days gone by,as well as, an archive. As I wandered the hotel I was able to piece together the original layout to some degree. I’d spy a feature like a stunning stained glass ceiling and remember it from an old photo of the conservatory filled with wicker chairs nestled amongst an array of foliage.  A spectacular decorative treatment that looked like carved wood but was actually original horse hair and plaster relief carvings placed the area as part of a much larger elegant dining room. I kept imagining what it must of been like to stay there during it’s original splendor.  Ladies would  be trailing steamer trunks full of frocks to take them through days filled with high teas and evenings in the ballroom.  Oh the glamor of it all.

The Empress continues their infamous daily high tea tradition and a rainy afternoon provided the perfect occasion for us to partake.  The tea room used to be the hotel’s grand entrance and reception area. It would have been quite a welcome for those traveling for weeks and months  crossing country and continent.

We sipped our tea and sampled dainty sandwiches and sweets while a pianist played softly in the corner. We watched the inner harbor through the rain and the steam roiling off our expertly brewed tea. It was  lovely.

There was  a richness and quality of experience you just don’t get with a giant “to go” thermos sitting in your car cup holder.  Some of those old traditions can make you realize how nice it is to take the time to stop and smell the roses or enjoy the tulips as the case may be.  Suddenly I want all my meals served on three tiers and prefaced with a bowl of fresh strawberries and cream. I also wonder how I could have missed the divine taste of a scone dolloped with cream and strawberry jam all this time.   I feel inspired to work up my own version of high tea on occasion now that I’m home. I’ll miss the harbor view but at least I know the tulips will be popping up relatively soon in Edmonton.  Anyone with a great scone recipe?

Catherine Bussiere: Oatcakes

These are my favorite oatcakes
A friend of mine brought me a batch years ago
she then gave me the recipe
which I have shared several times
Buttery and just sweet enough, they are the perfect companion to that afternoon tea

here it is

1 cup of softened butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup of oatmeal
1 cup of flour
a pinch of salt

Combine butter, sugar and vanilla.
Add flour, oatmeal and salt.
Roll between wax paper to about 1/4”
Cut into squares.
Bake for 10 minutes at 375˚

Want to dress them up
melt some chocolate
and dip them in
or zigzag over

• you may need to share this recipe

 

Gluten Free

by Catherine Bussiere

salad rolls are delicious, fresh, beautiful
one can put just about anything in them
they are gluten free
as the fine wrapper you will need is made from rice
there is a variety of option if you search a little
or you can just see what is in your refrigerator
to create your own combination
I put vermicelli to start
a little mango and avocado
sweet and creamy
red pepper and cucumber
keeps it fresh
chive and mint
it grows in my garden
(hardy chive and mint, first up in the spring, last to let go)
now best of all
because it is soooo tasty
Peanut Sauce
to dip those little rolls in
if you don’t like peanuts
or if you have allergies
no worries
there are other sauce

enjoy

* for additional fun, take pictures of the process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

preserves

Dear Diary, I never make preserves, and rarely eat them. Our house seems to like plain things like mustard pickles and strawberry jam. There, however is always jars of this and that open and around. Our sister in law has caught on to us and says she is not giving us anymore chutney. We smile, as the family joke goes, with relief.

However I do find them beautiful. Photogenic, they are. Once I remember a woman making a ery beautiful rug of preserve jars in a pattern of nine jars. They also serve as inspiration.

I know lots of people love them on the plate as well. Mostly I like them on the cupboard.

 

 

 

From the Downhomer cookbook

Sweet Mary Anne Bars from the Downhomer Cookbook, an old favourite of mine, made in Newfoundland

Melt together:

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix together over medium heat but do not boil. Add 2 cups rice crisps, half cup peanuts. Press into 8 by 8 pan. Melt chocolate chips and cover base with them. Cool and serve.

 

 

 

La Perla, I finally got there

Dear Diary, for years, since I was in university in 1987 I wanted to eat at La Perla in Darthmouth. When did I finally get there? I finally ate at this lovely restaurant in 2012. It goes to show that the longer you are in business , the better. We happened to be in Darthmouth and the restaurant was opened. I had haddock in a caper butter sauce and cheesecake with strawberries and caramel sauce. My husband had salmon with pesto and not even a taste of my cheesecake. I would have let him.

When I asked if I could look around the restaurant, the waiter said, “Make yourself at home”. I liked that response and checked out all the rooms. It was very lovely. The food was delicious. The service was great. And the view was of the Halifax Harbour..

 

 

 

how to eat a cookie

Dear Diary, I watched a little friend eating a cookie at the soccer field the other day and I thought, “Now that’s the way to eat a cookie, slow and deliberate, enjoying every bite.” The thing is though she did not have to” focus and be mindful”. She did not have to remind herself to slow down and enjoy. She was a natural at the art of cookie eating. She nibbled, and savoured and enjoyed every last the bite. In fact that last bit was in her hand for a few minutes. After she ate it, she licked her fingers, slowly of course. There was no gobbling, no stuffing it into you, no devouring. It was just as if she were queen of the slow food movement. This girl knew how to eat a cookie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mint Tea

Dear Diary,

Mint tea means summer evening. It means a big yellow chair and a book. It means I am ready to rest. Simply Pick some fresh mint leaves from the garden and steep in boiling water. It is the simplest idea around.

It is a cure for busy. It is a balm for tired. It is a recipe for simplicity.

Straight from the garden to your cup.

In the winter you can grow it on your window sill.

 

 

 

 

 

Fiddlehead and Lobster Chowder

Brenda told me she made this last week, and she gave me fiddleheads to make some of my own. Fiddleheads are the ferns that come up early in spring on the riverbanks around here. The fiddlehead is actually the fern before it unfolds. I made this for supper last night. Simple food. Good Food.

Fiddlehead and Lobster Chowder

1 onion

2 cups fiddle head greens

1 lobster Cold Pack

3 potatoes

2 cups blend cream

4 cups of water or enough to cover potatoes

3 tbsp olive oil or butter, salt and pepper

Fry finely chopped onion in butter. Then toss in potatoes cubed and fiddleheads. Boil for fifteen to twenty minutes until tender. Toss in salt and pepper. Put in cold pack, turn off heat and let sit for twenty minutes. Stir in blend cream or coffee cream.

Serve in a beautiful bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

some things do matter

 

Dear Diary, One night my husband came home from his childhood home with these beautiful tools. They had been his mothers, and now that she had left this world, they were ours.

He brought them home like the artifacts they were, solid remembrances of a life time of lebanese cooking. The cousa digger, that hollowed out pale green squash that were to be filled with rice. The mamoul shaper, that made the easter pastry filled with nuts or dates, that were dusted with powdered sugar for celebration.

We say that things don’t matter. We toss that phrase around like it’s the truth, but some things do matter because, the thing itself, is a reminder of what mattered, what blessed us, who loved us, who made us tea when we were tired, combed our babies hair, fed us, and loved us, and taught us that we are here to be good to each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

mary jones and the amazing fruitcake

Dear Diary, After Mary Jones left to go back to the Island after our hook in she sent me this note with a fruitcake recipe to share.So here it is….

What a great time we had at the “hook-in” on Sat! I’m going to make my fruit cakes tomorrow which reminded me to send along the recipe to you which was given to me by a NFLD hooker who used to live here on the Island. The best white fruit cake ever!!!!! Cheers… Mary Ploughman Jones

WHITE FRUIT CAKE WITH AMARETTO

(can easily be doubled)

Soak in Amaretto overnight (about 1 C):

1 1/2 C golden raisins

4 oz dried citon peel

4 oz green cherries

4 oz red cherries

8 oz mixed fruit

Cream well:

1 C white suger

1 C butter

4 eggs (one at at time…beat well)

1 tsp almond flavouring

1 4 oz pkg slivered almonds

Mix a 1/4 C flour with fruit.

Add 21/4 C flour to batter

Mix fruit in batter.

Use parchment paper to fill line loaf pans 3/4 full.

Bake at 275 for 2 hrs (watch closely after 1 1/2 hrs)

Mary’s extras…

Here is Mary , handcutting her wool at the hook in

Now if you havn’t drunk the rest of the Amaretto….poke holes in the cakes while still slighty warm and drizzle Amaretto over them.Soak cheese cloth in Amaretto and wrap cooled cakes with that, then Saran wrapand tin foil and store in cool place. Now finish the bottle!