Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wedding Season - Allie and Eric's Buck and Doe

I almost thought that I was going to Allie and Eric's buck and doe on Saturday night by myself. After a full day of Newfie Horseshoes and drinking, neither Tim nor I were really in any state to keep going. We fell asleep once we got home and when we woke up around 8:00, Tim actually thought it was the next morning and we had missed the whole thing!

While I got ready, he made a pot of coffee. I thought a shower would be more helpful, but he definitely won out - by the end of the night (who am I kidding? Twenty minutes in) I was absolutely exhausted and he had his second wind. 

Drunk love!

Tim picking numbers and cards and buying insurance and all sorts of other fun fundraising activities.

Allie and Eric were originally planning on holding the buck and doe at their own house, but eventually realized that that option might actually be more inconvenient than renting a venue. They (or perhaps the bridal party) chose the back room at Splice Lounge instead. It was a great choice!! 

Tim and all the ladies doing the toonie toss!

The buck and does I'm used to from back home are slightly different than they are here in Peterborough. back home, you generally make all your money through drink sales. You rent an arena or the community hall and all your slightest acquaintances show up. There are usually a couple of hundred people. But it's easier - when you live in a place where the nearest bar is a half hour's drive away, these parties are huge draws for people to come out and socialize.

In Peterborough, I've noticed it's more likely to be your closest friends attending - usually the ones that will be invited to the wedding. Also, most venues don't let you do your own bar, so you don't make money off of the drinks, or if you do it's only 25 or 50 cents. Most of the money at these events are through games. 

Blaire and the rest of the wedding party did a great job organizing various fundraising games. You could buy insurance that guaranteed you wouldn't have to eat something nasty, you could pick a card to win a $50 bill. There were 50/50 tickets and raffle tickets. There was a longest hula-hooping competition. You could pay to pop a balloon for a prize. As always, there were the toonie tosses. Plus there were lots of great prizes - lots of booze, a patio umbrella, golfing gear, beauty products. It was very well organized, and very well run. 

The space was also really great. Because fewer people here generally come - or they come and then leave, rather than staying the whole night - an arena or community hall is just a bad idea. You need a fairly intimate space that makes it feel like a party. There were lots of people at Allie and Eric's, but it definitely felt like a private party. The back room at Splice was just perfect. 

Male love dance photo courtesy of special guest photographer Blaire Yake

Once the buck and doe had wrapped up around 11:00, the boys had a crazy dance party and then we went to Riley's. It was a great night - now I just can't wait until the wedding!

Last Night's Dinner - Rotini with Garlic Scape Pesto, Garlic Scape Bread, and a Cherry Blueberry Salad with Almonds

While it still seems to be taking up a good portion of the fridge, Tim and I have started attacking the By the Bushel produce. It gives us a good reason to experiment with things. Tim especially likes this kind of explorative cooking. I like that it makes me find new recipes. 

Tim trying the rhubarb ginger syrup out with champagne. He liked it, I didn't - but I think that's because I don't really like champagne. I want to try the syrup with some tonic water and white rum, or maybe even with Sprite to give it some sweetness. 


Our starter salad - rip a bunch of mesclun greens into bite sized pieces. Pit some cherries and cut them in half. Add cherries and a handful of blueberries to salad. Whisk together even parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a little bit of truffle mustard. Season dressing with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Dress salad. Garnish with bacon bits, sliced almonds, and freshly grated parmegiano reggiano cheese.

Our main course was a garlic scape pesto pasta with garlic scape garlic bread. Tim wanted to make the pesto by hand, but I made him use the Magic Bullet instead, because I was really wanting to see how it worked. It was pretty cool - like a blender, there definitely needs to be enough liquid in there if you're working with wetish ingredients. Making the topping for the garlic bread didn't really puree the scapes at all, which was okay. The long pieces of scape actually looked really pretty.

Garlic Scape Garlic Bread

1/8 cup butter, softened
2 garlic scapes, cut into 2-3" pieces
2 cloves garlic
1 baguette, cut into thin slices on the diagonal
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Grated parmegiano reggiano

Preheat broiler in oven. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil.

Put butter, scapes, and garlic into Magic Bullet with cross blades. Pulse until garlic is minced and garlic scapes are broken down. Spread mixture on baguette slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with parmegiano reggiano. Put under broiler until cheese is bubbly - watch closely! Burns VERY quickly!

Rotini with Garlic Scape Pesto
Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers

1 lb rotini pasta
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise, then into 1 cm wide half-disks
1 bell pepper, cut into small chunks
1/2 bundle of garlic scapes
Generous handful of basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup of chunks of parmegiano reggiano
Olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Season chicken with salt and pepper and saute until cooked over medium heat. Remove to a bowl and cover. In the same pan, saute zucchini and pepper with salt and pepper until tender. Add chicken back to vegetables.

In Magic Bullet, pulse scapes, basil, garlic, and parmegiano reggiano with enough olive oil to form a thick, chunky paste. Season with lots of salt and pepper. This will smell and taste VERY pungent at this point - don't worry. As soon as you apply heat the garlic scapes really come down in flavour.

Dump pasta into saute pan with veggies and chicken (or vice versa, if your saute pan isn't large enough). Add pesto to taste. Add some or all of the pasta water until you have coated all of the pasta mix with pesto. Taste for seasoning. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper and grated parmegiano reggiano.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


 I only get my hair cut once every three months - it really doesn't grow that fast. Plus I don't really style it too often, so it usually isn't in too bad of condition. For some reason, though, this time I had split ends like crazy. Maybe I need to be better about taking my Biotin every single day.

The before version.

The after version - bye-bye dead ends!

I get my hair cut by Jessica at Catalina Salon and she's amazing. I wish my hair wasn't so fine and thin, but there's only so much she can do!

1st Annual Newfie Horseshoes Tournament

Hey everyone! Sorry about the delay - it was a busy weekend and I've been in training since with no time to write up blog posts. 

Part of the busy weekend was the first annual Newfie Horseshoes Tourney at Brian and Julie's. 

Chris taking a toss.

To those who aren't familiar with Newfie horseshoes, the target is a small square box with a cylinder inside. Instead of a horseshoe, you're throwing a small plastic-covered metal washer from a distance of 21 feet. If the washer lands inside the cylinder, you get 5 points. Inside the box but outside of the cylinder you receive 3 points. If you land outside of the box but touching the box or within a couple of millimeters of touching the box, you get one point.

The boys keeping cool with drinks - Jayden, Tim, Kirk, and Curtis.

Each team has two players. One player from each team goes to each end of the field. Players then rotate through throws. i.e. Player 1 from Team A throws, Player 1 from Team B throws, Player 2 from Team A throws, Player 2 from Team B throws. The first team to get to 21 points wins. If a player from one team makes a good throw for points, the points will be negated if the player from the other team manages to make a throw worth the same amount of points. 

Tim and I loving life in the beautiful weather!

The tournament was set up as a two-game knockout. Lose two and you're out. Unfortunately (I did warn him) Tim and I were the team that lost our first two games. 

Dave with a nice toss. 

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It had been super hot earlier in the week and cooled down towards the weekend. Even still, it was HOT out there in the sun. There was a tiny bit of a breeze and it was perfect when the sun was behind a cloud. As you can see from these pictures, however, the clouds were pretty fluffy and the sun never stayed behind them long. 

Jimmy had quite the follow-through on his throws. 

The tournament board - Chilly Willy (Curtis and Brad) wound up taking home the cash at the end of the day.

Dave with an apparently successful toss.

There were a number of different throwing styles, some more successful than others. Brian did extremely well with his slight frisbee tossing method. I did much worse with my bowling-style toss. Tim told me I needed to get more flip in the washer. A lot of the guys seemed to have good success with a really high lofting throw.

The peanut gallery during games. There may have been a little heckling going on.

The whole crew post games, trying to get a little reprieve from the boiling sun. 

I'm not sure if my cheeks are sunburned or if I just have a bit of a drunk glow going on - there was a LOT of drinking going on. 

Mike may have fallen prey to the drinking and the sun.

Tim and Toby hanging out. 

Toby the Wonder-Dog! He actually had to stay inside most of the day, even though he didn't want to. It was way too hot outside for his moving mountain of fur. 

Tim saying goodbye to Parcells after a long afternoon. 

Brian and Julie also provided a BBQ of hamburgers and gigantic hot dogs, which was absolutely delicious. I can't wait until next year to go to the second annual! I might need to get some practicing in beforehand, though, or Tim will be kicking me off the team.

Friday, 22 June 2012

James and the Mass of Rhubarb

I came to the realization last night that there was no way our CSA produce was going to fit in the fridge unless I did something with all the rhubarb James gave me last week. I LOVE rhubarb. But this much of it was a bit overwhelming, so it had just stayed in it's bag in the fridge. Once emptied for washing, it filled up nearly our entire sink!!

Josh was laughing when I told him I was processing the rhubarb, but that's really what it came down to - this made four big bags of chopped rhubarb for the freezer, plus 3 cups of chopped rhubarb in the fridge to use this weekend, plus 2 cups of chopped rhubarb to make into Rhubarb Ginger Syrup.

The syrup at least happened last night. I wanted it to be ready to taste while Josh and Rachel were still over, but it needed to cool right down, and that takes a while from boiling. It turned out the most beautiful blush pink colour. I can't wait to use this in cocktails, maybe with gin or champagne or white rum. 

CSA - First Basket of the Season

In between the beer store and Rachel's place for a swim before the storm, Tim and I popped over to the By the Bushel office to pick up our first haul of CSA goodies!

A few of these things are easy. Snow peas I would put in just about anything. They'll probably get stir-fried with the bell peppers we already have in the fridge. Green onions are another no brainer, they go in everything.

The sprouts I'll probably throw on a sandwich like this one - home cut artisanal bread, and a thick layer of goat cheese. Maybe some roasted red peppers like they do at The Planet. 

We don't eat a lot of salads, but the mesclun mix could become any (or all) of these beauties:

Then we get to the hard things: the radishes, the garlic scapes, and the Chinese cabbage. One of the reasons I love the CSA idea so much is that you get random vegetables like this - I like to try new things. 

I have never really liked radishes. They're too much for me - too pungent, too sharp, too hit you in the face. I don't find they play nice with other flavours.

Just like with onions and garlic, I imagine cooking them, as shown above, could mellow the flavour. 

There's a gentleman at the market who sells garlic scapes and he seems to love them most in pesto. I think making pesto with them would be a good inaugural use of the Magic Bullet Sarah got me for my birthday. I also wouldn't mind trying a few of the following recipes - we got two big bundles of scapes, so we have the opportunity to do some different things. 

And then finally we have the Chinese cabbage, which is the only thing that I look at and have no clue about. I was originally thinking cabbage = slaw of some kind, but the leaves are pretty leafy. I haven't tried it yet, but I have it in my mind that they might be too tough/bitter to eat raw. Tim's opinion is that Chinese vegetables are almost all braised or stir-fried. After a little bit of research, I found out that Chinese cabbage is also known as Napa cabbage. It can actually be eaten raw. Here are a few recipes I might try:

Part of me kind of wants to attempt making kimchi, but all the recipes make a LOT, and I've never even tried it before. 

Lots of things to try in the next two weeks before we get the next load - time to get cooking!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Eating Out - Jack Astor's in Whitby

Prior to the Lady A concert on Saturday night in Toronto, we stopped at Jack Astor's in Whitby for an early dinner. Not early enough, given that we still missed the opening act of the concert, but it was definitely a good stop. The patio at Jack Astor's was great, the weather was amazing, and the food was really good. 

Heike and I 

Blaire, Heike, and I all got the Mediterranean Chicken Focaccia Sandwich. Kaela was also going to order it but changed her mind at the last minute. The sandwich was great - the focaccia was chewy but not hard, the vegetables were well cooked and seasoned, the chicken was a good portion. I got fries as a side and found them decently cooked. They could have been a bit crispier and they needed more seasoning. 

Kaela and Blaire

I've started a new budget, so I was pretty conscious of how much I was spending and didn't get a drink other than water. I'm glad - I didn't need the alcohol or the sugar. I wanted to order something under $15 and I'm glad I did that as well. The sandwich was $12.96 and more than a big enough portion with the fries. 

Kaela's Goldfish croutons!

Kaela's meal was the funniest. She ordered a caesar salad off the children's menu and it was so strange. It was lettuce, caesar salad dressing, and Goldfish crackers. I think she was a little bit disappointed, but we were all really amused. No croutons, no bacon, no parmesan cheese. Kind of a strange salad!

Concert Series - Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Thompson Square

Last year was a great year for concerts for me. I saw the Hip, Sam Roberts, Big Wreck, Wintersleep, and the Trews multiple times. This year, due to limited funds, I've had to cut that way back, but when Blaire asked if I wanted to see Lady Antebellum in Toronto, how could I say no?

Ladies night out! Me, Blaire, Kaela, and Heike.

We missed the first opening act, which was Thompson Square, but I'm not a huge fan so I wasn't very disappointed. The second opening act was Darius Rucker, who used to be the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish.

I liked Darius Rucker's music before this, but I'm so much more of a fan now - he was AMAZING on stage. Lots of energy, insane voice. He sang a mix of his new country stuff and his old Hootie and the Blowfish stuff and the crowd was absolutely loving it. He sounded incredible.

Lady A took the stage just before 9:00 pm and kept it going until 10:30. It was a great set. It was obviously only a small selection of music from their three albums, but they played most of their big hits. 

The three members of the band are Hilary, Charles, and Dave. Hilary and Charles do the lead vocals, while Dave provides harmony and plays most of the lead instrumental parts. 

This is video from 'Dancin' Away With My Heart'. I apologize in advance for the sound quality - apparently the microphone on my cell did not like the bass. 

Hilary started off a little bit pitchy, but that levelled off throughout the concert. I loved her outfit. 


I was super impressed with Charles' vocals. He sounded amazing - exactly like he does on the album. He was also a ball of energy and really engaged the crowd. While Hilary seemed to be riding it and kept it fairly mellow, Charles was SO fired up. 

Charles must have been so sweaty - his deep-V t-shirt hid it well. 

This clip is from 'American Honey' - lots of audience participation . . . Yes, you can hear me (and everyone else) singing in this one. 

I really loved how Hilary and Charles interacted, though. Given the fact that they're both married to someone else, they had amazing chemistry onstage. 

This video clip is from 'Love Don't Live Here' off of their first album. 

The entire band used the whole stage, frequently coming to the wings for instrumental solos or to sing to the crowds at the sides. It was great, because we were only fifteen feet or so from the right hand side of the stage. 

About halfway through Lady A's set, they called Thompson Square and Darius Rucker back onto stage with them and sang a few songs, including covering Black Water by the Doobie Brothers and doing Hootie and the Blowfish's Let Her Cry. I wasn't impressed by Thompson Square's vocals, it made me even more alright with us missing their set. 

Everyone up on stage together!

This video clip is of Lady A and Darius Rucker singing 'Let Her Cry' from his Hootie and the Blowfish days.

After the obligatory pause while everyone screamed for an encore, they came back onstage to finish up the night with 'Need You Now'. This was just an amazing concert. I would recommend them to anyone - they are so talented!!