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    Lemon Tarts


    2014 - 10.20

    One of Karin’s favourite treats at Farmer’s Markets is lemon tarts by Sweet Thea, so for her birthday I decided that I’d make her some lemon tarts. Problem is, I don’t like lemons, so not really in my cooking wheelhouse, nor do I really want to taste as I go along, because I won’t be able to tell if it’s good, because I wouldn’t expect to like it.

    The tarts Karin likes are 4″ tarts I believe and they go for about $4/each, so the goal was to beat that, and aim for similar quality/taste. We already had a bag of lemons from Costco because Karin was thinking of making lemon cordial but hadn’t gotten around to it yet (approx value $6-7 for ~11 lemons). I found this recipe for lemon curd and thought it sounded reasonable, it’s an Ina Garten recipe (Barefoot Contessa).

    I bought 120 3″ tart shells from Costco (~$11 on coupon), and ended up pre-baking one package of them (30).  Used 4 lemons as suggested in the recipe, which resulted in 3/4 cups of juice instead of 1/2 cup (I added it all anyway). Instead of using a food processor, I just added the zest and the sugar to the mixer and let them mix together for a bit.

    The end result is that it’s the right amount of lemon curd to fill the 30 shells.  If you haven’t made lemon curd before, it’s actually pretty easy, the one thing to be aware of is that after you’ve finished the mixing but before you’ve gone through the heating/cooking portion it’s going to look like it’s been ruined, the slow heating melds everything together again and it turns beautifully smooth.

    Now if I need to make Karin some tarts in the future, I’ll be able to find the recipe again.

    Rhubarb Sauce


    2013 - 07.23

    I love rhubarb. Crisp, pie, but one of my favourite ways to eat it is in sauce over ice cream or (this may be kinda weird…) on Rice Krispies with a lot of milk. By the end of it, the milk has curdled a little bit, but that’s totally the best part! I planted a rhubarb this year in a large pot and it’s doing well (as long as the aphids don’t destroy it…we have a massive ant colony in our yard and they’ve taken advantage of some of my garden. Grrr… ) but haven’t harvested it yet. Jen, David’s sister, bought a bunch of rhubarb from the farmer’s market for me and gave it to me on Mother’s Day. I cooked it into sauce, and wanted to write down the recipe here so I can finally take it off the whiteboard where it’s been since May. :/ Hopefully I’ll be able to remember it’s here so that I can calculate how much rhubarb to buy/harvest in order to make a decent amount of canned sauce. I’ve frozen the small amount of sauce I didn’t get around to eating this time around, but I’d much rather have a large batch that isn’t taking up any space in the freezer. As of this writing, we don’t have a separate freezer at our house, but that’s probably our next major household expense.  This is a crazy easy thing to make, so I mostly wanted to be able to quickly check for quantity, and because I liked the tartness/sweetness ratio I pulled off, so I wouldn’t have to experiment.

    Sorry for the weird back and forth with metric and imperial measurements, and the imprecision I put in…I’m just kinda going with what I’ve got written down, and honestly, it’s REALLY hard to screw this up.

    Karin’s Rhubarb Sauce (makes 4 cups of sauce, plus one serving over ice cream. What? I wasn’t going to waste it!)

    About 1 kg of raw rhubarb trimmed, washed and cut into approximately 1″ chunks. *
    2 cups of white sugar. **

    Put the sugar into a large pot or saucepan and warm it up (not necessary, but it seemed to melt the sugar a bit easier) then put the cut up rhubarb into the pot with the sugar and stir it up. Turn off the heat and let it sit for anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours until the sugar melts. The recipes I found had a range of times. Turn on the heat to about medium and cook until the rhubarb is soft (about 5-15 minutes). Make sure you’re stirring. Mash with a potato masher if you want it smoother, or leave it for a chunkier sauce. Remember that the sauce will be more tart if you leave it in chunks because the sugar probably won’t penetrate into the fruit.

    Eat right away, freeze or can using proper canning techniques.

    * DISCARD ALL LEAVES. They’re extremely toxic. Most recipes mention this, and most people know, but just in case someone stumbles across this recipe and didn’t know that. Because I have a 6 month old who likes to chew on my fingers, I also wore disposable vinyl gloves and washed up really well. Paranoid? Maybe.

    ** I like sour and bitter things a LOT (tonic water, beer, lemon etc), so this might be too tart for some people. Add sugar to taste. You can add sugar pretty much any time while the sauce is still hot, or even when serving individually. :) I’ve also heard of people using honey, which sounds freaking amazing, but I have no idea how much to substitute.

    Protected Lakes and Rivers


    2012 - 12.12

    Last week a picture started circulating around Facebook:

    On Dec 4, 2012, Canada had 2.5 million protected rivers and lakes.  On Dec 5, 2012, Canada has 82 protected rivers and lakes.

    Turns out that the numbers are off in the image, but it’s still mostly true, to a point.  I wondered what the list of protected waterways was, and here’s what I found (from http://elizabethmaymp.ca/is-your-lake-safe, where they put the list in a drop down for no real reason):

    Alberta

    1. Athabasca River
    2. Bow River
    3. Lake Athabasca

    British Columbia

    1. Columbia River
    2. Fraser River
    3. Great Bear Lake
    4. Harrison Lake
    5. Harrison River
    6. Kamloops Lake
    7. Kinbasket Lake
    8. Kootenay Lake
    9. Kootenay River
    10. Lake Revelstoke
    11. Little Shuswap Lake
    12. Lower Arrow Lake
    13. Mara Lake
    14. Okanagan Lake
    15. Peace River
    16. Pitt Lake
    17. Pitt River
    18. Powell Lake
    19. Shuswap Lake
    20. Skeena River
    21. South Thompson River
    22. Thompson River
    23. Upper Arrow Lake
    24. Williston Lake

    Manitoba

    1. Assiniboine River
    2. Lake Manitoba
    3. Lake Winnipeg
    4. Lake Winnipegosis
    5. Red River
    6. Winnipeg River

    New Brunswick

    1. Saint John River

    Newfoundland and Labrador

    1. Lake Melville

    Nova Scotia

    1. Bras d’Or Lake
    2. Great Bras d’Or Lake
    3. LaHave River

    Northwest Territories

    1. Great Slave Lake
    2. Mackenzie River

    Nunavut

    1. Baker Lake

    Ontario

    1. Adams Lake
    2. Balsam Lake
    3. Benson Lake
    4. Big Bald Lake
    5. Big Duck Pond
    6. Big Rideau Lake
    7. Buckhorn Lake
    8. Cain Lake
    9. Cameron Lake
    10. Canal Lake
    11. Cataraqui River
    12. Chemong Lake
    13. Clear Lake
    14. Colonel By Lake
    15. Cranberry Lake
    16. Cranesnest Lake
    17. Detroit River
    18. Dog Lake
    19. Dows Lake
    20. Duck Pond
    21. Eagle Lake
    22. Fairy Lake
    23. Fenelon River
    24. French River
    25. Gloucester Pool
    26. Grand River
    27. Holland River
    28. Holland River East
    29. Humber River
    30. Indian Lake
    31. Joseph Lake
    32. Katchewanooka Lake
    33. Kemptville Creek
    34. Lake Couchiching
    35. Lake Erie
    36. Lake Huron
    37. Lake of Bays
    38. Lake of the Woods
    39. Lake Ontario
    40. Lake Scugog
    41. Lake Simcoe
    42. Lake St. Clair
    43. Lake Superior
    44. Little Bald Lake
    45. Little Cranberry Lake
    46. Little Lake
    47. Long Island Lake
    48. Loon Lake
    49. Lost Lake
    50. Lovesick Lake
    51. Lower Buckhorn Lake
    52. Lower Rideau Lake
    53. Mary Lake
    54. Mitchell Lake
    55. Moose River
    56. Mosquito Lake
    57. Murray Canal
    58. Muskoka Lake
    59. Newboro Lake
    60. Niagara River
    61. Nipigon Lake
    62. Nipissing Lake
    63. North Branch of Muskoka River
    64. Opinicon Lake
    65. Otonabee River
    66. Ottawa River
    67. Peninsula Lake
    68. Petawawa River
    69. Pigeon Lake
    70. Pigeon River
    71. Pollywog Lake
    72. Rainy Lake
    73. Rainy River
    74. Rice Lake
    75. Rideau Canal
    76. Rideau River
    77. River Styx
    78. Rosedale River
    79. Rosseau Lake
    80. Sand Lake
    81. Scugog River
    82. Severn River
    83. Seymour Lake
    84. Sparrow Lake
    85. St. Clair River
    86. St. Marys River
    87. Stevens Creek
    88. Stony Lake
    89. Sturgeon Lake
    90. Talbot River / Trent Canal
    91. Tay River / Canal
    92. The Canal
    93. Timiskaming Lake
    94. Trent Canal
    95. Trent River / Canal
    96. Upper Chemong Lake
    97. Upper Rideau Lake
    98. Vernon Lake
    99. Welland Canal
    100. Whitefish Lake

    Quebec

    1. Canal de Beauharnois
    2. Lac des Deux Montagnes
    3. Lac Memphremagog
    4. Lac Saint-Jean
    5. Lachine Canal
    6. Richelieu River
    7. Riviere des Mille-Iles
    8. Riviere des Prairies
    9. Riviere Saint-Maurice
    10. Saguenay River

    Saskatchewan

    1. North Saskatchewan River
    2. South Saskatchewan

    Yukon

    1. Yukon River

    Other

    1. Arctic Ocean
    2. Atlantic Ocean
    3. Pacific Ocean
    4. Saint Lawrence River

    I’m not really sure personally how I feel about it.  To some degree I’m inclined to oppose it on principle, but I haven’t done any research to see if I actually think that this change is dumb, and just because the conservatives did it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s stupid.  That said, it definitely seems like a step in the wrong direction when you just look at the numbers.  Must say that I don’t feel motivated to look into it further however, because if I find that it I disagree, then I’m left opposing a majority government which will continue to do what it wants…

    NAS: recommendations?


    2012 - 12.10

    It is time for us to invest in some Network Attached Storage (NAS), and since we aren’t currently invested in any particular ecosystem, it seemed like a good time to see what everyone else is using and liking.  There seems to be a large assortment of options out there, but in general everything looks good when you read the spec’s.  Features which seem important to us:

    • Support for at least one of RAID 5, 6 or 10 (or equivalent)
    • Support for at least 4 drives
    • Might be nice if it supported mixed drive sizes, or dynamic adding of discs later (or swapping in discs)
    • Should support at least 2TB drives (if not larger)
    • Should support Gigabit connection
    • Management software should be usable

    I’d also like to hear opinions on drives for use in a NAS.  So feel free to offer your opinion, educated or otherwise ;-)

    Anti-Virus: what do you use?


    2012 - 12.08

    We’ve got a couple of subscriptions of various anti-virus products which are expiring and I thought rather than simply renew what we have, I’d consider switching to something else.  So I’m curious what people are using now, and whether they are happy with it (and would recommend it).  Our requirements are pretty straightforward:

    • anti-virus that works and which doesn’t make your computer unusable due to the amount of processing the AV does
    • we’ve got at least 2 desktops (Win XP, Win 7), 1 laptop (Win 7) which I’d probably install the same software on
    • additionally we have a desktop (Win ME), and an iPhone which could potentially make use of an appropriate product as well
    • anti-virus is the only feature which is critical, but most of them these days include additional features so we’re not adverse to having those too, although none of them have leapt out at us as being necessary
    • cost is not a significant concern, but it would be nice to get reasonable value

    Opinions?

     

    Moving: recommendations wanted


    2012 - 11.13

    So we’re moving at the end of the month from a 2 bedroom condo, 880 sqft, on the 16th floor to a 1,400 sqft upper level suite.  So we have elevators at one end and stairs at the other.  We have too much stuff (and we’re working on that), but if anyone has recommendations or experiences that they can share (positive or negative) it would be appreciated.  Specifically about:

    • movers, to use or not to use
    • rental trucks, good or bad
    • frog boxes or other moving boxes/supplies
    • cleaners and/or rug shampooers
    • anything else that you think might be important that we might not have thought of

    The total distance for the move is about 5km, but it might be the case that we have to be out on Nov 30th and can’t be in until Dec 1st.

    Kal Tire: True Service


    2012 - 10.26

    This story is several weeks old now, but it’s worth telling regardless.

    Karin and I were headed up to Whistler to walk around the village and to go to the BCDSS AGM.  We left in the late morning, stopped in Squamish for lunch and gas, and then 3 kms later we heard a noise, turned out it was a flat tire.  We pulled off the highway and called BCAA.  The local towing company arrived and helped us change the tire.  We decided to carry on and visit Whistler.

    It wasn’t until several days later that I had a chance to go and see someone about the tire.  Sadly it’s not the first time I’ve had a flat tire.  The last time I had a flat, I was told that I needed to replace all 4 tires (which is sometimes the danger when you have an all wheel drive vehicle).  So I had 3 identical spare tires, so I was hoping that one of those would be a suitable replacement.

    Based on a recommendation from my dad I went to Kal Tire, just dropped in, no appointment.  Waited a couple of minutes and one of the employees (Dwayne if I’m not mistaken) came out to take a look at my flat, which was not salvageable.  He then opened up one of the extra tires I had, and determined that it was suitable.  He told me that if I left the flat (on the rim) and the replacement tire there for a couple of hours (1.5 actually) that he’d get it mounted for me, and they could just put it on when I came back later in the afternoon.

    So I left the stuff behind and did some shopping, then went back.  It only took about 15 minutes or so after I was back for them to put the new tire on.  They also cleaned all my existing tires (made them look like new).

    So after all that, they charged me the outrageous fee of NOTHING!  That’s right, they did it for free.

    Now what makes that exceptional, is that I was totally prepared and expecting to pay for the service.  Additionally, the tires on my car were not purchased at Kal Tire, nor were the extra three that I had.  In fact they don’t even sell the tire or brand that I have.  So it was very much appreciated, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you consider Kal Tire for your next tire needs or service appointment.

    Going to Edmonton


    2012 - 09.30

    We’re going to be spending some time in Edmonton in October.  Karin has spent a small amount of time there previously, and if I’ve been it was long enough ago that I have minimal memory of it.

    Regardless, anyone got any recommendations for:

    • things to do?
    • places to see?
    • places to eat?
    • places to stay?

    Anyone got special requests for things they want brought back from Edmonton?

    CSA: Community Supported Agriculture


    2012 - 08.20

    Stumbled across this the other day, and there’s at least one member of the audience who will find it interesting.  It’s the SFU: Local Food Project, and one of the things they talk about is Community Supported Agriculture.

    C.S.A. stands for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA’s are a  commitment between a farm and a community of supporters. Supports pay up for their share of the harvest at the beginning of the season, so farmers have a source of income at their time of highest expenses. The farm provides the supporters with fresh high quality produce throughout the season, usually in a weekly box.

    They have a nice list of different CSA related organizations: http://sfulocalfood.ca/resources/where-to-get-local/community-supported-agriculture

    Who knows you might even find the rest of the site interesting too.

    Deep Fried Mars Bar


    2012 - 07.08

    Last night went a little different than I expected, after a stop at Greek Fest for baclava (sorry it’s over now, if you didn’t go) I managed to end up at The Rumpus Room*.

    As part of that adventure a deep fried Mars bar was ordered… it however was forgotten until we were ready to leave at which point it appeared.  Just to be clear, I didn’t order it, but I did try it.  I’m going to say that I didn’t like this particular one, but I could imagine possibly enjoying a different implementation.

    For me the problem was the batter, it was overpowering, but it wasn’t overpowering because it was a regular fish and chips beer batter or something.  Instead it appeared to be a specially crafted dessert batter, which in other circumstances might have been delicious.  In this case however, I felt that the cinnamon in the batter overpowered the taste of the Mars bar, which in my mind at least defeats the purpose of the dish.

    Regardless it was an interesting night.  So have you tried the deep fried Mars bar before?  Did you like it?  Where’s the best place in Vancouver to have one?

     

    * Only way to keep the long story short is to pretend that there was a chapter break, and that no further explanation of the shananigans was required.