Blueberry Grunt

I was going to write about wine today, but today’s dessert was too tasty not to feature.

Blueberry grunt is a Nova Scotian recipe that none of my friends have ever heard of. Mum used to make it on rare occasions, and it’s completely delicious in every way. It tastes sort of like blueberry pie with ice cream but is a thousand times easier to make because there’s no real pastry involved, just fluffy heavenly biscuits to soak up all the melty ice cream and syrupy blueberry goo.

I couldn’t resist a giant container of blueberries at the store the other day, so I decided to give it a go for the first time. I think it turned out quite well – the sauce is possibly reduced a little too much, but it still tastes fantastic.

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It’s really easy to make – just mix a quart of blueberries and a cup of sugar in an oven-safe pan and simmer for a while, and in the meantime throw together some biscuit dough and drop into the hot sauce, then bake for ~20 minutes. Serve while hot, scooped over vanilla ice cream.

Mine was a little on the sloppy side because the ice cream was melting while I was trying to get a picture I liked, but when you eat it right away the hot/cold contrast is awesome.

This didn’t really make as big a dent in the blueberry bin as I’d hoped, so I guess I’ll just have to keep making it…

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Meditations on the Okanagan: Fruit

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Allan and I just got back from a week-long road trip down to Oliver, BC and back. My sister Mary and her family live in Oliver and it’s always a great time visiting them, especially because the destination itself is so beautiful and fun.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I generally try to make an effort to eat local, which means something very different in Edmonton and Oliver. In Edmonton it’s easy to find meat, grains, most vegetables. But fruit is much trickier; it can, and does, grow here, but not well enough for anyone to do a whole lot of it. Not being one to deny myself things that are delicious, I usually seek out BC fruit and wine when I can’t easily get my hands on something local. But even that isn’t easy if I’m just at the grocery store. Even smaller local grocers stock almost entirely USA grown produce. I won’t get into the economic, environmental, and culinary reasons why this is so infuriating right now, but suffice to say it means enough to me that I spend most of my trip to the store scouring little stickers looking for something from western Canada instead of California.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, my primary goal of this trip, other than some bonding with Mary, Greg, Layla, Baron and their gigantic dog Chester, was to a) try a lot of Okanagan wine (an upcoming blog entry unto itself) and b) eat a lot of Okanagan fruit.

To my delight, the drive into Oliver and then further to Osoyoos was a steady stream of fruit stands, vineyards, and U-Picks. On our first day we stopped at a fruit stand and grabbed some treats for me and Layla to make a pie with.

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Are those not the most beautiful apricots and blueberries you’ve ever laid eyes on? I was just giddy with the huge arrays of gorgeous fresh fruit laid out in generous boxes at prices better than their significantly less awe-inspiring Californian counterparts at Safeway.

A few days into our stay, Allan and I hiked the Golden Mile Trail, a 10 km stretch starting at the Tinhorn Creek vineyard, through a stretch of hot flat desert where the trail seemed to dance under our feet with all the strange and exotic-looking species of grasshopper that were out exploring with us, and ending at a little road that wound through a variety of orchards. I was drained and losing enthusiasm after the first two-thirds of our hike through the hot sun, but walking past the rows of tantalizing fruit was my reward. Tart, crisp little green apples ripening on trees, golden peaches and apricots just taking on a rosy blush, bright red cherries bunched together on a branch, contrasting sharply with the deep green foliage; more ripe, plump deep burgundy cherries ready to fall right off the tree. Everything looked so beautiful, so alive, so delicious. I bored Allan once again with my musings on food; how fruit is the only thing in nature designed to inspire lust in us, that we’re biologically programmed to find deep pleasure in, not just something that our pliable omnivorous palletes have taught us to accept as food. It exists to charm and please us, to taste sweet and perfect. By the time we left the orchards, I never wanted to eat anything but fruit ever again.

Redhead

Since I was 12 or so, I’ve been dying my hair a LOT. I started with blond my very first time, with the help of my sisters (a strange choice, since I was blonde as a younger child and had actually been looking forward to my hair darkening as I grew up). And then I was hooked, constantly changing my hair colour dramatically with no real reason at all. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been asked “so what IS your natural hair colour?”, as even those who’ve known me for several years haven’t really seen it. Here’s a brief and hilarious history of some of my past dye jobs:

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pinky

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So anyway.

Not really because of all the dying (I rarely lighten, which is the only thing that really damages my hair), but really because of general neglect and a natural predisposition for dry crappiness, my hair often becomes rather matted and damaged. When I got engaged in December 2007, it was absolutely horrible, as it usually is around Christmas time when I hardly have time to sleep and use the bathroom, much less brush my hair. So for the next eight months I went cold turkey on my hair dye addiction, and then sprung for the rare and unbelievably expensive professional dye job (generally avoided as I get smacked with both extra length AND extra thickness charges):

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It faded quickly, and to get myself out of an oh-I’m-so-ugly slump, I dyed it red, my trusty old standby. I come back to red a lot, because it’s sort of different but it looks passably natural on me with my pasty skin and green eyes. I’ve been referred to as a redhead many times even when I had what I thought was an obviously fake dye job. One ex-boyfriend’s mother even exclaimed upon seeing me that she couldn’t believe her son was actually dating a redhead. Weird.

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So now, in a rare case of colour loyalty, I’ve had red hair since late October 2008. It’s required a dye job about every 3 weeks, but I just can’t seem to bear to let it fade away. My current coworkers have never seen me any other way, and one girl at work even told me this week that she’d actually believed I WASN’T faking it.

So basically, redheads of the world, I implore you: let me join your ranks?

Guilty Pleasures

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There’s some things I need to get off my chest.

I generally have pretty good taste, I think. Which means I tend to associate with other people who share my good taste, which means, well, it can get a little snooty up in here. And when things get snooty, the phrase “guilty pleasure” seems to get thrown a lot. Some of these things are genuinely guilt-ridden – a cupcake for a diabetic, a cheeseburger for a dieter, a steak for a vegetarian, a tendency to rape/maim/murder people. But most are really just shameful pleasures; for me, anyway, I often will hide or deny my genuine enjoyment of something because I’m afraid of what my friends would think.

So I figure this will be at once my most embarrassing and liberating blog post ever.

THINGS THAT ARE HORRIBLY AWESOME:

Kraft Dinner: I have no justification for this other than it tastes great. Most things involving processed cheese powders do. That’s just the way it is.

Artificial Grape Flavouring: Aside from the Frankensteinien monstrosity that is the Grāpple, artificial grape flavour has never done me wrong. Kool-aid, popsicles, those weird flavoured waters, grape pop – bring it on.

Caramilk bars: I appreciate fine chocolate, I really do, and I’ve got a decent palate for it. But goshdarnit if I don’t just want to scarf a wad of cheap milk chocolate and caramel goo every now and then.

Doritos: Oooooh powdered cheese, I love you so much. Doritos are like crack to me. When I was in Germany on a student exchange I was begging for someone back home to ship me a bag, and during my 10-month stint as a vegetarian, I was always hiding empty Zesty Cheese bags under my bed so that my vegetarian boyfriend wouldn’t know I was still eating them (the powdered cheese is not vegetarian). Oddly, I seem to have kicked my addiction these days, without even really trying.

Diet Coke: Okay, this one I do genuinely feel guilty about, which is why I’ve quit it. But I still crave the ice cold fizzy refreshing goodness of it all the time.

My Chemical Romance: So fun to sing along to in the car. This is all the justification I need. Ditto Fall Out Boy. Although I do fully realize that these bands are very, very lame, they’re also very listenable.

Cocaine: Just kidding. Maybe.

Kentucky Fried Chicken: How can it be wrong when it feels so, so right

Alright, that’s enough, but you catch my drift. Please tell me some of yours to take some of the shame off of me!

The Infrequent Gardener

Lately I’ve been incurably restless. My mum I’m sure is familiar with these little phases of mine – I spent a good deal of my teenage years wandering around the house, occasionally stopping by her room to announce my boredom and then shrugging off any of the activities (mostly chores) she suggested I take on to keep myself busy. This is how it’s going for me now: little sleep, no real enjoyment in anything, no ability to sit still and get something done. So yesterday, fed up with sitting at my computer begging it to adequately entertain me, I stood up and announced to Allan that I was going to go buy some plants.

I know nothing about gardening and every plant I have ever owned has had a short, anguished life of neglect. Still, this year I have been determined to start a garden, primarily for culinary purposes (buying bunches of fresh herbs and letting most of them go bad is getting to be an annoying ritual, and tomatoes and onions from my backyard is the most tantalizing thing I can think of, yard-wise). But weekend after weekend has passed without anyone else in the house initiating the garden project, and with it getting late in the season, I figure there’s no time like the present. So I bought a bunch of plants, not seeds as I had originally intended because I figured there was no time, and because that seemed more likely to fail regardless.

The trip to the store was lovely and easy – spending money is one of my strong suits. Coming home to plant them was another story.

This was what I decided would be my garden:

Box on the ground

Yes, a patch in the middle of my mature lawn. There was digging to be done. Unfortunately I couldn’t for the life of me find a spade to do said digging with. So I grabbed an ice scraper and started lawn-gouging.

Diggin a hole

However hard you think this was, it was in fact a thousand times harder. After a couple hours and far more spider-related incidents than I care to mention, I had this beautiful chunk of bare soil

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You’ll notice it isn’t quite square-shaped…I ran out of steam. Shortly after this was taken Laurie came home and found the spade, and also showed me a large piece of ground that seemed to have been recently sodded and where the grass came up with minimal coaxing (great, a little late, agh). The spade and I made short work of the rest of the square

Done!

At this point it was 11:00 pm and I was covered in dirt and sweat, so I abandoned the plants and went inside to shower and sleep.

Coming home from work today, all my digging muscles still aching badly, the last thing I wanted to do was spend the evening in the yard again, but goshdarnit if I wasn’t going to get those plants in the ground.

Woo!

I am so freaking proud of myself you have no idea. I don’t know if any of these will work out – there’s a mix here of vegetables, flowers, and herbs, crammed into a relatively small area – but for now it looks awesome enough for me to sit and gaze at it with pride. Please come visit and gaze with me before all the plants die.

I’m going to go lie in bed and try to sleep away the too-out-of-shape for digging pains now, wish me luck!

The Real Baconator

So, when I made baked beans for Easter dinner on Sunday, I could’ve sworn the recipe called for an entire pound of bacon. I busted out a pack of bacon and chopped it all up, only to realize at the last minute that it only called for half a pound of bacon, leaving me with an extra half-pound of chopped up fatty mess. When Allan was bugging me for a late night snack last night, I figured I’d put it to use and make the most horrifically fatty mess of a sandwich the world has ever known.

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Started by frying up the chopped bacon…

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found a couple of eggs to throw in the mix…

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Scrambled for a minute, and voila, gloriously awful sandwich filling

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Add toast, and you’ve got a high-fat, high-carb, 1/4 pounder of bacon for me and my sweety at 11:00 at night. This sandwich must never, ever be repeated:

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New House

I’ve been putting off posting pictures of our new place because it’s been taking us forever to get all the crap between the three of us (me, Allan, and my sister-in-law Laurie) settled in here and looking presentable. But I figure it’s close enough now to bust out the camera.

Sun room

This is the front entryway/sun room, which is filled with our shoes and Laurie’s plants. I love plants but tend to kill them, so it’s nice to have a green thumb around…can’t wait until we can start a garden!

Living room

This is the living room, which is the last major room that’s not really set up yet. But it’s at least tidy enough to sit and watch tv or play some Wii.

Reading nook

Behind that giant shelf is a cozy little reading nook…

Dining Room

…and the dining room. We do have more chairs than are currently shown here, so please do come visit us for dinner!

Kitchen entrance

That leads into our very crowded kitchen, where we’ve pulled out every organizational trick we could imagine to fit all our things in and still have some working space…and we still ended up with a fair amount of small appliances, tupperware and nonperishables pushed down to the basement

Kitchen

And here’s the kitchen.

I know we’re on the north end, but please come visit us! I promise I’ll make you a meal worth the trip 🙂