Weekend Adventures: Vintage Finds And Trolley Rides

Friday, August 29, 2014

A wonderful weekend spent perusing vintage finds at the Red Door Farm summer's end sale and stopping by Flowers from a Country Garden to pick up a dainty bouquet filled with seasonal flowers.

Another inspiring addition to the weekend was a much anticipated ride on the restored interurban train run by the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway. Once a frequented means of transport from Chilliwack to New Westminister, this stunning trolley has been brought back to life through a 7-year restoration from the many voluteers at this society. It is a testament to the pride in craftsmanship and quality manufacturing that has been much diluted today.

Zucchini Bread and Gluten-free Chocolate zucchini brownies

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

While at the farmers' market the other day, I spotted a crate full of zucchinis marked 4 for $1. I could hardly pass up such a bargain! I scooped up the largest 4 I could find and satisfyingly made the journey home. 

I seem to have underestimated how difficult it would be to use up 4 massive zucchinis. I have made two loaves, as well as brownies, but yet have not even used a full zucchini up! I think the solution for my overzealous purchase is to cut them up and freeze cubes so I can enjoy them during the winter.

After stumbling across a very popular recipe on Allrecipes for Zucchini bread with nearly 5,000 positive reviews I thought I'd better try it. I made a few substitutions of my own. I lowered the sugar to 2 cups and added a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips instead of walnuts.

zucchini bread with chocolate chips

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (not drained)
1/4 chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place parchment in two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans. 
Place flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl and whisk together.
Beat together eggs, vanilla and sugar in a bowl then added the dry mixture to the wet and stir well. Blend in the zucchini and chocolate chips until combined. Don't over-beat. Pour into loaf pans.
Bake for 40-60 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes and remove to cool completely.  

 gluten free zucchini brownies elana's pantry

Gluten-Free Zucchini Brownies Inspired by Elana's Pantry
11/4 cups almond flour
1/4 cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 baking soda
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup grated zucchini, not drained
1/4 chocolate chips

Combine almond flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in food processor. Pulse to blend. Place eggs, oil, honey, vanilla and zucchini in and pulse until blended. Pour batter in 8x8 baking dish and bake at 350 degree F for 25-30 minutes.

A Case Of Too Much Tea

Monday, August 18, 2014

Although not a case for the ingenious minds of Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie, I found myself in a quandary as I was organizing my pantry. I seemed to have collected a rather large collection of tea, alarmingly large. I have organized my tea in neat and tidy stacks in my basement pantry, but as I approach the kitchen and adjoining cupboards, these orderly stacks are slightly more helter-skelter, and routinely land on my toes. I wish I could say that this inordinate amount of tea is due to the obligatory birthday and Christmas gifts from friends and family, but this is not the case. Perhaps an odd box or two a year from friends, but this collection is solely due to my quest – lust, rather – to find the “best tea of the world.” My resolution this January was not to floss more or even lose 15 pounds; no, it was to find the world’s best tea. It is a menial quest compared to many others, but important to me nonetheless. I grew weary of the sub-par bag teas served at most coffee shops that tasted reminiscent of dish washing liquid.

black tea nelson's a portrait of earl grey

After much researching and nearly halfway through my yearlong quest, I believe I have found one winner thus far. I am not on a simple quest for just one great tea, but rather one or two superb teas in each of the popular categories, black tea, green tea, rooibos tea, and the like. I believe I have found one for black teas: Nelson’s Tea - A Portrait of Earl Grey. My tea tasting consists of a checklist that each tea must pass in order to obtain a high standing in my prestigious quest.

Tea Checklist
·      Be able to uphold vibrant flavor with or without milk
·      Be able to possess a bold flavor without overpowering amounts of caffeine
·      No artificial flavorings
·      No bitter aftertaste

I will continue this quest and hopefully be able to fulfill my dream of finding the world’s best teas!

black tea nelson's a portrait of earl grey

Live the Revelry

Saturday, August 16, 2014

 Perhaps it started with that marvelous classic of children’s literature, The Once and Future King. Ever since reading the Arthurian fantasy as a little girl, Sisi has always had a little Guinevere in her. But when, aside from October 31st, can you indulge in this secret yearning for knights and chivalry, squires and mead?

Today and tomorrow, that's when! Be like Sisi and Leeta and get ye to the BC Renaissance Festival before all the barbequed turkey legs are gone! Oh yes, dear readers, there are deliciously messy turkey legs, lords and ladies (and not a few wenches) and jousting! You may even be lucky enough to catch sight of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon (wife number one, if you’re historically inclined). Do remember to bow respectfully...

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The popular phrase “a thorn in my side” was quite apt during my early morning blackberry picking session. The thicket of bushes visible from my house had been tempting me each time I glanced out the window, and despite being pricked and poked during my zeal to pluck to best berries I managed to fill 3 large buckets. 

I hope to bake a pie or tarts later in the week with the berries, but seeing as the mercury has again exceeded the 30 degree mark, I don’t feel that myself or the pastry would hold up too well. 

I did, however, find a simpler dessert to satisfy me: chocolate chia pudding topped with blackberries.

Chocolate Chia Pudding
1 cup milk (regular, almond or coconut)
¼ cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Stir all ingredients together and let sit for a few minutes until the chia seeds start to absorb the liquid. Stir again, cover and place in refrigerator for 2 hours until pudding is thick. You may want to drizzle honey or maple syrup on the top at the time of serving depending on how sweet you like it.

chocolate chia pudding with blackberries and peaches

chocolate chia pudding with blackberries and peaches

Snowbirds At The Beach

Sunday, August 10, 2014

snowbirds planes at the beach

snowbirds planes
 A lovely evening at White Rock Beach enjoying the spectacular show by the snowbirds. I hadn't see this magnificent show in 9 years and I am wondering why I waited so long.
A wonderful summer night!

Fireworks and Farmer's Markets

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I often describe myself as a “country mouse” rather than a “city mouse” as I find the heightened pace of a metropolitan populous rather overwhelming. Motivated by my desire to have a short weekend away, I thought I would push myself to explore my own city. The murmurings of fireworks, dinner, and a few unexplored farmer’s markets were also a motivation. 

My other half and I spent the afternoon strolling along Vanier Park and Kitsilano beach, scoping out the best place to watch the fireworks from. A rather hot day at 30 degrees, I was thankful to be close to the water to enjoy the sea breeze.

After working up an appetite from our walk, we enjoyed a lovely gluten-free pizza from the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company and made our way back to Vanier Park to await the fireworks. It was the final night of the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks show and Japan was anticipated to win. As my other half is Japanese and I have heard for many years how Canadian fireworks paled in comparison to those of Japan, I was anxious to finally see if he was correct in his findings.

Ten p.m. arrived and the first boom of the fireworks had me riveted in my seat already. I don’t remember ever hearing fireworks quite so loud. Throughout the 25 minute show I was oohing and aahing enough to realize that indeed the Japanese fireworks seemed to rather outdo those of Canada.

After enjoying such a lovely evening of fireworks, Sunday dawned and two farmer’s market which I had never been to were ripe for exploring. We visited the Kitsliano and Ambleside farmer’s markets, both of which satiated my need for a touch of “country living” whilst in the city.

A relaxing weekend away to explore my own city and appreciate that sometimes I need to push myself a little out of my comfortable zone.

Lavender Lemonade

Monday, August 4, 2014

It’s hot.

It’s so hot we’re tempted to try the ol’ fry an egg on the pavement trick. But that would mean moving off the shaded porch and that is not happening, no sir.

What is happening is Lavender Lemonade: ice cold, just tart enough to wake you up, but with a sweetness underneath that is all summer languor.

We recommend doing this in the morning before the heat makes squeezing a lemon near to impossible. When the afternoon makes its heavy, undulating arrival, pour yourself a large glass and throw in a straw. It goes down nicely with a paperback novel, nothing too weighty. Perhaps Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. The Provencal people seem adept with lavender and heat, after all. 

Lavender lemonade recipe: http://againstallgrain.com/2013/05/07/lavender-lemonade/