Friday, May 13, 2011

Joy of Car Repairs

It being mid-May, I feel I may be safe in having my winter tires removed from my trusty car.  When I did the other car, it snowed the next day.  So, apologies in advance if I somehow have caused weather mayhem due to my careless summer optimism.  Off to the dealership I head.

Anyway, a trip to the garage is usually a big PIA experience. I usually expect the bill to be $500 with all that they find wrong in addition to my requested service, but not yesterday.  For I have discovered that Nissan has tricked me into thinking I’m a worthy customer with their ploys.

Step 1 – Arrive at spotless service department to friendly technicians who treat me with respect and do exactly what I ask.  How odd!

Step 2 – Head to lounge upstairs.  I’m offered a complementary cup of decent coffee from the cafe.  I could have lunch too, if I wanted.  There’s free Wi-Fi, and a kid’s play area – enclosed and clean.  I’m not sure where I am.

Step 3 – Go to lounge room with massage chairs, relaxed lighting and radio with soothing stuff on it to bliss out to my heart’s content.  Ahhhhh…  Here’s proof:

tulips and castles 016

After I am mush, I don’t really care how much the car service bill is.  The car is finished on time and I am relaxed.  Not too bad a way to spend an hour waiting for my car.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Knowing Me, Knowing You–May 2011

Woo hoo!  Our dearest Fairy Blogmother has dragged us out of blog-block with the latest monthly instalment of Knowing You, Knowing Me.  She asks the questions, we think, write and link.  Do play along if you feel so inclined and link back to her blog to see others. 

1. What was your wedding song?

‘Twas the early 90s and so we went with “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams.  So romantic and from the “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” movie that was on at the time. 

2. If you could guest star on any TV show which one would you pick?

Tricky one. So many to choose but if I had to pick one, I’m going for Grey’s Anatomy here.  Some yummy doctors there.  Just don’t cast me in the mangled up dying chick role.  I need to look my best when the love scenes come up.

3. What is your favourite children's book?

Lots to choose from.  From my kids stories, I’d probably pick some Sandra Boynton classics.  The “Going To Bed Book” was read over and over in the rocking chair and I have many sweet memories of that.   I loved the A.A. Milne stuff when I was a wee tyke, got into “Harriet The Spy” later and have read every book by Madeline L’Engle, wishing I could be a part of them.  Still love to read children’s books, whether my kids want to listen or not.

4. Did you watch the Royal Wedding?

Nope.  I wish them all the best but I’m not big on the big Royal thing. 

5. What is your favourite thing to have off the barbecue?

Yum!  BBQ season!  Almost anything is tastier on the ‘Q’.  Grilled Greek food like souvlaki, a fine steak, grilled veggies…  Now I’m hungry again.

Happy May!

Monday, May 9, 2011


She’s seven but that rarely seems her age.

Last week she had a hair cut in a new style and suddenly she’s going on ten. The pants are shrinking and her opinions are growing.

Yet she melts down over Mother’s Day breakfast. Bagels are just too messy, you know and only toast will do. She stomps off, reflections of a pre-schooler in her stride.

Today she put on a skirt and she is all legs. She eagerly rushes to the school yard, links arms with friends and I am forgotten. When I pick her up, she will be small again – tired from the day, silly and slipping her hand into mine.

I marvel at my seven year old as we work on riding a bike. One moment she is all eagerness, determined to do it all on her own. “Faster, faster! But don’t let go mom!” Then we must stop. The bike “Jewel” is thirsty and needs a drink of clouds.

Every day is an adventure with this growing daughter. I see many reflections of myself yet she is all her own person. It is bitter-sweet to see her grow. I savour the moments, knowing how quickly they disperse. Even when she’s grown, she will always be my baby girl.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My first real cooking class = Y-U-M!

That’s it! I am officially putting any fake-dieting thing I thought I might do on the shelf.  I just love food too much!  The cooking course I took on Saturday completely sealed the deal.  I am just going to shop for bigger clothes and be done with it.

The course was at Urban Element in Ottawa. It was the “Pasta From Scratch” one which took my favourite straight-to-the-ass starch to new levels of awesomeness.  I was a bit frazzled when I arrived (due to construction delays and church rummage sale parking hell).  That rapidly disappeared when Orion (really – that’s his name and he was heavenly) welcomed me in with Bridgehead coffee and a perfect seat at the counter. 

I went solo but had a great time meeting my class and the atmosphere was like old friends in about 45 seconds.  Bruce, seated next to me, was on his 16th class and was searching for fundraising schemes to do more.  We all liked the “magic sink” that we were to put our finished dishes in and they were whisked away.  I think I’ll look for that feature for the next time I remodel the Our lovely selection of pasta creations kitchen. 


Over the next few hours, chef Stephen Pollock demonstrated how to create many types of pasta, fillings, and sauces.  We all got our hands dirty, sticky and floury with our stack of recipes.  After all the creations, the staff finished off and served us a wonderful lunch complete with wines. 



Here are a couple that were favourites:

Cocoa Taglierini

(bottom right in plate photo)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 eggs



1. Sift together the flour and unsweetened cocoa powder into a mound on a clean work surface and make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the well and add a pinch of salt.

2. Using one hand or a fork, bring the flour into the egg mixture slowly without spilling. Knead thoroughly, shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured counter (with pasta machine, setting 2-3) into fairly thick sheets. Cut into strips about 1 ¼ inches wide.

4. Boil for 2-4 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

This pasta did not have a very strong cocoa flavour but it did have a gorgeous dark brown colour. It works well with various smooth, creamy sauces.

With the above pasta, we had this sauce.

Mascarpone Chilli Sauce

3 tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, peeled and left whole

2 fresh bay leaves

1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

½ tsp. dried red chilli, finely chopped

½ cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese

2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon

1 tsp. lemon zest

Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and bay leaves. Stir occasionally until the garlic has browned. Remove the garlic and bay leaves and discard.

2. Add the mascarpone cheese, chilli and parmigiano and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Thin the sauce with water if too thick and toss with your favourite noodle, along with the fresh tarragon and lemon zest to finish. Serves 4.

This was SO awesome – rich texture and full flavour. I refrained from licking my plate but barely.

We also created a few raviolis that were big pillows of Italian happiness.  I loved the ones with a pumpkin and Radicchio filling.  (I’m getting writers cramp so I’ll pass on typing that one out.)  Making stuffed pasta was remarkably easy and so versatile.  I am looking forward to experimenting with more ideas here. 

Chef Pam dining - not the most flattering photo but I'm loving the moment.

Anyway, I LOVED taking a cooking course.  Urban Element has many options and if anyone would like to coordinate and join me for one in the future, I am SO in.  Cheers!