Quinoa Bread Recipe

At the suggestion of a friend of mine, I bought some red quinoa a while back included a small portion in a fruit salad. Well, I discovered very quickly that I don’t like it with fruit; actually, despite all of the hype and how healthy it is, I don’t care for it much at all. Use it instead of rice! Add it to your salads! Yuck, yuck, yuck. But I still had most of a bag of quinoa to use up, and I would be darned if I was just going to compost it, so I decided that I’d try making quinoa bread. And it ended up being delicious! Not just to me, either. My kids ask for seconds and my husband, who generally loathes quinoa with the fire of a thousand dying suns, actually likes it. So even if you’re not a fan of this ancient grain, I suggest that you try this bread — and don’t write off all baked goods containing quinoa (like I almost did) until you try them.

This is a heavier bread, with a density a little closer to a banana or pumpkin bread than a traditional white or whole wheat loaf. The flip side of the heaviness — mostly caused by the water in the grains — is that this bread stays moist and tender inside for quite a long time. Even when stale, it doesn’t get hard like a crusty bread can, and can still be quite good toasted or in a grilled cheese sandwich.


This loaf was made in a 9.5″ x 5.5″ loaf pan, which is why it is so low and wide.

Quinoa Bread
Yields 3 loaves

In a large pot, bring to a boil:
500mL water
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp salt
To the boiling liquid, add:
1 cup red quinoa*
Bring back to a boil. Turn heat down to low and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered. When cooked, the quinoa will become transparent and a white ring will appear in the ancient grain. Remove from heat, drain, and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
14g (2 packages) quick rise instant yeast
Stir in:
2 1/2 cups warm water
Once contents of bowl are mostly smooth (it doesn’t have to be perfect), add the cooked, cooled quinoa. Stir until mixed.
Gradually add:
4 cups all-purpose unbleached white flour

Depending on how much water the quinoa absorbs when cooking, slightly more or less white flour will be required. The dough should be soft and the slightest bit sticky, but should not flow like a batter.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 10 minutes, dusting kneading surface, hands, and dough lightly when necessary to prevent sticking.

Oil a large mixing bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp tea towel. Place the bowl in a warm, dry area with no drafts. Allow the dough to rise until double, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down the dough. Grease three 8.5″x4.5″ loaf tins. Divide the dough into two equal-sized portions. Cover the pans with a clean, damp tea towel and allow to rise again until double, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400ºF (205ºC). Bake loaves for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 350ºF (177ºC) and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes more. Check to see if the bread is done by removing a loaf from the pan and tapping it on the bottom. When cooked through, it should make a hollow sound. Remove all loaves from the pans immediately and place them on a wire cooling rack.

Slice and serve immediately, or wrap in a clean plastic bag once loaves are cool; they will last about five days before going stale.

*Any colour quinoa may be used, but red quinoa makes the most attractive visual contrast in the loaf.

The Great Glebe Garage Sale 2017: Fabulous Finds

I found all kinds of neat things at the Great Glebe Garage Sale this past Saturday, although I did try to exercise some restraint and didn’t fill up the entire trunk. Although I did see someone walking past who had purchased a modern spinning wheel, and if I’d found it first it would totally have come home with me. Ah, well. It’s probably best for my budget.

– Miniature T.A.R.D.I.S. from Doctor Who (about the size of a Christmas ornament) with a working LED light on top, $1.00

I was actually pleasantly surprised to find a number of Doctor Who merchandise, which, since it is imported, can be pretty pricey around here.

– Small T.A.R.D.I.S. and Dalek silicone molds, which can be used for baking, chocolate or ice cubes. $2.00

– Aluminum T.A.R.D.I.S. lunch box, $5.00

– Girl Guide doll (an older version of the ones found here), $2.00. I was especially happy to come across this doll because my girls already have dolls in Sparks and Brownie uniforms, and my eldest will be starting Guides this year.

Of course, no day spent rummaging through garage sales comes without a stack of books.

The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls by Elise Primavera (2008), free (for Thing 1)
Candy Apple: Confessions of a Bitter Secret Santa by Lara Bergen (2008), free (for Thing 1)
The Canadian Harvest Cookbook by Jen Sayers & James Darcy (2008 edition), $0.50
The Divvies Bakery Cookbook: No Nuts, No Eggs, No Dairy, Just Delicious! by Lori Sandler (2010), free
Around the World Cookbook: More Than 50 International Recipes for Children by Abigail Johnson Dodge (2008), free
Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Core Rulebook III, (2000), $10.00 (for a friend who had been searching for a copy)
Monstrous Manual for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, (1993), $10.00 (for a friend who had been searching for a copy)

– Air Zone Punisher Gatling Blaster, $5.00

This was my only purchase that was too large to photograph in my light box, since the gun is almost a meter long. Please ignore the dandelions in the lawn. I didn’t test it to see if it works at the sale as it requires batteries, and I still haven’t, to be honest. I plan to use it as a costume prop, so it doesn’t really matter if it fires. I thought it might be fun to paint it up as a junior version of Sasha, the gun the Heavy uses in Team Fortress 2.

– Pentax MZ-7 35mm camera with a 28mm to 300mm zoom lens, $60.00

This was my most expensive purchase, but also the one I am happiest with. The camera itself is a side bonus; the lens works on my Pentax K-30, which is currently my main camera. My longest lens previously was 200mm, so this is a fantastic find for me.

– Kodak Brownie 8mm film camera, $10.00

This last one is the purchase I am most happy with. I have always wanted a camera like this, not to use (can you even buy 8mm film anymore?), but because I am a bit of an old home movie nut. My maternal grandfather shot his home movies on a camera like this. This camera will happily be added to my collection. I think I need to build a shelf to exhibit them all.

The Great Glebe Garage Sale 2017

The Great Glebe Garage Sale is a Big Deal in Ottawa. A community garage sale may not seem like an exceptional event, but it is huge and densely packed with buyers and sellers alike. The roads are thronged with people, strollers, bicycles, and parked cars. Driving in the area — which is usually a fairly quiet residential area — is inadvisable; if you’re going to park in the area, plan to show up at the crack of dawn to get a spot. Even people who don’t go to garage sales as a general rule will make a day of hitting this one.


Panorama taken to give an idea of the crowds; click to enlarge. Please ignore how some people are visually chopped up, as everyone was moving and my camera objected. Taken from just north of Glebe Ave. and Lyon St. South.


I found somebody selling everything including the kitchen sink.

For those unfamiliar with the area, the Glebe is one of the older and wealthier areas of downtown Ottawa. It is bordered by the Queensway (a.k.a. the Trans-Canada Highway) to the north, the Rideau Canal to the east and south, and Bronson Avenue to the west. The residential streets are lined with huge hundred-year-old houses, and are shaded by equally-old trees.


I spotted this CCM GT-101 bicycle in a hodgepodge of bikes in front of the Glebe Collegiate. I think it would have fit right in in Stranger Things — it even still had its headlamp. Except that CCM is a Canadian company, and Stranger Things is set in Indiana, I guess.


Bargain hunters on Glebe Ave.

The Glebe Community Association schedules and runs the Sale, which has been held on the fourth Saturday in May, rain or shine, since 1986. Sellers are expected to donate a portion the day’s proceeds to the Ottawa Food Bank. The goal for this year was to raise $12,000, which is in addition to all of the other fundraising events that take advantage of the crowds. For example, every year I have attended there has been a scout troupe selling hot dogs and cold drinks in front of St. James United Church, and they do a brisk business. Some groups pool all their resources and run a larger sale from inside a community center or church, although some such fundraisers are held in volunteers’ driveways and front yards.


This was the thing that I wanted the most at the entire garage sale, but at an asking price of $175 it was much too dear for my budget, especially since I didn’t need to use it for anything, I just liked it. It’s an M-S-A Chemox Oxygen Breathing Apparatus — a rebreather (probably for firefighting), most likely from the 1950’s.


Both sides of this driveway were lined with golf bags; there were literally so many that I couldn’t get far enough away to get them all in one shot.

I have been attending the Great Glebe Garage Sale for at least fifteen years now, and my success in finding things to buy has been variable. Some years I don’t find a darned thing; other years I have to walk back to my car (usually parked outside the Glebe but within relatively easy walking distance) four or five times to drop things off because my bag(s) have become too heavy. But I find it fun to go whether or not I discover any treasures. Half of the thrill is of the hunt, but there’s also a lot of fun to be had people-watching (spotted a man carrying a live parrot on his shoulder this year), listening to music (there seems to be a busker or a DJ set up on every block), and eating (every fundraiser going is selling food on the street, alongside every style of food truck in town).


A whole pig being spit-roasted for pork sandwiches to be sold at lunch. It smelled divine.


The crowds on Third Ave.

If you’ve never been to the Great Glebe Garage Sale, and you’re in town on the fourth Saturday in May, I highly recommend that you go. Especially if you’re into anything that can be difficult to find — you might just get lucky!

Ottawa ComicCon Day 3: Pro Photos

Day 3 of Ottawa ComicCon (Sunday) I went as a femme version of the Joker from Batman. This was my easiest costume of the weekend, since I assembled the pieces instead of making them. I bought the ugly purple ladies’ suit years ago at Value Village for about $10; I’m pretty sure it was originally a mother-of-the-bride dress from the 1980’s. It was too small for me at the time, but the outfit just screamed “Joker” to me, and I hoped that one day I’d fit into it. (Now it’s actually a little bit big.) I bought the wig at Audrey’s Costume Castle and it was the last one of its kind that they had in stock, so I don’t know the make or model. The striped hose were from an American Mcgee’s Alice costume I’d done years before, and the shoes were just ones I’d had in the closet. The bow and flower were all from Michaels. I thought final look would be more Jack Nicholson’s Joker than anything else, but in the end I think I looked more like the 1960’s Cesar Romero Joker. At any rate, I don’t think anyone was confused as to who I was supposed to be.

(All photos in this post by Richard Dufault Photography, also known as Open Shutter Photography.)

Ottawa ComicCon Day 2: Pro Photos

Day 2 of Ottawa ComicCon (Saturday) I went as Death from the Terry Pratchett Discworld novels. In these novels, Death is an anthropomorphic personification that is generally regarded as a male skeleton, with glowing blue eye sockets, in black robes, who is about seven feet tall. By making a frame that sat on my shoulders, my Death was actually closer to eight feet tall, and would be even taller if someone bigger than me were to wear the costume. It only just fits under average ceilings. The belt at Death’s “waist” is actually in my armpits. It’s hard to get an idea of scale without anything in these photos to compare it to. This costume is almost more of a puppet than anything else.

(All photos in this post by Richard Dufault Photography, also known as Open Shutter Photography.)


Discworld Death loves cats.


The arms of the costume are articulated and can be manipulated from inside. The hands, however, are stuck in one position.


Death with Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service.


My mother as Death of Rats.

My mother went along with me and made a costume for Death of Rats, another Discworld character. This character is also known as The Grim Squeaker, and is really more of a small aspect of Death given physical form in the book Reaper Man. As per Wikipedia, “Death of Rats resembles a rodentine skeleton walking on its hind legs, wearing a black robe, and carrying a tiny scythe”.


Unfortunately the Death of Rats’ cowl kept falling down, and we didn’t notice until after the photo shoot.

Slow Cooker Clam Chowder Recipe with Dairy-Free Options

I’m taking a break today from ComicCon recap to post a recipe that a few people have asked for: my slow cooker clam chowder. I developed this recipe for two reasons: 1) I love dairy, but it doesn’t love me back, so if I want clam chowder I have to make it for myself with a dairy substitute, and 2) I had packages of frozen clams in my freezer that I’d bought on sale and I had no idea what I wanted to do with them. I Googled for ideas, and for the most part the consensus seemed to be that frozen clams are gross and tough, so don’t buy them in the first place. Well, in the past I’ve learned that simmering tough cuts of meat in liquid for a really long time can make just about anything palatable, and that technique works well with cheap frozen clams. As a bonus, all of the ingredients can be prepped the night before, and then most of them are thrown into the slow cooker as you get ready for work. This chowder really only needs attention in the last hour or so, and even then not much.

A note regarding dietary requirements: I make my clam chowder dairy-free using almond milk, and nobody can tell the difference. If you’re allergic to nuts, try soy milk or rice milk instead. If you prefer dairy, use 2% milk. Also, clam chowder can’t really be made vegetarian or vegan — all you’d be left with is potato soup (which can be good, but is no longer clam chowder). However, if you don’t eat pork, turkey bacon may be substituted, although it will change the flavour somewhat.


Slow cooker clam chowder, served here with microwave oatmeal wheat bread and corn on the cob.

Slow Cooker Clam Chowder (Dairy-Free)
Serves 8-10
Total cooking time: 8 hours

Thaw as per package directions:
2 packages of frozen clams (340g each)
In a frying pan, cook until crispy:
1 package reduced-salt bacon (375g package)
Place cooked bacon on a plate that is covered with a few pieces of paper towel; dab the bacon lightly to remove excess grease.
In the frying pan, reserve:
1 Tbsp bacon grease
Discard any additional bacon grease. In pan in which the bacon was cooked, in reserved grease, fry gently until soft and lightly browned:
2 yellow onions (approx 175g)
While onions are frying, chop into bite-sized pieces:
bacon cooked in previous steps
2 cups celery (approx 225g)
Peel and chop into bite-sized pieces:
6 cups white-fleshed potatoes (approx 1100g)
Peel and mince:
1 clove garlic
When onions are done cooking, add them and all previous ingredients to slow cooker. In addition, add:
6 bottles clam juice (236mL each)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme*
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp dried parsley
Cook in slow cooker for 7hrs on high, until potatoes are tender**.
In a large measuring cup or mixing bowl, whisk together:
4 cups almond OR soy OR rice OR 2% milk
4 Tbsp corn starch
Stir in the milk and corn starch into the mixture in the slow cooker. Cook until it reaches the desired thickness, about 1 additional hour.
I serve this soup immediately and freeze the leftovers; it also refrigerates well. If you are planning on serving this at a gathering, it can be prepared in advance and reheated immediately prior to serving.

*1/2 tsp dried thyme may be substituted for fresh.
**If you have an older slow cooker, you may need to adjust cooking times, as older slow cookers (pre-1980 or so) do not get as hot. If you’ve cooked it for the required time and the potatoes still aren’t tender, the recipe may be finished on the stove, being careful not to boil or scald the liquid.

Ottawa ComicCon Day 1: My Photos

I brought my camera along to Ottawa ComicCon on the days where my costume would allow it, and I took plenty of photos. Of course, I didn’t notice that my ISO was bumped up ridiculously high until well after the fact — something about wrangling children and costumes in a crowd makes photography somewhat challenging. So most of my photos are really grainy. Even so, I here are some of the most fun costumes that we saw; of course, the ones my kids wanted to have their pictures with are ones that they’re familiar with, so Friday’s photos concentrate on kid-friendly productions.


Thing 1 and Thing 2 with Stitch (from Lilo & Stitch).


We found three Pikachus (Pokémon) in the same area, so we rounded them up to take photos with my little Eeveelutions. I don’t think any of them know each other.


Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the T.A.R.D.I.S. in the Doctor Who booth.


Thing 2 with a Dalek, which was her favourite because it was orange, her favourite colour. In the Doctor Who booth.


Thing 1 with a blue-and-silver Dalek in the Doctor Who booth, also chosen because it contains her favourite colour.


Thing 2 and Thing 1 beside their favourite parts of the Star Wars universe: the droids! (R2D2 and BB8 from the 501st’s booth.)


Given that they went as characters from Zootopia last year, Thing 1 and Thing 2 were thrilled to meet Judy Hopps.


Thing 1 and Thing 2 were very happy to meet Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas — especially Thing 2, as it is her favourite movie. Don’t let her expression here fool you.


My mother took the kiddos for a few minutes, so I had a chance to snap a pic of this fantastic Storm (X-Men).


RWBY character Ruby, with a Grimm.


Thing 2 with Pokémon Cubone. This poor guy couldn’t see through his head piece at all! Looked great though.


Thing 2 and Thing 1 with Hipster Sally (The Nightmare Before Christmas), as executed by the fabulous Lilithia Dark. She even let Thing 1 hold her stuffed Zero! The girls were super excited — once again, especially Thing 2, who adores this movie. “Mommy, she was so awesome!” I agree.

If you recognize yourself or anyone you know in my photos and want me to link to your cosplay page/Facebook/blog, just let me know!