On the Vine

The garden is still growing strong! We haven’t had much rain lately (we keep watching the storm clouds frustratingly veer north of us), so I’ve had to do a lot of supplemental watering. This compared to last year, where it was so wet that I only watered the garden once all season — and even then it rained unexpectedly within 24 hours. But things are still growing well.

The main garden is still growing strong, although there aren’t any new fruits or veggies to report. The green tomatoes haven’t ripened up; I figure they’re still getting bigger before they change colour. The radish, potatoes, and eggplant are all flowering alongside the tomatoes, though, which bodes well.

The vines in the secondary garden are making a bid for freedom as they do every summer, though. The part of my yard that gets the most sun is right in the middle of the lawn, and the vines keep trying to take it over. While I encourage such enthusiastic growth, it does make it a bit difficult to mow, especially since a lot of the vines are hollow and easily snapped if you try to pick them up to mow underneath.

I am thrilled to see that my tiny cucumbers are growing strong! A lot of them are almost two inches long — which is almost big enough for pickling, right?

My squash is still tiny, but at least it’s recognizably squash-like.

And much to my delight, I appear to have the beginnings of some yellow zucchini!

No pumpkins yet, though, not that I’ve been able to spot. I may be outta luck this year on that score.

Playing Hooky

We played hooky on Monday and spent an extra day at my in-laws’ cottage. This close to the end of the school year, the report cards are already written, so it’s not like the kids were missing any important content. So we explored the lake:

And enjoyed a trail hike:

And Thing 1 and Thing 2 peered into the depths in search of minnows.

Our trip wrapped up with a visit to the Whitewater Brewing Co. Lakeside Brew Pub in Cobden. We’d been to their Riverside Brew Pub some years ago (Thing 2 was just a toddler), and we’d been impressed by their fare, so we wanted to give their newer location a try.

The place definitely has a hipster vibe; for one thing, there are very few plates, with most of the meals served on wooden planks. I know they’re trying to appeal to the white water rafting crowd that dominates those parts in the summer months — young, athletic twenty-somethings out to have a good time while “roughing it”. The food is anything but rough, though, so it kind of sends mixed messages.

Lack of plates and faux-rustic decor aside, though, what I really come to this pub for is the food, and that was exceptional. (I know most people go to pubs for beer, and I’m told that Whitewater’s brews are exceptional… But I don’t drink beer.) The Things and my husband had the Whitewater Burger, which was smokey and juicy and overall delicious. I went for the fish and chips, which I honestly would have been satisfied with at half the size (and I have a big appetite). I guess the intended customer would have been out in the sun all day doing lots of physical activity — which I most definitely did not. The fish was tender inside and crispy outside, the house tartar sauce was full of tangy dill, and the thick-cut fries were lovely. I didn’t even get the chance to try the grilled toast or the mushy peas, I simply ran out of room!

That fullness was due, in part, to having split a Scotch egg with my family. I only had a few bites, but it’s not a light dish! I’d never had one before, but they seemed like the kind of thing that I would like: essentially, it’s breakfast in one deep-fried package. The smoky bacon aioli was a nice touch.

I especially liked the runny egg in the middle, which was soft-boiled to perfection.

Now that I’ve tried a proper Scotch egg, I want to try to make a Pork Belly Onigiri, which Tasty Japan made look so, well, tasty… (You can find the English translation in the video comments.)

Overnight at the Cottage

As I mentioned previously, last week I had the chance to take my kids up to the cottage that my parents rent for an overnighter. It was our first trip of the season, and we arrived in time for a late dinner the first day (a big thank-you to my mom for cooking!), and we only stayed up until mid-afternoon the second. We still managed to have a nice, relaxing time, though.

We started the morning of our second day began with a hearty breakfast that, timing-wise, was really more of a brunch. The meal consisted of bacon, eggs (scrambled or over-easy), fresh fruit salad, potato bread toast, and home fries.

Then it was time for the kids and my dad to break out the fishing rods and head down to the water to try to catch the ever-elusive lake trout, while my mom and I cleaned up. I don’t think anyone caught anything that time.

Highlights of the day included shooing a decent-sized painted turtle off of the road so it didn’t get squished by passing cars…

And making my first attempt at teaching the girls how to play marbles. The version I grew up with is what we called “pit marbles” or “hole marbles”, and the rules are similar to these. However, in our version the winner gets all of their marbles into the pit first, and billiards- or curling-like tactics are perfectly acceptable.

The lake wasn’t really warm enough for a swim, and the air never got above 20°C (68°F) or so anyway, so even the kids weren’t really pushing for a jump in the lake. But I did paddle the girls out in the canoe over to a shallow, marshy area of the lake where they could peer under the water and observe the life below. What with busy end-of-school schedules, it doesn’t look like there will be another trip to the cottage for our family before the start of July — but I know we’re all looking forward to the next one!

613flea Saturday June 9th

I’m happy to say that I’ll be at 613flea tomorrow (Saturday, June 9th) from 10am to 4pm. 613flea is held, as it usually is, at the Aberdeen Pavilion in Lansdowne Park, right in downtown Ottawa.

I have so much new-old stuff this time! The last 613flea was such a success that I was able to invest in all kinds of interesting vintage kitchenware — particularly Pyrex and Tupperware this time, alongside some actual antiques.

So pop on by for a gander! It’s a lot of fun, with so much cool stuff to browse. Hope to see you there!

Keeping It Simple

I’m trying to get back into the groove of cooking proper dinners instead of ordering in or reheating frozen, packaged stuff — neither of which I have a problem with on principle, really, but it gets rather unhealthy after a while if that’s all you eat. Now that the con is over with, I actually have the time to cook again. Sadly, I’m still fighting off one heck of a cold, so I’ve had to keep it simple.

For Monday’s supper I whipped us up a quick batch of simple bacon and eggs. As usual, half the people in the house wanted them scrambled, and the other half wanted them over easy, so I had to make two batches. Everyone’s was served with an all-dressed, toasted bagel and a sliced apple.

For Tuesday’s dinner I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and fire up the grill outside. I basically just threw some burger patties on the barbecue and, once they’d cooked up nicely, served them with a romaine lettuce salad (I can’t really call it a Ceasar because everyone likes different dressing) and baby cut carrots. Despite their charred appearance, the burger and bun are not burned in the slightest! I think we’re going to have to change what kind of wood pellet we use, because the ones we have right now create a lot of smoke — which is great for the flavour, but turns everything black very quickly. There has to be a happy medium here somewhere. But I’ll be using the pellets we already have until they run out, so our grilled dinners may be black for a while yet. At least they’re tasty!

Painting Shoes

When I’m building a costume, one of the sticking points for accuracy is often shoes, since many characters wear very specific ones that aren’t commercially available (or cost a bloody fortune to buy). Luckily, a pair of second-hand shoes, after a good wash, or a cheap pair of new ones, can be touched up with some paint to create something at least close to what I’m looking for. (For boots, fabric boot covers are also an option.)

These shoes need another couple of coats to cover the original design. The paint generally isn’t spectacularly hard-wearing, but it’ll last long enough for a costume that is really only worn for a couple of days, all in all.

Will I actually get this costume done in time, though? It’s still up in the air, and it’s stressing me out a bit…