Book Fair

This past weekend was a busy one, and it would have been even busier if I hadn’t been sick on Sunday. It started off in grand fashion with a trip to the Rockcliffe Park Book Fair. They advertised that they had over 30,000 used books, CDs, DVDs and records… And I think they delivered.

To be totally honest, a sale like this is a little slice of heaven for me. I’ve been a bookworm ever since I can remember; it was one of the things that I was teased the most for as a kid. That didn’t slow me down, though, and now I wear the label with pride. All of these books piled high in a gym brings me right back to the happiest days of my childhood, when the Scholastic Book Fair would come to my school. I would bring the money my parents gave me, plus all of my saved allowance money, so that I could bring a stack of books home with me to keep. (Libraries are like a second home to me, but having books I didn’t have to give back was an extra-special treat.) Of course, now that I’m an adult I can drive out to a bookstore any time, but the prices at a used book fair are so much more affordable — and it’s somewhere that I can pick up vintage and out-of-print books as well as new releases.

I came home with two big bags of books, mostly novels and a few Christmas gifts. (Yes, I do buy some of my gifts second-hand; there’s a lot of stuff that is just as good that should be reused instead of going to the dump, and some things just aren’t available any more.) I did find a few cookbooks that I just had to have, though.

Julia Child’s Menu Cookbook (Julia Child, 1991) — This one is a reprint of Julia child & Company and Julia Child & More Company. It’s hard to believe, but this is the first Julia Child cookbook that I have ever owned.
The Ontario Harvest Cookbook: An Exploration of Fests and Flavours (Julia Aitken & Anita Stewart, 1996)
Incredible Edibles: 43 Fun Things to Grow in the City (Sonia Day, 2010) — Okay, not technically a cookbook, but it’ll lead to more cooking in the end.
A Modern Kitchen Guide: A complete Book of Up-to-Date Recipes and Household Hints (Farmer’s Advocate and Canadian Countryman, 1946) — This is the book with the blank red spine. It’s one’s old enough that I haven’t found it online, which makes it all the more interesting to me.
A Little Canadian Cookbook (Faustina Gilbey, 1994) — This one is autographed by the illustrator!
Totally Bread Cookbook (Helene Siegel & Karen Gillingham, 1999)

What a great haul! And what a lovely way to spend a few hours for a bookworm like me!

Thrifting

I absolutely love going thrifting, i.e. going to second-hand shops, antique stores, flea markets, and giveaways in search of treasure. I mean, it’s the kind of treasure that is other peoples’ trash, but that’s totally okay by me. Treasure is in the eye of the beholder, really. Also, this is treasure I can actually afford.


613flea at Aberdeen Pavilion (Lansdowne Park).


The Original Fabric Flea Market at the Glebe Community Center.


The Ottawa Antique Market on Bank Street.

I did find some great treasures lately, like this stack of fabric from the Original Fabric Flea Market. I arrived with only an hour left of the market, and I really regret not showing up for the opening. I still scored some cute vintage prints, a bit of Halloween fabric, and a good chunk of grey faux fur (always in demand for costumes).

I also found two vintage tablecloths and two vintage-style (but brand new) aprons. The aprons are especially useful because I’ve found myself relying on them more and more to save my clothes when cooking — and they get dirty pretty fast, so it’s essential for me to have a small stash of them.

Recently there was a 50% off all books sale at Value Village, and the Salvation Army is currently running a coupon special that if you buy 3 or more books they’re all 50% off. (The coupon is valid until October 31st and is available here, for my fellow thrifters.) My girls are voracious readers, so I picked up dozens of new-to-them books that I will dole out over the coming months. For myself, I picked up the above-pictured Halloween books:

– I Can Decorate: Pumpkin Fun from Practico Media (2007)
Halloween Recipes & Crafts by Christine Savage (2003)
A Zombie Ate My Cupcake by Lily Vanilli (2016)

Books I’d like to go through with the kids:

Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers & Eaters by Jane Yolen (2009)
Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking by Sarah Elton (2014)

A bunch of cookbooks, which are disproportionately from Canadian Living because most of the other ones I was interested in that were available, I already had:

The Canadian Living Entertaining Cookbook by Carol Ferguson (1990)
The Canadian Living Christmas Book from the Canadian Living Magazine (1993)
– Canadian Living’s Family Cookbook from the Canadian Living Magazine (1995)
Canadian Living’s Country Cooking by Elizabeth Baird (1994)
Canadian Living’s Best Vegetables by Elizabeth Baird (1995)
Canadian Living’s Best Soups and Stews by Elizabeth Baird (1997)
Canadian Living’s Best One-Dish Meals by Elizabeth Baird (1994)
Canadian Living’s Best Light Cooking by Elizabeth Baird (1994)
Canadian Living’s Best Breads And Pizzas by Elizabeth Baird (1998)
Betty Crocker’s Bread Machine Cookbook from Betty Crocker (1995)
– Restaurant Recipe: Ottawa’s Best Recipes from Loeb (2000)
How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson (2003)

Tucked away in one of these cookbooks was a clipping from a newspaper, which reads (translated roughly from French):

FOUR HAPPY YOUNG LADIES made their Brownie promise at the Notre-Dame d’Aylmer convent last Sunday. They are Dominique Robert, Elaine Davis, Analisa Lemieux, and in the back, Lyne Bisaillon.

As an aside, if anyone in this photo wants the original copy or a high-res scan, I’d be happy to send it to them.

To satisfy my knitting curiosity, I snatched up:

2-at-a-time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes (2007)

I also thought that these old drop spindles were interesting. I’ve made a few attempts at spinning my own yarn in the past; perhaps it’s time to give it another go?

Some of my favourite finds of the last little while were two Pyrex England casserole dishes. The one on the left was originally my mother’s (although probably not the original lid) and it came to her as a wedding gift; the ones on the right I found last weekend. I believe that I mentioned in my Mom’s Homemade Macaroni & Cheese recipe write-up that this is, to me, the proper dish for my mother’s casseroles. Mom taking this dish out of the cupboard meant that I was about to have one of my all-time favourite meals. I still feel happy just looking at these dishes. It’s probably silly, but I bet everyone has a simple object with emotional connections to their childhood like this.

I’d have to say that my absolute favourite find was a copy of The New Purity Cook Book by Anna Lee (1967). This cookbook was a mainstay in my mother’s kitchen, which is why when I moved out I made sure to buy the reprint The All New Purity Cookbook. And you know, I probably would have been quite satisfied with that, except they made one crucial error to my mind: instead of organizing the index alphabetically like in the original, it was organized by category. This means that’s it’s impossible to quickly search for dishes with one main ingredient. It also leaves me trying to figure out which category some dishes fit into (it can be subjective). So it’s not just for nostalgia, but for practical reasons that I’m so happy I found a copy of the original book, and not only because they’re over $50 each on Amazon (I paid thrift store prices for mine). Not only that, but it’s in near-mint condition — much better than my mom’s well-loved copy!

There are a bunch of flea and Christmas markets coming up soon, which I’m looking forward to even though I’m not even ready to think about the holiday season yet. Heck, I haven’t even gotten through Halloween yet! What I’m looking forward to soonest is Ottawa Give Away Weekend, when people put items they don’t want on the side of the road for anyone to pick up for free if they are so inclined. I’ve found some lovely treasures on this weekend in previous years, including the beautiful antique mirror that hangs in my front hall. You might call it trash picking, but I call it recycling. Why should I buy all new things when there is such a huge variety of awesome second-hand items out there? Newer doesn’t always mean better — and it almost always means more expensive.

Second-Hand Cookbook Finds

This past Friday I went thrift shopping with a friend of mine, and we must have spent at least an hour going through shelf after shelf of second-hand books. In addition to finding a stack of books for my girls (classic Nancy Drew mysteries for my eldest and Garfield comic books for my youngest), and a number of vintage copies of the Serendipity series for my friend, who collects them. For me, I found another copy of the Joy of Cooking (2006 edition) that I plan on gifting one of my girls when she eventually moves out — or I will use to replace my own copy should I ever dump a cupful liquid in it. What made me most excited, though, was:

Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook (Terry Pratchett, 1999), which is a “useful and improving Almanack of Information including Astonishing Recipes from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld”. As my ComicCon costume of Discworld Death probably hinted, I am a huge fan of this series of books. I’m currently loaning my copies out in the hope that my friends will want to do a group costume next year. I am looking forward to trying such recipes from the book as Sticky Toffee Rat Onna Stick (page 98) and Nanny Ogg’s Perfectly Innocent Porridge with Completely Inoffensive Honey Mixture Which Shouldn’t Make Anyone’s Wife Laugh (page 70). Honestly, the book is more of a hilarious commentary than an actual cookbook, but I do hope to try out some of the recipes just for fun.

I also picked up English 18th Century Cookery (Roy Bloom, undated but online research indicates it was first printed sometime in the 1970’s). I look forward to going through the book and recreating what recipes I can, which will be a challenge because, well, as per the foreward:

Many [of the recipes] are still favourites today, yet others have somehow been forgotten. Certainly the quantities are often overwhelming, the directions not always precise and indeed sometimes the ingredients are not suitable for present-day use. Nonetheless the able cook need not be disheartened — commonsense and a little imagination are all that is required to adapt some of these ideas into delicious realities.

The contents of the book are much older than the printing date, as they originate from an 18th-century household library. Luckily there is a glossary, as some of the terminology is no longer in use, and the Net will help me fill in the other blanks. Some substitutions will have to be made, since a number of the ingredients are no longer in common use, and others aren’t available outside of England. Updating recipes from this book looks to be an interesting challenge that I hope I am up to!

New Cookware

When it comes to garage sale and thrift store shopping, my mother is my role model. Actually, that’s true when it comes to shopping in general. My mom can go into a clothing store and find three pairs of trousers and a shirt, all that fit well, all for 75% off or greater, in less than fifteen minutes. I will go into the same store and come back with maybe one of those pieces. It’s as if she has some kind of supernatural ability to sniff out bargains.

Case in point: my mom bought me some new cookware at garage sales this past month, both for about $2.00 apiece. The first was a pretty vintage 1970’s-ish Dutch oven. I love this style of enameled piece, and although my mom gave me her old one a while back, she was not ashamed to admit that this one was in better shape. As a bonus, it’s also bigger.

Mom also found me this adorable pumpkin pie plate, virtually brand new; it still had the cardboard insert to protect between the top and bottom parts from each other. I doubt it has ever been used. I think it will be perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, when pumpkin pie is often my main contribution to the meal. The temperature at night is telling me that fall isn’t far off, so it won’t be long until I get a chance to use this dish.

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!