Thursday, 27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving - especially to all my pals having a blast out on Oceano Dunes right now, without me!

Thinking of you all and missing you !


Saturday, 15 November 2008

Classic Tourtiere - This is What's For Dinner - a First For Me!


So I was at this holiday fundraising bazaar selling my fabulous Gold Canyon candles and the big draw was these Tourtieres.

St. James Church in Carleton Place has been running the Partridge in a Pear Tree fundraising event for several years. The meat pies (tourtieres) are baked by many a baker in kitchens throughout the county, all in support of Carleton Place District and Memorial Hospital.

People from as far away as Ottawa travel to stand in line for as long as it takes to be one of the lucky 'first come, first served' for one or a few of the only 250 pies.

When Peter called to say hi and ask how it was going, he also asked if I'd bought a pie.

The thought had never crossed my mind, because I'd never had one before. So now, another Canadian tradition will be crossed off the list.

I hope it tastes good!



  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp to 10 tbsp cold water as needed


  • 1 1/2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork, veal, beef or combination
  • 2 x onions, diced
  • 1 x medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed celery seed
  • dash allspice
  • dash ground cloves
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg mixed with 2 Tbsp (25 mL) water for glazing



  1. Combine flour with salt. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture is a roughly even crumbly texture. Add lemon juice and water and blend just until dough comes together.
  2. Shape into a disc, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. While pastry is chilling, prepare filling.


  1. Cook potatoes in an uncovered pot of salted water until tender and drain. Roughly mash potatoes and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large sauté pan or skillet, sauté beef, pork and/or veal over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat, add onions and seasonings and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add cider and water and bring up to a simmer. Let mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in potatoes and cool to room temperature. This can be prepared a day in advance.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, cut dough in half, roll out to just less than ¼-inch (.5 cm) thickness and line an 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan. Fill with tourtière filling.
  6. Roll out remaining dough, cut a hole in center (for steam to escape) and place on top of filling. Pinch edges of crust together and brush with eggwash. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until pastry is a rich golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes, then remove from pan and serve.
  7. Tourtière can be made up to 2 days in advance and reheated in a 300 °F oven.

Classic Tourtiere - Food Network Canada

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Hangin’ with the Parental Units

When I was first swept away to Canada, there weren’t too many people from the mother land that were very understanding. Not that we knew this until years later, but nobody in California could understand why I’d choose igloo-land over the sunshine coast.

So when my mother came for that first visit, three years ago for the occasion of my 40th birthday, I was almost anxious with my need for approval. I wanted Mom to love Lanark County as much as I did.

It worked.

When Mom left three years ago, she said she understood why I’d never move back to California. She said she would be my ambassador and let everyone know.

So when Peter and I found out that Mom and Dad were scheduling a visit for October (this year) , I was really excited to introduce Dad to the wilds of Lanark County. Two ambassadors are better than one, right? Actually, I was just really excited to see them, to have them all to myself. I was loving the fact that I didn’t have to share them with my two brothers, one sister or any one of the six grandchildren that live in the vicinity of grandma and grandpa.

I was selfishly giddy, I admit it.

Mom and Dad were celebrating a wedding anniversary – and wanted badly to visit Niagara Falls, as well as experience the fall colours that grace us every year. So, when they landed at night – I’m guessing it was a bit of a let-down for them. The colours, at least, would have to wait until morning.

However, Lanark County knows how to treat its visitors. When we pulled down our road, we slowed to stop just before our driveway. I pointed to the crab apple tree in our front yard, where three does were munching on the trees offerings on the grass below.

While one greedily munched on the small apples, the other two looked up, inevitably startled by our presence. They disappeared after a few seconds, but it was enough. Mom and Dad were suitably impressed.

I couldn’t wait for them to wake up the next morning, so they could see our quiet country street, check out the awesome colours of the maples nearby.

I was like that kid on Christmas morning, waking too early, jumping on my parents’ bed yelling ‘wake-up wake-up!’

Mom, of course was already neck deep in a hot cup of coffee in the living room. Dad was up and dressed, but the shades were still drawn tight against the day. I snapped it up and bright light flooded the bedroom.

“Look dad, look!” I pointed at our young sugar maple in the yard, then dragged him to the back of the house so he could see the back part of our property. “Whaddya think?”

Here it was, what I was waiting for. Dad’s approval. We walked through the sunroom to the tiny back deck.

Dad looked around at our small slice of paradise.

“It’s beautiful, honey. Your nephew would love it here, So peaceful. If it weren’t for the snow and grandbabies at home, your mom and I could see ourselves here.”

Well now. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

But seriously. I’d received the approval I thought I’d needed so badly (I don’t of course. I’m ridiculously happy no matter what), I wondered. . . would I really want to live with my parents again?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Everything Is Gettin' Furry


Getting those couple of inches of snow last week really put a grump in my step. My plumber stood on my porch and denied climate change as a mixture of snow and rain pelted him in the face. Peter had just secured a firewood order and we were beginning to think about the upcoming season. But when that snow flew – there was no joy. It was still October. SO not ready for it.

And I don’t care if it’s snowed in October before. Doesn’t make it right.

I don't care how pretty it was. Don’t care that it made me stop and look out my back door, wondering how the snow so perfectly coats all the branches of every tree in perfect icy, sparkling frosting.

Maybe my crankiness about the snow was all Cousin Amy’s fault. Amy sent me a text message with a picture of the thermometer in her parents' backyard, the same day we were being snowed upon. The temperature that day in Fresno, California? Seventy-eight degrees. At 7 o’clock at night.

The Facebook status of another friend in Sacramento? I’m tired of wearing shorts, bring on some rain already!

But then the snow melted, and I realized I don't mind winter all that much, because nature does some pretty cool stuff to get ready for the season.

Just about everything is gettin' furry. Driving down the roads of our Lanark County, all the horses are getting those thick patches of winter fur. They may look a little shaggy, but for animals that always have a such a sleek, glistening appearance, I rather like the stuffed-animal makeover of horses in the colder months.

And there on highway 7 – driving between Napoleon and Highway 29 in Carleton Place, are where the shaggy cows live. Anyone that’s ever been on Highway 7 more than once knows of which shaggy cows I speak. Of course, if you’re a farmer, you probably know the actual breed name of these animals. But to us simple-minded folk –they are beautiful, shaggy cows. And they’re getting shaggier.

My yard is totally furry with leaves. I know - they should be raked. But I believe in composting and I had my rake committed last fall for intent to do bodily injury.

The cat and dog aren't shedding quite as much. Wick, the cat, seems to have put on a pound of fur in a matter of one week, and it just makes her belly that much more irresistible as she struggles away from our loving hands. Cats. Sigh.

We're all getting our own layer of winter fur on, as well. Heavier coats, warm, furry-lined boots, gloves and hats. Fuzzy sweaters, socks and scarves are all starting to make an appearance.

Some women will shave less. And really, what's the big, hairy deal? Men grow beards during the hockey season, so let's just say that's what we - I mean, some women - will do as well! Besides, it's an extra layer of warmth, and after a short time, like your manly, oh-so-sexy facial hair, our feminine-soft-and-silky leg hair will feel the same.

And maybe, just maybe, you won't have to hear us - I mean, some women - whine as much about how cold we - er - they are.

Getting furry in the cold months is part of the natural order of things. So let’s all get soft and furry, and stay warm. Maybe then it won’t bother me – um, I mean other people so much when the s**w really hits.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

This is Probably the Most Important Election of My Lifetime


So I am keeping well informed by watching Indecision 2008, hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Check your comedy network listings for all the historical listings. . .