Sunday, September 30, 2007

Odds and Ends

Friday, after work, we stopped at Farm Boy grocers in town. We don't shop there often as we have had problems with some of their meat going bad overnight. Since we were looking for produce we thought we would give them a go. One of the best things about Farm Boy is the produce department is half the size of the entire store. You can get produce there that can not be found at any other grocers. They also carry several variety of peppers rather than just giving us the choice of Jalapeños or Green Bell. On average they carry eight variety of hot pepper and at least four types of sweet peppers including Green Bells.

So Friday, we picked up several types of produce including some bulk carrots, 10lb for $2.00, and Cubanelle Peppers, 8 peppers for $3.00. We peeled and chopped all the carrots and three of the cubanelle peppers to be dehydrated for soups this winter. The carrots tasted so good I was tempted to go back and get another bag but have restrained myself so far. The peppers dried up nicely and will make a nice addition to soups and sauces this winter. The remaining peppers will be eaten in our meals this week.

It's a very dreary day here today. The temperature is hovering around 8ºC right now. Yesterday wasn't much better with the high only hitting 18ºC at around 3:00pm. The sky is overcast and what little wind there is cold. Neither of us feel like being outside today so we will spend the day vacuuming and washing the last load of laundry. Perhaps I'll bake a pumpkin custard from the pie pumpkin I bought on Friday. That will warm the house and us nicely.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Citrus Juicer - Carving

Title: Citrus Juicer
Wood Species: Basswood
Starting Size: 1.5 x 1.5 x 12" block
Technique: Knife to shape in the round and chip carve ridges and flowers
Finishing: Light gel stain and several heavy coats of Urethane.

PeterC asked me to carve a juicer that could be used for lemons and limes. I'm fairly happy with the results. The handle shape is quite comfortable and the hand guards work well to keep the hand from slipping. The ridges on the juicer bulbs were quite difficult to carve and several are too deep and the edges cracked during the carving process.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Heart Pendant - Carving

Title: Heart with a Tagua Nut inset.
Wood Species:
Starting Size: 1.5 x 1.0 x 3/4 " block
Technique: Knife to shape wood and the Tagua Nut
Finishing: Water based stain two heavy coats of Urethane.

I created this pendant as a gift for PeterC. It was originally supposed to be a birthday present but time got away from me. Instead it was presented to him in the early part of September, when the mounting was finally installed.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Peace of Mind

It has been a long week this week, but finally it is over. I work outside the home, and Sparrow Haven is as much my haven from the rest of the world as it is for the feathered and furred. I like coming home after work and seeing the birds line up at the feeders waiting their turn, or more often than not cutting line and squabbling. This is especially true during the twice yearly migration.

The migration brings with it a sense of relief. The fall migration is the end of the summer heat wave. It heralds the slow down in the outside chores. All the canning is done, or nearly done. The firewood has been purchased and stacked. The promise of quiet evenings in front of the fire hangs in the air and with that is the hope that I find peace of mind from the troubles outside of Sparrow Haven.

Here's to the Heralds of Winter.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Not so Welcome Guest

Normally, I am pretty laid back about the wilder side of nature coming for a visit inside the house. As long as they don't destroy anything in the process. However, I draw the line at certain multi-legged beasties, namely spiders. I don't suffer from the screaming heebie jeebies when a spider comes a calling but I do firmly insist they leave by the same door they came in.

Living at Sparrow Haven we are blessed, if that word applies here, to have many variety of spiders who understand that they live outdoors. Well, with the exception of the common House Spider who likes to hide in my cupboards and who gets vacuumed up as soon as they are discovered. All the dishes in the cupboard gets washed, too, just in case of spider cooties and the remains of their dinners.

Occasionally, though, we will get a visitor who doesn't understand the rules of the house. He, or more likely she, will come traipsing through with the intention of making this their own private dwelling. Out will come the paper cup or whatever PeterC has handy and outside they will go.

Yesterday, we had a new spider visit. He, or she, had started slinging webs between the handles of my kitchen knives as they sat in their block. PeterC was quicker to spot the invader than I was and decided some pictures would be nice. After the picture taking session was over I firmly insisted that the spider move on.

This is a new one on us. We've never seen a spider marked like this before. We spent a good deal of time trying to find a good online identification guide but to no avail. So, if any of you are arachnophiles and can ID this species please leave a comment. We'd greatly appreciate it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Smoked Chicken & Roasted Corn Chowder

When you have a good BBQ and a smoker it opens a whole new world of flavours to explore. Today we made a thick corn chowder using smoked chicken breasts and roasted corn. I added a few spices and ended up with a delightful treat. Hope you enjoy.

Smoked Chicken & Roasted Corn Chowder
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 smoked chicken breast, diced
5 ears corn roasted and the kernels cut off the ear
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stick, diced
2 head roasted garlic
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 roasted sweet red pepper
2 cups milk
3-4 cps chicken broth
2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp Hot Sauce (I used Trinidad Hot Sauce)
3 Tbsp dried cilantro leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

In a large dutch oven melt the butter and saute the onions and 1 head of roast garlic just until the onions get soft.

Stir in the flour and mix well.

Add the chicken, 2 cups of corn kernels, carrots, celery, cilantro, cumin, hot sauce, broth, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then lower temperature and simmer for 5 minutes

As the pot simmers combine the rest of the corn, half the roasted pepper, the last garlic head, and the milk. Use a blender to puree until smooth.

Dice the rest of the red pepper.

When the pot is done simmering add the puree and red pepper and mix well. Bring the pot back to a simmer and simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir it often or it will stick to the bottom of the pan as it gets thick.

Serve with shredded cheddar on top or even a dollop of sour cream if you prefer.

Makes 6 - 8 two cup servings.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Harry Mclean's Pub

It was a beautiful day and we decided to take the trip out to Merrickville to visit the shops we had missed the first trip out. We left home early and decided to skip breakfast and find a nice place to eat in Merrickville. It was a great decision. Every once in a while a meal will come along that will be so good that you just have to talk about it to everyone you meet. We had just such a meal yesterday at Harry Mclean's Pub in Merrickville.

Harry Mclean's is a small pub that is a resident of a Historical Site that was once home of the largest dry goods store west of Montreal, or so the staff informed us. The pub's outdoor patio is in the fact the inner courtyard created by the coming together of several buildings. We chose the courtyard because it was a lovely day and the courtyard was nice and quiet. For the first 30 minutes or so we were the only couple occupying the courtyard with it's neatly trimmed grass, burbling fountain, and plastic outdoor furniture.

I ordered a burger with Caramelized Onions and Swiss Cheese. The burger came with fries so I upgraded to Sweet Potatoes Fries. The food arrived within 15 minutes of placing our order and it was delicious. The burger was tender and juicy and the fries were crispy and sweet in the way that only sweet potatoes can be. The onions were done perfectly and the sweetness of the onions accented the burger perfectly.

PeterC ordered the Parmesan Crusted Chicken on Fettuccine with Garlic Cream Sauce. The chicken breast was quite large without being to thick. Under the crispy coating of the Parmesan cheese it was cooked all the way through and juicy. The noodles were thick and we decided that they must have been hand made though it wasn't mentioned on the menu. The garlic cream sauce was a exactly that, a garlic cream sauce. It was very garlicky, which is something most restaurants do not do well, but otherwise it was a little bland. Some salt and pepper added to the noodles helped to balance all the flavours and made it much more enjoyable.

The hardest part about the experience was getting the bill. We waited patiently at our table for half and hour or so and stood in the kitchen entrance for another 20 minutes. The line chef passed the word up the to the waitress who promptly forgot us. We rang the courtesy bell and asked the person who answered the bell for the bill. Ten minutes later we walked around to the front of the pub where we were apologetically cashed out by the man we assume was the manager.

Even though it was difficult getting the bill it was a great meal in a pleasant setting. All in all I have to say it was worth the stop and I would recommend it to anyone else who will be in the area.