Farmers Markets & Mojitos

A visit to the Farmer’s Market is a summer Sunday tradition and the later in the season, the better it gets. Big, juicy, Okanagan peaches were proudly on display at almost every stall. Their sweet, peachy goodness is so irresistible this time of year, I had to grab a few to take home with me.

peaches

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” – Dita von Teese

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After the market I wandered home through the community garden, stopping to munch on a few raspberries and chase after the gorgeous, but grumpy, neighborhood cat in a vain attempt to pet him. I always try to tempt him with various morsels from the Farmer’s Market but he’s a tough customer.

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Once home, I retrieve my little Okanagan gems from the bottom of my bag, un-bruised and un-squashed (yay) and settled down with my laptop to decide what to do with them. I stumbled on this recipe on Jillian Harris’s blog and decided to make my own version of her delicious, BC celebrating cocktail. After a gorgeous day spent buying fruit, smelling flowers and soaking up the sun, a fresh peach mojito on the patio is the perfect ending to this Sunday story.

Sweet Peach Mojitos

  • 2 cups BC peaches
  • Handful fresh mint
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 4 ounces dark rum
  • 2 ounces peach schnapps
  • Club soda

Directions

  1. Muddle the peaches, fresh mint and limes
  2. Add rum and peach schnapps
  3. Top with club soda and serve!

Serves four if you’re and normal person and serves two if you’re like me.

peach mojitos

There are two kinds of people I don’t trust: people who don’t drink and people who collect stickers – Chelsea Handler

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A Day on the Seawall

Vancouverites have a reputation of being very fit. So much so that the last time I visited LA, an Angeleno loudly announced at a cocktail party that Vancouver was home to the fittest people in North America. That’s quite an honour coming from a resident of the land of the beautiful. I was surprised at her statement but also smiled a little proudly. It’s a good rep to have.

So why are we Vancouverites so fit? Well, the Grouse Grind is definitely a factor. Spending a morning climbing a mountain with an 800 metre elevation will get you fit fast. But we also have our gorgeous Stanley Park Seawall. It’s an 8.8k stretch of scenic, natural beauty and we love to bike, jog, rollerblade and power walk along it.

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Last Sunday was one of those perfect, hot, late summer days, so I leashed up the pup and hit the iconic seawall for a long, long power walk.

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After passing the Lions Gate Bridge, Siwash Rock, on the North side of the park is the next landmark and is one of Vancouver’s special, mystical places.

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The plaque in front of Siwash reads: “Native Legend tells us that this 50 foot high pinnacle of rock stands as an imperishable monument to “Skalsh the Unselfish” who was turned into stone by “Quas the Transformer” as a reward for his unselfishness.” I’m not sure that being turned to stone is the best reward for good behaviour, but, nonetheless, Siwash is a stunning and powerful place.

siwash rock, vancouver

Next stop is English Bay and the iconic Sylvia Hotel.

the sylvia 060 Eating alone isn’t usually my favourite thing to do but Sylvia was calling my name. I could see an empty patio table with a lavender tree beside it and a view of the ocean in front of it.

If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.  – Jean Paul Sartre

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I made sure The Nickster was happy, leashed up with a chew stick and then sat at the cute little lavender table overlooking the ocean. The Sylvia was originally built in the early 1900’s as a luxury apartment building and is now one of our oldest and most character filled hotels.

Another bonus is that the servers are uber-friendly. After saying hello to Nicky, my waiter and I got into and in-depth discussion about our mutual love of Yorkies and a few minutes later he was sitting down with me, pulling out his smart phone and proudly showing me his Yorkie niece, Mia and nephew, Niko. All I can say is that if you’re dining alone in the city and want to feel completely comfortable, The Sylvia is the place to be.

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I settled in with a chilled glass of Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris.

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And delectable crab and prawn cakes.

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Dinner finished, it was time to walk the last stretch home. The golden hour was basking the bay in a lovely glow, the sun hanging low in the sky.

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People were everywhere, lounging on the grass, sitting on blankets; older couples were holding hands on park benches, all staring at the sea. I plopped down on a park bench, Nick curled up to an elderly woman beside him and fell asleep.

And, in silence, we all watched together as the glowing sun sank into the cool, silvery Pacific. A beautiful way to end the day.

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Smoothies & Waterfalls

Vancouver is in the middle of a lovely September heat wave, which means more smoothies on the menu and more hikes on the agenda.

Last Sunday a friend and I decided to spend the day walking along a trail in the woods that leads to a gorgeous waterfall called Norvan Falls. The day started with a powerful smoothie for breakfast. It was a simple recipe but one that packed a lot of anti-oxidant, superfood punch to keep me nourished and hydrated along the long, 14k trail ahead.

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Purple Power Smoothie

  • handful of mixed dark greens
  • one cup of blueberries
  • one banana
  • one sprinkle of chia (or any other superfood)
  • two cups of pomegranate juice

I started the hike by climbing an old growth tree trunk to practice a little yoga and stretch my muscles for the trek ahead.

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What could be better than doing Tree Pose with the trees?
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The very last #shesgotlegs yoga pose, Camel. I haven’t been able to do all of the poses properly (the more pretzel type poses not at all) and I’m nowhere near being able to put my legs behind my head. But it’s been a fun and humbling month as I try, and often fall out of, the various poses and also a great motivator to practice yoga every day. My dog is thinking “What the heck is mom up to now?”

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The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. – John Muir

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It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. – Robert Lewis Stevenson

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Norvan Falls, BC

Love Apples

love ap·ple

Noun – an old-fashioned term for a tomato.

Synonyms – tomato

I love my tomato plant.

I love the way the leaves smell like fresh, green aromatherapy.

I love how sweet and tender the little, yellow flowers look before they morph into baby tomatoes.

I love how I never put a stake in it and it is turning into a clinging vine, with stalks and leaves taking over one entire side of my balcony railing.

I love watching the rows of tiny, bright green globes turn into juicy, red, ripe tomatoes.

I love how there are currently over fifty “love apples” growing on my plant.

I love how my plant has proven wrong everyone who said I couldn’t grow tomatoes on a Northeast balcony.

I love everything about my tomato plant.

Now it’s time to start harvesting my lovely plant so I asked Chef Pedro (my advisor on all things food related) for his best kick-ass salsa recipe and here it is:

Mango and Love Apple Salsa

  • 40 cherry tomatoes, from the garden, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • ¼ med. red onion, finely diced
  • 1 med yellow pepper finely diced
  • ½ squeeze fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbs. fresh cilantro
  • ¼ tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp. fresh garlic, diced
  • a few pinches sea salt
  • Fresh pepper

Add tortilla chips, margaritas, a couple of friends and you have the ingredients for a really great Friday night!

salsa

Flowers in the Rain

I took an extra day off last weekend to squeeze in as much beach time as possible before summer fades into a distant memory. And, guess what? The weather report lied. It had shown a sky full of a happy, smiling, bright yellow sunshine and what the weather gods delivered was a misty, grey Vancouver day accompanied by the gentle pitter patter of mellow but constant raindrops.

So, after taking some time to be annoyed at not being able to spend my day strolling on the seawall, I took Nick for a walk in the neighborhood and found this…

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My neighbor’s zucchini garden. The bright, sunshine-y flowers were almost shocking against the muted greys and greens of the rest of my world. My neighbor had already told me to help myself to his garden, so I obliged.

Pan-fried zucchini florets are one of my favourite things and they are so easy to prepare:

Fresh Zucchini Florets with Blue Cheese

  • Pour a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a frying pan
  • add as many florets as you have or will fit into the pan
  • fry until soft
  • add crumbled blue cheese at the very end (local, organic is always best)
  • put on a pretty plate and serve

One word of warning: When you start growing your own food and/or foraging, bugs often make an unwanted appearance. Unlike conventional food which is radiated, gmo and/or sprayed to within an inch of it’s life with pesticides, real food is a yummy home for a number of insects. After I thoroughly washed the outside of my florets, I put them in the pan and, guess what? Two slugs quickly appeared and ran around, as if to say “Why is it getting hot in here? What the heck is going on?” I grabbed a piece of paper and guided them out of the frying pan and into a pot in my balcony garden, screaming periodically whenever they crawled towards my hand.

Anyway, this can happen with fresh, organic food so be prepared. I think it’s a small price to pay for the exquisite, just picked taste and health benefits of real, unaltered, honest to goodness food.

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Gillian Aldrich started growing vegetables in her backyard three years ago, and she’s now working on planting a bed of hydrangeas along one side of her property. As she digs in the garden, her 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son often play around her, sometimes taking a break to dig for worms or pick strawberries. Instead of watching them, Aldrich is playing, too — “my kind of play,” she says.

“When you sit at a desk all day, there’s something about literally putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually creating something that’s really beautiful,” says Aldrich, 42, a magazine editor in Maplewood, New Jersey. “There’s something about just being out there that feels kind of elemental.”

Aldrich isn’t the only one who feels this way. Many gardeners view their hobby as the perfect antidote to the modern world, a way of reclaiming some of the intangible things we’ve lost in our busy, dirt-free lives. – Health.com

Wild Berries

Did you know that Bertie s are unbelievably good for you? They’re full of anti-aging anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals and are also “juicy foods”, meaning that they are mostly water and, therefore, incredibly hydrating. Freshly picked berries are also full of live food enzymes that are so good for every single cell in your body.beach and berries2

Wild blackberries grow in abundance at the beach near my home and I decided it was time to have one last berry-picking afternoon before the season was over.

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Nick, the camouflage dog,  always finds a lot to investigate on a nature walk/berry hunt.

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We made it to the path leading to the berry bushes.

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Forget the berries, let’s play!

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The beautiful decay of fall is starting already.

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Uh oh, the ripe ones have been picked over by birds (or pesky humans).

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But these haven’t…

At home, I mix the wild blackberries with raspberries from the local Farmer’s Market. Then I add Rain or Shine Apricot Blackberry Sorbet (the pint of vegan Chocolate Chunk is for later). Rain or Shine just opened in the neighborhood and make their ice cream from local, organic ingredients right in the back of their store. This local love is reflected in the ice cream’s incredible flavour and their ice-cream is a little like crack cocaine for foodies.  Next I add Frostbites, a Whistler, BC company that makes unbelievably delicious fruit cordials from local, organic produce.

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And, voila, a fresh, local, wild, extra special Sunday dessert.

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#eatmoresugaryourenotquitesweetenough