Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Flashback to March: Easter Feasters!

In which the whole fam damily (cK and the K-rents - which, Dave Barry, would be an excellent name for a rock band) has many adventures, once Dad recovers a bit from the worst-sounding chest cold ever. Photo highlights include Games Night, in which everybody else obviously cheated at Scrabble, Cranium, cribbage, etc. and lots of DG-ing (and D-God-ing, too).

Easter Sunday started well.

I went out for a run through the coulee (quite unlike coulis, for those of you unfamiliar with Hatular topography), to the tepee and back, in wind so strong that I was tempted to walk/throw up/lie down/launch myself into the coulee on several occasions. I believe that it's about a 6km route, but it took me 40 minutes of intense exertion in order to return home, red-faced and nauseous. The joys of fitness, I know.

After a stretch, a heavenly shower, and a quick nap, I was ready to start cooking again.

Let me back up. The 'rents had arrived on Thursday night, and it was a fiesta for gourmets and gourmands alike, every night. After a long day of travel, my parents were treated to a nice little spread of cranberry-hazelnut rainforest crackers, cream cheese, and a cabernet paste, with scotch for the boys and wine for the girls, followed by Mom's chicken casserole, tweaked and en-healthened by me (less rice, half fat cream of chicken and celery, light mayo, potato chips crumbled on top... ok, I didn't en-health the chip topping -- it's too good!).

Good Friday got us up and moving with a nice hour-long walk through Kin Coulee park, then we took Dad, who suddenly developed a bad cough, home. Chris and I started on our Domestic Goddess- and God-ing; he prepared an amazing meal of salmon with marinated red peppers, olives and sun-dried tomatoes (he stuffed a chicken breast with the same ingredients, plus feta cheese, for me), while I started the prep for the previously-mentioned pork and beans chili mole, which apparently tastes better after sitting in a fridge overnight. Easy preparation, once you cut the pork tenderloin up. Luckily, I have a sous-chef, Christophe Encraque, to do that for me.

Meanwhile, we got Mom and Dad totally hooked (but no worse than we are) on Heroes. Chris went out for his run, and I made a warm potato salad (mini potatoes, a few hard-boiled eggs, some green onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, grainy dijon, and a touch of mayo) and a green salad. Appies of brie and Madagascar peppercorn cheese, as well as a nice PC pate started us off. Yum!

Let us now briefly discuss Games Night. Frankly, some of the "adults" participating in these games are too smug for their own good - you can't be a sore loser AND a poor winner! You just can't. That's all I have to say about that.

Saturday was the dinosaur day (from previous post), so I had the day off of cooking, aside from the cornbread to go with the chili. Chris, meanwhile, put the strawberry rhubarb tiramisu together, and made a little one for a "tester" with dinner. The chili was reheated, the cilantro and chocolate (the secret ingredient! shhhhh...) were added, and it was ladled into bowls, sprinkled with grated cheese, some green onions, some chopped tomatoes, and a dab of sour cream. We opened up a bottle of Ravenswood Vintner's Blend Zinfandel, which was paired with the chili in the magazine -- we figured that they probably knew best -- and had another amazing meal.

Before bed, we prepared everything we needed for a delicious breakfast casserole (sausages, hashbrowns, eggs, and gravy, in a crescent-roll crust)... it just didn't end!

Easter Sunday was nice - we started with brunch, then I don't believe we needed to eat again till dinner. We followed Chatelaine's Easter dinner menu, and ended up with a delicious glazed ham, roasted carrots and asparagus, and a dill-icious orzo and belgian endive salad. Somehow the chefs didn't kill each other throughout (a bonus of finally having a bigger kitchen!) and everything made it to the table at the same time.

Everything was absolutely delicious (Ok, the carrots were a bit crunchy, but that means they have more vitamins, right?), and we ate so well, had tons of leftovers, and still have half a ham in our freezer! Chris left early on Tuesday, and I didn't have to cook for the rest of the week!

More photos:

Dinner is served: Ooooooooh....Aaaaaaaaah...

Vegetarians, avert your eyes. I give you Ham!

We had a little adventure on the way to the Medalta Historic Pottery Site:

And what do I do with myself when Chris is away?

Hey, it still fits!


On Saturday, we drugged up Dad sufficiently to chauffeur us to the Royal Tyrell Museum, a two-and-a-half hours' drive away. He's a trooper, all right - I've never heard such a terrible cough.

It's actually a beautiful drive through the prairies, especially on such a bright, sunny day. Lots of big skies and interesting plays of shadow on the fields, the road was punctuated with a few prairie animal sightings:

  • 3 coyotes (although I think one of them was a wolf)

  • lots and lots of antelope

  • the ponies (just outside of Redcliff)

  • cows (of course)

Coming up to the Badlands, we made a side trip to Hussar, a small town about 20 km from Drumheller. Apparently, 200km between gas stations is a normal thing on the prairies, and when you do find one, it's a cardlock. Which means that tourists can't use them.

The locals at Hussar were very friendly - they offered to use their card for gas and we'd pay them cash, they offered Mom their home bathroom to use, and all seeming very willing to help (with a bottle of beer in their hands....true, it was noon...I started humming the banjo tune from Deliverance). So, we kept driving and hoped for the best.

The landscape altered dramatically just outside of Drumheller - bare, striated rock faces, hoodoos, deep valleys carved into the extra-terrestrial topography - it was stunning. We stopped at "the farm" for lunch (the shame!) and then headed on to the museum.

What an amazing place! It's set up very nicely - the design of it impressed me almost as much as the giant bones. Incredible lighting, great use of space, nice fonts used on the signs... :)

Despite my strong intention to get no educational value whatsoever from the trip, I came away knowing the difference between a stegasaurus and a stegocerous, a chasmasaurus and a triceratops, and that baby dinosaurs were the size of cats.

The gift shop drew me in and I decided that a triceratops would make a good present for a 4-year-old (being a vegetarian dinosaur, he wouldn't eat the boy), and found some neat stuff for Logan.

This one, which came up to us just as we left the museum, was really friendly. Unfortunately, I had no vegetarians to feed him. He had to make do with a scritch behind the ...uh... horns.

The drive home flew by (some may say that it's because I was asleep), and for the intrepid Dinosaur Hunters, I made cornbread and the pork-and-beans chili mole from the winter issue of Food & Drink. Yum.

Are you still antici...painting?

Yes, I finally finished the bathroom! It's amazing how a visit from the parents expediates all manner of household improvements! We spent quite the busy weekend/week touching up, finishing, organizing, putting together the guest room, planning menus...

But by far, the most exciting bit was the guest bathroom!

When we last checked in with our heroine, she had base-coated the bathroom a nice light silvery grey, already a marked improvement from the dingy grey-green.

The next step was measuring, marking, and taping the stripes.

Notes to remember for other mini-Marthas out there: before taping, mark which stripes you'll be painting (to avoid accidentally painting the wrong stripe AND to make sure that you don't end up with an uneven number of stripes) and tape OUTSIDE the stripe you'll be painting (so your stripes won't look even, but you have to deal with it).

A more ept person would have figured out how to use the "laser" level. However, being moderately inept (ok, completely inept), I tied the paint key to a long piece of twine, taped it to the ceiling at the marks, and taped beside it.

Mini-Martha tip: if you go this route, don't use twine, since I also taped all the fuzz and lint to the wall, as well.

Of course, I painted over the fuzz, too, and had to remove it as I went. The painting bit, as always, was a lot of fun, and even with the tape on, I had hope that it would turn out like it does on tv.

Two coats in one day, edging the ceiling without tape (a risky move, but it worked very well, and saved time), tape removal, and then a few touchups of the ceiling and bits where the tape ripped off all the paint, right down to the drywall, which we're not going to talk about (Chris to the rescue! He primed and repainted those spots).

Oh, and don't look behind the toilet.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

D(elinquent) (blo)G(ger): part 2

Two posts in one day - the DG is obviously overcompensating!!!

Last night, being unsupervised and all, I was feeling nostalgic for my university days.

My third-year roommate and I used to cook up all sorts of fantastic concoctions, and name them, well, fantastically.

Maloonie was a greek salad sort of meal, with peppers and feta. Deeelicious. Ecstasy was a dessert, made of graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate chips, pecans, and a caramel sauce. It was ecstasy.

But last night, I was in the mood for Pango.

Pango is a mediterranean pizza, usually made on a pita, but I made do with tortillas. I lightly misted them with olive oil first, and put them under the broiler to brown slightly. In the meantime, I sauteed wee pieces of chicken breast in a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper, then removed them to a bowl. To the same pan, I added some more oil, chopped onion and garlic, zucchini, tomato, basil, salt and pepper, and let them sizzle together until they were softened and the liquid was absorbed.

This mixture was then spread evenly on the tortillas. The chicken was arranged on top, then feta was sprinkled liberally, and the pans were put back into the oven. Once the edges started to brown, it was done.

It was healthy and heavenly, nicely complimented by a Strongbow, and there is a second Pango for dinner today!

Oh, of course I also made a (small) pan of Ecstasy, too, but either I ate it before I could take a photo, or I'm too ashamed to post how much of it there was (though possibly, I only ate half of it last night, and had the rest for breakfast this morning...) - we may never know the true answer.

And, here I am sitting on my back deck this afternoon, just before heading out for a run in this beautiful weather.

There were only a few puddles to jump over as I ran along the trails beside the coulee, then doubled back to run to the tepee, then back through the coulee again. It was my first time trying out the trails, and the changes in elevation gave me a spectacular view and quite the cardiovascular workout!

I ran for 50 minutes total, a record (this year), and look forward to more nice weather, so that I can do it more often!

I'm sure that I more than burned off any Ecstasy left in my system...

DG: Domestic Goddess? Or Delinquent bloGger?

All right, all right. I know I've been delinquent in my updates. However, honestly, I... have no excuse.

Work has become super interesting and challenging...this week. I've been painting the third

What, you ask? You've been PAINTING a BATHROOM? Tell me all about it!

Ok, ok.

First, it has to be said that it was fine the way it was, very nicely painted, really. It's just that our stuff (towels, shower curtain, etc.... ok, just towels and shower curtain, since really, what else do you put in a bathroom?) didn't match. Instead of going out and spending money on new towels and a shower curtain, we invested the same amount of money, and about 20 x the time, into repainting. Kaff.

This is the guest bathroom on the upper level, and the only bathroom we haven't done yet. So, with His Huffness away this weekend, I decided to get started.

It's a pale grey-green, the same shade that was throughout the house. So far, it's been relegated to just our bedroom and the upper floor.

And this is how I feel about it:

Step one: Scrub the walls with TSP, rinse the walls, tape everything that you don't want to get painted. This step took about 2 hours, is boring, and really doesn't give you much satisfaction.

Step two: "Cut in" around the corners, fixtures, etc. Again, time consuming and not much fun...mostly because of all the time spent awkwardly stuffing myself behind the toilet. (Note to visitors: please don't criticize the paint job behind the toilet.)

Step three: Wheee! Roll the paint on, and have a good time doing it! This is the outcome, so far. Two coats of a steel-grey paint, and we're ready to...well, to let it sit for 48 hours, before "we" attempt the next bit. Chris has washed his hands of this particular project, and you'll see why with the next batch of updates.

After (part one)