Friday, August 31, 2012

Our Newly Painted Kitchen Stools

This summer we brought with us four new wooden stools to use with the little kitchen table.  We prefer stools in the small kitchen because they require less room than chairs,  and they can be easily pushed all the way under the table.  The table that we are using  is a 1930s table that I inherited from my Aunt Jewel in Statesville, NC.  I painted the stools white, but I thought they needed a little color to brighten up the setting.
Painted white.
At first I thought of having friend Frances paint pictures on the seats of the chairs, but then Dan said he would be reluctant to sit on anyone's art work.  And Frances' paintings would have been very nice.

When friend Mary from Raleigh was here, we stopped by Lee Valley Tools and Mary saw these ceramic cabinet knobs that had a checkered design, and she suggested a design like that would be nice for the stools.

 I thought this would be something I could actually do with the help of Dan.  Dan and Frances helped design the templates and I taped off the tops of the stools and painted the checkered design in a pretty blue that complements the blues in the kitchen.
Taped off to paint the first lines.
Painting the first lines.

Tape removed, first lines painted.

Taped off to paint the second lines perpendicular to the first ones.
Finished top with checkered design.
Kitchen table with four newly painted stools.

We are quite pleased with our newly painted kitchen stools.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Harbour Le Cou, Newfoundland

Harbour Le Cou.

Upon returning to Port aux Basques from our trip to Gros Morne last week we found that our 10:00 a.m. ferry from Newfoundland back to Nova Scotia  was canceled, and we were bumped to the 7:30 pm sailing.  That gave us another whole day to explore western Newfoundland, and Dan suggested that we drive over to Harbour Le Cou about 30 miles east of Port aux Basques along the southwestern shore. 
Harbour Le Cou lies along the southwestern coast of Newfoundland about 30 miles east of Port aux Basques.

Dan was familiar with Harbour Le Cou from a Newfoundland folk song by the same name that he had heard since he was a boy.  Here's the first verse of the song:

As I rowed ashore from my schooner close by,
A girl on the beach I chanced to espy,
Her hair it was red and her bonnet was blue,
And her place of abode it was Harbour Le Cou.

You can check out the other verses at this this website.

Or better yet you can listen to the song on You Tube.

The road over was narrow, curvy, and hilly and passed through heavily glaciated areas, dotted with small glacial lakes and with barren vegetation on the rocky hillsides.

The little fishing village of Harbour Le Cou was charming consisting of small, colorful houses perched on the rocky shore.  There was no sign of a beach or sand as alluded to in the song, and Dan believes that the writer of the song probably never set foot in Harbor Le Cou. 

A colorful fishing village.
Houses in Harbor Le Cou.
I like the decorations on this little house in Harbour Le Cou.

In hindsight, we were pleased that our ferry was delayed, because we thoroughly enjoyed exploring this region of Newfoundland which was quite different from what we had seen along the northwestern shore.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Serendipitous Lunch in Baddeck

Last weekend in Port Hawkesbury I ran into a friend, Shirley, that I had met on my first trip to Cape Breton .  Shirley and her family have a summer cottage just down the road from our place.  That summer when our younger son Patrick was along he had played with Shirley's boys during our stay here.  Despite her cottage being so near, I hadn't seen her for a number of years. 
Dan and Alexa shared stories of their fathers.
I learned that Shirley is now very active in the NDP here in Nova Scotia, so I asked if she knew Alexa, who is also active in the NDP and is the daughter of a friend of Dan and his father.  As it turned out she and Alexa are indeed friends.  Dan for years had been hoping to connect with Alexa during our visits to Nova Scotia so it was serendipitious over the weekend when I got an email from Shirley saying that Alexa was visiting and that they were heading to Baddeck to meet Alexa's friend, Betty and since we too were in Baddeck could we all get together for lunch. 
Betty's lovely summer house on the Baddeck waterfront.
We had planned to meet at the Inverary Inn for lunch, but when we discovered they didn't serve lunch, Betty insisted that we have lunch at her place.

Lovely lunch.

Blueberry cake and rhubarb crumble.

Betty's garden, a beautiful venue for lunch.

Pond in back yard. What a view!

Alexa and Betty have been friends since their youth.
Meeting Alexa and her friend Betty was delightful, and it was fun to spend an afternoon with Shirley as well.  Dan and Alexa were able to share stories of  their fathers and of friends in the NDP. Thanks Shirley for arranging this serendipitous get together.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pork Loin with Rhubarb-Tomato Chutney

Pork Loin with Rhubarb-Tomato Chutney Sauce.

A week or so ago, neighbor Maggie brought us a jar of freshly made Rhubarb-Tomato Chutney along with the recipes for the Chutney and for Pork Chops or Loin glazed with the Chutney.  The Chutney keeps in the fridge for up to 6 weeks, but I got around to using it on Sunday.  I had bought a pork loin on sale at Sobey's  with this recipe in mind.  Here's the recipe:

Pork Chops With Rhubarb-Tomato Chutney
4 servings

With boneless pork chops and some made-in-advance Rhubarb-Tomato Chutney, it's a simple matter to create this savory entree. Serve with sauteed cabbage or baked sweet potatoes. (The recipe for the Chutney is included below.)

Four 5-ounce boneless pork chops (may substitute thick slices of pork tenderloin) I used the thick slices of pork tenderloin.)
1 cup Rhubarb-Tomato Chutney (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
1/3 cup chicken broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped cilantro or chives, for garnish (optional)

Place the thick slices of pork loin (or pork chops) and 1/2 cup of the Tomato-Rhubarb chutney in a resealable plastic food storage bag, then seal and squeeze to evenly coat the meat. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Slice pork loin into thick slices.

Marinate with rhubarb-tomato chutney.
Shake off the excess chutney from the pork chops and reserve the marinade in the bag. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it is hot but not smoking. Sear the chops, turning occasionally, until they have browned on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Add the chutney reserved from the marinade and the chicken broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the chops are cooked through and the chutney mixture has thickened and deepened in color. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chutney to the skillet and cook, stirring, just until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pork loin with Rhubarb Chutney.
Serve the chops with the chutney pan sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with cilantro or chives, if desired.
Pork loin with black currant applesauce as side.

Pork loin really moist.
The pork loin was moist and the slightly tart chutney was delicious as a sauce.  I served it with some of Laura's black currant/apple sauce, and this was a perfect accompaniment for the pork.

Here's the recipe for the Rhubarb-Tomato Chutney

Rhubarb-Tomato Chutney
Makes about 3 cups

This flavorful chutney recipe makes more than you need for the pork chops. Use what's left over to enliven almost any curry or grilled or roasted chicken, duck or pork.

Since the chutney is stored cold, it does not require processing in a boiling water bath. It will keep for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. It also may be frozen in plastic containers or sturdy glass preserving jars for up to 6 months; thaw in the refrigerator before using.

1 tablespoon chopped red or yellow onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
3 sprigs thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 tablespoon 1/2-inch-long strips of orange zest
1/2 teaspoon crushed allspice berries or cardamom seeds, pods removed
Generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups 1/2-inch pieces rhubarb (about 3/4 pound well-trimmed stalks
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries or whole golden raisins
1 large firm tomato, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

In a lidded, medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the onion, ginger, mustard seeds, thyme, orange zest, allspice or cardamom, salt, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Add the rhubarb and cherries or raisins and stir. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs, if using. Add the chopped tomato and cook, uncovered, for about 3 minutes or until it is just cooked through but still holds some shape. (The chutney may seem somewhat fluid, but it will thicken a bit when cooled.) Store, refrigerated, in tightly capped glass jars. 

Thanks to friend Maggie, I have yet another way to use rhubarb.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Maggie in Peril

Our dog, Maggie. (Photo by Alain.)
We had quite a scare with our dog Maggie the other night when she began showing signs of respiratory distress.  She seemed to be trying to cough up something without success and was making wheezing sounds as if something were caught in her trachea.  It was even more scary because we were over in St. Ann's quite far from a vet, and it was late on Saturday night.  We headed for Sydney while making calls to an emergency vet number there, but we were encouraged to go to Baddeck which was closer. 

It was about two in the morning on Sunday when we reached the Baddeck Veterinary Clinic and were met by Dr. Golding.
Baddeck Veterinary Clinic.
After an xray of her esophagus and trachea showed nothing, it became necessary for him to sedate her and insert a device into her throat to determine what was causing the obstruction.  What he found was a large blade of grass with one end in her esophagus and the other in her windpipe.
Dr. Golding saved the blade of grass he removed from Maggie's throat.
 He was able to remove this, and by 9:00 on Sunday morning she was able to go home with us. It was quite a frightening experience for us and for Maggie, and we were quite relieved to have her breathing normally again.
Maggie safe at home.

Thanks so much to Dr. Golding for helping  Maggie.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Right Some Good Crab Cake Cook Off

Crab cakes cooking at the Cook Off.
The Civic Center in Port Hawkesbury was the site Sunday of the Crab Cake Cook Off among eight chefs (professional and student chefs) of the area.  This was part of the Right Some Good food events held throughout Cape Breton for the second year this summer.  Dan and I attended the dinner on Saturday night (more about that later) and I went back on Sunday afternoon to watch the Cook Off.  I must say it was more fun than the dinner---and it was free. 
Contestant preparing his crab cakes.

Ingredients that one chef chose to add to the pound of snow crab meat.
The competing chefs were given a pound of snow crab (provided by Louisbourg Seafoods) that they were required to use in their preparation of crab cakes.  They could use any other ingredients they chose, and they were given 45 minutes in which to make and plate the four servings that were then whisked away to the judges for tasting.
Plated and ready for the judges.
It was great fun watching these chefs prepare crab cakes in many different ways.  We could observe up close as they prepared their dishes, but only the judges were able to actually taste the crab cakes.
The international chefs participating in Right Some Good were the judges.

Waiting for the judges decision.

Beautiful presentation of the winning chef.
The winner was Richard Moore of the Lobster Pound in North Sydney.  He had a beautiful presentation with the crab cakes served on mirrored plates. I'm sure presentation was one of the factors in choosing the winner.  I had hoped that the winning recipe would be made available, but I can't seem to find it online.
Richard Moore, the winning chef, receiving congratulations from someone special.
The next time I'm in North Sydney I'm going to have lunch or dinner at The Lobster Pound and ask for Richard's  recipe for the crab cakes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Lucky Ducky Won the Race

My lucky duck number 4. (Photo by David Dauphinee.)
Last Sunday we missed the Family Day Activities at the Marble Mountain Beach because we were in Newfoundland. This annual event provides a fun weekend for the community and raises money for the Marble Mountain Wharf Preservation Society.

On Saturday night at the dinner I gave Janet $5.00 to buy me five ducks for the duck race since I was going to be away.  For a looney one could buy a duck and usually all 300 ducks are bought.  The ducks are taken out into the water and released and the first duck that reaches the shore wins the race and the person who bought that duck wins $150 (half of the total $300 raised for that event).
Release of 300 ducks at Marble Mountain Beach. (Photo by Janet Beavers.)
It was the following Wednesday when I got a message from friend Iris saying, "Has anyone told you that your duck won the race?"  We were still in Newfoundland, and I had not heard.  I was so excited and regretted that I had not been there to experience the winning first hand.

Pat receiving $150. for her winning duck from Dave Dauphinee. (Photo by Dan Livingstone.)

Dave presented me with the winning money, and I gave it right back as a donation to the Wharf Preservation Society..

One of the favorite games at the Family Day Activities was the "Pottie Toss" where children tossed a pack of toilet tissue into a "toilet".  Janet and Vicki who were in charge of this game found a 1960s blue toilet that had been placed along the roadside for pickup and converted it into this game.  Someone must have installed a new low flush modern toilet to replace the outdated "blue" toilet.  I wonder who?
Vicki supervising the "Pottie Toss" game at Family Day. (Photo by Janet Beavers.)
It seems that Family Day was again a big success, and it was certainly fun for me, even in absentia.  From now on "4" is going to be my lucky number.  Thank you Janet for signing me up for number four.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Casino Night at the Hall for Food Bank

It was fun last night at the "casino" at the Marble Mountain Hall where participants brought canned goods for the Food Bank. Many thanks to Janet, Vicki and Judy, Scott (and their daughters) for providing a fun evening for all who attended. 
Judy and Scott setting up the Roulette table

Everyone had a turn at the Roulette table and at a Blackjack table..

Laura, Gabi, and Martin during a refreshment break.

Vicki dealing at a Blackjack table.

We were playing to see who would end up with the most chips at the end of the evening.  Actually, whenever a player gave out of chips the dealer would happily give out more.  (Unlike a real casino). 

A fun event to support the Food Bank---many thanks to the organizers.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Laura’s Blueberry Pancakes

Laura's wild blueberry pancakes.

It’s always nice having Laura and Anthony with us at Marble Mountain.  Laura treats us to blueberry pancakes quite frequently for breakfast.  She makes the BEST pancakes I’ve ever had.  Lots of wild blueberries are incorporated into the batter that she makes using multi-grain pancake mix and her secret ingredients.

Here are some of the ingredients.

She mixes in lots of wild blueberries.
Mixing in lots of wild blueberries.

Apparently the temperature at which the pancakes cook is critical.  And Laura seems to get it just right.
Pancake filled with wild blueberries.
Pancake browning.
Pancake garnished with bananas, blackberries, maple syrup, cassis syrup, and butter.

We garnish our pancakes with melted butter, pure maple syrup, and in this case bananas, wild black berries, and  cassis (black currant) syrup.  Yum!!

Nothing left behind here.
I cleaned my plate.

Our dogs get a special treat as well, because both Mona and Maggie enjoy the pancakes.
Here's Laura and Anthony's dog, Mona, having her share of the pancakes.
Mona waiting patiently to get a bite of pancakes.