Sunday, March 30, 2014

Why Finish One Project When You Can Start Another?

You may remember, dear readers, that Joe and I started a New Year's Resolution project at the beginning of January.  Seeing as Joe has a serious case of FBA (Food Buying Addiction) he promised not to buy any more food until we went through the mounds of meat, pasta, rice and canned goods we already had in the house.

Sadly, Joe's interest in that project has begun to wane.  We have hit a plateau, people.  I swear we even have MORE food in the house than we did at the beginning of the year.  Joe begs to differ, but see for yourself.  Here's one example:

Pantry cupboard ~ January 10th

Pantry cupboard ~ March 30th

The good news is we are making our way through our gargantuan meat supply.  Joe hasn't visited his butchers in months.  And he has cooked up some pretty delicious meals with all that flesh from our freezer.

An amazing prime rib roast.  Shield your eyes, my vegetarian friends!

Roasted duck breast on a bed of mushrooms and onions with mashed potatoes and salad.

"Why is Joe's interest waning?" you may ask.  Well, for one, the FBA project was never his idea in the first place.  And two, he is now hell bent on building himself an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven.

He fell in love with these ovens and the pizza they produced when we were in Naples with our kids a few years ago.  We ate pizza every single day.  And sometimes twice a day.  We couldn't help ourselves.  Neapolitan pizzas are that good.  

So.  A couple of days ago, Joe heard chainsaws going in our back field.  He went out to see what was going on and lo and behold!  The district was cutting down three maple trees.  Just the hard wood he needs for the oven he doesn't yet have!

The next thing I knew, Joe was hauling logs of maple wood into our backyard.  He was as giddy as a school boy!

"Aren't you kinda putting the horse before the cart?" I asked him.  (Me, who is still invested in our original project of getting the excess food outta this house once and for all.)

"Nope!" he replied.  "This is perfect!"

One tree down, two to go.

Nuthin' tastes better than a cheap beer at 10:00am.

Happy boy.

And in other breaking news....

Spring has finally sprung around here.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Snowbirds For A Week

Our friends Irene and Randy invited us to spend a week with them in Palm Springs, California.  They didn't have to ask us twice!  We jumped at the chance to spend some quality time with people we don't see often enough.

This is what 42 years of friendship looks like.

BACK STORY:  Irene and I have been friends for a very long time.  We met in 1972 when we were Grade 9 students at Como Lake Junior High School.  We were BBFs then and remain so to this day.  Even though we don't see each other on a regular basis (we live almost 200 kilometres apart), when we are together those weeks and months seem to melt away and it feels as if we saw each other yesterday.

Hiking in White Water Canyon

We hiked every morning until mid-afternoon.  The hills that surround Palm Springs are perfect for it.

As someone who dwells in a rainforest, at first it seemed the desert would be lifeless.  Was I ever WRONG!  The desert is full of life.  Flora and fauna abound.  Everywhere we looked we saw beauty.

Hiking in White Water Canyon

Beaver Tail Cactus flower

Tahquitz Canyon Falls

Tahquitz Canyon oasis

Claret Cup Cactus flower

My favourite hiking day was spent in Joshua Tree National Park.  The Mojave Desert is a fascinating place.  Please go if you ever have the chance.

Fun facts:  Joshua trees are not trees.  They are a variety of yucca plant.  They grow only 1 inch per year.  The Joshua tree in the photo above is about 250 years old!

Walking in to see the Barker Dam.

The park is popular with rock climbers.  Can you see them?

Fun fact:  Joshua Tree National Park is 4,300 feet above sea level.

Hiking up Ryan Mountain

The view from the top of Ryan Mountain

Skeleton Rock

Cholla Cactus Garden

When we weren't hiking in the hills we were either lazing by the pool, strolling through our neighbourhood or downtown Palm Springs, scouring thrift stores for designer duds, eating great food and drinking margaritas.

Village Fest (Photo credit: Irene Thiessen)

Fun Fact:  There are no street lights in Palm Springs neighbourhoods.  Instead, every palm tree has a spotlight strapped to its trunk shining upwards.  The trees act as street lights!

Happy hikers

Sadly, we had to say good-bye to Irene and Randy all too soon.  We bid them adieu and headed north.

In a scant few hours, my view went from this:

To this:

Oh well, at least someone was happy we were home...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cupboard Suppers

Now that the Sochi Winter Olympic Games are over, we can return to our regular programming.

Many readers have been clamouring (CLAMOURING I tell you!) for an update on our 'Joe-Can't-Buy-Any-More-Food-Until-We-First-Eat-Everything-In-Our-Cupboards-And-Freezer' project.

Just to bring everyone up to speed:  Joe can buy milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables.  And wine for me, of course.  But that's it.  No more shopping for meat, canned goods, rice or pasta.

This project has been in full swing for two months now and I swear our cupboards are as full as they were on January 1st.

Anyhoo, the meals are still damn good.  I thought they'd be weird by now.  You know.  Sardines with chocolate sauce.  Duck legs in raisin bran.  But nope!  Joe is still able to pull some pretty great dinners out of our cupboards and freezer.

 Pork tacos and coleslaw

 A yakisoba-inspired noodle dish

 A blast from the past: Salmon loaf with dill sauce

 Breakfast for supper: pancakes with blueberry sauce

 Breaded pork cutlets, kale slaw, spatzle and root vegetables

 Rigatoni in meat sauce


Asparagus omelet

This project could take months to complete.  It sure is going to take us one hell of a long time to consume all the food that currently resides in all the corners of this house.

In addition to being a great cook, Joe also bakes a mean loaf of bread.  We have not bought bread from a store in ages.  And why would we when this crusty loaf of deliciousness magically appears on our counter every few days?

Pain de campagne

Joe's latest obsession is pizza.  We fell in love with the pizza in Naples, Italy when we were there in 2010 and Joe is determined to recreate it.  He is lobbying for an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven, but until that happens he must be content to cook his Napoletana pizzas in our indoor oven.

Giuseppe hard at work

The finished product: pizza margherita

And in other breaking news:

It is snowing like crazy here.