Last Weekend of Summer (for some people)

31 08 2009

Well, summer is once again starting to wind down. All of our co-workers with kids are wrapping up their long vacations and coming back to work. We realized we haven’t taken a true vacation in a while, so we stole away for a short weekend to Vancouver. Usually, our trips to Vancouver are whirlwind shopping trips and a stop at our favorite restaurant on our way to or back from Whistler. We figured it would be fun to actually enjoy the city a little during the summer. We booked the Amtrak Cascades to head out of town on Friday night, coming back on Sunday night. It’s so convenient to not have to sit at the border for 2-3 hours coming back.

Apparently everyone in North America had the same idea. It was impossible to find a room. Of course we started looking for a room after we booked our non-refundable train tickets. We got lucky though and a guest house on the edge of downtown, in a neighborhood called Mt. Pleasant had one room available. Below you can see the view from the intersection of our guest house’s street looking north into downtown. The view you see here is of the Olympic Village, where the athletes will live during the Winter Olympics 2010.

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downtown vancouver and olympic village from mt. pleasant

The town is abuzz, there is so much construction, there are olympic mascots in every shops’ window, it’s quite fun! Downtown, in the city centre, there is a countdown clock for the opening ceremonies. I’m excited to see how Canada does the Olympics. We’re still considering tracking down tickets as we have a place to stay (but 30 other people might be staying there too). We did a little clothes and shoe shopping while in downtown, making a big loop around downtown.

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countdown to 2010!

We then wandered over the Granville bridge to Granville Island. This is the view from the downtown side of the city. I enjoy looking at all of the  balconies with the trees and flowers.

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view down to false creek from granville bridge

The city has all of these little foot ferries that go point to point for about 2 loonies ($2 CAD). This one is called the AquaBus. If you remember, I went with Marisa & Ashley back in March as well. There is a huge open air farmers market, artist’s colony, restaurants, bakeries, and even a little brewery. We spent a lot of time just wandering through the market.

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the aquabus on false creek

After the market, we wandered along the waterfront for a few miles until it was time to cut south and head back to our bed and breakfast. We found this interesting piece of art along the way. Yes, that’s me running.

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im always disobeying the laws, arent i?

Saturday night was dinner at Vij’s. We waited 2 1/2 hours for a table. If you’ve ever been to Vij’s, you can back me up. The wait is worth it! Usually when we go, we line up at the door at about 5:00pm. They open the doors at 5:30 sharp every evening and it is first come, first served. Vij, the owner, is not keen on reservations. The food was amazing, as usual. We had lamb & paneer samosas, punjabi heart attack (a small nibble of cashews sauteed in butter with some spices served on a little spoon and a side of lemon quinoa salad to clean that out), lamb “popsicles” (rib chops) in a creamy fenugreek sauce, and a beef tenderloin with almonds and garlic in a tomato and yogurt curry. Yeah, we didn’t eat light, but how can you? It was divine. And worth every bite! We walked about 7 miles over Sat/Sun, it will be fine. 🙂

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waiting. waiting. waiting. vij's. worth it.

Sunday morning we got up and headed to Gastown via the new Canada Line on Vancouver’s subway system. The one real sight in Gastown is the steam clock. On every quarter hour (it’s 6 minutes behind, btw), it blows some steam and plays Westminster Chimes. Each quarter hour adds more notes and on the hour it plays the whole shebang. Lots of aggressive tourists, but fun to watch.

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steam clock in gastown - tourist trap city

Right by the train station & clock is this lovely building we stumbled upon. There is a restroom right next to this window with the most spectacular view I’ve seen from a loo. This window is looking out toward the Coastal Mountains.

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cruise ship, burrard inlet, coastal mountains

We happened upon a small neighborhood farmers market as well. Look at these beauties! I hope my crop will somewhat compare.

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heirloom tomatoes galore

These below are Green Zebra variety of tomatoes. If you ever stumble upon them, snatch them up! They are a perfect, meaty, tart tomato. Perfect with cheese and olive oil. Too bad fruit can’t cross borders.

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the bi-color green zebra tomato

Before our next walking adventure, we stopped off at Steamworks, the Gastown brewery for lunch. We shared a plate of sinful fish & chips and sat in the sunshine.

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scott enjoying the sunny patio at steamworks

We walked our way through the city back to our bed and breakfast to grab our suitcases and head for the evening train to Seattle. The train ride is one of those things that I think should be on every Northwesterner’s weekend things to do. It’s seriously so beautiful and so much fun! This was the sun set just after we crossed over the border back into the US.

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sunset over the strait of georgia

My favorite part of the train ride is through Chuckanut. It’s about 5 minutes worth of train where you see something that is not accessible by car and is just so serene. It was a perfect sight just before the sun disappeared.

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chuckanut pass near larabee state park

Well. I’m considering our summer NOT over yet! There’s still sun shining in this town and we will take advantage, but it was fun to participate with everyone else in their last weekend of summer.

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Happy Friday!

28 08 2009

My 9″ surprise dinnerplate dahlia made a showing this week. Hope it makes you smile!





Pollination Station

20 08 2009

Guess what??? My watermelon finally pollinated. I’ve tried every method I can think of – there are dozens of new flowers every week, and I just through we’d never see fruit.

Now that we are hitting the very quick slide into fall, I highly doubt we’ll eat this little bitty, but at least I can say I grew a watermelon instead of “I grew a giant plant that overtook my entire garden, taking everything in it’s path down with no shame while it produced zero fruit.”

For perspective, I’m holding a hollowed out peanut shell in my hand.

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i think we'll name her winda

Yeah, she’s small and will likely not outlive the early morning crow insanity we call our street. But it doesn’t mean I love her less.

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yep. winda the watermelon.





Sunday Supper: Stuffed Poblano Peppers

11 08 2009

I’m a huge fan of stuffed peppers, I loved them when mom used to make them. But lately, I really have stopped liking green bell peppers. They just kind of overtake the whole meal with their really powerful ickiness. I happen to LOVE poblano peppers though! This time of year, the poblanos are nice and giant, perfect for stuffing. I had a “what’s in the pantry?” moment this afternoon and figured I could try to put together some version of stuffed peppers. So, bear with me, it’s a Kim creation that’s only been tested once.

Ground Turkey Stuffed Poblano Peppers
4 large poblano peppers
1 cup cooked rice (brown or white works)
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper
7 ounces diced tomatoes with juice from can
juice from 1/2 lime
4 ounces goat cheese crumbles
1 can of enchilada sauce

Boil the peppers for 2-5 minutes to soften, but do not let them get mushy. Set aside to let them cool.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Meanwhile, over medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet over and add garlic. Saute garlic until it’s fragrant. Add ground turkey and brown until there is no pink remaining. Reduce heat to medium. Add the serrano pepper, cumin, salt, and pepper and mix with cooked turkey. Add the diced tomatoes and coat the meat with the tomato juice and combine all ingredients. Remove from the heat. Add rice and goat cheese,  mix completely. Sprinkle with lime juice.

Slice peppers (you can do this while turkey is browning if they are cool enough) lengthwise on one side to make a pocket. Carefully remove the seeds and fill the peppers with the mixture. If needed, close the peppers with a toothpick to keep the stuffing from oozing out. Place in a greased 9×13 pan. Drizzle the can of enchilada sauce over the peppers.

Bake covered for 45 minutes or until peppers are tender.

If any of you make this and have a different variation please comment and let me know! I’ll update next time I make this if I change anything as well!





Happy Monday Morning

10 08 2009

The heat wave forced an insanely huge (and early) blueberry harvest last week. This means good things for consumers of “boo boos” in terms of the price of berries. Most people went out in droves to the local farms to “U-Pick” their blueberries, but I was busy (see post from last night). At the market today, I got 3 pints of locally grown blueberries for $3.99. Yeah! I have a tiny corner of my kitchen available to me, so I needed something easy to do and decided to make some blueberry muffins. I’ve never made them from scratch, but they really aren’t much more challenging than opening the box and dumping them in. And you can’t beat fresh berries in muffins.

Blueberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease muffin tin or add muffin liners.

Combine flour, white sugar, salt, baking powder in a large bowl and set aside. Place vegetable oil in a 1 cup measuring cup, add egg to cup, and fill with milk until it reaches the 1 cup mark. Mix with the flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups to the top and sprinkle with streusel mixture.

Bake 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.

Streusel
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed (room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together, smashing the butter into a crumbly mixture.

Notes: I found the streusel mixture to be waaaaaay too much, so I think I would reduce it next time. If you use all of the mix on only 12 muffins, I think the muffins would fall. Next time, I will make them with fat-free buttermilk (I used skim regular milk on these).

Blueberry Muffin

muffin top giving me muffin top

Hope you had a tasty breakfast this morning as well!





You Know You Are Getting Old When…

9 08 2009

Jessica called me out. Getting excited about installing new windows in your house classifies one as old. Call it “settling down,” or whatever, but the idea of the below being your idea of a full weekend of fun instead of a weekend of traveling with friends to camp all weekend at a music festival, pushing the limits until Sunday night….well…this is it kids:

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supplies and general messiness

That’s right. We’re pushing the limits all right. Adding the next coat of teak oil to those windows until ONE AM on a Sunday night. Staining windows with a Q-tip kind of fun!

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happy cott loves the detail work

I feel so wild and crazy. Actually. I feel nice and cool with the cross breeze. It’s nice to be able to open windows! Here are a couple of the work-in-progress project.

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double casement to cool off the hot kitchen

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living room corner with a picture window and double casement

If all goes well, we should have the windows 100% complete by Tuesday morning, allowing us to get a start on fixing the drywall that was broken in the process. Like I said… We are crazy!





Good-bye Cold Winters, Hello Cool Summers!

5 08 2009

That is what I thought I was inheriting when I moved to Seattle. Well, with this year’s record breaking 2 feet of snow and 15 days of sub-freezing temperatures and subsequent all-time-hottest-day-ever record breaking heat wave (which has fortunately ended), we decided it was time to invest in some windows. No more standing in front of our windows and letting your hair blow in the breeze.

Day 1 was ok. Four of twelve total windows are installed…tomorrow will be the remaining 8 plus all the trim. I hope they show up on time! I want this project D.O.N.E. tomorrow.

Check out the contrast of our old window (on the left) and the new window (on the right)… The left window will be replaced with two casements that will open in opposite directions to create more air flow (to assist with the next 103° day).

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old drafty vs. new pretty