• The Last Hurrah

    Strawberry cucumber pops are the key to denying summer's end.

    It was very kind of July to show up in September.

    A month after my own heart, really, showing up well after its original ETA. Better late than never, I suppose, and much better than January making an obscenely early appearance. Poor Calgary.

    Still, it was just two weeks ago that people were bidding adieu to the hot season, assuming it dead and gone simply because it was Labour Day. Meanwhile, my calendar begged to differ. There were still three whole weeks left of my absolute favourite season, and fortunately, the forecast backed it up. In fact, if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on Sept. 5, with its 41°C  temperature and trusty sidekick, Oppressive  Humidity, being the hottest day of the year.

    So take that all you Debbie Downers so quick to dismiss summer and count your fall pumpkins before they ripen, even if today, as I write, I am wearing long sleeves and pants, socks and a scarf. Continue reading

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  • Peach Tree
  • Gratitude: A recipe for zucchini lasagna with lentils

    Zucchini lasagna with lentils.

    I live by the rule that friends don’t give friends zucchini.

    It has worked out well for me, keeping the summer squash, super-sized at this time of year, at bay. But when a friend came at me the other week with one the size of Captain Caveman’s club and a pleading look in her eyes, I decided that sometimes friends should just shut up and take the zucchini.

    Even if I already had three pounds shredded and stuffed in my freezer, and another trio of green and striped brutes that could double as free weights languishing in my fridge.

    I think I did a pretty good job of keeping in check the glazing over of my eyes as I accepted the latest addition to my collection. Don’t get me wrong, I like zucchini. But at this time of year, I don’t think I’m alone when I say their ability to go from blossom to behemoth beast seemingly overnight, multiplying like rabbits all the while, is a bit overwhelming. Continue reading

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  • Peach Tree
  • The arrival of you-know-what and a book launch

    There's no ignoring the signs that summer is getting ready to call it quits.

    A choir of crickets sings a chorus outside my window. They’re competing for the background noise win against the hum of my neighbour’s air conditioning unit spewing cacophonous white noise. Felix, the dog from two doors down, adds a well-timed, high-pitched bark that, like a staccato beat, keeps time while the fleeting crescendo and decrescendo of passing cars adds another layer to the soundtrack of summer in north-end St. Catharines.

    It’s a seasonal anthem on heavy rotation these glorious August nights when temperatures slip to a threshold that ushers us to the nearest window so we can fling it open and surround ourselves with summer’s offerings for all our senses. Continue reading

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  • Peach Tree
  • From Niagara to Provence with a turn of the page: Review of Provence Food and Wine

    Soupe au pistou.

    It took me nearly a year to finish reading A Year in Provence.

    My chocolate chip cookie-loving boss let me borrow his copy a year ago in May, knowing how much I love food and foraging. He mentioned something about it being a classic and left me to it. I dug in, devouring the first few months of Peter Mayle’s sojourn to the south of France every chance I got. I tried hatching my own scheme to be able to call a foreign land home for a year, eating, drinking and living a quaint life.

    Then I got busy with the year in Niagara and put the book down, only to come back to it in fits and spurts to help me fulfill my promise of returning it to my boss before my maternity leave started this past February. When I finished reading it, I felt like old Pete and I had been together so long, we needed to talk about dividing our assets when we parted ways.

    Then the book Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living ($24.95 Surrey Agate) by François Millo and Viktorija Todorovska arrived on my doorstep and it felt like a reunion. As I cracked the spine to reveal vibrant photos of the place and its food, with recipes to accompany them, I felt myself channel my inner Peter Mayle. And as a new mom who wouldn’t be escaping to any foreign land any time soon, I got lost in the pages, rubbing my fingers over their smooth glossiness as my getaway between naps and feedings. Provence Food and Wine is one part travel guide and another part culinary adventure, showcasing the region’s different landscapes and their influence upon what can be found on people’s plates: hearty, earthy meals in the rugged inland of Haute Provence, such as wild boar stew or fried chanterelles; grilled sardines and bouillabaise in coastal Marseille; barbecued mussels and pumpkin soup with chestnuts in the varied La Côte Varoise; and Niçoise salad or street food like pissaladiere in Nice and the Riviera.
    Continue reading

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