Posts Tagged ‘summer’

We had waffles, watched a race, went for a walk and generally enjoyed a beautiful, lazy summer’s day. Now somehow it’s time for dinner so I’ll leave you with a brief excerpt from a stroll in the woods, once upon a time in Thailand.

Chang Mai—Jungle Trek

A rutted dirt road led from the parking lot through a stand of tall trees. The road quickly narrowed to a track that led past a small facilities building, scattered picnic areas, and into denser woods. A huge centipede scurried past my sandals and exposed toes, making it clear that Thais eat such creatures for their size, not their beauty. After this apparition I had no trouble keeping my eyes open. An unexpected benefit of being alert was that I found an amulet someone had lost on the trail. The guidebook had mentioned that Thais always carry at least one amulet with them wherever they go, and I’d made a note to look for one in the market as a token of the visit. Presto, there it was. I hope it wasn’t the owner’s only protection.

Good luck charm in hand, we wound our way along the stream bed as the sound of crashing water grew louder. The little valley opened up, the sun broke through the tree tops, and a waterfall appeared. The impressive thing about it wasn’t so much its height, which was hard to gauge through the trees, but its power.

A pool carved out at the fall’s base and the mist all over my clothes and the trees attested to the water’s strength and the abundant runoff in this waterlogged part of the country. The trail around the pool had gone muddy from the mist and visitors’ feet, giving me what was to be the first of many intimate moments with Thai muck. I had no idea how familiar I was to become with that red earth over the next day and a half.

* * *

Photo by Norbert Braun on Unsplash

Read Full Post »

I thought today might be a workshop or writing day, but instead it turned into a computing and sewing day. That’s fine, I’m happy I made progress with what I had.

* * *

On that same note, last night’s dinner was a medley of things we had in the fridge. They are also the sorts of flavors I associate with summer: fresh herbs, tomatoes from the garden, and sweet corn. 

I was reminded of a dish I had in Boston years ago, a delicate, almost ethereal ravioli stuffed with shrimp and corn in cream sauce. The corn’s sweetness is complex enough not to seem one-note, and elevates the flavor of the shrimp. It’s a good memory, and while I don’t remember the year or the restaurant or the other eleven items on the tasting menu, that dish made a lasting impression.

* * *

We also decided to try our hand at homemade pasta. The same friends who lent us the KitchenAid ice cream attachment also lent us their pasta rollers. Taste and texture were good, and the process was fairly straightforward, considering I’ve made pasta only once? before. 

I used this dough recipe: Fresh Pasta Recipe

Notes to Future Me: use the eggs we get from our local source, the ones from Costco were a little too small and threw off the ratio; knead more enthusiastically; and use more flour than you think you should for dusting the sheets before rolling and cutting.

* * *

My father asked how I made the sauce. I have a fairly casual relationship with most recipes, but here it is, more or less. If you don’t have all of the ingredients, substitute red peppers for tomatoes, dried basil for fresh, or whatever’s in the pantry. That’s what I did:)

* * *

Creamy Summer Shrimp Fettuccini


  • 2 slices bacon, chopped into bits
  • 1 shallot, sliced fine-ish
  • 1/2 C. corn kernels, cut from cooked cob, frozen, or canned
  • 1 C. cream
  • 1 T. lemon juice, or to taste
  • white wine, whatever you’re drinking, a splash or three
  • shrimp, big handful
  • cherry tomatoes, handful, halved
  • basil, six giant leaves from the garden, sliced 
  • reserved pasta water to taste, plus backup cornstarch if you add too much
  • salt, pepper, Parmesan
  • fettuccini


  1. While the pasta water heats, sauté the bacon and shallots until translucent.
  2. Add corn, cream, lemon juice, white wine and cook down for a couple of minutes, until slightly thickened. 
  3. Add shrimp, cook until opaque.
  4. Add the tomatoes and basil and heat through.
  5. Adjust the sauce for flavor and thickness with salt, pepper, more wine, cream and/or and pasta water. If it’s too thin, mix up a slurry of 1 T. cornstarch and a cup of cold water, add until you have enough liquid and cook until thickened.
  6. Serve over pasta, topped with grated Parmesan.

* Note: I would say that have moderately-sized hands. 

* * *

Photo by Tim Cooper on Unsplash

Read Full Post »

I’ve loved coffee ice cream since before I drank coffee, but it’s one of those flavors that doesn’t appeal to everyone. We don’t buy a lot of ice cream and when we do, something like vanilla is more flexible.*

I’m still experimenting with our borrowed Kitchenaid ice cream maker and coffee sounded good. I modified Mark Bittman’s egg-free recipe again, and it worked for me. Perfect for a hot and sticky summer day!

* * *

Coffee Ice Cream
Makes ~1 quart


  • 1 1/2 C. milk (2% worked)
  • 1 C. heavy cream (35%)
  • 1/2 C. coffee
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch 
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract


1. Stir the cornstarch with 2 T. of the milk make a smooth slurry.

2. Put the remaining milk, cream, coffee, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture nearly comes to a simmer. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and vanilla and continue to stir until the mixture thickens a bit, 2 or 3 minutes.

3. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.

* * *

* Alone, with pie, with grape juice, with orange concentrate and chocolate shavings, with caramel, with peanut butter and chocolate, with bananas and pecans, with pomegranate seeds, with lemon curd, with… you get the idea.

* * *

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Read Full Post »

It’s summer and I’m enjoying a bit of vacation time (yay!) and what do I spot on my new Asclepias tuberosa? A monarch butterfly caterpillar!


I’ve seen a monarch or two in the neighborhood this year but not many. (Not like during my childhood down south, when my mother used to pull the car over just about anywhere to find caterpillar-rich milkweed by the side of the road.) There’s a reason why these butterflies are listed as at endangered in Ontario:(

That said, awareness of the issues around butterflies and their disappearing habitat is rising, and it’s not all bad news. I’m happy to see milkweed left to grow by the roadside, to find native milkweed varietals at the garden center, and to watch butterflies flitting in the park. If we had more sun and space I’d plant a butterfly meadow, but for now, we went with butterfly weed. Glad we did:)

As an added bonus, I also saw fireflies in the yard a couple of weeks ago for the first time north of the border:) Here’s wishing you a happy and constructive summer!

Read Full Post »

That’s right, today is the summer solstice. At 15:54 Universal Time (that’s 11:54 a.m. in my neck of the woods), summer officially starts in the northern hemisphere! For more on the analemma, or figure-eight described by the sun as it arcs across the sky (think the calendar Tom Hanks etched on a rock in Castaway, or check out this composite photo from NASA). And NatGeo has a nice, detailed piece on the solstice here: What is the summer solstice? The answer might surprise you.

What is summer? So many things, not least light, glorious light to do as you will. Or, you know, mess up bedtime;)

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

Bed in Summer, Robert Louis Stevenson

Have a wonderful summer day!

Read Full Post »

Nights are cool, maple leaves are touched with red, and while a mosquito recently gifted me one massive and very distracting bite, the pesky little blighters are all but done for the year. It is 46F as I write this, and this year’s fall equinox will take place on September 22nd.

It’s time to come to terms with the fact that summer is on its way out.
/insert brief pause for distraught handwringing… or not

Actually, I think I’m ok with that. Why? Because fall is a terrific season. Because I love pie (mmm, pie:). Because if you were raised on fall as I was, its absence is missed. And because the nagging feeling at the back of my mind tells me that it’s time to get back to work.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t take the summer off. I’m still working, still writing, but I haven’t had much of a presence here. My schedule has been more erratic than usual, as fishing or family or other excursions called me away. And much of the writing I’ve done is tweaking, fixing, editing or otherwise sorting out existing material.

Fall is a great time to dig in and embark on new adventures. To make big plans. Use those extra hours of darkness to dream of the new, and on waking, make those dreams real.

I hope your summer was as fun as mine, and I hope that you, too, are ready for a change. It’s time to get to work.

Read Full Post »

Gone Fishing

Oh hello there! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, as apparently I have gone fishing. Not literally, at least not yet, but in the sense that my mind has decided that it’s time for a summer vacation. I’m still working, both on writing and other things, but it seems I needed a little break and I’m taking it here.

Remember what summer meant when the last school bell rang and the doors opened on whole months of freedom and possibility? I’m feeling a little of that right now, and dang it, I’m going to enjoy it. I hope you are too!


Read Full Post »

The temperature is rising and we are consistently having days around 0C. Um, yay? That is a good thing, relatively speaking, but it’s a cold start to spring. My yard is still half-covered with snow and a dusty layer of grey gravel from winter street maintenance, and I am so ready for color.

Today I give you a random photo from the archives. This is the Floating Market outside Bangkok, in Dumnernsaduak. It takes me back to a July day of light, the calls of coconut vendors, the smell of fried rice cakes and roasted meat, and the sticky heat of morning sun in Thailand. Enjoy:)



Read Full Post »

Tornado touched down in Ottawa Monday…

A funnel cloud. In Ottawa. And it’s the, um, 10th Ontario tornado of the season, according to Environment Canada.

Yes, Dorothy, the climate does seem to be changing.

A critical question: If a tree falls in the woods… do you have insurance?

Read Full Post »

“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”

— Mark Twain

We spent the weekend refinishing the deck. The wood was a mess, half covered with multiple layers of thick, splintering stain and half exposed to the elements. It was time. The only problem was that I’d never refinished a deck before.

Did I let that stop me? Nope. It helps that Mr Man is ridiculously handy but still. I took Mark Twain’s quote to heart and jumped in, and now, days later, the splinters and uneven steps and flaking are no more. I learned how to use an industrial sander, tons of power tools, and now know that Onion Goggles are perfect for jobs that result in large clouds of airborne particulates. The wood is now smooth, the finish even.

Is it perfect? Well, no. But it’s done. And that’s much better than not doing anything at all.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »