Friday, June 29, 2012

The Clay Pigeon

I have a new favourite eatery in Victoria.


Well, I call any place I want to go back and try everything on the menu my favourite.  But I would easily put this at the top of that list of favourites because even after two visits in two weeks I would gladly return tomorrow.


Any place that fits corned bison tongue, devilled eggs, and kale slaw on their daily menu is a candidate for a favourite restaurant in my books.  Especially since I now know they do all three of those things amazingly well.


Judging by the photos and the comments by my dinner companions The Clay Pigeon handles all of their comfort food options quite handily.  I’m sooooo getting that chicken pot pie next time.  Unless of course I get the lamb stew.  Um, or that freaking ridiculous Reuben sandwich again.  I’d do that.  I’d eat that sandwich over and over and over again.


On my first visit I thoroughly enjoyed the lunch special of yummy devilled tuna-egg sandwich with kale caesar salad.  A tuna-egg you say?  Yes, imagine a devilled egg with tuna salad instead of yolk stuffing!  Laid out a top perfectly chewy bun with fresh cukes and radishes.  Served with the zingiest, most garlicky, creamy kale caesar salad.  Must recreate!


On my second visit there, for our monthly girls’ dinner, I had already picked the Reuben out before we arrived.  Even once faced with all of the other delicious (and more dinner appropriate) meal choices I still knew I had to tackle that corned bison tongue and homemade grainy mustard.  And clearly I was not disappointed.


Soooo not disappointed.  The best part?  Half of it reheated and enjoyed in the comfort of my own home the next day.  If The Clay Pigeon wasn’t already a candidate for a new favourite eatery, the fact that one single sandwich filled my belly for two meals definitely found it a place on that list.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fernwood Bites 2012

The only foodie thing I love more than a home cooked dinner party, or my monthly dinners out with my girlfriends, is a local food festival.  Victoria is an awesome place to live for this, as we are a food-loving bunch and there always seems to be someone planning an super yummy evening of fun eats. 

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I attended my first Fernwood Bites last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s smaller than some of the other local events…which on one hand makes it a bit squishier, but on the other hand makes it more fun!  I tried to talk myself into saving the price of a ticket this year and not going, but in the end I did some budget shuffling and decided to make it happen.

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And I’m so glad I did!

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Here’s a tip to avoid line-ups:  eat dessert first!  :)  When I got through the gate, my first mission was to get a beer sample (hello Hoyne Honey Hefe!) and find my friends.  I found everyone else was in line for the much talked about corn dog bites from The Superior booth so I waited for them while happily biting into an Ooh La La mini cupcake since no one else had headed for their sweet treat yet. 

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After that I felt ready to take my time wandering, chatting, and popped into whatever line-up seemed the shortest.  By the end of the evening I’d only spent time in two short line-ups and both were worth it.  Who wouldn’t wait 5 minutes for the perfect little corned beef slider from the folks at Stage?

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For me – and many folks I overhead chatting – the bite of the night was from Cook Culture.  Their Thai Green Curry Soup was so balanced and delicious.  I actually went back for a second cup, which I don’t normally do at these foodie events.  I couldn’t help it!  :)

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After about two hours I’d managed to sample every little thing except for some wines and coffee (and apparently I missed out on something super yummy from Kulu) and was sufficiently full and happy.  I had my eye on a couple of silent auction items, but sadly they were popular items and I was outbid.

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I toddled myself out of Fernwood with a warm belly and big grin and happily crashed on the couch with my sweetie for the rest of the evening.  A pretty perfect way to spend the first Sunday of the Summer I think.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Our First Harvest!

The bird bath herb garden has been being put to good use since about the third day it was planted.  Everything I cook or prepare over at Michael’s gets itself a handful of fresh parsley, dill, chives, rosemary, or oregano.  I’ve pinched a few bunches to bring home for my weekday meals as well.


Yesterday I decided it was time to start enjoying the lettuces and kale that have quintupled in size in what seems like overnight.  During a lovely burst of warm sunshine I grabbed the clippers and made my way down to the garden and collected a massive armload of fresh leaves.


Even with the onslaught of caterpillars that seem to be cocooning every inch of fence, tree and blueberry bush, all of the green leafy veggies seem to have escaped unscathed.  I gave everything a lovely icy cold water bath just to be sure, then divided everything into batches wrapped in paper towel.  We both have more than enough lettuce to make bigass salads all week!


The rest of the yard is looking lovely too!


We are excited that the strawberries are all flowering and filling out, and at least half (of the zillion) plants are starting to produce berries!  Can’t wait to be picking batches of fresh berries for breakfasts every weekend like we did last year.


The new blueberry bushes seem to be gaining ground now too.  I swatted about a hundred caterpillars from the branches but the new growth looks like it’s winning the battle.

Maybe we’ll be making blueberry pancakes to go with our strawberry topping this Summer!

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Crunchy Chocolate Peanut Bars

So last week I found that one of things that kept me from snacking my face off all afternoon was having a selection of snack bars on hand.  During the gap between lunch and dinner I would help myself to a Kind bar, or Larabar, or some such healthy treat.


The problem with those bars is they eat up my grocery budget in a hurry so I opted to raid my cupboards and put a couple of homemade snacks into rotation instead.  After putting together a batch of my Choco-Cranberry Granola Bars I decided to try my hand at a chocolate and peanut butter combination as well.  Because, I mean really, how can you beat choco-PB?!


Chocolate-Bottomed Roasted Peanut Bars

Yields 12 squares


  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp canola or coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup peanuts
  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • pinch coarse sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread peanuts out on a shallow baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned.  Transfer peanuts to cutting board and chop coarsely.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, heat brown rice syrup and peanut butter. Bring to a light boil, stirring until peanut butter melts. Keep warm.
  3. In either the microwave, or over a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and oil together.  Stirring frequently until smooth.
  4. Add oatmeal, roasted peanuts and pinch of salt to syrup mixture.  Stir until all ingredients combined.
  5. On a parchment lined baking sheet evenly spread melted chocolate in a rectangle against one end of the pan (approx 3-4 inches wide).  Top chocolate layer with oatmeal mixture and use an extra piece of parchment to firmly press bars together using your hands to form a flat edge on the open side.
  6. Place bars in freezer for approximately 20 minutes to set.  Transfer chilled bar to cutting board and cut into 12 squares. 
  7. Keep refrigerated.


MyFitnessPal brings these little treats in at 120 calories each. Assuming you can eat just one they make a perfect mid-afternoon pick me up.  Or late night TV snack.  Or tasty little pairing for morning coffee.  Enjoy!


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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Welcome Summer

Well, it’s June 20th.  According to the calendar, today is the first day of Summer.  From here on out we shall have gorgeous blue skies, warm sun and no more need of umbrellas, right?  Right!

To usher in the season, Chibi and I decided to take our walk in Beacon Hill Park today.  Nothing says Summer like checking out the local peacocks!


Those feathers will never cease to bring a smile to my face.


I’m not sure I’m ready to trade in my cardigans for tank tops just yet, but I do think it’s time to put the flip-flops in daily rotation.


Bring on Summer!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

10 things that keep me sane on a diet

I don’t know about you, but when I’m on my ‘diet’ game I owe a lot of it to being organized, planning ahead, and knowing what works for me.  My grocery lists become a little more static as I ensure that my arsenal of ‘safe’ and ‘helpful’ foods make their way into the house each week.

I thought I’d share a few of my favourite things to keep on hand to help ensure a less snacky, satisfied and healthy me.

Fresh lemons and limes

Not only do they make my water more enjoyable but I’ve been squeezing lime on all sorts of things to give it a fun, fresh kick.  Watermelon. Avocado. Salad. Turkey burgers. And fresh lemon in tuna salad is the best.



Best thing ever for smoothies, oatmeal, and homemade cafe au lait. There’s a reason this is so popular…low calorie that doesn’t taste like low calorie!


I put that shit on everything!  Who needs cheese when you’ve got avocado?

Triscuits + avocado + lime squeeze + salt = delicious snack!

Watermelon, grapes, berries

I save these fruity snacks for my after dinner treat.  They are perfect for keeping my hands happy when they might otherwise reach for chips, M&M’s, or some other such snacky badness.


Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt

The ONLY chocolate that satisfies my sweet tooth with a small portion.  When I crave chocolate, I crave a family sized KitKat.  But somehow this particular dark chocolate does the job for me most days.

Light Laughing Cow

Is there anything it can’t do?  Substitute for cream cheese, mayo on sandwiches, sauce for chicken, dip for strawberries.  Eat it up.

Soda Water

When everyone else is drinking beer and cider I can fake myself out with a fizzy glass of soda water as long as it’s snazzed up with lemons, limes, oranges or a splash of pineapple juice.  Or if I do want to partake in the boozing then I kick it old school with white wine spritzers or a icy cold flavoured vodka and soda.


Apples with cinnamon and nut butter

This one works for any meal or snack as far as I’m concerned.  Just slice, sprinkle and dip (measured of course!).  Nom.

tuna, pre-cooked chicken, boiled eggs, canned beans

Taking the time to make a bigass salad doesn’t seem so bad when the protein is already prepped.


Next to no calories and satisfy most crunchy, salty cravings.

Obviously there are other foods that work for me too (but I thought hummus and veggies seemed pretty obvious!). 

What are your favourite go-to groceries to help make a healthier, happier you?

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Patio Paradise

I have spent so much time helping make Michael’s yards of gardens look nice that my poor little patio has been all but abandoned so far this year.  I’m never here on the weekends so I tend to forget all about filling up my own planters!


All that has been going on so far is my pre-fab basil plant, which I’ve already been eating from almost every day for two weeks. 

So this week as I was running errands I made a point of stopping by a few garden centers to see what was left for me to pretty up my patio.  I have to admit, I was surprised at just how picked over everything was!  It was tough to find a few good impatiens…my favourite for a pretty pop of colour.


I opted to try out begonias as well this year since they were in good shape.


I went to three different stores to get a selection of four herbs.  All that seemed to be left everywhere were sage and thyme…neither of which I use enough of to warrant growing it!  I was on a mission for cilantro!


It’s a little limp, but I’ll have this little beauty ready to trim for eating in no time!


The chives are starting out pretty straggly too, but I have high hopes.  And this might be the tiniest little rosemary tree ever, but he’s cute.  I think we’ll call him Charlie Brown. :)


Since my planters kept blowing over and dumping last year I needed to replace my spearmint.  This year everything is sitting directly on the deck, instead of my raised shelf, so hopefully no more herb disasters.


I hadn’t planned on growing tomatoes this year since Michael is growing a few plants and I’ll get to partake in his fruit, but I came across this lowly little cherry tomato for only $2 and just had to bring it home.  I have the perfect pot for him, so I guess next week’s errand is to get some extra dirt and build a little home for this guy.


Once planted, this plant will apparently start to produce fruit in around 48 days.  I wonder if that means I’ll have edible tomatoes before September this year!?  Last year I missed out on the major crop because it finally produced in late September as I embarked on my two week trip to Greece.  Bugger.

Now if the sun would just come out and stay for a while I could spend a few afternoons watching my little plants grow and flourish.  Wouldn’t that be swell?!

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