Saturday, February 23, 2013


Well, I can tell from the stats that I've amassed a fair little readership here, but aside from one or two folks who drop me comments all the time, I have no idea who you are!
Grab a cuppa what ever makes you happy and mosey on over to the comments section. Let me know who you are, what you're up to, what new and exciting things are going on in your life maybe? Let me know what your favourite post to read has been so far, and maybe what you'd like to hear more about? Help reassure me that I'm not just talking to the wall!
I'll even break the ice and go first, though I'm sure you know most of this already. I'm Sam, I live in an apartment building in Moosonee ON with my hubby, and hopefully soon a dog, even though the landlord says no. The most exciting thing in my life right now is building up my practice in this northern community, and playing with new concoctions in my very own kitchen finally!! One of my favourite things to write about was tapping the trees and making syrup early last spring (maybe because I'm sad that I'm missing doing so this year... no maple this far north), and I'm not quite sure what I'll write about in the future!
Your turn... please drop me a line or two!

Friday, February 22, 2013

and also, Knitting

 It's not that I've been JUST pursuing hobbies that make my belly hum, I just write about them most often, because I'm really excited at finally having a kitchen to myself. Well, and to Andrew, but if anything it's just more fun having him give me a hand in the kitchen. There's just something to ownership that gives you a whole new confidence when prowling about the cupboards, trying out whatever wacky concoction comes to mind. If I could get my hands on a nice, soft cheese, I've got something like ricotta in mind, then I plan to try my hand at making ravioli next. Maybe with nutmeg and cinnamon in the pasta, pumpkin and ricotta in the filling, and a white sauce with parmesan and pecans.
But, I digress. Yes, my inner foodie has largely taken over, but I do pursue other things as well! Just today I finished knitting a baby sweater I've been working on. It seems a fair number of people in my life are pregnant lately, and all due roughly in the late summer, so I thought it couldn't hurt to start throwing together handmade gifts now. Besides, I do have plenty of time on my hands. This sweater is destined to be a one of a kind though... even if I wanted to, I don't think I could quite replicate the pattern. It came off the top of my head, and got invented as I went along. I'm fairly happy with the results, although I almost think the sleeves should have been a bit longer? Hard to tell with babies, their proportions are all funny, and it's not like I have a huge wealth of experience in that area just yet!
I've also been working, if slowly and intermittently, on the hand pieced crib quilt I started last winter. That one won't be a give away though. That one I'm gonna tuck away in the cedar chest for me own wee lassie, one day.
Now... what to make for the other kidlets coming up this summer? Hmm...

Love it!!

I said from the first moment I started contemplating this move that I didn't want to be buying loaves of bread from the store. I wanted, as soon as I had a kitchen of my own, to be creating all of our own bread.
And why not with this much time on my hands?
This is actually the second loaf of bread I've made now with my sourdough starter. It's a little more photogenic than yesterday's attempt, even though that tasted DELICIOUS!!
As we speak, this loaf and it's twin (yep, I made two loaves today) are being auctioned off through a facebook group catering to the folks who live in town here. Neat huh? Gives me a chance to putter more in the kitchen, without making enough baked goods that we both grow fat, and gives me a little gravy to add back into the grocery fund, so I can keep making more delectable creations. Sweet deal.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sourdough Take 2

Back in the summer I decided to try to make my own sour dough starter. At that time, I didn't really have a lifestyle conducive to nurturing a baby sourdough culture. I was always either leaving to go visit Andrew, or go to girl guide camp, or a re-enactment event. The starter went mouldy on me, and started to smell funky, so I abandoned the pursuit for a while.
My lifestyle is very different now. I live and work in one place, and no longer have to travel to visit my fiance... because now I have a husband who lives here with me! What a concept. Re-enacting also doesn't happen anywhere near this far north. I'm quite the home body with plenty of time on my hands, and so:
Sourdough starter, take two. It's already bubbly and healthy and actively doubles in size in a very short time. It's even starting to lose the normal, yeasty bread smell and start to take on that sharp sour tang we all know and love as the hallmark of sourdough. I can't wait! In fact, it's doing so well and looking and smelling so good that I think I'll try to make something of it tomorrow. It won't quite have the same fully developed flavour that it eventually will, but it'll be fun to play with nonetheless. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bean Soup

Tonight I made bean soup for dinner. I had a package of mixed beans, legumes and barley in the cupboard, so I cooked up a cup of them in salted and peppered water and then added carrots, onions and a little chopped ham. I wasn't expecting it to be much besides filling, what with not having anything more than salt pepper and vegetables to flavour it with. Normally I'd start off with a broth of some sort, or at least add a bunch of herbs. It very much surprised me though. Not only was it warm and hearty, but I actually really liked the taste! When I got too hungry to wait, some of the larger beans in the mix were still a bit crisp in the middle, but I actually didn't mind the texture they lend. In fact, I may just have to dip up a second bowl before my client gets here!

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Add another item to the list of things I never thought I could make myself, and now have. You're looking at a batch of cheddar cheese and parmesan bagels, made from scratch, by yours truly. Booyah!

There and Back Again

And might I say, it's nice to be home folks! Sorry for the lack of further updates from Kashechewan, the internet was spotty at best.

We left Moosonee on a heavy looking, cloudy afternoon, and drove along the ice road for about 2.5 hours. I was a little surprised at the ice road. In my head, I somehow thought it jogged out along the moose river, and then up the coast of James bay, travelling over open water the whole time. That thought scared the hell out of me. Turns out that's not the case at all. It's just a cut roadway up through the woods, that's too swampy and boggy when it's not frozen solid. There are a few places where the road crosses over a creek or a river, but for the most part you're driving along fairly solid ground. Whew.
The landscape was full of the same tall, skinny, top heavy "asparagus" trees that we saw on the train ride up...
And also of short, scrubby deciduous brush, liberally coated in some type of swamp moss. It's a little strange seeing black slimy swamp moss in the snow... I would never have guessed that the two images would go together. This is pretty much how it would look if a blizzard ever hit the everglades. Huh. Besides the swamp scrub and asparagus trees I also noticed the naked quivering frames of Tamarack trees. One of the few, if not only, conifers that sheds their needles in winter. That was about as diverse as the flora got, at least to my untrained eye. Sure there were also dogwoods and cattails poking through the snow in the marshy areas, but that's it for the diversity of trees. I guess not a whole lot survives this type of climate.
Our stay in Kashechewan made me appreciate how civil, and nice Moosonee is. For all that it's supposed to be a dry community, there are a TONNE of problems with alcohol abuse. There's a lot more vandalism, broken and boarded up windows are more common than intact ones, and nearly every other building or trailer is tagged with graffiti. I suppose the people are nice enough, but I never really left the base aside from a shopping trip. Oh yeah, and Sunday, the day we rolled into town, is the day when both the grocery store and the restaurant are closed. And we showed up around dinner time, not having packed anything or eaten since breakfast. Whoops! Luckily there was a corner store open, but it seems a little ludicrous to pay 7$ for a can of beef stew. Everything is more expensive up the coast. When Andrew goes back tomorrow, we'll be sending him up with some stuff from here.
The first week, I tagged along with my massage table and sheets hoping to get some clients. I got exactly 1. This week, I'm gonna stay behind here in Moosonee, where I know there are people waiting for my services.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Looking like home

Well, nearly all of our things are unpacked, we've got pictures hung, and we've hosted our first social gathering. People came over for a bit of a housewarming party last night, and we had a good time and a few drinks. The place is starting to look and feel like home... just in time to leave it again!
Andrew was asked if he would like to go north to Kashechewan for a couple of weeks, working full time hours, and he said yes. I followed him up with my massage table in tow, to treat the people up here who normally only get massage therapy when they go south on vacation. So we're camped out in a trailer up here for the week. Then on the weekend we'll go back south and deliver an ambulance from here to Moosonee, and then Andrew will come back up in his truck. We'll see how busy I am this week and whether it will be worth it for me to come back as well. Talk about having whirlwind adventures! We sure didn't give ourselves much chance to get settled! Later on, I'll post some pictures from the trip north on the ice road!

Friday, February 8, 2013

We're in!

And actually, we have been since Wednesday, but I've been such a busy bee that I haven't had the chance to write about it.
The place was still FULL of saw dust, drywall dust and other construction debris, but I figured if I waited around until he puttered away and got it all cleaned up and ready, we'd still be waiting. I can heft a broom with the best of them, and we wanted to start to feel like we're HOME!
There are still a few little issues that I'm not quite happy with, but we'll work on those things with our land lord, and fix a few of them ourselves.
The first day was all about cleaning, (and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning) and the essentials. We put together the bedroom set, made the bed, found the coffee maker and mugs and coffee, hung the shower curtain, set up the internet and started assembling the dining room furniture. Gotta have our priorities in order, right?
Yesterday we fully unpacked the kitchen, got the linen closet all filled up, and started putting our clothes away. Andrew set up the tv and xbox and home theatre system. We cleaned some more. This place was a real sty, let me tell ya. I made the first meal in my new kitchen (it was kd, but what do you want? it was quick and easy and the kitchen was only half way unpacked!). I'm still itching to make something in my kitchenaid stand mixer. We've drank copious amounts of coffee. Laughed a lot, had a few frustrations, and generally started to make this place look and feel like home.
Our books and DVD's will have to stay in their totes for now until we can buy or build some shelves. Aside from that, we have odds and ends that don't quite have a home yet still kicking around, but it's surprising how many less totes there are sitting in our living room. It's a good thing too, because our couch is supposed to get delivered today. We've discovered that we had a few things packed that we forgot all about, and thought we had some other things packed that we actually don't. Like a cheese grater. And a colander. We'll pick those things up as we need them.
By dinner time last night I was able to throw together a thick... sausage stew almost. There were sausages, potatoes, onions, zucchini, and for a bit of a twist a granny smith apple. I added a bit of water to the pan to help it cook faster, and then it seemed like a shame to throw out the flavourful liquid, so I thickened it up a bit with a slurry of flour and water. It was good, even though we accidentally bought the hot italian sausages. I added a dollop of sour cream to my bowl.
Now... what to make for breakfast?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Still waiting...

So, we're supposed to be able to move in tomorrow... but as you can see, the place was still a chaos of building supplies and tools yesterday. I'm more frustrated than optimistic at this point.

Spinach Crepes

mmm.... I love playing with new inventions in the kitchen. Again, crepes were something I thought were only reserved for professionals, but they were easy peasy!
The filling in this case is fried onions, bacon, broccoli, and zucchini, with a little tomato sauce and grated cheddar cheese. They were totally delicious!! And two was way too filling, I should have stuck with one crepe.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cheese Sauce!

Tonight, I made a cheese sauce from a roux base. I don't know why this scared me previously, but it seemed like something like only fancy chefs can do. It was super easy, only took about 10 minutes and it was DELICIOUS!!
So here's what I did, so you can try it at home. Don't be scared, try it.
melt about 4 tbsp of butter in the bottom of a sauce pan over med-low heat. If you crank the heat up more, you'll darken the ingredients, and give your sauce a more brown colour. I was using a white cheese, so I kept the temp nice and low and kept it clear.
Add in half of a small onion, minced fine. Cook until onion is nice and soft.
Stir in about 4 tbsp of flour, keeping that temperature med-low, stir frequently to keep it from sticking or burning, and give it a good several minutes to let the starches and glutens come out in the flour. The roux should be getting thick and gummy looking by this point, if you get to about 5 minutes and you're still thin, clear, and making big bubbles, you might need to add a bit more flour. Once it's nice and thick, add in about a cup and a half of milk. I added in 3/4 cup of white wine at this point, you could use chicken broth instead, or even just more milk if you like, but I heard that the acidity in the wine keeps the cheese from going stringy. Keep stirring that mixture nice and slow until it starts to thicken up. It doesn't take very long. When it's getting thick turn off the heat, and THEN add in about 1 1/2 cups of cheese cut into small chunks or shredded so it will melt faster. I used extra old cheddar, but you could use any cheddar easily, or get a bit creative on your own. You can put the pan back on very low heat if the cheese just won't melt, but you don't want to cook the cheese too much. As an after thought, I decided to stir in about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese as well. And that's it!
I added it to cooked fusilli, broccoli, zucchini and 1/3 lb of fried bacon. Sooooo Yummy!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


... Is a soak in the tub with a good book and a glass of disaronno. Nothing quite so restorative. Feels like you're a whole new woman after. Nice as it was though, I can't wait to enjoy a bath in my own bath tub at our own apartment. Should be moved in by Monday now, but after so many set backs, I'm not really holding my breath. At this rate, our buddy will be back home before we're ready to move out of his place!