Quebec City and Ile d’Orleans

September 18th, 2012
Ile d'Orleans Grocery store

Ile d'Orleans Grocery store

We recently spent a week in QC and environs- more of the getting to know Canada tour. This time, we went to Quebec City, Ile d’Orleans and then up to Ottawa and the Ottawa valley.

I’d heard that QC is about the closest you can come to Europe, while staying in North America. It definitely has an old-world feel.

Here’s something I didn’t know: Canada is fully bi-lingual… except in Quebec, where it is ALL French. Most of the hospitality people spoke some English, but all the signage is French. Which can be very disconcerting when you’re driving. Luckily TMIML speaks French. After a few days, my high school French started kicking in, as well. Some of the most fun we had was listening to our navigation system mangle street names. (OK, we’re easily amused.)

We had a great time in Quebec City, staying in old town and sampling the cuisine there. I tasted creme brulee with duck liver pate, and was totally hooked. (It sounds weird, but is totally luxurious.)

I’m sure not everyone in Quebec has a green thumb & is a phenomenal cook, but that’s not my experience. Our stay on Ile d’Orleans, at the Canard Huppe (crested duck) was fantastic.

One experience especially… we were driving past Oka, and needed a place to stay, so stopped at the info center. The lady sent us to a b&B in St-Placide, La Capucine. Julie, the hostess, and her husband Alcide made us incredibly welcome, and immediately whipped up a light dinner, not to mention a breakfast the next morning beyond compare.

I really enjoyed this trip, and hope to explore Quebec further, especially the Gaspe Peninsula.

Summer of Kale Chips

September 1st, 2012
Kale Chips

Kale Chips- before

kale chips after

Kale Chips- After

I’ve eaten more kale this summer than in my entire life. (Actually, I’d only tried it once before, so that’s not too difficult.) Now that I’ve found kale chips, I’m having kale several times a week.

I’m using a very simple recipe from allrecipes.com. There are more complicated ones, but why bother? They are so yummy. Oh, and as they bake, they make a snap, crackle, pop noise, too. If you like nori (the seaweed that wraps sushi), these are along the same lines.

So far the only failure I’ve had is when I forgot about them… and then I had “charred.” Seriously- set a timer!

This is so delicious, and addicting. I made some for my mom & she immediately decided to plant a whole row of kale.

Yes, kale is a great fall crop, so get planting now!

Zucchini madness

August 26th, 2012
Organic Zucchini, originally uploaded by ilovebutter.

It’s that time of year… be sure to lock your car doors, or you may find a sack of zucchini waiting for you. In fact, zucchini is about the only garden plant I know of that just doesn’t take much TLC. In fact, you don’t even need to plant it. Just befriend a gardener, and you’ll have plenty.
My personal preference is grilled zucchini. A grill wok with zukes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc is a beautiful thing.
I just discovered a new use, though, thanks to Traditional Foods, one of my favorite websites. They’ve actually figured out how to morph zucchini into something like raisins. Here’s their recipe for zucc-raisins.

My New Car

August 18th, 2012
car2go smartcar

car2go in Toronto

I recently signed up for car2go in Toronto (which lets me use them in Vancouver and Calgary as well, but not the US). It’s very similar to the bike rental stations that I’m seeing pop up everywhere. I took my first trip yesterday, so here are my thoughts.

One, it’s a great little car for the city. (Not for Costco trips, however!) The per-minute cost is low, when you consider that you don’t have to pay for: gas, insurance, maintenance, PARKING!

Free parking is available at all the Green P parking lots, of which there are many. And parking fees in Toronto are outrageous.

There are currently 200 smartcars available in town, and there are 2 lots a couple blocks from me. I picked one up (after several errors, I called & was told it was malfunctioning, so walked next door to find another.) Then I drove it downtown to another lot and left it there (another glitch; the machine ate my free parking card & the attendant had to rescue me.)

After a couple hrs of shopping & messing around, I went back to the same lot, and picked one of the 2 cars there (I could have reserved, but chose not to) Hopped in, and away I went (after dealing with the parking attendant again.)

Yes, there are some glitches, but the system is new here. Customer service was very responsive. I think I’ll be using it more, especially for trips downtown, where parking is at a premium.

I love the idea of  having a car when I want one, but not having to pay the overhead for just occasional use.

** Update: car2go just phoned me today to follow up on all the mishaps. They also gave me a 15 minute credit, which was very nice of them. So far, I’m very impressed with the customer service.

*** Am considering taking car2go to the buskerfest down @ St Lawrence market this weekend. I love not having to worry about parking!