Posts filed under ‘Travel’
Imagine picking your way across a sandy beach on a weekday afternoon – waves rolling in, cool water pulling at your feet, peachy clam shells catching your eye, the rest of the world somewhere far away – that’s what Southern California feels like to me. Slow, dreamy, quiet. Summer breezy. Can you tell it’s been too long since my last vacation?
Here are a few photos from Carpinteria, Los Olivos and Santa Barbara where much time is being whiled away.
17, 18, 19 degrees Celsius, with glorious sunshine: this is how long weekends should be. We spent three days on Vancouver Island in Sooke and Nanoose Bay, all of them peaceful, restful, and slow. I spent time in the garden, on the deck, the dock, the beach and I started an inspiring new book. We went to the My-Chosen Cafe on Happy Valley Road in Metchosin and then did a quick walk through the trails at Witty’s Lagoon. During our time in Nanoose we went cycling around Parksville and enjoyed Rathtrevor Beach at low tide, which is one of my favourite places to be, beach-wise. And, of course, we ate like kings and queens during family meals.
All in all a wonderful sojourn and a reminder of how refreshing a few days of Island time can be.
The inspiration for this quiche comes from an odd, quasi-French place called Las Vegas I visited a few years ago. Such a strange place, Las Vegas, an amusement park for grownups with something for everyone, from the drunken and licentious to the calmer breeds who like shopping, fountains, Cirque du Soleil, and quiet, pretty things.
One day, in search of lunch, I found a vegetarian quiche at the patisserie in my Parisian-themed hotel. I ate the quiche (delicious) while sitting in a white plastic lounger chair beside the pool, which had a perfect view of the fake Eiffel Tower. The taste of that cool, sunny November day has stayed with me, and I’ve tried to recreate it here as a crustless quiche, which is a great gluten-free thing to make. The missing pastry also saves calories that can be better directed into Santa-season cookies.
Asparagus & Chevre Crustless Quiche
1 leek, white and light green parts finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small bunch of asparagus
1/2 cup crumbled chevre
2 tablespoons chopped or dried dill
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon paprika
fresh ground pepper
Saute the leek in oil until softened, about five minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for just a minute or two until it turns bright green. Add vegetables to the bottom of a greased pie plate and sprinkle cheese on top along with dill and fresh ground pepper. Whisk together eggs and milk and pour over top of vegetables and cheese. Sprinkle the top with paprika and more pepper and bake in a 375F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the quiche has puffed up and started to brown in the centre.
Every once in a while I make something to eat at home that receives glowing reviews from my dear dining mate. This is no easy feat and like all hard-to-achieve praise, it is sometimes hard to understand. This is just mushroom soup – there are some fancy things to add at the end if you wish – cream, a bit of chopped spinach (my favourite), a few drops of truffle oil, a sprinkle of chives – but it is just mushroom soup, and it is easy to make.
The hardest part is the patience needed to cook the onions and mushrooms slowly so the flavours have lots of time to develop and mingle – make sure you do that.
I made this soup for a quick Friday dinner before we went to see Life of Pi, which was very well done – a great movie adaptation of a great book. Like many people, I’m a Yann Martel fan (especially his ‘What is Stephen Harper Reading’ project, which I enjoyed even more than Life of Pi), and it makes me very happy to see Canadian literature turning into Hollywood films. I remember seeing Yann Martel’s books at the Livraria Lello in Porto a few years ago and wondering if he was as pleased as I was to see his books translated into Portuguese. I think his star just took another giant leap.
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (or dried thyme)
Lots of fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups sliced button mushrooms
3 cups sliced portobello mushrooms
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used oregano and basil)
Optional add ins (for four servings):
1 cup chopped spinach (frozen is ok, but thaw it first)
4 tablespoons whipping cream
Slowly cook onion in oil over low-medium heat until it begins to carmelize. This will take a while, maybe 15 minutes. Add in the dried herbs, pepper and red wine; stir for a few minutes until the wine starts to reduce. Add in the mushrooms and cook slowly until they begin to cook down, about 10 minutes. Add in the vegetable stock and fresh herbs and remove from the heat. Let the mixture cool down to lukewarm and then puree in the blender (do not blend hot liquid, not ever!). Return to the pot and heat through. Stir in any of the optional add-ins above. Or, if taste differences prevail in your house as they do in mine, add what you will to the bottom of individual bowls, ladle in the soup, stir and serve.
Today we went for a hike along the easy trails in East Sooke Regional Park. Here is the view from the top of the trail marked Iron Mine Bay. We sat here, on top of the world, for quite awhile before finally climbing down again. Below us were seagulls paddling in the calm bay and below them was a sea of silver minnows. There were tons of little succulents growing from the rocks where we sat and admired the view. I wish I had a rock garden full of them.
The park has everything you might hope for: row upon row of cedars, a floor of ferns, moss carpeting everything, pine needles and soft pathways underfoot, spirit restoring quiet and wonderful views.