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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Island Fall

You remember my anticipatory post about my trip to Prince Edward Island?  Well, I just departed after a full four weeks there, and I loved every minute.

The work I was doing required two hours of commuting each day.  It was quite possibly the loveliest commute on earth.  I was driving from Souris to Charlottetown somewhere between six and eight in the morning.  This typically involved a sunrise in my rearview mirror.  I saw lots of critters either waking up or heading to bed at this time: a couple of eagles, a pheasant (Or partridge?  Whichever one looks more like a football with two hand-held fans attached while flying), foxes, and the majestic great blue heron.

I'm not a crazy person so I didn't try to take pictures of these fleeting creatures while driving.  I did, however, pull over on occasion to try and capture the lovely scenery:

Single rainbow

[After seeing this I had the "Double Rainbow" song stuck in my head for days]

Rails to Trails bridge

[near St. Peter's]

hay field

[hay field, Primrose]

As if the commute didn't bring enough driving, I also spent some time touring around in my area.  This is the prettiest wooded area, known as The Glen.

The Glen

Deep in The Glen you can find The Big Tree.  It's an old beech tree that is shockingly larger than any other tree around.  It's a tree of legend in these parts - really makes you wonder how it survived all these years.

Big tree

No tour of Eastern PEI is complete without a visit to the beloved Basin.  Basin Head Beach is the place to be in summer, and even a visit on a gloomy fall day evokes memories of long high-school summer beach days.

Basin Head

Definitely got my PEI fix!  If only I can arrange to come back for good...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin-coconut soup

Our hefty pumpkin provided more than enough puree for two batches of pumpkin muffins.  With so much left over, I decided to create a creamy pumpkin soup.  This recipe is off-the-cuff and it turned out alright.  A hearty fall soup with an Asian flair.

Pumpkin-coconut soup

Pumpkin-coconut soup


2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
3 cups pumpkin puree
1 can light coconut milk
1 small onion, finely diced
2 inches fresh grated ginger-root
3 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)
1 tsp ground cardamom (or to taste)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves (if you love cilantro as much as I do)
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, plus more to garnish
1/2 tsp coarse salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp olive oil

In a 4-litre pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and ginger and saute until softened, about 5 min.  Add cumin and cardamom and stir for about 1 min.  Add broth and water.  Next, stir in pumpkin puree.  Heat through.  Slowly stir in coconut milk.  Season to taste with salt.  Once heated through and flavoured to your satisfaction, add cilantro and shredded coconut.  Serve garnished with additional cilantro leaves or coconut.

If you are not a cilantro fan, I would perhaps try a lemon-grass and red chile version.  Hot sauce wouldn't go astray in this soup, either.  Perhaps Sriracha?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin puree

Prince Edward Island is strewn with pumpkins right now.  In fact, I can see a healthy pumpkin patch from the front window.  Last week, one of those pumpkins was hand-delivered by the farmer himself.  So we set right to making some pumpkin puree.

Step 1:  If you've ever carved a pumpkin, you know what to do.


Step 2: Remove seeds.

Pumpkin guts

Step 3:  Cut pumpkin up into small pieces.  Arrange in a smiley face if you are a joker like my dad.

Funny ha-ha

Step 4:  Cook.  You can basically do this the same way you cook squash.  We chose to steam the cubes by covering a bowl with plastic wrap and microwaving for about nine minutes.  Later we did a batch by roasting in the oven for almost an hour.

Pumpkin, cubed

Pumpkin, nuking

Step 5:  Scoop flesh out and discard skin.

Step 6:  Puree.  You could use an immersion blender or food processor, whatever tickles your fancy.

Pumpkin puree

Step 7.  Drain.  Notice how juicy the above puree is?  We researched a bit and found the suggestion to strain the excess juice from several hours to overnight.  We set up a little device with some cheesecloth in a colander and refrigerated overnight.

Puree, draining

Step 8.  Put to good use!  Martha didn't let me down when I went looking for a recipe for pumpkin muffins.  It is a nice recipe - find it here.  I substituted pecans for walnuts since I love the pecans and one of my pet peeves is eating a walnut that's gone off - so bitter!  Between the puree and the yogurt (and the oil!) these muffins are nice and moist.  I also like the inclusion of some whole-wheat flour for that extra bit of fibre.  Thanks to my mom for creating a lovely little display for the finished product.

Pumpkin muffins

More pumpkin recipes to come!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

St. John's streets

Taken on a walk in mid-September, here are some photos of the more creative property boundaries in St. John's.

St. John's fence 3


St. John's fence

[Classic wrought-iron]

St. John's fence 2

[Beautiful Newfoundland stone]

All of these photos were taken at properties along or just off of Waterford Bridge Road, St. John's.  A beautiful walk with some lovely homes.