Tuesday, March 26, 2013

30 km

It's two days after the 118th running of Around the Bay in Hamilton and my sympathy pains are in full swing. My thighs and back ache when I think of IronMan, IronGirl, The Maltese Falcon and others setting off for their almost annual 30 km trek.

After a more civilized, 8:30 AM, start time, mother and I discovered a new-to-us restaurant on Locke St. Earth to Table tis it's name and if you ever happen to be in the neighbourhood, there are two fine antique stores close by, I highly recommend it.

We then joined Mdm. Givenchy in the stands at Copps Coliseum. Our timing was about spot on and within 10 minutes or so the first person crossed the finish line. How anyone runs that far at all amazes me but to do it in less than an hour and forty-five minutes is krazy!

Completely understandable are the raised eyebrows I get when I tell people about my new beekeeping venture. Short of mutiny in the colony and Queen Mary's drones learning how to unzip my protective hood I don't see this hobby rendering my legs unusable for days afterwards or leaving me in need of a wheelchair.

That is correct, I counted no less than 6 people cross the line, grab a railing for support and have to get wheeled out of the path of others. Out of 8000+ runners, I guess those aren't bad odds but how anyone finds that gratifying I will never know. But I shan't judge.

In the mornings and evenings, IronMan now hobbles up and down the stairs, apparently descending is worse, and at work, the Maltese Falcon complains each time she returns from the bathroom about how arduous it is to lift her derrière off the seat.

I joke that I would only run that far if something were chasing me or if Hendricks martinis awaited my arrival. Les-b-honest though and say 3 hours is a respectable time. Short of a zombie, I think just about anything else chasing me could catch-up without much effort.

And if not, apparently such exertions would render me meals on wheels. I'll stick to the bees.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fit for a Queen

For the third time, the ever patient IronMan sat beside me as I attempted to get this beekeeping hobby off the ground. Give it wings as it were. 

Our first attempt at the supply store was thwarted by my poor planning and beekeeper's apparent tendency to do as the bees do in winter - not much. Store #1 hours are 9 - 12 on Saturday and as I tried to work that in with dinner plans in the north end of the city, when we arrived at 4:30, we found a entrance reducer, that is a lock, in place and we were shut out.

After attending my second Urban Toronto Beekeepers' Association meeting I was introduced to Toronto's very own BeeGrrl Melanie, and thought I would give her store a go. She seems nice and it's closer to home.  Enticing Kitkat, Kerouac and IronMan with the promise of brunch, we journeyed to Dundas St. W. Despite it being a sunny day here, apparently there was a snowstorm in Newfoundland which explained, in a roundabout way, why there was a "closed due to weather" sign hanging in the window.

But today, the stars aligned, and I am now the VERY proud owner of my first hive. My deluxe starter kit consists of 2 brood boxes, 20 deep frames, 1 honey super with 10 frames, my queen excluder (never thought I'd see the day where I'd be happy with such a thing), my inner and outer covers, my bottom board, jacket (tres chic, everyone will be wearing them this season), gloves, smoker (hands off CJ!) and hive tool.

Given all the tools from dad's workshop, I am confident I will be able to make my own brood and super boxes going forward. However, now that I've nailed these together I might need to purchase one more to use as a template. Please note, the use of the word "I" in this paragraph = IronGirl.

It's likely not cheapest interest that has ever tickled my fancy. Sitting with a pot of tea costs next to nothing. No, wait, I spent over $250 on a teapot. Let's see, does walking count as a hobby? It's also not the most expensive thing I've ever done to placate my A.D.D.. Can anyone say courses at the Alexis, so very '80s, modelling agency?

I would like to think I will make a return on my investment in short order. Honey isn't cheap and "Marysville Organic Honey" has a nice ring to it don't you think? I can hear Kitkat and Fauntleroy giggling from the other end of the city at the mention of the town. Conveniently, ties nicely to the name of my favourite Queen of England, Mary of Teck.  Another smashing thought for a label! A bee with a tiara.

While I know and understand the term, ROI, much like Mary's parents, I fear gift giving will trump my business sense and it will be a money losing proposition at the end of it all. Perhaps IronMan will have to step in and take care of the business side of things.

Naturally, Mary is the name I have reserved for my first queen. I expect to get my nuc in the next couple of weeks. I do hope she likes her new palace. Purple is my preferred paint colour, but dark colours are a no-no when it comes to hives. Some other royal icon will have to be substituted in its stead.

I will keep you posted on all the hive activity in the coming weeks. Oh, and a note to Lonsdale Cottage guests, if I invite you to Mary's place without protective gear, it's time for you to leave.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cracking Good Food

And a pat on the back for me!

This week has been, if I may so immodestly boast, a culinary success for me despite the complete absence of anything pie related.

For a variety of reasons I have found myself going full steam ahead in the kitchen. Some of the weeks highlights include, but are not limited to the following.

High Tea on Saturday afternoon. As my mother is currently in exile from Fergus, we do our best to keep her busy until her triumphant return. IronGirl is being the day-to-day hostess with the mostest and I do my bit to help entertain on weekends. 3:00 o'clock saw CJ's mother, Kitkat's parents and my mom gather for tea in the Beach.

My first attempt at Scott Peacock's buttermilk biscuits, courtesy of this month's Martha, were a raging success. Essential tip, when you are cutting out one's biscuits, one must never twist the cutter. This pinches the dough and prevents a light, airy lift. These were topped off with clotted cream and my homemade cheery jam, crab apple jelly and orange marmalade.

Three varieties of tea sandwiches, smoked salmon with herbed butter, open faced smoked salmon with goats cheese and watercress and shrimp (bit heavy on the fish side), were on hand.

Lemon poppyseed cake was the sweet on the table and of course, tea. Buckingham Palace Garden Party, Nepal Black and an "I didn't pay attention to the price" green tea from David's tea. Beware, if you order sencha ashikubo, bring your hip flask, you're going to need it.

Jumping ahead to mid-week, tonight I cooked for my two favourite foodies; Little Lord Fauntleroy and Kitkat. Given that this is our last meal before Easter due to travel plans and taking possession of Lonsdale Cottage, I tried to make it a little bit special.

Based on the reviews and my swelled head, I'd say I was spot on.

Two choices of devilled quails eggs, chorizo and cucumber, got us started. These were accompanied with a lovely soft cream cheese from France, champagne, not sparkling wine (to be clear) with chambord.

Moving to the dining table, and inspired by Kitkat's recent gift of Nigella's latest cookbook, we tucked into linguine with smoked mackerel, marsala and pine nuts with a side of green beans with pistachio pesto. We washed this down with a delicately effervescent vinho verde from Portugal. Went down a little too easy that one did.

A light salad cleansed the palate and hurried along our digestion to make room for the dessert.

Chocolate olive oil cake, as delightfully tasting as it is easy to prepare, was such a huge success that it has bumped my Italian apple cake off tomorrow night's menu. I had it decorated with cadbury mini eggs and a light dusty of icing sugar for the boys. They both suggested the next level of decadence would be the addition of whipped cream and strawberries so that is what the Dollhouse Girls are getting tomorrow.

I am sure as I type this I am jinxing my pots and pans prowess. None-the-less, I hope to impress with a charcuterie plate, not sure quails eggs would sit so well with Blue Girl.

Cooking Italian for Blue Girl always leaves me in a flap but I am pressing on with Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's Parmigiana di Carne Manciata. Girl, I love your show, but $100+ to see you live, come now.

Up front, I admit, I am also repeating the aforementioned green beans. Except for IronMan, he get's peas as he hates beans. It was going to be peas for all, but Pink Girl, she don't like the peas so much.

Citrus & mache will be name of the game for tomorrow's salad and then, back to cake.

Pink Girl, if you read this before tomorrow, have Blue Girl be the D.D.. IronMan, he no drink. Blue Girl, she no drink. And in this house, an open bottle is an empty bottle.

Also decided tonight, was the meal for my far far far far off 50th birthday. Straight from a recent favourite of mine, Supersize Me, a nine course Edwardian era meal at the Savoy in London.