Friday, September 12, 2014

Curry Chicken Burgers

I only sort of like hamburgers and enjoy them no more than maybe once a year, so when I was shown this recipe for Chicken Burgers I was only lukewarm about it. Until I heard they had south Asian flavouring and came highly recommended. I can't agree more - they tasted fantastic. The spices were just right. 

I had to adapt the original recipe because I didn't have all the same spices, but the chicken burgers were so delicious that I didn't want to risk losing or forgetting about the recipe so I'm posting it right away.

Although the recipe said to cook the burgers for 10-12 minutes, I used my meat thermometer (stuck in one of the burgers sideways) and it wasn't registering 165F after 12 minutes of cooking so I cooked them a few minutes longer. There's no fooling around with raw chicken so I would advise using a thermometer to make sure.

454 gm (1lb) ground chicken
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Shape into 4 patties.
3  Cook in a frying pan turning once, for about 13-15 minutes until a meat thermometer registers 165F.

We skipped the bun and I served the chicken burgers with tzatziki, sliced tomatoes, and a couscous salad. I know, I know, holy fusion cooking, but man did it taste great!

Do you have big plans for the weekend?  This is going to be a low-key-get-things-organized kind of weekend and I'm so looking forward to it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Summer Painting

I did a lot of painting this summer - mostly watercolours - which is a first for me. I started doing some acrylics last year, but always found watercolours to be frustrating because you can't really fix mistakes. When we went to Newfoundland in July, my mother and I packed our little paint boxes and a pad of watercolour paper and we painted most evenings. In the process of filling up my watercolour book and creating a fun memento, I learned to love doing watercolours. 

The little paint box with a collapsible brush is so portable that I didn't mind taking it with me and it gave me a way to capture the beautiful scenes we were seeing every day. One of things I love the most about painting is how it makes you focus on details you wouldn't notice otherwise - how the shadows fall, all the colours in the rocks, the different greens and browns in the vegetation ... Every evening I would look through the photos I had taken that day and paint one or two of them. I have posted a few favourites below. 


Recently a friend and I went to the cottage to spend some time practicing painting sky and water because boy is it difficult. We were very fortunate to have a fantastic display of different types of clouds and water textures.  I took photos on my iPad so we could paint from the pictures and ended up with a wonderful collection in just two days. I uploaded them to the computer so the quality is not as crisp as with my camera, but that just means they have a painterly quality to them already. 

We had dark and looming clouds

and light and fluffy clouds

and wispy clouds


and a blue sky with just a few little cotton puff balls 

and even for a short period of time early on one of the mornings a pure blue sky.

The water ranged from ruffled

that was insanely sparkly at times

to soft undulations

to a smooth glassy surface which allowed for great reflections of trees and clouds


 to an absolutely smooth mirror-like surface.

I can't say my paintings were out of this world, but I learned a lot.  Namely, that clouds and water are hard to paint. Ha!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quirpon Island Salmon Loaf

When we stayed at the Quirpon Island Lighthouse Inn in northern Newfoundland (which you can read about here) we had the most delicious salmon loaf for dinner. I asked the cook if she would mind sharing the recipe and she let me copy it out. I modified it slightly to accommodate our tastes, but when I made it recently it was just as good as I remembered. 

The cook also told me that they usually serve it with cucumber sauce, but they hadn't received any cucumbers in the last shipment of food so she had substituted a sauce made from mayo and mustard. While the mayo-mustard sauce tasted great, I wanted to experience the real deal so I made the cucumber sauce. I served it with potatoes and veggies and everyone loved it. The secret to this salmon loaf is that it is made from fresh salmon which means it is a little pricier to make, but man oh man, is it moist and delicious.

900 gms (2 lbs) fresh raw salmon, skinned and chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups mayo (I used low fat mayo)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red or green pepper
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt

1.  Mix ingredients together
2.  Pack into 2 greased loaf pans
3.  Bake at 350 for ... actually I forget how long I cooked it for and forgot to write it down (oops) and the orginal recipe didn't say, but I just googled how long other recipes call for and the verdict seems to be 45 minutes. I vaguely think that is what I cooked mine for.

1/2 cup sour cream (low fat)
1/2 cup mayo (low fat again)
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup finely chopped cucumber, drained and packed into the measuring cup (about 1/2 an English cucumber)
1/2 tsp dried dill (3 teaspoons if you are using fresh dill)

1.  Drain cucumber for 15 minutes in a strainer
2.  Mix ingredients together 

And just because any excuse will do to post some more photos of our time at Quirpon Island (you can see more in this post) I thought I would take you on a tour of the lighthouse keeper's house, which is now the inn.

Somehow lighthouses look gorgeous no matter the weather.

The lighthouse keeper's house was built in 1920 and is actually two identical homes side-by-side. There were two families that worked at the lighthouse and alternated one month on and one month off.  Instead of clearing all their personal belongings out every month when it was time to leave the island they just built them each a home to use. 

When the lighthouse keeper's homes were converted to an inn an opening was created between the two homes and it is now used as one building (you can see the two front doors in the photo below). The original living room for the house on the left is now the inn's living room and the original living room for the house on the right is now the dining room. Likewise, the original kitchen for the house on the left is now a staff room and the one on the right is the inn's kitchen. 

I love knowing the layout of older homes and imaging how they were used. Isn't the white with red trim perfect for a lighthouse keeper's home ... and just imagine decorating your front porch with whale rib bones.

Let's take a look inside shall we.  Here's the front hall with the door cut through between the two homes with the living room visible beyond.

And turning the other way is the dining room.

with the kitchen behind it.

We actually stayed in the guest house so I don't have any photos of the original bedrooms. Life on Quirpon Island is slow and quiet. You go there to see icebergs and whales and beautiful rocks and gorgeous skies which we did in spades.

I hope you give the salmon loaf a try as it is too good to be missed. Have you ever made salmon loaf?  I always used tinned salmon in the past, but the fresh salmon is the best.

p.s. Linked to Enchanting Inspiration at Migonis Home

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Exploring Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula - Part 2

This summer has just flown by. I can't believe it is almost time to head back to school. I've spent a good part of the summer at the cottage which doesn't have internet access so posting has been spotty. I did want to finish with my Newfoundland travel posts in case anyone else is interested in visiting this lesser known, but gorgeous part of Canada and wanted some ideas of what there is to see and do in the area.  

After a week exploring the northern tip of Newfoundland (which you can read about here) we spent a week in Gros Morne National Park. We actually stayed in three different cabins in the park because it takes several hours to drive from one end of the park to the other and we wanted to be close to different hikes and activities.

I've highlighted four attractions that we particularly enjoyed, but there are countless other hikes and activities that we also thought were fun. Much of the charm of Gros Morne Park is in the smaller activities like visiting the historic houses or walking along a beach and taking in the views and I haven't listed all of these. I also didn't really focus on any particular hikes because we did several shorter ones, but the two days of rain that we had - the only two days of bad weather on our trip, mind you - put a damper on a couple of the longer hikes we had in mind. Next time!

Okay, here goes. Be prepared for a photo feast.

1.  Western Brook Pond

Western Brook Pond is a long narrow lake that was formed by the glacier and is surrounded by tall cliffs. At one time it was a fjord and filled with ocean water. As the ice melted after the last ice age, the land rose cutting off the fjord from the ocean and it became a fresh water lake. They have even found ancient whale bones and shells in the pond as evidence that it once was salt water.

Getting to Western Brook Pond involves hiking 3-kms along a trail and boardwalk. The hike is well worth it though, because not only is there a spectacular boat ride waiting for you at the lake, but the wild flowers along the trail are one of the prettiest sites I've seen. In fact, we liked the hike to and from the lake as much as the boat ride. 




2.  Tablelands
Gros Morne was established as a park because of the unique geological formation of Tablelands where the earth's mantle lies exposed on the earth's surface.  The park guide explained that it was a small piece of the mantle from deep within the earth that was thrust up when two plates collided - like a raisin would float to the surface in raisin bread when it is being baked. Exposed mantle is very rare and Tablelands is one of the most notable examples. In fact, it was while studying this unique area that scientists developed the theory of plate tectonics.

The mantle rock in Tableands is composed of peridotite which doesn't have the nutrients to sustain much plant growth and causes it to look like a desert moonscape. Tablelands can be seen from great distances around the southern part of the park because of its distinctive orange colour due to all the iron in the rocks.


3.  Green Point
Green Point is another famous geological site. If you weren't keen on geology before you came to Gros Morne, you soon will be because that's what makes the park special. Green Point is famous because of fossils found in specific layers of rock that helped establish the boundary between the Cambrian and Ordovician time periods. In 2000, Green Point received special designation as the Global Stratotype Section and Point by the International Union of Geological Sciences ... which (if I understand correctly) means that Green Point is used as the international standard to designate the boundary between the Cambrian and Ordovician layers of rock.  

I do love me some good fossils and geology, but I also love walking along rock beaches, examining sea cliffs, and watching the surf. Fortunately at Green Point you can do it all. The rocks are beautiful with layers tilting up to the sky and wavy sea bottoms preserved in the shale and limestone. We actually went twice to Green Point because the important rock layers are around the corner and only accessible at low tide.


At Green Point, you can also hike the old winter mail trail. Before the road was put through (in 1952) mail was delivered in winter by dog sled using this coastal pathway. I can only imagine how cold it must have been to drive a dog sled along some of those exposed areas. The trail goes along beside the ocean and past coastal ponds and tuckamore trees (spruce and fir trees that have been stunted by the winds and winter weather).  It also goes through the forest where the trees have been cut back for the path, but the branches meet overhead giving it a verdant tunnel effect.  

4.  Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse was built in 1897 and is a beauty. There is an exhibit inside, but both times we visited it it was closed. We thought the lighthouse was spectacular though, and took some short walks around the area to get different photos. We could also see the lighthouse from our cabin in Rocky Harbour so we have fond memories of it. There's nothing better than seeing a tiny dot of light flashing from the lighthouse as the sun sets.


That's my final post on our visit to Newfoundland. I hope you found it interesting. For our trip, we wanted to see a couple of areas in detail so we chose to stay in two areas for a week each. Lots of people see all the highlights of Newfoundland in two weeks which is also lots of fun, but a different kind of trip. Staying for awhile in just a few places is a wonderful relaxing way to see a place. However, our itinerary might not have worked as well if we had had poor weather as much of what we were doing was outdoors and there were only a few indoor activities to do. We happened to visit Newfoundland during one of their hottest driest summers on record. Yay, summer heat wave!

I got a couple of recipes for local dishes when I was there and want to post about them. I've made the salmon loaf and it was fantastic. I'll post about it soon. Promise!

P.S. In case you missed any of my other Newfoundland posts, you can read about part 1 of our itinerary (here), where to stay (here), what to eat (here), and about the icebergs (here).