Monday, March 26, 2012

Pink and Lovely....

That's my Mum's phrase for little kiddies fresh out the bath, and as far as I'm concerned you can't get much more pink and lovely than this.....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Nori salad...Num Num!

Sea veggies are great! Yes, they are. Sea vegetables like Nori and Kelp are full of minerals and iodine so they help regulate our metabolism and feed our thyroid. Nori is also chock full of vitamin A, B and C not to mention calcium and niacin. In other words it'll help keep your heart, your bones and your skin healthy and boost your energy levels too, Sheesh!
Nori comes in dry sheets that are most commonly used in sushi rolls but they can be used in tons of other ways too. It's usually toasted but if you can try to buy raw Nori sheets these, like most raw foods, pack more of a nutritional punch. I used them here in a salad where they moisten up nicely when mixed in with the dressing and add a good chewy texture and interesting flavour.  

Nori, Pear and Cashew Salad with Malple Vinaigrette, Terriyaki(ish) chicken and Quinoa.

This was our dinner a couple of nights ago and to be honest it was a last minute hotch-potch kind of dinner but OH MY it turned out scrummy! I'm quite proud because I came up with this combo entirely by myself without a sniff of inspiration except from inside my own head.

You Need:

2 Chicken Breasts (free range organic)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 green/spring onions
A couple of good handfuls of leafy spring mix
1 large handful fresh cilantro (fresh corinader if your English :)
1/2 a large pear, chopped into small chunks
1 and a half nori sheets, cut into thin strips
I small handful cashews, chopped.
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
maple syrop
1 cup of Quinoa
salt and pepper to season

- Thoroughly rinse your Quinoa in a sieve then add to a sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups of water.

- While your Qunioa is coming to a boil chop the chicken into 1/2 inch thick strips and drop into a pan with a good size glug of hot oil. Sear all sides of the chicken.

 - Squeeze your garlic clove through a crusher and add to the pan with the chicken, stir in and then turn the heat down to low.

- Add a couple of table spoons of Tamari and one tablespoon of honey. Stir into the chicken and leave to bubble away at a low heat stirring now and then.

- As soon as your Qunioa reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium/low and cover the pan with a lid. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

- Wash your spring mix and cilantro, chop roughly and toss together in a large bowl.

- Add 2 -3 tablespoonfuls of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinager and 1 tablespoon of maple syrop to the salad.

- Add your chopped Nori sheets to the salad and toss it all together. Season to taste.

- Keep checking on your chicken and stirring occasionally. The sauce should be reducing down and it should be bubbling away into sticky, golden goodness but if it's starting to look too dry take it off the heat.

- Your chicken should be done at exactly the same time as your Quinoa which should be light and fluffy after 15 minutes.

- Time to plate! Sprinkle your chicken with the chopped green/spring Onions and sprinkle the salad with the chopped cashews.


Cedar chopping block

This is a cedar chopping block that Neil's been working on for the last couple of days. He cut it from a stump out in the woods and has been sanding and sanding and oiling and oiling it to perfection. Originally we were going to paint the face of it with chalkboard paint and use it in Breakers to display daily specials but once it was sanded down we couldn't bare to cover up all the beautiful curves and rings. we've decided to keep it as a giant chopping block (although I'm not sure we'll ever bring ourselves to chop on it :)

It really is a whopper and makes quite a statement on my dining table! The photos don't really seem to show it's true size even with my handy pear comparison.

Here's a few pics of Neil finishing it up in the garage. He really loved working on it and I'm trying to persuade him to go into production, with only reclaimed wood of course :)

By our calculations the tree that our beauty of a slab came from was approximately 250 years old!! That means it was a wee sapling back in the year 1762!!! The craziest thing is that at 250 years old it was just a teenager compared to some of the 800 year old giants in this area. I still can't get my head around these utterly amazing trees and can't believe our government isn't doing more to protect the last few pockets of old growth forest that still remain.

We have two baby cedar trees temporarily living in our kitchen that the kids received at the Maritime Kids Day. We're planning on planting them somewhere that we'll always be able to come and visit and I can only hope that these little saplings will still be standing strong in 250 years time.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

If you go down to the woods today......

Look out for a crazy English guy wielding one of these......

Neil's newest plaything.....a gigantic chainsaw. No sooner than he had this thing out of the shop and into the back of the car we were headed out into the middle of the woods on a pretty chilly day, up some logging road in search of suitable "decorative" stumps for use at Breakers.

We had been given some top secret information from an unnamed source as to a good spot for stumps and boy was that unnamed source right! Piles and piles of beautiful wood abandoned by loggers and left to rot.

Neil had the most fun he's had in ages while I watched out for cougars, wolves and bears. The kids? Oh yeah, they sat in the car watching a Charlie and Lola DVD.

No live trees were harmed in the making of our stumps.

I was starting to need the toilet and Neil became slightly delirious with testosterone and logging adrenaline and began beating his chest and making guttural noises. At that point I thought we ought to call it a day and haul our load home.

Most awesome face-painting!

Yesterday was Maritime Kids Day at the Tofino Community Centre and there was all kinds of cool stuff going on. We examined some plankton through a microscope, recorded our own whale sounds into a computer using a balloon (crazy how much it really sounds like whales!), decorated whale cookies and painted some wooden fish for the Ucluelet Aquarium. This was followed by a really cool and quite magical puppet show about the migration of a Whale and her daughter. It was all extra cool but I was most amazed by the mad skills of the face painting lady.  She did each kid in no more than 3 minutes using paintbrushes and sponges and her work was fantastic! I actually felt bad washing it off at the end of the day. The kids really loved it, not that you can tell by their thrilled expressions in my photo, we were dragging them back to the car and they weren't too happy about leaving.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Give me some Octopus LOVE!

Don't you love it? Don't you? I love it! I really love it! Yes, I REALLY love it!
As you can tell from the many photos from many different angles, we now have a beautiful, magnificent, spectacular, red octopus painted on the wall at Breakers. We did it ourselves and are very proud but before you marvel at my staggering painting ability I'll tell you now it was a stencil...a really flippin cool one!!!

Here it is from straight ahead.....and again from slightly to the left ( I do love it you know :)

We also added a chalkboard menu and I'm quite loving that too.....Da daaaaaaa!

  * pause*    Ahhhh...... A sigh of relief. Breakers is looking so lovely it makes me smile just thinking about it. :)

Here's a few more atmospheric pics for all of you lovely people that can't be here to appreciate the details in person.

Go love it don't you!!

We got sprouts!

And we're eating them on EVERYTHING :)

Friday, March 09, 2012

Life in March...

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the staggering amount of photos I need to blog from our trip to England. I keep looking at them all and mentally trying to compose posts and think about which pictures I will bunch together or whether or not to pop them all into a slide show but it's just too much for my little brain to organize so instead I give you......the last few days.....

We're back in Tofino. Sully is happy but that's nothing new. We've had some beautiful sunshine and some lovely rainforesty rain. Weirdly I missed the rain while we were away. I actually like it when it's bucketing down especially when I'm snuggled into my bed listening to the downpour outside my window. Soothing :) Anyway, we've been here a whole year now and I can't quite believe that. I'm excited that the hummingbirds and the gray whales are all on their way back and hope to see lots of both in the next few weeks.  I'm also looking forward to the sprouting of the swamp lanterns, I'll get a photo for you as soon as I see one.

On the subject of sprouting I was pretty excited to see that my long dead rhubarb (a pressie from my Mummy last spring) seems to have miraculously come back to life. Maybe it's not so miraculous, maybe I just don't know a lot about rhubarb, but I'm happy either way.
The sprouting of the rhubarb inspired us to do a little gardening. The kids helped me pull some weeds mostly because they had earlier in the day persuaded me to buy them each a pair of gardening gloves.

We continued with our green fingeredness indoors and have begun the process of sprouting some seeds . With a bit of luck we'll be producing some nice crisp sprouts for our sandwiches sometime in the next couple of days.

So far we have only got to the soaking stage of sprouting and I'm amazed at the level of excitement aroused by basically tipping some seeds into a jar of water. I can't wait to see the kids faces when (if?) these things actually grow.
Each of their sprouting jars has been marked with a coloured ribbon and is being guarded by a specially selected sprout protector as seen below. 

In other news, Belly had a day of sudden and mysterious illness, always horrible and a bit scary. My poor little monkeypants spent the morning puking and sleeping and I've no idea where or how she picked up a bug.
Yes, she almost always sleeps with her eyes open, sometimes much more open than this...

My action plan was...get some greens into the girl! Spinach, spinach and more spinach! (We happened to have a lot of spinach in our fridge that day). I made a spinach and cashew pesto, yum and easy peasy! I just whizzed up a big bunch of fresh spinach with a handful of raw cashews, a big squeeze of lemon, some olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. It was GREEN! And green = healthy. I mixed it into some pasta and told the kids it was special Hulk pasta, Seb wasn't fooled but was forced to eat it anyway. Belly, who is generally much more open to green things, wolfed it down. Good girl.

I also cunningly whizzed up some spinach in a smoothy. Now this is a trick you MUST try if you have kids who are picky with their veg. 2 cups of fresh spinach, 2 cups of delicious fruit of your choice and 2 cups of water. Depending on the fruit you choose and it's natural sweetness you could add just a dash of maple syrup to sweeten. Anyway, the smoothy this creates is so fresh and energising it makes a really extra good breakfast. I love it and so did the kiddies. Score!!!

Thankfully Bel's mystery bug disapeared as quickly as it arrived and she seems to be back to her normal energetic self. To celebrate her healthyness, today we ate chocolalte :) 

I was driven by a sudden and overwhelming desire to make chocolate crispy cakes! I used nice 80% cocoa solids cha-loc-a-lat and a spoonful of coconut butter (oh-my-god-that-stuff-is-sooo-good!), not to be confused with coconut oil, coconut butter contains some coconut meat as well as oil and has a creamy consistency similar to thick peanut butter, it's so yum. The resulting crispy cakes were nothing short of perfect and we made another batch as soon as Neil got home :)

This is Sully's jealous face....

 Being a dog he isn't allowed cha-loc-a-lat and this upsets him :( so he went off and pretended to be a kitchen rug.