Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Vegan Firefighters

I've never been to Texas, but my mind conjures up stereotypical images of big beef steaks, cowboys, oil and "manly" men driving big cars with horns as hood ornaments.
And firefighters...that means more macho "manly" men; calendar pin-ups of chiseled, good-looking, muscle-ripped creatures made entirely of testosterone, right? HA! I followed this link that I found on Out of My Vegan Mind and found neither to be true. What a great story! There is also a link to the firefighters web site that has some recipes! These guys ARE "manly"men!! Wooooo Mama!

**The photo has nothing to do with the vegan firefighters. It's just a gratuitous picture of some half naked firemen. Just look at it and enjoy it.


You can't be serious.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Goodbye Dr. Lundy

Today I had my progress report at the chiropractor. I'm doing better, but still not up to 100% mobility. At least I can tie my own shoes now. Dr. Lundy recommended that I now come once every 2 weeks and I'll soon start on some strengthing exercises. Today was her last day before going on maternity leave. Dr. Laura Cupp will be taking over for her in the meantime. Thank you Dr. Lundy for all your help. You saved me!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who are Irish, and those that wish they were.

My ancestors immigrated from Ireland in the 1800's. My grandfather's brother did a lot of research on the family name and we believe that we may have roots back to here, the town that bears our name. Someday, I hope to make it back "home".

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Have a terrific day. Erin go bragh!

Monday, March 13, 2006

What A Deal!

Michelle and I decided to get together for the afternoon so we could spend some time hanging out before she heads off to Calgary. I gave her the bottle of wine I picked up for her last weekend and she was very excited about it. I hope she likes it.
We started off with lunch at Pane Fresco. J did some work for these people before they opened the store and we've been hooked on them since then. They make the best bread in Burlington! Michelle had a salad with walnuts and goat cheese and I had a roasted vegetable sandwich on a baguette. They had also made fresh apple pies that morning and they must have been taking lessons from that cheese because those damn pies were calling out to me. So I bought one. I thought it would be a nice weekend dessert treat. Oh my was sooooo good. There are still 2 pieces left for tonight.
Michelle wanted to get a shelf for her bathroom so we went to our favorite store, IKEA. We stopped first at the "as is" section, just to check it out. There was a Leksvik corner cabinet that caught my eye. It looked OK and we did a good inspection on it. I had 2 very small scratches on 2 of the shelves which could be easily covered up, if noticable to anyone else at all. And darn it all, it was already assembled. Saved me the trouble of having to put it together. I've been looking for something to put in the kitchen that I could put the microwave on and that would give me some extra storage space. This looked like it would serve the purpose nicely, and I really like their Leksvik line. This cabinet sells for $249, but I got it for $159! They held it until J got home and took the truck over to pick it up. I LOVE IT! What a deal! It sort of outshines Michelle's $15 bathroom shelf and the $7 t-shirts I picked up later at Wal-Mart.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

More Cuvee

On Saturday, we started out by stopping at Vineland Estates for some yummy Riesling. We were tasting as far back as 1993. This is were I had 2 tastes of cheese - my temporary fall off the wagon. Anyhow, Vineland Estates has been around for quite a while and their Dry Riesling is one of my favorite everyday whites. We did a bit of tasting off the menu as well and I thought the 2004 Sauvignon Blanc was very good and bought some. I guess the judges agree with me because they awarded it best Sauvignon Blanc at the Cuvee awards on Saturday night.

We then stopped at Flat Rock Cellars. They are fairly new on the scene and their focus was on Pinot Noir. We tasted 3 different clones seperately, and then blended into two wines that the winemaker crafted. There was a very chatty older gentleman there which made for a fun time. Flat Rock is a really nice facility with a spectacular view. They are very committed to having an enviromentally sensitive operation within the building and minimal spraying in the vineyard.

The highlight on Saturday was a trip to one of my favorite wineries, Thirteenth Street. They are located in Jordan. It's owned/run by 4 men who are all professionals in other fields. I'm not sure what all of them do, but I know one is an engineer. They love wine and started this operation as a "hobby." It's been very successful. Wine Access magazine named them a finalist in Top Canadian Winery in 2003. During the winter months they are generally closed and the rest of the year they are usually only open on Saturdays - because these guys have other jobs. . They did open up for Cuvee and we got to try all kinds of different chardonnays that had been aged in different barrels from different barrel makers, from different forests, etc. That was really interesting. What a difference in taste from something that seems so simple. We also did some sampling at the bar. I love the wines at this place! I bought a mixed case and spent more money than I should have.

Sunday was the bomb! We continued our journey and hit Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is a great town. We pulled off the highway and stopped first at the Niagara College Teaching Winery. This is where I want to go to school. I like to go in and talk to the students. They study the whole process from growing the grapes, pruning the vines, picking, crushing - everything. They make really good wine and sell it from a little store on campus. They actually won 2 awards at Cuvee. One for their Pinot Noir and one for a Chardonnay.

From there, we drove just down the road to another favorite of mine, Chateau des Charmes. Chateau des Charmes was started by Paul Bosc in 1978. Mr. Bosc is from French Algeria and studied in Burgundy. He has been one of the pioneers in Niagara for grape growing and winemaking. He's been innovative in trying new varieties of grapes not usually grown in this region and was the first to use wind machines that are now a common sight amongst the vineyards. Just last year he was awarded the Order of Canada. They make a fantastic St. David's Bench Gewurtztraminer. But my absolute favorite is their Equuleus. I first tried it when J and I were on our honeymoon and instantly loved it. We had some bottles from the 1998 vintage that were to die for, but alas, they are long gone. This is a bordeaux blend red wine and is only made during exceptional years. I have a few bottles of 2001 and the 2002 was just released at Christmas. I got to try some while we were there. It's still a little tight and young, but with a few years, it will be spectacular. As usual. On Sunday we got a chance to meet Madame Bosc and speak to her for a bit. What a truly delightful, unpretentious, friendly lady.

On our way to the more central part of town, we stopped off at Coyote's Run. This is a new small winery that is getting busier and busier every time we go in. The name is significant because they have a lot of coyotes coming onto the property. Workers see them all the time. And they have one of my favorite labels. The winemaker does some really good stuff. They have a unique terrior in that on one side of the building is black soil and on the other side, it's red soil. We tasted Pinot Noir from vines that were planted on each side, then the blend of the two together. What a difference! We preferred the red soil. There was another couple there and when we asked them, they also liked the red. Together, the two were magnificent.

Then, the creme de la creme of our entire weekend. We got to do a seminar and a tasting at Stratus with the winemaker, J-L Groux. J-L was the winemaker at Hillebrand for years. J and I are Hillebrand wine club members and have enjoyed their wines for a long time. While at Hillebrand, he came up with a few unique wines that have become very successful for winery. When I heard he'd left, I didn't know if we'd be able to enjoy any more of his work. Luckily, he just moved down the road and is now at Stratus where he has been given a lot more freedom to make the wines he wants. Pretty much carte blanche from what I understand. And man! What good stuff.
Stratus is a remarkable facility. From the outside, it looks like a credit union. Inside, it's very sleek and modern. Just before their opening in 2005, they were granted LEED Canada (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). Stratus is the first winery in Canada to meet this standard.

"In order to qualify for LEED certification, the winery had to meet numerous criteria that reduced the negative impact on the environment both during construction and on a permanent, operational basis. Primary features implemented at Stratus include: geothermal technology to heat and cool the building; the use of recycled materials in the construction and design; resource and energy efficient electrical and plumbing systems; a toxin-free waste management program; and a landscape plan that is organic and based on indigenous grasses and plants."

The focus is on wines made from the 'assemblage' of many different grape varietes to create wines of complexity and wonderful balance. When I first tried the 2000 Stratus White I was completely blown away. And the red is heaven as well! J-L does also do some single varietals and the weekend was when they released the 2002 Cabernet Franc. Yeah, we got some of that too.

The entire winemaking process works very efficiently and they use gravity flow rather than pumping. They even have an elevator for moving the tanks up and down. The operation of this place is amazing We were privy to a tour conducted by J.L. himself. To me, he's like a rock star. (Have I mentioned before how much of a wine geek I really am?) He is so willing to share all of the knowledge and experience he has and he's kinda funny, which I didn't expect. It was a truly delightful afternoon. Cuvee 2005 turned out to be a great weekend!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Milk Update

Look what I found at the store today. It's a non-dairy, vegetable based milk-type drink. I looked to see the ingredients and it's made from potatoes! The company is English Bay and the packaging says "Tastes unbelievably like milk". Hmmm. I'll try it tomorrow and see.

No Dairy? No Problem!

It's been 6 days since gave up dairy products. I must admit, I did cave a bit over the weekend. I had 4 nibbles of cheese on 2 different days. It was during our wine touring and I tried to stick with the crackers and jellies, but that damn cheese was taunting me..."woo-hoo! I'm over here. Look at me! So smoooooth and yellow. Don't I smell good? Come on, you know you want some. Just a little bite won't hurt."
But for the most part, I kept up my will power and have been doing quite well; I think. I've got some nice dark chocolate, so that's been a big help. Can't go without the chocolate.
I'm still experimenting with milks. I bought some Silk original and it's been OK in my coffee, but if I put in too much, it's kinda icky and I can't drink it. I can't imagine pouring a glass and just downing it. I haven't done that with cow's milk in ages either and it's just not very appealing. I bought some Almond Breeze in a tetra pak and that seems to go better with coffee. I also like that because I can buy a one litre size. The Silk is only in 2 litres. I would never use that in a week and will have to throw half of it away. I'm debating whether to try some Rice Dream. I wish they had small 250 ml sizes so you could try it without having to get a great big container.

Something I did try that I thought was fantastic was Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese. I started out with the plain and it was so good on my bagel that I bought the Herb and Chive flavour as well. Highly recommend the Tofutti!

I also got some So Nice soy yogurt. I was kinda nervous to try this. I thought it would be pretty raunchy, but it was surprisingly good. I picked strawberry to try first and it was really sweet, so I mixed it with some granola and that toned down the sweetness and also made it a super filling breakfast. They don't have very many flavours, but the plain and the vanilla could be jazzed up with fruit.

So, all in all, the no dairy is so far, going pretty well. I've got some cheese, but have yet to try it. Once I do, I'll report on that as well.

CUVEE! (Friday)

Holy crap! What a weekend. I love the Cuvee touring passports. For $20, you buy a passport and all kinds of wineries participate and if you visit with your passport, you get to taste for free (at most places) some special offerings. Some serve wines that they've entered into the cuvee competition, some offer past winners or special vintages. On Friday, we stayed close to home an toured around Beamsville. Our first stop was Peninsula Ridge. They were pouring Cabernet Francs, J's favorite red. We got to compare 2001 & 2002 regular and reserve. The 2001 Reserve was very good. We bought a bottle and headed down the road to the next stop, Fielding Estate Winery.

Fielding is fairly new on the Ontario wine scene.Their cheif winemaker is Andrzej Lipinski who came over from Legends. I love Fielding whites. I think they do a very good job with those. We have a few assorted bottles from the summer and on this stop we picked up a 2004 Chardonnay Reserve and a 2004 Riesling Reserve. Both extremely tasty and will be much enjoyed I'm sure!

Our next stop of note on Friday was at Lakeview Cellars. J also like Baco Noir and this was the feature at Lakeview. They were pouring some old bacos. One as far back as 1993! I'd never had one that old and frankly didn't think they were that age-worthy. It was remarkably good! It's obviously not going to last much longer and should be drunk in the next few months. We bought 2 and I'm going to give one to Michelle before she leaves for Calgary. She likes a good baco as well. I prefered the 1997 they had and bought one of those as well and had it with burgers while watching the Oscars.

On to Malivoire. I really like this place. It's a gravity flow set-up and very impressive. We tasted some great wines. They were offering Merlot and Cab Franc, which they don't usually make and a special 2002 Cabernet Merlot. We'd had some of this before and it's very good. Malivoire does Marechal Foch extremely well. So, of course, we tried the newly released 2004 as well. Mmm-mmm-mmm! We bought a couple of bottles of that to take home. The gentleman behind the bar told us that their Foch vines are getting old and aren't bearing much fruit anymore, so in a couple of years there will probably be no more! I'd better tell Emilie as soon as I see her. That's her favorite wine. The sad thing about wine...once it's gone, it's gone.

We also did some touring on Saturday and Sunday, but I'll continue on with that later.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (another bulgur recipe)

This recipe I haven't tried, but really want to. It's from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. Sarah is amazing! This is her third book. Her first two were co-authored with Tanya Barnard. The first one was How It All Vegan and the second was Garden of Vegan. I use all of these books quite a bit. One thing I particularly like about La Dolce Vegan is that most of the dishes are geared to feed 2-3 people. There are only two of us in my household and after a couple of meals of the same thing, the leftovers aren't so appealing anymore. Anyhow, this recipe sounded very interesting. I've made cabbage rolls with rice numerous times and have also tried them with barley, which turned out very nice. I never would have thought using bulgur. If you try this before I do, let me know how it goes. You could easily double this recipe if you wanted to feed more people.
By the way, Sarah's website Go Vegan is great. There is a chatroom/forum which is very active. Check it out!


1 small head of green cabbage

1/4 cup bulgur
1/4 cup boiling water
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 large button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. tamari
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. black ground pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
3 tbsp. walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup cooked cabbage, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 14-oz (398-ml) can diced tomatoes
1 5.5-oz (156-ml) can tomato paste
1 tsp. sweetener (e.g. maple syrup, sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove core from cabbage and steam whole head for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Remove 6 large leaves and set aside.
While cabbage is steaming, in a small bowl, pour boiling water over bulgur. Cover with lid and set aside.
In a medium saucepan on medium heat, saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms in oil until onions are translucent. Add the tamari, paprika, pepper, cayenne, walnuts and bulgur and saute for 6-8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the chopped, cooked cabbage and set aside.
To prepare the sauce: In a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, saute the garlic in oil until translucent. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sweetener, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Assemble cabbage rolls by dividing filling among the 6 leaves. Roll each leaf and arrange in a lightly oiled 8x8-inch baking dish. Spoon tomato sauce evenly over top and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 2 large of 4 small servings. Sauce make approx. 2 cups.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Seal Hunt

I just want to cry. This upsets me so much every year. I remember when I was young I would see it on TV and I was horrified. I still am. I can't look at any more pictures.
Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather, were in the Maritimes today to bring this disgusting, shameful thing back into the spotlight. Good for them! Here's the report that was on Yahoo Canada.

"SOMEWHERE IN THE GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE (CP) - The annual seal hunt off the East Coast is a "stain on the character of the Canadian people," music legend Paul McCartney said Thursday as he and his wife Heather staged a high-profile, anti-hunt protest on barren ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The megastar couple called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end the centuries-old commercial slaughter by buying back hunters' licences and promoting eco-tourism instead.
"We don't want to see the local people suffer," McCartney said after the couple got on their bellies to get a close-up look at newborn harp seals sprawled on an ice pan about 20 kilometres northwest of the Iles de la Madeleine.
"But, from what we hear, it is quite a small amount of their annual revenue and this could be easily sorted out by the Canadian government, if they care to do it."
Under partly cloudy skies, the McCartneys travelled by small plane from Charlottetown to Iles de la Madeleine, 160 kilometres to the northeast of Prince Edward Island. They then boarded a helicopter and flew to the ice floes.
Dressed in bright orange survival suits, the former Beatle and his wife posed for photos with a snow-white, newborn harp seal as a media entourage of about three dozen looked on.
"We're calling upon Stephen Harper and the government to consider looking at this problem . . . in the light of the international objections," McCartney said.
"Canada is known as a great nation . . . But this is something that leaves a stain on the character of the Canadian people and we don't think that's right. I don't think the vast amount of Canadians think that's right."
The most recent figures suggest the industry, which started in the 1700s, was worth between $15 million and $20 million annually and employed up to 10,000 people, most of them in Newfoundland. Supporters of the hunt argue that income from the harvest is vitally needed in remote communities with few other economic opportunities.
The McCartneys, longtime animal rights activists, noted the Canadian government had approved a three-year management plan in 2003 that set the total quota for harp seals at 975,000 - a move that prompted renewed outrage among conservation groups.
Thursday's protest was organized by the Humane Society of the United States and the British-based group, Respect for Animals.
"I've observed the seal hunt at close range for seven years," Rebecca Aldworth, director of Canadian wildlife issues for the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.
"I routinely witness conscious seals dragged across the ice with boat hooks, wounded seals left to choke on their own blood, and seals being skinned alive. The commercial seal hunt is inherently cruel. It is a national disgrace."
The McCartneys cited a 2001 independent veterinarian report that concluded close to half of the seals killed were likely still conscious when skinned.
The federal Fisheries Department says it has an independent report that suggests otherwise.
"Sometimes a seal may appear to be moving after it has been killed; however seals have a swimming reflex that is active - even after death," the department says on its website.
"This reflex gives the false impression that the animal is still alive when it is clearly dead."
The youngest harp seals, known as whitecoats, cannot be killed until they lose their white fur. That can happen in as little as 12 days. But most of the harp seals taken are about 25 days old, the Fisheries Department says.
The department has also insisted Canadians support Ottawa's policies, citing a February 2005 Ipsos-Reid poll that concluded 60 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of a "responsible hunt."
The date for the start of this year's hunt has yet to be set, though it usually starts in late March. The 2006 quota is also under review."

Write or e-mail your MP, The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, ( The Prime Minister, Stephen Harper ( Sign every petition you can and end this Canadian disgrace! You can start here.

Do a google search for more sites with petitions to sign. I'm sorry I can't post more. I'm scared to open up any more links for fear of what I might see.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Not Shaping Up To Be A Good Week

I've been having a really shitty week. It's one of those times where I feel like I'm making no progress. Whatever I try to do proves to be more difficult than it should be and everything is so overwhelming I just want to throw up may hands and say "I quit everything!" Work is really stressing me out. Everyone is whining about anything, no one has any common sense and I feeling like I'm a friggin' day care worker/babysitter. These are grown-ups - act like it! Be self-motivated. Think. And for petesake, make a decision on your own!! GRRRR!
Physically, I was feeling pretty good. I've been working well with my chiropractor and doing all the things she tells me to do. I tried to do a bit too much around the house and work has been non-stop, so I've been go, go, go there and now I'm feeling like I've taken a couple steps back on my recovery process. I'm so achy today I just can't get comfortable. Then I was all cranky at J after he was good enough to do some clean-up. This doesn't happen very often (the clean-up part) and then I totally ragged on him. I fell like such a bitch sometimes.
Then, I had a terrific headache. I believe it was tension. I could feel it all up the back of my neck and into my head. I came home from work and just wanted to lay down and have a nap. Simon was so restless and roaming all over. I kept calling him to come back and lay down with me. Finally, he did. He crawled under the covers and curled up with me. About 2o minutes later, he stands up all of a sudden. I lifted the blanket to see what he was doing and then he barfed. On me, on the bed. Ewww! I know he couldn't help it and he looked so sheepish. Poor little guy. But that then meant stripping the bed, scrubbing the mattress, rinsing the sheets in the tub & throwing them in the laundry, scrubbing the tub, re-making the bed. With my pounding headache and sore back, I was at the end of my rope.
I'm going to bed now and hope that tomorrow is a more pleasant day. I have to work both jobs so it will make for a long day, but Friday is the start of Cuvee. I have our touring passports, I'm off for 4 days and am ready to just relax, do some wine tasting and spend some much needed time with J.