Peacock

There was a little boy chasing a peacock in the petting zoo at the park on Sunday.
We were standing by a short fence watching the pygmy goats.  Castle was in his stroller as the peacock and the little boy came closer and closer.
Finally the peacock was cornered by the little boy and our stroller with nowhere to go.  The peacock hopped on the fence in an attempt to escape.
As he swung his butt around Castle got whacked in the head and received a face full of peacock tail.  He was a little dazed and confused about the whole ordeal.  As for the peacock, he landed on a pile of pygmy goats.  I wish I had it all on video.

Dreaming

I'm dreaming of going to Paris while our home packs itself in preparation for moving day.
Eat macarons in this salon, at Laduree.
The rain today is not helping.  We had big plans of going out for our daily walk, today was supposed to be gift hunting for Daddy's birthday.
Instead we are making chicken ice cubes, poached chicken with tarragon ice cubes.  

The Mountain

This is Yellow Mountain, or Huangshan, in eastern China.
 It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and where Chinese paintings and Chinese literature are inspired.
It is a major tourist attraction within China, yet most people outside of China have not heard of it.  The cable cars only take you so far, you have to do the rest of the walking on your own.
We trekked from the front of the mountain to the back of the mountain, and everywhere in between.  We carried Castle on our back, who was 7 months and 20 pounds at the time.  Other than one major poop leakage incident where all four layers were soaked through including the baby carrier and my back, it was all peachy.
We stayed on the mountain for three days, in a hotel, not roughing it at all.  It's actually quite incredible that there are hotels up on this mountain, since all the construction materials had to be carried up by porters.  They were all built pre-cable car.
 See the little person in the red jacket on the left corner, that's me with Castle on my back.
See the little person in the middle, that's Andrew with Castle on his back.  At the end of the three days we didn't want to leave.
It's such a magnificently magical place, we knew we were going to miss it.

HandySitt booster seat

We live in a small condo, and knowing that we will be downsizing even further we decided not to buy a highchair.  Opting for a booster seat, we searched high and low for something that was functional yet stylish.  We saw a toddler using the HandySitt at a restaurant before our kid came along and cataloged it in our minds.
We found one on Craigslist a few months ago, a very rare find, and quickly snatched it up at a fraction of the retail price.  It wasn't the colour we preferred but we took it home anyway.  Now that Castle can finally sit up on his own (he's a little behind due to being a preemie) we are ditching the Bumbo and moving on to the big boy Handisitt.  It's been working well, and we can use it on our Family Chairs.  Way to go baby on being a part of the family!

Dining Out: Yew

We went to Yew at the Four Seasons Hotel because we got a coupon for brunch - $30 gourmet 3-course brunch for two.
Complementary 'amuse bouche' mini donuts
It sounded too good to be true, and it was.
Crab fritters
First off we didn't know that our coupon wasn't in effect until next week, nor did the hostess who made our reservation.
Crispy Squid, fried capers and lemon slices
So instead of ordering from the limited $30 menu, which they didn't have yet, we got to pick from the entire menu.
Halibut, mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, basil puree
It was not your typical brunch, we did not have eggs.
Fried chicken, watermelon arugula salad
They give you way too much food.
Meringue with white chocolate covered green tea cheesecake lollipops, raspberry parfait with lemon creme and hazelnut crumble, pineapple compote creme brulee
Desserts even came in a trio of our choosing from 8 different items.
My favourite was the green tea cheesecake lollipop. 
Strawberry with white chocolate ganache and coconut meringues, raspberry parfait, coconut ravioli with strawberry consume.
Andrew really likes berry desserts so he ordered all of them.  His favourite was the coconut ravioli shot,   the ravioli bursted in his mouth and it was so weird.
We all had such a great time and Castle was an especially good boy during our 2 hour meal.  There was a mom with here two young daughters sitting at the table next to us.  We were intrigued because instead of taking them to McDs for burgers and fries, they were at the Four Seasons.  You don't get complimentary homemade strawberry marshmallows at McDs, let me tell you that!

Library Picks

This week we checked out:
Food Friends, An excellent book about fantastic food parings having a surprise party.
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, great interactive book, although Castle is not ready for the interactive part.
Noah's Bark, superb graphics and fun story.  I have to say I chose this book because of the graphics, it reminds me of Henri Rosseau, my favourite Post-Impressionist painter.

Dining Out: 131 Water

I have been craving fish and chips for two weeks now.  Every time I get hungry I think, ummm, fish and chips.  We did not intend on having fish and chips for dinner but we ended up having fish and chips because I couldn't stop talking about how much I wanted fish and chips.

While out for a walk in Gastown, one of the most touristy places in Vancouver, we tried to find a restaurant serving fish and chips that didn't cost $20.  At 131 Water Kitchen & Bar, the fish and chips is only $8.  It was like finding a needle in a haystack.
It's no Go Fish but it hit the spot.  The fries were so crunchy, I really felt like I was eating 'chips'.
Patio days are priceless.
We continued our Gastown walk after fish and chips, visiting all the furniture stores along Water St.
We'll have to take that green Eames rocker home an other day.

Peas and Words

Never having shucked real English peas, I got all excited when I brought a bag home.  Imagine that, eating fresh peas, not frozen, how Jamie Oliver of me.
Well they sucked.  First of all, it was not cheap, and all the shells weighted more than the peas.  After shucking, I only got this much:
This is from a big bag, not even enough for the three of us.  I wasn't going to put it in the microwave like I do with frozen peas, so I steamed them.  They did not taste half as good as the frozen stuff and were a bit dry.  I was not impressed.  These peas many have been picked a long time ago, therefore loosing it's flavour and moisture.  Now I know.

On another note, here are some words I learned today from dictionary.com that will not be used in the near or far future:

antediluvian
(adj.) very old, old-fashioned, or out of date: antiquated; primitive
What I think it should be:  a delusional colony of ants.

bromidic 
(adj.) pertaining or proper to a platitude; being a bromide; trite
What I think it should be:  retro-reflecting or post-modernistic refracting to a multitude; pretending to be a brotherly medic; sprite

concupiscent 
(adj.) eagerly desirous
What I think it should be:  a display of anti-cupid behaviour.

loquacious 
(adj.) characterized by excessive talk; wordy
What I think it should be:  most popular name in 2012 for babies born of African American decent in the Southern United States.

pecksniffian
(adj.) hypocritically and unctuously affecting benevolence or high moral principles
What I think it should be:  a guy who sniffs his pecks.

perspicacious 
(adj.) having keen mental perception and understanding; discerning
What I think it should be:  a person who is embarrassingly concerned about their excessive public display of perspiration.

pulchritudinous 
(adj.) physically beautiful; comely
What I think it should be:  physically pultruding; ugly.

Baby Food

I started out idealistic, you know, making my own baby food.  Off I went to Whole (Paycheck) Foods picking off organic this and organic that.  It only lasted two weeks.  I should have known, we don't eat organic ourselves, how difficult it would be to create an alternate lifestyle just for our baby.  Without regret, I turned to the jars, especially when we were traveling last month.  I'm realistic, and I refuse to let the world make me feel bad about this.  But not everything came in a jar, things that I can do easily or things that don't need come in a jar, such as banana, avocado, pear, broccoli... but pretty much most of everything he ate came from a jar.
We have now come to the point where our boy has tried everything that comes in a jar and is ready to move on to a more sophisticated meal plan.  So here I go again, back into the trenches churning out baby food.  In my search for ideas, inspiration, and just simply an answer to 'What the heck do I feed him??!' I found this book - The Baby's Table.  I went through many books and found that this one is the keeper.  It is simple, clear, full of recipes, and Canadian!  Best of all, it makes me want to cook for my boy.

The Villages

Some more photos from our recent trip.
 I didn't understand it either.
 But it didn't matter because this was what we had to look at.
 Castle was excellent napping on the go.  I was so thankful.
We found many bridges and yummy snacks in this village.

Boeuf Bourguignon

I have to confess, the reason I wanted a Le Creuset in the first place was so that I could make boeuf bourguignon.
We got a Le Creuset as a gift when we got married and after a year and a half I finally did it, I made boeuf bourguignon following every single step from Julia Child's recipe.  
It took way too long.  I have made plenty of beef stew but all the extra 'put it in the oven for 4 minutes, take it out and toss, and put it back in the oven for an other 4 minutes...' was way too much.
I will, however, adapt this one thing that I don't usually do with my beef stew - start the whole thing off on the right foot: BACON. 
  I have no photo of the end product because after 3 hours of cooking, I forgot and I was exhausted.  How anti-climatic for you, sorry.  As I was in the middle of cooking, I told Andrew this will be the first and last time I make this.  Unfortunately for us it was the tastiest beef stew we've ever had, he requested that I need to make it at least once a year.  If you want to give it a go, here's the recipe.


Boeuf Bourguignon
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Servings: Serves 6

Ingredients
  • 6 ounces bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs
Directions
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Went to the Store

They were on sale.  So we took them home.  The last set, might I add.
Here's three out of the four.

New Home

There are so many things we need to do to get to our new home, most of them are not so fun, such as banks mortgages paper work packing etc. which I won't talk about here.  But there are some fun things, such as shopping!  I'm shopping for new dining chairs.  How about these?
They are Family Chairs from Design House Stockholm.  Each one is a little different.

Telly

TV and babies don't mix, that's just my opinion.  So we never have it on when baby is in the room.  Never say never, right?  Boy does he love it when it's on!  Seen here, straining so very hard trying to get a glimpse of the hockey game.  What a goof.
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