Holiday Traditions – Tourtière

I don’t know how I amassed so many friends from Quebec – or at least, of Quebec Heritage, but suffice it to say, that there were no shortage of opinions when I asked, “Who has a great Tourtière recipe?”

Of course as any great Canadian knows, most recipes in the “Best of Bridge” (http://www.bestofbridge.com/tourtiere-with-mushroom-sauce/“) series are well worth trying and I was greeted with the following answer to my question (it follows), early last week.

Currently, however, I happen to be visiting the Southern United States where the Italian Heritage (along with all others) is mixed into every savoury mouthful, so I decided to combine a few ideas.

First, at the butcher, there is an abundance of Italian Sausage, some hot, some sweet, some in casings, some not. So for the meat, I decided to use half sweet Italian Sausage (bulk – uncased) with regular ground chuck. This was a good call. The flavour, without any of the spices added, was stellar!

I had been eyeing up the ground Coriander all day, and wondering about the flavour mixed into the meat mixture, so I scooped a little piece of it out of the pan, and shook on a good shake of it, then rolled it around in my palate. Bam, enhanced! From there, I continued to enhance; Cinnamon, Cayenne and Ginger (about a teaspoon of each – who measures!). I kept tasting and fine-tuning – don’t forget the salt, and a nice healthy dose of it too. Taste as you go.

Of course I added the Onions and Garlic and Parsley as directed and cheated by using a two pie crust – frozen. Make sure to cool your filling really well, as the moisture and heat of the filling will affect the pastry.

Leave one of the frozen crusts in the freezer. Take the second one, and with a sharp knife remove the crimped edge of it – allow to come up to room temperature, while the filling cools.

Into the frozen crust, add the filling. Flip the thawed crust, upside down on the filled pie crust and gently push the edges together. Slit the top of the crust 3 to 5 slits to allow the steam to escape. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, THEN decrease oven to 350.

Tourtière With Mushroom Sauce

Enough pastry for 3, 2-crust pies – I only made one thick pie!

  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground pork – 1 pound (Sweet Italian Sausage – uncased)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef – 1 pound (reg fat content)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion 375ml
  • 1 tsp. thyme 5ml (fresh – a few stocks denuded)
  • 1 tsp. sage 5ml (fresh – chopped finely)
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard 5ml (didn’t have, didn’t use)
  • 2 tsp. salt 10ml
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 125ml
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4)
  • pepper to taste (cayenne plus pepper)
  • 1 cup water 250ml
  • 1 cup bread crumbs 250ml

Mushroom Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp. butter 30ml
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms 750ml
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions 125ml
  • 2 Tbsp. butter 30ml
  • 2 tsp. flour 10ml
  • 1 cup beef broth 250ml
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine 125ml – I used Beaujolais Nouveau
  1. In frying pan, lightly brown meat. Drain off fat. Add onion and stir in seasonings. Add water, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until most of liquid is absorbed but mixture is still moist. Add bread crumbs. Let cool. Spoon mixture into pastry-lined 9? pie plates. Cover with top crusts, seal and flute edges. May be frozen at this point. Cut slashes on top to release steam. Bake 425 F for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350F and bake 30 minutes or until well browned. This recipe can also be made as an appetizer using tart shells.
  2. To Make Mushroom Sauce: Saute mushrooms and onions in butter for 10 minutes. Remove to plate. Melt butter and blend flour and a few tablespoons of beef broth into pan juices. Stir in remaining beef broth and wine. Bring to a boil until mixture thickens. Add mushrooms and onions back into sauce. Serve warm with tourtiere.
  3. For a change and less work you can serve with cranberry sauce on the side and a dollop of sour cream.

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Rekindling the Romance

I guess that you can say that I took a wee bit of a hiatus from writing. Heh, one blog post per year, or thereabouts, does not really qualify as a blog, but alas, I can still remember my log-in and here I am again.

This past 5 or 6 years have been crazy. Just like the
sidebar of this blog reads: Love, Poetry, Cooking, Travel, Yoga, Cycling,
Running, the beautiful addition of a puppy to our lifestyle, and of course
never-ending reams of work.

For 2018, my one resolution was accomplished mid-year with becoming BCRPA certified (qualified to teach at British Columbia’s recreation facilities). It was a grueling exam (that I challenged) and I am very much looking forward to that new chapter whenever it should happen.

For 2019, I am hoping to write more, to cook more, and to cardio more. Once again, I bow down to all those around us, that prod us along and lift us up. It is truly the meaning of this existence.

I hope that you can come along for the ride in 2019….. xo

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Create YOU, Beautiful YOU 2018

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I just edited this Blog Post by changing the “2014” in the Title, to “2018” and as I revisited my writings of that year – 4 YEARS AGO – it became crystal clear that some of those thoughts, feelings and ambitions from that time are still circulating through me like the Millennial Falcon with limited shielding ability; bouncing off walls, coming back to an easy soar, flying in and out of space with bumps and bruises and lots of warped aluminum left in the wake (Star Wars – The Last Jedi was GREAT by the way).

As in the past year-ending posts that culminated with that 2014 post, I will once again build this one around a common theme – Posts that have emphasized transitions, growth, and adventure. Narratives that have attempted to shine a special light on all the beauty within all of those people that have interwoven their magic throughout this journey that we call life. They have been the people who have led me, who have carried me, and who reside within me in a very deep and profound way. This last post of the year is for you. Queue all the amazing friends (and new friends) of 2018.

So what has gone on in 4 years? Way too much to dictate, let alone, type out in slow and methodical fashion! Suffice it to say that it has been some ride with one very huge undercurrent of a theme; the more that my heart has opened and let people in, the more that it has grown and the more that strangers and friends alike have reached out to me. Kindness has beget kindness. Gratefulness has eased its way into contentment. Love has encircled me, fully and completely. A type of love that I have never known, replete with mutual adoration and genuine thoughtfulness thrown into every minute of every day. Giving thanks is a trite understatement yet I will curtsy down to the amazing universe none-the-less.

Five years ago, I quoted one of my favourite Liz Gilbert’s quotes:
We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.

I have realized this Gold. I do not have to go much further than my front door on any given day (although I love the opposite of that too!). Oh sure, we all have our moments, but my ability to “Let-go” of nonsense/words/things/rhetoric is at an all-time high, and consequently only the light shines through. I sleep. I am at peace. I thrive. Yet still I am diligent in this work-in-progress. Still, I get excited.

As I began reading this year’s Xmas book, The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*CK (Mark Manson), page 11 sort of resonated with me:
“Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering IS a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle IS a struggle. The denial of failure IS a failure. Hiding what is shameful IS a form of shame.”
Skip to the moral – stop giving a F*CK and just BE. Run with it like you stole it. Get on that bike and ride! To quote another favourite character, Hagrid, from Harry Potter: “What’s coming will come and we will meet it when it does.” Stop worrying and get out there and live!

My Yoga Teaching is coming in to its 6th year now! Wow. I have realized that this is a part of me now and want to ramp it up, and pay-it-forward more than ever. New adventures are waiting for me in 2018 – it is time to focus and grow baby. An exciting time for sure.

Along those same lines, my Yoga practice has continued to be a huge source of inspiration on so many levels (today is Day 50 of #yogaeverydamnday!), reminding me to find my big deep beautiful breath, and breathe into each and every moment, however uncomfortable some may be. They will pass. Time will heal. Breath will flow. It always has. For this I am grateful. Every morning, I look out my window and give thanks for all those people that have flowed through my life – some lessons, some laughter, many breaths; some quick and shallow, others deep and lasting. Some make my heart sing, others make it twinge – both made me who I am, along with the joy and the suffering. They are a part of me and the experiences are IN me – they do not define me.

Life simply doesn’t happen all around you, YOU happen to it. You choose, you want, you engage, you plan, you implement, and when things work out, you celebrate. When things don’t work out, you stress. This is how life works. YOU are the common denominator to ALL the good and ALL the bad in your life. That is not saying that sometimes really, really bad things occur to which we can assign no blame whatsoever, it is just saying that YOU control the majority of your own destiny! Today is New Years Eve 2017, and my thought that goes out to each and every one of you – old and new acquaintances alike is, “Make 2018 the year that you want it to be.” Get in touch with yourself, your needs, your desires, your creativity, your moxie, your determination and create your very own year for you!

It is about the journey, and riding the waves as they coast up and down beneath us. I hope to do the same in 2018 – hopefully cutting myself some slack, and learning from some of my mistakes and being kind and gentle to those around me (and myself), because everyone is fighting a big battle of some kind. BE THE CHANGE. Each and every single day, change one little thing, and be genuinely surprised when at the end of the year that you are so much closer to being the person that you actually want to be, and there is nothing more sexy or more appealing than watching someone who has that inner swagger going-on! That is beautiful! Namaste. Peace to all with as much love, light and laughter as I can muster. Create YOU, beautiful you!

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License to Fly…

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Recently, on a business trip, as I was driving a portion of my team back to the hotel after a long day of meetings, one of my colleagues began to recite a beautiful poem by John Gillepsie Magee Jr. Gillespie was an aviator in the second world war and a fellow Canadian and sadly never made it home to see his famous poem fly:

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
~~~

He completed it with perfect clarity and cadence and the rest of us within the confines of the little Rav4 took a deep breath in and felt nothing less than humbled. Like somehow, this piece of literature, so different from the code that we had stared at all week, had made our steps lighter, our hearts more inspired. This is the power of the arts and why they are such a powerful force – and why they need to be nurtured and nourished in every child and adult alike. They are transforming. Creativity offers both inspiration and insight and is a founding tenet of a life well-lived!

I was so inspired by this recital, that I had to respond with my own poetic license:

Convergence
When I rehearse that poem
The one that poured out of your soul as though you had just put pen to paper
magic to page
memorized for every accent, every sonata, depicted so carelessly, breathlessly
weaving folklore onto the page
Of rockets ships and air travels and dreams and the like, and all those things that soar together
And I remembered a time when that passion cursed through me like a fire-laden spear of things-to-come
And I thought, please, remember these words, these lyrics, these notes that pass from us, one to another
at times, as though no-one else was listening, yet, at the same time, as though, all the world held their ears to the walls.
Inspecting each syllable for what it was.
Magic on lips. Sharing the peace of the earth, humanity toward each other. Humanity toward these words that we so often take for granted.
These words that were meant to be shared, if only for the breaking of the bread, the substance lost in each other’s interpretation.
Each bite something to savor without anything ever being ingested. Absorbed.
Ah yes, the roads converging.And that too, has made the difference. ~ KO
~~~

I borrowed on a Robert Frost theme from The Road Not Taken.
While going one’s own way is important, the converging ideas of the collective work – the team, the group, the tribe, the circle, the family – is every bit as important as being your own horse and marching to your own drummer. It’s the Yin and Yang… the community, the love, that is the essence of it all.

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Onward to Yellowstone

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The prospect of an impending road trip brought both trepidation and excitement. The trepidation came with the thought of how difficult life on the road was, whilst putting in 6 to 12 hours of straight driving per day. On the mind, on the body, and particularly on the hips and back. If sitting is the new smoking, we had our case of smokes in hand and the windows rolled up for the duration! It only took 4 hours on the first day before the seized hips reminded me of the last big trip that we had shared together….Coast to Coast. Yoga had to be in my pocket and taken out regularly if the body was to survive this onslaught.

The excitement that was rolling up, like a building wave, not sure of the undertow but wanting to ride it hard, looking at the magical fall scenery which we somehow found ourselves amid. Like centre pieces on the Thanksgiving table, marvelling at the colours. Thankful for the setting of the table and not even really concerned about the nourishment to come….for ANY would be welcomed and savoured.

The scenery did not disappoint. The stretch of highway on Hwy 20 between Sedro-Wooley and Winthrop, Washington was amazing. Alive with oranges and yellows, interspersed by the blues and greens of the Methow River.

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Winthrop provided a much needed rest stop a la Wild West, complete with some Billiards at 3 Fingered Jack’s Saloon and a great overnight at the Rio Vista Hotel.
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The following morning, and ready for some grub, we ventured into the Rocking Horse Bakery where a fabulous long Espresso was served with a smile and a story.
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The Barista had just finished a 4 month trip on the Pacific Crest Trail (http://www.pcta.org/). I immediately became engaged and listened attentively as she told her story of a solo journey, from Winthrop’s Trail Head of the PCT, up North, during the Spring/Summer, emerging just West of Manning Park lodge. My jaw dropped as she told me about the 9 pounds, that was her pack. In disbelief, I asked, ‘with a tent and a sleeping bag too?’ She nodded. ‘What about a stove?’ I retorted, thinking that a small burner alone would be a pound or two. ‘Oh, I didn’t cook. Everything I ate was cold.’

Of course, we touched on one of my favourite all time books, albeit more for the emotional components than for the PCT hike itself, Wild. She rolled her eyes a bit, and told me what many had before, that for adventure travellers, it was somewhat lame (her recommendation instead: Carrot Quinn’s Blog). That’s okay. Onward.

Onward we were, toward Missoula, Montana. The West. The Wild Wild West. Destination, about 7 hours away. The scenery did not deteriorate as we wove our way through Hwy 97 and 174, alongside the Columbia River and the GREAT Grand Coulee Dam (wiki: Grand Coulee Dam).
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A quick lunch in Spokane, Washington, before continuing along Southeasterly, through little wild west town, after little wild west town. We mused about the lack of population with every bend of the road, enveloped by foothills on each side, and mesmerized by the foliage, ripe in its autumn hues.

We rounded one of those last bends around sunset; seemingly when most of our driving days thus far, ceased, thankfully. And there she was, Missoula, Montana. A little nugget of a University Town (University of Montana), with cyclists everywhere and friendly smiles and boots, too. Elevation – 3200 feet, so not too much of a foothill either.
miss

The next morning, coffee in hand, we walked the little one horse town that was, before giving way to its Walmart urban sprawl and again, marvelled at the folks that had to settle it, coming through the mountains and no doubt finding a nice flat patch next to the Clark Fork River which still flows through the heart of downtown.
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Onward to Yellowstone and more desolated highways weaving through tiny one-horse town’s, usually with one gas station full of year old merchandise which few people stopped at, let alone, buy.
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As the highway lowered and raised throughout the mountainous terrain, we zigzagged past various heights of Continental Divide signs three or four times. Of course, this led to research, when our cell signal was strong enough to find the Wiki (Continental Divide of the Americas). On the East side of the divide, the rivers drain into the Atlantic and on the West side, the rivers empty into the Pacific. One of many interesting pieces of learning activities upon our drive.

We listened to many, many podcasts – CBC ( (CBC Podcasts): Power and Politics, Powerplay, the Debaters, As it Happens, and The House), NPR (NPR Podcasts): Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, This American Life, Science Friday), and of course, Dan Savage, which had a great opening section on his last Tuesday’s edition asking Canada to do the right thing and kick Harper to the curb.
As we entered the West Entrance of Yellowstone Park, at noon on Saturday, we knew that this particular day would need a blog to itself. Until then, be curious and enjoy the ride! Namaste.

FullSizeRender copyBoots courtesy of Missoula, Montana…. #lovinThem

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Tour de White Rock Crit 2015

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Tour de White Rock Crit 2015

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Birthday Month 5.0

I just awesomedWhat a great way to CELEBRATE the year….and the 50 Years! Whoa! Crazzzzy baby! 🙂 A big thank you to all of those beautiful peeps in my life that make it all so worthwhile. LOVE to all! xoxo

Peace Out! #LuckyGirl

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Challenge Lost (Biking 101)

Yay!

We had a little bet going. I lost …. but …. still accomplished the task in less than 6 minutes. Does that count? Does it?

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The Message, the Messenger, and the Medium

writing struggle

As any of my dear friends will be quick to point out to you, I am a bit of a social media junkie. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook; You name it, at the small end, I have played with it, at the extreme end, I have posted on it a lot.

I gave up cable TV (and moreover, news in all of its forms) almost 2 years ago, and haven’t missed it for a second. I pride myself on making time to read 5 to 10 articles a day, ranging from Healthcare reforms in the U.S.(salon.com) to Yogic breathing (mindbodygreen.com) to How Best Friends are Formed and Maintained (PsychologyToday.com). I love knowledge and education. It is my passion. I have had it course through my veins since I did my very first research project in Grade 2. At that time, Jane Goodall became my idol. Her philosophy on education and life would find a cornerstone in my soul to which I would cling as the rest of the world shrugged in indifference.

This was a passion:  to learn, to grow, to understand the world better, to understand myself better and what made me tick inside the massive cuckoo clock that was our universe.

When Facebook appeared in my life in 2007, the vehicle with which to disseminate this knowledge had shown up, as though Kit from Knight Rider had pulled up to the curb and asked me to jump in. How could I say no? The fucking car was talking to me!

With such a vast dissemination of knowledge comes such great responsibility yet seemingly there was a rule book missing. The World Wide Web had opened us all to a previously undisclosed galaxy (or was it a black hole?) and no one could find a ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’.

Questions popped into our collective consciousness with answers as differing as each of those streams: How often were we allowed to post on this contraption? How often were we allowed to hit the ‘Like’ button? When should we comment? When should we ignore? Did our grammatical use of language alter or falter or change from the way in which we would submit an Descriptive Essay in first year English at University? Were the rules of engagements different? Was the bar set higher, lower, or somewhere in between? Where did our Canadian politeness and etiquette fit into the picture?

That is the thing: There are no rules. The same person that dropped out of school in grade 9 is on equal footing as the one that graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard. If you are friends, you are friends. Facebook doesn’t discriminate. Everyone can post, comment or like in the same fashion. Equanimity in action. A new society was formed free of the unacknowledged cast system of years gone by.

As in any Utopian society, Facebook is good in theory but that is where the Facebook context ends and the personal bias’ engage:  Do I, as a user, discriminate against posts based on the other person’s frequent posts, poor spelling, poor grammar? AND that is not even talking about the content?

What if the content is excellent? Do we as a society punish those that are over-zealous, over-enthusiastic, poor spellers, ‘shouters’ (caps)? I think that we do. I think that we somehow think that we can control the behaviour of others by giving feedback in a particular manner, or rather, withholding feedback. Maybe our innate bio-feedback loop that we have prided ourselves with – because after-all, our viewpoint on the world, is the right one, can and will actually control another person’s actions through the magic of the medium.

Here’s the thing. Passion is a hard thing to contain. Anyone who has ever been first party to those individual’s that have that passion in their soul emphatically understands to what degree the passionate person is capable. You know, the musician, the artist, the runner, the ones that never stop. The writer who barges through the 15 rejection letters in the hopes that just one of the articles submitted will stick and the unflailing optimism that works in perfect tandem with this passion.

Never ever, ever apologize for enthusiasm. Passion is woven into our soul with gold strands, and those that try to break you; those that become annoyed with your multiple posts, your poor spelling, your bad grammar, your use of CAPS to fully engage a HARDY point – NOT to yell but to remain PASSIONate. Do not let these people sway you. Carry on. Yeah, I know, it is just Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but in a world that encourages us all “To be the change that you want to see in the world”, maybe, just maybe, that is one of the only ways that we can change the world. Maybe if we just inspire or reach one person, then our 20 posts for the week will be worth it. Maybe. Maybe not. Keep Calm and Keep Posting in all of your imperfection. It is simply a reflection of the World Wide – with or without the Web.

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