Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Sign

The box of art supplies that I neither need nor have room for arrived today.  I squealed with delight when I opened it this morning.  The brushes reminded me that this was a product of some late night paintbrush shopping.  Just buying the brushes was going to cost me shipping, so I found a whole lot of other stuff to receive free shipping.
That logic is a tell-tale sign that I've got vacation brain and maybe a little too much time on my hands.  I love break so much, but if it lasted much longer I'd be broke. Kids start back to school in 12 days - sad for me, but good for my pocketbook.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Salad...On the Grill!

For a few years I've seen grilled vegetable salad recipes on both online recipe sites as well as in magazines.  Saving them often, but never venturing out and actually making one.  Slicing and grilling the veggies before chopping them up into a salad just sounded like too many steps for my taste, especially for a salad. Then just last weekend, I went to the farmer's market.  I hadn't been in a couple of weeks, and my eyes were bigger than my stomach.  I bought SO MANY fruits and vegetables.  When they were pulled out of the bags and set on the counter, an overwhelming feeling came over me.  How was I going get through all of it before it went bad?  That's when I decided to try making a salad on the grill!
All the veggies I wanted to use were prepared for the grill by slicing the zucchini and tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices, shucking the corn, and cutting the romaine in half lengthwise.  Two boneless chicken breasts were also seasoned with salt and a lot of garlic pepper.  While the grill heated up, I combined olive oil, garlic, basil, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to make a baste for the veggies.   The olive oil mixture was spooned on the veggies and chicken and then brushed all over using a silicone brush.  It was important not to contaminate the liquid because what was left became the salad dressing.
After grilling the chicken and setting it aside, the veggies were set on the grill.  The slices were cooked on both sides until tender.  When the corn started to char, it was rolled to the next section until  the char was all the way around.  
Once those vegetables were done, the lettuce was placed on the grill - about 2 minutes each side - just long enough for some color.
All the grilled goodness!!!  
(The sun had gone down by this point so the remaining pictures don't make it look as light and fresh as it tasted.)
I chopped the lettuce into small pieces and set it in the serving bowl.  Then everything else was sliced or chopped and added to the lettuce.  
A bit more olive oil and the juice from the lemon were whisked into the left over mixture and tossed in the salad.  I had some gorgonzola crumbles in the fridge and added those as well.  It was a great addition.
Oh my goodness!  This was such an amazing salad - fresh and light.  I was a little worried about the texture of the grilled lettuce, but it was surprisingly good.  It still had some of the lettuce crunch, but blended really nicely with the softness of the other veggies.  Served warm, it was delicious,  but it also tasted really good as a cold salad having made enough for a few days of leftovers.  After my next farmer's market trip, I'm making this again!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Strange Delivery

Print magazine readership has declined over the years due to digital capability allowing for instant access to articles across multiple platforms.  In fact, so many of the articles that are found in magazines eventually find their way to the internet, whether you've paid for a subscription or not.  And even if particular publishers don't share their content online without a subscription, the sheer volume of content that can be found can make print magazine subscriptions a waste of money.   The thing is, I like magazines.  I like holding them in my hands.  Tearing out an article you want to read later, a recipe you want to remember, or a unique picture just can't be done on electronically.  I resisted letting subscriptions lapse for a while, but have finally given up most of them.  There just isn't time in the day.  There is one that I haven't given up yet...Vanity Fair.
Several years ago I went to a Vanity Fair photography exhibit at the LACMA.  The caliber of work that this magazine produces is incredible.  I've been a subscriber since.  While I am able to access the magazine through their app on my iPad, it's far more impressive in its print form.   So, I continue to receive it each month.  
Last week the newest addition arrived.  Oddly, when I opened the front door to take the dog for a walk, it was sitting on the doorstep.  I had assumed it was delivered to a neighbor's mailbox by mistake, and they dropped on my doormat.  I threw it inside the house and headed out.  Not too much thought went into it again until a day or so later when I was cleaning up.  As I removed it from its plastic wrapping, the following letter was included.
Hand delivery?  Have they really hired people to hand deliver it to my doorstep?  Is that cheaper than mailing it through the postal service?  The funny thing though is that it's not saving me any time.  I still have to go to the mailbox and get my other mail, so really, it's a strange service.  Maybe it's giving someone a job who otherwise didn't have one? 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Afternoon Tea

One of the most impressive buildings in Victoria (along with the Parliament Building) is The Empress.  This hotel was built and 1908.  It's a must to visit The Empress for Afternoon Tea when coming to Victoria.  So that's what we did...
 A view of the hotel from the Parliament Building 
 The grounds of The Empress are simply stunning.  There are flowers everywhere.  Bushes after bushes of hydrangeas are a sight to see.
We arrived a few minutes before our 4:00 tea time, but were seated right away.
Hand cut glass dome
The Queen Mary portrait has been on the wall at the Empress since 1908.
 Fresh blueberries were served to start.
 Hot tea was entirely inappropriate after spending the day at Butchart Gardens in the extremely rare 90 degree heat, so we drank a bucket of ice water as well.
 Those scones were to die for!
 The tea sweets were just darling.  However, after the scones and the chocolate treat, we were too full to eat the rest.  The waiter packaged them up for us.  Unfortunately, a few hours later they all fell into themselves and ended up getting tossed.  They were sure pretty though.
 Tea at The Empress was a nice experience.  I would say it is definitely a must do, at least once.
And this concludes the Summer Vacation 2015 posts!  ;)

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Happiest Place on Earth

About a half an hour from Victoria is The Butchart Gardens.  The story of the gardens can be found here.  The amazing thing about this place was that it started out as a family home garden.  And now, over 100 years later, it is an incredible amusement park of flowers.  I probably took 300 pictures at this place (thank goodness for digital) because every direction I looked was gorgeous.  
The Butchart's home has been turned into a restaurant and outdoor patio area.  
 The begonias were mind blowing!
 When the limestone quarry next to the house was exhausted, it was turned into what is now the Sunken Garden.
The Butchart Gardens was hands down the best part of this trip - a breathtaking place.