The Architecture of Happiness

Have you ever noticed how food-related names like Concord-Grape, Sage, Bisque and Truffle make paint samples and home-renovation aisles seem like veritable farmer’s markets of color choice? We associate colors with the foods we enjoy, and are often drawn to those colors to cheer our living spaces.

I recently enjoyed a stroll through Corner Brook’s colorful Townsite District and remarked that meals, like houses, are also improved by brilliant and varied colors. A varied palette makes a meal more enticing and usually makes it healthier (unless your meal is Froot-Loops and Gummy Bears), just as a bright paint-job can improve one’s habitat and one’s outlook on otherwise drab days.

I also recently came across this recipe for a delicious paella that, I can’t help but notice, is similar in color and variation to many Townsite homes. I couldn’t help but associate the recipe’s ingredient list with Townsite’s brilliant palette.

Take this house on North Street, I call it Chorizo Fuchsia:

And this house on Armstrong Street? Saffron, naturally:

And nutty-brown Basmati rice recalls Townsite’s earth-toned homes:

While Organic Vegetable Broth makes a surprise appearance on Reid:

(Will we see Broth on paint samples anytime soon? Perhaps not, but its intensity translates well into a unique house color.)

The paella’s shrimp also have the same teal and deep blue tones that you’ll find on houses dotting Central Street:

And what better way to add drama than with garnishes of lemon and parsley?:

Just as the Paella’s singular ingredients build a harmonious dish, so too do the saturated colors of Townsite create a harmonious neighborhood.

And if this dish doesn’t have you reaching for the castanets and breaking into flamenco it will certainly have you contemplating spring renos and a trip to the paint-aisle.


An Ale For What Ails You

It seems like wherever I look university and college students are sipping hot soup and tea between bouts of studying for finals, while folks at the grocery store stock up on Vitamin C and Buckley’s cough medicine. As warmer weather crawls its way toward Corner Brook, cold-and-flu season hangs on for dear life.

So when I recently discovered this recipe for homemade ginger-ale, I knew it was just what the doctor ordered to get rid of winter’s remaining ails.

Simply chop one cup of fresh, peeled ginger. Add the ginger to a medium saucepan along with one cup of filtered water. Add 3/4-1 cup organic cane sugar.

Add 2 teaspoons of ground ginger for zip.

And simmer over medium-low heat for 1/2 an hour.

Strain and discard solids. Add two or more tablespoons of the ginger-syrup to a tall glass and top with sparkling water.

And with a couple of soda-crackers, a warm blanket, and your favorite flick, you’ll be ready to conquer the world, and Corner Brook’s sunny weather, in no time.


Part of This Complete Breakfast

Most Corner Brookers thought yesterday’s weather forecast was a cruel April Fool’s joke: 10 cm of snow after a gorgeous spring day? Say it aint so.

Sadly, it is so. But here at Chez Moi the forecast calls for french-press coffee…

…and a morning’s worth of my favorite magazines courtesy of my favorite Corner Brook establishment, the Corner Brook Public Library:

That’s right, the Corner Brook Public Library circulates its entire magazine collection, which means you get to take them home. For free. For three weeks.

The library’s selection of books, movies, and magazines is surprising, and includes a large “Newfoundland” section and a staggering variety of cookbooks:

The library also provides the best customer service in town. If the library doesn’t have the book you’re looking for, a librarian will order it from another library (which usually only takes a week to get in). And, if the book isn’t available elsewhere, a librarian will go to great lengths to order a brand new copy just for you.

If, like me, you’re keen to read the latest magazines as soon as possible, a librarian will even call you when your magazine comes in, and reserve it for you at the front desk.

Which means, on a snowy Saturday like today, you can learn how to prep for a 10K, plan a Greek-style Easter Dinner, discover Chile’s top wine picks, and learn about Jerusalem’s contemporary architecture. It’s all part of a complete, Saturday morning breakfast.


Cause for Celebration

In Corner Brook sunshine is cause for celebration. Every so often, after days of rain, snow and grey, the city is transformed.

Sunshine streams through café windows:

Sunshine at Brewed Awakening

It lights up houses and hills:

Blue Skies

And it melts snow:

Picnic Season Slowly Approaches

To celebrate this unusual but equally welcome sunshine I made a dish with its own sunny disposition:

Color Me Happy: Roasted Beets and Citrus with Feta

After all, a sunny day pairs perfectly with a transition salad filled with generous helpings of citrus, baby spinach, feta, and these:

Can't Beat a Beet

Beets! I trimmed about 8 of them and tossed them in olive oil. Then I wrapped each one in tinfoil and roasted them in the oven for about an hour:

Then I unwrapped, peeled, and chopped them:

Roasty-Toasty

And grated the zest from two grapefruits and two tangerines:

Still Life with Citrus

I added the zest to a bowl and whisked together 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/3 cup olive oil.

Then I segmented and tossed the fruit in a bowl and added a generous bunch of baby spinach. I chopped the beets, crumbled some feta, and drizzled the dressing over the lot. The result?

Ta-da!

Sunshine on my plate!


Stormy Weather Spice Rack – Part Two

It’s a shame that fast food in Corner Brook typically means a stop at McDonald’s or KFC. Thanks to globalization, you’ll likely find these joints in India, but you’ll also find Dhaba’s — roadside stands that sell economical (and equally tasty) curry dishes.

It’s also a shame that Corner Brook has no Indian restaurants — especially on cold, wintery days when you long to be lured out of the grey, mucky streets, and into a saffron-and-cinnamon colored dining room, and tuck into a comforting curry or  succulent Shahi Paneer.

Indian Spices at Chez Moi

One can, however, create Indian colors and cuisine in the comfort of one’s own home. And, (almost) as fast as you can say Colonel-Sanders’, you can have a lovely Dhaba chicken curry — one of many types of curries you’ll find in India’s Punjabi region.

 

What’s more, this recipe uses many of the spices as the Stormy Weather Chai, which can make India seem like it’s just down the way, and that your kitchen is the new Taj Mahal.

The palette of spices in this recipe will cheer you instantly.

Begin with:

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

A Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground cardamom

2 teaspoons turmeric (add more if you like an intense curry flavor, add only 1/4 teaspoon if you’re feeling cautious)

Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a dutch oven or deep skillet. Add the spices and cook until they fill your kitchen with a lovely fragrance (about 1 minute or so).

Next, add two large or three medium, diced onions, 2 cloves of garlic (also diced), and some chopped, fresh ginger (select a root that is about 1/2 an inch to 1 inch long).

Use two large onions, or three medium-sized onions

Add Diced Onions, Garlic, and Ginger -- Simmer for 5 Minutes

Cook the onion/spice mixture for about 6 minutes over medium heat. You want the onions to be brown, but not caramelized at this point. Add about one cup of tomato sauce and stir to incorporate. Once the tomato sauce is heated through, taste and correct the seasoning to your liking.

Stir in four boneless, skinless, chopped chicken breasts until they’re nicely coated, then add a cup of water, cover and bring to a boil. Return the mix to a simmer and let it stew for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Dhaba curry, served over Basmati rice

Top the curry with a dash of Garam Masala, and serve over Basmati rice  or serve with naan or pita. (You can find both Garam Masala and Basmati rice –not to mention all the other spices in this recipe — at More for Less in Corner Brook.)

And, just like that, you’ve created your own affordable, aromatic, Indian fast food.


Stormy Weather Spice Rack – Part One

One key to eating and living well in Corner Brook is to keep a well stocked spice rack. You never know when you’ll wake up to this:

Frosty Prospect

Saturday’s endless ice and rain, howling winds and blowing snow was enough for a self-declared snow-day — the perfect excuse to channel warmer climates indoors. The morning began by opening a bag of recently selected spices from Corner Brook’s delightful bulk store/café, More for Less:

 

More Spice -- Less Freezing

Together, ginger, cinnamon, black and white pepper, cloves, and cardamom pods will lift your spirits instantly, transporting you from the doldrums of winter to the spice markets of India.

And when you add these lovely charms…

 

Star Anise - the spice rack's beauty queen

…and 6 cups of water…

 

Spices + Water = Magic

…you’re well on your way to a magical Chai Latte.

Boil the spices for 10 minutes (if you haven’t died and gone to heaven from the tea’s sensational aroma), then add 6 bags of high-quality black (Darjeeling) tea…

 

Almost Tea-Time

…and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bags and add a 1/2 cup of honey or cane sugar. Stir, taste, and correct the spices according to your own preference, then simmer the brew for 5 minutes.

While the tea is hot, strain and fill half a mug with the tea. Top the mug with warm milk or soy, and presto:

Fresh Chai-Latte

Your own delicious cup of Chai (and none of the risks of stepping outside to the coffee shop — or to India).

What’s even better?

Canned India

The tea (along with its spices, but not the milk) stores well in the fridge for about a week. So, if the week’s forecast is (as is common in Corner Brook) uncertain, you have no excuse not to live well indoors. At least until the sun comes out again.