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.


Found It!

Although it’s not 100% Guava, I found the perfect juice for my Newfie cocktail:

It’s organic, it’s fair trade, it’s tropical. But what’s the best part about it?  Combined with lime, it makes the drink bear a slight resemblance to the unofficial flag of Newfoundland, the Newfoundland Tricolor:

And while my delightful little cocktail is still not the official drink for a screeching-in ceremony, it is my unofficial cocktail for spring and sunny days in Corner Brook:


Wine on Wednesday

Some people are text messaging fiends, others prefer email. Some people can’t make it through a day without updating their Facebook status, while others Tweet to their heart’s content. I wait for the postal worker’s footsteps on my stairs, and the clang and crash of the mailbox opening and shutting again.

Because sometimes, if I wish hard enough, the mailbox fills with surprises. Like this:

Mail makes (nearly) any wish and whim possible, and has the added bonus of keeping you in a state of constant anticipation.

It’s almost like being next in line. Or waiting for me to get to my point.

So, thanks to mail, I can now jot down the successes and failures of my culinary adventures and keep my favorite recipes organized in one compact package instead of on random post-it notes or scrawled illegibly on the backs of receipts.

I inaugurated my recipe journal with an entry in its wine section. I’ve wanted to try Oregon wines for some time now, but they have generally been out of my budget.

So when this tantalizing Pinot Gris recently went on sale, I wanted to savor every sip and record my first impressions of this new and flourishing wine country.

As my recipe journal reminds me, this 2007 Walnut City Wineworks Pinot Gris has a light lemon and rose bouquet, contrasted by a crisp, aged cheddar-like bite, and dry fruity finish.

I also noted that the wine was light, almost lemon-lime instead of the straw-colored varieties I expect from American Pinot Gris. And although I enjoyed the wine with a delicious vegetable Frittata, my notes remind me to pair it with a salmon dish next time, or bring it along to a friend’s house for a laid-back evening of chats and snacks.

And when I do, I’ll have a place to record those pairings too.


Just Give In

Remember when I raved about my favorite post-run snack? Well, I can’t lie folks, sometimes I feel the need to step out of my date-energy-bar routine and embrace a bit of decadence. Sometimes I just have to indulge.

Down the hall, only a few paces from the YMCA, the Thistledown Café makes indulgence all too easy with what is arguably the best cookie in Corner Brook. A crisp, buttery, shortbread cookie topped with zingy, real-lemon glaze? Oh go on, just give in!


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.


Fuel for Fun

With endless trails, hills, and scenery, Corner Brook is an ideal place for athletes to play, train, and race (triathlon anyone?).

Image Courtesy of Positively Digital via Flickr.com

An athlete (and triathlete) I am not, but I do enjoy running in Corner Brook. In summer and autumn, the Corner Brook Stream Trail makes an invigorating trail run. Riverside Drive is equally suited for longer distances (watch the traffic), and the city’s endless hills are perfect for torturing yourself a refreshing challenge.

Corner Brook Stream Trail Glynmill Inn Entrance

And, when the weather turns adverse, there are always plenty of vacant “dreadmills” at the local YMCA and Pepsi Centre, as well as cross-training options at Blow Me Down Trails and Marble Mountain.

Image Courtesy of Tom Cochrane at cornerbrooker.com

Corner Brook’s rugged terrain and intense hills call for the right fuel for the long haul. Something like this:

Date and Nut Bonbons

I call these little energy boosters, Good-Good Bon-Bons, and I often enjoy one or two as a delicious (and healthy) post-run snack. And, like most athletes (and those of you who are living a marathon-like schedule), I also enjoy how easy these snacks are to make:

Simply grind 2 cups of pistachio nuts in a food processor (or place them in a resealable bag as I did — due to lack of food processor — and smash them up with a kitchen mallet) and set them aside on a plate.

Pistachios Before the Punch

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 500 grams chopped, pitted dates,  1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of this…

Orange Blossom Water

…which you can find here. Add a tablespoon of grated orange peel, and cook over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a conglomerated paste.

Remove from heat and add 1- 1 1/2 cups of ground almonds and 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts. Stir until the mixture combines (it will be really thick) and loses some of its stickiness. Form the date mixture into 1 inch balls and roll in ground pistachio nuts. Set the balls on parchment paper and refrigerate for one hour to let the flavors meld.

Good-Good Bon-Bons

These bonbons can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks. They’re small and completely transportable, so you can easily keep two on hand in your duffel bag and refuel after your workout, or keep them at the ready as a post-hill reward. Your body, and taste buds, will thank you.

(Recipe generously adapted from Food and Wine.)


Wine on Wednesday

My (Top-Secret) House Wine

I don’t want to tell you about this Wednesday’s wine. Why? Because I’m afraid that the next time I venture to pick up a bottle, the shelf will be empty because you will have actually listened to me when I tell you to pick up a case.

So, I’d rather not tell you to pick up a case of The Wolftrap:

I’d rather not tell you that you’ll find The Wolftrap with the other South African wines at your local wine store, that it’s only $15, and that it’s produced by Boekenhoutskloof wineries where wolves are heard howling and gnashing their teeth at night, but are never actually seen.

I don’t want to admit to you that this blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Viognier, like last week’s blend, is perfectly drinkable for newbies and wine lovers alike.

So don’t go out and buy a case, because you won’t enjoy the wine’s rich raspberry color, its hints of chocolate and cherry, and its almost smoky finish. You won’t enjoy how perfectly the wine pairs with almost any dish you can imagine…including BBQ chicken pizza. You won’t even enjoy it on its own.

Okay, you will. You will love this wine and, like me, you will want to make it your own house wine, your go-to choice and your fall-back option. So you should go out and buy a case…as long as you invite me over for a glass.