Friday, August 28, 2015

Pure Bliss Travel | Country Mice @ the Capital


A couple of weekends ago, hubby and I drove to Canada's capital city, Ottawa. We've been coming here almost every year for the last 15 years specially during the Tulip Festival in spring and in January for the Winter Festival but rarely during the summer time. One thing is sure, Ottawa is alive, vibrant and hot in summer!


At the Westin Ottawa, we were luckily upgraded to the 19th floor overlooking the Parliament Hill, the historical Chateau Laurier, the Rideau Canal and part of the Ottawa River. Don"t get me wrong, I love waking up in our bedroom at home overlooking our neighbors' vast farmland but waking up to these great architectural structures once in awhile is a feast to the eyes.


For us two country mice, we can't think of a better way to end our weekend rendezvous in the Capital than the spectacular fireworks along the Ottawa river!





Thursday, August 27, 2015

From Harvest to Table | Seafood Tinola


If you are about to harvest peppers in your backyard, pick the PEPPER LEAVES as well!


Cooking with pepper leaves is not common here in Canada but in the Philippines, the leaves are as valuable as the pepper itself. The most popular dish with pepper leaves is a soup called "TINOLA". Like the adobo, every region is the Philippines has its own version of this comfort food.  


"Tinola" is basically a stew flavoured with onion, garlic, ginger, chicken and of course pepper leaves {lots and lots of it!} The mild and fresh peppery flavour of the green leaves is achieved by adding the leaves to the boiling broth at the end of the cooking process. As I am writing this post, I couldn't help but reminisce the aroma every time I open a steaming pot of "Tinola" .... ahhhh. ... the smell of mom's kitchen in my childhood home!


Since hubby and I are limiting {then hopefully totally eliminating} our meat intake, I used pasta clams and shrimps for my version of "Tinola'. Another twist is the addition of glass noodles, making it a one-pot-meal. 


Seafood Tinola

Ingredients
{good for 2-3 person}

1 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb size fresh ginger, julienned
10-15 pieces pasta clams, cleaned
10-15 pieces shrimps, peeled and deveined
2-3 cups water or seafood broth {depending how much liquid you prefer in your soup}
1 piece {37 grams} glass noodles [1 pack usually contains 8 pieces]
2 cups fresh pepper leaves
1 sweet banana pepper {optional}
salt and pepper

Procedure

Wash glass noodles in cold water then set aside
Heat oil in a large-sized soup pot
Saute onion and ginger
Once onion is translucent, add garlic and  saute for few more seconds
Add pasta clams and shrimps.
Stir and coat the clams and shrimps with the sauteed onion, garlic and ginger
Add 1/2 cup water or broth
Reduce heat to medium and cover the pot. Let it simmer.
Once pasta clams are open, add glass noodles and stir
Add sweet banana pepper and the remaining water or broth
Seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
Cover the pot and let the noddles cook well {about 2-3 minutes}
Add pepper leaves to the boiling broth
Stir well.
Put the lid back and turn off heat
Let it stand for another 3 minutes or until the leaves are wilted
Serve hot with crusty baguette.



Linking with : Treasure Hunt Thursday

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sundays Are Made of These


Sundays are for Sunday Mass, no compromise on that! After the service, Sundays here @ Birdsong are made of these ....


Sundays are made of vegetables and flowers harvested from the garden.


Sundays are made of sweet snacks from mother nature.


Sundays are made of long afternoon naps ... unfortunately it was not us who's taking the nap!


Sundays are made of leisure drives.


Sundays are made of sun-dry-sweet-smelling laundry.


Sundays are made of cookouts.


Sundays are made of a sulking cat because she was not allowed to go out.
Sundays are made of  a happy cat chasing the afternoon shadows.


Sundays are made of shrimp tacos and mango salsa.
Sundays are made of husband who loves shrimp tacos and mango salsa.


Sundays are made of chilled strawberry and citrus sangria.


Sundays are made of wishes for more beautiful Sundays to come!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

From Harvest to Table | Basil Chicken in Ginger Coconut Sauce


Next to lavender, basil is my favorite herb. In our former house where space is limited for planting, I made it a point to plant basil in big pots{ here and here }. Now that I have enough space, I planted  3 different types of basil {sweet basil, Thai basil and the Greek bush basil } - all so fragrant but each have their own distinct flavour. Among the three, I find the sweet basil the perfect herb for anything cooked with coconut.


Basil is one that benefits from frequent cuttings.I learned many moons ago that cutting helps it spread out sideways and develop healthy greens. This is my 4th harvest and all the plants are still eager to give more! I also make sure to snip off the flowers {which I love to include in my cooking or plating} as soon as I see them to prevent the plant from becoming tall and leggy.

For yesterday's harvest, here's a chicken dish that has become a staple here at home when basil is abundant. A perfect comfort food best eaten with boiled rice!




Basil Chicken in Ginger Coconut Sauce

Ingredients
1 kilo chicken cut in small pieces {I used chicken thigh for more flavour}
3 tbsp cooking oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 big cloves of garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1 piece Thai chili pepper {optional}, thinly sliced
1 can coconut milk {398 ml}
20-30 pieces sweet basil leaves
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper corn
lime wedges

Procedure
Heat oil in cooking pot
Brown both sides of chicken pieces then set aside
In the same pot {reduce oil if chicken rendered more fats while browning}, saute onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot while sauteing to get the chicken flavour
Add chicken back to the pot
Add fish sauce and cover pot for a minute
Pour coconut milk, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stir regularly 
Add basil leaves, sugar and ground pepper corn
At this point, add salt if needed
Cook until coconut milk is silky and thicker, again stir regularly to prevent coconut milk from sticking at the bottom of the pan
Serve with boiled rice and squeeze a wedge of lime on top of the dish


For vegetarian version, I replaced chicken with eggplant and cauliflower. Just as delicious!


Linking with : Our Simple Homestead
                     Thursday Favorite Things



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chamomile/Manzanilla ... from Garden to Gift


Grow my own chamomile for tea .... checked off my bucket list! 


It took a little over four weeks from the time I planted my very first German chamomile herb to the first harvest. With direct sunlight, regular watering and a little composted fertilizer, I now have small jar of dried chamomile flowers in my pantry and more to come as the plant continues to bear flowers.

Here are some tips in collecting and drying chamomile flowers ....


To get the full flavour of chamomile, harvest the flowers as soon as they are fully open.
Collect the flowers around noon when it is hot and dry. You don't want any moisture {or dew} on the flower to prevent rotting.
Some include a bit of stem when they harvest but I prefer just the flower head which I pick one by one.
Inspect the flowers or shake carefully so that any dust or insect that may be stuck inside will be filtered out.



Place the flowers in a pan, uncovered and in a dry place and let it sit for several days.
Once dry, save the flowers in a sealed container {I saved mine in a small mason jar}.


Since there are more flowers to harvest in the coming days, I decided to share my first harvest to a dear friend who loves tea as much as I do. I took some materials from the craft room {a small piece of patterned paper, jute twine and tag} and made a nice package. And .... viola!


Who would not want to get this "gift" from the garden?


Linking with : Treasure Hunt Thursday
                      Thursday Favorite Things
                      The Scoop
                   


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