She was “just off of the boat”….. okay… plane….. when I got the email from a realtor from Coldwell Banker saying…..” Carole…. you were looking for a new right hand….. Contact Barbara Granata asap. She just arrived in from Amsterdam!” And the rest is history. Barb has now been with me for 5 years……. and now…. change-up time!!!
Barbara is now licensed and there is a new bounce in her step. After just last week alone…. 3 purchases under her belt!! AND her writing talents and organizational skills…… continue on…. as before! Thank goodness!!!
Spring is just around the corner and although it may not feel like it, the time will come sooner than later, for the pools to open up and gardens to be planted! We have a few in the works so far and are just getting all the details sorted out. We wanted to give you a sneak peek so please let us know if any are of interest to you and we can send you more details as we get the dates booked etc.
Pool School – We team up with Impressions Concrete and Power Play Pools to bring you Pool School! We will learn all about pool cover automation, salt water vs chlorine, water chemistry and tips to maintain a swimming pool. Plus there will be lots of coupons for savings on chemicals and pool equipment plus door prizes! Even if you don’t have a pool but are thinking of, or know someone thinking of, installing one then this is a great event for you!
Spring Workshop with Carp Garden Centre – from the nursery that brings us our wonderful wreath night every Christmas, we bring you a spring workshop with them as well! We are just ironing out the details and will have more information soon.
And last but definitely not least, we will have at least one of our favourite Tasting Ottawa evenings. Restaurants to be determined…suggestions welcomed and encouraged!!
Winter and chili…in my thinking…go hand in hand. I like to know that I am eating chili and not just some hamburger with tomato sauce and chili pepper in it. This is my absolute favourite chili that I have had anywhere. I have made a few adjustments on it over the years too. Do NOT be scared off by the amount of chili pepper. I do not like hot just for the sake of hot. I like flavor…..and this has it. Enjoy!! I would LOVE your feedback too!
Serves 10 to 12
1 large, coarsely chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 pounds ground beef chuck
1 1/2 tsp minced jalapeno
1/2 cup chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp liquid red pepper seasoning
1 1/2 bay leaves,
2/3 cup beer
1 can (16 oz) of stewed tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz) of tomato paste
1 1/2 cup water
crumbled Salt and pepper to taste
Stir fry the onion, pepper, celery and garlic in the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add beef, breaking up large chunks to brown, until their is no longer any pink.
Add the jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, onion salt, seasonings, bay leaves, beer and all the cans of tomatoes and cover with just enough water to cover ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat for approximately 3 hours adding more salt at the end if needed.
Event Review: Tasting Ottawa at Fresco Bistro
Our Tasting Ottawa group congregated on the border of Stittsville and Kanata last night at Fresco Bistro Italiano on Hazeldean Road. Cozy, charming and hip, this is a restaurant that’s ambiance is second only to its delicious meals. Although it was freezing rain outside, we felt warm and cozy in the private dining area with inviting banquets and warm lighting. Carole and I knew the food would be good as we have been to this bistro numerous times for lunch (they have THE best sandwiches!!) but we did not know the treat we were in for on this cold and rainy evening. The theme of the evening was an Italian Feast and the entire meal was served family style with beautiful platters being passed among our group, encouraging conversation and laughter! Our meal began with a charcuterie platter with local cheeses, bison salami, prosciutto, lovely olives and mixed peppers accompanied by Art-is-in rosemary baguette crisps…to die for! The thin baguette crisps were the perfect vessels to hold the delicate meats and rich cheeses. A fig jam and grainy mustard added the aspect of sweet to the meat/cheese/bread’s saltiness while crunch played against soft with the peppers and olives. Our next course was an appetizer of warm olives with homemade foccacia bread. The bread was a pillow of savory dough with a rosemary and salt crust, dusted with cheese…..the perfect partner with the warm olives. My favourite olive was a quite young green olive that maintained its bite while still being warm and comforting. Much to our surprise and delight, the “primi” courses or appetizers were to keep arriving. Next on the menu was an eggplant involtini (meaning stuffed, rolled and grilled) which was very good. Eggplant is not a favourite vegetable of mine as it can really become quite mushy when cooked. Fresco’s chef, however, lightly salted the eggplant first to remove the excess moisture which meant that the eggplant retained a great texture and flavour. The filling was a light but creamy ricotta…melt in your mouth! Next came my absolute favourite of the evening (trust me, it is hard to name favourites). The chef served perfectly cooked mussels in a tomato broth with chili, sausage and delicious fresh garnish of spring onions….they were the best mussels I have had since I was lived in Australia 7 years ago….I was thrilled! The mussels, like the rest of the food, were perfectly balanced with regards to texture and the flavour play between spicy and sweet. Continuing with the theme Italian Feast the main courses arrived. First was a veal saltimbocca (translated literally to jump in mouth) is a traditional Italian dish of a veal cutlet wrapped in sage and prosciutto. This version used basil instead which I loved as I am extremely partial to anything with that lovely, delicate, perfumey herb. The veal was served with a Marsala gravy in gorgeous antique jugs!! This was a real treat for the eyes and the tastebuds. With the veal, the chef served crispy-on-the-outside, tender-in-the-middle Brussels sprouts with a creamy, mild Romesco sauce garnished with parmesan cheese. This often not liked vegetable is one of my favourite foods and its flavour and texture shone in this preparation….delish! So….you must think we are on to dessert next?? Not so my friends….a salmon en papillote was served next. I am not partial to salmon so did not try this dish. It looked and smelled lovely and light when my fellow diners opened the papillote to reveal a blush coloured salmon with lemon and rosemary. My partner, Steve, loves salmon and said it was delicately flavoured and cooked very well. Alongside the salmon, a spinach side was served. This was another favourite for me. Wilted spinach with garlic, golden raisins with an unbelievably smart addition of crunchy pistachios….delectable! I was scraping the platter to put it crudely…but honestly! Our final savory course was a pasta course. This was such a fun course and to see the chef so thrilled and excited to serve it to us was so wonderful! He had prepared a timbale (drum), which is an encased, layered pasta that is baked. For the outside “crust” the chef prepared homemade pasta and the inside was layered with penne in a cream sauce and spaghetti in a smoky tomato sauce. Arriving to our table on a large platter, the timbale (which does resemble a small drum) was placed down by the chef who admits “we are going to see if this worked when I cut it”….there was a lot of anticipation in the room. As the chef brings his knife through the drum of pasta, he is able to separate it completely into wedges without it falling apart….success! It was so nice for us to be included in that moment and I know every one of our attendees loved the atmosphere! Finally….last but definitely not least….for dessert were homemade doughnuts with dulce de leche and delicious, creamy ice cream. The doughnuts were a bit crisp on the outside, soft as pillows on the inside and coated with a spice and sugar dusting….everything a donut should be. And…we got to take home the leftovers! The entire evening was a true representative of what an Italian Feast is…rich in food, company, conversation and laughter. Needless to say, Fresco Bistro will be a regular haunt for us. A huge thank you to owner, Matt Bickford, Chef Matty and our wonderful server Katie! We will see you all again soon. http://kanata.frescobistro.ca/