Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Zucchini Loaf

What do you do when your garden overwhelms you with zucchini?  Or when a friend (in my case, my mother-in-law) is blessed with an abundance of zucchini?  Make zucchini loaf!

I tried this loaf a few days ago, even though I was short one egg, and didn't have cinnamon, so substituted allspice - which smelled the closest to cinnamon to me.   At the time, I doubled the recipe.

I loved it so much that I decided to make it again tonight, this time with cinnamon, and I tripled the recipe.  It was very difficult to mix such a large amount (in retrospect, I should have doubled, then made a second batch), and the zucchini was larger, so the peel was tough.  But the wonderful aroma in the house is well worth the effort.

The recipe is from ifood.tv, this page.

 3 eggs
 1 cup oil
 1 Tablespoon vanilla
 2 cups peeled grated zucchini
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 1 teaspoon salt
 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
 3 cups flour
 2 cups sugar
 optional : 1/2 cup chopped dates
 optional : 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

 Beat eggs well, add sugar, vanilla and oil and mix well.
 Mix dry ingredients together and add, together with dates and nuts.
 Best done in electric mixer.
 Pour into 2 greased loaf 5"x9" pans and bake about 1 hour at 350 F.
 Remove and cool on wire rack.

I omitted the dates, since I'm not a big fan of them, and also the nuts, so that the kids are able to take the loaf to school in their lunches.

It's funny, now that I'm reading it, I see that this recipe was for 2 loaves.  I was wondering why the pan was so full, and I ended up with such a huge loaf.  Hmmm, next time I'd make it smaller, I think.  Maybe 3 pans for double the recipe.  My oven is always a bit slower than the recipe calls for, but I found it took 1 hr 40 min to be done (use a bamboo skewer to test the center - it should not be gooey).  But then again, I was using twice the batter per pan than the recipe called for!

When I used the smaller zucchini, I left a small amount of peel on, so there were flecks of green in the loaf.  Kinda pretty.  The larger zucchini had too tough of a peel.  The flavour of the loaf is mild, somewhat reminiscent of pumpkin loaf, and not too sweet.  A really nice loaf to go with tea or coffee or a nice cold glass of milk.  Oh, and it freezes well.  If you don't eat it first, especially when it is warm out of the oven.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Colour Mosaic Monday : Black

I almost forgot, this is the last colour - black - in the series at unglazed.  I'm going to miss that series - thanks so much to Jen for hosting!

The colour black made me think of the Orca whale watching expedition my husband and I joined in Victoria BC, when passing through on our anniversary cruise 1 1/2 years ago.  This photo mosaic looks a bit like a series of 3 postcards.
Orca whale watching
I really like the photo with the boat.  We were that close at times, too, so maybe they got such a neat photo of us in our bright orange zodiac too.  Exciting!  The bottom photo shows 3 dorsal fins.  The tall one apparently belonged to a juvenile male.  The other two to his mother, and sibling (too young to be sure if a brother or sister).  For more photos of that cruise and excursion, see this post from May 2009.

The colour black also made me think of my dear curly-haired rat Jenny.  Here she is shortly after bringing her home.  She's quite a bit bigger now, but just as sweet.
Curly haired hooded rat

Curly haired (rex) rat
I know that to anyone who has not experienced a pet rat, it sounds very strange, but we have been amazed at how clean and fun and gentle and affectionate our pet rats have turned out to be.  They are truly the hidden secret of the pet world - very much like puppies in rodent bodies.  If only they didn't have that tail which is a turn-off for most people.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Little Soccer Player

My son is David becoming a very good soccer player.  That's what everyone is telling me.  That's why I let David kick balls (not the soccer ball, though!) around inside the house, even though I don't really appreciate that.

Today turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day and I stayed to watch David play soccer, rather than retreat with my daughter to the library nearby.  Here are some photos I was able to snap this afternoon with my daughter's digital camera:
Don't we live in a beautiful part of the world?  I love the backdrop of the North Shore mountains from our soccer field in North Burnaby, BC.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Colour Mosaic : Brown

When Jen at unglazed suggested Brown as one of the colour themes, I didn't think there would be much to show - at least not from my garden. But when I browsed through my photos, I found a number of brown-themed ones which amused me, which I've combined into a mosaic (click image for a larger view):
Brown mosaic
In the mix you'll find bison from a nearby farm in Agassiz, BC, some of my homemade chilli and ginger chocolates, a campfire cake I made for my daughter's 10th birthday, a photo of my asian pear tree espaliered against the fence, a closeup of a wasp's nest, and a photo of our rat Sam when she was a little baby.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Colour Mosaic Monday : Purple

I was feeling too tired tonight, but I couldn't resist creating a purple mosaic for both Mosaic Monday at Little Red House and Jen's Purple Theme this week at unglazed.

Purple is one of the favourites in my garden, where all but one of these photos - can you guess which one? - are from my garden (click the image for a larger view).
Purple flower mosaic

Monday, September 06, 2010

Otter Lake Adventure

Our vacation this past week at Otter Lake (Tulameen, BC) was the perfect combination of wildlife viewing, outdoor recreation, exploration and relaxation.

The wildlife was abundant.  There were black bears walking through the town, such as this one which appeared in our yard one evening.  We made noises to get him to look our way, otherwise he was quite oblivious to us, grazing on the lawn.  It was interesting to us that the local bears seemed to take no interest in people or in their garbage (as usually is the problem), but rather on grazing and eating berries and leaves from the bushes:
Black bear in our yard
This mom with 2 cubs (one is not visible in the bush) came by our cabin one morning, again only interested in the bushes:
Black bear with cub
There were often Mule deer in the yard also, and we saw moms with their young many times while riding our bicycles and driving about (most of the time while our camera was not handy, thus this unimpressive photo):
Mule deer
We saw loons and diving ducks and an otter (or possibly beaver?) on the lake.  There were signs of beaver activity along the edge of the lake, such as this beaver-fallen tree:
Beaver knawed tree
The recreation opportunities were great.  We enjoyed canoeing, kayaking, and operating pedal boats in the lake:
The kids shot baskets in the hoop next to the house (with one of us keeping watch nearby in case of more bears passing through).  They also tried out go karting on a nearby track:
Go karting
We also enjoyed cycling part of the Trans Canada trail, the portion near Tulameen being along a former railway line, so nice and flat - although it was pretty tough going through the rocks and gravel - more suited to the ATVs using the line, than to cycling.  The first time we cycled from the South end to the North end of the lake, and returned, a 3 hour round trip.  We were somewhat relieved when we were blocked by some cows at the North end, since my husband would have liked to have gone further.
Cows on Trans Canada Trail
He went ahead to investigate whether we could pass through, but when a large bull stepped out onto the path (behind my husband, on the left), he knew this was our sign that we have better turn around:
Bull on Trans Canada trail
Another day we explored the trail in the other direction, this time a 4 hour round-trip, to the town of Coalmont, and the ghost town of Granite City, which was a boom town which resulted from a 1885 discovery of gold by a cowboy named Johnny who apparently stopped at the river for a drink and discovered gold nuggets.  It is interesting that there are only two places in the world where both gold and platinum are found in the same waterways, and one of them in at Coalmont, BC.  The other is in a river in Russia.

On the topic of exploration, we heard from one of the locals that there were fossils which could be found fairly easily at the site of a local mine.  So we spent two afternoons hunting fossils, and were amazed at how many we could discover.  Most of the ones we found (at least the ones that we recognized) were of some conifer, likely sequoia or possibly pine, according to my internet searches. 

Here are some photos my daughter took of some of her finds:
Eocene fossils from Coalmont area of BC
Conifer fossils from BC
From my reading, the fossils are likely from the Eocene era, reportedly some 55 to 33 million years ago.  Pretty amazing.  We found some which looked like tree seeds, and one which is likely part of the head and backbone of a small fish.  There were lots of bits and pieces and shapes which we didn't recognize.

There were also lots of opportunities to just "kick back" and relax, enjoy each other's company, and enjoy the scenery.  It was a beautiful lake:
Otter Lake
And it was a beautiful "cabin" - really a full house, with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and fully equipped kitchen and laundry, and huge outdoor deck - sitting on the waterfront with our own BBQ and fire pit and dock and access to canoes and kayaks and pedal boats:
Otter Lake cabin
The kids and I took some books from the public library with us, and I especially enjoyed reading Artists in their Gardens by David Laskin and Valerie Easton.  It explored - with lots of photos - the gardens of a number of well-known artists in the Pacific Northwest, including Little and Lewis, concrete sculptors who inspired my concrete leaf casting attempt, painter Robert Batement, and architect Arthur Erickson.

So after a wonderful week of enjoying the wildlife, recreation, exploration and relaxation, we have enjoyed a day to unpack, organize, and prepare for the start of school tomorrow.  The weather has even cooperated nicely, turning to rain today, to signal that summer is over.  We are refreshed and ready.

Late Colour Mosaic : GREEN

Before I left for vacation last Sunday, I prepared my green mosaics and emailed them to myself, so I would be able to pick them up on my laptop, and join the colour theme at Jen's unglazed blog.  But as technology would have it, the email didn't make it out of my Outbox before I left.  So I'm posting them anyhow, and hopefully they will provide some enjoyment or amusement to someone.

This mosaic is a combination of wildflowers from some of our trips, as well as greenery from my garden:
Green wildflower mosaic
My second blog is a combination of photos from a trip to Disneyland and Universal Studios a couple of years ago, as well as my daughter with Sumi, one of the mascots from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver:
Green Disneyland Universal Olympics mosaic
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