Quote: Majestic Canada

It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she’s something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are a part of.
Emily Carr

Maligne Lake – Jasper, Alberta

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Savory Saturday: Fresh Ontario Field Tomato and Zucchini Tart

After daydreaming about a weekend adventure on Pelee Island, I think I should dedicate my meal tonight to fresh produce from this region. And, growing up near this area, I know tomatoes are popular and in season around Pelee Island.

Here we go:

Fresh Tomato and Zucchini Tart

– from Foodland Ontario

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
Cooking Time: 5 Minutes
Baking Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: 8
Ingredients:
  • 1-1/3 cups (325 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) cold butter, cut in pieces
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 medium Ontario Zucchini, diced (about 2 cups/500 mL)
  • 2 cloves Ontario Garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) each chopped black olives and fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 thinly sliced Ontario Tomatoes
Preparation:

In large bowl, mix flour with salt until blended; cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Gather into rough ball. Press dough onto bottom and up side of 9-inch (23 cm) fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Prick all over with fork. Freeze 5 minutes. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool completely on rack.

In frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, garlic, salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender. Cool to room temperature. In small bowl, mix olives with basil; scatter over crust. Top with zucchini and Parmesan. Arrange tomatoes in circular pattern, overlapping slightly. Serve immediately at room temperature.

Fantasy Friday: A Canadian Secret Island (shhh)

I am not fantasizing about a place very far today. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive from my home, it’s the most southerly point in Canada, and it’s full of green, green NATURE! And food. Yum!

Pelee Island – I’ve heard so many great things about this place, and I can’t wait to go camping here some day.

Here’s my plan, designed by Lonely Planet:

Absorb some culture

Begin your day with a visit to the Pelee Island Heritage Centre, which has one of the best natural history collections in Ontario. Here you can learn about the island’s human and natural history, including information about the Pelee’s role in Prohibition, the archaeology of its original inhabitants and visitors, and species of animals that call the island home.

Untitled by Dustin and Jennifer StaceyCreative Commons Attribution licence

Spot rare wildlife

Sign up for an island eco-tour with Explore Pelee. Run by the enthusiastic Anne Marie, Explore Pelee (explorepelee.com) specializes in mellow bike tours that showcase the island’s best: Fish Point Nature Reserve, where birders flock to catch sight of migrating birds; Vin Villa ruins, the grand estate of the original winery; and Lighthouse Point Provincial Preserve, where a restored lighthouse and rare species of salamander and turtles reside. Guides will also narrate the geological and cultural history of the island, providing details about Pelee’s canals, its Middle Devonian landscape, and island farming. Besides bike tours, bike rentals and tours that focus specifically on birds, geology and agriculture are available.

Hit the beach

Biking in summer heat can be intense, so relax post-tour with a swim off one of Pelee’s sandy beaches. Lake Erie’s shallow waters are heated to bathtub-water warm in the summer, and as you’re bobbing around in the warm blue water you might believe you’re in the Caribbean.

For storing wine by Candace NastCreative Commons Attribution licence

Tease your tastebuds

Pelee Island is the surprising home to a winery (the island is further south than half of the US states) and though the wines aren’t necessarily world class, the winery is a great place to unwind for a late afternoon snack. Pelee Island Winery (peleeisland.com) is the oldest and largest estate winery in Canada, with 600 acres of vines. Tours depart at noon, 2pm and 4pm daily, and are only $5 – with a wine tasting included. You can privately book special food and wine tours. For dinner, consider a picnic at one of Pelee Island’s many shore side locations. Sunset Beach, just north of the ferry terminal, is, as the name indicates, an excellent place to watch the sun sink into Lake Erie. Bring a bottle of Pelee Island Wine, and end your day relaxing on the warm sand. After a night in one of the excellent B&Bs, stock up on baked goods for the ferry ride home at Conorlee’s Bakery and Delicatessen. Homemade loaves, pastries and soups will have you fortified for the journey back to the mainland.

Make it happen

Sleeping: Pelee Island has several excellent bed and breakfasts, most of which are historic limestone homes. Try Stonehill B&B, on the west side of the island. With grey stone walls a foot thick, you won’t hear a sound all night, and the water views are magnificent.

Transport: ferry is the best way to reach Pelee from April to December; it is a relaxed one and a half hour ride each way from Leamington and Kingsville. There is also a ferry from Sandusky, Ohio (bring your passport). The schedule varies from day to day, but it is absolutely essential that you make a reservation. You can do so online at Ontario Ferries (www.ontarioferries.com). In the winter, there are regularly scheduled flights to and from the island’s small airport. Pelee is easily navigable by bike, which can be rented on the island. You can also drive a car on to the ferry.

Sunset at Lake Erie by vinod shankarCreative Commons Attribution licence

#2 Hike of the Summer: Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone

I actually lost sleep last night deciding on what hike I would place in the #2 spot, and which one would be the ultimate #1 hike that I completed this summer. It was a very tight competition,  both with spectacular views and a great challenge.

BUT alas, one had to receive the silver medal, and after much flip flopping, Avalanche Peak by the East Gate won the second prize.

With a 2,100 foot elevation gain, the view of Yellowstone park at 10, 568 feet was SPECTACULAR! It took my breath away, as did most of the haul uphill. The recommended 4 – 6 hour experience lasted my boyfriend and I a shade under an hour and a half. This was partly due to the approaching dark clouds. With this being one of the tallest peaks in the region, we didn’t want to get caught in the lightning storm, obviously! So I must say, it was a quick jog down – straight down. I mean, I actually slid down the side of the mountain where the snow hadn’t melted yet.

Yes – it was steep. The steepest hike I have ever done, actually.

There wasn’t a dull moment on the hike up – filled with large aspens, and bright green ferns at ground level. A few springs popped out around the trail, and a hop or two over them were an adventure. I really DID mean to wash my hiking boots on this trip…

Once we arrived at the first opening, we were greeted with a snowy ground, a pretty little lake, and huge STORM CLOUDS quickly heading our way. We decided it was possible to beat the incoming rain if we quickened our pace. Phew – easier said than done. The elevation was getting to me, and the commencing shale trail was a bit tricky to cross.

The opening! If you could look to the left – pitch black skies!

We saw a few groups turning back due to the tricky ground and one couple in a bit of a tizzy – they had just seen a BEAR on the trail! Gasp – so we proceed with caution with our bear spray in hand, with the couple, as they pointed out the bear they were so worried about – a tiny deer about a mile away grazing on a grassy knoll. I actually had to get my binoculars out to see it. Oops.

Onward and upward, leaving that couple in the dust to coo over the deer.

After a careful,  yet quick march to the summit, we were greeted by a solo hiker sitting cross legged staring off into the distance. It felt appropriate when I greeted him and asked, “so, the meaning of life is…..?”. He also found that quite hilarious and admitted that he was trying to catch his breath.

The summit was actually not at this first peak, you actually have to go across a short ridge, and there you will find the official summit. And what you see when you look around this 360 degree view is amazingness all around. From this vantage point, you could see everything! We could point out Yellowstone Lake, Mount Washburn, even the Tetons which were 50 miles to the south!

If you are looking for the best view in the park – stop here and I dare you to find a better one.

Stormy!

Hiking with 10,000 lbs of camera gear.

 

 

PS – watch out for the wind 🙂

Photo: Wish this was me…

Wait a minute – that IS me!

This is where I wish I was right now, though. It’s cold and rainy here in Toronto, and the school year is in full gear. Soon the leaves will change colour, the snow will begin, and the dreary winter months will drag on and on and on.

Me thinks it’s too early to be daydreaming about my summer 2013 plans, but I know that it will involve this position – on a rock, with a good book, beside a gorgeous lake, in a park, waiting for wildlife to appear in front of my camera.

Cloudy Day on Mormon Row

Ug – the weather would not cooperate with me whenever went to this popular road to take the iconic ‘Mormon Row shot’ with the Grand Tetons in the background.

This is all I could get. It was a miserable few days when I was in Grand Teton National Park this summer.

Er…enjoy?

Photo: Hey baby!

Taken in Jasper, Alberta on Maligne Lake Road. So cute, this big horn lamb.