Monthly Archives: February 2013

Spring is coming! Spring is coming!

That MUST be why my horse is shedding like crazy. Oh the joys of owning a horse. Not only does he masquerade as a llama with a big bushy mane and fuzzy neck just like in this picture; he insists on losing all the hair on the rest of his body in the middle of winter. So, all I can think is that he knows something I don’t and spring is coming.

Larry's unwanted hair

In the meantime, I am his shedding support. I stand ready with implements to hasten the process before we all drown in his hair (this is the amount of hair on a good day).Larry, his hairy blanket and pile of hair If it were clean (he hasn’t had a bath since fall last year), I would collect it and make yarn. If it were any dirtier, I’d worry about what I was ingesting everytime I breathe in while grooming him.

It will be over soon though, and until then, I have his undying gratitude for the extra tummy rubs (yes, he’s shedding there too).

In the meantime, he’s not the only one who’s furry at the barn.

Another Hairy Barn Creature

Happy Chinese New Year 2013!

Some of my best friends are snakes……and I mean that in the best of ways! My Aunt is a vegetarian so when I was invited for Chinese New Year dinner, I knew what I was in for – good thing I love her cooking.  I do apologize that I can’t tell you everything here, but I’ll do my best.

My first introduction to my Aunt’s vegetarian cooking was her sweet and sour dish. It’s made with all the usual ingredients substituting the breaded “surprise” pork bits with dried tofu (I know it as “fu-juk”). As my cousin says, a lot of people prefer this version once they taste it.

Sweet and sour

Another of my Aunt’s staple dishes is this eggplant stir fry. She uses the Chinese, narrow eggplant which is a lot firmer than the big ones we usually see in the supermarkets. And it’s nice and spicy so that even if you don’t like eggplant, you’ll love the gravy!


If you’ve ever been to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant or a Hollywood special effects shop, you’ll know the wonders they can do to make one thing look like something totally different. Hence the “salmon” with white sauce, the BBQ “pork” complete with the vivid-not-to-be-seen-in-nature red colouring and “squid” with snow peas stir fry.  I would love to know how they get the translucent nature of the squid though.

"Salmon" "Cha Sow" (BBQ Pork)"Squid" Dish

The dish below is your typical tofu stir fry using the “hard” tofu. Paired with the subtle taste of the winter melon and greens, all the flavours meld together very nicely.

Tofu and Winter Melon

I could not tell you everything in this dish. Even after my Aunt explains it to me every year, I still can’t tell you. I know there are gingko fruit (the yellow things) and mushrooms (the dark black things), tofu of course (the big things in the foreground) and I think there were potatoes or some other root vegetable and quite possible some more mushrooms (the stringy things there might be enoki mushrooms). In any case, it is a traditional new year’s dish!

Traditional Chinese New Year Dish

And of course, no Chinese meal would be complete without the sweet mandarins!!!


Hawaii: Volcanoes

OMG! I totally forgot to finish this post! And seeing Kilauea is really worth a blog! Ok, the science stuff first: Kilauea is one of 5 and half volcanoes on the Big Island of Hawaii. There is a great explanation of them here. In fact, the USGS is the best source of info on Kilauea and gives updates on eruptions and seismic activities here. Kilauea is by far the most active volcano and gives the best showing. In case you are wondering, the “half” volcano is the new baby one just offshore to the south of the Big Island – stick around a few hundred years for its birth!

Now the tourist stuff: check before you go to see what’s open and what isn’t. They sometimes close down driving and hiking paths depending on what the volcano gods are doing. Or, on a plus side, they will also tell you when lava is flowing and you may get lucky and see the night lava flowing into the ocean. Driving up to the visitor’s centre is a lay-by where you can pull over and stick your face in some steam vents (travel tip #76: some facials are free). And in this harsh environment, don’t forget to stop and appreciate the flowers that have fought to survive here.

Steam Vents at Layby

Wild Ochids

However, the visitor’s centre viewing platform is almost always open, but is not always manned. However, if the lava is flowing, not to worry, the busloads of tourists will keep you company. The visitor’s centre itself is great. Really good displays and explanations although the gift shop closes early and was  a little heavy on the books. The really neat part of the centre were the seismographs. If you watched closely, you could see when there was seismic activity and then run out and see the lava lake glow. When I was there, there was loads of seismic activity, but no spewing lava – just a fiery red glow that was mesmerizing to watch. Last tip: it gets cold – bring long trousers or track pants and a sweater.

The cauldren at Kilauea   Lava at Kilauea

Getting close to the hot stuff!