Monthly Archives: April 2009

7. Fiddleheads and daffodils oh my

Spring is well and truly sprung the day the fiddleheads first show up at the market. Today was that day.
I do love me a fern frond, especially when it’s been pan fried in a little olive oil and dressed with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. The fish cakes are adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s Salmon Croquettes recipe, with mackerel instead of salmon, milk instead of cream, and duck fat instead of butter.    

Mackerel Croquettes for 1 adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Combine in a bowl:

  • 2 cooked mackerel fillets, mashed
  • 4 cooked mini potatoes, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
  • a splash of milk (just enough to be absorbed by the potatoes)
  • chopped fresh parsely, chives and dill, if you have any (I didn’t)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Spread in separate shallow bowls:

  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup flour

Whisk an egg in a third shallow bowl

Shape the fish mixture into patties (about an inch in diameter). One at a time, coat each patty with flour, dip it in the egg, then coat it in breadcrumbs.

Heat 1-2tbsps butter (or duck fat if you’ve got it) in a skillet and fry the patties till golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Serve with lemon wedges and mayonnaise (just in case you still need *more* fat).

But just in case the springliness of the fiddleheads wasn’t enough, I also saw my first daffodils of the season today. I’m convinced.



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6. fragmentary blue

I’ve got a number of little projects brewing that I hope to post about soon, but for now, a celebration of blue skies (precious after too many days of rain).

blue and gold

5. Fragmentary Blue

(Harper’s Magazine, July 1920.)
Robert Frost (1874–1963)

WHY make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)—
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

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5. A gleam of gold in gloom and gray

About half an hour ago, a bright beam of sunlight burst in through the windows – the first sunshine I’ve seen in days. It disappeared as quickly as it came, sadly, and we are plunged back into the cold and grey.

Failing any real sunshine to bring colour into the day, I’m thinking of taking a break from my data analysis to make a few of these wonderful yarn eggs from Make Monthly to hang in my windows.


A bit of playtime might also help me warm up. I foolishly took the insulating strips off all the windows the other day when it was 13°C, so now I’m huddled under blankets wearing fingerless mittens and three sweaters to keep warm.

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4. Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.

photo by Lisa Clark at

 A friend tagged me to answer a bunch of questions about books on facebook today. It took me much longer than I expected to come up with answers to all the questions, mostly due to my obsession with double checking every reference, and adding links to the more obscure ones, but it ended up being the perfect way to end an otherwise not at all perfect day.

Between the cold rainy weather and the apparently never ending frustration of the data analysis I’ve been attempting to run for an entire year now and the general Mondayness of it all, I was in a gloomy mood all day. But thinking about my favourite books and authors and plays and poems was exactly the antidote I needed. So now instead of being all grumbleblahfeh, I’m tucking myself into bed with thoughts of Psmith and his chrysanthemum boutonniere, and Harriet Vane’s sensible walking togs, and Frederick the mouse and his treasured colours and Billy Collins’ early morning espresso.

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3. Weekend Tally

Besides raccoon-wrangling, it was a fairly uneventful, but mostly satisfying sort of weekend.

I got masses of cleaning done on Saturday, turning the utter shambles of this:

and this:

Into the comparatively tidy and presentable:

And this:

in time for my landlords to show the flat to a prospective tenant. I haven’t asked yet whether they decided to take the place, I hope they have since it would mean I could start looking for our next home.

In addition to getting to getting the house in order (and, oh, how lovely to wake up on Sunday morning to a clean, tidy home), I scored some awesome finds at the charity shop. I’ve been finding lots of cashmere sweaters in great condition lately – I added a pretty blue cardigan this weekend. But I also found a colourful rag rug the perfect size for my living room, a sewing machine that can actually do more than one stitch, a wooden boot pull (perfect, since we’re in the middle of gum boot season), and a king size pillow sham that I was able to turn into a new cover for Charlie’s bed (just had to rip out the ornamental baffle)

Much nicer than the scuzy gold cover it had before.

I also managed to get in a couple hours of work on the i-cord bowl I started knitting a few weeks back. I sewed the first 20 or so turns down, so the shape of the bowl is clear – it’s going to come out very nicely I think. I’ll take some pictures when we next have a sunny day.

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a new neighbour?



I just stepped out onto the back porch to put a bag of trash out, and found myself face to face with a raccoon. I know this is normal for Toronto, but I’ve never so much as seen one in Montreal before, let alone on my second story back porch. I called Dixie to come bark at it, figuring once the coon knew a dog lived in the house, he’d give us a miss. But the dingbat’s eye sight is getting so bad she couldn’t see it, and the raccoon wasn’t remotely fazed by her presence. I grabbed a broom and made menacing gestures with it and drove it back down the stairs, but now I wish I hadn’t.  The cats were already in for the night, and there really wasn’t any other harm he could have done. I wonder if we’ll see him again…

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Good beginnings.

Happiest of happy news to inaugurate this new blog with. My dear rumpled old dog, who has spent the entire past year in and out of hospital, most recently for major stomach surgery which lead to a diagnosis of stomach cancer, has finally gained 1.2lbs! He was 69lbs in May of last year, and reached a low point of 45lbs just before the surgery. As of yesterday afternoon, he was back up to 46.2. Who would have thunk it? We were so sure he wouldn’t make it through the winter.

But here he is, soaking up some very welcome sunshine and proving he’s a lot tougher than he looks.

golden boy

Good on ya, Charlie boy.

I should find a widget to let me track his weight -let’s hope this is not an accident.

To celebrate this rather wonderful news, we went for a proper walk this morning. I’ve been minimizing his energy output as much as possible, but I think we can afford to burn a few calories. I know the other dog and I could both do with a bit more vim and vigour to our mornings.

Meanwhile, George the one-eyed bandit seems so done in by his morning romp that he’s forgotten what species he belongs to.

i can haz big bedPerhaps he’s just letting me know it’s time to replace that grotty old cover with something a little nicer to look at, and a little less discriminatory. Cats need beds too.

Sounds like a project for the rainy weekend we have coming up. I’ll get right on that, George.

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