Archive for August, 2009

Everyone asks my mom for her recipe. Here's my version.

Everyone asks my mom for her recipe. Here's my take on it.

How many times have I mentioned my mom’s guacamole? And how many times promised to give up her secrets?

Well, today is the day. With the last holiday weekend of summer looming, the time – and hopefully your avo – is ripe.

We will be whipping up at least one bowl of this at Keats View Cottage this weekend.

So here is my caveat. My mom’ s recipe is a bit finicky. For example, she blanches, peels and seeds the tomato. Not me.

She also measures everything.  Not me.

So this is really MY version of Patsy’s TDF Guacamole. No doubt you will have some of your own improvements to make.


2  avocados – perfectly ripe if at all possible. 

Generous squeeze fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4  cup (roughly) very finely chopped onion

One medium clove garlic, crushed

Green tabasco or chili powder to taste ( Warning: chili powder will often turn your guacamole from green to yellow – less appetizing)

1/2 medium tomato, finely chopped

1/3 cup (roughly) sour cream


Halve avocados and remove pits. With paring knife, score each half right to the peel in a cross hatch pattern.

Use spoon to remove the pre-chopped fruit directly from peel to a medium sized bowl.

Sprinkle generously with lemon juice – at least two teaspoons –  and add salt. Mash with back of fork to desired consistency

Add chopped onion, crushed garlic and tabasco or chili powder and combine well.

Add sour cream and tomato and stir gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Chill at least one hour to allow flavours to develop. Serve with tortilla chips and my blog address, to save you the trouble of having to write this recipe out for all your friends. Cheers!

Read Full Post »

We ain't afraid'a no bees!

We ain't afraid'a no bees!

Bad year for wasps. Everyone is saying so.

We have had a very persistent hive in the garden. With guests and their pets and kids, coming and going,  we had to get right on it and stay on it. We tried hanging various tasty meaty treats over a bucket of water. At our cottage in the Kootenays, a dead fish over a bucket of water will occasion death-by-greed for most wasps. They clamber all over it, remove a piece of fish so big they can’t fly with it, and then they fall into the bucket of water below. A drop of dish soap in the water makes it less likely they will escape.

This method had no effect on the Sunshine Coast. Maybe our offerings of bacon and other meat products simply didn’t have the draw that a rotting fish does?  In any event, time constraints required us to revert to the tried and true of commercially available toxins.

Here are my intrepid bee busters, prepared for a night time sally.

They hit the area of the nest – nestled in or under a decaying timber and heavily obscured by St. John’s Wort – at least three times that night.

The next day, the Wort was largely exfoliated, but a few bees continued to zip around. Guests arriving for a week reported no wasp sightings, but when we returned to do some maintanance last weekend, they were starting to regroup. Another can of poison was purchased and used. Hopefully, we got them, but no guarantee.  If you have some fool-proof, fast-acting and more organic suggestions on how to deal with a wasp nest, please share.

Read Full Post »

Its that time of year again: So much great produce is available that it begins to pile up on one’s kitchen counters.

Someone . . . well, me actually . . . left half a lime on the counter for a few days and suddenly, we were awash with fruit flies. Pesky little things!  Lee Valley sells a spiffy trap, but they are outrageously expensive. 

Here is a trap you can assemble in a few minutes with things found around the home and it is guaranteed to rid your kitchen of fruit flies in about two hours. 

What you need to get started

What you need to get started


An empty two litre plastic pop bottle

Some duct tape


Bait – I had my best success with apple cider vinegar, but a bit of wine or orange juice would also do the trick.


Remove the cap from the pop bottle.

Cut all around the pop bottle, about 1 inch below the tapered top.

Put a tablespoon or two of your selected bait into the bottom half of the decapitated bottle.

Now, turn the top part of the bottle over, and snug it down, spout first, into the bottom half.

Trim up the top edge with scissors if it is raggedy, then use a bit of duct tape to seal the upside down top of the bottle and the bottom together.

Tidy up your kitchen, removing or bagging all other produce and any dirty dishes or other attractants. Wipe down your counters too.  You want the trap to be offering the only meal in town!

Now lay the trap on its side on the counter, taking care to secure it so it doesn’t roll off.

Then walk away. Have a coffee;  run an errand.

You will be amazed at how many fruit flies you catch in just a few hours.   Cheers!

2 hours later - every one of those brown spots is a fruit fly

2 hours later - every one of those brown spots is a fruit fly

Read Full Post »

It was back in May of 2008 that Mary Emmerling first gave me the idea of rigging up an outdoor shower, which she suggested should have mint planted all around it. The idea captivated me, but I never really raised it with Cottager, since we had many more important projects, in the vein of actual repairs, on our plate at the time.  True marital felicity often lies in the timing of ones’ discussions.

As promised, we have really been enjoying the cottage this summer, whenever it isn’t spoken for. And the weather has been lovely so we have been wandering down to the beach once or twice a day for a swim. And suddenly the time seemed ripe. So I mentioned, just last weekend, how lovely it would be to have a shower in the garden, where we could rinse off as we returned from the beach. 

As it happened, that very weekend, the urchins had three friends to stay, and all five boys were keen to put their best foot forward with the local girls, with the result that the bathroom and the shower in particular were in heavy demand. 

And all of these circumstances, plus the seed of an idea and a six week break from cottage-related chores and projects seemed to click for the Cottager. By this weekend he had pipe and fittings and one hundred feet of black hose and a shower head and a funky industrial-style on/off lever and we were good to go.

It all went together for Cottager pretty quickly. The hose is loosely coiled on the roof of a shed where it gets lots of sun but is largely out of sight. I cut back one laurel and shored up the ground to accomodate  a 20 inch round aggregate paver.  Then together we nailed up a soap holder  – biodegradable of course! – and an old planter with a new and vibrant candy mint plant. All that’s wanting is a couple of hooks for towels and suits, and I’m sure I have some around here somewhere.

Tests over the weekend indicated that we got about one minute of hot water from our 100 feet of hose. A second reel – not black and not in full sun – means that when the hot water runs out, it doesn’t run out in a shocking manner. There is another full minute of tepid-to-cool water to follow, if you have delayed your rinsing too long.  And on a really nice day, the shower is hot again in 20-30 minutes. 

The laurel bushes offer privacy from any passers-by but there is still a lovely view of the garden and even a peek-a-boo view of the ocean from the shower. 

I have a little bit of research to do before I plant mint all around the shower, however. While the promise of crushing wet mint under my feet in a heavenly sort of aromatherapy is tempting, I believe this plant has a great tendency to spread, and I am battling a lot of invasive species already. So for now, guests can pluck a little from the container and crush it their hands for a tamer version of that experience.

A simple but effective set - up

A simple but effective set - up


Makes for a very pleasant rinse off in the garden . . .

Makes for a very pleasant rinse off in the garden . . .


With a lovely view . . .

With a lovely view . . .


And mint for garnish.

And mint for garnish.

Read Full Post »