Ten Days in Hamilton, Ontario

Susan, Freddy and I recently returned from a wonderful vacation in Hamilton, Ontario where we house-sat for a friend, Helena, at her lovely brick home around the corner from Locke Street. Helena and her husband needed house-sitters as they were vacationing in Iceland.

We drove for seven and one-half hours from our home in West Springfield, Massachusetts to Helena’s home in Hamilton. MapQuest said it would take seven hours but we stopped twice to grab a bite to eat and to let Freddy stretch his legs. The time passed fairly quickly and Freddy was a perfect back seat driver–quiet the whole time! Look how happy he is!

This was Friday, the 7th of September, and by the time we arrived in Hamilton and unpacked, we were ready for dinner. We walked around the corner to Bread Bar–Earth To Table.

Well-known for it pizza and bread and “good ingredients,” we both ate hamburgers; me a “Umami Burger” and Susan a “Cheeseburger.” Both excellent. Later in the week we would have pizza two or three times there, and I think I must have bought five loaves of bread. So delicious but boy do I need to start an exercise program!!!! Or you’ll start calling me Dough Boy!

Susan, Freddy and I spent much of Saturday at the Locke Street Festival.

We visited the My Dog’s Café & Bar.

We saw some great signage and assorted advertisements on Locke Street. Later in the week we had lunch at the West Town Bar & Grill.

At the Locke Street Festival we bought our first loaf of Sourdough Bread from Bread Bar and Fresh Raspberry Jam from a local famer. And bracelets for our Granddaughter.

We brought Freddy home and went out for brunch. I had the best Eggs Benedict ever at Mattson & Co. on Locke Street–wild mushrooms, crispy baby kale, bacon. Thank You Georgia for the suggestion. Susan had an omelet with prosciutto and carnalized onions.

Here we are waiting for our food to arrive.

On Sunday we relaxed. I forgot to share with you this—-we had no TV and what a BLESSING!!!! We read and listened to music.

We then gathered ourselves up and went to the Royal Botanical Gardens and  hiked through the Hendrie Valley Nature Sanctuary. Not a difficult hike but very beautiful.

On Monday it rained. I bought groceries and wine. I went for a walk to photograph some street art written and placed by poet Simon Frank. Here is one of 20+ images:

I LOVED this!!!

Tuesday brought us to the Bruce Trail and Borer’s Fall.

The Bruce Trail is a hiking trail in southern Ontario from the Niagara River to the tip of Tobermory, Ontario. The main trail is more than 550 miles long and there are over 250 miles of associated trails. The Bruce Trail follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment and is the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada. Its name is linked to the Bruce Peninsula and Bruce County which the trail runs through. The trail is named after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin who was the Governor General of the Province of Canada from 1847 to 1854.

By the time Freddy, Susan and I hiked to Borer’s Falls and further along the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment, up and down steep and slippery, moss covered steps and rocky paths, huffing and puffing, I imagined we had just hiked all 550 miles of the Bruce Trail and that the trail was really named after me and then I noticed the only one not day-dreaming and breathing heavily was Freddy.

Pictured below is Susan walking down one of the rocky paths of the Bruce Trail. I am looking at her and Google Maps/GPS on my phone, thinking when she meets up with me I am going to have to say “I think we are going in the wrong direction and we are going to have to hike back up those steep and slippery, moss covered steps and rocky paths.”

After all that huffing and puffing, we decided to return to Mattson & Co. for a dinner of wine and appetizers; we were so happy with the brunch we had a few days earlier. The food is excellent.  We shared three appetizers. Fried Calamari with citrus gremolata, sweet basil aioli, candied jalapeno. Honey Truffle Toast with an olive tapenade, goat cheese mousse, wild mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, crisp house-made focaccia, wildflower truffle honey, fresh basil. Crab Cakes–Dungeness, snow and lump crab, ravigote hollandaise, sweet corn succotash, arugula. And wine. The happy house-sitters!

If it’s Wednesday  it must be The Art Gallery of Hamilton. We saw the work of Vivian Maier.

All I can say is WOW!

We also saw: “James Street North: Vintage Photographs by Cees and Annerie van Gemerden;”   “Speaking for Herself;”  and the wild “Kim Adams: Bruegel-Bosch Bus.”   All great exhibitions in a great museum. A must visit!

And that night I made a spicy chicken and mushroom stir fry.

And we listened to Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell.

On Thursday we went for a walk at Bayfront Park and visited Tiffany Falls.

We had lunch at The Burnt Tongue (great soups and hamburgers), window-shopped on Locke Street, and bought a few book at Epic Books, one by Gary Barwin, who lives in Hamilton and is the author of twenty one books of poetry, fiction and books for children. Dinner was pizza from Bread Bar.

On Friday we visited the Fifty Point Conservation Area—and Freddy got to go in the water for the very first time! In Lake Ontario!!!

Afterward the three of us went to the Stoney Ridge Estate Winery, an absolutely beautiful place, where we each (Not Freddy) enjoyed a glass of Riesling, bought a few bottles of wine and four kinds of cheese.

It is interesting to note that there are 100+ wineries dotting the region, a fertile swath of land that separates Lake Ontario from Lake Erie and runs roughly from the Canadian border at the Niagara River and Niagara Falls to Hamilton, Ontario, just south of Toronto.

I am not one to complain, but being semi-retired and on vacation is hard work as you never really get a day off. For example, on Friday I walked Freddy three times before 10. Then I took Susan out to lunch; great beer and fries at Brux House, which is on Locke Street in beautiful Hamilton.

And then we boarded the Hamilton Harbour Queen for a tour of Hamilton Harbour, which was delightful and interesting.

Hamilton Harbour, formerly known as Burlington Bay, lies on the western tip of Lake Ontario, bounded on the northwest by the City of Burlington, on the south by the City of Hamilton, and on the east by Hamilton Beach (south of the Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway) and Burlington Beach (north of the channel). It is joined to Cootes Paradise by a narrow channel formerly excavated for the Desjardins Canal. Within Hamilton itself, it is referred to as “Hamilton Harbour”, “The Harbour” and “The Bay”. The bay is naturally separated from Lake Ontario by a sand bar. The opening in the north end was filled in and channel cut in the middle for ships to pass. The Port of Hamilton is on the Hamilton side of the harbor.

Here is a jetty in Hamilton Harbour protecting the marina and the boats from wakes, creating a no-wake zone. I once read “wakes make people angry.”

We saw hundreds of sailboats and in this photo below we see a steel mill in the distance and those breast-like shapes on the right contain grain and soy beans.

On Sunday, our last full day, we went to Albion Falls.

Albion Falls is a 62 foot classical/cascade waterfall flowing down the Niagara Escarpment in Red Hill Valley in Hamilton. With cascade falls the downpour is staggered into a series of steps causing water to “cascade”.

Albion Falls was once seriously considered as a possible source of water for Hamilton. Rocks from the Albion Falls area were used in the construction of the Royal Botanical Gardens‘ Rock Garden.

The ravine at the Albion Falls has a legend of the Lover’s Leap!  The story is that early in the 19th century young Jane Riley, disappointed in love with Joseph Rousseau, stood at the top of a steep cliff not far from thundering Albion Falls and flung herself to the bottom 100 feet below. The steep drop has since been dubbed “Lovers’ Leap” and many tales have grown up about the suicide.

On a happier note, we celebrated the end of our brief but spectacular vacation at Mattson & Co. enjoying some calamari and wine. Our third visit there, but who is counting! Great food and service!

Cheers!

One last thing, no trip to Hamilton is complete without purchasing donuts from the Donut Monster on Locke Street. And I did on Monday morning before we headed home. Pictured here Mexican Chocolate and Orange Hibiscus. YUM!!!

Wait! There’s more. I would be remiss if I didn’t say how beautiful the city of Hamilton is: the stores and restaurants along Locke Street; the nearby hiking trails and waterfalls; the kind and friendly people; the dogs—so many dogs in this very dog-friendly city; the beautiful brick homes. Oh! I think I saw a house for sale on Helena’s street!

Note: Helena is a friend from fourteen years ago when I had an art gallery. She is a gifted writer and fine art photographer. She is also the first person whose art I exhibited in my gallery. She loves photography, dogs, cats and ponies. Here is a photo from her recent trip to Iceland:

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” ~Seneca

One last thing happened when we were in Hamilton. Diane Ensey of Beyond Paper redesigned my website. I couldn’t be happier. I have worked with Diane before and I must say she’s the best: creative and attentive to detail–and fun to work with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Pasta Primavera

My wife and I were having lunch and she asked me “What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Why not make some past primavera? And be sure to add some squash. My mom always stir-fried squash for me; sometimes with scrambled eggs.”

And I did. So delicious.

Ingredients
Vegetables
  • 1¼ lbs. (about 6 cups) fresh vegetables cut into strips or diced (I used corn, squash, zucchini, red and green pepper—all from a local farm. And Japanese Eggplant, Jalapeno Peppers, and tomatoes—all from my garden. And some spinach.)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Pasta + Sauce
  • One package of fresh Rana linguine
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
Vegetables
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the vegetables, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the sheet pan.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly golden brown.
Pasta + Sauce
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add stock and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half, about 13-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter until melted and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Add the hot pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine. Then gently stir in the vegetables and Parmesan cheese. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve.

Watermelon Chaat

Cool salad for a hot summer’s day. So refreshing!

I found this recipe in the New York Times. The reporter writes:

“This recipe for watermelon chaat, a savory fruit salad dressed in toasted cumin and dried mango powder, comes from Malika Ameen, a cookbook author whose Pakistani-American family in Chicago makes infinite variations on fruit chaat in the summer. You could swap out the watermelon for a mix of what’s in season, whether it’s stone fruit, berries or cubed apple and pear. It’s an ideal dish to break the fast during Ramadan, full of flavor and hydrating, and quick to put together.”

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¾ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon amchur powder (dried green mango) (I didn’t use this.)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (a generous pinch if you like heat)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 orange, clementine or mandarin, juiced to make approximately 1/3 cup juice
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 3 to 4 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced (I used Chocolate mint.)
  • 1 small cucumber, halved, seeded, thinly sliced (My addition.)
  • 5 pieces of dried mango, thinly sliced (My addition.)

Preparation

  1. Place cubed watermelon in a wide platter with sides or in a large baking or serving dish and spread into a single layer.
  2. In a small pan, toast whole cumin seeds on medium heat for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Remove and coarsely grind with a mortar and pestle. (You can also grind in a spice grinder, but be sure not to grind to a fine powder as the coarse grains of the spice add a wonderful texture.)
  3. Transfer cumin to a small bowl and add all remaining spices and salt. Add citrus juice, jalapeño and mint and mix well. Pour dressing over cubed watermelon and mix to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for 1 to 6 hours. Serve chilled the same day.

 

Pasta with Artichokes and Pancetta

So delicious!

Based on a recipe from The New York Times, Melissa Clark.

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 4 medium artichokes, or 8 to 10 small or baby artichokes (I used a box of frozen artichokes. I sliced each in half.)
  • 8 ounces short tubular or corkscrew-shaped pasta (I used fresh 
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 6 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 large leek, halved and thinly sliced (I used one large shallot as I didn’t have leeks.)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons dry (white) vermouth or not-too-dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • ¼ cup parsley or mint leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more for serving
  • Fresh lemon juice, for serving

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, then cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in pancetta and cook until browned and crispy, stirring occasionally, 8 to 12 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate; leave fat in pan.
  3. Drain the artichokes, shaking them well to remove excess water. Raise heat under pan to medium-high, and stir in artichokes, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cook until golden brown and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and stir in vermouth, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of skillet.
  4. Stir in cooked pasta, pancetta, chives and parsley. If the mixture seems dry, add pasta water, a little at a time. Stir in more salt to taste, Parmesan and lemon juice to taste.
  5. Transfer to serving plates and top with a drizzle of oil, more black pepper, and more grated cheese.

Black Pepper Chicken Thighs with Mango, Rum and Cashews

Colorful and delightful. Delicious! I might cut back on the pepper next time as I woke up a few times during the night very thirsty.

Ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup salted cashews
  • 1 ¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 large (15-ounce) mango, cut into 1/4-inch cubes or use 2 small mangoes)
  • 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons cider vinegar, to taste
  • cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Preparation

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cashews and sugar-spice mixture to the skillet; cook, stirring, until nuts are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape nuts into a bowl.
  2. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel. Season chicken all over with salt and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add scallions and cilantro stems; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add garlic and chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is golden and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Pour in the rum and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the rum evaporates, about 1 minute.
  3. Remove pan from heat and immediately add nuts, mango, vinegar and cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

From The New York Times, Melissa Clark

Oh My COD!

Doesn’t get any easier than this.

And any tastier!

For two: 

One pound Cod. Combine 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon paprika. Apply this to Cod. Top with Panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle juice from 1/2 lime on top. Bake for 25 minutes at 400.

Yum!

Miso-Glazed Cod

My wife and I love Cod. Hey, we live in Massachusetts and Cod is like New England’s fish! And we, well me, love Miso. And this recipe based on one from Ellie Krieger is so easy to prepare and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2
  • S

Directions

Rinse fish fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Combine miso, brown sugar, sesame oil and mirin and stir well until brown sugar is fully dissolved.

Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake fish for 20-25 minutes until top is slightly charred and glaze has caramelized. Remove fish from oven and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook an additional 5 minutes, until fish is flaky but not overcooked.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.I

Gnocchi with Cannellini Beans and Kale

This is based on a recipe from Taste of Home. Simple to prepare and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (I used one shallot.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package (16 ounces) potato gnocchi (I used Rana gnocchi.)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained (I used 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes.)
  • 1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach (I used kale. You could also used swiss chard, mustard greens, etc.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Directions

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add gnocchi; cook and stir 5-6 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in beans, tomatoes, spinach and pepper; heat through. Sprinkle with cheeses; cover and remove from heat. Let stand 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

 

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Spicy Baked Beans

To go with the Easter ham, I made these Spicy Baked Beans. A spicy version of an American classic.

This was my wife’s idea and I am very grateful. She said, “Bruce what are you making to bring to Eleanor’s” (her sister-in-law). “Not sure,” I said. And Susan said, “How about some baked beans to go with the ham she is making?”

The best baked beans!!!

So delicious!!!

Ingredients
  • 8-10 slices bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 green pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cans pork and beans, not drained
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cook and stir bacon in a large skillet or large cast iron post over medium-high until crisp. Remove bacon. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons bacon fat. Stir onion, celery, red and green peppers into the rendered fat until tender. About 6-10 minutes.
  3. Stir baked beans, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and other sauce ingredients, including bacon. Stir. Pour the mixture into a 13×9-inch baking dish. (I used one large cast iron pot from the beginning. 
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the liquid has thickened and is hot and bubbly, about 35 to 45 minutes.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

 

Moroccan Baked Fish with Potatoes, Peppers and Olives

Quoting The New York Times:

“Bake fish Moroccan-style with spices, herbs, tomatoes and olives. This easy all-in-one recipe can be served immediately or at room temperature, making it perfect for a dinner party. Double or triple it if you’d like, and include it as part of a buffet. With a good bottle of wine, it will feel just like summer.”

Featured in: Adventures In New Greek Reds.

So delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, preferably hot
  • 1 pinch saffron threads, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds fish fillets (4 fillets): fluke, black sea bass, hake (I used COD.)
  • 1 pound large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, in half-inch-thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and slivered
  • 1 pint (1 pound) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Half-cup pitted Kalamata olives

Preparation

  1. Combine garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, paprika and saffron in a dish big enough for the fish. Mix vinegar, lemon juice and tomato paste in a small bowl. Add to dish and mix. Place fillets in the dish, turning to coat them, cover and set aside to marinate 2 hours at room temperature, 3 hours if refrigerated.
  2. Place potatoes in a saucepan, add water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Drain.
  3. Brush a baking dish that can go to the table and will hold the fish in a single layer with a little of the oil. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread potatoes in the dish, season with salt and pepper, and place fish fillets on top. Scatter peppers and tomatoes over fish. Add a little more salt and pepper. Spoon any excess marinade over fish, strew with olives, drizzle with remaining oil and bake about 30 minutes, until fish is just cooked through.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.