Category Archives: Joy

The Middle-terrain-ean lifestyle filled with healthy hobbits – the real secret to long life (Happy April fool’s day)

Hobbits live the longest...it must be their Middle-terrain-ean diet

Hobbits live the longest…it must be their Middle-terrain-ean diet

I’ve long thought that I’d like to be a hobbit.

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Ode to @JoyRoadCatering – coming soon to @CookbookCooks in Calgary

Dappled sunlight at day's end signals time for a Joy Road Al Fresco dinner  photo - Karen Anderson

Dappled sunlight at day’s end signals time for a Joy Road Al Fresco dinner
photo – Karen Anderson

Canada’s Top 40 under 40 Foodies, Dana Ewart and Cameron Smith of Joy Road Catering are coming to Calgary March 15 and 16, 2014 for a weekend of sharing not only their cooking but their cooking skills.

Joy Road’s Al Fresco Winemaker’s dinner series – held on the clay banks escarpment high above Lake Skaha in Penticton, B.C. each summer – has been listed in the top ten dining events to experience in Canada. Tickets for each season sell out as quickly as they are announced. Patrons eagerly await the chance to return to the bucolic setting and taste of place this team serves up with deceiving ease. A multi-course dinner for 40, paired with local winemaker’s bounty, served outside on crisp white linens – complete with elegant flowers, candles and a touch of whimsy – are carried out with the panache that only comes with mastery of the culinary arts. The vibe is French or Italian countryside without the pricey plane ticket and jet lag but with all the subtle pride in a region’s produce and terroir.

The Joy Road Catering Calgary events at The Cookbook Co. Cooks are as follows:

March 15 – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – whole hog butchery – $135/person.
March 15 – 6:30 to 9 p.m. – Joy Road Catering’s wine paired feast – $100/person.
March 16 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – hands on charcuterie-making – $100/person.
All tickets are available through The Cookbook Co. Cooks by calling (403) 265-6066.

Want to know a little more about what makes Joy Road’s Ewart and Smith so special? Read on for a cozy peek into life lived on Joy Road…

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Filed under Cooks I know, Heritage cooking skills, Joy, Restaurants, Savour food, Travel, Wine

Art installation #3 – @U2 > Ordinary Love

I appreciate music.

Like art and beauty, taste in music, is totally personal and subjective.

It doesn’t matter what type of music I like or that you like. No matter what it is; the fact that we like it is enough to have a positive impact on our brains and our lives.

This post was inspired by U2′s new song Ordinary Love because in watching the video and listening to the lyrics, I got to thinking about how music affects our lives and our ability to savour it all.

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Joy – My love affair with lobster

My grandfather's fish market on the Passamaquoddy bay in St. Andrews, New Brunswick photo - Karen Anderson

My grandfather’s fish market on the Passamaquoddy bay in St. Andrews, New Brunswick
photo – Karen Anderson

I was about to post a snazzy lobster recipe for New Year’s when it hit me that you might wonder why someone in Calgary who professes to love “local” is now writing about lobster of all things. Here’s a little backgrounder to explain.

I was a teenager the first time I ate a whole lobster. It was late November and Dad’s birthday. “The season” was on and the lobster feed must have been a treat for a special year because as a rule we ate the fish Dad caught about four days a week and hamburger in some way, shape or form the other three. My long and happy relationship with lobster started on that fateful night.

Warning: this post might leave you with a terrific craving for lobster which depending on your income and geographic location could be inspiring or very, very frustrating.

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Filed under Great ingredients, Joy, Recipes

Ho-Ho-Hold onto that party idea till the New Year – How small groups can have BIG holiday fun once the season has wrapped up

Wine tastings are always fun. Time for a little time out...for good behaviour?  Here's a list of fun things to do for your small group Photo - Karen Anderson

Wine tastings are always fun.
Time for a little time out…for good behaviour?
Here’s a list of fun things to do for your small group
Photo – Karen Anderson

I’m thinking about all my friends in the hospitality and retail industries who are going gangbusters right now. It doesn’t take three wise men to know that they’ll be holding on till the New Year for a share of the good cheer most of us our currently enjoying thanks to their hard work.

There’s also whole gaggle of small groups and groups with small budgets in our town who can’t afford to check everyone into a spa-laden hotel or to fly in The Eagles to help them Take it Easy like some of this city’s generous corporate giants have been known to do (Calgary is Canada’s corporate head office capital).

Think of this post as a stocking overflowing with ideas for small groups whose gratification must be delayed. Here’s a few flings you can have before spring.

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Holiday party recipes – my @AlbertaatNoon column for November

I can squeeze 12 around my table and that makes for a very cozy gathering. I care for that. photo - Karen Anderson

I can squeeze 12 around my table and that makes for a very cozy gathering. I care for that.
photo – Karen Anderson

I don’t believe in perfect. The late great Erma Bombeck said if we wait for everything to be perfect to entertain we’ll miss out on way too much fun. I’m a firm believer that humans can never have too much fun and we need to exercise all options that might lead to the experience of joy.

I’m in love with the idea of having many creative options. Give up the idea of perfection and suddenly many ideas will have a chance to bring you joy. I think Confucius had it right when he said,

“the only way… is to have many ways”.

When it comes to parties and food, people can fall into the trap of wanting to have “the perfect party” and “perfect food”. I’m convinced there’s no such thing and that a party is better when it is not focused on these aspects of entertaining. Give yourself a break and keep your focus on the fun. Lighten up and enjoy the sharing of good food, drink and music with friends and family.

Joy will follow where fun leads.

For my November CBC Radio One Alberta at Noon radio column I presented three ideas or themes for holiday parties – family fun, appetizer themes and cozy suppers for the near and dear. This blog will deliver the recipes to go with each of those themes. Use the party planning principles I presented and enjoy these yummy recipes. Expect to be delighted and savour it all this holiday season. Blessings to you and yours, Karen

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Savour life – musings on the power of nature as we endure the #yycflood of 2013

Elbow River Fall 2012

Elbow River Fall 2012

Elbow River - Winter 2012

Elbow River – Winter 2012

Elbow River Spring 2013

Elbow River Spring 2013

Elbow River  - First day of Summer 2013

Elbow River – First day of Summer 2013

I decided last fall I would snap the odd photo from this one spot I always pass on my walks around my neighbourhood. Without fail the view of the Elbow River from this hill always makes me pause for a moment to enjoy its beauty and tranquility. I love the sound of the running water and think of it as bringing life where ever it goes. I treasure having something in my day that causes me to stop and feel the joy of being alive and in the moment for even one moment. Nature has the power to engage all of our senses and help us live in the now. Even a moment of not racing ahead to my to do list or not dragging the past like an old sack behind me can deliver a little transcendence. Nature is a true blessing in this regard.

Nature also has the power to scare the bee-jeepers out of us. Today we are experiencing the worst flood in Calgary’s history. Today’s walk around my hood was engaging all my senses but not in a relaxed and joyful way. The last photo in the study above was taken a few hours ago. The Elbow River has become a raging torrent and as I stood and watched it from my usual perch, I was deeply saddened as I know the wrath it is wreaking on my friends downstream. I could hear the thunderous power this avalanche of water is gathering as it hurls itself towards the city of Calgary just around the bend. I could see the earth and debris it is tearing up and dragging along. Everything in its wake is powerless. It is in fact designing a whole new riverbed as it goes. I’m not sure the double bridge around the bend will even hold up under its forces. I could have gotten away from here but I wanted to stay. Being one who savours food I have a pantry, fridge and freezer full and I might be needed by my neighbours. Like all Calgarians, I’m longing for the flood to hit its peak and begin to recede so we can rebuild our beloved city.

I just spoke with a dear friend who told me her home is under 10 feet of water. Another is in a Best Western motel and can’t locate her father-in-law. Still another fears her home might be dislodged completely. I’ve got oodles of friends on Facebook joking about their new riverfront property and hiding anxiety about the mess they’ll soon face. Still others have texted to let me know they are okay. They have not been able to get back to their homes but they are dry and safe and happy to be drinking wine with friends or just watching movies with their kids as they hang with relatives. My friends that I do business with in Inglewood have called and emailed to say they might not be able to do a food tour with me tomorrow. Good grief! – the grace they had to think of me and my little business at a time like this astounds me.

I pause in the helplessness of it all. I pause and think about those friends. I was surprised as I talked to people who not once did I hear worry, pity or defeat in anyone’s voice. I heard strong people calmly accepting what nature is doling out. I did not hear anyone talk about the things they were losing. I heard them talking about what a miracle it is that all are safe and how happy they are to be with their families. I heard them making plans for rebuilding as soon as they possibly can.

I felt helpless. They seem strong. Perhaps I only feel helpless because I can’t help them at this moment. I know what I need to do. I’m going to rest and I’m going to do what I always do in times of trouble…GET COOKING! I need to be ready to feed my friends. That’s something I’m good at. That’s something they’ll need when this initial calmness dies off and they are left in grief, shock anger and despair when they return to face the reality of the devastation this flood will leave in its wake. We may have to gulp the food I’ll cook down in moments spread here and there between days of clean up in the weeks and months to come. We may not be able to savour our food in the days to come but we can savour friendship and savour the gift of life even when nature threatens our life with its amazing power.

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Filed under Grief, Joy, Savour life

Savour Food – @craveyyc – I’m going to let this video tell you what I’m thinking about

I love my friends at Crave Cookies and Cupcakes. Their cupcakes are a great source of joy for me. I’m craving one right now. I can’t get one right now but I remembered this lovely little video and I feel so darn good after watching it I pretty sure I don’t need the cupcake now. Isn’t that interesting?

To Jodi and Carolyne the amazing sisters from High River Alberta that started this company in 2004 and to their amazing team with Laura, Aldene and Cynthia I wish you many years of continued success. You are all so fabulous. Every time I eat one of your cupcakes I savour every bite. I love this video because it captures the love and care you put into all your baking. You are right, as the name of your video suggests, it is the little things that add up to making the real differences in life. I don’t know if most people are aware of the short cuts that most bakeries take. Crave is different.

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Savour food Savour life – designer Geoff Lilge of @onourtable features his favourite designs from MY kitchen – Sooo fun!

What's on my table  - as chosen by designer Geoff Lilge of @OnourTable

What’s on my table – as chosen by designer Geoff Lilge of @OnourTable

Thanks to my friends Cindy Lazarenko and Geoff Lilge for featuring me and my favourite kitchen items on their beautiful @Onourtable design blog. You can read that post here.

I care for great design. It makes our lives so much better. I had fun writing for On Our Table. It was a thought-provoking exercise and a rare opportunity to think about the things I’ve surrounded myself with. Beyond these creature comforts there’s one thing I care more than anything and that’s friendship.

Friendship could be life’s greatest design. I don’t know if its form follows its function. I don’t get to see my friends Lazarenko and Lilge much. I see them when their work brings them to Calgary so yes, I guess the form in which our friendship develops follows a function. We tweet, message, email and call. Those are other forms that allow our friendship to function. It doesn’t matter. Each friendship is unique in its design; like the snow flakes that fall from a dark night sky, each is uniquely created to land softly where it will.

I love each of my friendship’s intricate designs. I love the ability of friendship to withstand the high and low seasons of life’s continuum. I love the joy friendship breathes into our short time of being here on earth.

I count myself incredibly blessed to have these dear and talented friends. Cindy and Geoff, talented cook and designer, and dear kindred spirits, you help me savour my food and savour my life. Thank you.

My darling friend - chef Cindy Lazarenko of On Our Table

My darling friend – chef Cindy Lazarenko of On Our Table

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Filed under Cool things, Joy, Savour food, Savour life, Writing

Savour Life – because it comes with the ultimate deadline

In the last few weeks I have had a lot of deadlines. They’ve kept me busy working when I’ve not been playing with my family and enjoying the bevy of engaging social events we’ve had lately. It’s been a demanding but fun time.

In the last few months a dear friend was given the ultimate deadline. She was told that she only has a few months to live. She had to move to a hospice.

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