Got Craft? Spring Edition 2015

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I was given free admission to Got Craft?, but received no other consideration. All opinions in this post are my own.

Craft fairs have come a long way since I was a little girl. Back then, there were tables full of simple knitted toques, sugar-stiffened lace figurines, beadwork, and Phentex slippers. Everything felt homespun and full of a grandmother’s love, but it wasn’t exactly the right place to find stylish gifts or exciting home decor.

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These days, craft fairs are where you look for the newest trends in the making, across a number of disciplines. You’re much more likely to find a unique, on trend item at a craft fair than you are in a department or chain store.

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In Vancouver, Got Craft? was a pioneer of this new style of craft fair. I’ve got them to thank for a number of my favourite pieces of jewellery, home decor items, and well-received gifts. And they’ve helped to establish a healthy network of craft fairs and shows throughout the year here, supporting a diverse array of makers and crafters.

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Today I visited the first day of the spring edition of Got Craft? and was happy to find lots of new things to get excited about, along with some that have been favourites for a while. And once you finish shopping, you can take in one of workshops led by local favourites like A Spool of Thread.

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They’re back at it tomorrow and here are some of my personal highlights:

  • Anonum Design, one of a number of vendors that repurpose materials that would otherwise be headed for the landfill. They turn rubber printing blankets into an array of colourful, useful goods.
  • Craft’ed‘s whimsical cards, magnets, and bookmarks.
  • Cabin + Cub‘s wooden accessories. (I came home with a bicycle crest pin for my partner, who was delighted.)
  • The Green Flamingo Design‘s dapper ties and pocket squares, for any gender.
  • Graveley and Sons‘ syrups and infusions

I could go on, but you can check out full list of vendors instead.

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You needn’t worry about getting hungry, either. The area around the Maritime Labour Centre may be light industrial, but there are treasures around every corner. You’re only a block away from Parallel 49 Brewing, and there are plenty of tasting rooms, restaurants, and coffee shops within blocks. You can find a list of many of them at the East Village BIA website.

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But, you don’t have to wander far to find something tasty – there are food trucks parked right outside and treats from the likes of Livia Sweets and The Lemon Square in the foyer.

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And if you can’t make it this weekend, the folks at Got Craft? are also behind Strathcona’s London Fields Shoppe, or you can head over to Tiny Finery in Hastings-Sunrise for a similar commitment to the best of local makers.

3There won’t be another edition of Got Craft? until the the end of the year, but thanks to them and the other entrepreneurs that support Vancouver’s vibrant craft scene, the city is full of markets and shops that will keep you busy until then.

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Made With Love

Chili

Not long after his 60th birthday, my Dad was getting ready for work and told my mother he had to sit down for a minute before leaving. Luckily, my Mom recognized the signs of a heart attack and got him to the hospital so quickly that they were able to stabilize him before it was too late. He’d always congratulated himself on marrying a nurse, who could help him with whatever ailed him, and now she’d saved his life.

When he got home, there were exercise regimens and eating restrictions to follow. And my father counted himself lucky once again, because my mother is not only a fabulous cook, but she is also one of the most determined people on earth when she puts her mind to it. He was going to eat a healthy diet if it – well, even if it pained him.

She came up with an arsenal of heart-healthy recipes so delicious that the rest of the family started hoping some of the leftovers would show up at our doors. My Dad recovered, then thrived.

Ten years later, my partner Kevin started on his own path to better health and decided that veganism was going to be a big part of it. My mother started sending over freezer containers full of the chili she’d developed for my Dad. It’s vegan and gluten-free, but more importantly, it’s one of Kevin’s favourite meals.

It took a while for her to share the recipe with me, not because she’s secretive, but because she’s always busy – volunteering, meeting with friends old and new, or spending time with her grandchildren.

When I finally had the recipe, I whipped up a batch of the chili and immediately realized that my chili powder had much, much more cayenne pepper in it than the brand my mother uses. Her chili has a warming burn, while mine was five-alarm fiery. Taste, don’t trust is a good motto for adding chili powder. Lesson learned. I’ve amended that line of the recipe accordingly – it’s a range now, not the 6 tablespoons that she uses. (I think her chili powder must be mostly cumin.)

Tonight, I brought a whole batch to a meeting of our housing co-op. I came home with only one small bowl’s worth. Not quite enough for a meal, but enough to remind me to make it again soon.

And now you can share it with those you love, too, whether it’s your family or a community you care about.

Jeannine’s Spicy Vegetable Chili

By Jeannine McCarthy

Serves a crowd

1 tbsp olive oil
4 large garlic cloves – sliced
1 large onion – sliced and quartered
2 carrots – sliced into medium coins
2 small stalks of celery – sliced
1 cup water

1 can diced tomatoes 28 oz – low salt
1 can tomato sauce 680 ml – low salt

1 small green pepper – sliced into chunks
1 small red pepper – sliced into chunks
1 small orange or yellow pepper – sliced into chunks

1 can organic tomato paste 5.5 oz
2 cans red kidney beans 28 oz each – low salt
1 can black beans 19oz – no salt
1 can romano beans 19oz – no salt

1-4 tbsp chili powder*
1 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

  • Coat bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil. On low heat, add garlic and onions; cook until starting to look translucent. Add carrots, celery, and water. Cook until carrots are slightly tender.
  • Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add chili powder, cumin, vinegar, pepper and salt, then stir. Continue cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans, and Romano beans. Cook for 5 minutes, then add green, red, and yellow peppers.
  • Cook on medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

This is a large recipe. After the first meal, ladle left-overs into freezer containers (enough for one meal) and freeze.

*Start on the low range when you add the chili powder and then add a little at a time until you reach the level of heat you like. There can be a lot of variation in strength amongst chili powders. 1 1/2 tablespoons seems about right for us, with the brand we use.

A Year-end Round-up

Favourite Posts

A round up of popular posts on the last day of the year may be a blogging cliché, but it’s nice to look back at what’s resonated with people, especially when some of the top posts of the year reach farther into my blog’s history.

It’s not a surprise that this top 16 draws primarily from my cooking community posts and from posts with a local focus. Those are the twin pillars of my blog, after all.

I’m looking forward to where this blog will take me in 2015, but looking back, I’m quite happy with where I’ve been so far. A very happy New Year to you all. I hope 2015 brings you health, happiness, and adventure.

And so to the list:

16. FFWD – Tuna Rillettes

I’m starting out at the bottom of the list, in true late December countdown fashion. Sixteenth of over 350 posts is still pretty impressive, though. This post is about one of my favourite Dorista snacks of 2014. Tuna rillettes are addictively good, whether used as a dip or a spread.

15. FFWD – Sablefish with Double Carrots

Most of the Doristas who made this came away enamoured with the carrots cooked in carrot juice that anchor the dish. This post also includes a primer on sustainable seafood and a rich, cocktail snack of a quick bread.

14. The Bounty of the Valley

The Fraser Valley isn’t just the place where chefs, bakers, and makers get their ingredients. These days, there are more and more businesses springing up that are making the Valley a destination (or keeping Valley foodies closer to home). The Fraser Valley Food Show has become a showcase for some of the best the Valley has to offer.

13. FFWD – Celery-Celery Soup

The name of this soup piqued my interest, so it makes sense that readers would be curious, too. If you don’t know what to do with the celery root you see in the markets, this would be a good place to start.

12. West Coast Christmas Show

Another event in the Fraser Valley, proving you don’t have to commute to find great, local goods.

11. FFWD – Chanterelles with Cabbage & Nuts

One of my favourite 2014 French Fridays dishes, this is going to appear on my table every fall when the wild mushrooms start showing up in the markets.

10. FFWD – Visitandine

A simple cake and a great way to use up egg whites, especially if you’re making lemon curd. I make sure there’s always one of these in my parents’ freezer in case they need a dessert on the double.

9. FFWD – Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

This is one of the very first posts I made on the blog and it’s been in the top ten ever since. The cake has become a favourite in my family and beyond, making rum a more prized commodity around here than it ever was before.

8. Vegetable Quinoa Soup with the Taste of Little India

The photos for this soup are about as Pinterest-y as I get, which is why I think this one made the top ten. Besides, who can resist the promise of the name?

7. Eat Local: Kingfisher’s Waterfront Bar & Grill

I love talking about the local food scene and Kingfisher’s has a great food philosophy – two of the reasons I think this post was popular. The third? You got to meet my brother, Kingfisher’s Executive Chef.

6. Patate Alpino

I’ve been experimenting with working with brands a little bit on the blog and this is a post I’m rather proud of. A recipe inspired by the Italian side of the Alps and some French Fridays leftovers, this dish could become a dangerous habit for anyone in reach of a good Italian deli.

5. Cottage Cooking Club – October 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club, organized by the wonderful Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness has become a highlight of each month for me. Cooking through River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall gets me out of the rut of my usual approach to vegetarian cooking, which is how I like to eat at least 60% of the time. I think more people are getting interested in meatless meals, so I’m not surprised this post made the top ten.

4. Happy Birthday, Dorie! A French Fridays Celebration

The French Fridays crew is in the last few months of cooking through Around My French Table, so when our fourth anniversary of cooking together lined up with the release of Dorie’s new book and her birthday, we decided to celebrate. With previews of recipes from Baking Chez Moi, birthday wishes, and fond reminiscences, this was part of a very special round up of posts.

3. Almond-Orange Tuiles – A French Fridays Fail

It’s a commonplace that we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. I think that’s why this post climbed so high into the top ten, along with the fact that we can all relate to less-than-perfect results in the kitchen and everywhere else.

2. FFWD – Brioche and Nutella Tartine

This post from early 2012 has been consistently popular, perhaps because the word Nutella is a magnet or maybe because braided brioche is the cutest bread ever. I know I like the reminder of what a good team brioche, marmalade, and Nutella make.

1. Baking Chez Moi – We Begin!

My post on the kick off of another round of Tuesdays with Dorie was my most popular post of the year. How could it not be? Delicious cookies, a re-energized community, and a visit with Dorie Greenspan – no wonder it’s Number One.

Art in the Neighbourhood

I only had one day to enjoy the Eastside Culture Crawl this year, so I decided to concentrate on some of the smaller studios.

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I also took very few photos, snapshots with my iPhone, so I could give the bulk of my attention to the art. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and I loved hunting down studios through the quiet streets of Strathcona.

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I hope your weekend filled your eyes and hearts so well as this one did mine.

Exercise Your Franchise and Vote

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Today, civic elections are happening across MetroVancouver. If you live in Vancouver proper, you can find the poll nearest you using this tool.

Municipal governments make decisions that quite literally affect us closest to home. So, before you get your Saturday started, hit the polls and make sure your choices are counted.

Happy Swoktoberfest

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Steam Whistle Brewing provided me with an entry ticket to their Oktoberfest party on September 20th, along with a keepsake stein. However, I received no compensation and all opinions in the following post are my own.

Vancouver has become a craft brewing hotspot over the last few years and it seems natural that our cultural scene would find ways to celebrate the diversity and quality of the beers we have available to us now.

Take Oktoberfest – unlike Ontario celebrations, Oktoberfest was limited to small German cultural centres for a long time in Vancouver. But in the last few years, Oktoberfest celebrations have sprung up in restaurants, bars, and even downtown. I was given the opportunity to check out one of the first of this year’s events by Steam Whistle Brewing, who held their 2nd annual Oktoberfest party at The Imperial on September 20th. They debuted this year’s reusable steins, got folks into Bavarian alpine hats, and threw a party.

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Bestie was there, with sausage, saurkraut, and pretzels (and amazing mustard sauce, I might add). Polka music was provided by the Rheinlander Oom-pah Band, while the Austria Vancouver Club Edelweiss Dancers showed off German folk dances. Many of the guests got into the act, too, and there were some impressive traditional German costumes all around the room.

The best part of this Oktoberfest, for me, was how well the event catered to patrons young and old. It wasn’t just a university crowd – there were people ranging from their early twenties to well over sixty and you could tell it was a family evening out for many of them. And Steam Whistle’s pilsner is delicious – which is something coming from a stout and ale lover. (Steam Whistle is one of the early entries into better Canadian beer, having been around since 2000 and concentrating on their pilsner exclusively.)

You can get a stein and try their beer for yourself throughout October at Donnelly Group locations.

Now tell me, have you been celebrating Oktoberfest this year? There are plenty of options – what’s been your favourite?

A FlyOver Canada Christmas

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I attended an event preview of FlyOver Canada’s Christmas Plaza and presentation as a media guest. Nevertheless, all opinions in the following post are my own.

No matter how much you love the place you live in, there will always be parts of it that visitors are better informed about than you. I was reminded of that one summer several years ago, when my Ontario-born partner and I decided to take a touristy staycation, and then again in 2011, when Tourism Vancouver ran a promotion for locals in celebration of Vancouver’s 125th anniversary.

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Canada Place is one of the parts of Vancouver where locals are far outnumbered by visitors. So it’s nice that the businesses in the district are working together this Christmas to get the locals down there. The Winter Waterfront District includes a tree lighting celebration on December 6th, holiday lights, Christmas at Canada Place, and Christmas at FlyOver Canada.

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Though FlyOver Canada has been open since June of this year, I’ve only had a vague awareness of what it’s all about. So, when I actually experienced it, I was going in without any preconceptions. The pre-show reminded me of the pavilions at Expo ’86 (yes, I was there), four walls of beautifully shot scenes meant to gear up the audience for the main event. In between, we were led into a staging area, where the safety video introduced the holiday theme. The ride itself isn’t jarring, but I don’t think I was the only one who felt like they were suspended in mid-air, cruising over mountains and valleys. Even though I knew that in reality we were on a platform in front of an enormous concave screen, I found myself hanging onto the seat grips at some points as though I was really flying. The multi-sensory aspects of the experience are mostly successful, especially when the audience is spritzed with a little mist as the film takes us through areas of high cloud. And the holiday add-on, which asks the audience to help Santa find his missing reindeer, thrilled the kids at the performance I attended.

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Overall, I was impressed by the experience and a little embarrassed that I didn’t know more about it before. They’ve also made the most of their setting atop Canada Place, creating an outdoor festival area with food stands, performances, and ice sculpture displays. It’s a great way to cap off a visit to Christmas at Canada Place, but be sure to buy your tickets online – there’s a discount, which adds up for families. There’s also a holiday deal that’s worth checking out, which includes treats from the outdoor vendors. And be sure to enjoy the views – they’re some of the best downtown.

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Flowers + Dog

Stunning flower in Fort Langley

A photo post today, just because. I was hoping to call it Dog and Butterfly, for that ’70s vibe, but none showed up on the day I was taking these photos. I did have a face-to-face with a hummingbird, which seemed to go on forever, but must have really been only about ten seconds. I don’t mind not having photos of that encounter – how often does a hummingbird hover a foot from one’s face, taking stock of you while allowing you to enjoy its delicate iridescence?

Most of these photos were taken at my parents’ place and the rest are from a walk around Fort Langley. Tomorrow, I’ll be back, with cucumbers.

Roxy, auditioning for Love Story

A back up album cover, in case Roxy decides to start a band.

Fort Langley flowers

Clematis through last year's vines

Clematis, a side view

Spring Snow(man)

Yesterday, I wrote about winter’s end. Last night it snowed. I’m not so self-centred that I believe I caused the snow by writing about spring, but I do find that winter always has a word or two to get in before spring truly takes over the conversation.

Happy Leap Day everyone and here’s hoping that winter has finished saying its piece soon where you live, too.

And we’re back…

A blurred out photo of flowers, mostly yellow.

If you stopped by earlier today, you might wonder why my site went dark in support of the Stop SOPA/PIPA campaign. After all, this is a Canadian site. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation will have as big an impact here and across the world as it does in the United States. Michael Geist’s article on the problems posed by this legislation for Canadians can be found here:

Why Canadians Should Participate in the SOPA/PIPA Protest

Also, while it’s still up, check out The Oatmeal for a funny and informative protest page.