The Maritimes- Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

 Cape Breton is an island located in Eastern Canada along the Atlantic Ocean.  It is part of the Maritimes which are made up of the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. 
This region is the first to be settled by Europeans in Canada.
Map of Canada with a highlighted Maritimes region

Claimed by the French explorer Jacque Cartier- 
The French people who settled called themselves Acadian.
Cape Breton has a rich history of Acadian French, a dialect derived from the original French settlers some of which eventually moved to the Southern parts of Louisiana- 
Therefore, Acadian French is not unlike Cajun French. 
My Niece
Star Fish

A weathered boat

Lobster Traps

Blueberry picking
A (dead) jellyfish

These are called Lapin the French word for 'rabbit' as they are reminiscent of rabbit ears
A boat being (re) built

My older monkey rode this bike for miles around village and country- rain or shine

The monkeys enjoyed plenty of fishing
I visited the maritimes when I was younger with my parents.  When Dr. J and I were dating he took me back to where his mothers family still live.  We have gone back every couple of years since.
It is a great opportunity to spend time with family, interact with nature and eat amazing food. 


this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. ~soulemama


Polish Food In Toronto- Cafe Polonez- Roncesvalles Village

Going home to Toronto is a mixed bag of tangibly different and always the same.  It never ceases to amaze me how the Polish neighborhood I grew up in has become a hot spot for young yuppie families. 
Within an hour of being back I was speaking Polish (another thing that never ceases to amaze me that I can jump right into it) and ordering authentic Polish food from a restaurant that is one of very few that has been around since before my time.  
Cafe Polonez has changed outwardly having undergone extensive renovations yet the food is the same taste that I call 'home'. 

My mother and I both ordered the pickle soup- hands down my favorite Polish soup
This is my dish- I ordered cabbage rolls and it came with a beet horseradish salad,  sauerkraut and coleslaw
My aunt ordered the chicken cutlet- which is actually my favorite dish at Polonez
She also ordered a tasty compote- a Polish style fruit juice
The classic potato pierogi and roasted chicken my cousin S ordered with sauteed onions & sour cream in the little cups
If you are interested in making your own Polish food I have posted easy how to's of my grandmothers recipes for cabbage rolls and pierogi

What foods reminds you of 'home'? 


Emma Donoghue- Slammerkin And Room

Many years ago I read Emma Donoghue's book Slammerkin.  A historical fiction novel it is based on a murder which took place in 1763 in the Welsh countryside.  Slammerkin, a word used to describe a 'loose woman', follows the life of a young woman who raised in poverty ultimately makes a living as a prostitute.
Although the book follows a storyline that feels familiar, I found that Ms. Donoghue's writing is vivid and unique enough that almost ten years later I am able to remember specifics about the story and characters.  I found this novel to be not unlike that of another favorite Canadian author of mine, Alias Grace by Margret Atwood.  Slammerkin can be raunchy at times.  The life of a prostitute is painful both literally and figuratively.  The character sustains gang rape and gonorrhea both of which are described in painful details.  

I've recently heard a lot of buzz about Room- Ms. Donoghue's latest novel.  I have seen people reading it everywhere in libraries, airports, pools and beaches.  My MIL bough me a copy of this novel and I read it over the course of two days.  Told from the perspective of a five year old it tells the story of a mother and son.  The story reminds me of Plato's Allegory of The Cave in which people take something which is illusion, as real- if they know no other way.  As a mother I found this story to be fascinating in terms of the education we provide for our children and doing the best with the resources we have.  

Emma Donoghue was born and raised in Ireland however resides in London, Ontario where Dr J and I both completed our undergraduate studies.  She lives with her husband and two children and has an impressive biography.  


Gathering Mussels In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada

Mussels are a prevalent seafood found 'wild' in saltwater rivers along the Canadian Atlantic ocean. Mussels are mollusks and filter iron from seawater to produce an adhesive plaque which they use to attach themselves to rocks and seaweed.  In low-tied they are easily gathered in ‘mussel beds’ found in shallow water or under clumps of seaweed that is still alive but not underwater.

After gathering the mussels we rinsed them with water and made sure to removed all the small rocks, pebbles and seaweed.
Wild caught mussels have 'beards'- a bristly growth on the seam of the shell- used to attach themselves to rocks. It is a bit labor intensive but the best way to remove the beard is to pull it off, towards the hinged part of the shell, with your fingers.  
This should be done immediately before cooking.  

Mussels are a good source of Selenium which stimulates the metabolism and immune system and protects cells from free radical damage.  They are high in vitamin B12, zinc, folic acid, iron and calcium. 

When gathering wild mussels it is important to be informed as to the conditions of the water- areas that are free of bacteria and have constant moving water are ideal.  When in doubt ask!

We seamed ours in a pot with some carrots at the bottom- a cup of white wine, garlic, onions, diced tomatoes and herbs from the garden.  Mussels don't need water added to them as they will cook in their own water.  Make sure to save the water to use as a nutritious stock.  
From the pot

To the table
Do you like to eat mussels? 
What is your favorite way to cook them/eat them?


The Best Advice I Ever Got By Katie Couric

I borrowed this book from the library and found it to be an inspirational read.  At first I thought that I would skim through and read perhaps just the pages by people whom I recognized.  I found it to not only be a quick read but one with many hidden golden nuggets of thoughtful advice.

One of my favorites, in it's entirety is Martha Stewarts advice to Gather the Good Things:

So the pie isn't perfect? Cut it into wedges. When faced with a challenge, evaluate or assess the situation, gather the good things in sight, abandon the bad, clear your mind, and move on.  Focus on the positive. Stay in control, and never panic. 

I did not know anything about Katie Couric before I read this book and although it is not about her- there are snippets of her own life story which is both insightful and sad.



 Clearwater is the largest lobster harvesting and storage plant in Canada.  It is also the inventor and operator of the worlds only ‘Dryland Pound Storage System’. Clearwater prides itself on harvesting the best lobsters from the waters of the Canadian North Atlantic. 
Generally lobsters are at their plumpest - the ‘meat’ fills the whole shell- during the months of January through July.  By storing them in ice cold water and slowing down their metabolisms- Clearwater is able to supply their consumers with prime lobster all year round.  

 Using a computer and laser system to accurately measure the weight of each lobster as they make their way down a conveyor belt they are also checked for any damage as well blood protein levels.  By determining how high the blood levels are biologist are able to establish the longest time they can be stored without loosing their ‘meatiness’.  

The innovative storage system is designed to create a minimum stress environment for the lobsters and allows them to be stored when their blood proteins are at the highest. 
Gerald gave us a tour of the Clearwater in Arichat, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada

This lobster is approximately 30 years old and weights about six pounds
Compartments which mimic a lobster’s natural habitat pump over five million liters of sea water through the ‘lobster hotels’ every hour- thus enabling Clearwater lobsters to maintain their health and weight.  Clearwater ships all over the world with a large consumer base in China and Japan as well as North America. 

This is a female with eggs

Clearwater does not accept small (baby) lobsters, damaged/ harmed lobsters or female lobsters with eggs.  Females keep their eggs attached to their hair like hairs under their bellies.  In the uncommon scenario that a female with eggs is brought in such as this one they are stored in a separate holding area and released.  
This is the batch we got

 We were lucky enough to take our lobster 'home' and cook it a few hours later- Delicious! 
Greeting from Cape Breton!


this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. ~soulemama



My monkeys like to make forts

My monkeys get very disappointed when their cardboard creations are recycled- but such is cycle of life

Can you picture the forts you used to build as a kid? 

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