Oh my….Ontario peaches

Yes, it’s that time. And I don’t know what could be more delicious….unless it’s the BC blueberries also tucked into my morning breakfast, or the farmer’s market nectarines and blue plums also ripening on my kitchen counter.

Ahh autumn, and harvests, and cooler days. Small pleasures. Mighty treasures.

August deepens

And just like that August deepens. From Queen Anne’s lace to the first bright cosmos, from meadows of tall grasses to falling acorns and maple keys. I’ve heard it said that we gain most of the psychological benefits of exercise within the first five minutes of stepping outside. Not sure if that is 100 percent true, but that’s what I feel as I step out into the changing sunlight and occasionally cooler air of these August days.

We’ll Meet Again

When it comes right down to it what some of us miss most during COVID is the unquestioned ease we used to feel about interaction with others: the unworried assumption that we could start or end a chat with friends with a hug; the knowledge that we could rush to see grandchildren and swoop them into an enormous cuddle. 

So, what I liked most about the Queen’s coronavirus message was her simple reminder that “we’ll meet again.” And she did put the emphasis on “meet.”

This photo was taken at a backyard gathering of friends last summer, where I was enchanted not only by the homegrown veggies but by their artful arrangement.

We’ll meet again.

COVID Cooking: Corn & Bean Salad

What makes this “COVID cooking?”

It uses simple but good ingredients that keep well so you can space out your shopping: dried black beans; frozen kernel corn; cherry tomatoes; red onion; oil, vinegar and seasonings.

Why does Living Slim love this dish?

Because it’s delicious and nutritious and that’s what Living Slim is all about.

How do you put this together?

If you’re using dried black beans soak for at least 10 hours in cold water. Remember they will double in size. Drain, rinse and simmer in enough salted water to cover for about an hour. Taste to make sure they are done, then drain and let cool. If you’re using tinned beans, rinse and dump into a bowl. Add cooked frozen or tinned corn, chopped red onion and sliced cherry tomatoes. Dress with a gentle vinaigrette. Ratio should be 1 measure of oil to 3 measures of apple cider vinegar with a small sprinkle of sugar, salt to taste, and several shakes of dried parsley and basil. Don’t use too much oil in the dressing as lighter is better. Flavours meld as it sits. Enjoy.

Apples in Calgary

“In my mother’s house, there were always apples.”

– Living Slim: A Canadian Woman’s Way

The past few months saw me transported from one of Melbourne’s inner city suburbs – tons of interesting Aussie cafés, bistros and food shops literally around every corner – to one of Calgary’s outer neighbourhoods bordered by a big box mall and a standard array of North American burger, breakfast and coffee chains. Not what Living Slim especially appreciates when eating out. But, I’ll admit, it was still strangely comforting for this returning Canadian to step into Canada’s favourite coffee shop and sit down with a simple brew.

But, wasteland as this mall may have been in terms of interesting dining, all was not lost. 

Why? Because, (as I note in Living Slim), most of us are incredibly fortunate, in this country, to have a wealth of good food readily available in our standard, run-of-the-mill, found-almost-everywhere grocery stores.

The big box mall near me in Calgary, which sprawled over a really large area, had no less than three huge grocery stores. I was spoiled for choice. And while I do love my adventures with bistro food, I am fundamentally a home cook and a home eater. So, I was one happy camper regardless.

One shopping day, well into the Calgary fall that was practically a winter this year, as I picked up some beautiful Macintosh apples at one of those grocery chains, the cashier surprised me with a comment: “Ahh, you’re getting the fall Macintosh. They’re the best aren’t they?” 

 “Yes, I love them,” I replied, thinking, as I did that this fellow apple lover might just be a Living Slim kindred spirit. Trim, energetic, of a certain age and super friendly – in fact, Calgarians in general, I had noted, were super friendly – she was a treat to chat with.

 “You just can’t beat their flavour can you,” she continued briskly. “They’re my favourite apple, especially in the fall, when they’ve just come in. Then later on in the winter, when they’re not so good, I buy my Pink Ladies. Oh, I just love my Pink Ladies. So crisp, so sweet, so juicy.”

My Pink Ladies. I was utterly charmed. My Pink Ladies. This person really did love her apples.

“Yes,” I agreed easily. “You just can’t beat the fall Macintoshes.”

”And that’s the first of many reasons Canadian woman can manage to live slim. No one puts on weight – ever – eating and enjoying the apple. And in Canada, we do enjoy lots of them.”Living Slim: A Canadian Woman’s Way

Living Slim’s First Amazon Review!

First reader review on Amazon.ca!! Thanks Alexander Roth.

I’m particularly happy that this review mentioned the deliciousness of the food I write about. I believe deeply that healthy eating is happy eating. That good food is delicious food. And that our relationship with food works best when it is full of positivity, gratitude and joy.


Korean Food: Yum

It’s true.  I have given Korean food short shrift, but not anymore. (Blame it on an unhappy and goopy experience in a food court.)

But it helps in life to have friends who get you to try new things!  This spread was delicious, nutritious, and full-on worthy of Living Slim’s seal of approval. 

Note: not much in the way of heavily processed foods.  Can we learn something there… All kinds of good tastes and good nutrients from the soup, the seaweed, the egg, the meat, the veggies, and that yummy purple rice. 

This was a spread for four, and we all ate to our complete satisfaction! 

After which it was a dive into something completely else: PEI turn of the (last) century culture as we enjoyed an outdoor variation of Anne (with an e) of Green Gables in beautiful Guild Park. #livingslimcanadian

Ontario peach season. Woo hoo!

Picked up a basket of these sweeties at my local East Lynn Farmer’s Market this week.  Two days later, five little baggies, each containing two perfectly ripe and oh-so-delicious peaches went into my freezer.  Woo-hoo!  January breakfasts, here I come!!

It’s my first time trying this.  I’m taking lessons from a friend mentioned in my book who happily exemplifies the first and most important Living Slim principle: valuing, prioritizing and enjoying real foods.

“One Ontario friend recently showed me her large stash of plastic baggies, filled with frozen, cut-up Ontario peaches that she had put by, as my aunt on the farm might have done, for her breakfasts during our cold Canadian winters when the quality of the imports simply cannot compete.” – Living Slim: A Canadian Woman’s Way

Queen for a Day

You’ll want to write a blog, people said. 

I will? I said.  But, I’ve said all I want to say in the book.  This is it.  I’m finished.  I have nothing more to say.

Oh, but blogs are good marketing tools, people said.  There’s plenty you can say on health, and wellness, and diets, and so on.

I’m not so sure, I said to myself.  It had, after all, taken me quite some time to distill my thoughts into this book…

And so that is why this page and this blog (yes, I have decided to try) is called The Occasional. 

Occasionally I will try this.  And here’s goes with my very first one.

It all came about because I took a walk downtown this week, looking for new walking shoes. 

Yes, it is absolutely true.  As I say in Living Slim, I am a walker.  And, what I don’t say is this: I am not a shopper. 

I have worn my trusty walking shoes to a thread, all while avoiding the shopping required to replace them. 

But travel is coming up.  And fall is coming up.  And I may make it through summer with my threadbare pair, but not much beyond that.  So, off I went to Mountain Equipment Co-op in its new location on Queen West.  And, because of that excursion, I passed by and remembered the venerable and wonderful Queen Mother Café – the first place I ever sampled the pleasures of pad thai. 

Worth a trip back, I said to myself.  So, before I forgot this lovely thought, back I went yesterday for lunch.  And in I tucked to a quinoa salad in the beauty of their charming back-of-resto patio.  I soon realized, again, that The Queen Mum is nothing if not fresh and delicious and reliably wonderful, each and every time. 

As I munched through the salad, I also soon realized that I couldn’t finish more than half of all that yummy deliciousness.  In fact, I soon realized I was somewhat re-living the salad-munching memory I relayed in my book, when my young lunch companion, in Edinburgh, informed me that one should “always consume only two-thirds of what’s on your plate.”  I smiled then at the comment, since my frugal mother, my book’s slim-living muse, would have been horrified to “waste” purchased food like that.  I smiled now at the memory.  And I smiled even more deeply at the realization that, ten years on, plus ça change plus ça reste le même chose.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fortunately for me, I was not travelling abroad for this lunch.  I did not have to waste it or stuff myself too full.  I would be able to enjoy the rest of this deliciousness at home! 

And I did. 

(Taken home, thank goodness in in a biodegradable container.  Thumbs up to them!)

#LivingSlimandLovingIt  #LivingSlimCanadian  #QueenMotherCafe