First Snow and Luge 2.0

First Snow!

Sam and I took the kids out to play in the snow while we cleaned up.

We found some scrap lumber that had been lining the floor of our old “plastic garage” that collapsed last winter. That got us to thinking more about our winter project this year, Luge 2.0

Last year was rather epic, with snowblowers to move the snow, many men shovelling and lots of on the fly engineering to build the greatest backyard sledding hill of all time.

This year we think we have it beat. Luge 2.0 has the following features.

  • 14′ dished ramp
  • 7′ vertical drop (from the deck railing height)
  • 3 1/2′ high table platform for loading (possibly built out of pallets with 2×4 cross supports and a chipboard “floor”
  • safety railing on one side of ramp
  • safety railing on one side of table
  • Possible tarp wrapping on ramp to protect and enhance sledding speed
  • 110% pure awesomeness
  • so far, constructed entirely of imagination

Anyone want to help?  We will need to somewhat build this in place as neither of us have the math to properly engineer it.  We’re going to use recycled wood as much as possible, both to be environmentally friendly (ok, I’m not really that green) and to save money. (Yep, this is the real reason.)

I’ve attached our plans as currently drawn.  They aren’t all that much to scale, and they’re certainly not measured.  Angles on plans mean nothing, use your imagination to envision the true awesomeness that these plans represent.

Then call us, so you can help.  With your muscles and time and brains and overall coolness.  You need to prove your coolness.  Come help with Luge 2.0!

 Rough Luge Draft 2.0 Luge 2.0

Rough engineering draft for Luge 2.0

Mohito + Mole + Taco + Salsa(s) + Mohito + Guacamole + … mmm…smiley.

Recipe Time, Pueblo-Quesnel Style!

Chicken Mole

  • 4 pc Chicken Breast
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Tex Mex Spice

Put oil in pan and get hot, hot hot!  Put onion and chopped garlic in pan, saute. Drink Mohito(recipe below). Add chicken pieces, 4 breasts cut into 4 pieces each.  Saute in medium fry pan, covered for approx 15 minutes or until no longer pink.  Remove onion and chicken mixture from pan and reserve.  Check out next list of ingredients for mole gravy.

  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c flour (we used gluten free flour mixture)
  • 1/4 c chili powder
  • 2tbsp Tex Mex spice.
  • 1 cup diced tomato and juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in above water
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oil and then add flour a bit at a time, letting it brown slightly.  (Essentially, you’re making a roux).  Once roux is made, add the chili powder, the tex mex spice and the tomato juice.  Stir in the water w/ bouillon cubes dissolved.  Drink mohito, do not add to sauce. You should get a thick gravy. Add peanut butter and chocolate chips, stir until smooth.  Drink Mohito. Simmer for 10 minutes and add the reserved chicken mixture, simmer for 10 or so more minutes.

Consume w/ rice or flatbread.

Fish Taco

  • 2 Basa Fillet
  • 1 tsp Tex Mex Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 head cabbage
  • Fresh Salsa (Recipe Below)
  • Fresh Guacamole (Recipe Below)
  • Kraft Coleslaw Dressing
  • Some sort of flatbread

Make a rub of the spices and coat the fish pieces.  Roast under a low broiler until fish is tender flaky, about 20 minutes.  Finish under high broiler for 5 minutes until crispy.

Make a taco with the fish, the fresh cabbage, salsa and guacamole and some dressing.  Super Tasty!  Drink Mohito.


  • 1 pppphhhhhhht of sugar
  • 1 psshhhhhht of lime
  • 1 chuckchuckachucka fresh mint
  • 1 glurpaglurpaglurp of spiced rum
  • 1 pwwwoooosh club soda

Top with ice and Serve.  Made by the glass was too slow, we found a better version was to sextuple the ingredients and fill  a rubbermaid jug. (w/ hand plunger, very important!)

Fresh Salsa

  • 2 large tomato, dice
  • 5 assorted coloured peppers, dice
  • 1/2 large (giant) red onion, dice
  • 0 cloves garlic (fail, too many mohitos)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 0 assorted hot peppers (pablano, thai chili, jalapeno….oops)
  • Fresh Herbs. Diced.  Cilantro, Oregeno, Basil and Thyme

Mix and Serve.

Fresh Guacamole

  • 4 avacado, pitted, mashed
  • 2 clove garlic, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt + Pepper to taste

Mix, Mash, Moosh, Squoosh, Dip, Eat, Serve, Drink Yummy yummy mohito. Yum.

Fresh Fruit (not vegetable) Salsa

  • too many fresh blueberries (use 1 pint, we used 2)
  • Mmmm…mohito.
  • 3 banana chopped, diced, whatever. It’s all good.
  • 1 Mango, diced-ish
  • 3 Peaches, peaches for me.  Diced
  • GlurpaGlurpaGlurp spiced Rum
  • We used cinnamon and nutmeg – meh.  Suggest fresh mint and basil instead.
  • Mmm..mohito.

Chop, Mix and serve.  We’re also going to saute for topping on desert crepe later.

As you may be able to tell, the mohitos were an integral part of the meal.  The difficulty in typing this post is largely due to to the amount of alcohol consumed in the drink mohito steps listed above.  This post brought to you by the letter M and the number More. (Which rhymes with four….teen.)

Good night Captain Morgan, Good Night to you!

Dairy Free Crepe

The other night, after a couple hours of watching “Chopped” on Food TV we were a bit hungry.  Sam’s sister is visiting, so Tara and I decided to make something to eat.  We had bananas, oranges and…’s eleven thirty at night, what do we have?

A quick scour through the cupboards gave me an idea.  Add some syrup, brown sugar and other ingredients and we had the makings of crepes.  I’ll just mix some butter, milk, egg and flour in a blender and….

Oh – Chris is allergic to dairy.  Hmm…that’s not going to work.  A quick google came to the rescue though, and I found this:

Dairy Free Crepes.  Hmm..worth a try.  I substituted almond milk for soy cream, and so this is how my recipe went:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 grapeseed oil (I didn’t have canola)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Mix all in a bowl and stir vigorously.  Pour by 1/4 cup servings into a hot nonstick fry pan.  Fry one side for about 1 1/2 minutes, flip and fry second side for 45sec to 1 minute.  Awesome crepes, bit crispy at the edges (from the sugar) and taste like sweet heaven.

We added some filling too:

  • 2 bananas diced into hot pan
  • 4 small oranges (mandarin style) peeled and segmented into hot pan
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Heat through and you have an awesome filling!  They were great with icing sugar sprinkled on top.  They looked great, and tasted better.  Other fruits could have been added to give the filling a more rounded flavour, and dairy free whipped topping would have been the icing on the cake, as it were.

BBQ Nachos!

Wow.  BBQ nachos turned out awesome!

We used Tostitos lime chips, you could use anything, although your mileage may vary.

Chips + Cheese + Green onions.  Lay on tray covered in tinfoil.

Get BBQ hawt!  Put the nachos away from the direct heat, up on a rack, preferably with no burners on directly underneath – ours is pretty big so it was easy.

The nachos turned out awesome!  They were a bit limey, and they were smokey, and they were just amazingly awesome.  We didn’t even need very much cheese to enjoy them.  This one is a winner, together with some burgers and hotdogs on the grill, it’s a nice way to break up the monotony they you sometimes get when you’re barbecuing all summer.

Some reading to do…

Not many people are reading this anymore, but I thought I would point out some sites that my family is working on. – D, Sam’s older sister, has a family that is wheat intolerant/allergic.  Because of this, and the challenges she’s faced trying to feed her family in a wheat free world she has started this website as an outlet for her discoveries and to provide the information she’s found to the rest of the world. – Dianne is the proprietor of Defiance Art and Design.  I’ve mentioned her on my photography blog, but thought I’d mention her here too.  Dianne is (in my humble opinion) a genius with art and design. She’s smart, does modern design that feels timeless and is building a business in web design. (An official one now, she’s done it for some time as a sideline gig – I hope that’s not a bad description.)– Sam’s Mother is blogging here, as Matriarch of the Squires.  Lots of family updates, waaaaay  more up to date than I am here. – Is my photography blog, in case any of you three readers have somehow missed it.  I am using it to chronicle my 52 weeks project (which is currently 1 photoshoot behind, as I’m not the greatest at staying up to date on editing) and to post general photography insights, tips and stories. – Will take you to the launch date page for my new website, which is in the works.  Dianne is helping me to build it, and it will launch on the 21st of this month.  I don’t have the domain registered right now, but when I do this image will be parked there as well.

Well – that’s us in a nutshell.  I have some more recipes I need to put up, and I should put up a general update soon as well.  Addison is 4 months old now, and growing.  She’s currently in the Jolly Jumper behind me having a ball.

Dylan is growing, and daily turning into a little girl.  She’s clever, and fearless.

Ivy is turning into a real gymnast.  She’s as precocious as ever, and constantly challenges us – usually in good ways!

More to come, stay tuned.

BBQ Sauce I made tonight….

Lexington Vinegar Barbecue Sauce (From Cooks Illustrated No. 102)

  • 1 Cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (maybe do 1 tsp. or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in bowl and whisk.  The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of defatted pork drippings – sounds like a good idea but I preferred it w/o the drippings – a stronger and more bold sauce.

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce (From Cooks Illustrated No. 102)

  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I’d add a tiny bit more next time)
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

Same as above.  Combine and whisk.  Again, preferred w/o pork drippings, but in this one it’s better than the last.

Sweet and Tangy Barbecue Sauce (From Cooks Illustrated No. 102)

  • 1  1/2 cups ketchup (I’d use a tiny bit less next time)
  • 1/4 cup light or mild molasses (I used fancy)
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Same as both above.  Pork drippings in this one are pretty ok.  I prefer a tangy and bold bottled bbq sauce for a “saucy” one like this, but it could be made better with a little less ketchup, a little more molasses and worcestershire sauce, and maybe a bit more hot sauce and some red pepper flakes.  At that point though, I’ve remade the recipe – so here it as as we made it.

Puppy Power

Maybe puppies are good for something other than being cute and making poop.

I was up at 6:45 to shower, dress and take Stacy for a short walk.  Short because she gets tired out easily, she’s really little and really young.  I carried her back – what can I say?

Played with her and fed her at home – the girls will be up in an hour or so, and they’ll want to get dressed right away so they can go play with her too.  I need to get her dog run up, I don’t know if she’s too small to pull the trolley, but at least it’ll get her lead up higher where it won’t get tangled as much – and it’ll give her some more freedom.

We want her to be on the trolley until she’s big enough she can’t fit through the fence – and in the meantime we’re going to work on where our yard is – Maremma’s aren’t known for wandering, so that’s handy.

Yesterday’s photowalk (3 of 52) was down to the bottom of the yard to take pictures of a crazy arched birch tree.  I haven’t run them through post production yet, we’ll see what I got.  I wasn’t very inspired while working on them, so it could be  a bland set of shots.  At least the walk got done though.

Some Updates

I’m trying to stay updated on things, but it’s tough.  Life is busy.

Addison Clary Closs is now 6 weeks old.  She’s 9 lbs and change and really, really cute.  She keeps us busy.

We bought a puppy.  It’s called Anastasia, or Stacy for short.  She’s a Maremma Sheepdog, or Maremma Abruzzi.  They come from Italy and are fierce protectors that get to about 28 inches to the shoulder and weigh in at about 70-90lbs.

I started another blog.  It’s for my new photography project for the year, 52 photowalks.  I’m going to do a planned photowalk/shoot each week and post some photos from it.  I hope to see some progress in my photography.  I’m taking lessons as well, and I’m going to count my lessons as some of my photowalks for the year.  We’ll see how it goes.

You can find the link here.

Feel free to comment, or not.  I’m sure not many are reading this now.

I guess it should be called Jeff and Sam plus 3 plus a dog.  But really, that’s a bit of a mouthful.

For now, signing off.

Linguine Alfredo w/ Pan Seared Asparagus & Zucchini

Dinner tonight was phenomenal, thanks to a mistake I made when asking Samantha to pick up ingredients.

I’d asked her to get me corn starch – in my mind I went…

‘Hmmm, Alfredo.  That means I need a roux.  Oh wait, no.  Sauce.   I’ll need to thicken it.’  I paused. “Ok Hon, I need Corn Starch, Whipping Cream and fresh Parmesan.”

Oops.  I know that you make Alfredo with a roux, I just botched it.

So, I looked high and low through our temporary home (House 1.5)  to find flour, but wasn’t able to.  A little quick googling on our part later, and I had a plan.  Here’s my method and ingredient list in case you (or I) want to re-create this awesome meal in the future.

Veggie Side – Pan Seared Asparagus & Zucchini

  • 1 Bunch Asparagus
  • 1/2 Med. Zucchini
  • Finely Diced Onion – 2 Tbsp
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Generic “Italian Spice Blend”

Cut or snap woody ends off of Asparagus.  Slice Zucchini into meddalions and then cut the stack of medallions in half.  Heat Olive Oil in pan with pepper and some Italian Spice.  Add Zucchini and fry for a minute until they just start to soften.  Add onion and stir.  Add Asparagus (I cut mine in half) and stir-fry until desired texture is reached, about 5 minutes.

Main – Linguine Alfredo

  • Fresh Noodles (Linguine this time)
  • Whipping Cream  – about 250 mL
  • Corn Starch – 2 tsp.
  • Finely Diced Onion – 2 Tbsp
  • Fresh Parmesan Cheese  (About 4 Tbsp.)
  • Olive Oil – 2 tsp.
  • Butter – 2 Tbsp.
  • Pepper
  • Generic “Italian Spice Blend”

Start pot w/ boiling water for noodles.  If using dried noodles start them now before sauce, if using fresh, ignore this step.

Melt Butter w/ Olive Oil in small saucepan.  Add onion and simmer for a minute or two until softened.  Add pepper and Italian Spices

Make slurry of Corn Starch and 2 Tbsp cold water, add Whipping cream to slurry and set aside.

Add noodles to water (if using fresh) and stir while they boil.

When ready to prepare, add Whipping Cream mixture slowly to Oil and whisk.   Heat over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken.  Add Parmesan Cheese and continue to whisk.  If sauce gets too thick you can add some more cream to thin it out.

Plate Noodles beside Veggies with about 5 or so Tbsp. of sauce on top.  Sprinkle fresh Parmesan on top and plate some veggies beside it.

Bon Appetit!

Just a note – my original Alfredo recipe is very similiar – the only difference is that I add about 4 tbsp of flour to the oil & butter when simmering to make a roux.  Stir and cook for a minute to give the flour some taste.  Then slowly add the whipping cream (without additives this time) all the while whisking briskly.  It should come together and make a nice thick sauce.  This normally is my preferred method, but this new one actually made a better sauce.

New Header

I made a new header. Well, actually I’ve made 3 or 4, but the strawberries are currently my favourite.

I took this earlier in the summer @ Samantha’s parent’s property.

I think I’ll leave them for now.

I may have found someone to illustrate the children’s book I wrote for Ivy – more as the news develops.