When I was 17 my parents took me to New York City as a high school graduation present. Not only was this the coolest present ever but it’s just another reminder of how above and beyond my parents have always gone for me. Five days in New York for three people over spring break is expensive to say the least…and that doesn’t include the fact that prom dress shopping took place. Another very cool thing about this trip is that two of my school friends and their families were going there at the exact same time, one of whom was, and still is, my best friend Suzanne. Thinking about it now, the fact that the two of us at seventeen years old were let loose into NYC is insane to me, but man we had some fun.
One night for dinner the three of us and the three Kings went to dinner at an Italian restaurant called Carmine’s. This dinner has turned into legend for our families and our friendship. The food is served as if portioned by giants. When you order the spaghetti and meatballs. You got a tray of spaghetti and one meatball. Said meatball was the size of a human head. The whole dinner was done this way and everything was split up between the participants. Part of why it was such a good experience I think was because of how other-worldly it felt. I’m pretty sure we laughed from start to finish. The finish being the largest sundae I have ever seen and promptly helped devour. Another fantastic part of dinner was the people. Right beside us there was a table of three New York business men. For arguments sake let’s say they were the lawyers for a mafia family. Similar in stature to Robert Duvall in the Godfather, although much louder and drunker. We watched them go through cocktails and wine and then aperitif, getting louder as they went. The parents ended up engaging them at a certain point although my teenage embarrassment at my parents being human resulted me in remembering nothing of this exchange.
For me, Carmine’s, seeing Spring Awakening off-Broadway (in which a nude sex scene is simulated on stage) with my parents, traversing Central Park and other assorted areas with Suz, watching my dad attempt to break up a fight on a subway platform between a man playing a ukulele and an annoyed drunk man, and freezing my ass of in Times Square were the highlights of this fully packed five days. The point of this is that what is probably most talked about by my parents is the holier than thou meatballs from Carmine’s. And what do you know, they came up again recently when my mom disclosed to me that Carmine had written a cook book and given up all the secrets to the meatballs, and they apparently are up to snuff. I got the recipe from her and decided to give them a go even though we are a beef-free household. The reason being that awhile ago Fraser told me he had a craving for a bacon cheese burger. Well this tickled my fancy as well so I went looking for a substitute recipe.
I was originally just going to go our typical route of a chicken burger. This was until I found a turkey burger recipe that seemed comparable. Since the success of this I have been on a kick with ground turkey. Turkey burgers, turkey tacos, turkey spagbol, fried turkey and rice, we have had it. Now that I’ve mastered ground turkey I can’t get enough of it. Not only is it way healthier AND cheaper, but it tastes just as good. Plus something about this heat has made me mad for mexican food (it’s all about my homemade salsa PLUS the store-bought stuff), and I can’t get enough of it. Which may be starting to drive Fraser nuts. So I’ve been trying to mix it up lately (after eating turkey tacos 4/7 nights in a week I think he was about ready to revolt.
Since Carmine’s recipe called for beef and veal I decided to make mine half with ground pork to add a bit of fat and juicy-ness to the turkey. Now this recipe calls for everything to made in bulk. And I followed it. The amount of times Fraser looks at me in the kitchen like I’m a crazy person is too many to count. But this time I definitely saw where he was coming from when I was elbow deep in tomato juice while separating 12 cans worth of plum tomatoes from their juices. It did seem a bit excessive. The upside of this is that even at this moment we have at least two more meals of Carmine’s meatballs (with a Georgia twist) in tupperware in the freezer waiting to be eaten.
This recipe comes with a high recommend from me and Fraser. It’s very straight forward and easy and the results are awesome. We had spaghetti and meatballs that night and then the next day we had hot meatball sandwiches which is making my mouth water just thinking about it.
I’m going to jump back a bit now for a second. Back in October I finally decided to make my own sushi. The sushi here is garbage to put it politely. We once spent about $50 on takeout and all the yummy tuna rolls we ordered…ya, those were canned tuna. This still baffles me. This is one thing I miss horribly about Vancouver, not only the amount of sushi places EVERYWHERE, but how good and reasonably priced they all are. Vancouverites, you are truly spoilt, please go eat some right now for me, I will gladly taken on the calories for you. It is also surprising because the quality of fresh, local fish we get in Byron is awesome. I first got the idea when I went to buy salmon at the market and the guy informed me that it was sushi grade fish. I looked at him for a second and then asked just to make sure my stomach wasn’t causing my brain to hallucinate: I can eat this raw? Yes, you most certainly can. Music to my ears.
I found seaweed and a bamboo roller at the supermarket and finally attempted it. It obviously wasn’t as good as professional sushi (which I think was mostly due to the seaweed quality), but damn it was satisfying.
Last week we went through a crazy storm. It started in the middle of the night and woke both me and Fraser up at about 3am. Now something waking Fraser up: not unusual. Something waking me up: very unusual. Like almost all the Reimers before me, I am a very heavy sleeper. Being woken up by anyone or anything before I am ready results in a very upset Georgia. The number of times we haven’t gone surfing because Fraser is too afraid to wake me up is embarrassing. I can’t help it. I treasure my mornings and my sleep, and I’m a bitch if you interfere with them. The first step is acknowledgement though right?
But back to the storm. It went on for around five days and was intolerable because it only seemed to rain at night and resulted in dead calm during the day. In this heat and humidity the second the wind stops I die a little inside. My Russian and Canadian blood cannot handle it. I actually developed a rash on my neck called Sticky Heat rash. If you look it up, its cause is an unusual amount of sweating. CHECK. That I have been doing, especially doing physical work in it. One night while watching the Good Wife with Fraser and melting like the Wicked Witch of the East, the rain began and so did the frogs. The frogs here are soooooo loud and they frequently sound like they’re in the house. Which they have been in since the sun room is not sealed up completely. So this night I got up and went to look out the door to see if I could spot them since we couldn’t hear my laptop over the rain, thunder and frogs. I couldn’t see anything so I hopped back into bed. After a bit it became intolerable again and Fraser got up to check.
“Georgia! Are you kidding?! It’s right here!”
“huh?” (Fraser is constantly fucking with me so for once I didn’t really pay attention)
“It’s right there! In the room”
Well that got my attention since I had come face to face with a cane toad crushing one of my tomato plants just the other day and those guys are scary and poisonous. I screamed at Fraser, asking him where. He helpfully yelled back “THERE” (if there was a sarcasm font, I would be using it here). At this point I’m standing on the bed convinced a gigantic cane toad is about to devour me whole when I see it. It is in fact right there, sitting stoically just inside the frame of our bedroom door. Thankfully it isn’t a cane toad but a very adorable green tree frog. He started hopping further into our room and so commenced the evenings adventure to capture, carry and release said frog. I got part of this on video but unfortunately I can’t upload videos to this site. Luckily I have a picture of the frog out on our fence.
In trying to find out the species of frog (Litoria Caerulea – Green Tree Frog), I discovered that the Byron Shire has 28 species of frogs living in it making it one of the highest diversities of frogs in any one place in all of Australia. Now that’s pretty cool. Luckily our (me and the frogs) hero managed to sweet talk the amphibian onto the end of the broom and was then carried back outside to his proper home. Thanks Fras!
Since I’ve been absent from blogging the past couple months, a new hobby has taken its place. Gardening. I grew up surrounded by herbs and vegetables and flowers all grown by my parents and grandparents. Our first house sat on the front of a large lot and the entire backyard was cultivated by my parents and turned into a wonder every summer. Every spring would start at Hobb’s and home depot. Gathering seeds and seedlings and planters and soil. The standouts were the mums, or Chrysanthemums, tomatoes, basil and parsley. The parsley gets a mention even though it did not become a garden regular. This was because I loved parsley as a kid. My mom would grow it in the herb garden and I would go and eat the entire shrub in one sitting. It was very hard to plead innocence when my teeth, tongue and lips were stained bright green. She gave up on growing that after a few short (glorious) summers.
I’ve mentioned the basil and how it got turned to pesto every summer. The same happened with the tomatoes, although not as dramatically. They were used in salads and sauces over a longer period of time but the smell of fresh, homegrown tomatoes warm from the sun has always been a favourite smell of mine. Since this is the first time I’ve had a backyard of my own since our home on 29th I decided to get my hands dirty again. As part of my birthday present from my parents I had a bit of money to spend on myself, and so I went straight to Bunnings – the Australian home depot. I started out small. Soil and couple pots and four types of seeds. Then it turned into a couple packs of seedlings and then more seeds and more pots and a hanging basket and a mini greenhouse, and the addiction flared up with a vengeance. I started with some favourites: cherry tomatoes, giant Russian sunflowers, sweet peas and chilli’s. These I started from seeds in a little greenhouse. It took some fiddling with since when kept in the greenhouse the soil temperatures would reach 100° very quickly during the day. It became necessary to remove the seeds early in the morning and then return them to the greenhouse as the sun started to go down. The seeds eventually became seedlings and then got transplanted and now I’m just waiting on some tomatoes and chillies and flowers to start! In total I am growing the following: tomatoes, sunflowers, chillies, sweet peas, zinnias, mint, salvia, coxcomb, lavender, rosemary, jasmine, marigolds and gerberas.
And finally, here is what we had for dinner last night: Our favourite turkey-zucchini burgers with bacon and cheese and homemade fries!
This is Fraser headed to dinner. Does the blurriness demonstrate how much he loves my snap-happy camera work?