It has been a summer of good reads, but the latest book by Lisa Genova, Love Anthony, topped it for me. I literally slowed down reading near the end because I did not want it to be over. Love Anthony is the story of two women and their connection through an autistic boy. Author, Genova, does a great job of exploring the mysteries of autism, as well as a number of relationships, as the two women struggle through challenges they have been faced with. I had previously enjoyed Genova’s other works, Still Alice and Left Neglected, but have to say Love, Anthony tops the trio for me. I highly recommend it.
“Take what you’ve learned and love someone again.
Find someone to love and love without condition.
This is why we’re all here.”
― Lisa Genova, Love Anthony
It has been many years since I was there, too many to actually count, and Spruce Meadows has only gotten better. Spruce Meadows was founded in 1976 by the Southern Family. Their dream was to create a unique environment of “good friendship, good commerce and good sport,” which they have more than achieved. It is a truly wonderful place, think Disneyland for horse lovers. Cobblestone pathways, manicured lawns, lovely flower gardens, horse statues adorn the grounds which are immaculately kept.
It is an Alberta venue hosting international equestrian events. But more than that the facility is open year round with a myriad of events and rentals. There is also an in-house horse breeding and training program. Spruce Meadows encompasses 552 acres , has 90 full-time employees, has a stable capacity of 1,000 horses and hosted close to 500,000 visitors last year. So it was a real treat to be hosted by ATCO Electric in the new Canada Place. Watching the jumping competition in the international ring was spectacular.
But what even topped that for me was leaning on the rail of the warm-up ring while elite of the jumping horse world practiced. There, you are close enough to touch the horses, and they are magnificent.
As part of a recent trip to Spruce Meadows ( separate blog) a group of us got to visit the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen in Calgary and attend cooking classes.
The Blue Flame Kitchen has been around since 1930 when part of the ATCO program included home economists on staff to advise cooks on using gas. The motto at the time was “You can do it better with gas.” This expanded into recipe books, and more recently has been updated to include a website and the fabulous kitchen and chefs. At the Blue Flame Kitchen they host cooking classes, school tours and film tv segments.
We were divided into three groups and worked at stations, just like the school kids. The first station was making dips. A roasted red pepper and feta, then a yogurt vanilla fruit dip.
Our second stop was at the knife station. Cutting skills are not one of my strengths, according to the Big Guy so it was just what I needed. We learned how to julienne, chifonade, cutting herbs and cutting on the bias. The basic cutting procedure involves rolling the knife front to back. Also, holding the food to be cut with bent knuckles to keep your finger tips away from the knife blade. I have seen chefs on tv do this but it feels awkward and will definitely take some practice. When cutting hard items like cheese the chef recommended using a folded dish towel to push down on the blade.
The final station was making spring rolls with rice paper wraps, using the vegetables we had cut. A tip was to soak the rice paper until it could be bent and then use a dishcloth on the cutting board. Make the filling pile in the shape of a rectangle and start slightly south of center. We started with rice noodles then added veggies on top. Fold the sides in first then tuck up the bottom and roll tightly. The wraps behave like saran wrap and sticks to itself so you need to be a little careful. But over all it was quite simple and the rolls were great.
The staff and chefs at the Blue Flame Kitchen were super nice to work with. I definitely think more cooking classes are in order. Check out the website, atcoblueflamekitchen.com for these recipes and much more.