Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Booze, Oil Leaks and Clean Air.

Yesterday, we took our wine and beer bottles back to the Beer Store, not the liquor store where we bought them. This system is a bit of a pain for us, OK if you have a house with a shed or garage to store your empties, we end up doing it in a spare room which is not the most convenient way of storing them. Nor is it worth taking back one or two bottles, so we save quite a lot before we return them. For those of you who don’t know this part of the world, we have a Beer Store which sells, guess what, yes, beer and an LCBO which stands for Liquor Control Board of Ontario where we can buy everything else, plus some beer although not in large quantities. LCBOs are pretty nice stores these days, but when we first arrived in 1975 a room with a few desks and lists of what was stocked, you then wrote down your order and handed it to someone behind the counter who would disappear into the nether regions to find what you wanted. Very odd system to us coming from England. Shortly before we landed in Ontario you could not, legally, offer your house guests an alcoholic drink, however, they changed that in time for our arrival.

In North Carolina you can buy both beer and wine in the grocery store but the liquor has to be purchased in ann ABC liquor store. From my limited experience of other States, it seems to be the same in several of them. I have no idea about either the rest of Canada or the rest of the States. Big countries.

In the southern part of Ontario, as I have mentioned, there are lots of wineries (known as vineyards in the UK) as the soil and climate of the Niagara region is ideal for growing good grapes. One can do tours of many of them and several have excellent restaurants, trouble is if you are not careful when tasting you can become unfit to drive. Its an enjoyable way to spend several hours and to purchase one’s wine on the spot. We have done it several times, usually when staying in the region, in Niagara Falls or somewhere similar. Last time we were staying at a bed and breakfast in Port Dalhousie which is a delightful spot close to the lakes.

One of the top news stories at the moment is the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico caused by a sunken oil rig. Today they are talking about setting light to the oil floating on the surface. However, until the robots manage to plug the leak, this appears to be only a temporary help, if it really is a help at all. The oil coming ashore seems to be a major concern, but what about all the damage to the gulf ecosystem itself. As if nature wasn’t causing enough disasters, man has to add to the problem. The cost to BP was mentioned this morning, OK bad, but the ecosystem damage is – to my mind – more important.

Sam Champion, on Good Morning America, has a segment called Just One Thing. This morning he was talking about plants which can improve the quality of indoor air which they say is often more polluted than outside. I was very interested in this and am contemplating getting a fern to put near my printer. (There is a typo on the page, it should be toluene).

North Americans love potato salads. You never go to a picnic or pot luck without finding at least one and sometimes several different versions. So here, from the Asparagus Growers of Ontario, is a version with asparagus in it. No picture of the dish I'm afraid. The picture shown is from Barrie Bros. Asparagus and Fresh Food Farm. I was there yesterday, I had run out of the succulent green stalks; I actually met the other brother. I have known Tim Barrie for a number of years now, but had never met Andrew before.

Ontario Asparagus and Potato Salad

3 cups cut (1-inch/2.5 cm pieces) Ontario asparagus 3 lb new potatoes (unpeeled), scrubbed 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbsp coarse-grained Dijon mustard 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper 2 roasted red peppers, cut in 1/4-inch (5 mm) dice 1 bunch green onions (white and pale green parts only), cut in 1/4-inch thick slices 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped Steam asparagus until tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Refresh under cold running water. Set aside. Cut potatoes into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes; steam until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and place in large bowl. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, zest, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper; add about two-thirds to hot potatoes and toss gently to coat well. Let cool to room temperature. Add red peppers, green onions and dill along with remaining dressing; toss gently to mix well. Garnish with chives. Serve at room temperature. Yield: 12 servings

Have a great day.



  1. Here in France we have special garbage cans for empty bottles. The cans are then collected once a week and recycled. When I was a child in South Africa we handed in our empties when we bought another bottle. Or the shop bought the empty bottles back from us. This was even the case with empty cold drink bottles.

  2. We have special bins for recyclables of all kinds, but booze bottles are different. They are the only things we get money back on (we pay a deposit anyway).