New Thing #247: Trick Or Treat With My Daughter

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Spoiler alert: there were no tricks tonight, but there sure were a heck of a lot of treats. 

You’d think by now that I would have taken my daughter out on Hallowe’en, but I’ve always been the one to stay home and man the front door. My wife always wanders the neighbourhood with my little one and since it’s usually pretty cold out, I don’t really mind.

But I love Hallowe’en, and some of my best memories of being a kid are walking half way across Grimsby filling up a pillowcase full of candy with my friends. But in Toronto there’s about four houses for every one there was in my home town. And they’re set back about a quarter of the distance from the curb. 

Within an hour we’d amassed about as much candy as I’d have gotten in an entire night back home. Plus our street is full of people happilly partaking in a bottle of wine on their porch while they catch up with all their friends that go by. 

It’s funny that our neighbourhood comes the most alive the night we celebrate the dead. And I’m happy to say that the knife jutting out of my head didn’t traumatize any of the little ones this year. Well, not many at least.

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New Thing #152: Grimsby Farmers’ Market

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I’m having a nice little vacation visit at my parents this week and today we went into town for the Grimsby Farmers’ Market.

I had no idea that my home town shuts the main street down on Thursdays and let’s a variety of fruit farmers, artisans. musicians and others set up shop downtown.

It was even busy at two in the afternoon. I swear that we stopped to talk to half the town, including a guy I used to go to high school with. But it was fun and I got to see a lot of folks I hadn’t seen in years. And my mother got to show off Audrey.

I’m glad to see the town embracing local food and giving a bit of the finger to car culture in general. That’s probably the pinko-commie in me talking though.

And I bought a lot of peaches. Of course.

New Thing #71: “New” Grimsby Public Library

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Ok, so the new Grimsby Public Library may not be new by temporal standards but it is for me. 

In 2004 they moved the contents of the old Grimsby Public Library to the fancy-pants new structure they built next store. By then I’d been long gone from my home town, though. And it’s a shame that I wasn’t there when the cut the ribbon, because it’s wonderful.

I should also point out that the old library and I have a long history together.

I grew up just down the street (literally) and spent at least part of every summer vacation day inside it’s cool, air conditioned walls. All the library ladies knew me, I could rifle through the card catalogue at break neck speed and I was adept at navigating the mechanical stacks in the basement.

But that old place never had an ounce of natural light that didn’t stop three feet from the front door. The new library is full of light. Floor to ceiling windows, skylights and even a fireplace bring a warmth and glow to the books that I never would have dreamed could exist in library.

Couches, computer stations, kid friendly tables and sliding chairs make it not only beautiful but also useable. And would you believe it? Comfortable.

If this library had existed when I was a kid I might have spent all of my time there.

New Thing #16: Make Hot and Sour Soup

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Ever since I first started washing dishes at Lotus Garden in Grimsby as a teenager I’ve been enamoured with hot and sour soup.

The friendliest, and probably best of the cooks there was named Johnson and I’ve been searching for a hot and sour soup in Toronto that even comes close to his recipe.

Factor in my recent visit to T&T Supermarket and came to the conclusion that I should try and make one myself.

I used this recipe from epicurious.com and you can see the results for yourself in the pictures attached to this post.

It turned out great, as far as soups go, but nothing like Johnson’s version. At least it gave me a chance to add some dried asian ingredients to my pantry and introduced me to lilly pods. I’m almost sad that I didn’t have a cold right now so that it could have been knocked right out of me. As my daughter said “too picey!”.

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New Thing #2: T&T Supermarket

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Growing up in Grimsby, Ontario I had a lot of jobs: paperboy, fruit picker, greenhouse worker, etc. But where I spent most of my employed time was Lotus Gardens, the local Chinese restaurant. Originally from Hong Kong, the owners had spent time in The Netherlands and mastered Indonesian cooking as well. When they moved to Canada they opened a hybrid Chinese Canadian and Indonesian food restaurant that brought in patrons from around the province. It also meant that I got to eat some kickass food every night for free.

I started there as a dishwasher in high school and paid my way through college on a waiter’s salary and tips. After seven years I was more family than employee. 

I delighted in Ma Pao Tofu, Bami Goreng and a host of other dishes nightly. And although I never went near a wok I think my love of cooking started there.

So today I went to the T&T Supermarket off Cherry Street in Toronto. They specialize in Asian products and ingredients, and boy, they don’t disappoint.

I spent an hour wandering the aisles, picking up a few things here and there for a stir fry I plan on making tonight. I also found countless new things to try that I had neglected to put on my list like blue chicken. Others, like marinated shredded pig’s ear will be a definite treat when I run out of things to try.

To top it all off, the shopping baskets can either be carried or pulled along on wheels . A fantastic little touch to a great shopping experience.

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