Spring has a tendency to be tough on Canadians. No matter where you are in the country, you’re probably miserable about the weather. From what I’ve heard, the province of Quebec is now accessible only by canoe. And in Vancouver, for the entire season, we’ve barely seen any sun. January through to May has been rougher than any rainy stretch I can remember since adopting the Pacific Northwest as my home.
But since we got back from Australia last week, the sun has cautiously peeped out a few times and has offered up some real, honest-to-goodness warmth. Combined with longer days, I feel so much more energized. With the promise of light and warmth we can all finally exhale. All that heavy cloud and rain really get to you, and you don’t really even realize the effect until it’s gone. But hoo boy, the darkness makes you appreciate the sunshine so much more. I found myself chasing a patch of sunlight around my apartment this week, slightly unhinged.
In the late afternoon yesterday, I actually enjoyed a glass of wine (ok 1.5 glasses) on my sunny (!) patio, but I had to sit directly on the hard, dirty stucco-y floor. I think it’s time to sweep off the old soil (I’ve been letting my kids play in my plantless planters like they’re sandboxes), acquire some patio furniture, and get rid of one of my corroded BBQs (yes, that’s plural. If anyone actually knows how to get rid of BBQs, I’d love that knowledge).
I’d love nothing more than to plant some flowers and veggies, but I’ve had to accept the fact that 4 hours of direct light just isn’t enough to make a happy garden. It doesn’t help that the dark-tinted glass wall around the patio acts like sunglasses blocking about 50% of the light that does hit it. Suggestions welcome, if you know of anything that could survive.
This time of year, I always crave a quiet backyard. But then I remind myself that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I was reading a home magazine the other day with a several-page article on preparing your yard for summer, and oh my gosh I don’t know how people do it – gutters, roof, checking electrical for pest damage (!), weeding, raking, planting, fertilizing, sanding, staining – I’ll tough it out in my high rise for a while longer I think.
I’m happy to live vicariously through my home-dwelling friends and readers, though. Please tell me all the wonderful things you are planting so I can close my eyes and garden with you!
I’m sharing a very simple recipe today, barely a recipe at all – more a suggestion, but one I love. Yogurt Brulee makes a lovely breakfast treat and is very nice for a brunch with an assortment of toppings on the table, like granola, nuts, fresh and stewed fruit, etc. It also makes a lovely, fresh, sweet but not-to-sweet dessert to finish a heavy meal like Indian food. I’d serve it with some fresh mango slices.
Don’t be tempted to make a thicker layer of sugar – it won’t caramelize properly. I’ve always done brulees with my $20 kitchen torch, but it can be done under a broiler, too. My torch had gotten some air in there – when that happens, the flame sputters and doesn’t get blue-hot. That’s why my topping is a bit pale and patchy. (To fix the issue, I just had to ignite the torch outside until the butane was completely empty and then refill it).
Yogurt Brulee. Is it breakfast? Is it dessert? Does it matter? It's yummy. Like a creme brulee, but acceptable as morning food! Lightly-sweetened yogurt with a thin, crunchy caramel layer to crack through.
- 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt the fuller fat, the better
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
For each serving, stir 1 tsp sugar into 3/4 cup yogurt in a small ramekin. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tsp sugar and use a kitchen torch or a broiler to melt and caramelize the sugar, stopping when it's evenly amber coloured and has some lightly charred patches.