Monday, April 27, 2015

Deliriously Delicious!

I love food. All kinds, any kind! I am willing to try pretty much anything and everything, however there is something about an amazing hamburger that hits my hunger spot like nothing else quite can. Fresh hot grilled beef, fresh onions, pickles and tomatoes and the perfect combination of ketchup, mustard and mayo served on a soft and delicious bun. Writing this makes me wish I had a burger in front of me right now. I just ate dinner. I would still eat it.

There are days and times when nothing will do but a burger and thankfully there are quite a few good burger places in Hamilton that can sate your craving. While every place has their features that make their burgers unique, when I need to feed the burger monster in my belly I drive down to Westdale to grab a Delirious Burger.
Simple yet classy. 
While some burger joints will offer you numerous burger options, sometimes several pages of options, Delirious Burger offers you three. A single burger, a double burger and a portobello burger for the vegetarians. Trust me when I say that any option you choose is going to be amazingly delicious and satisfying.
I grabbed this picture from the Delirious Burger Facebook Page.
I swung over to Delirious the other day to grab a burger and I ordered my personal favourite, the Double Bacon Cheese Burger. I added on sauteed onions and fried jalapenos, definitely worth the investment and chatted with the owner while I waited. I love the service at Delirious. It is welcoming and friendly and more often than not you'll get a chance to chat with the owner, who serves you with a great big smile. At the end of my wait I received my bag and below is what it contained.
Every burger, a masterpiece!

Burger Bliss!
If you think it looks like the most amazingly delicious burger in the world then you would be right. It also tastes like the most amazingly delicious tasting burger in the world. I could barely wait to dive in!

Literally amazing. Literally.

Needless to say, my burger did not last that long and pretty soon I was down to my last morsel!

Gone too soon!

It was gone far too soon but was simply amazing. I didn't get fries this time, but I definitely recommend getting them as well when you visit. They are among the best in the city.

Next time you feel the call of the burger hunger in the cold dark of night, slay that monster with a Delirious Burger. You won't be sorry you did.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Can the real Spring weather please show up, please show up, please show up!

Another busy week! Unfortunately there have been several losses within the families of my work community over the past week and I want to pass my condolences on to the families of those who have left us.

Between the bad weather, evening meetings and funerals, I have been kept jumping. In the meantime, my garden has continued to grow. The seedlings have shot up and the pepper plants are looking quite fantastic!
While last week it finally looked like we had put the cold weather behind us, the weather this week has been pretty dreadful. Cold, rainy and windy, we even had snow on Wednesday afternoon and at one point on my way to Brantford, I thought I was driving in a full on blizzard. While I am exceedingly unimpressed with mother nature and her fickle ways (and the fact that our federal government is doing nothing to combat the climate change causing this weather), there was a little bit of good weather and all in all I was able to accomplish a few things both in and outside of the house.

* I finally cracked open the bottle of apple cider I have had fermenting in my bathroom. To say that it tasted like vinegar is an injustice to vinegar. I was able to buy a few carboys from a fellow brewer this past week and I am going to be restarting my brewing adventures over the upcoming weeks!*

When I wasn't busy this week, I transplanted pretty much all of my tomato plants. I have some extra pots, though, so perhaps I need to grow some more!

Ready for plants!

Yesterday when it was warm I did some cleaning, both inside and outside of the house, and took my plants outside for a few hours while it was sunny, and then worked on cleaning up the back yard and my garden area. Last year I bought a greenhouse to store my plants in and I brought it back out again this year. It was super handy to put trays of plants on and the plastic covering keeps my little guys nice and warm while they still get the pleasure of basking in the sun all day.
The Greenhouse!

Peppers of the sun!
A little sunbathing al fresco!

Last year I grew all my plants in buckets and I plan on doing pretty much the same thing this year, although I am still planning on putting in a raised bed. Below is a picture of where all the growing is going to happen. Off the back of the patio where the buckets are in the grass is where I intend to put my raised bed. For the record, I owe a debt of gratitude to my girlfriend, who allowed me to take over her patio last year for my garden.

This is where the growing happens!

At this point, while I am trying to get something done every day, I am waiting for that warm weather that I know is slowly but surely coming. T-shirt and sandal season is just around the corner and me and my plants can't wait!

Friday, April 17, 2015

I can get 70 miles to the gallon on this.....hog!

For quite a while, I have been thinking about trying to get into better physical shape. While I play sports about once or twice a week, I haven't really been doing any other physical activity aside from work. I find that I really want to feel better and healthier physically and I also want to be able to compete at a higher level in the sports I play. In order to rectify this lack of effort on my part I recently decided that I was going to start biking to work on a regular basis. I figure that it will help me be more healthy, and, as I share a car, it gives me another mode of transportation to tool around the city on.

When I started looking for a bike I really had no idea where to look or what to look for. In fact I started out by looking at used bikes and trying to find something that would be cheap and get me from point A to point B. The more I looked at used bikes, the more I realized that I have pretty much zero knowledge about bikes. I didn't know what size to look for, what brands were good quality or what price point to start at. I decided that I needed some help and I put out the word on twitter and talked to some friends. Ian Brisbin was amazingly helpful and based on his suggestions I headed out to some local bike shops to find myself a sweet ride.

When I started on my epic bike quest I figured that I should be able to get something pretty decent for about $500.00. I visited several local Hamilton bike shops in order to find my bike and I am happy to say that we have a few great bike shops. I really enjoyed my visit to Pieriks Cycle in Westdale and both Central Cycle on King St East and Scattalon Cycle and Sports on Upper Ottawa were informative and helped me narrow down my decision. At the end of the day I decided to buy my bike from Hammer City Cycle on Upper James! They are about a ten minute ride away from my house, they offer three years of bike service with every bike they sell and their customer service was exceptional.

Behind that door is my new bike! 
During my search I found that there are quite a few brands of high quality bikes and that the name on the bike isn't quite as important as to how it feels when you ride it. Most of the bike stores I visited strongly suggested riding the bikes before buying them in order to see if the fit and feel was right. I got the chance to ride and sit on quite a few expensive bicycles, which was pretty awesome! Many of them felt great and were fun to ride but when I rode the Cannondale Bad Boy it was the first bike that just felt right. While the bike was $799.00 and I had wanted to stay closer to my budget, after a lot of pondering and bike comparing I decided to splurge and placed my order! 
Cool bikes, but not as cool as my bike!
I waited for just about a week, hoping everyday that the phone would ring and my bike would be in. Finally I got the call today and after work I rushed over to find this waiting for me. 

Me and my new hog!
I rode it home and covered close to 5 kms in about 10 minutes. It was a smooth, sweet ride and handled the roads with ease. It could be the new purchase love affair, but it was just a fun ride. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I can't wait to go riding again. 

The only problem I have now is figuring out a name for my new bike! I really love the matte black colour as I think it makes my bike look sleek and stealthy, and it reminds me of Star Wars. My first thought was to name my bike after the most amazingly badass character of all time, Darth Vader!
Should I call it Vader? Lord Vader? Darth? 
My next thought was that in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader commands a Super-Star Destroyer that is the most powerful star ship aside from the Death Star, serving as a symbol of Imperial might. It also happens to have an wicked name. It is, simply, The Executor. 
It's so big and strong! The EXECUTOR!
Then, being the history nerd that I am, I remembered that King Edward III of England's first son was known as The Black Prince. He was quite the badass historical figure himself as he won both the Battle of Crecy and Poitiers, two pivotal victories during the Hundred Years War. 
I feel that I am leaning towards The Executor, however I am still open to suggestions and nothing has been finalized. Whatever it gets named, I am excited by the prospect of biking around my great city this summer and I can't wait to get started!

Monday, April 13, 2015

He's leavin, on the midday train to the T-Dot!

While Gladys Knight and her loyal Pips took the midnight train to Georgia, on Saturday I hopped on board the mid-day train and went on a little adventure to Toronto. 
The Farm Network very generously offered us free tickets to the Toronto Food and Drink Market so we went to see what they had to offer. The market was being held on the CNE grounds in the Direct Energy Center so we took the Go Train into Toronto. 
When we arrived we were welcomed by this lovely banner and entered to find a wide array of vendors. There were numerous food trucks, new product vendors and producers from all over the province. One of my favourite vendors was Nuba Tisane. They offered a delicious tisane made from hibiscus juice. It was sweet yet tangy and amazingly delicious!

Another favourite spot was 66 Gilead Distillery. They offered rum, whiskey and maple syrup. I sampled the rum as well as the maple syrup and to say they were delicious is an understatement. The rum was delicious and smooth. I often favour Caribbean rums but I would definitely purchase this at a LCBO. The maple syrup, which is aged in whiskey barrels, is quite simply the most delicious maple syrup I have ever had. Smokey, smooth, sweet and delicious, you could drink it straight but just imagine it on waffles or pancakes!
Finally, The Farm Network was there to rep the Hammer and they brought a bunch of their delicious products with them. While they feature products from throughout Ontario, they made sure to profile Hamilton products, including Twisted Tomato Ketchup and Dawson Hot Sauce. They were pretty busy almost the entire time I was at the show and it was hard to get close or even get a good picture, although I did get the chance to snap the beauty below. I take the heavy traffic as a sign of good things!
Hammer Town Proud!

When we left the weather was amazingly warm and it was awesome to walk around the CNE grounds. I was able to snap a few great pictures before jumping back on the train to Hamilton to finish a fantastically fun and delicious adventure. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

It's the most sproutiest time, of the year!

It's been a pretty busy week for me, both personally and in my garden. Being busy makes it hard to write a blog every day but the next few days should allow me the time to catch everyone up.

In the last week, my tomatoes have sprouted and grown large quickly. I was quite surprised by how quickly they have grown from seeds. From seed to sprouting took only 4 days, and while they have been sitting on a heating pad, I was quite surprised.  

The one worry that I have about my tomatoes growing so quickly is that they will get too large too quickly. I don't want them to be too long or leggy as when they get bigger they will grow tall and thin, when I want them to be bushier. I feel in general that they have gotten WAY too much heat which is why they are so big. 
8 days from seeds!

As you can see in the picture they look very tall and thin. While it has been suggested that I throw these all away and start over again, I think I am going to try and see how these work out. When I transplant my seeds I try and bury part of the stem in the soil in order to help the root system become stronger, so that might help to offset the height of these seedlings at such a young age. 

Another batch of seeds!
I also planted another tray of peppers and tomatoes that I am not going to put on heat. I want to see how their growth contrasts with the seedlings that have been under constant heat. Over the next few days I am going to get my growing area in my backyard ready and I am looking at purchasing a pre-built raised bed. Exciting times for my plants!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Seedin Ain't Easy - The Remix

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend. Whether you celebrate Easter or not, time off from work is when we usually visit family and friends and I hope you all had a great weekend. I had a splendid time visiting my family, having an amazingly delicious dinner and, overall, it was a fantastic weekend. It also helped that Arsenal SMASHED Liverpool on Saturday morning to the tune of 4-1! All four Arsenal goals were picturesque strikes and with four different players getting on the score sheet, Arsenal are getting goals from everyone at the moment. I thought Mesut Ozil was particularly terrific. The German has been ON POINT since he came back from injury and the free kick he scored in this game was tremendous. I feel that he has received a lot of unjustified negative criticism lately. He is a special player and can change an entire game with single touch.
My Man of the Match!

Also this weekend, I decided it was time to plant the tomatoes for my garden. While I had originally planned to grow 26 kinds of tomatoes, my overzealous dogs ate some of my bags of seeds (and yes, as a good dog owner, I realize this is really my fault, as I left the seeds where they could get them). While I was able to salvage pretty much everything, I did lose my packet of Siberian Red Tomatoes and thus they were cut from the growing list this season.
Look at all those seeds!
I started out be refilling my growing tray with peat pods and by reorganizing my pepper sprouts. I knew I was going to need as much room as I could get to get all my tomato seeds planted. 
Pepper Sprouts!
My reorganized pepper sprouts!
After sorting out my pepper sprouts, I poured water over the fresh peat pods and waited for them to puff up. Once they puffed, I sorted my tomato seeds into the sauce tomatoes and eating tomatoes. I have several kinds of sauce tomato this year and I feel it will help me make a tremendous sauce! I planted the sauce tomatoes first, and once they were seeded I started into the eating tomatoes. Except for the major sauce tomatoes, I planted 3 peat pods of every kind of tomato and planted 3 seeds in every pod. For the sauce tomatoes, I planted 6 peat pods of each.
Seeded Tomatoes!
That's A LOT of tomatoes!
After I seeded all my pods with what I needed for my garden, I had a few rows of pods left over. I seeded them with some eggplants and a few varieties of tomatoes I wanted an extra plant of. Once all the pods were seeded, I covered all the seeds with dirt and covered them to make a greenhouse.
All the seeds are covered!
In order to stay organized I made a chart to keep track of where I planted each tomato!
That's a big chart!
Extra room!
While I still have my peppers growing and coming along nicely. In fact, other than 3 peat pods, all of the seedings have come up! I am hoping that my tomatoes will sprout shortly. I know it's going to mean I have a lot of plants around the house, but planting season is just around the corner and I can't wait to get these beauties in the ground! 

Monday, April 06, 2015

The First Grill is the Tastiest

In honour of the warmer temperatures we have been enjoying, I decided to fire up the charcoal grill and have my first backyard BBQ of the year. While this may seem early, I feel that it is, in fact, far too late. I would BBQ all year round if I could and in all honesty I really should. That being said, it's always awesome when you crack open the grill for the first time. You get the coals going, feel the heat from the growing fire and then finally hearing that first sizzle when you pack your meat or vegetables on is amazingly satisfying. The smell of fresh food cooking over fire is simply irreplaceable and evokes memories of warm summer days with family and friends.

In order to have my BBQ, I needed to go buy something to cook. My girlfriend won a gift certificate to The Greensville Gourmet so we hopped in the car and began our BBQ quest. We took the back roads out to Dundas and I have to say that the ride was amazing. The road was windy and hilly and everywhere plants were coming back to life, turning green and the smell of spring washed over us as we drove with the car windows open.
Looks pretty cool!
When we arrived we found that Greensville Gourmet is a cool little gourmet grocery store just sitting on the side of the road. We walked in and looked through, finding quite a few interesting looking local products. The highlight, however, was the fresh food counter where they boast a selection of local meats, handmade sausage and burgers as well as several vegetable and salad options. The staff were amazingly helpful and welcoming, and they offered samples of pretty much every sausage they have to sell! After trying all their samples (literally all their samples, ha HA) I decided to grab a couple kinds of sausage and two different kinds of burgers.
While they were filling my order, I met the two brothers that run the store. They were both fantastically welcoming, proud and passionate about their store. They only use local meat, sourcing from within a 100 km radius of their location. They don't use any preservatives, binders or fillers and at the end of the day, they are a family run local business that strives to supply a quality fresh product. I also ended up grabbing some buns and a housemade artichoke dip. I was exceedingly happy with my visit and it was great to meet some enthusiastic local producers. I headed home eager to start up my BBQ so I could taste my new sack of goodies!
When I got home I opened up my BBQ and did a quick clean. I plan on doing a better clean when it gets a bit warmer out, but I figured for now this would do.
Not looking too shabby!

I poured in some charcoal from a fresh bag.

Fresh Charcoal!

I totally forgot that I needed to buy a new chimney to start the charcoal but luckily I was able to dig out Reliable Rusty and I soon had the coals blazing!

Reliable Rusty

Once I had the coals burning I threw my grill on and closed my BBQ so the grill could heat up and I could give it a nice clean with my BBQ brush. After my grill was clean, it was time to put on the meat! It was suggested that I give the sausage a quick steam before finishing them on the grill, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and fire them right over the open flame!
Look at all that SAUSAGE! The ugly burgers belong to my girlfriend, the vegetarian.

When it was all said and down my upcoming meal looked pretty tasty and delicious, if I do say so myself.

BURGERS (topped with cheese)!
Everything looked and smelled so good when it came off the grill and I quickly dove in after I brought it inside. The sausage was fantastic! Deliciously flavoured and spiced, I thought that each once had their own characteristic taste and I was able to differentiate the different kinds after I accidentally lost track of them on the BBQ. I tried the Sirloin Burger and the Chicken Cheddar Chipotle burger. My particular favourite was the Sirloin Burger, although both were excellent. The artichoke dip was outstanding, fresh tasting and delightful when put on a fresh baguette. Overall I was exceedingly impressed by what Greensville Gourmet had to offer and I will definitely be stopping by again when I have more BBQs in the summer! Definitely worth the drive to Dundas!