a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Jul, 2014

Weekend reading: July 19 edition

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

To help celebrate their amazing community of farmers and a brand spanking new kitchen, longtime Fishbowl patron Saunders Farm has announced a couple of really cool dinner-related events. All of the food will be local and fresh! fresh! fresh! and will also feature local craft beers and craft VQA wines from Ontario.

Chef Whitney Toogood recently joined their  team and she comes from good stock. (No pun intended.) Chef Whitney has worked at some of the best restaurants and caterers in the city including Aperitivo, Wellington Gastropub, Thyme and Again Catering.

There are the two special Farm Dinners scheduled for summer 2014:

Farm Dinner #1: July 24

This is a farm fresh family-style gourmet dinner served with craft VQA wine, local craft beer pairings by Savvy Company. (I love Savvy Co.!) It takes place from 6:30-10:30 p.m. Tickets are $80/person (or $55/person for a non-alcoholic ticket) and the dinner includes the following courses:

First course

Saunders Farm field greens with fried squash blossom stuffed with fresh peas and homemade ricotta cheese and drizzled with raw honey. (Local suppliers: McNeely Dairy, Acorn Creek Farm, Saunders Farm)

Second course

Roasted ‘BLT’ gazpacho served with bacon jam on fresh-baked crostini. (Local suppliers: Acorn Creek Farm, Saunders Farm, Seed to Sausage)

Third course

Apple wood smoked beef short rib with Saunders Farm maple rhubarb BBQ sauce, sour cream, chive and potato spaetzle and sautéed patty pan squash (Local suppliers: Acorn Creek Farm, Saunders Farm, O’Brien Farms beef)

Fourth course

Black Raspberry and Chocolate Mint Pavlova (Local suppliers: Acorn Creek Farm, Saunders Farm, Beking Eggs, McNeely Dairy)

Ack. Doesn’t that sound awesome? But wait… read on!

Family Farm Dinner #2: August 21

This one is a little different. Dinner #2 is a classic pig roast with corn on the cob, farm fresh salads, and seasonal fruit crumble with ice cream. There’ll be live music by the bonfire, and musicians take note! This event is BYOU (Bring Your Own Ukulele), mandolin, guitar or other stringed instrument. It will take place from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for kids under 12 years.

Drooling yet? You can win tickets to one of these dinners! Please read the following carefully:

  • This giveaway is for two separate prizes: (a) two tickets to first Farm Dinner and (b) two tickets for the second Farm Dinner as described above.
  • In order for your entry to qualify, please leave a comment below telling us which dinner you’d like to attend.
  • Please make sure you’re available to attend before you enter.
  • This giveaway is void where prohibited by law.
  • If you can’t post your comment for whatever reason you can email it to andrea at quietfish dot com. Please note, I cannot be responsible if your entry is misdirected or gets stuck in my Spam folder.
  • That’s it! (I like easy giveaways, don’t you?)

I will draw the winners using Random.org at 9:00 a.m. EST on July 22, 2014. I’ll contact the winners via email at that time and post the name here as well. If you don’t win, you can buy your tickets online right here.

That’s it! Over to you. Good luck, and I hope to see you at Saunders Farm this summer!



14 Jul, 2014

The cottage life

By andrea tomkins in Easy ways to make kids happy,Ottawa

We don’t have a cottage of our own, but we have family who does. This is how we spent most of Saturday. (Let’s not even mention what happened on Sunday morning when we attempting to sleep in/recover from a day of sunshine and utter indulgence.) Sigh.

The view from yesterday.

A view from yesterday.

The view from yesterday.

The eagle has landed!

My fave photo from today!

Wee fishes #cottagelife

Cottage life. #latergram

The carbon monoxide detector went off at 5:35 this (Sunday) morning. To be clear, it’s a combination smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector and it came in a pair, one of which is installed in the upstairs hallway right outside our bedrooms and the other downstairs near the front door.

My first instinct is to ignore the alarm because it’s been known to go off when we’re cooking. When the kitchen is getting too hot and it goes off, you press the button and it says “HUSH MODE ACTIVATED.” It is, indeed, a talking smoke alarm. Apparently children are more likely to wake from a deep sleep if the emergency alarm sound is accompanied with spoken words. In this case, because it’s sold in Canada, it’s a bilingual smoke alarm. (I am not even kidding.)

Mark rolled out of bed to shut it off while I rolled over and tried my best to ignore it. He pressed the button but HUSH MODE could not be activated. And it wasn’t telling us the usual “FIRE! FEU!” message either. Our alarm was telling us it was detecting carbon monoxide. A deadly gas which I will forever remember – thanks largely to public health campaigns – as “THE SILENT KILLER.”

I heard Mark yell over the blaring alarm for us to get out of bed and get out of the house. The eldest was up. I went to get the youngest and she was still sleeping. I shook her awake (!) and we went downstairs. The eldest thankfully remembered something from her childhood and was actually waiting – with dog in arms – at the front door. I grabbed Piper’s collar and told everyone to go out the back and wait on the deck instead, then I popped back in quickly to get us some blankets, and grab my iPhone. I didn’t bother closing the back door because Mark was still in the house and I wanted to get some clean air in the house.

We have a few gas appliances, and Mark went around to check them all. (Although truth be told I wasn’t sure what he was looking for. A loose hose? A hissing sound?) We couldn’t smell anything (it is “THE SILENT KILLER” after all) and nobody was dizzy or vomiting or confused. (Ok, maybe I was confused, but that happens every morning before I’ve had a chance to have a coffee and my behaviour can’t fairly be considered a side effect of carbon monoxide poisoning.)

Then we had an important question to consider: should we call the fire department? After a short debate Mark called 911 as we’ve been taught. He stressed that we were all ok and sitting outside and that it was possibly a false alarm. Within 5 minutes the fire truck pulled up (thankfully, no horns were blaring) and three firefighters inspected our house. It was over in ten minutes and we had a zero reading. Mark apologized, but they were more than ok with us having called. (Because that’s what you’re supposed to do!) Turns out we have a sensitive alarm, that’s all.

Here’s the interesting part. Opening the windows and door turned out to be a mistake, because if there WAS carbon monoxide anywhere it would have dissipated and caused an incorrect reading. So heed this! If your carbon monoxide detector is going off, all you need to do is get out of the house and call 911. And don’t bother with the windows.



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  • Javamom: I guess one of the things we find hard to accept sometimes is that occasionally, time is more valuable than money. I get it, although I have not tried
  • future landfill: And yet, and yet. I've had a few decades of street photography, snapping pics of people and events in public places, cafes, pubs. Sometimes obviously
  • Colleen: It does sound fun, but a bit steep for my family.
  • andrea: We have winners! Dinner #1 on July 24 was won by nathalie d. Dinner #2 on August 21 was won by Madga. Congratulations! Thank you Saunders Farm
  • TD: This is something I have been considering, so a group outing would be great.
  • Allison: I found out about this quarry from some friends. Another friend and I are planning on going there tomorrow (July 23rd) as it's gonna be really, REALLY
  • Jenny: Wonderful advice!

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (15) and Sarah (13). I am the editor of the Kitchissippi Times, Capital Parent Newspaper, and a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


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Click the photo for details: what it is, where I ate it (if it's worth a mention!) and how to cook it (if there happens to be a recipe). You can also read more about this project right here.


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  • I had a really interesting conversation with my 14-year-old daughter recently. She was wondering why so many adults assume that teenagers are all the same: a bunch of lazy, self-involved jokers who are glued to their devices all day. I didn’t have an answer for her, really, only that people tend to generalize, and that this is Never a Good Thing, no matter who it is we’re talking about. [Read the rest at MediaSmarts.ca]

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