Spicy Carrot Dip

IMG_7993We are in the midst of having the exterior of our house painted. A few years ago we painted the barn, checking that we liked the colours we’d chosen. We decided to change the door colour, yet we haven’t gone to the back of the barn to re-do the stall panels. The only time we see them is when we’re doing chores, and when we’re there, we can’t see any of the other outbuildings, so they’re not really a big priority. However, I will re-do them at some point. Last summer all of the other outbuildings were painted in the refigured colours. By doing them ahead of the house, we were able to watch how the colours worked throughout the year, and if they were truly the colours we wanted. On rainy or cloudy days the house in its old worn colour looked so drab, while all the other buildings now had a warm & happy glow.

The woodshed sporting the new colours, except for the gate, which will stay weathered.

The woodshed sporting the new colours, except for the gate, which will stay weathered.

Once the final decision on colours was made, a painter was hired. Someone who is willing to deal with all the detail we’d built into the house, as well as a bit of fearlessness to paint our 41’ roof peak.

Although I’m horrible about heights, and have had some anxiety issues while he’s up at the top of 40’ ladders, I am thrilled with how it’s looking.   Of course, all this has been going on while we move through an extremely busy summer. I seem to be in the kitchen for a long spell each day, figuring out recipes, doing test batches and so on. Perhaps I’m being energized by the attitude of the painter. Let’s get it done!

Here’s my take on a Spicy Carrot Dip that we’ll be serving as part of the appetizer menu for this year’s Summer Soiree & Art Auction. It is a beautiful colour (this summer is all about colour!), with a rich, warm spiciness that is lovely with a bit of flat bread. Continue reading

Glazed Harissa Spiced Pork Ribs with Roasted Oranges

IMG_7642Our community is often on the look out for great fund-raising ideas for our little island for different social assistance programs, the school, and maintaining & improving our community hall. The essentials are that it be interesting enough to attract at least 30% of our population, be something that we can pull off with the expertise we have at hand, and an event that makes the most money possible given the first two requirements.

One year we decided to do a walk-a-thon to raise funds. We don’t have a circuitous route on Thetis, so we had boats move us from one road end point to another. Already we had a built in infrastructure consideration that made the walk more interesting! The walk was planned for a Saturday morning, so some of us realized that most people would already be here the night before, so why not feed them?

I led the group, and we served big servings of lasagne and Caesar salad. This was the event that I created my Roasted Vegetable Lasagne for. We sold 80 tickets for $15 within the first three days, and as there were only 350 residents on the island that was pretty good!

Then my head started tumbling over ideas… If we already had a captive audience, how about doing some sort of auction?

Our house is full of art. We have many pieces waiting to get hung if another piece gets moved. What if others are in the same boat? What if some of that art isn’t ever going to get hung? What if we had an auction where folks could put the art up for auction whether it’s a print or an original; acquired or created by themselves? What about artisans? Before I knew it, the idea had created itself!

By the time of the event, we had a beautiful quilt, original sketches, acrylics, funny little thrift shop finds, and some amazing current and antique prints offered for sale.

I can’t remember how much money we made that night, but I do remember the quilt being sold for $1,500. Many people took home new art, as well as selling one of their own pieces.

The weekend was a huge success, and although we didn’t offer the art auction again the next year, the walk-a-thon continued on for several years raising money for our little one room schoolhouse.

A decade or so later, in 2011, the community dusted off the idea of an art auction. Instead of being a last minute idea, we would take the time to figure out logistics, and try to make it a “huge” event. This year will be our 4th in a row, and each year has done substantially better than the past.

The main draw, besides an awesome evening out, is the dinner. We have decided to go with a Moroccan inspired meal this year, so from an appetizer tent to the main meal served on linen clad tables on the tennis court, every item draws from the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

I spent most of a day figuring out this recipe for this year’s event. Braising the ribs in harissa spiced orange juice, and incorporating roasted oranges to the final glaze, which elevated a basic rib recipe into something exotic. The ribs can be glazed either on the barbeque (as we’ll be doing for the event) or simply glazed in the oven, as I’ve done with them here. Continue reading