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Explode intosummer This is your ultimate guide to seasonal fun in the mid-Island

Three months of festivals Get creative with your grilling Daytrip treasures near home Complete summer event guide Also: Gardening, Auto, Money, How-To, Dining Guide

$3.50 ISSSUE NO. 3


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Contents » SUMMER EDITION 2010

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SUMMER FUN: From bathtub races to dragon boat races, and filberts to salmon, there are endless festivals in the mid-Island to keep everyone entertained till the fall. SUMMER GRILLING: Chef Dez offers up some unique ways to take advantage of the outdoor grilling season, including whipping up your own barbecue sauce. DAYTRIPPING: Don’t want the expense or hassle of a long summer vacation? You won’t believe the list of close-to-home excursions our staff has put together for you. SOIL ADVICE: Gardening experts Chris and Tex say all the good topsoil is gone, so if you want your flowers and vegetables to flourish, you’ll have to take some remedial action. ROAD-TRIP READY: If you plan to hit the road with the family this summer, you’ll want to make sure your car is ready and that you’re prepared to keep the children entertained. MEAT METHOD: The secret to a perfectly cooked steak lies with the cow. Our experts say the road to a good meal is to keep it simple and let the flavour of the meat lead the way.

7 11 13 22 26

Welcome to our summer issue

W

hen we decided the focus of our summer edition was to be the festivals of the mid-Island, it was pretty easy to come up with content. There’s a reason the lineups to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island are so long during the summer: Everyone wants to be where all the fun is. Reporter Dustin Walker guides you through the next two and a half months of festivals in Nanaimo and area so you won’t have to miss a weekend of the action. When you’re done reading, you’ll discover that there really is something for everyone. We’re an Island city and this is an Island magazine, so you’ll soon discover that whether you love the bathtub races or your idea of fun is hiking or kayaking or touring, you never really have to venture far from home to have a summer full of fun and excitement. On top of that, we have four pages full of summer entertainment listings for the whole family. And we haven’t forgotten about those of you who want recipes, cooking tips and gardening know-how, along with some great shopping information and our Dining Guide. Cale Cowan, editor

NDNmagazine is a publication of the Nanaimo Daily News. 250-729-4200 | 2575 McCullough Rd., Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 5W5

ccowan@nanaimodailynews.com | 250-729-4224

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Cover Story

It’s festival time We have five reasons you don’t have to travel more than 30 minutes to have a blast this summer

BY DUSTIN WALKER

G

iant sand sculptures, high-powered bathtubs and makeshift boats slapped together with duct tape, cardboard and milk cartons. It’s just another day on the summer festival circuit. Central Vancouver Island has built a reputation for playing host to some of the more unique celebrations on the B.C. coast. The bathtub races, part of the Nanaimo Marine Festival, lured international attention in 1967 with racers in suped-up sud-buckets zipping across the Strait of Georgia. Today, the competitors stick to Nanaimo’s coastline. Then there’s the Vancouver Island Exhibition, which began more than a century ago and remains one of the biggest events in the area, blending music and midway rides with a taste of rural lifestyle. To the north is the Parksville Beach Festival with its impossibly

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010

designed sand sculptures, and to the south is a two-day party called Ladysmith Days. “There are quite diverse types of festivals,” said Zeni Maartman, past-president of Tourism Nanaimo. A festival’s following depends on its reputation, she said, and while that can sometimes take years to develop, certain newcomers also find success quickly. Take the Dragon Boat Festival, for example. In less than a decade, it evolved from humble collection of paddlers to become one of the heavyweights on Nanaimo’s summer festival scene, luring thousands of people to the city and raising thousands of dollars for cancer research. “Anything that you can create that is lasting and enduring. That’s the key if you want to attract people,” said Maartman. “It raises your sense of pride, sense of accomplishment and sense of being able to »» share with other communities what you have to offer.”


But putting on such lively events isn’t easy. Cuts to government grants and the economic downturn have hit some festivals hard. The Nanaimo Blues Society cancelled its Summertime Blues Festival this year, citing a “bleak” fundraising climate. Meanwhile, the 2010 Empire Days in the spring scaled back its festivities. And because of the challenges, it’s important people support their local festivals. “Funding is definitely an issue because festivals take time, money and energy,” said Maartman. Here’s the rundown of popular summer festivals in central Vancouver Island:

Nanaimo Marine Festival Almost 200 “tubbers” competed in the first bathtub race in 1967 with 47 completing the run from Nanaimo to Vancouver’s Fisherman’s Cove. It was initially created as a one-time event to mark 100 years of confederation. But the wacky race drew widespread attention and became one of Nanaimo’s defining festivals. However, it’s much different today. The 58-kilometre course starts in the Nanaimo Harbour and winds around Entrance and Winchelsea islands, continues past Schooner Cove and ends at Departure Bay beach. All boating traffic other than bathtubs will be banned from the Nanaimo Harbour on race day. A downtown parade, music, beer gardens and a big fireworks show are part of the festivities. The races start on July 25 at 11 a.m, while the parade of bathtubs kicks off at 10:30 a.m.

Silly Boat Regatta Styrofoam, cardboard, duct tape and milk cartons are among the building supplies people have used in the construction of their silly boats. The would-be ship crews dress in zany costumes as they find out whether or not their makeshift floatation devices will sink or swim at Swy-a-Lana Lagoon, which is always crammed with giggling spectators. The event evokes goodnatured rivalry between businesses and organizations as they raise money for the Nanaimo Child Development Centre. The regatta helped the CDC raise funds to purchase two portables, providing an additional 2,000 square feet of combined space. A record 57 teams donned costumes and sailed on often-shaky boats last year. Boat building begins on July 18 at 8 a.m.

Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival Although competitive paddlers face off at this festival, this event is about sisterhood and survival at its core. Thousands of people will gather at Nanaimo’s waterfront for the weekend gathering, which raises funds in the fight against breast cancer. It blends celebratory events with more solemn ceremonies that honour victims of the disease. Festival organizers promise even more teams and festivities than last year. Prime viewing spots for the races are around the Frank Ney statue, the Swya-Lana Lagoon bridge and nearby rocky beach. The crab dock is closed to the public. The festival focuses on raising funds for imaging equipment to assist in the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. It takes place July 9-11.

Vancouver Island Exhibition The true value of the VIEX goes beyond the live music, cotton candy or bright lights of the midway. The 116-year-old fair was designed to showcase the region’s agricultural roots while educating people about the rural way of life. Farm food displays with pumpkins, pies and prize-winning flowers will be on display along with 4-H Club shows. This year, Vancouver-based Shooting Star Amusements is replacing West Coast Amusements as providers of the midway. Rides include the Lightning Bolt and Zero Gravity, which simulates the sensation of floating in space, in addition to other rides. The VIEX runs Aug. 20-22 at Beban Park.

Parksville Beach Festival Skilled hands turn sand into art during Parksville’s Sand Sculpting Competition. People can watch the sculptors turn Parksville Community Park into a collection of intricately formed monuments. This year, it will be a qualifying event for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting in Federal Way, Wash. The festival takes place July 16-18. The competition has come a long way since 1982 when the community hosted its first event. More than 500,000 people have travelled to Parksville during the past decade to see the sculptures.

NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 5


Head out of town for some Island fun Ladysmith Days >>> This lively annual event celebrates the musicians, singers and dancers that live in the community. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plenty of live entertainment, a parade and other activities. It takes place July 31 and Aug. 1.

Filberg Festival More than 120 artisans gather in the gardens of the Filberg Heritage Lodge to sell their wares during this four-day event. While strolling through this unique setting, the Comox Harbour and Beaufort Mountain Range in the backdrop, visitors can take in live entertainment and dine on a variety of food. The festival takes place July 30 to Aug. 2. Port Alberni Salmon Festival This is a three-day event held every Labour Day weekend. There are plenty of activities in addition to the fishing competition. Last year, the grand prize winner caught a 43-pound salmon.

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DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Duncan Summer Festival This two-week festival offers two stages of music, with one daily concert in Charles Hoey Park and another in City Market Square providing selected performances. The second weekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entertainment schedule is designed to draw attention to the 26th Islands Folk Festival from July 23-25 at Providence Farm. The Duncan Summer Festival will also have many other activities available. It runs July 10-25.


Cover Story Âť FOOD

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s summer, fire up the grill STORY AND PHOTOS BY CHEF DEZ

O

ne of the most wonderfully appealing aspects of food is creating (and eating) something completely delicious. Even if you are not the culinary type that craves to unleash your cooking talents in the kitchen, you are still

capable of appreciating a recipe just by tasting it. Food is life, quite literally, because without it we would not survive. Therefore, if you have to endure the chore of eating anyway, why not consciously make efforts to broaden your culinary aspirations? NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 7


C

ontrasting flavours is one of the many adventures that food can offer our awaiting appetites. A balanced combination of savoury and sweet characteristics in one dish is absolutely heavenly and one should never be deprived of this gastronomic bliss. Grilling is also a great way of creating extreme flavour in foods and although men have been assigned the stereotype of working the backyard grill, it is a joy that is shared by all home culinary enthusiasts. It’s a summertime passion. The “whoosh” of the BTU’s firing up starts my mouth watering as my mind conjures up recollections of flame-licked meats and fire-caramelized vegetables. Here, I have provided you with a number of our favourite grilling recipes that are sure to provide excitement at your next barbecue. The pizza recipe captures contrasting flavours perfectly with the amalgamation of dates, garlic, brie, apples, prawns and cream cheese. If you are not a seafood fanatic, then the prawns can be substituted efficiently with grilled pieces of chicken breast or omitted. The other beautiful aspect of this recipe is having it prepared on the barbecue. The flamelicked, lightly charred taste of the crust is reminiscent of wood-burning forno ovens that make pizzas taste so great. Simply lay each thinly rolled round directly on the preheated grates of your grill. Alternately, one can also make this recipe by using a store-bought, pre-made pizza crust. Another great contrasting recipe is the Grilled Blueberry Brie Chicken Sandwich. I have had people tell me that this is the best sandwich that they have ever tasted, hands down! Fresh blueberries are best for this recipe, but thawed from frozen would be adequate. Grilled hamburgers are always a summertime favourite and again I have not fallen short of providing you with one of my best recipes, but please ensure that they are fully cooked for food safety purposes. A question that is posed to me on occasion is: “Why are ground meats, like hamburgers for example, required to be fully cooked, while steaks can be served rare or medium rare?” The answer to this is quite simple. Bacteria, both good and bad, are all around us in the air that we breathe. During the grinding process, many surface areas are created that are exposed to these bacteria before the ground meat is shaped into a patty. The internal temperature of the hamburger must now be high enough to kill the bacteria trapped inside from exposure to the air. A steak, on the other hand, should have all of the outer surfaces seared to kill bacteria on the exterior. The inside part of the steak, however, has never been exposed to the bacteria in the air and therefore the risk of food poisoning from internal bacteria is reduced. There is always some degree of risk when eating meats that are not fully cooked, but where steaks are concerned, it is more likely to be from improper storage or a tainted supply source than from undercooking. The best defence one can take is to ensure you are buying from a reputable grocer/butcher and practise proper storage techniques. I have also provided you with a couple of homemade barbecue sauce recipes to try. Don’t always rely on store-bought sauces when you can achieve incredible flavour on your own by practising a bit of creativity. The “no-cook” sauce is great for getting younger children involved in the family meal. I hope you enjoy these recipes and they become a part of your summer meal repertoire.

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010

Grilled Brie & Apple Pizza Makes four eight-to-10-inch pizzas Pizza crust 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp instant yeast 2 tsp sugar 3/4 tsp salt 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water, room temperature 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil Pizza sauce 1 cup whole pitted dates 3 garlic cloves, peeled 250-gram package cream cheese, room temperature 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 tsp salt Toppings 3 Gala apples, quartered, cored and sliced thin 1 tbsp lemon juice 1/4 cup cold water 400-gram brie cheese 36 large cooked prawns 4 green onions, thinly sliced diagonally (greens only) Salt and fresh cracked pepper Pizza crust: Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and olive oil and mix until it starts coming together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 7-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for approximately one hour until doubled in volume. Make sure this is done in a warm place with no drafts. While the dough is proofing, prepare sauce and toppings. Alternately, you can use a breadmaker by putting in all of the crust ingredients and selecting the “dough” setting. Punch down the dough. Remove from the bowl and divide into four equal portions. Roll out each portion into a roughly shaped 8-10-inch circle. Pizza sauce: Place the dates and garlic cloves in a food processor and process on high speed until finely minced, approximately one minute. Scrape down the sides of the processor and add the cream cheese, olive oil and salt. Process on high speed until fully combined, approximately 30 seconds. Cooking and assembly: Add the apples slices to the mixture of lemon juice and water to keep from going brown. Cut off the side, round edge of the rind from the brie (leaving the top and bottom rind in tact), and slice the brie into thin slices. Place a perforated grill insert on top of your barbecue grill and spray with baking spray. Preheat over medium-high heat for approximately two minutes. Place one pizza dough round on the grill insert and lower the heat to medium. Cook the one side for approximately five minutes until golden brown and lightly charred (while gently piercing any air bubbles with a fork). Flip the crust over and turn off the heat. Carefully spread one quarter of the pizza sauce over the surface of the crust. Layer one quarter of the apple slices (drained) and follow with one quarter of the slices of brie. Turn on the heat to low, close the cover, and cook for approximately three minutes until the brie starts to melt. Add nine prawns, slices of green onion, salt and fresh cracked pepper to the pizza. Close the cover to the barbecue and continue to cook for approximately two more minutes to heat up the prawns. Remove from the grill and serve immediately. Repeat three times for the other pizzas.


3 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper 1 – 454 gram flat ciabatta bread loaf 100 gram brie cheese, sliced thin 4 tbsp blueberry syrup 1-1/3 cups fresh blueberries (approximately)

Grilled Blueberry Brie Chicken Sandwich The balance between the sweet blueberries and blueberry syrup with the pungent creaminess of the garlic cream cheese is incredible when paired with the grilled chicken and melted brie cheese. I know that the inclusion of blueberries and syrup in a chicken sandwich sounds odd, but you need to try this – your taste buds will thank you! — Dez 1/2 250-gram tub of spreadable cream cheese 1 large garlic clove, crushed 4 chicken breast halves, butterflied to make them thinner

1. Preheat grill over high heat. 2. Place the 125g cream cheese in a small mixing bowl and combine with the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. 3. Oil the chicken with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 4. Grill the chicken over medium heat/flame until cooked through, flipping only once, approximately 2-4 minutes per side depending on the thickness and temperature of the chicken. 5. Cut the ciabatta loaf into four equal pieces and then cut each of the four pieces in half horizontally to create a sandwich top and bottom with each one. Brush the other 2 tbsp of olive oil over the cut sides of the bread and grill cut/oiled side down until lightly toasted. 6. When the chicken is almost cooked, distribute the brie slices evenly over the chicken and close the lid on the barbecue to melt the cheese, approximately 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, once the chicken is cooked, distribute the brie slices evenly over the chicken and broil in the oven until cheese is melted. 7. Assemble each of the four sandwiches as follows: On the bottom half of each sandwich, drizzle 1 tbsp blueberry syrup and place the chicken/brie on top of it. On the top half of each sandwich spread 1/4 of the garlic cream cheese mixture and 1/3 cup of fresh blueberries gently pressed into the surface of the garlic cream cheese. 8. Serve open-faced to display the blueberries and the melted brie on the chicken. »»

Makes 4 sandwiches

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Blueberry BBQ Sauce

Mozza Stuffed Hamburgers

Tastes great on chicken, pork or beef. — Dez

Loaded with flavour, these burgers will be the hit at your next barbecue. — Dez

3 cups blueberries 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed 1/4 cup dark brown sugar 1/4 cup minced onion 1/4 cup ketchup 1/4 cup white vinegar 1/4 cup molasses 2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 1. Add all ingredients to a medium heavy-bottomed pot. 2. Turn heat to medium and bring to a boil while mashing the blueberries with a potato masher. 3. Once boiling, turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. 4. Transfer to a blender and puree smooth. Most blenders can handle hot liquids but if you are unsure if yours can or not, let the sauce cool first before pureeing. Always be careful when handling hot liquids. Make sure the lid of your blender is on tight and to be safe, hold the lid down with a towel or oven mitt to protect your hand. Makes approximately 2.5 cups

around the cheese. 5. Over a medium heat/flame, cook the patties until thoroughly cooked through, approximately 8-12 minutes per side.

1 kg lean ground beef 8 garlic cloves, crushed 1 egg 2/3 cup cornflake crumbs 1/2 cup minced onion 1/2) cup oil packed sundried tomatoes, drained & chopped 1/4 cup berry jam 1 tbsp salt 1 tbsp dried basil leaves 2 tsp sambal oelek 1 tsp dried thyme leaves 1 tsp chilli powder 1 tsp pepper 100 grams mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 small chunks

(Ground hamburger patties must be completely cooked through to be safely consumed.) Makes 8 large patties

No–Cook BBQ Sauce Great for kids to make. — Dez 1/2 cup ketchup 1 tablespoon molasses 1 teaspoon white vinegar 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce or 2 drops Tabasco sauce Pinch of salt Sprinkle of cinnamon Couple drops of liquid smoke, optional

1. Mix all of the ingredients together (except for the mozzarella) in a large bowl. 2. Preheat your cooking surface: pan, grill, griddle, etc. 3. Portion the hamburger mixture into eight equal balls. 4. Flatten each ball in your hand and encase a chunk of mozzarella in the middle by shaping it into a large patty, by wrapping the meat

1. Mix together and keep refrigerated.

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Cover Story » TRAVEL

Daytrips around the mid-Island can provide plenty of adventure

S

ummer is upon us and many people are planning their vacations. But you don’t need plane tickets or a stuffed suitcase to enjoy your holidays. You can stay near home and enjoy the surrounding attractions of Nanaimo. Daytripping is an enjoyable and affordable way to spend your holidays and there’s plenty to see and do for the whole family. Just pick a spot and either strap on some walking shoes, hop on your bike or pile the family into the car and get ready to explore what central Vancouver Island has to offer. Newcastle Island Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park is rich in history and beautiful vistas and it’s only a hop, skip and a jump from downtown Nanaimo. Take your own boat or hop on the ferry near Maffeo-Sutton Park for the 10-minute ride to the island. Visitors can enjoy a quiet hike around the island and marvel at its steep sandstone ledges and stop at various historic points along the way. The island has hosted a fishsalting operation, a sandstone quarry and a shipyard over the years. The Canadian Pacific Steamship Company bought the island in 1931 and it soon became a popular spot for company picnics and outings. Today, the park offers food services at the Newcastle Island Pavilion and if you really like it you can stay overnight at one of the many campsites. Gabriola Island A short 20-minute ferry trip will land you on Gabriola Island. Parks, beaches, artist studios and galleries and more are waiting to be explored on the popular Gulf Island. Gabriola has three provincial parks, a regional park, plus many small community neighbourhood parks. Sandy beaches with warm watering holes are waiting for cyclists and kayakers eager for a refreshing dip. Explore Gabriola’s history and natural features at the island’s

Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park is a short boat ride from downtown Nanaimo. museum. A series of sandstone formations carved by the surf into unusual caves and caverns, The Malaspina Galleries is one of the island’s biggest natural attractions. B.C. Ferries operates a vehicle and passenger ferry between Gabriola Island and Nanaimo. Ladysmith’s Transfer Beach It may only be 30 kilometres from Nanaimo, but Ladysmith’s Transfer Beach will carry you thousands of kilometres away from all your worries and stresses. Sand, driftwood and shells kiss the pris-

tine shoreline as kayakers launch their vessels and visitors nosh on food from the concession. Don’t forget your binoculars, you might spot an eagle or blue heron. If your kids get tired of playing in the water, the beach’s park offers a terrific playground, sprawling green grass and walking trails. Chemainus Renowned for its series of outdoor murals, Chemainus is a must-see and only a 30-minute drive south from Nanaimo. Visitors can follow the yellow foot»»

NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 11


prints around town for a self-guided tour of Chemainus’s history, or tour in a horsedrawn carriage or simulated steam train. The Chemainus Theatre, which features professional stage productions, musicals and concerts is also a popular draw and visitors can treat themselves to dinner at the Playbill Dining Room. Seaside picnic spot Kin Park is just a short walk from old town Chemainus. Shopping, kayaking and, of course, ice-cream eating are just a few of the many pleasures. Duncan Nestled between Nanaimo and Victoria on the Trans-Canada Highway, Duncan has a lot to offer. Its biggest attraction is its totem poles, including the widest one in the world. There are free guided walking tours of the totems in the downtown area or you can do it yourself. Visitors can check out one of Vancouver Island’s largest farmers’ markets in Duncan or learn more about forestry history and view a collection of logging and steam-related artifacts at the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre. And don’t forget about the world’s largest hockey stick! Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park Looking for a place to soak up some surf and sun? Head to Rathtrevor Beach, three kilometres south of Parksville. The sea recedes almost a kilometre at low tide, creating a perfect exploration spot for the those curious about the shoreline. When the ocean comes back in, a wonderful and warm swimming spot is ready to be enjoyed. The park also has a large day-use area and concession. Those looking for a little exercise can walk through the wooded upland area of the park. Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park You don’t have to travel far to do a little spelunking. The Horne Lake Caves park is

The majesty of the old-growth Cathedral Grove is sure to impress. [CANWEST NEWS SERVICE PHOTO] about 60 kilometres north of Nanaimo and home to more than 1,000 caves. The park has two small caves visitors can check out on their own, while guides can show you crystal formations and ancient fossils in the other caves. According to the B.C. Parks website, family tours are available in July and August. The park has a dayuse picnic area with two picnic tables, but bring your own drinking water.

two cascading waterfalls and the swimsuit is for the swimming hole at the end of the lower falls (when the river level is low). The park has a day-use area and campground and several hiking trails that promise spectacular views. The park is located along the Englishman River, is 97 hectares and sits among a lush, old-growth and second-growth forest of Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock and maple.

Coombs Goats grazing on the rooftop of the Country Market is Coombs’ claim to fame, but there’s much more to see. About nine kilometres west of Parksville, Coombs is home to heritage buildings, small gift and craft shops and antique stores. Rodeo-lovers can hit Coombs in July for the Old West activities and the annual Coombs Rodeo. But don’t forget the market and its goats. Shoppers will enjoy local produce, mouth-watering food choices and gift shopping galore.

Cathedral Grove Your spirit will definitely be moved at Cathedral Grove as you walk along trails that travel through stands of awesome Douglas fir trees. Part of MacMillan Provincial Park, Cathedral Grove is home to towering ancient trees, some more than 800 years old. Western hemlock, grand fir and western red cedar can also be found in the park. Bring your curiousity because diverse wildlife such as woodpeckers, owls, insects, deer and more live in Cathedral Grove. MacMillan Provincial Park is located on both sides of Highway 4 on the shores of Cameron Lake, 25 kilometres west of Qualicum Beach.

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010


Cover Story » GARDENING

Good old dirt.

It would be easier to get

a bar of gold for $1,100 per ounce than it is to find good topsoil. Judging by the questions we have received on this particular subject, and the samples that are brought in, we can see the reason for the frustration of good gardeners moving into the area — new housing. Every bit of topsoil has been removed and sold to the soil-processing company.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY TEX & CHRIS

NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 13


So you are back to Square 1 in trying to figure out how to get a reasonable growing medium. It does not matter whether you are growing flowers or vegetables, except keep in mind that vegetables are far more responsive to their growing medium than flowers. If you want good vegetables, you need to start off with good soil. But what is being promoted as topsoil is questionable. As one retired Saskatchewan farmer asked: “Is there any decent soil on this Island?” As we pointed out, good fibrous topsoil is the most expensive component of your vegetable patch. So, let’s look at improving an existing soil, assuming that it has been used to grow some sort of annuals or vegetables during the past 10 years. The best results would be to use anything with a high fibre content. One of the cheapest would be the deciduous tree leaves that you rake up in the fall. But you must run them through a rotary mower. The easiest way to do that is to spread them out on the ground and run over them two or three times. Because the leaves have been chopped into smaller pieces, they will break down in the soil far quicker than if you dig them in whole. We often get asked: How much? The simple answer is that if you can get 40% or 50% of leaves into your existing growing medium, let it stand over winter, the following spring you would have a vastly improved soil. The one thing it would require is a very heavy coating of dolomite lime. While mentioning lime, avoid using ground limestone for flower and vegetable gardens. It is too slow in breaking down. If you put the lime on after you have dug the leaves into the top six or eight inches of soil, you can just leave it on the surface over winter. The rains on the West Coast in most winters will do a very good job »» of washing it into the area

14

Chris and Tex remind us that the foundation to a good growing season is to start with good topsoil, if you can find it.

NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010


where most plant and vegetable roots develop. The next most common question concerning growing medium is what to use in your planter boxes and other large containers. The one thing that is absolutely necessary before you purchase these sorts of mixes is to read the contents, if it has the contents listed. Some manufacturers list it and some do not. Our suggestion is, if it does not list it, do not buy it. To give you an example, some time ago we happened to be going through a big box store and they had large bags with the word “soil” in real big letters. But when you stopped to read the contents, it consisted just of rice husks and peat moss. One interesting point with regard to these bags was they were manufactured in the U.S. The soil situation there has got so bad with manufacturers putting all sorts of junk in it, that a number of states now mandate the quantity of actual soil and other additives must be listed and in a number of cases, the minimum mineral soil content before they can use the word on the packaging. On this side of the border, there are no such regulations. So, as we have said many times before, it is strictly buyer beware. Now, how about we take a closer look at fertilizers. Most of the problems that we see in the course of the year on plant samples being brought into the nursery are due to lack of water. The next major problem is lack of fertilizer. Our standard recommendation is that if you are working with a fairly new garden growing medium, especially if it is recently brought-in topsoil, do use artificial fertilizers and try to avoid a lot of the very highly hyped brands. You will wind up paying an extremely high price for the actual quantity of, shall we say nitrogen, in the fertilizer.

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If you are working early in the season — April and May — we would suggest to just use something like 6-8-6. It is very reasonably priced but often difficult to find. Your best source would be the farm-feed type of stores. Because it retails for such a reasonable price, the big box boys are refusing to carry it because there is not enough money taken per sale. Now let’s take a look at the trendy organic fertilizer ideas. Two things stand out with organic fertilizers. One is high cost to get the same amount of nitrogen into the soil, equivalent to artificial. Two, the granular types, particularly, do not really feed your plants or, shall we say, feed the microbes, bacteria and fungi, until at least June because the soil temperatures are too low for the guys doing the work. A lot of gardeners successfully combine the two methods by using artificial in April and May and organic in June, July and August. With regard to organic, particularly when it is used in an ordinary garden and not in a container, you need to keep in mind that you have to have a good growing medium with a high fibre content to be able to get the value out of organic fertilizer. One point worth remembering if you are doing container gardening, is liquid organic will work earlier in the growing season, however, it is not a cheap product. But we know from experience from applying it to tomatoes, for instance, that it really helps to put the flavour back in the fruit. Tex and Chris own Christex Nursery, three minutes from the Nanaimo Parkway, Exit 24 at the north end of Jingle Pot and Munroe roads, Nanaimo. E-mail texd@bcsupernet.com.

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 15


Summer Calendar

Nanaimo’s Canada Day festivities take place every July 1 at Maffeo-Sutton Park. [KRISTA BRYCE/DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO]

» What’s happening in June, July and August

JUNE 17th Annual Seaside Cruizers Father’s Day Show and Shine » Friday, June 18 to Sunday, June 20, downtown Qualicum Beach. No charge for spectators. For information: info@seaside cruizers.com Unity of Nanaimo Lobster Boil » Friday, June 18, 6:30 p.m. at Bowen Park. Come and join the fun and great food and support this fundraiser for Unity of Nanaimo. For information: 250-729-8240

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Family Adventure Day » Saturday, June 19, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at John Barsby Community School. Provides links for families in Nanaimo and bringing families closer by learning, playing eating and growing together. Free barbecue picnic, scavenger hunt, carnival-themed games and more. Meet local organizations and businesses that provide services for families in our community. For information: 250-716-8888 Giant Community Garage Sale Fundraiser » Saturday, June 19, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., ET Family Church, 1300 Princess Royal Ave. Money raised by table rentals will go to the Silly Boat Regatta raising funds for the Child Development Centre. For information: 250-753-0258

Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Spectacular » Saturday, June 19, 1:30-4 p.m. at Beban Park. For information, call 250-756-5200 4th Annual Great Nanaimo Poker Dive » Sunday, June 20, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Neck Point Park. For information: 250-758-7946 Fairwinds Mariner’s Fair and Bathtub Race » Sunday, June 20, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Schooner Cove Marina. Watch the bathtub captains launch, rev up their engines and practise in the morning. Bring your chairs to the viewing area and experience the races at 1 p.m. For information: 250-468-7691 or toll free 1-800-663-7060 »»


Father’s Day Wine Tasting and Steam Train Ride » Sunday, June 20, Chase and Warren Estate Winery, 6253 Drinkwater Rd., Port Alberni. Father’s Day Wine Tasting and Special Appetizers at Chase and Warren Estate Winery in Port Alberni. Ride a refurbished steam train from the Port Alberni harbour station to the winery station. For information: 250-7304390 or 250-724-4909

Sutton Park. Teams from all over B.C. and the U.S. will take part to raise money for the fight against cancer. This year, organizers dedicate our festival to Alex Marriott. For information: karen@nanaimodragon boat.com Cedar Ball Hockey Challenge » Friday, July 9 to July 11 at North Cedar Intermediate School. The Cedar Ball Hockey Challenge Association is a non-profit organization created by four fathers with common interests in the recreational development of our community. For information: 250-713-8533

6th Annual Salvation Army Charity Golf Classic » Wednesday, June 23, 11:30 a.m. at the Nanaimo Golf Club. Golf with celebrities and help to support the Salvation Army. For information: 250-740-1004 Look Through a Telescope & Learn The Night Sky » Thursday, June 24, 7:30-9 p.m. Meet other stargazers and astrophotographers and learn about the wonders of the night sky. Newcomers welcome. No charge to attend. For information: 1-866-413-0951 Girls and Curls - Surf Camp » Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27, Tofino, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. Your tour includes surfing instruction from local surf pros, camping accommodation, meals and lots of fun in the waves. For information: 250-245-9580 John Barsby 2000 Grads 10-Year Reunion » Saturday, June 26, 6-10 p.m. at the Dorchester Hotel. Spouses/significant others and teachers are welcome to join in the fun. For information: Leigh_Brook@hotmail.com Oceanside 10K Race » Sunday, June 27, 11 a.m. at Parksville Community Park. The race starts at the Parksville Curling Club and runs through beautiful Rathtrevor Beach Park. For information: barrycarr@telus.net

Parksville’s KidFest is Aug. 22. [DANIELLE BELL/DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO]

JULY Canada Day » Thursday, July 1, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Maffeo-Sutton Park in Nanaimo. Enjoy live entertainment, multicultural food, interactive booths, the annual parade of flags, and the Nanaimo Downtown Farmer’s Market. For information: 250-756-5211 2nd Annual Summer Market » Saturday, July 3 and Sunday, July 4 at the Parksville Visitor Centre, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. For information: 250-248-3613. Grandkids University » Wednesday, July 7 and Thursday, July 8, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at VIU. Grandkids and their grandparents will share hands-on learning activities. For information: 1-866-734-6252 2010 Save-On-Foods Nanaimo Dragon Boat Festival » Friday, July 9 to Sunday, July 11 at Maffeo-

The British Heritage Festival of Vancouver Island » Saturday, July 10, noon to 8 p.m. at Beban Park. B.C.’s biggest British show. For information: paulkmeade@shaw.ca 2010 Parksville Beach Festival and Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibit » Friday, July 16 to Sunday, Aug. 15, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day at Parksville Community Beach. Master sand sculptors participate in this remarkable competition and exhibit. For information: 250-951-2678 7th Annual Antique Tractor & Engine Show » Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18 at the McLean Mill National Historic Site. The McLean Steam Sawmill is the only steamoperated sawmill in Canada. The sawmill cuts wood for demonstration and sale. For information: info@alberniheritage.com Lions International Kite Festival 2010 » Saturday, July 17 and Sunday, July 18 at Parksville Beach. Fliers from Alberta, Washington, the Lower Mainland and all of Vancouver Island will be in attendance. Everyone is welcome to bring their kites to fly and compete free for prizes and just have fun. For information: 250-752-0304 »»

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Silly Boat Regatta 2010 » Sunday, July 18 at Maffeo-Sutton Park. Boatbuilding begins at 8 a.m. with races at 1 p.m. Fundraiser for the Nanaimo Child Development Centre. For information: 250-753-025, extension 264. 2010 Nanaimo Marine Festival and International World Bathtub Race » Thursday, July 22 to Sunday, July 25 in Nanaimo. Highlights include the Sail Past on Wheels Fun Parade in downtown Nanaimo at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 24; the Quality Foods Festival of Lights and Music fireworks at 10 p.m. Saturday, July 24 in Nanaimo harbour and the great race Sunday at 11 a.m. For information: 250-753-RACE (7223)

AUGUST Island Chase Benefit Party (Cancer Foundation) » Sunday, Aug. 1, 7:30 p.m. at Beban Park Auditorium. For information: info@islandchase.ca or 250-619-6344 Gabriola Island Lions Concert on the Green - The Timebenders » Thursday, Aug. 5, 5-8:30 p.m. at the Gabriola Golf Club. The Gabriola Island Lions Club 4th Annual Concert on the Green. For information: 250-247-8027 Vancouver Island Symphony in the Harbour 2010 » Saturday, Aug. 7, family activities start at 3 p.m.; concert at 6 p.m. at Maffeo-Sutton Park. A free, open-air concert. For information: 250-754-0177

Lions International Kite Festival is July 17 and 18 at Parksville Beach. [CANWEST NEWS SERVICE]

Nanaimo Kidney Walk » Sunday, Aug. 8, 9 a.m. to noon at Maffeo-Sutton Park. Funds raised will support the work of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. branch. For information: 250-756-4338 »»

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(250) 390-2201 www.aspengroveschool.ca

NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010

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Western Lacrosse Association Nanaimo Timbermen All games at the Nanaimo Ice Centre

Saturday, June 26 versus Langley, 7 p.m. Saturday, July 3 versus New Westminster, 7 p.m. Saturday, July 10 versus Burnaby, 7 p.m. Saturday, July 17 versus Coquitlam, 7 p.m. Sunday, July 18 versus Burnaby, 7 p.m. Saturday, July 24 versus Langley, 7 p.m.

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Friday, June 18 versus Victoria, 8 p.m. Sunday, June 20 versus Port Coquitlam, 5 p.m. Friday, June 25 versus Delta, 7 p.m. Sunday, July 4 versus New Westminster, 5 p.m.

Neighbours Being Neighbours Community Gathering » Saturday, Aug. 14 at Bailey Studio, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., 2373 Rosstown Rd., Nanaimo. Hosted by the Columbian Centre Society. Enjoy live music, great food, and activities for all ages. For information: 250-756-9205

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Coombs Fair 2010 » Saturday, Aug. 14 to Aug. 15 at the Coombs fairgrounds. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For information: info@ coombsfair.com or 250-752-9757 Nanaimo Screenwriters Gathering » Monday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m. at Starbucks in Chapters, Nanaimo (Woodgrove Centre). Monthly meetings are open to the public and drop-ins are welcome. For information: nsg@shaw.ca or 250-729-2673 Tourism Nanaimo Kiosk Nanaimo Bar Open House » Tuesday, Aug. 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Port of Nanaimo Centre. Free to members, visitors and Nanaimoites alike. Come for some yummy Nanaimo bars and great conversation. For information: 250-244-4069 VIEX 2010: Country Roots and Cowboy Boots » Friday, Aug. 20 to Sunday, Aug. 22 at the Beban Fairgrounds. For information: www.viex.ca or 250-758-FAIR (3247) Westwood Lake Day » Saturday, Aug. 21, 1-4 p.m. at Westwood Lake. All sorts of fun, free activities for children of all ages, including races, balloon animals, crafts and face-painting. For information: 250-755-7573 Parksville’s 18th Annual KidFest » Sunday, Aug. 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parksville Community Park. Funfilled day of excited musical entertainment, interactive activities and quality time with family. For information: 250-248-3252 [COMPILED BY DAILY NEWS STAFF]

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www.purespananaimo.ca NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 19


Summer Sizzle Andraab at The Grand Hotel The luxurious pashmina, the finest cashmere, is considered India’s “fabric of the royals.” Exclusive and exquisite embroidery and textiles done entirely by hand. Recognized and appreciated worldwide and featured in Vogue, Oprah, National Geographic and Conde Nast Traveler. Each piece is a work of art that cannot be duplicated. Finally, you can wear a masterpiece! Visit our first showroom in North America at The Grand Hotel or visit our website: www.andraab.com to learn more. 4898 Rutherford Rd., Nanaimo 250-758-3000

Grand Hotel Tea Room & Garden Traditional Afternoon Tea: Enjoy indulging yourself in a decadent afternoon of house-made scones with fresh Devonshire clotted cream, pastries, and miniature sandwiches with your choice of a premium international loose tea from our special aromatic tea box. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:30-4 p.m. Reservations recommended.

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010

4898 Rutherford Rd., Nanaimo 250-758-3000

Grand Restaurant & Lounge With the dramatic backdrop of a natural rock garden and waterfall, enjoy a cocktail in our newly renovated lounge then join us on the patio for dinner and enjoy the serene sounds of the water cascading down the natural rock bluff. The only garden restaurant in Nanaimo set in a hidden oasis. Join us for breakfast seven days a week; lunch Monday to Saturday; dinners 5-9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; or brunch on Sundays. Reservations recommended. 4898 Rutherford Rd., Nanaimo 250-758-3000


Jewellery & Diamonds Handmade and personalized custom designs. Goldsmith direct after 28 years experience. All jewellery repairs. Also, now carrying beads, bracelets and necklaces. NT Jewellery Ltd. Country Club Centre 3200 North Island Highway 250-756-4010

Ice Cream Bars White chocolate ice cream triple-dipped in dark chocolate and milk chocolate hazelnut ice cream dipped in milk chocolate with hazelnuts all through it! They are $3.75 each. Mmmmmm Bernard Callebaut Chocolaterie Woodgrove Centre 250-390-1560 www.bernardcallebaut.com

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 21


Auto

Make sure you and your car are ready for a road trip with the kids

T

o prepare for our 1,900-kilometre marathon family trip from Montreal to the beach paradise of Hilton Head, S.C., a couple years back, I trained for a week. I figured the best tack would be to start in the early evening and drive through the night while my spouse and our two boys, 10 months and 3 years, slept. It turned out I should have put as much work into pre-road trip maintenance and in-car activity planning. We packed the Honda Odyssey to the rafters and affixed the bicycle rack and set off at 8 p.m. My pre-trip maintenance consisted of checking the tire pressure. The trip went pretty well and the kids were remarkably well-behaved as they tend to be when they’re firmly strapped down. Twohour picnic breaks for breakfast and lunch were our salvation. But when we arrived in Hilton Head, I discovered to my horror that I hadn’t properly affixed the bike rack, which could have popped off at any time, causing tragedy. And it wasn’t until we returned, having driven more than 5,000 kilometres, that I found out that while the tires were well inflated, the wheels were out of alignment on our five-year-old van. It meant three of our tires, which run for about $200 a pop, were dangerously worn on one side and had to be replaced. More disturbingly, they could have blown out. The near-misses taught me the importance of the car-care experts’ advice: Have your vehicle checked out for road-trip worthiness at least two weeks before your journey, allowing time for any required fixes. If you’re the type to have regular maintenance done and are somewhat car-savvy, you’re probably going to be OK with the 10minute quick inspection Car Care Canada says you can do yourself. If you’re not, a visit to the garage is a good idea. Mechanics will check for tire pressure and alignment, including the spare; see if the air filter is clogged; check oil, transmission and antifreeze fluid levels; verify belts and hoses;

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It pays to make sure the kids are entertained on road trips. [CANWEST NEWS SERVICE] and probe for any leaks that could cause a lengthy detour en route. Brakes, windshield wipers, the cooling system, battery, alternator and spark-plug wires also need to be verified, and if you’re going to be driving in hot temperatures, make sure the air conditioning is working. Also important are emergency supplies, including a flashlight, pen, paper and camera to record details in case of an accident. Extra antifreeze, engine oil, transmission fluid and windshield wiper fluid are also suggested. A small tool kit with a screwdriver, pliers, electrical tape and jumper cables is a good idea, too. The sanity of the driver and his or her copilot is paramount and nothing will erode one’s patience quicker than bored, trapped children sitting in close proximity. Experts offer several tips, chief among them scheduling long breaks so the little darlings can stretch their legs. In its tip section on how to survive a family road trip, the Canadian Automobile Association has the following sage advice:

Seat siblings with some space in between, so they can’t reach each other; have them switch seats from time to time to avert fights; stop often; and bring along some sports equipment. For meal breaks, a picnic where the children can run is a far better, cheaper and healthier option than sitting in a crowded and grimy fast-food restaurant. Bring plates, cups, bowls and cutlery. A cooler with ice is a great mini-fridge. Give each child his or her own backpack loaded with kids’ books, games and drawing materials and prepare a few new games or toys as welcome surprises. Books on CD and music can offer welcome distractions. And then there are in-car DVD players, if you choose to go that route. And finally, the Internet, God bless it, offers a wide variety of sites that suggest dozens of games that can be played in the car. Many sites include printout games like connect the dots or licence-plate bingo. [RENE BRUEMMER/CANWEST NEWS SERVICE]


Websites to check before your trip www.caamagazine.ca — The Canadian Automobile Association’s magazine website offers a wealth of automotive and tripplanning information. The site also has links to articles detailing how to keep the car in good shape, how to save money, and how to “greenify” your ride.

Drive Thru Warranty Approved No Appointment Necessary

www.carcarecanada.ca — Brought to you by the Be Car Care Aware organization that advocates for better vehicle maintenance and is sponsored by the automotive industry, this site offers maintenance tips, a downloadable family road trip guide, and a quick 10-minute road-trip checkup you can do yourself.

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www.samarins.com/longtrip — An illustrated guide for car buyers and owners. In its long-trip maintenance section, it suggests several items that should be checked (oil, transmission, radiator fluids, struts, battery, etc.) and has pictures detailing where to look under the hood if you’re less maintenance savvy. It also suggests a handy basic car emergency kit. www.trustmymechanic.com/newsletter8.html — Good common-sense advice on trip preparation and checkups, as well as all the spare items to bring along to avoid a nightmare on the road. » The Internet has a wealth of sites offering suggestions for incar activities to keep the passengers busy: www.momsminivan.com — Subtitled 101 Car Travel Games and Road Trip Ideas for Kids, this is an exhaustive collection of ideas, games activities and, most important, printable sheets of bingo, connect the dots, tic-tac-toe and even Battleship that can be used in the car. 27 Free Games — The actual URL (website address) is too long to insert here, but type “27 free games to keep kids occupied” into Google and it’s the first site that pops up. EXTR A CONCERT:

www.radroadtrips.com — Good explanations of several games, road-trip song selections with lyrics (Warning: this could backfire terribly after 450 kilometres of Apples & Bananas), and activities like printable Sudoku puzzles, mental math games and storytelling templates.

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 23


Money

Retirees running low on cash can access equity in their homes

B

urt and Irene of Parry Sound, Ont., felt fortunate to retire when they were in their late 50s. But after a dozen fun-filled years of travelling and assisting their children with major expenses, the couple, who are now in their early 70s, noticed that the RRSP savings they thought would last a lifetime, were running low. To maintain their lifestyle with a consistent and dependable income stream, Burt and Irene considered a range of options, including traditional bank loans or selling the family home. One day, a friend told them about a reverse mortgage, which allows the senior homeowners to access their home equity but make no payments until they sell and move. A reverse mortgage is a home equity borrowing solution that lets seniors 60 years and older turn their residence into a source of tax-free cash. For those like Burt and Irene who are retired, a reverse mortgage provides extra income to travel more often, buy a holiday property, invest in a new hobby or a small business, or assist children or grandchildren with their education or other major purchases. Homeowners can choose how they want to receive the money, either in one lump sum advance or as planned advances over a set period of time. They can even combine a lump sum advance at the beginning with ongoing advances over time. No payments are required until the home is sold or both homeowners move out. Burt and Irene loved their home – and all the family memories that went with it – and had no intention of selling anytime soon. So they contacted their financial planner, who helped them access more than 35% of the equity locked up in their home. She also helped them invest most of the money

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Cash from a reverse mortgage doesn’t have to be repaid until the home is sold. [CANWEST NEWS SERVICE] in low-risk, income-yielding securities, supplementing their monthly cash flow. Next month, Burt and Irene are taking their four grandchildren to meet Mickey Mouse in Disney World. It’s an all-expenses-paid trip, courtesy of a proud Grandma and Grandpa. “If it wasn’t for the (reverse mortgage), we would never have been able to stay in

our home,” Irene says. “Now we will be financially worry-free for the rest of our lives and that’s one of the most fantastic feelings anyone our age can have.” Such plans are available now at low rates. Contact your financial adviser or mortgage broker. [NEWS CANADA]


Know where to go when you have tax trouble When it comes to tax matters, we are all used to hearing advice from tax professionals or getting information from the Canada Revenue Agency. There is now a Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, J. Paul Dubé, who provides valuable information and assistance regarding service issues with the CRA and ensures that Canadian taxpayers get the professional service and fair treatment they deserve. Here are some tips: 1. Know your rights. Consult the Taxpayer Bill of Rights on the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman’s website at www.taxpayersrights.gc.ca. 2. Keep a record of events and conversations and a copy of letters you have sent to and received from the CRA. 3. When contacting the CRA general enquiries line, ask for the first name, employee identification number, and regional suffix of the agent serving you. You are entitled to this information. Keep this information with your records of events, conversations and correspondence. 4. If the agent does not provide this information, ask to speak to a supervisor. You have the right to file a formal complaint with the CRA – Service Complaints program. If difficulty persists, contact the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman.

When the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman reviews an individual complaint, he also looks at the policies and procedures that relate to that complaint. This enables him to identify systemic and emerging service issues. By investigating these systemic issues and making recommendations for change, Dubé and his staff prevent future complaints and solve problems that could negatively affect large numbers of taxpayers. [NEWS CANADA]

NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010 25


How-To

When grilling your perfect steak, just keep it simple

Y

ou can almost hear the sizzle as cooks rhapsodize how they serve steak. Don’t clutter it up with too many flavours, they implored. Keep it simple, say the fieldto-fork experts, a farmer, butcher and chef. Ted Dimoglou, usually holding forth with raw fish for sushi at Oishii Lounge in Windsor, Ont., likes steak, too. Just not with fussy flavours and formality. “I want the fattest cut of steak with marbling and a little salt and pepper,” says Dimoglou. “Just keep it simple, and let the beef do all the talking.” Just choose the best beef, filet mignon, said Ted Farron, a butcher who knows his cuts. “It’s the very best cut. You can get a five-ounce steak for $6.” Besides, he said, the portion fits healthy-

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010

eating guidelines from Canada’s own food guide. Serve it with starch, such as potatoes and a salad full of vegetables. With steak, he suggests, appearance is everything. So, make the grill marks with a brush of oil on both sides that aids appearances and helps sear the steak and seal in moisture. Avoid sauces, especially for true steak eaters. They don’t want the flavours in the way of their favourite beef. Have sauces on the side for those who want them, he suggests. In turn, Farron likes marinades so the steak can pick up seasonings like oregano. “Marinades create another dimension of flavour,” he said. Tom Divitaris, a beef farmer whose approach remains healthy and all-natural,

says the most important ingredient to a good steak is the cut of meat itself. “It’s the quality,” Divitaris said. “The steak has to come from a good source.” His favourite tip is the high-temperature searing, which closes up the steak, locking in flavours and sealing both sides, he said. Divitaris suggests a backyard chef invest in one important utensil: a meat thermometer. Depending on the thickness, look for a temperature of about 155 F (68 C) for medium rare, about 140 F (60 C) for rare with a pink colour. But before heading to the grill, Divitaris said he washes off the steak, pats it dry and brings it close to room temperature. [CANWEST NEWS SERVICE]


Be vigilant at the grill Here are several tips for grilling meat, such as steak, from Homegrown Ontario’s expert Dave Zimmer: Enhance: Do let meat come to room temperature before placing it on the grill. Refrigerated meat takes longer to come up to cooking temperature, leading to a dry and tough dinner. It also tends to stick to the grill. Remove: Do wipe away any marinade with a paper towel before grilling. Excess moisture from the wet marinade impedes browning and the formation of the all-important sear that locks in juices.

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Rest: Do let meat rest before serving. All grilled meat needs a resting period before it is served. When meat rests — five minutes for a small steak and 15 to 20 minutes for a big roast or a bird — it reabsorbs the flavourful juices for a moist and tender dinner. Carve too early and the delicious juices from the centre of the cut simply leak out, leaving a dried-out dish. Stay: Don’t abandon the barbecue. When grilling, you can’t just close the lid and walk away. Just like pancakes or omelettes, grilled meats — and the grilling temperature — need to be closely monitored during cooking, especially for any flare-ups.

Think thick Use a thick cut of steak, such as individually sized beef medallions, for the best in beef on the grill. Recipe is from the Beef Information Centre at beefinfo.org.

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Big Basted Beef Medallions Makes 8 servings 1 cup (250 mL) HP Sauce, Original or Bold or equivalent 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Dijon mustard 2 green onions, thinly sliced 2 lb (1 kg) sterling silver beef top sirloin grilling medallions, 1 1/2-inch (4 cm) thick Salt and pepper Combine sauce, garlic, Dijon and green onions in small bowl. Remove 1/2 cup (125 mL) for dipping and set aside. Season medallions all over with salt and pepper to taste. Grill in closed barbecue over medium-high heat for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn medallions; brush each all over with some basting sauce and grill an additional 6 to 7 minutes for medium-rare (digital instant-read thermometer inserted into centre of medallion reads 140 F/60 C). Turn and brush each with more basting sauce. Transfer to cutting board; cover loosely with foil and let stand for five minutes before serving with reserved sauce for dipping. Nutrition: One serving is a good source of iron and excellent source of zinc and contains 160 calories, 26 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates and 11 per cent of the daily value for sodium.

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Coda

Showdown on the Prairie BY PHILIP WOLF

E

veryone close your eyes and think about the best summer vacation you took as a kid. Didn’t take very long to remember, did it? As the summer season approaches, the opportunities are limitless. For working adults, it’s a chance to get away from the office and spend some time with the family. For the youngsters, it’s a chance to while away the endless days, unencumbered by the annoyance of schoolwork. Summer is far and away my favourite season. The two weeks surrounding Christmas remain the best time of any year, but for an extended stretch, you can’t beat summer, especially those good, old family vacations. We never had any Chevy Chase holiday specials, but the memories linger nonetheless. Once I hit the 13, most of my dad’s summer vacation time was spent packing us around the province for my ball tournaments (thanks, Dad). But before those, we managed some unforgettable travels and I’m sure you all have your own anecdotes. Looking for photos to accompany this piece, I literally spent more than an hour laughing at the old pictures and recalling small details of long-ago adventures. The one story that always comes to mind is from when we packed up the clan (mom, dad, sister and me) into a motorhome and headed to South Dakota. Apparently, we had distant relatives in Sisseton, S.D., and we were off to their farm for a couple of weeks. Anyone who has ever been in a vehicle of any sort with their siblings knows that you inevitably become bored and decide to take it out on each other. In this case, I was the instigator. [Knocks Archie comic out of sister’s hands] “Philip keeps bugging me.” “Stop it.” [About a minute goes by; steals a licorice] “Make him stop!” “If you two can’t get along, I’m going to pull over and let you out.” “Yeah, right. We’re in the middle of nowhere.” “Then behave.” [Another minute goes by, bored young fella scribbles on sister’s invisible-ink trivia book, bedlam ensues] Somewhere in the middle of Saskatchewan, a motorhome screeches to a halt along the highway. There are no cars in sight and nothing but flat farmland for miles in every direction. “Get out.” “What?” “You heard me. Get out.” “You can’t make me get out in the the middle of nowhere!”

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NDNmagazine | SUMMER EDITION 2010

“Get out.” I’ll show you, I thought, and I made my way outside and on to the highway, fully expecting the “quit being such a little sonofagun, get back in here and behave” speech. Nope. Off sped the motorhome. When it didn’t make the expected turnaround and disappeared over the horizon, I decided I could bluff, too. So I wandered way out into the field, sat down and waited. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, the trusty motorhome came cruising back in the other direction. And kept going. For the first few minutes, I was brave as can be. After it disappeared the second time and didn’t come back for what seemed like an eternity, I decided that maybe I wasn’t so smart and decidedly wanted my mommy. So I began to walk back toward the highway. Occasionally, a car would pass and I would lie down, terrified that the hippies and druggies and bad people who boiled young kids would surely want to grab me. When the motorhome finally came back into sight, I ran right into the middle of the highway, peeled off my “Keep on truckin’’ T-shirt and waved it like I was the official starter at the Indy 500. It pulled over, the door popped open and I can still feel the wave of relief that swept over me. I don’t think Dad said anything to me for about 300 miles but I never felt more happy to be with my family. Best vacation I ever had.


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LAST CHANCE


NDNmagazine — Summer Edition 2010