To be honest, I don’t know a lot about Queen Victoria whom the long May weekend commemorates. We still feel repercussions from the Victorian era, such as white wedding gowns and a penchant for prudery. The Queen also plays a memorable role in “The Pirates! Band Of Misfits” in which she wields a mean scimitar. I hadn’t even been aware that she had her own day in Canada until last year when I flew out to Vancouver Island on the long weekend to look for a place for our family. I had only this one weekend and some substantial internet house browsing in which to find the home we would move to in a few short months.
Such began an epic weekend of rental house hunting with my mother-in-law, Ruth, and my sister-in-law, Erin. We would learn quickly that house hunting online is much like online dating… Everyone lies. The pictures are all glamor shots from years if not decades earlier, the houses all looked much cleaner online, and in the case of a couple of our visits the picture can’t quite convey the… shall we say scent… of the actual building.
We called ourselves Little Man’s Angels, an all woman team who were finally answerable to my toddler son. Even though he was back in the States during our adventure, Little Man became our litmus test for whether or not a property was even worth considering. Unfortunately most of the places that we visited were not viable. In fact, right after visiting one more decrepit, dirty property in a long line of decrepit, dirty properties with questionable potential for child safety I was starting to wonder if I was being too picky. I must have mumbled something positive about the house when Ruth looked me in the eye and stated that while Dave and I were welcome to live in that house, her grandson would certainly not. I almost cried from relief.
The houses we toured in the greater Nanaimo area over the course of the weekend were memorable. One was so small that it should have housed dolls, not real people. Another reeked of stale tobacco and we later learned a man had been violently killed on a nearby street a few months earlier. Another had a blind driveway that led onto a busy street, not to mention a pile of human feces on the back porch. Another had strange fabric draped from the ceiling, holes punched in the walls, and boasted that it came with an outdoor plastic play house… mind you the playhouse had been used as a chicken coop for three years, but that’s nothing that a little spray bleach can’t take care of right? Right… The one thing that all of the properties shared was that online they looked and sounded amazing. I started to panic about our prospects.
Then we saw the property on the farm and I think I heard angels sing as a single ray of sun broke through the clouds and lit the house. The building itself is nice, but the biggest draw was the farm itself and the surrounding landscape. The idea of Little Man’s first long term memories being shaped here feeding chickens, petting horses, being chased by sheep… The three of us looked at each other and had to resist the urge to rush into a jumping group hug.
Later we would begin the pattern that would haunt us for the rest of the move. Just as things would start to look up, something would come crashing down. No sooner had we called to secure our rental of the farm house then the great situation fell apart almost instantly. We almost lost the house when its occupants at the time lost the home they were bidding on, and in fact it was only a few weeks before the actual move to Canada that we learned we’d be able to move in. Other things would happen as well, but for the purposes of this post, it wasn’t until when Dave and his dad pulled up to the house with the moving van filled with all of our belongings and pulling our car with the cats that I truly let myself believe that things would work out.
The farm house is not perfect, but it has turned out to be a great decision. Almost a year later Little Man still asks to go back to our blue house in Iowa, but I don’t think he misses the house as much as he does the proximity to his favorite zoo and his child care provider. We’re making friends, we live in a beautiful place, and are finding favorite places that we like to go back to over and over again.
Now that we are at this Long May Weekend one year later the main thing that keeps coming to mind is gratitude. I’m grateful for the hilarious memories from our house hunt. Grateful that Ruth and Erin were able to take the time (and insanity) of that visit with me. Grateful that we live on such a beautiful island; in such a great home; close to the sheep, pigs, Little Man’s Ladies (aka the chickens), and horses; in a place full of potential for more fantastic adventures and memories.
With the thought of gratitude in mind, I planned a simple meal for the barbeque. My goal was for something that wouldn’t take much time, leaving more time to be with Dave and LIttle Man, but also something full of flavor that Little Man would devour without us having to focus on getting him to eat his dinner. Thankfully I was successful. Little Man gobbled everything up and we were all able to have a nice family dinner full of laughs and stories. It was a perfect commemoration of the House Hunt Long Weekend. I hope that one or more of these recipes can give you a similar experience with your family or friends.
Menu: Mumbai Grilled Drumsticks, Mustard Seed Rice, Simple Grilled Zucchini and Mushrooms, and Mango Lassi.
Mumbai Grilled Drumsticks
2 tbsp. Tandoori paste
¼ cup plain, fat free yogurt
3-4 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. canola oil
10 chicken drumsticks
- Combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken in a large bowl.
- Add the drumsticks to the bowl and toss until they are evenly coated. Use your hands here to really spread the marinade over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Preheat your grill or grill pan over medium/medium high heat. The marinade is predominately yogurt based, so you may need to grease your grill to make sure the chicken doesn’t stick. Grill the chicken over medium heat for approximately 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Serve and enjoy!
Click here for a printable version of the recipe for Mumbai Grilled Drumsticks.
Mustard Seed Rice
1 tbsp. brown mustard seeds
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 ½ cups white basmati rice
3 cups hot water
Salt and pepper
- Gently heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the mustard seeds. Cover the pan when the seeds start to pop, and shake it periodically to keep the seeds moving. Be careful not to burn them. When the seeds stop popping, about 30 seconds, add the rice and stir to combine. Stir the rice every now and then to let it just start to brown. This should take just a couple of minutes.
- Carefully add the hot water to the pan. The pan is already hot so it will sputter and steam when you add the water.
- Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pan. Simmer the rice for 15 minutes, and then remove it from the heat. Let the rice sit with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Spoon the rice into a serving bowl and enjoy.
Click here for a printable version of the recipe for Mustard Seed Rice.
Simple Grilled Zucchini and Mushrooms
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1 ½ inch thick half moons
5 cremini mushrooms, cut into pieces roughly the same size as the zucchini
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves
Salt and Pepper
- This recipe is more a method than anything else. Use whatever vegetables that you have at hand. I chose zucchini and mushroom because they taste great with a bit of the grill’s smokiness.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the vegetables are evenly coated.
- Skewer all of the zucchini on one or two metal skewers, leaving a little bit of room between the pieces so they can cook evenly. Set these aside on a baking sheet. Do the same with the mushrooms. Set them aside with the zucchini and drizzle any remaining marinade over them all. Let them sit for 15-20 minutes.
- Grill over medium to medium high heat until the vegetables start to char and are cooked through.
- Remove the vegetables from the skewers, being careful of the hot metal. Toss the vegetables together in a bowl and serve. Enjoy!
Click here for a printable version of the recipe for Simple Grilled Vegetables.
2 cups plain, fat free yogurt
2 cups frozen mango pieces
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. honey
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
- Taste to see if it needs more mango or honey. Adjust seasoning, blend again, and serve. Enjoy!
Click to get a printable recipe for Mango Lassi.