Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Spooky Story Series’ Category

Shortly after I became manager of the Creative Team at KPMG, the group moved into the brand new Scotia Plaza tower, then renowned for being the tallest building tower in Toronto (First Canadian Place had more floors but Scotia Plaza was taller!) You may have heard of Scotia Plaza in Toronto because it was the tower that was used in several scenes in the famous movie Three Men and a Baby, with Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, Ted Danson. They filmed during the construction phase at Scotia Plaza because Peter Mitchell, played by Tom Selleck was an architect on that project.

Tragedy hit both the filming and construction when two of the construction workers were horrifically killed in the elevator shaft; there was talk of the elevator safety system failing and the elevator ‘fell’ upwards, crushing the men to death. I can’t find documentation of this (before the internet) but I seem to recall that filming and construction were suspended for investigations. We moved into the tower well after completion, in fact, it had been up and running for quite some time, and not without incidence.

Working late in the tower meant enjoying the quiet solitude because the HVAC systems were on a timer and unless you called down and requested to have the AC/Heat left on, it went dead silent around 6:30pm; that meant that you could hear a pin drop, it also meant that you were able to hear the creaking, groaning and moaning attributed to the steel supports within the structure. Or was it? I have to admit that I had several occasions to work late, well past the hustle and bustle and the HVAC timer, but other than my imagination, I felt nothing out of sorts — until that strange morning.

Scotia Plaza has several banks of elevators and I believe they were set up piggy back so that you always had two elevators moving, one servicing the even floors and one for the odd floors in of banks of 10. Fortunately for me, I worked on the 53rd floor so my floor was at the beginning of the bank of 10, so I never had to experience the ‘milk run’. That fine morning, I had popped downstairs to pick up some dip for a gathering and was returning to my office around 10am. It was passed the rush hour but people were starting to emerge for their morning coffee. I was waiting for the elevator with one gentleman. The elevator arrived and we both stepped in. I pushed the 53rd floor and he pushed 55. The doors closed and the elevator began to move. Now these elevators are super fast, it’s just seconds to reach the 50th bank, it’s not at all uncommon to have your ears pop as you ascend. The count-down to your floor doesn’t start until you reach your particular bank, and then it beeps every time a floor is passed. Beep 51, Beep 53, Beep 55 and then nothing WITHOUT stopping! As we approached the top level of our bank, the elevator slowed thank goodness. We tried pressing buttons to stop the elevator to get out, but it had a mind of its own and continued. At 61, it slowed down and almost stopped but then decided to return to ground level, fortunately for us, at normal speed. At ground level the doors opened and we emerged pale-faced and totally freaked out. I stepped out determined not to get into that particular elevator again and took the next one up without incident. The remainder of my tenure at Scotia Plaza was uneventful.

I couldn’t help but think if this little prank was the creation of the two men who died in the very elevator banks in that building; I guess we’ll never know. But I do know that if I had made a home-made dip, I wouldn’t have had to go down to the concourse that morning.

ArtichokeParmesanDip_1085

A slightly tangy but very creamy dip with the perfect balance of salt and lemon juice.

This dip comes from my friend Charlie (Hotly Spiced) way down in Australia; she made it as part of three vegan dips for her daughter’s 19th birthday (which is ridiculous, as she barely looks 19 herself!). I was at my brother’s cottage in Muskoka when I read this delicious recipe and knew I had to try it. Of course, all the ingredients were available because of the Hollywood connection, unlike our cottage stores which are run by deer and chipmunks!

I only made a few alterations but I suggest you take a look at Charlie’s lovely blog, she always has a story that will make you laugh! Please excuse the photo, it was a quick decision but such a delicious recipe I had to post. Perhaps in the near future I will update the hideous shot!

Artichoke and Parmesan Dip

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 500 g jar of marinated artichokes, drained
  • 1 generous tbsp salted capers, rinsed
  • rind of 1 lemon, plus juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1 tbsp for garnish
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Add everything BUT 1 tbsp Parmesan Cheese and a pinch on lemon rind into a small blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Garnish with 1 tbsp Parmesan and lemon rind.
  3. Serve with rice crackers (to make it gluten free).

Read Full Post »

October is slipping through our fingers very quickly. Socially, we are already booking into November which never ceases to amaze me. Blogs are filling the virtual world with comforting fall recipes, halloween decorations and stories. My dear friend Kelly (a fellow Canadian who recently moved to California , the delightful writer and creative genius of Inspired Edibles) made a comment on my last spooky story about a haunted house tour in London she participated in several years ago and that reminded me of my own haunting experience in the UK. So I would like to continue with the Spooky Story series on my humble blog (to be honest, I had no idea I had so many of them!) Please pardon the photos in this post of our trip to the UK, they were before digital cameras and I simply took an iPhone photo of them for this post!

It was about 4 years into our marriage and JT and I were vacationing in the UK; we rented a car and drove from  town to town from the south-west to the south-east culminating our adventure in London for a few days (as a side note: we saw the Queen Mother speed along in her Rolls Royce while we were walking to Buckingham Palace). We specifically chose to stay in old mansions and guest houses on this trip, it was not only budget friendly but it also was much more fun than the large international hotels.

BiburyCourtHotel_c1990_1145

Bibury Court Hotel

BiburyCourtHotel_c1990_1146

This was high fashion in 1990! Well, at least my hair was high.

One such town was Bibury which is a quaint little picturesque town in the heart of the Cotswolds. We stayed at a very large, very old manor house Bibury Court Hotel, incidentally the same manor house that JT and his dear Mom stayed in several years earlier. “The hotel is found on the edge of the famous village of Bibury, once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England” taken verbatim from their website!

On these holidays, one of the things JT really loves to do is visit old castles and there were plenty of them in England; of course his favourite part of the castle was always the dungeon! As you can well imagine, my young self was not thrilled at such prospects, but as a good young wife, I accompanied him through many a dungeon throughout England and each one gave me the willies — some worse than others.

After our visit to Warwick Castle, I was particularly spooked. Not sure why, but as soon as I entered the very ghoulish dungeon I had an uneasy feeling and some very cold air wafted over me (of course, dungeons are cold and damp so that wasn’t entirely unusual).  The uneasy feeling was so overwhelming that I was unable to spend more than a second in the dungeon and we had to cut our time short. We retreated to our lovely manor house on the edge of town.

WarwickCastleDungeon_1150

This was the creepiest room by far in the dungeon.

We rented a lovely room which was pleasantly decorated and reasonably spacious for the time. But the view was something to be desired, particularly by someone who was recently spooked by dungeon spirits; our room over looked the grave yard (cue scary music). JT was nice enough to see if there was another room facing a different direction but sadly they were fully booked so we were stuck. I said it didn’t bother me, but you know it did.

We had a lovely dinner in the converted restaurant coach house and an after dinner drink in the quaint little bar tucked in beneath the grand old staircase in the manor house. And then it was time to retire. I tried not to think of the old cemetery, but it weighed heavily on my mind.

BiburyCourtHotel_c1990_1147

That was the window that the wind and ghosts were pouring in from. The grave yard was directly outside.

Eventually, I drifted off to sleep but it wasn’t a restful sleep. As I lay curled up on the comfy bed, snuggled under the generous duvet, the large windows facing the grave yard at the foot of the bed flung themselves open and the curtains wafted menacingly in the cold fall winds sending a chill throughout the room. But it wasn’t just wind blowing in; there were ghosts…lots of them. Apparently that is the moment I jumped out of bed and screamed to shut the windows. Of course, the windows were not open and nor were there cold winds nor ghosts blowing in. Occasionally, when I am stressed I talk in my sleep and the only way to console me is to agree and remedy, however ridiculous it may be. JT learned this lesson with the bed spiders (sorry Chgo John, that’s a whole other story). So JT simply got up and pretended to whisk out the ghosts,  close the windows and lock them down tight, explaining what he was doing along the way.  That seemed to be good enough for  me and I was able to continue my sleep with the consolation that the grave yard and ghosts were on the other side of the locked windows. The next morning, JT took quite the delight in telling me the story but I had no recollection!

I’m sure it was the heavy, meat laden meal I had that night which no doubt contributed to my restless night; had I chosen something lighter, such as vegetarian Paella, I may not have had such vivid dreams of ghosts and grave yards!

I have documented several paella recipes on my blog (please see here, and here)

VegPaella_0971

A traditional Paella Pan is essential to make this authentic dish

Seafood Paella with Salmon Chorizo

Original recipe from Matiz La Bomba Paella Rice on back of bag. This particular bag of rice was a beautiful gift from our biscotti neighbour, wasn’t that thoughtful? This was only the second time I made this dish the authentic way on top of the stove. Nothing was even remotely over cooked!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • approximately 650 g of seafood, I used Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Salmon and Cod
  • 1 Salmon Chorizo (for recipe, please click here)
  • 4 cups vegetable or fish broth, warmed
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (I used unsalted)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1/4 c green peas
  • 1/4 c sweet corn
  • 3/4 cup of La Bomba Pealla Rice
  • 2 tbsp EVOO

Directions:

  1. About 1 hour to 1 day prior tocooking the Paella, add the saffron to the white wine and refrigerate.
  2. In a Paella Pan, on medium heat, add 2 tbsp EVOO and sweat the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped red pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, diced tomatoes  and white wine saffron mix and simmer for another 5 minutes. This is the Sofrito.
  4. Add La Bomba rice and stir until the rice is thoroughly covered with the Sofrito.
  5. Slowly add the broth to the paella, moving the rice around gently until it is evenly distributed throughout the pan. The instructions indicate not to stir the rice after this point.
  6. After about 10 minutes of simmering, add your selection of seafood into the mixture, evenly distributing and gently burying it within the rice. After 15 minutes, add the peas and corn and cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Once the broth has been completely absorbed, remove from heat and cover with a lid or aluminum foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve in the Paella pan garnished with lemon and lime wedges (which I forgot!).
VegPaella_0975

The rice is short grain and soaks up the vegetable stock like a risotto rice would, making a deliciously creamy dish;jl

VegPaella_0974

Our neighbours were kind enough to bring us back authentic Paella rice called La Bomba.

VegPaella_0973

I even used Saffron from Morocco! The dish was perfect in every way.

I thought you might enjoy some photos from the Thanksgiving weekend in Muskoka:

FallColoursMuskoka_1094

Unfortunately, the colours were just past their prime.

FallColoursMuskoka_1097

Some of the golden colours were still quite beautiful.

FallColoursMuskoka_1103

The scenery made for a beautiful drive.

FallColoursMuskoka_1094

A few leaves still hanging on for dear life!

SunriseMuskoka_1088

Sunrise from the boat house at my brother’s place

SunSetMuskoka_1091

The setting sun still produces an incredible effect in the sky.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: