A few weeks ago, we went to the cottage. It’s far away from where we live, in the Lower St. Lawrence region, in northern Quebec. Beautiful place, stuck between water (the majestic St. Lawrence) and mountains. We try to go once a year; it’s a very old wooden house, no insulation. It has electricity, but no heat (obviously) except a wood stove in the hallway and a cooking wood stove in the kitchen. It has one phone. A rotary phone. And… that’s it. It’s perfect that way. No temptation to watch TV or spend time online (although my cellphone was working up there, I tried not to use it too much).
A relaxing vacation at the cottage is a time to slow down, relax by the fire, enjoy the scenery, sleep-in, not worry, read books, and eat all kinds of delicious foods. I won’t try to hide: some are healthy, some not too healthy. haha
Because I was born in Quebec, you need to understand that although I am all about healthy foods, I still enjoy my St-Hubert and my poutine. St-Hubert is a rotisserie restaurant chain in Quebec where you get roasted chicken, fries, their special gravy, a bun and some classic coleslaw. So we always stop there on the way to the cottage, because it’s the last restaurant before we get there and it’s usually dinnertime, and I’m hungry after driving for several hours. I don’t eat fast-food, except that one, a few times a year when I’m on the road.
Don’t know what a poutine is? Well, it’s pretty much THE national dish in Quebec (I’m sure people will argue with me there are others too, but oh well… it was created by a Québécois!), it’s a big bowl of thick homemade-looking fries, with a generous portion of fresh cheese curds (called “crottes de fromage”) that make a “squeek” sound when you bite in it, and all that is covered with gravy! Every restaurant, every region, every little poutine stand (called ‘cantine’) by the side of the road, they all have their own gravy, and that’s usually what makes the poutine: the sauce! Some can be really good, some bad, some are heavier and greasier than others. In my opinion, you need to try one made in a small stand, deep in rural Quebec, in order to get a good taste for what it is. They tend to taste more ‘commercial’ and less authentic in the big cities. Anyway, I’ve always been a big fan of it, and most likely always will. I used to eat wayyyy too much of it when I was a teenager and knew nothing about healthy eating. But, I still love poutine. I make a healthier version at home once in a while, using all organic ingredients, including the cheese curds, and I’ve even made my own gravy once with roasted vegetables and mushrooms, delicious.
But a few times a year, usually when we’re at the cottage, I will have a poutine and enjoy it completely guilt-free! (I never feel guilty about eating)
Having said that, I had 2 poutines in the same week, and my body told me I should not even think about having a 3rd one. haha We need to listen to our bodies. Some people might find it hard to believe, but I was craving salad like there was no tomorrow!
In my spirit of vacation debauchery, I also had a few gluten-free beers. Not all on the same night. haha I don’t do well if I drink too much, my liver is quite expressive about it. Anyway, so I would have a beer sometimes in the evening while eating a few chips (natural, made with sunflower oil and sea salt), or nachos and my homemade salsa I had brought with me (yum!), and playing cards with my husband by the fire. It’s kind of our tradition now.
Most mornings, I’d take a quick drive to a local small artisanal bakery (they use organic flour! imagine my luck!) and buy myself a chocolatine. Yup. I’m French, there’s no denying it. Chocolatine is a croissant with chocolate in the middle, and shaped in a rectangle. It should be golden and super crispy when you bite into it. So, that’s my treat, having a warm chocolatine in the late morning, sitting by the fire in the kitchen and reading a book, or sitting in the sun outside if it’s warm enough. But again, after a week, I can’t even stand those chocolatines anymore! hahaha That’ll last me until next year!
Other than that, we made some delicious meals with all the organic food we had brought with us. I used the wood stove in the kitchen the whole time to cook, it was awesome! I made some roasted potatoes and eggs for breakfast one morning, and I also made a huge batch of the most delicious vegetable soup, roasting the vegetables in a large cast-iron pot on the stove. Nothing compares to that delicious taste of a slower roast fired by wood. I basically threw a ton of vegetables in, that I had cut in small pieces: onions, leeks, carrots, red peppers, kale, sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, …. I can’t remember what else! It was delicious and lasted for a few meals. We ate it with some fresh baguette from the bakery. Oh my! so, so good.
We went hiking in national parks close-by a few times, brought an easy lunch with us, which would usually be baguette filled with organic ham or saucisson sec (cured sausage) and lots of veggies, with some trail-mix snacks, and enjoy the scenery (which, at this time of year means watching the leaves change colour!). After coming back home, we’d have a big green salad and/or a veggie juice (that’s right, I’m lucky enough to have access to a juicer even at the cottage!). Or one day, for a late lunch, we had a yummy pizza from that artisanal bakery with a big salad.
We went to visit a place called Les Jardins de Métis (Reford Gardens). It’s a huge garden with paths where you walk and look at the pretty flowers and plants, and they also have an international exposition (outdoors) every year with artists from everywhere. They also had a special exposition, which is the reason why I wanted to go there this year: a beautiful edible garden called Le Potager! It was large, but a decent size that most people could duplicate in their backyards, very well put together, looking beautiful, and about 95% edible (a few of the flowers were not edible). Surrounded by a white picket fence, with cute little openings on each side, I loved it! I wish I had a big backyard so I could do the same!
Ok, enough reminiscing, I’m getting hungry talking about all this food….
I think the pictures will express my feelings better than my words, so enjoy! And be careful not to drool on your screen while looking at the pictures! hahaha