Urban Cottage Weekend ❧ May 15, 2016

Welcome to the weekend at the cottage! Here are a few things that have been happening around here lately, including some of what’s caught my eye out there on the Internet. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, or maybe treat yourself to a hot chocolate or a glass of wine (it’s five o’clock somewhere!), and settle in for some reading and browsing.

Fort McMurray Firestorm

By now, people all around the world have heard about the the firestorm in northern Alberta that caused the largest evacuation in Canadian history: almost 90,000 people had to leave the city of Fort McMurray and surrounding area due to raging forest fires. Many had a nightmarish drive right through the fire on the only major road out of the city.

At last report, the fires have spread over an area of 241,00 hectares (unimaginable to me) and the economic damage to individuals and northern Alberta has been severe. Thousands have lost their homes, and businesses have been affected too. On the positive side, no lives have been lost due to the fire although, sadly, a car accident during the evacuation killed two people. This overview from one of Canada’s national newspapers, the Globe and Mail, last Thursday provides a recent summary of this tragic event.

Those displaced have not yet been able to return to their homes due to the ongoing threat by this fire, which has been dubbed “The Beast.”

The Fort McMurray firestorm has cast a pall over the area and our nation, but at the same time it has brought out the Canadian spirit of neighbourliness and generosity. There has been an outpouring of donations for disaster relief, and funds are being quickly distributed to those affected by the Alberta government and the Red Cross. There have been many heartwarming stories, such as airlines that evacuated people along with their pets in the main cabin.

If you would like to support the relief effort, please make sure that your donations will be helpful. I was interested to read that inappropriate donations are a “second disaster” that can hamper relief efforts. From what I’ve read, cash donations are most effective.

If you wish to donate in support of those displaced and future rebuilding efforts, one choice is the Canadian Red Cross. The Government  of Canada is matching all personal donations.

Out and About

Despite the snow that’s falling outside my window right now on this freakishly cold weekend (welcome to “spring” in Canada!), we’ve been enjoying a lot of beautiful spring weather with the requisite blossoms and greening to prove it. I love taking nature photos when I’m out on my walks. And yes, as I’ve walked through the beautiful green landscape around me, I’ve been aware that the situation is so very different in northern Alberta, and I’m grateful for what is all around me, snow or not.

Around the Web

If you’re at all interested in preserving food, you’ll want a copy of the book Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison of the Toronto blog Well Preserved. Food Bloggers of Canada is hosting a blog hop, here, with eight bloggers offering reviews and a giveaway. Hurry, the contest ends today. Note, it’s open only to Canadians.

My friend Tiffany Mayer of the blog Eating Niagara has a new podcast called Grub. The first episode reflects her thoughtful, intelligent and interesting approach to food writing. Check it out on iTunes or SoundCloud!

Here’s another article that I wrote for the London Free Press a couple of years ago, about a local butcher who makes incredible sausages.


Here are the recipes I’ve posted since the last issue of Urban Cottage Weekend. Do check out the coconut sugar macaroon bites and the goodness bowls I featured if you missed them the first time around!


  1. The fires are such a disaster, my heart goes out to everyone who lost everything. One of the things I miss most about living up north are the beautiful spring flowers, thank you for your lovely photos.

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