Ready, set...go summer!

When I was a kid I dreaded the May long weekend. It was the time when my mom planted the back yard and vegetable gardens, and my dad made sure the lawn was mowed, and the garage got cleaned up for summer use... it was a weekend for chores. We didn't have a pool or a boat, so there didn't seem to be any immediate reward for all that work. Garden veggies take months to grow, and by the time I was done I was too tired to sit on the freshly mowed grass :) The irony of all this, of course, is that now I love gardening and getting ready for summer. Nevertheless, I'm still too tired to sit on the grass.

What do you do on the May "Two-Four" weekend? Is it a chance to break out the patio furniture and a flat of beer with friends? And no, that's not the origin of the name "Two-Four"; it comes from the date of Queen Victoria's birthday, May 24th, the reason for the long weekend in Canada, even since before Confederation. Did you know we were celebrating even before she died? Festivities started in 1845, and the day was commemorated in the late monarch's honour as Victoria Day in 1904. Canada is the only country that has a national holiday in honour of Queen Victoria, and nowadays there are many ways Canadians show their enthusiasm and appreciation. Maybe this is the first weekend the boat gets out on the water? Or a time-honoured sports tournament? A crazy backyard party perhaps? Since it is the unofficial start of summer in the Great White North, it's a well-deserved big deal.

So, how about a few ideas to get the party started - or keep it going? I know we live in wine country, and there are many local craft beers to enjoy as well, but let's kick it up a notch. I'm going to give you a cocktail, and a few nibbles to enjoy, both savoury and sweet.



A refreshing cocktail that uses mint, one of the first herbs to appear in gardens. Add seasonal fruit to make it even more decadent!

  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 1-1/2 ounces white rum
  • soda

Put mint leaves in a glass with a bit of crushed ice and muddle (smash it) with a muddler or the handle end of a wooden spoon. Top with more ice, then add rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Top with soda.

* add fruit juice, and even a couple of pieces of fresh fruit to be muddled with the mint if you wish.



A fun dip for veggies, pita chips or anything else you like to dunk!

  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed
  • 125 g cream cheese
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste

Put radishes in food processor and pulse a few times. Add cream cheese and lemon juice, and blend until radish pieces are small and mixture is smooth. Stir in lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Serve with veggie sticks, chips, etc.



These are best over a campfire or at least the coals of a grill, but in case you don't have that option, here's a way to have the same fun.

Per s'more:

  • 1 Jet-Puffed marshmallows (or other similar large size)
  • 2 graham wafer squares, or digestive cookies if you prefer
  • 2 pieces of chocolate (dark or milk, your preference)
  • 1 tbsp caramel spread (Caramoomel makes a great one, or look for other "dulce de leche" brands)

Spread the caramel on the wafers. Stick the chocolate in the marshmallow. Put the second cookie on top and create a sandwich. Place these sandwiches on a baking tray and put in a toaster oven or regular oven at 350F for approximately 3-5 minutes. (Time varies, just watch for melting marshmallow and chocolate.) These are messy but worth the trouble!

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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