Hardly Sirius (not a typo)

Legend has it that those extra-hot summer days came from the extra heat of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

The word means “glowing” in Greek, and the ancient Greeks believed that the heat of this star added to the heat of the sun, giving us what we now call “the dog days of summer." 

(Sirius is called The Dog Star because it is part of the constellation Canis Major, or the Greater Dog.)

Here in the Okanagan, the hot end to summer has been coupled with smoky skies the last few years and so we don’t see many stars at all. I am glad that I have my own Dog Star, my Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Ella.

She is a living reminder of how best to enjoy summer, and she is happy to have company in her adventures. 

Being a Lab, Ella is a very sociable dog, and she is not afraid to show it with her ever-wagging tail. How can you not love someone who is always smiling, always keen to join in the fun and loves to eat?

My lovely brown girl will turn 11 on Aug. 23 (that’s 77 in human years – I hope I have her energy when I hit my 70s). She is a poster girl for beating down the old adage about not teaching old dogs new tricks; this summer she learned how to travel on a paddle board.

She went out with my hubby the first couple of times, but now the two of us have figured out our placements on the board while in the shallows.

She is a better swimmer than I am, but since I am steering I thought it best to get her a life jacket in case I tip us over and we have to make for shore. Besides, every girl likes to look cool on the lake, right?

Ella has inspired me with food, too. Being a gourmand, she is always looking for good snacks. We live around orchards and gardens galore, and her discoveries have become my new recipes.

Peaches and cucumbers ripen together, and she sampled them both. I put them together in a salad. Delicious.

The same goes for plums and zucchinis. Speaking of zucchinis, have you eaten zucchini chips? Ella finds hers in the garden, the dried pieces that get left after picking; I make mine in the oven with a bit of salt and pepper.

We both love them. And of course, Ella entirely approves of the summer pastime of eating ice cream cones.

She doesn’t get to eat the ice cream, but she is happy to search for crumbs of cones in the grass when we stroll by Paynter’s Fruit Market on our morning walk.

I hope you have a friend with whom you can share summer. Whether they have two legs or four, they are always good at encouraging us to make the most of our time. You may be bummed out with the smoke, or perhaps you don’t enjoy the heat, but don’t let those things prevent you from getting out and making memories.

I’ve spoken before in columns about the little things making the difference; if you can’t sit back and look at the stars, you need to make your own star shine.

In case you are stuck for inspiration, I’m including a recipe this week. Feel free to adjust it to your liking, adding or substituting ingredients. Maybe a friend will give you an idea on how to create a new twist.

Here’s to making the most of the season.


  • 1-1/2 cups/375 g quinoa, rinsed
  • 4 tsp/20 g kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) thick
  • ½ cup/ 125 mL apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp / 45 g sugar
  • 4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 large ripe firm peaches, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 bunch (about 2 handfuls) arugula, thick stems removed, leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 pint (about 2 handfuls) sliced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup / 60 mL olive oil
  • 1/2 cup / 1 handful chives, chopped into 1/2 inch/1 cm pieces
  • fresh ground pepper for seasoning

Bring quinoa and 4 cups/1 L water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Season with salt. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer until quinoa is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain, return quinoa to pan and cover. Remove from heat and let sit 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, place onion slices in a small bowl. Bring vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Pour over onion and let stand about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve pickling liquid.

Toss pickled onion, peaches, arugula, cucumbers, oil, half of chives and 3 Tbsp reserved pickling liquid in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper and more pickling liquid if desired. Fold in quinoa.

Serve salad topped with remaining chives.

NOTE: If you are making this ahead, don’t add the arugula and chives till the last minute. Keep mixture chilled till ready to use.

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.

Previous Stories