Monday, May 31, 2021

Tuesday Treasures

May 2021 - Toronto ON

Rush Lane aka Graffiti Alley

Oddly I have never found a Rush Lane sign!
Graffiti Alley runs parallel to the trendy stretch of Queen Street West. It encompasses three city blocks and includes the contiguous alleyway of Rush Lane.

The vibrant spray paint scribbles formed the backdrop for comedian Rick Mercer’s weekly televised rants on the CBC.

Here's a 2018 episode of Rick's Rant about Tim Horton's filmed in the alley.

Many assume the lane was named for Canadian prog-rock heroes Rush, but it was named for Mark MacKenzie’s great-great-grandfather Frank, who “came over from Ireland with nothing and ended up owning a lot of the stores right on Queen St. He was a contemporary of (retail magnate Timothy) Eaton, basically,” MacKenzie said.

Rush’s string of shops received deliveries from the lane behind Queen St., which runs between Portland St. and Augusta Ave. where Graffiti Alley now runs. MacKenzie recalls a taxi driver taking him there in the 1970s, before a signpost was ever installed. Everyone knew Rush Lane, he said.

Frank and Mary Rush are listed in the 1881 Census for St. Andrew’s Ward as Roman Catholic immigrants from Ireland with five children: Mary, Mary Ann, Ellen, Teresa and Margret. Eldest son Edward, the great-grandfather of MacKenzie, had already grown up and left home by then. He eventually worked for the City of Toronto and had a hand in naming Rush Lane, MacKenzie said.

“It took the Eatons five or six generations to blow their money. Apparently it only took the Rushes a couple generations. None of that money worked its way down,” said MacKenzie, now an Ottawa-area entrepreneur. In an unlikely twist, Mercer attended the wedding of MacKenzie’s sister, who married a producer at the CBC.

Graffiti Alley is an ever changing art gallery but it continues to shrink as more condos get built.
If you click on Graffiti Alley in the labels/tags below this post you will find many more posts I have done over the years documenting Graffiti Alley. There are some amazing murals there as well as just plain ugly graffiti.

As I said it is ever changing, last June some 40 artists painted many Black Lives Matter murals in response to the George Floyd murder as well as a local police incident around the same time, Regis Korchinski-Paquet.

There photos were taken on a visit in May 2021.


Some of my favourites taken in previous years that are still there.

2019 collage.

2018 collage.

Monday Mural

 I'm linking up at Monday Mural 

May 2021 - Toronto ON

My husband is so well-trained!! He took these photos on a walk along the lake on his own.

Obviously there is a theme going here. It is like an art gallery of 70s and 80s classic album covers spoofed. Some of the work is very much like the original album covers, I've only included a couple as reference, feel free to look up the others. 
Provide any others you recognize in your comments.
I also noted that all the billboards say cancelled and sold out, I wonder if that is a reference to the global pandemic cancellations of live performances?

I had to zoom in on some of them to find an artist name. Spekchella is the only name I could find.

Flaming Sticks Experience Are You Extinguished = Jimi Hendrix Experience album The Ultimate Experience

The Blast Parkdale Calling = The Clash London Calling

Gray Day Canadian Idiot = Green Day American Idiot

Bob Blaze and the Inhalers = Bob Marley and the Wailers
Kiss Hotter Than Hell
The Sparklers = The Specials
Killing Smoke = Killing Joke

Firewood Sac Roaring = Fleetwood Mac Rumors
David Inferno Aladdin Inflame = David Bowie album Aladdin Sane 
Violet Flames = Violent Femmes

Incendy Pop = Iggy Pop
Hush Fire by Night = Rush Fly by Night

Sunday, May 30, 2021

My Recipe Box - Irish Soda Bread

My mom would often make soda bread, usually with raisins. 

But who knew that there was a Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread????
Just like the bagpipes weren't invented by the Scots, the chemical reaction that makes Soda Bread what it is, wasn't invented by the Irish. The earliest reference to using soda ash in baking bread seems to be credited to American Indians using it to leaven their bread.
However, as the Scots have made the bagpipe their instrument, the Irish have made Soda Bread theirs. Not by choice, but by a state of poverty that made it the easiest and least expensive bread to put on the table. The earliest recipe found to date in Ireland is from 1836. 
All recipes for traditional soda bread contain flour, baking soda, sour milk (buttermilk) and salt. That's it!!!

I've adapted this for gluten free and it is quite good. You can make it savory or sweet.

This photo has a cheese on the left and cranberry on the right.

If baking gluten free let your bread rest, covered at room temperature, for 20 minutes before baking.


2 cups all-purpose flour gluten free
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs - rosemary, basil, thyme, Italian seasoning, onion powder etc
4 ounces medium or sharp cheddar cheese shredded
1 cup buttermilk - add 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar to regular milk
1 large egg see note below
1 tablespoon melted butter


Preheat the oven to 425˚Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and sprinkle it lightly with flour.

In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Add the herbs and cheese. Stir again. Run through the dough with your fingers to break apart any cheese that might have stuck together.
Combine the egg and the buttermilk in a small bowl or cup and stir until well combined.
 Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk and egg. Stir just until all of the flour is incorporated..

Turn the dough out onto a work surface that has been generously dusted with flour. Turn the dough several times to coat with flour (I like to use a bench scraper for this), then form into a round loaf. If the dough is sticky and difficult to shape, add a little extra flour to the work surface.
Transfer the loaf to the prepared sheet pan. With a sharp serrated knife and cut an X on top of the loaf.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cover with foil if getting too brown and bake for another 8–10 minutes. The top should be a nice golden brown.
Brush the loaf with melted butter and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before slicing. Slice thick and serve with butter.

Cranberries and orange zest
Raisins and cinnamon
Blueberry lemon
Chopped apricots and orange zest
Caraway seeds 
Poppyseeds and lemon
Cheddar bacon
Cheddar bacon and jalapenos
Spinach - for a natural green colour!!

You could swap out the egg for a 1/4 cup of applesauce or banana if making it sweet.


Sep 2021 - I tried this gluten free recipe and it is also good, but a bigger loaf.

Feb 2023 - no eggs Chef Alina

500 grams all purpose flour or 1:1 gluten free flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
56 grams butter ½ stick
160 grams raisins or currents
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
392 grams buttermilk


Place 1/2 stick butter in the freezer.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
.Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend.
Remove butter from the freezer and, using a box grater , shred the butter into the flour mixture and quickly rub it in until coarse crumbs form and it is evenly distributed.
Stir in raisins and caraway seeds.
Add buttermilk to dough.
Using a wooden spoon (or your hands), gently fold the dough together until it is too stiff to stir. With lightly floured hands on a lightly floured surface, work the dough into a ball as best as you can. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds or until all the flour is moistened. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. Do not overwork the dough or your bread will be tough and chewy.
Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Using a very sharp knife, score an X into the top. **Bake until the bread is golden brown and center appears cooked through, about 45 minutes. Loosely cover the bread with aluminum foil if you notice heavy browning on top.
Remove from the oven and allow bread to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or toasted with your favorite spreads & toppings.
Cover and store the bread at room temperature for 2 days or well wrapped in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Meet or Meat

 One Word Sunday

Butcher shop on Queen St. East Toronto ON

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Saturday Sculpture

 Sculpture Saturday

The University of Toronto is an outdoor art gallery without an entrance fee.

The bronze statue that stands in front of the John M. Kelly library was created by the renowned Canadian sculptor William McElcheran.
If you look at the statue from the street, you will see a crowd of people going about their business.

 If you look at the side facing the library, you will also see a smaller, more contemplative group of people, some of whom you may recognize. McElcheran deliberately included the faces of many contemporary and ancient scholars and teachers. Some of these individuals, such as Einstein or Gandhi, are easy to make out. 

From left to right, you can see the following figures:

Stephen Leacock, T. S. Eliot, Geoffrey Chaucer, Marshall McLuhan, Dante Alighieri, Germaine de Staël, George Bernard Shaw, George Sand, Leo Tolstoy, William Shakespeare, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Paul Sartre, Rene Descartes, Etienne Gilson, Søren Kierkegaard, Georg Hegel, Immanuel Kant, Eugène Ionescu, Jacques Maritain, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sir Isaac Newton, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Augustine, Albert Einstein, Eldridge Cleaver, John Henry Newman, Barbara Ward, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Mahatma Gandhi, Herman Kahn.

Some of these scholars — for example, Marshall McLuhan and Etienne Gilson — have taught at St. Mike’s and even used the Kelly library.