Thursday, July 31, 2008

Silvery Fir I love thee

The other day I had a peek at my Silvery Fir tomatoes and noticed that a few of them were almost ripe. They are looking gorgeous today and so we will sample two of them at dinner. To me, it really seems like summer and garden season once the tomatoes start to ripen. I love having tomatoes at lunch and dinner (and snacktime) every day.It seems to me that these plants have a large amount of tomatoes on them for their size, so often tomato plants get so huge and then end up with not a lot of tomatoes, but these seem very productive.Our apricot tree didn't do too well this year, it was in full beautiful blossom when we got some unseasonably cold weather here. The blossoms were not happy and we ended up with only a little fruit. These have been split and put in the freezer to use sparingly in smoothies, using just one in each smoothie gives it a nice, creamy sort of texture.
Cukes are ready too so there will be lots of Greek salad on the go.And my first patty pan squash is finally ready too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Time just keeps on ticking....

The past little while I have been thinking a lot about how quickly it seems that my boys are growing up. Right from the moment W was born over 12 and a half (almost 13!!) years ago I knew this time in my life, and their lives, would go by quickly and I promised myself that I would enjoy every moment of mothering. I decided then not to try to rush any bit of their childhood to get to the next step but to enjoy it for what it was at the moment - to really be in the present with them. Of course I learned that's not always possible but I do think I have done a good job of fully enjoying all the pleasures and lessons that motherhood has to offer.

A lot of circumstances have been coming together lately that have me mulling over how quickly our babes grow up - a friend living in the "full on" stage of mothering (she is attachment parenting twins and not getting much sleep) that I remember so well it seems as though it was yesterday; another friend who will soon be welcoming her new baby into her family life that already includes two lovely little ones; some drawn out health issues that have necessitated even more independence on my boys' parts; the realization that my first born is entering a new stage of his life (a teen) and that I will soon be learning new mothering lessons and the realization that my "baby" is getting Huge! and no where near a baby anymore.

It seems that most everything in my life right now makes me think of "those mothering years", the ones from birth until about 6 years of age, when things are so completely absorbing that I didn't have time to think of anything else. I look at the tire swing and think of all the games that the boys made up that revolved around an old tire. I look under the plum tree where the sand box sat for 8 years until last year they sold it at a garage sale because they didn't use it anymore. A trampoline has replaced the swing set that my little ones played on for many years and the Tonka trucks sit mostly unused in the playhouse. When I look out my kitchen window at the walnut tree I think about all the hot summer afternoons when we sat on a blanket and read together.This year is the first time in 9 years that we have not had a bean teepee in our garden...and it makes me sad. E decided that this year he would have a sunflower house instead so when I saw the book Sunflower House at the library I brought it home for us to read. It was lovely. And it reminded me even more how quickly time passes. I look at each mudpie he makes and wonder how many more there will be.
I guess even though I always knew how quickly this time would pass I still find myself surprised at how quickly it did pass, especially since they have always learned at home and I have always been with them. I can't imagine how I would feel if they were away for most the day. So, for now I will continue to enjoy my days with them, I will work to be even more fully in the present with them and ...

I will stop and watch and smile every time I see this.

Garlic, cukes and zukes

Yesterday I harvested my first batch of garlic. It seemed only right that we use some in our dinner and so I took this (plus some store bought tomatoes)
and made this. We enjoyed it served hot with some Gort's Gouda oregano, tomato and garlic feta and the leftovers will be eaten cold as a pasta salad, probably while hanging out at the beach.

(I actually used more than the three garlic heads shown above but I didn't want to show that in the picture in case Amanda decided not to hang out with me due to my eau de garlic aroma) ;-)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Feelin' blue

Even though we have 14 blueberry bushes now we still don't have anywhere near enough berries from them to put some by for the winter although eventually I think they'll produce enough that we will.
Yesterday E and I went and bought 16 lbs to tide us over until we get to go to our local u-pick place. He ate bowl after bowl full as he listened to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire read by Stephen Fry. He was absolutely the story telling and the blueberries. Apparently Stephen Fry can really tell a story. I finally asked him to lay off the berries for awhile so that we would have some to put in the freezer and also because I was getting a little worried that he might do a Violet Beauregarde. Remember?And, like Samantha with her giant strawberry, I always like to find the big berries too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Aunt's Pickles

Years ago my aunt taught me how to make her dill pickles. They are delicious and quite well known in our family for their great taste. My aunt died three years ago now but our family continues to enjoy "her pickles" because she shared her recipe and taught me how to make them. As my boys grow older their memories of my aunt may fade but they will always remember her through her pickles. (cukes after a turn in the washing machine)

I love things like that. The knowledge and feelings and love that can be passed down through a recipe. My boys never knew my grandmother but they know and love her oatcakes and scones and they love to have tea parties with me while we eat those scones or oatcakes on my great aunt's tea set. My aunt's pickles and potato salad were a highlight at my wedding dinner, she was proud to be asked to bring them and I was pleased to be able to share such delicious food with our guests. The boys love spending time with my parents and they often talk about Grandpa's bread and Gramma's strawberry freezer jam that they eat at breakfast with them. My brother and I will always remember my mom's perogies and now I continue to make them for my family.

(secret ingredients - 1 grape leaf per jar and lots of garlic)
Food is such a visceral thing, I think. It touches on real connections and stirs strong feelings deep within us. Don't we all have some sort of food memory that touches us and takes us back to our youth? Sometimes I wonder what sort of food memories this younger generation will have when they are older. Will they have the same sort of memories that I feel lucky to have or will theirs be for prepared, packaged and fast food? I can't quite imagine it. In the meantime, I need to get more cukes for a bigger batch of pickles next time.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Sometimes people tease me about the amount of zucchini that I plant but I find it such a versatile vegetable that it really is hard to have too much. (except when I come home from a holiday and find huge ones but even those I can just make into raw veggie mush for my dog)
Yesterday we managed to get some work done in the garden, lots of calendula were going to seed and I am trying to get better at deadheading this year. While we were in the garden we picked some beets, beans, zucchini, garlic and herbs.

I sauteed the zucchini, onion, garlic and herbs then added a jar of tomato sauce and steamed, chopped beet greens and used this for making lasagna.

The beans were just steamed and served with butter and, since the oven was on for the lasagna, I roasted some beets as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Good stuff from the garden

So many things growing and so little time to post about it.
Cherries have come
and goneand are tucked in the freezer. This is a cherry pitter that I found at a garage sale years ago and I love it. It makes short work of all the cherries. ( I do this outside because the cherry juice tends to splatter and stain) I freeze them on trays and then put them in salad boxes or bags and they will supply us with smoothies, crisps and pies throughout the year.Currants are being nibbled on each day and need to be picked and preserved. Saskatoons are done and blueberries are ripening more each day. (for certain none of our blueberries will make it to the freezer)

Zucchinis are in full swing. I'll need to get Simpy in Season from the library again soon to find more zucchini recipes.
I have some onions ready and some still plumping up. I sampled my first garlic yesterday.

Loads of pole beans - one of my favourite things from the garden.And so much more.

The trick to enjoying summer when you live in such a gorgeous spot is finding that balance between time in the garden and the work of putting things by and time spent at the beach, camping and enjoying all the fun stuff of summer in an area surrounded by lakes and natural beauty.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A chance to win

Want a chance to win a beautiful quilt? Just go to the Old Red Barn Co. for your chance. It's gorgeous.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Finally last week I picked, cooked and ate some of our beets. My hubby had the misfortune to be raised without a proper appreciation for beets and so...all the more for me.

Growing garden

I love watching the garden just explode with abundance. This first picture was taken in early June.This picture was taken yesterday. What a difference a month can make.Right now it is at that time when it is still a bit contained but the squash plants have just started to spread and in no time they will start to take over the pathways. There is so much stuff ready to eat that now it becomes a challenge to keep up with it all. That is a good problem to have though. ;-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Quick and easy, sugarless strawberry jam

I grew up with regular strawberry freezer jam, you know, the kind with loads of sugar in it. It was delicious, but when I tasted strawberry jam sweetened with dried pineapple I knew that I had come across a very good alternative for my kids.It is very simple to make, all you do is put dried pineapple bits into a bowl and then cover with fresh strawberries. I like to mash them slightly to get the juice flowing a bit so that the pineapple softens quickly. Then just let the bowl sit in the fridge overnight.The next day just run it through the food processor then pour into small containers to freeze. I like to use small containers since it only keeps in the fridge for about a week. The resulting jam is very flavourful, not as sweet as jam made with sugar but nice, I think, because you can actually taste the fruit. Thought I would include a picture of what E looks like when he comes home from picking - the front of his shorts is just as colourful.
If you want a proper recipe I know that they used to have it at Springfield Bulk store right by the dried pineapple bin. :-)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Strawberry season

Every year we pick a lot of strawberries, I've done this since I was very little. A happy memory for me is taking a little ferry across the river each year to go and pick strawberries and then waking up the next morning to the smell of strawberry freezer jam. Yum.

For the last few years the boys and I have gone on our own but this year I wanted S to come with us. We went two weekends ago and came away with 7 buckets but I have been sick for the last week and wasn't up to going again. The boys and S went and picked on their own and came home with this batch - some picked and some bought from the farm stand.The next day they went back and picked again and came home with these, all I had to do was wash and freeze them all.We've ended up with a little under 150 pounds, I think. Some have been eaten, some made into jam and lots tucked away for winter smoothies. Katherine turned me onto using these salad containers as freezer containers (she even gave me a bunch of them) and they work really well. Each container holds a little over 5 lbs and they stack well.Now, only another week 'til our cherries are ready to pick.