Category Archives: Food

The Time it takes to Slow Down

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(photo curtesy of Hans Tammemagi)

A friend got bees this year. Her very first hive and the wax is clean and fresh. The bees are buzzing and enjoying her copious flowers. But this way to get honey, it is much slower than simply buying it at the store.IMG_8637

This is our year supply of garlic. We planted it from cloves we saved from last year. We put the cloves in the ground in October and finally, after 9 months of gestating in the ground, it is ready to be hung, dried and eaten. But how much faster is it to go to the store and buy a couple heads of garlic at a time? And garlic is one of the easiest things we grow. It still requires watering, mulching, weeding, and then when it is finally time to harvest, we clean it and hang it. Time. It takes time to add quality to our life.

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We had a day off together recently, which happens rarely because when Marc is working I am home and then on weekends we do a switch. After packing up our backpacks, we went on a hike and found a geocache. We explored. Even this, with a four year old, takes time. We stop and talk about the trees we see, the bugs we see, the slugs. We examine the dam a beaver built, and imagine we are ducks enjoying the copious duckweed. We provide offerings to the trolls who must live under the bridge. All this exploring is incredibly valuable, but again, it takes time to slow down.IMG_8827

Our skies were overcast for several days because of the forest fires raging near us. The lighting was eerie but when the rain came, it made us that much more grateful.IMG_8829 IMG_8831

This photo above is us showing Gabrielle how to make pasta. When pasta is so cheap from the store, it seems counter-intuitive to make it. But the difference in quality, the difference in flavour, is vast. IMG_20150617_151905

And some garlic scape pesto to go with it, well that just sounds divine.IMG_20150621_211225 IMG_20150621_211257 IMG_20150625_104346

Gabrielle lives in a world where she expects the seeds she stuffs into the soil to pop up. She sits down at the dinner table and expects us to know where the food on her plate comes from. Her life is slow and she is often told that now we must wait. IMG_20150627_063917 IMG_20150629_110047 IMG_20150629_141044 IMG_20150706_133953 IMG_20150708_104354 IMG_20150708_114109

Above is the very last of our onions. They just barely lasted until we pulled up our crop this year. I breathed a sign of relief and cut the final onions into a salsa fresca with our tomatoes that are just ripening on the vine.

Jam all the fruits!

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I really really wanted to u-pick strawberries this year. But there are no u-picks for strawberries on Pender Island, which meant I had to get to Victoria with my child, and allot enough time to pick. The only time this happened, happened to be the very last day u-pick strawberries were open. The berries were wizened and sparce but we went, dang it! And we got enough to make the strawberry jam I’d been craving.IMG_8576

But when it came to u-pick raspberries, I didn’t have the same staunch determination. I bought a flat of berries from a local farm and was done with it.IMG_8578 IMG_8581

My car smelled amazing on the ferry ride home.IMG_8586

I may be a hippy in many things, but with this batch of jam, I used regular pectin and lots of sugar. IMG_8588

In a day, I made raspberry, strawberry and blueberry jam. It was like a jam factory at my house and it smelled delicious. On the way home from picking the strawberries, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up pectin and more canning jars, an elderly lady behind us in the line asked me if I was actually going to make jam. She lamented that none of her grandchildren were interested in jam-making and the “old ways of doing things.” She was amazed that young people were still doing this. I told her that I thought all the “young” jam-makers I knew live on Pender Island.

She said she was 92 and her husband was 101. And I wondered quietly how much knowledge we were losing about the “old ways.” And then on the heels of that thought, I wondered how the heck I got here! Why was I making jam with my kid on a tiny island instead of buying it from the store? What attracts me to the old ways of doing things?

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By the way, the jam turned out wonderfully.

 

December is here!!

If it weren’t for Christmas, I don’t know how I would make it through the Winter.

Does that sound too dramatic?

But seriously, lights, fattening food, gifts, tradition, family? Good gracious, sign me up! And then in the Winter, there is no sailing to be had, no beekeeping, no gardening. I mean, there are always babies, but how cozy is it to sit and knit with someone in early labour while snow flakes are falling. Nothing is better!

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Yes, December is where Winter is at! It’s a shame afterward it tends to go a bit downhill.IMG_3825

Until then, bring on the homemade baileys, the peppermint bark and eggnog. I’ll do burpees in January… Geez!

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In Summary: She, Me and Him in October

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Gabrielle started ballet this September. It is as cute as watching kittens run around aimlessly and bonk into each other and the wall and the furniture. We saw “Awww,” then cringe a little and send our condolences to the teacher.

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The photo below is not in focus, but it is a meal where we provided completely for ourselves. A chicken that Marc butchered, carrots and potatoes we grew ourselves. I spend barely any time in the produce section, unless I’m buying bananas, so I hope the cashier doesn’t judge me and think we don’t eat any veggies at home. We are overrun and blessed with scads of veggies. And we are giving them away like hot cakes, because the fruit flies are multiplying. Oh the dreaded fruit flies!IMG_2890 IMG_2937 IMG_2946 IMG_2965 IMG_2989 IMG_2992

I taught a beekeeping class in September and it was received well. I am looking at writing more curriculum for different classes I’m thinking of teaching so that will keep me busy.IMG_3002 IMG_3007 IMG_3084 IMG_20140826_181857

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Gabrielle has begun informal preschool at home with me. We are having a good time as we inconsistently learn letters and numbers a few times a week. She is already recognizing words. She amazes me!IMG_20140918_124058 IMG_20140919_151042

I’ve been trying to bake a lot of our own bread. It just tastes So Much Better!IMG_20140921_093557

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We went blueberry picking in September. Most of the berries were done but we still got a whole bucket. I’ve become quite a lot more adventurous in my processing techniques compared to last year.IMG_20140922_172304 IMG_20140924_164213 IMG_20140925_102615

Gabrielle has been farming with every toy we have.IMG_20140925_135519 IMG_20140925_165434 IMG_20140926_095048

Life has been busy, bursting at the seams, but nourishing all the same. We are intentionally moving into Autumn as we begin planting our garlic and putting the garden beds to sleep. Then the sun comes out again and we dash outside for some hoola hooping, bean picking madness. My morning runs have become like dreams. It is dark and the shadowy leaves blow across the road as I pad along with my headlamp bouncing. I find myself accepting the changing of seasons, even embracing it, but also looking forward to next year’s new beginnings. But I suppose I could use a little bit of hibernation.

Now, to stack some wood. Soon daily fires will be our reality.

Happy October!

Living with the Seasons: A Nip of Autumn

I really love how our life revolves around the seasons. In August, we extract honey and process tomatoes. In September, we bring in the squash. We stack firewood. I watch my bees bringing in pollen in the spring, and capping their honey for the winter. Living with the seasons could be one of my favourite parts about living on Pender Island. The seasons feel “close” here. Maybe it’s because the windows are thin. Maybe it is living more rurally. But whatever it is, I feel the seasons here.

I’ve often wondered if I were blind-folded, and placed in a season, if I could recognize it from the smells. Right now, the sun is rising later. When I wake up early in the morning to run, I beat the sunrise. There is a nip to the air and now I’m reaching for my down vest. And there is a dry crumbling smell as the leaves start to die on the branches and the eager ones are already under-foot and crackling.

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And there is something satisfying in all this. Something wholesome and natural. And then it warms my heart even more when Gabrielle sniffs the air, and sees the leaves, and stacks the wood and plucks the apples off the tree and she says thoughtfully, “Autumn must be coming soon. I’m falling over more often.”

Logic of a three year old. It cannot be beat.