Category Archives: Food

August: part 1

August was shamelessly busy. I had not one birth in the whole month but we were gallivanting, having grand adventures, and processing huge amounts of produce.

Let me begin, slowly, easing into August, with the smoothness of Tracy Chapman.

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Then we headed off camping….

Bringing home the Bacon…among other things

We pulled our onions and hung them to dry. So now when we venture out to the deck, it smells like onions. All.the.time. This is not a problem if you are eating pizza or just hanging laundry. But when you’re eating blueberries, it’s a bit strange. Not complaining. Just saying.

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Gabrielle helped me sort the seed cupboard the other day. We had a bunch of loose seeds at the bottom. She took the handful and chucked it into the garden box on the deck. Now we have marigolds, radishes, beans, kale, peas all conglomerating together. There is no segregation here. We accept seeds of all varieties.

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You’ll have to indulge me for including the photo above. I always try to get a picture of new baby toes when I’m attending a birth, but I never take pictures of my own child’s growing toes. This is that.

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Gabrielle and I took a day trip over to Galiano island. We met my mom there and one of her friends, but because of the way the ferries worked out, Gabrielle and I were there much earlier than them. So we found ourselves a little forest to go for a hike. There were big signs that warned us of the trail. It was steep! You had to be an experienced mountain climber to attempt the trail, the signs warned.

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My three and a half year old made it up to the top without being carried. So is this me bragging or perhaps the trail wasn’t as treacherous as advertised?

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We explored a couple beaches too and ate lots of ice cream on Galiano. Beautiful island but whenever I go to the other populated Gulf Islands, it reminds me of a parallel universe. Here are people all kinda doing what we are doing. They live funky organic hippy lifestyles. So I recognize it. But I don’t recognize it at the same time. None of the streets are familiar. The locals think I’m a tourist. They are all the same “kinds” of people but they aren’t my people. An alternate universe. That’s what Galiano felt like. Somewhere else that could have been home. But it wasn’t.

My friend Wade, the pig farmer, got another batch of pigs. This time he got piglets with curly tails. Often the tails have been lopped off. Armed with my zoomy lens, I got to capture the piglets in all their muddy, snouty glory. Man they are cute! And soon they will be big and taste like bacon!

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These pigs have so much room to run. They have camaraderie with their litter mates, they are not terrorized all day. They lead happy little lives. I wish farming was always this way.

As Summer is already half way over and we have started planting our Winter garden, I’m going to squeeze as much as I can out of August and then be able to settle comfortably into our knitted sweaters and hot cups of tea when Autumn descends.

April in Summary

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In my head, I have been blogging. Even my camera has been blogging as it snaps pictures of our daily lives. But I just wrote the final piece to my Childbirth Educator certification. I’m working at a midwife clinic doing their office admin. I have a full load of doula clients. I am beekeeping. And I’m raising my three year old. The blog got crammed in a back cobwebby corner (let’s not talk about the corners in my house right now!) and finally I’m giving it a brief dust off. So here goes the April dump!

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Between babies, I did get an Easter Feast but I did not get to paint eggs with Gabrielle. Gramma is splendid and filled in for me. When I got home, these beauties were waiting for me at the kitchen table. Way to go G & G!

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I got her a couple toys because I knew Gramma was doing a chocolate easter hunt. I hypothesized that the toys would be more long-lasting. But I was wrong. A couple of the chocolate eggs were eaten immediately, but the next few days consisted of Gabrielle re-hiding the eggs so that her dolls could find them. She even set up an Easter egg hunt for herself just because she loved the whole process so much. And the toys got a total of oh, maybe 15 minutes.

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Then came the Laundry Soap project.

We have been making our own laundry soap now for a couple years. My recipe is very simple. 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda, 1 grated bar of Ivory soap, a few drops of lavender and repeat until the containers are full. Gabrielle’s job has progressed from peeling the paper off the bars of soap to grating the soap. She gets through maybe 1/3 of the bar before she’s kinda done for a bit. Then she comes back to it. Not to brag, but seriously, her work ethic and attention span astounds me. It’s all that Farmer Influence right?

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Age Three has been mostly very delightful. Partly because I refuse to fight the small stuff. Like getting dressed before going to the beach. It hasn’t all been wonderful by any means, but as a whole, it’s much better than two.

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Gabrielle got new purple butterfly wings. We found them at a consignment store in town. When she remembers them, she loves them. (I’m realizing as I write this that I should have gotten her the wings for Easter!) One night after having barbecue burgers on the deck, Gabrielle had her wings on and she was talking about how when there is a big wind, she will go outside and then she will fly for real! She immediately reasoned that she would have to have a helmet on, of course.

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The evening ended predictably.

With her attempting to fly. For Real.

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And me helping.

I mean, how do you tell your child that you cannot fly? With purple butterfly wings? And a helmet of course.

You don’t!

You just try to make that dream come true. And laugh while trying.

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The garden is coming along. We transplanted our onions and leeks from the greenhouse to the soil now. They are spaced fairly close together but it worked well last year. We are still eating our onions we grew last year. They are in a well-ventilated cooler. They stored much better than our potatoes, which we packed in sawdust. The potatoes have sprouted and are pushing through their cardboard box, begging to be planted. Not yet, potatoes! Not yet!

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Last year the garden felt like Marc’s job. He ripped out the blackberry bushes and roto-tilled the beds. I did some weeding but it felt like minimal work compared to the colossal job he undertook. This year it feels much more even. I’m turning over the beds when he works. And when I work, he is amending the soil too. Now the garden feels like a family project. Gabrielle helps me water (and drinks from the hose- hippy points.) and she cheers on the onions and peas and garlic. She knows where everything is and she’s very excited about the tomatoes. Speaking of which, our tomato plants, while safely in the greenhouse, are flowering! Yay tomatoes! (as I try to block the overflowing counter from last year.)

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There is more I’m excited to share with you. Some knitted toys, and some beekeeping. I’ll squeeze out some more time soon. Spring, with all it’s abundance, is certainly keeping us running this time of year.

Happy April, Friends.

My Episode of Hoarders

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My counter is constantly filled with vegetables. I am thinking of applying to be on the reality TV show Hoarders. This is the way I’m leaning these days.

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I’m not trying to brag. Much. Maybe a little. But every time a friend of mine shoots me a text to ask me what I’m doing, I dutifully reply, “Processing veggies.”

It’s a bit embarrassing.

I think I may need an intervention.

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Marc reminds me sometimes that I am nothing compared to what people used to do. Or compared what some people who are trying to store food for their family for a year. But seriously, it takes all my time. And still my counter overflows with bounty supreme.

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And in the midst of all the veggies, there are blackberries and honey to deal with too. More of either would be fine with me. But please, no more zucchinis!

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(Purple potatoes with leeks above.)

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My daughter has jumped aboard this veggie-storing train. While I cut tomatoes for the dehydrator, she shells black beans and then pretends they are money, or gum, or coffee beans. You name it. Of course, they must be sheltered by umbrellas…inside.

Obviously.

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I’m not doing all this alone. My partner in crime is ever present. He is the expert on pressure canning. The big pot with it’s shrill scream intimidates me thus he takes over. And he has proved himself to be A Pickle Master.

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Mostly the problem in our little house is where to put everything. We cram it under counters, under wood boxes, in coat closets, in corners, on top of fridges and bookshelves. And we wait for the little house to explode from the weight of all the beans, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.

In one thousand years, archaeologists may find a little pile of rubble made mostly of canned beans and say, “This must be those veggie hoarders we heard myths about. Legend says they were buried alive under a mountain of their own perfectly preserved vegetables.”

Ah, the irony.

Storing up

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Some of the blackberries are a little sour.

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Oh, that one too.

We are riding down a big wave of produce. One of my counters has been filled with vegetable bounty for more than two weeks. Every time I process some, more comes in. I am not complaining. But we are busy trying to keep up.

So far we’ve done two kinds of zucchini pickles. (Dill and Curry.) We had made tomatoes salsa, sauce, dehydrated tomato chips. (I must mention that Gabrielle can eat 5 tomatoes in one sitting.) We have canned two kinds of beans with more in the fridge to still can. I’ve frozen shredded zucchini, and blanched green beans and peas. We have buckets of blueberries and the blackberries fed us dinner one night. But in the next week I need to pick blackberries in earnest to put them in the freezer for winter. With all this garden blogging, I can’t imagine what I’ll even write about in the winter when all this processing is done.

We have a cardboard box of potatoes packed in sawdust to save them for as we need through the winter. And we are hoping to over winter the onions and cabbage and carrots right out in the garden. But we will see how mucky it gets.

When I started writing in this space, we were dreaming of this. Growing food and storing it for all year long. And now we are doing it but after some other adventures. So does this mean in a couple years I’ll be going back to boat living??

The best part about all this bounty is getting to share it with friends and family. So come on down!

(We have the best tomatoes in town!)