Category Archives: Local Eats And Treats

These Moments

I had a moment this morning where I jumped out of bed at 6am, after my farmer husband trundled off to work, and I thought “The Tomatoes!!” We had left the trays of dehydrating tomatoes on the back deck, drying out all night. Now they are tomato flakes, after I scraped their sorry brittle remains off of the trays. Still edible. Still useful for soup and sauces on those cold winter nights. But not what we intended.

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The internet is a funny place where we get to show the best of our little lives. I don’t have a picture of me scraping crusty tomato flakes off a tray at 6am, with fluffy hair and bleary eyes. We show a slice of our lives here, and though I try to remain true to facts, it is only a slice.IMG_8623

While much of our summer days are spent at the beach, going for hikes, and staring in awe at our lush gardens. (Haha!) The other part of our summer is spent processing the food we try to squirrel away for the winter. This is not always very exciting. And sometimes it’s backbreaking. In the photo above, I’m cleaning and stripping the garlic, getting it ready to hang. When it has dried out a little, I try to cram it into a corner of my already-cluttered counter. Growing food to keep for the whole year is wonderful. Storing it for that whole year while you use little bits at a time, is annoying.IMG_8841 IMG_8843

Gabrielle helps me separate the seeds from the pods. Her tiny fingers are expert at this.IMG_8845 IMG_8969

I often wonder what she will remember of this. What impression she will have of her life here. Will she remember it fondly and with joy? Or will she remember all the chores her mama made her do? Will she run off to the city just so she doesn’t have to weed another garden or knead another hunk of dough?IMG_8976 IMG_9083

We choose to live these little lives here. Simple. Small. And hope that in these days piling together, we are doing her right. And maybe she will choose a different path, but trying to give her a wholesome start, maybe that’s we can offer. Maybe these chores, these smells, this life, is what will always remind her of home.

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.

 

The Summer Scramble

IMG_20150603_220752We’ve been scrambling to keep up with the changing seasons. I moved the cushions down to the sailboat and realized it needs a good scrub before we venture out. Marc is madly using every spare second to work on the canoe. And the babies do not stop coming. The garden is growing into a luscious forest of veggies and weeds. And we remember to breathe. Sometimes. IMG_20150528_065743 IMG_20150528_065716

I’m working on a knitting project that I haven’t had the courage to do until now. I’m knitting a cowichan sweater. I had great visions, measured carefully, borrowed a pattern, was gifted some yarn and bought a little more. And after all that planning, it appears that it will fit Gabrielle nicely. Not me.

And I’m remembering to breathe.IMG_20150527_124818 IMG_20150523_163223

We are sneaking in visits with friends and family and scurrying out to the beach as much as possible. It’s so hard to fit it on all in, with the glorious weather, and the beautiful surroundings. So we feel a bit rushed to do all of our enjoying and all of our chores and just to do everything!

And then we breathe.

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And sometimes, there are dinosaurs on the workbench.IMG_8076

Actually I find this stage fascinating. Very obsessive. One moment, everything is about bugs and catching bugs and housing bugs and identifying bugs. And then the next minute, though the bugs are not completely abandoned, we have switched to dinosaurs. If one tried to keep up by buying toys for every interest, we would be overrun. But let’s admit it, we are overrun.

My hashtag here would be: Super Attentive Parents.

And then I write a blog and remember I should be breathing.IMG_8058 IMG_8056 IMG_8051 IMG_8048 IMG_8044 IMG_8039

It’s been so dry and hot for June. I love it. This is totally my favourite weather, and the bees are thriving on it as well. I picked up a super (honey box)  yesterday to check the box below for brood (babies) and found myself in a conundrum. The box was so heavy when I lifted it down, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to lift it back up. But who was I going to ask? No one else had a bee suit. So I squatted down, and grunted and strained and managed to get the super back on the hive. There must have been 50lbs of honey in the box! We will see if August pans out, because often there is a dearth here then, but maybe this is shaping up to be a bumper-crop year!

I hope your June is shaping up well and you are remembering to breathe as you sink into summer.

Lemonade Stand

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Gabrielle had her first lemonade stand the other day.

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It went well and people were very generous. Gabrielle learned about professionalism and quality service and earning money etc etc. But she also learned about community.

We had a bunch of friends stop by, loiter, spend more, and advertise for us too by yelling at the cars to stop and have some lemonade. Brie is a quiet salesperson, trusting her product will get her results. But having a mascot show up who stood on the corner and screamed “LEMONADE” at the cars driving by also increased her sales dramatically.

She also learned that people like it when you share your end goal.

Her customers would drop a quarter into her hand as she exchanged them for a chocolate chip cookie, and they would ask her what she planned on buying with her income. She said matter-of-factly, “A zebra aloe plant.”

The answer usually earned her another few quarters. She also learned about appealing to people’s good nature.

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She has big plans for her next lemonade stand.