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June 30, 2007

One Local Summer Week #2 - Potato Onion Frittata

So far, my local meals seem to be comprised of left-overs thrown together for a last minute supper.

This week I used a couple of BC grown baked potatoes that I had sitting in the fridge (the kids and I often have them for a quick and easy lunch). I sauteed one of last year's onions in a little butter, added the chopped potatoes and stirred them together until the potatoes were lightly browned. Then I whipped together several local free range eggs with a splash of milk, salt, and pepper, and poured it over the top, along with some cilantro from the garden and a sprinkling of cubed cheese. I left it on the stovetop (covered) until it started to set around the edges, and then I popped it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish cooking and to brown the top. We served it with a little sour cream and homemade salsa.

Except for the salt and pepper, all of the ingredients came from within the province, the milk products all coming from the local dairy.

This was a real hit with my son, who has been begging me to make another one ever since!

June 27, 2007

Garden Update and My Grandma

Phelan was asking how everyone's gardens were doing, so I thought I'd share a photo of the state of things in our back yard right now.
The potatoes and peas (in the foreground) are doing well, and we've got lots of carrots, broccoli, spinach, kale, and mixed greens at the moment. I just put the tomato spirals out yesterday, and I either need to get a few more of them, or rig something else up, because I went a little crazy experimenting with different varieties this year.
The banana plant (on the right) is looking happy, but it's unlikely that it will ever produce here. My step-dad lived on a Kibutz in Israel for 17 years, and he worked on a banana plantation while he was there, so the banana tree is his contribution to the garden.
The fig trees down at the end are growing well, and I spotted dozens of little figs sprouting in amongst the leaves.
The gorgeous gate was designed and built by my mom using an old piece of iron that she found at an antique store. There's another one on the other side of the yard, too. Guess what I'm hoping for as a housewarming gift? ;D

My lovely peaches have been reduced to "hairy pits".

While most things in the garden are looking great, my poor little peach tree is looking rather pathetic. It didn't like being uprooted from it's previous home, and the once plump, fuzzy peaches are now deflated and sad (I've since removed them so the tree can focus on making new roots). The original plan was to take all of the trees to our property right away and plant them, but since we're not to the point of building yet, I didn't want to leave them there by themselves without someone to water them regularly. For now, they are in pots on my mother's patio where I can keep an eye on them.


I've been meaning to post this photo of my grandmother for a few days now. We interred her ashes on the weekend, along with her sister's (they died two months apart). Both were buried at the site of my great grandmother's grave.
My grandma was a homesteader in the truest sense of the word and was one of northern BC's original pioneers. She and my grandfather raised my mom and her five siblings at their homestead at least 60 miles from the nearest settlement (and that was down a nearly impassable backwoods road, not an easy trip), where they had to deal with medical emergencies themselves - my mom got an axe in the head as a toddler while helping her 4 year old brother chop firewood and they just had to wait it out (she's fine by the way) - and where they actually had things like bear cubs for pets.
One of my favorite stories about my grandma involves her trying to chase a weasel  out of her kitchen cupboards by shooting at it with a shotgun (haven't we all had days like that?).

Our lives are very different, but the desire for self reliance has trickled down through the generations, and I am constantly amazed by the strength of the women who came before me.

June 26, 2007

Muffin Recipe

I had a couple of requests for the recipe for the Pumpkin Apple muffins that I mentioned in yesterday's post, so for anyone who's interested, you can find that here.
This was my first time using this particular recipe, and it's gotten the thumbs up from everyone here. They are quite similar to the apple muffin recipe that I like so much, but are a little more nutritious because of the pumpkin. I made mine with whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose, and they turned out very light and fluffy.
Let me know if you try them!

June 25, 2007

Is it summer yet?

It has been an incredibly wet June in this corner of the globe. We've had rain on 18 of the past 25 days, and I'm starting to worry about the welfare of my poor tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. It's been downright cold in the evenings, getting down to around 10 degrees celcius (50 fahrenheit). They even had snow in the Okanagan last night, which is home to the one desert climate in Canada, and typically the province's hotspot at this time of year.

Since we haven't been spending our days gardening or relaxing on the beach (we did go last week, but after sitting there shivering while the sky misted us for two hours, we finally gave up), I've had quite a bit of free time on my hands. Luckily, it's strawberry season. We've got dozens of plants scattered throughout the garden here, but they tend to get gobbled up whenever one of us spots a ripe one. In order to have enough to see us through the winter, I usually end up getting them from a local berry farm. A friend saved me the trip and grabbed me a flat (13 pounds) while she was out there the other day.

I froze most of them, sliced in half and frozen loosely on cookie sheets to be scooped into bags. Some of them will be used in the occasional dessert, but they're mostly to satisfy my son's smoothie addiction, which is why I have to make sure they're not frozen together in a lump. Thirteen pounds isn't really enough, so we'll likely be heading back out there sometime this week.

I also made a couple of batches of strawberry jam, which is something I didn't do last year and really regretted. I think we should be set for the next year or so.

Baking is one of my favorite things to when the weather is cool, and a pan of muffins cooling on the window sill makes my heart go pitter pat. Throw in a mug of tea and a good book, and I'm all set.

As long as I get enough sunlight for my plants to produce, I think I can handle these cooler temperatures.

June 24, 2007

One Local Summer Week #1 - Veggie Hero

Liz over at Pocket Farm started the One Local Summer challenge last summer, during which bloggers commited to creating at least one local meal per week and posting about it on their blogs. It was very interesting to follow along and see what kinds of things people from the different regions came up with, and so when she decided to organize it again for this summer, I was keen to take part myself this time.

We headed to the beach to meet some friends for a picnic a few days ago, and while using up some odds and ends from the fridge, I unexpectedly ended up making my local meal for the week.
I used a bagette from a local organic bakery (which gets its flour from a local flour mill) to make a vegetarian hero sandwich that wouldn't require plates or cutlery to eat. I spread the bread with some homemade pesto, and topped it with the remainder of a round of brie from one of my favorite local cheese makers. I roasted a red pepper (from a local greenhouse) and grabbed a handful of arugula out of the garden to finish it off.

Mmm...a taste of the Mediterranean on the shores of the Pacific!

June 19, 2007

8 Things Meme

Danielle tagged me with this meme the other day. The idea is that I'm supposed to list 8 things about myself (facts or habits).
At this point I can't even think of one, so this should be fun!

1. I've seen "The Princess Bride" so many times that I can recite the dialogue from the entire movie from beginning to end.

2. I moved across the country (to Antigonish, Nova Scotia) when I was 19 to be closer to the guy I fell in love with while working for the summer in Waterton, Alberta (a gorgeous resort town in the Rockies). The relationship ended after almost 3 years, but I came away with many good friends, several of whom moved back to BC with me when it all fell apart.

3. I hate making small talk. It's a wonder I have any friends at all, considering the lengths I will go to to avoid making polite chit chat.

4. I was obsessed with scary books and movies as a teen. I watched every horror movie and read every Stephen King book that I could get my hands on. I think it was a reaction to be quite fearful as a child (my own way of desensitizing myself I suppose).

5. I'm a total animal lover. In fact, I like animals more than I like a lot of people (maybe it's because they don't expect me to make small talk). My mom says I used to carry dead animals home in my jacket so I could give them a decent burial.

6. I'm a night owl. If everyone else I know didn't have to go to bed at a decent time, I'd happily stay up until 2:00 am every night. I once had a job that required me to get up at 3:30 am, and I actually ended up kind of liking those early mornings (except on those nights when I couldn't fall asleep by 8:30), but I tend to have more energy at night than I do earlier in the day.

7. I love houses. When I was a teenager I used to blow my money on architectural magazines, but nowadays I'm more interested in making a cozy home than designing an interesting building.

8. I was the pitcher (and a pretty good one, if I may say so) on an all boys baseball team when I was about 12. I've never really played again since then.

Well, there you have it. Nothing too interesting or earth shattering, but you know a little more about me than you did a few minutes ago.

I'm not going to tag anyone in particular, but if you feel like sharing 8 things about yourself, please leave me a comment and let me know so I can check out your list.

June 17, 2007

A Car-Free Drive

East Vancouver's Commercial Drive neighborhood (otherwise known as "The Drive") celebrated it's third annual car-free festival today, which is held to raise awareness about the importance of walkable, pedestrian friendly cities. Several blocks of the Drive are closed to traffic during the festivities, and the neighborhood (approximately 20,000 people) meets for a street party.
The weather wasn't the best today, but that didn't seem to deter anyone.

There were a lot of people in costume...

...lots of music and dancing...



...and many alternative modes of transport to explore.

Isn't her baby adorable?

One of my favorite things about The Drive is its diversity. People from all walks of life come together to make this small corner of the city into the tight-knit community that it is.

I got a kick out of this fellow out there with the kids, trying his darnedest to get his hula hoop to work, his cigar clenched firmly between his teeth.

If you're in the area, part 2 takes place on Sunday, July 22nd. Maybe I'll see you there!


June 15, 2007

A New Garden

The kids and I couldn't resist driving past our old house this morning on the way home from soccer, and I was somewhat horrified to see the yard waste bin full to the brim with bits and pieces of my former garden. All of the yuccas were pulled out - I'm seriously thinking about going back there to rescue them from the bin before it gets picked up!

Actually, my mom is incredibly generous and is sharing her gorgeous garden with me, so I haven't been dwelling on the garden I left behind very much. We spent last weekend planting out all of the things that I started from seed several months ago when I was still optimistically thinking that we might actually be working on our house over the summer.

I'm just excited about all of the new plants I have to photograph!

June 13, 2007

Cat with Poppies

My mother's neighborhood has quite an established feline community, which our cats are having a difficult time fitting into.
I couldn't resist snapping a few photos of this handsome fellow relaxing in a neighbor's poppy garden.




June 07, 2007

Meyer Lemons

Meyer lemons are deliciously sweet and are thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and a sweet orange (possibly Mandarin). They come from China and grow on gorgeous evergreen trees that are incredibly fragrant when in bloom.

An unripe lemon.

They make a lovely house plant in their own right, but the fact that they produce large numbers of such wonderful little fruits makes them a wonderful option for anyone in a Northern climate trying to eat locally produced food.

I was given a gift certificate for one of my favorite garden shops for my birthday, and a Meyer lemon tree was on the top of my list. Fortunately, they had one left when I got there last weekend, so I quickly snapped it right up. It's a more mature tree, which means it wasn't exactly cheap, but it's got half a dozen full sized fruits on it, with lots of little ones on the way, so it was well worth it. I plan to keep it in the dining room near our south facing patio doors during cool weather, moving it outside in the warmer months.

I think I see a Key Lime in my future. Who says you can't grow citrus fruit in Canada?

June 03, 2007

Help!

I've been trying to change the header on my blog but am clearly having problems. Where did those of you with nice customized blogs learn how to do that? I've fiddled with inserting URL's into the html before, but I can't even make that work now. I'd appreciate any advice!

June 02, 2007

We're Out!

We've finally finished our move, and have almost settled in at my mother's place (which is where we'll be staying while our house is being built).

It was kind of sad to leave our little house (it was just under 800 square feet at the best of times, though it seemed much smaller in the dead of a dismal Vancouver winter). We put a lot of love and hard work into it over the course of 2 1/2 years, never expecting that we would be leaving it so soon.

We were fortunate to be able to take all 7 of our fruit trees with us, and they're waiting in the shade beside my mom's house for their big move to the property. We're in the middle of a heatwave at the moment though, so we might wait until things cool off a bit (assuming they will).
Our cats were none too pleased about being uprooted, and Shadow ended up jumping to freedom from an open window 10 feet off the ground. We were worried that she'd get lost and we'd never see her again, but at 4:00 this morning she showed up, meowing furiously outside the window to be let back in.


J. at his 5th birthday party (astronaut theme).

Today also happens to be our son's 8th birthday. We're heading out shortly for a few rounds of glow in the dark bowling to celebrate.

I just had to share this lovely invitation that we saw while dropping off the last of the garbage on the final day of our move. I suggested it as a backup to bowling for my son's birthday, but for some reason he didn't go for it.

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