Category Archives: Food

Food, Recipes, Ideas, Sharing, Local, Sustainable, Memorable!

Time

September 1999, the last year of the 20th century… RC and I got married. Y2K was a letdown, and we are still alive and kicking!

In a recent interview on Humans of New York HONY the Series ¬†a comment that really struck me was “money will come back. You can never get time back”. This week never a truer statement was said.

Today as I think about an easy, tasty anniversary meal to prepare on this 30C day, years of fond memories and triumphs interrupt my thoughts. So, so many I can’t begin to choose favourites.

I also pause for a moment to be grateful that Iphones, texting, Instagram and Facebook didn’t exist. Everyone attending our wedding was present :).

Some folks have since passed away, or simply drifted on. We have even both lost our original wedding rings ūüė¶ such is life. We’ve shared a series of dogs – seven so far, lived in a few different cities, eaten a lot of good food, attended a lot of shows together, spent almost two years (not consecutively) living in an RV with at least three dogs, and recently started a significant new chapter in our lives together. We didn’t do any of these things alone or in a vacuum – it takes a village right?

Our wedding was a beautiful day, and our marriage is a beautiful world to exist and dream within. I wouldn’t change a thing.¬†Happy (18 +5 years) Anniversary RC!

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Ostara – Spring – Abundance

Spring is finally here‚Ķ according to the calendar. This year just may be the year of the greenhouse! There is a lot of thought going into this project. I don’t want to mess it up, type, size, materials, location. There is still snow on the ground here, with shaded areas continuing to hold moisture in the form of ice. Wandering around the property yesterday, it occurred to me that although it’s ten acres, we have a tendency to keep things in a little island clump surrounded by prairie. If only roads and gravel didn’t cost so much!!

I am so grateful for the internet and the opportunity to access the experience of others with the ease of a few keystrokes. Location location location is critical when building this greenhouse. According to Michelle Moore in her article “The Sunny Side of Life”

“If you are going to purchase or build a greenhouse, you‚Äôll want it in the best place possible. The ideal location for a greenhouse has five attributes:

  • enough space
  • level and well drained
  • maximum sun exposure
  • easy access and proximity to your house
  • protection from potential hazards such as falling tree branches.”

All of the above! However, the location will need reclaimed. A small chain link pen with designed to protect the cats heated winter shelter, that has become a crap catch all for broken down pots, and random bits and pieces will need to be cleaned up and relocated. A little extra work that I am ok with. Ironically when I suggested this location yesterday (before finding the check list online) I was met with opposition. Today is a different day. Reclaiming the location is the perfect opportunity to continue the Buddhist practice of non-attachment that will weave itself through the the season.

The easy location is wrong on most counts except protection from falling tree branches, and only because there are no trees. This exercise in determining greenhouse location is proof that doing the lazy, easy thing so often becomes preferable to doing the right thing. Could this be the theme of this year gardening/food growing journey taking shape? The easy/finite way or the value generating/capacity building way? There have also been a lot of references to Nordic culture, and celebration of events like Yule, Imbolc, and Ostara so perhaps a little blend.

I am so blessed with the little piece of sanctuary I live on. To not consider the value generating capacity would be to actively reject this blessing. My thoughts turn to other events of the weekend. Time¬†spent with family, sunny afternoons contemplating and planning the greenhouse and gardens, and an Easter morning visit from a moose cow and her yearling twin calves. They didn’t stick around too long, but they are proof of abundance, a reminder that I made it through another winter and that optimism is good.

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Cider a True Dreamer 12/06-02/16

 

 

 

 

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The Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon,Grain Moon, Full Moon

  Standing in the garden this evening, the sun hot, the dry plants making crinkling noises, grasshoppers looking like pea pods it seemed fitting to acknowledge that the growing season was over. Time to practice non attachment and move into the next phase – final harvest and seed collection. 

One week ago, a frost hit and I picked as many tomatoes as I could. They are in a box ripening. Today – the tomatoes are clinging on and ripening. Go figure?

   
    
 
Start to finish I’d have to say I’ve learned a lot about the garden. It’s moods, the vegetables and flowers growing there. Lists of changes I’ll make for next year. Adjustments to soil, locations, plant choices and watering systems. 

The full moon arrives at the perfect time to wrap up the journey of Winking Beagle Gardens until next spring. Setting intentions for the next lunar phase and preparing for back to school fresh starts and winter projects. Northern Lights have been seen in the past few days – in the upcoming darkness I’ll be more present and ready to enjoy the nature on my doorstep.  

   

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Filed under Dogs, Food, Gardening 2015, Nature, The Garden Project

How Does my Garden Grow?

August 20, 2015

So much happening, it’s back to school prep time at work, and “summer” is over. The garden is really starting to slow down. However, the bounty continues. I just bagged and froze over four cups of rhubarb from my one little plant. I also made my first batch of mustard pickles!! The cucumbers from the garden, and I splurged on an organic Cauliflower. I was smart (I think) and canned multiple small bottles to avoid having to store a giant bottle of pickles in the fridge for an undisclosed amount of time. Fingers crossed!! I also tested my canning skills re-using jars without snap lids. Everything has popped and sealed so I am very optimistic. The mustard tastes just like the mustard in our favourite commercial brand Rose Pickles, that should be well received. At this point, I am waiting for them to cure and eat them with¬†roast beef ¬†and classic Newfoundland Jigs Dinner.

The tomatoes are taking over РI picked a handful of Cherry every morning, and come home each evening to couple of beautiful yellows. The Romas and Beefsteak are coming along nicely. Contemplating trying tomato jam Рthat will be a first. Carrotts, potatoes and herbs going strong!! I have to confess when I placed my rhubarb next to my Saskatoon berries in the freezer, and little surge of pride had to be acknowledged. Of course I then went straight to thinking about frozen food in the event of complete power grid break down and possible Zombie Apocolypse… Where do these thoughts come from??

Today- August 23, 2015

I don’t think will be much tomato canning. Frost arrived two nights ago and while the fruit wasn’t damaged the plants are rough and I don’t anticipate them having much time to keep growing ūüė¶

A few photos of the harvest while I contemplate the next phase of the garden and impending weather changes. Surrender and non attachment in full force this Sunday!!


  
  

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Filed under Everything, Food, Gardening 2015, The Garden Project

Regroup

I was away for six days at the Integral Theory Conference 2015 upon my return the garden had exploded once again!! Home for a few days now, thoughts turn to conference impact & the next phase of the garden. I realize I’m not exactly sure when to harvest certain foods or how I will be able to eat all of it! It is amazing to have fresh vegetables!

 It is also amazing to reflect on the fact the speedy travel to Northern California exists – I think about the Edson Trail and how it could take up to three months to travel from Edmonton to Grande Prairie. This is currently a 4.5 hour drive. This leads me to thinking about transport of food and associated costs. 

Food waste on a personal and commercial levels is a hot topic this month. With France declaring it illegal to throw food out, and Jon Oliver showcasing food waste in the U.S. (I’m sure Canadian waste would compare) and knowing how much work went into my small garden I feel compelled to review and modify my shopping, and waste habits. 

One day last year I decided to only purchase Canadian products with a preference for Alberta grown, then any other province. It was eye opening. My cart had about twelve items and the cost of anything Canadian was considerable higher than produce from California or Seafood from Malaysia or India. What sticks outs is prawns from Asia about $8, white spot prawns from British Columbia $30. Access to food and affordability, a topic for another post. Not to mention production processes, labour standards and factory farming. Front yard gardens should be the norm

Specific Winking Beagle Updates – beans have arrived, peas are crazy and even a single cucumber showed up. My dad was up for a few days and built the best climber for the peas – I’ll admit mine was dismal at best! I’ll be adjusting the pea location next year as well, I have to climb into the box to reach all of them. Oops! 

 

 

Hillbilly Pea Climbers (according to dad)

  
  

Peas…

  

Beans…

 
  
Happy to report that between myself, RC, Milena, Uncle Murray and the dogs everything picked; including pea shells and strawberry tops has been consumed. More picking today!

I almost forgot an amazing surprise (sort of) from Mother Nature was also waiting for to get home – an abundance of Saskatoons! 

Saskatoons waiting for harvest

Berries!

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Filed under Dogs, Food, Gardening 2015, Society, The Garden Project, Travel

Commitment 

I have to confess – I knew the garden would be work, but for some reason I didn’t really think it would be that much work. Wow was my ego ever playing tricks on me!!! 
This garden has been a challenge. The physical actions of putting boards together, shoveling dirt, painting, planting, and watering were work, but really that was almost the easiest part.  

  
The real work has been in the commitment – the proverbial chase and honeymoon phase was over once plants started to sprout. There were certainly times I thought about just letting everything dry up and blow away. 

The relentless wind of May and June, brought so many doubts for the garden’s success. Wondering to myself what the hell I had gotten into, and most days having unrealistic expectations of how fast a plant will grow in less than ideal conditions. Then a little sprout would appear providing hope of great bounty; only to have my horn of plenty vision, quickly destroyed by a moth laying eggs or cats digging up a row of carrots. 

Walking away was considered, I could justify quitting. Forget my practice of non attachment, ignore the pleasure daily strolls and weeding provide me, and choose grief over gratitude. 

 

velveteena wakes up

 
 

Some carrots survived the cats

 
This evening I was wandering through the garden thinking about this and that, whistling to the Western Meadow Lark I thought about how fortunate I am to live in my place and time.  I picked a few weeds, ate some peas off the vine, and checked on the strawberries it struck me- no single part of the garden was ever the same!! Each square inch unique, brining its own magic to the garden. 

I could stand on the south side of a square box and think “I’ve got all the weeds!” Then lift up a plant, walk around a corner, peer down a row for an entirely new perspective. Each angle, every minute something new to see, taste or pick. 

The concept of commitment to my garden, the plants and my vision has become very important today. Commitment paired with patience. I’m not sure they can be separated. I don’t know enough about plant biology to explain how they grow and produce food. I just know it’s amazing to watch it in real time. 

  
  
Another surprise discovery about myself in the garden. Weeding – for me (with the easy access of the raised beds) has become meditative. When I’m in the garden weeding, that’s all I’m doing. It is relaxing and makes me feel productive, like no matter what went on during the day- I’ve accomplished something! A reminder of what I love about the garden that quickly washes away all the complaints. Not unlike human relationships ūüėČ 

With renewed commitment to my garden, I now need to do some research on how to get the most from my plants. I realize there is a lot going on in the garden and a lot that I don’t know. Topics to review this week are, when to harvest, fertilizing and in the event my horn of plenty vision becomes tangible, how to cook and preserve. 

Today’s Harvest

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Filed under Everything, Food, Gardening 2015, Nature, The Garden Project

Garden Keepers

After six nights away I returned home to a beautiful garden just bursting at the seams. I realized as I got out of the car that a week is a long time. My daily checks don’t make things grow faster ha ha!! My mom was right again, “a watched pot never boils”.

  
RC took great care of things – I did have my fears. Shame on me! Wandering around tonight, it was beautiful to see things growing, to pick a few weeds (that are so courteous as to grow between the vegetables) and enjoy being present.  

At the same time I started to think about what happens in a garden when I’m not around. I see evidence of birds, cats, insects. Thoughts turn to stories of fairies, garden gnomes and my own garden keepers. They are not unlike the plants I choose to grow, or souvenirs I might pick up on a holiday. Guardians of their mini domains…  

  

Nibs – valiant mouser, grasshopper eater and garden guardian. Coming alive in the dusk as the sun sets and weather cools down. 

  
 

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Strawberry Jam

This is going to be lovely jam! Fresh strawberries from Summer’s Gold near Crooked Creek and Alfalfa Clover honey from Jean des Abeilles, Hines Creek Alberta! (I’m saving the dandelion honey for special!)

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Passion – Reykjavik

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I know, still on about Iceland. Every now and then you have a life altering experience and it takes a while to assimilate back into your “former” life. Of course, it will never be the same. At the same time, it is always better! Some fellow travellers have been posting photos of our trip on FB, and one was of a beautiful piece of chocolate cake, and¬† an almond pastry of some sort from the Passion Bakery.

passion victoria Photo by Victoria Y.

Passion was a lifeline for me. Only a couple of blocks from the Scout House where we were roughing it – delicious bread, butter and cheese as well as beautiful coffee. If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I am easily impressed by quality bread, butter and water! After a rough first 24 hours, I was riding in a cab back to the House and saw the word Passion out of the corner of my eye, I didn’t even know my street address, let alone where in Reykjavik we were. I thought it’s either a “love shop” or wait there appears to be pastry in the window – googled it immediatly upon getting through the door and was there first thing the next morning!! Salvation!

Passion Staff were also great! So tolerant of my non-existent Icelandic language skills, willing to interpret “to go cup” as “take away” and pick the perfect fresh baked roll, apply the perfect amount of butter, and expertly place the delicious slice of cheese, while preparing my most perfect latte, for five mornings in a row!

passion bread

At Passion they had these beautiful looking merengue cakes in a showcase fridge. I didn’t buy one, as I knew I would eat the whole thing. I did have a slice of something similar at the Bifrost University coffee shop/student lounge though. Delicious. Now I was on a mission! Recreate this dessert. Again, for those that know me, Pavlova (Meregue) and Whipped Cream are two of my weaknesses – combine those ingredients with the challenge of making something new – the gloves were off.

At the National Museum of Iceland I found a small book of recipes in the gift shop. Food and Festivities by Hildur and Anna.

cook book

Note my grams to cups conversion. So, on a wing and a prayer a little imperial to american measurments success was attained!!

Hnallƥóruƥortres

MRW Cake cake side

(Chocolate was a fail – doubted my usual ganache making skills, but overall 100% tasty and will be perfected. Baking Merengue in square pans with parchment was also a bit scary – trust in the process haha!)

So find your Passion – travel, food, music, magic, life… It could be right in front of you!

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K.C LAU Dinner for Two

This morning when I woke up, I did not think a great Chinese lunch was in the cards. Having to choose between A&W, Dairy Queen or a less than desirable back of chips and beef jerky from the gas station eating on the road can be ugh :(.
A fine line between sustenance to see you to your final destination and knowing that while hungry what you eat has a high chance of being regrettable.

As we pulled into Valleyview Shell for fuel and I was contemplating ice cream for lunch, I spied something new and shiny. K.C Lau attached to the Paradise Hotel. Always on the hunt for well prepared Chinese food I took a little stroll, leaving Rhett to deal with the fuel.

Ok, menu looks good, restaurant new and beautiful. Very tastefully designed with the right amount of “dynasty” chic. I asked the owner if he was affiliated with KC of Cochrane -no relation.

The real dilemma, stop early on in the 8 hour drive for late lunch or grab bad station snacks and eat at DQ in Whitecourt. Feeling ill at the thought of it, ironically torn between old reliable ( reliable disappointment) and possible pleasant surprise.

That said, our combo lunches were simple tasty, service was friendly and good and KC Lau was the right decision. So, next time you pass through Valleyview on your way to Grande Prairie or Alaska consider a quick meal break at KC’s. ( They also do take out!!)

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