BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Taking Abalonia

Ah... Merry Solstice Season... 'tis the season where we fight our seasonal depression (from sunlight deprivation) with shopping, gifting and food.  It is also the ultimate Mommy Olympics, as mothers everywhere find themselves juggling the additional roles of Santa and Martha-Stewart-esque decorating, cooking and cleaning.

Though I do have to admit that I am lucky, the gender imbalances in my life are more related to my stay-at-home-lactation than traditional roles. The men in my life took over all the meals!  I got Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day off from cooking.  Even so, I still had the role of the silk sails that moved the ship of Christmas cheer safely through the holiday season.

And my daughter's nightly vigil certainly don't allow me much time rest.  She is up hourly, standing in her crib calling "Mama-mama" and desperately pumping her hand in that familiar sign for "milk".  Her only other word is "hi" and she uses it as her a mantra for constant socialization.  It has served her well in this busy season.
Now a small story of something than has made my Neuroscience-scientific side go hum: After nearly a year of evening colic, and several months of horrible nights I decided to try a (highly recommended) homeopathic doctor. I was doubtful, but our extended health covered the appointment costs, so I decided (after having tried everything from diet, drugs, massage, chiropractics and behavioural training) it was worth a shot.

An administration of phosphorous pills after our first appointment immediately stopped the evening crying and gave us our first 4 hour sleep in months.  It only lasted about a week, but after several nights of no sleep we gave Uliana a second dose... and another miracle was wrought.  Once gain it only lasted about a week... and after several nights of crying and poor sleep, I have just given her another dose, hoping that it really is a miracle cure and tonight I will sleep.

(And for the record a bad night with Uliana is an hour of crying after her first wake up at 8pm, then up every hour, followed by another hour of crying from 2-3am.  A good night involved only one bout of crying, and 2 hour sleeps; so the homeopathic pill resulting in no crying and 4 hour sleeps  is a miracle.  And my logical brain can't imagine that it's due to a placebo effect, as Uliana certainly wouldn't know the difference between 200 CH phosphorous and the conventional pain killers.  However, after my year of all-night-raver style sleeping I'm not sure I have a logical brain anymore!)

Now a yummy seasonal breakfast treat.  Here is a spread that is rich, naturally sweet, yet a healthy addition to pancakes, or panettone.

Nutty Squash Butter
Place into a food processor: 2 cups nuts (peacan's are nice),  2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tbsp liquid sweetener (honey, maple syrup), 1 cup of squash, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp salt. Process until smooth.  Spread on toast or fruit!

And to finish off, here is a picture of our stocking hung by the staircase with care.  We made the hangers by reshaping cheap metal wreath hangers.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We're gonna have a good time!

The subject of what to do about Uliana's birthday was something we started worrying about before she was born.  I tried everything in the book to get her to arrive before December 10th... then after that, I worked on having her arrive late... all in an effort to avoid a Christmas time birthday.

Who knows what day she would have naturally chosen to make her grand entrance, but as it was she was born on December 22nd.  Close enough to Christmas to have everyone in a holiday frame of mind and not a Birthday party frame of mind.

The pressure was on.  We needed to figure out what to do for her birthday. We interviewed the (surprisingly many) people we know with a Christmas birthday.  We weighed all the options and chose something that fit right with our family.

With a Birthday right in the middle of a holiday season replete with tradition, big meals, indulgent desserts and copious gifts we decided to honour her birthday in a way that celebrated her with her own set of Birthday traditions.

We steered clear of our usual Birthday traditions.  I didn't throw a party, bake a cake or give her presents. Instead we bought her a foil balloon and a fancy cupcake, dressed up in our finest clothes and went out for a fancy dinner.  All three of those items are things that we NEVER do, thus assuring the specialness of the event.

"But wait!" I can hear you cry. "What about balloons, friends, goody bags, gifts?"  And I have to agree. Who doesn't like a good party?

For now Uliana will have a Celebration Day (or perhaps her Queen's Birthday?) on April 22nd.  Look for your invitation to her 1st Celebration Day for sometime around the end of April!

Friday, November 29, 2013

A confession

Here's the thing...

And I'm sure it's no surprise...

But I really, really don't have time to blog.

Or I do, but only if I there isn't something more pressing

My life is fully packed.  So I'm often forced to choose between blogging, or say... showering.  (Ok it's not really that dramatic, but it's nearly that dramatic).

It's the thing about having two kids... in very different age groups... I basically am fully busy with each of them... all the time.

And the truth is that I started to write this blog 2 weeks ago, and am only now getting to finish it!  So my blog will be spotty over the next little while... (to say the least) though I want to keep posting recipes!  I suspect that will simply fall on the long list of things I want to do. (Read, knit, garden, paint, finish the laundry... I mean ACTUALLY finish the laundry, not just skim off the top so that the kids look clean enough to be allowed indoors.)

Here is a picture of Uliana helping out by unloading the groceries from the cupboards. Above is Nikolai and Brad sharing an academic moment.  Actually scratch that... blogger doesn't feel like uploading that photo and I've got to collect Nikolai from school (and wake up a sleeping baby... the burden of being a little sister.)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The messy time of life

Uliana has quickly grown up and for the most part she is no longer eating everything on the floor.  She's onto a new phase of baby existence... in this phase there is only one requirement... she must feed herself using only her fingers...

There are a few side effects to this phase. For example sometimes she is required to eat naked.

The moussaka that everyone knows (and loves) is generally made out of ground lamb and eggplant. However, moussaka is traditionally made with all sorts of vegetables.  My version is made with lentils.  This is a complicated dish, but my version is quicker to put together and tastes like the real thing!

Cook 2 cups of dried lentils until they are soft.  Meanwhile saute 1 cup of onions in olive oil.  Add in 6 cups of roughly chopped mushrooms (or other vegetables) and continue to cook until they give up their liquid.  Then add in cooked lentils, 4 cups crushed tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp oregano, 2 tbsp parsley, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp pepper and salt to taste (I use 2 tsp).  Continue to simmer until most of the liquid has cooked away.

Meanwhile make the Bechamel Sauce:
Whisk together 3 eggs and 2 cups of milk, then set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a pot. Stir in a 1/4 cup of flour and whisk into the butter until it forms a smooth paste. Slowly add the milk mixture whisking continuously.  Continue to whisk and cook until it thickens.

Put the base of vegetables and lentils into a large baking dish, then top with a 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, followed by the bechamel sauce.  Bake at 400 F (180 C) for 30-45 min (until top is nicely browned).

(Photos to follow as the children had a meltdown while I was trying to make the bechamel and I didn't bother to thicken it properly.  Still tasty, but not as photogenic.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

I won't grow up!

Sometimes it's hard to be a responsible grown up.  The weather is too nice and playing is lots of fun.  So, I'll start by admitting that I didn't get through all the boxes last weekend... and I tried really hard to unpack this week, but I still have about 10 boxes left!

However it was only punctuated by a  week made me wonder at my ability to be the person in charge... and it wasn't just because I didn't get my chores done!  There was the fact that Uliana ate a leaf off of the philodendron, which I discovered after calling poison control is poisonous... she also ate a bunch of mud, playground wood chips and likely some stuff I didn't see.  Every time I fish the offending substance out of her mouth, so she is fine... besides the kid seems to have an iron stomach... for everything inedible (I still haven't tried eggs again).

Then there was the fact that I found Nikolai doing a handstand over a bathtub full of water (that one made me scream in fright, which might have been the wrong reaction because he subsequently demonstrated his skills to a much more calm Brad).

Just trying to get Nikolai to school in the mornings (with Uliana in tow) requires a juggling act that usually involves me dropping a few balls... (you needed that letter signed and returned today??!)

At the moment I'm blaming the move, teething (Uliana's got 3 new teeth this month), too much caffeine or not enough caffeine... ah well... I think it's part of being a parent with young children.  As much as we may look like we have a handle on everything... we probably don't... however if a miracle occurs and we momentarily DO have a handle on everything, it only last as long as it take for your 5 year old to decide to step in the bin of flour (to see what it feels like) and for your baby to figure out how to pull out the outlet covers (we had to buy a whole new set this weekend, because she not only was pulling them out, but trying to put them back in afterwards).

However, I have my super human moments too... so Voila a family themed Halloween costume put together in just one week for the Hallowe'en party at Nikolai's school.  Can you guess what we are from the photo above?

And a recipe for a seasonal Irish bread (most stores seemed to have a tons of these for sale at this time of year).

Tea Brack
Brew up 1 cup of strong black tea.  Use it to soak 3 1/2 cups of dried fruit (raisins, currents, chopped dates, prunes) for at least 1 hour.  If you like you can replace 2 tbsp of tea with whiskey.

Add in 1 egg, 1/2 honey, 1 tbsp orange zest, 2 cups of wholegrain flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Bake in a greased loaf pan (or more traditionally an 8" cake pan).  Bake at 350 F (170 C) for 60 minutes. (A cake tester should come out clean).

And here is another party pic.  Getting these costumes together was chaotic... but if you squint your eyes and use your imagination, I'm sure you can guess which storybook (and movie) we're from!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Buried by boxes

We are still unpacking... and I've officially declared this weekend to be THE WEEKEND when we finally open and break down all the remaining boxes.  Not a small task, as we have at least 20 + boxes stashed away!  (heh heh)

Moving chores have taken over our lives, and we spent our long Thanksgiving weekend using my Mom's visit as an excuse to borrow her car to buy all the little things that we needed to settle in.  I also tackled one small closet worth of boxes with our extra day off, and I was left feeling very defeated.  Just 4 boxes collapsed for the effort of a whole day!  (heh heh... back to my weekend plans?  We'll see how much I actually get done.)
As you can see in our group Thanksgiving photo, my carnivorous son is holding a turkey leg (it was a happy, local, running around, heritage turkey).  His sister also seems to be a meat lover as she easily ate a 1/4 of her body weight in turkey.  It was truly incredible how much that kid ate.  Clearly they are both missing the "meat" component of their diet!  (I know there's lots of nay-sayers, but I make sure they eat lots of complete proteins, iron, B-vitamins and zinc containing foods, but their excitement over meat suggests that there is something they need).

Now for a vegetarian harvest celebration!

Sunchokes (Jerusolum Artichokes)

Sunchokes are a native plant around here, and they grow like a weed... in every way!  So if you have a square patch of garden that you can devote to sunchokes I would highly recommend it.
Growing: Simply put some tubers in the ground in the fall, or early spring.  They don't need any care other than watering in the dry summer months.

We co-plant with beans because the tall plants (at least 9 feet high in our garden) provide a natural trellising for runner beans.
Harvest and storage: You can harvest them all fall and winter long!  What ever isn't harvested will sprout up again next year.  And I am warning you... it's impossible to harvest all of these little tubers, so you'll be assured of a good crop every year.

If you want to harvest them all in the fall, then they store best in layers of "clean" dirt (free from anything that will rot, like roots).  At that point you can keep them in a cool room or outside.

Nutrition: Sunchokes are high in inulin fiber making them a great pre-biotic.  They also are a good source of iron.

Eating: Fresh sunchokes are so much nicer than store bought ones.  They have a lovely white skin that is soft an edible.  We add them raw to salads and stirfry's where they lend a water-chestnut-like taste.  Or you can cook them up like potatoes, though they have a stronger flavour than potatoes.

Here is a recipe for...

Roasted Sunchokes with Hazelnuts
Scrub up the sunchokes, and peel if you want to (not necessary for fresh sunchokes).  Slice into bite-sized chunks.  At this point you can parboil to get your sunchokes for 15 minutes to make them really soft, or you can roast them right away.

Toss sunchokes in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Then roast at 425 F (200 C) for 20-30 min (until cooked and crisping).

Meanwhile toast some fresh fall hazelnuts.  When the sunchokes are done toss with the hazelnuts and herbs of your choice. (Parsley, thyme or rosemary are nice).

Now... back to those boxes!!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Ode to the hum of my vacuum cleaner

Moving is always stressful... but our move last week was... well...

First there was the weather... which pounded upon us in a storm that had Claire stranded on the Island for an extra day.  It's not easy to move when rain is coming down in sheets.

Then there was the fact that the work that they were doing on our new place wasn't finished.  We couldn't move stuff into the master bedroom, bathroom nor the upstairs hallway. (It still isn't finished, but I've put the painter off for a month so that we can go away while he finishes painting the hallways and staircases).

However, the most difficult aspect of our move was the fact that Uliana finally started to crawl forward.  Which is great!  But she is the sort of baby that picks up anything larger than a grain of rice and automatically puts it in her mouth. 

So... we moved our stuff in on Saturday... the painter was sanding paint off the walls on until Sunday... and Uliana became mobile on Monday... So I have to vacuum every time we move a box to prevent her from eating a flake of paint. (I am not as worried about the bits of cardboard, paper, and lint that she's eating).

This weekend gave us a chance to really get settled:
-at least half the boxes have been unpacked
-we now have a washer and dryer
-and we had our first set of friends over for some cake... which was also the first thing we've baked in our new oven!

Honey Almond Cake
Cream together: 1 cup butter, 1 cup honey, 3 large eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Combine with: 2 cups flour, 1 cup ground almond, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cocoa, 1/2 tsp salt.

Pour into a greased and lined cake pan (I used a 10" spring-form cake pan).  

I topped my cake with peeled and halved apples, but any fresh fruit would do.  This is a very rich and sweet cake, so the fruit helps to lighten it.

Bake at 350F (175C) for 90 min. (This is a new oven for me... so maybe it's a bit cool?  I'd check it sooner then that.)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bicycle races are coming your way

This month we have been kept very busy with two MAJOR projects.

The first belongs to Brad... who completed the 140km Tour de Victoria cycle race last weekend.  (Though it was Brad's accomplishment, he couldn't have done it without my support!)  The prize is for finishing... though he deserves a prize for changing the most tires... two of his own flats and stopped to help a friend with a third flat!
And here is the final clue to our other big project.
We will be moving this weekend!  (This was mainly my accomplishment, but I couldn't have done all the packing without Brad's support!)

It will be a dramatic change from cold and beautiful heritage house, to a warm and family friendly co-operative townhouse.  We'll lose the big backyard and stained glassed windows; but we'll gain shared ownership and a built in community!

Now to finish packing...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Seeking comfort

Uliana had a major first this week... (for the record she's still not crawling even as we near her 9th month b-day, and it's not walking, or talking either)!  She had her first illness (an advantage to starting solids in the summer months).

It wasn't a major illness... just 2 days of a low fever without any cold or flu symptoms. However, Uliana is clingy at the best of times... so being sick meant that I strapped her into the baby carrier in the morning, and kept her there until bedtime.  Even at night I wasn't given a reprieve as she would cry pitifully unless she could either lay on my chest or in my arms. 

It wouldn't have been such a big deal if I wasn't already strung out and super busy with... well... maybe next week.  However, the picture above of my sad baby does provide a clue.

Now for some comfort food, courtesy of our neighbour.  We're feeding his chickens for a week while he's away... and helping him with the bounty of his ripe tomatoes.  This is a variation of a dish that we ate and loved in Bulgaria.
Sirene po Shopski (Baked cheese stew)
1. Set your oven onto broil and roast 4-6 peppers on a cookie sheet until the skins are blistered and peeling.

2. Meanwhile grate up 1 cup of white cheese, and 1 cup of feta.  Chop up tomatoes (about 2 cups worth).

3. When the peppers are done peel off the skin.  Then build your gyuveche (any personal sized oven proof dish is good.)  Build a dish for each person. Start by sprinkling down a thin layer of the cheese mixture, topped by 1/2 the tomatoes, a layer of peppers and top with flavors (fresh oregano and parsley, salt, pepper and chill flakes to taste).  Then put on the remaining tomatoes, topped by the remaining cheese.

4. Cover and bake for 20 min in a 400F (200C) oven.  Crack in 1-2 eggs per dish and cook for 5 min more (or until egg is set).

5. Serve with a crusty bread to dip into this delicious and comforting dish!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cinq, six, sept, Violette en bicyclette

So how does our car free family make the 2 km commute to and from school every day?

We could walk it... but that would be exhausting for Nikolai and time consuming.

We could bus it... but it's not on a good route for us.

And before I give away the answer let me distract you with a picture of Nikolai's lunch box.
Ah, so pretty.  Gone are the days of sandwiches wrapped up in wax paper.  Nikolai has homemade homous and naan, and the veg are all home grown.

So how does Nikolai get to school?  In a very styling bakfiet!
We needed something that would be safe for Uliana (still only 8 months), yet spacious enough for Nikolai.  Voila the Babboe City Bike.  After three days of commuting this way: Uliana no longer minds wearing her helmet, Nikolai enjoys waving at the tourists, and my arms and legs are starting to feel it.

Our route may be short, but it involves many up and down hills as we climb over Beacon Hill to the swamp of Cook Street, back up again on the other side.  (and I'm not being rude by referring to Cook Street as a swamp... because it used to be a salt water swamp!)  Luckily the gear ratio on the bike is quite high so I have no problems making the climb.  It's a fun way to ride, and has a "rain tent" for those days when it's not so warm and sunny.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Numbers, letters, learn to spell; nouns and books and show and tell.

Yesterday was Nikolai's first day of school.  And he was SO ready, mainly because he was really tired of hanging around with Uliana and I all day!

He came home full of stories about recess, snack/lunchtimes, the teacher who kept talking in French and his first French word... Bonjour!  (Though he isn't yet aware of it, he already has several other words in his French vocabulary that I tend to use around the house.  Most of them are commands... it somehow makes me feel less like a "nagging mother" to nag in a second language!)

Now despite my wish to reflect upon the sensitive and thoughtful soul that Nikolai has (and how the cruel school playground might break him of that sensitivity!!) I am far too busy with... well... I'm going to save that for yet another blog (excitement, excitement)!  For now I have to be confident that any adversity in the schoolyard will simply breed resilience. 

I don't even have time to blog a recipe. I am ever so far behind... and there is so much to do!

Above is a picture of Nikolai on his way to his first day of school... and below is Uliana enjoying the dinner out celebration.  Both of them were too full of the moment to make a camera face for me.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Uliana will not eat Green Eggs and Ham

The last week of summer left me with little time to relax.  There was school supplies to be gotten (Nikolai didn't even own a pair of shoes(!) let alone a lunch box or any thing else that he'll need next week).  There was more pickles to be made and apples to harvest.  We are also in a flurry of activity around something that is... perhaps... best left for another blog. (This is my attempt at building excitement through the use of anticipation.)

But Uliana actually provided for most of this week's drama.  The problem was related to a hard boiled egg.  Like most dutiful parents, we followed typical advice around introducing eggs yolks as a good source of iron, protein and fats.  General wisdom suggests that egg whites are allergenic and may require a later introduction.

So we followed all advice and gave Uliana a few spoonfuls of hard boiled yolk mixed with water.  She responded by vomiting three times, which was followed by 48 hours of diarrhea, and an associated diaper rash that was so bad that her skin started to peel.  I thought I'd seen everything as a parent... but nothing prepared me for that.

We saw a nurse, a doctor, a naturopathic doctor and a dietician.  They all had the same comment: no fever and she was in a great mood (even tending towards hyperactive)... so it was definitely food related.  And for some reason they all suggested that we try introducing yolks again in one month... but I'm too traumatized to even consider the possibility.

Above is a picture of Uliana on her way to another doctors appointment.

And below is a picture of Nikolai's creation... is it a tent or a cage?  It's all up to your interpretation!
The recipes today are eggless and feature Broad Beans (Fava Beans).
This year we grew broad beans as a "green manure" cover crop, but in the spring we didn't have the heart to plow them under.  Instead we waited until they were setting fresh young pods, then we spent one month eating them.  And despite all of the bad press about how bitter and tough fava beans can be, ours were soft and buttery when eaten young and fresh.

Perhaps they don't go to market well (we picked and ate within 24 hours), and certainly older broad beans require skinning.  However, when eaten young they don't require skinning at all!

Broad beans "Edamame" style
Simply grill or steam the whole pod of young beans until they are tender.  Toss in coarse sea salt, and eat like edamame by shelling the bean with your teeth.

Scafata di Fave
This is an Italian stew that tastes great served with fresh bread.

1. You will need about 2 kg (4 lbs) of fresh young broad beans still in their pod. Shuck them as you only want to use the bean for this dish.

2. Saute 1 diced onion in olive oil until soft. Add 4 cloves of diced garlic, fava beans, 1/4 cup of chopped parsley and 2 (14 oz) cans of chopped tomatoes.

3. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until fava beans are tender.

4. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and more parsley.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Island Time

We've had a relaxing week set to the pace of island time.  Pender is one of the small islands that pepper the waters between our Big Island and the rest of Canada.  Like most (all?) of the small islands it is a haven for organic farmers, musicians, writers, artists and ocean seeking vacationers.

As such, the true "islanders" at the farmer's market scoffed at my "big city" ways.  I needed to slow down my pace of shopping, chat with the farmers and enjoy being on island time.  It was a pace that reminded me of Maynooth, and suited us all very nicely.  Now we're just left wondering if our budget would stretch far enough to buy our own little piece island!

Enjoying the view.

Taking a hike with Auntie Claire.
And to embrace the hippy side of Pender Island I am doing a second blog on the most hippy of activities... SPROUTING!

I did an earlier blog on sprouting for salads and sandwiches, but this blog is something altogether different.  After Uliana's fussiness to any beans that I ate (through my milk) this spring, we switched to eating lentils.  When I was chatting about this with my doctor, she suggested that I try sprouting beans.  It worked great!

As it turns out, sprouting beans before cooking them has all sorts of advantages.  Basically it turns the complex "starchy" storage carbs in beans into easier to digest "vegetables" carbs.  It also gets rid of enzyme inhibitors that help them to store well, but aren't so good for us to eat. So sprouting makes beans much easier on our digestive system, it helps to beef up our vegetable load (who couldn't use some more vegetables?), and it makes the proteins more readily available for the body.

Sprouting Legumes
**Major Note** I'm advocating sprouting beans prior to cooking.  DO NOT EAT RAW as some beans are toxic once sprouted. (Lentils, Mung Beans and Chickpeas are exceptions).

1. Soak beans for 8-12 hours as normal
2. Drain beans and leave in a colander on the counter.
3. Rinse 2-3 times a day until sprouted. (1-3 days depending on the freshness of the bean.  If your beans don't sprout in 3 days then they are OLD.  Try a different source the next time.)
4. They only need to just be sprouted in order for the carbohydrates to be converted, so cook and use as normal!

I have sprouted everything from lentils, chickpeas, navy beans and pintos with success.  I had a batch of black beans that never really sprouted.  But we just cooked them up anyways...
And now that Uliana's digestive system has matured... we still continue to sprout.  It is so much better for all of us that the bit of extra planning required is worth the effort. (Note, the pintos are just starting to sprout, so they are ready for cooking.  The chickpeas and navy beans were quicker to sprout, but the long tail wasn't a problem for our bean salad.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gonna eat me a lot of peaches

On our way home from Castlegar we spent a few nights with friends in Kamloops, playing with their kids. Then we spent a night in Vancouver with Grammy. We took the Upper Arrow Lakes Ferry (above), and visited Gort's Gouda (below). The trip was relaxing.
The scene that confronted me on Monday morning was anything BUT relaxing.  A mound of laundry erupted from the laundry basket filled our bathroom floor and tumbled out in the hall.  The children were both keyed up by the trip away and Nikolai needed some social time to calm his frenetic squirreliness.

I was also confronted by the paradoxical situation of an empty fridge, but a backyard teaming with veg.  The effects of seasonal abundance were compounded by a delivery of 10 lbs of peaches, and 20 lbs of blueberries (ordered from a friend early in the season, with a delivery date based on ripeness). 

Last year everything ripened over the Labour Day long weekend... and I had planned our holidays this year with that expectation.  However, the good weather this year has meant that crops are bursting forth a full 3 weeks early.  Which just happens to be right in the the middle of our vacation time.  Monday morning had me quaking in my sandals... would I be able to deal with all the food, the crazy kids, the laundry and get us packed up for another week long trip? 

Monday we canned the cucumbers in to pickles and grated our over-sized zucchinis into freezer containers.

Tuesday we canned the peaches.

Wednesday we froze blueberries and made Green Gage Plum jam.

Today we peeled and froze apple slices and made another batch of jam.  (It was a good year for plums).

Phew! The suitcases are packed, and my next blog will come from a much smaller Island where I will certainly have the time to relax.
Now for a recipe that will help fuel all manic episodes of summer harvest:

Raw Chocolate Truffles

These were introduced to us by my friend Heather, when she dropped off a batch shortly after Uliana's birth. 

Process until fine: 1 1/2 cups dates, 2 cups coconut, 1/2 cup ground almond.  Add 1/4 -1/2 cup of cocoa powder, 2 tbsp coconut oil and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Then add enough honey to make them stick together (about 2 tbsp depending on your dates).  Roll into balls and cover with flaked coconut.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Highway 3

Highway 3 sets off from the town of Hope like a continuously twisting snake as it makes its way up to the Crowsnest Pass.  The first sight of the journey is the pile of rocks that marks the Hope Slide, which is followed by a winding road that circles through the forest of Manning Park.  The towns that are sparsely dotted along the route are counted by passengers eager to get back into the land of radio signals and cellular connections to the world.  First Nation's names are spliced together with their colonial counter parts: Princeton, Keremeos, Osoyoos. 
Our first night was in Osoyoos.  The journey was a settled one, with Uliana happy to sit in the car as long as Nikolai and her Mama sat near by. Nikolai's stomach was eased by a pair of sea sickness bands. Thus we survived the first set of mountain climbs to arrive in a dessert.
Osoyoos is a land of hot dry heat, a large fresh water lake, wine, fruit trees and a plethora of motels to go with it.  It is a mecca for sun seeking tourists, and the chosen location for Brads brother's wedding. 

As it was a second marriage for both Peter and Andrea, they chose to have a small affair, with their children playing key roles in the ceremony.  In the melting heat on a patio at the Nk'mip winery we shared in their special day.

From Osoyoos we continued east to Brad's homeland of Castlegar. It is located in the thick of Doukhobor country. Brad has been introducing Nikolai to his cultural heritage and retelling his Papa's childhood memories.
The weather has been hot, so swimming has been interspliced into our daily sights.  At last Nikolai has seen the Doukhobor museum, the Brilliant Suspension Bridge and his Baba and Deda in their natural environment.  He has had a first hand witness to the importance of growing your own food as a means to a peaceful way of life and the power of community to create magnificent things.

Perhaps the most pertinent lesson was an edict that Brad read to him at the museum. "To this day, Doukhobor children are not allowed to play with guns or other violent toys."  Perhaps now Nikolai won't be so quick to declare "but I believe in guns" when we take them out of his playmobil toy sets.

Tomorrow we head back to the coast on a different route... and when we finally get home I will add some photos to this post.

And here are a few more photos of the fun that we had...
at Peter's wedding,

blueberry picking,
dreaming of a star-studded future,
 castle building,
and examining the promenade.