BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sweet dreams are made of cheese.

Despite my promises... I still haven't found myself with extra time to blog! I guess busy people lead busy lives!

So what have we been up to?

Well the kids have been sick (yes, there are 3 sick kids on the couch... but the extra one hangs out often enough that the germs just go through them all at the same time). In this photo the preschoolers are on the mend, while the big kid has just started with the flu.  It was a fun week that ended with the adults getting sick!

And we've had some visitors. Dylan has been working in Victoria for the past few weeks, and we have been lucky enough to have him help with bedtime stories on several occasions.

We've also been busy with all the usual holiday stuff... which in Victoria means that we've been crazy busy! (The total thus far... and it's only December 9th... is two parades, two parties, Bear Wear, The Festival of Trees, and The National Gingerbread Showcase. I agree... it's fairly ridiculous. But everything is only a few blocks walk from our house, so what are we to do?)

The highlight so far this year was definitely Nikolai's ukulele concert! I've included two photos... one so you can see how big the auditorium was (and the back of Uliana's head).  And the second is a close up of Nikolai concentrating on his music.

However, this is honestly what has taken up all my time:

I know... it IS exciting! Look how messy the kitchen is... and I've started a new fashion trend too!

Maybe this photo will help explain things?

Yes, I've spent the month making cheese for my Fermentation blog!

I've made a total of 5 different types of cheeses thus far. They are currently "ripening" (or at least they are growing weird molds) in my guest room. We've sealed the door off, and opened the window to turn it into a true cheese ripening cave. Mind you, it's not so pleasant for the visitors. But we should be finished in the next 8 months!

Just kidding... I'm going to pull all the cheeses by March.  However, my hard Italian-style washed rind cheese would truly appreciate a year long ferment, so it will only be grudgingly eaten. (I hope... It is one of the mold-growing varieties so I won't know whether it succeeded until the very end.)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A recipe!

It's been while since I've posted a recipe on this blog... as I've been busy concocting recipes to post on my Fermenting for Foodies blog!

However, fall is here, and I found a new way to eat seasonal vegetables that we all love. We all love this recipe so much that I was compelled to archive it, even though it doesn't have a fermented angle to it (which is really saying something). Though I do admit the photo isn't much to look at... it is tasty!  In a good hearty warming sort of way.

Winter Vegetable Crumble

1. Dice up 8 cups of firm winter vegetables.  I have used a mix of root vegetables, squash, brussel sprouts, basically anything you could see yourself roasting up for dinner. Also chop up 1 leek. Toss them all in a large casserole dish with 2 tbsp of olive oil, so that they are well coated in oil. Pop them into a 400F (200C) oven for 40 minutes. Toss half way through to ensure even cooking.

2. In the meantime, make up 2 cups of white sauce that is seasoned with 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard and 1 tsp of dried thyme.  I have done this with vegan milk, gluten free flour, whatever you want.  If you don't have a basic white sauce recipe, here's mine: 2 tbsp butter with 1/3 cup of chickpea flour. Add in the seasonings, followed by 2 cups of milk. Whisk over low heat until thickened.

3. Mix up the crumble topping in a bowl by combining: 1 cup quick oats, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup mixed pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Combine into a crumb topping by rubbing in 2 tbsp of butter until evenly combined.

4. To assemble, season your white sauce heavily as it will provide the seasoning for the whole dish (I recommend 1 tsp of salt).  Then pour the white sauce over the roasted vegetables, then top with the crumble topping.  Bake at 350F for 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the crumble is browing.


Here's some pics of the kids messing around together.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

All the leaves are brown

So it's been a month since my last post (I did say that October was going to be busy!  November should ease up a little for us.)

In the mean time, we had a productive month of costume making.  To start this blog off... here is a picture of everyone working on Nikolai's costume.

And here's a picture of Uliana on her way home from preschool. I don't think she's practicing face painting for Halloween as much as she's just not limited to paper in terms of her creativity.  I'm glad it's easy to wash off as she comes home painted at least once a week.
And here's our final costumes!  Brad and I are dressed as "Victorians".  (Nikolai got a joke book, and he's been reading them aloud to us, over and over and over, so puns come naturally at the moment). Nikolai is a Minecraft skeleton and Uliana is a bunny!

Here's Uliana and her best friend heading out for Trick or Treats (the big kids were running ahead, and wouldn't stop for a photo.)
And Nikolai with his mask on (he's not likely going to want a mask again... it wasn't that much fun to wear).
 Pumpkin carving in our bohemian household.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Where has all the time gone?

So... I totally realize that it has been over a month... (yes, one whole month!) since I last blogged.  I'm Sorry!  But I have a good excuse... I have taken on a number of new projects and we have had very busy weekends (as you will soon see).

You can check out one of my projects here: Lifecycles Project.  Officially, I'm helping out with Communications for Lifecycles (a local non-profit working on food security).  Unofficially, I've done everything from answer phones to teaching fermentation classes.  I'm teaching sauerkraut making to a bunch of 13 year-olds this week... I wonder if they'll be as wowed by the wonders of probiotics as I am?  At least they grew their own cabbage!

Anyways, my time has to come from somewhere, so the FermentingForFoodies is down to once a week posts, and this blog has completely fallen off the map.  However, our life is (may be?) slowing down.  We don't have too many plans for November through to next summer which might mean more time on my weekends to blog! (Note, I said November... we're pretty busy the next few weekends... visitors and trips mean that my free time to blog centers on the "none available" side of things, but I will be having plenty of time for fun!)

So what have we been up to since August?

Well... we did a Labour Day cycling trip to Thetis Lake. I carried much of the gear and Uliana in the Boxbike and Nikolai managed on his zippy red bike.  Kudos all around! (I figure I'm allowed to pat myself on the back for cycling anywhere with for 100lbs of extra weight).

We had the first day of school for both Nikolai (grade 2) and Uliana (the youngest person in her preschool).  Uliana LOVES preschool.  It has dramatically improved her mood, making me wonder if we were just under-stimulating at home?
We also went to the wedding of our good friends Dylan and Nancy.  They rented out a whole resort just north of Courtney (3 hours up the Island).  It was a great big fest of happiness and love. We all ended up sharing cabins, and there were kids all over the place.  It was a good thing we brought Uliana's runner bike... it was a long way from our cabin to the party (some butterfly wings also helped to carry her along).  And Nikolai liked the tire swing, the bouncy castle... but most of all he loved the giant-sized checkerboard.

Lastly, here's a picture of Nikolai's Jack-o-lantern smile.  Just in time for Hallowe'en!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Do you want to go to the seaside?

We spent last week in Parksville, and lucked out with some fairly beachy weather.  Parksville has the most amazing, long, sandy beach.  It's perfect for skim boarding (thanks Claire!)
 And playing around in the sand.
We also had fun exploring the massive playground (retro equipment anyone?)
And to get our fill of swimming, we enjoyed the pool!  (Well... I mainly enjoyed the hot tub... but the kids enjoyed the pool!)
Summer is almost over, but we're hoping to squeeze in a few more adventures before school starts.  Because... there's still one week of summer vacation left!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Two of us riding nowhere

This summer we created a new family tradition... It's called One-on-One Time.  Not a very unique name, as I'm sure every parent who's read ANYTHING on parenting knows that one-on-one time is very important for children.

However, we decided to formalize it. So every Friday (or Thursday night if we have Friday plans) is One-on-one time.  Each one of us spends some devoted time hanging out with a kid.  Uliana enjoys it, and Nikolai seems to really LOVE it.  (And I don't blame him... Uliana continues to be a dominating force in our household. She is 2, and it's what 2 year olds do best.)

Sometimes we do something special, but most often it just involves a walk to the park, or playing board games at home.  The real goal is to connect with the kids and spend a bit of time simply focusing on them (not the dishes, not our phones, not adult conversation).

Of course we often spend individualized time with our kids. But as Nikolai grows up, he spends more time playing outside with other kids, reading or doing his own projects. I figure a formalized One-on-One time is a good tradition to start BEFORE Nikolai becomes a tween. Then we'll need to take the time to connect with him.

So here are some pictures of One-on-One time from my phone (not a great camera... but hey, imagine it's 1998, and my phone is a super hi-tech!).

Nikolai with a heron at Fisherman's wharf.

Uliana walking around the legislature gardens.
Nikolai eating some ice cream.
Uliana at the busker's Festival eating a frozen mango.
And here are two last photos.  The first of Nikolai at the Horticultural Center of the Pacific.  He went there with his class, and wanted to give us a tour.  I won't explain the second... other than to say, she had fun.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

We're on our way.

We are not just cycling gardeners... we are also cycling campers!  We do a bike-camping trip nearly every summer.  Last year the trip was car-assisted (thanks Claire!).  This year Uliana is a big girl.  No more diapers, and no more travel cot. So we decided it was possible to do a bike trip without the car-carrying capacity.

Furthermore, for this trip, Nikolai was ready to do much of the cycling on his own!  (He managed the flat Lockside trail... but struggled with the hills on the small Island).

This trip was also notable because we did something we'd never done before... we went to the American Gulf Islands.  We also went with friends... who had their own set of mighty-cycling children (a 5 year old who did well on her tiny pink bike, and a 7 year old who managed to do ALL the cycling himself!)

Yes, it was a passport-toting, boarder-hoping, child-riding extravaganza!  Though the kids might have not noticed a difference... there were a few fairly obvious differences between the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands.

1. The ferries were way more relaxed.  Even crossing the boarder was easy.  There were few rules, everyone was super friendly, and you could show up just a few minutes in advance for the free-inter-island ferries!  Clearly they view their ferries as a resource for connecting the small Islands into a single community.

Below is a picture of the loaded tandem with Nikolai's red bike, and the two boys, wind surfing on the ferry.

2. The campground also felt different.  It wasn't the all-night-drinking-fest that often happens in BC Provincial campground.  There weren't rules posted everywhere telling everyone what to do when using the toilet, washing their dishes, etc. etc., yet everyone was really respectful.  Also, the forest felt more wild, as all the underbrush hadn't been cleared away.  

The best thing about camping was that Uliana LOVED it.  She slept better than at home (through the night and till 7 in the morning!)  And maybe it was the influence of extra adults... but she had way fewer complaints (which is a good thing because she's got the voice of an opera singer and the campground was otherwise quite quiet).
We had a day of rain... which is never fun when camping, but considering the current drought and wildfire situation we didn't complain too much.  Luckily we were able to hide out for most of the rain in a band shelter in the town.

We did get to spend one full day hanging around at the campground.  We buried our friend in the sand to hide her from her mom (the effect was completed by covering her head with a sunhat).
The kids also had fun building fairy houses all over our campsites.  Here's one that Nikolai made (Uliana later ate the salal berries).
3. The Islands seemed more wealthy than our gulf Islands.  Everything was very picturesque and there were a lot more amenities, given the population sizes. We stayed on Lopez, and only visit San Juan Island on our way out of town... and they were both very well maintained.  

Here's Uliana and friends waiting for our ferry in Friday Harbour.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Up in the mountains

Happy Canada Day!
We spent last week visiting Baba in Castlegar.  It was a great trip!  Punctuated by hot, hot weather, thunderstorms and lots of swimming.

We spent several days swimming in the Millennium Pools.  They are a series of three shallow pools (connected by little rivers and water slides between each step down) that draw water from the fridged Columbia River.  The pools get warmer as the water flows from one to the next.  And the well groomed sand was fun for the kids to muck around in.

These ponds were so extraordinary that they would easily make Castlegar a MUST for anyone with young kids.  The setting is beautiful, the beach is well groomed and the water is calm.  Even Uliana (who hates most water parks) became an enthusiastic swimmer.
  You can see the Columbia in the background of this photo.
And in the morning the freshly raked sand is smooth enough for a sand angel.
We also bought a slip and slide to use at Baba's house (isn't her view amazing?).
And here's a (rare) family photo from Zuckerberg's Island.
The only tricky part about visiting Castlegar is the travel time!  It's 12 hours total to drive (including ferry).  But surprisingly the kids were amazing in the car!  We did listen to HOURS of children's audio books, but listening to the original versions of Hans Christian Anderson's stories and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang was very academic for us as well.  Apparently there was quite a bit of violence in Children's stories!

(I just included these last two photos because I liked them.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

It's my party!

It's the end of school... and the end of an era as Nikolai turns into a 7 year old.  With his adult teeth, reading abilities and strength of character, he is moving from the realm of a little kid into big kid territory.

He wanted a Minecraft party.  Which basically meant that the kids just played Minecraft the entire time.
However, Uliana enjoyed my Minecraft cubed food.
And Brad, Grammy and I got to chill-lax on the deck while the kids all stayed inside glued to the screen.  I felt only a bit guilty about my hippy ideals... but hey! it's Nikolai's party, he can play video games if he wants to.  The Minecraft cake was certainly a hit!
And here's one last photo... of Uliana... who is still firmly a little kid. She decided to celebrate our first bit of rain in at least 1 month (maybe 2?).
Now... I need to get packing for a week of hot, hot, Interior weather.  And for the non-locals, The Interior is BC's Southern mountain range.