Wednesday, July 27, 2011

And so it begins

Harvesting and filling the pantry and freezer, that is. 

Rosa and I tried to go strawberry picking at a U-Pick this week, but it didn't work out.  Their strawberries were tiny and once you cut off the tops and the some of the seed-condensed bottoms there wasn't anything left.  I know the weather has been weird, but my strawberries at home are much better.  However, there will never really be enough for our smoothy-granola-waffle needs.  I'm going to rip out more flower/weed space and give it to more baby strawberries this week. 

So, IGA has a great deal on strawberries this week.  $1/pound.  Apples are always my cost basis for cheap fruit, and right now these strawberries are cheaper than apples.  I bought 16 pounds and got to work.

Now we have frozen strawberries, dried strawberries and some awesome strawberry sauce.  Unfortunately we don't have any strawberries for snacking on so I may have to go back today for more.

Laura and I made some sauerkraut as well, which is fermenting in the basement. 

And we dried herbs (peppermint, chives and oregano) and I dried spinach last week.  That's an experiment.  The spinach hadn't really bolted yet, but it was about to and we can't eat that much salad.  Once you blanch it, I always find there's nothing left.  So it was either feed it all to the chickens or try drying it.  Then I can crumble it into noodles or pasta sauce or soup. 

Beans are starting this week.  I picked my first meal today.  Yay!  And there is one tray of raspberries in the freezer with more coming every day.  OFRE is just gearing up as well, so hopefully I'll manage to get some cherries this year and more raspberries.  I always run out of raspberries. 

I love all this processing.  It's great to see my stock increase again instead of steadily depleting.  What's coming out of your garden lately?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

50 Great Years!

This man is celebrating his 50th birthday today.  Happy birthday, Yvon!

Incidentally, I don't mean "great" as in a "great number of years". Besides, I don't think he looks as old as that.  They've just been really good years. 

The ones with me have been great anyway.  I am in no way responsible for the ones before that.

Here's praying for lots more great years!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Back from holidays

We've been gone for two weeks.  We headed south to Yellowstone, passing through my parent's place on the way there, and stopping into my parent's "vacation home" on the way back.  It was a great time, but towards the end of it I started to have dreams about the garden.  My waking thoughts were worries about weeds, hail damage, continued deaths at the hands of the evil cutworms, etc.  My sleeping dreams actually showed wasted space.  Totally empty beds.  Places where I'd forgotten to plant anything, or had spaced things way too far apart. 

Dreams are funny things. 

This is what I actually came back to.   

I know that the nomination for the citywide "Yards in Bloom" contest just comes from the president of our gardening club, but it's still flattering.   It was a nice welcome home.

Before even reaching the front door, I had dirt under my clean fingernails again, because this is the site that met us.

My dreams of empty space were very unfounded.  It's tough to find the soil.

The phrases that come to mind are "Joyful Abundance" and "Chaotic Exuberance".  Although the growth explosion makes me smile, there is a LOT of work to be done in order to find the plants I want to be in my yard.  

It's best seen from a distance. 

Now this garden doesn't even look good from a distance! 

It's going to take more than a bit of work to find the rows of peas, corn and carrots in there.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Stuff Quiz

Mom has probably shown you a few of my awesome pictures I took of plant and flower close-ups. Well, today right after lunch I went outside to take a few pictures of roses, lady's mantle, peas and beans.
Can you guess what's what?










The answers are:

1. my sparkley pink bible(don't ask why I put this in, I just like the picture) 
2. some sort of cranesbill geranium 
3. dahlia
4. buttercup
5. rose
6. flax
7. lady's mantle flowers 
8. fox glove
9. rose stem
10. marigold 
11. pea
12. bean
13. snow in summer

I hope you got more than 3 answers correct. If you got all of them right then


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Many Pounds of Asparagus

What do you do when someone gives you many pounds of asparagus? 

You say, thank you.  Thank you very much!

Then you proceed to chop and chop and chop and boil it up with some chicken stock and some salt. 

That's about all it takes to make a great batch of asparagus soup.

Whiz it up in your blender (or in small batches in my Magic Bullet) and freeze.  It's pretty concentrated, so each pint jar equals about two lunches for me and one for Beth once I add some milk to it.  We're the ones who like it most.   I don't like what milk does when frozen, so I always add it my soups later.  It's great to eat asparagus soup in the winter when I don't want to buy the out of season stuff.

It's probably too late for this advice, but at the end of spring watch the farmer's market for big bags of odd-shaped asparagus.  It sells relatively cheaply and still tastes great.  This bag was $15 and made 9 pints of soup plus two meals of steamed asparagus for the family.  Yummy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Easter Seals (post mortem)

I seem to be running out of blogging energy.  I've got ideas in my head, but they don't get onto the screen and suddenly weeks go by with nothing to show here.  Sad, really.

But I knew I had to do a post about the Easter Seals to thank everyone for their donations.  Yvon raised his personal best this year and that's awesome.  To my mind, the event seems to dwindle in popularity in competition with the many breast cancer events and other health-related fundraising events, but it sounds like they did fairly well with donations, so all is well for the handicapped kids who benefit from this.  Thanks, everyone!   

The theme of the event was the Silver Screen.  Our contribution to the decor in the corporate tent was this lovely Oscar Award. 

Recognize him?  He is Barbie's lovely boyfriend, Ken.  We had a headless Ken and a one-armed Ken.  Combined, shaved, head plastered (to get rid of unwanted stubble), primed and painted, and he now looks like an award anyone would be honoured to be nominated for. 

You wouldn't actually want to take him home and put him on your mantle!

We didn't take pictures of us walking or camping in the rain, but let's just say it was a pretty soggy weekend.  It didn't stop it from being fun though, and personally, I'd rather walk in the rain than in the heat we've had in past years.  It was quite lovely.

Some indoor tent pictures...

And a cold, late-night picture.  Alice didn't quite make it to our midnight walk.  She had a good sleep though.

Beth and Laura entertained us around our makeshift campfire with Girl Guide repeat-after-me songs and silly songs.  It was too rainy to have a bonfire and not exactly safe to have a fire in our tent, so we improvised a bit.   

And then we walked our midnight shift and it was really peaceful.  Still drizzly, but nice.   Can you see Beth sitting by the pond with the lit fountains?  They looked like fire at night.

In spite of the wet weather, it was a great start to our camping season and I'd do it again without hesitation. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

We're usually travelling on Canada Day. 

Last year we were en route to a campgound, slowly meandering through some small towns in the hopes of finding a parade or BBQ going on.  We only found some private family functions.  It was quite disappointing.  Where is our Canada spirit? 

Once we were settled in our tents and trying to fall asleep, the fireworks started nearby.  Not near enough to see (too many trees), but near enough to be kept awake by the noise.  Yvon and I were surprised to hear from the girls that they had never seen fireworks.

Seriously?  Beth is 12 years old.  How had we managed to miss fireworks at every event for so long?  I guess when bedtime is around 8:00 and the sun sets so late around here, we've never kept them up long enough to see the show. 

Tonight we're hoping to change all that.  Hopefully we'll catch some fireworks tonight! 

Happy Canada Day, everyone!