Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mary Jane Style Slippers

A lovely knitting friend sent me a link to these fun slippers a while ago and I had meant to make some for Christmas gifts but got side-tracked with felted sweater slippers instead.  But, on Friday that friend came for tea and I thought that would be the perfect time to start on the slippers (that way I could pester her with how-to questions if I had any). ;-)  I rooted through my suitcase (and then my...ahem, boxes) of thrifted wool to find some yarn to use, found the pattern and they started coming together very quickly.  Another friend offered to lend me her DPKs to finish them off and they were done shortly after getting the needles the next day. 
I was thrilled to have a quick and easy project to do - love those knitting projects that knit up quickly and leave you feeling very accomplished!  I did these ones with 4 strands of orange wool and 1 strand of bright pink mohair.  If I have enough mohair left I'm going to do another pair for a gift. 
These made a very nice break from de-cluttering and packing, that's for certain.  And while they're not warm enough for wearing in this house ( I tried them on to take the photo and then quickly slipped back into my wool socks and felted wool slipper clogs) I know that in another month we will be somewhere back down in the valley where Spring is on its way. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

It is important to me to eat and cook with local (or better yet, homegrown), seasonal food as much as possible.  I love the seasonal variety it adds to our menu but I mostly like knowing that our food hasn't been shipped from far away and I also love the taste.  We have been using a lot of root vegetables, squash, cabbages, onions and the like in our meal  plans lately along with all our  preserved garden goodies.  This week we enjoyed Jamie Oliver's roasted vegetables again (Love These!).  We used one of our squash for roasted squash bisque and then I decided to try a new-to-us recipe from a Vegetarian Times magazine I was passing on - Butternut Squash Gnocchi (with sage butter, and believe me, Everything tastes better with sage butter).
These were delicious!  I didn't bother putting the cooked squash through a sieve, I just mashed it in a bowl and then added the rest of the ingredients (minus the nutmeg).  Very simple and very tasty.  We ate it alongside a savoy cabbage I had chopped and sauteed with garlic, oil and a bit of soy sauce -simple, quick and yummy.

All this squash eating has us also eating a lot of squash seeds.  Now whenever I bake squash I also bake the seeds at the same time.  I put them in a cast iron fry pan and drizzle a little oil over them and then just sprinkle with whatever herbs or seasonings we feel like - a nice snack to tide us over while dinner finishes cooking.  I think I'll try to find a few more new recipes to see us through this winter season and then, before we know it Spring will be here, with fresh greens, asparagus, nettle, lamb's quarter and lots more.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Good Things to Eat

I think I may have some over-do-it type tendencies. ;-)  I love growing food and I also love preserving food.  I've never really set my own limits on how much to preserve (or paused to do something sensible like figure out how much preserved food a family of food can actually use in a year), I just keep growing to my heart's content and then preserve as fast as I can.  At our old home I actually had four freezers and they were always filled to bursting by September.  I did give away two of the freezers when we sold our old home but I still have two (plus the fridge one) and they get filled with goodness from the garden.
So...we've been trying to use up a lot of the goodies in the freezer before moving (freezers are heavy enough on their own but filled with food they're quite a workout). I've been doing a good job of using the zucchini that I have stashed in the freezer.  We've had zucchini...well...everything.  Today for lunch we had zucchini broccoli cheese soup and that went down a treat.  I think we'll be having that often until we move and that should help put a dent in, what seems to be, the never-ending zucchini supply.
I also unearthed some more bags of the edamame that I froze - it was my first time growing it this year and I'm glad I did.  It seems even more delicious to have it on hand in the wintertime. And I didn't forget Valentine's Day!  We were out all day with activities but I couldn't not make something heart-shaped for my guys - heart-shaped pizzas for all and heart-shaped carrot cake (his favourite) for S (which he kindly shared with the rest of us). ;-) (I admit to a slight twinge of longing for the days when we used to cut out paper hearts and do all sorts of Valentine crafts). 
Of course, we can't have Valentine's without some chocolate so, the next day when we stayed home, I made some of my favourite chocolate nut clusters (picture how-to here if you're interested).

And then today I decided to use up some of our walnuts and hazelnuts (yes, still from my old trees before we sold our home a year and a half ago - those were good producing trees!) to make some seed and nut bark.  I toasted them with some sunflower seeds and almonds as well. 
Then added the toasted nuts to some homemade granola, flax and hemp seeds. I simmered some honey, with a bit of water and grapeseed oil then poured that over the nuts and granola, mixed it all together and pressed it into a greased cookie sheet.  Pop it in the fridge to cool and harden and it is done.  That's our house-hunting snack. ;-)
And E decided that we needed some more snacks too so he made his peanut butter chocolate chip biscuits too.
Love that my boys love to cook!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fox and Geese, Birthdays and Boxes

For many years, whenever I was in the midst of something trying or difficult, I would think to myself -once I get through this then...fill in the blank with -  all will be well, life will be wonderful, I will be happy,  life will get back to normal, etc.  At some point I realized that there was, what I now call " always something" going on and that that actually was life.  Life wasn't meant to be day after day of ease and calm, that life was full of struggles, difficulties, challenges AS WELL AS beauty, peace, calm, joy and delight.  That they could happen at the same time.  That this Yin and Yang actually served me very well and helped me to grow and appreciate life - all of life, even the struggles.

The last two years have been filled with quite a bit of change and uncertainty for our family.  We've learned many valuable lessons from this time...and, I think, we are about to learn more. ;-) The house we have been living in has sold and it is time for us to move on.  I've been packing up boxes and taking this time to do some more decluttering.  We're looking for a new home to tide us over until we get our farm but just now we have no idea where we'll be living in less than two months- quite a stretching lesson for a home-loving person like myself.  Some months ago I came across a quote that really spoke to me.  I wrote it down in my quote book and thought it would be fun to share here.

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Isn't that gorgeous?  And so we have been busy dancing in this latest rain storm...or more accurately - skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, playing games,
(Fox and Geese Game with my folks during a visit to their place on the weekend)

celebrating birthdays, enjoying daily walks,
eating delicious pumpkin bars (with the dual purpose of using up pumpkin from the freezer in preparation for moving and they use up chocolate too!!),
along with some of the practicalities of a move such as packing - and these are just our books (dare I admit - not even all of them!)
And whenever these rains start to feel a bit overwhelming the gardener in me gently reminds myself that nothing grows well or thrives without a little rain.  I hope you're able to dance in the rain as well.