Friday, July 31, 2009

Deer dilemma

Dear Deer,

Hello, it has been lovely seeing you each evening when you come up to enjoy your dinner by our house. You are welcome to come each evening and graze to your heart's stomach's content on all the delicious greens down there - vetch, wild strawberry, nettle, wildflowers and many more good things. It is a pleasure to watch you as you enjoy the Ten ! Whole! Acres! of delicious fodder for you to eat. But...

why must you do this?
Why do you insist on tormenting me by coming up to my little patch of only 16 tomato plants the last two nights after I'm asleep and pooping right near them so that I know you have been near by? I know you see those delicious tomato plants there - tucked into log terraces with my herbs.And why did you wait to do this until they are just beginning to ripen?Are you intentionally tormenting me so that I spend sleepless nights worrying about my tomatoes? Do you even like tomatoes? Do you know that they are my most favourite garden crop and that I usually have way more so I am feeling very protective of these few that I have? Do you know that I purposefully bring my dog inside whenever you are near so that he doesn't chase and pester you? Whaddya say...I scratch your back (keep my dog from chasing you), you scratch mine (hooves off my tomatoes, you!).
Be a dear won't you deer? And leave them alone?

Heather (lover of deer but even more so of toasted cheese and tomato open-faced sandwiches)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blueberries to put by and corn on the cob

E adores blueberries and the rest of us are fans too - plain, with yogurt and honey, in pancakes or muffins, and served over french toast. One happy coincidence of our trip to the coast was that we were heading home right past the many blueberry fields. We saw a sign on the side of the road advertising blueberries $1.50 per pound and the brakes went on. Luckily my husband is very accustomed to having to have quick reaction time to my frequent shrieks of requests to "STOP THE TRUCK" and was able to pull right in and get us a good deal on berries. We ended up getting 30 pounds (even more amazing we still had some left after a four hour drive back into the interior) and I tucked 20 pounds away in the freezer for wintertime. I'm already wishing we had bought more (so greedy!) because they are absolutely delicious - just the right balance of sweet with a hint of tart that I like. When we run out of blueberries we will have to make do with some Saskatoon berries since we have them growing right here on the property in abundance and they freeze well too. I don't like them plain but they'll do in a pinch thrown into muffin batter or pancakes.

One of my favourite summertime treats (besides tomatoes) is corn. My mom likes to tell a story of me as a two year old on a camping trip hiding behind the trailer and eating all the cold leftover corn on the cob out of the cooler. (something I would still do, by the way, except it is pretty unlikely that there would be leftovers to begin with these days) It is still one of my favourite things to eat and so we stopped to get some Chilliwack corn on the way home as well. I cooked some up that very night and had a bedtime snack of corn on the cob with butter, salt and freshly ground pepper. Delicious!
We ate some the next night with zucchini and we will have some of the in this favourite corn salad recipe tonight.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gulf Island Getaway

We've just come back from the most gorgeous holiday. We took a lot of ferry rides to get to our camping spots - one on Pender Island and one (incredibly amazing one) on Saltspring Island.
For a number of years now we have mostly camped in a travel trailer (although sometimes the boys and I go on tenting trips) because when the boys were little we found it much easier to be ready to go when we kept the trailer packed and ready. This time I really wanted to do the Gulf Islands and I thought it would be much easier to do so with just tents and a camp stove. It turned out to be a wonderfully relaxing trip and I am so glad we did it.S and I both love to explore and see all sorts of different places. We left thinking that we would camp on two islands and see two other islands on bike - by biking onto the ferry and over to each island as a day trip. Instead, as soon as we got to Pender we seemed to fall into "island time" - that sort of syrupy kind of time where it just flows along and you Slow Right Down. We soon decided to just fully enjoy and explore Pender and Saltspring and see some of the other islands the next time. We did a lot of beach walking and lots of hiking. This hike up Mt. Norman on Pender gave us a fantastic view of some of the Gulf Islands, parts of Vancouver Island and even some of the San Juan islands.

After a few days on Pender we headed to Saltspring where I was determined to get a camp spot at Ruckle park. Somewhere I had read it was considered to be one of the most beautiful provincial parks in B.C. I thought that would be quite something to live up to because I've been to many of our provincial parks and so many of them are extremely beautiful. These shots are taken right from our campspot at Ruckle. Here is a snap of our spot - I can't recommend it highly enough. It was just an incredibly beautiful place to be and I feel lucky to have been able to stay there.

The boys enjoyed exploring the ocean life and watching the deer.
S and I enjoyed the amazingly delicious local food and...erm, the view from our camp spot!
But seriously, the bread from Salt Spring Island Bread Co. (especially the focaccia bread with tomato on top) is amazingly good. S also loved the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company sun-dried tomato goat cheese (with more Salt Spring Island Bread Co. bread, of course). I'd love to go back in August and just bike and eat my way round the island. ;-)
Ruckle provincial park was originally a farm and parts of it are still a working farm - the oldest continually operating farm in B.C., apparently. We hiked all round the park and were fascinated by how different it was in all the different areas and amazed to think that at one time one family lived and farmed in such an wonderful place. We walked about 11 k round the park one morning with E leading the way at a good clip, you can imagine that I was not a very popular mama when we arrived at the farmstand, where they were selling cold lemonade, and I had no change with me. :-( Their farmstand was delightful too. The boys and I have big plans for our own future farm stand. We got all kinds of new ideas during this trip.

Another mountain top view - this one from Saltspring and we didn't even have to hike to get to it, you can just drive right up. The thing I loved most about Saltspring (besides our campspot at Ruckle) was the farm stands. There were farm stands everywhere with all kinds of good stuff for sale. I also really enjoyed the Saturday Farm market in Ganges. We bought some beautiful tomatoes from the Foxglove Farm stand.

Last year I read two of Michael Ableman's (of Foxglove Farm) books - Fields of Plenty and On Good Land - and thoroughly enjoyed them, it would be a treat to see the gardens at Foxglove. I was disappointed to just miss out on their farm day but we had to catch our ferry to get back home, I'm tempted to go back to take one of their classes.

Sun coming up on our last morning - gorgeous. We'll will definitely be going back!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Squirreling Rhubarb "pop"

Had to show you these rhubarb syrup ice cubes because the colour is just so pretty and because I want Shelia to be able to let her kids have rhubarb "pop" this winter too. ;-0 Wouldn't it be a lovely Christmas drink - a little bit of Summer in the wintertime?

Handmade cloth ball

My mom made me this ball when I was little. When I was packing this up for our move I realized why the fabric on this garage sale quilt I bought so appealed to me, I knew that I loved the fabric but didn't realize that it had been on this ball I played with growing up. Isn't it funny how fabrics can have such feelings to them?

I used to make smaller versions of this ball (with a bell inside) for baby gifts. I hadn't made one of these in years but wanted to make one for a birthday gift for a special someone. My crafting room is still mostly in bags and boxes so finding the bits and pieces I wanted took some doing. I had been hoping to use more of my mom's old fabric bits from the 60s and 70s but couldn't find the bag I had in mind (until I had already sewn the ball and was riffling around looking for stuffing!!) but I did find some and was able to mix it with some thrift store fabric finds.
Fun! I love making handmade gifts...and I love using only bits and pieces that I already have to do so.
It went down a treat. ;-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zucchini Orzo, Wild Strawberries and Huckleberries too

I love that word - huckleberry. the way it sort of rolls around the tongue. I grew up eating the red variety of huckleberry and only tried the black kind recently (when E found them on a trip to Barkerville). E is our wild food kid, no matter where we go he will find wild food. He is always the first to spot any kind of berry on a hike and I find comfort in knowing that he would never starve if lost in the woods. ;-) The other day he found some berries on the property and wanted to show me to make sure they were huckleberries (we have a rule that I have to double check before he eats). Now that he has found them hopefully he will let some ripen all the way before eating them.He finds lots of other good things too. He found this lovely egg and then the next day we were heading to town and found a nest right in the middle of the road.
We're loading up on wild strawberries just in case there aren't any left soon with all this heat. Delicious.
And yesterday when we headed out to the bottom of the property kitty decided to follow us. Whenever we went too quickly or she was feeling left out she would let out a loud, pathetic, don't-leave-me sort of "mrrrow" and then we would call to her and she would hurry to catch up.

This year is my year to be the visitor getting loaded up with excess zucchini and I think I surprise the generous gardeners by happily taking as much as they care to share. I have a hard time buying zucchini (it just seems like one of those things that there is so much excess of) and so I love to have it given to us. We came home with 5 good sized ones the other day. Samantha reminded me of a recipe I had made last year (after checking that link I realize it was 2 years how time flies) and forgotten about so we had it for dinner last night - Disappearing Zucchini Orzo from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Thankfully we still have enough zucchini left over to make this - Chocolate Zucchini Cake ( I love these Best of Bridge cookbooks, every recipe I have ever tried from them has been delicious)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things I am grateful for...

Things I am grateful for....

a library chock full of all sorts of good books.
(am currently enjoying this one very much)

An orchard full of organically sprayed cherries where we can go and pick (as many or as few as we like) for only 90 cents a pound. I didn't miss my cherry trees at all because this was so much simpler than caring for my own cherry trees (and having to pick every single cherry on them).

And this summer I am extremely grateful for the efforts of other growers and for local farm stands and farmers' markets. It is taking some getting used to to have to go out and buy veggies instead of trolling round my own garden getting inspiration for dinner. I feel very blessed to live in an area full of good, locally grown produce (and also for generous friends willing to share their produce).

I feel especially grateful for this after spotting this visitor on the Sunday (and again a bit closer yesterday afternoon).

Tomorrow on As the Garden Grows -

Will Heather have a garden left after she returns from holiday? Will the deer munch with zest and zeal on her little zucchini plants that are just growing tiny little zukes? Will they trample her much-loved tomatoes? Stay tuned...