Monday, May 31, 2010

Rhubarb Time

It's rhubarb time - well, not quite up where we're living now but it is in town and thankfully I have a generous gardening friend - so that means that it is rhubarb syrup time too.  I made this last year and we loved it (recipe is here and on the sidebar).  Even though we still have some frozen cubes of last year's syrup we wanted to make more.
It is so easy to make - just rhubarb, water and sugar.
It only takes a few minutes and then you have the syrup as well as some stewed rhubarb ( I like this on oatmeal).
And the colour is just beautiful!  Such a fun summer drink, now...if only we had some summertime weather to go along with it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lightning Strikes

Well, suffice it to say it has been an interesting week around here, we had lightning strike the big tree right in front of the house, just off the deck, last Monday.  We were home and it was quite an experience.  Our computer (and satellite internet) has not yet recovered!  This photo shows one of the spots the tree was marked - there are two other areas near the top of the tree.
There have been all sorts of interesting things going on - large scale gardening, birds flying into our windows and subsequent bird rescues, lots of work for all of us, herb collecting and tincture making, several hikes, friends and family visiting, and yes, that lightning and the resulting fried hot water thermostat and water softener, burned up intenet connection and receiver, and our computer and printer.  E was outside when the lightning struck and he came roaring into the house just as W and I were racing out in fear the tree would crash through our big front windows.  There were bits of bark and strips of tree as far as 60 feet away and there were even chunks of bark thrown up onto our deck and onto a chair back.
Doing anything on the temporary computer/connection we have is agonizingly slow so I'll have to wait until we get  a new computer sorted out so that I can share some bird and garden pictures.  In the meantime I hope you have been having a slightly less eventful week than we have. ;-)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jumbo Raisin Cookies

My mom used to make these cookies all the time.  We would always take a huge batch with us when we went on our annual three week summer camping trip.  I can even remember the container they were stored in inside our camper.  It's been a crazy week, we have company coming over today and I felt like a "comfort" treat so I made a batch of these first thing this morning.  I haven't made them in years and they still taste as delicious as I remember them.  Thought I would share the recipe here in case you would like to try them too.

2 cups raisins
1 cup water
Put raisins and water in a pot and boil for 5 minutes.  Cool.

1 cup shortening (this is what the recipe calls for but I used butter)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream these four ingredients until smooth.  Then stir in cooled raisins ('juice' and all)
Add the following:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
Stir until mixed.

 Drop by spoonful onto cookie sheets.
Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day Bliss

I enjoyed a gorgeous Mother's Day filled with my favourite things - husbandmade waffles for breakfast, a hike in the woods for most of the day, a Hagen Dazs icecream bar, and a delicious dinner. The boys not only indulged me on a long hike but they indulged me when I kept stopping to take endless photos of wildflowers.
I didn't know the name of this nodding flower until we looked it up in our book.  It is called Old Man's Whiskers which I didn't think was a very good name for such a pretty flower until I saw what they  look like when they begin to go to seed.
Loads of chocolate lilies everywhere.
It was so nice to see all these wild flowers in this burned out area, this is where the huge forest fires were in 2003.
I found a tiny patch of miner's lettuce growing from under this log.
The view from up high.  The new bridge is just a speck in the distance.
And we had a laugh at this sign near the end of our hike.  Wouldn't it be a fun job to do the drawings for these signs?
Thankfully no trees fell on us and we had a wonderful day.  I hope you had a wonderful day too.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Comfrey Salve

E takes part in an online wild foods conference for homelearners.  He decided to make a how-to demonstration of his salve making to share there.  I thought it would be fun to share it here as well so without further ado...salve making by E.

This is some comfrey. I am going to make a salve with. You can do this the same way with lots of different plants like calendula, plantain, chickweed and lots more.
This is me chopping some fresh comfrey leaves that I am going to use.
I have chopped them smaller.
Here they are in our chocolate fondue pot. I have used a crock pot when I made calendula salve. You can also use a regular pot but you have to make sure it does not burn because my mom did that once with calendula. The oil is really fast at heating up so you have to watch the temperature. This chocolate fondue pot uses a candle tealight for heat and so it never burns.
This is a picture of a big tub of olive oil.  We use olive oil usually, this time we used grapeseed oil.
This is the comfrey with the oil poured in.
Here is the candle. I heated it for about 5 hours. If you are using a pot on the stove you don't heat it so long. In the summer we use a glass jar put in the sunshine instead, the sun heats it and we leave it for weeks.
Here is the comfrey after a few hours. See that the oil is green.
Here it is being poured into a jar. It is being strained so there are no leaves in it.
Here it is strained and green. This can be used like this as an infused oil.
I have chopped off some of my beeswax. This will make it thicker and creamy. If you add lots of beeswax then it will be pretty hard. I like adding not that much because I like it creamy and easy to spread.
I melted the beeswax in a pot.
Then I poured in the comfrey oil. I mixed it together for a few minutes on very low heat.
Then poured it into jars. It still looks green and liquid but not for long.
Here it is all hardened and ready to use. Sometimes you can add a couple drops of lavender essential oil to make it smell nice and help preserve it.
Have you ever tried making a salve? If you have I would like to hear what kind and what you used it for. I have only made comfrey and calendula salve.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rhubarb Muffins

Even though I have been purposefully trying to use up everything in our freezers it still came as a bit of a shock to realize that I had no fruit left in the freezer for smoothies.  Usually I have such an overabundance of strawberries put away that we just never run out but last year, due to moving in strawberry season, it seems I didn't pick and freeze with my usual over-do-it tendencies.  The only fruit left in our freezer is rhubarb.  One of my generous gardening friends gave me one of her rhubarb plants to bring home so, assured of a fresh supply this summer (can't wait to make this again), I thought I might as well use up the last of last year's.
I used a basic rhubarb muffin recipe that I've had for ages but decided to add some ground hazelnuts and flax seed to it.
Then I drizzled a bit of maple syrup on the top before  baking them.  They turned out quite delicious.
We also tried Jamie Oliver's recipes for Rhubarb crumble with ginger.  Interesting to have rhubarb with fresh ginger but we did miss the strawberries that we usually combine with rhubarb.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy May Day

The other day I mentioned it was raining here and Shelia commented that she didn't know we got rain here.   I was going to respond that we hadn't had much rain since I lived here, that we mostly had snow but that now that it was springtime and warm enough that I expected that we would get our share of rain.  And you can see by the photo of the little lupin coming up (I had to bring at least one with me) that we really did have rain.   I guess I thought too soon about it being spring here(or warm), you can see what we woke up to this morning.
Crazy!  I often wonder what people from town think when they come up here ( there's been snow in town only twice this year and it is just a regular part of life up this high), I think they find it quite shocking. So, I guess that puts an end to our biking plans today...perhaps we can showshoe instead?!?
E and I spent some time at a nursery yesterday so he could pick out some plants.  He is sorely missing our old gardens and wanted to get some things to plant whether we stay through summer or not.  Something tells me those plants will be living inside with us for quite some time still. ;-)  What a funny way to start the month of May.  Happy May Day!