Archive for the ‘food’ Category

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sweet summer

August 4, 2013

After a pathetic start to the summer season (lots of rain, and three weeks of illness) things have turned around and there are still a few weeks of summer to go!

In addition to the usual, we’ve been busy with building a new house; harvesting our first crops of potatoes, onions and garlic; enjoying summer visitors from out of town. I’ve also been getting into canning and sewing for me (rather than just for school).

July 22 - collecting river rocks

While enjoying a mini vacation I made some strawberry jam in anticipation of figuring out a buckwheat cracker recipe that tastes good. Then I found transparent apples but didn’t have time to figure out what kind of GF shell to make so I canned them all for future experimentation in the fall.

I’m slowly getting better at finding and using my camera too. Documenting the progress on the house has helped, as has the documentation of textile dyeing by others. Today I even pulled out the gorilla tripod and took shots of our crabapple jelly processing.

Aug 3 - Hand-dyed goodness

After three years of being on the fruit tree program call out list, I was finally able to help. Pickers help take the fruit from trees so that bears aren’t attracted to it and then distribute it among themselves, the landowner and the local food shelter. I wasn’t sure what to do with crabapples but since they weren’t plums and I was available I thought I should help. It probably didn’t hurt that 2 nights earlier I’d witnessed a huge black bear walking across our foundation and then up into the big old plum tree next door. Branches cracked and the whole tree shook as he picked it nearly clean. (Of course I wasn’t in the habit of carrying my camera so no proof, just the story!)

Crabapple surprise!

And I almost forgot – I went blackberry picking in my own town! Usually we rely on Gulf Island field trips for our seasonal fix but they’re abundant, juicy and more than a tad tart right here. Last year they were wizened and kind of gross, but I remember our black bear sightings went up right as the berries got ripe. It seems the same is true this year as I saw the black bear on the same day as I picked my first blackberry of the season.

I also saw this:
Aug 2 - new local wildlife sighting
which, thanks to my growing collection of field guides, I can identify as a common skimmer. (Which reminds me of another first encounter with an aquatic bug – a giant stonefly. It had been familiar to me in name only and it was so interesting to observe and learn more about it that fine spring day.

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A different way to start the New Year

January 7, 2013

Despite its calamitous start, I’d say that 2013 is off to a good start.

That first day is one that, as much as I’d like to forget, will likely become the memory that pushes me beyond the ho-hum to make this year a great one. 

You see, I’d been feeling tired and stressed before December had even started but I’d hardly noticed.  Then I was obliged to work extra hours every day while juggling a final week of school that was bordering on insane.  On top of all the usual seasonal chaos there was a municipal hearing, two performances of a school play, preparing for and hosting our biggest solstice celebration yet, and a fabric dyeing workshop.  How I survived it, I just don’t know.  And the funny thing is, I thought I was doing well because in the 10 days following, I kept from getting sick despite all the sugar and late nights.  That was, until, I woke up on January first.

Despite not a single glass of bubbly the night before, I woke up at 9 am with one nasty headache.  I had already determined that this was the day for cleaning out our main living spaces; clearing the cobwebs so to say.  Well, I did that, but my allergies didn’t like it and by the end of the day I was little more than a miserable pile of tears with a splitting headache. 

I loathe visiting that place so by the time I went to bed I had determined that I was going to eat better and sleep better for the rest of the holidays (in the hopes that I might start the new school year better than I had ended the last).  I figured it might be easy enough and then I went for labwork.  They revealed that there was more to my crash than just a few weeks of late nights and too much sugar.   It seems I’d gotten too cavalier about taking my vitamins, holding space for relaxation and getting exercise, and all the other things that keep me healthy. 

Seven days into this year I’m on a whole different pathway.  I’ve made a list of menu ideas for the month, Kevin and I have been snowshoeing twice and cross country skiing once, we’ve gotten things started with our architect, I’ve got a plan for my stories and circles for the new year, I’ve started attending contra dances again, I’ve been going to bed earlier and getting up before the sun, I’m taking my vitamins, I’m preparing meals in advance (so that I can better avoid blood sugar crashes) and, most importantly, I’m feeling better.

2013 – I know you’re going to be one heck of a challenging year but I’m ready for you!

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time. to. enjoy. life.

March 25, 2011

There’s been a lot to reflect on over these past few weeks but getting outside, spending time with Kevin and making progress on some of my projects has been so satisfying.

Kevin and I have spent our weekends together and sharing activities ranging from creating a Nanaimo Bar facsimile that’s free of eggs and dairy to living outside on the beach to bike shopping. Oh, and so many heartfelt conversations too. It’s been such good medicine for my soul!

Here are a few of the highlights in picture form.

doll homework

our attempt at dairy and gluten free Nanaimo Bars

First camping trip of the season.  'Twas beautiful!

Bunnies on the run!

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meal planning

January 31, 2010

I’ve been doing quite well with my meal planning as of yet but I haven’t had time to do much in the way of documentation. That’s going to change starting now!

One great surprise I’ve had this year is that in cooking for myself I’ve been able to make meals stretch a bit longer than usual. That’s about the only part I like about cooking for one:)

In any case, I’ve learned that planning for 5-6 meals in a week is all I can do. I rarely get to day 6 and never to day 7. Before I lose track of the meal plans I’ve been enjoying I’d like to share what I’ve had over the past two weeks or so:
* zesty garlic (soba) pasta with beans and roasted peppers
* lentil soup
* oven fries, sockeye salmon and broccoli
* refried wild rice with pecans (one of my favourites) and salad
* quinoa, salad, canned salmon (lazy meal!)
* vegetarian chili
* turkey tacos (with rehydrated Don Antonio salsa… mmm mmm good). These lasted me a few days because ground meat packages are so big!
* roast potatoes, broccoli, jerk chicken
* vegetarian mulligatawny stew
* minestrone soup
* pasta with stir fried chicken and veggies
On Friday’s I’ve been enjoying meals out with classmates

My housemate has a big celebration going on here tomorrow so I’ve been working like mad to empty my part of the fridge but in a few days it will be time to get back into my meal planning. I’m leaning towards a few more veggies, a little less meat and sticking to my $100/wk for everything but rent. I’ve already made a sizable dent in this weeks budget by going to a play, a storytelling session and a contra dance but fortunately I’m enjoying the challenge. That, and my freezer stash is fairly healthy right now!

Have a good week!

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interesting observation

January 25, 2010

So… while I was hurt I ate a lot of oven fries since they were a quick and easy way to get potatoes into my diet and didn’t involve pain. One day in the grocery store I came across some surprising math:

something is wrong with this picture

or is it this one that is wrong

Two different labels, two similar fat contents (as measured in grams) but two very different reports on the percantage of the recommended daily fat allowance. Maybe they’re using different assumptions but it seemed like one of the parties might be guilty of false advertising. Just my thoughts anyways.

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granola!

December 17, 2009

DSCN1539

When my mom first introduced me to Julie Van Rosendaals “Grazing” a few years ago, one of my early favourites was the granola.  Somewhere along the line I stopped making it but then I started eating it this fall in support of the grade eights’ fundraising campaign. I loved it and made it last for as long as I could. Then, in my GF kick I realized that I didn’t have any cereal I could eat so I revisited making my own. It’s been great, and I enjoy it with an orange or applesauce nearly every morning.

One of the first things I did upon returning to Alberta was make more granola. I thought Kevin might try it once at the most but it turns out he loves it and isn’t reacting to it either so I replenished our supply with a double batch this afternoon.

My inspiration was that original recipe in Grazing but of course I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit our preferences and what can be found in our pantry.  My favourite combo so far is:

4 cups old fashioned (large flake) oats
2 1/2 cups nuts and seeds (almond pieces, pecan piecess, green pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, moderately ground flax seeds, sesame seeds)
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 – 1/3 cup agave nectar (light is best here otherwise it can overpower the maple syrup)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla (unless I forget)
1 1/2 cup dried fruit (apples, pears, raisins and ribbon coconut)

I haven’t seen any other recipes that call for including the fruit in the oven for the whole cook time but I did it once by accident and quite liked it. I’ve since found that adding the fruit for the last 10 minutes in the oven produces a really nice result.  Today I cooked things a little longer because I had overloaded my baking trays and the apples have a nice crunch.  And I always like the way ribbon coconut toasts up.

DSCN1538

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food

November 23, 2009

I think it’s been a while now since I wrote about food but it’s right near the top of the list in what I’ve been working with lately. When I first got to school I was excited to get back to baking budget friendly snacks; crackers and muffins in particular. It was all going well for a few weeks and then I started to notice that it wasn’t all agreeing with me. Of course I continued baking for a little while longer.

At the same time, the naturopath I’ve been seeing here was pointing towards my possible challenges with gluten. Having been wheat free for the better part of 7 years I didn’t listen very well at first. Doh! During this time the variety of grains I’ve been using has been on steady slide with spelt being the only thing in my cupboard here. I didn’t truly wake up to my possible gluten challenges until after a couple of restless nights in late October when I was using barley rather than the usual buckwheat in a magic bag to warm my bed. It was as if I’d just eaten an offending food before slipping into bed. It took hours to fall asleep, the sleep never lasted for long and I would feel soooo tired the next day. Quite simply, I should have known better.

I’m hopeful that my body will accept spelt, barley etc. more pleasantly after a bit of a sabbatical so lately I’ve been testing out gluten free. I started with Bob’s GF rolled oats* that I was grinding up in the blender to make flour. This form of oat flour doesn’t take up as much liquid as spelt but it seemed to work well for cookies. Then I had the nerve to try making muffins. Fail!

I was quite defeated by the muffin failure and it took a good 10 days or so for me to recover enough to start looking at what else might work. Fortunately I have some familiarity with the other options since Kevin has been gluten free for the past few years. Mind you, he can’t have corn or soy and I can’t have rice. He’s been doing his own baking ever since his gluten discovery. I’ve helped find recipes but that’s about it. I’ve often felt bad about this but somehow unable to get past it and just try making something I can’t sample. Sadly, I think this new hyper-sensitivity to gluten may be just what I needed. Being able to provide food, especially of the baking variety, has been so important for me and I’ve really felt the void these past few years.

This weekend I got Kevin to share some of the recipes he’s got at home and I’ve stocked up on almond flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot flour and xantham gum. No doubt it’s going to take some work but I suspect there are far more vegan GF baking resource out there now. If you know of any I’d be happy to learn.

Oh, and after about 3 weeks of searching I finally found buckwheat pasta for less than $10 a package. It’s made in China but at this point I don’t much care. I can eat pasta again and we’ll be able to share the same pot of food when I get home. Yay!

* Oats are a problem with some GF folks but so far so good for me. I also know from tests that I had done in university that I don’t have celiac disease.