Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Slap Dash Facebook Christmas Shortbread, GlutenFree or Regular Unbleached Flour Cookies

 Okay, this is a bit of an experiment (much of my baking is, alas) since I don't have the necessary ingredients as per my preferred recipe via google. So.... I begin by:

(1) Boiling a small potato (peeled, cut in half) -- sounds goofy, but I learned about using spuds in all sorts of dessert recipes from a recipe book I brought back from Newfoundland and gave to my sister-in-law years ago-- wonder if she ever tried any of the spud recipes?

(2) Cream together about 1 C. of Coconut Oil, 1 C. of Coconut Sugar, and the soft boiled spud (okay- the heck is boiled out of it-- no vitamins here, folks, just starch)

Let's see if these become shortbread or just some yukky mess with potato in it.... if they are worth re-producing, I will silver-wrap you about 6 teeny little cookie gems-- the way they parcel them out in gluten-free sample shops... I'm just that exquisite with my baking... (sarcasm emoji)

The stupid potato isn't really boiling-- what's with that?

Put some cooking-making Christmas music on--this will take a while (suggestion: BonyM or maybe Pentotonix or whoever)

Here is a pic of the creaming of the coconut sugar and the coconut oil as I wait on the little potato that is boiling away on the stove, attempting to be mushy, starchy... looks nothing like my Grandmother's shortbread so far...


I'm listening to Pentotonix doing Little Drummer Boy on youtube... I'm just listening not watching because if I watch I get too distracted by their facial stuff, things they do with their mouths (it is acapella) etc. The one fella is a Seventh-day Adventist-- so they do not practice or perform on the Seventh-day Sabbath to honour his beliefs-- how cool is that? https://youtu.be/qJ_MGWio-vc

 Now I have added the potato halves and the coconut oil immediately went liquid-- like an oil slick on a swamp-- not pretty-- but smells not bad


 (3) Next stir in 1 tsp. Vanilla and 1/4 tsp. salt (I used Himalayan-- actually calls for sea salt)

(4) Add 2 1/2 C of Gluten-Free Flour Blend or regular Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (<--what i="" m="" span="" tonight="" using="">

(5)Add in 1/4 C. Finely Chopped Pecans... switch to the Bony M Christmas Songs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIpCVPaaI7Y...
Flour/Nut Mix with added Coconut Oil Mix
(6) Turn oven to 350 F. Make a tight parchment paper tube of the flour/nut mixture and put it into the freezer for about 15 minutes.

(7) With a very sharp knife, slice about 1/2 inch pieces-- should make about 6 dozen. Lay about 12-15 on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. You could just start with this many and put the rest back in the freezer to bake later (what I'm doing tonight as it is getting late). Some pro cookie-bakers like to bake fresh vs. store/freeze their cookies after they bake them. Have Fun! Go to my site at organicgranny.com to see how these cookies turned out. The recipe will be posted there (I may remove it from here). Here is what the unbaked cookies look like in the pan: (they don't spread much) (Bake 10-20 minutes until golden brown-- depends on how hot your oven is-- keep an eye on them-- don't let them scorch!

For another slightly unusual (but delish) Shortbread Recipe, take a look at the Almond Pulp Shortbread (the pulp is leftover from the making of almond milk).

To make a perfect Biscotti, use this recipe but decrease the Coconut Oil to 3/4 C. and bake for slightly longer.  For Biscotti you will cut out fingers vs. rounds.  Perfect for dipping in a cup of hot chocolate.

Friday, December 16, 2016

why-and-how-to-consume-diatomaceous-earth-6-heart-health

Research shows that the heart is supported by the use of Diatomaceous Earth-- that cholesterol is kept in balance and the many nutrients in DE -- silica, calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron, and other trace minerals-- all work to build and maintain healthy heart tissue and function.





why-and-how-to-consume-diatomaceous-3-joint-bone-ligaments

The tiny fossilized phytoplanton skeletons in Diatomaceous Earth are known as diatoms and are silica-rich particles. Silica is important in bone metabolism and the formation of our joints. It is also thought to be significant in the health and formation of connective tissues.

A study from 2007 in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging points to the good possibility that consuming a teaspoon (progressing up to a maximum of 1 tablespoon over time) of Diatomaceous Earth (DE) will help the body override the massive loss of bone density that is known as Osteoporosis, a so-called "Silent Killer" of our contemporary aging population.

 For more information about what you can do to avoid and overcome osteoporosis, check out the following sites:
www.PCRM.org
www.StrongBones.org
www.drmcdougall.com

Exercise is also a very important facet of maintaining good bone and joint health.  Keep moving!




why-and-how-to-consume-diatomaceous-2-skin


Improve and Maintain Healthy Skin with Increased Silica in a daily teaspoon of Diatomaceous Earth:
Are you dealing with saggy, tired, sallow skin, acne, rosacea, eczema, dry flakey skin or other skin conditions?  

A teaspoon of diatomaceous earth mixed well into a half-glass of water or juice (or a smoothie), once a day will provide you with elastin, a skin-builder in silica (working along with collagen), that will give your skin a firmer look instead of that saggy-ness that happens as we get older.  

As silica works to improve your general health, your skin will begin to glow again and most skin diseases will begin to clear up, from inside out.  Expensive skin serums and lotions won't be necessary, thank you!

Click to see the NEXT amazing benefits of consuming Diatomaceous Earth:

Why And How To Consume Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth-- hey, isn't that the stuff you lay down in the garden so the undesired bugs will walk through it and their exoskeletons will be penetrated and their interiors will dehydrate, end of bug?  Yes!

My husband, Ed, is a  diligent analyst of natural or organic "new" (to him or me) natural substances or theories that might be helpful in addressing health issues, improving or maintaining wellbeing.  Diatomaceous earth-- microscopic fossilized aquatic skeletons in the soil that over time becomes the mineral, silica -- came across his radar screen a couple of years ago (maybe about the same time as we were "oil pulling" with coconut oil until one of my dental crowns was sluiced loose).  Read about all the benefits in the following slideshow-- you'll be amazed!

The notion of consuming this chalky white powder that people use as a natural insecticide was not at all attractive to me.  In fact, it was as repugnant as adding baking soda to my tasty green smoothie (another one of his suggestions from that time).  I got over the repugnance as I realized I did indeed feel better and the "taste" was pretty much neutral, not even unpleasant.

This is what he told me about the benefits of using diatomaceous earth in my diet:

(1) Diatomaceous earth is more than half a natural form of the mineral SILICA.  While it isn't a 'food' so it can't be considered a "wholefood," silica is definitely NOT an isolate when you take it in via diatomaceous earth.  You are getting the benefit of the silica without any of the chemicals that are generally used to separate it out for the silica shoveled into capsules.  


Silica works along with calcium and other minerals to strengthen and maintain NAILS and HAIR.  Silica deficiency results in dry, broken nails and dull hair with split ends. Click on the arrow to find out about the many other benefits for you to get your silica from diatomaceous earth:




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Two Dreamy Cashew Cream Cheese Recipes - Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Vegan, Soy-Free

I used to have a fairly low regard for cashews-- I didn't like getting them in the Christmas nut bowl, and I didn't like the 'after-taste' of some of the vegetarian recipes I had that contained them.  But eventually I discovered that they can be used to make extremely tasty dairy-substitutes without a pronounced cashew signature flavour.

Lemon-Coconut Cheesecake Balls studded with cranberries & Walnuts
These can be eaten any time of the year, of course, but since Christmas is coming up I thought that I would choose to make one item that was savoury and one that was sweeter.  I am particularly in love with the smoky cream cheese (that could be rolled up into a ball, no problem) and I am also nibbling a little much at the lemon cheesecake bliss balls (which I have also made into a larger cheese ball).

REMEMBER: While cashew cream cheese may not be allergenic or gluten-laden, it is still a high fat little nut and don't go too wild, or you'll end up wearing this "good fat".
LEMON-COCONUT CHEESECAKE BALL

INGREDIENTS:

Walnut-Cranberry Crust

      • 1 tsp. Coconut Oil
      • 1 C.   Walnut Halves
      • 2 tsp.  Coconut Sugar
      • 1/3 C. Dried Cranberries

Lemon-Coconut Cashew Cheesecake

  • 1 C. Cashew pieces, soaked overnight if possible (otherwise 2-4 hrs.) in water
  • 1 C. Coconut Shreds (short stuff, unsweetened, or Coconut Flour in a pinch)
  • Zest of 1 large organic Lemon (click on *zest* to learn how to do it yourself)
  • Juice of 1/2-1 organic Lemon (I used juice of entire lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp. organic Vanilla Extract
  • pinch of Salt
  • 2 T. Maple Syrup
MAKING THE CRUST:
  • Tools: Non-Stick Skillet, Silicone Spatula, knife for chopping nuts and cranberries, parchment-covered pan for cooling nuts
  • Chop Cranberries into small pieces and set aside
  • Grease up the Spatula (to keep the walnuts from sticking to it)
  • Heat skillet to Medium Heat 
  • Put Walnuts in pan, flat.  Sprinkle on Coconut Sugar
  • Toss and turn, flat and repeat... continue until walnuts are coated with sugar.  Be sensitive to the fragrance... don't let the walnuts burn.  In about 10 minutes, remove walnuts, single layer, to the parchment-covered tray for at least 15 minutes to cool.
  • Chop into small pieces when cool and then combine both cranberries and walnuts on a tray (could be the tray used to cool nuts)
MAKING THE CHEESECAKE BALLS 
(1 LARGE OR 2 SMALLER, OR 1 SMALL & 6 Bliss Balls)
  • Tools: Food Processor or Blender (Processor preferred), Lemon Reamer, Medium Bowl
  • Put ingredients for dough into food processor in order given
  • Process until thoroughly combined and smooth-ish.  Smoother the better.  Stop processor and clear sides when needed, pushing dough down so as to be caught by blade
  • Empty dough into a medium bowl.  Let it sit for a bit to rest.  Using your hands, shape into either 1 Large or 2 Smaller balls, or into a Smaller Ball and 6 Bliss Balls
  • Roll the balls in the Walnut-Cranberry chips
  • Put Larger balls into plastic wrap, salvaging the roundness as much as possible, and place in refrigerator for a couple of hours until set... or up to 7 days.
  • Put Bliss Ball on a plate and cover with plastic wrap and put into fridge, or just eat and enjoy!
Crust is adapted from "Healthier Candied Pecans or Walnuts" at http://hubpages.com/food/my-healthier-candied-pecans-or-candied-walnuts-recipe
Cheesecake Balls are adapted from various Lemon Bliss Ball recipes along with Crusted Cheese Ball Recipes online.

SMOKY CASHEW CREAM CHEESE 

WITH DUSTING OF SMOKED PAPRIKA



Smoky Cashew Cream Cheese with Smoked Paprika
Mmm.. as a non-veggie person, I really loved the Philadelphia cream cheese "gourmet" selections like the Salmon one and the dill style.  This is a nice combination of the two, and I get to continue on in kindness!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 C./140 g. of Cashews pieces, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
  • 2 T. Water
  • 1 1/2 T. Fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 3 1/2 tsp. DILL Pickle Juice
  • 1/4 tsp. Liquid Smoke
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutritional Yeast (NOT Brewer's Yeast-- different critters!)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • Smoked Paprika OR Ground Black Pepper (optional)

How To Make the Smoky Cream Cheese

  • Tools: Food Processor or Blender (Processor preferred), Spatula, Small Shallow Glass Pan 
  • Put each ingredient in order into the Food Processor (except Smoked Paprika)
  • Process thoroughly until smooth 
  • Press into the shallow pan with cover or plastic wrap over, and refrigerate for 24 hours to 7 days.
  • Could be made into a ball after its 24-hour resting period (I am definitely going to try that)
This recipe was adapted from one at http://thevegan8.com/2015/08/09/vegan-smoky-black-pepper-cream-cheese/

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Be Anxious For Nothing

I love tissue paper art.  I love working with a medium that doesn't smell or end up in hard-to-remove globs on clothing or furniture.  I love the colours.  I love the fact that it is a pretty inexpensive way to express myself.  I love layering the tissue and seeing what emerges.

So, one dreary day I got out the layers of coloured paper and decided that I would do an ocean piece.  I had purchased a couple of canvases at the local Dollarama ($4 each I think), and I had a good supply of white glue from other projects for myself and my granddaughters.

I layered and cut out different configurations and layered them.  I changed the trees and mountains into just the dark band of sea along the horizon.  I did this over a series of weeks when the urge hit.  This morning I collaged a sort of seashore with some money plant husks, quinoa flakes, and a few kinds of salt: ground kelp, celtic sea salt, and some pink Himilayan salt.

Finally, after that had seemingly all come together, I ran off Philippians 4: 6-7 on the printer and cut out the words.  I arranged the words.  I glued the words.

YES-- I made a huge mistake-- that I discovered after the glue had dried and I had takent the above photo-- can you see it?  (Hint: If you are reading the above meme, then on the second line, kindly swap around the two phrases so that it reads: "...in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving..."  I felt a great deal of shame as the child of perfectionism, and a sort of anxiety reaction.  But, you know what, I have actually learned the verse and see its relevance to the mistake I've made.  And I do like the seascape, the way it turned out with spirally waves and lots of colour.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Roasted Beets with Raw Walnut Cream Cheese (Vegan, Gluten-Free)


Root veggies, like carrots, potatoes, onions and beets have a high profile in Canadian winter meals.  Not only were they easily stored for most of the cold season, but they are also hearty and lend themselves to a great sense of satiety.  Today's recipe for roasted beets and raw walnut cream is an adaptation from the cookbook called Whole Foods To Thrive by one of British Columbia's stellar athletes who eats "high raw", Brendan Brazier.  My husband is a fan of Brendan's, and also really enjoyed this meal.


INGREDIENTS:
(To feed 4)
4 Beets
Method: Preheat oven to 450F/232C.  Wash up the beets (scrub if necessary) and wrap in aluminum foil.  Roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  When they are cool to touch, peel off the skins and slice into strips (as I did), or cube.

FOR THE RAW WALNUT CHEESE:
1/2 C. Shelled Raw Walnuts
Juice from 1/2 Lemon, or from 1 Lime (which I used)
Zest from fruit (optional)
1 Clove Garlic
Salt to taste
Method:
Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until it looks rather crumbly but creamy.  If you need to add extra juice, do.  You may use zest for extra flavor.
I found it useful to use the bowl attachment that came with my Hamilton-Beach immersion wand.  This bowl, smaller than my food processor, seems to do a better job of grinding up and creaming smaller quantities than the larger food processor or blender.  (For someone who doesn't have a food processor because of cost, this is a very effective and inexpensive way to process foods, with the great wand immersion blender as well).
I used steamed chard leaves in the centre of the plate, but a green salad would also be great!

MORE RECIPES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Gluten-Free Perogies
Lentil-Beet Borscht


MORE WALNUT RECIPES

Friday, October 14, 2016

Motivation to Lose Pounds


Both my husband and I are overweight, inspite of eating what I think is a really good vegetarian* diet(*mostly vegan, but we do occasionally give in to cheesy or eggy dishes and even the occasional surprise chicken in a wrap that we thought was veggie).  We grow a lot of berries and eat our own veggies all summer, so by and large we are 'organic' in our own home-- but not so much when we leave the house and join in at potlucks or eat in restaurants.  At home we also try to be 'low fat' and admittedly our digestion is better when we eat less greasy stuff.

So, we are fat vegans, let's say (apologies to the "real" vegans out there). We are convicted of healthful benefits of the low fat vegan lifestyle, and have certainly explored any number of other ways of eating for health (including the ovo-lacto and pescatarian vegetarian styles, paleo, 80-10-10 raw vegan, etc. etc.).  So, what is the problem?  Why aren't we trim and slim and walking advertisements for the low fat vegan choice??

I think it is partly because we are both people who like to explore the borders of what others consider 'healthy'.  We are curious about the extremes (like 100% raw vegan or water fasting for 16 days) and look at the plunge into those relatively uncharted waters as an adventure in our sunset years.

So we plunge, but we are so interested in such a broad range of ways to live life, and so pampered by the Internet to think that way, that we metaphorically skip around like a porpoise in the waves of possibility and get distracted from our original intention.

And we like sweets.

I would say that yummy chocolate-y treats and high-calorie desserts are our biggest downfall.  We know how great we feel when we eat like the guys in the film, "Forks Over Knives" but we also get distracted by the dessert table at our weekly church potluck or by the samplings at Costco, again etc. etc. etc.

There are lots of other reasons for our being overweight.  And lots of health concerns and embarrassment about our appearance should provide motivation for immediate measures to take the unhealthy pounds off.  It is obvious to us that we need some additional motivation.

So, on our recent road trip to see our granddaughters and their parents we listened to an audio CD of the book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.  The authors, Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, give fascinating examples of how people can be influenced (or nudged) into making healthier decisions.  We 'borrowed' the one about having to pay out to the Nazi Party if we fail to keep our eyes on the prize.   We did try to think of something more repugnant to us, but couldn't.  The other one that sticks in my mind is 'doctors with addictions' who actively 'use' various harmful drugs and seem unable to 'stay clean' without discreet professional help.  A psychologist who works with such clients has them write a letter to their licencing agency confessing their 'lapse' back into using these drugs, a letter which will be sent IF they return to using the drugs. This, of course, most assuredly means that they would lose their professional licences and probably they would also face legal prosecution.  That is just the sort of scare-tactic motivation some of us need to do what we know is right!

I have my charts all made up for weekly weigh-ins and am quite excited about the possibility of weighing less than I have in years, by March 1st.  Ed is hyped too (it was his idea to pay out to the Nazi Party of Canada) but is mystified that, overnight, he seemingly GAINED two pounds. Hahaha.

I plan to stick to the low fat vegan way of eating and lifestyle (go to bed earlier, don't eat between meals, get in some exercise, etc.).  This weekend is a real test for my being strong enough not to rationalize a fall-back into comfort foods: there are projections of a dramatic couple of rain and wind-storms fueled by Typhoon Songda and it hasn't stopped raining for several hours.  The other point of anxiety is that Ed has headed over to the Mainland to a Men's Retreat until Sunday evening and I have not been alone in my house without our little dog Zoe in over ten years.  She left us in late April this year.  Will I stay true to our goals?

I plan to post about the journey on here pretty regularly, so if you want to follow along, that would be greatly encouraging... particularly if you post the odd hurrah in the Comments below.  You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter and Instagram.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Nostalgic Songs for Parents Whose Kids Are Growing Up

This is the bitter-sweet time of the year when parents are sending their kids back to school... or when kids have made the actual flight from the nest.  Sweet for some parents who are overwhelmed with responsibilities and jobs and who are happy to see the kids "safely" back in school... but bitter when parents are not ready to release their quickly maturing child to a non-familial environment, like a school, a college, a work place, a move far away from home for whatever reason.

These are some of the schmaltziest, most gratuitously sentimental songs ever recorded.  They exploit the tenderness that a parent (or grandparent) has for a child, the fears they have for their loss, and subconsciously, hark right back to a time when the listener was negotiating his/her own passage to independence from her/his family of origin.

Some of this music will sound downright cornball, but you will likely catch a phrase that will touch you heart, and you will generally begin tearing up.  There are lots of possibilities here... pick ones that speak to you.  A little crying is good for the soul... actually, toxins are released in your tear drops, so crying really IS healthy.

So, go ahead and enjoy yourself.  Please share which sentimental songs bring up sad nostalgic feelings about your children as pre-schoolers or kids leaving home-- in the comment section below.  

I'M YOUR LITTLE BOY sung by the German boy, Heintje, somewhere in the early 70s. This song really moved my mother to tears, both about her little grandsons, and her sons.  You can also listen to these other heart-breakers sung for/to/about mothers and grandmothers (um, of another era).

ALWAYS BE YOUR BABY written and sung by Natalie Clark-- written for her Dad

DADDY'S ANGEL recorded by tcartermusic .  Described as the "perfect father-daughter wedding dance song"

MY LITTLE GIRL sung by Tim McGraw about his growing child.

I LOVED HER FIRST by Heartland.  I'm of a couple of minds about this particular song.  It sounds fiercely protective of a child but sort of nudges on the border of the kind of possessiveness of chattel that women have had to fight to free themselves from.  When you read through the comments below this song you will find a number of 'trolls' with disgusting remarks to young women disclosing how much they miss their fathers, and a reference to this song being part of a TV show about sexual predators that has apparently stimulated the inappropriate comments.  But there is something rather sweet Daddyish as well.  If you have comments, please add them below in the comments section-- I'm curious about what you think.

FOREVER YOUNG by Rod Stewart.  This poorly replicated video has over 14Million hits so you know that it has viral/classic status as a sentimental tune about Daddy loving the young you forever (or is it that he is "forever young" in his memories of being a young dad?)  Here is the follow-up several years later with his daughter Ruby Stewart

SONG FOR MY SON- by Mikki Viereck - billed as the first Mother-Son Wedding Son.  Quite lovely.

YOU GAVE ME A MOUNTAIN sung by Elvis Presley.  Written as a little chat with God, a sort of lamentation and a missing of the little son that the song writer's wife left with at the end of their relationship.  There is no doubt that loss cuts more ways than one where separation and divorce are concerned.  Here it is sung by Marty Robbins-- some prefer this version.

NEVER DIE YOUNG by James Taylor -- a little veer off into another sentimental place, this is apparently James Taylor's tribute to his grandparents who were childhood sweethearts who loved well into old age, a good model of a loving couple.

SUNRISE SUNSET from the movie "Fiddler on the Roof".  The biggest tear-jerker of them all.  Speaks to handing off the torch to the younger generation of adults, to letting go of the hand-holding stage of parenting, to celebrating the passages while mourning the loss of the little child, and to the rhythm of the seasons that inevitably brings change.

Our quotable 10-year old granddaughter's most memorable quote of the 2-week end of the summer with us when I suggested that in just 8 years she would be 18:




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Blessing of the Fig Tree

In our yard we have a little green fig tree that has launched into an abundance of fruit-bearing over the recent past.  In its initial 8 or 9 years, it languished.  Its little buddy expired fairly early on (not unusual for fruit trees in our front yard soil, which could be described as a gravel bed with a slim overlay of topsoil.
An idea of how many figs this tree is putting out-- every branch is laden like this with a couple of crops.

And a shot of some of the 'baby' figs that will form the second crop later in the summer/early Fall.

The same fig tree just four years ago-- barely hanging on, and only producing a few figs that year.

We have fertilized/amended the soil around its roots with lime and rock phosphate.  Those mineral nutrients have made a huge difference.

Here my d.h. is demonstrating that the tree is about 6' in breadth, not that the big one got away.

What do you do with your harvest of figs?  I would appreciate some more ideas. Comment below!


Yummy Quick and Easy Fig Jam (on Hubpages)


These are recipes I have used:

Yummy Quick and Easy Fig Jam (along with some interesting facts about figs)

Fig-Quince-Ginger Jam (yes I also have a quince tree-- not thrilling, but good in this jam)






Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Sunday Outing to the Cumberland Farmer's Market and a Seaside Edible Walk,

It could have been another day lounging around with the tablet on Facebook... but, twigged by something someone said (or inferred) about how lazy I am, I suggested to dear hubby that we might check out the new-ish Cumberland Farmer's Market.  It is open from 11am on Sundays throughout the summer.  Off we went.

These gorgeous hydrangeas greeted us at the entrance to Village Square Park where the Cumberland Farmers' Market is located.

I personally have never seen this sort of hydrangea before.  Have you?  It was gorgeous...

The Cumberland Farmers Market at the Village Square Park, Dunsmuir Rd., Cumberland BC Sundays 11AM-2PM
This is really a pretty little Farmers' Market-- it's new-ish (just opened this year) so really doesn't seem to have caught on yet.  The bonus is that it is a little less cheek-to-jowl with people and vendors, for those who prefer a bit of a stroll and a chat vs. a push and a shove and jostle for the coin.  The Market operates 11AM-2PM every Sunday until September.  It is located on Dunsmuir, in The Village Square Park, right next to the Wandering Moose Cafe (a re-purposed old Bank building).

There were many young parents with their little kiddies, dancing wildly to the music of the Celtic Cargo Cult (2 musicians playing a variety of Celtic tunes).  It was fun to see that the kids, in small town tradition, shared out the blueberries and pies that their mommies laid out on the grass for them.
The Celtic Cargo Cult minus the kiddies whirling and jigging on the grass.
What would a farmer's market be without a fun little band playing while you do your shopping?  Here is a youtube with a slightly re-constituted Celtic Cargo Cult at the Courtenay Farmers' Market 6 years ago.

I guess that you can tell that the hempsicle was the highlight of the Market for me.  It was an absolutely delicious organic hemp-based chocolate, chocolate-covered non-dairy confection.  It was $4 (pricey) but worth the leap-- and really, only the cost of a frapiccino, etc., so not a biggie I suppose.  Dear hubby and I shared it.  It was made in a commercial kitchen in Cumberland. I recommend it.

We also bought some other stuff: carrots, beets, garlic scape salt (very tasty).   Fun, fun, fun.

Parking is kind of haphazard, but we did get to park next to an espalier apple tree (or trees?) that I really admired.  It leans over the front fence of someone's home yard.  The apples look very inviting, don't you think?  I took a picture because I am trying to convince my dear hubby of the benefits of doing some espalier planting of fruit and/or berries.  He is a hardsell... but we'll see.
 
Espalier apples where we parked near the Village Square Park
And then we careened off down to our favourite sea-side walk along Marine Drive in Royston.  It has become sort of an "Edible Walk"... meaning that you can eat from the fruit and berry trees that grow along the ocean.  The blackberries are everywhere this time of year, wild and aggressively invasive, but there isn't a huge cry to get rid of them, like there is for the Scotch Broom, for example.

I met a sweet mom and son team picking blackberries for the "old people, who like the memories they bring back when they eat them" explained Irene, 86.  She declined having her picture taken but referred me to her son, John, about my age (in his 60s) who had already filled up a pail with these black-purple gems.  John is a horologist, a technician trained to repair old clocks.  He has a bad back, so when he picks berries he says that he tells himself: "well, at least you have a pail of berries to compensate for the pain".
John, who with his mom Irene, picked over 100 pounds of blackberries last year to share with elderly friends
Irene came to the Comox Valley from Nova Scotia... her father was from County Cork (I could detect some Irish in her speech), or, as her mother had it, from County Cork-in-the-Bottle.  Yes, she was one of those young children of party men in the past who would ask for "Baby" (Irene) to be wakened at whatever hour he arrived home ("three sheets to the wind" is her description) so that she could dance (jig) with him.

John, Irene's son, was born and raised in the Comox Valley.  Last year they picked over a hundred pounds of blackberries, which they give to various elderly friends and acquaintances in their neighbourhood.  A few years ago they donated to the Food Bank but apparently discovered that some of the people who benefitted from the fruits of their labours, so to speak, were hawking the same berries on the corner to get money to "shoot up" with drugs.  They are going for another 100# again this summer.

I told them about the Farmers' Market in Cumberland with its Celtic music and we parted.

Here is a groaning Apple Tree near the beach.  In a while this tree will be picked by various people, some volunteers from Lush Valley Food Action Society, some just doing it as an annual routine for their own purposes.
Apple tree on the cobble beach...
There are also cherries and plums along the ocean, although they get picked pretty fast by the birds and people-in-the-know, and are not as prolific as the apples and blackberries.  I personally love this abundance of "wild" fruit.  Of course, we also have or share of wild animals that are drawn by the same fruity abundance: birds, raccoons, deer, the odd bear.

So we came home after this fun little excursion and after lunch we did some picking in our own yard, golden plums and cultivated thornless blackberries.  It's a big fruit and berry year this year.  How is your local harvest? (Please comment below-- thanks!)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spiralizing: Oodles and Oodles of Zoodles and Noodles

Okay, who has a spiralizer sitting in the bottom of their cupboard?  Is that because you don't like eating yummy zucchini spaghetti? No?  Is it because there were no instructions with your spiralizer and you ended up frustrated and maybe even with a ripped open thumb?  Oy.  So much for all those wonderful intentions to increase your daily dose of veg!

Well, let's rectify that situation by watching a really good little tutorial on making veggie / zucchini noodles:
I recommend:  

Now, let's quickly review some of the pointers the demo made:

  1. Set the Spiralizer up on a clean, flat surface and position at large bowl behind the blade insert (to catch the noodles)
  2. Cut off the end of the zucchini (or other veg) and attach the cut end, center, to the little metal spool.  
  3. Slide the disk with the prickles right up against the other end of the veg (or zucchini) and make sure there is a nice firm fit, nothing is slipping off
  4. Grasp the top of the cutting plate and lightly push down with one hand while turning the handle with the other hand
  5. Watch the noodles slide off into the bowl-- so much fun!
  6. You will feel the slight lack of engagement (???) as the end of the veggie (or zucchini) diminishes towards the finish.
  7. When it seems like you're totally done, detach the veg from the spiralizer (you can compost or maybe cook the remaining 'core' of the veggie... in the case of the zucchini it might just be the "seed tube")
  8. Cut the noodles with your kitchen shears
  9. Wash up your spiralizer, rinse, air dry.... should last you for years!

And here is a sampling of the recipes you can make
using your super fun spiralizer (just click on the recipe thumbnail to check it out):
Follow Cynthia's board Spiralizing Dreams on Pinterest.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Seedy Sunday Edmonton, Alberta 2016


This Sunday, March 20, 2016, my husband and I attended the Seedy Sunday event in Edmonton, Alberta, the city where our son and family live, and where we are visiting while the grandchildren are on their Spring breaks.
I feel so blessed since this is my second opportunity to attend a Seedy Sunday this year, actually, this March!!  If you look back to the previous blog post, you will see that I posted about going to the Seedy Sunday on March 6th at Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.  What is really fun is introducing my daughter-in-law to the Seedy Sunday concept.  She has done a masterful job of gardening in her backyard to the point that her freezer is full of produce through the entire winter.  How many people can say that about their urban kitchen garden?  She really enjoyed herself and came home with some new ideas.

We attended a couple of the lectures: the last half of the Food Security panel (with encouragement to not only focus on Food Security, but to also encourage schools to teach children to grow food and to cook it); the Saving Seeds lecture by commercial gardener, Kathleen Van Ihinger of Harmonic Herbs of Barrhead, Alberta-- she passed around a seedy lettuce us to take some seeds home) and the last part of Extending the Growing Season by Travis Kennedy of Edmonton's Lactuca Urban Farm,  who detailed their 5-part rotation for the growing greens that they supply local restaurants.)

Then, of course, it was time to hit the marketplace! The massive gym space that housed all of the Seedy Sunday booths is quite likely one of the locations for ballroom dancing, or maybe Pickleball, in the titanic Central Lions' Seniors Recreation Centre. 

I had an enjoyable time visiting the various seeds booths and buying the following seeds:
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Orca Beets
  • Angelica
  • Purple Tomatillo
  • Midnight Lightening Zucchini
  • Holy Basil- Kapoor Tulsi
  • Bee's Friend Phacelia

I already have tomatoes (I think, or we did last year, in that very sweet friends give us starts). Our garden is an adequate source of various perennial herbs such as parsley, spring onions, various members of the mint family, sage, stinging nettles, and likely cilantro will pop up again this year.  We also have kale and other greens.  I have seeds for squash, scarlet runner beans, bush beans, and likely, lettuce.  While I love baby potatoes, our soil is originally layers of gravel with a deeper deposit of coal.  Yes, we live on a ridge on Central Vancouver Island, where a seam of coal runs deep through all the stories and ballads of the local country balladeers.  

I will likely put out another container of rainbow carrots.  

I picked up a card from a booth advertising Vegan Potlucks, Guest Speakers and Restaurant Nights.  The person organizing this is Mike Martin and you can contact him at martiel@telus.net if you are interested in any of those events.  

There were also people manning the Edmonton Horticultural Society Booth, and the Master Gardeners and Organic Master Gardener information tables.  Along with Seedy Sunday, there are so many opportunities in Edmonton and area to learn to grow stuff!

The following are books written by my current favourite gardening author, Carolyn Herriot. (You can read more about her at the page on here about this year's Nanaimo Seedy Sunday on March 6, 2016.)







Wednesday, March 9, 2016

SEEDY SUNDAY 2016 in Nanaimo, BC


This weekend, on Sunday, my husband, Zoe dog and I drove down Island to Nanaimo for the annual Seedy Sunday.

Seedy Sunday (or Seedy Saturday) is a gathering of gardeners, local small seed companies and nurseries, in a low-cost local venue where they can learn from one another, exchange ideas and seeds and plants in a comfortable, social setting-- a 'fair' would be another way to describe it.  Nanaimo is located midway up (down) Vancouver Island.  The first Seedy Saturday happened on Vancouver Island 23 years ago, in Victoria.  There are now over 140 Seedy Saturdays/Sundays across Canada.

You can find out more about Canadian Seedy Saturday and Sunday schedules by going HERE.  I am happy to see that we will be able to attend another Seedy Sunday this year when we visit our kids and grandkids in Edmonton.

Carolyn Herriot was one of this year's Seedy Sunday's speakers.  She has authored The Zero Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide To Growing Organic Food 

                             
Above is the promo video from this year's Seedy Sunday with Carolyn Herriot, 
who was one of the speakers I heard on the day


Carolyn Herriot is a "passionate organic gardener, photographer, lecturer and cook who loves to eat."* I can vouche for being an excellent lecturer in her area of passion.  She presented on Seed-Saving for an hour.  I was so enthused and inspired that I bought her gorgeous book, The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food .  You will find everything in there that you need to know to grow organic food over the course of a year in the Pacific Northwest.  The book is arranged according to month and includes the usual scheduling around composting, seed sprouting, planting what when, pruning, and the like for those who appreciate having their gardening year organized.  But instead of just a schedule with a toss-in of notes about plants, this book includes a horn of plenty of up-to-the-moment information about making your organic food gardening both a soil-enriching and soul-enriching experience!

Here are some of the other interesting topics included in the book:

  • explanation of the Zero-Mile Diet
  • a 5-year Vision for Greater Food Security
  • Discovering your Soil Type
  • The 4 Secrets of Feeding the Soil
  • A 3-Bin Composting System
  • Liming the Garden
  • Comfrey
  • Good Garden Design
  • Top-10 Gardening Tools (of the author's)
  • Recycling Ideas for the Garden
  • Special Teas
  • Seeding the Greenhouse
  • Building a Lasagna Garden
  • Self-feeding Vegetables
  • Insect Pests
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Planting a Seed-Saving Garden
  • Keeping Roses Rosy Organically
  • The "Berry Walk"
  • Seeding Winter Vegetables
  • Establishing a Small Fruit Orchard
  • Native Bees
  • Canning 101
  • Seven Steps to a Winter Lasagna Garden
  • Saving Seeds Successfully
  • Pruning Stone-Fruit Trees
  • Growing Great Garlic (and How to Braid Garlic)
  • 10 Ideas for Green Tomatoes
  • The Final Seed Collection
  • Putting the Garden to Bed for Winter
  • Green Manures
  • How to Clean a Bee Box
  • How to Sprout Seeds in Five Days
  • Phytonutrients-- Another Reason to Grow Your Own Food
  • Secrets of Success
The above list is about a half of the exciting topics covered in the book.  I bought it based on her wonderful lecture on seed-saving and am thrilled that she tells how to save the alphabet of plant seeds, and when to save them and how to store them.  Now I am excited about the book's wide range of topics, in general.  Here is one thing I have learned already and done something about:

Under the heading "Wonderful Weeds", p. 38, Herriot writes: "Chickweed....[is a] shallow-rooted weed that grow[s] in fertile conditions-- ... indicates good fertility."  And, as I had intuited, she writes about Chickweed being an Edible Weed (along with other weeds like Bitter Cress, Dandelion, Henbit, Nettle, etc.).  Chickweed forms a dense mat in my garden every Spring, usually late February and early March.  I was feeling a little frustrated and got suggestions to do a thorough job of stripping it out to get rid of it for good from a gardening friend of mine, and suggestions from my gardening son to either dry it in the sun and then compost it, or put it in a pail of water and use it for compost tea.  Well, after reading about it being edible I did more research online and found that Chickweed is not only merely edible, but is a rich composite of tons of nutrients.  And apparently people want to plant this "weed" in their gardens now!  Well, off I went to my garden to pick some for a veggie stew I was making.  NOTE: Soak in apple cider vinegar to remove grit.  Chop (they're stringy otherwise) and add at the end of the stew.  Substitute for spinach in recipes! Yay!

This is going to be my favourite gardening book, I can tell already!  I plan to include little reviews of various other parts of it as I go about my gardening, so either hang in for that, or get yourself a copy!



*author's bio from the back book cover of The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food .

Friday, March 4, 2016

Chunky Three Sisters Soup - Organic, Non-GMO, GlutenFree, Vegan, No Added Oils

Today is rainy and foggy.  We must eat a delicious, nurturing, nourishing, healthy hot soup to be revived!  I have innovated to create the following: Chunky Three Sisters Soup... the Three Sisters are, of course, the hearty indigenous fruits of our North America: Corn, Squash and Beans.  I have also added in Tomato Sauce, Onions, and fragrant Brown Basmati Rice.  This recipe will serve 6 people, or 2 people, if it is spread over a couple of meals for my husband and I.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. Brown Basmati Rice
  • Water to cook Rice in (according to your rice-cooking directions on your package)
  • 1 medium size Squash, your choice, split in half, and roasted in the oven
  • 2 medium Yellow Onions, roughly chopped and toasted in oven with squash
  • 14 oz/398 ml can of Organic Black Beans (or beans soaked and pre-cooked by you)
  • 1 C. Organic Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce (or 1 C. of your preferred Tomato Sauce)
  • 1 C. Frozen or Fresh Organic Corn kernels
  • 4-8 C. Water or Vegetable Stock
  • 1/2 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder, or to taste
  • Handful of Fresh Greens of your choice (I used Chard)
    Cooking the Squash and Onion

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and split squash in half and chop onions.  Line cooking pan to accommodate squash and onions, line with parchment paper (or spray with oil). Lay squash "face" down and fit onions around.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in oven for about 45 minutes.  
  2. Meanwhile, wash, drain, and cook rice as per package instructions.
  3. When Squash and Onions are baked, cool, scoop out and dice the squash. 
  4. Add all items except Greens to a large soup pot and add in other ingredients.  Cook on Medium until boiling, and then reduce to Low heat.  Simmer for about 40 minutes or until it looks and tastes the way you like it. 
  5. Chop Greens and add to the top of the pot.  Steam them until they are tender (5+ minutes).
  6. Adjust seasonings to suit you, your family and guests.
  7. Serve with a sprinkling of Daiya vegetarian cheese shreds.

Monday, January 25, 2016

How to Grow A Tomato from a Grocery Store or Farm Gate Tomato


Growing stuff from your lunch fruit and veggies is a great idea! That lettuce and tomato sandwich you are planning for lunch could potentially give you back several times more lettuce leaves and tomato slices than you started with.

And showing a friend or grandchild how you grew your tomato from seeds that you gently removed before you made a sandwich, well, wouldn't that be fun?

courtesy of Freeimages.com
Before you get going with the growing, here are a few tips:

  1. Choose a nice ripe heirloom variety of tomato to purchase... the riper, the better, and if it is a heirloom (very old strain of seed that hasn't been tampered with, we're assuming) the seeds will more likely germinate, and grow into a "true" fruit-- something you will recognize as being like the tomato you had on your sandwich.  You may have to pay a little more, but you will enjoy the tomato on your sandwich, plus you will be assured of its 'coming back'.  If you buy it in tomato harvest season from a farm gate (that is, from a farmer with a veggie stand) or at a farmers' market or a local wholefood store that supports local growers, you will definitely increase your chances of getting the kind of produce you are dreaming of.
  2. Depending on where you live, and whether or not you have a greenhouse, you will likely not be planting your tomato seeds for a while after you have purchased the tomato and removed the seeds.  You can, however, check to see if you have seeds that will germinate... either put them in a damp paper towel in a baggy for a few days and check for sprouts, or grow them up in an egg carton with some damp, fine compost, covered with plastic wrap until they pop through (if they do).  
  3. Dry the seeds first, and if you have a type of small tomato (like Tom Thumb, for example) you can check out these directions for preserving your seeds.  This might seem a whole lot more veggie-nerdy than you were counting on, but believe me, if you do it the "right way" and end up with a bright and beautiful mass of these gems you will be soooo appreciative of the extra efforts!
Here are a couple of great videos that can fill in the gaps around actually growing from scratch (well, seed) and answer questions you might have:
 The fellow in this video found this huge ripe heirloom tomato in his local grocery store.  He takes the seeds out and talks about a fermenting process he uses with the seeds.
Jeremiah Jones with a clearly presented video on how to save your tomato seeds, and clean them up for storage.  He also emphasizes that a heirloom tomato is a good choice for collecting seeds.


The presentation is the most comprehensive of the three-- shows the "paper towel method" of collecting and planting seeds, and the process of fermentation.  He also demonstrates how he uses the dehydrator to fully dry his seeds.  And he is fairly funny (bonus).

Have a look HERE at some other plants you can grow yourself cheap or free!