Four Season Savory Stew

It feels like it's been a small eternity since I blogged last. You would think I would have some sort of witty anecdote to share with all of you, now that we have spent a week apart. I got nothin'. In fact I am so tired that there will not only be no witty banter, but also I feel I should warn you not to be alarmed if there is a sudden interruption of the text below by a row of Zzzzzs. The ridiculous heat has made it impossible to get a decent night's sleep these days so I'm a wee bit cranky after my 6am wakeup call today.

But this blog is not about complaining. No, it's about praising. Praising the all mighty Crock Pot and the magic that happens within it after 10-12 hours!

This stew is quite possibly the Working Twenty-Something's dream. Other than chopping vegetables there are no prep steps. Everything goes in the crockpot in the morning, raw and all at once, and coming home to that delicious scent after a long Monday at work is almost as nice as coming home to a warm puppy. (ALMOST).

It's also a vegan's dream because it is high in protein, iron and calcium all at once.

And did I mention that you do nothing to it but toss it into the crockpot, go to work, come home and then eat it? Worst case scenario: you decide to make a couple slices of garlic bread to go along with it.

Which I didn't, because I am trying to drop a couple pounds.

Which sucks, by the way.

The recipe for this stew comes from the CalciYum cookbook, a little known dairy-free relic of the pre-Skinny Bitch era, a time when "vegan" was still an underground term and vegetarian was considered extreme. The book was published in 1998 and doesn't even use the term vegan once, instead referring to the recipes as "dairy-free vegetarian". I have no idea how this book ended up on my bookshelf (in 1998 I was 15 and "eating healthy" consisted of having lettuce on my cheeseburger so I can say with some certainty that I myself did not purchase this book). I've never actually seen it in person in a store, although it does appear to be available through Amazon.

These days the bookstore shelves seem to be lined with more and more shiny new vegan cookbooks - which is great, don't get me wrong - but sometimes it's cool to jump in a cooking time machine and live like vegans did before tempeh bacon and Sweet & Sara marshmallows were in everyday supermarkets. Roughing it - vegan styles.

I have a policy of never posting other people's recipes in this blog, but it seems like I'm the only one that blogs about CalciYum these days. That makes me sad. I want to convince you cookbook shoppers out there to give this somewhat older but just as relevant book a try, so I am going to post the recipe for this stew in hopes that the Bronfmans will forgive me (or at least give me a chance to delete it before they sue me).

Four Season Savory Stew

1 cup dried black beans, navy beans or soy beans (I used black beans)
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup dried quinoa
2 cups chopped rapini (broccoli rabe)
6 cups water
1 can (28 oz) whole plum tomatoes
4 plum tomatoes, quartered (I actually diced them up small instead)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1) If preparing stew for dinner the same day: Start early, since you'll need about 11 hours of cooking time. Add all the ingredients to a large crockpot and stir gently until well mixed. Turn crockpot on high and cook for 3 1/2 hours. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for remaining 7 1/2 hours, or until beans are soft. Serve hot.

2) If preparing stew the day before it is to be served: Add all ingredients to a large crockpot in the late afternoon or evening and gently mix together. Turn crockpot on high and cook for 2 1/2 hours. Reduce heat to low and cook overnight.

(Don't forget to toss the bay leaves before eating!)

Will be at Riverdale tomorrow

We have lots of smoked lake trout and some smoked whitefish. 
There is fresh but not plentiful. 
We are still planning on doing our fish fry fundraiser at Dufferin Market this week.  The weather sounds a bit iffy but we hope it holds off till we are done.  We are trying to raise enough money for the compressor for our walk in cooler.  The whole family is coming down to assist with this project.
See you tomorrow.


An elderly man giving a talk at church last Sunday on love.  "If you bring your wife home roses you'll get more than just cookies."

I almost had to leave the room.


Look what came in the mail today...  I am still chuckling.    

For those of you who may not know, this is called a golliwogg and when I was growing up in the UK they were everywhere.  Robertson Jams used him as a mascot until too many complained that it was racist but to me it is just pleasant memory of my childhood.  

It remains to be seen if I am game enough to use it as a key chain (I don't want to get beat up) or if it will be relegated to the toy box to join the larger version of the golliwogg we have there.  Regardless, it was great to receive a little parcel of love in the mail and to know that somewhere far away a friend thought of me when she saw this and cared enough to purchase it, wrap it up pretty, and send it.  Thanks again Haley, I love it!

Plenty of Trout for Dufferin tomorrow

The smokers are all done and looking good.
We were able to find plenty of fresh lake trout.   We also did up a number of lake trout steaks and sent a few whole lake trout down.  I hope everyone enjoys the trouty selection. 

So, it is official. We have put on an End of Residency show.
For me it is an achievement.  That I managed to complete my month's residency and have something that I wished to show - as a stimulus to the 2010 intake at the Fibre Department (if nothing else, I can hope for that).

Why are the receptions for art shows around here scheduled for the end of the exhibitions?
Surely that is not good for business?
See you there???
We had a lovely anniversary.  My Mom made a delicious supper.  Roast beef with vegetables fresh from the garden.  We've got lots of green beans again.  I could eat fresh beans every day.  Colin's Mom brought her quick cheesecake.  It's pretty good too.  Ella gave us a new cake pan.  It's by Nordic Ware, they make the best bundt pans.  It's a loaf size pan that looks like a pumpkin patch surrounded by a picket fence.  Can't wait to try it out.  Since it's our 7th anniversary, Colin is going to take me to the new local yarn shop, we just have to find time  :)   I made Colin a sweater, well mostly.  I just have to finish the sleeve and the collar then I can post a picture.

Busy few days

We made to Ted Thorpe's due and it was a blast.  Kids came with us and they were tired right out and slept most the way home.  The food was amazing....  The people were great....   Fond summer memories it has given us.  Thanks Ted!
When we got home we got busy.  Painted our boat, put a hole in our plant's wall so we can run hydro and water out to the smoke shed.  We also had our little docking area dredged out again and also had the openning widened so when it erodes again it won't fill in quite so quick. 
Here are some pictures of what has been keeping us busy....

The push to do the chores before the snow comes is on.  The leaves are beginning to change so something is in the air....  Also the countdown to doing golden caviar is also drawing near.  It usually starts in the middle to late October runs to the beginning or middle of December. 

I tried to make a BBQ dinner out of these portobello mushrooms for several days and was rained out every single time. The day could be perfectly sunny and mild and when the quitting bell would finally ring the clouds would roll in and it would start to rain. (Note: my work does not have a real quitting bell, there is just one that goes off in my head every evening at 6:15pm. However, I do quite often find myself having the urge to yell "yabadabado" as I lock up the clinic.)

These portobellos sat in the fridge for a week. I was starting to seriously question their freshness and I had officially run out of all other foodstuffs from the previous grocery trip. Portos are kind of expensive, so there was no way I was going to let them end up in the trash. As such, yesterday I declared that no matter what kind of chaos Mother Nature unleashed on us, I was going to grill those freaking mushrooms for dinner.

Like clockwork, the clouds came in at about 6:15. But I have a great husband and he volunteered to stand out in the rain and grill them for me.

I made a rub out of some of the Jamican jerk seasoning that I usually reserve for seitan. I brushed each portobello with a little olive oil and hot sauce and then got as much of the rub on each mushroom as possible.

The recipe for the messy rice comes from Veganomicon, and thanks to Google Books, it's actually available to those of you who don't have the book simply by clicking here.

It's now the day after I used up the mushrooms and it is quickly approaching the end of the workday. There is not a cloud in sight.
Sex and politics it would appear, is not unique to just Washington.

Does this mean there is an entrance for the special ones?

And while I am at it, what the heck is President Washington sporting on this statue?
He had one on the other side too.  Maybe there is a reason he was America's first president.

Work up and exhibition open

It took a lot longer than expected to put up 3 pieces of art and a shelf!
The walls are "drywall" (thank goodness - wet walls in a gallery space would be a nightmare) and it took ages to find the right fixings.  JAM was brilliant (no, I don't mean I finally used sticky jam, I mean himself).
Finally the work was up and I will post more details when I have the official flier from Melinda. The official poster ought to be more imposing than the image below.

It's so hard to imagine we've been married for 7 years.  It feels like we've been together forever.  I love Colin as much now as then.  More so since he's the father of my baby.  He's such a good, hardworking man.  It's hard to believe he's mine.

If you didn't see the earlier posts about our wedding, check it out here.

Symposium Photos ...

Click here to see some photos of the Symposium weekend! That's me in the colorful jacket MCing!

I'm a fairly low-maintenance kind of girl these days. While I spent my early twenties bleaching the life out of my hair and caking on pounds of makeup every morning, these days it takes a night on the town to get me to even reach for mascara. While this is partly due to the fact that I would rather spend as much of my mornings before work in bed and not in front of the bathroom mirror, it's also because I have had some trouble accessing earth-friendly items to use for this purpose. Not to mention that I do think it's important to let your skin breathe every now and again, and since I've applied my "no makeup on weekdays" rule, my skin has been doing much better.

But let's be honest, a girl could use some pampering now and again. Back in the day I was known to frequent a spa or two, spending copious amounts of money on highly questionable hair chemicals. And admittedly, though I have been vegan for a very long time I have not been as diligent with my hair products as I have been with my diet and clothing. While the dyes that have been used on my hair in the past have technically been "vegan friendly" (in that they contained no known animal products and were not, to my knowledge, tested on animals) they were hardly earth friendly. Being the hypochondriac I am I was convinced I was subjecting myself to a long battle with cancer every time I sat down in the salon chair (who knows, maybe I was) and after leaving the salon I would have headaches for days. I would literally have to wash my hair immediately afterwards, sometimes a few times, to make the headaches go away.

The turning point for me was when I went dark, after years and years of being blonde. The first time I washed my hair all the residual dye was creeping from my scalp and going down the drain and I panicked. What am I doing, putting these incredibly harsh chemicals down the drain and subsequently back into our drinking water?

I started doing the math. The scary kind of math when you try and calculate your contribution to the plight of our earth based on the number of times you've had your hair dyed since you were fourteen years old. It was time for a change.

This change terrified me. Honestly, I say it once and I'll say it a million times: the food aspect of going vegan is the easy part. The product aspect is far more difficult. First and foremost, so many hair products don't even list what's actually in them. Secondly, unlike food, it's far more difficult to take the DIY route and make your own hygiene products and cosmetics. Thirdly and although you know better than to trust big business advertisements, it can be scary to go against the grain when it comes to your looks. It's vain. Absolutely. But we're all friends here and we can admit to being a bit fickle now and again.

Regardless of all that, if I was going to continue calling myself an environmentally-conscious vegan it was time to set aside vanity and I was fully prepared to do so, thinking that grey hairs would start creeping up all over the place and I would age fifty years in a day or something (if you haven't realized my propensity to be extremely irrational on a daily basis, you haven't been reading my blog for very long).

And then I googled "vegan hair kitchener waterloo" and low and behold, Hybrid Hair & Detox Spa popped into my life. Kitchener-Waterloo's first earth-friendly hair salon located in the adorable Belmont Village area of Waterloo.

I called them immediately and I had my first appointment yesterday afternoon.

My first impression was that everyone was really, really friendly. My second impression was, "WOW these people really do walk the talk".

These days, so many folks throw around the terms "environmentally-friendly" and "green" without truly knowing what they mean. Or even caring what they mean. These terms have become marketing ploys like any others - catchy gimmicks used to lure people in by making them think that they are bettering the planet based on "green" labels and extensive marketing strategies as opposed to actual results for the earth.

This could not be further from the truth when it comes to Hybrid. The folks at this salon actually care about the planet and those of us who reside on it and that is evident from the moment you walk in the door.

The salon is bullfrog powered. They rely on natural light when they can, utilizing the beautiful and enormous windows all over the salon. Their products are completely and totally free of all harsh chemicals and preservatives and are plant-based (I think my stylist said that the hair dye she used on me was made from a broccoli-like vegetable?! How cool!).

And the best part is that your appointment includes a scalp massage of the finest proportions.

Their hair dryer and flat iron are even green, made from recycled materials and soy inks. Seriously! And they offer a refill program for their shampoos and conditioners to cut down on plastic waste.

And the best part of it all is that I was assuming that I would have to make a great sacrifice by going green with my hair routine. In hindsight, I don't know why I thought this. It's pretty ignorant of me really. I guess I should really watch my mouth when I get irritated with folks who think eating vegan is too difficult. But honestly, it was the best salon experience I have ever had. The colour is exactly what I wanted: dark but still warm. It actually cost less than the previous salons I've attended. And my hair is straighter than it's ever been in my life.

Can we take a moment and acknowledge how straight my hair is?

If you know me in real life, you'll know that I have this ridiculously thick and curly mop of a mess on top of my head. I have so much hair. I rock bedhead on a daily basis and front like I intended to, but seriously, there are days that I cannot get even a wide comb through my hair. I put on a thick headband and avoid mirrors for the day.

My entire life was spent longing for long, pin-straight hair. I grew up in the 90s, when the world expended an enormous amount of energy worshiping Jennifer Aniston/"Rachel" straight hair. My hair stood no chance (regardless of the fact that I would take an actual clothes iron to it on a daily basis. AN ACTUAL CLOTHES IRON. Teenagers these days don't understand the privilege of ceramic hair straighteners).

So let's take a minute and look how straight my hair is in the above picture. And that was nothing more than a little planet-based product, a blow out, and a wee bit of flat ironing. Love!

In conclusion, if anyone wants to spoil me, a gift certificate for Hybrid Hair & Detox Spa should do the trick. And for those of you looking to green your hair routine, give them a call and I guarantee you won't be disappointed. A special thank you to Erin for the amazing cut and colour and Stephanie for the wash/condition and scalp treatment. It's so refreshing to interact with folks who act on what they believe in and who take risks to turn their values into reality and into something that we all benefit from - as such I, without a doubt, give Hybrid Hair & Detox Spa the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval!

I wish I could give to them twice because it seems like once is not enough for how great this place is.

The green revolution is taking over!

Hybrid Hair & Detox Spa
678 Belmont Ave, Suite 202
Kitchener, ON N2M 1N6
(519) 886-8624


As you can see, yesterday I was too busy getting my scalp massaged to even think about sitting by the computer (can you honestly blame me?) so I am a little bit late in announcing a winner for the Sullivan & Sawyer Baby Co. giveaway. And the winner is....

AMANDA THOMAS, who entered via Facebook
Congratulations, Amanda! Send me an email at and you will receive information on how to redeem your $30.00 store credit.

Itching to get going....

Just back from summer holidays and as if the plans I have for the near-future are not enough to get me fired up for August and September...
Then the latest blog entry at Nudibranchs central has just got to be a put up job... If this worm hasn't eaten a shibori scarf then I'm a jelly-fish.
(Great work Gary - I hope I am OK linking to your blog and copying the image here...., as usual I am indebted to you.)

Spent the day doing the washing (yeh yeh yeh) and going through the studio - attempting to reduce the stuff by at least a tenth.  I think it is a sign of moving on - a ritual I go through every time I move on to a new phase of work.
I have got together a few pieces to exhibit at The Marion Nicholl Gallery. installation day is the day after tomorrow.  More info. on this to follow.
So now I can build on these pieces and develop more barking art...
I did get the source material for "Documentation" the next exhibition with Contextural.  So I want to work on that through September.
Here is to a busy time ahead.

Quilt Camp (Symposium)

The Symposium was great! ( this link takes you some pictures of the event!) They had laid on an amazing faculty and my one day of class with Jeannette deNicolis Meyer was fantastic. She taught a technique for stitching shallow curvy pieces of fabric together. It is amazing how seeing a technique being demonstrated makes it so much easier to grasp! I've read books on the subject which had excellent diagrams, but now, by George, I think I've got it! I think I'm what's called a visual learner. (That's why the instructional DVDs I produced for C & T Publishing are so nifty!)

The Evergreen State College Campus was very beautiful. The only thing wrong with it for me was that the distance between the dorms and the classrooms, eating hall and meeting house were rather far. I am so out of shape and was very grateful that the organizers had laid on some golf carts for those with "mobility issues." Long gone are my beefy days of pounding up and down a lacrosse or netball pitch I'm sad to say.

I MC'd a few evening activities, the most fun of which was the"Upcycled Wonders Wearable Art" challenge contest! Lorraine Torrence co-MC'd with me. Participants were invited to take no longer than one hour to create to create garments or accessories.

Upcycling is taking waste and making it into something that has equal or greater use or value.

Upcycling is taking something that you would otherwise throw out and finding a way to make it into something else.

The main rule was that those who chose to play were not supposed to buy anything, rather use "stuff" that might have been lingering in their stashes for a while. The talent was amazing and people were so resourceful. I don't have any images of that event, but suffice it to say it was very amusing and a fun evening of laughs and giggles. This event was held in the Longhouse (pictured here) which was a beautiful building patterned on the traditional longhouse meeting structures of the Native Americans of our region.

Once I have unpacked my sewing machine I shall be testing out the new curves technique that I've now added to my bag of quilting tricks. I shall also be working to lose some weight and get more exercise.

Well, I guess they aren't too faithful anymore or else Colin's Dad wouldn't have bought the 'new' combine.   I thought I'd post a couple pictures of the old combines.  They had bought the red combine for parts, but it turned out to be in better shape than the old one.  They had one set up to do corn and one to do soy beans.  It was handy having the two of them as corn and soy bean season can overlap.

This is a Cockshutt 545.  It is 35 years old, or so. It has the corn head on in the picture on the right.

This one is an Oliver 545.   It is the predecessor to the Cockshutt.  It’s closer to 40 years old.  It’s got the soy bean head on in the picture.

They put in long years of service.  They've owned them for about 25 years.  The last few years though Colin and Dad were spending more time 'fixing' the combines than harvesting with them.  They were a huge source of aggravation at a time of year when tempers are already short.   Even fixing the combines was becoming harder and harder.  Manufacturers  aren't making the parts anymore and new parts don't fit the old machines.  The old machines are also a little small for the acreage we crop now.

All that being said, the combines aren't going to the scrap heap.  Colin sold them to Tim, one of his Mennonite friends (and fellow pork producer).  His combine is about the same vintage and he should be able to salvage pieces to keep his old machine going for a few more years.  Hopefully by then prices will turn around and we'll all be making a living again.

Tim brought his two oldest children with him, he often does.  The Big Sister is 5 and the Little Brother is 3.  Ella had so much fun playing with them in her play yard.  The only problem is they don't speak English.  Mennonites don't teach their children English until they start school.  But children speak a universal language, play.  There was only one moment of communication breakdown -Ella took a ball to the eye because she didn't understand what was said.  She's ok, not even black.  Boy, Mennonite children sure are well behaved.  They knew they were going home with Daddy in the combine.  As soon as the combine started up Big Sister took Little Brother by the hand and off they went.  No fuss, no begging to stay, just 'time's up let's go'.  I wish I could remember more of my university German.  Although they speak a dialect, it would helpful.  I was able to pick out a few words to help the afternoon along. I like when Tim's over with the children, Ella gets to see that she's not the only little girl who wears dresses and actually acts like a little girl.

Summer's Bounty

  The gardens have been doing really well this year.  Most things are early.  Our tomatoes and cucumbers are maturing too early, but that's because we haven't had enough rain.  The tomatoes have been splitting from uneven rain.  I'm going to have to make some tomato sauce to can and use up the extra tomatoes.  We have corn coming out our ears  :)  Colin will likely have corn well into September.  Right now he's supplying our local Freshmart grocery store.  We've had lots of vegetables to sell at our table at the Petawawa Farmers' Market.  They sure make our table look great.

Ella and Daddy were out last night picking the last of the cucumbers.  Daddy has a big box of tomatoes for the farm stand.  Ella is such a help with her little wheelbarrow.

  I love, love, love our new camera.  I took this picture of Ella at her garden.  I'm sitting on the front steps, at least 50 feet away.  The camera has amazing zoom and a really good anti-shake.  It even has a button that takes 30 shots per second.  I should be able to get a good picture of Ella with that!

Ella picked a couple of carrots from her garden.  She brought me a couple of cherry tomatoes too.  Her garden has done really well.  Daddy made sure it was well watered in the spring so that the seeds would come up.  The 'experts' say children will eat vegetables if you let them help grow/prepare them.  I guess these 'experts' never met Ella   :)  I can usually get her to at least take a bit of her vegetables, but she certainly doesn't dive into them and clean her plate.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a pack of Food For Life organic sprouted whole corn tortillas in the freezer aisle of my supermarket. Couldn't believe it! While I'm not gluten-free, I don't understand why many of the conventional corn tortilla brands load their products full of wheat flour - hello, they are supposed to be CORN tortillas! Not to mention that the ridiculous quanitities of preservatives, oils and sodium that go into the standard brands give me the heeby jeebies.

Let's be honest, corn tortillas aren't exactly a health food, but choosing the Food for Life brand as opposed to many of the others out there is certainly the lesser of the evils. Let's compare ingredient lists:

"Food for Life": Organic Sprouted Corn, Filtered Water, Sea Salt, and Lime

"Popular Mainstream Brand Named After a Texas Town": Corn Flour (29%) , Wheat Flour, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Stabiliser: Glycerol, Wheat Gluten, Salt, Dextrose, Raising Agents: 450a, E500, Emulsifiers: E471, E466 , Preservative: E202, Acidulant: Citric Acid, Flour Treatment Agent: E920

Uh, the choice is pretty clear to me.

I don't even know what the hell most of the crap listed up there is and there is no guarantee that the glycerol doesn't come from animal fat so there is a good chance it's not vegan-friendly anyway. So as you can see, while corn tortillas have been available to me I have refused to cook with such an unnecessary frankenfood.

Until now!

The first thing I made with the sprouted corn tortillas was the Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan:

Corn, black beans, avocado, baked tortilla chips, chipotles and a spicy arribiata tomato sauce that I had kicking around made for one of the best Mexican style meals we've had in a long time. The sprinkling of Daiya on top didn't hurt either.

I highly, highly encourage you to go out and pick up Eat, Drink and Be Vegan (if this lasagna doesn't convince you, click on the "Eat, Drink and Be Vegan" tag on this blog for more deliciousness). However, if you want to try this recipe out beforehand, the recipe is posted here.

I had a few corn tortillas left over from the lasagna so I made the Mexicali Chop printed in the July/August 2010 edition of Vegetarian Times. Mexican salads can be pretty dangerous when you order them in restaurants but making them at home ensures you can bake (not fry) the tortillas and go light on the dressing.

Click here for the recipe.

P.S. You have just under 48 hours to enter in the Sullivan & Sawyer Baby Co. giveaway! I will be drawing a winner on Friday morning. Good luck!
When I was a kid, my Mom didn't plan her menus.  We went to the grocery stores every Friday and wandered around trying to decide what we needed for the week.  Mom also had to get stuff for in my Dad's lunch box to take to work at GM.   She then spent the rest of the week trying to decide what to thaw and make that evening.

Fast forward to 2010.  I only shop every two weeks and try to use our limited grocery budget to the best of my abilities.  I hate not knowing what to make and I don't like trying to thaw things quickly.  So I menu plan.  I save money and gas by shopping every two weeks.  I always know the night before what needs taken out of the freezer and how to plan the next day, eg, throw supper in the crock pot after supper or cook just before eating.  I don't follow my menu plans to the letter, some weeks it is more like a guide.  Sometimes life gets in the way and I have to re-vamp everything (like when Colin has emergency surgery, that menu went right out the window).

Previously, I've just written the menus on paper.  But this year I got a new white board for phone messages.  I found this one at Staples.   It has spaces for the phone and for paper messages (we don't use paper much), but the new and exciting part was the month calendar (I know I'm an office supply geek).  I'm able to actually write the menus on the day they are scheduled and I write down any events that come up for those days.  This way it's easy to see if any meals need shifted, easy meals moved to a busy day, etc.  It also helps keep life more organized.  My real calendar is across the kitchen on the back door and not always visible from the phone (which is attached to the wall).

Now all I have to do is figure out a way to put all my recipes (titles not actual recipes) on the computer so I can, maybe, automate the process a little bit.  Some weeks it takes me longer than others to make my menus.  I also have a list (well a number of pages) of recipe ideas that I want to try.  That way I don't have to pull out my cookbooks just to make plans.  I can just go down my list and see what tickles my fancy.
I can't do without my menu plans.  I'd be lost and we wouldn't eat as well as we do now.

Our Weekend

The Petawawa Farmers' Market continues to go well.  We have 3 more Fridays to go.  We have some new producers.  One Mom has 4 kids, well one is not quite 1.  Ella loves having others to play with and they usually play in the Mom's mini van which means I don't have to worry about Ella and strangers or the road.  My friend Lindsey often comes by with her little ones.  Ella loves playing with her little girl (she's 3).  They are so cute, they run around being birds or wander around holding hands.  I love when I can find 'proper' little girls for Ella to play with, boys are fine but they tend to be rough.

I've got more Christmas knitting done.  Two pairs of men sized socks.  These are made with Patons Decor yarn, it's nearly a chunky size.  Two of the men I knit for have size 11 feet, so I'm not using thin wool and little needles.  I'm not sure fancy, fine socks would really suit them any way.  They are more the thick sock kind of guy.

Finally got a chance to get my fruit relish made.  It's a tricky timing thing, especially up here.  I need to have tomatoes, peaches, pears, and apples all ripe at the same time.  It wasn't so hard when we lived in Bowmanville.  We'd just head to the St. Jacob's market and pick up everything we need.  It's my Great Grandma's recipe.  It's great with all kinds of meat and I like it with eggs.  This year I had one jar break in the hot water bath.  At least it didn't come apart until I got it out of the water and on the counter.

This wasn't technically the weekend, but I thought I'd share how farmers remove dead freezers.  Colin and Dad were actually able to get the freezer out of the summer kitchen without destroying anything, the back door came off its hinges but that was planned.

Since marrying Colin I've learned a lot about farming and a lot about farmers.  One of the first things I learned was that farmers aren't happy doing things around the house unless they can get a tractor/front-end loader involved   :)

It's amazing how much bigger the summer kitchen looks.  The new 22.5 ft freezer is so much shorter (width) that Colin was able to turn the utility shelf (on Colin's right) so it's against the wall.  That makes for so much more walking space.  If we could ever figure out where to put the freezer in the middle of the room we could have a party -well, not really but you know what I mean.  Here Colin's sweeping up, it's amazing what accumulates behind/under a freezer over 60 years.  I'm surprised he didn't find any mummified mice.

Having the new freezer will make getting ready for OVFC delivery day a breeze.  We're sorting the freezers out tomorrow and Sunday (after delivery day) I may even defrost one of the other freezers.  I can't wait to get everything organized.  I hate not being able to find things.  Also, it's hard when people come to the farm to buy pork.  I have to dig through and try to remember where everything is 'piled'.  Not very professional, not to mention that I can't reach the bottom of the freezers  :)
We are being blown around up here.  The wind is pretty wild and going to be like this till the end of the week.
Today we were only able to go to Riverdale for we have very little fresh fish and some smoked. 
I hope this wind will relax.  Thursday's market and Saturday's markets are up in the air right now.  Waiting to read the weather reports as the week goes on. 

Blueberry-Banana Pancakes at Cafe Pyrus, Kitchener

We followed up our Saturday morning errands with breakfast at Cafe Pyrus, a new veggie hangout in the downtown core of Kitchener. A friend of mine had been in and was raving about the tempeh sandwich so I went in there fully intending to try it for myself, but after watching the staff dishing out plates of pancakes and homemade applesauce, I couldn't resist.

I was so busy shoveling them into my mouth that I completely forgot to take a photo until they were half eaten, so I apologize for not having a better quality image of these amazing pancakes to show you. I should also take a minute to rave about the iced chai I had to drink. I am not one for coffee or tea. Ever since I was in the fourth grade and someone double dog dared me to eat a coffee bean I just can't get on board with coffee and tea has always seemed strange to me BUT froth it up with a bit of almond milk and ice and apparently I am in love. We went home after breakfast and a couple hours later I was ready to head back downtown for another one. It's a good thing my laziness is usually more overpowering than my food addiction.

I'll be making my way back to Cafe Pyrus some time soon to finally try that tempeh sandwich, so stay tuned for more pictures. In the meantime, if you're in the Kitchener area I highly recommend checking out this cute little cafe. The atmosphere is wonderful, with couches and board games and the friendliest staff I've ever interacted with in a resto. I'm looking forward to making my way through their menu!

Cafe Pyrus
16 Charles Street W
Kitchener, ON N2G 1H2
(519) 954-7705


Hello again,

I'm here, in Canada once again, in the house I've lived in for many years, but I've decided it's home in name only.  There are too many earthly places I could call home.  My home is in Jesus, for it is the only place I will never have to leave, and it is only there I will never be lonely or missing anything.  Right now, my heart hurts.  For the first time since I returned back to this place 24 hours ago, I really miss Texas.  I really miss the blessings the LORD gave me while I was there.  I miss my friends.  Continually I am in awe of what the LORD is doing right now, in this moment, whatever moment that might be.  He is so sovereign and it is such a comfort.

I was thinking about how to sum up my summer, and I honestly don't know.  Right now I'm riding the emotions of it all pretty strongly.  It's hard to even find words.  One week ago today I was going out to dinner with all the summer staff, and watching friends run around like little kids in a candy shop.  The end of the summer was so crazy!  :-)  And then we went on the bus on the way home, (I keep using that word, and of different places... this one means back to camp) and the light was beautiful, and the fields were beautiful, and it was all just... beautiful.

Honestly, I have no words.  So I'll quote some of my own from my journal from July 13, 2010

"His Hill, TX: It's been absolutely forever since I've written, but I've wanted to for a while.  God has been so good to me here, and has taught me so much, it's insane.  He is working in me for humility, submission, surrender, patience, servanthood, and so much more.  Believe me, camp has been one of the most difficult things I've ver done, and in fact, I'm totally incapable of doing any of it, but the LORD is, as evidenced by the fact that it's high school week already and I've been here 7 1/2 weeks.  god is so faithful through all of these crazy daily challenges and struggles.  I have no right to be happy right to be happy right now, but I am.  There have been plenty of not-so-happy moments, but without hard times I would never learn to rely on the LORD.  And now, I have been through friendlessness, horrible campers who hated me, wonderful campers who were still very challenging, tensions, hurts, fears, crying, various struggles with people, battles with Jesus for control of my life, worries, frustrations, utter exhaustion, and a host of other things.  On the joyful side; ice cream, late nights, learning tower, new friends, new hugs, sweet appreciation from campers, music, songs, new joy in the LORD, excitmement to spend time in the Word, and lots and lots and lots of oreos.  god is so good, and I want to write more, but it's 1am, and my high school campers and myself must sleep.  Love in Christ, Sheila"

And that's all I'll write for now.  More to some soon.

Love in Christ,

Mediterranean Tofu

This is my favourite part of summer. My reasons are twofold.

1) Fall is just around the corner and fall is my most favourite season. Particularly since this is the first year that I am not a student fretting about the first day of school.

2) Mid-August marks the point in the summer where all of those with green thumbs realize that they planted way more than they can handle and subsequently pass along their goodies to those of us who couldn't grow mould if we tried. Translation: copious amounts of free produce coming at me from various family members in various corners of the city!

It is at this time of year that I wish my refridgerator was reversed: one exposed shelf and three rows of vegetable crispers rather than the two measly crispers I have now. Surely such a thing must exist in vegan heaven.

Until I invent such a fantastic contraption, I have loaded my awkwardly designed refrigerator to the limit with fresh picked beans, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and tomatoes (of every size, shape and form). And because these treats are so fresh and vibrant in and of themselves, I've been cooking in such a way that doesn't result in them being smothered in the excessive sauces that I use in the winter to hide the wilted crap I find in the produce aisle of the local supermarket.

In fact, this summer's constant flux of sun-rain has made for one of the best growing seasons in southern Ontario history and has resulted in produce more flavourful than I can ever remember.

This light tofu dish is quite possibly the soybean embodiment of the season itself. The ingredients list is shockingly minimal for something that has so much flavour: tofu, olive oil, garlic, ripe tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, lemon juice and basil. That's it.

I used cherry tomatoes from my grandma's garden. They are so sweet they might as well be candy.

The leafiness you see on top of the tofu is garden-fresh basil, which quite possibly has the shortest shelf life of all greenery so when I have it, I use it.

I made a creamy asparagus pasta to go along with this tofu dish because I was starving the night I made it, but for those really hot August nights it would be perfect on nothing more than a bed of lettuce and a light Italian dressing.

The recipe is from Vegan Express but you can also find it on Nava Atlas' website.

And as aside, another summertime "let's use up all this fresh produce" favourite of mine is spelt noodles tossed in olive oil and hot sauce and topped with whatever fresh veggies I can find. In this case, it was more of the above sweet cherry tomatoes, along with garlic, green onion and zucchini and topped off with fresh oregano and parsley:

I just can't get enough pasta these days, what can I say.

If anyone else has any produce they are looking to get rid of before the weather turns, you know where to find me. After my disasterous attempt at growing veggies last summer I am not above begging for your scraps.

Yesterday while sitting in Tim Horton's (every Canadian knows what this is, for everyone else it's a donut/coffee shop and trust me when I tell you, you don't know what you are missing but I digress) anyway while in Tim Horton's with my DIL and grandkids an annoying fly buzzed around Maia's head.  She was a little concerned about it so William told her to shoo it away.  He then turned to me and said:

"I know what shoo means!"

"You do?" I asked

"yep, it means bugger off" he whispered

I was not sure I had heard properly.

"Pardon me?"

"It means BUGGER OFF" he yelled.

For my non Canadian readers, the one thing you must  know is that Tim Horton's or Timmy's as we like to refer to it, is rarely empty and yesterday was no exception.  

Disaster Averted

We had a bit of excitement this morning -not that we needed any.

Colin and I were standing in the summer kitchen talking about the morning and what else he was going to accomplish before lunch.  As he headed out the door to the barn I called him back.  He didn't want to come;  I shudder to think what would have happened if Colin had of continued to the barn.  I told him I could smell smoke.  As soon as he came back in the summer kitchen he could smell it too.  The acrid smell of an electrical fire/over-heating.  We searched around until we found the source.  Our old ancient freezer was toast.  Seems the fan had stopped working a while ago, judging by the cobwebs and dust, and finally had over-heated.  There were no flames yet, but would have been soon.

This freezer is a Woods, a Canadian company.  It must be close to 60 years old.  It was in the summer kitchen when Colin's parents bought the farm 45 years ago.  It's a beast of a freezer, takes up a lot of space but provides little actual room.  One good thing I can say for it, if you needed something frozen solid this was the freezer to use.  The new freezers can't touch it for freezing ability.

As you can see from the condition of the freezer, we certainly got our money's worth out of it.  I use to hate when I had to try to get meat from the bottom.  I have to dangle in (I'm only 5ft) and I was always worried I'd knock the baseball bat and have the ridiculously heavy lid fall on me.  If that happened I think I would have been lucky to escape with a broken back -it's that heavy.

Ella and I headed off to Pembroke to the Red Bargain Barn to pick up the new freezer.  We had to hurry, not only did I have some of our freezer food in there, but half of the stuff was my pork to sell at tomorrow's Farmers' Market.  Ella wasn't pleased because this wasn't part of her morning plan.  But that's what happens when you are a farmer's wife.  Sometimes your plans get thrown out the window and you have to go for parts or freezers.  We only got a 22.5 cubic foot freezer, they were out of 25's.

Right now the new freezer (a Whirlpool) is out in the machine shed, a very convenient location (not).  We have to wait for the old freezer to thaw before even attempting to get it out of the summer kitchen.  Colin thinks he may have to take a sledge-hammer to the freezer and take it out in pieces.  He will be very pleased disappointed if he has to somehow involve a tractor in the extraction.

Colin transferred all our frozen stuff to the new freezer.  It's not put away in any kind of order, but you can certainly see how much more space we have now.  I'll be able to space the other freezers out a little better than they are now and it won't be such a pain to serve customers.  Right now I'm moving bag upon bag to get to the meat customers want.   Hopefully now I can keep the freezer only 1 or 2 layers deep  :)

I'm so glad disaster was averted.  As much as I would like a new house/addition, a house fire is not the way I want it to happen.  I have too many precious, to me anyway, things in the house.   Once again, God has proven how well he looks after us.
A few of the blogs I've been reading have been doing a 'Wandering Wednesday'.  I wasn't going to participate but found this picture from Ella on the camera.   It may be a day late, but it's Ella's toes with her favourite toy.  Right now she mostly plays it and tells me she's putting songs on her ipod  :)  I never know what I'll find on the camera after Ella borrows it to take pictures.  I also found an Ella self-portrait.

We have some new kitties in the barn.  Well, they are being kept in the office right now because some of them are rather small.  This is Sunny, he's about 12 weeks old.  We just got him the other day and am letting him get used to being here.
This is Smokey and Tiger, I'm not sure what Colin's friend was thinking.  They are so small -and we've had them 2 weeks already.  They will have to stay in the office for a while yet.  They are smaller than the rats!!  They are very affectionate and will sit in my arms purring.   If I didn't already have 2 cats in the house and if they weren't male, I'd be tempted to bring them in the house.  This is the third kitten 'Stripey', I think it's a female but very shy.

Ella loves coming out and lovin' the cats too.  She's a little nervous about picking them up but once she's got them she's happy.  Smokey loves to be held and doesn't care who's doing it!

Colin's incision has nearly completely healed.  He's back to work full-time (well over-time if you count picking tens of dozen of corn daily).  I can't believe how it's healed.  Especially when you consider is was a good 1 1/2 inches deep and 3 or so wide.  He wants to get back to doing his core exercises to keep his back from getting sore, though things are still a little tender depending on how he moves.  I thank God for taking care of Colin, I was so frightened when we were at the hospital and worried he wouldn't take enough time off and would do more harm to himself. 

Speaking of corn.  Colin is into the second type of corn he planted now.  And boy, it is delicious.  I forget how good fresh sweet corn tastes!  These are nice big cobs too.  Our customers will be well pleased with these.