Sunday, December 6, 2009

Do the Mashed Potato... Soup - Sister's Soft, Moist Sunday XVI

 I made this soup while at my sister's last month.  It was my attempt to use up the leftovers in her fridge.  I had made chicken pie, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli for dinner the night before.  The potatoes and broccoli were items I thought my sister could eat after her jaw surgery.  Unfortunately, she was having swallowing problems that night, so she went with a smoothie instead.  As a result, we had a lot of potatoes and broccoli left over.  I just can't stand to let food go to waste, thus the Mashed Potato Soup.  It turned out quite well, and my sister was able to eat it.  Bonus.  She liked it too.  Double bonus, particularly since the leftovers made a lot of soup!

This Week's Soft Moist Selection

Mashed Potato Soup

(There are no measurements for this one, as I don't know how many leftover mashed potatoes you have.  I just went with what looked right when I made mine.  At the time, I thought I was making something truly original.  I felt like the queen of the kitchen. Since then I've discovered several recipes for mashed potato soup on the webbernet.  If you need measurements, go have a look at one of them.  Otherwise, wing it, and imagine you're the queen of your kitchen.)

Butter or oil
Chopped onion
Minced garlic
Leftover mashed potatoes
Leftover steamed broccoli
Salt and pepper Your favorite cheese (gouda or cheddar work well.)

  • Heat butter/oil in your soup pot.
  • Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
  • Add mashed potatoes, broccoli, salt and pepper.  Add enough broth to cover the veggies.   Simmer for a while.
  • Blend with immersion blender until smooth.
  • Add cheese and heat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lovely Local Lemons and Kiwis

Take a close look at the upper left corner of the photo.  See that?  There's snow in the mountains.  About 190cm of snow.  That's not unusual.  It is December after all.

Now take a look at the fruit in the foreground.  Those lemons and kiwis all came from within 50km of that snow.  I kid you not.  Both are Island grown - Vancouver Island that is.  I purchased the lemons earlier in the week at Brambles.  These luscious yellow beauties are from a grower in Deep Bay and were picked by Brambles' owner and her kids last weekend.  

The kiwis are from the Black Creek garden of one of hubby's co-workers. Once they're ripe enough, we'll cut them in half and eat them with a spoon. (The kiwis, not the co-workers.) Mmmmm.  Breakfast.  The lemons, on the other hand, require a bit more preparation.  Though they are delicate-skinned with a sweet perfume, they're still lemons.  After much deliberation, I decided the best way to serve them would be with brandy.

Local Lemon Hot Toddy

Serves 1

1/2 lovely local lemon
1 1/2 ounces brandy (rum is good too)
2 generous tsp local honey
3/4 cup hot water
  • Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a mug.  Once you've picked out the pips, toss the spent lemon into the mug too.
  • Stir in honey and brandy.
  • Top up with hot water.
  • Enjoy.
If I had been thinking ahead, I would have picked up a bottle of Phrog Gin and made this a totally local beverage.  Maybe next yearUnfortunately it will be that long before the lemons are available again, but I'm sure it will be worth the wait.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just Call Me Jethro

I had my first experience with local food here in North Carolina last night.  There was a possum in the back yard.  I understand they're good eating.  Of course, I could be wrong.  I believe I got that bit of information from reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies.  Doesn't really matter. I'm pretty sure that even if I managed to catch the little guy, I wouldn't have been able to prepare him in a way that my sister could eat.  Her jaw surgery went well, but she's still surviving on liquids until she's all healed up.

Though I was able to find possum recipes and instructions for catching and cleaning possums online, I wasn't able to find anything about possum smoothies.  Thank goodness.  I left the little fella to wander along the fence and enjoy the moonlit night.  

(What would be the correct word for preparing a dead possum for cooking?  Cleaning? Skinning? Butchering?  Whatever it is, that last link is my favourite.  Note that it's even a website from North Carolina!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Greeting From North Carolina

Some of you will have noticed that I've been rather quiet recently.  I'm currently in North Carolina with my sister, her kids and her cats.  (Hubby is home with our cat.)  I thought I'd have the opportunity to write while I'm here.  Obviously I was deluding myself.  More when I get home.  Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Got Nothin' - Sister's Soft, Moist Sunday XIII

My sister is having surgery this week. It should help to improve the problems with her jaw.  If all goes well, she may no longer need my soft, moist selections.  I feel I should have an amazing recipe to celebrate that possibility, but I've got nothing.  Surprising, considering our meals this week: turkey stew, borsht, sweet potato and yam soup, chili...all soft and moist, but other than the soup, none that she could easily prepare on her own.  These meals all have great potential for adapting, should they be needed.  I guess you'll know how things went if you find me back here next week. 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

From Pumpkin To Pie In Twelve Easy Steps

First, find a friend who is willing to let you work for vegetables, and is willing to let you share the harvest even when there are only two pumpkins.

Admire the fruits of you labour.

Butcher with care. Preferably outside, as you don't want to get guts all over the kitchen.

Mind your fingers!

Plan on saving the seeds.

Wonder at absence of seeds and the presence of strange, unidentifiable globs. Did this one grow too close to the power lines?

Salvage the few seeds you find, and hope for better luck next year.

Cut the pumpkins into chunks and head to the kitchen.

Add some water to the bottom of the roasting pan, cover (in this case with foil, as the lid would no longer fit on the pan) and bake until the flesh is soft.

Scoop the flesh from the pumpkin pieces and puree, first with a mixer, then with an immersion blender. (The contents of the bowl represent less than half of the puree we got from those two pumpkins. L kept the contents of the other bowl. This was mine.)

Transfer pureed pumpkin to containers and freeze. Don't attempt to can your pureed pumpkin. Apparently home-canned pumpkin is an excellent way to promote botulism. Remember to reserve one container for your pie. (These jars contain the puree from the bowl in the picture above. The jar on the right is homemade cranberry sauce from L at Sleeping Cougar. Yum!)

Homemade pumpkin puree is much more watery than it's store-bought counterparts. Use less liquid in your pie recipe, or consider draining your pumpkin before preparing the filling.

(I used less liquid, and I still had to let the cooked pie dry in the oven on a low temperature. It gave us time to digest the wonderful turkey dinner hubby prepared.)

Enjoy your pie!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Using Up Leftovers - Sister's Soft, Moist Sunday XII

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in the Great White North.  To celebrate, Hubby spent all day yesterday cooking a turkey.   I know, tomorrow is actually Thanksgiving Day, but his cooking yesterday means that there are enough leftovers to see us through the rest of the weekend.  You can read that as "no more cooking for the rest of the weekend".  Sounds good to me. 

Because I'm still in the clutches of a turkey-filled stupor, I'm going to keep today's post brief.  This week's Soft, Moist Selection was inspired by leftovers.  An appropriate choice considering what's currently in our fridge.  Before you click away from the page, let me assure you that there's no turkey in today's recipe.  I'm not going to subject you to a turkey smoothie.  At least not yet.

This Week's Soft, Moist Selection

Lovely Leftovers Smoothie

(There was green tea left in the pot and a half a can of coconut milk in the fridge.  They came together with a banana and some chard in this smoothie.  I love it when nothing goes to waste.)

Makes 3 1/2 cups

1/2 cup green tea 
1/2 can coconut milk (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
1 large leaf of Swiss chard (about 1 1/2 cups) stem removed, torn into pieces 
1 banana
honey - to taste
pinch of nutmeg

- Blend tea, coconut milk and chard
- Add banana, water, honey and nutmeg and blend


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hunting Elusive Chanterelles

There may be edible mushrooms growing in the wilds of Southwestern Ontario, but I wouldn't know. They were never pointed out to me. My wild mushroom education consisted of being told not to eat, touch or even look at the mushrooms and other fungi growing in the region. OK. I may be exaggerating a bit. We were allowed to look, but only from a distance.

When we moved to Vancouver Island we heard rumours of edible mushrooms, chanterelles in particular, growing in the woods. Intriguing, but certainly not something I'd experiment with considering my
lack of knowledge in field of mycology. (I also lack a sense of direction, and I'd really prefer not to be one of the many lost mushroom hunters requiring Search and Rescue's services each fall.)

Last weekend Hubby and I got to take part in a supervised chanterelle hunt offered by our local rec centre. Sounded good to u
s. There was no chance of picking poisoned mushrooms or getting lost in the forest. Our instructor was a member of Search and Rescue. Imagine the embarrassment if he had to call in his colleagues to rescue one of his students. We couldn't think of safer circumstances to educate ourselves about these delicious fungi.

The morning started in the classroom where we learn
ed about fungi in general and about chanterelles in particular. We learned where to find them and how to properly pick them. Our instructor brought several examples of chanterelles in various stages of development. He also brought samples of plants that indicate chanterelles could be lurking nearby.

After discussing some basic safely measures, including proper whistle use, we picked our buddies, (Hubby graciously agreed to be my buddy in spite of my aforementioned lack of directional skills.) grabbed our whistles and headed to the first stop of the day.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. Fortunately we've had a lot of warm, dry weather over the last several months. Perfect for humans, not so much for chanterelles. We had been warned about this. Our amazingly good summer has lead to a less than amazing chanterelle season. They proved to be more elusive than locally-grown onions in the teeny-tiny town.

There were lots of mushrooms to be found, but these were definitely not what we're looking for. They're the wrong colour, the wrong shape and they're growing in the wrong place.

These ones are closer to the right colour, but nothing else about them is right.


Hubby found most of these at our first stop of the day. I found two, and one didn't count. I found it by accident when I cut the first one. When I put my hand down for balance I dislodged some debris. The mushroom basically fell into my hand.

Our second stop wasn't as productive. Hubby found one chanterelle, and I didn't find any. A few students had better luck. One found a perfect specimen. It looked just like the sample photograph the instructor had brought to class. It was such a beauty I had to take a picture. Not surprisingly, the photo didn't turn out. Did I mention that chanterelles were elusive that day?

With Hubby's fungal windfall, my two paltry contributions and a few donations from our instructor, we had just enough chanterelles for pizza. Hubby makes an awesome chanterelle pizza. It looks good enough to eat, and it hasn't even been baked yet.

Out of the oven it's even more spectacular. And it only took about ten hours to make! (Six hours to find the mushrooms and four hours to make the pizza, if you count dough-rising time - which I obviously do.) Was it worth it? Oh yeah!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Still Yammin' It Up - Sister's Soft, Moist Sunday XI

I know. This is the third week of yam and sweet potato recipes. If you're tired of them, you should probably stop reading now. There's an interesting post about autumn olives over at Making Love in the Kitchen. It's guaranteed to be yam and sweet potato free. If you're feeling brave enough to read on, I promise this will be the last post on the topic for a while. I think. Probably.

I had a baked yam left over after I made last week's sweet potato and yam soup. In hindsight, I probably should have baked more. I keep finding recipes I want to adapt. Though it's probably just as well that I didn't. I'm guessing hubby's tolerance for these little tubers may not be quite as high as mine.

What to do with my lonely little yam? I could have tried it with some of the toppings I suggested a couple of weeks ago, but that seemed rather predictable. Once again my trusty blender called, and my yam-tastic orange buddy ended up in a beverage.

This Week's Soft, Moist Selection

Yam Bake-N-Shake

(This one is quite thick. Much more like a shake than a smoothie. I tasted it, then added flax oil at the end. I wish I hadn't. It may have boosted the health-appeal, but it certainly didn't do anything for the taste. Blech. I've left it in the recipe for you to decide what works for you. Oh, and make sure the yam is COLD before you put it in the blender. Mine had been baked the day before.)

Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 baked yam
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp flax oil (optional)

- Scoop flesh from the yam and place in blender.
- Blend yam and apple juice
- Add syrup, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg and blend.
- Add flax oil, if you really like flax oil. Blend.

Note: To bake a yam - wrap individual yams in foil and bake at 400 degrees until soft. About 45 minutes. Do several at the same time. You'll be happy you did.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Local Eats Make Birthday Treats

Yesterday was Elusive Onions' first anniversary. To celebrate, I made my first 100-mile meal. I know, for someone who writes about local food it seems strange that this meal was a first. I've made several almost-100-mile meals, but there's often a cheat. My usual temptations are flour, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. With yesterday's dinner I managed to resist temptation, and the results were still delicious.

I had originally wanted to make an elaborate meal to celebrate, but time didn't allow for that. I stuck with simple, familiar recipes and adapted them to suit what was available. Salad, frittata and baked apples were the menu for the evening.

The salad and the frittata were the easiest to adapt to local ingredients. The only thing I missed was salt in the frittata. I felt it was a little flat, but I know to compensate with more herbs and aromatics in the future.

The salad dressing presented a bit of a challenge, but once I decided to use sweet rather than savoury ingredients in the salad I figured honey and yogurt would work for a dressing. That same dressing was then used to drizzle over the baked apples.

The baked apples required the most brain-work. It took me a while to banish thoughts of brown sugar and cinnamon. The brown sugar became honey, but the cinnamon required some creative thinking. I finally wandered out to my garden to see what herbs could work. I eventually settled on lavender. It was really the only herb that seemed suitable for a dessert. I think it worked, and there were no complaints from hubby, so I'm calling it a success.

Salad - Veggies and nuts from local farmers. Apple from a friend's tree. Thanks G!

Frittata - Eggs from a friend's chickens, veggies from local farmers, herbs from my garden, cheese and milk from Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland dairies.

Salad dressing - yogurt from Lower Mainland dairy, honey from the Farmers' Market.

Baked apples- fresh apples, honey, hazelnuts from local farms, lavender from my garden, dried apples from Sleeping Cougar Acres, (L provided the apples, I dried them.) yogurt from Lower Mainland dairy.

The dairy items traveled the furthest for this meal. The mainland dairies were right on the border of my 100 mile radius. I could have used items from Vancouver Island, but I prefer to use organic milk products where I can. So far I haven't found Island producers of organic milk and yogurt. Maybe I'll have to get my own cow. Or give up dairy. Those things aren't likely to happen, though I have given some thought to making my own yogurt. Someday. Far, far in the future. I sense a story in that!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Many Hippo Returns

Hippo birdie two ewes

Hippo birdie two ewes

Hippo birdie

Hippo birdie

Hippo birdie two ewes

No, that's not tonight's dinner menu. That's the text from a famous greeting card by Sandra Boynton. Why quote it here? Well today, my dear reader, is my baby's, I mean blog's, first birthday.

When I started this blog I really didn't know what to expect. To tell the truth, I really didn't know what I was doing either. Most days I still don't. I try not to worry about that too much. Instead I try to focus on all the wonderful things I have stumbled upon as a result of my writing here. I've tried recipes, watched films, attended events and read books. I've stretched and grown and experimented and learned. I've made connections with some amazing people. I'm delighted to have discovered Meghan at Making Love in the Kitchen and Rose-Anne at Life, Love and Food. They are two inspiring women and I'm pleased to have virtually made their acquaintance.

And there were weeks when I needed all the inspiration I could get. For every week where the words ran off my pen, there was a week where I thought my head would explode before I got anything coherent on paper. (And yes, sometimes I do write with pen and paper. It gives me an excuse to indulge in new pens.)

Yet even when the writing was most frustrating, and sometimes particularly when it was most frustrating, it provided distraction during those weeks when things seemed to be spinning out of control. When I lost my job, I wrote. When my sister was diagnosed with MS, I wrote. Writing provided a few hours where I didn't have to think about anything but words on paper. It gave me a brief respite from my worries, and allowed me to retain some semblance of sanity.

Not that the year was all gloom and doom. There was a trip to Ontario for a family wedding with a side trip south to see my sister and her kids. There was the weekend in Calgary to see Pearl Jam. There were visits from family and friends. There was my book club's foray into French cooking followed by a field trip to see Julie and Julia. There were walks and trips to the Farmer's Market and meals out. It really has been an amazing year.

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to read, and double thanks to those of you who have taken the time to comment. It's nice to know someone is out there.

Finally there are two people who deserve special thanks for all their encouragement and support this year. First is L at Sleeping Cougar Acres. As with blogging, farming is something I know very little about. Thank you for your patience and for letting me come to play on the farm. Your company, your support and most of all your vegetables are most appreciated.

Last, I'd like to thank my wonderful hubby. He's been behind me since day one. He never asked why I wanted to do this; and I'm truly grateful for that. He has been there with suggestions, encouragement and technical support. He's the one who gave me the idea that resulted in the name of this blog, and he's the one who set me up with my own domain name. He's eaten fir needles and washed endless dishes. He's the best, and I'm lucky to have him in my life. Thanks for everything honey!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Successful Soup - Sister's Soft, Moist Sunday X

My sister has always been a wee bit accident-prone. Sometimes I think nursing was a natural career choice for her. She spent so much time in the emergency room as a child that she had the details of the job figured out before she ever got to nursing school.

Sharp objects and my sister have never been a good combination. In grade school she almost amputated the tip of her middle finger while using the paper-cutter. This was on the last day of school before Christmas. She spent her holiday gleefully flashing her bandaged finger at people. I was disappointed that I missed my class Christmas party. I'm sure the staff thought I was heartless, but even at that early age my sister's injuries were common occurrences in our lives.

Given her tendency to attract disaster, the kitchen has never been the safest place for my sister. Beyond the obvious hazards, like hot stoves and sharp knives, there are hidden dangers like explosive turkeys, but we don't talk about that. Much.

MS has made working in the kitchen even more challenging for my sister. It affects her vision, balance and dexterity. These symptoms, combined with her accident-prone nature, make her the last person you want handling a sharp knife. I try to keep this in mind when writing this feature, and I try to adapt recipes to minimize chopping and peeling. This week I had a brainstorm that allowed me to eliminate both.

It started with last week's sweet potato ideas. Knowing that my sister will eat sweet potatoes made me want experiment further with them. Soup came immediately to mind, but every soup recipe I found called for chopping and peeling the sweet potatoes, onions etc. This sounded like a recipe for disaster to me.

Then I realized I could used baked sweet potatoes for the soup. Once I had that figured out, the next logical step was to bake the onion as well. I've baked garlic before, so I thought it should work for the onion. They are part of the same family after all.

Here's where I ran into a snag. While sweet potatoes may be common in the southern states where my sister lives, they aren't so easy to get here. There were plenty available at the grocery store, but they were kind of spotty and yucky. I could only find one that was worth purchasing, and even it wasn't a perfect specimen. I supplemented my sweet potato purchase with a couple of yams. (Or at least they were labeled sweet potato and yam. Apparently there's a lot of confusion about which is which, and I certainly don't know the difference.)

Once home I wrapped the sweet potato and the yams in foil and put them in a 400 degree oven. The onion got a similar treatment, but I sliced a bit off the top first and drizzled on
olive oil and water. I didn't want it to dry out. Because of the extra liquid I wrapped the onion in a double layer of foil before putting it in the oven with the other veggies. Everything was soft after about 45 minutes.

Once everything was cool enough to handle I unwrapped my veggies and prepared them for the soup pot.

Ignore the large knife in this photo. The onion was so soft that a butter knife would have been sufficient. Even the peel came off easily.

I was able to scoop the flesh from the sweet potato with a spoon.

Same with the yam.

The onion, yam and sweet potato went in the pot with some spices...

... and my lovely homemade veggie broth.

I let things simmer and soften further, then hit them with my immersion blender.

I added coconut milk and heated the soup. I served it with a pinch of cinnamon on top. The cinnamon in hubby's bowl formed a wee heart all on it's own. How appropriate.

This Week's Soft, Moist Selection

Sweet Potato and Yam Soup

1 baked sweet potato
1 baked yam
1 baked onion
2 tsp butter (or oil)
2 1/2 cups broth
1 heaped tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 can coconut milk

- Melt butter in pot.
- Remove flesh from yam, sweet potato and onion. Add to melted butter.
- Add curry powder, cumin, and ginger.
- Cook for 2 - 3 minutes until veggies soften further and you can smell the spices
- Add broth and cook for 10 - 15 minutes. The yam and sweet potato will have almost melted into the liquid.
- Remove from heat and puree carefully with an immersion blender.
- Add coconut milk and maple syrup. Return to heat and warm.
- Serve topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Failed Frugality

Original creations don't often come out of my kitchen. I can be creative, but my inventiveness relies heavily on existing recipes. I substitute, I adapt, I tailor ingredients, techniques and instructions to suit my mood and the components I have on hand. Recently I tried winging it with an original concoction. I think I'll stick to the recipe in the future.

It started with soup. I wanted to create a soup that my sister could prepare and would eat. I even researched a few recipes before I started. I had a plan. So far, so good.

The soup needed broth. I didn't have any in the house, so I decided to make my own veggie broth. Easy enough. I'd done that before with good results. I even used a recipe, sort of. (Who measures anyway?) The broth turned out fine.

Then I started to strain out the veggies. They were lovely even after lengthy cooking. It seemed wasteful to toss them out. Other than the peppercorns and the celery everything was local. Even the bay leaf was from a co-worker's bay laurel. I started to wonder what I could do with the cooked veggies.

I crushed the veggies with the back of my wooden spoon to squeeze out all the liquid. They smelled so good. I even salted and tasted a few carrots as I worked. Not bad.

At this point I should have stopped. The recipe I was (almost) following clearly instructed me to "discard all solids". I just couldn't do it. I was sure I could salvage them. As I mushed and smushed the veggies I started to think about hummus. Could I make the leftover veggies into a hummus-like dip? I was sure it would work. In fact, I was so confident that I went out and bought a fancy loaf of bread to serve with my creation. I even thought up clever names for my masterpiece, like "Fart-Free Hummus". Such inventiveness should have told me something about my creative abilities, but sometimes you just don't see the signs.

The veggies went into the food processor. Another sign of my confidence. I hate cleaning the food processor, and if I had any doubts about my creation I would have avoided it. Who wants the work of cleaning the equipment when you can't eat the results?

I figured I would add herbs and olive oil and salt to my veggies. I never got that far. One taste of the processed veggies was enough. It was like baby food but with less flavour. It wasn't worth saving. So much for my Fart-Free Hummus. How disappointing!

The resulting mess went into the composter, so my experiment wasn't a complete waste. I've heard chopping items for compost helps to speed the process. These veggies were certainly well chopped!

In spite of the dip disaster the broth turned out well. I had enough for my soup with plenty left over for freezing. And the soup...well the soup was wonderful. It was even better than I expected. It was easy to prepare and delicious. It went well with my fancy bread and there was enough left over for lunch the next day. Want to know more about it? Stay tuned for tomorrow's Soft, Moist Selection...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Harvest - Part Two

The grapes at Sleeping Cougar Acres are quite different from those you see at the store. They're small, seeded and they grow in very tight bunches. They're also delicious. Far sweeter than commercially-grown table grapes. We harvested the grapes from my plant and from hubby's plant, then continued on until we filled up our buckets.

Just when I thought we would be going into the house to dry off things got even wetter. The grapes needed to be rinsed, and where better to do that than out in the rain? Each white tub holds about 10 - 12 pounds of grapes. It was much easier to deal with them outside than inside. It was either the yard or the bathtub.

Once things started floating out of the grapes I was glad we were outside. There were several critters hiding in those tight bunches. Spiders, earwigs, ladybugs and other creepy crawlies drifted to the surface. L rescued some; the rest had to fend for themselves. If we had been inside they would have been washed down the drain, and we would have had to the clean bathtub when we finished.

Clean grapes in the basket ready for the steam juicer...

...water goes in the base...

...the steam kettle and steamer basket of grapes go on top...

...on goes the lid then it's just a matter time. While we waited for the steam to do it's thing, I headed back out to the vineyard to harvest some beans.

L was concerned that I'd run into a bear out there on my own. It is that time of year, but this was the only wildlife I saw. I left this one to its bean. There were more than enough to share.

It was so peaceful in the vineyard. The only sound was the rain on the plants.

When I returned to the house the steam had done it's thing. We had juice...

...and pulp. Other than picking and rinsing the grapes there was really no other prep involved. The grapes stayed on the stems, and the seeds stayed in the grapes. The pulp headed to L's compost pile...

...and I headed home with 5 litres of juice and a complimentary jar of unsweetened grape jelly courtesy of L. The grape juice has since been frozen in ice cube trays for use in smoothies this winter. The destiny of the jelly has yet to be determined, though L recommends serving it on cheesecake. I'll keep you posted on that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Harvest - Part One

Fall has arrived and harvest is happening at Sleeping Cougar Acres. Last Wednesday I got to take a small part in that process. That morning the weather fairies decided to remind us west-coasters that summer doesn't last forever. It was grey and rainy and dreary. It was exactly the kind of morning where you want to pull the blankets over your head and settle in for some serious hibernating. As I didn't have to work, the thought did cross my mind, but the grapes and L were waiting.

A rainy morning, but sunshine awaits around a bend in the drive... did a beverage to celebrate the harvest - a blend of white (petit milo) and red (leon millot) grapes. Unfermented, of course. It was before noon you know!

It had been a while since I had been to the vineyard. I was surprised when I could see grapes from the gate. Last time I knew they were there, but I couldn't see them until I got closer to the plants.

L has started a tradition of naming plants after some guests. You can check on your plant's progress when you visit, and in my case I got to harvest the grapes from my namesake. That's my plant on the left and hubby's on the right.

We filled two tubs with grapes then wandered over to check out the garden.

Look, it's a sea cucumber! Actually, it's just a wet cucumber on a very rainy day.

The garden has only produced one pumpkin, but it's an impressive one. All the other squash plants are producing like mad. The pumpkin plant decided to put all it's energy into one whopping gourd.

From the garden we headed over to the manure pile. I filled up a tub for my own composter. Nothing like wallowing in poop on a rainy day!

We loaded our haul into the wheelbarrow, and headed up to the house to dry off and begin the juicing process. Looks good, doesn't it?