Gathering Season


There I am in the tree


The apricots are beginning to ripen here in the Okanagan and so a few days ago a friend I and headed to our favorite picking site.  The area is the site of the first apricot orchards in the Penticton area and many of the trees have long been abandoned.  The owners of the land are either absentee owners or owners who cannot be bothered with the old trees and fruit.  Luckily for us, this situation provides free fruit for us each year and I always look forward to seeing these old trees showing their strength by producing fruit long after anyone has pruned, watered or cared for them in any way.

As you can see in the picture above, I was  able to climb one of the trees to get at the really good fruit that remained intact after the deer harvested the low fruit. It made me feel like it was really summer as I stood in the tree balancing while reaching for the best of the golden fruit., just as I had when I was a kid raiding the neighbours trees.  I picked about 30 pounds of apricots and am in the process of dehydrating a second batch.

Today I am going to make apricot chutney which I love with Babotie , a South African sweet curry dish made with ground beef that I serve in the winter.  I am looking forward to sharing it with my children so they too can prepare the comfort food of their childhood when they are away at university this winter or living in the north.  The recipe for this favorite meal came from a family friend that  we spent many a weekend and holidays with.  They had three girls all about the same age as our three children and as we shared our lives, traditions and many meals together we came to have favorite foods we shared. One of the couple being from South Africa and wanting to enjoy some ‘comfort food’ from home caused  Bobotie to be a regular on our menus.   Preparing and eating Bobotie brings our family back to a time when we shared many good times together sleigh riding, hiking, skiing, swimming, bike riding and sharing special events  and meals together with our good family friends.

I found a simple recipe for chutney on My Recipes that I will use but one of  my favorite sites for preserving and canning these days is Food In Jars, so I looked up apricots and came across a unique way to use apricots.  Check out the description given for roasting apricots with honey and spices and then preserving that mixture in jars.  I am going to give it a try and afterward will post the quantities and names of spices I choose to use.  For now, here is my Bobotie recipe and you can find the chutney recipe by clicking on the My Recipes link.


My first batch of dried apricots



1 kg ground beef

1 slice of bread

1 cup milk

1 medium onion

1/2 c raisins

1/2 cup blanched, sliced almonds

3 tsp. apricot jam

3 tsp. fruit chutney

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. herbs

2 tsp. curry

1 tsp. tumeric

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. oil

3 eggs

4 bay leaves


Place milk in a shallow bowl and place slice of bread in to soak.

Chop onion and saute briefly in large frying pan.

Add beef and continue to stir until it begins to brown.

Add spices and mix thoroughly.

Add jam, chutney and jam, raisins and soaked slice of bread.

Stir mixture until all ingredients are well blended.

Place beef mixture into oven proof casserole dish with lid.

Add eggs to milk left from soaking bread and whisk.  Pour over top  of beef mixture, sprinkle almonds and lay bay leaf on top.

Cover and bake at 350F until custard is set.

Remove lid and allow the custard top to brown by cooking a further 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve with rice and peas.


Today I am finally taking the time to post a blog. Over the past six weeks I have moved house from the cost to the interior. Worked like a madman on the unpacking and decorating the house, hosted my parents and picked 150 pounds of cherries from our little orchard, hosted the previous owner of our new house and his niece from England for dinner, installed and picked lights in the house with my partner and then travelled back to the coast with my parents to spend time at the lake with my children, parents and friends. Since arriving at the lake on July 2nd I have been power washing and leaning out some of our outdated and worn out things here while making dinners for my family most nights. I am not sure why I am surprised that I snapped at the wrong person last night when they made a comment I interpreted as condescending.
You see I prided myself on all the self-reflection, counselling, mindfulness and intentional thought I have been working on over the past several years. Although I knew life would always toss me the odd challenge and painful situation just to keep me on my toes and allow me to continue to grow, I thought that being self aware and engaged in life would cause me to recognize my needs and attend to them before a crisis point was reached.
Last night stands as proof that old habits die hard and that sometimes even when we are equipped with a vast array of skills and tools to deal with life in a positive manner, we will be unable to access the right tool, at the right time for the job that needs repair. In my case I can see clearly now that allowing myself to be vulnerable and communicating it clearly to my partner could have saved us both from the barrage of nasty pejoratives, verbal diarrhea and hurt caused by me skirting the opportunity to practice being vulnerable.
Brene Brown has spent years researching shame and vulnerability and I have learned much from her book, Daring Greatly,as well as from her TED talks. Brown comes from a tough Texas family whose motto of ‘lock and load’ is second nature to her so she understands how difficult it is to reveal vulnerability . Like most people I tend to interpret vulnerability as weakness. Brown’s research reveals that is actually our vulnerability that allows us to ‘dare greatly’ and move towards livings life authentically and experiencing greater joy and happiness. Nowhere does her writing reveal this more than in the quote she chooses to epitomize the value of allowing yourself to be be vulnerable and dare greatly.
So to my partner, I apologize for being afraid to be vulnerable and to my readers I leave you with this fantastic quote by Theodore Roosevelt that Brene Brown uses to replace the ‘lock and load’ motto.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt