Parents and Wisdom

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Wise Dad

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Mom still modelling getting outdoors and walking and then posing for the picture.

Today I am heading to visit my parents and that has got me thinking about parents as transmitters of wisdom.   Parents are sometimes unaware of what they may be teaching their children just by  going about living their daily life  but observation is a very powerful tool and the old adage “do as I say, not as I do” is not really effective. Sometimes it gets to be very difficult for parents to accept that the habits and traits that irritate them most about their children in fact have been picked up by observing them.  In my case this is very true.  I am not proud that I modelled stubbornness and impatience with my children often and it is not fun to be treated impatiently by my young adult children.  That being said I can look at so many good things that my parents modelled and that have now been transmitted to me and my children.

My parents are from the ‘hard working’ generation.  They believed that if you ‘put your nose to the grindstone’ and ‘buckled down’ you could succeed. They modelled this for us by going from having basically nothing but each other and their children, to paying off two properties, providing us with a beautiful recreational property to enjoy every summer, providing for any education we wanted and then turning around and repeating that with their grandchildren.  They provided rides and support to my children as they grew up and participated in sports, music and 4-H.  My parents were always there for my kids.  If one of them had a game and Gram and Pa were not notified so they could be there cheering they were disappointed and hurt.

Another thing my parents modelled to me was resourcefulness.  My Mom, in particular could make a meal out of nothing. I remember when we were young and short on cash we would be hungry and asking Mom what was for dinner.  She would sometimes reply ‘pine floats.’ I remember the first time she told us that.  Floats, I thought?  We never get treats like that; I wonder what a pine float is?  To my dismay I learned that a pine float is a toothpick floating in water.  This was my Mom’s way of telling us to stop bugging her and let her get about making whatever it is she decided to make and that she would not be taking requests.  Mom used humour often and I’m sure it was one of her coping strategies to quell her uneasiness about not being able to provide for her children and to avoid alarming us that that might be the case.

As we got older my parents hard work paid off and they were able to breathe a little easier.  They no longer had to worry about enough money for groceries; they were comfortable but not rolling in excess.  Some of the things I watched my parents do to save money and provide were things such as, going into the forest and collecting cedar blocks and then spending hours splitting the blocks into shakes for a roof.  My brothers and my Dad spent so much time carefully splitting the blocks and storing the shakes in the garage for when they would need a new roof. Generosity was also modelled and those shakes sat in the garage for years and were finally given to my oldest brother when he needed a new roof.

My Mom was and still is such a hard worker.  She always worked full time.  She would get up early and often walk to and from work in order to fit in her exercise which we learned was very important.  On top of that my Mom made all our food from scratch.  I can remember on Tuesdays or Wednesdays,  she would mix up a big batch of bread dough and put it in a covered bowl on the counter to rise.  Off she would go to work and then at lunch she would hustle home, punch the dough down and form the loaves.  They would be covered and left to rise a second time.  After work she would hurry home and put the loaves in the oven to bake and that is how we had our bread for part of the week.  Saturdays were cleaning the house and bread day as well.  She would repeat the same steps only this time she would make an even bigger batch of dough so that she could make us cinnamon buns for a treat.  All the while she would be organizing us to get our allotted house and yard work done while she worked away at jobs she did not have time to get to during the week.  Nobody was allowed to do anything with friends or for leisure until their Saturday chores were done.  At the time I remember hating Saturday mornings but funnily enough I found myself repeating this pattern with my own children for a time.  Through participating with and observing my parents, I learned to look after my belongings no matter how inexpensive or costly they had been and there are many jobs that need to be done to maintain a home and provide good food for a family.

Another one of the things my parents did to provide for their family was garden.  They would both participate in the preparation, weeding and watering of the garden but my Mom was the head cook and bottle washer when it came to preserving and preparing the food.  I spent many hours at my Mom’s side following instructions to boil canning lids, wipe the tops of the jars, pour in the syrup and such. Mom got really resourceful for a few years and we spent the winters eating canned everything. We had our favourites like cherries, peaches, pears and jam and then the ones we hated such as carrots, peas and even chicken one year.  Mom discovered that it was  cheaper to raise your own birds and then process them yourself so her and my aunt raised all these chickens and then butchered, gutted, plucked and wrapped the birds themselves.  You can imagine after that episode that we were a little turned off chicken.  My job was plucker and I remember being envious that my brothers got to gut and see the eggs and innards of the birds.  I thought it looked so interesting.

So this brings me to today. My Mom often marvels at how much I like to make things with my hands.  I have raised chickens, grown vegetables, kept a beautiful flower garden, grown fruit trees, picked mushrooms, canned, made chocolate truffles, baked bread, spun wool, knit and woven.  She can’t understand where I got the know how and willingness to learn all these things.  Really?  I rest my case on proving that the most effective way to teach your children is through being a good role model.  I may have not been listening so well but I was definitely watching.

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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

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Photos from Tessa Kiros’ Falling Cloudberries.

Today I am thinking about my children and missing them.  Sometimes when I am missing my kids I like to think about how they remind me of myself and yet are each there own unique selves. I am trying to arrange a visit to all three of my children in the near future and so today I began with a FaceTime call to my oldest daughter.  She is about a 12 hour drive away from me and I have not seen her since July.

I have always loved to bake.  As a child my busy Mom took the time to show me a thing or two about baking.  I remember her Sunbeam Mixer and how she showed me the basic Cookie Method and Cake Method to follow out of the cookbook that came with the purchase of a mixer.  I felt so grown up when I could use it alone without any assistance.  I also remember being shown how to use the potato peeler properly and how to stuff a mason jar full of peaches or pears in preparation for canning.  I worked along side my Mom while she canned, kneaded bread and made lasagna.  At first she would allow me to be her helper, sprinkling flour on the counter or screwing the lids on jars of fruit about to be processed.  Eventually I was allowed to go solo.

My mom was a bit of a neat and tidy sergeant so in order that I could graduate and use the kitchen alone I had to follow her one golden rule, “a good cook always does her dishes.”  These were the days before dishwashers so I had to have all the dishes washed, dried and put away as well as all the counters washed and the floors swept.  I have never forgotten that rule and I think I may have used it a time or two on my own children.

My oldest daughter is like me in many ways.  She loves to socialize and be busy.  She is an avid snowboarder, wake-boarder and gym member.  She takes part in X-fit classes on a regular basis, hikes, hunts, is captain of her hockey team and runs on and off.  She is a going concern.  She also like to to eat well, most of the time.  I am not so social as I once was but I still enjoy moving my body and fuelling it with delicious, good food.

When she was young she was a competitive swimmer, an avid snowskier and waterskier.  She loved to join as many things as I would allow and she never felt too busy.  I think she probably comes by that trait fairly honestly.  She also loved her food.  When she was little she would come home for lunch from school and at first she like dishes such as chicken noodle soup and macaroni and cheese, but as I got better and more adventurous with cooking so did her palette.  Soon she was requesting, risotto, polenta, gnocchi and spaetzle for lunch.  At 7 years old she had the taste buds of an international traveller.  I used to love standing at the stove stirring a creamy pan of risotto or standing at the counter meticulously rolling snakes to cut into perfect little gnocchi.  I don’t make these comforting dishes very often anymore.  I wonder why?  Perhaps the process comforted me while the product comforted my daughter.  I think when I go to visit her we should cook these dishes together.

Lately, Regan has taken to being a follower of Clean Eating and Gwyneth Paltrow, It’s All Good.   Two of her favourite ingredients are quinoa and chickpeas.  I thought I would use this opportunity to share two of my favourite recipes using these two ingredients.

Quinoa Cakes with Yogurt, Lemon, Dill Dressing

Serves 4

Dressing

3/4 cup Balkan Style Plain Yogurt

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1Tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.

Quinoa Cakes

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 eggs

5 Tsp. flour

1/2 cup gluten free cornflake crumbs

1/4 diced red pepper

1 tsp. lemon zest

1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 Tbsp. olive oil ( for frying)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined.  Using hands, form patties and place in a medium high heated frying pan, coated with olive oil. Cook both sides until well browned. Remove from pan and place on serving tray.  Serve with dressing on the side.

Chickpea, Feta and Coriander Salad

This is a recipe I have adapted from Tessa Kiros’ book, Falling Cloudberries. I love this cookbook.  The ingredients are the same but I do not cook the onion, garlic and pepper flakes, I simply mix everything together and let it sit for about an hour before I am going to serve it.  This salad keeps well overnight in the fridge as well.

Serves 6 as a side dish.

14 oz. can chickpeas

1 cup olive oil

1 large red onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

1 or 2 red chillies, finely chopped

1 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

4 spring onions, green part only, chopped

1/2 cup coriander (cilantro)

1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

juice of 1 lemon

Drain and rinse the chickpeas.  Place in a bowl and add all other ingredients except the feta cheese .  Stir until well blended. Add the feta and toss.  Let stand at room temperature for about an hour or place in the fridge overnight.

I like to serve this with chicken that has been roasted in a thick tomato sauce and a great baguette or crusty bread for soaking up the olive oil and sauce.

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What you get by…

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. ”
” Thoreau

     Well, I did it.  If you hadn’t noticed by yesterday’s post I am completely new to blogging  It is something that I have been interested in for a while and finally decided that it was time to dive in.  In today’s post I will introduce myself a little more thoroughly and fill you in on what has led me to blogging.

     As I mentioned yesterday, I am now living in Comox.  I loved the Okanagan but left a job teaching Middle School there for the time being.  I am fortunate enough to be able to go back to the job next year but for now I am in Comox, BC. Family circumstances caused me to make this move and I was optimistic about finding On Call teaching here.  My optimism is fading somewhat and after my initial panic I am acting on the advice and sage wisdom of caring friends and prominent authors and intellects.  The advice can be summed up by the following sentences.  “You either have time or money but not usually both, so while you have time use it to do what you have always wanted to do.  When you are old you will not be wishing for more money but you will want more time so don’t squander it worrying about a temporary lack of employment.”

     So, here I am.  As, stated in my About Me page, I am a teacher among many other roles.  I love the craft of teaching but I also love learning.  One of the things I am known for in my circle of family and friends is being able to create and produce amazing food from good fresh ingredients.  I can whip up a great meal out of anything and since I am somewhat addicted to cookbooks I have no problem finding inspiration.  In this blog I would like to share some of my favourite recipes and cookbooks with you as well as stories that make each meal or recipe special.  

     One of the main reasons I wanted to start this blog was self-centered I will admit.  I have been keen to begin documenting what a year in my life looks like for some time now.  It has become apparent to me that I am a creature of habit as much as I am someone who loves change and creating.  I started noticing that my kids were recognizing rhythms that tied to the seasons.  So, for instance sometime in late February or early March one of them would say, “oh look Mom, the rhubarb is starting to come up. I can’t wait for the first rhubarb pie of the season.”  Or they would watch me light the first fire in early October and say, “oh I can’t wait to cozy up on the couch and have one of our indoor picnics.”  At about the same time I was speaking with a friend whose parents are German born Canadians.  They came to Canada with nothing and through hard work and self-sufficiency created a beautiful life for themselves and their family.  We started talking about everything they do and thought that it might be a good idea to take a year off work and just follow them each day for a year to document and learn about all the things they do that allow them to live a rich and beautiful life on sometimes very limited income.  We never did do that but  as my grown children began calling me and asking about how to make some of their favourite meals, or a loaf of bread or pesto I began rethinking this idea.  What if I could record what I do for my children?  Originally I thought I would write a cookbook for them but it  become apparent that there are so many stories involved in what I do each day that a cookbook would not be a suitable medium.  I wanted to be able to tell them my stories and so a journal seemed more appropriate. As I got more adept at researching while doing my Master Degree I realized that I really liked blogs.  The beauty of the blog is that it is so interactive and has the potential to become a much larger community and body of knowledge than I could ever compile. So, yesterday I decided to take the time I have this year and begin the documentation of a year of living well, closely connected to the earth and the rhythms of each season, beginning with Fall.  

     I look forward to telling my stories, sharing recipes, books, weaving, knitting, felting projects and any other information I find interesting.  I anticipate much sharing, learning and discussion and can’t wait to hear your comments.  Please be patient as I and weave and bob my way through blogsphere and improve the appearance of my site.