Gathering Season

IMG_2323

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.

unnamed

My first batch of dried apricots

 

Bobotie

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

Method

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.

Creating New Neural Pathways. Ouch!

 

Image

One of My Student’s Model of a Dendrite

Well today I decided that I would figure out how to categorize and list recipes so that they were not only part of a blog post would also be listed in a recipe tab on the side of my page.  Four hours later and way too much reading and poking around and downloading and trying to follow 22 pages of directions with computer code language and I am done.  

I finally resorted to my own methods, ie push this key, click that tab, scroll down here and keep it up until you figure it out.  I guess I am a hands on learner.  I use the “just let me try it” method and see where it gets me.  If I don’t get where I want, I try something else, again and again and again until I start using course language or call in an expert.

What this method did for me today was allow me to ‘sort of’ figure out the Category Widget, heavy on the ‘sort of.’ So, with that being said, I am going to see if I can post some recipes and get them to fit under the categories listed on the right hand side of my blog page.  We will see how it goes.  

What I actually wanted to do was install a program that would automatically format my recipes into a card or recipe format and have a print option.  I found that, downloaded it and now I don’t know what to do, so off I go with my “let me try that ” method again.  Wish me luck.

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.

 

 

 

 

Mushroom Picking on the West Coast

 Image

Fresh Chanterelle Mushroom Saute

   It is exciting for me to be back on the West Coast after spending the last four years in the Okanagan. I loved the Okanagan but come Fall I  long to be back in the dark, damp rain forest looking for Chanterelles.  The first time I picked Chanterelles I had no idea what to do with them so I pulled out one of my favourite cookbooks, Cooking at My House, by John Bishop.  Sure enough there was a recipe for fresh Chanterelles.  The recipe was preceded by a short vignette that caused me to go out and buy a bottle of Sherry in order to serve the Sautéed Chanterelles exactly as John does. 

     At my house this dish is only served once or twice in the Fall, depending on the mushroom harvest and who is around to share it with.  I make creamy garlic mashed potatoes, John Bishop’s Fresh Chanterelle Mushrooms Sautéed with Thyme and Sherry and serve a generous glass of Sherry on the side.  That’s it.  This is a meal meant to showcase the Chanterelles and nothing else.  

     This year I was able to tag along a very experienced mushroom picker and friend and so finding these illusive fungi was fairly easy.  It also happens to be very good weather for mushrooms this Fall and so I was able to pick enough for our meal, which we shared with our neighbour and dry some for the winter ahead.  As usual, this meal was delicious and the company was also mighty fine.  Image