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Surviving, one bake at a time

I’m going on a bit of a rant – if you’d just like the foodie part of this tale, skip over the section in italics. I won’t mind, really.

It’s been 65 days since the covid-19 pandemic was officially declared. Hubbie and I went into self-isolation then, having already started to prepare for some of the challenges.

We are movie fans; you’d think we would have seen the signs. But then the characters in the movie never see the signs until it’s too late to do anything.

I’m a mostly optimistic person. Our lifestyle was already one that involved trying to be grateful and make the most of moments, so we looked for the positives:

  • Canada is a relatively safe place, with universal health care and plenty of infrastructure
  • We live in a smaller community where there were initially no outbreaks
  • Spring is traditionally slow for our business, so the initial lack of work was manageable

Following the movie analogy though, everyone knows that a Polly Anna story doesn’t sell. And Mother Nature loves that guy Murphy.

You know the rest of the story after this point – it hit the fan. Once we passed into the third month of this with no real end in sight, I decided that I need to regroup. I can’t listen to more news or read more articles or see more memes – I need a chance for my brain to focus on something else, something that involves an accomplishment. A bit of that will refuel me for what comes next.

I am so very thankful one of my passions is something as essential as food. It’s easy to lose myself in the garden or the kitchen.

At Rabbit Hollow we have the garden and the kitchen together in summer!

Spring is the beginning of gardening season – my grubby green thumbs could not be luckier. I have weeded my heart out and transplanted all my seedlings, the first time ever on schedule. But the garden takes months to deliver its bounty.

My real saving grace has been baking. Okay, and working out – ‘cause someone has to eat all those goodies once they come out of the oven 😁

I have to give a shout-out here, to Matthew & Erika and their team at Bread Ahead Bakery in London. I stumbled upon them early in the lockdown and quickly became a “breadaheader”, watching their live Instagram baking tutorials. I learned about sourdough and pastries, got recipes for numerous classics, and found a way to mark my days with the accomplishments of treats to share with my guy, and anyone else whose doorstep was willing.

Sourdough – and amaretti
Sourdough – and cinnamon buns
Sourdough, and chocolate chip cookies (are you getting the theme here?)

It may sound silly that following baking videos kept me sane, but it’s true. The sense of community I feel with food is truly magical. Cooking and eating allows us to experience all our senses, and sharing food is the most basic gesture of gratitude and respect.

What is my point to all this rambling? Honestly, I’m not sure yet. But I do know that food brings people together – even when they have to be apart.

I wish I had the finances to provide meals or even snacks for those less fortunate. All I can manage is to offer smiles to friends and loved ones, and share my passion in hopes it will spark someone else’s fire. At least in sharing we have a sense of camaraderie. If we are all in this together for the pandemic, why not be in something together that offers hope and a smile?

So, I’ll get up tomorrow and decide what I’m cooking (after I work out 😉) Tonight my chef hubby and I filmed our dinner prep on Facebook and it felt good, to wave at friends and share little tips. Life finds a way to persevere.

We will keep going, a few weeks at a time, just like they tell us now. Where will it lead? To the table, for another meal, more sustenance. Each season has its purpose. I have faith that in practicing my skills I will find a way through.

Does it seem logical to anyone else that if Murphy’s Law is consistent, then if anything is going to go right, it will do so at the best possible moment? As Matthew kept saying in all those tutorials, “Practice, practice, practice!”

Busy baking away in my first online cooking class. Boy, were those doughnuts good! 😋

A Free Concert

Every morning, rain or shine, Ella and I walk around “the back 40” (an expression my dad used for the back yard,  which was never the 40 acres it signified at origin). It is mostly not our yard, and it’s only about 12 acres but we are lucky enough to enjoy it. 

Although I can certainly say there are mornings when the weather makes our outing a bit more of a challenge, I always come back breathing deeper and grateful for the quiet time. 

Through the summer we enjoy the bounty of the garden and the orchard, lush greenery and plenty of fruit and veggies to colour the landscape. The fall is full of colours on the leaves. In the winter I get to see lots of animal tracks: deer, coyotes, the odd rabbit and sometimes even mice I think. Birds leave strange markings when they land, brushing their wings in the snow. And of course in spring we see everything come back to life – the plants and the animals. A cacophony of winged creatures arrives – crows, ravens, Canada geese, starlings, sparrows and then finally the orioles and robins. We have a screech owl too but he sleeps in. 

This morning we got front row seats to a spring concert.  I thought I would share an excerpt, so you have a sense of what it’s really like here at Rabbit Hollow. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; I think a video can be worth at least a few deep breaths. 


Have a great day. 

Sunday Fun Day

Here at Rabbit Hollow we live a simple life. We are fortunate enough to love what we do.We live in a beautiful place, surrounded by breathtaking views, a breadbasket bounty and caring neighbours. Every season has its own beauty here, and thankfully we have moments to enjoy each one. In winter and early spring, Sundays are often the days that contain those moments. Today was full of them.

I spent the afternoon in the garden today, cleaning up some of the fall fodder. I feel an especially gratifying sensation when spring comes and I see the garden come to life. New shoots, birds singing more gaily and increasingly sunny skies all contribute to the cheery ambience. Ella and I revel in the returning glow of longer days.


This time of year also means hubbie and I have more time to cook. Sunday dinner is an important event when we can make it happen. Tonight was a prime example, with steaks, roasted potato wedges and broccoli. The truffle oil and grated parmesan on the potatoes was as elegant as asset as the wine pairing we chose from the cellar.


I hope you find happiness in your life to the same degree as we do here. It may not be the same passions you share; the sentiment is what’s important.

Cheers!

Nurtured little sprouts can grow into foodies and chefs!

kids in the garden cartoon

When I was a kid it was common for my peers and I to be commandeered as helpers in the family garden. Some people just had window boxes to worry about, but my parents were always keeners and we rented a duplex with a yard. Our back car stall was converted to a veggie garden and that became my number one summer chore.kids in the garden eating I learned quickly that gardening was not for the lazy, but I also learned that fresh peas and beans and carrots that I helped plant and water and pick were much tastier and more fun to eat than store-bought items.  There wasn’t a farmers’ market where I grew up, but I did learn about where food came from at an early age.

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For the past five weeks I have been working with local chefs as part of a program that helps kids today learn how much fun food can be. Growing Chefs was started in Vancouver in 2005 as a way to transmit the knowledge and share the passion of chefs and growers to kids in urban settings. This is the second year for the program in Kelowna and classes in Comox and all areas of the Lower Mainland are participating as well. Last year over 120 volunteers helped 850 students to experience the fun of growing their own food.

 

In a regular classroom we can only do so much, so I hope that the spark has been ignited for these kids. Maybe they will ask a grown up to take them to a farmers’ market or stop at a fruit stand. Perhaps they will try growing plants in a patio pot or on a windowsill.  Hopefully the flavours excited them enough to make them want to explore with their tastebuds too. Today we made salad dressing from scratch and had them choose ingredients from a salad bar we set up. I loved seeing them – some liked the taste of the dressing on mixed greens,  others liked grated beets and carrots, and then there were some who liked the crunchy sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  The best part was seeing almost the whole class excited about salad – imagine that!

Rabbit Hollow dessert

Chef Martin and his daughter finishing homemade rhubarb cobbler with creme anglaise

At Rabbit Hollow this summer we’re going to explore the farm-to-table idea with families in some of our events.  We will literally take ingredients from the farm to the table, picking them fresh and then working with them in our backyard kitchen and tasting them at the harvest table. Parents and kids will be encouraged (even pushed if necessary) to work together and play with their food.  We hope they will find out that it’s more fun (and tastier) than opening a box from the freezer.

We can all do our part to contribute to a sustainable environment and a life eating real food. Simple things like visiting the markets in summer will open your eyes to local wonders, I promise you!

If you have kids, maybe we’ll see you at Rabbit Hollow this summer (just contact me if you want more information). If you are interested to volunteer for Growing Chefs you can check out their website; they also have great information on planting suggestions for the urban gardener. And if you’re just a big kid like me, then perhaps I’ll see you at one of the local markets or fruit stands. Check out Soil Mate if you are looking for places and ways to connect with fresh food in the Okanagan.

 

Connecting with people

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I love getting comments and feedback from fellow bloggers and readers, and I was thrilled to see a comment from The Redhead Chronicles that they had nominated me for a Liebster Award! It’s great to connect with people and know they liked what you had to say. (Perhaps I just enjoyed discovering a fellow rambler!)  In the interest of sharing, I am answering the five questions that are a part of the process…

1. What inspires you to write?

Well, it can be just about anything. Sometimes even a lack of an idea can inspire me… it makes me think of the mundane everyday activities and how they can be important.

2. Tell me about a time when your life changed, for better or for worse.

Only one? Okay, here’s one that had better and worse. My Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Satchmo went blind and I felt horrible – she was only 7 years old. But I found a great vet that specialized in eye treatments and once she got a glass eye and special drops for the other eye, she was right as rain. Satchmo taught me more about enjoying life in the remaining 8 years of her life than anyone else I know.

3. Describe one of your favorite things, only using adjectives. Put the name of what it is in parentheses afterwards.

Peaceful, breathtaking, rejuvenating, joyous, warm, soulful, friendly, welcoming, happy (Rabbit Hollow, where I live)

4. Chinese food…or Mexican food? The world needs to know.

Tough one – there are so many variations of both. I think because I am a warm climate lover though, I have to say Mexican. I love the roasted chilis and the cilantro and mmm, garden fresh tomatoes.

5. What’s one thing you wish other bloggers knew about you that they don’t?

Gee, I’m not sure. I have a tendency to spill my guts about things that I care about, so if they read my blog other bloggers probably know a fair bit. I suppose I wish they knew how much I would love to post more often, but can’t seem to get away from the work that has to pay the bills to write for fun.

And, because I like to ramble, I’ll throw in the questions I thought were cool from Redhead’s list…

train, plane, bus or car? – I’m not fussy if I get to go somewhere new or interesting! I just love to travel. Trains are nostalgic, though, for sure. And I have always wanted to try out a hot air balloon.

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top 5 destinations for your bucket list? – I want to go back to South Africa – with my husband this time, and I would love to scuba dive & drink wine in Australia, and Morocco was on my list from the beginning (who doesn’t want to say they were at “the Casbah”?!). Then there is Scotland, to check out my roots and another trip to Europe for the food (I can’t just limit that to one country).

So, is that enough random rambling for you? Have I provided you with at least one idea for dinner conversation? I promise I’ll come up with something more cohesive for my next post. Please feel free to leave your comments!

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