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Are we there yet?

I’m sorry there was no post yesterday. It was still grey, still cold, still windy… nothing new except my third cold of this winter. I’m afraid I had nothing pleasant to say and no chicken soup in the freezer so I wasn’t good company for most of the day.

In my mood, I could see the forest and the trees but not the pleasant pink of the sky.

Thankfully the day ended with a trip back in time. (Since we seem to be going backward weather-wise, this seemed fitting.) We dressed for the Great Gatsby Party on the SS Sicamous and danced the night away. Shaking my fringes was the perfect way to forget my sinus blues.


As a result of a tough week, I am taking a wellness day. No work out, no to-do list – just a simple day with low activity. I’m sorting through old recipe clippings; do you remember back in the days of newspaper articles, magazine pages and recipe cards ? I have a whole collection in binders among my cookbooks and from time to time I sort through them for new inspiration. That, a walk with Ella and a bit of housekeeping will be the extent of my day.

I’ll be back up to snuff tomorrow, I promise. I’ll share my inspirational finds in the coming weeks, and no doubt spring will show up just as I run out of ideas for comfort food. It’s shaping up to be one of those years when things don’t happen as soon as one might like… kind of like those car trips as a kid when it seemed to take forever to get to the destination. I will keep practicing the enjoyment of the journey, and work on not getting stuck in an unpleasant turn of the road.

on the way there we are always impatient, it seems. On the way back we have time to relax. Reminiscing is like heading back, isn’t it?

See you tomorrow.

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Yes, we have garden tomatoes!

winter-troops-2013

It’s the dead of winter here. Even though we don’t have big snow drifts anymore, there is no such thing as fresh-grown local produce in January in the Okanagan. At best we have local food that has been stored, but usually that means apples and root vegetables. As a chef I once worked with said one winter, “How much parsnip soup can one person eat?!” But here at Rabbit Hollow, we have been very fortunate.

This past summer’s bounty was particularly delicious, and it continued longer than usual even for this pocket of Canadian paradise. I use edible flowers from the garden for our catered BBQ events with The Chef Instead, and I was able to do that this year up until the very end of November. img_3624 img_3633 I didn’t harvest the last of the vegetable garden until after Thanksgiving (in October for us Canadians, a time when frost is usually on the ground in most parts of the country). We have a wonderful root cellar which this year held summer and winter squash, potatoes, tomatillos, peppers, carrots, green tomatoes and apples (in case you’re wondering, the apples have to be kept in a separate room or they hasten the spoiling of everything else). I’m not trying just to brag here; I want to put things in perspective, so you won’t think I’m offering “alternative facts” when I say we used the last of our stored veggies in tonight’s salad. Yes, we have no bananas, but we did have garden tomatoes (insert cheeky emoji here to help justify my title).

There’s something especially inspiring about eating our hard-earned produce in January. Such a meal deserves special treatment. And it got said treatment. My hubby was inspired to make a delectable blue cheese dressing and make a wedge salad highlighted by our harvested morsels.

Now you may still be unclear on why I titled this post the way I did. It comes down to terroir. Nowadays it’s not difficult to buy any vegetable I want at a grocery store. But most tomatoes this time of year don’t taste like much. Even after they have ripened in my basement, my garden tomatoes still have the beautiful complexity of homegrown produce. They taste like summer. So did the last carrots and the roasted pumpkin. We savoured every bite. Iceberg lettuce never tasted so good.

wedge-salad-happy-gourmand

A Slippery Slope

I have really had a hard time this winter. First the snow and cold were late in coming, then they came with a vengeance. Days on end went by with more than frigid temperatures and grey skies. And now, in just the last two days, we have gone from deep snow and cold winds to warm breezes and a swampy slushy mess. I was in snowshoes on Wednesday and today I had to wear gumboots, but the snow was still deep enough to slosh over top and soak my socks.

In case you haven’t guessed already, the current weather quite fouled my mood. Cold is hard for those of us who like to be warm, but one can dress for it. Grey skies are often seen as gloomy, but their pervasive nature can be overcome by more cheery activities. Where we live, there are no sidewalks but rather fields and orchards, so my daily walk with the dog is a more rustic endeavour. When we get to this time of year it becomes a swampy slushy morass, and then with a bit more melting it is a mud bog. It smells a bit of composting leaves and of course mud. Walking through it is frustrating at best, since it’s a case of two steps forward and one slippery step back. Imagine walking through a field halfway to one’s knees.gumboots-in-slush

I guess the universe must have heard my cries of dismay. I received an article by email today that raised my spirits and even made me giggle. Here I was bemoaning the slush, and what should I get but instructions on how to cook with it – ingenious!

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Epicurious for saving the day, and my sense of humour. I hope you enjoy these ideas as much as I have.

How to Cook with Snow

 

 

 

The original hacker’s manual

I’m an old-fashioned girl. And, let’s face it, I’m old too. Some of the newfangled stuff out there takes me by surprise, especially when it comes to the language used to explain it. I didn’t know what a “hack” was until my stepdaughter explained the concept to me. Now that I do know, I realize I’ve been a fan of them since before they were called hacks. It’s why I love The Old Farmer’s Almanac.


I’m a sucker for little trivia tidbits and tips on how to make life easier. When I first discovered the Almanac as a young adult, I thought I’d found the mother lode. In those days we didn’t even have a water cooler around which to chat! I just loved the philosophy of their founder, Robert B. Thomas:

“Our main endeavour is to be useful, but with a pleasant degree of humor.”

Did you know that the Farmer’s Almanac is the longest continuously published periodical in North America? The first edition was published in 1792 – when George Washington was President! Its combination of weather forecasts made with uncanny accuracy, gardening guide, recipes, and general advice for around the home has worked for 225 years and they are still going. (The secret formula for weather forecasts is apparently still locked in a little tin box in their head office in New Hampshire.) After all, where else could I find out:

  • A dream of eating stew foretells a reunion with an old friend
  • When the colours orange and blue are placed next to each other, they seem to vibrate
  • The first full moon of the year is called the Wolf Moon. February’s full moon is the Snow Moon (I bet you can guess why!)
  • If you turn clothes inside put before laundering, you can reduce pilling (those annoying little fuzz balls that appear over time)
  • If you see grass in January you should lock away the grain in your granary. (Don’t plant the garden quite yet!)

Are you impressed yet? You can check out more on the Almanac website if you like – and find links to your favourite social media channel too. Just think of all the hacks you can post 🙂

Or you can keep watching here; I’m sure to pepper my posts with little gems from my appointment calendar in the weeks and months to come. 

Wishing for marmalade skies

img_0431It’s another grey blustery day here – this shot is one I took on last year’s holiday in Jamaica. As my bones and I pine for warmer climes and more spectacular sunsets, I search for activities to brighten the day. Thankfully, it’s Seville orange season! So I might not be able to have marmalade skies, but I can have my marmalade on toast. That is, if I get to work and replenish my stock!

Those of you who know me have probably tasted my marmalade if you like the stuff. Many people don’t, I have discovered – more for me, I say! If we don’t know each other personally, I will apologize here and now: I’m sorry, but this is a recipe I don’t share. It was given to me in trust by an Englishwoman who made it regularly for her guests. She and her husband owned a lovely B & B in the Maritimes that I was fortunate enough to visit one summer long ago. They were a charming couple – he a Canadian who served overseas in World War II and her a war bride doing community work, whose husband was killed in service with the RAF. They met again after the war when he came back to London as a widower and connected. Happy endings don’t get any better than that, I think – although they did joke ruefully about their paradoxical plan to “relax as owners of a b & b”. They don’t own the place anymore, but it is still there and still looks as lovely. If I ever get back to that neck of the woods I will certainly visit, and I do recommend you check out Fairmont House in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.  It’s a quaint seaside town south of Halifax; it was the perfect end to a day on a summer cycling trip.

Now that we are in the world of the internet, you can find endless recipes for a good old-fashioned marmalade. The recipe I have takes 3 days to make – it is not for the faint at heart. But it’s a very heartwarming effort on cold grey winter days.

So, here I go! If anyone wants to come for tea on Thursday afternoon, I’m sure there will be a few spoonfuls to enjoy. I might even make biscuits to put it on!

marmalade-start

Ta ta for now 🙂

 

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