Sunday, July 26, 2015

In the garden

In the garden right now:

~ tomatoes (had our first few, many more coming), zucchini, loads of braising greens
~ berries (raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, red and black currants, chokecherries)
~ loads of herbs (basil, oregano, dill, chives, mint, parsley, cilantro, and all the medicinal ones!)
~ peas coming to an end - letting a few pods dry on the vines so we can plant again next year
~ beans ready in a week or so
~ grapes will be in abundance very soon, just ripening
~ greens - chard, kale, spinach (almost done), lettuce greens, wild greens (nettle, dandelion)
~ just a few cukes (oh, we forgot to give them enough water this spring)

Gratitude Sunday

We are grateful for so many things.  Here is what comes to mind from this past week:

~ abundant berry harvest with friends - and delicious chokecherry juice they brought us as a sample of the harvest (upon their suggestion we're going to add the juice into our morning smoothies)
 ~ fresh flowers, flowers, flowers - all the beautiful bouquets that are being picked and placed in all rooms of our house and throughout our B&B

~ eating our first garden tomatoes and zucchinis, plus so many braising greens, and the delicious black seeded simpson lettuce that just keeps on producing (I could eat like this every day)

~ wool diaper covers made by our friend Amaryah at Sew Oiseau - I am totally sold on using wool diaper covers for the cloth diapering experience this time around (even in summer she swears by them as best breathable covers for babies on hot days, next to wearing nothing of course)

~ all the busy busy bees in the garden (more on this soon) - the variety of bees I see each day: mason bees, bumble bees, sweat bees, honey bees in the bergamot, oregano, echinacea, yarrow, rudbeckia, clover, calendula around our yard - wow - it's a busy time out there right now

Local Super Food - Chokecherries!

We've been noticing an exceptional berry harvest this year (other than strawberries) - the wild berries like mulberries, service berries, raspberries, and also grapes, as in greater abundance than we've seen in many years.  This was the same for the chokecherry tree in our own yard (well two, one is a volunteer that has self-seeded and is also bearing loads of fruit!).  While eating raw chokecherries should be avoided, they  do make lovely jam, wine, syrup and juice.  We are also going to try making chokecherry fruit leather this year, following this recipe idea here.  Chokecherries (Prunus virginiana) are considered some of our greatest "local super foods", along with elderberry (Sambucus nigra) as they are high in anti-oxidants and rich in vitamin C.   When using both chokecherries or elderberries the seeds need to be removed, and both of these berries need to be cooked or processed, not eaten raw.  They take a bit of work to pick, pit, and process, but oh they are worth the effort.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Baking Whole Grain Bread with Children

What a fun workshop we had here today!  Thirteen eager kids (aged 4-12) were over to learn about baking bread: working with sourdough, kneading and shaping their own loaves, making their own sourdough starter culture, grinding whole grains into flour, and baking the loaves in our wood-fired cob oven!  We talked about breads from around the world, and what makes up bread (flour/grain, water, salt and yeast - and heat!).  And there was lots of bread eating, laughing, creating, more eating, and playing - not to mention lots of flour and dough everywhere!   Hands-on learning is always so inspiring to watch - we see the transformation of words and ideas into tangible knowledge that is learned through tactile experience (ideally using all the senses like today - taste, smell, touch, etc - as the ideal way to let a new concept really sink in). We hope to offer more bread classes (for kids and adults) again soon. 

Outside Instruments at Hillside Festival

If you are heading over to the Hillside Festival this weekend we know you'll have a great time!  The weather looks great, the musical line-up looks amazing, the food is always more than delicious, and the craft and artisan vendors are not to be missed! 

Our friend Ron will be there with his lovely Outside Instruments - please drop by his booth to check out the most inspired eco-upcycled musical instruments you will ever find!  Not only does Ron turn frying pans, canning pots and salad bowls into stringed instruments of all sizes (guitars, mandolins, two-stringed instruments, even cellos!), he also uses wood sourced from burn piles and destined for the scrap yard to fashion his beautiful one-of-a-kind instruments that are sturdy, great for traveling, and in his words "meant to be played outside".  Drop by his booth to say hello, listen, play and be inspired. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A seed is sleepy (until it sprouts)

Our daughter loves helping her dad plant and tend the garden - today it was putting in more bush beans after the garlic was harvested.  I had to smile to see her reading one of our favourite garden books for kids "A Seed is Sleepy" by Diana Hutts Aston, right there in the garden as she was working, following along what will happen in the life cycle of a bean from seed to harvest.  We love the whole nature series by Diana Hutts Aston, each with such beautiful artwork and detailed explanations and illustrations (her great titles include: A Seed is Sleepy; An Egg is Quiet; A Butterfly is Patient; A Rock is Lively; A Nest is Noisy)!!

Gratitude Sunday

We are grateful for so many things.  Here is what comes to mind from this past week:

~ berries and cherries galore!  and wild-harvesting the bounty with friends this week...

~ wood-fired pizza dinners on warm summer nights, made here in the cob oven

~ all the abundance of flowers in the garden at this time of summer

~ the first monarchs to arrive in our yard for this season

~ peach and cherry water kefir dropped off by our friend today, and a divine lavender kombucha, and strawberry-sage kombucha made by another friend, so perfectly refreshing on a hot day

~ bees buzzing in the garden (they are all over the comfrey, catnip and lavender blossoms)

What are you grateful for this week?

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Heirloom Purple Peas!

We love these purple peas! We've grown them here for a few years now, and what a great harvest this year.  We've also left enough on the vines to save seed for next year's planting. They are an old Dutch "soup pea" called Blue Podded Pea (Blauwschokkers) that has been grown for hundreds of years in Europe, an heirloom variety that is considered a shelling pea and needs to be cooked or steamed to really bring out the sweetest flavour.  They can also be eaten as snow peas if harvested at a very early stage. I think they are just so beautiful to grow in the garden, the deep pink blossoms are lovely on the vines, the purple pods are striking, and the green peas inside are delicious.  Our whole family got involved around the table to help shell the peas, and then a large amount were enjoyed for dinner with the extras frozen for other meals in the winter to come.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Gratitude Sunday

We are grateful for so many things.  Here is what comes to mind from this past week:

~ peas and more peas as we near the final harvest (and purple ones that we love to grow each year!)

~ a "cupcake and flower stand" in our front yard that our young entrepreneurial daughter decided to set up  with her friends on the weekend (and the friends and neighbours who dropped by to support our young entrepreneurs)

~ one dozen delicious Seed of Life bars that I was happy to barter in exchange for plants from our garden!  (if you have not tried these amazing high-quality handmade energy bars yet then by all means check them out!  They are now available at the Kitchener market, and various local health food stores - made locally by our friend Theresa)

~ a gifting of organic bokchoy and (my favourite) hakurai turnips from our friend Angie at Fertile Ground CSA - gorgeous produce that we just can't seem to grow here like she does on her farm!

~ a sweet baby in our house that now sleeps for more than two hours at a time!

~ the season of fresh local berries!  red currants, service berries, mulberries, raspberries and blackberries and soon to be ready cherries and blueberries

~ Tulsi (or Sacred/Holy Basil) that we grow in abundance in our herb garden, with it's many health benefits - for gifting to friends, drying for winter tea blends, and making into this refreshing Holy Basil Sipping Vinegar

What are you grateful for this week?