Sautéed Garden Bush Beans

Today I was walking past my vegetable garden after I finished cutting the grass and noticed something purple. It was the Royal Burgundy purple bush beans that I planted (actually I had to replant them three times) ! Finally SOMETHING was ready in my garden besides lettuce.100_3010
It’s been a pretty wet spring and summer so far, including some pretty nasty torrential downpours and a tornado warning, with a few extremely hot and humid heat waves (45C/113F degrees) thrown in for good measure. The weeds have overtaken my vegetable garden ~sigh~ but if they’re green and a alive, it’s okay with me! After the browns of last summer’s drought, I’m happy to see green this year. I can still see the heritage ‘Pink Banana’ winter squash wandering about and the drying bulbs of the poppies stretching above the dill. So it’s all good……. I’ll get outdoors one of these days and savagely pull out the weeds. You see there is a ‘method to my madness’ as the weeds are SO much easier to pull right after a rain storm (I’m waiting…..and waiting…..) when they are so big and I can grab them by the handful. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!100_3000
Anyway, I picked a handful purple beans – that’s one of the reasons that I plant colourful veggies like purple beans and yellow zucchini: they’re easier to find……..among the weeds.
After I rinsed off the purple beans, I sautéed them in olive oil and added some chopped garlic and a pinch of salt. They started out bright purple and quickly turned typically green when they heated up – like magic! A lunch feast fit for a queen! I have to thank Jeanette for showing me that beans cooked this way are absolutely heavenly.100_3006

Sautéed garden bush Beans
Garden beans (yellow, green, purple) – whole or pieces
1 Tablespoon Extra virgin Olive Oil
1+ Teaspoons of minced Garlic (I like LOTS of garlic)
Pinch of Salt (optional)
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the beans and garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Eat and enjoy! Thanks Jeanette!

Ready to eat - Yum!

Ready to eat – Yum!

Grahame’s Bakery

 

In ‘my’ town, we have the most wonderful bakery in the whole wide world: Grahame’s Bakery!    This 3rd Generation family owned business is run by siblings Rick Grahame and Debbie Wilson whose grandfather worked at the bakery in 1939. But what’s more incredible is that this heritage bakery uses the oldest commercial wood-fired oven in Canada! Since 1885, the bakery has been baking bread, cinnamon rolls, butter tarts, pies, etc. in the same wood-fired oven. It’s 18′ X 18′ inside! The wood shed outback is usually overflowing all year long.

Grahame's Bakery oven

Rick at Grahame’s Bakery oven

Rick says “It is this original brick oven that sets the tone for our bakery and the products we make. That’s why we still use the original recipes to make breads, butter tarts, apple fritters and cookies. We make everything the old way, because here at Grahame’s Bakery the old ways have never changed.”
Today, my daughters and I with the grandchildren went to Grahame’s Bakery to buy a fresh Strawberry Rhubarb pie……mmmmmm. When you walk up to the back of the 2 storey house built in 1885, where the bakery is located, you begin to smell the delicious, fresh-baked goodies. Just follow the smell through the vintage wooden screen side door into the 10’x12′ purchasing area where you’re surrounded by shelves of pies, cookies, cinnamon rolls, etc. and racks of fresh bread cooling – all priced and labelled with hand-written signs.

Fresh Bread

Fresh Bread

A small old time cash register completes the scene. Debbie is there waiting to serve you while Rick is usually down at the back of this L-shaped room baking in the very hot oven. Everything is open to be seen by the public from the old, spotless sink to the vintage bread pans stacked beside the oven. These kind of places don’t exist very much in our modern world.
Debbie and Rick’s commitment to their bakery is a gift to the whole town and Canada’s baking history. During the 1998 Ice Storm when there was no electricity for almost 2 weeks, Grahame’s Bakery cooked turkeys as well as their usual fare, to feed the public at the local emergency shelter. Grahame’s Bakery is a real treasure.

glazing cinnamon buns

Debbie glazing cinnamon rolls

From their website:
Grahame’s Bakery World Famous Award Winning Butter Tarts
Makes 18 tarts
– 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon (2 ml) salt
– 1 cup (250 mL) vegetable shortening
– 1/3 to 1/2 cup (75 to 125 mL) cold water
– 2 eggs
– 1/4 cup (50 mL) butter or margarine, softened
– 1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
– 1/3 cup (75 mL) raisins, packed
1. In a bowl, combine flour and salt; grate the shortening into the flour and gently stir to break any clumps.
Stir in the cold water with a table knife until combined. Sprinkle in a little more water if pastry is too dry or crumbly.
2. Knead pastry just to bring the dough into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.
Halve the dough; roll each half on a lightly floured board into a large circle about 1/8-inch (3-mm) thick.
Cut into 3 1/2-inch (9.5-cm) circles and gently press circles into muffin pan cups. Tarts will take up half of each muffin cup.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degreesF (190 degreesC).
4. In a bowl, blend together eggs, butter, sugar and raisins. Spoon into pastry cups and bake 18 to 20 minutes, until pastry is golden.
Remove from muffin tin and serve.

 

Co-Parenting with Nature

 

The other day I found a baby robin in my driveway under the overhanging apple tree.  I suspect it fell out of the  nest which was 20 feet above.  I guessed that this wee bird was about 3 or 4 weeks old since it had some feathers as well as downy looking feathers and it was trying to hop (mostly flop) away from me.  I left it in the driveway for awhile and I thought I noticed the parent bird feeding it.  I tried to move it over to the side of the driveway out of the way of cars coming and going but it just ‘flhopped’ back near the middle.  When dusk approached, it was still there.  I was concerned about leaving the poor thing on the ground where it would be vulnerable to predators like the dozen feral cats in our neighbourhood (one of which I had seen at the end of our driveway only a few days ago).   Climbing up the apple tree and putting him back in the nest (if it really was the one he fell from) was out of the question.  So I decided to give him a better chance of surviving the night and put him in a cardboard box in the garage.  I even added the empty robin’s nest that I had  recently removed from my eaves trough and a little lid with water in it.  At this stage in life, the 3 week old babies usually are so big that they spend their time in the nest while the parents sleep on a nearby branch.  So I figured that this little bird would be warm enough by himself.  I crossed my fingers as I covered the box with a sheet to help the poor frightened thing settle down for the night.

Baby robin in its temporary home

Baby robin in its temporary home

I understand that this is not ideal.  I realize that in some areas, normal citizens aren’t supposed to rescue fallen baby birds but rather take them to a ‘specialist’ rescue center.   BUT with no options, I decided that the best thing would be for the Momma bird to resume feeding her baby during the daytime when she would be doing it if the fledgling bird was still in the nest.

I got up bright and early the next morning, fully expecting to find the little bird dead.  Much to my surprise, it was alive and well, with it’s mouth wide open waiting for breakfast!  I rushed out to the garden and dug a few small worms and dropped one into its mouth.  I think that it preferred chewed up worms because it didn’t quite know what to do with a wiggling worm half hanging out of it’s mouth.  Sorry little one, but I wasn’t going to accomodate you!   I knew that this was likely not sustainable because they require feeding every 45-60 minutes and I couldn’t see me doing that for the next few weeks.  Meanwhile, my daughter Nellie was researching on the internet what we should do:  we could feed it canned cat food, cut up worms and commercial ‘baby cereal’ (okay, why would I feed a different species, human commercial baby cereal when I wouldn’t even feed that stuff to my own babies…..!).   I went with my first inclination and put the box back out in the driveway where the bird was found.  I left him inside the box since I thought he’d be more protected and hoped that his Momma might find him.  Sure enough, Momma bird came right away and fed him!  I was totally amazed at the bond that had been established between this mother-baby dyad !   I know human mothers and babies have a strong bond but birds are much lower on the evolutionary scale and it’s instinct that kicks in!   (maybe more Mothers should follow their own instincts too)

When it began to pour rain, I moved the box up onto our covered porch.  Now I wasn’t sure how comfortable Momma bird was going to be here especially with our indoor cat sitting on the window sill watching everything.

Momma robin arrives!

Momma robin arrives!

......and she jumps right in and feeds her baby!

……and she jumps right in and feeds her baby!

But her instinct to feed her baby was far stronger than her fear.  The primal ‘unconditional love’ that this Momma bird showed her baby is incredible.  Despite the serious adversity of losing her baby from the nest, she overcame the obstacles and continues to feed her little fledgling every hour or so.  We also keep an eye on what’s going on discreetly through a window,  just in case there is any undesirable company.

Peeking through the window

Peeking through the window

Two nights (inside the garage) and two days have gone by and so far, so good.  Momma robin is waiting for us in the morning!  The cardboard box is big enough for the little bird to hop around, get some exercise, flap its wings – getting stronger every day.  Hopefully in the next week or so, it will be strong enough to fly to the top of the box and follow it’s Mom away.

So I guess you could say that I’m co-parenting this baby robin………. and I get the night shift.  So wish me luck on my journey in avian co-parenting!

 

Cape Scott, Vancouver Island

I’m re-blogging this Cape Scott ‘photo adventure’  post from my son Robin and daughter-in-law Nici’s blog (here) because the pictures are outstanding so I just HAD to share it!   When my grown children go on these trips and blog about it, I feel like I’ve been there with them even though I’m thousands of kilometers/miles away.   Also ‘along for the ride’ on this adventure at Vancouver Island, Canada was my other son  and his wife.  My two sons have always shared a lot of interests and experiences even though they are 11 years apart in age.   They used to volunteer together at the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum where they catalogued much of the ‘Carleton Collection’ when Rob was in University and my other son was a pre-teen.  So it’s no surprise to me that they still hang out together usually in the wilds of British Columbia, now with their life partners.

Cape Scott by Nici

Nissen Bight sunset

Nissen Bight sunset

At the longest time of the year, us four adventurers drive north on Vancouver Island until we can drive no more. We have reached Cape Scott park, a wild corner of the earth bursting with living things, and haunted here and there by the memories of old human settlements.

The Cape Scott trail winds through old growth forest over old log and plank roads and plenty a mud hole. The sides of the trail are strewn with ripe salmonberries on which we gorge as we walk.

The Cape Scott trail winds through old growth forest over old log and plank roads and plenty a mud hole. The sides of the trail are strewn with ripe salmonberries on which we gorge as we walk.

We arrive at a private paradise - Nissen Bight. Salmon are leaping from the water, grey whales are a near constant presence, spouting and sporting in front of the beach.

We arrive at a private paradise – Nissen Bight. Salmon are leaping from the water, grey whales are a near constant presence, spouting and sporting in front of the beach.

The slanting evening sunlight brings everything alive with colour before painting it with shadows.

The slanting evening sunlight brings everything alive with colour before painting it with shadows.

Robin rigs up a character-filled shelter to shield us and our worldly goods from the occasional rains.

Robin rigs up a character-filled shelter to shield us and our worldly goods from the occasional rains.

This expedition is the first real test for our homemade rocket stoves – and they pass with flying colours. It is a joy to cook on the tame fires contained within the nested cans. A few handfuls of twigs or driftwood and you have a hot meal.

At low tide we explore the lush seaweed gardens on the rocky headlands. We harvest several delicious varieties of seaweed to add to our meals, and steam freshly plucked mussels in a splash of seawater on a bed of seaweed - positively divine.

At low tide we explore the lush seaweed gardens on the rocky headlands. We harvest several delicious varieties of seaweed to add to our meals, and steam freshly plucked mussels in a splash of seawater on a bed of seaweed – positively divine.

The beach is a fine place to frolic and play - we surf using a tide-strewn body board and life ring, and play a game of cricket with ball, bat, and wickets made from a washed up float and driftwood. The water is clear and much saltier than I'm used to. One of my favourite things to do is run barefoot along the thin leading edge of the waves as they slide up and down the beach.

The beach is a fine place to frolic and play – we surf using a tide-strewn body board and life ring, and play a game of cricket with ball, bat, and wickets made from a washed up float and driftwood. The water is clear and much saltier than I’m used to. One of my favourite things to do is run barefoot along the thin leading edge of the waves as they slide up and down the beach.

As it is just past the Summer Solstice, the days are gloriously long, and we see fantastic sunsets around ten o'clock (also known as "mussel eating time").

As it is just past the Summer Solstice, the days are gloriously long, and we see fantastic sunsets around ten o’clock (also known as “mussel eating time”).

Jeanette on the rocky headland bordering the beach. Behind the white clouds, far off in the distance are the snow-capped mountains of the mainland, which can be seen on a clear day.

On the rocky headland bordering the beach. Behind the white clouds, far off in the distance are the snow-capped mountains of the mainland, which can be seen on a clear day.

The sun sinks over water and the beach beyond.

The sun sinks over water and the beach beyond.

Marty and the elements of rock, water and air.

The elements of rock, water and air.

One day we do a 23.5 kilometer trek to the Cape Scott lighthouse, passing several beautiful beaches along the way, each with its own unique character. This is Experiment Bight, its pale surface made up of shell fragments from shell middens left by the native peoples of the area in the olden days.

One day we do a 23.5 kilometer trek to the Cape Scott lighthouse, passing several beautiful beaches along the way, each with its own unique character. This is Experiment Bight, its pale surface made up of shell fragments from shell middens left by the native peoples of the area in the olden days.

The trees are mainly Sitka Spruce, Westen Redcedar and Western Hemlock - some so well girthed it would take 5 people to give them a proper hug.

The trees are mainly Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar and Western Hemlock – some so well girthed it would take 5 people to give them a proper hug.

Guise Bay used to house an army barracks during WWII. Unlike the other beaches, it faces west, and catches a strong breeze off the Pacific.

Guise Bay used to house an army barracks during WWII. Unlike the other beaches, it faces west, and catches a strong breeze off the Pacific.

Rambling over the dune meadows at Guise Bay.

Rambling over the dune meadows at Guise Bay.

Two waves of settlers tried to make a go of making a living off the land at Cape Scott - their artifacts are scattered all over the park and give me a poignant feeling. Weathered tumbledown fences, ornate doors from wood stoves, leather boots, saws, even the wreckage of a community centre and a creepy old well. I think it was a good life - hard, with lots of setbacks, but peaceful and fulfilling. The enterprise ultimately failed not because of the harshness of the land - although the storms could be fierce - but because transportation of the agricultural goods the settlers were trying to bring to market was so difficult due to the rough, rocky seas and the huge distance over land.

Two waves of settlers tried to make a go of making a living off the land at Cape Scott – their artifacts are scattered all over the park and give me a poignant feeling. Weathered tumbledown fences, ornate doors from wood stoves, leather boots, saws, even the wreckage of a community centre and a creepy old well. I think it was a good life – hard, with lots of setbacks, but peaceful and fulfilling. The enterprise ultimately failed not because of the harshness of the land – although the storms could be fierce – but because transportation of the agricultural goods the settlers were trying to bring to market was so difficult due to the rough, rocky seas and the huge distance over land.

During the war there was a radar tower at Cape Scott. The army built these plank roads on which to rumble through the forest. They are now a strangely beautiful part of the landscape.

During the war there was a radar tower at Cape Scott. The army built these plank roads on which to rumble through the forest. They are now a strangely beautiful part of the landscape.

We reach our farthest destination - the Cape Scott lighthouse, complete with patriotic picnic table.

We reach our farthest destination – the Cape Scott lighthouse, complete with patriotic picnic table.

An unnamed beach on the west side of the cape.

An unnamed beach on the west side of the cape.

The hike out – four weary travellers sprawl on the boggy shrubs, still 11 kilometers from their goal.

About now Robin goes salmonberry crazy - risking his life for more handfuls of sweet berries to shove in his mouth.

About now Robin goes salmonberry crazy – risking his life for more handfuls of sweet berries to shove in his mouth.

The boots of the Bogusdown clan (our newly acquired trail names), clockwise from top: John, Tom, Gabriola, and Saturna.

The boots of the Bogusdown clan (our newly acquired trail names), clockwise from top: John, Tom, Gabriola, and Saturna.

Glory and Trumpets! We have made it back to the parking lot, bearing heavy packs and headfuls of happy memories to last a lifetime.<

 

I love reading about my kids adventures.  Please check out Rob’s blog for more stories on their travels around the North American West Coast  http://birchandyew.blogspot.ca/?wref=bif .

 

 

Canada Day

800px-Flag_of_Canada.svg[1]Today is Canada Day.  Every July 1st, my amazing country Canada celebrates our people and our heritage from the northern Arctic Ocean to the Great Lakes to the east coast Atlantic Ocean to the west coast Pacific Ocean.  My country is SO incredibly large that I’ve only seen a smidgen of it!

On Canada Day, large cities and small communities celebrate with parades, activities, and fireworks.  My sister Faye and I were in the small nearby village of Merrickville today when the parade began with a march of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Colour Party.  Community groups, local small businesses, and the fire trucks frequent these parades to the delight of the local citizens.

'Hopetown Hillbilly' Canada Day Parade float taken by Maureen Sinclair

‘Hopetown Hillbilly’ Canada Day Parade float.  Picture taken by Maureen Sinclair

The biggest celebration of all is held in the nation’s capital, Ottawa.  All day today, bands played in front of the Parliament Buildings where a giant stage has been set up.  And they will continue until 10 p.m. when the sky will be filled with colourful fireworks.   It’s an amazing spectacle that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing on several occasions when my kids were younger.  These days though, I’d prefer to avoid the crowds and just stay home.

I gladly celebrate my Canadian citizenship.  I love my country and I am proud of the people who make up the fabric of our society.   HAPPY CANADA DAY!!

Map of Canada, eh

Map of Canada, eh

 

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