Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Is fall here yet?

Today is a cooler-than-normal day in Edmonton.
It makes me want to bake!

Today, I'm making ciabatta. I actually started it last night, made a poolish that fermented overnight. It's now mixed and risen once and it's on the counter in a slab rising again as I update.

Summer, it's great and all. Gardens grow, flowers bloom, homemade ice cream and fresh fruit and veg for everyone! kinda thing.

But I LOVE LOVE LOVE fall!!!

I could live in fall all year. Seriously. I could.
Now, I know, it's always better when you have to wait for it kinda thing, but there's something about fall that I just can't get enough of.
Some of those things don't happen without a summer, which is why i haven't invented a weather machine to bend the seasons to my will ;)

First, cool weather is sweater weather! Too cool for a shirt, too hot for a jacket, sweater weather. Cozy, plush, knitted, warm sweaters. Plus a hot cup of tea, cocoa or coffee and a fire. Nothing in the world could bother me at that point.

Second, bringing in the harvest (thus, i need summer). Digging potatoes, carrots. Getting tomatoes and beans and the last of the peas (usually seed at this point). Braiding onions and garlic to hang downstairs.
Blanching then freezing, drying and canning. All wonderful things that say, "Time to slow down and take stock, prepare and be thankful that we have wonderful food for the winter."

Third, the sights and smells. Balsam poplar. Bright orange leaves and a scent that will send anyone into a state of bliss! We have a pile of them at my parents place by the old barn and in the fall when they were all orange I would make excuses (and sometimes just go!) to go out there and walk and sit and take it all in.
The rose hips are also ready at this point to gather for tea or potpourri. All the bugs have pretty much gone away, but the bears are out.
Animals are going to the butchers and packages of meat go into the freezer. Family members go out hunting and (usually) return with prize in tow, ready to be made into jerkys and sausages and roasts and chops/steaks, etc.

Forth, I love that I get to cook differently in fall. In summer I hardly cook. It's too bloody HOT! Plates of fresh fruit and salads and things to cook on the bbq are all i try to do. Now, I admit, I am quite the charcoal bbq efficientado (smoked chicken, pizza, grilled veggies to toss in pasta with goat cheese, etc) but braised meats, roasts and stews. Hearty soups with fresh bread or homemade crackers. I like to eat them, I LOVE to cook them :)

That's one of my problems. I love to cook more than eat. But I hate wasting food, so I don't cook as much as I would like. And when I do get into a cooking/baking streak, while I try to give some away, I usually end up eating it. Thus, I'm heavier than I'd like to be lol
Doesn't help that my baby weight hasn't left me yet...

Such is life. I try not to dwell on it. It just means that I have plenty to eat and share and that's something I should be thankful for :)

(Feel free to invite yourselves over to dinner at my home one autumn evening :) )

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fall Gardening

Fall Gardening Guide from Natural Home and Garden

We work so hard in the spring to get our plots ready for seed, but what if we planned out our beds so we could be harvesting just past the frost?
Now, in Canada this isn't as realistic as in the USA, as our winters are earlier and harsher than the rest of North America.

But that doesn't mean we can't hold off till the last minute.
Some greens even taste better after having a mild frost! (I remember hearing that on an episode of Jamie at Home... which ones specifically he was talking about, I can't recall).

Between sowing in cold frames as the cold arrives for EARLY spring veggies, and timing out the planting so there's greens right up until the frost, there's no excuse for not having fresh produce all year.

Yes, all year. That's what your coldroom or cellar is for :)
And freezer. Bags of blanched peas, beans, carrots, mixed veggies and many more are a large part of my winter staple.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Update on Other Life Adventures

We've been getting The Organic Box (see links in right hand column) for 4wks as of tomorrow. I'm really quite happy with it. I get to choose what I want and add in wonderful things like cheeses and yogurt and breads.
It's perfect for meal planning because I know what's coming into the house and it helps keep my grocery bill on budget because I'm not going to a store every week (or twice a week) to pick up this that or the other thing and then leaving with 4 bags :(

We're eating better and spending less by not being sucked in by the grocery store.

I've recommended it to a couple of my friends and I hope they try it out and find that it works well for them :)

My hubby and I have made a big lifestyle change this past week. We sold our Jeep (the vehicle I drove) to my brother. That means we cut enough expenses from our monthly budget that I can stay home and raise our little girl :D

Londyn will be a year old in less than 2wks and I would've had to been back at work already. Missing out on her walking around and feeding her oatmeal and raspberries in the morning and all those wonderful things :)

It's a huge change, not being able to just pack up during the day and drive off somewhere. I have to plan appts around when Zac can be home to take us or one of my family members. Londyn and I just can't take off to visit Grannie and Papa for the weekend if Zac is working.
But that's nothing compared to being able to stay home with my baby.

As a friend of mine was fond of saying, "I need the car for work, I work to pay for the car."

If I don't work, I don't need the car. Perfect :)

Baking Adventures

I love to cook. I love to bake. I love to eat ;)

One thing that I have never managed to master is baking pies.

I can make pefect pastry, and blind bake and fill no problem.

What I can't do is bake a filled pie and have my bottom crust done and brown :(

That is, until yesterday :)

It may be cheating, but it's the only thing I found that works!

I place my filled pie plate on a preheated baking stone in my oven to bake.

It was magic!

A beautifully browned crust, top and bottom :D

I just wanted to share my success...

(Now I need to get a big slab of stone to put on my bottom oven rack and leave there all the time for pies and breads and pizza, etc :) )

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Info on the Expo

Here's what I got off the Devonian Garden website...

Wild Mushroom Exposition
The Alberta Mycological Society presents their annual “City of Champignons” Wild Mushroom Exposition! View specimens of wild mushrooms. Bring your own fungi for identification. Scientific displays, photos, field guides, cookbooks, tastings and much more. A guided walk through the Garden will show you local varieties that are edible, poisonous or medicinal. Free with admission; nominal charge for food samples.

Schedule to come

Date and Time
Sunday, August 14, 2011 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM

If you ever wanted to learn more about mushrooms, this would be a great place to start!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More on Mushrooms!

Now, I haven't made it out very often this year to go picking mushrooms, but I do hope to be able to make it down to the Devonian Gardens on August 14th!


Because it's their Wild Mushroom Expo that day! :D

The Strathcona Antique Mall is also having a boot sale (street sale/vendors) that day as well.

There's always lots to do in the summer months :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lots to update!

Once again I've fallen behind on updating my blog...

Since my last post we've butchered chickens at my Baba and Gedo's farm (I have pictures but unfortunately haven't gotten them ready yet cuz I'm working on editing wedding pics... paid work before pleasure!),
I signed up for The Organic Box, I'm very excited to receive my first one this coming Thursday!,
and I now have a couple of country Saskatoon bushes and a rhubarb root transplanted into my backyard! :D

I've also managed to keep up with what Kevin Kossowan is posting on his blog. He always has wonderful tales to share of his adventures in Edmonton's local food scene. If I was only so lucky to have all the access he does...


On that thought... I think Zachary and I have managed to fix our finances enough for my to stay home with our daughter! She'll be 1yr at the beginning of September and I would've had to go back to work a couple wks before that.
If you're curious how we're going to do that, here's the plan.
Sell our jeep to my brother (cuts $490 in payments, our insurance goes down to $125ish, and have only one tank of gas to fill)
Sell Zac's truck to his foreman for his daughter ($4500-$5000)
Buy Beth's '98 GMC extended cab 4x4 truck (costs $2500)

Yes, baby and I wouldn't have a vehicle of our own, but does that really matter??? In order for me to stay home and raise my child and tend my small garden and cook good meals that don't come out of a box and sew clothes and finish learning how to knit and the list goes on, I think I'll be just fine with a lifestyle change.

I'm all about lifestyle changes that improve a family's happiness.

Western society as a whole needs to start living within not only our financial means, but by our environmental means as well.