Monday, August 16, 2010

Peas and Beans

Right now the garden is producing like mad. Saturday I picked 4 pails of peas in the pod, which took over 2 hours to shell. We have 88 feet of pea vines this year. After boiling them just briefly I drain them, cool them in a sink of cold water, drain them again, and dry them between two dish towels. Then I spread them on cookie sheets covered with waxed paper. This morning I took the peas off the cookie sheets and turned them into large ziplock bags. We now have about 5 pounds of peas in the freezer and hope to get lots more.

This morning I picked three pails (one gallon ice cream pails) of Royal Burgundy beans. They are dark purple beans that grow long and straight, and don't get big, fat seeds in them. We prefer them to other varieties, so they are the only kind I grow. We have about 66 feet of bean plants. Beans are lots quicker to process than peas. It took me just 40 minutes to snip and cut all the beans.

I freeze the beans also on cookie trays. That way they are loose in the freezer bag, and I can just shake out how many I want to use. These beans do turn green when boiled.

I made a batch of bagels this afternoon, cinnamon raisin this time. They turned out just great. So tomorrow's breakfast is ready: cinnamon raisin bagels with cream cheese and homemade apple butter. Yummy! I got the bagel recipe from, and made the variation to cinnamon raisin just for the fun of it. One of the advantages of making your own bagels, aside from leaving out all the additives, is that you can make them a reasonable size, instead of the 300 calorie monsters from the grocery store.

Sunday Jim was preaching in Rocky Mountain House. We have become pretty good friends with a couple our age there, and usually have dinner with them. On occasion we've stayed overnight with them rather than drive home in the dark, a two hour drive through deer infested areas. We had a very nice visit with them yesterday.

When Jim preaches there, they ask me to play the organ. I really enjoy that, as those are the only times I get to play organ now. My friend Jan loaned me a new book of hers that had a very fine arrangement of "If You Will Only Let God Guide You", one of my very favorite hymns because of the great words and music. So that was the morning offertory, and was well received.

Jim hired a carpenter to make some new covers for our garden beds, particularly for the strawberries. We were using some netting from Lee Valley Tools, but birds keep getting stuck in it. Sometimes we can't get the loose, and they die trapped there. We weren't too happy with that! The new covers are wood frames, 8' x 4' x 6" with chicken wire on top. That will keep the deer off the lettuce also, and we can use them with plastic covering in the spring to warm the beds for early planting.

In the background you can see the curtain material I've draped over the sugar snap peas to preserve them from the deer. Maybe we should just put up a 10' deer fence around the whole garden!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Slow Life

A few weeks ago I was reading an article in Newsweek about "slow living." This is a movement that began with "slow cooking" in Italy (if I recall correctly.) There is a call for discarding the hectic pace of "modern" life and going back to something more leisurely and meditative.

The article was actually a review of a book about "slow reading" which struck a chord with me. Do you mentally say each word as you read? I tend to do that. I used to feel defensive about it, but then a wise older person (Sid Yongsma, for those of you who remember him) told me, "You don't try to eat a delicious piece of pie in one bite, do you? Why should you rush through a good book?" Amen to that!

There was a list of suggestions to implement on your way to a "slow life": take a long walk, read a good book, cook a meal from scratch. Well, I thought, that's what I do every day! M. and I try to make our 2 1/2 mile walk every day, and we do succeed probably four days in a week, at a minimum.

I couldn't live a day without some reading. We're early risers and eat a casual breakfast (that means he eats in front of the t.v. while watching Business News and I eat on the living room couch while reading.) Now and then during the day I sit down for a break and continue reading the current book. Evenings are almost totally given over to reading. Jim likes to watch the news and discussion shows on t.v., but I prefer to read.

Cooking from scratch is de rigeur at our place. Breakfasts are made from scratch fruit salads, and homemade muffins, pancakes, scones, etc. Only Jim's favorite breakfast cereal is bought in a box. I even grind our own whole wheat flour from organic hard red wheat grown about 60 kilometers from here.

Dinner is much the same. For example, today we had salad of our own onions, zuchinni, tomatoes, with bought peppers (ours are not ripe yet) and Feta cheese; lightly boiled sugar snap peas, and potatoes, both from our garden, and a small pork chop, bought at the local IGA (provenance unknown).

This way of cooking is even slower than slow because I had to go out to the garden to pick the salad and veggies. The potatoes had been dug up earlier.

We love our way of eating, and feel that it's the best thing we can do to help ourselves be healthy. But it leaves me with this question: If this is slow living, Why does time seem to fly by?

Some of my projects seem to get stuck in the slow lane, too. That was the case with the knitting project I finally finished today. I had made
two of these "waistcoats" in November thru January for the two granddaughters in B.C. I think it was in February that I started this one for the youngest granddaughter. I remember being really keen to get going on it, because 1. it's pink! and 2. it has this delightful fake fur collar.

But just the same as the first two waistcoats I made, this one took forever because you can never just knit a big chunk of stockinette. It's all k.1, p.1, except for the cables, which take their own amount of care in doing.

But it's finished!!! And it was worth the effort. I think it's just darling, and will look just darling on granddaughter #4.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Garden Update

This has not been a good summer for gardening so far. We didn't get warm weather until just recently. Even now the temperature has seldom been above the mid 70º's, (about 22ºC). When we get up in the morning the thermometer is standing at 5º to 9ºC, or about 40º to 50ºF. Makes for good sleeping weather, but not such good growing weather.

The other problem is that we are being overrun by three pests: deer, mice and mosquitoes. These were two very niceButtercrunch lettuce heads. I pick the outer leaves, and the plant goes on producing for a long time.

The deer found them delicious, but they prefer the very centre of the plant. I'm afraid these are goners. I found a metal rack to protect the lettuce, so the damage will cease at this point.

Here in the garden's centre path is clear evidence of the culprit.

Here's what they did to the Sugar Snap Pea
vines. In fact, I think they browse this buffet every night! These vines just can't make any headway. But we were able to pick enough mature pods yesterday from this row and the row on the opposite fence to enjoy some with our dinner.

They haven't bothered the corn at all. I usually plant
our corn in 4" pots in the greenhouse sometime in April, but just didn't get around to it this year. By the beginning of August we are usually enjoying fresh corn on the cob. So far I haven't seen any cobs forming, but the plants do look healthy. They about five feet high at this point.

The best corn in the world is the corn you pick from the plant, take into the house, shuck and boil for one minute before serving. Don't forget the butter, salt and pepper!

Today we were able to pick the first pods of
the green pea crop. The deer are keeping
these vines "pruned" back also. We have
eleven rows, so we should be able to pick
quite a few green peas in spite of the deer.

The bed on the right is the potato bed. I've dug up just one plant when we had company, to serve small new potatoes. They were a little too big to leave whole, but when I cut them up I had a surprise: each one had that brown cavity in the centre. I've never seen that in small potatoes before. It could
be that they were too wet for a while. We did have a lot of rain this summer.

Not all the beds are in vegetables this year. Here's a
bed of Asiatic Lilies, and to the right, not blooming yet, is a bed of Gladioli.

Some summers we have lots of beautiful flower bouquets in the house, but somehow this year I just haven't gotten around to it. We'll just enjoy them in the

Monday, August 2, 2010

Two Finished Projects

The quilt I showed last week is now completely finished. Just out of curiosity I kept track of how much time it took to hand-sew the binding to the back: it was 3 1/2 hours! This is actually not a large quilt: just 67" x 84". The pattern is not "Turning Twenty" as I thought, but "Turning Twenty 4 x 4," the difference being that in the 4 x 4 version each block is cut after it's finished and then resewed. There are a few places on the top where this results in a nice 4 x 4 square, thus:

It's maybe a little hard to see the seam between the two upper 4's and the rest of the block, as the colours are very close.

The whole quilt turned out very well, and when it was finished I realized how the
colours in this quilt match the colours in our
living room furniture, so I decided to keep it
there: a little hidden behind the large Dracaena, but hanging nicely over the railing above the spiral staircase to downstairs.

I also finished the hat for son #1 that I started when in Niagara Falls in June. Now I need to figure out how to make a nice neck scarf that will complement the hat:

Of course, now that these two are finished,
I'm hard at work on the next project. This is a true "Turning Twenty" that I made this past spring. Today I cut the backing and batting, and spray basted the three layers together.

This quilt also had its origin in the whack of material I received earlier this spring from my friend. She gives me a box of odds 'n ends every so often. Some pieces are as large as 20" x 40" but most are closer to 8" x 12", with all sizes in between, and lots that are even smaller. I love sorting through the box, putting similar materials together. Often I have to add pieces from my stash, and sometimes even need to buy a few fat quarters or a half meter to make up enough for a good sized quilt.

This is a very colourful child's quilt. The section on the table is the right hand half of a 71"x86" quilt. Generous size for a single bed.

The backing is a lovely, mottled orange flannel. The batt, this time, is a light weight polyester. I usually use the "warm and natural," but wanted something that didn't weigh so much for this child's quilt.

Here's the machine quilting:
I'm doing freehand flowers for this one with the occasional circle. They've improved a lot as I went along, as so often happens. I plan to put hearts in the border.

Dear Daughter #2 is in the process of moving from a small condo to a fairly large house. The two kids, boy (10 this month) and girl (6 in Sept.) will have their own bedrooms, and I'm thinking this would make a nice quilt for the girl.

We hope to visit them in September, so I'll take it along then and see if it's suitable.