Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Holiday in the Hood!

If you are in Toronto this weekend, please come to visit me at the Holiday in the Hood Artisan Market! 

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Station Eleven

I have an obsession interest in books that have to do with the end of the world as we know it. I've just finished reading Station Eleven.
My other favourite books aobut Post Apocalytic sociaty were The Dog Stars (which I wrote about here), Oryx and Crake and the others in the series, The Road (too depressing), The Stand....

On TV I am fascinated by Walking Dead -- and my interest isn't in the zombie storyline -- it is the interactions of the people after the collapse of society. I thought that the short-lived  Revolution was going to be good -- but it dealt too much with the wars (the revolution) and the whys -- not in the "hows" (how to survive). I need to know how I will be able to survive come the apocalypse.

So, I'm not a survivalist (have you seen some of those survivalist websites???) But I hope that I would be somewhat prepared if it did happen. And Station Eleven makes it not seem so bad (except for that big fact that almost everyone in the world has died).

In Station Eleven a highly contagious and lethal strain of the flu sweeps the world and causes the collapse of civilization in a matter of days, leaving behind isolated groups of survivors struggling to come to terms with their new world. Much of the book follows a group of survivors (The Symphony) who are a traveling band of performers (Shakespeare!) who roam through Michigan from settlement to settlement. Parts of the story is told in flashbacks from the past -- throughout the collapse, up to the  "present" -- 20 years from now. It is a sad, sweet book, but it gave me much hope :). I would definitely recommend it!

And on a related note -- I've become a weee bit obsessed with preserving food!

(I love this book -- and especially love the tags on the jars!) 
Mr. B and I are taking a canning course through the West End Food Coop. We come home with about 10 jars every class (every two weeks). Last session we made quick pickles (i.e. not fermented) AND cranberry sauce. Up next is Pumpkin Maple Jam and pumpkin pickle. And this weekend I canned 10 jars of Apple Pie filling!  I am ready for the holidays!
So, if any of my friends are reading this -- please don't put canning jars in the recycling -- give the jars and the rings to me when they're empty (I am always surprised when I see them in the recycling -- re-use them, people!). Anyway, give me some jars, I will give you some jam. Win - win.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Today in Port Mouton -- a thank you to volunteer firefighters everywhere

 Very early this morning (3 a.m.), I was awakened by the wailing of sirens.

 In the big city, I'm used to the sounds of sirens, but when a vehicle with a siren drives by my home here, it means that something bad has happened on my road. So, I did what most of my neighbours did, I padded to the window to see what was happening. It was a fire truck, and it was heading out on to the wharf. Then another came, and another and another. Lots of flashing lights, but I couldn't see a fire (it was quite foggy). Then, whoosh, fire shot 50 feet into the air and I could hear the crackling.Then lots of small explosions. And the fire kept on strong. Over the next hour more fire engines drove past (and also many fishermen -- worried about their boats). It wasn't boats on fire, but a seafood processing building (Mersey Point Fish Products).

When I walked out to the wharf this morning (because I walk out there every day), I saw many exhausted firefighters. Volunteers. Keeping us safe.
No one was hurt today, thank goodness, but I wanted to thank all of those firefighters for putting their lives on the line for us.  Thank you to all firefighters everywhere.
You can read more about the fire here.
and read and see photos here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Today in Port Mouton - Rubber Boots

So, today I am going to rant about RUBBER BOOTS. Because rubber boots drive me crazy. And you need rubber boots here in rainy Port Mouton. (actually, in the summer it is not so rainy here, but the dew in the morning is very wet!)

Anyway, here are my boots. From left to right:
Canadian Tire
Liberty for Target

I have had many many many pair of rubber boots over the years. I LOVE rain boots.

The Liberty ones here are my very favourite boots. But I never wear them. Because they have a crack in them (see below). They've had a crack in them since the first summer that I bought them. I just keep them because they look so pretty lined up with the others. Don't judge. They seem to be of such great quality. They are lined. They have the cute calf buckles. They are Liberty. I cannot believe that Liberty put their name to such crap.

Here's my rant.
Why can't rubber boot manufacturers make rainboots that won't crack? My hardware store specials ($12) will last forever. I wear them almost every day all summer. Mucking around in the garden, the pond, walking the dog, whatever. They look the same as the day I bought them. The super cute Liberty ones, and every other fun pair I have ever purchased get cracks in them within the year. What's with that?

Last year I donated 3 pair of boots to a store in my neighbourhood (in Toronto) so they could plant flowers in them. At least they didn't go to landfill (right away).

The Kamik ones up there don't have cracks in them, but I hardly ever wear them because they are too small around my calf -- they are for bare legs or for skinny guests, lol. (but they look nice in the boot lineup, don't they?). But they are also some shiny plastic -- maybe not rubber? Anyway -- I've heard that Kamik boots are built to last - and are a viable alternative to Hunters, which I covet, but I just cannot spend $180 on rubber boots!

What kind of boots do you have? Do they stand the test of time, or crack within a season?

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Today in Port Mouton - Holy Mackerel!

Something that I look forward to every summer is the consuming of seafood. I've not been a big fan of seafood over the years, but living here has really helped it grow on me. Of course, I love fish and chips, but I have broadened my horizons to include fish cakes and halibut steaks (and cheeks :). I'll also eat fried shrimp and clams :) . I'm ambivalent towards lobster, however, so I don't usually order it because the joy is not worth the cost ( i.e. I'd rather have fish and chips). 

Last year I tried mackerel. It was okaaaaayyyyy, but I didn't think that I needed to try it again. But I did. Because I'm determined to eat healthier. AND because I got to go out on Captain Bob's boat again and go mackerel fishing!  

Captain Bob making sure that we don't hit the rocks :)

The mackerel weren't biting much, but we caught a few:

I had planned to filet the fish myself, but D did it for me :) Thanks D! He also caught most of the fish. He didn't take any home though, because they had eaten mackerel the day before and mackerel don't freeze well.

and the gulls said a little thank you too...

When I got home, I fried up the filets and put some dressing on them. These were the best fish I've ever had!

So I thought I'd share my recipe:

Fry the mackerel fillets in a non-stick frying pan (or in a bit of olive oil). Do not overcook them -- hard, dry mackerel is yucky.
- season the fillets with salt and pepper
- fry for 2-3 minutes, skin side down
- turn the fish over and cook for an additional 1 minute

Drizzle with dressing (spinach salad dressing, recipe below) and serve with salad.

Spinach salad dressing (spinach, walnuts, cranberries)
Whisk together:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar (or red wine, or balsamic)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp minced onion
1/8 tsp paprika

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Today in Port Mouton -- Living off the Land

So, I was out foraging a bit yesterday. There are many many Amalanchier trees/bushes along the side of the road. Of course, I discover them while walking Andy. Nothing like a walk with the dog to help you see the world. You may know them by other names. Serviceberry. Saskatoon Berry. Juneberry. I'm going with Saskatoon Berry. The local population doesn't seem to know about them. So they don't have a name for them...

So I picked about 3 quarts (and am so glad that I was wearing insect repellent -- the mosquitoes were like a fog around me). All picked from one tree. Not to worry -- I left tons for the birds. I couldn't reach them, lol.

Then I sorted the berries....

and crushed the juicy ones.

And I put the less juicy ones in pans.

So I will have dried saskatoon berries! (taste like almonds)

And lots of jam! I was worried about all of those seeds. But I had some of the jam on toast, and the seeds aren't an issue at all. The jam is VERY sweet, but I can cut the sweetness by adding stewed rhubarb. (once the jar is opened).

 My neighbours brought over a bunch of rhubarb (mine isn't doing so well, while theirs is a gigantic patch :). So I made rhubarb concentrate -- a simple rhubarb syrup -- when mixed with Sprite it makes *the best punch ever*).  Left over from the concentrate is a whole pile of stewed rhubarb. So I froze it in little containers.

And look what are ripening now! Raspberries! I'm going to freeze these as I pick them so I will have enough for jam. I think that 2015 is the year of the jam.  (Ha! it is the Chinese year of the Ram. Ram, jam :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Today in Port Mouton - Giving Thanks

As I continue to battle my summer cold (what's with this? I've been sick for 3 weeks!), I am thankful for so much. I am so lucky to have been able to spend my summer in this little piece of paradise. And thankful too.
But today is about thanking my students. I miss them over the summer. We grow to be a big family by the end of the year, then poof! it's over.
I have spent the last few days writing cards to them, thanking them for gifts that they have given me (yes, a thank you for a thank you :) I've been told that it isn't 'proper' to send a thank you for a thank you -- but everyone likes mail, no?
Throughout the year, they draw many pictures and make little things for me. I love them all, and most make it to my fridge at home -- or into my 'Bucket Book" at school (we try to fill each others 'buckets' with happiness -- I have a binder where I put all of the drawings that are made for me during the year -- hence, the Bucket Book)

This year, I stamped my thank you onto the front of a commercial card. I could have just used card stock -- but it was more expensive!

These are a few of the cards and drawings that I received on the last day of school. "Thank you for helping me" made me smile. 

I'm going to miss you too!

Next year I teach Grade 1-2 , so I will be teaching about 1/2 of my class again next year. But I wasn't allowed to tell them -- they had to wait and see it on their report cards!

So, today isn't so much about Port Mouton. It's about me :) and a whole bunch of 6 and 7 year olds!

Thank you Room 15! See you in September!