Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cracking China (updated)

In an effort to spit shine her tarnished reputation, China has announced plans to introduce a safety recall system in an attempt to weed out unsafe products being manufactured within the country.

You'd think being one of the largest manufacturers of useless crap, they would have already have a recall system in place ;P

In the continuing saga of the pet food recall, a Diamond Pet Foods has recalled their products in BC for fear of melamime contamination.

This is after Canadian Food Inspection Agency found melamime contamined corn gluten from China last week. Of course, they've only started testing for these contaminants since the recall so who really knows what else is lurking behind the Made in China label.

Oh yeah, and all that cheapo farmed fish you've been eating, it could have been gobbling up melamine-contaminated fishmeal it's whole life. No wonder it has the same bland cardboard aftertaste as factory farmed poultry and pork. They've all be eating out of the same contaminated trough.

Agriculture Minister Pat Bell has confirmed that BC fish farms have beeing using the melamine contaminated feed and that consumers have already been eating the fish but , heck, it's no big deal. They're just going to wait until folks show up with unexplainable kidney failure before they consider putting forth a committee to outline the mandate for a study to consider the possibility that these health problems had any link to eating factory farmed chicken, pigs and fish. Until then, it's all fair game.

Gee, thanks Minister Bell, I feel so comforted. Way to look out for the citizens, Pat. Good job! You deserve a big ole corporate slap on the back!

Um...maybe it's time to reconsider this whole factory farm monstrosity and maybe feed animals real animal food instead of pellets of industrial poo. How's that for an idea?

Update: China isn't the only one falsely spike protein content of their animal feed with melamine. A U.S. manufacturer has admitted to intentionally adding melamine to its fish feed. Its fish feed and livestock feed have been recalled. The products also were shown to contain urea formaldehyde resin. This company is a branch of Canadian company, Tremblec, Inc. and its products were used in Uniscope feed.

And how is Canada responding to all these threats to our food security? It has sent off a team to China to boost trade in agricultural products, amongst other areas. China is already Canada's second largest trading partner. Do we really need any more contaminated food?

Not only is China's pet killing kibbles being recall but their toothpaste too. China's been having a rough couple of months. In an effort to prove that they're sincere in their crackdown, China's former chief food and drug regulator was sentenced to death for accepting bribes and approving drugs that we're safe for human use. Wow, they sure do things differently in China. In North America. government officials that tango with pharmecutical companies and get dangerous products approved by federal agencies through the back door end up Secretary of Defense.

It's all the more reason to do what we can to protect our food sovereignty and local food security. Eat local & real food. Support your local farmers who are working hard to provide safe, healthy and yummy food for this community. For a list of farms and farmer's markets, check out the Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet website. For more information about protecting our local meat supply, check out this article.

ETA: After all that soapboxing, I had to have some wild local salmon. With little time to spare of lunch preparations, I found a lone can of local wild salmon in the cupboards.
I'm not the biggest fan of canned salmon after a childhood of eating fishy pink sawdust but I hadn't tried this local brand before. This is an Vancouver Island cannery's smoked sockeye salmon. The salmon was rich and meaty and wasn't waterlogged like many other brands. It had a smoky, deep flavour and it held up well in the salad.

(salad undressed)
Within a few minutes, I whipped up a quick smoked salmon & asian slaw salad with greens from the garden and other veggies from the farmer's market. I made a parsley pesto vinagrette with the pesto from the other night and a splash of locally grown apple cider vinegar. The dressing was just the right amount of tang and green.


Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge

Monday, May 28, 2007

The garden that ate Tokyo

My weekend was wrapped around all things green and growing. Much of my winter garden managed to survive the winter and is growing strong. Not wanting to pull out the wonderful greens, I decided to expand to provide room for my warm weather veggies. I pulled up a good chunk of sod (lawn isn’t good eats), and expanded the garden to accommodate my growing green thumb daydreams.
So far, here's what's in the garden. From the winter garden, the kale, chard, spinach, garlic, gai lan and parsley are going strong. In the beginning of spring, I threw in sugar peas, black edamame (soybeans), orca beans, bok choy and more gai lan seeds. This past weekend, I planted in some eggplant, honeydew, winter squash and herbs seedlings.
I also repotted an army of tomatoes and various herbs (mint, basil, oregano, marjoram, cilantro, thyme and chives) into larger pots. I’m planning to grow them on the porch, off of the kitchen. I opted to grow them in containers partly because some, like mint, are invasive and are better contained. I also like them in pots so I can bring them in once it starts getting too cold. Hardier herbs like rosemary and oregano overwinter just fine outside.

My indoor Eden filled with tomato plants, veggie seedlings herbs and general gardening mayhem.

The tomatoes I prefer to grow in containers and keep them on the porch. Five gallon pots are fine for most varieties. It makes it easier to keep them from getting weird garden cooties and if it does turn out to be a summer of monsoons, I can pull them under the awning so they don’t get too wet. It also leaves me space in the veggie garden for other edible delights.

Having them in pots also allows me the option of bringing them in at the end of summer if it cools down more than usual. I have been able to keep some tomato plants well in to January. With a good warm, sunny location and a bit of care, they kept just kept fruiting!

Bok Choy

Spinach that has survived the winter and has shot back

Ooooo...the promise a many a sweet garden jems

On Saturday, I attended a food/farm forum hosted by local food advocates, Dr. Kathy Gemmel and Jenny MacLeod at Nanoose Place. The place was filled with farmers, members of the NDP, Liberal and Green Party, local press, various organizations, Malaspina University and the public. The event was started off with Nick Versteeg, food documentary filmmaker and co-leader of the Vancouver Island Slow Food Movement and clips from his documentary, “The Edible Schoolyard”, a project that brings farmers, chef and kids together to create a working vegetable garden in local schoolyards. Nick is planning to give a copy of the DVD to every school in BC for free. For more info, check out Nick’s film site, DV Cuisine.

Sunday started off with me shaken wide awake by dawn’s insistent light despite my wanting to sleep in for once. Why, oh why, must my body declare mutiny at such ungodly hours?!? To rub it in, DH was snoring like a hibernating bear, completely oblivious to my wide eyed plight. It took much willpower and compassion to not ‘accidentally’ bump him awake.

Instead I scampered downstairs and shared my morning with my tomato plants and watched as the day cracked open with blustering winds and alternating fistfuls of clouds and blue sky. I puttered a bit in the garden and decided that even MORE sod should be removed. This would allow me to plant even more veggies. However, my sleep deprived body was not able to bring itself to wield a shovel at that moment and I headed back inside for some garden scheming.

In my 100 Mile Diet quest, I’ve opted to not only eat food grown within 100 miles but to also do my best to create a garden from seeds and plants grown within a 100 mile radius. Luckily for us, we live in an area that has a parade of Seedy Saturdays/Sundays in the beginning of spring where local seed grower sell their wonderful and overwhelming array of organic, heirloom and specialty seeds.
We also have a number of local nurseries that grow their own plants from seeds right there on the premises, like the Green Thumb nursery, Christex Nursery (north end of Jinglepot and Monroe Roads). You can reach them at texd@bcsupernet.com . Farmer's markets are another source for locally grown seedlings for flower and food gardens. Another source for locally grown garden plants and veggies is The Community Gardens on 271 Pine Street. They run an organic plant sale every Saturday and Sunday.

It makes more sense to be buying locally grown plants and seeds for many of the same reasons as it does to buy locally grown produce. Locally grown plants are less likely to be stressed unnecessarily. They are not forced to bloom or artificially enhanced to grow faster for mass production. Many plants and seedlings imported in for big box retail stores have been forced to mature at a rate that is unhealthy for the plant. This leaves the plant weak and susceptible to diseases. They’re also not able to deal with the natural stressors. This is the botanical equivalent of forcing an infant straight into puberty in a matter of weeks.

One of the big problems that come from big box stores pushing their garden wares is that they’re pushing plants, flowers and veggie seedlings way too early in the season. This is a big problem especially with the cooler than normal temperatures that we’ve been having for this spring. Plants grown in this climate and allowed the time to grow at a healthy and normal rate are more like to continue growing successfully and bear better fruit. Christex Nursery won’t even release their tomato plants until June 1st, which is the start date for bringing your tomato plants outside. In fact, with this cooler than average weather, I’ll probably be bringing in the tomatoes at night for the first few weeks until the overnight temperatures get in the double digits.

I popped by the Community Gardens’ organic plant sale Sunday morning. They have a wide array of flowers, veggies, fruit and herb plants. At $2 each, 3 for $5 or 10 for $15, for the 4 inch container plants, they’re one of the best deals in town.

BTW, The Community Gardens is looking for donations of 4 inch seedling containers, plastic bags, cardboard/plastic flats and vertical blinds. You can drop them off at the plant sale.

At the plant sale, I ran into a fellow 100 Miler and we headed off to the Cedar Farmer’s Market (Crow and Gate Pub, 2313 Yellowpoint Rd) for some grocery shopping. The market was bustling with vendors and patrons. This has become one of my favorite farmer’s markets. There was everything from locally grown pepperoni, veggies, plants, cheese, chicken, eggs and veggie seedlings. There’s also locally made pet supplies & treats, artisan bread, jewellery and even a massage booth.

With my newly expanded garden already stuffed to the gills, it took much willpower to not buy more seedlings. But my 100 Miler companions bought up some gorgeous chard seedlings and plants for the flower garden. Between the two of us, we filled up our backpacks with locally grown groceries and headed back home. Here’s a list of the local farmer’s markets that are open now.

After a weekend of working in the garden, I thought it best to celebrate with a good, old roasted chicken Sunday dinner. With a Shady Mile chicken, locally grown spaghetti squash, roasted local turnips and onions, organic wheat berries from the Peach River district and a parsley pesto made with parsley from the garden, we finished the weekend with a long, satisfying locally grown meal.

Dessert was baked rhubarb and cranberries topped with a drizzle of honey, all island grown, of course.

Parsley pesto is a great springtime sauce that goes well with fish and chicken and veggies and, well, pretty much anything that basil pesto goes with. You could also use other greens like arugula or cilantro. Parsley does fine in the garden over winter and I have a healthy crop of parsley to use in this pesto. Just in time since I’m down to my last bit of local basil pesto that I made last summer. To make it more 100 mile diet worthy, I substituted local hazelnuts for pine nuts and local cheese for parma. I keep the harden knobs and wedges of cheese in the freezer for grating or for flavouring into soups.

Here’s my recipe for 100 Mile Diet Pesto:

2 cups of basil, pesto, arugula, cilantro

1 handful of local hazelnuts, shelled and toasted

½ cup grated hardened cheese (I like Natural Pastures Boerenkaas, Amsterdammer and Hilary’s St. Clair)

a couple cloves of garlic

a couple glugs of olive oil.

salt and pepper to taste.

Blend ingredient all together into thick consistency. Great with grilled meats & veggies or tossed with some pasta. I also throw this in with some Marley Farms kiwi vinegar for a great vinegrette for a salad dressing. It's also a instant flavour booster for soups or a sandwich spread. I've even used as a crudite dip.

Have a great week!


Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Asparagus Orgy

For my asparagus loving readers, Slow Food Vancouver Island is hosting an asparagus feast tomorrow in Duncan. Here’s their invite. It looks like it's going to be a yummy celebration!

There’s also a local farm & food forum being hosted by local farm advocates, Jenny Macleod and Dr. Kathryn Gemmell, at Nanoose Place (2925 Northwest Bay Road) on Saturday (May 26th) from 1pm to 3pm. For more info go here (midpage). I’ll be there putting in my locally grown two cents;)

The farmer’s market season is off to a great start. I popped over to the opening of the Cedar Market a few weekends ago and the place was busy right from the get go. Local vegetables, meats, jams & preserves and bedding plants were amongst the locally grown offerings. I picked up a couple of tomato plant ( I couldn't resist) and a huge broiler chicken that DH is still waxing poetic about.

In a previous entry, someone had commented about hothouse veggies and their not-so sustainable growing process. Though I agree that corporate hothouses are petro-hungry machines, there are a few small, local independent farms that are using more sustainable technology to heat their greenhouse. Some have made it a priority to make their operation as self-sustaining and low impact as possible by creating a closed heating systems and other practices. Some of gone out of their way to reuse old building material and glass as construction material. Though they do leave a bigger footprint than local organic field crops, they leave a much smaller footprint than corporate hothouse farms. These small independent farms are growing for the island community, not for export. I figure since they’re growing to feed the community, the community ought to support them back. The farmers selling these veggies are more than happy to talk to you about their operations. I’ve already garnered a number of invitations to their farms to see just how they are run.

I’d rather see folks buy an island grown hothouse cucumber than one from some factory farm from the mainland. Though I would advocate eating these hothouse products less frequently, I still would encourage folks to support the local farmers that are striving for more sustainable practices.

I’ve often been asked about what I do for products like rice, sugar and coffee since those aren’t grown within the 100 mile radius. If I can’t help the local environment and farmers then I look for an option that leaves the smallest footprint and hopefully helps a local independent farmer somewhere else. Direct fair trade sugar and coffee are my choices. I’ve had a lifetime of eating rice so I don’t eat it much anymore. If I want something rice-like I usually opt for whole grains. True Grains bakery sells whole kernel organic kamut and spelt that is grown in the Peace River district. These only need to be soaked for 8 hours or overnight then boiled up like pasta until they’re cooked through. They are chewy and have a wonderful wholesome flavour. Since they are complete whole grains, you’re getting much more nutrients. I often cook up a triple batch and freeze the leftovers in 2 cup portions for future meals. They’re great wherever you would use rice or pasta.

The 100 mile radius is but a tool to a more mindful approach to eating. I certainly don’t expect folks to completely stop eating foods they enjoy just because it isn’t grown within the prescribed 100 mile radius. Considering eating less of these foods less frequently and finding more locally grown options. Do what you can for now and strive to do more. Take it one bite at a time. Many will complain that it seems like so much work to find locally grown products. Once you’ve discovered a new locally grown resource, it’s found and yours to use. Once you know better, do better.

Yes, there is going to be a shift in your shopping habits and schedule. Yes, grocery shopping might not be as convenient in that the farmer’s market and farm gate sales aren’t a one stop shopping blitz that is open to you whenever you want. Yes, it’s going to take some research. See it as a challenge and an adventure!

BTW, I’ve been dyeing and spinning a storm of locally grown yarns. It’s kind of addictive but I’m thrilled that I’m going to be able to clothe myself with locally grown garments AND be able to finally have yarn that suits my greatest colourway fantasies and not have to break the bank. For more, check out my 100 Mile Fiber Fest blog.

Have a great day!


Nanaimo’s 100 Mile Diet Challenge

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What do you get when you cross…(updated)

...a Bog Jacket with Tubey?

A) Booby Jacket :p

B) Tog Jacket

C) Boog Jacket

Whatever you want to call it, it looks something like this:

After finishing my ‘Broken Brocade’ a couple weeks ago I’ve been letting by brain mellow out with lots and lots of spinning. Between bouts of spinning, I worked on a prototype that would bring together two of my favorite sweater designs, the Bog Jacket from Elizabeth Zimmerman (in Knitting Around) and Tubey from Knitty.com. I love the simplicity and the innovative construction ideas of both. Most of all, I love the lack of seaming :)

The beauty of this sweater is that needs only one simple line of 3 needle bind off to finish it. This sweater served as a no-brainer project that I could do while catching up on my reading and it goes well with red wine :p

Knit one, read one...

It also serves as a prototype for my first big 100 mile fiber project that I’m going to dye, spin and knit. I’ll jabber more about that project at a later date.

For this jacket I used a cotton yarn that used to reside in this skirt:

That’s my Knitting Olympics skirt which was quite lovely but it just didn’t fall the way that I wanted it to. I only wore it a handful of times and I figured it didn’t really want to be a skirt. I wish it would have told me that before I started knitting it into a skirt. Oh well, it’s now happily a jacket.

I took the all-over construction idea of a bog jacket which basically is a rectangle cut up so it forms all the parts of shirt. It’s the basic design of the tops found worn by the famous bog people. Weavers love this design because it is simply matter of weaving up a rectangle and no part of the woven fabric is wasted.
The jacket before it's seamed up . The thumb trick has been removed and replaced with stitch holders.

I also used EZ’s thumb trick to open up the fabric to separate the front of the jacket from the sleeves. She also uses the same technique to form a neckhole. I substituted that neck shaping technique by borrowing the upper torso design construction from Tubey with a few modifications.

In Tubey, the neckline connects near the armhole. I needed the neckline to connect with the front inside edge and to also form a collar of sorts. To do that, I simply M1 by way of yarnovers every other row. I began these increases halfway through the sleeves portion of the rectangle. Once I finished the square, I also added about a dozen rows of short rows to make a semicircle to help make it fit a bit better.

The wavy inner edge is simply a matter of increased and decreases at 10 row intervals with a set of 10 regular rows in between.
My general inspiration for the look of the jacket was the result my ponderings of what a knitter in the Shire would make. Couldn’t you imagine a Hobbit lass sporting this little number?

For function, I needed a little something to throw onto myself when I’m in the garden. The cotton is machine washable and the sleeves are long enough to give me a bit of coverage but short enough to stay out of the way when I’m mucking about.

I’m calling this jacket ‘Fiddlehead’ after the fiddlehead shaped I-cord closure and it’s lovely fern color.

ETA: Thanks everyone for all your lovely comments! The Bog Jacket pattern can be found in Elizabeth Zimmerman's 'Knitting Around' and it's simply called the Bog Jacket. The thumb trick is also in that book and probably in all her other books. It's a nifty trick and I've found it to be a very useful technique for opening up the fabric for armholes, pockets and, of course, thumbs.

There is probably a knitting circle or two floating around Nanaimo. There is this Yahoo group link

Beyond the usual spontaneous and impromptu knitting circles that seem to blossom wherever I go, I belong to the Mid-Island Weavers & Spinners Guild. The members are a treasure of wisdom and inspiration and explore a whole range of textile arts beyond spinning and weaving. When I joined I was only driving a drop spindle and within a few months I was geared up with a second-hand wheel, drum carder, mountains of fleece and tribe of expert spinners that were more than happy to teach me the ropes. We meet once a month except for over the summer. If you're interested, drop a note to Eva Ryan at jbtufnail@bc.sympatico.ca or drop off a note in my comment box.



Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge

Friday, May 04, 2007

Farmers' market lunch break

The Nanaimo Farmers' Market has been running for a few weeks now and today I finally managed to pop down for some lunch time grocery shopping. The market runs on Fridays from 10am to 2pm beside the Bastion on Front Street. Amongst all the craft tables you'll find locally raised poultry, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit and garden seedlings. It's a great way to get your 100 Mile Diet produce.

I wandered down on foot with my backpack and came back with this 100 Mile Diet bounty:

A huge head of red lettuce, an English cucumber and chocolate and white bell peppers! I didn't even know you could get chocolate brown peppers. They're gorgeous and glossy and actually look like they could have come from a chocolatier's veggie patch ;)
The farmer says that they're sweet like the red bell peppers. I can't wait to play with my food!
For a list of Mid-Island Farmers' Markets and other farm-related events click here

Have a great weekend.


Nanaimo 100 Mile Diet Challenge

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rhubarb Rhapsody

Rhubarb is popping up all over the island. Check out your local farm market and farmer’s market for this tart and yummy vegetable. Nanaimo’s Foodshare and Community Gardens is also hosting it’s Rhubarb Festival this Saturday. It’s being held at the Foodshare Centre on 271 Pine Street from 10am to 2pm on May 5. There will be fresh local rhubarb and other goodies for sale. Gardening experts will be available to answer your green thumb questions and tours of the community gardens will be given.

I adore rhubarb. I love it in pies, chutneys, jams, cakes, stewed, baked or simply dipped into a bit of sugar. I find that most recipes overwhelm this tangy veggie with way too much sugar in an effort to pummel its tart nature into submission. For shame! It’s charm is its tartness and it’s ability to add some zip into a dessert. Like cranberries, it also goes surprisingly well with some dark chocolate. I definitely have to experiment with a rhubarb chocolate chip sweet roll or muffin soon...

Usually I just chop up a couple pounds of rhubarb, along with a couple green apples and whatever else I have (plums, peaches, cranberries, blueberries), a pinch of cinnamon and couple tablespoons of local wildflower honey. I simply stew it up over low heat with a scant ½ cup of water. The fruit will also release quite a bit of water as well. Cook until the rhubarb is just softened. I usually wait until the end before adding softer fruit like plums and berries.

With my new bounty of rhubarb, I made a Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake. It’s a great fruity cake, perfect for tea time or a nice end to a meal. The recipe is a result of some kitchen experimentation and a craving for rhubarb baked treat.

Looks like the house elf got to the cake before I did ;P

Here’s the recipe:

2 lbs of rhubarb – fresh or frozen – washed and chopped into ½ inch pieces (you could also use other fruits like cranberries, apples, pears, plums, peaches, figs, grapes etc)

½ cup honey (or brown or cane sugar)

Group A - dry ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour ( I used a mix of True Grains bakery’s sifted flour and organic kamut flour)
½ cup polenta or corn meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Group B

½ cup butter
¾ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Group C

1 cup whole milk yogurt

1-Mix fruit and honey together and let sit for about 1 hour to macerate. That’s fancy schmancy talk for suck the juices out of the fruit.
2- Preheat over 350F

3-In a medium sized bowl, combine together Group A (dry) ingredients
4-In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar. Once creamed well, add eggs and vanilla = Group B
5-With a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in Group A & C into Group B(butter mixture) alternating between A & C. Combine until it almost just combined. Do NOT overmix
6-Add in macerated fruit and fold in. The batter will look like the dog’s breakfast. Don’t worry, it’ll bake up fine.
7-Pour into a prepared 9-10 inch round pan (I used a 10 inch springform pan) and bake for 40-50 minutes.
8- Check with toothpick for doneness.Let cool on rack and enjoy!

Last night, I had my Spinners’ and Weavers’ Guild meeting and DH had a Guys’ Night In with a friend so we were going to be eating dinner at different times. I whipped up a batch of bison chili in the slow cooker for when the guys surfaced from their video games for a bite and it was piping hot and waiting for me when I got home from my meeting.

At the meeting, I took the opportunity to beg for advice on plying my handspun yarn. I had a roomful of experts that were more than happy to offer their words of wooly wisdom and give me a quick plying tutorial.

With the support and tutelage of my spinning mentors, I managed to finished my first 2-ply 100 mile yarn:

Ain't it sweet? :)

I'm so proud. I have it drying right now. My silly little brain is dizzy with ideas of what I could knit up. For more spinning babble check out my 100 mile fiber blog.

Have a great day!


100 Mile Diet Nanaimo Challenge

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Fox is guarding the henhouse

So the US has finally released an announcement stating that millions of chicken have been fed tainted pet food.

Of course, they'll also saying that there's 'minimal risk' to humans who have consumed these chickens. One of the contaminants, melamine, causes irritation of eyes, skin and throat. It has been linked to cancer and kidney failure in lab rats.

The other known contaminant that melamine is reacting with, cyanruic acid, is used for swimming pools and hot tub. Yes, an obvious ingredient for making pet food.

A spokesmans from the National Chicken Council is quoted comparing feeding chickens contaminated pet food with baking cupcakes. Obviously, he is taking this very seriously.

Funny, most Americans I know don't look anything like a guinea pig...

Buy local and remember, it's a kidney-shaped pool, not treat your kidneys like a pool. (I know that was kinda lame...)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I hate lawns

Monday was spent doing all the stuff that I didn't get to over the weekend. The usual patchwork of housework, offering of sacrifices to the garden gods, sending out rays of my sardonic sunshine to this mad, mad world and dogpaddling my way through my email box. I didn't get to all of this over the weekend because I was in a epic battle against my nemesis, or at least one of them, The Lawn.

I hate lawns. Lawns are stupid. Lawns are evidence that we are stupid.

We're renting our abode at the moment but when we do buy our bit of paradise, there won't be a speck of lawn. There may be grass, but no lawn.

The Lawn is North America's arrogant pronouncement that he has conquered and enslaved nature. It's his way of showing that he has tamed the wild and made it bend at his will. It is his totem of civilization.

Of course, NA, has it's head so far up its arse that it has caused an gastrointestinal traffic jam. In other words, North America is the source of its constipation but is too blind to see because no matter how much sunshine you blow up there, it's still pretty dark.

Yep, we da man. We da man so therefore we feed, medicate, groom and water something simply to chop off it's head once a week! I don't get it. You can't eat it. It doesn't look all that remarkable and thanks to all the herbicides that it needs, it's more enviromentally harmful than it is beneficial. All it seems to do is tell the whole world, 'I'm so wealthy that I can afford to blow all my time, money and energy on this absolutely useless symbol of affluence.'

I don't get it but I had to mow the lawn because it was getting at the length that it would start harboring snakes, wasp nests and pygmy tribes. If it got any longer, I would have to hire a crew of migrant workers with machetes to take it down. So Saturday morning I popped a couple of antihistamines (of course I'm highly allergic to grass pollen) and went out to tackle The Lawn.

The grass had gotten so long that the gas mower blade kept jamming up. It was a inane dance that went something like this:
...5,6,7,8... take 14 pulls to start up the mower, the mower farts out puff of black smoke and growls awake, take two steps forward and have it jam up, shake and rattle the jammed grass out the blades, sashay the mower to already cut area (because it wouldn't start in the tall grass), and back to the top...6,7,8

I soon figured out that it wouldn't jam as much if I pulled the lawnmower backwards over the grass but this also left swirls of uncut grass. So I pulled the dang lawnmower twice over each pass of lawn.


3 hours later, my right arm aching and sore from constantly trying the start the gas guzzling lawn beast and shoulders and back like pulverized jello from pulling the mower over the lawn twice, I crawled in the shower and washed away the grass pollen, sweat, grime and frustration.

I spent the rest of Saturday recovering from my lawn epic with a pot of tea and an healing afternoon of knitting and an restorative evening of spinning, which is why I was still doing weekend chores yesterday :P

Monday was a total weekend leftovers day. I even finished up some spinning that I had started on Saturday:
It's a Targhee wool that I picked up last summer at the Duncan fibre sale. It's colourway is called 'Active Pass' which is what totally sold me. The kayaker in me couldn't resist such a name. I'm thinking of plying it with a solid cream or chocolate brown.

Dinner was also an affair of leftovers. DH and I went to the gym around 7pm. He went to workout and maintain his jedi powers so he can heal up from his shoulder overhaul. I went to burn off all the extra Energizer Bunny energy I had pent up from a day of puttering.

We got home at half past 8, hungry and tired. From this weekend's leftovers I pulled together a gnocchi with chorizo, spaghetti squash, kale and spinach. The greens were from the garden, the rest was bits and pieces residing in the tupperware condo in the back of my fridge. All of it island grown, of course.

In less than ten minutes we had this:

Dessert was the last pieces of a rhubarb, apple and cranberry pie I made over the weekend.
The fruit is all island grown. Spring rhubarb is finally coming up! Yippee! It was a lovely ruby toned ending to our day.

It's a pie version of my Fast & Dirty Baked Fruit from a family of recipes known as the 'Coppolas' . Here's the pithy recipe for that:

Couple of pounds of rhubarb washed and chopped
Couple of green or other pie apples washed and chopped
Couple of cups of cranberry or other berries
Couple of tablespoons of organic cane sugar or local honey
Couple of teaspoons of cornstarch
Couple of pinches of cinnamon and ground ginger

Toss and mix in large corningware container. Throw into a 350F oven for 40-50 minutes. Let cool and enjoy.

I know you're thinking that there's not enough sugar for that much fruit. If it's not sweet enough, I just drizzle a bit of honey or some grated dark chocolate when it's still warm. I personally find most processed foods and store bought desserts way too sweet. I prefer to let the sunshine sweetness of fruit colour the dish.

This baked fruit is awesome for breakfast with a bit of yogurt and and granola. Or as a topping with some fruit sorbet or vanilla icecream or cake. In a pinch, it can be turned into a chutney with a drizzle of cider vinegar and some spices. I've also used it as a surprise filling in muffins.

Happy Eating!

Nanaimo's 100 Mile Diet Challenge