Saturday, August 18, 2018

A visit from my parents

It was lovely to have my parents visit me for a few days earlier this month.  My work schedule allowed me to spend most of the time with them rather than worrying about work commitments, and we had some great weather during their visit which allowed for outdoor pursuits.

We visited our favourite local walking spot - the Sackville Waterfowl Park.  The park is lovely at all times of the year.  This time of year, the water levels are a bit low, and the water is often heavy with duckweed and algae.  The ducks don't mind!  We saw some wee mallard ducklings - a late brood of 8 with their mom.  So cute!

My mother took some time to commune with a beautiful mature birch tree.  I am so thankful to her that I learned to love trees, and all of nature, at an early age.  She and my father are most definitely the reason that I, too, hug trees. 

I managed to snap a shot of a cedar waxwing while we were at the park.  They can be a bit difficult to photograph, being a bit flighty and elusive, but this one obliged me.

As always, my parents lent a hand to any task I had that needed doing.  My mother spent time weeding and helping me harvest from the vegetable beds.  She also did her usual (more than) fair share of the cooking.  She was so enthusiastic with weeding that she accidentally "weeded" one of my Rudbeckia "cherry brandy" plants.  Fortunately we were able to locate it in the compost pile and get it re-planted.  It has not suffered from its temporary uprooting!

My father, meanwhile, did a marathon job of sharpening a variety of my garden and kitchen tools.  He was able to do the work out in my screened porch, giving him lots of light and fresh air, but keeping the mosquitoes at bay.  He did an amazing job de-rusting, sharpening and oiling my pruners and snips. 

Some of these had been almost untouched since my move from Iowa 8 years ago, and the rust was dreadful.  I sprayed them with vinegar before their visit, to get the cleaning process started.  My father used sharpening stones to really sharpen the blades and get them into good working order.

He also took care of the sharpening of my loppers.

I have two large pairs of loppers and around here, with all our trees, they are well used.  I am so glad to have them sharpened and in good order.

I am so grateful that my parents are still able to visit me and that they are so willing to help with tasks that I can't always find the time to focus on.  

I've read about storing garden tools through the winter in a bucket of oiled sand.  This prevents rust and keeps the blades sharp.  I might give that a try this winter.

Busy in the Kitchen

Things are really busy in the kitchen at this time of year.  We have a CSA vegetable assortment weekly from Nature's Route Farm here in eastern NB.  Added to that, I have my own vegetable garden, and some treats from my friend who has a vegetable farm in Memramcook.  As a result, today was spent largely in the kitchen.

I made pesto from garlic scapes (from Memramcook), parsley, sage, basil (all herbs from my vegetable beds) and a mix of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.  Marc is allergic to all nuts except almonds, so I don't use the traditional pine nuts in my pesto.  You can see that I have some zucchini to use as well!

I made the pesto in the food processor and for the oil component, I used a lovely speciality Lucques olive oil.  I pressed it into ice cube trays and will take the frozen cubes out and put them in bags to use through the winter. 

It makes a great accompaniment to pasta, but also does double duty as a pizza base, an addition to stuffed chicken breasts, or an addition to lasagne layers when mixed with cottage cheese.

I bought 6 trays of half price mushrooms at the grocery store last week, all of which needed to be rinsed and chopped before being sauteed.  I managed to get Marc to help with that task today. 

I used some mushrooms in a quiche with tomatoes, ham and leeks.  The rest are in the fridge for accompanying meals this coming week.

I also made a large batch of mushroom and barley soup, adding some quinoa and tomato paste to the beef-broth based soup.  That's been transferred into containers now and some will likely be frozen.

In addition, I made a sort of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants recipe.  I shredded 2 zucchini and 6 carrots.  I boiled about 5 potatoes and a large sweet potato.  I mashed the potatoes and added a bit of butter.  Then I shredded a large head of cabbage and sauteed it in olive oil until it was really soft and sweet.  I mixed everything together and added 3 small (silkie) eggs and a good dollop of pureed ginger paste.  Then I formed patties with the mixture and rolled them in seasoned bread crumbs.

Then I sauteed them in olive oil to form a sort of potato-cabbage-veggie "fritter" of sorts. 

They taste really good!  I have 2 large containers full of them.

Tomorrow I anticipate making a broccoli and blue cheese soup, as well as a parsnip-based soup.  Finding freezer space is becoming challenging but I'm trying to do the best I can with the summer harvest.  If I find time, I will also roast beets and make a cake.