Monday, 17 October 2011

The end of the garden for 2011

Well, today I tore down the garden. I pulled up the tomatoes (even though they were still flowering), clipped the last of the swiss chard, pulled up the green beans and harvested the dry pods from them and cleaned up the yard. I've harvested a lot of seeds for next summer; brandywine tomatoes, roma tomatoes, juliet tomatoes, celebrity tomatoes, San Marazano tomatoes, hot peppers of various types, patty squash, sweet red peppers, and now, bush beans. Oh, I also have some of the seeds from the butternut squash that was mentioned in last post. I did though lightly dig up one of my celebrity tomato plants that is trying to re-flower and brought it inside. I'm hoping I might get some more tomatoes from it. My husband has been absolutely spoiled with having fresh tomatoes all summer, I'm sure he is going to miss them. I've got some shelves put up in the basement for storing the onions and squashes, which will be purchased this Saturday. I'm starting to get into the thick of school (midterms, papers) so the likelihood of me being able to do regular posts is unlikely.But we'll see how it goes, and for sure, in the spring, I will start up regular posts.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Thanksgiving . . . and the consumption of this butternut

Well, up here in Canada, we do things different. Meaning we have Thanksgiving on the first monday of October. Yesterday, I drove two hours to go to my mom's and make Thanksgiving dinner. With two families, figuring out who gets who on which days can be hard. This year it wasn't as my in-laws were in the states. Sad though because my mother-in-law can cook. Upside though, I got to cook my mom real food. My mom jokes around that I'm the Martha Stewart of the family . . . but that she wasn't my teacher. She will attest to this, she is not the best cook. She can cook a chicken breast, make mashed potatoes, and feed a family of three kids on a single income, but she is not the best cook. Insert me! I love to cook. Which means, I would be the one making supper. And with me being a hippie now (by hippie I mean, the obvious, trying to be more sustainable) it would be sustainable food being served. 


We had pork hip roast (with garlic and thyme dry rub), mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, green beans and broccoli salad, with apple pie and pumpkin pie for dessert. The pork hip roast came in our meat order, and the package was a little ripped, so I thought it would be best to cook it first. Only afterwards did I realize that pork hip means loin!!!! The garlic was locally grown in Manitoba, and the thyme was from my backyard. My mom picked the potatoes from a local farmer who had already gone through with their potato picker, and picked up the scragglers. The green beans were from my backyard. The broccoli salad and pumpkin pie was not sustainably produced (Safeway), but the apple pie was homemade by moi, with the apples being from my mom's backyard apple tree. For me, the highlight of the evening (food wise) was the butternut squash. I have NEVER had a butternut squash taste that good. I mean it put the fricken in fan-fricken-tastic. My husband even ooo'd and awwww'd over it. My mom, step-dad and little sisters, had only had butternut squash made by my sister, which the girls didn't really like. But they liked this butternut squash. I've been trying to help my family make healthier choices, and my mom said yesterday, "I've never made butternut squash before, and I know you brought your own, but I'm going to watch how you make it and copy it." YAH to my mom eating new veggies. She can sometimes be scared of new food. I'm now super sad, as that was the only butternut squash that grew this year. I guess I have lots to look forward to growing them next year. I saved the seeds and am planning on planting a whole bunch of them . . . and even giving a couple of seeds to my mom for her to grow. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Meat Order!

Earlier this summer (as if October can still be called summer, but its 25 degrees outside, so yes, I can still call it summer!), I watched the movies Food Inc and Fresh. Wow, were they an eye opener. At first I tried to reverbalize what I had learned from these movies to my husband, but I got rolling eyes, pfffffffff's and stop being such a hippy stares. So, instead I was able to make him watch Food Inc (still have to get him to watch Fresh). Well, for some reason when it comes from the movie it makes more sense. He was quite surprised at the food industry. With this surprise, I ran with it. I convinced him that we should get an order of meat from a local, all natural meat producer. And he agreed!

I decided to go with McDonald's Farms. They are a family run business located in Manitoba. If I wanted to, I could go visit with my animals and see what will be my supper. Here is their 'About Us' from their website.

Hi, we are the McDonalds!  My name is Wayne and along with my wife Maria we own and operate McDonald                Farm. My mother Lois is a retired lab and X-ray technologist and my father Jim is still involved with the farm.  My sister Kristy is a payroll analyst and her partner Jason is a web designer.

McDonald Farm has been a family owned and operated farm near Cartwright in southwestern Manitoba since 1906.  In 1992 my father Jim took a Holistic resource management course and by the year 2000 had perfected a pasture-based grass farm with animals developed to thrive and prosper on pasture.
For many years now we have been enjoying the wonderfully tender and tasty beef, pork, and lamb from our locally adapted animals, which have grazed on our abundant grasses.
Our primary focus is to replicate nature and harvest the excess that nature provides in a sound, ethical, humane way; always putting foremost the animal's health, comfort, and lack of stress.
We want our customers to become our friends and have the chance to eat the same tasty and healthy food that we enjoy every day, raised ethically and with integrity.
Well, from that little blurb there alone, you can understand some of the reasons why I chose this company as the blessed company to have earned my business. Well, words don't do it alone. Taste is also a big thing. So as an introduction to their meat, I decided to get a variety pack. It's exactly what it sounds like, a variety of everything. I didn't tally up yet what I all got but the gist of it is this; Berkshire pork sausage (mouth-watering!), rack of lamb, ground lamb, lamb chops, lamb shank, pork roasts, pork chops, ground pork, beef steaks, ground beef, beef roasts, and bacon. Now, this is all frozen and is obviously to go into a freezer. I have an apartment size freezer and thought, this can all fit in it. I forgot that I was going to be freezing some of my food. I'm almost out of freezer space. Good thing the food is there to be eaten. We have so far had one package of the Early-riser sausage and one package of pork chop (where one chop is enough to feed two people and a one-inch thick ring of fat). 
Needless to say, I will post some recipes and meals from this order (such as rack of lamb!). I urge you to find a local meat producer who cares for their animals, business and ethics as much as this company does. 
P.S. Here is their website!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Yarrow Tea

Well, this summer as all the grass was dying, there was a form as green as ever, refusing to die. It was and is Yarrow. I didn't like it at first. But after some research, I actually like the fact that it's growing in my yard. And tonight especially. Tonight I am making Yarrow tea.

My husband has been fighting a cold now for a couple of days. Scratchy throat, a little phlegmy and now the sniffles. I was hoping that just plugging good old black tea into him would do the trick (that and keeping him away from milk and sugar) but after the 14 hour day he pulled at work on Friday, that's not working. And this is where yarrow tea will save the day. Yarrow can be found everywhere in North America, and in Europe and Asia. It is drought resistant and produces very beautiful small flowers, with the flowers being anywhere from white to yellow to pink. The white flowers are supposed to be the most powerful. Yarrow tea has astringent properties and is a known for its cold-killing properties. At the first sight of a tickley throat or sniffly nose, a cup or two will stop it! Now, I am not a certified herbalist, so if you do plan on using yarrow, do not quote me or believe in my words as god. Also, continual use of yarrow can be quite harmful, so please do your research, consult a professional, and use at your own risk.

For the hubby, I put two yarrow flower bunches, a couple of chamomile heads and some mint leaves in a tea pot, covered with boiling water and let sit for about 5 minutes. The chamomile and mint were added just to make it taste better (Mr. Picky Eater here). As well, the chamomile is a relaxant and the mint leaves are good for the stomach (if Mr. Picky Eater decides that the yarrow is trying to kill him). I myself am not having any . . . yet. If hubby likes it, he is going to have two cups before bed (which will be the whole pot). I will post on the success of the tea.