Monday, August 31, 2009

baked apples

Today my uncle and his friend were out getting a start on the canola harvest. My aunt was at work so I cooked up supper. I made a chicken stew with a mixture of leftovers and some veggies that needed using up and a can of mushroom soup. I made cornbread to go with it and then started brainstorming desserts I could do without running to the store. I found this recipe for baked apples at Kitchen Parade and it sure hit the spot! (I did add a bit more spices than it suggested though and a bunch of raisins.)

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total preparation time: 1 hour
9 servings

* 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* Dash cinnamon
* Dash nutmeg
* 1-1/2 cups water
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 9 small or medium apples

In a 1½-quart saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and spices; stir together with a wooden spoon to remove any obvious lumps. Add water and stir. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add butter. Cook until thick, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, rub a 9x9-inch glass dish with butter. Wash and core the apples and place right side up in the dish. Pour the sauce into and over the apples.

Bake 45 minutes at 325F. Halfway through baking, remove from oven and cover the apples with hot syrup again. Return to oven to complete baking. Serve hot or cold.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Life on the Farm

I have been on the go nonstop for the last month and finally I have a day sort of to myself just to relax. It is easy to fall into the pace of the farm. My aunt and uncle were my legal guardians as a child if anything had happened to my parents. Although this is only my third time staying on the farm it feels like home. Actually in some ways it feels more like a home than my parent's house. It is definately a less stressful environment. Things are not expected to be perfect on the farm. A little bit of mess is allowable and everything gets done, but at its own pace. My aunt and uncle are very busy people. My uncle works in town on the base. He works nights. I think he is a handyman/night watchmen. I am not sure. It sounds like a boring job; sometimes he brings work from home to do at his work. My aunt is a baker in Brandon. On weekends my aunt grabs her viking stuff, loads up the truck and heads out of town for practice with her viking reinactment group. My uncle tinkers with machines in the shed or processes more bio-diesel. All the vechiles belonging to my aunt, uncle and cousins run on biodiesel including the farm machinery with the exception of one pickup truck. My uncle makes his biodiesel out of grease waste from fastfood restaurants in town. He has made it from canola oil in the past but he finds that his current method is a better way to recycle. He recycles all the waste products created during biodiesel production. He condenses methanol gas and reuses it and he uses glycerol either as fertilizer or (more recently) to make soap products. On top of all this the crops are late this year so my uncle's Canola needs to be harvested in the next week. I try to help out where I can but being I am ignorant still of how the farm runs I can get in the way more than I can help sometimes. I do make sure I pick the peas in the garden and walk the dog and brush the dog and two cats. I make meals sometimes too. The general rule of meal cooking around here is that the first person to decide to make a meal should make enough for everyone.

Tonight my aunt is away at another viking gathering and my uncle is out trying to get his machines ready for harvest. I will find a recipe for chicken as it needs to be used up. I am letting my vegetarian eating slide while I am here because I don't want to cause extra work for my aunt and uncle. My uncle wants to have a fire tonight so we can make banana boats for dessert. (This is where you make a slit in a banana and put in chocolate chips and then cook it in the fire wrapped in foil).

Tomorrow is Sunday which means we will have pancakes for dinner (dinner=lunch and supper=the last meal of the day on the farm). It is tradition on the farm that my uncle makes pancakes every Sunday... mounds of them. Some of them he cooks cheese into the center. Yum!!! We can always expect guests for Sunday pancakes. Usually my cousins and their significant others or my uncle's mother. All meals on the farm are served with tea. This makes sense because the water comes from the resevoir and comes out a muddy brown colour. It is perfectly drinkable but looks gross so the tea disguises the colour. My uncle drinks exclusively green earl grey tea and the tea cupboard is full to bursting with packages of it.

Today I am doing laundry because all but a weeks worth of clothes are packed still. We have hardwater so I had to buy more soap. I like the earthy feel of the water on my skin in the shower but it sure wreaks havoc on my hair! Luckily good fashion and neat hair are not expected on the farm. (Viking fashion however is perfectly acceptable.)

My cousin, Andrew might be stopping in tonight if his plane gets in early enough. His wife and baby are staying in the other farmhouse until they find a place closer to the city to live. Andrew was recently hired by Apple and has been away for training. I am curious to see him as last time I did he was an antisocial teenager. It sound like he has changed a great deal. I am not sure I would even recognize him it has been so long since I saw him.

Well that's about it for now. I am just charging batteries for my camera so photos will have to wait for the time being.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Great Tea Spot

The other day I went with my bestfriend to a tea and coffee shop in town. We got to pick the tea we wanted from jars on shelves against the wall. We could even take the jars down to smell them. I choose a tea with maple in it and my friend chose "bella coola" which smelled of fruits and flowers. It was a lovely little modern looking shop and reasonably priced. It had a friendly, comfortable atmosphere and we didn't even have to pay until we'd finished our drinks!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Smoky With Sun

Today was another scorcher and as is common in the summers here, the air was filled with smoke. Even though we are only in a moderate risk zone for fires at the moment at least one has broken out locally. This is small and the fire services are quick to contain it so it likely will not be much of a concern. Here are some pictures taken over the river this afternoon.