Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pickling Time

     Every year, when the gherkins are in at the market, CC prepares Dill Pickles.  Now, I was never much of a pickle fan until I tried CC's.  They are crunchy and very tasty, so I thought I would share his recipe with you.

     After scrubbing and drying the gherkins off they are sorted according to size.  The jars are washed on the hot cycle in the dishwasher and allowed to dry and the lids are boiled in water on the stove.  The gherkins are pricked with a fork to allow the vinegar solution to penetrate the flesh.

     CC crams as many gherkins into the glass jars as he can, then adds two peeled cloves of garlic (purchased from the market), a small bunch of fresh dill (also purchased at the market), 1 tablespoon of pickling salt, 1/4 teaspoon alum and then 1/2 - 3/4 cup white vinegar (depending on the size of the jar). He then adds boiling water to the top of the jar, puts the lid on, flips the jar upside down and lets it rest overnight.  He then flips it right-side up and puts it in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks.  Then, it's time to enjoy!  They are great by themselves of course, but we also add slices on top of burgers or chop them up in potato salad. YUM!

Friday Night Storm

     The last week has been very hot and humid, but the weather finally broke this past Friday.  As I was taking the bus home, I noticed a lot of dark, fast-moving clouds with some scary-looking ones further north and wasn't sure I was going to make it home in time before the inevitable rain started.  Luckily, I got on my bike and sped home and the first drops started to fall once I was safely ensconced in the homestead! CC and I rushed around and shut windows as the skies opened up and a torrential downpour ensued.  Right after it stopped, we opened up all the doors and windows to try and air out the still-humid house.  We then headed downtown to do some banking and get some gelato, but on the way back home, we got caught in another downpour and both got soaked.  It was still quite warm in the house, but we opened up all of the doors and windows to get a cross-breeze before we went to bed. I was awoken at 12:30 a.m. by the sound of a poster falling off the wall and noticed a LOT of thunder and lightning.  Just as I shut the windows and doors we had an even more violent storm with the wind whipping the backyard trees around crazily.  It didn't last long and I didn't see a lot  of damage out back.

    The next day, Saturday, we headed off to Toronto to visit my brother and his family, and as we passed Royal City Park, we noticed yellow tape and lots of trees and branches down.  It had already suffered a lot of damage earlier this year after being hit by an ice storm, so this was a surprise, to say the least.

     Today, after lunch, we decided to head down to the park to see the damage for ourselves.  Even though there was lots of yellow tape up and signs advising people of the potential hazards, lots of people were walking amongst the remains of the trees to survey the storm's destruction. A couple of tall, older evergreens had been broken in half with their top halves lying on the ground, and a couple of large trees were completely uprooted, lying on the ground with their roots exposed.  Interestingly, the park was once a dump, so beneath the roots was all sorts of old garbage - metal, glass, etc.  Fortunately, the trees that came down didn't seem to hit any of the newer trees that had been planted after the last, destructive storm.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's Been a While...

Gow Bridge post rainstorm
     ...but we have been having a LOT of rain and I have not been taking many photographs.  It has also been quite humid, so my energy levels are low and I have not been out exploring much on bike nor on foot.  It's killer humid today and my reading glasses are getting fogged up as I write this!

Still Life
     Instead of focussing on one thing we have done recently, I'm going to give a few, smaller updates.  The Guelph farmer's market has moved into the Exhibition Park Arena for the summer while they work on the old building.  It's a much larger space, but it has lost a lot of the intimacy of the older building and even though the ceiling is much higher, it feels airless most of the time.  CC bought some lovely field-grown roses and did some wonderful arrangements for the house including the one above.

New Lithops Emerging

     The house plants are all doing very well, especially when we moved a lot of them outside to get some of the torrential rainwater we have been experiencing.  Everything is looking lush and is sending out lots of new leaves.  The most interesting, by far, is the above Lithops or Stone Plant.  I bought it some months ago at Belgian Nurseries as I had always wanted one.  After flowering, they go dormant and shed their previous year's growth to reveal a shiny, new plant underneath.  It's like something out of a science fiction movie and happens very slowly.  I'm hoping to get it to flower this winter - stay tuned...

Black Raspberries

     We have six, mature Walnut Trees in the back yard, so it is impossible to have any kind of vegetable garden, although we do have an underused herb pot.  We do, however, have lots of black raspberries and I love going out into the back yard and picking all the ripe ones and eating them then and there.  If they have been warmed by the sun, even better!  They are not very sweet and have quite a lot of seeds in them, but are tasty nonetheless.