Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Goals for 2010

Well, Twelve more months to go in the teaching practicum.

And amidst all the reading and lesson planning and ranting, all I can think of are the unfinished--no, unstarted stories that are consuming me.

When to make the time? How to make enough time?
How do you balance a career and a passion? At what point does the passion BECOME the career?

Friday, 26 June 2009

There is "local" and then there is local

So what are the benefits of eating local goods anyway?
After all, from what I have seen so far, I'm often paying more for regionally produced products and there is the loss of convenience of having everything in one place.

On the other hand, it is so much more adventure to travel around hunting down the best of the best Island and Mainland produce and meat. Thinking back to life in Switzerland, there has been a nostalgia remembering bike trips into the local village, picking up a chicken from the butcher, bread from the baker, cheese from the dairy and so on. Besides getting a product that owners KNOW about- freshness and quality- there is truly a sense of community built around this small town lifestyle.

I wonder what life would be like if all those new housing developments were built up around little village squares:


to make this:

(no one said I was a realist)

So, the benefits of buying local goods?

- knowing where your food comes from
- knowing what your food is make from (including additives, presicides, etc)
- creating a genuine sense of community
- getting in season/ fresh products
- becoming creative with how you cook!
- supporting small business/farms

Today's finds:

Maddocks Farm house-made meats: gluton-free smokies (.99 each)
SaltSpringIsland chocolate bar (I know that the cacao comes from abroad--France and Belgium--, but I am not sure that we are going to get cacao on the island any time soon!).
local farm eggs
Island Farms milk/butter
Fraser Valley butter
U-pick berries, flowers and rhubarb on Old Field Road

Looks like someones making pie tonight ;)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

100 mile flour- check!

The hunt is on!

It is amazing how creative you have to get when you try to buy local. And how quickly you realize the pitfalls.

This weeks lesson: locally made does not mean locally grown.

I came across some expensive but 100-mile flour: "Anita's Organic" fresh stone ground 100% Organic grains ( from Chilliwack, BC. There was a lot to choose from so I picked up some Whole Wheat Flour (2kg for 9.99) and Spelt flour (6.99).

The bag reads "Milled and Mixed" in Chilliwack, "fresh ground top-quality BC and prairie-grown." Not bad!

Now the test will be to compare this local pricey flour against the generic import goods. Guess who's doing a blind taste test at their BBQ this weekend!

In other efforts to stay local I looked into Olive Oil. There were a few places in BC that MAKE the oil, but the olives are shipped in from Greece. But I haven't given up yet!

So far our garden has been hugely successful in producing delicious lettuce. The cool summer weather is definitely helping, though it would be nice if it warmed up so that our tomatoes start! (by the way, does anyone want some starter plants! Pretty soon I will be buried in my little seed projects!) Sweet peas are a-podding and basil is a-sprouting. But what the heck is the broccoli doing???

After transplanting the tomatoes from inside seedlings to outside plants the leaves turned a bit white. The first transplant group are completely recovered with really hardy growth beginning, so I think that it was simply the shock of the move that affected the plant:

And finally... I picked up some local eggs- 2km local! I think they were still warm from the chicken.

I think that my first 100 mile challenge end product will be chocolate chip cookies... whose hungry?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

100-mile challenge

All this gardening has me thinking about where food comes from. And so it is that I've decided to take up the 100-mile diet.

View Larger Map

I first heard about the challenge while working at Russell Books and finally had a chance to watch the show last night. I'm hooked!

I've unconsciously been taking initiatives to buy locally, but want to take it to the next level.

1. Having a garden has made me realize how incredible things taste when they are fresh.

2. Allergies: nowadays there is soy in almost everything! It is the new wonder food/oil. It is even in the tea we drink. Local food means local knowledge. I think it will be easier to monitor what I'm eating (especially if it comes from my own backyard!)

3. Fun! I think the challenge of maintaining my usual diet with local products is going to be an incredible challenge, one which the historian in me is rearing to unleash! To me it is a detective story: where am I going to find local olive oil!

4. Fresh, fresh, fresh: I met a man once who knew apples like the Queen knows tea. As we wandered through Seattle's Farmers market he pointed out where each apple was from, when it has likely been picked, and how it got its fabulous colour. Finally he picked out an Okanogan apple and said "this will be the best thing you ever ate." Without a doubt I was converted to localism-- that was the best apple I have eaten to this day.

Ergo my enthusiasm for the 100-mile diet, and my determination to stay as local as I can.

Who's with me?

Sunday, 14 June 2009

dirt fetish

While some people save there pennies for Reno or Cancun, or shopping in the Big Apple, I have found a pleasure of my very own, right smack dab in the center of Michell Excavating.

Yes... dirt.

So predictable, I know... but thrilled nonetheless to stand amongst mounds of soil, heaps of life-giving loam. Sigh.

I honestly cannot convey how excited I was to pick up a couple yards of dirt today. I mean, the reality of shoveling it into the driveway and then hauling it wheel barrow by wheel barrow across the yard into the beds should have stifled my enthusiasm. Yet there I was jumping up and down with excitement, Matteus looking on with half-amused bewilderment.

He was even more mystified by my gasps of delight as we dumped the compost into the beds:


holy SMOKES that soil is rich!

SMELL that stuff! That is jam PACKED with nutrients!!

One layer of compost, followed by Premium soil and topped off with some chicken manure for good measure and I was ready to plant my long awaited plants and seeds (tomatoes galore! carrots, lettuce like its going out of style, spaghetti squash--I will convert even the most skeptic person that this is an ingenious alternative to pasta!-- zucchini, sunflowers...)

The only thing left to do now is... well, wait... which is a skill I have yet to master...

(Matteus working out the soil test kit:)

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Garden time

It's hard to imagine that this time last year I was laboring over my small field in Japan. Harder still to imagine that anything grew at all, battling again typhoons, immense heat waves, my neglect and of course, ubiquitous pests.

And yet! Potatoes abounded, parsley grew rampant, sunflowers cascaded, and Monica's dahlia's distracted from the ever-invasive couch grass.

One year later, the dry heat of Victoria sitting around 25 degrees, I am at it again, somewhat self-congratulatory that with no more than a sprinkle here and there of seeds, a routine of nightly watering, the garden flourishes!

A small sort of accomplishment, but one that leaves me gazing with infatuations at other peoples gardens these days... oh to rototille a small plot of land, rip up some sod and lay down a garden that (imagine this!) you could live on! (call me old fashioned, I know; the store is a five minutes away...)

Here in Victoria there has been a resurgence of "home-grown." Food that is not only grown locally, but food that is LOCAL. Food that was here before lawns and gardens transcended them. Believe it or not, Progressives are going so far as to eliminate lawns all together-- devotion to the garden revives!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Has it been so long?

It is only as I tread along the paths of orange maples that I realize how much time has passed since my last entry. From my exodus of Japan to my ridiculously abrupt re-admittance to Canadian life, I haven't had a chance to sit down and write anything cohesive...

But with Christmas around the corner I may find some time to catch up, to narrate recent adventures, and hopefully connect with my ever-increasing network of friends (strewn across the world it seems).

I hope you are all well.