Thinking of My Mother, Greek Myths and Rebirth

painting ©Flora Doehler, 2014
20 years ago today, in 1997, my dear mother died. Her Toronto hospital room overlooked a ravine filled with trees in their autumn glory. In her last days, I sat holding her hand, looking out the window, thinking, waiting and wondering if the end of this journey would lead to an existence after this one. That’s a tough one for a non-believer like me. On the day she died, it snowed. I’ll never forget the brilliance of the autumn colours behind that screen of falling white flakes.

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Moving Day…..maybe.

Eight years ago this week, we moved into our lovely house. Today Larry and a friend are on scaffolding and ladders with electric sanders prepping the outside of the house for its long-overdue paint job. House jobs are really never finished.
We love the sense of history of our 150ish year old house and are glad to caretake it so that it lasts for another century or two.
This is an eight year old blog about moving in.
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When Nova Scotia was Twinned with Africa

When I turned 60, that number looked big; but when I listen to my thoughts or look into my heart or look around me I feel much, much younger. But even if I were turning 100 it would still feel insignificant after our journey in 2011 to a magical place in Nova Scotia that is 350 million years old. Continue reading

Reasons for Moving to Rural Nova Scotia

Even after Larry and I made “the big decision” to quit our ‘good’ jobs and leave the vibrant city of Toronto to move to this tiny village of 800 we both had mixed feelings about what was coming. These feelings swung from elation to stomach-churning anxiety. Usually, we didn’t have them at the same time, so we could give each other support. Continue reading

Give Me One Reason to Stay Here…and I’ll turn right back around

I wrote this post 5 years ago. We’re very happy with our place in the universe – Bear River. – Flora
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Warm Red Cabbage, Red Onion and Apple Slaw

I can’t resist picking up a purple cabbage at the grocery store. Oh the colour is so rich and the slicing reveals the most intricate patterns. I noticed that the line from the middle spiral outwards. Is everything in creation a series of spirals?cabbage3

I came across this totally easy and VERY TASTY recipe called Warm Red Cabbage, Red Onion and Apple Slaw. Even the title is visually appealing.

I use apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic, but I’m sure both are delicious. I also add a handful of walnuts. AND, I keep it on the stove until the cabbage is soft. That means putting a lid on it at the end.

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The book Vegetarian by Joanne Weir is out of print, but here’s a link to it.

It’s snowing outside, the washing machine is washing,  and the kitchen is filled with a sweet and sour fragrance. The cat is curled up by the fire. Larry is upstairs creating an ad for this season’s Bear River Artworks Gallery.
Reminder to self:  the studio calls.

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Snow Storm Latte, Art, Tides and Bear River Hills

Bear River snow.

Snow storms are very OK if you don’t have to drive anywhere. But even better is having a walking destination that leads to:

  • a delicious Sissiboo Coffee latte that I could never emulate at home
  • a place with wonderful art
  • somewhere with just the right music
  • friendly folks

So Larry and I bundle up and slip and slide down the hill.

Bear River snow.
Sliding down the hill to the village.

Then over the little bridge from the Digby County to Annapolis County side.

Then into Sissiboo Coffee Bar and Gallery for a treat and to enjoy the art.

See more of Penny’s stitching, dyeing and fibre story-telling at her blog 

I’ve left out the conversations about the recent local Herring Deaths, the Trump stories, the agony of aging parents, the state of the world, heating systems, fostering creativity, music concerts and lost cats.

I’ve left out the Bob Dylan, John Prine and similar sounds in the cafe.

I’ve left out the stop at the post office.

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An advantage of living in a small town

And finally, the walk home……

And then a peek into the studio at my newest creation. A need to add some colour to this beautiful, monochromatic world.

And finally for you, dear reader, a little puzzle.

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Can you spot and count the crows at the compost?

 

What to do with all that Squash and Pumpkin?

I’m not sure why, but this summer I forgot to grow my pumpkins! There are still pumpkins and squash at the local farmer’s markets so I’ll be making these delicious patties again.

In 2013, I grew beautiful winter luxury pumpkins and dumpling squash. I love the flavour of squash, but there’s only so much baked squash a person can eat. And if I turned all the pumpkins into pies…well that’s not a great health move either.

This pumpkin has another month to grow.
This pumpkin had another month to grow.

Because they are the same family, anytime a recipe calls for squash, you can substitute pumpkin.

Which is what I did using this recipe that I found online.

I made a few changes to it. I left out the flour, instead substituting it with ½ cup of corn meal and ½ cup of oat flakes. I added fresh basil leaves too.
I baked the pumpkin first and then scooped out the pulp for this recipe. I used about 2 cups of pumpkin.
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Then, instead of frying it, I baked it in the oven. I put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and then spread a thin layer of olive oil on the paper. I baked it in the oven for 30 min at 350, then turned them and baked another 5 minutes.

The flavor is out of this world. It’s kind of like a potato latke. So, a dab of apple sauce or chili sauce tastes wonderful on top. Tomato sauce works too!
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You can freeze these patties for those evenings when you need to throw together a meal in a hurry.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the gorgeous hoarfrost that will soon end when the temperatures continue to drop.

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Kale growing out of the old cold frame.
Cabbage waiting to become Borscht soup.
Cabbage waiting to become Borscht soup.

Roasted Tomato Sauce and Zucchini Boats and More Food

This post from 2010 describes this month and the harvest so well, that I’m reposting it. That summer the harvest was amazing! this summer my yields were way down because of the drought and I couldn’t water as much as I wanted. As it is, our well is half full or empty and it has never been that low. The water table is down and this summer we received 1/3 the rain of average summers.
We don’t have a friend with a cow anymore, but still order lots of bulk food with friends and neighbours. And tomorrow, I’m planting my 100 cloves of garlic for next year.


My life has been reduced to harvesting our organic, homegrown vegetables and cultural immersion! Hey, I’m not complaining, but if anyone had told me 3 years ago that I’d be immersed in more food and visual delights than I could fit into a day, I wouldn’t have believed them.

The third batch of tomato sauce started like this.

I’ll tell you about the food and then bring you a full cultural report in a few days (I promise!)

Before we moved here we knew that we’d want a vegetable garden, but I never dreamed that I’d be baking all our bread, making all our yogurt and soft cheeses, freezing up vegetables galore or lying in bed at night thinking about root cellars.

I make 6 loaves at a time and freeze 5.

We haven’t had a frost yet but the nights are getting very cool and the garden foliage has started to change in the last couple of weeks. It’s hard to see it come to an end…I’ve barely had to go to a grocery store this summer because of the garden and the farmer’s market in Bear River.

Those yellow vegetables are cucumber. “The Greenman” had unusual vegetables ‘just for fun’.

The tomatoes just keep on coming and thanks to a great tip from my friend Cheryl, who grows gorgeous flowers and tasty vegetables, I have roasted the tomatoes whole in a deep pan with slices of zucchini, green peppers, garlic and onion. The flavour is so much better than boiling down the vegetables. The house is filled with cooking smells and I’ve run out of space in our stand-up freezer so now I’m practicing new canning skills too!
Larry and I are vegetarians so this bounty from the garden is really welcomed.

I froze lots of beans. This year I remembered to plant them in succession to keep them coming.

There are other ways to bring down the grocery bill while eating like kings. Bear River has a long tradition of organizing food buying groups and we belong to several different ones. We are members of a cheese co-op and although the cheese is not organic, we are able to buy havarti, cheddar and mozzarella at close to 1/2 the prices in the supermarkets.

Cheese keeps for a long time when it’s purchased fresh.

A couple of times a year another food buying group purchases organic flours and dried beans and rice at reduced prices from Speerville Mills in New Brunswick.

Spearville Mills.

Still another group we’re in buys organic and fair trade nuts and dried fruit from Rancho Vignola in BC.

I’ve also started making my own yogurt, cream cheese, ricotta and butter from the creamy milk of a local cow. It is dead easy to do and if you want the instructions,  just ask and I’ll post the information.

Blue lake runner beans take longer to mature, but the flavour is superior to the bush beans. I save the seed year after year.

And of course, there is the fantastic fair trade coffee that we buy from Sissiboo Coffee here in Bear River. Yum, yum!

All of these ways of food preparation and shopping have reduced our dependency on the 2 big box grocery stores in Digby, who still don’t seem to understand that people want to buy locally grown produce. It means too that our grocery bill is reduced. We wouldn’t be able to eat this much organic food if we couldn’t grow it ourselves or buy it with others. And by eating food from crops that are rotated and without insecticides etc as well as fresh, I know that the nutritional quality of the food is better.

Brocolli is STILL producing. The side shoots are like small heads.

The downside and the upside is that all meals are made from scratch. This is fairly labour intensive and wouldn’t be possible if I still worked full-time in the city.

Roasted tomato, onion, zucchini, garlic, carrots and herbs.
I scooped out some zucchini boats and added a mixture of uncooked rice and roasted tomato sauce with chopped, fresh spinach. Top with feta and mozzarella cheese. Pour in an inch of veg water. Bake, covered at 375 for an hour.

We still didn’t get it together this summer to build a greenhouse to try our hand at winter gardening, but maybe next year. “Fingers crossed”.

I like my dry goods to be visible.

I also went a little crazy last night and ordered some spring flower bulbs to plant out this month when I plant my garlic. The gardening season is drawing to a close, but it’s not over yet.

I’ve saved this year’s biggest bulbs for replanting to harvest next summer.