wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Multi-tasking

I knew I had to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen today so I thought I might as well do two jobs at once. I put some bread dough ingredients in the bread machine, and when the mixing and rising was done, I put the dough into two loaf tins to rise again in a slightly warmed oven.

Then I got busy with these chanterelles the Captain and I had picked the day before.

One of them had grown like a bouquet of flowers.

Another was simply a giant single, so big a piece broke off when we handled it.

I washed the mushrooms in a tub of water, using the spray hose at the sink. Most of the needles and bits of dirt came off easily with the sprayer and I put the chanterelles into a bowl.

As I cut them up, I gave them another check to remove any last bits of forest that had come home with them.

Then I dumped the cut up mushrooms into the frying pan and sauteed them (basically cooking them for a few minutes to get most of the excess moisture out). I did many, many bowlfuls of mushrooms, cutting and cleaning while the previous batch simmered.

I put the cooked mushrooms into a stainless steel bowl and left them to cool before putting them into ziplocs to freeze in small batches.  They’re a great addition to curries, gravy, stir fries, and any number of other dishes.

When the bread dough had risen in the pans, I turned on the oven, and by the time all the mushroom work was done, I was rewarded with two freshly baked loaves of bread.

 


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Slipping into the Fall

With this title I began to wonder if I should have a picture of a pair of crutches, but it’s not that kind of fall. Now that the equinox has passed, there’s no denying that autumn is here.

Just look at the last of the Wilmuta winter apples.

The last of the walnuts, husks drying on the tree.

And, so sadly, my zinnias, gone to seed.

Emma saw them and was sad too. Only a few mums and rudbeckias left.

But out in the yard, the roses are making a last ditch effort to bloom. This one is called Freedom.

This red one is Europeana.

It’s time for the fall crocuses to do their thing. They’re funny ducks, sporting only leaves in the spring and only flowers in the fall. Anything to be different!

But most depressing are the holly berries, reminding me that deep winter is coming and with it the “C” word.

Beautiful as autumn is,

To me it’s always sad,

It marks the end of summertime,

And all the fun we had.

My attitude I must adjust,

And treasure golden days,

For autumn also brings us joy, 

In, oh, so many ways.

 

*Please visit my webpage. http://www.anneli-purchase.com


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This ‘Hood is for the Birds

Not meaning to make light of the very real shortage of affordable housing for people, I thought if  birds had any shortage of housing, here is one person’s way of dealing with it and helping them out. This tree with its “decoration” is located in a remote part of Vancouver Island. A handful of people live nearby and while some of them are very creative, all of them love nature. So this tribute to bird life is appreciated and admired by all. Some other objects have crept into a space among the birdhouses, but they don’t look out of place because they are part of the lifestyle there.

*Taken with the Captain’s little Fuji.

Do you see any objects that stand out for you?


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Thief in Broad Daylight

I was slow getting out there to pick up the hazelnuts that the wind knocked down. The rain might have had something to do with my laziness.

“Anyway,” I reasoned, “the first ones to fall are the bad ones or the empty shells. I’ll wait a day or two.”

MISTAKE!!

A thief in the night cleaned me out.

Today, in broad daylight, my suspicions were confirmed.

“LINCOLN THE DELINQUENT WAS BACK!”

See how sneakily he hustled to hide behind the nut tree when he heard the click of my camera?

But after a while, he felt safe enough to come out into the open and brazenly eat one of the hundreds of hazelnuts he had stolen.

Another click of my faraway camera and he scurried over to hide behind a low-hanging branch of the hazelnut tree.

“She can’t see me here,” he said to himself. “She’ll never guess how many I already have tucked away. Hee hee. But to show some goodwill, I left her a bunch.”

 

“I know, Lincoln. Thanks for nothing. Those were all the rotten ones!”

 


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Mushroom Picking

Chanterelles usually grow in a low-growing fern-like mossy cover. But yesterday when the Captain and I went picking, there were only a few in this kind of vegetation.

The salal bushes seemed to get thicker and taller (waist high) and we wanted to get out of that patch and find something more mossy. I took the easiest path through the salal bushes. But wait a minute! This was a place that no human had walked through in a long time. Why am I following a path?

The path of least resistance that I was following was most likely a game trail. Game? It had to be game big enough to clear a path waist high…. Deer? Maybe. But more likely bears. I felt the hair prickle on the back of my neck and thought about getting out of there, when I spotted something champagne coloured – a chanterelle! And then another, and another, and another. They’re not supposed to be growing under the salal like this.

 

In the photo above, you can see that we had two cans of never used bear spray with us, just in case, but I honestly wasn’t worried about bears once I found my first chanterelle. It was great exercise and fun to find the mushrooms.

As we walked back to the truck, we saw a small deposit of processed berries at the side of the road. Oregon grape and salal berries are prolific in the woods we had just walked through. Apparently a bear had enjoyed this walk while foraging for his breakfast too.

Luckily, it seemed to be a day or two old. I was relieved to see that it was not steaming hot, as these finds sometimes are.


PS Notice the well-placed flower.


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Quilted Aquarium

At last, at last, at last! I’ve finished the fish placemats after working on them for weeks. After sewing strips together to represent the pebbly ocean floor and the sea, I had to cut out shapes for seaweed, rocks, various kinds of imaginary fish, and a few turtles thrown into the mix.

These all had to be ironed on with “Heat and Bond” and then sewn into place with a small blanket stitch.

Then the batting and backing were put on and the quilting began.

Today I finished the binding around the edges.

There is a set of four, with a darker ocean floor, and a set of six with a lighter floor.

Don’t look too closely. There are mistakes all over the place, but after the first blob of gravy drops on the placemats, that won’t matter anymore.


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A Crabby Chapter from a Free Book

I know it’s a lot of reading, but I’ve put a chapter from my novel “The Wind Weeps” here, below the photo of these wonderful dungeness crabs the Captain brought home yesterday.

The chapter tells a bit about how the crabs can be caught and cooked, but it also shows the dark side of Robert’s abusive character and Andrea’s response to it.

The part about how to pick up the crabs comes directly from my own experience, but the rest is fiction.

You can find the novel “The Wind Weeps” on amazon and on smashwords.com. Just click on the book cover image at the side of the post or visit my web page at http://www.anneli-purchase.com

The e-book is still FREEEEEEEE. Sequels of this coastal novel (“Reckoning Tide” and “Marlie”) are also available.

 


Chapter 44

“I’m going to pull the crab rings. You coming?” Robert was friendly. You’d think yesterday hadn’t happened.

“No thanks. I don’t think I’d be much help. I’d only be in the way.” And I have no desire to go out in the skiff with you again. Ever!

“Well, at least put some water on to cook the crabs.”

I slammed a big pot of water on the woodstove to heat up. I grabbed the binoculars and watched him. Maybe he’d get caught in the coils and fall overboard. He stopped the boat by the farthest marker, reached for the float and started pulling the line in, coiling it in the bottom of the skiff as it came over the side. When the ring came up, he set it on the seat in front of him and gingerly grasped the two crabs that were now trying to clamber out of the netting. He tossed them into a bucket in the front of the skiff. He repeated the process with the closer ring, this time pulling up three crabs. After tossing them into the bucket as well, he pried loose a starfish that had settled on the fish-head bait and chucked it back into the water. With the second ring securely on board, Robert scooted the boat over to the dock again. I threw down the binoculars and tried to look busy as he came in the door.

“Put that pot of water on the propane stove now. Set it up on the porch or it’ll stink up the house. I’ll have those crabs ready to throw into it in a few minutes. Lots of salt in the water?”

“A good handful,” I said. “Is that enough?” He nodded and went back to the dock.

Once I had the water set up, I watched him tear the shells off the live crabs and crack their backs on the edge of the dock, breaking the bodies in two. Then he leaned over the float, swished out their guts in the water, and put the halved bodies in another pail.

“Get me another crab out of the bucket, will you?”

I reached in to pick one up, but it turned its beady black eyes on me and stood up on its back legs, front claws open, ready to do battle.

“Ah … er … how do I pick it up without losing a finger?”

“From behind. Like this.” Robert reached in and picked it up. “Fingers on top, thumb underneath. That way they can’t reach your fingers with their claws.” He tossed it back into the bucket and said, “Okay, go ahead.”

I started to reach in and again, the crab stood up tall on its back legs, holding its claws towards me. I turned my hand this way and that, trying to picture how to pick it up. Thumb on top, fingers underneath. Or was it fingers on top and thumb underneath? I made a move towards the crab and it went into action facing off with my hand whichever way I planned to grab it.

“Oh …” I wailed. “I can’t do it.”

Robert easily picked up the crab. I thought now he’d be angry again but he was trying to hide a smile. I took that as my cue to get away while I could.

“I’ll go check on that water.”

It was a brutal business, boiling a potful of live crabs even in halves, but later, when I tasted them, I forgot all about that, and how intimidating they had been when still alive. We laid the cooked crab on old newspapers on the porch to let them get a good chill. That didn’t take long in the December air.

“They’re really meaty this time of year,” Robert said, wiping at the crab juice that dripped down his chin.

“You mean they aren’t always?” I picked at the meat of a claw using the small end of one of the crab’s own legs.

“They stop eating when it’s time to molt and grow new shells in summer and early fall. While the new shell is still soft, the crab hasn’t grown enough to fit into it yet. They aren’t as meaty then as they are later.”

I let Robert tell me all about it. He liked showing off his knowledge. I had to feed that need for my own sake; keep him happy.

“I bet even millionaires don’t get to eat this much crab at once.”

“And for sure not as fresh as these.” Robert reached across and wiped my cheek. “You had a bit of crab flake there.” He smiled.

“My wrists are dripping with crab juice.” I dried my hands on some paper towel and picked up a piece of garlic bread.

“This is great bread,” Robert said with his mouth full. “Really good. I didn’t know you could bake bread.”

I almost said, “Janine taught me,” but swallowed the words quickly. Janine had baked goods for the restaurant at Hope Bay. I didn’t want to turn our thoughts back to that time. “Yup. I can,” I said lightly. “You like it?”

“Fantastic. Goes perfect with this gourmet crab feast.”

After the last crab leg was picked clean we pushed away from the table, groaning.

“That was good,” he said, “but I’m so stuffed, I never want to eat crab again.”

“Yeah, me neither.” I laughed. “Till next time.”