Category Archives: Hobbies

Snowy Quilting Retreat

As I left home to drive to the quilting retreat last week, it happened to be a rare sunny day and the Comox Glacier on Vancouver Island was looking fine after many  fresh coatings of snow during the past weeks. At sea level we were all complaining about the constant rain this winter, but up high, it was building up the snow on the glacier.

My friend and I arrived at the lodge on Quadra Island and unloaded our sewing machines and all the many boxes of fabric and sewing supplies we would need for the next four days.

We unloaded our bedding and personal items in our assigned rooms and then got busy setting up the machines to sew. After that it was a marathon of sewing.

Here is the project my friend was working on. She designed it herself and has done a beautiful job of it. I’m only sorry that my photo doesn’t do it justice.

I worked on small projects like bags,

and a table runner (the one hanging at an odd angle on the end).

Another quilter who sat nearby, had some gorgeous fabric that she was using to build a quilt. Here is the first phase of it.

It drizzled a bit the first two days but then it cleared enough for us to take a short walk. The next day it was like Christmas. Snow!

Even from inside the lodge, you could tell it was snowing heavily outside.

The next day it was all gone again and we were ready to drive home. What a surprise we had when we arrived home to find more snow.

And to think that ten days ago I was having thoughts about gardening. I think this year I might be planting snowballs.

 

Cooking “Chez Vous’

My friends had a wonderful idea the other day.

“Let’s go to a cooking class!”

“Great! What’s on the menu?”

“Oh, some Italian dishes, but a bit spicier than usual. And you get to eat what you cook.”

“Say no more! I love spice. I love cooking. I love eating. Let’s do it.”

We made our booking at Chez Vous in Black Creek (Vancouver Island), and last Saturday night, we three girls went out to join the fun in the kitchen.

Chef Alain Chabot and his wife Chantal were our hosts.

The ten guests who signed up for this class were divided into small groups to make various dishes:

Fresh pasta – tagliatelle and a sauce to make Spaghetti Putanesca

An eggplant and peppers appetizer – Melanzane

Lamb and Potatoes – Herb Roasted Rack of Lamb and Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Dessert – Tira misu

All photos in this post were taken by Deidre Macdonald, the pretty smiling lady in the photo below. She kindly sent them to me for this blog post. You see how happy she is. That’s how ecstatic we all felt by the time we left for home, after a fantastic evening of fun and cooking and learning.

Here, Chef Alain is checking the pasta he has just shown us how to make. We used attachments on his very old but still functional Kitchen Aid mixer to press the pasta dough and to slice it into long spaghetti strips. It was easy and fun.

Another group prepared the lamb, cutting the membrane on the inside of the ribs so the meat would not curl up in the pan, and then putting salt, pepper, and thyme on it. The chef called the group together for a lesson on the cooking of the meat. A combination of oil and butter sizzled in the pan over medium hot gas flames as he placed two racks in each of two pans.

As the butter started to look like it might burn he tipped the pan so the juices of the lamb combined with the butter and oil. This added enough liquid to prevent burning as the pan roasting continued.

Do you see how the rib bones are intertwined now that the racks have been turned over in the pan? This will help to cook the thickest part of the rack.

After a few more minutes of pan roasting, the lamb racks are sprinkled with chopped parsley and, in the same pan, are put into a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Here is the happy result. Tender and tasty!

Dinner was served in four courses with wine pairings for those who elected to have this added pleasure.

The lemon herbed roasted potatoes and some of the other dishes we made are an art all to themselves. Perhaps another blog post needs to be dedicated to them.

If you are on the island and would like to see what’s happening at the chef’s business, check out his webpage here: chezvousfoods.com

 

Seedy Saturday

I have been saving seeds for over 35 years. I always looked forward to seeing the descendants of my plants growing. The long line of repeated generations became like old friends. Recently I found out that there is a whole cult of seed saving going on out there.

What a great discovery! Besides planting my own saved seeds this year, I will plant seeds from other seed saving gardeners.

Just look at the crowd of gardeners looking for something special at Seedy Saturday in Qualicum on Vancouver Island.

Seed companies offer their time-proven seeds each at their tables set up in the big hall, but off in a smaller room are the seeds that other seed savers (local gardeners) have packaged up for sale. At 50 cents a package, it is a bargain.

On my wish list, were two plants that I wanted to find seeds for, but I really didn’t get my hopes up too high. I knew the chances were slim. I was looking for seeds of poblano peppers. These dark green medium hot peppers are  popular in Mexico but outrageously expensive to buy here.

I was also looking for seeds of a dark-skinned (black) tomato like the ones I had eaten for the first time last summer after a friend gave me some as a gift.

 

I was thrilled to see that the first two packages of seeds I came across were poblano peppers and black-skinned tomatoes. What are the chances?!

Then a local gardener gave a talk, and although I had been gardening for many years, I was happy to learn several new gardening tips.

I also learned of a new (to me) type of potato (Sieglinde) that I will try this year, along with my tried and true Norgolds, Kennebecs, and red Pontiacs.

Here is my happy stash of purchases all for a grand total of $10. I’m a cheap date!

Now where is that warm weather?

Retreat – Stepping Back

In mid-October I took a step back – a retreat from the usual day-to-day living – to a beautiful location on Quadra Island, a short ferry ride from Campbell River on Vancouver Island. The occasion was the semi-annual quilting retreat for the local quilting guild.

Four days of sewing and camaraderie, in which we had no cooking or cleaning to do. Just sew and go for a walk now and then between rain showers.

The buildings are old, but the natural scenery is older and for the most part, unchanged. It was a very quiet and beautiful spot.

The quilters each bring their sewing machines and fabrics, and all their tools and supplies needed to complete their planned projects. I had several unfinished projects, and by the end of the four days, I felt I had accomplished a lot.

One of the things I did was to take the ill-fitting squares I had made a couple of years ago and try to use them in some other way. The quilt I had intended them for was not working out but I had already done so much work on the tiny red and white squares, and on the appliqued birds and flowers.

I decided on place mats and pieced them together in whatever way the squares would fit, patching places that were odd sizes.

The result was four place mats and one table center, good enough for my own table for everyday meals.

It felt good to use up the unfinished project pieces and I was happy with the results. Now all they need is a meal to be served on them.


Comox Valley Exhibition – Quilts

Some of you may remember that my friend Gladys entered her quilt in a local show in May. She has shown  it again this past week in the Comox Valley Exhibition. It has ribbons beside it now for Best of Show. So much intricate work went into the making of this quilted wall hanging. Each of the flowers represents a province or territory of Canada. Gladys made the quilt in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. Congratulations to Gladys on her well-deserved ribbons.I’m sorry I don’t know much of the story behind the other quilts but I can admire them for their creators’ skill and imagination. The second prize quilt is featured here (below). I must mention that there were several categories so there is probably another 2nd prize quilt as well, but I can only show you the ones I  photographed.

Third prize is a clothesline with individual tiny quilts hanging on the line.

Another category’s 3rd prize winner is the cow quilt below.

The show had so many quilts I couldn’t possibly post them all, but you have a glimpse of what the exhibition had to offer. It was a feast for the eyes.

Lily

Did you know there are many varieties of lilies?  A friend brought this lily to my garden last year just before it was about to bloom. Somehow the conditions weren’t right for the bloom to last very long so I have been waiting anxiously for it to bloom again this year, so I could take its picture for posterity. The  long-hoped-for rain  arrived the day the lily tried to bloom. Would I be lucky enough to see the flowers this year? Not only did it bloom, but it graced my garden with three blossoms. I see that the first to bloom is already a little “rough around the edges” but the other two are still fresh. Notice the dark pollen on the stamens? Then please read the poem below the photo and tell me if this has ever happened to you.

Dainty lily blooms a while,

When she does it makes you smile.

But if you invade her space

Staring right into her face,

In her bloom your nose you poke,

Be prepared for Lily’s  joke.

Those who sniff her sometimes pay.

Pollen on their nose will stay.