Category Archives: Holidays

Cranberries

Nearly home from Montana, we drove past this cranberry farm east of Vancouver, BC. Again, I only had seconds to snap a drive-by shot, but it made me look up cranberry harvesting when I got home.

I learned that cranberries can be harvested dry or wet. For the dry harvesting they go through the cranberry field with a machine much like a lawnmower except that it doesn’t cut the plants; it only scoops up the berries and bits of the plant. The berries are then sent through a machine that bounces them around and separates them from the other bits of debris through a grooved roller that rocks back and forth. Then comes the assembly line where workers pick out the bad berries from the conveyor belt.

On the tiny photo above, you can see that they have flooded the cranberry field. A taller machine, designed not to churn up the wet ground goes through and scoops up more berries to bring them to the surface.

Then the berries are “herded” together by floating dams just as if the berries were an oil spill.  Once the berries are enclosed, they are vacuumed up into a truck while the water is drained off  as the berries are loaded.

They still need to go through the assembly line for sorting, but machinery does all but this last step.

When you make a cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you need to add about a cup of sugar for two cups of these very tart berries, but you can make your cranberry sauce more interesting by adding plums and apples if you have them handy.

Cranberries also make a wonderful addition to muffins. Throw in a cupful with the batter instead of using blueberries. Add some chopped nuts. The measuring doesn’t have to be an exact science. Experiment. They’re sure to be good.

 

What’s in a Name?

Dunkirk, Zurich, Malta, Glasgow, Cleveland, Devon, Rudyard, Harlem, Jordan, Belgrade, Amsterdam-Churchill, Havre, and Manhattan. These are names of places all over the world, but they are also names of places in Montana.

On our way home we stopped for the night in Zurich. Not Zurich, Switzerland, but Zurich, Montana. It’s a tiny farming community where the people drive their ATVs down the middle of  the road if they’re taking their trash to the local garbage dump. You just have to slow down and wait until they make their turn into the dumping station up ahead on the left.

Then you can continue on to the little gem of a community park where they kindly allow campers to stay the night for a mere  ten-dollar fee for electricity. Such a peaceful location.

The community hall was not in use the day we were there, camped in the corner.

The view from my trailer window is of black cottonwoods that whisper as they drop their last golden leaves. The only notably loud sound was made by the pheasant who cackled enthusiastically before taking wing out of the creek bed beside our trailer.

I thought it odd that Montana has so many names that duplicate other places in the world, but on looking more closely at the map, I saw names of a completely different sort:  Poplar, Wolf Point, Plentywood, Buffalo, Cat Creek, Musselshell, Rattlesnake, Lodgepole, Sleeping Buffalo, Whitewater, Crow Rock, Grass Range, Forest Grove, Roundup, Deer Lodge, Cut Bank, Sunburst, Sweetgrass, Fox Crossing, Chinook, Gold Butte.

Montana names are such fun!

 

Pasta Fun

On Mother’s Day we had a lot of fun. We decided to make fettuccine. Our dinner was already cooking (a beef roast, chard from the garden, carrots, mashed potatoes), but thought we would make some pasta just for fun and freeze it for another time.

We put the flour, eggs, oil, and water in the Kitchen Aid mixer bowl and let the dough hook mix it up  to form a ball of dough that was not dry, but not sticky either. We let it rest about half an hour and then cut it up into eight pieces.


After pressing the pieces flat  we passed them through the roller attachment on the Kitchen Aid, first on setting #1 and then on #2 and again on #6. By the third pass, the dough was thin enough.

We set the flattened dough on a floured board and changed the attachment to one that would cut strips about 3/8  of an inch wide (I’m guessing). The sheets of dough were then passed through the roller, with the mixer at a slightly higher speed.

Once the fettuccine came out of the roller, cut into strips, it was important to dust those strips with flour so the ribbons of dough didn’t stick to each other.

The last sheet was ready to pass through the roller.

Quick and easy and fun to make, this fettuccine is not perfect, but we know the ingredients that are in it, and I like to know what I’m eating.

We put most of the fettuccine on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, to freeze and later put in ziploc bags, but it looked so good that we decided to boil a small pot of fettuccine to have alongside the potatoes, roast, and gravy.

It was delicious and, best of all, we had fun making it.

 

 

A Good Year Ahead

It was such a beautiful morning as the sun came up today on the first day of January, 2018. I hope it’s a sign of what a good year it promises to be.

Thank you, blogging friends, for visiting my blog posts and clicking Likes and commenting. Without you, there would be no point in posting anything.

I wish you all the very best of health and happiness for the coming year.

Pea Soup?

Canadians have had Thanksgiving in October, but our Americans friends are giving thanks for their good fortune and blessings this week, on November 23.

I had a thought about Thanksgiving. Why not have pea soup instead of turkey? It’s all around us with this fog as thick as pea soup.

November weather tests us hard

Makes us eat more, donning lard

On the thighs and round our ribs,

We wish the weight scale told us fibs,

Now we need to eat some more,

Friends and family at the door, 

Time for all to meet and greet,

Turkey dinner can’t be beat,

But with fog like thick pea soup,

Why not feed it to the group?

Not enough, I hear you say,

We want roast  turkey anyway.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I know we are all thankful for what we have. It’s not just about the food, but about giving and sharing, and loving our treasured family and friends everywhere.

*****

***If you are a writer, you might be interested in my post on my Anneli’s Place blog.***

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/your-reputation-as-a-writer/

 

Vintage Books and Glasses

When I visited my sister recently, I had forgotten that she has been the guardian of some of the old family treasures from long ago. It was a pleasant surprise to see the items being kept safe behind the glass doors of a china cabinet.

The small blue liqueur glasses and decanter were perhaps bought in our first few years in Canada, more than half a century ago. The small wine or martini glass with the yellow swirls and the spiral stem is from a set that came to Canada with my parents back in 1953. This one is probably all that is left of the set.

When I saw it, I thought of my tongue. Odd, you might think, but memories that involve the senses can be very strong and long lasting.

My parents used to bring out these special yellow swirly glasses at Christmastime and pour a little egg liqueur from a bottle of Bols advocaat. We children were too young to be allowed alcohol, but once in a while, and because it was a festive season, we were allowed to lick out the last bit of advocaat from the yellow swirly glasses. Kind of gross, in hindsight, but as kids, we were thrilled.

So you can see that the yellow swirly glass holds special memories for me — not only the taste of the advocaat, but the smell of Christmas baking, the beautiful Christmas music, the coziness of the house and the love given to us by our parents.

Some might say these glasses are just inanimate objects, but they hold the key to a gold mine of memories.

Under the shelf with the glasses, two books leaned against the back of the cabinet. The old copy of Forever Amber, which I read when I was 16 (and that wasn’t yesterday), and another of my favourite stories, Little Black Sambo. The bigwigs now say that this book is racist, and have banned it, but I loved reading it and never once felt anything negative towards people of another race from that experience. My family and I simply loved that story.

Thanks to Luanne Castle https://writersite.org/2017/11/02/magical-bowls/

for the nudge to trot out old memories.

Easter Bunny Does it Again

I have always wondered why rabbits deliver Easter eggs. Let me backtrack on that – why rabbits paint Easter eggs. Of course they’ll deliver them once they’ve gone to all the trouble of painting them.  As a child I wondered more about that than I did about what Santa has to do with Christmas, but I learned to accept that the goodies each provided were worth putting up with the stories adults make up.

So each year I haul out the Easter eggs and wonder who painted them and how …and whether that rabbit would be any good in the pot, after eating all the vegetables out of my garden.

When I encountered this rabbit in my backyard, I asked him how he paints the eggs. Did he use a brush like I’ve seen in some of the children’s colouring books, or did he use a rag, or did he dip them?

He said:

“Oh … it’s simple. I dip my paw in the paint pot. Then I take an egg and I just rabbit on.

Happy Easter!”

DSCN8259

DSCN8264