Tag Archives: freezing

Full of Beans

My climbing beans and bush beans both grew well this year. A person can only eat so many beans at one time but frozen, these beans are almost as good as fresh. The trick is to blanch them. I picked two big bread bowls full of beans this morning and gave them a quick rinse. Then I chopped them into small bite-size pieces while a pot of lightly salted water was coming to a boil. I filled one of those bread bowls with very cold water, and set it aside.

Once the water was boiling I dumped in the cut up beans. That brought the temperature down and I had to wait a minute or two for the water to boil again. As the beans boiled, they turned a brighter green than they were when they were fresh. After a minute or so, I took the slotted spoon and scooped the beans out of the boiling water into the big bowl of cold water.

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Climbing beans (broad beans) on the cookie sheet. Bush beans in the pot, ready for the next cookie sheet.

Shortly afterwards I scooped the beans out of the cold water (which was now a bit warmer), and put them into a strainer. In this case, I found that the lettuce spinner worked well. Once the beans were drained I dumped them onto a cookie sheet and spread them out. These would go into my fridge freezer because it has a fan and will freeze the beans quickly. When they’re frozen hard, I break them up and put them into ziploc bags and put them into the chest freezer.

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Bush beans

We may be acting silly this winter because you can be sure we’ll be “full of beans.”

Feast or Famine

Everything seems to happen at once. We’re overloaded with fruit and nuts and then it’s over and there’s nothing – unless I dry or freeze some of it.

I thought I would show you about a third of the hazelnuts and filberts I’ve picked up and de-husked this fall, so you can see why I’m late getting anything posted on my blog lately. One problem is finding the space to dry the nuts. I used to put them on window screens balanced on my clothes drying rack and the contraption would stand in front of the woodstove downstairs until the nuts were dry. Since we have a lively puppy in our house, that option doesn’t sound so wise anymore. One bounce too many and there would be nuts all over the place, including the nuts who had to pick them up. You would have to be nuts to take a risk like that with a rambunctious puppy in the house.

So I’ve usurped the dining room table and any other surface I can find. Sorry, dear, no cookies. The cookie sheets are all in use.DSCN3826

The plums, apples, and pears are not there to dry, but only for showing off what is taking up the rest of my spare time. Washing and pitting plums, peeling and cutting pears and apples, and bagging everything in ziplocs for making cakes, muffins, and desserts later on.

Below is a photo of my favourite fruit of the whole yard, a red anjou pear. Mouthwateringly sweet and juicy!

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What a shame that with fruit it’s always a case of all or nothing. I’d love to be able to pick a pear off the tree at all different times of the year.

Life in the (not so far) North

This is a post from three years ago, before I had many followers. My apologies to those early readers who have already seen it. I thought it was a good wintery post, especially since we are having another cold snap. It’s a bit of reading, but I hope you’ll enjoy it.

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Have you ever had someone ask you, “What was it like in the olden days?” My first impulse is always to say, “How should I know?” but I suppose, to the young people of today, I must seem ancient.

When I was little, I lived in the north. I found out later that Dawson Creek wasn’t all that far north. Still, judging by the winters we endured, I was sure we didn’t live far from the North Pole. So, I’ll tell you what it was like—up there, in the “olden days.” Not easy!

Kids walked to elementary school, some as far as a mile, in -20 or colder, all bundled up like mummies, with only slits of eyes peering through a scarf at the snow that swirled around them. I was lucky, living close to the school, but often I saw my friends arriving late, bawling their eyes out from the pain of the cold. How did parents allow them to walk that far in those bitter cold temperatures? What if the kids had fallen and not gotten up? I know how tempting it was to stay curled up in the snow after falling down in it. The indentation in the snow felt so warm, out of the wind, like a little cave. Luckily, my mother had warned me not to be fooled or I would freeze to death.

“You’ll fall asleep and never wake up,” she said. When I told her about my friend Linda crying when she got to school, she said, “You have to try not to cry when you get cold or your tears will freeze on your face.”

She was probably right. I never tested her theory, but I know that the air was cold enough to sear my lungs when I took that first breath as I stepped out of the house, and I was instantly aware of my eyebrows as they froze in the first few seconds.

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Still, we were pretty tough as kids. We played outside as long as it wasn’t too extreme, making snowforts, throwing snowballs, and building mountains of snow to slide down. Our mittens were soaked in no time and after going through two pairs of wet ones, we used old work socks instead. Every few minutes we came into the porch to ask for another pair of socks. Now as an adult, I can see my mother’s dilemma: keep handing out work socks and let the laundry pile up, or make the kids come in and have them underfoot.

In high school years I had farther to go to school—a couple of miles—and still, car rides to school were a rare thing. In those years, girls were not allowed to wear pants in school so it was an extra cool walk home. In elementary school we often wore pants under our skirts, but in high school, we didn’t always bother. Stupid conventions, looking back on them now; double layers of clothes for the double standards of the day.

A snowy trail packed down to ice by the tread of dozens of feet wound its way through fields that are now housing subdivisions. But back in “the olden days,” this trail was the connector from town to the outlying houses. Walking home from high school, the trick was to stay on the path and not slide off it into the foot and a half of softer snow next to it. Once that snow went inside the boots, forget about keeping warm. All the while, my ribcage ached from being so tensed up from trying to close every pore against the cold.

Crossing the railroad tracks one day, I slipped on the metal rail. I scrambled to get up and hurried home. When I got in the door and took off my snow-filled boots, I noticed a trickle of dried blood on my shin. I had a cut on my knee and didn’t even know it. So I concluded there was something good about the “natural freezing” of this harsh place. Who needs anaesthetic when you’re already numb from the cold?

I’ve frozen my feet so many times that even now, my toes suffer from permafrost. In those early years in Dawson Creek, without the benefit of modern technology to keep feet warm inside of boots, I came in from the cold with feet like icy clubs. I took off my boots and socks and sat near the heater. The pain of thawing my feet was worse than the pain of freezing them.

Now, many years later, living on Vancouver Island, I always marvel at what wusses people are here. They close the schools if there’s a snowfall of a few inches. If that applied in the north, there’d be no school for six or seven months of the year.

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But to be fair, I complain a lot about being cold when it’s raining and well above freezing. Now that I’ve joined the wusses, I wonder how I ever survived northern living.