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summer

This summer was a little unusual for me.  First of all, the weather was amazing! The last few summers have been mostly chilly to my southern Ontario blood, with maybe a few weeks of heat.  This summer was hot, sunny, and dry.  The dryness was a disadvantage to the growing season, but for the most part, it seems to have redeemed itself as well as the crops with a little more rain in the last month or so.

I usually love to take trips, camping, hiking,kayaking, canoeing.  This year I haven’t gone once 😦  I have taken two weekend trips that were not quite camping, which I will describe shortly.  Some of my favourite trips have been backwoods camping/canoe trips.  A 20 minute canoe trip then a 45 minute drive down dirt roads, where the moose are more plentiful than the people, to the nearest tiny town.  Tiny, meaning a small grocery store, a shoebox sized liquor store, a gas station, and a gun shop.  Ahhh … summer.  Well, most summers anyway.

At least I managed to get out and sleep in my tent a couple times while attending some farming related workshops.  The first was the New Farmer’s Gathering in the Valley back in June.  I wish I had some photos to post, but alas, I do not.  The Gathering was very exciting, and I participated/attended workshops on fermentation, herbs & plants for medicines and teas, and an introduction to Permaculture principles and how they fit into our modern world.  There was also a seed saving workshop, a hands on session with hand tools, a workshop on four season harvesting, great food, and a bonfire. A great time, lots of new people to meet, and tenting in a hayfield.

A couple weeks ago I went to Freeschool at Waldegrave Farm in Tatamagouche.  We arrived Thursday night and embarked on an exciting and busy weekend of workshops, keynote speakers, great food, wonderful people, beautiful weather, gorgeous, clear, starry nights, and for some of us … a sailboat ride!! It was a great opportunity to meet some like-minded folks who are interested in everything from sustainable responsible living, to farming, homesteading, and prepping.  The talks and workshops were insightful and passionately presented.  And the food! Did  I mention the food? Freeschool is not quite free, but the fee is low, essentially covering the cost of food.  It is undoubtedly worth it! There was such abundance and variety of freshly prepared, local food, much of it coming right from the farm.  There was music and dancing in the barn every night, and a surprise for me was Halifax’s own Poet LaureateTanya Davis who came and entertained with song, spoken word, poetry, and her own personal delight at doing so in a barn! I knew who she was, and have read her work, but had no idea she was coming until someone I met on the road between the hayfield where we were camping and the barns told me just as it was about to begin.  I sure hurried back to the gathering to see this splendid surprise for myself! The entire weekend holds for me a delightful and magical memory.

Although next year I am going to take steps to plan better and ensure I get some outdoor adventuring in, I do have a few memories of falling asleep within my blue clamshell nylon tent, listening to the crickets chirp, and breathing the fresh,cool, country air.  Though certainly, the summer isn’t quite over yet, and provincial and national parks allow camping until October 8th this year, so I may just manage to squeeze a weekend in yet!

What were the highlights of your summer?

Just a quick and simple post today, to share my go-to lunch.

I make this about two or three times a week for most of the year.  Starting with a layer of chickpeas on the bottom of the bowl, I add tomatoes, then bell peppers, and cucumbers on top.  This way the chickpeas marinate a bit in the dressing, and the cucumbers don’t get soggy because they’re on top.  This helps particularly when I am making it ahead of time, and it is perfectly delicious when I am finally ready to eat it.  I pour on some olive oil, followed by lemon juice, fresh if I can, bottled if necessary.  I use roughly equal quantities of both, but never measure, and I tweak to taste. Usually I use oregano, since this is essentially a Greek salad, but this week I have a beautiful bundle of fresh basil from my last trip to the market, so I am using that instead.  It is wonderful.  The final, and most joyous, ingredient is Feta cheese from Foxhill Cheese House. Their Feta is the best I have ever tasted!  No matter how much extra I buy in an attempt to not run out, I inevitably do, at which point it’s time to take a break from the salad, because grocery store Feta just doesn’t compare.

 I recently went away with a friend who is quite culinarily skilled, and made this for easy lunches and snacks.  I had not cooked for him much before and was a little unsure what he would think, but I received high praise for it that weekend, and again since.  Success!

Here is the salad, all nicely put together before the mixing begins.  Below is my attempt to show the layers, though it’s not a great picture.

Depending on availability and seasonality I have made this with carrots, radishes, mushrooms, greens, and cauliflower, in various combinations including the vegetables listed above.  It has always been good enough that I want to make more again very soon.

~ Lily

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