Thursday, 25 February 2021

Pork roast, taters and Yorkies

I made a Sunday dinner -- well, on Sunday. It was delicious and for the first time I actually got the English Baked potatoes right! 52 and finally twigged to the secret, okay I finally remembered the trick. Anyway, it was fabulous!

Pork roast, roast potatoes and Yorkshires

I had another recipe which required a lot of lemons - peeled... I saved the peel, it is in the freezer now and I will FD it and make a powder.

Peas are doing fantastic. I transplanted them to the deck pots and brought the pots inside (too cold outside). I have them in the window for now, once they get bigger and stronger and the outside temp warms up, I will move them to the floor.

The broccoli microgreens were ready to harvest yesterday but I just didn't get to them so I hope to do them today and get another batch started. Pics of that to follow.


Monday, 22 February 2021

Gardening, Salt Spring and online market

With all these seeds growing, I needed more starter pods whatsits and a local shop close to Brad's massage had them on sale 50 for $5 -- so I stopped and picked up 500 of them. While I was there I noticed an apple peel/core/slicer on the shelf... $52.99!!! I paid $4 at GIRO

Yikes, not cheap!

After getting about 3 inches of snow over the weekend by Tuesday when we went for Brad's massage after the long weekend it was +11C (52F)

While getting the seed pods I also saw these Peanuts so grabbed one of those also. I Planted 6 of them.

The ferries are coming, the ferries are coming...

Yay! BC Ferries has a bunch of new ferries coming online and we (our island) gets 2 of them. Instead of having 1 ferry running every hour we will have 2 ferries crossing each other giving us a run every half hour which will make a massive difference to life here.

A massive ship heading into Nanaimo area, I made sure to include the neighbours house for size comparison. Turned out to be the 'Sunshine Ace'.

Brad made more lasagna, delicious.

'Sunshine Ace' loading in Nanaimo

We went to Salt Spring Island yesterday (Saturday) because our friends who are now running the campground we used to run have quit and are leaving in a week or so. We went down to see them one last time before they move to the Sunshine Coast. While there I sold 10 pkgs of Strawberries to another friend and picked up the remainder of items from the online market there because I decided to pull out of it, as it is just too hard to keep up with from here - being a 4 ferry round trip.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

The snowstorm and Valentines

We ended up with about 4 inches Friday through Saturday and they say another 3 inches on Sunday.

Entrance island with its usually red roofs are snow covered.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Valentines Day!

A Valentine's bouquet from Brad

I made him a chocolate bowl (it broke - a lot...)

With strawberries and chocolate hearts and lips.

I found (on TikTok again) a recipe for what they claimed would be phenomenal Artisan bread -- so, naturally I had to try it. And it was. Phenomenal.

Artisan bread Recipe:
6C Flour, 2 tsp Salt, 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast, 3.5C Warm Water. Mix dry ingredients then add the water.. Mix only enough to blend, no kneading, just mix until blended but still sticky. Cover and rest in a cold oven (yes, cold) 8-12 hours (overnight). Note: It will quadruple in size.  Pour onto floured counter, sprinkle flour on top. Shape to circle and no longer sticky. Divide in 2. Put in dish with parchment paper.  Put into cold oven, turn oven to 450F and bake 30 minutes covered then 30 min uncovered.

Because there were two halves, I put one in a stainless bowl with parchment in the oven at 450F and the other in a cast iron dutch oven on top of the woodstove. Turned out the woodstove was too hot (should have used a trivet) and that loaf burned a bit on the bottom, I promptly removed it and put it in the oven with the other half. It ran 15 min behind the other and was 'well done'... but still edible, soft, chewy, crispy and delicious...

After supper I am making another batch. I will bake it first thing so it is ready for breakfast as we are going to Nanaimo tomorrow for a Family Day delayed massage day.

Woodstove loaf - still not too shabby. Underside was much browner.

Oven loaf - given to Stacey -- unwillingly ;)

Birdies are still very much enjoying our bird feeder but I am eagerly awaiting the thaw so they can forage again as they are making a mess of the railing.

Surf & Turf
Steak & Cod cooked to perfection as always on the BBQ

We watched 'Misery' of all movies for Valentines... seemed fitting I suppose after 16 years together. LOL

1 week old Broccoli Microgreens

Remember the microgreens I planted last Tuesday that will be ready to harvest next Tuesday... they are doing fabulous so I moved them to the window. I'll put them on the table overnight though as that window might be cold overnight.


Sunday, 14 February 2021

A week in a day

So a few days ago Kathy from Its About Time did some baking and I was inspired. Last fall I made 10 Quarts of Apple Pie Filling (we live on an orchard after all) and so I decided to make a pie. The recipe I used allowed me to make 1 pie (I only have 1 pie plate) and 12 mini apple pies. The 8 serving recipe gives you enough for the base (9 inch pie) and you could make a strip top for the pie but not a full top, I had doubled this recipe to get 1 pie with full top and 12 mini's.

Round 1

We sent 4 mini's home with Stacey, 2 went to our neighbour next door and the big pie went to our landlords which didn't leave much for us. The pie crust recipe I found for that was sooo flaky and delicious that I decided to make more...

Hummers are happy

At Dollarama the other day I saw these hummingbird feeders, I have had it in my head to have 5 strung across the deck but they are almost $20 each so I haven't done it yet. But at Dollarama I was able to get the extra 4 I needed for $3 and yes they are plastic but BPA free.

The birds finally found the feeder but then we were overly inundated with birds and I was concerned for our BBQ cover so I moved it to the garlic box below, we had a hook to hang it but our drill has died...

1st pie of round 2... I made a 6x batch this time... this one also went to Stacey and Jon. The recipe calls for it to sit 4 hours or overnight so I overnighted it.

I'm calling her Martha since I just shipped out Mabel

I was waiting for an email notification that the new machine had shipped but yesterday morning a woman was at the backdoor with my new machine. So today I will be doing some sewing finally. Our front curtains are more than a little saggy because they are so long and it has been driving me nuts.

2nd pie of round 2 and 37 mini pies.

The feeder is hung

Stacey came to pick up her pie and brought us her drill so we could hang the bird feeder. We can clearly see the feeder (there are birds out there as I type this) from our dining room window. I'm sure they appreciate the feeder with everything covered in snow this morning.

As you can see from the bird feeder picture, it snowed last night and continues actually... they are calling for 9 inches although again - I expect that will be in higher elevations than we are.

The broccoli microgreens I planted on Tuesday are coming along very nicely. They have a 2 week grow period before you can harvest them so it won't be long now. The other tray I did on Tuesday has a few sprouts coming through, mostly leeks and red onions.

Friday, 12 February 2021

And the seeds are off...

I went to GIRO (re-store) the other day (Stacey couldn't go) and while waiting in the line to get inside I saw this.... off to the side.

Well, I had been looking for a bird feeder but they are so damn expensive... this was $8, and its huge.

This is where it will hang under the upper deck. I think. I don't want it on the edge because it will get wet... am I right? Open to suggestion. I am keeping it on the BBQ during the day for awhile so the birds will recognize it when it hangs. Hence the fabric under it so they don't poop all over out BBQ cover.

With spring on the horizon....

I planted the first of the seeds.

Kind of like Alfalfa this broccoli should be edible for me (IBS)

The first lot of seeds - 6 pods deep 
I planted 1 row each of:
Brussel Sprouts, Leek, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme,
and 3 rows each of both Red and Yellow onions.

These are the seeds which need to be sown this early. I have a spreadsheet I made which I can follow to know when to plant and how often to repeat for each seed. Next lot gets started in March and that will be Carrots, Green onions, Jalapeno, Green/Red peppers, Radishes, Kale and Spinach. Then April is Basil, Tomatoes, Dill, Peas, Beets. May brings Corn, Beans and Cucumbers, I can repeat Peas again in July.

The trick will be not sowing too many as we have limited garden space. I have found a website where I can design the layout of the garden. It will design it I should say. Which is great because some stuff doesn't grow well beside other stuff and if a computer can suss that out for me, I'm all about it! I have to go and measure the garden first and I found it at 5am, so I'm waiting until the sun is up a bit. The website will send email reminders of when to fertilize, water, etc each item.... and its localized to your positioning on the globe. Sounds good to me. Keep you posted.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Walk, Sewing and a Creation

Stacey invited me along for a walk to Sandwell Beach with Jon and Jim the other day. I really had to push myself to go but in the end I did go. Just as well it turned out, I stopped to use one of the bathrooms (as I am prone to do) and there was a dog in the bush that was barking to get our attention. Not a big long scare-you-away bark but a hey I'm over here bark (dog owners will get what I mean).

We realized that the dog was sort of stuck on the other side of a fallen log on the front side of which was a 3-4 foot drop and this is at the bottom of a very steep embankment. The dog was clearly old and unable to get over this fallen log and so was caught on a small ledge basically. Stacey and I managed to coax the dog underneath the log through a very tight gap. 

We began asking passersby if anyone recognized the dog who had a collar but no tags. A couple said someone was looking for a dog and they even had her phone number in case they came across the dog on their walk. We attempted to contact the owner but with spotty cell service in that area one or both of us were in a blind spot. They advised us that she lived up in the direction we were headed.

We tried to fashion a leash from a washed up rope we had found but to no avail (couldn't cut a piece off) so the lady who had the owners number loaned us her camera bag strap so we could walk the dog up the trail to where they had seen the woman and the general area of where she lived as it was on our way and they were going the opposite way at that point. She later picked up the strap from us.


The dog did not want to leave the bathrooms, I assume the owner had gone in and the dog did not see her come out. Turns out Baloo is deaf and so apparently became separated during the time the owner was in the washroom. We finally coaxed him to start walking but he was very unsure and constantly looked back for a long time...

As we reached a road with a signal - in typical fashion --- my phone died. It was the only phone with the owners number on it. So without any choice we continued our climb back up to my Jeep so I could plug the phone in and call the owner. Once we connected with her it was only about 10 min before she arrived to pick up Baloo who was very tired after his long adventure.

During all of this the guys (Jon & Jim) were saying we should just leave the dog that it was a stray and just looking for attention but Stacey and I were sure this dog was someone's pet as he was clearly looked after, not mangy at all. Had I not gone on that walk, the guys may have convinced Stacey to leave the dog behind.

I received the shipping label from Brother and Mabel has shipped (I just made up that name now LOL). Anyway, it is enroute back to them and I assume they will have received confirmation that it has been received by the shipper and will now send my new one off to me. My sewing chore list is getting long.

All packed up and ready to go.

We had some styrofoam that (because this is BC) I had no way to get rid of as you can't put it in the trash or recycle, it must be delivered to the dump... and we don't have one on the island... so I was able to protect the machine inside a perfectly sized box, so that worked out fabulously.

I had seen a thing online somewhere about chocolate bowls and decided to make one for Stacey and one for Brad for Valentines Day. If it worked out, I figured I could add it to my repertoire for special holiday items -putting FD product in at Easter, Vday, Xmas, etc.

Having checked with my chocolate making guru friend who lives in Ontario, I went to Bulk Barn to get the required chocolate. Being unsure how much chocolate each bowl would take.... I prepared a few, okay 5. I washed and then coated them with Olive oil to prevent sticking - which I think may have been a mistake. I stood them up in small bowls.

5 balloons ready

1st coat of white chocolate, I did 2 balloons. 
As I was moving one Brad called out to me about something and pop I killed one balloon.

White, Red and then Chocolate. I should have made the white thicker and not spread it across the balloon. Put in fridge for 15 min or more before adding next layer. Slowly and gently coax the balloon away from the chocolate. Pierce a small hole in the top to slowly release the air - do not 'pop' the balloon.

Finished product is pretty cool - now to add FD'd strawberries to the inside...

Lessons learned: 
1. Make base coat thicker and allow to run as with all coats, jiggle if necessary. 
2. Do not oil. My balloon stuck to the inside and I had to burn it with a fire starter gadget which curls         the balloon away from the chocolate, allowing me to remove it.
3. The size of the balloon matters. You don't want it too big as the thinner the balloon the more likely        the chocolate bonds to it, too small and you can't get your hands inside to remove the balloon if            necessary. 
4. The temperature of the chocolate base layer cannot be too hot but still needs to be runny,                       additional layers can be hotter.
5. Just because it looks horrible with the balloon in it is no indication of how it will look once the            balloon is out.
6. Use Merckens chocolate wafers. Microwave 30 seconds, stir, 20 sec, stir, 10 seconds, stir, 10                seconds, stir, repeat at 10 seconds until melted.
7. Take care. As you apply the chocolate the balloon will want to move around as the center of gravity        changes.
8. Apply the drip edges first, then dip or otherwise create the bowl portion for each colour before               moving on to the next colour layer.

I very much enjoyed doing this and I'm pleased with the resulting bowl, I think it turned out fabulous for my 1st attempt. I will definitely do these again (and likely soon) improving my technique each time I hope.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

A bit of cooking and Liver Spots

While Brad was finishing up his project (Thank God he's done) I have been busying myself with - well, cooking! I'm not what one would call Julia Childs by any stretch and my poor kids lived at home when I had even less culinary skill but I've been having pretty good success.

The other day I saw a couple of videos on FaceBook and thought I'd give them a try...

Zucchini rollup.
Cover cookie sheet with zucchini, cover with beaten eggs and cook 20min at 350F
Coat with cooked ground beef/veg or anything and cheese, cook 20min at 350F again.
Love it!

Again, same idea really.
Omelette Pizza.
Place bread in pan, cover with beaten eggs, bake at 350F for 20 min.
Add toppings of your choice. Bake at 350F for 20 min.

Liver Spots

I finally got around to preparing some liver for dog treats to sell on the online market. When I make them for Robbie we call them Liver Spots so that is the name I went with. My Mother-in-Law isn't convinced the name will fly but I don't really care, if no one buys them there will be more for Robbie.

Haven't heard anything more from Brother Sewing Machines, they are supposed to be sending me the postage label, I assume in an email and not physically, and I'm still waiting. If no word by Tuesday I will contact them again.

Hoping my seeds will arrive on Monday, the app on my phone (Shop) which tracks all my purchases says they will arrive on Wednesday but they were in Victoria on Friday so I fully expect them tomorrow.

Excited to get my seeds cracking, pardon the pun.

We are expecting a BC version of a Polar Vortex, temperatures are expected to get as low as -4C (25F)
so this will be a quiet week around here but with the beginning of Spring, seeds starting and Brad finished his project - I hope to have more to write about and more often.

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Oh Brother, The epitome of Spring

 As long time readers will know, I have a sewing machine... I had a different sewing machine last spring but the feed dogs (the little grippers which move the material) would not raise above the plate and so were not moving anything but my temper. I tried to fix it myself as the closest repair was in Nanaimo (we were still on Salt Spring then) and has a waiting list. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to so I threw it out and bought a new one when we moved up here to Gabriola.

Recently the new one did the exact same thing!!!!! I am soooo *@!&*! upset, I can't even.... and because it is so new there are no repair tips online that I could find.

I tagged @brother_support on Twitter and finally (on Monday) managed to get ahold of 'Live Chat' who after I sent them a video of the problem said they would be 'escalating this to the repair specialists' who would get back to me in 24-48 hours... I figured that was a brush off and so tore the damn thing apart about 5 times trying to sort it without any luck.

The feed dog innards of Brother SQ9130

This black stick in the middle of the picture fits into a little cup as you can see above, that cup should move side to side as you move the switch to raise and lower the feed dogs but it only goes one direction and will not return to the lifted position.

Finally called the repair shop to get put on the waiting list.

About a half hour ago, I received an email from Brother that they will be sending me a new machine! The same machine and refurbished but presumably they are aware that this is a problem and have found a solution... God help them if the 3rd machine does the same thing I will go postal.

On a happier note: Spring is enroute, the days are getting noticeably longer and....

The epitome of Spring

My new greenhouse sits beside the winter wood pile. I received notification this morning that the seeds I have ordered have shipped - from Richmond, BC and so will likely be here Monday, Tuesday at the latest I would say.... WooHoo!

Soon it will be the height of summer and Stacey and I will be paddleboarding again.