Sunday, December 9, 2007

New stuff, by request

I've gotten poked by two friends. Vandy sent me email reminding me that I'd promised to put up some commments on Neil's recent bead explorations, and Nina left a comment kicking me to post up about my experience with spinning lessons.

So let's do this chronologically then and I'll throw in a visit to Peterborough as well.

First there was Neil's bead furnace experiment. He's finishing up his degree in archaeology at Wilfrid Laurier University and one of his courses asked for students to actually _do_ something in an historical manner. Neil made a bead furnace and made beads.

Neil made the furnace by himself, but needed an extra set of hands for the bead making so I pitched in.

Very ugly beads, eh? :)

His paper is replicated on the Dark Ages Recreation Company webpage, here.


Later that same month we visited Peterborough to take in the Vikings exhibit at the Peterborough Centennial Museum. A friend of ours was the lead curator for this exhibit.

Our friend called upon DARC to donate some of our re-creations to supplement the exhibition, to make a simple panel presentation more 3 dimensional. That's Neil's shield in the picture.

But more importantly to me, is the loom that Dave made for his wife Anne, and then borrowed back for the exhibition.

I greatly admire Anne's disciplined approach to study and recreation in the Viking Era textiles. Look at the fabric she's getting here...

Now, she's all modest and doesn't think much of it, but I think it's great! I have trouble just getting started with the weaving.


The most recent development has been that I've started taking lessons from Wellington Fibres. Specifically, in how to spin on a spinning wheel. My friend Vandy loaned me her Ashford Traditional more then a year ago, and I've been trying to teach myself off and on. I finally came to the conclusion that it just wasn't working.

Ability with a drop spindle doesn't seem to translate that easily.

Now, I realize that I still need to make some progress in consistency but I was pleased as punch when I made my first plyed yarn on the wheel.

Three skeins later, I'm a little more annoyed by the slow progress and a tad worried about how badly overspun my singles are. It makes plying very difficult. Let's just say that plying from a center pull ball is an exercise in frustration that I'd prefer not to repeat very often.

This past saturday was Dye day! Look at the pretty colours we got!

Now, these are all acid dyes and I doubt I'll repeat the experience very often unless I can visit the shop another day to hand paint some more skeins. I just don't have the equipment or space at home to handle acid dyes safely or comfortably. But that's okay, I'm good with natural dyes over the fire, like the Vikings did.

Now, this skein I'm pretty happy with. Very thin as a single, I could almost use it as sewing thread. Plyed, I don't really know what to do with it, but I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually.

It's very pretty - 75% wool, and 25% acid dyed green mohair. Vikings didn't know what mohair was, but I certainly enjoyed spinning it.

Of course, they hadn't yet been introduced to the spinning wheel either (even though some version of it had existed in China at the time), but I'm sure they would have enjoyed it's production value if they had had it. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Becoming a Flugelman

Nina asked, in the comments:
What does it take to become a Flugelman?

I'm so glad you asked! (oh look, blog content that I don't have to think up on my own. :))

First, the basics of Bogenschutzenfest. The hubby says it's history is that of drunken Oktoberfesters running about shooting at weather vanes with their bows and arrows.

At some point, they made it a family event and created a styrofoam bird to sit up on top of the flag pole instead. There's still drinking, let's not make that mistake - it is Oktoberfest, after all. But the event is held during the day and it's hard to be too drunk that early in the day.

This picture is actually the bird used for the King and Queen shootoff, I didn't get a pic of the styrofoam version, but they look the same.

So.... the person who shoots the crown off the head of the bird is called a Croneman, and the person who shoots the head off the bird is called a Kopfman, and each of the wing men are called Flugelman.

I made the shot that brought down the right wing.

Okay, so 4 or five rounds of 70 odd people aiming for that wing rather loosened it up for me, and I was just lucky enough to hit it when it finally decided to break off. But still..... :)

I've been shooting in the contest for the last 5 years and this was my first time winning a prize.

The guild membership / badge is a one time only thing, upon your first win, but the badge indicating which body part you got can be had over and over again as you win them. The trophy also happens every time you get a body part.

There's also another part to the contest - that of becoming the King or Queen of the shoot. The bird changes to plywood version, and there's a red button in the middle that hides a shotgun shell. Hit the red button, and the shell goes off.

We break into genders and each person gets one chance to hit the red button. You're eliminated if you don't get it, and there's a shoot-off if more then one of you do hit it. We need one woman, and one man to hit the target to become the Queen and King of the contest. The King and Queen are encouraged to join the Oktoberfest parade later in the week.

Oh, and there's one more draw to the contest but it may appeal only to a limited few. My mother is firmly in that club - I have got to get her to come out some year because.......

Elvis is a member of the Guild, and on the organizing committee. Yup.... Elvis. And you all thought he was dead some 20 years ago, yes?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bits and Bobs

Bone-tired. So much on the go. And so much left to do. It's all good, it's just draining. I'm sorry that I haven't posted much lately.

Meatstuffs - We recently stocked up on the meatstuffs by visiting Well Fed Foods again. It's a great place.

Which leads me to another thought - it's a place that I might not have discovered, or thought much about if I hadn't gotten exposed to the whole idea of Local Eating at Pocket Farm. Liz has recently decided to stop blogging and I will miss her greatly.

Participated in Bogenschutzenfest! and the weather turned out wonderful. It's one of our favourite activities every year. I became a flugelman!

Garden Stuff - still need to plant bulbs, and finish moving the pile of mulch in the driveway into the gardens, and generally clean up and put the gardens to bed. It hardly seems real because the weather has been so good this fall, but it is getting on time.

Tomatoes / sauces - It seems to be slowing down as the weather gets progressively cooler. The tomatoes aren't ripening as quickly, but there's still lots of them out on the vines.

Homemade apple sauce - simple and yummy! I've had a huge bag of apples slowly rotting in the fridge and not getting around to doing anything with them until this weekend. Peel, puree in the food processor, a little cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a tiny bit of sugar - heat for a few minutes and presto!

I need to go and see the doc about a blood pressure check. I'm having trouble losing the weight she prescribed, but then I'm having trouble exercising per se as well. You'd think a busy life would be enough, but apparently one needs to actually carve yet more time for focusing the exercise. Phooey, I say.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Busy, busy, busy.

School's back, the undergrads are crazy, and the work days are getting drearier again. Where the heck did the sun go in the mornings?

The deck is mostly done - the under-structure and top boards are done. Still have to sand a few imperfections out and seal it. It's beautiful. :)

Leif doesn't care that Neil is almost done the last board, he just wants Neil to throw the ball.

It's beautiful, that deck, but it did try to kill me. There was that evil board that insisted on being where my head wanted to be on the way down to crawl under it. And what it has done to my shoulders has had me whimpering for a few days.

Menfolk! After I recovered from the evil board collision with head, I mentioned to the hubby that some little display of empathy might have been nice.... he said that he was watching me closely for signs of concussion. Hmmm.

Just how does one go about being gratefully stunned by the sheer practical attentiveness to my health, and yet still pout because one didn't get that shoulder pat and murmering noises of comfort?

Ah well, of the two reactions, I suppose I'd rather have the practical one.

Apple pie, anyone?

We went to Chudleigh's briefly to visit with the inlaws and watch the nieces and nephews run around the field while we picked apples. I forgot the camera - darned but those kids get cuter all the time.

We've still got some garden chores to do. There's a big pile of mulch in the driveway that has to get into the garden before the snow flies, herbs to harvest, tomatoes and green peppers to play with, pies to bake, bulbs to plant.

Tomatoes.....I've been saucing them up and freezing the sauce batches for weeks now. I'm going to be so sad when the season's done and I have no more pasta sauce to make.
I'll have to move on to other things to brew.... stews and chowders and soups, oh my.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

One Local Summer #10

Meatloaf leftovers, with pasta sauce topping.

All this summer, I've been trying to find, or get around to making, pasta. Because I've been making my own pasta sauce for years and it takes very little effort to make it with all local products.

Except the paprika - I must have paprika.

But I just haven't had the energy to make my own pasta. Imagine my surprise when other OLS entries recently have had local sauces and non-local pasta. I coulda been a contender!

Anyhoo... this contest is almost over, or is over, I'm not sure. But I've definitely made big changes that are going to stick.

We found a freezer food store for local meats, and bought a freezer to contain them. It's also starting to contain my pasta sauces as I use up all of the tomatoes that I'm growing.

We found a couple of quasi-local cheese makers. The biggest problem is that the best of them was recently taken over by a big multi-national. So while the production is still local, it's doubtful that their ingredient suppliers still are. How far will I define 'local' as 'local'? Things to think about.

The other local cheese-makers just aren't as easy to obtain, or are somewhat expensive. But they are more definably local - the goat cheese maker is using his own flock!

Vegetables, while easy during the summer at farmer's market, aren't going to be so easy to obtain during the winter and I haven't gotten into canning or freezing them. I really like freshness in a vegetable. So that will change back to being non-local during the winter.

I'd been buying commercial pre-made pizza shells and building my own pizza for a few years, but this summer I learned how to make my own pizza shell as well. Finding a local flour supplier was another happy accident that made that possible.

Overall, it really makes me think about where food comes from and how it's made. I will definitely be continuing with this in many different ways!

One more local story success story that actually ties this post back into my garden, where I usually like to keep the blog - local grapes.

How local? Two steps out and 6 steps to the right from my own back door - our grape vine has finally started producing!

We inherited the grape vine with the house, but I didn't like where the old homeowner had planted it, so we moved it. Then the next year, I didn't like it there either.... so we moved it again. Suffice to say that it took awhile to recover, but this year, we're all happy and they taste delicious!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Good intentions, and OLS #9

Ya see, I had the best of intentions to get up more garden pics, and to tell you all about the incredibly boring life that I have, and to participate in One Local Summer #8 and all .... but it didn't happen.

Life has been very boring indeed, but very draining. I've almost literally been working, eating and sleeping. Most of the time falling asleep in front of the tv a few hours before bedtime. I'm not sure what has been so tiring - maybe it's the temperature and weather ricochting around the spectrum.

I have two OLS pictures that may now never be seen again by human eyes. The memory card on the camera has somehow gotten fucked up.

So I took a picture of the leftovers of one of those meals, and I'll call it OLS #9.


Ground Turkey (25 km), green pepper (from my garden - 0 km), basil (from the garden - 0 km), oregano (0 km), paprika (not local), onions (5 km), two slices of bread (5 km) - goat cheddar (22 km), 2 eggs (25 km).

The missing OLS #8 was a simple steak and potates - you can almost picture it, yes?

I won't make any promises about more blogging or pictures this time, but I will hope. We're planning a big expenditure of energy for next weekend (our labour day holiday weekend), so I must go and save up for it.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

One Local Summer #7

Local eating has been going on here, but picture taking and blogging about it have indeed fallen by the wayside.

On the bright side, we just had our new freezer delivered, and went out today to stock it from Well Fed Foods in Ayr. If you've never been to Well Fed Foods, I highly recommend it - all of the meat is local, the concept is simple, and the family that runs it is really friendly.

So... skipping OLS #6, and moving right on to OLS #7, I present.... a simple scrambled eggs.

Eggs - OK Egg Farm (just north of Elmira, 25.1 km)
Green pepper, mushrooms, leeks (Herrles Market - all produce is local)
Cherry tomatoes - from my garden
Oregano - from my garden
Basil and paprika - sadly, not local
Cheese - Bright's Cheeses (Bright, approx. 28 km)

Garden pictures - coming soon! I have some new flowers to show!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

One Local Summer # 5

Homemade pizza!

Flour - from Oak Manor Farms (Tavistock - 28 km)
I used a mixture of hard unbleached, whole wheat, and a bit of rye flours. I like flavour.
Dry Yeast, salt and sunflower oil (not local)
water - from the shared well in town, the destruction of town to refit the pipes is documented in September 2006's blog entries.

I made up the dough in the bread machine on tuesday night, and used it wednesday night.

Toppings: goat mozzarella (darned, I've thrown out the wrapper already, but it was local), 2 year old cheddar (Millbank - 28 km), tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms (all from Herrles - just down the road, mileage in a previous post - I've forgotten), paprika (not local), basil (from the garden), and oregano (from the garden).

I forgot to add garlic, but it was unbelievably tasty anyway. Can you believe it?


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Blogger 'feature'

Apparently, the fabulous Blogger software has decided that my blog resembles a spam blog and must be reviewed by a human being. In the meantime, I have do that word verification thing that all commentators go through just to post. Colour me less then thrilled.

I wrote a nice long review of Harry Potter this afternoon, and couldn't post it or postpone it. The word verification thing didn't seem to work on IE 6. I'm trying again (just to post).

Please Mr/s Blog Human (when you get here) - tell me what the heck is it about my blog that got caught by your darned stupid software?

Deep breath.....

Remember the pretty.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

One Local Summer #4, and more from the garden

I don't remember which meat this is, but since there's only one piece of non-local meat left in the freezer (and it's not this one), it must be local. We've completely switched over to buying local, in the meat department. Potatoes and peas, also local.

I defined Ontario as my local food shed at the beginning of this project. And it's a pretty big place. But so far, I'm not having too much trouble sticking to within a 100 kilometre (approx. 62 miles) range. Some of the basics - salt, margarine and some spices - are my only exceptions.

Next week, I'm hoping for all local homemade pizza. I discovered a local source for flour and tried it out this week, but it..... needs practice. :)

More from the Garden:

Pretty lavendar....

The last of the lilies....

This picture is a week or so old.... but it's notable, because while all of the other lupins are actually rotting, this one decided to bloom one more time.

One of two feverfews in the garden. Slightly different varieties, this one has cute, tiny little petals surrounding the centre flower. Feverfew tea is reported to be a good cure for headaches.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mostly about the Lilies

One of the garden blogs that I added recently to my "read 'em faithfully" list (off on the sidebar there) is another Karen's 1-2-3 Go Garden! Karen is also in south-western Ontario, and boy, does she really know her lilies!

But I don't. I keep planting the tags next to any new additions, because I know I'm never going to memorize them, but some act of nature keeps squirreling them away. It's always possible that I mean that literally.... but why would the squirrels want bits of plastic?

So the long and short of it is.... I can't tell you any more about these lilies except that this one is yellow.

And this one has spots...

And so does this one...

This one is sort of pink....

This one is sort of a purplish red.

And this yellow one is next to the thyme.

They're all darn pretty 'though.

Feel free to pass on their names, if you recognize them. I'll write up some new labels for the squirrels to steal.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Local Summer #3

Last sunday, I still had leftovers from saturday's salad, which made a good side for this not particularly local cheese sandwich. The bread is local, but the sheep's cheese is from Bulgaria! We do keep local cheese in the house, but had bought this cheese for the Viking adventure over the Canada Day weekend (which I still haven't blogged about - maybe someday).

Now, this meal, from this morning, fares somewhat better. I was inspired by Cheryl's OLS #2 meal. One thing about eating local, it's making me search out new ways of making meals and I find that I'm really enjoying stretching my culinary muscles!

The eggs are free-range (inside a barn, according to Avian Flu regulations) and local - Elmira (25 km).
All of the vegetables (peas, onions, sweet peppers, potatoes) come from Herrles - 3km.
The cheese is from Bright's Cheese House - 51 km.
- Oregano - from the garden, 0 km.

The only major ingredient I can't necessarily claim is the milk. It's possible that it's local - Nielson's does have a processing plant in Halton Hills - 83 km - but I can't tell for sure.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

One Local Summer #2

This week I managed a two-fer!

For lunch, I mixed up this salad of all local ingredients from a place down the road called Herrles. It's a seasonal store, open only June - September and sells products from their own farm and others in Ontario. Herrles is sort of the centre of the "Buy Local! Buy Fresh!" folks from FoodLink.

Romaine lettuce, saskatoon berries (local!, not from Saskatoon!), peas, yellow and red sweet peppers, tomatoes, celery, and zucchini. And for the man (who suffered greatly for the cause*) - I added hard-boiled eggs. I love the wild mix of colours!

*Neil believes that salads are the food that food eats. Not intended for eating directly. He did grudgingly admit that, for a salad, this one was quite good.

For supper, Neil barbecued some burgers (local cow from Well Fed Food, in Ayr). Now, he had a commercial bun from the grocery store (which could come from anywhere), but I had two slices of locally made cheese bread (sold at Herrles) as my 'bun'. And more of that wonderful salad on the side.

Oops, I almost forgot - even the raspberry vingarette salad dressing is local! Again, picked up at Herrles, it's made by Goodies Two Shoes in Shelburne, Ontario.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Odds and Sods*, and Canada Day!

*I thought it was one of those odd British sayings that permeated my childhood and stuck with me, but apparently it's the title of a compilation album by The Who.

How odd. Maybe it's both.

In any case.... a post of odds and sods.

Happy Canada Day! I was out in the field, camping with the medieval types - the SCA - so I missed posting on the actual day. No computers in the Viking Age!

Check out my fellow Canadian's blog detailing the ABC's of why Canada is great!

Farmer's Markets are NOT necessarily populated by farmers. A lot of the produce available at the two local farmer's markets nearby are for sale by resellers, who somehow garner foodstuffs cheaply and resell them at market. Often out of season and often driven some godless number of miles to get there. Apparently, this is a really common occurrence in Ontario, and two recently created farmer's markets in Toronto have gone to the trouble of _certifying_ the farmers who want to sell there.

It's a tad annoying for those of us new to Eating Locally, who want to depend on the local farmer's market for food.

Trans Fats: According to Wikipedia, some trans fats occur naturally in ruminants - cows, sheep, etc. And Canada's nutritional labelling laws include the naturally occurring trans fats. So, a product like cheese might reasonably include some natural trans fats. I guess ya just gotta decide on what a reasonable amount is, and how the trans fats most likely got into the product in question.

The Garden: It's a strange year. First, it took longer then usual to clear the last frost date. And then all of a sudden, it's HOT. Freaking HOT, and frequently HOT. The garden has zoomed ahead of all rationality - blooming and dropping flowers at a heartbreaking 'blink and you miss it' speed. I have daises in bloom, and where I am, that's not supposed to happen until August. It's still June!

Playing catch-up then on the pictures: these lovely foxgloves are largely gone now.

Pretty colours.....

And a source of heart-stopping digitalis as well.

Medicinal Herbs: I'm currently growing motherwort, comfrey, sage, echinacea, valerian, catnip, lemon balm, mint, calendula, feverfew and foxglove. While I'm aware that all of these have medicinal uses, I haven't the foggiest on how to actually go about using them. Can anyone recommend some good reading material on growing and using medicinal herbs?

Rest assured, I don't want to be a dabbler. I have no intention of using them until I'm quite certain I know what I'm doing. I've taken valerian as a sedative aid in the past. The vomiting wasn't fun.

Air Conditioning: We caved in to the heat, increased our carbon footprint just a bit, and bought a small room air conditioner. The intention is to run the bedroom temperature down at night to a comfortable sleeping space and shut it off during the day. So far, my sinuses have disagreed with the air it outputs and my ears with the noise. The cooler and dryer air is definitely to the good 'though. I'm hoping that we will all adjust to each other.

One Local Summer: The One Local Summer project has been so successful that Liz has started a new blog to accommodate all of the entries. Check it out here!



Sunday, June 24, 2007

One Local Summer #1

My first documented local meal for Liz's One Local Summer project.

Bison steak (cut in two after grilling): the farm that raises them is near Stratford, approximately 33 km.

1 kilometers = 0.621371192 miles, for the US-impaired.

Potatoes: bought at the nearby farmer's market. Didn't ask for specifics, but I trust this group to have been in the Waterloo Region.

There was also margarine and salt involved in the eating thereof, and they are not local. I had water, and my hubby had a coke with his meal.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

sunday's musings

Take a good look now....

Blink and you'll miss them....

All of these lovely irises are now gone.

I can't believe the kind of year we're having. It was a slow start.... cold, cold, late frosts.... and then BOOM! too much heat and everything's melting away in seconds.

I'm convinced (from memory, because apparently the last two years of blogging isn't keeping enough information) that the irises were still blooming right up til the end of June. And this year, not even halfway through June and they're gone.

It's crazy.

Something else while I have weirdness on the brain....

I've recently been picking Anti-V's brain for cooking clues. She's really quite a genius in the kitchen. And she's introduced me to some new ingredients and flavours - but many of them are not-from-here! To make the lemon and sesame seed fish, I had to buy a lemon from South Africa in the grocery store, and the leeks for the venison stew are from Mexico right now! I can get local venison, just not one of the veggies to go with it.

Believe me, I look at these things now that I'm getting more into the local food movement. It's really quite frustrating, these contradictions.

And the point of wanting to expand my cooking abilities in the first place was to be better able to cook local foods!

But back to pretty.....take a deep breath now...

Bridal wreath spirea. :)

Oh by the by - Nina, I'm with you on the violets. Another one of those evil pernicious weeds. I can't believe that nurseries sell those too!