Friday, September 28, 2012

Secret Seed Sculptures: Free Workshop for Kids

 Hey Folks!

 I am doing two drop-in workshops for young kids (with parental supervision) at the ArtStarts gallery, which is close to the downtown library.  If you'd like to attend, choose morning or afternoon and come and make a clay seed sculpture! You can also check out the beautiful show in the gallery.


Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 11am & 1pm

Secret Seed Sculptures

with Lori Weidenhammer

Transform seeds, dried plants and clay into magic seed pod sculptures! These works of art will grow into marvelous flowers and herbs in the Spring. Explore the shapes, colours and textures of seeds while Madame Beespeaker tells stories about helpful insects in the garden and what they can teach us about living in harmony with nature. Come dressed in your get-messy clothes!

Location: ArtStarts Gallery for young people's art
Address: 808 Richards St (at Robson) in Vancouver (map) 
Cost: FREE!
Kids: Ideal for kids 5 and up, but all are welcome! 
Parking: Pay parking is available on Richards and in the lot across the street.

--from the Artstarts website

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pick Some Perfect Peppers: Kits Market

When it comes to colour impact, there is nothing like the fall markets to pack the punch. The veggies at the Sole Food Farm stall in the Sunday Kits Market took my breath away.

 I ended up having a lovely curry from Vij's food truck. It was a mild mushroom and potato curry on rice with nan made with buttermilk and sprinkled with grated paneer.

It was a delicious curry, and I felt it didn't need the potatoes. The rice was really beautifully flavorful nutty, fluffy, and perfectly cooked. I was really surprised that they were not selling railway chai.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Madame Beespeaker at Aberthau

I was honored to be part of the 100th year celebration at Aberthau Mansion. Lucky for me, I was stationed right next to the cupcake decorating booth. My awesome assistant Maya made me a bee cupcake decorated with Oreo cookie crumbs and banana flavored saltwater taffy.

Lots of people came and made messages for the bees, in the tradition of Telling the Bees.

 There was a classic car display, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides, a tea party, BBQ and tours of the beautiful building. What a party!

 I also set up a table with a seed scavenger hunt with packages for people to take home seeds for their gardens. The weather was perfect and the conversations I had with kids and adults were really lovely.

There are more photos from the Vancouver Sun's website, including a dancing Beespeaker.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hello Stinky!

 On two occasions I have carried a bouquet home from a certain farm I love and this strong odor starts permeating the city bus. That would be a stink bug, or two. Twice stunk, never forgotten. When I took this photo of bugs and larvae in mom's garden if I had known they were "Twice Stabbed" stink bugs I might not have got this close up a personal. This post from The Home Bug Garden helped me identify these suckers.

 This has been a weird year at my parent's place because of the large amounts of rain that fell this spring. This is also the first year my mom has seen Monarch butterflies in her garden.

Isn't that the horribly invasive purple loosestrife? Why yes it is, full of butterflies and bees.

 Here you get a glimpse of the cracks in the garden soil. It's such a challenging zone.

 Mom gave me some beets to take home. We had some tonight, shredded in tacos.

 No matter what the weather, mom always has an amazing garden.

The feral kittens love playing in the garden, chasing grasshoppers and crickets. There were big black noisy crickets everywhere you looked. In fact the first night, I turned to my partner and said "Those crickets are driving me crazy!!!!" Dead silence. I'm not kidding you. It was uncanny. And I didn't hear them again the whole time we were there. Just call me Madame Cricketspeaker.

Crickets, stink bugs, and bees, oh my. Good night!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Road Trip Highlights

Fruit stands--I love them and the small ones with the hand painted signs are best, but it's fun to stop at the mondo tourist trap. I love how this horse named Riley waits patiently for an apple. Of course there's all sorts of waiver signs around saying it's your own damn fault if Riley bites you.

They are very sad if you don't buy their Mennonite sausage. It looks like a small place with a few goats, but then we passed a giant barn full to the rafters of goats all waiting their turn for the fancy tourist food.

We stopped in Hope at the Owl Street Café with its passive aggressive collection of owls.

 The search for ice cream leads to strange places and expensive cones, but the Foothills brand is very good.

 Peter drives like a sailor, heading in the vague direction of the destination. We ended up in Vegreville, eating Ukrainian food doused in the local creamy white dill sauce. Just outside of town we were pelted with hailstones the size of baseballs. I was in the front seat, becoming quite panicky. "They're getting bigger!" (The hail, not the perogies.)

Of course we had to have a meal at our fave: the Naramata Heritage Inn. We sat on the balcony while it rained as the sun shone over the lake.

I love the Inn, steeped as it is in history, perhaps even haunted. As you can see, at least one wraith joined as at table, unless that was a raindrop on my lens.

We always have the gorgeous freshly baked bread with warm goat cheese and garlic.

 Salmon on Beluga lentils.

Of course, Ules goes for the steak.

 We listened to several books on CD. It seemed to be the sci fi trip this time around, with our fave being The Search for Wondla by Toni Diterlizzi, although Teri Hatcher's reading drove me a bit batty. We saw two coyotes, several deer (including two mule deer) two mountain goats and one badger. My favorite bit of the drive was the old highway between Canmore and Cochrane; least favorite was the congested road between Vernon and Summerland.

I'm always a bit sad when we hit the fruit stands at Keremeos because it means the fun is over. Still, it's always good to come home.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Greek Salad with Purslane

When I was strolling through my mom's garden I pointed down and said, "Oh, you've got purslane. You can eat that, did you know?" My mom looked at me funny and said "That's just Portulaca. We've recently started getting it in our gardens." I didn't realize the Latin name for this weed is indeed Portulaca oleracea, so I did a bit of research. Turns out it is from Mediterranean countries, is an excellent source of Omega 3's and the Greeks saute it and put it in salad. Suddenly I saw purslane in a whole new light.

When I volunteered at the market garden at UBC we were always picking purslane out as a weed, whereas the Mayan Gardeners were selling it at their stall. Sure enough, this year UBC Farm has been selling healthy bunches of purslane, so I put it raw in a Greek salad. Apparently the lemony taste comes out depending on how dry it has been and what time of day it is picked. I now throw it in at the end of making a veggie sauté, for those extra vitamins.

I was looking at a bunch of purslane, thinking the texture might lend itself to pickling. Sure enough, the bloggers are on it already as you can see with this great post from Seasons at My House. Furthermore, Shelora (Cooking with a Broad) has been experimenting with purslane this summer to great effect. Have I convinced you yet, mom?

As a footnote to this post, I had a couple of curious women ask me about the purslane that was on top of my shopping bag. I told them what it was and offered a taste. "It's a bit of a weed," I said. "Smells like a weed," one woman said. "Yeah well, you know how it is," the other offered, "Some people smoke their weeds and some people eat 'em."

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Old Crabapple Tree

When we were visiting mom and dad in Saskatchewan the crap apples were at the peak of ripeness--so sweet you could eat them raw. My sister's kids like to eat them in their lunch, so we packed a bunch in the car to give to family and friends.

This is dad's Saskatoon berry picking bucket with harness.

 Some of the apples had blight, so they weren't as plentiful as they first seemed, but you can keep the seconds for making infusions.

 Ullie and I startled a bird in a nearby tree and her nest was full of perfect little eggs.

Dragonflies gobbled up the mosquitoes nearby.

The neighbors have a good crop of calendula. I'll have to ask mom to save me some seeds.

To make an infusion, cut the apples in half, boil enough water to cover them, then leave for 24 hours. I'll have to do some research and find a recipe for crabapple shrub. Drinking vinegars are all the rage these days, but I like to keep it simple.

Of course, the apples also taste good sliced on top of pulled pork.

We drink our crab apple infusion chilled with a splosh of Victoria gin. One of my friends says she misses her mom's crab apple tree in Saskatchewan. She says they used to cut the apples in half and infuse in vodka. I'm gonna try that with gin. Stay tuned!