Tuesday, November 9, 2010

cider pressing

We just made apple cider with work group for the second time. We had picked Alice's apples and stored them in her barn. This time I brought my camera and took pictures of the different steps. First we ground the apples in a hand crank apple crusher. That was hard work. The block of wood was to coax stubborn apples into the hopper. Next we transferred the crushed apples into the press with a wooden paddle, put the round wooden lid on, cranked the handle of the press and out came the cider. We poured the cider into a giant glass container in which it will ferment and become alcohol! We made 50 litres of cider. Wow, I love it.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Well, Halloween has come and gone and we really lived it up this year. We went to three costume parties in all. These photos are from a big party for kids in Milford that had amazing pirate themed decorations. Hazel went as an evil princess all in pink (of course - how evil) and insisted on wearing her new running shoes . The other girl in purple was also a princess and I think maybe not an evil one. She seemed quite taken with Hazel's look though. Rowan was a pirate and claimed that pirates wear red pants - which makes sense to me. He was astonished to find the party all decked out in pirate gear and asked, 'How did they know I was coming as a pirate?' Life is so magical sometimes. He looked very sweet bobbing for apples and managed to bite one by the stem. Is that cheating?
I have a few work group photos. The scarlet runner beans we
found during a garden clean up at Mary Lou's. They're such an amazing colour I had to take a photo. The leaves turning red on the edges were growing along the walk. And lunch - always a highlight of work group. The table setting was lovely as usual.
Also, we're getting ready to do the One of a Kind Show again this year. It's our first time doing the whole eleven days and we hope we're up for it. Here's our listing on their website. We've been making things non-stop and trying to stay healthy. If you're going to be in Toronto Nov. 24 -Dec.5 come and visit us at booth E-24. We'll be giving out samples of herbal tea or mulled cider.

My uncle and aunt have a lovely blog about their music and market tours in France. This one about a visit to the Sault Plateau to see fields of lavender is breathtaking. You can almost smell the lavender.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Pie!

I love fall and one of my favorite things about it is pumpkin pie. My children claim that pumpkin pie is the only pie worth eating and after having baked six of them so far I would have to say I almost agree. Although I do love apple pie and Bridget's concord grape pie (recipe from "the book" - Simply in Season - available at Ten Thousand Villages)
We make a pumpkin pie soap which contains real pumpkin as well at the essential oils of the spices that go in pumpkin pie - cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg as well as some lemon grass for that yummy lemoney note. For more pumpkin fun visit us in the Wellington park this Sat. Oct. 16th for Pumpkin Fest! There is a parade of giant pumpkins on trucks and tractors down main street. One of my favorite parts is the giant pumpkin that's hollowed out so that the kids can get inside and you can take their picture.
This pink dalia is the first one I ever grew and it was such a delight for me to catch this honey bee enjoying it so much. I even made a long video of it burrowing into several petals. I won't post it here because it's so long.
The bees made this incredible edible art on the inside of a hive lid. They had run out of space inside the hive and came through the inner cover and started building honey comb inside the lid. It's so beautiful! Reminds me of the art of Aganetha Dyck.
I've added a new link in my 'favorite things' - Style Rookie totally reminds me of myself as a teenager except that was in the olden days before the internet and I have no photos of my fabulous outfits. sigh.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stinger in the Eye!

Well, first things first... my honey man has had something in his eye for the past couple of weeks and has gone to the doctor twice about it. They finally sent him to Kingston yesterday to get the serious eye treatment. He had actually been stung on the eyelid several weeks before but it took awhile for the stinger to work its way through to make contact with his eyeball. There it was, scratching away and causing all kinds of grief. He's so happy to have it out of his eye he was singing during breakfast.
I also have more photos of honey bees on flowers. The white daisy like flowers are wild asters which are all around us now and looking lovely. The bees and wasps like them a lot and are partying together as they get drunk on nectar. The mint is still flowering too and attracts a lot of attention from the bees.
This mysterious machine dangling from the tractor bucket is my new hammermill. I bought it on ebay back in the spring and it's taken this long to get a new motor and a switch installed. It's for chopping and grinding the herbs for our teas and seasonings. I haven't actually been able to use it yet but it is now installed outside under a tent so we don't fill our house with herb dust. It will make our lives so much easier- hooray!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good Food

I recently made this tomato pie from a cookbook which is so well loved in my family we call it 'the book' in hushed tones. It's 'Simply in Season' recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More-with-Less. I grew up on the wholesome food from More-with-Less and was delighted when I received 'Simply in Season' as a gift from my mom. My mother-in-law is the one who started calling it 'the book' and we all enjoy our different favorite recipes. It's available at all Ten Thousand Villages stores and the Ottawa Mennonite Church has an annual Ten Thousand Villages sale for the month of November. I also love all the Edna Staebler classics - 'Food That Really Schmecks' etc. - especially for the chatty writing style and the liberal use of butter. Anyway, here's the recipe for Plum Tomato Goat Cheese Pie:

11/2 cups/375 ml whole wheat pastry flour
7 Tbs butter
cut together until crumbly

1/3 cup/75 ml extra sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
3-4 Tbs water
1/2 tsp salt
Add and mix until dough just comes together, adding more water if necessary. Turn onto floured surface and quickly bring together into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 min. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface into a circle about 15 inches/38cm in diameter. Wrap pastry around rolling pin and carefully lift onto a greased baking sheet.

1 egg yolk (lightly beaten)
3 Tbs dried bread crumbs ( I grind stale bread in the coffee grinder)
2 pounds/ 1 kg fresh plum tomatoes (sliced thick)
Brush most of yolk lightly over pastry. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, then arrange tomato slices so they overlap in a circle, leaving a wide border.

4oz/125 g goat cheese or feta cheese (crumbled)
Scatter over top of tomatoes. Turn edge of pastry in over tomato filling and brush with remaining egg yolk (mix with a little milk if there's not enough egg left). Bake in preheated oven at 350F/180C until pastry is golden, 30 min.

2-4 Tbs olive oil
handful of fresh basil leaves (chopped)
Remove pie from oven and drizzle with olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Scatter basil leaves on top of pie and serve.

This was a big hit with the adults around here but the kids still insist they only like pumpkin pie. I'll post that recipe once I make one. I made my colourful cole slaw to go with the pie. It's just grated carrot and purple cabbage with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil and some toasted pumpkin seeds. I also season with salt and pepper although my kids don't like pepper and can tell if there's any in there so we add our own pepper.
The Open Farms tour was yesterday. I included this colour version of the logo since I designed it and I like the way it turned out. We had about 15 car loads drop by and tour our house and garden. That was less than we expected but was a relief since we were so exhausted from Milford Fair the day before - not to mention all the house cleaning all week. It's really nice to have a tidy house now though. I think we will do it again next year.
This photo of a praying mantis eating a yellow jacket is for all you people who are being bugged by yellow jackets this time of year.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy things

To start with today I have a special link. I found this amazing series about insects by Isabella Rossellini called Green Porno. This one is about the honey bee. They are all hilarious and I wish I had made them myself. She is brilliant! The way she uses paper is especially nice.
Also, this photo of bales of hay in a field of flowers makes me happy.
This picture of our display is at Vicki's Veggies annual tomato tasting which was packed with people all weekend. We had a great time - sold lots, tasted lots of tomatoes and saw lots of friends. I painted this banner a year and a half ago and am really enjoying it. I put grommets in the corners to tie it up. It's an old sheet and is painted with acrylic paint. I used a projector to enlarge my logo and some of my drawings of flowers and bees.
This lovely fuzzy plant is mullein which I use in all our lip balms, our queen bee's luxury lotion and some of our healing salves. It is wonderful for healing the skin and folklore has it that first nations people used the leaves as insoles in their moccasins when they had sore feet. The beauty of it is the leaves come in all foot sizes - you just have to pick the best one for you!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Green Barns Market

The market has been so lovely lately. Our honey looks beautiful if I do say so myself.... The bear jars are super cute. The close up of the bouquet is one of my wildflower bouquets. Gaby looks beautiful among her flowers - Gaby's Babies - she grows for Vickie's Veggies. They're our neighbor at market. Beyond Gaby is the Chocosol tent. They have amazing chocolate as well as tortillas. On our other side is the coffee booth which I don't have a photo of but believe me it's great. Their coffee keeps me awake since I get up at 4AM to drive 2 1/2 hrs. to get there before market opens at 8AM. The drive home is the really hard part. I love our spot at the market. I know I've said this before but it's the Green Barns Market in Toronto on Christie south of St. Clair. Hours are 8AM-1PM.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Honey Extracting

Here are some photos of the honey extracting process. First I use a very sharp knife (I cut my thumb yesterday on it) to cut the wax caps off of the honey comb. I'm holding a frame that has been completely uncapped. Then they go into the extractor. We have an electric one that holds 20 frames. The extractor spins the honey out of the frames and we put the empty frames back on the hives for the bees to fill with honey again. The wax we've cut off gets melted down in our solar wax melter and used in our beeswax lotions and balms.
You can sort of see our new stainless steel honey tank that my honey man drove to Leamington to get in the left hand side of the photo of me holding the frame. It used to be a dairy tank but the dairy was put out of business by a Shoppers Drug Mart selling milk at ridiculously low prices. You have to wonder why things are so cheap sometimes.....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Open Farms

I recently designed this logo for a new farm tour in Ontario, Canada, called Open Farms. There's a tour by the same name in England and a group of farmers here decided to try it out. It's an organized tour of farms where people can drive around visiting a whole variety of farms to see where their food comes from. We're on the tour which is Sept. 19th and will be offering samples of our honey and herbal tea, tours of our apiary and gardens and straw bale farm house. For more on Open Farms click here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

We have honey!

Here is a honey bee on Russian sage. They have been loving the Russian sage and it's right by our front door step so I watch them all the time.

In other news, we have finally started extracting honey!!! I don't have any photos yet but they're coming soon. We bottled the first of this year's honey crop today and will have it for sale at the market in Toronto tomorrow. I'm planning a honey tasting so hopefully the yellow jackets will leave us alone.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Honey Bees on Flowers again

Here is a whole bouquet of honey bees on flowers. This is the time of the main honey flow so the photos are coming fast and thick. We are hoping to harvest honey really soon - maybe even next week. Everyone is asking for honey and we want honey too. Can hardly wait for the hot sticky sweet days of extracting honey.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Natural Sun Screen

I've finally done it! Here's the label I just drew for our new product - Natural Sun Screen! Gavin took it to market on Saturday and sold a bunch of them. The zinc oxide is a physical barrier to the sun and coconut oil has natural sun screen properties. It's in a translucent twist up tube like a giant lip balm.

We have tons of wild raspberries taking over the garden. I've tried to get rid of them and even had my very kind brother and sister in law dig them all out a couple of years ago but they are back and covered in fruit. I've decided to enjoy them for now but I will have to keep mowing them down so they don't get out of control. Besides, I need more space for veggies. Raspberry shortcake with Nana's cake and plain yogurt and maple syrup on top ...... mmmmm....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Eating Flowers

Here we have Matias sampling some wildflowers. I'm getting ready to teach a workshop on identifying edible wild plants so I practiced on our friends who were visiting last weekend. Matias really enjoyed eating vetch but that's water mint he's biting in the photo. There's vetch in this bouquet - it's the purple flower sticking out the sides. Also appearing in this sweet little bouquet are leek flowers, cilantro flowers and an unusually variegated milkweed. We had lots of lavender bunches from The Prince Edward County Lavender Farm this week at market along with my $5 posies. We're selling lavender essential oil from them as well. That's what's in the little jars on the right.
This is my honey man doing his Bill Clinton impersonation. Actually, he's explaining how to put foundation into frames for the bee hives. Check out the piles of new equipment he's built. He's got an awesome tape deck hanging up there too.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bees on Poppies

I discovered honey bees on the poppies in my garden the other day! What a discovery. They almost can't seem to figure out how to get into all those ruffly petals. I love sneaking around with my camera waiting for bees to land on flowers. I love the shot of the bee coming in for a landing. Here's a little video of a couple of our hives buzzing along nicely.