Gumboot Adventures

gowing and growing green

Checkerboard Apples January 27, 2012

checkerboard apples

checkerboard apples

Local eating means eating a lot apples in the winter. They store well. We like them. They can be apple sauce or apple chips or apple muffins. There’s enough other variety in our menu and enough variety in the way we ‘serve’ apples that no child has ever complained. None the less, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to make apples exciting.

Which is why I love Checkerboard Apples. I love them because my kids love them. And anything that keep my kids convinced that their waste-free, mostly local lunch is infintely better than a packaged alternative is good by me.

To make Checkerboard Apples:

  • Quarter an core the apple.
  • Slice just through the skin of the apple, first lengthwise, then side to side. The effect at this point will be a squares cut into the skin.
  • Carefully, remove the skin from every second square, making a checkerboard pattern.
  • Rub with a little lemon to prevent browning until lunch!

The first time I sent these to school for Asher, he reported a class full of grade one students ogling. What could be better than a class full of six year olds ogling over an apple!

Great uses for apple?  Please comment! Share the apple love.

 

 

Apple Festival October 27, 2011

The kids and I recently decided to have our very own Apple Festival.  You can read all about it at Growing Up Green, my weekly series at www.thriftyandgreen.com. Here’s a little behind-the-scene look at our fun!

We don’t have apples growing yet – next year I hope – so we hit the farmer’s market for a selection of shapes colours and sizes.  Bergandy is always attracted to tiny things! So, crab apples:

Crab Apples

Crab Apples

We laid out our spread, filled bowls with toppings, and dug in! You try getting them to look up after saying go…

Our At-Home Apple Festival

Our At-Home Apple Festival

I thought the kids would gorge on the sprinkles & chocolate, but they surprised me. They always do! That’s half the fun. Bergandy liked sweet apple with sweet honey. Sweet. Asher laughed at the idea of picking a favorite. Between bites  – “Who needs a favorite with all this good stuff!”

Apple Love

Apple Love

Even Weston partook – using any and every apple slice he could get his paws on as a teether! No chocolate sauce for him, though you know he tried his hardest to get into that fun too!

Baby Weston Loves Apple

Baby Weston Loves Apple

After gorging ourselves on 10 – yes TEN – apples, we needed to burn off the honey, caramel and chocolate. What better way than to done matching monster t-shirts and dance around the living room to Monster Mash!

Monster Moves

Monster Moves

Until we collapsed. Here, Bergandy does her very best “dead pose”.

Dead Dance

Dead Dance

 

Rose Petal Love August 15, 2011

Rose

Rose

Yesterday the kids spontaneously started collecting the fallen rose petals.  They were freshly fallen and pretty much perfect, so I suggested we bring them in for a rose bath. They added a few sprigs of lavender and had a spa treatment soak at home.  What fun! The whole bathroom was filled with intoxicating rose aromas and the kids relished the indulgence.

So often I think of our garden as a source of food production – I find beauty in its usefullness, in its ability to provide for us. As such, I view the flowers as a means to an end. They attract the bees and the butterflies.  Sometimes they ward off the pests. They dot the garden with bits of colour and some of them can be eaten.  But I have long neglected to enjoy the flowers to their fullest.

That’s changing. For whatever reason, this year I’m taking absolute joy in the delicious uselessness of beauty for the sake of beauty. I’ve begun cutting fresh flowers for a vase that now lives on our table. The kids and I have plans to dry flowers next week. And now this, a rose bath.  The change may be attributed in part to the housebound state I’m currently living in as a sort-of-stay-at-home-works-every-possible-opportunity-never-finds-time-to-relax mom or maybe it’s because after a year of renovations, I’m craving the beauty.

Thank you kids, for reminding me to enjoy the pretty petals.

 

Over at Thrifty And Green August 8, 2011

I’ve been busy writing at Thrifty and Green.  Here are a few highlights:

Thrifty and Green Digital Edition

Thrifty and Green Digital Edition

The very exciting inaugural digital edition of Thrifty & Green is now available for purchase. It’s packed full of premium of content – I’ve contributed a Green Back To School spread, with a Green School Supply List. We’ve also got some great Back to School Lunch Snack Recipes that are better for the earth and for the kids. Other highlights include Rooftop Gardens, Traveling the World on a Shoe String Budget and the Low Down on Wild vs Farmed Salmon. A 20-page Preview of the magazine is available, but really for $2.99, you should probably just buy it!

In Growing Up Green, we’ve gone Berry crazy!

Berries at Growing Up Green

Berries at Growing Up Green

Read about Foraging for Wild Berries, and learn how best to Freeze the Berries you collect. In a moment of bucket dumping frustration, I was inspired to make cute Berry Buckets on String with the kids. This free recycled craft was a huge hit at our house, so I shared it at Crafty Kids.

I’ve also shared our tried and tested 10 Fun Road Trip Games which will come in handy for any summer Camping Trips still on the horizon.

If you like what you read – please help spread the word. It’s a new publication and we appreciate all the support!

LIKE Thrifty & Green on Facebook, follow @thriftyandgreen on twitter and me at @tovahp. But most of all, tell you friends!

 

Seaweed for the Garden August 6, 2011

Seaweed from the Beach

Seaweed from the Beach

We spent last weekend camping near a beach covered with washed up seaweed. Seaweed is full of nutrients – reputed to be as good as fresh manure for the earth – so before leaving, we collected a rubbermaid full of seaweed for the garden. The kids collected (and returned) a bucket full of fish from the tidepools.

Chasing Fish in the Tide Pool

Chasing Fish in the Tide Pool

We live on the West Coast, so mulching with seaweed seems like a given, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until now.

Seaweed can be applied directly to the garden as a layer of mulch or it can be added to the compost. A tonic can also be made by filling a barrel half way with the seaweed and adding water. After sitting three months, this is similar to the commercially available seaweed fertilizer formulas.

Impatience and lack of organization negate the possibility of making tonic right now. And as much as I’d love to mulch, I’m not going to for two reasons:

  1. We didn’t rinse the salt from the seaweed with freshwater.  The salt can be harmful to the garden and can kill the worms. In the rainy winter months, the effect is negligible, but during the summer months adding a lot of salt to the garden isn’t a great idea. That said, that’s way too much work for this busy mama!
  2. Apparently seaweed is rich in growth hormone and shouldn’t be applied late in the growing season.  We might mulch with seaweed in the early fall, when the winter garden is just starting and the other beds are replenishing.

So the seaweed is going into the compost. I’ll let you know how that turns out…

Collecting Seaweed

Collecting Seaweed

Collecting seaweed is as easy as anything. The variety of seaweed is inconsequential and many types varieties can be found on most beaches.  The one and only steadfast rule is respect. Seaweed is an important part of the aquaculture and removing it can be harmful to the natural balance of the environment. So,

    • NEVER take live seaweed. ONLY take seaweed from the beach.
    • RINSE the seaweed gently in the ocean to release aquatic organisms back into the water.
    • LEAVE plenty of seaweed on the beach.  Dried seaweed is a home and harbor to many creatures, if you take it all they are left without cover.
 

Salad Greens July 25, 2011

Salad Greens

Salad Greens (and peas, dill & strawberries)

The salad is doing well this year. That’s because it’s late July and yesterday was the first day of “summer” here on the wet wet coast.  Now that it’s hot – and assuming the heat is planning to stick around, the salad will now bolt.  Which means it’s time to eat it all up. Fast.

Until this year, I’ve never had much luck producing sweet lettuce. The heat and dry of summer have always got the better of us and the spring lettuce has consistently bolted early in the year, quickly become woody and bitter. So for the long spring lettuce season, I give thanks.  The peas, brocolli and cabbage are also doing remarkably well with this odd season. To extend the growing of these spring crops in the summer heat, we need to get on top of watering now.  Until this week, we’ve been leaving the watering to the elements. Luckily, the rain barrels are full after a wet spring so we should be able to ward off bitter bolting greens a little bit longer.

It’s also time to sow another round of greens. We’ll plant in the partial shade of some of the bushier veggies to keep these a little cooler and eat them young and fresh during the hot summer, um, weeks.  Strangely, it’s almost time to sow winter greens too – more kale, spinach and crests to go into what will be a covered winter garden in a couple months.

 

Foraging: Huckleberries & Pie July 22, 2011

Huckleberries

Huckleberries

We’ve spent the last couple of days foraging for huckleberries.  It’s so important to take advantage of the beautiful fruits that nature provides.  They’re there for the picking.  Pick them! PICK THEM! Admittedly, I take this to an obsessive sort of level – my poor husband has nearly had a heart attack on a number of occasions when I scream “STOP THE CAR” at the sight of a particularly good patch of blackberries.  But this early in the season, the whole family shares my unbridled enthusiasm.

Those long-awaited fruits have arrived.  In the forest near our home Salmonberries and Huckleberries are ripe.

This has been the first year that our son, now 6, has understood the benefit of putting the berries in the bucket to bring home. Like his mother, his passion for berry picking is absolute. But until this year, his impatience got the best of him every time and he ate every last berry he picked. Nothing wrong with that really. Fresh. Delicious. Healthy.  It’s what our 3-year old daughter did this year. But  neat to see our son able to exercise self-restraint – to pick berries, bring berries home, dutifully hand over the berries and patiently wait for them to turn into something even better.

And they did!

Huckleberry Pie

Huckleberry Pie

With the exception of our 3-year old daughter, who doesn’t like pie, we all agree that Huckleberry pie – with it’s  perfect combination of tart and sweet – is the true sign of summer.  Luckily, the summer heat is refusing to make an appearance this year, so baking it was not only easy, but also enjoyable! Coming up next, huckleberry jam and huckleberry muffins. Yum.

Huckleberry Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 4 cups huckleberries
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons soya milk or cream
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Gently coat  huckleberries in flour, then place in a pastry-lined pan. Spoon sugar evenly over berries. Sprinkle lemon rind and lemon juice over top. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Seal edges and cut steam vents in top. Brush surface with soya milk or cream, avoiding fluted edges of crust. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

 

 
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