Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Saskatoon Berry

ABC Wednesday

The letter is S

The object is the Saskatoon Berry

Here is the Saskatoon Berry, bearing many pleasant memories of childhood summers, pails full of ripe fruit, mouths and lips dyed blue with the sweet juice of this prairies delicacy.

The Saskatoon bush is a deciduous native shrub that surely must live in the hearts of all westerners, growing prolifically in all prairie provinces and in British Columbia and the Yukon Territories.

It takes its name from a Cree word (misaskwatomina) for the sweet, fleshy fruits that were of such prime importance to aboriginal peoples and early settlers, being an addition and preservative in the preparation of dried meat (pemmican) and having a nutrient content close to that of blueberries.

Saskatoons are very hardy plants that can survive winter temperatures of -50 to -60 degrees celcius, - making them attractive in the Canadian climate.  They have a sweet white blossom that cover the shrubs during May and June, and the berries are ready to harvest from mid to late July.

At one time it was a day's outing to go and pick Saskatoons, and probably it still is in many places, but beginning in the 1980's Saskatoons began to be planted on orchards and the fruit is harvested by hand or mechanical harvesters.

A picture of my Grandmother, my father and three aunt's, stopping for lunch on a berry picking expedition ca 1905

Saskatoons are famous for pies!!

But let me tell you about a nice Saskatoon Berry Oat Muffin....

Stir three quarters of a cup of rolled oats together with three quarters of a cup of milk and set aside.

Whisk together one and one-half cups of flour, one half cup of sugar, one and one half teaspoons of baking powder, one half a teaspoon of baking soda and one quarter teaspoon of salt.

Whisk one half cup of vegetable oil and one beaten egg together in a separate bowl, adding this to the flour mixture just unil batter is combined.  Be gentle....

Now fold the oat and milk mixture into the batter, and then one cup of saskatoons.  

Divide into muffin tins, sprinkle muffins with a tablespoon of brown sugar and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 18 minutes.  

If you serve them warm with butter they are especially delicious.

The Saskatoon is such a Canadian Berry that we even have a stamp to celebrate it.

Find more Ss here, with thanks to Denise, Roger and their spectacular helpers.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Seen (scene) on the Yellow Lake Pass

My DIL came early to pick me up for our monthly day out in Penticton.
The days of autumn glory and magic have passed.
Winter has made itself known, and the November days
are somber, sober and full of sad memories.
I thought that the camera would not be needed - but no!
DIL had come from Summerland
and passed through a mist-ical wonderland on her way .

Why would I not have known?  Time passes.
The world goes on about it's business of beautifying the earth,
no matter what the season, and so off we went,
camera tucked into the big bag containing all the other things
that I deem essential.....

Here is a pictorial record of our journey.....

There is calm water around the wharves but just
off shore the steamy mist rises
and the grasses are delicately gilded.                 

This is a mountain lake and the rocks rise directly out of the water.

The reflection of the painterly bank is subdued by the rising mists,

and here, where the highway turns toward the end of the lake, one
could imagine all sorts of images in the colours and the formation of the rocks.
Be there dragons in yon hills????

We pass the golf course where the sun lays long shadows over the links, and 
one lone trees hangs on to its dying leaves

As we start our descent into the Okanagan Valley by way of Roadhouse Hill
we come across a small waterfall, hardly noticeable in the summer
but here, in November, when it gets no sun, it comes into
its icy glory and we admire its pristine beauty.

Last year some merry elf somehow added pink colouring 
to the water before it froze,
and it was rather a garish waterfall!!  
Not what I prefer!

We skirt Skaha Lake, coming into Penticton, the hills still blue and misty

But it is warmer, and the water is a clear and beautiful blue.

We do our business, visiting Debbie's Diner for coffee and a visit with family.
We pick up the knobs for the drawers on the new Captain's Bed
I have just bought
(me now being the Captain, I guess)
 and some Medi Cal food for Callie,
who has a great passion for it
and it's so good for her bladder.
I found the right size bag for the vacumn cleaner,
 and then we went for lunch - delicious.  
At the Pasta Factory.

I had Creme Brulee for dessert!!!!!

On the way home we saw two ducks waddling down the city street, -
 as we passed them they turned into a walkway leading to a house.

As we went down the Channel Parkway
we saw large numbers of the geese
who stay around all year
and cause great consternation to people and places with lawns.
They were enjoying the water which joins Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake,
free at last from all those pesky summer visitors
 who raft down the channel,
probably drinking beer and playing loud music.

As we drive along the beach highway
I was able to get a nice picture of the hills, leaving Penticton,
but was not quick enough to catch the lovely view of blue hills,
in the misty distance, as we rounded the highway into Kaleden.

I remember when Penticton was a sleepy town,
 and the stores were small
and the restaurants full of people one knew
and chatted with.
Not any more....

Today I was introduced to a very sophisticated washroom
in the Pasta Factory where we lunched,
and the facilities all start and stop by themselves, -
 don't get around much any more to learn about these things!!!!

Monday, November 10, 2014


ABC Wednesday
The letter is R

I went to sleep last night, thinking of the letter R, and what words and thoughts
 and things it stands for.

I woke with my heart heavy with Remembrance and the words that came to my mind were such somber ones, such as Regret, Remorse, Recrimination.

Remenbrance is not always sorrowful, and after I had my breakfast and my coffee,
 and the sun came out, 
other R's came to mind.  

Reality, Rejuvenation, Reincarnation, Reconciliation, Romance
and then there is always hope of the Great Reveille
which I try Resolutely to believe in.

This, of course, was not what Housman had in mind when he wrote his poems for 
The Shropshire Lad,  - nor was his Reveille a military one,
 but it rather appealed to me as a way to wake and carry on.....

Reveille   by A.E. Housman

Wake: the silver dusk returning
Up the beach of darkness  brims,
And the ship of sunrise burning
Strands upon the eastern rims.

Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters,
Trampled to the floor it spanned,
And the tent of night in tatters
Straws the sky-pavilioned land.

Up, lad, up, 'tis late for lying:
Hear the drums of morning play;
Hark the empty highways crying
'Who'll beyond the hills away?'

Towns and countries woo together,
Forelands beacon, belfries call;
Never lad that trod on leather
Lived to feast his heart with all.

Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber
Sunlit pallets never thrive;
Morns abed and daylight slumber
Were not meant for man alive.

Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey's over
There'll be time enough to sleep.

And in Remembrance of the courage and bravery of the men
 who suffered the battle fields 
and gave their precious lives to defend our freedom,  
a Poppy from the fields of Flanders, laid Reverently upon their graves.

More Rs here with thanks to Roger and Denise.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Bits and Pieces

I woke this morning at seven, with Miss Callie at the foot of my bed; entwined around my legs as I
slid out of bed and went to turn on the coffee.  

As I reached the hallway, and the sight of the southern windows, I saw my own small view of the street and the valley and the sky and the mountain suffused in the most beautiful rosy glow, - the very air seemed to vibrate with it.  Oh my, - still in my nightgown, camera and I opened the front door and discreetly took a quick snap of all the wires and electric paraphenalia silouetted against the glowing sky, and then we went to the back garden, which is more private, and in my bare feet I ventured across the dew-wet lawn and stood in such great appreciation of the gorgeous gifts that are suddenly bestowed upon us, if we are aware and awake to see them - thankful that I had not 
lingered in bed any longer.  

What elements are required to be combined to create such magical beauty, through the whole valley, - and which angel has charge of the operation????

Before I came in the sky had begun to fade and the moment of enchantment had passed, so I continued with a quick shower and breakfast. still marveling........

I sat with my second cup of coffee, reading a chapter of Jan Karon's latest book about Father Timothy, the Episcopalian priest who has been the hero of her last eight books about the town of Mitford and all its residents.

I love her books - on a par I would say with Alexander McCall Smith.  I was first introduced to them by a dear friend who is now in a Care Facility, unhappy, blind, confused, - and I thought how much she would enjoy this latest novel, and I wondered if she would be up to a reading visit where we could enjoy the book together.  Growing old is not accomplished without some sadness and sorrow, a lot of inconvenience, but I find that the smallest acts of kindness can lend the greatest joy even to one day, and so I will follow up on this.

I went to a Museum meeting the other night where a visiting speaker from Penticton handed out Random Acts of Kindness cards to share with friends or strangers, along, of course, with said random act of kindness.  It was featured on the news last night - participants giving apples to people passing by, - some responding with a smile, some with a nod, some with a 'no thanks' .  I think one must go a little deeper when considering random acts of kindness, and hopefully a little practice would make them an unconscious part of our lives, where civility and mindfulness are returned to our communities, and kindness to others is just part of our daily life, replacing the 'me' culture that one quite occasionally finds flourishing.

It occurs to me that this might more easily be accomplished when one leads a more solitary life than when one is embroiled in family and the great busyness that entails, but no, - I think some more about it and remember the last of the Mr. Lincoln roses from my old garden that my granddaughter
 brought to me, to enjoy, and how much I appreciated this dear and spontaneous act of kindness on her part - it is a sweetness and a generosity that everyone has room for - the small things 
that make another's life lighter and brighter. 

 Lovely thing to cultivate in a family.....

Do any of our children remember the Advent tradition we had in days of yore
where, when the Advent candle was lit at Sunday dinner they also picked from a bowl
the name of another family member for whom each day they were to do, anonymously,
something kind????  Answer requested....

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Quince

ABC Wednesday
The letter is Q
Q is for Quince

The blossoms that bloom in the spring (tra la) 
on the small quince bush that lives in the side garden....

Alas, the fruit it produces is only walnut size and is inclined to shrivel up and fall off,
but when properly cared for and propogated in its rightful spot
the Quince is magnificent!

Francisco de Zubaran

Leslie Lee

Said by some to be the fruit that tempted Eve in the Garden

and certainly enjoyed by the Owl and the Pussy Cat, who, when they set
out to sea, had slices of Quince with Mince tarts for Tea.....

Let's hear it for the Quince!

and for ABC Wednesday and Roger and Denise
who bring this lovely meme to us this week.

Here for more Qs

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Out and About Part Two

A Post Script to last week's Out and About posting when on Sunday the 19th 
Susan and Margaret and I went on a lovely journey.......

We turned south through the Similkameen until we reached the Osoyoos turn-off, 
and then went up over the Richter Pass where the hills had donned their October garb, 
a lovely naples yellow.

and the skies on the other side sported wisps of cloud and a friendly sun 
breaking through to make the day  even more beautiful.

We skirted Osoyoos lake and drove to its farthest reaches, only turning back when we reached
the United States border

There is a back road between the towns of Osoyoos and Oliver, a portion of it called the
Million Mile, where the hills have all been planted to grapes and some of the most
successful and productive Okanagan vineyards are located.

Before we reach it the hills, in their virgin state, hide small clumps of deciduous trees
and small dwelling places

and the typical sage brush and rocky outcroppings

a few dilapitated and abandoned farm buildings
speak of early settlers in this southern valley

When we come to the vineyards the grapes hang heavy on the vines - a vintage
growing year with plenty of sunshine and hot weather to sweeten 
the fruit.

The wineries spring up all around us, and we make a note to come back at tasting time!

We stop in Oliver to shop a bit, and then continue northward, turning off at Covert Farms
to follow the Willowdale Road leading to the Yellow Lake Pass.

Past White Lake, and the White Lake Observatory that hides behind the little outcropping
on the right.  I note the fence post where in the spring I heard the first meadowlark!!

This lovely valley is gaining more inhabitants, - small farmers with small  livestock
and birds.  I look up the valley that cuts off to the west and remember
cross country skiing with friends, through to the old ranch and barns that
Charles recalled visiting with his parents in Depression days
when the pioneer settlers struggled to survive.

We arrive at Twin Lakes and the Golf Course where we spent so many happy 
and frustrating hours!

Soon we are back on the Highway that leads home....

As we near Keremeos I sigh a little, and think what an absolutely perfect
afternoon it has been, - good friends, lovely country, sunshine and 
gorgeous October skies.  Life continues to be good!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Precious Plethora of Ps

ABC Wednesday
October 29th, 2014
The letter is P

Yes, what a precious plethora of Ps presented when I went searching for fruits and vegetables that begin with this Plentiful letter. Parsnips and Parsley and Peas and Pumpkin and Potatoes on the Practical side, and for Pure Pleasure the Pear and the Peach, the Plum and the Papaya and the Passion Fruit all Promote good health, - to say nothing of the Pomelo and the Pineapple.....

But in the end I chose to tell you about the Pomegranate, that jewel of autumn fruits

Jean Townsend

Pomegranates have been cheriched for their exquisite beauty, flavor, color and health benefits for centuries.

They are royalty amongst fruit, symbolic of prosperity and abundance 
but their health properties are what make them truly precious.

Rich in antioxidants which help in the prevention of cellular damage,
a common pathway for cancer, heart problems, aging and a variety of diseases,
 the Pomegranate has abundant Potassium, folic acid and Vitamin C as well.

Research indicates that Pomegranates may be able to reduce blood pressure,  cholesterol build up 
and even slow down prostate cancer.

It is said that they contain three times more antioxidants than red wine or green tea.

The name "pomegranate" derives from the Middle French "pomme garnete", or seeded apple
and it is sometimes referred to as a Chinese apple.  Many scholars believe that the 
forbidden, yet irresistible, fruit in which Eve indulged in the Garden of Eden was actually a pomegranate, 
not an apple.

Here is a nice little recipe for Grenadine, a syrup flavoured
with pomegranates that may or may not contain alcohol.

Separate the pomegranate seeds from the membranes and skin of approximately two pounds of the fruit.

In a heavy saucepan cover pomegranate seeds with one pint of water
and simmer, stirring until juice sacs release their juice, about five minutes.

Pour through a cheesecloth-layered sieve into a bowl, pressing the juice
from the seeds, (which you will then discard - the seeds, I mean)

Measure the strained pomegranate juice and add an equal amount of sugar.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.

Cool to room temperature and if you feel the colour of the juice is not to your liking
add food colouring.

Pour it into a decorative stoppered bottle, and voila - 
a wonderful grenadine syrup in children's drinks, or in alcoholic cocktails, desserts, marinades 
and other general recipes.

For more interesting Ps visit here at ABC Wednesday,
with Plenty of thanks to Roger and Denise and Proficient helpers.