Sunday, December 28, 2008
Nothing, aside from perhaps language, ties us to our culture more than food. In an instant, food can bring back the comforts of childhood. It’s soothing and can stimulate a flood a memories like nothing else.
In my family, around the holiday season, we were inundated with goodies, many of them Norwegian treats that we rarely ate at other times of the year: lefse, rosettes, krumkake, fattigman, almond rice pudding… foods, at which the mere mention, make me salivate. These treats strengthened our bond with the other Scandinavian brethren in the area with whom we made much merriment as Christmas neared and during the days of festing that followed. But of all that bonds Norwegians, nothing bonds us more, than lutefisk. It is one of those dishes that every single Norsk has a strong reaction too. Whether we love it or hate it, we do so with passion. In my family, it was not on the menu, although I have kin who rave about it, and perhaps the emphasis should be on the word, “rave.” Personally, I side with a Norwegian friend who put it like this, “Lutefisk is not food we actually eat, it’s a test to see if outsiders really, really want to marry into our family. How much do you love my child? Eat this lye soaked fish to prove it.”
For those of you who have never heard of lutefisk, you did not just misunderstand. It is indeed lye soaked fish or more precisely, dried cod soaked in lye and then boiled. That’s right, sodium hydroxide, you know the stuff you use to clean drains, which will burn you chemically if you come in contact with it, and will explode when in contact with aluminum. It is also a major ingredient in soap. So what does this delicacy actually taste like? Well, when all is said and done, the fish has a translucent jelly like appearance and doesn’t taste much of anything. It certainly isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, although I do question its safety. The taste mainly comes from what you eat with lutefisk. Usually it’s drenched (and I mean flooded) in melted butter, and then often additionally topped with bacon. Boiled potatoes and stewed peas usually also make an honoured appearance beside this delicacy.
For those of you still morbidly curious or intrigued, check out the following videos.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
These pictures are from Christmas on Baker Street earlier in December. The tradition is to have part of the main street shut down. One of the local supermarkets provides food and hot chocolate. Various groups perform carols and other Christmas music. Animals are brought in from a local farm...I'm not sure whether all the animals are babies or just miniatures, in any case, they delight the children almost more than anything else, especially those who get to ride the donkey.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
10 ounces of fresh ginger peeled (I simply guessed on this, do enough to fill two small jars or double the recipe for five)
2/3 C rice wine vinegar
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Put about 4 cups water on to boil. Shave the ginger lengthwise into paper-thin slices with a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Blanch it in the boiling water for about one minute. Drain and put into jars (the water can be saved for tea or broth if you like). Put the vinegar, sugar and salt in a pot and gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Pour into the jars to cover the ginger. Prepare lids and process in a hot water bath to make them seal. If you don't want to be bothered with sealing the jars, you can close the containers and refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the flavors to combine before using. This will keep in your refrigerator for up to a month. This little jar definitely carries punch and will keep you warm this winter.
Friday, December 12, 2008
My mother lent me her beautiful antique sled for the holidays. I've filled it with fresh boughs...plenty of those around here, and put it on my front steps. I keep thinking that the bright red would look smashing against the snow. Presently we're in the middle of a snow storm so I don't dare set it out or I won't be able to find it by morning. I've had to shovel my driveway three times today. That's right, you heard me. We're going to have a white Christmas.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
~1. Be brave and aggressive
grab all opportunities
use varying methods of attack
be versatile and agile
attack one target at a time
don't plan everything in detail
use top quality weapons
~2. Be prepared
keep weapons in good conditions
keep in shape
find good battle comrades
agree on important points
choose one chief
~3. Be a good merchant
find out what the market needs
don't promise what you can't keep
don't demand overpayment
arrange things so that you can return
~4. Keep the camp in order
keep things tidy and organized
arrange enjoyable activities which strengthen the group
make sure everybody does useful work
consult all members of the group for advice
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Bill Heath, a local film maker, spent a good deal of his career learning from the father of ski filmmaking, Warren Miller. Last year I had the honour of viewing his newest film "Nine Winters Old," the stories of random snow lovers and their mountain experiences. The cinematography is stunning and you will see some of the best scenery this area has to offer. See trailer below.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
The native people in these parts consider the lake sacred and the therapeutic quality of the waters have apparently been known throughout time as far back as their history goes. In fact legend tells that warring tribes once declared a truce in the middle of a battle so that both sides could tend to their wounded in the lake. Throughout history, tribes from all around came for the “medicine” the lake contains. Stories told by these peoples’ ancestors tell of the cures the lake has provided, both physically and spiritually through its medicine powers.
“Its medicinal powers are not to be taken lightly. This Lake is a Chief among lakes, its powers are above the purely physical. It contains 365 circles in various shapes, sizes and depths. Each particular day of the year, anyone who goes to this lake will find the right circle if he seeks.”
I have never confirmed the statement regarding the circles, however, I can say that the lake has drawn me. I feel its pull, the magnetism of its call. Even now, many years later, whenever I drive by, I cannot pass without looking.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Suitable Moments for Drinking Tea
When we are interrupted while contemplating
During a good conversation deep into the night
When there is a light, soft drizzle
With agreeable friends and slim concubines
When the children are at school
In a bamboo grove on a spring evening
Under unusual rocks.
At the theatre
While opening letters
When the children are not at school
In torrential rain.
To Be Avoided When Drinking Tea
Monday, October 27, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Everyone said, "Pull them out! They are a wild plant and hard to control. They will take over." But these blackberries knew exactly what they were doing. They were on the edge of my yard and gracefully hung themselves over the rock wall there. They basked all summer in the heat radiating off the rocks and have produced the sweetest most succulent crop of blackberries that I have ever tasted. I can't say that I got a ton. Just three large freezer bags. But of course that doesn't take into account all that I ate in between and for the first year, that's not bad. And they have since enjoyed being in salads, yogurt, and smoothies. I've thought about making jam, but the truth is that I don't use jam all that often and made a batch of apricot earlier in the year. Besides, I enjoy the tart explosion of flavour that these offer on their own. Now all that's really left are the elderberries, rose hips and a few wild apples.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
A group of teenagers had met together at the house of one of the locals. This said local, Mr B, was a bit of a strange man with straggly unkempt hair. But this was not in the least unusual for a small village full of solitary woodsmen.
The kids were getting ready to leave when one was sure he saw a shadow move in the bushes near the edge of the yard. Mr B said he would go out to investigate. Bears are known to occasionally wander into the city boundaries, especially at this time of year with the trees full of pears and apples. This was always a bit of a concern and no one thought it would be anything but. A few of the teenagers watched at the window, but the murky night obscured all but the pale movement of shadows. They waited as the icy air wafted in through the cracks of the old cabin.
Suddenly Mr B flew through the door all wild eyed with hair flying in every direction. “It’s a SASQUATCH!” he rasped as he raced to the kitchen and wrenched open a drawer, utensils flying everywhere. He grabbed the biggest knife to be seen and said, “I’m going after it!” Out he flew into the dark night with all the kids watching wide eyed in hushed whispers. They could just barely make out two shadows seemingly wrestling in the dark of the night. They waited on edge as the minutes passed.
After what seemed like an eternity, a dishevelled Mr. B. returned. “He’s gone! He got away, but I got him good. I don’t think he’ll be back.” The jittery group eventually made their way from the house and plodded towards their own. The groups broke off and became smaller as they fanned outward throughout the town. One of these groups met up with another group of teenagers also on their way back home. The excited kids exchanged stories with the other group and so the tale spread.
By later in the evening, the story had reached the police who wanted to investigate. And their story was later overheard on their radios by the police in the neighbouring town of
So what really happened on that cold dark night? Search parties scoured the woods. They weren’t going to see any sasquatches. But I say nothing.
Monday, October 06, 2008
From Reginsmál (25):
Kembðr ok þveginn skal kœnna hverr|
Combed and washed every thoughtful man should be
ok at morni mettr; |
and fed in the morning;
þvíat ósýnt er,hvarat aptni kømr;|
for one cannot foresee where one will be by evening;
illt er fyr heill at hrapa. |
it is bad to rush headlong before one's fate.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Yes, I know, you probably didn't want to hear it. Winter is on its way. In fact, the past two days have seen the peaks of the mountains glistening with that white stuff.
But back to those well-fed bears, they are drawn by the sweet smell of ripening fruit, but then usually after one or two bites leave the fruit to rot on the ground. I was simply rescuing what was left before the bears spoil any more.
I got the fruit from the back yard of a friend who's property backs up against what was once one of many orchards in this region. This region at one time boasted some of the best fruit in the province and probably the country. The cherries here were particularly prized until the trees were hit with a blight that devastated the industry. But that is another story entirely.
In any case, this old overgrown orchard backs up against the mountain and the forest providing easy access not just to the bears, but also deer. There aren't many trees left and they are old, but the fruit is still fabulously sweet. With much of it turning quickly...pears don't last for long once they start to ripen, I made pear winter jam. It's actually more like a pear butter. The warmth of the ginger does one good in the winter. The concoction is actually really good completely raw, but of course would not last for long, so most of it got cooked up and sealed in jars.
Ripe pears - 3 pounds, peeled and cored
Medium orange - 1 seeded
Medium lemon - 1 seeded
Crushed pineapple - 1 cup (canned in own juice)
Honey - 3/4 cup
Fresh ginger root - 1 inch, peeled and grated
Whole cloves - 6
Cinnamon sticks - 2, broken into 3 pieces
Salt - dash (optional)
Process fruit in food processor or blender. Place in a large pot, adding pineapple and juice. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until fruit is tender and mixture thick, stirring often. Skim and pour into hot, sterile pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch at top. Cap with hot, sterile lids. Process in boiling-water bath for 5 minutes after water returns to boil. If any jars fail to seal, refrigerate and use within ten days or freeze for later use.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I quickly glance around expecting to see the swinging doors of a saloon just a few steps away. Despite the odd dreamlike quality of the horse, the parked cars and grocery store down the street assure me that I am still in the twenty-first century. Being the first on the scene, I snap a few pics and make friends with Winnetou. Shortly thereafter a few others begin to gather obviously as taken by the situation as I am. Eventually a drunken cowboy comes stumbling onto the scene to collect his horse.
He poses for a few photos hamming up his instant celebrity status. The local sheriff arrives and assures us that riding a horse drunk is not a criminal offense. He tells us that the horse knows the way back home better than the cowboy and just to make sure that we know, that the cowboy is totally harmless, even drunk. Eventually the cowboy saddles up and rides off into the sunset as I play all possible soundtracks in my head.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Bentley is quite fond of Miss Maddie, which I am sure you all know is short for Madeline. He would love to parade her around for you all to admire, but she’s a little camera shy. In any case, she’s taken off for an afternoon of shopping with friends and will swing by Oso Negro on the way home for some coffee and cake. Yes, I know, it really is about time I do a post on the famous Oso Negro, and I’ll be right on it soon enough. In the meantime, I will leave you all for some friendly chitchat with Bentley. .
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Above the brushwood fire,
"The world is made forever
Of transport and desire.
- "I am the breath of being,
- The primal urge of things;
- I am the whirl of star dust,
- I am the lift of wings.
- "I am the splendid impulse
- That comes before the thought,
- The joy and exaltation
- Wherein the life is caught.
- "Across the sleeping furrows
- I call the buried seed,
- And blade and bud and blossom
- Awaken at my need.
- "Within the dying ashes
- I blow the sacred spark,
- And make the hearts of lovers
- To leap against the dark."
- I heard the spring light whisper
- Above the dancing stream,
- "The world is made forever
- In likeness of a dream.
- "I am the law of planets,
- I am the guide of man;
- The evening and the morning
- Are fashioned to my plan.
- "I tint the dawn with crimson,
- I tinge the sea with blue;
- My track is in the desert,
- My trail is in the dew.
- "I paint the hills with color,
- And in my magic dome
- I light the star of evening
- To steer the traveller home.
- "Within the house of being,
- I feed the lamp of truth
- With tales of ancient wisdom
- And prophecies of youth."
- I heard the spring rain murmur
- Above the roadside flower,
- "The world is made forever
- In melody and power.
- "I keep the rhythmic measure
- That marks the steps of time,
- And all my toil is fashioned
- To symmetry and rhyme.
- "I plow the untilled upland,
- I ripe the seeding grass,
- And fill the leafy forest
- With music as I pass.
- "I hew the raw, rough granite
- To loveliness of line,
- And when my work is finished,
- Behold, it is divine!
- "I am the master-builder
- In whom the ages trust.
- I lift the lost perfection
- To blossom from the dust."
- Then Earth to them made answer,
- As with a slow refrain
- Born of the blended voices
- Of wind and sun and rain,
- "This is the law of being
- That links the threefold chain:
- The life we give to beauty
- Returns to us again."
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
Every summer Nelson's Art Walk invites locals and visitors alike to take a stroll downtown and view the very best work of local artists and craftspeople. Local businesses host the artists and shops and boutiques become instant galleries. They put on splendid receptions, wine, cheese and other appies. Everyone mulls about, snacking while chatting with the best artistic talent in the area.
Meandering back out onto the main street, I am confronted with the city's undeniable bohemian undercurrent. It's impossible not to be drawn in. The crowds, the music, the food, the entertainment...it's all there. I happened upon a troop of belly dancers with the emphasis on belly, at least for the woman who was eight months pregnant. I half expected her water to break during the course of the performance.
And then the motley of a band...an odder collection of musicians thrown together one just couldn't find, I'm quite sure. There was the yahoo cowboy, hat and all, the two who looked like they had just stepped out of Barvaria, the one with the punkish style hair, another who was a frat boy I'm sure. How they found each other must be a story within itself. But boy could they play music. It made us all want to dance right along. For your viewing pleasure, the following video snippets will almost transport you there. Now close your eyes and click the heels of those ruby slippers together. There truly is no place like home, at least not if your home is Nelson.