Sunday, December 28, 2008

Culinary Curiosities

“Well, we tried the lutefisk trick and the raccoons went away, but now we have got a family of Norwegians living under our house.”

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

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays and a new year full of peace and love. Merry Christmas.


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

Military Musings

Do you know what astonished me most in the world? The inability of force to create anything. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the spirit. Soldiers usually win battles and generals get credit for them. You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war. If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin pricks that proceed cannon shots.

~Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Heart

At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfection, there exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm, a complex of wave forms and resonances which is absolutely individual and unique, and yet which connects us to everything in the universe.

~George Leonard

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pickled Ginger

I did a little experimentation with my canning this summer and strayed just a bit beyond the regular tomatoes and jams. I ventured into the domain of pickled ginger. I tried just a couple jars as I didn't quite know how it would turn out or if I would even like it, but overall I'm against the expensive pink stuff that's sold in stores, mainly because of the red food dye...I try to avoid anything with dyes or other chemical additives and too much sugar. In any case, according to all who tried the goods, the recipe was a huge success and just perfect for California rolls. So I've made up some more jars as gifts for some special friends. If you'd like to try your hand at making this...it's really simple...here's the recipe:

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

Sleigh Bells Ring

Are you listening?

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

Candle of Peace

Yesterday marked the lighting of the second candle on the advent wreath. Last week, the first candle, the candle of hope was lit, and this week is the candle of peace. Peace is possible. It's in our hearts waiting to be felt. We all have the potential to experience joy and a certain peace that dwells within. If I can hope for anything as we approach this holiday season, it would be that peace would dwell in all of our lives and would shine out as a ray of light in this dark season, that we would set aside the busyness that the holiday sometimes brings and remember to reach out to those who are alone or have lost loved ones, that we would spread joy and peace to all those around us.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Viking Laws

On the rare occasion, we find something that will or has passed the test of time. I think you will find this is still good advice even in this day and age.

~1. Be brave and aggressive

be direct
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

Essentials

All I need is right here next to me. In the morning, in the evening, in the warmth where you lay, the cold, it melts away.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Winter...the Best Time of Year

This video clip captures the mountain culture in which I grew up absolutely perfectly. It somehow conjures up all kinds of bits and pieces of memory and feelings from my childhood. Perhaps it's because for years I skied at WH2O...spent many hours on her powdery slopes watching some of the best skiers in the world hotdogging down her cliffs. Perhaps we weren't quite as hippie as those portrayed in this film, but there certainly were a good deal of VW vans. And all of us experienced fishtailing on icy roads. It was all part of the thrill. And those straight skis! When's the last time you've seen those? We all learned on them.



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

Halbtraum

Dreams take us to the oddest places. They transport us somewhat beyond our conscious imagination allowing us to live experiences that we never dared imagine as is seen in this delightful short animation. Enjoy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sacred Waters

A certain magic always hung in the air as we drove past the spotted lake in the South Okanagan. We would hang from the windows of the car with our eyes glued to the side of the road looking beyond, just a ways down the hillside…watching … watching for that magical lake with spots…the Spotted Lake. And the first to see it would cry out, “There it is! The Spotted Lake!” It held us captivated as I’m sure it has many others throughout the years.

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

Resilience

Even the most fragile wildflower crushed beneath your scornful heel will bloom yet again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Calm Waters

What we do in life echoes out for eternity...ripples across time, forever affecting everything else from here on in.

Friday, November 07, 2008

It's Time for Tea

We have come upon those dreary days when one just wants to sit indoors with good friends and a cup of tea. Or perhaps one would prefer to take their tea and to snuggle up in front of a fire with a good book. The Chinese have a long history of tea drinking and have much to say about the subject. I thought the I would share a page from the Chinese Tea Reader "Ch'a-Su."

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.

Unsuitable Moments

At the theatre
While opening letters
When the children are not at school
In torrential rain.

To Be Avoided When Drinking Tea

Sullen servants
Bad waters
Money worries
Large gatherings

Monday, October 27, 2008

Advice

...my father has given to fabulously successful females ... as told to me by a former colleague.
  1. Ask for help.
  2. Be a bitch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Twist

He found me shattered and broken.
Carefully he took my fragile heart,
then without warning, dropped it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Last Tastes of Summer

The last taste of summer has now come and gone. Just a couple weeks ago I was still collecting these wild blackberries that lovingly transplanted themselves in my yard.

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

The Beast

In a time just a few years before my own, rumours circulated that strange beasts roamed through the dense shadows of these woods: tall, hairy beasts with a foul stench trailing behind them. It was in these times during one cold, dark autumn night in the tiny village of Kaslo that an incident occurred that would snowball into mythic proportions.

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 Nelson. And then later by reporters in Vancouver. Within a week, the story covered the front pages of the Province, and this was before the Province had become such a rag.

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

Toast

To my fabulously clean ancestors. Skål

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

Beach Flowers

A gypsy told my fortune and I told her hers.
I said you'll die high in the mountains wrapped in silver furs.
You'll be looking for you lover in the midnight sun,
And you'll perish for your lover when the frost has begun.

~Stars

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Winter Pear Jam with Honey

This past weekend found me foraging in the forest stealing pears away from the bears. Not to worry, the bears have had a good summer and for the most part have their tummies full and are getting a little sleepy with the imminent approach of winter.

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.

Pear Jam
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

Preserving

80 lbs of tomatoes - $18
sea salt - $0.98
lids - $7.77
jars - already had them
an evening of my time - priceless

Friday, September 19, 2008

Domination

An abuser only wields power over his victim as long as she agrees to comply with her silence

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Spaghetti Western

The sun dances high in the sky as it beats out its last rays of summer heat. Our car slowly ambles into the sleepy little western Canadian town of Keremeos. Little do we know that the emphasis is on “Western,” and one never knows what one will encounter when setting foot in a “Western.” We round the corner and smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk tied up to a tree I find this absolute beauty. I call her Winnetou.

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

The Struggle

Break through the tyranny of the familiar. Shift your perception and open your mind to the unknown. Prepare to be amazed.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Hecktor has been out fishing almost daily. He says that the fish flit and flitter and flash their shiny silver scales. They are just so vain and oblivious of their surroundings these days that each time he goes down for a quick dive he comes up with a mouthful of flopping fry. They don't even know what hit them. He doesn't like me getting too close though. Says I scare off the fish. Can you believe it? It's apparently bad luck having a female around while fishing. He obviously doesn't know know about the large salmon I caught, and the even larger one that snapped my rod clear in two. I know, it's always the same old story about the "big" one that got away. But sometimes that's just how life goes.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cause and Effect

Well, what were you expecting? You just kept pushing and pushing. I was bound to fall off the cliff sooner or later.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dance of Life

No time for posting today. Just a quick clip of life in its tragic but stunning beauty.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Hired Help

Bentley has been after me for a formal introduction for quite some time now, so I figure I'd better oblige. Who knows what his humour would be like if I put it off for too much longer. So without further ado, I present Bentley, all bear, one hundred percent German mohair and glass eyes. Bentley, say hello, I'm sure that everyone is more than happy to make your acquaintance. If you somehow missed it, Bentley is a bellhop and if you ever stay chez moi, he will be more than happy to attend to your luggage. But really, he would rather shoot the breeze while slowly sipping coffee or better yet scotch.

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

Observations

Mutti has been busy cleaning, cleaning, cleaning...purging, emotional cleansing, whatever you wish to call it. In the process, she has rediscovered some long since forgotten treasures tucked away quietly at the bottom of some drawer. Notice how in one year I've developed defined feet and hands. Yep, clubfoot was not a good look for me. It looks like my circulation has also improved significantly. I'm pretty sure that this was before the time of skin coloured crayons, but obviously I made do. So what sort of things do you have lying quietly at the bottom of your drawers?




Monday, July 28, 2008

Disconcerting Truth

Love itself threatens peace of mind...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Sinking

Oh, for goodness sakes Otto, what are you going on about now? Would you get down off of that soap box. We have more pressing matters to deal with these days, you know. And quit staring off into the horizon. You make me nervous when you get that strange look in your eyes.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Earth Voices

by: Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

I
HEARD the spring wind whisper
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."

II

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."

III

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."

IV

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

Delusional Interludes

I shall ride the wisp of the wind over the mountains and far across the ocean to the echoes within your heart. I will softly whisper in your dreams and you will wake and wonder what it was that you had heard.

Monday, July 07, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Many a voyage has carried me far from home and I have seen numerous interesting sights. The whispers of adventure secretly seduce me at my every turn. They continually pull at my heartstrings drawing me on. But in truth, adventure and excitement never lurk far from the streets of Nelson. Summer is a special time here. Festivals and celebrations abound and bring out the masses. This past Friday was no exception, in fact, it was double the pleasure with the launch of Art Walk and one of numerous Market Street Fests in full swing.

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.

video video