pets

November

Ah, yes. It feels like it's been ages. I've been lying on the floor drawing in the evenings lately, drinking tea and listening to Discworld audiobooks and fending off the rabbits (who enjoy pencils and watercolour paper for different reasons than mine), instead of lying on the floor typing and drinking tea and fending off the rabbits from the keyboard. It's pretty relaxing. What I've created is a series of black and white pictures that are waiting to be painted or coloured in. My intention is to get prints made and give them away or sell them to give people something relaxing to do on these dark chilly evenings. I'd love to hear what you think about this! On a sidenote, I am sitting in a puddle of long November light. Jeremy is making french toast with panetonne in the kitchen, a gift from my wonderful mother. She also brought us homemade apple butter, and exquisite handmade jewellery for me - thanks Mum!

I'm enjoying this time of year much more than I thought a November could be enjoyed. I love arriving indoors all pink-cheeked and invigorated from the cold. I love snuggling in my wool blanket and my thickest socks. I love thinking about everything I would like to bake. I love the nuthatches and chickadees, downy woodpeckers, flickers, purple finches and others that come to our kitchen window. I love watching squirrels stuffing themselves and the earth with prized nuts, and I love seeing the syrupy light sprawl sideways across the water and through the trees.

shifting skies

You might think, from the title, that this post is about Canadian politics and the recent election. I am, along with most of the country, immensely relieved by the election results. However, I am better off writing about the weather. All I really want to eat for supper at this time of year is roasted vegetables topped with poached eggs. If you offered me lasagna or quiche, say, I would never turn it down, but a colourful heap of oven-velvety fall vegetables is pretty undeniably glorious. I started to write that my husband would disagree, but he has been roasting broccoli, tofu and potatoes lately so I will eat my words.

To further my roasted vegetable quest, and revel in it for days at a time, I concocted a sort of "October bowl", so named for its warm bright colours: roasted winter squash, roasted beets, and roasted garlic topped generously with grated Balderson cheddar, soft-poached eggs, sea salt and a fair amount of pepper. I may also have tipped some Little Creek Dressing into my bowl- I'm on a bit of a kick with it lately. If you've never tried it, it combines oil, lemon juice, tamari, raspberries, vinegar, nutritional yeast, garlic, herbs and salt in magical proportions for a very delicious dressing. Also on the subject of vegetables, however vaguely, we gave the rabbits a big old zucchini yesterday evening and there is not much left of it. They've been gnawing it with great vigor and following its diminishing form around the room. It's impressive what these soft-eyed creatures can do to a gourd, and highly entertaining, for us and them.

It's necessary to talk briefly of the weather; I was near convinced it would start snowing this morning. There was a fog over the city and it was unusually cold. It felt like a late October day in the mountains, where it just might start snowing. And then I reminded myself I'm in Victoria. It rarely snows in December here. Last year, I left Nelson just before the snow started to fall. I do miss the beauty and wonder of those first snows of the season. Island life, Island life, Island life. We have had some spectacular skies lately, liquidamber* light and painted clouds reflected on the ocean, even a sundog rainbow one afternoon.

(* thank you Elise, xo)

IMG_1951 IMG_6257 IMG_1948 IMG_1907 IMG_1955 IMG_1922

magnificent creature

My cat Heidi (Pudding) passed away on Friday. She was sixteen, and had decided her time had come. We'd been watching her get thinner and more arthritic all year, and this past week she lost her appetite completely. There was more to it than that, of course, but she made it clear she wasn't interested in hanging on any longer. She was a delightful cat. She spent her kittenhood running up trees after squirrels, then turning around, tail cocked, and running down them, with her ears pinned back and her wildest expression on. She grew to love food, and would put on a concert of yowls until someone would open a can for her in the morning. She was gentle and cuddly, and very quirky. Her warm solid weight was the cause of many accidental couch naps. In her old age she licked the gravy from the wet food and sought sunbeams and warm laps.

325 956 IMG_1855

the butter

This is a post that was almost lost to the havoc a rabbit's fuzzy feet can wreak on a keyboard. My cavorting Zephyr, I love you very much, and you will teach me to save my work. We happened to mention scalloped potatoes, one of us to the other, and they immediately claimed a space in our weekend, our supper (two nights in a row, now), and our bellies. It was decided that Julia Child should be the voice of authority on the matter, and a very good decision that was. I will say this, however: the butter! I know she has a reputation for her love of butter, and so do I, truly, at least among family and friends. But the quantities! I get a little anxious when our butter supply runs low, and though generally generous with the good stuff, even I voiced concerns of it being excessive and threw in a few "Oh Julia!"'s for good measure. What follows is a rough rendition of what we ate.

As I'm writing this, the fire is burning slow and bright in our fireplace; this first fire of the season. It emits a warm glow that stretches faintly toward our single-paned windows. Jer has been industriously plastic-sealing them for the winter, and though not attractive, it is a little less drafty in here.

Two Sunday nights ago (ages, I know, but I meant to exclaim about it): the moon! I hope you all saw it if you had the chance. It was steeped in an autumnal blush from all the reflected sunrises and sunsets of the world. We watched the light crawl back up into it from below and sensed that we really were seeing something. Somehow all the preceding eclipses (ever) skipped us by, either due to late inconvenient timing or cloudy skies, so this one seemed especially striking.

IMG_1784 IMG_1789 IMG_6664

Scalloped Potatoes adapted lightly but interpretatively from Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

- an ovenproof dish about 10" across and 2" deep (we used a 9x13 pyrex dish, but we did have extra potatoes). - 1 clove of garlic, cut in half. Rub the baking dish with the cut garlic. (we sliced up the garlic after and put it in with the potatoes) - 4 tbsp butter (it seemed like so much more when Jer had a great hunk of it looming on the counter and being dispersed freely in great lumps- he may also have measured rather generously) - 2 lbs "boiling" potatoes (we used 3lbs Yukon Gold but that may have been too much as it cooked slower than expected. We did end up with a pleasing amount of leftovers. I didn't peel the potatoes and they turned out delicious, but I suppose you could if you felt you had to.) Slice the potatoes fairly thinly (no thicker than 1/8") and place in cold water for now. - 1 cup milk, heated until it boils - 1 cup or so grated cheese (we probably used more like two cups, mostly Parmesan and some mozzarella because that was what the fridge contained) - salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425°. Drain the potatoes and dry them in a towel (or skip the whole water step above if you work quickly). Spread half of them in the bottom of the dish and cover with half of the cheese, butter and salt and pepper. Arrange the remaining potatoes on top and cover with the second half of the cheese and butter and seasoning. Pour on the boiling milk. Place baking dish over heat and when simmering, set in upper third of preheated oven (we completely missed the stovetop step but I imagine it is helpful for cooking the potatoes quicker). Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, milk has been absorbed, and the top is nicely browned.

tiny fortress

I'm at home today, on my first official "earned day off" and I am all but spinning in circles as I struggle to spend it well. I had big plans mapped out yesterday, but my mind has gone foggy as to what they were. There is a distinct chill in the air now. The house was cold all morning and my movements were slow. Now the windows are open and a pleasant breeze traverses the room. I let the rabbits roam, not expecting that they would harass the poor old cat. Fortunately, they gave up easily and each pet is calmly resting in her own sunbeam now. Last night, I locked myself out of the house and sat in the garden. I've done this once before, but this time I pulled the knob tight with an intentional hand. You see, when stacks of dirty dishes sprawl across my kitchen (how does this happen so quickly?), it makes me want to scream. Usually I have the wherewithal to roll up my sleeves and banish them to the dishrack, but occasionally a long day and insufficient snacking will tilt me in the direction of rash emotion and terse words. Rather than scream, I scrammed. I sat at the little table in the back of the garden and wrote as I watched crows move eastward towards the gorge and pink ice-cream-castle clouds settle on the horizon. After a while, after having observed a wren light on the rooftop for a mid-flight song and a scarlet-flushed purple finch seek seed among the arugula pods, and having noted a garden spider's tiny fortress in the cosmos and coriander, I began to shiver more than a little, and knocked rather sheepishly at the garden door.

We had several weeks of deliciously rainy weather and grass and dandelions are coming up everywhere. I am feeling similarly refreshed. Here is what I would like for the months to come: dinner parties/potlucks/cooking and eating in company, forest hikes and foraging for autumn mushrooms, apples in abundance, time spent with loved ones, garlic in the ground, and to cultivate an active and creative lifestyle.

IMG_1740 IMG_1757 IMG_1783