work

almost

I wish I could do this every day. I'm sitting in a sunlit, clean house with a mug of tea and a jar of water and a square of dark chocolate. The birch tree out front has almost completely turned yellow. I've already wandered the garden several times (two raspberries!), tidied up and made a nest for our elderly cat, and tossed yet more onions and tomatoes in the oven. I feel - almost - at peace. We've been enjoying a long weekend (yay!). Yesterday I spent all afternoon painting white rabbits and yellow aspen on scraps of wood while listening to a charming audiobook, fed on a pleasant diet of tea and fresh caraway raisin bread that Jeremy started the day before.

I went to a lovely friend's lovely wedding reception recently, with the best bunch of friends. The weather was stormy, but delightfully so. The whole day was one long happy moment.

It's funny how moments like these can coexist, or at least be contrasted by those reigned by the less fun feelings. I have been so exhausted lately that the lovely moments seem few and far between. Sunday I spent curled on the couch, again with tea, and read. I feel very lost and frustrated when I think of how I spend most of my time at a job I really don't enjoy. It is a perfectly decent job, I'm sure, but somehow manages to be both the most boring and most stressful job I've experienced. At the reception it was so nice hearing about how my friends are following their passions and have found or are creating meaningful work. Over here at whine central (but without the wine), I have yet to figure that out for myself.

Still, there is plenty of good to celebrate. I made this pear tarte Tatin several weeks ago, and have been meaning to post about it ever since. I'm a little late for Canadian Thanksgiving, but it's a tasty way to end most any meal.

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Pear Cardamom Tarte Tatin Recipe: Choosing and Using Spices. Pastry: Terroirs de France, un million de menus

1/4 cup (50 g) butter, softened 1/4 cup sugar seeds from 10 cardamoms 1 tsp + ground cardamom 225 g (8 oz) puff pastry or use pastry recipe below +/- 4 ripe pears (the number of pears will depend on the size of the pears and the size of your pan)

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Spread the butter over the base of an ~8" cast iron skillet (or ovenproof pan or stoveproof cake tin). Spread the sugar evenly over the butter, then sprinkle the cardamom and cardamom seeds over the sugar. On a floured surface, roll out pastry to a circle slightly larger than the pan. Prick pastry lightly and set it on a baking sheet and chill.

2. Peel the pears, cut them in half lengthwise and core them. Arrange the pears, rounded side down, on the butter and sugar. Set pan over medium heat until the sugar melts and begins to bubble with the butter and the juice from the pears. If any areas are browning more than others (you can carefully lift a pear to check), move the pan, but do not stir.

3. As soon as the sugar has caramelized, remove the pan from the heat. Place the pastry on top, carefully tucking the edges down the side of the pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is well risen (for puff) and golden.

4. Leave in the pan for 2-3 minutes until the juices have stopped bubbling. Invert the pan over a plate and shake to release the tart. (Put a large plate face-side down over the pan. Keep one hand flat on the center of the plate to hold it in place while the other hand lifts and flips the pan in one smooth motion. The hand on the plate needs to keep pressure on it and move with the pan.) It may be necessary to slide a spatula under the pears to loosen them. Serve warm.

Pastry (pâte brisée) - the high butter content of this recipe makes it a tasty substitute for puff dough 200 g flour 100 g chilled butter 50 + g ice cold water pinch salt Stir together flour and salt. Cut butter into small cubes, then cut into flour with a pastry cutter. Add enough water that you can form dough into a ball, then let it repose in the fridge for 30 minutes. This recipe makes slightly more than is needed for the tarte Tatin, so save the extra in the fridge for spontaneous weeknight baking, or something.

swells

This morning I dragged my inner self kicking and screaming to the office. I was almost late and all but my physical self clung to everything beautiful and calm that I passed along the way. Dreams like kites burst out of me, tethered by longing. One day I will find myself spending days how I choose. However, I swam in the ocean this afternoon, which makes up for a lot. I splashed around at a place where the water is cool and clear, and angled rocks make a small tucked-away beach at the end of a winding rural road. There were big swells coming in; they lifted and lulled me as I tilted my head back to take in the wind-tossed treetops. Small blackberries at the top of the beach trail. Home, and dinner, and tea. Summer is sliding by quickly.

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temperamental

Here is our big news, a lot late and still largely lacking photos: we got married on a sunny Friday in March. It was a semi-elopement down on a windy beach in Deep Cove, complete with tidal pools, mussel beds and parents. We really liked the idea of throwing a big party, maybe with lanterns and birch print straws, but ultimately decided to keep things simple and keep costs down. To the probable confusion of many of our near and dear, we still sent out invitations* because we'd still like to have a celebration potluck in the summer. IMG_0206 I really don't know what I'm doing with my feet here.

We have seedlings growing in our front window. First, Calabrese broccoli, white cauliflower blend and wild arugula. Now the Genovese and sweet basil, and small sugar pumpkin have energetically erupted forth, and there is more coming up every day. Jer has been working hard out back, tilling and digging and moving soil to prepare our garden beds, but it looks like we'll need to put up deer fencing before we dare plant anything outside.

Strangely- or maybe not-, being married feels normal. Not different at all really, more of a confirmation of what already was. Like I said to Jer, of course we're married. However, it's been a rather rough few weeks for other reasons. I started a new job with a schedule almost opposite my previous one. It's a good change, but is certainly an adjustment. I'm still figuring out how to restructure the days to include important things like making food and sweeping the house, yoga, art and adventures outside. An even better job with in-between sort of daytime hours (this is good) is now almost certainly on the horizon. I'm excited and I think it'll be pretty awesome but am a little scared because it's more of a 'real job' than any I've ever had. We've also been stressing about selling our cute Nelson house and weird expensive details like the old sewer line that the downhill neighbor suddenly wants moved. You get the idea, there's a lot going on. I've been accused of having been miserable for the last little while, so I guess I've got to work on how I handle change and stress. While it's unfortunately (and hopefully temporarily) true that it takes almost nothing to upset me these days, I would like to say that the weather has been temperamental lately as well. Not to justify my moping and snapping but just that it could maybe be vaguely related seeing as our bodies are made up of water and minerals and such so we are hardly immune to the forces of nature. Recently, a day will brood ominously overcast, burst into sun, suddenly wintery winds pick up and dark clouds loom, then torrential rain for a bit before it's all rainbows and sunshine and it does it all over again. I kind of like this crazy weather, but I aim to mellow, temper, sweeten my reactiveness to it all, and then my husband and I will weather this house and job stuff out.

* Ahem... are still sending out invitations because we haven't managed to ask for everybody's address yet. Hence the elopement.

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in appreciation of kale and my fianceé

I was sitting crumpled in front of Seven yesterday evening in the rabbit pen when it hit me that she might not be eating or pooping. Rabbits have sensitive digestive tracts that need frequent input of long fibres (like hay) to keep things moving, and things need to keep moving or their good gut bacteria turns to bad bacteria, a toxic and potentially deadly situation. It's called GI stasis and is feared amongst rabbit people, but usually a good supply of hay will prevent it. The way Seven's teeth are currently, she can't eat hay, or much else from the looks of things. She keeps picking up hay like she really wants to eat it, holds it for a second and puts it back down. She grated at a carrot for a while last night but ignored dandelion greens and spinach, then she huddled up making chewing motions without anything in her mouth. Internet research on trusted rabbit sites confirmed symptoms we were seeing. Jer got to work making a slurry of rabbit pellets and water. As I said at the time, if I had any doubt in my mind about marrying this man, watching him feed our rabbit with a syringe erased it. I teared up a little. She turned out to be really hungry and lapped up a fair bit of slurry, then perked up significantly. Thus began the kitchen experiments. More slurries were made, employing various techniques and achieving various viscosities. The hay slurry was sadly a fail, as was grass. Somewhere in my reading I came across kale. Aha! A fine, fibrous green with decent moisture content (we also need to keep her hydrated). Jer, already established as savior of rabbits, ventured out to the late-night grocery store for an armload of kale. To quote his description of the experience: << Misunderstandings at the grocery store. I put down three heads of kale and nothing else. Clerk says "Eating healthy?". "Nah, It's rabbit food' says I. "I know right" says the clerk.>> To our enormous relief, Seven is still able to eat kale, and ridiculous quantities were consumed. At some point after midnight I fell asleep on the floor with the rabbits nestled in front of me. We set alarms throughout the night and got up to coax some water and food into her. At four am she was still eating kale, and at six she had a little more. Adding to his repertoire as top-notch caregiver, Jer also learned to give a bunny tummy massage. Mid-morning, the worries began again as she repeatedly refused water, kale and slurry. Just moments ago, Jer got her eating more slurry. Once she starts, she seems to realize that she'd like to eat more, and went on to eat swiss chard too. Yay! We just have to keep this up, I guess, until she can eat normally again unless our vet gives us another approach. Good news is that the dentist will see her on Wednesday. We're crossing our fingers that we'll have the funds for it. We have a decent amount saved, but specialist sounds expensive. So, with all of the above, today is kind of a strange day. It's beautifully sunny outside. The wind is blowing down the chimney making our living room smell like lapsang souchong. The rabbits and I are sunning on a blanket and we're just taking it easy. We'll get through.

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delicious

This evening we wrote down our fears on little slips of paper, and possible solutions on the reverse, then took turns reading and responding before giving them over to smoke and ash in our fire. Tonight in rabbitland, Seven is going through my purse and snacking on bits of crumbs from this morning's toast. Zephyr alternates between cuddling up for nose rubs and adventuring onto the couch.

My right hand is all seized and sore from scooping hundreds of cookies yesterday. Only three more days of working as a baker making sugary cookies and then I'll be selling delicious wholesome, toothsome, locally milled and lovingly cultured breads and pastries much closer to home!

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