Friday, 13 November 2015

Eat: Bartered Squash

My husband had the brilliant idea of taking the leftover apple grindings from our cider pressing, mix them with cracked corn, acorns, a mineral block, and other things that deer like to feed on. He assured me that hunters would buy it. I scoffed. And then bit my words when he sold out in less than an hour.
"Back to the grind" he decided. Literally. 15 bushels of apples later, we had more deer feed, and now a surplus of cider. How can one have a surplus you ask? When the freezer, and all carboys are full. And there are still 6 turkeys to fit into said freezer. And you can't possibly sip another mouthful of cider for at least a week.
I dug through the empty wine bottles (yes, there were plenty), filled up 10 of them and took them to work. "Just trade me something" I said to co-workers.
The next day, I arrived at work to a loaf of home made bread, a jar of mustard pickles (an east coast preserve that was re-gifted to me, ha) a jar of honey, a can of beer and this:

"What the heck is this?" I tried googling squash and looking through pictures. Closest I came up with was Buttercup (it was not) and Kobacha (Nope, not that either)
The squash came in a CSA basket that my boss subscribes to. It came from Salt of the Earth farm, located at the east end of Kingston. I texted them with a picture.
"Musque de Provence squash" came the reply.
"It's a great soup squash. Google it. It's a traditional French thing. Enjoy!"

So, I lugged it home. Two days later, I stabbed it a few times, and put it in the oven.
Two hours later I pulled it out, cut it in half and scooped out all the soft, yummy roasted flesh.

Two cups of it (along with 3 eggs and one cup of maple syrup, all produced in our backyard!) went into this Brown Butter Maple Pumpkin Loaf. I don't think I browned the butter enough, I was too concerned about burning it! Also, I couldn't find the cinnamon. Until the next day, sitting in plain sight on the counter.

The rest of the squash went into soup. Which we enjoyed with fresh baked bread (I did not bake it), cheese, some of my red pepper jelly, roasted beets (they were also bartered for some cider!) with apple cider maple vinigrette and of course wine (Sandbanks Dunes is my current favourite white) Fintan ate 3 bowls at dinner.

Here's my recipe for Musque de Provence soup:
  • 1 roasted squash (I think it was probably about 4-5 pounds (uncooked), minus two cups. You could also use a large butternut squash.
  • 2 cups of stock or water (I used turkey)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • garlic, however much you like! I used 4-5 cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper, thyme, chili flakes
  • cream (you could skip the cream)
Put roasted squash, onion, garlic and spices in your favourite soup pot along with stock. Simmer until onions are soft. Blend. Return to pot and reheat. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup of cream (or more or less, or none. Are you counting calories?) Season and serve. I drizzled some chili oil on the adult servings.
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Third Time's a Charm! WTF Finishes WT!

Our third attempt, and third team configuration, but still with the “original” three teammates,  at Wilderness Traverse finally sees Whiskey Tango Foxtrot finishing the full course!!
Three weeks (hmm...a theme of three’s?) before the race Candice comes clean. She sprained her knee back in June, and isn’t sure how it will hold up. How do we feel about bringing another team mate into the fold? Well, the first year we raced saw a team mate change about three weeks out, so this wasn’t exactly a new idea. I think her thought is if we bring Steve on board, and her knee fails, we can still continue on as a ranked team. I’m not totally convinced Steve knows what he’s getting himself into. I laugh (nervously) over the next week as he bombards me with email messages:
“What kind of bike do I need?” 
“ I’m going to bring hot dogs!”
“What shoes should I wear?” 
“I don’t have bike lights”

Fortunately, Steve is a Parry Sound local, which also means we have a place to crash, and he knows parts of the area quite well. Definite nav plus.  Makes parts of our course plotting the night before quick and easy. Although,  he hasn’t paddle Massassagua before, and the trek between CP10 and CP12? Nope, never been there either!
After a great breakfast of waffles and sausage, we head over to the start line and GO! It’s a mass run start. I don’t like running, but it’s a rather short one, and likely the only actual running that I will have to do over the next 24 hours or so. We transition to a short bike ride and something is not right. We quickly figure out that my back tire is flat. I curse my bike mechanic back home. He was supposed to check my tires and change my tubes. Hmm...not a great start. We fix it, keep going, get through the first few CP’s in good time and hit the paddle. Where we are confident we’ll shine, after all, we are ALL paddlers. Despite the crazy wind, we make great time, passing about 9 teams along the way.. Near the end, we pull over for a quick fuel break before a rather long crossing to the end.  A man and his two sons burst through the trees, cradling shotguns, telling us they feel sorry for us with this wind. We pick our line and head to the dock at opposite shore. We arrive with a few hours of daylight to see us through the beginning of our trek. Have I mentioned yet that I turned down a wedding invite for this?

The first jog along the road brings a very strange sensation along the outer sides of my thighs. I can feel one of my shins tightening up. Now something is not feeling good in my knee. What the heck is going on? We drop down to a brisk walk instead. That feels better. We pass through the Deliverance cottages, complete with the greying-long-haired guitar playing dude to CP9 and set our bearing to take us to CP10. We arrive in decent time, to steak, tea, shoulder massages (an old friend was a volunteer here!) and the news that we are in 20th place. It’s a little past 8pm. Dinner at the wedding will be done by now, maybe speeches starting?

We realize at this point that we have a good chance of not being short coursed. We set our next bearing, and head towards CP11. Moving quicker than in past years. Although all the climbing over ridges has my knees screaming at me. Also, our hands are getting ripped apart by juniper bushes. I should be in a pretty dress dancing right now. Grant & Steve make a great nav duo, and we make it to Shangri- La before midnight. Only one small error, but the light of the heated tent showed us we missed them by a bay or two. It wasn’t until days later, that I realized that this CP was manned by the wonderful man who saved me with a single strawberry in 2013. This year, he gave me soup and water. And told me that we were going to finish….the whole course!!

As we make the LONG journey south to CP12, my knees are really giving me some troubles. But I keep thinking if Candice is still moving forward on her knee, than I have to as well. I hit my lowest point ever on this portion of the trek. I think I may have experienced my first “bonk” When we found the trail, I was stumbled along as if I was into my second bottle of wine (by this point, the wedding reception is all over, and I would be stumbling….but still in a pretty dress!) I was hallucinating (although I wasn’t the only one, at one point Steve yelled out, he “saw” a porcupine in his path) I was dehydrated (my throat felt like it was being stabbed) and food made me nauseous. I even found Grant sitting on a rock at one point. He NEVER sits in a race. We finally got into the TA, after picking our way along the shore of the Moon River, and Heather (Grant’s wife who was volunteering) took one look at me and asked how I was. I burst into tears and said I couldn’t talk about it. After a cup of hot chocolate, soup and half a gatorade I was ready to go. By 6:30 or so, we jumped on our bikes to ride the final 65km or so to the finish line.  We opted to take roads, we figure we’d be a bit faster, especially considering knees. I feel pretty good over the course of the ride, despite the fact that my bike shorts seem to be wanting to constantly give me a wedgie. Also, have you ever gotten dirt INSIDE your bike shorts? That sucks, a lot. One small nav error as we we searching for CP 14 set us back 30 minutes or so. We retraced the beginning of the race along the Seguin Trail for the final stretch over roads, as we were struggling with hills. The final 4km seemed to drag on forever….but we rolled into the finish line….22 minutes after 2:00. Elated, but slightly disappointed. Bob & Barb very kindly ranked us anyway, and we are super stoked to have finally completed the long course (140 km in 30 hours and 22 minutes), after two years of being short coursed.

A big thank you to Bob, Barb and the rest of their team and volunteers for putting on a great race. And to all of the other racers that race this, and other races, without a whole bunch other “crazy” people, we wouldn’t get to do it. Friends often ask me why….I  don’t really know the answer, but I know you understand. ;)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Play: The Game of Life

Well, Hello there! It's been awhile.
I realize it's been almost a year since I have last visited my own blog. But I've been busy! You know, raising a family, working, eating, playing, laughing...and drinking!

But, I'm least for  now. I've redecorated, I hope you like visiting:)

This is what I've been up to since I last visited:

  • We built a wood fired pizza oven in our back yard. (more on that later)
  • My eldest son turned 10!
  • We are still raising hens and turkeys.
  • We've acquired an apple press. (and make our own hard cider)
  • We kayaked a portion of the Saguenay Fjord as a family. The kids even did some solo paddling!
  • My husband's business Kindling has taken off
  • I now have an Instagram account.
  • And a cell phone.
  • I started my "career" as a blog contributor to other publications.
  • Mt team raced Wilderness Traverse again, and finally completed the full course!
  • I joined forces with a friend, and co-directed an adventure race; The Cataraqui Adventure Trek

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you visit again!