Monday, August 3, 2009

It's a Heatwave!

This past week the inhabitants of the Terminal City - and pretty much the rest of the province - were the hostages of a heat wave the likes of which we rarely see! Meanwhile, Emily has been dealing with the rain in Ontario during her trip back east to see friends and family. Harumph. But the long-term forecast sees rain around Wednesday/Thursday. We can only hope!

So in the days of sweltering, sticky heat where the sweat trickles down into the crack of your butt, what are people knitting??

Me? Nothing. A pair of booties for my mom's coworker. Beh. I thought the other night that spinning might be easier. Not so much, as I'm drop-spindling soy silk and having sticky, sweaty fingers are not suitable pre-drafting tools.

So it's too hot to knit. Too hot to spin. Too hot to blog as well, since the laptop was shutting down when it overheated.

The solution: FOOD! The folks' gardens are just teeming with gorgeous green veggies including beans (yello, green, and purple bush beans), sugar snap peas, beets, green peppers, cucumbers, and the ubiquitous zucchini, all twenty-seven of them. The corn isn't ready for picking yet, but I swear the stalks are near nine feet high! There is some concern that the bees didn't make it far enough into the greenhouse to sufficiently pollinate the tomatoes, as there are a lot of blossoms, but not many tomato buds yet. The carrots are doing well, they always do well in the greenhouse, too. There were rumours of lettuce, but I haven't gone to check on it yet.

My responsibility is the herbs, and I currently have a good three pots of lush basil, two plants of golden oregano, a lonely lavender that has finally decided this year that it likes the pot it's in, some wayward mints in a windowbox, and a resurrecting lemon thyme. This year I'll move the herbs into the greenhouse for the winter to try and keep them growing all year rather than dying back.

And for summer I decided the next appliance to master after the bread maker was the ice cream maker. There was one attempt last year that did not go well and while the end product tasted fine, the texture wasn't quite right. Sadly the freezer chamber wasn't frozen enough, so the ice cream maker was put away early.

However this year I thought perhaps the chamber had been put in the wrong freezer, so it went into one of the deepfreezes. Success!! My first attempt this year was the "easy" vanilla recipe using 500ml of whipping cream, 250ml low-fat milk, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix together. Turn on machine. Add mixture to machine, and in one hour you become the Dairy Queen! Or either Ben or Jerry, such would be your preference. I have since made chai tea ice cream and cafe latte ice cream, both to rave reviews, and am now pondering my next flavour. I'm hoping I can find a recipe for gelato at home with a minimum of fuss. If not, then ginger ice cream is next on the list.

Growing up, summer also meant home canning season and pretty much anything that could be put in a jar got canned. My childhood canning memories of my mom were mostly fruits (pears, peaches, cherries), jams, pickles, and relishes. My best friend - whom we refer to as "Matter", of "Matter" and "Kansas" in Seattle - has become our gourmet jam-maker with blends of different fruits and spices, including my current favourite, spiced blueberry peach. The cinnamon really gives it a nice warm flavour.

For my own first try at home preserving, I chose a mango chutney from the Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. The recipe said it yields 5 cups, but I got seven 250ml jars out of it. Even better than making a great-tasting chutney was hearing the SNAP! of each lid as it sealed. I giggled each time a lid sealed, and my mom found it a bit funny. But it's a cool thing to do something like this for the first time. In the age of convenience foods and many people losing that connection to food, there is also a loss of respect for where our food comes from.

More importantly for me with home-preserving and home-cooking in general, you can control the ingredients in your recipes. No food dyes, artificial preservatives, or chemical additives for me, thank you. And if it's organic? Even better! My chutney will include an ingredient list and - for gifts - a "Nutritional Facts" table attached to each jar.

This is much the same feeling I have behind my knitting and sewing; I get to control the components going into my finished product. Rayon fabric for a summer wrap top; superfine tencel for a lightweight shawl; alpaca yarn for toasty-warm winter hats. And next? Apple crumbles, spiced apple preserves, and apple pies from my generous neighbours' apple trees.

Because it's still too hot to knit.

Things Missed from the Previous Post

I meant to mention how excited I was at finally getting myself a swift! ripnknit from Ravelry has several cross-arm-style swifts listed in her Stash under the "trade/sell" tab. If you're a Ravelry member you can PM her to check how much for shipping to your address and she will send to Canada! Her father-in-law is the craftsman and they come in a variety of stain colours (mine is cherry!), they're incredibly easy to set up and pack away for storage, and if you happen to lose any of the hardware, all the washers, the hex nut, screw, and wing nut are easily purchased at your local hardware store. She was great to deal with, uses PayPal for convenience, so if you're looking for a crossarm-style swift, I am thrilled to death with mine!

Upcoming Events

Pic-Knit at Surrey Museum Saturday, August 8th 10am - 4pm. Knitting demonstrations, local guilds, llamas and alpacas, and - of course - our local vendors! Do go upstairs to the Textile Studio & Hooser Library to view a demonstration on the weaving looms! Bring a snack, your water bottle, your latest WIP, and BRING MONEY! Because you WILL buy yarn! I'm taking my Entomology scarf to show Barbara to prove that I don't just buy and hoard her yarn!

Langley Arts Alive! Saturday, August 15th, 10am - 5pm. Fraser Highway between 204th and 208th Streets. A family-friendly event featuring artists and artisans, crafts for the kids, music, and it's all free. Come on out and see what Langley is celebrating in its arts community!

Farmer's Markets It's prime time for the farmers markets in and around the GVRD, so check out the many options; there's bound to be one near you! Re-use your grocery bags, stock up on cloth bags, or if you're a crafter create your own eco-friendly shopping bag with leftover fabric, cotton yarn, or cut up some plastic bags to make your own "PLARN" for knitting or crocheting a new, durable bag (like this one from RecycleCindy) that also makes a great statement on environmental responsibility. Check out the schedules for the various Vancouver area farmers markets at, the SFU Local Food Project at, and the Surrey Urban Farmers Market at

PSST!!! It's less than five months until Christmas! (I know, I know...) Have you started your crafting/making list yet? No? Me neither! Maybe we should mosey over to to check out their get-started pattern ideas!

Alrighty my lovelies, that's all I've got for you today, there might be more to come before the next podcast (provided we can record audibly!!) when Emily returns to the Terminal City and we can talk about all things yarny, badly dressed, and/or drunk.

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