Homemade Polish Pickles!

One of my favourite things about summer is getting the chance to can and pickle various local produce for the winter. It’s a lot of work, but if done right, can give me access to less expensive, healthier, and more environmentally friendly food all year round.

I learned how to can and pickle from my mother. She used to do it every summer and, though not always willingly, I used to help her. I still use the recipes she taught me, though the specific measurements are what I remember and so may not be exactly the same. Some recipes I discovered and created myself.

Polish pickles are something I always want to do, but often only manage to do a few jars when I manage to do any at all. It’s a shame because these pickles, which are fermented and use no vinegar, are really the only ones I truly like and that don’t hurt my stomach.

They have a wonderful slightly spice taste, they’re salty, garlicky, and just perfect on a rye bread with some liverwurst and salami, and a slice of tomato. They’re also the base for Pickle Soup.

This year, through sheer iron determination and buying small batches of pickles at a time, I managed to can more than ever before. All told I currently have 19 jars of pickles, and I’m pretty sure I gave away 3 jars.

Some I canned the old fashioned way, but the rest I put through a water-bath canner. I’ve never done that before so I look forward to seeing what that does to the overall process

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Homemade Polish Pickles!
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Lessons from a Failed Bodyform

As a result of all the different things going on with my body, not to mention our financial situation, finding clothes for me to wear can be really difficult. For some time now, I’ve been strongly considering starting to make my own clothes. In order to do a better job of this, I’ve been wanting to make a bodyform out of my own body shape.

I’ve been looking up different ways of creating one. There are tons of ideas out there, including ones using plaster, duct tape, insulation form, all sorts of ideas. I decided to combine all of these different ideas in the hopes of creating something fantastic.

At the same time as doing mine, I decided to also make one for Alyssa. For all that people give her lots of clothes, there are some pieces that she has always wanted but couldn’t afford. I thought it would be fun to also have a form of her shape, so that I could potentially make them for her.

I decided to start with hers, and while I suspected this might be the case for some time not, I finally had to admit defeat. Her bodyform was a disaster. First we ran out of tape. Then the foam wouldn’t set. Then the top foam sank into the foam that wouldn’t set. Then the whole thing ended up very tilted. Finally, the plaster would not stop crumbling and the whole thing finally fell apart today resulting in a dusty and crumbly mess.

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Lessons from a Failed Bodyform

What’s the Story

In my last storytelling post, I wrote about how a lot of my paintings come with stories of their own. I usually just let it stay in my head, but I thought I might have some fun and actually tell you, dearest readers, some of the stories.

MEDUSA

Medusa from behind with a butterfly tattoo

Medusa is considered a monster, she is assumed to be so ugly that just looking at her face turns you to stone. But before she was ugly, she was beautiful. She had long lustrous hair, which is why it was changed in order to punish her. Her gorgeous locks turned instead into hissing snakes. But in her metamorphosis she went from being a victim to being a being of fear. Sometimes it is in change that you find yourself. For Medusa, metamorphosis is the meaning of her life, her own change and the change she brings on others. She commemorates this with a tattoo of a flying butterfly on her shoulder.

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What’s the Story

Energizer Bunny for Xmas (plus a thank you)

For the last week, week and a half really, I’ve been in a bit of energizer mode. Alyssa calls it my productive phase.  We’re celebrating the holidays at home this year. For the first time in a while, and I don’t want it to feel like we’re just too poor to go somewhere like some holidays seem to feel. The sad truth is, though, that we are broke. We haven’t really been able to afford to get each other gifts for some time.

Still, I’ve been diligently working on trying to make it feel like the holidays, while also putting together little somethings for the wonderful people in our lives. And that has meant – cooking. And baking. And some crafting.

It’s been serving two purposes. At the same time that I am making a whole host of Christmas food, I’m also making a bunch of frozen meals and whatnot for future low spoon days. So far I’ve managed to freeze some Kluski (Polish Potato Dumplings) as well as some fries that just need to be popped in the fryer. All at the same time as preparing the filling for a batch of pierogi: which I haven’t really made since that time years ago when I sold them for a while and ended up making over 744 pierogi by hand.

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Energizer Bunny for Xmas (plus a thank you)

Gregorian chant and the Acoustics of Churches

A few years ago my parents took my sister and me to Poland to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. We flew first to Austria where we spent a few days exploring Vienna. It was an interesting trip for me, being the first time travelling to a country where I didn’t have at least a very basic grasp of the language.

In the past I had gone on exchange to live in France, but I spoke French. My parents had taken us to Cuba, and I had an exchange in Spain, and while my Spanish was limited, I knew enough to be able to ask basic questions like where is the bathroom, and how much is it. German however, is completely outside my familiarity, and doesn’t really share many commonalities with any of the other languages I speak.

It was a strange experience, having to rely completely on someone else to translate for me. I had never felt that helpless before and it meant a lot less independence than I am used to while travelling.

Our first night there, we went on a hunt for cheesecake. My father, during my parents’ courtship, had had to go to Vienna for some time. While there, he promised that someday he would take my mother to Vienna and they would have cheesecake together. Afterwards we took a moment to look at the streets of the old city at night.

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Gregorian chant and the Acoustics of Churches

Frivolous Friday: My Kitchen and Garden

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you are aware that we moved relatively recently. Despite the less than pleasant moving in experience, the place has been fantastic. The one sore point for me has been my kitchen.

It is the necessity of apartment kitchens to be somewhat cramped. The fact that a dishwasher was included in our rent as a treat, has not helped matters. Everything would have been fine if the shelves had worked. In our first week, we put up a series of shelves. I had measured everything carefully and gone to the hardware store to pick up all we needed.

The dry wall anchors were rated for 52 pounds each. We were golden, until we actually tried to put things on the shelf. I lost all my summer canning. Hours and hours of hard work spattered across my kitchen. We’re still finding tomato sauce in the weirdest of places.

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Frivolous Friday: My Kitchen and Garden

Sharing Some Art

Evenings are often when I do my painting. Alyssa goes to bed, and I’m usually in my office, my two dogs either at my feet or curled up with my wife. At some point I will get the urge to art and out come my brushes and acrylics.

I go through these waves of inspiration and nothing. When the inspiration is going it’s like I cannot keep up with the ideas flooding my way. But sometimes, those ideas stop. Or they don’t but my ability to execute them does.

Since I’ve been riding the wave of inspiration lately I thought I would share a few of my recent, (and since this is a new site a few of my past) works as well.

Black women with spectacular ocean coloured afro and a jellyfish tattoo
 
Red silhouette of aeriyal dances twirling fire coloured silk.
Medusa with a butterfly tattoo
 
Panting of white yellow eyes woman with red hair and horns
Painting of Fergusson protest with banner Stolen Lives
Purple silhouette over fiery background
Owl that looks like it is made of mountains

Sharing Some Art