One of the tasks I set myself this summer was to get more involved with my local community. The stress of the last several years – dealing with constant money anxiety, trying to find different ways of making money while managing my declining health, my declining health, the immigration process, the rapid and terrifying decline in world politics, – has had a significant impact on my mental and physical health.
Things got particularly bad last year when I ended up spending more than 3/4 of the year on steroids. I needed an outlet.
Ever since we moved into the neighbourhood, I’ve been coveting a plot in the Community Garden. During one of the walks I was taking with my new chair, I happened to run into some of the gardeners who have plots there. I mentioned this was my second summer of waiting, and they surprised me by letting me know that they had a plot available. That was the catalyst that led to me discovering the amazing programs that are happening right here in my neighbourhood.
One of them is a community Wood Burning Oven. Every two weeks or so, they build up the fire and they do a pizza bake. After that the fire is available for anyone to use to cook their own foods, including bread.
The whole group is really amazing, and I’m glad to be working and spending time with people so dedicated to creating community and building up community as well. They all do so much and have so much passions and caring, it’s just an amazing energy to be around.
One of the things they do is organize these great Community Kitchens: events where someone with a certain knowledge teaches anyone who is interested. The food, to a point, is paid for by a local community organizations, people get to try samples, and everyone gets to learn a new skill.
When they found out that I smoke meat, they were immediately interested.
Tomorrow, I will be breaking out the BBQ’s, and using them to teach people how to smoke meat. I’m also going to finally convert an old mini fridge I’ve had for 2 years now, into being a cold smoker! I’m really excited.
The event is taking place at the Bayshore Park Community Garden and Oven in Ottawa. It’s free to attend, just show up between 12 and 3. I’ll be there working on the BBQ and possibly doing some art as well as time and weather and people who show up permit.
Come out and say Hello if you are interested!
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
It’s the last day of my IndieGoGo for the cookbook I am writing. I’ve been working hard on it already and have quite a bit already written. I’m fundraising to give me a chance to make the cookbook better by being able to exactly measure proportions for each recipe and take pictures of the process.
I’ve made my base goal, which is awesome! I’m hoping to be able to reach the stretch goals, in particular, the one related to the Video Cookbook.
I’ve been trying to make videos for a while now and have done some work towards that, however, I don’t really have the right equipment. My camera is pretty old, and so the video quality is pretty low. It is nearly impossible for me to be able to zoom in and get the detail necessary to really show how to do things.
If you have a chance, consider donating to my fundraiser. $10 gets you a copy of the eventual ebook, while higher donations get you access to secret early release recipes, and the chance to have a recipe named after you.
If you cannot donate, please share my fundraiser on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you so much.
It’s been a bit of a rough month. For those following along at home, I went to New York at the end of July to help a friend who was dealing with criminal levels of negligence from her doctors and therapists, which was interfering with her ability to put her life back together. Returning back home, I had a plan for August, to make back some of the money we had lost to the trip by working on promoting my book and art, and looking into additional income streams.
Coming home, I got to work doing just that, only to be met with several unexpected expenses: a flat tire, an unexpected credit card fee that led to a whole bunch of additional charges, and so forth and so forth. At the beginning of summer, I had been hoping to use some of our money to be able to can some of the local produce we get here in Ottawa. Help us eat healthier and more local over the upcoming winter. Instead, we ended up in a situation where we couldn’t really do groceries and so are working off the store of food that we do our best to stockpile when we can.