End of the season….

Had a chuckle when I saw this rhubarb leaf while cleaning up my plot at the community garden…reminded me a bit of a certain Dali painting.

Perhaps I need some more sleep.¬† ūüėČ

Larch love!

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It’s easy to see why I adore larch trees, particularly in autumn.

And yes, that is snow in the background! We’ve had two significant snow storms in Calgary since September 29th. The first one dumped 31 centimetres (12.2 inches) of the white stuff on us (which, amazingly, wasn’t a record, although it was close).¬† More snow is expected early next week so I had better try to get my garlic planted in the next few days!

Two new publications! Disasters in Canada: Prepare and Be Safe – Wildfires and Floods.

I’m delighted to announce that Beech Street Books has published two more of my non-fiction books for children! Floods and Wildfires are part of the Disasters in Canada: Prepare and Be Safe series.¬† They help children understand the causes of these disasters and what to do if their communities are threatened.¬† I really enjoyed researching and writing these titles and hope they will be educational for young readers!

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The series Disasters in Canada: Prepare and Be Safe is available for order from the publisher here.¬† And, if you’re interested, please check out my other titles from Beech Street Books:¬†Canadian Science – Technology and Sustainability: Natural Resources;¬†Canadian Science – Technology and Sustainability: Biodiversity;¬†and To Be Canadian – Fairness for All: Equity.

Recipe: Sea buckthorn berry and apple jelly – plus, an e-book of sea buckthorn berry recipes!

I originally posted this entry way back in 2012, and followed it up several years later by publishing an e-book chock-full of sea buckthorn berry recipes.¬† As it is harvest time for these pretty delicacies in many locations, and I’m seeing a few requests for recipes, I’m going to post this again for anyone who is interested!

Recipe: Sea buckthorn berry and apple jelly.

(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

My hubby and I managed to get out this past Saturday morning¬†and gather some sea buckthorn fruit so that I could try my hand at making jelly¬†from it.¬† If you‚Äôve been reading my blog for awhile, you‚Äôll recall that I made a¬†sea buckthorn beverage¬†last year ‚Äď I just love the citrusy taste of the¬†berries and their gorgeous¬†sun-bright colour.

Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)¬†is a fairly¬†common roadside plant here in Calgary ‚Äď the City planted many of them years ago, mostly for erosion control on slopes.¬† It‚Äôs one of those¬†shrubs you‚Äôd be hard-pressed to kill:¬† it‚Äôs tough-as-nails, drought-tolerant, pollution and salt-tolerant (good for our winter roads and all that de-icing salt), and a fairly¬†aggressive spreader.¬† You don‚Äôt find it employed as an ornamental¬†landscape plant very often, but it‚Äôs really very pretty, with silvery-green leaf clusters and the brilliant autumn fruit.¬† (Both male and female plants are required for fruit production).¬† Sure, some people may be turned off by the thorns, but they contribute to the shrub‚Äôs rabbit and deer resistance, which can‚Äôt be a bad thing, right?!

The only thing that irks me to no end about gathering sea buckthorn berries is that it‚Äôs just such a difficult process ‚Äď the fruit only¬†comes off¬†the stems under extreme duress.¬†¬† The kind of duress that leaves you standing there with bright orange seabuckthorn juice all over your clothes and squirted in your eye.¬†¬†I‚Äôve read that commercial harvesters of the shrub¬†just go along and prune off fruit-bearing branches, freeze them for awhile, and then ‚Äúshake‚ÄĚ the berries free‚Ķbut I didn‚Äôt give that a go.¬† I ought to have ‚Äď it took me FOREVER to get the berries off of the branches.

But it’s worth it for this jelly.  Trust me.  It’s so yummy and pretty!

Small-Batch Sea Buckthorn and Apple Jelly

(I added apples to this recipe because I didn‚Äôt use commercial pectin ‚Äď sea buckthorn¬†doesn‚Äôt have very¬†much¬†natural pectin, so the¬†addition of a high-pectin fruit helps the jelly set properly.¬† I¬†had some British Columbia-grown¬†‚ÄėSunrise‚Äô apples, but use any variety you love.¬† Crabapples would work as well).

4 cups sea buckthorn berries, washed thoroughly

3 apples, washed, peeled, cored, and diced finely (if you don’t want to go to the trouble, and your apples are organic, you can leave the peels on)

1/2 cup water

Place berries, apples and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer fruit for 20 minutes.  Stir periodically and crush the fruit against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon.  (It all mashes down pretty well on its own, and won’t require much additional help).

Strain the fruit through a jelly bag (or several layers of cheesecloth) over a large bowl.¬† Don‚Äôt force the fruit through the¬†bag ‚Äď this will make the jelly¬†cloudy¬†and you don‚Äôt want that!¬† Set it up so that the fruit can slowly strain overnight.

In the morning, sterilize your canning jars and lids.   Measure out the juice.  I ended up with 2 cups using this recipe, but your measurement may vary slightly.  Place the juice into a saucepan and mix in an equal amount of white sugar.  Bring the sugar and juice to a rolling boil and boil, stirring constantly, until you’ve reached gel point.

Carefully pour the jelly into the sterilized jars, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (don’t forget to adjust the length of time according to altitude, as specified in this handy chart).  If you plan to eat the jelly soon and don’t want to go to all the trouble of processing jars for storing, you can just pop the jars into the fridge once the jelly is cool.  It is a very small batch, after all…and you’ll be hooked once you have a taste!

Do you grow sea buckthorn in your garden, or do you forage for sea buckthorn berries?  

 Looking for more sea buckthorn berry recipes?

My sea buckthorn berry recipe book, Sea Buckthorn Bounty: Recipes is now available here!

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Flowery Friday.

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We’re nearing mid-September and the nights are downright chilly, but there is still a fair amount of summery colour lingering in Beaulieu Gardens at Lougheed House.¬† To read a bit about this historic site, which dates to 1891, click here.¬† And if you get a chance to visit Calgary, be sure to stop in for a tour – the mansion is gorgeously appointed and the grounds feature a spectacular variety of plants during the growing season.

Terrific turnips.

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Thanks to a lovely and extremely generous gift of veggie seeds from my friends Angie and Lisa, I finally grew turnips for the first time this year.¬† I hadn’t previously given this crop a go, as turnips are one of the vegetables my hubby hates the most – and believe me, he hates nearly all vegetables equally, so this is saying something.

I yanked a few of the sizeable roots out of the garden last week and was thrilled that they were pretty much perfect for turnips…sort of beautiful, even, especially if you squint a little and overlook the flea-beetle-bitten leaves. Okay, that may be going too far, but still…colour me impressed. The phrase “low-maintenance” doesn’t even begin to describe how easy these things are to grow.¬† I’m sure it helped that our summer weather was so rainy and chilly, but I’m going to claim it’s because I’m just such a good gardener.¬† ūüėČ

So…hit me with your favourite turnip recipes! (Or if you hate them like my hubby does, chime in so that he doesn’t feel so alone, LOL).

I see turnip puff in my future!