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: Biodiversityand 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’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll recall that I made a sea buckthorn beverage last year – 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 – the City planted many of them years ago, mostly for erosion control on slopes.  It’s one of those shrubs you’d be hard-pressed to kill:  it’s 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’t find it employed as an ornamental landscape plant very often, but it’s 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’s rabbit and deer resistance, which can’t be a bad thing, right?!

The only thing that irks me to no end about gathering sea buckthorn berries is that it’s just such a difficult process – 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’ve read that commercial harvesters of the shrub just go along and prune off fruit-bearing branches, freeze them for awhile, and then “shake” the berries free…but I didn’t give that a go.  I ought to have – 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’t use commercial pectin – sea buckthorn doesn’t have very much natural pectin, so the addition of a high-pectin fruit helps the jelly set properly.  I had some British Columbia-grown ‘Sunrise’ 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’t force the fruit through the bag – this will make the jelly cloudy and you don’t 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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Calgary snapshot: Little Free Library.

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If you follow me on Instagram (or if you don’t, you can find me here) or my new Facebook page (here), you may have seen me share this photo, but just in case you missed it, I’ll put it up here as well. The Little Free Library set up near the community garden I belong to is so adorable – I love the colour scheme that was chosen for it.  From what I can tell whenever I stop by and open it up, it’s a popular fixture, with a varied and well-circulated selection of reading materials – everything from James Patterson to Robert Munsch, novels in multiple languages, cookbooks, hobby magazines, and religious tracts.  Are there any Little Free Libraries in your community?  Do you use them?

The 2019 Prairie Garden: Growing Food.

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One of my favourite times of the year is when the new issue of The Prairie Garden arrives in my mailbox!  This themed, annual digest has been in publication for a whopping 63 years and I am delighted to have been a contributing writer since 2011 (although I missed 2015 and 2017). This year, the theme is Growing Food and it includes my article “Integrated Pest Management.”  Check out The Prairie Garden‘s website for more information about the book and the other featured writers, as well as for details on how to order both the new book and available back issues.  (The book is also available for purchase in select bookstores, garden centres, and nurseries in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta).

Canadian Biodiversity and Canadian Natural Resources.

I meant to get around to this in September a tad earlier but, as you can tell by the frequency with which I reply to your lovely and deeply appreciated blog comments, or, for that matter, create new posts, I seem to have been delayed by a few months or thereabouts-ish.  Hopefully, “better late than never” still applies (in all cases)….

You may remember that in 2017, I wrote a non-fiction book for children about equity; last year, I wrote two more titles for the same publisher (Beech Street Books) about Canadian natural resources and biodiversity.  The research and writing of both of these titles was a fascinating and hugely enjoyable experience, and I am delighted that our public library here in Calgary (which many of you know I work for!) is now carrying the books in the collection.  I am so grateful to have been a part of this project and hopefully help educate children about these important topics.

(Click on the title below each photo to take you to a description of the book).

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Canadian Science: Technology and Sustainability – Biodiversity

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Canadian Science: Technology and Sustainability – Natural Resources 

Tuesday tidbits.

If you love peonies, this post about “peony anatomy” may be of interest. Or you can just ogle the beautiful photos. Either way, it’s a win.

I found a really cool site containing microscope photography by Dr. Gary Greenberg – my favourite pics are of the jewel-like sand grains, here, but the whole gallery is worth a gander.

Yummy recipe alert: these muffins are tops!  Except I didn’t have ube and substituted yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes…plus, I didn’t add walnuts due to my allergies, and I skipped the glaze, as it really isn’t necessary and sort of makes them cupcakes instead of muffins, doesn’t it? They’re sweet enough as they are, but the glaze would make them special-occasion-worthy: like a “I managed to get out of bed this morning to go to work, so let’s celebrate!” kind of muffin/cupcake/whatever.

Even if you’re not a fan of Martha Stewart, her latest book Martha’s Flowers is absolutely droolicious (drooleriffic?). I know, I’m making words up here but there aren’t sufficient superlatives in the English language to describe the photography and artful styling in this book.  If you can get your hands on a copy from your local library, do treat yourself.  I haven’t even gotten around to reading the text yet (ahem) as I keep staring at the photos and stammering out awe-struck gibberish.

From the Boast and Braggart files…a couple of articles I wrote about herb gardening have been recently published: “Tea Time: Growing Herbs for Tisanes” appears in the Winter 2018 issue of Archive magazine, and “Designing a Meadow Garden” is featured in the Winter issue of Herb Quarterly.

Have a wonderful week!

Fairness for All: Equity.

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One of my most rewarding writing projects this year was the work I did on a children’s nonfiction book for a series called “To Be Canadian,” published by Beech Street Books in September.  My contribution is called Fairness for All: Equity, and I only recently managed to get my hands on a copy, hence the reason I haven’t posted about it until now.  Designated for school-age children in grades 2 to 4, the series covers topics such as freedom, democracy, just society, sustainability, and inclusion.

The research for Fairness for All: Equity was hugely engrossing and fascinating – let’s just say I logged in many, many hours on the Statistics Canada website and I now know significantly more about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Commission than I did before!  And fine-tuning an age-appropriate example to define “equity” versus “equality” was an interesting challenge, to be sure. The book covers a wide range of topics, from gender stereotypes and pay inequity in the workplace, to discrimination based on language, culture, race, or ability – and, of course – includes some suggestions for treating one another fairly and with respect.  I hope Fairness for All: Equity and the other titles in the “To Be Canadian” series will be helpful for children and educators as they explore key concepts such as responsibility, community, and family in the curriculum.