Sunday, September 16, 2018

Food Security and Becoming a Locavore


The annual Fall Fair celebrates food security.
Food security is more in the news these days, especially in small remote towns like ours. Locavore is a popular word to describe participating in the local food movement.

The Powell River Food Security Project works to ensure that everyone, especially vulnerable people, have access to the foods they need to stay healthy and thrive. To help get the word out about home gardening, they host the annual Edible Garden Tour.

Garden Club members share information at the Fall Fair.
The Powell River Garden Club supports home gardening with monthly meetings to share ideas and listen to guest speakers.

The Powell River Farmer's Market provides local farmers with the means to get products to local consumers. At the end of the growing season they highlight local efforts at their annual Fall Fair. In addition to Saturday and Sunday seasonal markets, there are others in the region, some during winter.

It's difficult for me to get the the farmer's markets. My solution to food security is a kitchen garden at my floating cabin home. Some items produce year round, but my main harvest starts in June and lasts through October.

My floating garden with four raised beds and a solar watering system.

My garden floats on the lake. It has four raised beds that I use for crops like beets, carrots, kale, chard, broccoli, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach and herbs. It's amazing how much you can produce in 160 square feet.

Container gardening in blue barrels.
To increase my growing space I use containers on the decks. 55-gallon plastic barrels cut in half make great growing spaces for plants like blueberries, red currants, rhubarb, tomatoes and potatoes. Smaller containers work well for peppers, eggplant, zucchini, winter squash, beans, peas and more herbs.

August and September have been a time of plenty. We eat most of our produce fresh, thus reducing our dependency on grocery store items.

To preserve some for winter I've canned jam, pickles and relishes. I've hung onions and garlic, dried herbs, stored potatoes and saved seeds. Beets, carrots, broccoli and kale will stay in the garden for winter harvesting. Later I will pressure can the last of my potatoes and carrots.

Fresh carrots and potatoes.
Each year I have one plant that's the best. This year it's my Scarlet Nantes carrots.

I usually get small ones since my float garden has shallow beds. But this year they are huge! The larger ones must be reaching all the way down to the bottom of the bed where it meets the lake water. Maybe that's why they are so large, they have a steady supply of moisture when days are hot.

Does your town have a food security project? How have you become involved? Do you have a kitchen garden?  I'd love to hear about your experiences.


Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy
Hop on over to the Simple Life Mom and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Head over to Blogghetti for Happiness is Homemade to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects. -- Margy

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Summer Retrospective


I know, summer isn't over until September 22, but with Labor Day come and gone, and kids going back to school it seems that way.

Wayne and I both used to teach. He was a professor at Mt. San Antonio College and I was an administrator (formerly an elementary school teacher) in Mountain View School District. Every year I still get my back-to-school "nightmare."

We both retired early to enjoy float cabin living on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia. Now summer is a seasonal word for us rather than vacation time.

That doesn't mean summer isn't busy. Here are some of the highlights from this year.

We've had lots of visitors. We kicked it off by inviting members of the Powell River Garden Club to see my float garden. In July, Kurt arrived from California in his Husky. His wife Leslie joined him for a few days including a stay at the cabin. Then our friends Dave and Marg brought three grandkids (and their dog Crystal) to spend a few days with us.


Sometimes we like to get away. The nearby chuck (ocean) is a good spot. Our shake-down trip was to nearby Texada Island. Other adventures included Heriot Bay, meeting Kurt and Leslie in Campbell River, a four day upcoast cruise, and another four day cruise to Johnstone Strait. We tried salmon fish but haven't caught one yet.


Life isn't all play. Wayne pressure washed our cabin decks. A major project was to remove our stairs and shed to comply with the water lease. John was a big help so we repaid him by towing his new shed. Dave installed a pole for our Xplornet satellite dish. We are also cutting and storing firewood. That's a job that will continue for some time to come.


When we are home on Powell Lake, we use it for some amazing recreation. To name a few, riding our quads on the many logging roads and trails, fishing for trout, sailing in Wayne's 19' O'Day Mariner daysailer and camping with our barge after the quads have been offloaded. There's also hiking, swimming and just relaxing with a good book.


Gardening is a big part of my summer. Garden Club members came up in three groups of seven to visit. It was so much fun for everyone. Both of my Dracaena spike plants bloomed. It has been a very good year for my flowers, fruits and vegetables, but watering has been a challenge with all the hot days.


We eat most of the garden produce fresh, but I enjoy preserving some things for winter. This year I made jam, dill pickles, relish, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. My home grown red currants made a tasty jam. I found a food mill at the thrift store that has made canning much easier. I also dry and store onions, garlic and potatoes.


It's been a very good summer for us up the lake. How was yours?

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

Head on over to Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures.

And visit Normandy Life for more Mosaic Monday. -- Margy

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Self Contained Mobile Meal Kit in a Bag


A self contained Mobile Meal Kit in a bag.
Earlier on this blog I described a mobile meal kit we take on airline trips to use when we want to eat meals in our hotel room.

For camping trips it's nice to have a more inclusive kit so I created self contained Mobile Meal Kits to use for barge camping with our quads, camping in our own airplane and traditional car camping trips.

I've put several kits together for each purpose because they're so economical.


You can fit quite a lot in a small shoulder bag.
I start with a thrift store bag with zipper pouches to help organize the contents.

For meal simplicity, we don't include pots or pans. Camp BBQ meats supplement deli entrees.

There are only two of us, so I fill the kit with sets of two: plastic plates, plastic cereal bowls, plastic drinking cups, and plastic coffee mugs. I also include one larger plastic bowl to share salads.


Plastic bags keep things organized.
I organize and store all of the contents in a Ziploc plastic bags.

For utensils we take two steak knives, two soup spoons, two forks, one serving spoon, a multipurpose can opener, clothes pins, and a nut cracker (just in case a tasty crab crosses our path or to open some of those tricky drink bottle caps).

Condiments are extras from fast food restaurants. The small sealed packets are perfect in size and can be replenished easily, 


Mr. Bucket has been with us since the 1980s.
For dish washing I use a bucket. Our Mr. Bucket folds up for easy transport.

I use camp soap and paper towels for washing and drying. That way I don't have to worry about getting towels dry before packing.

For drinking and cooking water we purchase a gallon bottles to refill our smaller drinking bottles.

A small ice chest fills out our travel eating and cooking needs.

Mobile Meal Kit for a total cost of $5.00:
  • zippered shoulder bag $2.00 at thrift store
  • plastic plates and coffee mugs at thrift store $.25 each
  • salad bowl $2.00 from Dollar Store
  • plastic cups and cereal bowls (extras from home)
  • metal utensils (extras from home)

Cost of other supplies:
  • biodegradable camp soap $3.99 (long lasting concentrate)
  • BBQ lighter $2.99
  • paper towels (free from my kitchen supply)
  • Ziploc bags in several sizes (free from my kitchen supply)
  • plastic grocery and vegetable bags for trash (free)
  • fast food restaurant salt, pepper, sweetener, condiments (free)
  • folding camp bucket (he's been in the family for years)

I now have my self-contained Mobile Meal Kit ready for our next adventure where ever it may be. Do you use something similar. What are your tips and tricks? -- Margy

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ogopogo in Powell Lake


You've probably heard of the Loch Ness Monster. Well, here in my neck of the woods we have Ogopogo. Powell Lake in British Columbia is a very deep (about 365 metres or 1200 feet) glacial cut lake. There's even 10,000 year-old trapped sea water at the bottom. No wonder a "monster" is reportedly living in its depths.

Ogopogo's most publicized sighting was in Okanagan Lake at Mission Beach in 1926. He is said to be 20 to 50 feet in length with a serpant shaped body and a horse-like head. Ogopogo has also been seen here in Powell Lake. It's was recorded in an article in the Powell River News as well as Carla Mobley's classic book, Mysterious Powell Lake.


I've had two close encounters with Ogopogo. I haven't actually seen him, but I've felt his presence. The first time was while swimming around our float cabin. I felt a tug on my toes. What else could it have been but Ogopogo "pulling my leg." The second encounter was captured on film. It was his shadow on Goat Island across from my cabin. With evidence like this, I know he must be real. -- Margy

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Cruisin' to Campbell River's Discovery Harbour Marina


Our good friend Kurt from Southern California flew up to our neck of the woods again this summer. He arrived in his Aviat Husky after a stop in Bellingham, Washington, to exchange his southern wheels for his northern floats.

That gives him the flexibility to travel far and wide, hopping from lake to lake throughout the province.

Here he comes now!



Kurt's wife Leslie came to join him for a quick vacation. Wayne and I made arrangements to meet them in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. They drove up by car from the Courtenay Airport and we took our boat from Powell River across the Strait of Georgia.


The cruise across the Strait of Georgia was smooth and the sun was shining. You can't ask for more than that. We got fuel at Discovery Harbour Fuel Sales and went to our reserved slip at the Discovery Harbour Marina

Our 2452 at the Discovery Harbour Marina for the night.

We met at the nearby Real Canadian Superstore (Walmart on steroids) and the four of us got in our Bayliner 2452 to cross Discovery Passage for dinner at April Point Lodge. Wayne timed our reservation with slack tide so the crossing would be comfortable. We had a delicious dinner on the deck with an outstanding view. If you don't have a boat, you can take a water taxi from their sister property, Painter's Lodge.

Kurt and Leslie with April Point Resort in the background.

For boaters and non-boaters alike, Discovery Harbour Marina has lots to offer.

It's a full service marina offering moorage for 300 boats from 16 to 150 feet at daily, monthly, 6-months and annual rates. There's electricity, water, washrooms with showers, laundry and trash disposal included. The adjacent Discovery Harbour Centre with lots of stores for provisioning and restaurants is a huge plus. Other services at the marina include lots of boat adventure and fishing tour operators. After all, Campbell River is the "salmon fishing capitol of the world."


Cruise on over to Campbell River on Vancouver Island in Coastal BC in your boat, car or by airline.

Then "discover" a marina with a little something for everyone. -- Margy

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Available Online: "Up the Strait"



A Great Book
for the Boating Enthusiast

Up the Strait
Coastal BC Stories

It's cruising time again. Jump in the boat and head up the Strait of Georgia with us to magnificent anchorages and exciting adventures. Drop your hook in world famous Desolation Sound, discover hidden coves and meet some of the locals. Read Up the Strait by Wayne J. Lutz and then join us for the cruise of a lifetime. You may never want to leave. 

Go to www.PowellRiverBooks.com for more information.

 Print for $12.95
Kindle for $2.99
ebook for $2.99 at Smashwords
(prices may vary in Canada)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Tree Swallow Babies


Each year we have Tree Swallows visit our nesting boxes at our float cabin on Powell Lake in Coastal BC. By mid-July the chicks are large enough to reach the entrance/exit hole.


One voracious chick at a time waits in the hole for either mom or dad to bring a bug to eat. By this age, the parents must spend the entire day feeding their young, getting them ready to fledge and fly on their own.


Do you have birds nesting at your house? What kind and are they ready to fledge? -- Margy

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

An Overnight Cruise to Van Anda on Texada Island


Approaching Westview Fuels in the South Harbour.
We are a little late starting our summer cruising season, but finally got our Bayliner 2452 in the water at the end of June. To make sure everything was shipshape, we decided to take a cruise over to nearby Texada Island.

First we stopped by Westview Fuels in Powell River's South Harbour to gas up. It's an easy spot to reach with gas, diesel, water and other boating supplies available. Next door to the visitor docks it's handy for locals and guests to the Westview Harbour alike.

Looking towards Powell River from the Sturt Bay breakwater.

Texada is about half an hour away from our home port in Powell River. It's a fun place to visit. The Texada Boating Club has a visitor's dock (Dock 4 on the outer edge). It's a private private club dock in Sturt Bay, but welcomes guests on a first-come, first-serve basis. When we were there the cost was $.75 a foot with power available for an extra charge, For more information you can contact the wharfingers Bob and Maggie Timms at 604-414-5897 or VHF 66A.

Our Bayliner on the visitor's dock at the Texada Boating Club marina.

The marina is within walking distance of the village of Van Anda. This island community is the largest on Texada Island. It's rural in nature where gardens abound. Forest rings the town so many deer can be seen walking the streets and nibbling yard plantings that aren't protected with tall fences.

Mary Mary's Cafe in Van Anda on Texada Island.
You will find an elementary school, store, museum and several places to eat. The pub and restaurant at the Texada Island Inn (Gillies Bay Road) have reopened. Rooms for overnight stays may become available by 2019. We walked up the hill for a nice dinner.

The next morning we walked over to the Mary Mary's Cafe (1989 Marble Bay Road) for breakfast with the locals. That made for an easy overnighter without meal preparation.

Historically, Van Anda was a much larger thriving mining community. Today, mining is still a major part of the economy, but the town has become much smaller and relaxed. You can read about it in Heather Harbord's book Texada Tapestry: A History.

Wayne relaxing on the back deck on a warm sunny day.

If you don't have a boat of your own, you can still visit Texada Island. Driving by car you can take the ferry from Powell River and explore the island at your leisure. You can also reach Texada by air using scheduled KD Air flights or your own aircraft. Please note there is no public transportation on Texada once you are there.

You can read more about cruising Coastal BC and the Strait of Georgia in Wayne's nautical themed books Up the Strait, Farther Up the Strait and Up the Inlet.

All of the books are available in print and ebook formats at Amazon and other online booksellers. -- Margy

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Seafood Lasagna with a Veggie Twist


This is a new take on the Mushroom and Crab Casserole that Marg, my good friend in Powell River, makes.

Wayne and I are working on getting healthier and trying to lose some weight. This recipe replaces some of the pasta with a very versatile vegetable, spaghetti squash.


SEAFOOD SPAGHETTI SQUASH LASAGNA

Ingredients:

Bake spaghetti squash.
1 spaghetti squash

Seafood Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1/2 red sweet pepper chopped
1/2 bell pepper diced
2 stalks celery with leaves diced
2 cups white mushrooms sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon chicken bullion crystals
1/2 teaspoon salt
Shred the squash.
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
sprinkle of ground pepper
sprinkle of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dill
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons spreadable cream cheese
2 cups imitation crab (or the real deal)
2 cups medium shrimp whole

Mix the filling.
Filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Pasta:
4 lasagna noodles
2 quarts boiling water
1 tablespoon oil (optional)
1 teaspoons salt

Saute the sauce ingredients.
Topping:
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese grated
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Place upside down in 1/2 inch of water is a large baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is fork tender. Remove and cool. Shred the squash until it looks like spaghetti (hence the name).

Cook the noodles.
Saute onion, garlic, peppers, celery, and mushrooms with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan until tender and the liquid is evaporated. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, basil, and dill to release flavours.

Add wine. Simmer about 1 minute more until liquid is almost evaporated. Measure flour into small bowl. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Add to vegetable mixture, stirring constantly until boiling and thickened.

Stir in cream cheese until melted.

Add seafood to the sauce.
Cook pasta in boiling water, oil and salt in a large uncovered pot until pliable but slightly firm. Drain.

Prepare a baking dish with cooking spray. Put enough of the sauce mixture to cover the bottom of the dish. Lay the lasagna noodles on top, overlapping the edges.

Add shrimp and crab to the remaining sauce mixture.  Put about one third on top of the lasagna noodles. Mix ricotta and Parmesan cheese with garlic powder and basil.

Layer the ingredients.
Spread the cheese mixture over the top of seafood sauce mixture. Then make a layer of the shredded spaghetti squash.

Put a small portion of the seafood sauce on top of the squash and mix it in to moisten and flavour it.

Top with the remaining seafood sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until hot and bubbling. Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top and return to the oven uncovered.

Bake until golden brown.
Bake until the cheese melts and gets golden brown.

Okay, I know the seafood sauce and cheese aren't low calorie, but at least the spaghetti squash allows us to eat a normal portion with a little less guilt.

Have you altered any recipes to make them healthier?  I'd love to hear about them. -- Margy

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Lake Washington Ship Canal


W is for Lake Washington Ship Canal

Between the southeast end of freshwater Lake Washington and the salt water of Puget Sound there's a man enhanced connector called the Lake Washington Ship Canal.


Using this waterway boats and other watercraft can make their way from freshwater Lake Washington, through the Montlake Cut to Portage Bay and Lake Union, through the Fremont Cut to Salmon Bay (which is a mix of fresh and salt water), and finally through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to Puget Sound.

A cruiser heading through the Montlake Cut.

Wayne and I visited Seattle to go to the University of Washington for NCAA women's softball regionals and a WNBA Seattle Storm vs Phoenix Mercury basketball game at Key Arena.

Brittany Griner and the Phoenix Mercury vs Seattle Storm.

We walked a lot and enjoyed the Lake Union Ship Canal Trail from the UW campus down to Portage Bay. Rather than following the traditional southern route, we used the northern side to reach the Aqua Verde Mexican food restaurant for dinner one day, and lunch the next. I highly recommend them. There's a great view and I had the best chili rellano ever!

All along the Montlake Cut there are benches and picnic tables. We relaxed after our lunch one day watching kayakers leaving the Aqua Verde Paddle Club and geese and ducks enjoying the fresh grass and flowers.

Two families of Canada Geese enjoying a Portage Bay park.

There was even a beautiful Laburnum tree in full bloom.

Beautiful Laburnum Tree in bloom and I-5 in the background.

On the way back to the UW campus for a game we passed the university's oceanography dock with it's hefty research boats waiting for another expedition.

The UW research vessel dock at the end of the Montlake Cut.

Seattle has many areas to explore, but for us the University District is a favourite. What's yours? Do you have any recommendations for restaurants and places to explore? -- Margy