Saturday, September 26, 2015

“Our Life on Lear’s Room: Labrador” by Greta Hussey

Wayne and I took a wonderful trip to Newfoundland and Labrador. We knew life in both parts of the province was dominated by fishing and wanted to learn more about what it was really like. One of my souvenirs was the Our Life on Lear’s Room: Labrador by Greta Hussey (Flanker Press, 2011).

Ernest and Caroline Lear were Greta’s parents. They lived in Hibbs Cove on the Port De Grave peninsula in Newfoundland where her father was a day fisherman who returned home each night.

Greta was born in 1921 and grew up supporting the family’s fishing enterprise. When cod became scarce in the Conception Bay area near their home, Greta’s father decided to go to Labrador where fishing was better. Greta and her mother went on the annual trip from late May to October to Labrador to set up a fishing camp. Through 1947 this became a cycle of life. They packed the supplies they would need for living and fishing with them on large coastal boat carrying passengers and freight between Labrador and Newfoundland. The trip itself would be an adventure for a young girl.

Labrador fishing station.

A semi-permanent camp was built at Batteau. This was called a room, and theirs was Lear’s Room. It was a rectangular wood building at the water’s edge where cod would be cleaned and dried before selling to the fish buyers that traveled the coast. A simple cabin nearby provided the family with living space away from the fish processing.

Old Labrador fishing boat.
It was hard work, but there were times for entertainment on long summer evenings. Musical instruments, singing and dancing filled many hours. Reading and games were also important.

The money the family made during the summer sustained them back home in Newfoundland for the rest of the year. Not an easy life, but very interesting looking from the outside in.

I really enjoy reading memoirs and tales about the regions I visit and where live in Coastal BC. How about you? -- Margy

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Parchment Paper Saves the Day

Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.
When I made my Cranberry Pineapple Nut Bread, I had a terrible time getting the loaf out of the pan. I was able to loosen the sides with a knife, but the bottom of the pan was impossible.

When I turned the pan upside down, the bread broke apart. It was pretty ugly, but still tasty.

Then I remembered a tip that JoAnn from Scene Through My Eyes gave me on my post about baking cookies with a Silpat.

After loosening the side, the bread just slides out of the pan.
I made another batch of Cranberry Nut Bread (this time with all of the "real" ingredients).

I greased the pan on all sides. Then I cut a rectangle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.

I poured the batter in and baked it according to the recipe's instructions. When it was done, I took it out of the oven, loosened the sides with a knife, and turned the pan upside down.

Perfection! The bread slid out of the pan without any cracking or breaking. And the paper peeled off leaving a nice flat surface for slicing.

Thanks JoAnn for the tip. Now my breads come out both tasty and great looking! -- Margy

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kale Chips with Parmesan Cheese

I discovered curly kale several years ago. I like it so much I planted it in my garden last year. It produced thick, curly leaves all winter long. I planted curly kale again this year. It is now well established, and with the cooler weather it is starting to get curly. Summer kale tastes the same, but I prefer the winter style.

I used some of my winter curly kale (you can purchase it in most stores now) to make baked crispy kale chips. 

I went online, and they are so simple to make.

Kale Chips with Parmesan Cheese
Kale leaves
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Grated Parmesan cheese

Wash and dry kale leaves. Remove the tough stem and rib.  Tear into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, sprinkle with very little olive oil. Add salt, garlic powder, thyme and grated Parmesan cheese to taste.

Mix thoroughly with your hands and spread out in a single layer of cookie sheets covered with a light coating of cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Gently remove the crunchy chips and enjoy hot or cold. They almost melt in your mouth!

They are so easy, make a fresh batch any time you need a healthy, crunchy snack, or unique party hors d'eouvres.  -- Margy

Monday, September 14, 2015

Breadfarm Bonanza

Not far south of Bellingham is the quaint town of Edison. It isn't much more than a rural crossroads, but here you will find two unique local restaurants called The Edison and the Longhorn Saloon. If you have a hankerin' for fresh oysters this is the place to come. They are fresh, delicious, and VERY reasonable.

While you're in town, stop at the Breadfarm. It's a small organic artisan bakery at the bend of the road in "downtown" Edison next to the Longhorn Saloon. Wayne and I just stopped in for a loaf of Chuckanut Multigrain (great for toast) and a Bow Hill Baguette for dinner eats. We've also had the Black Olive Baguette (tangy and yummy).

If you can't get to Edison, you can find Breadfarm products online. They sell their cookies and crackers that way.

But to get their great breads you'll need to visit them in person. And as an added bonus, the great smell of fresh baking bread is free! -- Margy

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cranberry Pineapple Nut Bread

I enjoyed our Banana Nut Bread so much, I wanted to make some more. I didn’t have any bananas (we haven’t been to town for over a week), so I decided to try Cranberry Nut Bread. However, the recipe in my Fannie Farmer Cookbook called for an orange. I didn’t have one of those either. But I did have a 20 oz. can of pineapple chunks.

Here’s the original Fanny Farmer recipe and the changes I made.

Cranberry Pineapple Nut Bread

1 orange ---------\
     replaced with ½ of 20 oz. can pineapple chunks and ¾ cup juice
Boiling water ---/
2 tablespoons melted butter (I used vegetable oil)
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup cranberries chopped (I used reconstituted dried)
½ cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

The orange provides rind for jest and juice with the boiling water to total ¾ cup. I substituted a half can of pineapple chunks cut up fine and ¾ cup of the juice for the required liquid. I froze the remaining pineapple and juice.

The night before I reconstituted dried cranberries in a pan with ½ cup boiling water. I simmered them for fifteen minutes, then turned off the heat. I added the cut pineapple and let it cool to refrigerate.

In the morning, I put the batter together. I beat one egg and added the sugar. Once those were blended, I mixed in 2 tablespoons oil and ¾ cup pineapple juice.

I measured the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, then mixed everything together. Finally, I stirred in the pineapple-cranberry mixture and pecans. It result is a runny batter.

Liberally grease an 8 ½ X 4 ½ loaf pan and pour in the batter. Bake at 325°F for one hour (mine took an additional 10 minutes for a toothpick to come out clean).

When baking is done, loosen the sides and transfer to a rack to cool. Mine stuck on the bottom, so next time I’ll use parchment paper on the bottom to keep it from sticking.

I love Cranberry Orange Nut Bread, but Cranberry Pineapple Nut Bread gives it a run for the money.

I served the warm buttered bread with scrambled eggs and bacon for our breakfast. We even had some of our home grown and homemade salsa to spice things up.

Do you ever alter recipes? What have been some of your successes, or failures? -- Margy

Sunday, September 6, 2015

“Drifting Home” by Pierre Berton

What do you look for when purchasing a book? The cover? The title? The author? The genre? Familiar setting? Fiction or non-fiction? Print or e-book? Price? Does your decision-making change for used rather than new books?

I’m always on the lookout for something to add to my bookshelves (print and electronic). I subscribe to the Kindle Daily Deal email. I visit bookstores for regional books by local authors. But my mainstays for print books are thrift and used bookstores.

Drifting Home (McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1973) by Pierre Berton was a recent used purchase. The cover had a photo of the Canadian wilderness. The title hinted at the content, travelling by river to a meaningful place.

The author was Canadian and the front pages listed many other interesting titles. At the time I purchased the book, I didn't know how famous he was. The book’s genre was travel memoir. Since I’m working on a memoir of my own, that was of great interest.

The setting was floating in inflatable boats down the Yukon River towards Dawson City. I’m familiar with this territory because Wayne and I flew there in our Piper Arrow. I remember walking the historic streets, visiting Jack London’s cabin, riding on the riverboat to the First Nations village for a planked salmon dinner, and a funny story that goes with that (Up the Main, Chapter 15 “NDB-DME Approach”).

When we flew into Dawson, the air traffic controller kept calling us a Pace Arrow, not a Piper Arrow. We thought he might be confusing us with a Tri-Pacer, a small plane more common in the bush.  As we rode the riverboat to dinner, we passed the ferry that crosses the Yukon. At the head of the line was a huge RV with Pace Arrow emblazoned across the front. I instantly flashed back to the sci-fi spoof movie Space Balls with its huge flying RV that shuttled the heroes to the stars.

Back to Drifting Home. Pierre Berton combined history (his father crossed the Chilkoot Pass in 1898 during the gold rush), tales from growing up in Dawson, and the guided float adventure heading back home with his wife and seven young and grown children. Each chapter encompassed one day, including flashbacks and a narrative of the day’s adventures.

I really enjoyed Pierre’s writing style, and the content of his story. He drew me into their very personal experience. That’s the sign of a good author. So my instincts were right when I pulled the book off the shelf. It’s not only a good read, it’s a keeper for my personal library.  If you want a copy of your own, it's available online and in Kindle format. -- Margy