Thursday, September 25, 2008

City Changes

The house we're now renting is only a few streets away from where I grew up. And even though it hasn't been that long since I moved out to the country, the city has changed quite a bit. It is MUCH noisier. MUCH. There are way more people here, and traffic is heavy, even in the middle of the day - I imagine that's partly why it seems more noisy. :) It's going to take some getting used to!

I'm very thankful for the little bit of wilderness at the back edge of the property. The lovely autumn asters nodding in the delicate breeze at sunset. Ahhhh...a little respite from having to comfort all the animals (who are totally stressed at leaving the only home they've ever known - so sorry guys!), all the packing/unpacking, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning... I'll be very glad when we're finally all settled here, and can gear up for Hallowe'en...and Christmas! (I know, I know, it's early, but I can't help it, I'm a total Christmas Freak). :)

But for now, there's warm autumn breezes, and lovely asters at sunset...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Farmer's Market, Earlier this Time

I mentioned yesterday to my parents, over my dad's homemade fishcakes, that I was thinking of going to the Farmer's Market again this week. Surprisingly, they told me they had never gone before! I guess it's like one of those things, like people who live in Toronto but have never gone up the CN Tower - somehow, in all the years they've been here, they'd never gone!

We went an hour earlier this time, and got there around 8:45 am. It was a little less crowded! This time, because we could take it just a bit more slowly, I was able to get the names of some of the places we bought food from, which is nice! If I enjoy stuff, I want to share it with you all! :)

I got some lovely looking unpasteurized honey from C & L Farms Ent. who came to the market from Collingwood, NS. It's called Pure Wildflower Honey - doesn't that just conjure up images of vast fields of wildflowers in the wilderness of Nova Scotia, little bees buzzing everywhere? :) And the honey tastes really good too! I heard once that if you have bad seasonal allergies, at the beginning of the season you should buy honeycomb from a local beehive and eat it. It will be made from all the local blooming flowers and contain the pollen which makes you sneeze and such, but the way it's introduced to the body makes it so your symptoms are lessened when you come in contact with it in the air. I've heard some people swear by it!

I picked up a staple of many Canadian kitchens, pure Maple Syrup, from the folks at Frosty Maple Products, in Southampton, NS. If you've never had the real thing on pancakes or waffles, you owe it to yourself to give it a try!

One place I really wanted to support was Getaway Farm (from Canning, NS), who after being in organic transition, have just been certified organic! Congratulations! Organic transition, from what I understand, is one of the toughest places for a farm to be in - they have all the costs of being organic, but without the full certification, so they can't charge organic prices. A tough spot! But fortunately, they've come through it, and I was very happy to pick up some lovely bacon - which I immediately ate when I got home! :) Yummy! (No, I didn't eat ALL of it...yet) :) I felt good knowing that the animal I was partaking of had led a much happier, longer life, too (learn more here).

And after reading stellar reviews on the Farmer's Market website, I just had to try the Scottish Highland cattle raised on hay and grass from Highview Farm, from Wolfville, NS. I got some lovely lean ground beef from them, and I look forward to making hamburgers in the next couple of days and seeing what a difference grass-fed makes! (Want to know why grass-fed beef is better for you, and better for the cows, too? Read here.)

My parents bought some fruits and vegetables, and were amazed by the wide variety of food and products available. They had a good time, which I was glad for. Once again, the Halifax Farmer's Market was a goldmine for fresh tasting, healthy, locally grown food and locally made products.

Support your local farmers! It's good for the environment, and yourself!

Read about my previous trip here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ann's Triumphant Return to the Farmer's Market

Okay, well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. :D

I apologize for the delay, it's hard enough moving, but also I've been having a lot of internet access issues lately (which are now hopefully resolved), all leading to delays in posting here.

Years ago, back in university, one of our classes involved doing a study of the Halifax Farmer's Market, an institution since the 1700s. Every Sunday, farmers from near and far (some leaving at 3 am to get to the market on time) come to sell their produce, their meat, herbs, jams - and now artisans and artists too, sell greeting cards and prints, silk scarves, carvings, and all other manner of delightful things. Doing this study for a course involved our group going to the market repeatedly, doing interviews, taking photos and the like. It was a very interesting experience. Of course, living where I have for the past several years meant I wasn't able to go for a very long time.

But now that I'm back in the city, even though I was sore and tired from all the cleaning I've been doing of our new place, I hopped on the bus and returned to the market. I had heard from a friend in our old anthropology group, who had gone there more recently than I, that the market had gotten even more popular and busy than it used to be. And boy, she wasn't kidding. It was a madhouse!

There's booths along the outside edges, which you can't see in this photo, for all the people! I could barely find a place to stand and take this pic!

In some places, I'm talkin' wall to wall people, having wait for 5 minutes just to get back in the stream of people moving (if you happened to pause to look at or buy something). Now I see why they're building a new state-of-the-art facility (super environmentally friendly, bien sûr). I don't know, though, as my friend also pointed out, being in a brand new facility will make the market lose that old-world charm that you currently get from wandering around the old passages of the Keith's brewery building. Around every turn there's a new array of stalls, artwork, fresh produce. It just won't be the same in a new, wide-open building.

Also, going to the market on Saturday mornings is very much like being part of a secret club. You can easily identify other members of the club, carrying baskets or reusable tote bags on the streets immediately surrounding the market. You know exactly where they're going. You meet their gaze, and even though we often greet people with a smile and/or a 'llo in these parts, there's an extra understanding in the smile. They know you're going there too. You can also see them on the streets when you leave, as they are laden with fresh goods, crafts, and other goodies. They see your bag bulging too, and smile. This, sadly, will probably also be lost when the new facility opens up, as it will be open seven days a week. I wonder if Saturday morning will still be the busiest time there...?

All in all, although my visit was brief, I got just gorgeous produce and I look forward to going again very soon! Here's only some of what I was able to obtain - great stuff, eh? Guess what I'm making with it? (Here's a hint). Yum! Locally grown, super-fresh, and ever-so-good-for-you! :D

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

BeanDreams: Herb Drying

I gathered up my catnip crop and set it out on a pan in the oven to dry. I love the variations in the colors of the leaves, the shades and hues are really lovely!

I put them in a 150 deg F oven, stirring them up carefully with my hands every ten minutes or so (it's very hot at first, while the leaves are still moist, so be careful!), until they've dried out and become crispy, but not burned. I store the leaves whole, and will crush them to release more scent when the time comes to use them - usually I rub it into the fabric of the blanket the cats like to sleep on.

My kitties prefer the fresh stuff, but it's getting colder now, and the plants won't last outside much longer. I'd bring them inside for the winter, but they wouldn't survive the cats indoors! :) So, dried will have to do until spring again.

Monday, September 08, 2008


As one of my co-workers stated - "Oh, you're moving? Moving sucks." Oh yeah. It does.

There's a lot of things I'm going to miss about living out here, and a lot of things I'll be happy to leave behind. I will really miss seeing the baby pheasants grow up, and all the bunnies and other wildlife that have become part of my daily life here. I'll miss the country air, and the (relative) quiet.

I'll be trading in the annoyance of ATVs and snowmobiles for the annoyance of loud music blaring from cars driving down the street, so it's pretty much equal there.

I'll be glad to be able to go to the Farmer's Market in Halifax, the biggest and oldest one in the province (since the 1700s) - assuming I can get Saturdays off. :) The place we're renting has a nice view, and a quiet backyard, which will be nice to relax in.

So, once we're actually done moving all our stuff from one place to the other, and get properly settled in, I'll get back to blogging about the more ruralish aspects of my new city life.

Wish us luck! :)