an apology from our Prime Minister

Hello all: I should note that the subject line is rather misleading as this post will actually not contain any direct wording from our greatly esteemed PM, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.

Mr. Harper is the guy on the right, in case you had a problem figuring it out.

WARNING/ATTENTION/ACHTUNG: this post will contain a political rant which might offend some Canajan readers, and which will probably make no sense to readers from other countries.  You may, accordingly, wish to skip to the (blurry) photos at the end.  Consider yourselves warned.

Mr. Harper has, however, spent lots of time in recent months apologising to all and sundry for stuff which happened away back before he was born.  Most recently (and in fact, he managed to pull off this one on a long weekend when people aren’t typically paying all that much attention), he apologised for an incident that took place in 1914 – 376 Sikh and other people from the Indian south continent came into Vancouver on a boat and were not let in to Canada.  Many were murdered upon their return to Calcutta, after spending two months on a dock in the Vancouver harbour.

Now, it’s not for me to say that the Canadian government shouldn’t apologise for that, really.  But, in fact, the community he tried to apologise to has rejected the apology, saying it should come from the House of Commons rather than from Mr. King Stephen Harper trying to gain favour in their community when he shows up for a festival.

And, frankly, I don’t know if these apologies matter whether they come from the legislature or not.  However, it seems that he should have figured this out by now because he’s already issued apologies to the First Nations (without offering up any cash to back it up.

He’s also apologised to the Chinese-Canadian community for a head tax imposed on newcomers between 1885 and 1923 – and offered compensation to those who actually paid the tax, or their children.  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t most people that got penalised under this old system be dead now?  And I’ve had at least one client who tried to negotiate the compensation scheme and was told “without original documents, you get nothing.

Now, I think that Mr. Harper is actually quite shrewd (or rather, that his advisors are geniuses) by hitting on a great way to deflect from what’s going on now – just apologise for what has happened in the past.  I mean, we are a nation of people who are socialised to say “sorry” if someone else bumps into you on the street.  And – they say “sorry” too and everyone moves on.

So, the apology as a political concept makes a lot of sense… and hey, the guy is apologising for stuff which happened well before he was even born!  How Canadian… and how dishonest.

Why dishonest?  Because this party is doing a whole hell of a lot of stuff right now that someone fifty years down the road will no doubt be apologising for.  Stuff such as decimating our health care system, reducing public pension entitlements for those who have paid in for 40 years or more, and so forth.

But hey, someone’s sorry – so that must count.  But you don’t see him shedding any tears either:

So, Mr. Harper, thank you for apologising, and I’m sorry too.  In fact, I’m sorry that you’re not offering some of my homemade preserves to those who have been wronged in years past, such as my tomato jam:

… or my jalapeno/green bell pepper jelly:

So, Mr. Harper, should you read this, have my people call my people and we’ll set up a proper “apology basket” for you to give to everyone who has been historically wronged.  JJ is, after all, retired, and has lots of time to can produce.

Happy Tuesday!

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the mad preserver strikes again!

Well, I couldn’t help myself. You see, I had to go to the local farmers’ market on Saturday to replenish our stocks of produce and fruit.

(And, of course, a wee treat for JJ: apricot loaf!

Looks decent, eh? It’s all gone now!!)

Then I got home and realised that I’ve been bringing in produce etc at a rate that JJ we just can’t seem to come up with.

What to do with all of the leftover stuff? Why, get my cauldron going, of course!

And find my special preserving outfit to go with the cauldron…

And… voila!!!

This one is blueberry and apricot jam with lemon zest and lime juice.  It’s my first effort in making jam without pectin, which just means that you have to boil the fruit mixture a lot longer.  There is also a little extra ingredient in there… cherry tomatoes (I didn’t have enough of the blueberries and apricots, so had to improvise.  Not telling my chief taster, JJ, about the tomatoes though!!!)

And here’s another experiment:

This one is mixed bell pepper jelly with rice vinegar and rosemary.  The experimental component: midway through I realised I didn’t have enough sugar.  So, I’m not sure it will set.  But what the hey…

I also had a heap of fresh herbs, so decided to make some Sassy Scarborough Fair oil.

Parsley, garlic, rosemary and thyme… with some lemon zest added.  The garlic and the lemon are the “sassy” components.  I don’t like sage.

So, please do wish me luck – and don’t tell JJ about the tomatoes, eh?

Happy Monday!  Today is a holiday for us up here – yippee, yahoo, etc!!!  No big plans although there will surely be some patio or other calling our names out later this afternoon.

she likes it hot hot hot…

How do you like this glorious tropical colour?!

Fitting, given that it was so hot today that the thermometer on our balcony cracked!

(This is what you get for buying delicate instruments at the Dollar Store, I guess.)

However, JJ has been busily tending his newly laid balcony garden, and the results are starting to show well:

Don’t ask me what these are. I can tell you, though, that these are little baby marigolds…

… and that this is what they look like when they grow up.

The purple ones in the front are pretty too, no?

I particularly like this one:

Come to think of it, the only plant that is not looking so… ahem, hot… is the one that is in my charge:

It’s a cactus. My colleague L kindly gave me a cutting of it and told me it was impossible to kill. However, she didn’t know that she was consigning a piece of her plant to Kristina the Ripper. The door above the entry to my apartment should read “Abandon hope all ye greenery who enter here”, really.

Also, that lazy@$$ Mr. J “Ah’m rrrretired nou and ah don’t need tae do much of anythin’!” J has completely forgotten to plant my herbs which I put into his capable hands…

So, apparently it’s a very very guid thing that I decided, despite the fact that it was 5 million degrees C/7 million degrees F (10 million degrees C with the humidex), to stop at the shops on the way home and get some more stuff to preserve – otherwise we’d starve this winter, no doubt.

Stay tuned. Knitting progress photos, alas, will have to wait until next week. Despite the fact that I steamed up the apartment all last evening with boiling vats full of jars, I’ve decided that it is simply too hot to knit

Did I ever mention that I detest eggs, by the way?!?

A very, very happy, healthy and humidex-free Thursday to you all!

Marketing 101

Oh, and before you go and hit the back button on your browser – no, not that kind of marketing.

This is just my shorthand for saying that JJ and I hit the shops and markets today… but, as a result, no doubt I will be announcing yet another career change shortly. I intend to become a master purveyor of fine preserves.

(JJ is sceptical.  But I don’t think he’s yet clued in that, as a newly retired person, he will be the ideal free labour force I need to start up my venture.  Do me a favour and don’t tell him – he doesn’t go on the internet, and so can just remain in blissful remote-control-commanding oblivion for the time being, I reckon.  I’ll give him a couple more weeks off…)

We hit Crappy Tire today on a quest for a canning maching. Once we arrived, I realised I don’t actually need one. I just needed this stuff:

…and this:

… and this:

(Oops – sorry – wrong photo… but then again, what Master Chef doesn’t need a little liquid inspiration from time to time?! And those who tell you they don’t – they’re lying.)

But I actually meant to say… and these:

JJ was a bit worried about the acquisition of three dozen mason jars. While we were in Crappy Tire, he had the nerve to ask me if I was planning to convert the contents of our burgeoning deep freezer into canned “guids”. I had no choice but to remind him that it was his bright idea to get a deep freezer in the first place, and that it is his wee fixation on “buy two roasts, get the third free”, family size bags of frozen potato products, and trips to the Scottish butcher that keeps the freezer overflowing.

And besides, I’ve already used six of the jars for my sour cherry jam – so all is not in vain!!!

JJ: Well, lassie, we don’t know if it’s in vain yet air noawt… as ah cahn’t even try the jam for another 24 hours!!!!

KB: Oh, skase (“shuddup” in Greek. The only three words that JJ knows in Greek are skase, skasmos [“shut the $#&*(@$ up”], and s’aghapo [“I love you”]. Not necessarily in the order listed, I hasten to say.)

I got the sour cherries for the jam at this local farmers’ market we checked out – a 10 minute walk from here, Saturdays 2-5.

I was also very, very excited to find huge bunches of basil at the market!

It was so fresh I couldn’t help but process it right away.   If you don’t have a recipe for basil pesto, feel free to use this one.  Six packed cups of leaves from the above (or two huge bunches), and 3/4 cup of these lovely pine nuts (I recommend toasting them in the oven at 350F for 5 minutes – NO MORE):

(oh, and if you’re me, you then add a pinch for guid luck!), and one and a half cups of this stuff:

(I hasten to say that ordinarily I have both this and the regular olive oil in stock in 3 litre metal cans.  But I’m almost out, and Loblaws wanted too much for the large quantity today – so I had to resort to their house brand which was on sale.)… and 10 cloves of this stuff:

(and don’t give me that “what do you mean, 10 cloves?!?!?” bit??  Try it – you’ll like it.  You’ll see.)

Blend it all together in a blender or food processor.  Oh, and you might like to try a dash of this stuff:

(And yes, I do appreciate the irony of making pesto from ultra-fresh basil then adding bottled lemon juice.  But Loblaws today was demanding $1.09 PER LEMON.  Thieves!!!  I refuse to pay those prices, especially when the lemons in question have skin thicker than that of your average elephant.  Welcome to Canada, where the citrus comes from Vanuatu or some such place at this time of year, and the shops charge the gas price for the entire shipment in one $&#*(@* lemon.)

Oh, and don’t forget some of this, to taste

You will end up with approximately three cups of this lovely stuff:

…which, with the addition of parmesan, romano or asiago cheese and some pasta, gets very easily converted into this:

(I know, I know – the photo isn’t that appetising.  But it tasted so good I ended up eating it out of the saucepan.  All of it.)

So, it’s been a very guid day.  We even ended up with this stuff:

Good old Sandy McTire!!  The only downside is that, when having spent all my money before I bought new hair dye, I tried to use this at Shoppers, they wouldn’t accept it!! Bastards.  I got a haircut yesterday, and all the dye is now gone and I need some more quite desperately.  But, no go today.

So, with trepidation, I bring to you a very very rare photo of me with my natural hair colour:

I actually don’t mind this photo, as it doesnae show all the grey at the back.  Stay tuned for my new hair colour choice next week!

Happy rest-of-the-weekend!!

I’m a poet and don’t know it…

“The productions of all arts are kinds of poetry and their craftsmen are all poets.”
– Plato

Well, it’s great to see that the Greeks are again leading the pack with the bon mots.

So, tell me if you think that this is poetry or not:

Yes, I’m back in the Good Housekeeping mode yet again – at least as it involves production of fancy flavoured oils and vinegars.  I’m sick and tired of seeing and coveting bottles of them at Ye Locale Overpricede Food Emporiume, so thought I’d best get off my lazy @$$ and make some of my own.

(Er… plus, JJ and I went rather crazy at Fiesta Farms last weekend and then didn’t end up cooking everything we had planned, so I had lovely fresh herbs that were going off.  Sigh.)

So, from the left, there are: Oven-dried tomatoes in olive oil with oregano and garlic; basil olive oil; mixed berry white wine vinegar; fresh oregano olive oil with lemon zest; lemon and lime olive oil; and red pepper wine vinegar.

This, although pretty, I must confess does not feature local produce:

But the blueberries are now with us, so stay tuned for some experiments with white balsamic and blueberry!

And doesn’t this look yummy?

Time will tell – I’ve got to wait three weeks or so to crack into these babies. Patience is a virtue, they tell me…

Oh – and before I forget – today is the birthday of the oh-so-fabulous JJ!!!

Please join me in wishing him a lovely day – he well deserves it for putting up with me!  We will be having the real celebration next weekend… and I’m under strict orders not to tell you how old he is but if I could afford it, I would buy him a LeXXus I (if that is indeed a type of fancy car… heh heh).

So, in advance celebration I decided to knit JJ a cover for his lovely petunias!!


(“What are ye doin’ now, lassie?  Have ye gone mad????”)

Allow me to introduce my version of Seascape!

I’m knitting this on 3.5mm needles with the lovely Handmaiden Lace Silk – I have no idea which colourway but it seems closest to Popsicle.  So far, so good – the pattern is fairly easy to follow thus far.

And, I’ve decided to add beads to highlight some of the curves:

But… that’s not all!!  I’ve been suffering from a bit of knitting ennui of late and so decided to follow Tracy B‘s excellent suggestion to try two projects at once.  Also, this lovely Posh Yarn “Cecilia” that lace goddess Clarabelle so kindly sent to me was sobbing loudly from its place of honour on my bookshelf, feeling neglected.

Celia, you’re breaking my heart!! (but hopefully you do not shake my confidence… sigh).

I had decided some time back that the ideal project to go with this yarn would be the half-circle shawl from Victorian Lace Today:

This is a rather scary project, as it involves lace knitting on both right and wrong sides with no “rest row”.  However (deep breath)… here goes!

So far, so guid, I think!

Now, I don’t know if I’m a poet or not – but I do think all of the above is looking a-ok.  So, that’s a start.

Sadly, it’s now time to leave for… work. Happy Monday to all!