Everywhere I look right now in my small house there are tomatoes… green ones.  Thankfully, my friend Marilyn is going to take some off my hands because she likes fried green tomatoes.  I made a baked variety with coconut milk and gluten free crumbs which were pretty yummy, so I thought the 300 green cherry tomatoes would work similarly.   I roasted them too but they seem to have too much solanine in them because they don’t taste good at all.  What a waste!   Even too bitter to be enjoyable after I ground them up, put onions and curry and more coconut milk in… sigh.

I kept a few in varying degrees of redness out and put some bananas near them to keep them ripening.  The others which were ripe or ripening I am stewing as I write.

As for the other quarter bushel of green tomatoes?  I don’t like chutney, or relish… I have no good ideas.


Categories: Food, Nature, Ontario, Sustainable living, Tiny House Ontario | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Harvest Waste

This year was such a terrible growing year owing to the drought that gripped our area along with so many others.  Now the frost warnings have now started in this region so the food that was growing had to be harvested and brought in.  I have picked off all the peppers, squash, tomatoes and cut down the basil and swiss chard.  I got bags of food even though the season was not great owing I believe to the late rains.  Oddly, the melons did not produce a single fruit, but now… too late, the plants have loads of small round beginnings.  I guess if the frost does not hit then perhaps I will get something of them in the Indian Summer.  The food is now in Hamilton with me, all safely hand processed and tucked away in my root cellar and freezer.  Tonight I am going to caramelize the immature squash and onion then throw in some green tomatoes and stir this into some buckwheat pasta for supper.  Use up what did not mature.  Should be sweet and sour and hopefully interesting.

Between the rounds of cooking that went on yesterday I caught up on a lot of reading and news.  Among the items that I found interesting was a blog out of Tennessee called Dreaming Smaller in which a young man who has had a  catastrophic injury shares his plans and concerns about downsizing their home (for he and his family).  The land is where his family home, long ago burned out was situated.   In the long grass there hides a copperhead snake nesting site, so you never know when one of them will wiggle out of the grass and bite… These bites hurt a lot, he assures, but are rarely fatal… (!!!)  With this said, I know I am not the only Canadian who finds the idea of living near a poison snake pretty darn scary.  On a chance cafe meeting a young Australian tourist told me “Canadians have a weird national obsessive fear of poison snakes, every single one of you asks about them.”  With this in mind, I thought you might also like to check his site out.

Among the usual tragic news of accidents and shootings, the news out of Canada that I find most shocking and disgusting is the story of the “Peas Garden“.  This small garden was started on May 1, 2012 in Queen’s Park and maintained in all summer by about a hundred volunteers.  The food was intended for low income persons and the community was to have a harvesting party on September 29th, but on the eve of the harvest, the City Parks Director Richard Ubbens sent City Employees to rip it up and sod it over.  This was done without warning the group.  The food was all destroyed, the heirloom plants plucked.  The opportunity for food bank users to have this healthy locally grown food was callously removed.  This in a year which anyone connected to growing food will know was not ideal.  This in a time when food banks cannot keep up, this story really sickens me!  There is nothing, and I mean nothing that enrages me more than wastefulness and mean spiritedness toward the disadvantaged.

Food for thought… When did Canada get so turned upside down?

Categories: Drought, Environmentalism, Food, Forest, Ontario, Open your eyes, Rules, View | 3 Comments

Magic Coffee

In the morning you can watch the kettle boil, which of course never happens.  Or you can open your eyes and look around.

Fortunately for me, in the woods there is always something beautiful to see.  Today I had a look over to see how fall is settling with the hawthorn Twerp.   Then I looked over the prickly pear into the forest beyond.

When I looked back my grandma’s kettle was magically boiled.  The coffee was delish!


Categories: Erazim Kohák, Food, Forest, Off Grid, Ontario, Open your eyes, Re-Use, Simple living, View | 1 Comment

Travelling Tiny: Guest Post

This year I turned 50 in a Gypsy Caravan.

Written By: Lois Morgan

It had to happen somewhere special.  We live in Ontario and September is a gorgeous month, so I wanted to be somewhere cocooned in nature.  A yurt would have been nice, but then I happened on a Gypsy Caravan located in Quebec.

The Caravan is perched on top of a mountain, roughly 2.5 hours from Montreal.  The pictures on the website are stunning, and my birthday weekend was the only one available on the site calendar.  It was synchronicity.

We left very early to make the 9 hour drive to the Caravan.  We took with us food, towels and of course, wine.  Once across the Saint Lawrence River, the vistas changed as we drove South-East.  The last leg of our journey had us winding in and out of valleys, into and around quaint towns and beautiful farmland.

After leaving the main road, we went up a long driveway and turned onto a hilly trail through deep forest.  Steep grades made us gasp, but finally we reached a clearing and then the Caravan came into sight.  Just as beautiful as the photos, it shone brightly against the backdrop of thick forest in one direction and blue sky across the valley.  We were alone on a mountain-top.

The caravan was immaculate.   It was like the best hotel you have ever been to, without the stark neutral décor.  There was no neutral.  The duvet was purple velvet, the sheets blue, the coverlet a Quebec weave, the bed curtains sheer mix of blues, purples, reds and rust.  All the light fixtures were pretty, with glass dangles and jewel coloured shades.

The bathroom was small but equipped with regular sized fixtures and a gorgeous multi-coloured porcelain sink.  Walls were a deep periwinkle blue, with the cabinet painted red.

There was nothing cluttering the surface areas.  All the kitchen equipment had a place, and the cupboards were full of whatever it was you could possibly need for two people.  Toaster, pots, frying pans, kettles were in one.  White dishes, wine glasses, mugs and glasses in another.  There was plenty of space for us to store our supplies as well, to tuck them away.  The cooktop was a two burner ceramic surface, and the sink was round and deep.  There was a flat-screened television mounted to the wall, for viewing DVDs, and a small radio and toaster oven.

I am a sucker for kitchen utensils and the ones supplied did not disappoint.  There is nothing worse than using an unfamiliar paring knife that is dull, but the knives were all good quality and sharp, I loved the nesting ceramic mixing bowls and the enamel strainers.

Everything in the Caravan was chosen with loving intent.   This was a fantasy of a Gypsy Caravan, and it worked.  The beautiful light fixtures, the fancy hooks on the wall, the jewel-toned colours, they all melded together to meet that ideal.

Outside the caravan was the Pavilion.  The Pavilion was on the edge of a slope and had a cast iron fireplace, two wicker chairs, a bistro table and chairs, and a counter with another small fridge, small Weber barbecue and microwave tucked inside the cabinet.  The pavilion acted as the living space for the Caravan, which had no sofa or easy chairs.

It was open to the view on 3 sides, with the fireplace on one end of the solid back wall and the counter on the other.  There was not a bug, leaf, spider web or speck of dirt inside it.  Even the woodpile was tidy.  We spent a lot of time out in the Pavilion as the weather turned chilly and we took advantage of fires and cosy chairs.

In front of the Pavilion, down a small slope was the look-out deck.  Very high up, when standing on the edge you are at eye level with the trees.

What I didn’t expect, but was supplied:   An excellent selection of DVDs and movies.  We watched “Liberte” about French gypsies during WWII.   Binoculars were supplied, we forgot ours.  French Sea Salt and pepper, tea lights, a strong flashlight, extra pillows were much appreciated and French-Canada CBC Radio added to the ambience.

I realize that you can live well in a small space, if you keep your belongings minimal and set aside everything that has no function.  The shelf above the bed held books; the shelf above the coat hooks had the binoculars and a lantern.  Everything else had a place, away.

There was certainly room for personal items, but after my husband emptied his pockets onto the table and I saw the pile of change, wallet, keys, cell-phone, I knew that unless I found somewhere to put all that stuff, that it would drive me crazy.   It all went into a bowl, and up on the shelf.

As an artist, it would be challenging for me to fit into a small place.  I would have to adapt my craft to work, but I’m sure it could be done.  I don’t see us moving to a tiny house any time soon, but could see us downsizing into an urban apartment with land and my own Gypsy Caravan waiting magically for us in the woods somewhere.

It would be my own piece of jewelled heaven on wheels.

More writing by Lois Morgan can be found at her blog Mid Life Fibres


If this holiday interests you, this is where it was booked 

Categories: Food, Forest, Nature, Off Grid, Open your eyes, Simple living, Tiny house | 2 Comments

Preparing for Night

This morning, the first talk I want to see is at 11:00. This gave me time to walk around this land before the drive to Kingston.  The nights are colder now; falling in the single digits, but under the blankets I am cozy while I read Teja Cole.  I slept well this past night, even so wake tired from the big thoughts that fill my mind.  The words of all these artists at once is overwhelming but worth it.  This freshness in air has forced the thinnest and most unprotected leaves to put on their brightly colored coats, the rest of them will not be far behind.

I walked over to my garden and was disappointed and surprised.  I suppose I should not be.  Powder mildew is taking over the squash plants.  I had never seen powder mildew in all my years on the farm in the giant gardens of the women who grew all the food for their family.  Now this mildew finds its way deep here, into the untouched forest to attack the plants.  I wonder from what biotechnology hell it pounced out, ready to kill what we we want to grow for ourselves.

The days are too cold now for the tomatoes to ripen, but there are a lot of vegetables and herbs still there.  These strong beauties are still a thriving food source, but I will have to cover them soon if I am to have the opportunity to enjoy them.

All through these woods, the small asters poke their small sunny purple faces up out of the forest floor.  It is a beautiful time.  As though nature is a fresh faced child being tucked in by mother nature for a winter’s night.

All reminders that I must prepare for the coldness that living brings.

Categories: Environmentalism, Food, Forest, Kingston, Nature, Off Grid, Ontario, Open your eyes, Sustainable living, Tiny House Ontario, View, Winter | Leave a comment