nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘food

Winner … what is ‘beelwort’?

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I am happy to announce the winner of my contest ‘What is beelwort?’ Beelwort is a mysterious item mentioned in the first book of my Meniscus sci-fi series — Meniscus: Crossing The Churn. My books give only small hints about the nature of beelwort: it get slipped into pockets as a joke and, although edible, is not very palatable.

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The winner of the contest is Allan Hudson. Allan is the editor of the South Branch Scribbler, an on-line blog exploring the arts. Every week Allan posts an article, guest blog or question and answer session about an author, musician or artist.  Have a look at http://allanhudson.blogspot.ca/ The blog includes some interesting insights into the process of writing and the methods of some well-known authors.

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Allan’s answer to the contest defined beelwort as ‘… an edible, hallucinogenic fungus only found on Meniscus …’  To this, I will only add ‘rather squishy’. Beelwort will finally be defined, using Allan’s definition, in Book Five of the Meniscus series — Meniscus: Karst Topography. Also, Allan will receive a postage-paid copy of my first poetry book within easy reach, poems about eating wild edible plants (available at http://www.chapelstreeteditions.com or on Amazon).

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Meniscus: Karst Topography (I took geology as a minor in university) is in draft form at present. However, the first book in the series — Meniscus: Crossing The Churn — is now available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06XPPNCGF/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Meniscus: Crossing The Churn is a science-fiction adventure/romance describing the meeting of Odymn and the Slain. Written as a long poem, it is a book about loss, freedom and relationship. The remaining books in the series will bring new characters into the mix and tell a story about building companionship, family and community on a dystrophic planet where even casual contact between humans is discouraged.  Don’t let the poetry format put you off! The tale is told in short lines, written as concisely as is possible to tell a story!

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Thank you to Allan for entering the contest! Your book within easy reach is in the mail!

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Belnar, one of the characters from Book Two is into the honey mead, but he could be eating beelwort!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

 

a muse takes over – telling a story through the seasons

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In New Brunswick, the passage of time is measured in part by the seasons. Right now we are in winter, in the midst of another snow storm and taking a lot of care when walking on all the ice. Soon it will be spring with crocuses blooming on the lawn and water in every hollow. Then summer, days on the deck and keeping cool. Finally, my favourite season, autumn, colourful leaves and starry nights.

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Since I am a writer embedded in the winter-spring-summer-fall cycle, it’s natural that changing seasons are an important part of my sci-fi novel. Although weather is often a factor in story telling, I find many books ignore the changing of the seasons.

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Seasons on planet Meniscus occur in a cycle of four, as in the northern and southern latitudes of Earth. On Meniscus the seasons are the result of a changing heat regime as once per ‘year’ one of the twinned suns slips behind the other. Whether the physics of this makes much sense, I can’t say. “I’m a biologist, Jim, not a physicist!”

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Book One, Crossing the Churn, begins in summer. Foraging for food is easy. As the days pass, leaves begin to fall and soon the characters wade rather than walk through the forest.

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Book Two, South from Sintha, finishes in autumn, as the days grow colder.  New characters in Book Two are looking for a home before winter sets in.
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Book Three, Winter at the Water-climb, takes place in a world of ice. The plot focuses on the coming of cold weather and shorter days. Foraging for food is difficult since everything is hidden under snow drifts.  Survival depends on what has been put into storage.

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Book Four, The Town in the Themble Wood, celebrates the coming of spring and the vibrancy of summer. The Slain and Odymn scout the Themble Wood for a town-site and help the other Humans establish a new community.

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Book Five, so new it has no name, will take the characters back into autumn. In many ways this book will be a race against time as winter approaches and the Slain must find Odymn and other characters who have been lost after a crisis.

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Including seasons in my story adds to the possibilities for describing setting. The cinnamon scent of trees in the autumn Themble Wood, tracks in the snow of the new town, and melting water-springs add to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes my writing can explore.

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The progress of getting my first book into CreateSpace has been hampered this week by the appearance of ‘The Blue Screen of Death’ on my computer. It is fixed now, but I am sure the folks on Meniscus have never faced such a challenge!!!

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

February 8, 2017 at 7:04 am

Growing and gathering – Spring salad

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I make a new batch of sprouts weekly. This week’s crop was something I haven’t tried to grow before … pea shoots. I sprouted the peas in my 8 X 10 Sproutmaster from Sprout People.

https://sproutpeople.org/sproutmaster-8×10-tray-sprouter/

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Pea shoots sprout sooner if they are soaked in water first. I let mine sprout with just the rinse water.

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For me, a twice daily water rinse and careful draining is key to growing the best sprouts. I know pea shoots can grow quite tall with a vermiculite base and some propping at the sides but I was content to just let them peak above the sides of my sprouter.

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To prepare the pea shoots, I washed them well and harvested them with scissors.

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Then I added a chopped onion, chopped celery, chives from the garden and a sprig of mint. Just plain mayonnaise for a dressing. Yum!

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My husband shook his head and said (as a joke) I would have to survive the Apocalypse all by myself.

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 30, 2016 at 7:26 am

growing and gathering – learning

with 10 comments

When I embarked on my project to write poetry about ‘growing and gathering’, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the subject.  It is not surprising, then, to find I have written quite a few poems on the theme of ‘learning’.

Some of these poems are in the spirit of ‘how to’.  I have poems about collecting maple syrup, making jelly, harvesting and preparing wild sarsaparilla, stringing peas in the garden, gathering eggs and picking fiddleheads, among others.  As poems can be a little obtuse, sometimes these directions are not very helpful in a practical way.  However, I try to capture the essence of the growing and gathering of local foods.

I have also written poems about learning itself.  I have a poem about my childhood experience of running free on the prairie, picking thorny cactus berries and bottles of scorpions (yes, scorpions… they were interesting and pretty, and I didn’t know they were dangerous!).  I also have a poem to remind busy young mothers to learn from the rhythms of nature – the calm conspiring of bees and clovers to make honey, or the way a bird collects the makings of a nest, a little at a time.  Another poem is about learning how to negotiate the traditions of the farmers market (if you buy fresh carrots, keep the green tops for your compost bin!!!).

I also have two poems about imitating nature.  In the 1960s, my Mom used to make a few substitutions in her cooking to make up for a lack of ingredients.  You have probably seen these recipes before: Apple Pie, No Apples and Mock Cherry Pie.

One of the reasons Mom made these recipes was to have some fun and make us laugh. But fake food is no laughing matter.  My goal, in part, has been to show that we are now a little distanced from our food and its sources.  By considering what wild foods might still be available, I have tried to get others to think about the source of our food and the greater simplicity of eating local.

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Apple Pie, No Apples

Prepare pastry for a double pie

Break 15 salted soda crackers into wedge-shaped pieces and place in the unbaked pie shell

Bring to a boil:

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups white sugar
4 tbsp. margarine
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp lemon flavoring

Pour mixture over crackers

Cover with pastry

Bake as for apple pie

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Mock Cherry Pie

Prepare pastry for a double pie

Fill pie shell with:

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cover with a lattice of pastry.

Bake as for cherry pie

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Mock Cherry Pie

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I am not easy to fool –

embellished covers, empty pages

‘baby’ carrots, shapened like pencils

knock-off purses, no money inside

diet soda and servings of fries

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who else would look

under the lattice crust

to discover cranberries and raisins?

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cherries in the orchard

never picked

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©  Jane Tims  2012

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Warning: 
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

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Written by jane tims

August 6, 2012 at 7:13 am

Blueberries!

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I love blueberries and so I am very happy – our blueberries are blue and ready for the picking at our summer property.

There are two ways to pick blueberries, with your hands…

or with a rake…

My husband bought me my rake years ago, so I use it when there are lots of berries and most are ripe.  There is a bit of a knack to harvesting with a rake.  The ripe blueberries are loosened and captured with the tines of the rake.  The basic technique is to sweep the surface of the bushes, tipping the rake upward as you sweep, since the ripe berries fall into a tine-less part of the pan.  The experience of raking berries is very different from picking.  The process is less calm, although you do get into a rhythm.  Also, the tines of the rake vibrate as you sweep, making a lovely musical sound!

We compared the yields between picking and raking, and we get about five times as many berries per unit effort with the rake (I am sure professional rakers do much better than this).  The rake gets lots of leaves and debris along with the berries, so the time saved in raking instead of picking is lost in the cleaning (in a professional operation, the debris is removed with fans or another sorting method).

Although we have lots of berries on the property, they are getting fewer each year because the growth of other vegetation crowds the blueberry bushes.  But we have a backup plan!

We also travel to the southern part of the province where the berries are in full production this time of year.  Our preferred place to get blueberries by the box or by the pie is in Pennfield, at McKay’s Wild Blueberry Farm Stand.

We eat most of our own blueberries almost immediately.  They also freeze very well.  Our favorite way to use the berries is by making Blueberry Dumplings.

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Blueberry Dumplings

two to three cups of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup of water
2 tbsp. of sugar (more if you prefer a sweeter dish)
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Bring the berries, sugar and water to a boil.

When the mixture is bubbling, turn down the heat.

Dumplings:

1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. of shortening, cut into the flour/baking powder mixture
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup milk
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Mix well and add by spoonfuls to the top of the cooking blueberries.

Cover the pan tightly with a lid (otherwise, you will have a blue-spattered stove).

Cook at low for about 12-15 minutes or until dumplings are fluffy and done in the middle.

Enjoy!

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raking blueberries

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the sweep of the rake, the berry

touch, the ring of the tines

vibrato in blue, duet with the wind

in the whispering  pines

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©  Jane Tims  2012

 
 
Warning: 
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.
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end of the maple syrup season

with 10 comments

On Monday, we finished our last lot of maple syrup for the season.  The whole house was filled with the sweet smell of syrup at boil.  I finish the syrup on our electric kitchen stove, in a pan made particularly for the purpose.  Made of aluminum, it has a narrow base and a flared top.  I thought it was a terrible extravagance at $268, but it really has improved both the boiling time and the process, and it will last for many years.

I love the final boiling.  The smell of the steam is amazing and the boil of the syrup is fascinating to watch.  While the  sap is boiling, I skim the foam with a slotted spoon, a very soothing activity.  Then, the temperature rises suddenly on the candy thermometer, and those huge candy bubbles start to form.  The part I like best is hearing the seal ‘pop’ on the Mason jars and knowing we have produced enough syrup for our pancakes and muffins and a few gifts for family and friends, enough for the whole year.

This was not our best year but we are so used to the routine, it seemed painless.  We tapped 10 Red Maple trees, collected 167 liters of sap (compared to 329 liters last year) from March 12 to April 6, and prepared 14 pints of syrup.  The syrup was dark this year but very sweet and flavorful.

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sugartime slow

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in the rain

maples bloom

small red fireworks

slate sky

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drip slow

time slow

sap runs bitter

hardly worth the boil

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© Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

April 11, 2012 at 7:03 am

breakfast niche

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niche \ ‘nich\ n (F, fr. MF, fr. nicher to nest, fr. (assumed) VL nidicare, from L nidus nest)

1 a : a recess in a wall, especially for a statue;

b : something that resembles a niche;

2 a : a place, employment, or activity for which a person is best fitted;

b : a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species;

c : the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption.

– Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1979

 

 

My niche includes breakfast.

I look forward to my breakfast, sometimes planning it in detail the night before.

The best breakfast, for me, includes all the food groups: protein, grain, milk, fruit, vegetable and fat.

I usually settle for cereal, or toast on days when the cereal box is empty.  But the best breakfast involves a piece of whole wheat toast, some yogurt and almonds, stir-fried green peppers, onions and mushrooms…

the shitake mushrooms in the stir fry were grown on a log in a friend's woodlot

 and an orange…

 

 

breakfast sun shower

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clouds pulled apart

     thumbs between

     sections of sky

sun flashes

     from a flat grey knife

light peels back from shadow

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curl of orange rind forecasts

tart vapour of rain

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© Jane Tims 2010

Written by jane tims

October 7, 2011 at 6:47 am

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