Friday, November 20, 2009

Recipe: Butter Tarts

Our first Christmas Faire is today in Oliver. Robin is there and Sarah and I are at the farm, feeding livestock, creating product (today that is dyeing a skein of angora/silk yarn for a baby hat, with nautural indigo), and keeping the house.

Good thing we are home as the chimney repair/inspector just drove in to fix a masonry crack in the wood stove chimney.

Robin set up alone and will be manning the booth alone. Hope he has a good show over the next two days.

In the flurry of getting ready for the show I needed a quick, sweet treat, to send along with Robin.

Here's my fail safe butter tart recipe, using prepared tart shells. This is from my Grade 8 home economics class. I've never seen it in a recipe book. Its also great to mix up quickly to take to a potluck or a fund raising bake sale.

Butter Tarts (yield 40)
40 prepared tart shells
3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted (don't substitute margarine)
2 eggs
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 1/2 cups raisins, dried cranberries or other dried fruit
1 cup chopped nuts (slivered almonds, hazelnuts, walnut pieces, sunflower seeds)

Mix together sugar, eggs, and butter. Add vinegar and mix well. Add dried fruit and nuts and mix. Fill tart shells 2/3rds full. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until tart shells are golden brown and filling is bubbly but only medium brown. Don't over bake. Cool before serving.

Variation: Omit the fruit, and add 2 cups of pecans in place of the nuts for pecan tarts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Art Spaces

I attended a seminar on Friday about Art and Economic Development with Lanie McMullin, from Everett Washington. It was quite informative and Lanie is a new spinner so that made it more enjoyable.

As I contemplated on the things she talked about:
Cities using artists to increase the desirability of their communities to the "knowledge base workforce" and to attract business and tourism....

I contemplated about the places where art is created -- even fiber art -- both the physical spaces like studios, arts districts, and livingrooms and the mental spaces -- the places where you have time, creativity and permission to make art.

I realized that as a Christian, my art and cultural symbols are not acceptable in the mainstream artistic world. So be it. But as a Christian artist, my art is also not acceptable in the church. This troubles me. As we come up to the advent season what passes for "art" in the church is commercialized drivel -- not a powerful cultural statement of the joy and hope of a friendship with the living creator God. "Art" as a medium for worship and edification -- as in the works of the great Dutch Masters -- is lost. And the church is impoverished for it. This was was emphasized by an experience I had yesterday.

This Sunday, the poster for the Boundary Artisan Association Christmas Faire was removed from the Community Bulletin Board located in our church foyer. Perhaps, someone found the artistic rendition of the "Northern Lights" offensive. Perhaps they thought that the Northern Lights were dancing (They do!) I was not informed of the reason that my poster was taken down and folded up out of sight.

There are 3 artisans from our church that will be selling at the BAA Christmas Faire next weekend. Many of the other artisans at the faire are Christians, as well. In fact, almost half of the artisans in the faire are Christian artists. This Faire will be their only opportunity to sell in the community this season. Most hope to earn a quarter to half, of their annual income from their Christmas sales. It seems that they cannot hope to gain the support of their faith community.

And the church just had a 10 Thousand Villages (MCC) sale to support artisans overseas -- which included a video commercial with an artisan carving a Kokopelli image (a central american fertility god!) The image was flashed on the screen several times in the church service. So why offence at our local artisans?

It comes down to art spaces -- permission to create -- space to be creative in and a receptive audience for the work. Here's hoping that your art space is more embracing than mine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remember ...

... and be thankful.

--6 million European Jews and 10 million European Christians died in the Holocaust.

70,000 young Canadian men died in WW 1 and 150,000 were wounded -- fighting someone else's war.

42,000 Canadian soldiers died in WW 2 and 60,000 were wounded -- young Canadian men and women, fighting someone else's war.

Today our Canadian soldiers continue to fight in wars that someone else created. Their sacrifice has preserved our democracy and secure the freedoms that we currently enjoy -- guard those freedoms and never take them for granted.

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae, a Canadian medical officer

Friday, November 06, 2009

Computers and Time

I joined facebook yesterday. Not that I need another time wasting computer "to-do". My daughter needed a "neighbor" for a online game she is playing called "Farmville". So I agreed to sign up.

Well the strange thing is, once I had signed up there were at least 50 people that I knew already there, and the computer was asking me to "friend" them. But I don't have time to read the walls of 50 people every day, so I will be content to just be friends with my bless-ed daughter, who needs a friend right now.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fall sheared greasy Fleece

The lamb's wool fleece are now up on the website. One has already been sold.

We are using a 50/50 rambouillet/romney ram and the fleeces have been getting finer and softer every year.

The kid mohair fleeces are also listed. There are a few black, grey and mocha fleeces available this year.

I am still working on weighing and grading the yearling (3rd clip) and adult fleeces. I'll let you know when they are also on the website.

Recipe: Cheese Cake Tarts - Yield 40

Here's a quick holiday dessert recipe using 40 premade tart shells:

750 grams of cream cheese, softened. (I use home made chevre but you can use any cream cheese)
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour (optional)
4 eggs

Cream together all ingredients. Divide cream cheese into 3 portions.

Chocolate cheese cake : Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and cream well.

Lemon cheese cake: Add grated lemon rind and 2 tsp. of lemon extract.

Almond cheese cake: Add 2 tsp. of almond flavouring and sprinkle the top of the tarts with slivered almonds.

Fill tart shells to full. Bake at 300F for 35 minutes or until cheese cake is set. Cool on cooling racks and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

These may be frozen in an airtight container for future use. Thaw for 1 hour before serving. Garnish with whip cream, chocolate curls, or raspberry sauce.

Optional: This recipe will also make one regular cheese cake but you need to make a crumb crust. It needs 1 1/2 hours to bake and a longer chilling period.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Being blessed by Friends

Our friends showed up today with 3 pickup truck loads of firewood -- yes, 4 different friends and 3 truck loads and not all at the same time. And they didn't all know each other. What a wonderful blessed surprise.

We have a week of good, dry weather with stormy weather predicted for the weekend and we had only 1 1/2 cords of wood stored for the winter. With Robin's trips to the coast to see his brother he was running short of time.

But now the wood stock has at least doubled. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the kindness of our friends!!!!! Just one more load of fire wood and we will be ready for the snow to come. Neighbor Gavin, is coming tomorrow to cut wood with Robin -- so by Friday we should be secure for firewood for the winter. Thank you, friends. (You know who you are)

Wednesday update: Two neighbors came this morning and helped Robin cut up a downed spruce. In just an hour, with two limbing and one sawing, our stock of firewood for the season was complete. What a wonderful blessing! It would have taken Robin, by himself, all day to do this job.

You need to know that we did not arrange any of this goodness. It was Providence that arranged it. Praise God.

Monday, November 02, 2009

My clutter problem

Robin is returning home today with a Honda Fit, borrowed from brother John and Laverne. We may buy it from them if it feels right to Robin, after driving it home. I'm looking forward to seeing my husband again, after an almost week long separation. After 27 years of marriage this is a good thing, no?

I am slowly working away at conquering the clutter -- I was able to work on it only partially last week as much time was spent doing 'chores', cooking and laundry. I hope to tackle the herbs that are still hanging around the house, well dry now, from the summer's harvest. Then a major clean up before bed.

You wouldn't believe, looking at my house, that I work from 6am till almost midnight, every day. But its true. In fact, every day it takes almost an hour just to clean up the stuff my family members dropped around the house, the day before. I would get more production work done if my family members were more considerate of where they drop their loads and clothing. Plus my husband and daughter have pack rat syndrome, in a moderate way. I can't change them and they refuse to be "trained" so I must work at the clutter on my own, one area at a time. The draw back is a lack of inventory for the upcoming Christmas Faires -- so be it -- we aint gonna starve with all the food I've put by this harvest season.

Company is coming for dinner on Wednesday. The clutter is one reason I so rarely invite people over for dinner. I feel terribly guilty about it and fear the judgment of my guests. But then I think, are they coming to eat and visit or to admire my house? Running a business and homeschooling, out of your living space are somethings I haven't mastered. Tips anyone?

One of our wwoofers suggested that I change one thing and that the rest of the house would fall into place. I removed a long table from the entrance hall, that was being piled high with stuff as fast as I could clear it. I replaced it with a smaller table, applied a linen table cloth and some pretty baskets to hold a small amount of stuff. But it overflows as well. It stays clear for only as long as it takes someone to walk through the door. Ditto for kitchen counter, dining room tables, school desks, dresser tops, couches, loom benches, and coffee tables. Even floor spaces are beginning to be encroached upon. Any tidy, cleared surface is a magnet for clutter.

Have we always lived like this? No. When Robin was teaching I was able on a daily basis to clean up the clutter so that the house looked organized -- even with toddlers and homeschooling. But that house had closets and cupboards in every room, whereas this log house doesn't. And in that house we weren't running a homebased business or raising 100 sheep and goats, who need to have their fleeces stored.

So I will continue to tackle this clutter a bit every day. If you prefer a tidy house to a warm, friendly visit and home grown food, don't come to my house for tea, you will be disappointed. ;^)

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Here it is Sunday morning -- November 1st. I am very behind on production work. Life has been getting in the way of my plans. It seems that how ever long I think something will take its actual time is multiplied by the next unit. So if I think something will take 1 hour it will actually take 1 day -- 1 day jobs take 1 week -- etc. This is a rule of homesteading. This is also my excuse for all the things on my to do list that are far from being completed.

The loom is languishing as we try to stay warm, cook our food and take care of the needs of the animals. I have a car on loan from a friend and managed, on friday, to get to the post office for the first time in a week -- mail a parcel, pick up mail, and retrieve my consignment yarn from the local knitting store, before they closed for the winter.

Yesterday was maintenance all day -- going through Sarah's clothes closet and discarding the things that she isn't wearing, are the wrong colour, or no longer fit. Making chili for today's gathering, and extra for a family in need of meals while the mother gestates twins and throws up. (Poor woman). Searching for an hour, at sunset, across 140 acres, for a "lost" elderly goat, who was in the barn all the time. Baking cinnamin buns and making chevre (soft goat cheese) for our breakfast today. This was my day. But no production work. The Christmas faires are just 3 weeks away.

Robin is still in Vancouver. His brother, John, was transferred back to VGH, from GF Strong (rehab centre) on Friday with a bladder and chest infection. He is sitting in emergency because there are no ventilator beds available at Vancouver General. He has no call button that he can use so a family member needs to be with him constantly. Robin spent the night with John to be his call button should he need help, so that Laverne, John's wife, could sleep.

I did get the Peppermint Foot Cream completed. But I have so much more to do before the first show in Oliver. Plus there are ads to write for the Boundary Artisan Christmas Faire and a meeting next week. And cleaning out the barn, plucking rabbits, doing the custom orders for socks and baby hats.

One day at a time -- one job at a time. It may not all get done but I hope the most important things are done on time.