Monday, August 31, 2009

Super Slaw

"Slaw" just has to be one of my favourite words. It's also one of my favourite summer foods. Here's my version of cole slaw--with some different ingredients. Our family is eating more raw food lately and this was a way I could experiment with things one doesn't normally eat beets. There are lots of super-nutritious foods in here--hence the name "SUPER SLAW."

I'm not skilled at measuring, but here's an estimation.


1/4 head green cabbage, chopped
1/4 head red cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 beets, shredded
2 radishes, shredded
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped

I also though it might be nice to add seasame seeds or roasted almonds but haven't tried that yet.


1 tablespoon seasame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari (I use gluten-free)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon agave, maple syrup, or honey

Mix it all together and enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Putting Up Corn

My friend, Jackie, and I decided to "put up" some corn today. We bought three dozen cobs at the farmers market and spent the morning shucking, blanching, slicing, and freezing. I really like my new food prep lingo.

First, we blanched the corn in boiling water for three minutes. Then, with great satisfaction, we plunged the cobs into cold water to stop the cooking process. We sliced the kernels off the cobs, let them cool, and loaded them into freezer bags. Just over an hour later, we had enough corn to make us some chowder on a cold November day.

This is the year that I want to learn more about food preservation. I spent the afternoon yesterday with another friend, Krista, making chili sauce and red pepper jelly. Last year I froze a lot of veggies: stewed tomatoes, beans, red peppers, leeks, and ragout. I plan to do more of that but I also want to can some salsa and tomato sauce this year.

Jackie and I discussed a short story we'd both read where a woman accidentally kills a dinner guest by feeding her preserves contaminated with botulism. We think it was Alice Munro. Regardless, we've both been skittish of the canning process as a result--perhaps a whole generation exposed to that story in the high school English curriculum turned their backs on the arts of food preservation. Thanks to some Canadian author, we now buy our produce from California during the winter. Anyway, I also read that tomatoes are so acidic that botulism can't survive. Phew. That's why I'm starting with tomatoes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


We're moving tomorrow. I've been so sentimental over the past few days, thinking about all the wonderful memories we have here. I LOVE this old house. We've done so much work to it and I truly think it's lovely. Now that it's empty, it feels spacious and airy. How could we have complained about space? Sometimes I don't know why we're moving...we just needed a change, I suppose. Also, the new house has a backyard.

Funny--now that our home is empty, it feels like a house (a lovely, charming old house that we've put our heart and soul into AND brought our beloved baby boy home to). I always have trouble with transitions like this--must be my feline astrological sign. The other feline in our house is struggling as well.

So tonight, we're going to put the boy to bed, finish packing the odds and ends, CLEAN, and have a glass of wine on the porch. Tomorrow, we'll start making memories in our new house...our new home...which doesn't have a front porch...yet...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Beginning...

Big day today. I'm sending out the first of my agent queries. I have no idea what will happen because I've never done this before. Sending a complete short story to a literary magazine is very different from creating a synopsis and pitching an idea. What's exciting is that after all this work, I'm finally sending my novel out into the world. I also know that I'm resiliant enough to take whatever is sent back...even if it's the sound of crickets chirping.

Here's historical Dalvay by the Sea. It's where Anne recites "The Highwayman" (and Gilbert givers her a standing ovation--sigh) in the film Anne of Green Gables. I love this place--it has such a "summer by the sea" feeling, which is what I tried to capture in my book.

Thanks again to Tina Dougan for taking these photos when I'm not able to be on the island.

Friday, August 14, 2009

How to Miss the Sea

My son and I are captivated by this book--maybe because we're both missing the beach. It's beautifully written and illustrated. The whimsical watercolour paintings are evocative of the sea. Kieran studies the detailed photos, picking out star fish and sea shells. In Can You Catch a Mermaid? by Jane Ray, the main character, Eliza, has to overcome her own need to hold onto her dear friend through deception. There's nothing syrupy about this story and the ending is layered. We signed out the CD version narrated by Dervla Kirwan from our library. Kieran listens to it while I'm making dinner and often re-plays it.
I explore the mythology of mermaids in my novel when Kira almost drowns.
Kira saw herself with irridescent scales, with sea grass twining around her legs, pulling her down for eels to dance through her green hair. Strong starfish contracted on her skin and the jagged edge of sea shells pierced promises into her feet. She would stay on the bottom of the sea with the swirl of life churning around her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

100 Mile Diet

Well, the Cameron-Shea family is officially participating in the 100-Mile-Diet for COGECO Kingston. We met with them yesterday and we'll film in September. While the majority of our food is already locally-grown, we're taking it a step futher to give up coffee (gasp!), beer (double gasp), and chocolate (faint...). Other things that will be a problem are salt, olive oil, and cinnamon. Kieran's gluten-free needs will also call for creativity. It's only seven days.

Thank goodness for Wendy's Mobile Market in Lyndhurst. We order on-line from them once a week and Rick (Wendy's husband) brings everything right into the kitchen. We are able to get local veggies, apples, ice cream, chicken, beef, wild boar, a variety of cheeses, and even bath bombs. It's a great thing. We would probably be more reluctant to participate in this challenge if it weren't for this service. I'll add the link for their fantastic site at the end of this post.

I was just working on a chapter in my novel where the protagonist attends the Charlottetown Famer's Market--here's another photo from my friend, Tina. It's a little dark but it's a favourite stop for me when we're on the island--so much good food! And I like to eat. It's another one of the things I greatly miss about not being on the island, which is why it had to appear in my book.

The book that inspired me to look into local eating more seriously was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. And, after watching a few episodes of their show on the Food Network, I'm adding Alisa Smith and James MiKinnon's book, The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Eating Locally to my reading list.

"Eating locally isn't just a fad like the various fad-diets advertised on late-night T.V.--it may be one of the most important ways we save ourselves and the planet." ~David Suzuki

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wolf Suit

Just finished reading Where the Wild Things Are to my son.

Love the way it opens: "The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another..."

Perfect considering my boy wore a metaphorical wolf suit all day today.

This book has it all: poetry, characterization, the heroic quest. It's one of my favourite stories because it gives children mastery over that which makes them feel powerless, like monsters...and parents.

Then, there's the imagination.

he sailed off through night and day...

Can't wait to see the film.

Green Grass, Red Sand, Blue Water

My friend, Tina, took this photo at Dalvay Beach on Prince Edward Island. It's the perfect picture to accompany my first post because this is the place that inspired my novel. It pulls everything together: my history with Mike, my love of Kieran, my desire to write.
After watching the sunset here with Kieran last summer, the premise for my story unfolded. I quickly wrote the first three chapters and then let it sit until Janurary. When I needed something for my writers' circle meeting, I dusted it off and continued. Over the past few months, the story has flowed. I can't say the same for the editing process. However, I've been able to refine my characters and story into something tangible.
Now that I'm finishing up my last draft, I'm ready to start looking at publication. As my short stories, poetry and parenting columns slowly appear on the printed page, the number of rejection letters grows exponentially. I know it won't be an easy time, but I am resilient.
Sadly, this is the first year since I met my husband that we won't be travelling to PEI for the summer. Our son, Kieran, had some health issues in the spring that prevented this. It's ironic really, that I've conjured our dear island so vividly in my imagination at a time when I've never felt so far away.
I can picture the herons fishing along the shore. Most of all, I miss my extended family and our friends. There's always next year.