Friday, December 17, 2010

Care for a cup of Cat-Poop Coffee?

Poor Katie. No, puss, we haven't been raiding your litterbox. 
I'm refering to a variety of coffee that I recently heard about, coffee that has been "processed" in a somewhat unusual manner ... it's called Kopi Luwak, or more informally, Cat Poop Coffee.
In Indonesia there live small cat-like mammals called palm civets, which have an inordinate fondness for ( but sadly, an inability to completely digest ) coffee cherries. The civets pass the mostly undigested beans in their stools, which are then collected ( shudder ), washed, and lightly roasted to produce the world's most expensive coffee. Apparently the digestive enzymes break down the proteins in the beans, resulting in a uniquely smooth brew highly coveted by connoisseurs. Obviously, the nature of the process by which this coffee is produced means that mass production is unlikely any time in the future, and if you're ever feeling adventurous enough to sample it expect to pay about $500.00 a pound for the beans, or around $25.00 a cup.
Sounds yummy, doesn't it? Bet you just can't wait to shell out a week's wages for a bag of beans to impress your special guests with.
Personally, I prefer my coffee decrapenated, thank you very much; or better yet, I think I'll just stick to tea!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Joys of the season.

It's that time of year again ... the days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and my metabolism has begun the inevitable slow decline that late Fall/Winter invariably brings.
An insidious lethargy sets in. Crawling out of bed is like trying to escape the grasp of quicksand, and I find myself stumbling through the day in a kind of grumpy daze.
Then there's the weight gain - the winter insulation that seems to creep up on me when my back's turned. Every year, five or six pounds that appear in Nov. or Dec., that I carry around until Spring, when without any effort on my part they melt away like snowbanks in the sun.
It would be annoying if I could muster the energy to be pissed about it.
I suppose it's a classic case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I've got to remember to use my full-spectrum lamp, try to get outdoors and go for a walk, force myself to ignore the sirensong of carbohydrates.
Bah humbug.
I must have been a bear in a previous incarnation ... it would explain this residual instinct to hibernate.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today was a good day.
My husband and I went out to fall a couple of trees on our land, bucking them up for firewood. Perfect afternoon for outdoor work - sun shining brightly, but cool enough to make physical work a joy rather than an uncomfortable chore. Afterwards we decided to wander down to the bay to check out the salmon stream ... it appears that the run has pretty much finished at this point, but we enjoyed watching an eagle perched in a fir beside the spawning beds, scanning hopefully for a straggler, spent and easy prey after fulfilling the species' imperative for the continuation of future generations. Naturally I didn't have my camera with me. Any other time I would have, I usaully carry it with me everywhere ( you never know when a photo opportunity will present itself  ). Never mind, it was lovely to have the chance to observe our winged neighbour in such peaceful surroundings.
After our avian friend floated off to check further downstream we continued on to the bay to sit on the grassy bank for a bit, enjoying the Autumn sunshine and the gentle signs of life across the water at the dock. We never tire of this Island, the beauty of it's changing moods, each season  unique, announcing itself with it's own distinct personality.
While we were basking, a fellow we had noticed rowing in the bay made his way over to us, beaching his skiff and calling out a friendly "Hello..."
He introduced himself and asked us shyly whether we enjoyed scallops. ( Who doesn't enjoy scallops?! )
We chuckled, answering, "Of course!", whereupon he handed us an enormous pail of gorgeous pink and cream-colored free-swimming scallops, so fresh that they rustled as he swung the pail, shells closing in reaction to his movement.
We were completely charmed and taken aback by this generous gesture from a man who a couple of minutes before had been a complete stranger to us! We talked for a while, exchanging bits about ourselves, and we left the bay today having made a new friend.
What a lovely way to conclude a day. When we return the bucket I'll place a couple of jars of our preserves inside, a thank you for his generosity of spirit.
This is a perfect illustration of why we love this special place ... it seems to attract people who haven't forgotten their humanity, who care for their neighbours and the land, treating each with respect and gratitude.
Tonight we'll have a meal that most folks would pay dearly for, tasting even better for having been seasoned
with good feelings.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It seems I've misplaced a few brain cells ...

I'm not sure I should even admit to such an unusual lapse of mental acuity as it would seem to be valid grounds for summoning the nice men in the white coats ( we're going on a little trip, here's a comfy jacketwe'll do up the straps for you, dear... ).
The incident I'm outlining here happened the other night ( and not for the first time ), while I was having my evening bath. First of all, though, I'll provide a bit of background as to my usual routine ... my husband is an avowed shower person, while I enjoy the luxury of long soaks in our wonderful old claw-foot tub. As luck would have it we each have a bathroom, so there's never any issue if I want to hibernate for a couple of hours in the evening with a book. Generally the only interruptions I can count on are the cats perpetually whining to be either let in or out. After I've had my recuperative soak I'll embark upon the actual cleaning phase of my bathtime, and having put aside my book, I find myself settling into a purely automatic sequence of established cleaning rituals that allow my mind to disengage from the matter at hand and wander off on it's own, replaying conversations, weighing the relative merits of this versus that, recapping what I need to accomplish tomorrow, etc., etc., etc.
Nothing terribly unusual I suppose, but I've been brought up short on a couple of occasions by the realization that I'm washing an arm or leg for the second time, or else realizing that I've been so absent that I actually have to feel my shin to know whether or not I've shaved that leg yet.
Scary. Early-onset Alzheimers? Just an isolated mental hiccup? Brain death?
Or perhaps I can safely blame it on the distractions of being constantly interrupted by needy felines ...
yes, I'm going to go with that theory, the other possibilities are too disturbing!  ;)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween...

If you're partying, remember to have a designated driver for your broomstick.
 ( This message brought to you by my familiar... )

Buried under an avalanche of apples ...

Well, it's that time of year again. We've harvested what apples the deer, coons and jays didn't abscond with, and I'm ( yet again ) pondering what to do with the bins of fruit staring accusingly at me whenever I step onto our porch. I've made multiple apple crisps and stored them in the freezer, I've made apple chutneys, apple bread, apple butter and tons of applesauce, I've dried more apple slices than I'm ever likely to use, and I still
have more to process. I feel a bit like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, desperately trying to keep up with magically multiplying chores.
Ah well. The upside to this is that I've allowed myself to get creative. With my most recent batch of applesauce I tried adding a couple of novel ingredients: crystalized ginger and dried cranberries, along with the usual cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Also, this time I left the peels on for added nutrient value and fiber ( photo above taken a few days ago during an applesauce marathon using peeled fruit ).
I put the apples, ginger and cranberries  through our VitaMix blender first, with enough water added to allow the mixture to blend smoothly, then simmered the resulting liquidy pulp for a few hours to reduce and thicken it, adding the sugar and spices when it had reached the desired consistency. Finally, everything was put through the blender a final time before being ladled into jars and processed in a boiling water bath.
The resulting sauce was thick, smooth and sweet, with a lovely little bite from the ginger. My husband ( who, admittedly, is biased ) claimed that it was the best applesauce that he'd ever tasted. I have to admit that I'm very pleased with it myself. Now I just have to try to remember how many handfuls of each ingredient I tossed in during my culinary daze, so that hopefully I can recreate the magic next time around.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cross-Species Conversations ...

One of our cats, Karma ( the youngest of the four ), has turned out to be quite a talker. A veritable little motor-mouth actually. If he's not sleeping or eating you can count on him having an opinion about what's going on in the household. He's a clever little guy, ever curious about the workings of the universe, and like any other two year old his favorite question is "Why?"
I'll concede that I'm guilty of anthropomorphizing to a degree, but the range of his communicative abilities is truly amazing - there's never any question about what he's trying to get across. A maestro of tonal inflection, he maintains a running commentary as he follows inquisitively in our wake. There's the chirp that translates as "Hi! Nice to see you!". The rising mew that for all intents and purposes has a question mark embedded, that he uses when he's clearly baffled about something. The forlornly drawn-out whine when evening draws near and we impose a curfew ( we have wolves and cougar around here, so when the sun goes down and we're no longer outdoors we make sure the family critters come in as well ). The list goes on. And on. And ON... sometimes my husband and I wish he had a mute button.
However, most of the time we enjoy his verbosity - it's endearing. He's quite a little character, an extroverted  gremlin with a contagious sense of fun.
We enjoy our conversations.


Monday, October 4, 2010

The Great Apple Heist.

The past few days I've been thinking to myself that it's time we got around to harvesting the apples. I put it off, however, because we had other projects on the go ( fencing in a new garden space for next year, topping off our winter wood supply ).
Apparently I'm not the only one who noticed that the apples were ready for picking ... I found this little bandit in one of our trees this morning, trying his best to look inconspicuous...

Pretty hard to look innocent, though, when you're sitting right beside the evidence ( gnawed apple in foreground ).

Impossible to be annoyed with those cute, button eyes staring at you. Poor little guy was probably wondering how long he was going to be stranded up there, so I put all the animals in the house, took a couple of photos, gave him a gentle chiding about his delinquent behavior, and left him alone. Ten minutes or so later he made his way apprehensively down the tree and loped off. Good thing we don't really mind sharing.   ;)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tabby Take-Out?

"Dash", one of our feline house-mates, doing what all cats seem driven to do - claiming any and all baskets, boxes, open drawers, etc. Dash has decided that this spot is very comfy indeed, although not quite as delicious as a basket of laundry fresh from the dryer.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Optic Nerve Overload?

           A few images created while playing on the computer...






Cosmic Labyrinth








Fractal Explosion

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here there be monsters ...

Possible explanation for all the body parts (feet) that have been washing up on B.C. shores?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gotta give her points for ambition...

                                          Eesa: ever the optimist:

How did this end?
a)  Eesa enjoyed a major upgrade from dry kibble.
b)  The buck made a fashion statement with a tabbycat antler ornament.
c)  They negotiated a peace treaty and did lunch.
d)  None of the above.
d)  None of the above.
Twenty-two pounds of feline attitude reconsidered when
the object of her interest showed no sign of backing down.
Looks like she'll have to settle for cat-chow for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just another day at the zoo ...

Autumn is fast approaching, the apples are swelling and taking on a rosy tint, and our resident herd of deer continues to grow. I think word is getting around that the grazing is great and the family dog is a vegetarian ( or acts like one, anyway ). We haven't fenced our fruit trees - we figure the fruit on the lower branches is fair game to the local wildlife, so depending on the crop we often have raccoons or deer making fast-food stops in the yard. The coons are considerably more wary than their hooved neighbours, we only ever see them if we happen to surprise them at night ( although we did  have one that took up residence for a bit in our woodshed ... I'd catch glimpses of his/her grumpy face squinting at me when I went out to fill the woodbox in the mornings ). Our deer, however, have established firm squatting rights, and will happily browse around us while we work outside. Not even chainsawing will faze them. I swear they have a higher tolerance for loud noise than I do. We've noticed a number of does, two of which have fawns at present - twins for one doe, a single babe for the other. We wondered at first whether Ayla, our pooch, would react more aggresively when faced with the clearly more vulnerable young, but she seems to consider them just another odd-looking variety of dog.
Definitely worth sacrificing a few apples.