Farewell Fall


Ahhh, ’tis the season of snowblowers, ice scrapers and wood stoves. We had our first snow storm of the season overnight, and with it, our first snow day for my littlest man.  He was thrilled!  My husband, less so when he had to pull out the snowblower before heading to work.  But the day has gotten quite warm and a lot of it is melting off.  We have another 25 cms forecast for tonight.  Such is the life in New Brunswick.  Fall has been lovely, but I guess it’s time for us to move on.

I’ve gotten some of my canning projects completed over the fall, but not nearly as many as usual.  I seem to have lost steam this year with a number of things, not quite sure why.  But the basics are in the pantry, which makes me feel better about the cold coming.  I’ve got pot roast in a jar, chicken broth, vegetable soup, meatballs, baked beans and more pressured canned and put away.  I’ve also been working on my dehydrated stock, and it’s coming along.  I’m actually out of tomato powder (it’s amazing!!) so I’ll need to make some more.  The pickled beans turned out extra good this year, oh my Lord, why didn’t I make double?  I have no idea (probably because I was already over run with them and many other thing).  Walking past my canning shelves does make me happy.  I’ve got to make some jelly and a few other things for Christmas, but it’s coming along and my shelves are getting fuller.

The tea business has been booming, which is awesome!!  I’ve had three fantastic months sales wise (say hello to the fourth highest sales in Canada 2 months in a row 🙂  and hoping to keep the momentum up over the holidays and into the new year.  My trip to Hawaii is in early January, so I want to make sure I’ve got a thriving business to come back to.  With December starting, I’m sure to be busy the first two weeks, and then quiet for the last two.  My daughter will be home for a few days over Christmas, so I’ll be glad to have some quiet time with my husband and kids.  There have been a few vendor events over the last few months, and they’ve been super fun.  I love getting out and meeting new people.

Now, time to make some supper, close a party and make a batch of tequila pepper jelly.  The fun never stops.  Thank goodness, what would I do otherwise?



The dog, wondering why the chickens won't come out.

The dog, wondering why the chickens won’t come out.

Woo hoo!  Flurries!  I woke up to flurries and a cold wood stove this morning.  The dog is excited, my youngest son is excited, the chickens seem less so.  I opened the hatch on their house this morning, they walked out and stood on the ladder, and then turned around and have been inside ever since.  They seem to have the same feeling toward snow as many other people I know.  When the snow banks are taller than I am, I will join that bandwagon and bitch about shoveling.  I will.  I’m good at it.  But hey, it’s the first snow of the season.  All that dusty, muddy brown is turning to white.  As I type this, my youngest is getting dressed to take the dog out and play.  In fact, the dog just ran past my window at Mach 2.  She’s going so fast I don’t know if she’ll leave prints.

All set up for the Christmas market

All set up for the Christmas market

Yesterday I set up my little jam and cookie wares at a local Christmas craft market.  It was a bit of a reunion for some of us vendors who spend our summer Saturdays at the Upriver Country Market.  The market, which is held in a barn, closed for the season on Thanksgiving weekend, and will re-open next year at the end of June.  Some of us regularly run into each other at other markets and craft sales, but this was the first time the majority of the group was together in about 5-6 weeks.  It was fun, and a lot of wine jellies flew off my table, destined to become Christmas gifts.  Meanwhile, I picked up a few things for those on my Christmas list, like a great little purse from Val, who makes beautiful leather goods, and for me a little Dutch pie from Monic.  I came home with two bottles of wine from the Richibucto River Wine Estate.   But the best part of the day was winning a lovely hand painted bowl from the Williams.  I grabbed a couple of raffle tickets when I wandered over to the coffee booth and so glad I did!   All in all, it was a fun little market.  I’ve got two more to prep for this week, so I’ll be busy getting jam into jars and cookies into the oven.

The bowl I won at the market, handpainted by Maureen Williams.

The bowl I won at the market, hand painted by Maureen Williams.

Today though, my oven is reserved for fruitcake.  I’ve got a couple of people who’ve asked me to make them this year.  And by a couple I mean 25.  I’ve got my Nana’s dark fruitcake recipe, which is amazing!  Nothing like the bricks you buy in the store, that’s for sure.  About ten days ago, I made my fruit and nut mix and put it in a nice, relaxing brandy bath.  It’s been stirred daily and should be sufficiently steeped in booze to bake today.  Then I’ll baste them in brandy while still warm and send them to their new homes.  I will save one for us, though…I wonder if it goes well with the wine I bought?  Guess there is only one way to find out.

Fruit and nuts, relaxing in a brandy bath.

Fruit and nuts, relaxing in a brandy bath.

Here comes the snow

My driveway last December

The weather forecast has been threatening flurries for several days now, and each day I’ve been disappointed.  Now, I won’t be disappointed come March, but the first few flurries to hit the ground always make me smile.  They remind me of warm mittens, hot chocolate, cold flakes hitting my tongue and melting.  Snowmen, snowball fights, and laughter.  Walking down the road to the ice all frozen hard in the gravel pit, where we’d skate, carefully avoiding the rocks sticking up through the ice.  The smell of the air, crisp and clear and fresh.  So all in all, it makes me feel like a kid again.  It makes me smile and remember the joy and discoveries winter would bring each year.  How much snow would we get?  How many hours or days would the power go out for after a big storm?  How far could I snowshoe into the woods without getting scared I was too far in to find my way back?  And as always, lying back in the snow after making a snow angel, looking up into the sky and watching the clouds roll along.  I think as adults, we have forgotten how to enjoy these moments.  How to even allow ourselves to have them.  We are so busy shoveling the driveway, and getting places on icy roads and making sure the house is warm that those small, precious moments are lost to us.  I am always grateful that the first snow brings all of that back to me.  Even if just for a few minutes.  I’ll grumble about bringing in the wood and shoveling out the driveway in January.  And lament all the fall outdoor chores I didn’t get done next week.  But today, I’ll just give myself a few minutes to catch a few flakes on my hand and watch them melt so quickly it’s hard to believe they were even there.  And I’ll remember building forts with my brother and us trudging up the sides of the gravel pit with our crazy carpets, plotting our course down without hitting anything large and sharp.  Then walking ten minutes home to put soggy mittens next to the wood stove and wrapping cold hands around warm mugs, with the skin tingling from the quick transition from cold to hot.

Snow storm picture from the back yard of my last house. This is the Richibucto River, which flows out to the ocean.

Meanwhile, it’s another day of baking and jam making for this weekend’s Christmas farmers market.  A winter staple in our house are chocolate gingerbread men.  The recipe is from the book “The Good Cookie” by Tish Boyle.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  It’s fabulous.  Lots of info, lots of different types of cookies, really well written and every recipe I’ve ever made from it has turned out amazingly well.  If you like to bake, this should be on your cookbook shelf.

Chocolate Gingerbread Men

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup nonalkalized cocoa powder, sifted

1 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup softened butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar (Tish recommends Muscovado)

3/4 cup white sugar

1 large egg

2 tbsp hot water

1 tbsp unsulphured molasses

1 tsp baking soda

1.  In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.  Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until light in texture and colour, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg.

3.  In a small bowl, stir together the hot water, molasses and baking soda, until the baking soda is dissolved.  At low speed, gradually add the baking soda mixture to the butter mixture.  Increase mixer speed to medium and mix until blended.  Then on low speed, add in the flour blend in several additions, until just combined.  Scrape dough onto a work surface, shape in a disk, wrap and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, max three days.

4.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease two sheets, use parchment paper or I use baking stones (already seasoned!  No more greasing and nothing ever burns! )

5.  Divide the dough into quarters.  Put the rest in the fridge while you work one quarter at a time.  Roll out  on a lightly floured surface until dough is about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Grab your gingerbread man (or woman) cutter and cut out as many little chocolately ginger people as you can and carefully transfer them to your baking sheet.  Bake the cookies for about 8-10 minutes per sheet and let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes before you transfer them to a rack to finish cooling.  Decorate as you will.  Or not.  They are pretty tasty warm from the oven.

Can you tell these were decorated by teenagers? The giant eyes are Hershey’s Kisses.