Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday morning

It's pretty rainy here today...well, it's actually been pretty rainy for a couple of days.  When the weather's like this I have a tendency to get uber-domestic.

Yesterday I made granola (again), and banana bread, and chicken cacciatore from scratch.  The bread that is currently baking in the oven was started last night, too.

The last few days have been good for cleaning up the garden (between - and sometimes during - rain showers).

Earlier in the week, before all the rain, I'd set aside this sunflower head so that I could try my hand at toasting seeds.  I figured, "how hard could it be?"

As it turns out, not very hard at all.

I started out by separating the seeds from the head and washing them in the sink.  The seed head was pretty dry, and all the ripe seeds separated by the simple action of rubbing my palm across the flower head. Once they were in the sink, I picked up double handfulls of them and rubbed them against each other to knock off all the garden dust and debris.
They were then left to sit in the sink so that the debris could settle and the seeds float (coincidently, this step corresponded perfectly with the amount of time it took to check my email!).

Because I didn't think to put them in a salt brine last night for today's roasting, I opted to boil them in a brine (5:1 ratio of water:salt) for about 20 minutes.  They're still a little saltier than I'd like, so next time I'd probably do 6 parts water to one part salt.

Once they were boiled, I drained them in the colander, then spread them on a baking sheet for toasting.  They were toasted at a higher temperature (375F) than I normally would have done them - but - I was baking the bread at the same time.

I took them out and stirred them at 10 minute intervals to check on their progress.  I think they were in and out of the oven about 4 times...making the total roasting time about 40 minutes.  It was pretty obvious when they were getting close to done, as the whole house started to smell like roasted seeds.  Mmmmmm.

The inspiration for all this activity was a memory I have of big sunflower heads that Mom and Dad grew on the farm when I was young.  I remember passing those seed heads sitting in the shed, drying, while I fed that cats (I think) each night.  It's funny, the way that memory is, but I don't remember if we ever did anything with them, or if they just eventually ended up in the massive compost area that we had behind the greenhouse.  Either way, the sunflower seeds today are a little tribute to those long-ago sunflowers, to that long-ago garden.

Enjoy the weekend.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Morning self-portrait

Things are pretty quiet around here.

I'm on call for work, which means right now that there's a very low chance that the phone will ring.  The beginning of the school year was tough last year, and I have to keep reminding myself that I didn't get a lot of work until mid-late September.  I'm so low on the seniority list that I can't expect much.  I did work one day last week (our first week of school), so that is somewhat hopeful.

There are other projects to keep me busy - I'm learning how to build a website using WordPress for a collaborative project (more about that as it emerges), and am getting the van ready to sell.  I'm working on some quilting patterns for Threadsongs, and doing a lot of cooking.

I keep wondering if I should just bite the bullet and continue with my schooling.  Selkirk College/UVIC will allow for someone with a Bachelor's Degree in Child and Youth care to go into the teacher's training program...which might be a really good idea.  It would mean picking up a few academic courses (English, Psych), then entering 3rd year online from UVIC.  My experience so far in the school system has been good, and I think I could see myself managing a classroom.  It seems like the right thing to do...

This fall feels like a new year - or a new beginning.  It's seldom in this stage of life that everything seems to slow down or stop at the same time like this.  I feel almost as if it's the deep breath before the next plunge...I just have to figure out what that plunge is going to look like.  I like it when life is busy, and am happiest when I can spend my day with people, working together and figuring things out.

Don't worry, I'll keep you posted.