Thursday, December 30, 2010

Endings and Beginnings

It's nearly the end of 2010 and as usual I've been looking back over the past 12 months. Like every year it had it's highs and lows and a few unexpected moments but overall it was a pretty good year with a glorious finish!

In the past I haven't posted much about my love, the Russian dancer- partly because this blog isn't so much about my personal life but also because his status here in Canada was in limbo. We met through work a few years ago and shortly after he decided to stay in Canada. For the past three years as we have built a life together we were always under the shadow of the possibility he might be sent home. Thankfully our dreams became a reality just before Christmas, when he was granted permanent residency - there's still some paperwork to file and fees to pay, and he will not be eligible for full citizenship for a few years but for all intensive purposes he's now a Canadian -and a proud one at that!

Compared to this news, everything else I considered writing about seems rather mundane so if the rest of the post seems random and a bit disjointed, bear with me- it's going to be a while before my feet touch ground!

So much of 2010 revolved around canning: from the CanJam started by Tigress, to the workshops I taught through the West End Food CoOp, it seemed like not a week went by that I wasn't putting something in the hot water bath canner. I even managed to put up a few jars under my own Backyard Farms label and sold them at local markets. I'm not sure I sold enough to actually call it income but I made enough to cover some of the costs and the shelves at home are well stocked for the winter.

Of course I wouldn't have had nearly as much stuff to put in those jars if it wasn't for Not Far From the Tree. I don't know how much fruit I personally picked this year but our grand total for the year was just shy of 20,000 lbs! I was also part of the team that organized the first ever Syrup in the City project, as well as some successful fundraising projects. I have so much fun working with them I sometimes feel I get more out it than they do from me! ( Photo courtesy of Lisa Pitman, another Not Far From the Tree Volunteer)

The backyard farms were hit and miss this year as usual- summer was much hotter and dryer than last year and the tomatoes on the roof garden suffered for it. All the necessary watering left them a tad nutrient deprived, no matter how much worm compost I added. My favourite tomato this year was the Black Brandywine- it was one of the first to ripen and the last to still be producing fruit- right into November!

The Jaune Flamme was a close second; although not as prolific, the fruit was some of the prettiest and tastiest I've ever had and I'll definitely grow them again.

The garden in the ground did much better due in part to the soaker hose I hooked up to the rainbarrel. The six tomatoes I planted in ground were much happier than their rooftop counterparts- some were over 6 ft tall! I also had great crops of rapini, edamame, peas and beans. A few things however were a complete bust- not single pumpkin or squash, one lone eggplant and three tiny potatoes. Lessons learned on all fronts!

One of my favourite parts of this year was how my blogging world spilled over into real life; meeting other Can Jammers and bloggers at local food events, and swapping recipes and jars. I'm super excited to have one of my recipes included in Sarah Hood's upcoming book We Sure Can! Of course many of the blogs I ready regularly are not so local but there are so many of you writing of things that are dear to me, and that list has gotten huge! At last count I'm subscribed to 50 blogs and there's still more I read sporadically. Too many to name all of them here, but a few deserve special recognition:

Jenna at Cold Antler Farm- in just over the year since I've been following her, Jenna moved from a small rental homestead in Vermont to her very own sheep farm in NY! With her trusty dogs and her music to keep her company, Jenna is an inspiration to all of us of what someone can accomplish when they set their mind ( and back) to it. She writes great books and takes stunning photos. Also- I named one of her sheep!

Ferdzy at Seasonal Ontario Food - As the name of her blog implies, Ferdzy is a master at both growing and cooking with local ingredients. Her gardens make me green (hehe) with envy, her recipes are delish, and her trips to area food producers gives me incentive to do more traveling and tasting.

Shae at Hitchhiking to Heaven - If you want to learn to make fabulous jams, this is the place to go. Shae comes up with the most wonderful combinations of flavours than I could ever dream of. Her blog is my go-to source whenever I have an idea and need confirmation of quantities and techniques. Her jams have won prizes and she has a porcupine for a guest host! What could be more cool? Buy her online book !

There are many more blogs I love dearly that you can check out from my blog roll if you have the inclination. And if you have a blog, feel free to link to mine- I love how we are creating communities that defy geography, and finding ways to use current technology to pass on traditional techniques and know how.

All in all, it was a pretty productive year! Colette and I completed all 12 months of the CanJam, I grew and preserved a lot more food, as well as buying a lot more locally. And I managed to write at least a couple posts a month so definitely an improvement over last year. As I finish this post, it is now New Years Day and it's 9 degrees C and pouring rain here in Toronto which couldn't be more beautiful. Welcome to 2011! May the new year be bountiful and bring peace and prosperity!


  1. Congratulations on your love's permanent residency! That's definitely something with which to celebrate the new year. :D

    It looks like our gorgeous New Year's Day weather is over. It's a far more seasonal -5C today.

  2. Yes it's winter again today- I hope that wasn't our January thaw!

  3. Congratulations to the Russian Dancer and to you too! That's exciting AND soothing news, I'm sure.

    Thanks for the shout-out. Much appreciated.

    Jaune Flamme is on our list to try next year. I do hear lots of good things about it. I also think we are trying at least one if not more tomatoes that are Brandywine crosses, for some reason not the real or at least original thing. Too many tomatoes, too little time (and space).

  4. I absolutely agree with you that one of the best parts of 2010 was connecting with other committed bloggers and jammers, such as yourself. I never saw that coming, and it's been great!

    I love hearing about your fruit picking endeavors. One of the things I need to do this year is get my blog subscription method together so I don't miss out on what you're up to.

    Thanks so much for the generous mention of H2H -- and Spike says hi. :-)