Saturday, July 9, 2016

DeCluttering Out At The Lighthouse

There comes a time between the intensive labour of spring planting and the fulsome garlic harvest of mid-July. Sure, the berries must be picked daily or else the birds will get them and then there is the daily onslaught of English cukes from the greenhouse since late June and soon, zucchinis will spill forth from their old wheelbarrow and halved oyster barrel containers where their rampant enthusiasms are more or less contained. 

That time is when the deep freezer is scrutinized for containers and plastic bags of blackberries labelled July 2014, strawberries and raspberries hailing from June of 2015 and blueberries from a bulk purchase of unknown origins. Rhubarb, carefully sliced and somehow missed underneath all the other berries, but definitely elderly now. A bag of last year's frozen cherry tomatoes and a few late heritage varieties as well comes to over three pounds and yes, it takes up a lot of room as well. It's eat 'em up or compost, get creative or dine glumly on freezer-burned produce which really should be enjoyed no later than six months after harvesting and freezing.

Then there is the refrigerator, with about five pounds of apples, all with bruises and other signs of wear and tear, stored since May. My sourdough starter or biga is near the end of its natural life and the covered dish I keep it in takes up a lot of room on the fridge shelf. 

The grocery tender (our jargon for a Coast Guard helicopter on the once-monthly grocery delivery run) is scheduled for this week but fog, drizzle, rain and gale force winds have all conspired to delay it several days running. Still, chances look better for Friday, with a forecast for showers and not this relentless soft rain and fog. I need to clear out the refrigerator shelves for new perishables and to clean out the freezer for a big order of frozen specials from Thrifty's and for a half year's worth of an incoming meat order from the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild. Also, Jeff went out on a rare calm early morning this week and caught a black rock cod, an orange rockfish and an 18 lb blue ling cod, and I am encouraging him to pay for our new/used boat by catching lots and lots of fish for us! Some salmon and halibut in particular... but we clean and filet and freeze most of the catch, saving some for a Mexican pescados tacos meal from scratch. Yum, yum.

Rain. Welcome, welcome rain in July. We've been conserving water since mid-May but now all three household cisterns are filling up and so is the big one holding 20,000 gallons (estimated), built in 1904. Rain also means we cannot paint and mow or do other outside chores. Rain provides a good excuse to stay inside and tackle inside jobs.....

So, in we plunged. Jeff heated up the ancient blackberries and put them through our berry sieve and began gelato production for our Donvier ice-cream/frozen yoghurt appliance. I made applesauce out of the bruised and cut apples and then launched into oatmeal applesauce cookies. I made bumbleberry compote from old rhubarb, old blackberries and a few more apples to cut the acidity. Jeff then made one of his amazing fruit crisps out of the bumbleberry sauce.

I made a big batch of sourdough breads and carved off two pizza doughs to freeze for later use. Then I blanched the frozen tomatoes, the last of the greenhouse crop of 2015 and slipped off their skins for Jeff's Moosewood tomato sauce. We had a lovely vegetarian pasta dinner last night and toasted our hard work. We had bare shelves and spare compartments in the fridge and freezer. The grocery chopper arrived on Friday and our fridge, freezer and pantry shelves were filled again. The cisterns are filled with water too. It looks like a bumper crop in the garden this summer judging by our early results.

All is well on the Lennard Island Lightstation.


  1. Ah, I'm thinking a Lighthouse Cookbook next? Sounds delicious!

    1. If there weren't so many good cookbooks already out in the world, including Harbour's early and excellent one, and Salt, and Kale and Friends, and the Coast Guard one done for the 50th anniversary...all so good, I'd think about it! People keep saying they get hungry after reading my writing so I guess it's a natural conclusion.

  2. I loved reading this. You make such a great team! This is pretty much how I roll, though without the pressure of the isolation. But little goes to waste around here. Is grated frozen zucchini exempt from the 'use it, or else!' Rule? I hereby declare it is. Happy gardening.

  3. the bread looks so good! No baking for me, it heats up the little house and it's about 102 out there. Cheers from Texas!