seasonal fermentation project

Was at the James Bay Market last weekend and noticed some great looking pickling cucumbers available at the Saanich Organics booth. I’ve never done a cucumber fermentation project, but I know people that have, and it doesn’t sounds all that difficult!

I decided to take a first crack at this project, so picked up some more pickling cukes while at the JB Market this morning, and headed home to begin the adventure.

We had all the supplies and ingredients on hand at home, which included:

  • mason jars / lids
  • coarse Kosher salt
  • clean water
  • local garlic
  • local dillweed
  • carrots / tea bags

We also had a copy of The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz on the kitchen bookshelf, a great reference to learn about fermenting all sorts of things!

Justine and Robin got pretty stoked about the cuke action so pitched in to clean the jars, peel the garlic, and surface fermenting advice from our reference material!

Justine had past experience with making yogurt at home, so learned to clean the jars by baking them in the oven for a short time.

Robin has experience with fermenting kombucha, kimchi, cucumbers, etc. so had the wise eyes to help the newbs in the kitchen today! She surfaced a tip from the book about keeping your cukes crisp while under fermentation by adding grape leaves, oak leaves, a carrot, or a tea bag. We decided to include carrot slices in all the jars, and a tea bag in another.

I prepped for the fermentation by:

  • gently scrubbing the cukes
  • soaking them in an ice-water bath
  • prepping a 5% brine by mixing 3 tbsp. coarse salt in with 1 litre water. We needed just over 2 litres for the 58 cukes that we had to ferment today
  • rinsing the dillweed, and peeling the bulbs of garlic

After the jars were clean, we stuffed them with 5-8 cukes, a few bulbs of garlic, some dillweed sprigs, and a carrot stick. Topped with the brine, and then put the lids on, not too tight. Apparently we’ll be releasing the buildup of CO2 gas over the next little while, as we observe the fermentation activity unfold.

We ended up getting 9 Mason jars loaded with our cucumbers. Let the fermentation begin!

Mobile IT worker kit

working remotely

Working from home over long periods of time isn’t really my jam. As a subscriber to agile methodologies, I figured I would embark on an experiment to see if I could find ways to work out of doors in these challenging times!

Working away from home does have its challenges, so here are some notes I took along the way. Getting through the day may have these considerations:

  • Have a face-mask (or 2) for those times you may be unable to keep your physical distance from others
  • Hand sanitizer – stick a small, highly-portable bottle in your kitbag, for easy access!
  • Find a well-ventilated work-space
    • outdoors is ideal
    • if indoors, then make sure a door is open to the facility (or 2 doors like at some local cafés I have noted elsewhere)
  • What about electrical power
    • Leave home with a full charge in your laptop
    • If possible you may be able to find a plug on a wall somewhere, but this is a challenge!
    • Portable power-bank for USB device charging (like a RAVPower portable charge bank) 
    • Portable power-bank, for battery boosting, construction sites, etc
      • Heavy duty power-bank
      • note that you may need a power-inverter if you don’t get the right sine wave out of a unit like this!
  • Network connectivity
    • Proximity to a WIFI source at a public building (City of Victoria, BC Govt., GVPL), coffee shop, restaurant, etc.
    • consider use of a device like a Rocket Hub, which gives you a monthly subscription to wireless data services
    • Use ShawOpen, if you are a Shaw customer
    • Telus Wifi may be available – though not as ubiquitous as Shaw 
  • Refreshment
    • bring a snack pack, and consider your needs for all-day coffee / tea / kombucha
  • Bathroom 
    • this can be a challenge!
    • many places of business are take-out only, and bathrooms are not available
    • make sure you know where public bathroom facilities are!
  • Screen visibility
    • laptop viewing can be hard out of doors
    • find a position where you can reduce glare on screen
    • an umbrella can help 
  • Clothing
    • I tend to dress in layers, so can layer up or down as needed given the ambient conditions
    • Hat – always pack a hat of some sort, I would say!
  • Seating
    • outdoor patio seating at some establishment to keep you comfy
    • conside a portable camp chair, or some sort of folding chair if you are parked on a sidewalk, as in the photo above
    • a cushion for outdoor use may come in handy

What I did on spring vacation

  • Dates: May 29 – June 7, 2020
  • Location: Victoria, BC
  • Activity: Staycation

Ok, so here is what I have been up to on the last few days off, poking around the house…

Backyard weeding

backyard weeds

The back corner of our lot attracts a lot of growth over the fall and winter. We picked up a lot of buttercup and comfrey this time. I got rid of the buttercup, and kept the comfrey for a soil enhancer, as it aggregates nutrients.

weeds weeds

Check out all the sun streaming down into that section of the yard. This calls for a new project to spin its way up!

Veggie gardening

We lucked into some veggie starts from the good folks at the growing-together project, so sourced some dirt, and threw them into large pots for them to begin their growing season with us!

Raised garden planter bed

Decided to embark on a project to build a raised planter bed for that space in the back corner of the lot. I went onto the YouTubes, and found some great resources to learn from, including:

Oh yah – 4’x10′ and about 2′ tall. Had my neighbour deliver 2 yards of Garden Blend Soil from Victoria Sand & Gravel Mart, and filled the bed. Should be great for growing veggies back there!

Patio refresh

We actually have a nice brick patio somewhere under all the weeds. A couple of seasons (or more?) of grass and weeds have gotten into all the cracks!

I got a trowel and a hoe out to do some scraping, and actually found that the grass was easy to pull off in large sheets. A project that I thought would take several days of effort was actually quite easy! What a reveal!

International Donut Day

Friday, June 5 was the big day, so me and the kids hopped onto bikes, and headed over to Empire Donuts in Cook Street Village to grab a box of donuts. We went back over to Beacon Hill Park to enjoy our bounty under cloudy skies next to the baseball park.

Baking

I tried out a new cinnamon bun recipe authored by the folks down at the Model Bakery in Napa Valley. The dough chilled in the fridge before rolling, proofing, and baking.

The recipe calls for cream cheese icing, but without any cream cheese on hand, and not wanting to try a “quick” dash to the store, we had them plain – they were quite lovely!

Small home demolition

The neighbours are embarking on some property development this season. The demolition of the old cottage took place last week, so that provided some interesting activity to keep an eye on. The cottage itself is squeezed in between our home, and the multiplex next door. The fellow operating the excavator, from Dr. Hoe, used a steady hand to tear down the home over about 6 hours, with no damage to neighbouring properties.

Father’s Day 2019

Father’s Day came and went this past June. I think we were at a swim meet with the kids. I was thinking of my Dad, of course. Although he passed on in 2008, I continue to dream about him frequently. We’re often working at the store together, up in Duncan.

I decided to re-publish one of my favourite blog posts, in my Dad’s honour. It’s called last day at Reggie’s.

a rainy dash to the 5 PM ferry

The family in the minivan left IKEA Richmond well after 4 PM, with flat boxes standing up inside the van, and bungee-corded snugly to the roof racks. Would they make the 5 PM sailing?! Not so, judging by the Hwy 99 backup, that stretched all the way up the ramp and onto Hwy 91 westbound.  Argh!

Hopes for the 5 PM sailing were dimming, and that stout flat box on the roof was getting drenched in rain! What if the packing tape unglued, releasing the (metal!) flat box contents all over the highway?!  Oh the horror!

Luckily our intrepid travelers zig-zagged onto the HOV lane on Hwy 99 southbound, took counterflow through the Massey Tunnel, and bombed under the BC Ferry travel advisory sign on Hwy 17, which menacingly declared “5 PM – POSSIBLE WAIT”.

The driver’s heart was gripped with panic as hydro-planing opportunities presented themselves on the Causeway. What did that road sign say?

Please ignore the posted speed limit if you’re rushing for the ferry!

Weaving around commercial trucks on the way through the final traffic light, the driver’s spirit leapt with joy upon spotting an open lane at the fare booth, inviting travelers to VICTORIA. Without fumbling any of the point-of-sale handoffs, fare payment was completed in record time, and the minivan was directed to LANE 42.

Which is where the agonizing wait began.

Lanes 43 and 44 were already loading the Coastal class vessel! Each of those vehicles appeared to wink back at our hopeful travelers as they confidently drove up the ramp, and onto the waiting vessel.

With the motor still running, the panicking voyagers strained for hope as the upper deck filled to capacity – from their position well back in Lane 42, they could see the car counter tick annoyingly toward the capacity limit for the Coastal Celebration.

There was clearly no reason to Celebrate as several BC Ferry commercial fleet vehicles then dragged 4 large semi-trailers into position to board the vessel. Our travelers watched in horror as the last possible free spaces on the lower deck must have been consumed by 18-wheelers stacking themselves onto the deck.

A proud union worker then walked slowly over to the bottom of the upper car deck ramp and dutifully closed the gate.

Our travelers looked sadly over at the Tsawwassen Quay market, wondering if pizza slices and gelato would soon be in their disappointed grips.

As the clock ticked closer to 5:00 PM, all hope had been drained from our travelers’ well.

Resigned to their 1-sailing wait, our driver reached for the keys, to turn off the ignition – but then noticed a flashing light at the head of Lane 42!!

Could it be!?!? A ferry worker waving their safety lantern to usher a few more cars onto the waiting vessel! 1 car, 2 cars, 3 cars, 4 more cars, and the lane kept moving….the lantern kept waving…..the minivan slowly accelerated, and confidently mounted the speed humps on the way down Lane 42, getting ever closer to the ultimate coastal glory – becoming the LAST CAR to board a waiting ferry!

On this rainy evening, all vehicles waiting in Lane 42 were invited aboard the vessel, to enjoy the many services aboard!

On deck 6, the Coastal Cafe lineup would soon include our relieved ferry travelers!

And back down on deck 2, a very wet box would receive respite from the rain, during the 95 minute voyage to Swartz Bay.

Daddy, what am I worth ?

My 9 yo old son has just woken up, and comes downstairs to greet me as I am getting ready for work.

Son: “Daddy, what am I worth?”

Daddy has also just awoken, so isn’t as sharp as might be needed.

Me: “What do you mean, boyo?”

Son: “Well, I heard that Bill Gates is worth something like a billion billions dollars, and so I want to know what I am worth?”

Daddy responds quickly, and buys time to think of a better answer than this…

Me: “Well boyo, Bill Gates was in a software company that wound up selling billions of dollars of software over like 30 years all over the world, and became very wealthy.”

Son: “Ok Daddy, so what am I worth.”

The pressure continues.  Daddy knows that this is the moment.  A moment.  A potential turning point in the outlook of a youngster.  He is the son.  I am the father.  He wants to know.

As quick as I could think, this is all I could come up with in that moment :

Me: “Boyo, you are priceless.”

I felt weak, but hopeful for this effort.

Son : “Oh, NOW I see how it is all coming together!”

And we both laughed.

I am not sure what he concluded.

now we can upload!

Ok,I have been tweaking the file upload settings on the WPMU network here.  I grabbed this Pokemon to upload just so I could  show myself that the settings have been changed!

Yah, wow – and now with this WordPress editor being so darn modern, you can even use the WYSIWYG editor tools to align the post text with the image!

In this case, the “Align left” option was selected to put the image to the left of the text I had inserted into this post.  Wow.  I am so impressed!  Back in the day, you had to remember all the markup and styles to align the text properly.  Anybody  here remember blogging with Greymatter or Nucleus ?

WHOO!