Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day! We're celebrating with socks.

It would appear that we're only capable of updating this blog of ours every six months or so. *Sigh* Sorry about that. As usual, we'll toss out the regular blah-blah of making ever effort to update on a more regular basis, regardless of the fact that after a full day's worth of staring at a computer screen, it's really difficult to be enthusiastic about doing in the evening as well. 

Our last update was in August, when the weather was cool and rainy and our plants were dying horrible deaths. Fast forward to today, Valentine's Day 2015 (many happies, all!) and we're under a few feet of snow, it was -38C overnight, and hungry forest animals are hanging out on our porch asking for handouts. Up until now they've been quite polite, but we're a bit nervous that one of them might shank us if we're late with their morning sunflower seeds. There's a rather ferocious-looking ermine living under the porch who'd undoubtedly gnaw our hands off to teach us a lesson.

This is the third winter we've spent out here, and if there's one thing we've learned, it's that winter in rural Quebec = time to slow down and stay warm. Sure, our perky in-laws go cross-country skiing when it's -10000 outside, but not wanting to maim ourselves any more than we have in the past, we turn our energies inward and get creative. Writing, graphic design, sewing, catching up on reading, and in my case, knitting socks.

Nathaniel modelling socks that I'd knit for him.
Well, technically knitting time really happens all year round, but as soon as the temperature drops below 0 C at night and we'll freeze our asses off if we don't set fires in the woodstove by 7 pm, my sock-knitting needles come out. I'm of the belief that one can never have too many pairs of warm socks, especially out here in Quebec-land where it's chilly for eight months out of the year, and I've learned from experience that the state of one's feet can make or break an excursion. Have you noticed that when your feet are cold and wet, your entire body feels gross? We once made the mistake of trudging for several kilometers in the pouring rain without proper footwear, and my feet were cold and clammy within five minutes of leaving the house. I sank into abject misery a few minutes after that, and the next three hours were absolute torture, as each step was a squishy, sorry, horrible feeling.

Some have asked me why I bother to knit socks when I could just as easily buy them at the store for less than the cost of the yarn I use... but those folks have undoubtedly never worn a pair that have been custom-made for their own feet, which hug close to the foot and ankle instead of causing any weird bends, and are far more durable than the two-dollar pairs you can grab in the impulse aisle of any given clothing store.
I knit custom socks for my husband because he's 100,000 shades of wonderful, and enjoys trudging for miles in the snow and cold to buy me fruit in the depth of winter. The least I can do is fuss over him by keeping his hooves warm and snuggly.

We're rather mired in a number of design and writing projects at the moment, but we will make a concerted effort to update more regularly, we promise. In the meantime, here's a video of our sweet dove doing her best impression of a pot pie:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

It's a Cool, Cool Summer

So, we've been busy. I realise that we haven't updated this blog since January, and I apologise sincerely for that. Work has a nasty tendency to weasel in and take precedence over fun things (like blogging), and between working on commissioned projects, editing, and tending the house/garden, we're left with little time to take pictures and frolic about in Internet-land.

I suppose it goes without saying that a great deal has happened around here since our last update. After one of the longest winters on record, the snow finally melted in mid May, and the soil outside was warm enough to accept seeds and seedlings in mid June. It had been suggested to us that this would be a cold, wet summer, so we should plant according to that forecast... and I'm delighted that we actually heeded that advice: nights have been cold enough that our Mediterranean plants have failed to thrive, but the hardy greens we tucked into raised garden beds have made it through with flying colours. It actually dropped below 9C a few times over the last few weeks (AUGtober?), so we're lucky that the tomato plants didn't just die outright... but they're really not producing much, nor are they ripening in the pallid sunshine they get in between deluges.

Veteran gardeners say that there's no such thing as a mistake when it comes to gardening, but that every season brings a learning opportunity. Well, since this was our first true growing season out here, we certainly did learn a lot. For example: it would appear that brassicas thrive in our climate, especially in the south-facing, sunny side lot where we've planted them, but if we'd like to be able to eat anything next year, we had better cover the brassica beds with netting so the cabbage butterflies don't get to them before we do. We lost nearly all of our kale plants and half of our Brussels sprouts to caterpillars, so there's a lesson learned.

We've also learned a tremendous amount about the results of companion planting, such as the fact that planting broccoli next to radishes will result in radish-flavoured broccoli (not my favourite thing in the world), and that inundating tomato plants with basil = pre-flavoured tomatoes, which are really quite fabulous. Live and learn, right?

Fortunately, the sandy, acidic soil we have at one end of the property is ideal for berry bushes, so we've had big handfuls of blueberries and raspberries pretty much every day. We're aiming to put a few more bushes in before autumn rolls around (probably a few more blueberry bushes, as well as some blackberries), but we'll wait until next spring to put in the others. We'll be planting about four different species in that particular area and scattering others around the property—mostly around. Ultimately, we have several different perennial berry bushes in mind:
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries (golden, red, and black)
  • Currants (both red and white)
  • Gooseberries
  • Haskap
  • Saskatoon Berries
  • Honeyberries
  • Lingonberries 
  • Jostaberries

We might even try planting a few cranberry bushes in the boggy area at the foot of our property, but we shall see.

Since berry bushes are perennial, we really only have to put a couple of seasons' worth of work into planting these babies and they'll keep spreading and producing forever, so we're aiming for the hardiest species that are best suited to our chilly, forested climate. Perennial food plants of all kinds are ideal, really. So far, we've only planted a few perennial vegetables (Good King Henry, purslane, and chervil), but we'll be expanding that significantly over the next few years.

Having land that slopes so sharply is a bit of a challenge, but we're lucky enough to have some great, sunny, south-facing areas that are pretty much ideal for fruit tree guilds. We're looking for hardy apple tree species at the moment, and hope to cultivate guilds around them with hazelnut bushes, some of those berry species mentioned above, and a few pungent herbs and alliums around the drip line to keep deer and rabbits at bay. Taking advantage of our forested land will also be a lot of fun: there are some huge fallen logs that are just asking to be inoculated with edible mushroom spores, and although stinging nettles are tricky (and occasionally painful) to harvest, these perennials are delicious when cooked. I'm serious! If you can get your hands on some, try them as a substitute for spinach in spanakopita, or in soup.

I didn't get a chance to plant my medicinal herb patch this year, so I'm putting together a hugelkultur mound that'll be ready to plant in next spring. Sure, we already have herbs like yarrow, red clover, mullein, and coltsfoot growing on the property, and I'll be interspersing medicinals in among the other grow beds, but having one dedicated patch where I can grow annual healing herbs will be fantastic... especially since I'll be doing correspondence herbalism courses over the winter (yay!). I've been a lay herbalist for the last twenty years or so, but having solid education in the subject and having an entire forest full of healing plants is something I'm seriously looking forward to.
In the meantime, I've harvested those aforementioned herbs from around our land and have been busy preparing them for teas, tinctures, lozenges, and salves to be used over the coming months: I'll be sharing those recipes soon.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Domesticity and Dispatches

I am continually amazed by how much knowledge has been lost within the past generation or two. If you were to ask the people around them if they knew how to bake a loaf of bread from scratch, darn a sock, make soup stock, or hand-sew a straight seam, chances are that only a scant few will know what you're talking about, and even fewer will be able to do these things themselves.  In this era, bread and socks both come from stores, stock comes in cubes, and why on earth would you ever need to know how to sew anything when you can just buy it?

My close circle of friends may be an exception to this general mindset, as many are either SCAdians or those who cherish self-sufficiency and simple living, but I also have extended family members and general acquaintances who wouldn't know how to prepare a meal that didn't come out of a can, and would have to run to mom in order to have a button sewn back onto a shirt.

Sometimes I wonder what might happen if modern conveniences were suddenly stripped away because of some natural disaster or somesuch.  Take a look at a few things that are sitting around you right now. Is there a bottle of hand cream nearby? Maybe a tube of lip balm? Would you know how to make those from household materials if you needed to?
If your pen wore out, would you know how to use a quill and ink? (Do you even know how to use a pen anymore, now that everyone types their correspondences?) What about cough syrup? 

If you've seen our "Dispatch Ontario" children's activity book series, you've probably noticed that it has a noticeable Victorian lean, and has both recipes and crafts for young folks. When we created them, we were influenced rather strongly by the New Dominion Monthly magazines that were published in Montreal during the later 1800s, and the activities and such that we learned about as we read those magazines certainly inspired and influenced our life out here in rural Quebec: we've begun to work the land to grow our own food, and we cook and bake (nearly) everything from scratch. 

Back in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, most people made the majority of their household products themselves, with the exception of a few luxury items like soap or perfume that may have been purchased from a shop. "Housekeeping" books were quite popular, and included everything from perfume recipes to gardening tips, and had entire sections on what skills to teach children at which age.

I spin yarn, knit/crochet, sew, and mend our clothes, and my newfound love of canning is nothing shy of obsessive. Just a scant 100 years ago, the average person would have known all kinds of skills like these, and it's sad to think that many of them might be lost merely because modern convenience has taken precedence over homemade craft.

Interestingly enough, these skills would have come in amazingly handy when we were younger, and we like to hope that some of the crafts and recipes we share with our young readers might pique their curiosity as far as self-sufficiency and such are concerned.

On that very note, we've been asked by a few people if there will be more volumes in the series, and we'd like to reassure you that yes—we are working on new material that we hope to release in 2014. 
Our move to Quebec (and an assortment of projects) have kept us busy for quite a while, but we've missed the Ani.Mals, fae folk, and such that we got to know while creating these books, so stay tuned for their re-emergence in releases that will now under the umbrella of Dispatch Canada.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Appreciation of Bygone Eras

Although it isn't officially wintertime yet, being a week and a half away from the solstice, the sub-zero temperatures and generous snowfalls have created quite the glittering wonderland around our home. We've had the opportunity to plough/shovel snow several times now, and it's fun to see the tracks that different creatures have left through the powdery stuff. Deer have been visiting the feeder up on the hill, and we've discovered fox, rabbit, squirrel, and raven tracks around the property. Our bird feeders have been little social hubs as well: it's not uncommon to see an entire flock of chickadees fighting for space around them, with raucous blue jays waiting on the patio beneath, waiting for seeds to tumble down to them.

There is such a glorious magic to this place; one that I don't think I truly appreciated last year when we were living by the lake. Granted, there was a fierce beauty to behold there—especially after the water froze, capturing luminous green waves in mid-fall—but spending a winter in the forest is an entirely different experience. The stillness here is nearly mind-boggling, and although we head into town once a week or so to check the post and buy a few groceries, we often go for days without seeing or speaking to any other human beings. I can imagine that many people find that isolating, but I find it more serene and soothing to the soul than I could ever express.

I actually prefer this type of isolation, but recent experiences have really made me consider what Nathaniel's ancestors must have experienced, living out here in the wild. His family settled here over four hundred years ago, and both sides of his family has several generations' worth of folks who have lived upon and loved this land. Even with all of our modern tools and equipment, it isn't "easy" living here in wintertime: wood has to be cut and stacked, fingers freeze and shiver if kindling won't catch quickly enough, and fierce storms can knock the power out.

When it comes to acquiring food, that's another story entirely. Sure, we have a months' worth of canned tomatoes, beets, and carrots, but we didn't get to can as much as I'd have liked last summer, and the few herbs and leafy greens that I've managed to sprout in the pallid light that seeps in through the window are anaemic at best. On our walk to the grocery store today, we discussed the possibility of MacGuyvering a hydroponic bay in the basement so we can have fresh produce in wintertime.

Speaking of grocery shopping, that's the hilarious topic that brought to mind the idea of bygone eras and ancestral hardships. Having grown up in Toronto, I often had groceries delivered to the door as soon as ice appeared on the roads, or else I'd take a quick walk to the corner store run by a lovely Vietnamese lady to buy any number of fresh vegetables for next to nothing. Out here, a head of broccoli can run as high as five dollars in wintertime, and don't even think about a luxury item like an avocado or an orange. The cost of food is unbelievable, and the only supermarket in town is two kilometres from our house. Walking (or biking) that distance is certainly keeping us in shape, but since the dirt road leading to our home is barely ploughed during this season, we get to walk through the snow to get to our destination.

Much like N's ancestors would have done.

I've read stories about the people who settled this wild land, and the journeys they would take to pick up essential supplies from the closest town. Some would snowshoe for ten km or more just to pick up a bit of tea, sugar, flour, and such, or families would band together and take a horse-drawn sleigh to town for their shopping. A village such as ours would likely have had a general store and a counter (or even a small shop) where people could receive their orders from the Hudson's Bay Company, but every outing to the town centre would have been quite the undertaking.

It was -8C (-2C in the sunshine) when we headed out today, bundled as we were in multiple layers of clothing. I had tights under yoga pants, topped with waterproof ski pants, and 3 shirts (cotton, cotton/silk, and wool) beneath my coat, while Sir N had thermal longjohns under his ski pants. Since the road nearby is basically a treacherous ice slick covered with powdery fluff, we chose to take a path through the woods instead... and what an adventure that turned out to be. As we trudged through knee-high snow, flanked by spruce, cedar, and bare-limbed birch trees, I think I mentioned to Nathaniel that it was like walking through Narnia; I half-expected a little scarved faun to peek around the corner and offer me some crumpets, but then again, this is Quebec—he'd probably swear at me in Joual good-naturedly and then offer me a sip of his bière.

The woods were quite silent as we walked, and the journey had a nearly meditative quality: we both tend to get inspired while walking, and all manner of thoughts and ideas percolated in our minds as we stomped and slid our way to the store. There's something so invigorating about marching through snowdrifts, and at some points we followed deer tracks en route to our destination. We picked up just enough that we could carry comfortably, and headed back the way we came, stepping in our own tracks for ease of walking.

I must say, one develops a startling appreciation for the little things when one has to battle the elements to attain them. The cup of coffee I'm sipping right now is absolute ambrosia, and I'm certainly looking forward to nibbling overpriced lettuce for supper tonight. Our ancestors wouldn't have been able to enjoy fresh vegetables until the first fiddleheads and sorrel leaves appeared in April/May; they would have subsisted mostly on root vegetable soups/stews, hard biscuits, and a bit of cured meat/pickled items they'd have put by in the autumn. I'm so immensely grateful for these small luxuries, which I haven't truly appreciated until now—it's incredible what we'll take for granted until they're not immediately available, and the horrendously unladylike manner in which I slid down the hill and crawled across my porch today ensures that I'll never take any morsel for granted ever again.

Here's to respecting our ancestors' resilience and strength, and to woodland adventures. I may have to cook something on the wood stove soon in honour of those who have come before, and made homes/lives for themselves in this gorgeous, untamed land.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Beginnings.

If I thought that the last post we made here was embarrassingly late, this one deserves a hearty apology and a batch of home-baked cookies. It's been over seven months since our last update, and although a lot has happened in that time, we could have at least made an attempt to post a note here and there.
I'm sorry, truly.
Now that the dust has settled and we're nesting in for the winter, we can devote a bit more time to burbling about what's been happening with us.

As mentioned above, a lot has occurred over the last several months, not least of which was moving into our own home here in the wild woods. Yes, for the first time in our lives, we have a house all to ourselves, and a nice swatch of land that we can cultivate into garden spaces. This has been a dream of ours for quite some time, and it still doesn't feel completely "real" yet. My guess is that it'll take some time for everything to really sink in; right now, it's still very fresh and exciting, but every so often we'll turn to one another and ask whether we are , in fact, actually here, or whether we'll wake up from this. It's beautiful and overwhelming at turns, but in the loveliest way possible.

Although we've been in our new home for a few months now, we've only begun to scratch the surface as far as decor is concerned. We have a general aesthetic in mind for the house, but it'll take some time to amass the bits of furniture, artwork, and other accoutrements that will make our house truly "home". The building has only stood for about thirty years, so we'll be adding bits outside to give it a more Victorian/Edwardian feel, and the interior decor is a combination of that era's influence, and a reflection of our woodland locale.

At the very least, we've painted over the hues chosen by the previous owner, as they were eye-searing beyond measure. Who paints a kitchen terracotta and yellow? Honestly.
The hues we've chosen for the house have been drawn from the forest around us: river stones, tree bark, moss, lichen, sky, stream, wildflower. The kitchen is white and blue, while the living room is white, grey, and mossy green. Our bedroom is all shades of stone and bark, while N's studio is a manly, woodsy place—iron, wood, loam. My studio is an airy aerie in white, aqua, pale pink, and light grey, and the garden outdoors... well, those will have personalities all their own.

We spent the summer sanding, painting, and fixing things, and the winter will be a time for nesting and planning: those gardens will require a lot of work, and between establishing food-bearing trees, creating raised permaculture beds for perennial vegetables, and scattering local wildflower seeds, we'll certainly be kept busy! For now, let's just hope that the windowsill herb garden grows in the weak winter light, and that the deer will return to visit us over the cold half of the year.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March's Great and Terrible Beauty.

Spring is approaching.
The last few months have graced us with some of the most beautiful, startling weather I've ever experienced, and if I hadn't fallen in love with rural Quebec before, I certainly have now. There is a perfect, sacred stillness to be found when it's -30C and all is still in the woods. Snow glitters like diamond dust where it clings to cedar and spruce, and even the most hardy animals nestle into their burrows to keep warm on nights so cold, the stars themselves threaten to crack. We saw the green tendrils of Aurora borealis thread and dance across the sky, watched deer pick their way across the frozen lake, and befriended the little red squirrel that lives in the tree behind our house. Now that the snow has begun to melt and days are growing warmer, we're seeing another face of this wild and fierce land.

Photo by John B.

There is no denying that nature is beautiful beyond words, but all that imagery of a gentle, loving, kind Mother Nature/Gaia figure is seriously lacking in honesty. Yes, there is extraordinary beauty in the feathers of a bird's wing; in spring flowers, and baby rabbits, and the way that sunlight dapples lake water... but there is also so much suffering and violence. As I remarked to a friend earlier, " I have heard rabbits scream as hawks tore them from their burrows, and seen fish go through their death throes while being pecked apart by herons." If ever there was awareness of the brutality that exists in nature, it's at this time of year. Winter's stores have been depleted, and spring's new life has yet to burst forth from either earth or womb. A dead deer was found in my mother-in-law's yard up the hill, and within a day, the carcass had disappeared; drawn into the woods and picked clean by every hungry being in the area. Coyotes have been venturing closer and closer, their yips echoing through the woods as they search for food, and though the little red squirrel that lives in our cedar is plump from all the peanut butter sandwiches we made for it this winter, its cousins are looking significantly more haggard and bony.

Lac Simon's ice is receding, and there's a weasel sifting through the debris on the shore. I think I saw him pick up a mussel shell, so hopefully he's found some nourishment on this grey, rainy day. The official first day of spring is in 9 days, and though the landscape is unlikely to explode into verdant fields overnight, I like to hope that this season of rebirth, growth, and renewal will be kind to the many beings with whom we share this land.

Photo by Jim Nix

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Wow, it's been a while since we updated... like, a full year! Sorry about that! Things have been a bit crazy in our world, and we're still in the midst of getting settled... but the bottom line is that we've taken a leap of faith and decided to move from our flat in the core of downtown Toronto to a little cottage in the woods of rural Quebec. How awesome is that?

Though we've kept the "33 Leagues" aspect of our blog, we've changed the subtitle to "33 Leagues from Mont Royal", with a slightly different spin on things: though we're still locavore enthusiasts, we're aiming to focus on all things related to the region of Quebec we're now living in, from its history and early days to its local culture. We're actually 33 leagues (just over 100 miles) from Montreal (the oldest port in Canada), and we'll certainly be focusing a great deal on all of the amazing things available to us around here.

We've been observing the land to determine what to plant where for our permaculture garden next spring, and we'll be wildcrafting the wooded areas around our place for all manner of forest plants. Though we have a plethora of local herbs to cultivate and harvest (cohosh! yarrow! red clover! burdock! milk thistle! mullein!), we'll also be planting some other medicinal herbs of our own and are considering inoculating some fallen hardwood logs with oyster mushroom spores. *glee*

Leaving the city has been a dream of ours for quite some time, and though we're a bit nervous about taking such a leap, we're looking forward to the change of pace. The tips and tricks we've learned in the city will certainly be of use in the countryside, and with all the organic produce available locally, you can bet we'll be canning and preserving our little hearts out! We also have a bunch of projects on the go for the winter months:
  • learning how to make cheese
  • making mead/metheglin and cider
  • more sewing and knitting projects (those are likely just mine)
  • making more tinctures, salves, etc.

It's certainly the time of year for nesting and prepping for things to keep us busy during the colder half of the year, and you can be certain that we'll both keep busy and creative for months to come.

Living in the country allows for a far greater attunement to the subtle shifts in seasonal weather than in the city. Sure, when we lived in downtown Toronto we were able to enjoy the changing leaves and crisp breeze that autumn brings, but the little shifts that are visible each day here by the lake are really noticeable. Squirrels and chipmunks have been scurrying around rather frantically, their cheeks packed with seeds and nuts, and flocks of geese have been flying by in their classic V formation, honking all the while. We even saw a moose swim across the lake! Amazing. Evenings are getting chillier, and the wonderful scent of woodsmoke has been wafting over to us from people's hearths around the bay.

Needless to say, the food we've been eating has taken on a more autumnal note, with warm meals now becoming daily indulgences in place of the salads and sandwiches we enjoyed during the summer months.

In addition to immersing myself in the local dialect (which I seem to be picking up far more quickly than I'd expected), we've also been doing a fair bit of research on the area's history, culture, and of course, traditional food. Though I spent a great deal of my childhood living in Montreal, we didn't eat much in the way of French Canadian cuisine, as my parents chose to stick to the Northern Euro dishes they were familiar with. Nathaniel was fortunate enough to have spent a great deal of time with his French-Canadian grandmother, who spoiled him rotten with all manner of traditional foods. (Did I mention she's an amazing cook?)

Montreal is also a rather cosmopolitan city, and though there's plenty of Quebecois fare to be enjoyed around town, one can get anything from a falafel to a bowl of chana masala in the downtown core... not to mention a bagel slathered in cream cheese with capers and smoked salmon. Sigh. I wonder if there are any decent gluten-free bagels to be found in that city?

Enough about Montreal's multicultural snacks, then: we're out in the bush. Having passed the ruins of homesteads that must have been built 200 years ago (or more), I find myself wondering about the people who settled and cultivated this land. Who were they? What were their dreams like? What did they do to keep themselves occupied over the long winter months? Quebec really does have an intricate, gorgeous history, and I have nothing but admiration for the hardy folk who settled here and not only survived, but thrived, and sowed the seeds of a culture that has thrived and grown over the centuries.

Naturally, in contemplating the previous inhabitants of this land, I'm inclined to wonder about the foods they ate. I've had the opportunity to try out some fantastic local dishes as prepared by Nathaniel's parents, aunts, and grandmother, but there's so much more to delve into. I’ve always been a fan of the hearty soups and stews of the region such as the traditional Habitant-style pea soup and ragoût de boulettes, but I'm also learning about all kinds of dishes I'd never even heard of before. With the food restrictions in our family—Celiac disease and allergies for me, while N is a vegetarian—I’ll be tweaking and experimenting to make versions of regional fare that we can both enjoy, while trying to stay as true to their roots as possible. We’re fortunate enough to live just down the road from N’s parents, so I’ll be able to test these recipes out on the locals, so to speak: considering that N’s paternal line has been here since the early 1500s, I’d say that they’re fairly qualified as taste-testers.

Being huge proponents of locavore eating, Nathaniel and I are hoping to use locally-produced ingredients as often as possible, so in addition to buying produce, eggs, and dairy from local farmers, we’ll be harvesting some edibles from the wild spaces around us. Seeing as how the early settlers here would have incorporated many native foods into their diet, we hope to follow in their footsteps and try to do the same, being as self-sufficient as possible while treating our food sources with respect and appreciation. I'm looking forward to using ingredients like burdock, garlic mustard, and items used in First Nations cuisine like local wild rice, squash, and assorted berries.

While writing this, I've been delving into some great Quebecois recipes, and am compiling a list of those I'd like to try out first. Since we're edging into autumn and there are so many wonderful apple varieties around, I might try my hand at the wonder that is the apple dumpling. My mother-in-law and her mum (yay Nanny!) made them a few weekends ago and I just fell in love with them, so I'm going to try my own hand at making them as well. I think it goes without saying that theirs will come out on top, but I'm sure mine will be a tasty mess in their own rights! Gooey, sticky, gluten-free messy piles of deliciousness, damn it. I'm happy that items from the farms and orchards nearby are carried by the village grocery store (as well as on roadside stands!), so I'll likely pick up some sharp cheddar along with the apples I'll need the next time Sir N and I are out shopping to use in my dumpling experiment.

Stay tuned: a recipe and pictures of my apple mess will be forthcoming shortly.

Love and light.