Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What to do on a rainy, cold Rememberance Day Holiday

2nd Poppy of 2010 . . . I always lose at least one.
Tomorrow is Rememberance day in Canada, and with its sombre and retrospective tone generally comes cold, wet rain. The forecast for this year's cenotaph ceremonies, wreath-layings and parades on the South Coast is the usual one (if you suffer from Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder, might I suggest tuning into the CBC's coverage of the Parliament Hill ceremonies? It's usually clear skies, sunny and cold in Ottawa).

I'm not going to go all soppy and start reminding everyone why we must NEVER FORGET, ever ever ever - but I will say that history repeats itself and let's be sure that while we have breath in our bodies we preach and practice peace (what good was their sacrifice if we conveniently forget it a few decades later?).

Valle d'Aosta Cabbage Soup (Moosewood New Classics). Incredibly good!
Anyway, it's still Soup Season in my little apartment, and I've rattled off a few more (tonight was Creamy Chestnut Soup - I was so hungry to eat it I forgot to photograph it). Also made tonight (for lunches) was Basque White Bean Soup (pictured further down the post), which was very economical and super healthy. Still loving the full-fat, cheesy, baked Valle d'Aosta soup the best, though. Who knew a cabbage soup could taste so good?! I guess butter, baguette and 2 cups of Fontina cheese will do that.

Valle d'Aosta again - so rich, this bowl made me feel utterly stuffed.

Making soup is a very relaxing and constructive way to spend a fall evening, or a soggy, cold Rememberance Day. I find I actually reflect more on the 'hard times' that our predecessors must have faced during both rationing and The Depression when I'm chopping up cabbage, squash and other veggies and trying to use every useful part of them. (Bet they didn't have saffron in their soups back in those days, like in the Basque White Bean one I made tonight. Ah well, it's not meant to be war-era authentic anyway).

Basque White Bean Soup (Moosewood Low-Fat Favourites)
In the times of rationing, much of the fresh food and grain went to supporting the troops, leaving the wives, children and elderly scraping by. Food production also declined, no doubt when most of the able-bodied young men left the farms for the frontlines.

Hence, the Victory Garden. Growing food in your own front yard was strongly encouraged by many governments worried about a growing food shortage. Female farm labourers in the Women's Land Army of the United Kingdom filled in for the shortage of strong young men working the field. There's some great propaganda posters of this in the Wikipedia article (see link) and elsewhere online.

I love my "Victory Gardens of Tomorrow" poster by Joeseppi!

Something else to do on a rainy, indoor-day: Watch a video from the American Department of Agriculture showing how to grow a Victory Garden in Northern Maryland. Slightly creepy (totally different style of media back then) and colourized after the fact, no doubt. It's hard to imagine having that much spare land! But despite all the differences, it's neat to see how gardening is so timeless. I've never gardened with a horse and plough, however. And the pesticide usage is, frankly, frightening. Calcium arsenic? Yeah, don't be spraying that stuff on your food! (I guess "Companion Planting" was a foreign concept to people in the New World at that time...?).

Victory Garden Instructional Video from Internet Archive:

Also, they sure had a LOT of pest and fungal problems! Crop rotation and container gardening would definitely help! Don't let this old video put you off vegetable growing - it's really not that hard! My lettuce mixes are happily growing on the balcony - so are my onions, carrots and 'oriental greens'. The beets aren't looking so hot, but I did start them late (from old seed, too).

As the video suggests, home canning of fresh food for storage isn't a bad idea (and another nice thing to do on a cold November day). I can't think of a better Christmas gift to be on the receiving end of than a homemade jar of jam or preserves! I mentioned this before in my Frugal Yule post, but I haven't had a chance to start on it yet. I'll probably just end up using the lovely little jars for giving rum butter (can't go wrong with that!).
You can buy all the basics for cheap at Canadian Tire

So that's my recommendation for Rememberance Day 2010 in Vancouver - remember and reflect with a moment of silence (either in person or at home) at 11:00am, then make soup, watch and learn about Victory Gardens, and consider starting (or planning for) home-canned foods for Christmas gifts.

In my next post: an exciting new Christmastime tradition begins downtown on November 24th...!

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