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naramata-blend

Life in a slow place that quickly steals your heart.

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British Columbia

Leaf off already

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Orchard

 

Still banging on about the fall colours. Can’t help myself this year. A few more photos from a walk today in the Village.

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Shut the front door! Guessing they painted the door of this Village home in the fall.
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Heritage Inn and flaming friend.
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Manitou Park looking lonely but pretty.
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Naramata’s only sidewalk.
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Lion’s Head Japanese Maple.

Naramata Falls

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It is possible to take landscape photos in the Okanagan that don’t include the lake. Yesterday’s fall walk with friends to the dramatic canyon that created Naramata Falls is in my hood. The first time we discovered the falls it was like an unbelievable scenic bonus. Our raspberry farm borders one of the numerous creeks (Arawana) that spills water into the lake but this much larger one has carved an impressive canyon that doesn’t get much sunlight and is home to mosses and other flora that stand apart from much of the Okanagan’s desert-like environment. It smells all damp, mouldy and piney and the rushing water is audible long before its visible.

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Working without a net here (tripod), I did my best to brace myself and hold my breath to capture the falls with a long shutter opening, hence the blurry leaves.
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I used a rock as a tripod in this shot.
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I love this interesting angle.

 

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It would have taken a lot of years of rushing water to carve this canyon wall.
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The canyon, just above the Trans Canada Trail or Kettle Valley Rail trail, is a cool place for a summer hike on a hot day. 
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Thanks guys for your patience as I lagged behind taking photos.

Enjoying capturing this long autumn long kiss goodbye this year.

The long gleaming farewell

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Old vines with the Naramata Bench in the background

We are into borrowed time now in our gilded season. The low, slanting light that is wonderful for photography and that fleeting feeling, knowing the blue skies and gold light will too quickly fade to our long season of gray are getting me outside every chance I get.

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The light: thick, plush, gold is not something we are imagining. The position of the sun in the sky is changing. That, in turn, alters how we perceive colour and light. In the height of summer, the sun is as far overhead as it gets. But the sun drops and drops after the summer solstice in June — and the change speeds up at the midpoint toward winter, which is the light I’m capturing in these photos.

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This special golden light is also great for photographing people bathing everyone in a warm glow.

The farther from the equator, the more obliquely the sun’s light strikes Earth — that’s the longer, slanted light we are bathed in now, instead of the full-on beams we bask in at high summer.

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Such a great name for the winery where these shots were taken…Blue Mountain… yup.

Winter is coming but not first without this gleaming farewell.This year’s fall colour has been supreme. No hard frosts or strong winds to crash the party early so nature can do its thing and linger in all its golden glory.

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The view from Blue Rock on North Naramata Road yesterday.
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Still nice enough for a sail on Okanagan Lake.

Orange is the new green – The $100 view

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Okanagan Lake banded with orange for a few more days before the stark beauty of winter takes over.
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Atop Munson Mountain in Penticton is a good spot to be benched although they present a Goldilocks dilemma.
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The 360-degree views from the mountain offer a view of ordered orchards and vineyards with a peak at Skaha Lake in the distance. 
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Looking toward Penticton and my favourite swimming beach.
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The park sits right above Penticton’s landmark giant letters first created in 1937 to put the town on the map. The sign has been maintained by volunteers ever since.
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One hundred dollar view – literally – The view from atop Munson was featured on Canadian $100 bills from 1954 to 1974. 
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Aside from the striking views, native vegetation makes this a special place with its spicy sage smells.
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I’m lichen this rock close-up.
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In the distance is the road to Naramata that is a beautiful drive home no matter the season.

The Holy Grail of ginger cookie recipes

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Literally dozens of ginger cookie recipes carefully filed away are now in the recycling. I have found it. Best-ever ginger cookies that more than live up to their name.

The ultimate in fall comfort cookies, the humble ginger cookie, can get no better than these. The recipe is from my new favourite local cookbook called The Butcher, the Baker, the Wine & Cheese Maker in the Okanagan and it’s genius creator is the Bean Scene Coffee Works in Kelowna.

It’s hard to pin down what makes this recipe so good. I think it’s the combination of the spices and of course, butter.

IMG_9186.JPGIngredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp good quality cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup white sugar + 1/2 cup for rolling cookies
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fancy molasses
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Fit for a king

Preheat oven to 375F. Whisk the flour, baking soda and spices in a medium bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar and 1/3 cup of white sugar together on high speed, until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue mixing on a lower speed until blended. Add molasses and mix again for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry mixture, mixing on low speed until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.

Roll dough into 1 tablespoon-sized balls and drop onto a plate containing 1/2 cup of white sugar. Roll cookies in sugar and press lightly to form a disk, making sure to coat both sides. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart. Bake one cookie sheet a time on the middle rack for 11 minutes. The cookies should come out of the oven with the traditional crackle appearance and looking slightly under-baked.

IMG_2503.JPGBest eaten warm with a lovely cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

I’m not kidding about these being the ginger cookies I’ve ever baked although I fully admit I’m prone to exaggeration. I love it when you can bake the best of the best of simple, traditional recipes… like the shortbread cookies I made yesterday which were elevated into another realm with the addition of fresh vanilla bean (French Laundry recipe).

Nothing better than a great air show

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Canada’s Snowbirds in action in Penticton

I love a good air show and the Snowbirds never disappoint. With the squadron’s (431 Iroquois) origins in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War I also have a sentimental attachment…my dad was a navigator in the 433 Squadron.

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The Snowbirds are made up of 11 CT-114 Tutors.

Munson Mountain is the perfect vantage point for a Snowbirds’ show. You get the full sound of the jets and at times you feel as if your hair gets ruffled they pass so low overhead.

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The grey skies provided the perfect backdrop for photos with smoke.

When performing their 9-abreast exit the wing tips are only 5.9 feet apart.

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The Snowbirds got their name by way of an elementary school contest in the 70s.

The heart, Canada burst, solo head-on crosses and all their highly choreographed moves are amazing, difficult and there is definitely an element of danger. Seven Snowbird pilots and one passenger have been killed over the years.

The first story I heard when I moved from Ontario for my second newspaper job as a reporter to Grande Prairie, Alberta involved a Snowbird crash. The Grande Prairie Herald’s long-time photographer had been assigned to shoot the airshow in 1978. He had gone to the show, snapped some photos and left to fulfill a family commitment. He left before 32-year-old Captain Gordon deJong’s plane crashed. This was in the days before cell phones and cameras so there were few photos of the dreadful event to fulfill the needs of hungry news outlets. For the best I think… His plane’s horizontal stabilizer failed meaning he had no control and his attempt to eject failed. Said photographer stayed right to the end of events ever after.

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The Tutor lights added to the impact light up against the gloomy skies.

The military aerobatics air show flight demonstration team is based near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and comes to Penticton every couple of years. Can’t wait.

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During the dramatic solo head-on crosses, the jets are 33 feet apart.

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Bird’s eye look at Carpe Diem berry farm

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This is my hood for context. Preserved Light is an amazing photography company.

This is a part of our farm in our first year of production with some blueberry picking happening. Can’t wait until next year when our crop should triple. Thank you to our lovely customers at Legend Distilling where our raspberries are happily at home in their Farm Berry Vodka, Nummer’s Gourmet, where they are baked into nummy treats and the Bench Market that sold them fresh or incorporated in their fruit salads.

Harvest portraits

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The Okanagan Valley is giving up the last of its bounty in one giant explosion of colour before the grey and white of winter moves in. Most of these photos were captured on the weekend at the Penticton Farmer’s Market or while helping with the grape harvest. Colour wheel!

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Concentrated appleness and soul-soothing aromatic cinnamon, cloves and vanilla bean…What is this sorcery? Apple butter and my new mission to make the lost art of making it found.

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Apple butter thickly laid over a heavy slice of bread warm from the oven is a pioneer staple that deserves a revival in the orchard-rich Okanagan Valley.

Apple butter is a highly concentrated form of apple sauce produced by long, slow cooking of apples to a point where the sugar in the apples caramelize turning the apple butter a deep brown. Originating in the Middle Ages at monasteries with apple orchards, the secret to making this delicious preserve came over to colonial America with the settlers. Apple butter originated as a way to store apples without refrigeration, before canning was available. Groups would get together for an all-day affair that involved big kettles filled with apples, cider and spices that required constant stirring with big wooden paddles.

Everything you would ever need to know about the historical methods of making apple butter and a recipe to make your own with original methods can be found on the skill cult blog. It’s author encouraged me to try to the historical version but a bit leery on the food safety question, I decided sterilizing jars and finishing off with a good hard boil in a canner  was a surer bet.

FullSizeRender.jpgMy recipe is a modern version using a crockpot, an apple peeler (can peel by hand) and an immersion blender (can use a blender or a whisk) and requires no all-day wooden paddle manning.  Maybe I’m missing out although I’m happily married to my swain, The Handyman…

Here is where the fun came in, or the ladle was too large, in theory, at least, to be handled by one person, and it was customary for the girls and boys in pairs to take turns in stirring. The lady always had the choice of a partner to assist her when her turn came, and whichever swain she selected was regarded by the others as her favourite beau The Conquest of Missouri, Joseph Mills Hanson, 1918

Step One: Apples

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Karolina and Doug from Forest Green Man Lavender farm in Naramata kindly gifted me a beautiful box of these lovely Gala apples. Any sweet apple will do or you can mix different varieties.

Step 2 Peel

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Peel, core and slice your apples. This handy gizmo does all three licketty-split. 

Step 3 Fill your crock-pot

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Fill your crock pot to the brim. The apples will settle quite a bit as they cook and soften.

Step 4 Add sugar and spices

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Add 1 to 2 cups of sugar (to taste),( I made some of it brown sugar for flavour), add 1 tsp. or 2 tsp. cinnamon (depending on the size of your crock pot), 1/4 tsp ground cloves, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp allspice and one whole vanilla bean pod. Just sprinkle these ingredients on top of the apples. (Remove the vanilla pod before loading into jars)

Step 5 Cook on low for about 10 hours 

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If you peel your apples in the evening, leave the crock pot on low overnight with the lid slightly ajar to let steam escape. In the morning, use an immersion blender or transfer your applesauce into a blender to smooth out the mixture and then replace in the crock pot. Remove the lid for the last hour or so of cooking to thicken the mixture. (It will thicken a bit further after it cools.) Let it cook to your desired consistency. It will turn a nice scrumptious carmel colour.

Step 6 Water bath can your apple butter.  Sterilize your canning jars, fill them leaving 1/4 inch head space, wipe rims clean, place your lids on and place in a canner filled with boiling water and boil for 15 minutes.

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Your house will smell amazing during the long slow apple cooking. Apple butter on raisin cinnamon bread is match made in heaven.
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My last step was to drop off some jars at Karolina (pictured above with her rescue pal) and Doug’s lavender farm from whence the apples came. Thanks guys! I left with 20 pounds of beautiful Anjou pears. Mmmmm so it begins. Pear tarts? 

 

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