Feast your senses.. on poetry!

I’m teaching a poetry workshop at marvelous MISSA from July 17-21! Check out more information and registration details , and meanwhile – here’s a teaser…

Comments Off on Feast your senses.. on poetry!

Earth Day Poetry!

If you’re in Vancouver next Saturday April 20, please come to our reading! It’s at the Capilano Branch library, 3045 Highland Blvd, North Vancouver (Registration link: https://nvdpl.ca/node/5884/register) Please pass the word to North Shore poetry pals!

Comments Off on Earth Day Poetry!

Winter Market, Vancouver

I’ve made a couple of delicious visits to Riley Park Winter Market and here are some of the sights I’ve seen…..

My first foray was in early March, when Vancouver had received an unwelcome dump of snow. Which didn’t deter shoppers or stallholders!


Market stalls and people with snowy foreground

Baker at market stall

Lisa Virtue, baker

Different varieties of winter squash displayed in boxes

Lovely winter squash

Cabbage and assorted radishes in boxes at vegetable stall

Exotic radish varieties

Carrots and root vegetables on display at market stall


Different boxes of apples on display at market stall

Organic apples

Customer filling bag with stinging nettles at market stand

Self serve nettles

Mobile cheese seller

Say cheese…

Whistler Harvest mushroom seller with boxes of mushrooms


Cardboard box with mushroom assortment

Shiitake, Lion’s Mane, Oyster, Maitake (Hen Of The Woods)

Comments Off on Winter Market, Vancouver

Seed season

I’m in Vancouver at the moment, so will be missing the annual Seedy Sunday that my community food security group will be holding this weekend. It’s lower key than some of the fancy schmancy ones we used to enjoy in the beforetimes; no speakers or commercial vendors, just a good honest seed swap. Most of the seeds are harvested from local gardens, meaning they are well adapted to local (though ever-changing!) conditions and pests, and are open-pollinated, aside from the surplus from seed packets retrieved from drawers and cupboards.

However, making a pre-emptive strike, I irresponsibly wandered into a  community seed swap here last month, at the Britannia Centre, on Commercial Drive. I say irresponsible given the quantity of seeds I have in my seed box back home… but I did bring contributions (parsley and cherry tomato seeds). Came away with a few packages of some new and interesting things to try: Ethiopian kale; Tokyo long white onion; Flamingo Pink Swiss Chard; Scarlet Nantes Carrots (well, I’ll try again!).

Two people with packages of seeds on a table

The seed table.. before!

Group of people standing around a table

The seed table… with seed-lovers!

Comments Off on Seed season

Stir-up Sunday

I blush to admit I learned about Stir-up Sunday by listening to the Archers… But it’s here: the last Sunday before Advent is the day to make your Christmas pudding, cake etc, and I am making fruit cake today, despite popular wisdom that few people actually like them. I’ll make a plum pudding as well, since I have plums a-plenty in my freezer.

For years, my school friend Michelle’s mother used to send me a fruit cake each Christmas, and I use her recipe now. Mine will go to people I know will want them as I do, and they keep superbly with all that brandy for preservative.

It’s a labour of love, a heavy batter. My recipe calls for 6 pounds of dried fruit, a quart of brandy, 10 eggs.. even with that recipe cut in half, considerable effort goes into the soaking, the grating, the juicing and the mixing..

its heaviness a wish
upon a wooden spoon, child’s hand
beneath a mother’s,
turning a hard tide once,
twice, thrice, invoking luck…
(Fruit Cake, from Larder)

The ingredients represent considerable luxury even today. Currants, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel, candied cherries and pineapple – all ways to preserve fruits in season I suppose, if you have sufficient means (sugar, time, heat) but they are and always have been exotic imports for northern kitchens. Oranges (juice and peel required) are not yet in season closer to home (California in this case). Almonds have questionable sustainability creds – as do most things really when produced in the excessive quantities needed to meet every Western whim.

My ingredients include a few home-made versions. I made (for the experience, and probably not to be repeated) candied BC cherries this year; and I load my dehydrator each autumn with a neighbour’s green seedless grapes – each laboriously hand-pricked to dry more evenly – and make the best raisins I’ve ever tasted. I’ve added some candied lemon peel I made when making natural pectin for jam this summer. These are tokens but they put a bit of myself into the gifts the cakes will be.

The cakes are made, the pans lined and filled, and are sitting quietly overnight as the recipe instructs. Tomorrow my house will be fragrant and once they come out of the oven, warm and delectable, the question will be how many loaves will remain by Christmas?

Comments Off on Stir-up Sunday