Celebration of Gifts

Poplar Two. I’ve been playing around with my camera, enjoying patterns and perceptions. Life is all about relativity! This image is part of my Altered States Gallery, which has just been updated.
005 poplar

I don’t think frugal quite covers what Attila and I do with our scant resources. It is not desperation. It is not dire need. It is more like a celebration of gifts. Our take on waste not, want not, seems extreme to some people. But we feel better about being alive when we use resources respectfully, and return what we cannot use to the ecosystem. We are not entirely successful in this; we use the public sewage system and water system at our little house in the city. We had to dispose of the material from our gutted basement, the whole mouldy, mildewed lot, to a landfill. These are, to us, spectacular failures to recycle, that seemed unavoidable. Our choice of materials for renovation are as recyclable as we can afford, and manage. We are ever mindful.

I think with us it is where our natural aggressions and hostilities are worked out, brought into the world. We fight not against others, but against imbalance. It is similar to a sport, pitting ourselves against the great waste, the insane consumerism, that surrounds us. Sometimes we win, hooray!; and sometimes we lose, hiss! But we always try. That is our game, one that we have played for more than five decades; that is over fifty years.

Increasingly we see others playing similar games, adding glamour, glitz and pomp to it, the new “homesteaders”. There is a danger with glamour, glitz and pomp, in evolving into consumerism; the ads and gambits for profit abound. The new homesteaders aren’t inventing anything new, they are just trying to relearn a little bit of what has been lost, in a much diminished context; a very challenging project. Most of them don’t even realize that this has all been done before, and that there are still people around who have been living this way all their lives. I wish these new adventurers luck, and I am glad to see them out there making the effort.

We purchased another fresh food basket this month. I picked it up yesterday. It is a little bit sadder than the last, as the season for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables is just beginning. Still, Attila calculates it is worthwhile. My only concern about it is that the produce is from the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto, and we might be getting GMO products. That cannot be helped at this point, and someday we hope to live somewhere where we can have a viable garden. For now, the fresh food basket is the best we can do.

Both baskets have had pleasant surprises from local producers and food manufacturers. Last month we got a little bag of dried cranberries from Muskoka, which have been very nice, no allergens, so I’ve been eating them for snacks with roasted almonds. This month the surprise is a tiny bag of granola, locally made. I do not trust it to be allergen free. The label doesn’t list my allergen. However, it would only take a little bit of cross contamination to prove fatal. Small producers are unknown quantities, with shallow pockets and therefore less fear of potential entrepreneurial law suites. Their foods are seldom tested for allergens. I know that some have limited awareness of the insidiousness of allergens, sneaking into ingredients, undetected. So, Attila alone will enjoy this month’s offering of granola.

One thing that appeals to me about the fresh food basket it that there is no knowing what will be in it! This time around we received a bundle of fresh parsley. Attila immediately used half the bundle to make a batch of tabbouleh. What to do with the other half? This morning I rinsed it thoroughly, on the stem, and dried it in a salad spinner. Then I plucked the leaves and placed them on the dehydrator trays, which I now have sitting all over the living room. They will air dry all day, and then when hydro is less expensive tonight, the trays will be placed on the dehydrator and it will finish the job of drying.

The leftover stems were sitting on the counter and staring at me. What to do?

I have a “broth bag” in the freezer where I stash most vegetable trimmings when we prepare fresh vegetables. Worried that the parsley flavour would be too strong for the broth, another use needed to be found. So I looked online and found multiple recipes for “parsley simple syrup.” I didn’t like any of them, and the short shelf life of the syrup did not enhance their appeal.

So I made up a recipe of my own. It is a Parsley Syrup that I will use in cooked dishes, where I would use dried parley; dishes such as baked beans, soups and stews.

Parsley Syrup

Recipe By: Maggie Turner


stems from 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt


Place chopped parsley stems in water, bring to boil, simmer for 10 minutes with lid.
Add sugar and salt. Bring to low boil, boil for 5 minutes.
Pour into sterile jar. Refrigerate.
Use 1 tsp in soups, stews, baked beans etc. where you might use parsley.

I am quite pleased with the results. I need to make more salad dressing for myself today, perhaps I will add a little bit of my parsley syrup to it!

We also received two oranges. Tonight, when the hydro is less expensive, I will bake two Fresh Orange Loaves, and freeze them for Attila’s lunches during June and July.

I’ve been reading about dandelion greens as food. We tried them raw and they are far too bitter to eat that way, in my opinion. I’ve been looking at different ways to mediate the bitterness, and will give some of those a try. If I succeed then we will be well sorted for greens. Since many pesticides have been banned in Ontario, the dandelions are taking over the known world. So if one could eat them, the food supply would seem endless.

Our yard here at the country house has been left in its natural state, since we bought the place It has been nine years without fertilizer or weed killers or any kind of human interference, except occasional cutting. It will yield organic dandelion greens and flowers. The front yard at the little house in the city was seeded last year, and chemicals may have been used by the contractor, although that seems unlikely given that Terra describes it as a “sea of dandelions”. The backyard has been chemical free for three previous summers, so the dandelions from the back yard might be better for consumption. That is, of course, if I can find a way to prepare them as delicious food.

Are there GMO dandelions? I don’t think so.

Worldly Distractions


Feels like 6
SW 1 km/h Wind
83% Humidity
102.3kPa Pressure


“Sin bravely…We will never have all the facts to make a perfect judgement, but with the aid of basic experience we must leap bravely into the future.”
Russell R. McIntyre

I couldn’t find a single written word about who Russell R. McIntyre. I found an image connected to this quote, but no information about just who Russell R. McIntyre is or was. If anyone knows, please enlighten me!

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Beautiful photographs, Margarita!


Ah shucks Steve Paul, thanks.


Regarding dandelions–I have eaten them, steamed slightly with a sprinkle of vinegar, since I was a child. For New England Yankees, after a winter of potatoes and salt pork fried up together, spring dandelions were thought of as a tonic. The trick is to use the youngest, newest, most tender leaves. Once they reach full size and dark colour, they are nearly inedible, though salt along with the vinegar may work. I didn’t like them that way, but my sister did. I stuck with the younger greens.

Love the picture. Very oriental in feeling.


Thanks for sharing experience Sarah. I hope to give them a try while they are young and light coloured, but I might miss the window this year. It would be great to have a practical use for them, as they are taking over the known universe here, with so many of the dangerous herbicides having been banned.