Monday, February 21, 2011

Peaches and Beans and Scones, Oh My!

My last day WWOOFing at Château Snowdon today... and boy, was I busy! Even though Penelope and Edward are on vacation, I still managed to occupy myself with a full day of work.

I started in the morning with making pancakes for breakfast, and then doing all the breakfast and leftover dinner dishes. Then I wrote my blog entry about Ferrymead, brought in a load of laundry, hung up a load of laundry, and put my own things in the washer. By then it was noon, and Ilya made the two of us a nice salad (it was really good; he's quite the chef!) before he headed off downtown. My next challenge (after hanging out my own laundry, of course): canning peaches.

I've never canned by myself before, but Penelope's method is slightly unconventional, so it didn't involve as much specialized equipment as my mom's canning set-up. I sliced peaches and placed them into jars, and poured a hot syrup of sugar water into the jars until the peaches were just covered. Then it was into the oven with the pop-tops lightly affixed to the jars, and I heated the jars until the liquid inside them started to bubble. Out of the oven they came (a very delicate operation involving a thick tea towel; there aren't any oven mitts here), and I placed them on the counter before screwing down the rings and leaving them to cool. I made eight jars, and all eight seals took, yea! Not bad for my first time.

Not content with canning peaches, my next task was to blanch some beans from the garden; I went out and picked a whole stainless-steel bowl full, and then washed and topped and tailed and sliced them before immersing them in boiling water for three minutes, then plunging them into a cold water bath before drying them and placing them in ziploc bags to be frozen. I even picked enough to have some for dinner... sigh. Beans... I've had about enough of them.

By this point the sun was getting low on the horizon, and I decided my last exploit in the kitchen would be to make cheese scones for tea and breakfast tomorrow morning; while they were in the oven baking, I slipped in a few sausage rolls from the freezer to eat for dinner. I certainly felt like a good little domestic girl today... I spent the entire day in the kitchen!

After dinner I had a shower, and then sat down to type up a letter from a handwritten copy (my contribution to Edward's Hurunui Water Project fight). That went along just fine until I came to a table full of 49 Latin plant classification names that had to be typed up as well... it almost made me wish I had studied biology at university so I would have a better idea of what I was transcribing.

Malcolm and Ilya came home from field hockey (Monday night intramurals), and the three of us relaxed in the living room, sampling various types of alcohol the two brothers had in their possession. We started with a port of Ilya's, then to a lemon liqueur of Malcolm's, then a cherry brandy, then straight vodka (you can see we're degenerating here), before culminating in glasses of absinthe. Well, having opened my mouth and saying absinthe can be served lit on fire, and having Malcolm the rocket scientist / pyro in the house, we promptly found ourselves in the kitchen, with shotglasses and a lighter! We used the "bohemian method"; first we poured a shot of absinthe into a glass, then soaked a sugar cube in absinthe and balanced it on top of the glass, resting on two chopsticks. Then we lit the sugarcube on fire, waited until it started to melt slightly, then removed one of the chopsticks to send it tumbling into the glass of absinthe, which then itself lit on fire. A quick addition of another shotglass full of water puts out the fire and completes the mixing of the drink (save for a little twist of lemon which we added later). I'm not a fan (I think absinthe tastes like the fluoride mouthwash they give you at the dentist), but it was great fun to soak sugar cubes in 60% alcohol and see them burn with a bright blue flame.

Now it is almost 2am, and I have to be up and out of the house by 8am at the latest. Why? Because MY PARENTS ARE COMING! As I type these words they are on a plane flying here to New Zealand; they left at 4pm my time (7pm their time) from Vancouver, and get into Auckland at 6am before hopping onto a domestic flight down to Christchurch at 7am, putting them into Christchurch Airport around 8:30am. It's funny... I always thought my parents were going to be the ones welcoming me back to Canada at the arrivals gate in Vancouver, but instead it's going to be me standing on the other side of the barrier here in Christchurch, saying, "Kia ora! Welcome to Aotearoa!" Goodnight. :-)


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