Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The (Crab) Apple Saga, Part 2: I Think I Can, I Think I Can

Alternative titles for this post: "We Can Do It," "Yes We Can," and "I Think, Therefore I Can."

Apologies, Dear Reader, for the delay in continuing this tale of love, lust, and the quest for rare and exotic fruits. We took a day off today and went to the beach. Can you blame us? Yesterday at 4 p.m. the thermometer hit 37°C (99°F). Lake Huron beckoned, and did not disappoint.

Anyway, when we last left the story, our misidentified fruit had been cast aside and the search for Genuine! The Real Thing! Do Not Be Fooled By Cheap Imitation! crab apples continued. Our Lady Friends went back to the (obviously blind and probably also stupid, I mean, duh, who doesn't know what a crab apple looks like?!?) Mennonites to berate them for their ignorance regarding crab apple identification. After more driving around K-Dubs we hit paydirt in St. Jacob's in the form of a vendor who said she'd bring us a bushel of crab apples on the next market day. Sure enough, she did, and I toted that sack of crab apples across the parking lot so I could deliver it back to the Ladies for their jelly-making endeavours.

In the unlikely case that you should ever need to identify crab apples, here is what one of the (two, I think) varieties looks like:

[Pause for discussion. Discussion point #1: Crab apples are heavy. They're about the size of cherries, only much harder and denser, and I can only assume heavier (although, full disclosure, I've never carried a bushel of cherries anywhere). Discussion point #2: As far as I can tell, the only use for crab apples is to make crab apple jelly, which is why most of people with crab apple trees in their yards just let the fruit fall and rot, because it turns out making crab apple jelly is extremely time-consuming and, depending on who you talk to, a giant pain in the ass.]

And finally, what became of our rejected non-crab apple apples? I'm glad you asked: I made good on my promise to turn lemons into lemonade, or in this case, to turn unwanted apples into applesauce.

I mean, how could I not? The total cost to me was $7 for a new peeler (I got blisters anyway - that was a lot of apples) and $2 for a box of jars at a garage sale. That's $9 for 15 jars (some huge!) of unsweetened applesauce. Let's not talk about how much applesauce costs at the grocery store, please, because I'm pretty sure it's going to mean my time is worth about $2/hr.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The (Crab) Apple Saga, Part 1: A Drive in the Country

It all started last Thursday when I somehow got roped into driving into the country to a Mennonite farm (past Conestogo, for those of you familiar with Waterloo's surrounding areas) to pick up a bushel (or a half-bushel? I don't know, but it was a lot) of crab apples for a couple of my favourite ladies, one of whom (Lady #1) came along for the ride. The drive, it should be mentioned, involved several additional stops at other Mennonite produce stands and the like, and then a detour through St. Jacob's to Heidelberg, just to "see if they have Concord grapes." I briefly wondered whether a phone call might be more efficient than a 15-minute detour to suss out such information, but decided to let that one go.

Anyway, an hour later, we arrived home with heaps of fruity goodness. I carted it all down to the basement to await its canning fate, when Lady #2 (the older and ornerier of the pair) came down to inspect the goods. She picked a crab apple out of one of the (three full) bags and looked at it. Critically.

"These are not crab apples."

"Oh, hm, OK. Do you want me to take them back or something?"

(Tossing the apple back into the bag in disgust.) "These are not crab apples."

"OK, well, all of this only cost $7, so maybe we could do something else with them, and get crab apples somewhere else?"

(Shaking head.) "These are not crab apples." (Mumbling in disgust.) "How could a Mennonite farmer not know what a crab apple is?"

At this point, Gentle Reader, the euphoric effects of my recent country drive had worn off, and not only was I faced with an abundance of rejected non-crab apple apples, I was late for my lunch date. So I did what any over-committing person in my position would have done: I vowed to take the lemons (read: non-crab apple apples) that life (read: an ignorant Mennonite farmer) had handed us, and make lemonade (read: applesauce).

Stay tuned for The (Crab) Apple Saga, Part 2, in which our protagonist visits at least two farmers' markets in search of the elusive produce, and turns rejected fruit into your Christmas present.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Little Red, Juliette Lewis, and Round Sprinkles

The big news this week is that our car, which will henceforth be known as Little Red, is road-worthy! Little Red is the most basic of basic cars: a 2005 Toyota Echo two-door hatchback, standard transmission, no AC or power anything. She's very clean and very shiny, and so far her only noteworthy problem is that the passenger window doesn't roll down all the way.

Next up: Quiz time! What do Juliette Lewis and I have in common? Answer: Our birthdays are both June 21, and we have both banged (or wanted to bang) Brad Pitt. And, we were both at the Starlight Social Club last Monday night. I'll leave determining which one of us was wearing a leopard-print catsuit as an exercise for the reader.

And finally, please let us talk about round, or ball, sprinkles. I LOVE THEM. They are just so superior to their stick-shaped cousins. A little bit of sprinkle trivia, for the curious amongst us: Round sprinkles are called non-pareils, and stick sprinkles are called Jimmies. I want to love the Jimmies just for their name, but the round ones are so satisfyingly pretty and crunchy. And they're everywhere in Canada, including on Tim Horton's vanilla-dipped rainbow-sprinkle doughnuts, and mixed into President's Choice Sprinkle Party Cake ice cream. Delish.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Probably a Huge Improvement

We arrived in Waterloo last Monday to welcoming toddlers and seniors and deliciously hot and sticky summer weather. During our first week as Canadian residents we had two job interviews, bought a car, baked a wedding cake, and drove six hours to Ottawa (and eight hours back; see also: scenic route). We've eaten Ontario's best summer produce: insanely juicy peaches, tiny, bursty wild blueberries, and the sweetest of sweet corns (from Herrles, natch). Ken has already been recruited by a frisbee team, and we've both started swimming lessons at a nearby community centre.

Of course, we're still adjusting. Even though the days are technically longer here, we'd grown quite accustomed to the long nights in Buenos Aires. Canadians are certainly friendly, but they don't gesture (or curse) nearly as frequently or enthusiastically as their Argentine counterparts. We love being back in the land of cheap and plentiful maple syrup, but dulce de leche is a little more scarce in these parts. And we're still finding and gathering our people, and missing our most-excellent friends in Argentina.

Last night we had Canadian-Chinese takeout (yes, that is a thing), and my fortune read, "Today is probably a huge improvement over yesterday." I'm not sure that's true yet, but we'll get there. Probably.