The Candy Fairy is coming on Halloween!

Halloween ghostIf you ever saw the movie Elf, you know that Santa’s elves live on candy. “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup,” Buddy the Elf explains.

Don’t you think Santa’s kitchen must run low on supplies before Christmas Eve?

Not if the Candy Fairy can help it. She’s a sister of the Tooth Fairy, and she works for Santa Claus.

If, and only if, your parents are well connected, she will come to your house while you sleep on Halloween night – if you can sleep after eating all that sugar – and in exchange for a BIG pile of candy, she’ll leave you an early Christmas present from Santa’s workshop.

She’ll let you keep your favourites – maybe you want to keep the chips and the chocolate bars. You decide. She’ll take the rest and leave you a cool toy.

Ask your parents if they know the Candy Fairy.

Deep Freeze: Book about Winter 2015

This new book, Deep Freeze Winter 2015: A Photographic Memory of Storm, Survival and Triumph will make you feel like a hero for having survived the winter of 2015 in the Maritimes.

Having been in the thick of it, I had forgotten a lot of the details. Reading how the weather evolved from month to month, from a green Christmas to the repeated onslaughts of March that left us feeling post-traumatic well into summer, brings back a lot of memories.

It’s a real tribute to the Maritime spirit of good humour and making the best of the weather. Stephanie Domet gets a cameo for coining the word – and hashtag – #stormchips. Collections of photos featuring drifted-in doorways, prospecting for cars, and sunbathers in shorts with beer against a snowy background, highlight some themes of that record-breaking winter.

There are serious photos, too: of buckled barns, stuck ships and the plane that slid on its belly when landing in Halifax on March 29.

shoveller on roof with snow in the air against a blue sky
My photo in the book: shovelling off the roof in March 2015

The pages are filled with full-colour photos taken by Maritimers from all over. I had seen some of them on Facebook or in the newspaper.  One of the photos is mine, thanks to this very website. A researcher for the book contacted me and I sent him a high-resolution version. In return, a copy of the book arrived in the mail last month.

Now that summer is over, and the next winter is lurking just around the corner, it’s good to remind ourselves of what stuff we are made, while we brace for hurricane season and the unknown adventures to be had just by living here.

Deep Freeze Winter 2015: A Photographic Memory of Storm, Survival and Triumph by John MacIntyre, forward by Cindy Day, MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc., 2015.

Snow Cream, or The Winter Harvest

bowl full of snow cream
Making snow cream outdoors

It’s an old recipe: Mix cream, sugar and flavouring with fresh snow and stir it up to make a yummy dessert.

We have lots of the main ingredient since Snowmageddon hit Nova Scotia on March 18. It tickles me pink to have some of the stuff in the freezer, waiting for the day when I can give summer visitors a literal taste of this winter.

Today, before rain turns the fluffy snow to slush, I made a couple of batches. I chose a drifted snowbank on the shady side of the house and removed the top crust that has formed since last week’s big snowfall in order to get at the fine-grained powder beneath. I filled a big bowl with it. I had already combined the other ingredients, and stayed outdoors to mix them with the snow so it would stay cold.

For freezing, I made a light fluffy product, not creamy like ice cream. In a  previous batch, I used more cream and less snow. It was more ice cream-like at the time, but after being in the freezer it froze hard and wasn’t very scoopable.  It would be fine if you eat it right away. I think we’ll be very happy to eat fluffy sweet snow in the heat of July. If we really want ice cream, we can always buy some!

Recipe below photos.

Snow Cream Recipe

All measurements are approximate. You really can’t go wrong.

Ingredients

1 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 large mixing bowl full of fresh, fine-grained snow

Combine everything except the snow until smooth. Drizzle over the snow, then mix it all together gently. If possible, do this outdoors so the snow crystals don’t melt.

Serve immediately, or put in plastic containers to stay frozen until summer.

Variations

Maple: omit vanilla and use 1/2 c real maple syrup instead of sugar. If you can get amber (dark) maple syrup, with its rich flavour, use it! Incredible.

Chocolate: Add 1/4 cup chocolate syrup.

Mocha: Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon instant coffee.

Strawberry: Add 1/2 cup frozen strawberries and blend well with the milk before adding to the snow.

Get creative! The possibilities are endless.

You can use milk substitutes: soy milk, almond milk etc.

Use sweetened condensed milk and omit sugar.

The Foreign Protestants of Lunenburg – Video

Lunenburg is unique in Nova Scotia in its history and personality. Much of that has to do with the people who settled the town in 1753.

My son participated in a youth documentary filmmaking workshop in September 2014. It was part of the (first annual, as it was a great success) Lunenburg Doc Fest.  Here is the result of his work:

Nova Scotia’s Rose Vaughan goes digital

The Rose Vaughan Trio in the early 1990s.
The Rose Vaughan Trio in the early 1990s.

CBC Radio host Peter Gzowski once said, “Rose Vaughan’s songs are like Alice Munro short stories.”

High praise, given that Munro just won the Nobel Prize in Literature!

Halifax singer/songwriter Rose Vaughan has penned many iconic tunes over the decades. As a young and vibrant septuagenarian, she still performs occasionally and plans more recordings.

album2
The Trio’s second album

One of her tunes, “Stone and Sand”, from the Rose Vaughan Trio’s 1993 Fire in the Snow album, is featured in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2e7VMqJKt4

Rose’s songs have been going around in my head lately, as well as on my DVD player, because she recently hired me to get her songs online so people could buy them digitally. 

Winter Rose album cover
The Trio’s third album

I was delighted to be asked, as I’ve known Rose since the 1990s and even played a little accordion on her Winter Rose album. Cathy Porter, a consummate musician who did most of the Trio’s arranging and has gone on to be a sought-after side performer with some of Nova Scotia’s biggest stars, also enhanced the sound of bands I was in back then – much smaller stars in the firmament, I assure you. 

Their music was part of my life in the years after I returned to Nova Scotia and before I had my family. They’re lovely human beings whom I feel privileged to know.

The Trio's first album, Sweet Tarragon
The Trio’s first album, Sweet Tarragon

Each of Rose’s songs paints a story. The music is gentle and melodic, and the lyrics thoughtful and introspective. I can’t claim to be objective because of the nostalgia factor, but I’m truly enjoying listening to the albums again.

If you like “Stone and Sand” above, I invite you to take a listen to the songs on the Artist Playlist on her Facebook page, and samples of her other songs there and on her website, where she now sells CDs and mp3s.

“There’s lots of room here to be different”

Talking to people who are drawn to live on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, I find it interesting to learn about what attracts them here.

Living in Nova Scotia is a choice, whether you come from “away” or  have your roots in the province.

I often buy meat from Kevin Veinot at local farmers’ markets. His farm has been in his family for seven generations. Yet he too has made a conscious choice to live here, and to farm sustainably.

As he says in this video, “There’s lots of room here to be different.”

Sea Urchins a French Delicacy

It took my friend Richard to tell me this. He’s French by origin, and so is Frédéric Tandy, the chef of Ratinaud, a gourmet charcuterie in Halifax. Good buddies in a culinary sort of way.

So here is Richard chez Fred, showing the world how to eat these fabulous sea urchins from Digby. I haven’t ever tried them – have you?

Old Man Luedecke explains why he lives here

Singer-songwriter and banjo player Chris Luedecke is not really old, but he’s definitely a cultural treasure in Nova Scotia. His songs have a charm and maturity that belie his relative youth.

Here he and his wife, potter Teresa Bergen, explains how and why they got here:

Nova Scotia Sea School Restoring Dorothea

An iconic sight in the waters of Mahone Bay and beyond, Dorothea has taken hundreds of young people on maritime sailing adventures as part of the Nova Scotia Sea School.

It’s the kind of intense, group adventure that teenagers crave and need for their development, and that schools don’t usually provide.

Lives have been changed.

Dorothea needs an overhaul. Compare the $30,000 they’re looking for to the cost of rebuilding Bluenose II! Small projects like this are very satisfying to support as they can have a huge positive impact on individual lives.

Watch the video to find out what Dorothea has done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54qqKU8WtJg

Click here to visit the Nova Scotia Sea School website.