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Midnite Mass The Great Collaspe 2007 Festival Of Trees Grande Prairie.

Midnite Mass The Great Collaspe 2007 Festival Of Trees Grande Prairie.

ugh….

Just thinking back, there is so much I thought of after the fact. Indeed hind sight is 20/20.

Things started off very well and I was extremely excited about how the project was coming along.

Midnite Mass Gingerbread Houseon Nutmeg Disrupted

The marble steps of the church were stunning.

 

Midnite Mass Gingerbread Houseon Nutmeg Disrupted

Midnite Mass Gingerbread Houseon Nutmeg Disrupted

The bibles, pews and people were done exceptionally well.

Midnite Mass Gingerbread Houseon Nutmeg Disrupted

The gelatin sheet stained glass windows were flawless.

 

Midnite Mass Gingerbread Houseon Nutmeg DisruptedMidnite Mass Gingerbread Houseon Nutmeg Disrupted

It was a gorgeous, tall open church……with not nearly enough roof support due to no interior walls.

 

Midnite Mass Gingerbread Houseon Nutmeg Disrupted

………………sigh

I thought I could do a fancy balancing act with the roof pieces and hoped the royal icing would hold it all together. Not taking humidity into thought. I had issues with the roof becoming soft and splitting during the day of delivery and set up.

Midnite Mass Gingerbread Houseon Nutmeg Disrupted

Really, at that point there was nothing I could do to save the roof but about an hour after leaving the Festival location I realized my mistake.

Earlier in the year due to extreme amounts of snow, the ceilling of the art gallery in Grande Prairie collapsed. Reflecting on that I could have got some blue fondant and made a tarp to go over the opening in the roof. The addition of a sign looking for donations for roof repairs to finish it off would have been perfect. Though no records would have been broken I could have at least walked away content with the project.

Like any situation that does not go as you expect you learn a lot. Making mistakes is the best way to learn what not to do.  Far more then when everything goes as planned.

 

 

 

 

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Sugar Plums Festival of Trees 2010

Sugar Plums Festival of Trees 2010

Dreaming of Sugar Plums Festival of Trees Grande Prairie 2010

As always I was excited to get started on my gingerbread project for the season. I decided to go with nice bright colors, the house, somewhat traditional with a fun flare.This was my first 3 story build.

I always start with templates for all the pieces of the house. Walls are always designed first, then the roof and any accents to the build, like window boxes, steps and signs.

Sugar Plums gingerbread house pattern on Nutmeg Disrupted

Sugar Plums gingerbread house before the siding.

I have always sided my walls then did the construction of the buildings. It makes for straighter lines and less stress. The siding gets quite heavy and would slide down the walls long before the icing had a chance to dry.

 

Sugar Plums before the build/

putting on the siding

I use cans to support the walls when building the structures. But be sure the icing has a good set before walking away. Especially on larger walls. I walked away too soon and have had major walls collapse and fall to the floor. A crash like that puts you many hours behind. So wait that the few extra minutes and allow the icing to really set up. Believe me, it happens! Do not rush this step.

 

Building the walls of Sugar plums gingerbread house

Some of the details on Sugar Plums

This year I added window boxes. I like that contrast of the black and any chance I have to add greenery to the build I jump at the chance. It is the little details that really make the house unique.

Outside of Sugar Plums

And don’t forget about the sides and behind the house. Like a real yard there is landscaping on all four sides.

 

Sugar Plums Gingerbread House by Nutmeg Disrupted

This was the final shot before I delivered the house to the Festival.

 

Sugar Plums First place at The Festival of Trees

The house did very well at the Decorators event and placed first with the Judges and the decorators!

First place at The Festival Of Trees 2010, Grande Prairie

And not only did we completely brake all records this year as we also won the Peoples Choice award Sugar Plums sold at auction for an astounding $600!

We could not be more proud! All the hours of work are worth it when you can produce results like that!

Thanks to all who came out and supported the Festival Of Trees in Grande Prairie this season! It could not be a success without the support of the community.

Be sure to pop over to the Food Bloggers of Canada for a step by step tutorial I did on building your own one of a kind gingerbread house!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fresh Atlantic Ocean Lobster Boil.

Fresh Atlantic Ocean Lobster Boil.

I admit, I am very lucky to have the connections I do. I can have fresh seafood from eastern Canada on an airplane and flow to me with 48 hours of my request.

Some things are seasonal, so I always try and stock up during the peak seasons.

I will be placing my order for scallops in the next 6 weeks. For just over $200 I will receive enough scallops to last roughly a year. They arrive fresh being out of the ocean less then 24 hours. Love my seafood guy! He is from the east coast so he is not only a great source for the freshest seafood available, he is full of cooking tips and advice for treating the seafood as it was meant to be. And it is great to teach him about the fish from the west coast. So far he has been impressed with my salmon and halibut creations. And he let me cook a wild board for his wedding! Still need to get that post up……….

Then there is my lobster guy! He is also from the east coast, but a different island then my scallop guy. He works here in Alberta and hand delivers cases of bottled lobster when he returns from his trips back home. I have Tweeted about my bottled lobster numerous times and people are always curious as to what it is I am talking about. I have to say, it is amazing. Fresh lobster bottled at the peak of its freshness.

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Somewhere along the way I got a phone number to a connection for fresh lobster. It would fished and package and on a plane within hours. After discussions with my seafood guy we picked what week would be the best for optimum lobster and placed the call.

Cases of fresh lobster from the east coast of Canada.

Within 12 hours we had 2 cases, 40 of the freshest live lobster I have ever enjoyed.

Live lobster flown in from Eastern Canada.

The evening started off with one of the most amazing storms I have ever had the luck to witness. I stood out back for over an hour watching it build. And the payoff was worth it. I captured some of the most fascinating storm shots of my life.

Storm the night of the lobster boil

After it moved off towards Grande Prairie it turned into a gorgeous summer evening. The turkey cooker and pots were all ready to go out on the deck. The wine was chilled, corn was boiled, butter melted. Let the cooking marathon begin.

PEI Lobster

In a perfect world we would have had fresh ocean water for the boil but being in the northern prairies we had to create the ocean water. I used 2 tablespoons of sea salt for every quart of fresh water.

Pots ready for the lobster boil

Bring the water to a boil. Now take your lobster and cross his from legs and remove the rubber bands from the claws. Now place them head down into the boiling water.

Fresh lobster from the East coast

Cover, return the water to a boil and then lower the heat to a bubbly simmer. Lobster will cook in 12-20 minutes depending on the size. Canners will cook in 12-15 minutes, while large lobsters will require up to 20 minutes of cooking time. Timing should start only after the water has returned to a boil. Once cooked, the lobster should be drained immediately.

Ready to feast on fresh PEI lobster.

They can now be served hot or chilled quickly by being placed in large tubs of ice water to stop the cooking process and the chill the meat.

Summer lobster boil feast!

After the feast I packaged all the remaining lobster in FoodSaver bags and moved them to the freezer.

Prepping lobster for the freezer

It is really nice to be able to grab a few from the freezer and pop them onto the BBQ as an addition to a steak dinner or quickly warm them for a breakfast feast of Lobster Eggs Benedict.

After a fantastic night of storms, food, after all my friends had left, I sat out back and watched a stunning 3:30 am sunrise.

Saturday morning sunrise

The perfect end to the day!

 

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Grow Room 101. Indoor gardens.

Grow Room 101. Indoor gardens.

My dream job would be to run an indoor grow space year round and sell fresh herbs and vegetables to local chefs.

Gardening indoors under lights

Living in northern Alberta makes for a very short growing period with gardens usually going into the ground around the 18th of May and the first hard frost usually by the second week of September. That is roughly 16 weeks. To have a heartier harvest I start my seeds in January and plant semi mature plants outside during the first week of June. Depending on conditions, that may not even be enough of a head start for fully ripe crops of peppers, tomatoes and melons.

With such a short season,  growing indoors is a fantastic alternative. With a little bit of thought and good planning you can recreate mother nature in an indoor space and grow successfully year round. It does cost a bit to set up your grow room but with the capability of growing home grown produce year round you will be saving money and have an endless healthy, chemical free supply of some of the best vegetables herbs and fruits available.

This is just a quick run down of what it takes to put together a grow space. If you have any questions about what is discussed here or anything I did not cover please leave a comment or shoot me an email! Talking about grow spaces and indoor gardening is one of my passions and I would love to hear from you.
You have a few things to consider when putting together your grow room.
The space I am talking about below is based on an 10×10 foot room. That is some serious gardening!
You will need 2 lights for your space.
The first is a Metal Halide. Metal halides are the most efficent source of white light availble on the market. They come clear or phosphor coated. Go with the clear. The coating changes the specturm a bit. Clear is better.
Next you will need a HPS – High Pressure Sodium light. They are also one of the most efficent lights available.
Those 2 lights combined will give you the perfect light spectrum for your grow area.
I used strictly 1000 watt bulbs. Yes that is a lot of light. Your $$$ value is best spent on the 1000 watt systems.
You could go with 400 watts with each bulb/system,  but considering the cost of each system will be very close to the price of 1000 watt systems,  the 600 watt jump with each bulb seems to make sence for getting the best bang for your buck.
Look at it this way – Would you rather garden under full sun, or a cloudy day?
I love 1000 watt lights. They are amazing for indoor gardening!
Do you need 1000 watt lights? Perhaps, that is one of your choices.
Now we need to discuss shades.
You NEED big round 4 foot shades. They are an absolute must. They push 100% of your light down and out.
They increase the light intensity substantially. Try and find shades that are white on the inside, the more light reflection the better. Both lights will need a shade. They are cheap, so be sure you get them. They make all the difference in the world.
Using a 1000 watt metal halide with a small 2 foot shade and no reflective walls give you and effective growing area of only 36sq feet.  Using that same light with a 4 foot hood and flat white walls your effective growing area has now increased to 100 square feet. Big shades mean much more powerful light.
Next thing to look at is your space. What is on the walls? You have a few choices.
Lets talk reflection of light.
If you are painting I do suggest the use of flat white paint.
Using a flat white will bring the reflectiveness of the wall space back into the growing area by 85 – 93%
Want to kick that up even more.
There is a white agricultural plastic on the market. It is black on one side, white on the other. We are talking 90 – 95% reflection of light back into the space!
Any farm supply store will carry it. It is used for silage.
Bonus, it protects your walls from any moisture.
Now we need to discuss light coverage.
Each bulb emits a different spectrum which affects the growth of the plants differently.
As with any plants it will grow towards the lights. But we want even growth.
Now you could go in and rotate your plants every few days, which works. For a while.
But to really make it the ultimate indoor grow space you want to emulate the rise and fall of the sun.
To do this you need a light rail/tracking unit.
I promise, this is the last thing you need to buy.
But again, it really is a must. With using a light rail/tracking unit to move the light you will have an increase of 25 – 35% of light coverage with using one light rail to move the lights over the garden. With just simply moving the lights over the garden it emulates enough light as if you were actually using 3 bulbs.
Now that is getting the absolute most of your space, money and light.
You will need to make the rail that you hang the lights off of then attach it to the tracking unit. It slowly goes back and forth over the garden. Get creative here, you should be able to find a nice light metal bar at your local building supply store.  Even some plactic pvc pipe with the lights at each end is sufficient. And it works like a charm. This will give your room an amazing amount of useable light.
We need to go over movement of air.
These lights are hot and it is imperative that you have a fan in your grow space. Just as it is outdoors, you need to have air movement in your indoor garden. Not only will it reduce humidity and cool the space, plants do much better and grow stronger when there is a breeze present.
Also as a final thought, just kind of  be aware of where you have been before entering your room.
Like say you were at a greenhouse and were touching plants, maybe bought a few. Wash up before going into your room. Even change your clothes.. Because like outdoors those little bastards like spider mites love warm sunny grow rooms. And to battle them is just a nightmare. No need for extra work.

 

 

 

 

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Salsa

Salsa

It was the summer of bumper crops in the Nutmeg Disrupted gardens. By gardens,  I mean flower beds and numerous containers. The “garden garden” was covered with grass a few years back because of time constraints with work and travel.

I miss my garden. The original garden I first started with turned into a 4000 square foot growing oasis. I had huge tubs set around the perimeter to collect rain and to help make the task of watering not quite such labor intensive work. And it was easier on the well  Each row was mulched with layers of newspaper which I then covered with a thick layer of freshly cut grass, which was topped up weekly. I was cutting 7 acres so there was always a fresh supply.

Then in the fall the garden would be put to bed for the winter with a thick layer of leaves. The complete farm was surrounded by trees, by time you raked and loaded the 20th truckload you stop counting!

Then in the sping a farmer from over by Radway would come with his magic tractor sized tiller and for $30 turn it all into 2 feet deep of  pure black gold!

Gosh I miss that garden!

But downsizing does not mean you can not have success. With a bit of creativity and good gardening practices you can have a fantastic harvest from limited space.

I start my seeds under lights in the winter. Being in northern Alberta I like to get a bit of a jump on the growing season. Espically for things like peppers, tomatos and celery. My growing season is relatively short and you never know if those super hot temperatures will be acheived so the more mature the plants are the better success for a bountiful harvest is possible.

Tomato plants from the Nutmeg DIsrupted gardens, Grande Prairie Alberta      Tomatos from the Nutmeg DIsrupted gardens, Grande Prairie Alberta

This year I grew tomatos in containers and in the 2 flower beds out back. It was an extremely early Spring followed by a record breaking summer. And my garden showed it. Off of 8 tomato plants I harvested well over 100 pounds of tomatos.

The salsa recipe is a combination of a few recipes.  Having never made salsa before I am extremely impressed with how it turn out. The depth of flavor is just fantastic. Tangy and smokey with a nice freshness to it. I did a few different takes on the recipe making one mild and one with a nice kick of heat.

A bumper crop of tomatos from the Nutmeg Disrupted gardens

 

fresh tomatos for salsa

Salsa

24 cloves of garlic – minced

20 large tomatos – diced

2 large red onions – chopped

1/2 teaspoon of dried corriander

1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of chili powder

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons of pepper

4 tablespoon of honey

2 tablespoons of dried parsely

1/4 teaspoon of celery salt

1 cup of vinegar

*additions for hot salsa

*3 habanero pepper

*5 red thai chili peppers

*1 serrano pepper

Processed hot peppers for salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted

If you have a food processor do use it to chop the hot peppers. Beware of the pepper fumes when removing the lid if the processor. If you are chopping by hand wear gloves if you can. If not be aware of the hot pepper oils on your skin. Wash immediately after prep. Hot pepper oils can burn.

 

Straining tomatos for salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted      Tomato water, making salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted

Place the chopped tomatos into a colander over a bowl. Allow to drain for 15 minutes to remove some of the tomato water. You would be suprised at how much water you collect.

Fresh garlic for salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted      Fresh ingredients for salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted

In a large pot combine all the ingredients and stir well to mix completely.

Slow simmer for up to 2 hours on medium heat stirring occasionally. Cook until desired flavor and consistancy is acheived.

Canning fresh salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted      Processing salsa in a hot water bath on Nutmeg Disrupted

Ladle the salsa into hot jars. Clean the rims of the jars with a clean cloth. Add rings and tighten until just finger tight. Place all the filled jars into a hot water bath and process for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Fresh made salsa on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

 

 

 

 

 

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