In Which We Pick Apples

There’s an island about 20 min. from Old Québec City, across the Lawrence River, called, “Île d’Orléans”. It is an agricultural land with fertile soil and lots of strawberry fields, apple orchards, farmers’ stands, dairy farms, alfalfa fields, vineyards and quaint 18th century style houses. There is only one bridge across the river to the island and one main road all the way around. We were advised to go during the week rather than the weekend since the bridge can get very backed up with traffic. It worked out perfectly and there weren’t any traffic jams on this past Wednesday afternoon.

We were in search of apples to pick ourselves, as well as some cider. Both hard and fresh. In a travel brochure Daniel read about iced ciders available at Verger Joe Giguère, so it was the one we stopped at. First we visited the cider tasting shop, and then went out to pick our apples.

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I have to admit, Daniel did most of the picking. Natasha helped some, but really just wanted to skip and prance around the orchard. Meanwhile, I was tending to a slightly hungry baby, playing photographer and holding (and tasting) Natasha’s apple when she wasn’t munching on it.

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This particular orchard sold out of their fresh cider over the weekend so we went in search of some at other locations while the kiddos slept and I admired the houses and barns of the island.

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Canada does fall very well indeed.

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There’s A Hole in the Ground

Well, it’s time to play catch-up. Despite all my best efforts at blogging in the here and now and trying to keep things updated and close to the actual event, sometimes I just stop blogging because I am enjoying the here and now.

You see, we are home now, back in the States and it’s just not quite New Zealand. We saw a lot on the way home, which I will of course share at some point, and now we are home with very mixed feelings. It has its nice points for sure, like being in our own little house again with our own kitchen. Natasha has her beloved stuffed animals to play with again, and Thanksgiving is coming. (I love an American Thanksgiving, and that’s something that Kiwis don’t have.) But we miss a lot from Down Under. Things like amazing scenery and the urge to rush outside because if you don’t, you might miss seeing something spectacular. Fun accents wherever you go, washed carrots, and the sense of exploring whenever you exit the door.

I’m sure it’s just a matter of creating those same feelings wherever you are, but sometimes you just can’t create amazing scenery. There simply aren’t big hills to climb where we live in the midwest, or rocky coastlines.

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So to pick up where we left off back in October, Logan and Maria were still with us and we were exploring more of Abel Tasman National Park. On this particular outing, we drove up the mountain pass towards Takaka with an extra passenger. Just before we started up the mountain, we picked up a backpacker who was hitchiking. That added something new to the drive!

We weren’t going all the way to the town of Takaka right then since we wanted to stop at Harwood’s Hole, so Nikko hopped out before we headed back the gravel drive to the entrance to the hole. He wasn’t there when we came out, so we assume he got a ride down the mountain.

Meanwhile, we were hiking in the most magical forest I’ve ever encountered. Everything was mossy and green like a rainforest.

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There were bogs.

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And rocks to climb over. (This was considered an “easy” walking path.)

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And purple mushrooms.

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And leafy, lettuce-looking moss.

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And of course, a ginormous hole in the ground. It was so massive, we just basically sat down and stayed there. You couldn’t really see the bottom or the entrance because of the angle, so we just observed. There were some German hikers there at the same time and one guy in particular was more daring than us. So we just watched him climb and prayed we wouldn’t watch him fall. (He didn’t.)

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On our way back out, it might seem cliche, but I really wanted my picture with a sheep. The road went right through their pasture and was rather picturesque. (But what isn’t in New Zealand?!)

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A Scottish Highlander met us on our way out as well:

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So from there, we let Maria take the driver’s seat and we went down Takaka Hill to the town in search of milk. As faithful readers might remember, we searched out milk in Central America and Europe, so it was only fitting that we do it here as well.

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When we first came through Abel Tasman National Park, we saw the sign “Raw Milk” out by the road and stopped to investigate.

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This was by far the most elaborate set up we’ve encountered. Village Milk even has a website and obviously, it’s not illegal to sell raw milk in New Zealand.

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Their shed, right on the farm was complete with a fridge containing clean glass bottles to purchase, and a sanitation process that steams customer’s containers before the milk fills them.

We weren’t prepared to get any milk that first time, but this time we brought our empty water jug and procured some. It cost $2.50 a litre. (New Zealand dollar.) Kind of appropriate that Logan and Maria were here when we actually bought some, since Daniel and I met on their dairy farm and have so many great memories of times spent there.

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On our way home we had enough time and sunlight to show Logan and Maria Split Apple Rock. This time it was at low tide, and we could get a lot closer to the rock and explore some of the caves nearby.

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Instead of me bringing little treasures home without a clear purpose for them, I photographed my finds.
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In Which We Observe a Glacier Moving

Okay, okay, we didn’t actually see it moving, but as the info boards tell us, it really is. V-E-R-Y slowly, but surely. This was at the touristy little town of Franz Josef, where we stopped briefly before heading to our first night’s accommodation.

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Which was a quiet little Holiday House, on a dairy farm. We were still chilly, so heat was of first importance, and a very close second was supper. 27-107

 

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The dairy cows here do not live in barns, and are all on pasture. The milking parlors are not always near the house, as this one was, but are often just out in the pasture right where the cows are. 36-104

Milk and Currywurst

Yes, milk and currywurst. Not necessarily together at the same time at the same meal. :)

{Thursday, September 12th}

As some of you might remember, we like our milk farm fresh. Even when in different countries. And sometimes we take taxis, or long walks to get to it. This time round, we didn’t need a taxi, since we had our rental car, so we went off on a very rainy afternoon in search of milk.

Two or three years ago Daniel had read about an automatic milk dispenser on a farm in Germany, on the Weston A. Price’s blog. When coming to Germany had become a reality for us, he looked into it again, and that’s how we found raw milk at Markus Hof, in Baden-Württemberg! It was about an hour and a half drive from Eibelstadt, in the village of Maisbach.

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We got 3 liters of mineral water from the store basically so we could have the jugs, emptied it into kettles at the apartment then headed out for milk. (I asked Maria later, “What do you do with three pots of mineral water?!”) A kind lady assisted with getting the proper coins and buttons pushed, and voila! Milk came out in exactly 1 1/2 liters, for our jugs. It was a euro a liter.

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The farm buildings were actually right in the teeny village, and I never saw any cows, but that didn’t prevent it from being a farm. Things on a farm are always the same, no matter what country you may be in. :)

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Following our milk excursion, we took a very short walking trip through part of Heidelberg. We were rather pressed for time since we had to return the rental car that evening before 5 p.m. Actually, 17:00. I think I’ve neglected to mention that using “military time” is much more popular over here for store hours, bus times, etc… I think I have it almost down pat! So anyway, we didn’t get to see as much of this college town that we wanted, but what we saw, we loved.

While hastening through the streets, I spotted a sewing store. Of course I had to go in, and found some darling little zippers that I’ve never seen anywhere else!

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A farmer’s market was being set up in a square around the corner, so while Daniel bought us some currywurst, we girls admired the flowers.

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Our first currywurst! It’s basically a hot dog or bratwurst with a spicy, tomato based sauce almost like ketchup over top, with curry powder sprinkled on as a finishing touch. You eat it with a forked little wooden stick. Natasha said it was too spicy,  but the rest of us liked it. I’m pretty pleased to say that once back at the apartment, I tried my hand at duplicating it, and both Daniel and Maria said I succeeded. I have fixed it twice now, and each time haven’t bothered to take a picture, because it’s one of those rare recipes that turns out looking just like the picture below of our “original” currywurst!

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I sort of combined a couple online recipes for my currywurst sauce, including this one. But used chili powder, in place of chili sauce, and sauteed finely diced onions instead of onion salt, added some apple cider vinegar, increased the curry powder, and used honey instead of sugar. So actually, I didn’t exactly follow that recipe. That’s just how I cook.

While we’re on the topic of German food, I’ve read that a lot of people visiting Germany have been disappointed in the food. I must say that everything we’ve had has been very good. Maybe we just have different taste buds than other folks…

Also, about the mineral water. That’s what you get when you order water at a restaurant! We had to ask Micha about this, and he said that ordering tap water is simply not done and you just don’t get plain water when eating out. So it’s very popular to have sparkling water…room temperature. Maria said she hadn’t seen an ice cube anywhere, and she’s right! Even in Paris, where you could request tap water, it didn’t come with ice. Such fun learning all the little things about a new country. :)

So what did we end up doing with all that mineral water we bought? If you mix it with juice, it makes a tasty beverage.

Walnuts, An Alternator and Chickens

Last month we were finally able to visit some good friends for a couple days. Daniel saw them shortly after we returned from Panama, when he went to get our car, but I wasn’t along. (That would be the car that we bought on e-bay, while in Panama, and had never seen in person. But their oldest son (at home) was the one who braved the journey to actually pick up the car out of state, all while we were still in Panama.) Anyway, this was the first since we’ve been back in the States that I got to see the whole family!

It was a great time talking and visiting. The girls and I went to buy apples, and since it is the season for such fruit, we ate lots while there.

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Natasha enjoyed playing with the little boys, although they might have intimidated, overwhelmed, frightened and surprised her a few times. Ha!

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Naomi, Daniel’s sister, was with us and she played chess with Miles. I still don’t quite understand that game. Basically all I can remember is that the knight moves in an L-shape, and “check” means trouble.

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Daniel easily stepped in to help with the famous walnut season. They are a pickup location for Hammons, who supplies a walnut huller and buys hulled walnuts.

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The hulled walnuts are bagged and weighed, then the customer gets paid for them. It’s a win-win-win situation!

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Since we aren’t around as often as we once were, I don’t feel like I know they youngest two or three boys as well. :( This is Colleen and Clay, their youngest. :)

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So, our first attempt home resulted in our car’s alternator going bad. We sat in an O’Reilly’s parking lot for a bit, before deciding to turn around and see if we could get back to Yoder’s to repair it. We didn’t quite get all the way there, so Colleen came to rescue us and we ended up staying another day with them!

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While Daniel and Brady replaced the alternator in a church parking lot the next day, I watched the chicken butchering process. They did over 200 birds that day.

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For more pictures of our time at Yoder’s, stop by their blog for a fun post here. :)