Lemon Braised Lamb Shoulder Chops

IMG_8425I took a long walk through the back trails of Thetis this morning with two young friends. I realized as we walked, that I’ve been walking on this island since I was 7 years old. The island has changed in so many ways, mostly just because more folks live here now, and that, in itself, brings change. One of the children asked me how I knew the trails, and wondered who looked after them all. The paths stay clear of growth from the many feet that travel them, and walkers toss off branch tips and such whenever they’re found. When I told them that the trails get looked after just by being used, it made me think of just how many trails traverse this small island.

We would find them with our parents leading the way when we were so young, and then later when we were given more freedom, we’d adventure through them, sometimes coming to dead ends, and working our way back. When I was older still, I would spend hours on horseback, sometimes getting a bit lost, but never in any danger, it would just take me longer to work my way back home. Our children were raised on the trails, and it thrilled me to hear them talk about their favourite glens or copses, and the imaginative things that would happen there.IMG_4032

One of the island’s main trails, Lawrence Trail, runs through the top corner of our farm (Lawrence Spring Farm), and then follows one of our boundaries through to the center of the island. We have many walkers, and a few mountain bikers, that use the trail regularly. People stop and talk to the horses, or the cows and calves, while they walk along in the cool of the shady trail.   I don’t think there’s anywhere on this island where you’re further than a few minutes from one trail or another. Most of the trails are on private land, and they continue to be used by all, graciously allowed by the owners.IMG_4029

Fifty years my feet have found themselves padding along the old paths, and I am so thankful that I live here, and am able to walk amongst these beautiful woodlands whenever I need or want to get out and walk. To be able to walk so freely to and from one’s home is one of the things that make it a home.IMG_4028

When I think of how important this island, and its beaches, meadows and woodlands are to our family, with so many years of our lives spent here, it is no wonder that several of us have made it our home. These days we gather from our different houses to meet for a simple supper together, maybe play a hand or two of cards, laugh, and enjoy each others company, knowing how wonderful it is that a place has brought us all back together.

This simple dish has been shared a few times during our gatherings, it is a lovely way to serve lamb; I hope you enjoy it. Continue reading

Farmhouse Ribs

IMG_7764Summer is full on now, no dew in the mornings, and warm breezes through the night, with lots of eating out of doors, watering of gardens, and chatting in the shade. The cows hunker down in the copses in the valley for the afternoon, flicking their tails, and chewing their cuds. The three horses all gather in our big walk-in shelter, waiting until the afternoon heat subsides. In the late afternoon, we take the dogs down to the beach for a swim and retrieve session, cooling us all down. July on the Gulf Islands is only surpassed by August on the Gulf Islands.

We gather more often for casual meals in the summer, most likely because it’s easier. No one wears much of anything anyhow; flip-flops and cut-offs are our A-list of fashion. It feels easier to drop what you’re doing, come on over, get a cold beverage, and visit while dinner gets ready.

I have no concerns about braising meats in the summer. It doesn’t really matter if the oven’s on low for several hours, as we’ll be eating outdoors anyhow. One of my favourite summer meals is ribs & coleslaw, we usually have some bread or rice to accompany it, and maybe some pickles, and if we’re really being fancy, a tossed salad. The ribs get braised for 3 hours, and can be cooked just before finishing them, or the day before, ready to be glazed with the BBQ sauce.   They still taste wonderful, and the meat falls off the bone. I put out a big dish of them, letting folks take as many as they want, with lots of napkins to clean off sticky fingers.

We sit and talk until dusk, most of the meal is put away, but we’re still lured to stay put, enjoying the few first cooler breezes of the night. These nights the sky is light well past 9:00, but by the end of August, we’ll be finishing our outdoor dining in the flickering light of candles and mini lights, while we watch the stars get brighter above. Continue reading