Helen B's Preserves

Glowing Goodies

Clara has been accompanying me to the market for the past few weeks, and each time we walk through, her eye is invariably drawn to the glowing soft pink light emanating from the Helen B’s Preserves booth. See, someone at Helen B’s got the inspired idea to put a light behind their apple jelly so customers could bask in the perfect pinky glow. Clara has been like a moth to a streetlight. Imagine her glee when I steered her straight to the Helen B display this week.


I always like to go that extra step for you, dear readers, so I asked Mike (the SON of Helen B) to recommend something that might not be what I would pick easily.

Mike’s first recommendation was the zucchini pickles. Zucchini bread and butter pickles, you might be thinking, but you would be italicizing that thought incorrectly. Next time, try thinking like this: Zucchini!!! Pickles!!! We accepted the jar with some trepidation and then chose some other delights.

I picked out Mulled Cider Jelly, and Scrooge Jam (which is a combo of lots of berries and stuff), and a Muscat Wine Jelly. I will not be reviewing the wine jelly because it was a gift to my dear old Dad whose eyes lit up when he saw the label. As for the aforementioned pink paradise jam, Clara got to select a jar of Apple Jelly and she was finally able to hold that pinky goodness in her hot little hands.


When we got home I opened the jar of zucchini pickles and called out “who wants to try zucchini pickles?” Clara and Max were keen, Solomon not so much. Then I told him he had to try one and he said “…then why did you ask if I wanted to?” Smart aleck. I think I said something like “because SCIENCE!” They each took one…and then came back for thirds and fifths. The pickles are just what you’d want – crisp and tangy and a little sweet. I love the undercurrent of apple cider vinegar. Completely delicious. Finally – a use for all the million zucchinis that one measly plant you plunked into your garden as an afterthought!

Next we had to try the jellies and jams. I know that sampling sweet flavourful gorgeously glistening blobs of pure joy is not everyone’s thing, but I do the tough jobs for you. We decided to kill two birds with one stone: we’d been invited out to dinner, so we decided Thumbprint Cookies would be the perfect vehicle for sampling the flavours.


Credit for cookie-making belongs to Mike and Clara, and maybe Solomon a bit, too.

I’m here to tell you this is a fantastic use for these jams. The apple jelly is luscious and exactly what you’d expect and want from an apple jelly. The Scooge jam is a lovely mixture that makes every bite a little different. It’s a great blend of flavours with BIG chunks because the berries are mostly whole. It looks really pretty and it tastes really pretty, too.


My big favourite, however, was the mulled cider jelly. It combines everything I love about mulled cider without the dribbling-on-my-shirt and (usually) freezing cold scenario in which I’m drinking it. Plus: no prep time! You don’t have to smell it for hours on your stove, only to have your hand slapped away when you’re about to take a teeny tiny sample. No: you can just open up a jar of this goodness and enjoy that lovely robust and earthly delight that is hot apple cider with a sprinkling of warm inviting spices. Yummy. It’s like apple jelly for the more discerning palate. Which is going to be my line when the kids ask for it and I give them the straight up apple jelly instead.


Helen B’s preserves can be found at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market every week and at many other locations. Check out their website: http://helenbspreserves.weebly.com/ and ‘like’ them on Facebook.

Jordan's Natural Acres

Meet Your Meat

Lest you think I only have one child, this week I lured the other two to join us on our trip to the market. I was, for some strange reason, labouring under the misapprehension that Jordan’s Meat Market had prepared meat available. Therefore, I enticed the boys to join us with promises of “meat! Meeeeaaattt!!!” I’m not entirely sure why this approach worked on Max, our budding vegetarian, but apparently I sounded just crazy enough to convince him to come along.

These little piggies went to the market
These little piggies went to the market

Once there, my discombobulation continued as I asked my vegan friend if he knew where Jordan’s were located. Sorry again, Jon!

Jordan’s booth is like their meat: straight to the point and uncluttered by additives. I asked for what we’d come to get: beef sausages. I asked why beef, and Betty pragmatically informed me that she wanted to make sausages, but there were already two other vendors providing pork ones. My Jewish-unless-it’s-bacon husband was pretty pleased with the idea.

Clara was delighted to meet meat maker Betty
Clara was delighted to meet meat maker Betty

Jordan’s is a fourth generation farm with a fifth generation waiting in the wings. They grow their meat and eggs the natural way – on grass and hay. Betty explained that her husband’s father had followed the prevailing wisdom of his day and finished off the beef in the barn, fattening them up with grain. But then, she explained, they’d just get shipped to the butcher who trimmed off the fat. Betty thought they should skip the unnecessary expense and silliness. Grass-fed beef is leaner and more delicious anyway.

I asked Betty what their most popular item was, but she told me it really depends. She used to have an Acadia athlete who would buy 5lbs of beef liver from her every week. When I accidentally let slip that liver is not my favourite thing in the whole world she quickly explained that she has a “great” recipe for liver…covered in bacon. She also offered that most people cook overcook liver and a quick searing was where all the magic was.

This woman was filling her own cloth bag, presumably not with 5 pounds of liver... but one never knows
This woman was filling her own cloth bag, presumably not with 5 pounds of liver… but one never knows

Betty told me how the farm used to only sell meat in ‘bulk,’ and it was their son who came up with the idea to start selling at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market. If you’ve ever gone to a grocery store the night before a snowstorm, you’ll agree that Betty is right: most people don’t plan ahead these days, so ready-for-a-meal size is a popular way to sell meat now. That said, the farm is still happy to sell you your very own “in case of snowmageddon” stash from the market or straight from the farm.

And this is how simple it can be to make your own delicious dinner, folks. I brought the sausage home, tossed it on the counter, and by supper time it was thawed completely and all set for Mike to make into a delicious meal.

Mike was so enamoured of the sausage he filled the SD card with various-states-of-cooking shots. When I expressed my disappointment that there was no room left for photos of the children enjoying the sausage, Mike saved the day with a quick-thinking removal of Christmas photos. Thanks, Mike!

Worth deleting Christmas photos for.  Yummy!
Worth deleting Christmas photos for. Yummy!

We encountered a wee problem in that the package contained 4 sausages, and we are 5. No problem, Mike and I each got a full one, and the kids each got portions. Our budding vegetarian pronounced them “great.” He then says “it kind of tastes like honey” to which Solomon replied, with withering side-eye, “well YEAH, she SAID they’re honey garlic!” And they were. Oh yes indeed.

As the children bolted down their portions, they eyed ours greedily. Being the noble, generous person I am, I cut off 3 bites for my children. Each saved the bite so they could “save the best for last.”

Look!  It's the hitherto elusive writer in the flesh, er, in person.
Look! It’s the hitherto elusive writer in the flesh, er, in person.

As Mike cleared his plate away he casually remarked that there was half a sausage left. What a guy.

My only recommendation is not to buy these sausages in bulk unless you, yourself, are interested in becoming bulky. They are irresistible.


Jordan’s Meat Market can be located at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, online at http://jordansnaturalacres.webs.com/, and now on Facebook, too.


The Adventure of the Procurement of a Delicious Smoothie from Stewart’s Organic Farm that Almost Didn’t Happen

Stewart’s provided the refreshment for March’s meeting of the Annapolis Valley Refresh Group (see what I did there?). Sadly, said meeting conflicted with my Running Group and neither Group was willing to move to accommodate my tasting requirements. Oh, the humanity. Nonetheless, as soon as I was finished running, I hopped into my car and sped from Centreville to Wolfville (and by “sped” I mean, of course, that I drove carefully, following the posted legal speed limit and obeying all the traffic signs).

I arrived at the meeting and Mike came toward me with a slightly sheepish look on his face. It seems the ever-varying numbers at Refresh were surprisingly high that month and, as a result, Stewart’s had underestimated how much smoothie-goodness to provide. And who turns down a smoothie? That’s right – NO ONE.

Mike managed to restrain himself enough to provide me with about 2 Tbsp of Blueberry Smoothie. It was delicious and tantalizing. I choked back sobs as I drove home. I would have sobbed even harder if he’d told me I’d missed out on meeting the lovely youngest member of the Stewart’s Farming “family”.

Mia – pictured here with her mother Sarah, and Al – the big deal
Mia – pictured here with her mother Sarah, and Al – the big deal

Luckily, tiny woman and I were soon able to bring ourselves to the Wolfville Farmer’s Market and procure Smoothies for our own darn selves! Clara chose mixed berry (a blend of equal parts strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry), and I chose strawberry. It seems Clara has her finger on the pulse of the Stewart’s Shoppers as Al tells me Mixed Berry is their most popular flavour.

And now for the inside info: if you remember last year’s sad strawberry supply, you (wink wink) should know that if you have a hankering for a strawberry Smoothie: ACT FAST (nudge nudge).

Al mixes them up while you wait and they both smile a lot.
Al mixes them up while you wait and they both smile a lot.
Clara regaled Sarah with a lively explanation of the history of her teeth loss. This produced more smiling from Sarah.
Clara regaled Sarah with a lively explanation of the history of her teeth loss. This produced more smiling from Sarah.

Al provided me with an equally lively explanation of the history of Stewart’s Smoothie production. It seems that about 4 years ago the Stewarts were faced with a dilemma: what to do with crud1-free berries that go bad very quickly? Toss them into the freezer and make delicious Smoothies, of course! Their bumper crop is your good fortune, really.

I kind of have a thing about Smoothies. Well, I have a thing about replacing meals with Smoothies. Especially when the Smoothies are filled with junk. Let me be the first to reassure you, there is zero percent junk in these Smoothies (just kidding about “the first” part – Stewart’s was Organic before you decided it was hip and they are more committed to it than your hip is to holding your leg up. Okay, so that metaphor got away from me a little). The Smoothies are 100% CERTIFIED Organic and 100% fill-you-to-the-brim delicious. I didn’t eat again until supper. Al tells me that he considers the Smoothies more of a treat, in any case, but you can be the judge of that!

Clara with Smoothie before the fall
Clara with Smoothie before the fall

Tiny woman also inadvertently dropped the last eighth, or so, of her Smoothie all over a lovely young woman named Emma and her craft booth. The good people of the Wolfville Farmer’s Market are very kind and helpful with cleanup. I was very embarrassed. Clara wanted another Smoothie. I decided to avoid more carnage and declined. I’m therefore also able to tell you that the Smoothies have excellent coverage (including Tiny Woman’s tights, pictured here).


Bonus portion of this post – for the most part, I re-worked Al’s answers to my questions…but this exchange was too good not to share:

Do you have a fail-proof method for keeping bits of smoothie out of your teeth?

Good point, we need to smack the heck out of the smoothies to get the blueberry skins as small as possible. On a positive note, the bits and pieces that get by us are proof that there are actually real things in the smoothies. You won’t have that problem at the fast food joints in their products which “contain real fruit”.

Stewart’s has a permanent location at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, “On the other side of the wall from TAN Coffee, and across the market from Just Us Coffee.” They can also be tracked down online on Twitter: @StewartsOrganic, on Facebook, and at their very own site: www.stewartsorganicfarm.com


[1] Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, any other -icides that kill stuff and poison people.

Nothing Bad Here
Nothing Bad Here
Live and in person!

Sister Lotus

Sister Lotus gets me going on this, the inaugural entry.

Sister, or Angie Oriana Jenkins, as she prefers to be known, is a brains and beauty entrepreneur. Since she oscillates between the names Angie and Oriana, I’m just going to call her “Sister” in this post. I hope she doesn’t mind.

Sister was kind enough, or torturous enough, to let me make the choice of sample product from her wares all on my own. We decided it would be fun for me to meet her in her natural setting, so on International Women’s Day, I took my tiny woman, Clara, and we visited Sister’s amazing booth.

getting tiny woman ready to go on large adventure
getting tiny woman ready to go on large adventure

Sister is an intellectual, belly-dancing, herbalist, nature-loving, yoga-practising, Romantic poetry-loving woman who started Sister Lotus from little more than some awesome ingredients and a wealth of knowledge. Sister Lotus Body Care Products, Belly Dance, & Herbal Education was born 5 years ago and is in full bloom today.

Sister Lotus makes an incredible array of products: everything from body glitter to decorative (but completely functional and delicious smelling) soaps to medicinal herbal products to cosmetics and more. Her booth is a veritable cornucopia of visual delights and I could have stood there, examining things, all day long except other people were rudely buying many things and asking her many questions. The nerve!

“Sister” and her whole lovely booth
“Sister” and her whole lovely booth

Clara was heavily advocating for glitter…but after an agonizing period of considering, I decided to try the intriguing Cayenne Balm. Contrary to what you might think of the name, it is not a product intended to soothe peppers, rather it is meant to soothe YOU, dear reader, when your muscles are tired and achy.

Sister explained that it is something like Tiger Balm (also not for soothing tigers) and that I should try a little bit first as some people find it slightly irritating. She agreed that it would probably not be the best idea to rub my eyes after applying it. In fact – it says WASH HANDS AFTER USE – right on the label! Sister also informed us that it would leave a yellow stain on our skin, due to the turmeric.

Clara eating sausage, a balm for glitter denial
Clara eating sausage, a balm for glitter denial

I gleefully took my balm home and waited for some aches and pains!

Years ago, I planted trees in BC and AB and got to appreciate the minor magic of Tiger Balm. However, I never learned to enjoy the smell. Cayenne Balm, on the other hand, makes my mouth water. It is made with (among other ingredients) cayenne, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon, so if you suddenly experience a craving for samosas, do not be alarmed.

It is also lovely to look at and easy to apply. It is not stiff, but more of a paste, so it’s easy to swipe a gob to smear on.

extreme close-up

extreme close-up

Mike was the first Guinea Pig, as he is installing flooring in our basement and acquiring many aches and pains in the process. I applied some to his lower back and waited for the results.

Mike reported that it was “warm” but not hot. He didn’t realize that my ulterior motive was to see how a ridiculously sensitive-skinned person like him would fare. Perfectly, as it happened. He also informed me that it felt much better in that spot, but I declined his offer to make sure ALL of his back felt better.

The next day I was lucky enough to get a sore arm! That is a long and boring story involving metal rollers, but I digress. While Mike’s pain was muscular, mine is (was) a result of nerve damage. I’m happy to report that, while nothing could take that pain away for me, the balm was soothing, and had a lovely mildly warming sensation. We both found that the turmeric colouring made minimal staining and easily washed off. I’m not sure I’d use it for a temple rub if I were going out in public, though (not to mention the proximity to my eyes).

try this at home!
try this at home!
After a wee application of soap and water
After a wee application of soap and water

And that, gentle readers, is my happy encounter with lovely Sister and her glorious products. Running season is upon us, and I know I’ll be reaping the benefits of her most excellent CAYENNE BALM!


Live and in person!
Live and in person!

* Sister Lotus can be found in real life at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market at Booth #41 and in the virtual world at www.sisterlotus.com, on FB as Sister Lotus, on Twitter as @SisterLotus1, and on Instagram as angieoriana. You really have no excuse not to go and admire her and her stuff!

Annapolis Valley Food & Craft