Living in the capitol of British Columbia (yes it is Victoria, not Vancouver), you sometimes forget that there are reasons why we are so overrun with tourists during the summer. You forget that attractions abound all over the city and are beautiful, wondrous places to take yourself and your children. With this in mind, last weekend we decided to go to The Butchart Gardens, a staple attraction and probably the biggest draw for many tourists coming to the island.
Nestled in Central Saanich, The Butchart Gardens have been around for over 100 years. A great feat for a garden. But when you arrive there, you realize why it is still there and draws so many to it’s beauty.
Though I’m not much for flora (I prefer vegetation that can give something back besides good looks and heady scents…) I couldn’t help but be one amongst the tourists with their cameras drawn and pointed at every bud and gorgeous blossom. Here I take a photo of myself in the looking ball, located inside the immense and out-of-this-world fragrant rose garden.
As we spent hour after hour walking through some of the most amazing gardens I have ever seen, I couldn’t help but admire it. Yes, I do see it as a bit of a waste of land that could be used otherwise but it is truly a natural wonder to behold. The only time I really thought about it was reading one of the posted signs around the garden saying that the old quarry was quite barren so the Butchart family paid farmers from the neighbouring peninsula to bring truck after truck of topsoil from their farms and deliver it to the gardens for use in the sunken garden. Ugh.
But there is so much beauty there, it is truly hard to not have fun. Mostly what I appreciated was the chance to spend the afternoon with my family and my in-laws. A great place to wander about when you are no higher than a countertop. Our kids had a great time there, even allowing us to sit for lunch in one of the fine restaurants on the property, albeit a very short and harried lunch.
Keeping with out “tourist in your own town” mentality, we also made a stop at the local fair. The Saanich Fair (also an institution for the past 143 years) is huge agricultural fair that happens every year at the Saanich Fair Grounds, also located in Central Saanich. Here, you can amble through barns filled with prize winning chickens, ducks, turkeys and other poultry, miniature horses and goats, beautiful purebred horses and of course cows and pigs. 4-H clubs are a heavy contributor so there are even livestock auctions, which I had to tear myself away from. I don’t need a side of beef…right?
We took Cohen on his first midway ride, the ferris wheel. It was…great…well, he loved it anyway. Me? Well, all I could do, aside from grip the bar in front of me with white knuckles, was stare at the probably forty year old mechanism holding our swinging bench to the contraption spinning us around and around. I did manage to snap a few shots between held breaths. I may have a slight problem with heights, but it was the rust and creaking that really did me in…
We did come away from the fair with a great assortment of produce as well, as the farmer’s market tucked away at the far corner offered everything one could possible pine for. Tiny fist sized melons, fragrant early apples, corn that still smelled of the fields they were plucked from and of course squash, zucchini and every berry known to man.
Even though we are drowning in produce from our own garden, I can’t help but buy what I do not have. I just love to experience the harvest as widely as possible. With that note, sometimes I buy too much. I cannot stand to waste food. Bruised? Mold? Funny looking? I just cut out the offending bits and find something to do with it. As a last resort, I feed it to the chickens, as they will turn it into food for my family and I after all.
But I just could not go through these Okanagan peaches fast enough. I decided that this year, instead of another batch of apple butter to last us through the winter, this year would be something completely different. Using up the last of the Italina prune plums and the fuzzy little peaches from Red Haven in Penticton, I cam up with this Peach and Plum Bourbon butter. My inspiration comes from where it usually does, in my favourite foodie book “The Flavour Bible” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. I knew I couldn’t mess it up with that combo. Luckily I had the dregs of a bottle of Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Whiskey, and it just made this fruit butter that much better.
Two years ago: BBQ Salmon and Miso Oysters
Peach Plum Bourbon Butter
Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
4 peaches, skinned and pitted
6 large prune plums, skinned and pitted
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 oz bourbon
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 bean and 1 tsp extract
1. Chop all fruit roughly.
2. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.
3. Continue to cook on low heat for up to two hours or until recipe has reduced by 2/3rds.
4. To can using the boiling water method: Boil jars, lids and rings in enough water to cover everything by at least one inch for 15 minutes. Keep peach plum bourbon butter hot while you do this. When jars are done, remove with tongs to a cooling rack. Ladle in butter (being careful not to spill onto the sides) leaving 1/4 of space at the top of the jars. If you spill, wipe clean with a very clean, damp cloth. Press seal onto hot jars and place rings on, but don’t tighten all the way. Leave on cooling rack overnight and try not to disturb them. If the seal is not popped, they are good! If the button is raised on the seal, you must eat immediately and keep refrigerated.
Similarly delicious recipes from other fabulous food blogs:
Fruity Nut Butter from Little Foodies
Passionfruit Butter from Penguin Says Feed Me!
Concord Grape and Nectarine Butter from Christie’s Corner
Tomato Jam from Savour Fare
Blueberry Preserves with Blueberry Cupcakes from Always with Butter