The Monday Make: Pickles for your Picnic

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Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of my favourite places to picnic and walk around the town.  I love taking pics of the children by the waterfront, and did manage to get a good shot (apart from the wind blowing hair in eyes) before what we think was a mink popped up from the rocks and headed straight for a photo bomb.  I’ve always thought I was pretty strongly and verbally opinionated about not touching the wild animals in our midst.  However, it seemed to become a forgotten rule, as my girl in grey did a big, “ahhhh, look,” and reached out to pet the little rodent as it came skittering over to her at lightning speed.  We’re suspecting people must feed this little guy or gal since it was so strangely familiar with us all.

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After our picnic at the lake we took some time to visit the Laura Secord Homestead at the base of Queenston Heights.  We visited a number of years ago and had a fantastic tour, but since my youngest wouldn’t remember it, and since we covered this part of history in our Canadian history course this year, I figured it was a good way to end the school year with a field trip in the summer to some of these historical destinations to grasp it as more of living history than just something read in a book and seemingly unreal or too distant.

We weren’t disappointed, having just as fantastic a tour guide as our first time.  I just love encountering young people with a passion for history.  It sure showed on Amanda’s face, in her voice, and in her knowledge of Laura Ingersoll Secord, and the War of 1812, that day we toured.

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I had remembered some of the little details like white sugar cones placed in the windows as a sign of wealth.  Image was everything in those days.  But some of the details I’d forgotten from the last tour were the little sayings that we have nowadays and often wonder where the phrase came from.

The newest one for me to learn of was the “settle” bed.  It was on the second floor of the home in the open landing area between the two bedrooms.  If one’s guest was of a lower class, they would sleep in this rather uncomfortable looking bed that unfolded from it’s wooden bench appearance.  It is where we get the phrase, “settle down” from.  And I truly wish I’d pulled the camera out to take a pic so you could see the bed, but I was too intent on listening to all the information Amanda had for us, that I couldn’t think to be distracted with a camera for the actual tour.

Laura Secord, for those who aren’t familiar with the name, walked a 30 km trip from her house here in Queenston Heights to Beaver Dams (near Thorold) where General Fitzgibbons, the British commander, was stationed.  Her own house had been filled with American soldiers she was billeting in June of 1813 when the Americans had taken the town of Queenston.  She overheard them discussing  a surprise attack on Fitzgibbons’ men.

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She set out in the middle of the night, not on roads, but through forest, brush, and swamp land to reach her destination, it taking her 18 hours to do so, in much the same kind of outfit this tour guide is wearing, with the same kind of little flat embroidered shoes, most likely arriving very mosquito bitten and worn to raveling.

The British troops were able to ambush and the victory was theirs.  Unfortunately, we learned, for Laura, she didn’t even get a ride home! Imagine! And though many others were patted on the back for the victory, Laura’s efforts remained anonymous for years. She petitioned the government, as did Fitzgibbons,  writing letters to assist her voice in the plea.

It wasn’t until she was able to corner the Prince of Wales in one of his visits, I believe when she was in her eighties, that she was awarded what would be the amount of $5,000.  There is a monument to her that was erected in 1910, sitting atop Queenston Heights to remember her.

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And it was just a perfect day to drive on up to the top of Queenston, to the Heights, and view Laura’s monument, as well as climb the Brock monument (56 m high/ 185 ft) that also stands overlooking the Heights.  General Brock died at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October of 1812.  The monument was first worked on in 1823, then blown up in 1840  and since re-constructed in 1853 to what it is now.

Three of my children climbed the narrow, spiral staircase all the way to the top look-out, and loved every minute of the ascent.  If you visit, it is $4.50 for adults and $3.50 for children to climb Brock’s monument.

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After some tea under a welcome shaded tree, we passed this lovely restaurant before heading back to the van.  I checked out the prices which are on the very steep side, but certainly a picturesque place to take a date if you’re looking to impress.  We’re kind of past that.  Swiss Chalet is my version of fancy in the family days we’re living.

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And just so I don’t forget what this post is all about…pickles for your picnic (yes, I know I got really side-tracked with our visit to Niagara, didn’t I? You really should go!)

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I’ve had a hard time keeping up with the cucumber population in the garden this year so I can relate to being in a bit of “pickle.”  I’m currently pickling and have intentions (I don’t want to fully commit to that, as you can tell) to do some relish.  It’s one of the reasons I’ll use for not getting my Monday Make out on time to y ‘all! So sorry! I can’t even say it’s a Tuesday Take.

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I chose to do bread and butter pickles and I just love this recipe! I’ve made one batch so far and on my way to two this afternoon.

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The recipe comes from The Original Lowville Country Cook book, second edition.  If you’ve seen my posts on Salmon spawning, this is the town this cook book comes from.

Bread and Butter Pickles for your Picnic! Here it is, finally…after all my talking.

6 Quarts of sliced cucumbers, not too thin

8 onions, sliced thin

2 large, sweet peppers

3 Tbsps pickling salt (sprinkled on dry)

1 tsp Alum or lump (equivalent)

Leave overnight

In morning, drain well and add:

5 C white sugar

3 C white vinegar

3 Tbsps mustard seed

1 tsp celery seed

Mix well and bring to a scald.  Do not boil.  Seal in sterilized jars.

(Recipe by Eva Bridgman)

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