We are finally getting to the point where we feel a bit more settled in Nanaimo, and this has nothing to do with the number of boxes that have been (or have not been) unpacked. The basement still looms large with boxes and piles of who-knows-what, but we are getting there. Little Man calls our house his “Canada Home,” but is also finding new places to be his favorites. One of these favorites is Oliver Woods Park.
The park itself is carved (literally) out of the surrounding woodlands. For someone who has lived in the flat, flat plains (which have their own beauty, don’t get me wrong) for the last few years this park looks magical with its cape of fir and cedar. It also reminds me a bit of one of the parks from back in Pella, the West Market Park, with its wooden castle and bridges. Maybe that is one of the reasons that Little Man calls Oliver Woods “his” park.
The playground is dominated by its large castle-like climbing toy, but that isn’t actually the area that Little Man likes most. Just beyond the castle is a slightly smaller area that is designed more for the 2-3 year olds. The slides are shorter, there are no rock walls to climb, but there is a cool pirate ladder of beams suspended on chains that hang just above a solid wooden gangway. Little Man and most of the other little ones step over the beams onto the gangway below. He loves it.
At the back of the playground is a small exercise circuit designed for anyone over 13 years of age. Little ones run around and play there too, but most of them tend to lose interest quickly as nothing is designed for them and the coolness of the circuit is lost on those who can’t read the instructions.
The entire playground and exercise circuit area are surrounded by forest, hence the “Woods.” For Little Man, this is the Enchanted Forest. Just behind and to the right of the castle is a little gate that leads out into the Enchanted Forest and a series of nature trails. We haven’t explored many of these yet, except for the trail on the right. This is a short downward trail, perfect for little legs and for parent legs that are exhausted after chasing little legs around the playground, that ends at a little dock and the duck pond.
Little Man loves the ducks… and their food. If you are interested, you can get a bag of duck food from the reception desk inside the Community Center. The last time we were at the park we were making new friends and stayed a little bit later than I had intended to. That meant that Little Man was late for lunch and apparently quite munchy even after his snacks. One of his new friends let him take a handful of duck food to feed the already stuffed ducks. The birds must get quite the feast from all the little kids, and none of them were moving too quickly that day. Little Man, however, was feeling rather peckish. So peckish, in fact, that he took his little handful of duck food and like lightning stuffed them into his hungry mouth. I was not as fast, but managed to fish most of the pellets out of his mouth before he’d swallowed them. I didn’t want to immediately quash his ability to play with the ducks, so I let him feed the ducks a little bit more. This was fine for a handful or two, until he grabbed a fistful and stuffed them in his mouth again. I guess duck food can’t taste as bad as I would have imagined. More fishing of slimy duck pellets out of Little Man’s mouth ensued. The very nice woman at the reception desk ensured me that the duck food was an all natural product from a local store with a great reputation, and luckily there were no adverse reactions to Little Man’s ducky snack. But Mommy has definitely learned that a hungry toddler should not be given access to “snacks” that he’s not allowed to eat. The ducks still look at him askance when he comes close. I think they’re wondering if he’s going to make off with their lunch.
Now I plan in advance to have a few more snacks at hand when we might be out closer to lunch time, and closer to the duck pond. I think that this week I’ll make him the same scones that we had a couple of weeks ago when his Tia came out to visit. The best part of living on the island is that every couple of weeks we get to visit with family, a luxury that Little Man has never experienced before. When his Tia came over we had a little tea party, with tuna sandwiches, hummus and cucumber sandwiches, and cheddar chive scones. These scones are great since the dough can be made, portioned and then frozen before baking them. The dough should last a couple of weeks in the freezer. Then when you are ready to eat them you simply break them apart, put them on a parchment lined backing sheet, and shortly thereafter you have delicious scones.
Cheddar Chive Scones
½ cup cheddar cheese, sharp
¼ cup chives, chopped finely
½ cup oats
½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup white flour
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 Tblsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cut into ½ in. cubes and COLD
1 large egg
4-5 Tblsp. milk (any kind)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor fitted with the shredding blade, shred the cheese. Put the shredded cheese in a large bowl, add the chives and set aside. Do not wash out the processor. Replace the shredding disk and lid with the standard blade and lid.
In your emptied (but still a bit cheesy) food processor, put the oats and blitz until forming a coarse meal (oat flour). Add the other flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Process to just combine. Add the butter and process in pulses until it resembles a coarse meal with some pea sized bits of butter. Dump the flour mixture into the bowl with the cheese and chives, then toss to coat.
In a small bowl beat the egg and 4 tablespoons of milk with a fork. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together. In the bowl it will look like it won’t hold its shape. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Fold the dough in half and “knead” it no more than four times. It should hold together and form a solid mass when you pat it into a 1-inch thick 6-inch round. Cut the circle into eight equally sized wedges.
At this point you can wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it, or you can bake it immediately. Cooling down the dough (in the refrigerator or freezer) can make for a lighter, more flaky (and more awesome) scone, as this creates more flaky layers in the pastry. However, they are also flaky, cheesy, and downright irresistible even if baked right away.
Space the scones evenly on the prepared backing sheet. Add a splash of milk to the empty milk and egg bowl. Brush this mixture over the top of the scones. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire wrack and serve.
Note: If baking the scones after freezing them, unwrap them from the plastic wrap and proceed with everything as normal. One note is that you may need to bake them for little longer. Just give them a little touch when they “look” done. If it feels mushy in the center, then give them another couple of minutes. If they feel firm to the touch, then they are done.
Click on this link to open a ready to print recipe card for the CheddarChiveScones.