Category Archives: food

Grow and Show

Perhaps it’s because I am now in charge of the garden and not one of my mom’s minions, but I am now a proud gardener. 

As a kid I used to begrudge my time in the garden – it always happened when other summer activities were in full swing, like long weekends when friends went swimming or camping. I was planting or weeding or harvesting. 

Planting wasn’t too bad, but it sure took a long time to see the results of one’s labour. Weeding was the worst, as it seemed to be a losing battle. (I still feel that way most days but I’ve learned to feel the worth in anger management therapy. ) Harvesting was fun as it was the payoff – but it’s like cycling downhill… there is another side to it. 

All downhills have an up, and the garden harvest has to be eaten. Since it tends to be ready in large quantities at once, this means processing what you can’t eat right away. I still have a vivid sensory memory of the yucky taste in my mouth after sucking the air out of blanched snow peas and beans. (The freezer bags came with a short straw to do your own “vacuum sealing”. It was a good concept but I have since learned squishing the bag is just as good. )

Now I take pride in every little victory, and I check every morning to see the changes. (It’s funny how it took me many miles in life before I could fully appreciate short spans of time.) I suppose this is just another way of stopping to smell the flowers, isn’t it, Mumsy?

So, here’s my “grow and show” for this week:

The first cucumber! Now if only my lettuce would catch up.

Basil! To go with …

Tomatoes! The red plastic is working. This black krim in the greenhouse is the first to bear fruit (with the plastic they are supposed to bear more fruit earlier.)

My pride and joy – the Pink Gilbert grape vine that grows over the stone wall and makes the perfect picture with the window Martin made. I finally got its shoots thinned today.


Cheers to all those gardeners out there, and to the many eaters that share in our harvest.  Here’s to a bountiful season!

A Taste of Place 

We had the good fortune of a day off this past weekend and so we took full advantage. It’s a bit early to celebrate the bounty of the region but we did our best. 

The best place to start is you want a taste of fresh local food is a farmers market. My favourite in our region is the Penticton market, a sprawling conglomeration of farm booths, food trucks, craft vendors and even a bit of kitsch. Being able to wander Main Street amongst the families with dogs and children while being serenaded by the many buskers along the way is a special experience. I love the chance to enjoy my coffee in a ceramic mug too – local roasters Cherry Hill offer freshly brewed java and you just deposit the mug in one of the bins they provide en route.

I brought my travel mug this time, but another great environmental gesture is their innovative “stir sticks” – biodegradable and low cost!

There is plenty of sustenance to be had – we each got a muffin from Brodo Kitchen and some fresh-picked strawberries (“picked last night” he told us). The fruit galette we got at Joy Road Catering we wanted to save for later, but we also could have munched on Thai food, crepes, tacos, or any one of a myriad of pastry choices. 

This early in the summer the fruits and veggies are not as plentiful of course. However there are plenty of booths offering flower bouquets, homemade preserves, honey, eggs, and even frozen meat from the farm. 

There is something both strong and delicate about fresh seasonal blossoms….

These guys weren’t kidding – you can take home your own guava tree! How cool is that?


Another wing of the market has crafts and artistic products as well as goods sold by what I call “hawkers”. These items are no so much “as seen on TV”, as they are nifty inventions or natural alternatives for household or body maintenance. I feel like I’m at the county fair when I walk this section; it’s entertaining. 

I thought this artist’s commentary was well done – sometimes we don’t recognize just how much heart and soul goes into someone’s creative efforts.


This fellow might be working to expand his demographic- he offers bat boxes for the adventurous, bird houses for the artsy folk, and even redneck bird feeders!

 

Once we had our fill of the market fun, we mosied up the road for some wine. After all, when in Rome – or wine country … We didn’t have much time but I had pre-ordered some wines in the spring. I took a bunch of scenic photos and a few pages of notes, so that will be in a soon-to-be released post. 

Here’s hoping you make time to taste the flavours of where you are this weekend. 

A Day Off in the Garden

There is no such thing as a day off in the garden. If you are not yet a gardener, be forewarned – gardening is not for the faint of heart, or back. That said, the rewards are beautiful and often delicious. 

I am working on the vegetable garden finally, now that things have warmed up and it’s stopped raining. Unfortunately that meant the weeds got a really good head start. 

I was about 1/3 of the way through at this point – can you see the mounting pile of pulled weeds over the fence? The purple flowers are what we used to call “puff balls” when I was a kid; they are like dandelions on steroids. This specimen was 3-1/2 feet tall!


It took me a whole afternoon to get through half the plot and pull the weeds out. Another thing about gardeners is they rarely if ever have a temper – pulling weeds might be some of the best anger management therapy around. 

Tilling our soil is like digging in cement at the beginning of the season, so this year we decided to get smart and just put some more “good dirt” on top. 

In comes 3 cubic yards of Garden Mix from Dogwood Nursery, to the rescue!


Another afternoon was spent getting the rest of the earth tilled and the dirt moved into place. We finished by laying the sprinkler lines, and toasted with cocktails to our good luck that no hoses had leaks and we could quit for the day. 

So now all I have to do is plant the veggies. Writing all this down I realize that sounds a bit ridiculous. I’m not exactly selling this to a newbie, am I ?

One last note: even herbs can get to be more work than you expect. Be careful what you wish for. 

My herb patch is in the foreground – notice the wild grass and the lemon balm? This is despite me digging out the weeds every spring.


I have come to love the more wild style that is euphemistically known as an English garden but every year I make my “notes to self”. This year’s addition is to plant lemon balm in a container. It has infiltrated every other herb growing in the patch. 

May your labours be in love as mine are – it’s the best revenge, to love what you do. 

Splendour in the Grass


My last post was about the simple joy of the flowers in the garden, and when I stop to smell the flowers, as my mom always encourages, it makes me think of my favourite verse in a poem I studied in high school, “Ode. Imitations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”.

Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

-William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

As a teenager, I loved the rhyme but the meaning of the words didn’t really sink in. For some reason though, it stuck in my head, and as I get older it becomes increasingly poignant.

Perhaps my romantic nature is part of why I became a foodie. The nature of a meal is ephemeral at best, lasting only as long as food is on the table. Capturing the magic of shared company and tastes (in the food and the people) has created the fabric of so many memories for me. That fabric has become the tapestry of my life.

The garden has the same quality, always changing and following the circle of life. It has been a great lesson for me to learn that the faster I cut away the old blooms, the sooner the plants will offer up more in return. (Turning a blind eye only prolongs the sorrow, with dead stalks waving in the wind instead of the vibrant colour of new life.)

Another of my favourite writers is Tom Robbins, a more modern fellow than Mr. Wordsworth, but with the same romantic tendencies. He spoke of childhood too, and how as adults many of us search to maintain that sense of wonder kids know innately.

I’ll close off with a quote from “Still Life with Woodpecker”, one of my most cherished reads of all time.

The romance of new love, the romance of solitude, the romance of objecthood, the romance of ancient pyramids and distant stars are means of making contact with the mystery. When it comes to perpetuating it, however, I got no advice. But I can and will remind you of two of the most important facts I know:
1. Everything is part of it.
2. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
― Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

If it seems a bit obtuse, I can only recommend you read the book. If it makes sense, well then I hope we come into contact some time so we can share in the magic.

Too Hot!

I don’t think I could live in a tropical climate long term. I like food too much. 

For the last week or so, it’s been a steady 30 degrees during the day and then around 20 at night. We don’t have air conditioning, so the heat never really abates. 

In these temperatures, neither one of us feels much like cooking. Who wants to heat up the house any further by turning on the stove or the oven? I don’t even feel much like eating or drinking something hot.  

Salad is great, and there are a million ways to make it. It’s a bit early for much in the way of local ingredients but we have used many of the garden herbs. 

Farmers market radishes were the star in this everyday blend of greens. They kicked things up a notch, helped along by the first of the garden arugula and hubbie’s classic French vinaigrette.

We were gifted a beautiful piece of tuna frozen at sea, and it topped our salad perfectly. Chopped chives, parsley and thyme from the garden didn’t hurt either.

A cool and wet spring has meant plenty of dandelions. These greens were “foraged” from my raised beds in our back yard.


Ordinarily we have an early spring by Canadian standards, and so I’m spoiled with early edible blossoms and veggies at the farmers market. 

This year it was cool and wet, so the dandelions and arugula were the first bonuses. The price I paid for scrounging them was a stunning array of mosquito bites. 

I don’t plan on starting a raw diet, so I was happy when I heard the forecast for cooler temps over the next week. Then I can adjust to this scenario and come up with some other meals that work in the heat (besides salads and omelettes). 

Perhaps I’m just getting slow to adjust in my advancing years? I haven’t even managed to unpack my summer outfits yet! Even if one were to say they didn’t believe in climate change (which seems hard unless you never look out a window) one would have to believe in some sort of adjusting, don’t you think? 

What do you cook in the heat? I’d love to hear some new ideas. I’m certainly inspired to check my tropical cookbooks. Watch for new recipes 🙂 

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