Sunday, September 15, 2013

Slef-Care Hiatus

This is difficult for me to do but I need to give myself a self-care hiatus on my daily posts.  I have being doing the work, reading, and preserving but the time needed to post about it is too much for me at the moment.  There is a lot of family stuff happening for me right now and something has to give.  A lot of my mindfulness work this year has been about taking care, learning patience for myself, not saying should.  And so I am letting myself say it's ok to take a break on a self-decided project. And yet there are so there are so many alarms going off in my head about how I won't continue, how I'm a bad person for stopping, even momentarily, and any others you could probably think of.  But I need to take care.  I'm sorry to everyone but I'm thinking I will be on a month hiatus from the project. See you all soon.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bean and Squash Seed Saving

So I know this isn't really the way you're supposed to do it, but I had picked some overgrown beans from my community plot the other day and they didn't taste very good so I shelled them and left them to dry. Who knows if they'll grow next year but I figure, it's worth trying! I have some tendergreen and some royal burgundy. I don't really have a mesh type thing so I'll just turn them every once in a while.  It's how I dried my chamomile flowers and it worked pretty well.  I also saved some seeds from my overgrown pattypan squash and am drying them in the same way.  Again, big experiment! But one worth doing when the alternative is the compost bin! Crossing my fingers!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Saved Red Clover Seed

Beautiful red clover flowers saved after being dried in my kitchen.
 I picked one of the stems at night and didn't realize that it had already dried out.  Luckily, I discovered how clover goes to seed!  Each of those beautiful little red petals dries out and turns into a seed pod!
In the way that I'm assuming grains need to be processed, I pulled off all the little petals (seed pods?), crushed them between my fingers and lightly blew into the bowl to let the light stuff blow away.  The seeds look like little kale seeds.  So cool! I'm going to plant this wonderful perennial to harvest next year and for many years to come!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What to Do with Stems from Greens

I made a delicious recipe one day and it's my new favourite for getting rid of stems from kale, chard, spinach etc. Don't throw them away!!  People throw them out, did you know? It's crazy! Don't waste perfectly good food!
Steam the stems until partway cooked.
Blend fresh tomatoes into a sauce or use a can/bottle of passata.
Blend the two together in a casserole dish, top with cornmeal (my gluten free version) or breadcrumbs and grate cheese on top.
Bake until cheese in melty delicious and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fresh Bean Salad Recipe

A surprise! The tastiest bean salad I ever remember making!

I BBQ'd 2 ears of Ontario corn and a half of my overgrown pattypan squash, brushed with oil
I steamed approx. 3/4 cup of my own green beans in a shallow layer of water in a covered pan
In the same water I steamed approx. 3/4 cup of Ontario romano beans in water until tender (approx. 5 mins)
As that was all cooking, I diced a small white onion from Derick.
Into the bean steaming water I added
Lemon juice (approx. 2 tbsp)
Sunflower oil (approx. 4 tbsp)
Crushed whole coriander seed (approx. 2 tsp)
Minced fresh ginger (approx. 2 tbsp)
Minced fresh garlic (approx. 2 tbsp)
A pinch of cayenne Pepper
Paprika (approx. 1 tsp)

Monday, September 9, 2013

k2 Milling and Sourdough Digestibility

I met a wonderful miller at Feast of Fields, Mark from k2 Milling
We chatted a bit about digestibility of grains (I have been mostly gluten free for about 6 years) and I learned something I had no idea about–apparently thr fermentation process involved in sourdough baking actually pre-digests the gluten proteins and makes it more easily digestible to some people like me. Fascinating!  Now this of course presupposed it is done the proper way (no added yeasts) which, of course, takes time and which, of course, is not done often any more because of aforementioned time... Yet another possible indicator of why there is so much gluten intolerance in the world these days!  We have been eating pre-digested (sourdough) gluten for so much longer than not!  Our bodies haven't caught up yet. Our hybridized wheat, our sugar and salt addictions, our overprocessing of flours–goodness, no wonder we are all getting so sick!  Progress, right?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Feast of Fields and Brassica Sprouts

I went to Feast of Fields today ( as a volunteer with the Guelph Organic Conference. What a wonderful event!! I ate ALL of the most beautiful, bountiful, local, fresh food, phew!
A few thoughts over the next few days...
I spoke to one of the Sprouts for Life vendors ( and asked him about the problems I seemed to keep having with my brassica (radish, kale, etc) sprouts: they always go mouldy! His response: Wash them more often!  They don't like heat AT ALL so wash them to cool them down about 4 times daily. New things to try...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saving Lettuce Seeds

My lettuce bolted a while back (started going to seed). It grows up quite tall and the leaves get VERY bitter.
 As the little flowers open up and make themselves into little dandelion looking fluffs, you can harvest the seed by pulling the white fluff away from the plant–there's little seeds attached to each! So nifty!
Part of my bounty for next year!

Friday, September 6, 2013


OH MY GOSH THIS GREW FROM A SEED. This guy is perfectly situated to say hello to everyone that comes in my front gate.  And just finished opening today. I love it!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hugelkultur Beds

As promised, Hugelkultur beds!
Crazy looking permaculture beauty! No irrigation needed after 2 years... AT ALL, extra "land", using up old wood... What's not to love? Next time I'm at his farm I've got to take some photos. It really is quite impressive

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Produce Box Delivery

My wonderful friend Derick has been farming his parents land for the first time.  He's managed to build some crazy hugelkultur beds (more on that in another post) and has a crazy variety of produce growing. I noticed last week that he's been supplying some friends with boxes once a week when he comes down to Toronto and I've gotten myself on that list! Wahoo!  Here's my first beautiful, bountiful box: beets, carrots, chards/kale, a massive leek, soooooo many heirloom tomatoes, 2 baby eggplants, some cucumbers, onions, basil, a bag of mixed salad greens, radishes, and a mixed bag of tomatillo, okra (yes okra in Ontario!), and ground cherries.  Half the tomatoes, a bunch of basil and all the onions are already gone too–I made a huge batch of tomato sauce before remembering to take a photo. I feel so blessed!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Next Year Planting Thoughts

I'm starting to think about next years planting and my perspective seems to have changed a bit.  I'm looking at what I have available and not looking to change that by thinking I need to grow very specific things.
I will keep growing lots of greens as I eat a lot of them, they basically grow themselves, they are shade tolerant (which I'm realizing I have more of than I thought) and they are just so much more delicious fresh!
I also love tomatoes so will figure out how to make them not all die on me in early spring frosts, as well as how to get them more sun in their sprouting stages.

But, what I'm realizing is there is some stuff that is just so inexpensive to buy giant and fresh from a farmers market that it's almost not worth all the work I do to try and grow them myself (read: onions... But bunching onions are great!) I think I'm realizing that I'm interested in growing a more wild garden–one with harder to find ingredients that maybe don't look like food (so then people won't steal it and squirrels won't eat it!) I suppose this is a permaculture thing. Lowest maintenance! Perennials! I'm understanding I have a passion for gardening but it's not my life's work.  So it needs to be a part of my life but perhaps in a different looking way. And frankly, if I grow the expensive stuff (read wild) that takes care of itself and has few diseases (it's wild, it's got it's stuff pretty well sorted out) I can just purchase bushels of tomatoes for $12 and drown in the bounty that others can offer! And frankly, supplementing with a lot of mineral rich cultivated perennials and foraging for others that I can't buy in the store just sounds like good logic, no?  Kassandra from 6 months ago, do you agree?  Probably not...

In any case, this is my new list to start building on for next year:
Along the Fence
Milkweed–for pickling!  also butterflies!
Echinacea–for tea!
Wild rose–for tea!  and prettiness!

Under Tree
Wild Ginger–just, yum?!
Gooseberry–for the easiest custards and jam!
Currant–ditto above!

Elderberry–to make cordial, tea, and liquer!

Man, who would have thought I'd come to thinking like this in just a few months!  I until now just wanted the usual–beans, cucs, lettuces, herbs. Phew! Fascinating!

Monday, September 2, 2013

In The Weeds TV

I'm excited for this show! Forbes is a wonderful wild foods supplier in Ontario who comes to Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers Market weekly. Can't wait to learn more!  Foraging really feels like it transports me to a magical time in the past when I probably didn't know what a banana was because I lived in Canada...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Canning Tomatoes

My mum went out to St. Jacobs for a mini holiday with my dad and I asked her to pick me up a half bushel of tomatoes...  Beauty!!
I decided to can some of them whole for sauce/chili/soup in the winter. Here's the recipe I was following:
I started by washing the jars with soap and water. I put them in a cold oven to sterilize, for 20 minutes once the oven had heated up.
I took the skin off the tomatoes by putting them in boiling water for a minute or so. Some split, some didn't, and I found that the ones that didn't were easy to split by running the back of the knife over a small part of the tomato. The heat seemed to make the split bigger and make it easier to peel. I took the tomatoes out of the boiling water and dropped them into cold water a few at a time to peel and core. I then filled a jar with them and added a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. 
I covered the jars and left them to boil for 35 minutes.