Friday, June 29, 2012

Greetings from my Kitchen Counter!

It's scape season in Ontario.  Scapes are the cool, curly-Q flowering stems of hardneck garlic.  It's good to cut this part off before it goes to flower, so as to redirect the plant's energy into producing bigger garlic bulbs.

Scapes have become quite popular the last few years, and you can find them all over the farmer's markets and shops.  They have a delicious garlicky bite and I look forward to harvesting the scapes from our garlic plants every year.

You don't have to dig deep into the internet to find all kinds of recipes and ways of using scapes.  This pile got turned into a simple pesto with olive oil, black walnuts and salt and pepper.  Insanely good!  I added a dollop to a heap of steamed veggies and topped it off with my pickled milkweed flower bud 'capers'.  Yum.

So get thee to a farmer's market near you and pick up some scapes this weekend.  And here's a fun tip: Stick a few in a vase for a quirky looking table centrepiece.  Your dinner guests will 'ooh' and 'aah' and you'll feel clever.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Would you like a side of dirt with that? Yes please!

Cool article on the bacteria that live on and in us, and why we need them.

After you read the article, you can listen to this interview with Jeff Leach about the human microbiome and then while you're at it, have a read of his op-ed piece too!

Now go out and get dirty, before you need a fecal transplant!

Image source

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Greetings from the Rideau River!

A friend is selling one of his canoes and the ADG and I are going to buy it!  My friend and I took the canoe out for a test paddle on the weekend.  This is just down river from my apartment.  We saw blue herons, a green heron, Baltimore orioles, ducks, and the Rideau River swans.  We saw yellow and purple water irises, Joe Pye weed, arrowhead, water lilies and cattails.  I've been up and down both sides of this section of the river countless times on foot and by bike, but it was like discovering a whole new world just from this simple shift in mode of transport.

After work the other day, the ADG and I went out for an hour before dinner.  Again I was struck by how different it felt to take in the views from on the water.  I also couldn't help but notice the cars at a standstill on the bridge, as we made our way back.  It was a sweltering hot day, but we had a nice cool breeze coming off the water.  I suspect I was having a very different experience from the people stuck in traffic on the bridge.  We might as well have been on different planets.  I made a silent wish that they would all have cool breezes, slow moving water, rustling leaves and dappled shade in their future.

I can't wait to explore more of the river from inside the canoe!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Greetings from the park a few minutes from my apartment!

The other evening after dinner I filled a backpack with my ID guides and foraging books and grabbed a basket, gloves, camera and my botany kit.  I sat down amongst the weeds to see what I could see.  I finally got a positive ID on one of the wild lettuces I've had my eye on.  Lactuca serriolaEdible when very young, but apparently not as tasty as Lactuca canadensis, according to Sam Thayer.  I also spent time with some plants of the Tragopogon genus, but I have to wait for a flower before I get a positive ID on the species.  I suspect T. pratensis or T. dubius.  I had a nibble of the flower buds and peduncles.  Not bad.  Will try some cooked next.  Also had my first taste of wild carrot flowering stalk.  Delicious!  Don't worry.  I was quite certain it was wild carrot and not one of the deadly poisonous members of the family.  Soon the sky turned very dark to the North West, with an approaching storm, so home I went.  IDed a chicory on the way!  Wish you were here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

On Vacation

Guys!  Summer is nearly here.  What with all the packing, moving and unpacking, I feel like I the whole spring season pretty much passed me by while I was inside putting away clothes, hanging pictures on the walls and arranging book shelves.

I also feel like I have been spending far too much time in front of the screen.  I love the indulgence in winter, but it is a bad habit the rest of the year; one that I need to break.  I mean, I 've been watching Beverly Hills 90210 everyday on netflix ferpetessake!  I'm not 17 anymore.  Sheesh.  Although, I do have to say that aside from the fashion, 'car phones' and huge camcorders, the show holds up reasonably well after 20 years.  And you know what else?  I don't recall the show being all that influential or important to me when it originally aired, but now that I'm watching the series again, I  remember all the episodes and I'm like, "Oh yeah, this is the one where Brenda pretends she's in college and dates an older guy and gets in over her head." Or, "This is the one about teenage drinking where we learn that Dylan is an alcoholic."  Crrraaazy!

And it's not just 90210.  It's Games of Thrones.  It's Mad Men.  It's the Walking Dead.  It's Facebook.  It's online Scrabble.  It's blogs.  It's too much.

So I've decided that I'm going on a screen holiday, a strategic treatment interruption if you will, in the parlance of the medical establishment.  I'm going to cut way back on how much time I spend online in favour of the great outdoors.  Less screen time = more green time!

So this here blog is going on vacation too.  For the rest of the summer my plan is to send along virtual postcards.  They'll be short and sweet, with a pic and about as many words as can fit on a postcard.  No pithy content or weighty matters.  Just a quick 'Hi!  This is where I am.  This is what I'm doing.  Wish you were here.'  That sorta thing.  First one's coming up next....

Have a great summer everyone!