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Category Archives: Urban Farming

Ramble: Canadian Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!
It is autumn and we celebrate our time of Harvest blending old world pagan rites, middle-eastern abrahamic beliefs, with new world indigenous traditions. Creating something new, and still some how it is something so old that it has bonded with our global melded human DNA.

Here in what we call the Northern Hemisphere, winter is ahead, and we are thankful for the bounty of these lands, and celebrate the kindness of our neighbours. We will weather the storms that are ahead, finding time to play in the cold and the snow, finding time to sing and frolic in the darkening days ahead – until we see again the light returning. Feeling the warmth of the sun stirring our desires to plant the seeds we gathered this harvest. And begin again our place in the cycle of living.

We are each alone on this tiny little planet drifting in the cold darkness of infinite space. And we travel so much lighter when we travel together: sharing ourselves, sharing our stories, sharing our songs, and sharing our gratitude for what we have with those that will have us and hold us.

Remember we reap what we have sown, and here is hoping we take and share the best seeds so that together we can plant the best of tomorrows.

Happy Harvest Canada, and Happy Thanks Sharing!
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Recipe: Forgotten Cookies

I had forgotten about this recipe! I used to make these back in my student days when I knew I should bring a treat to visit. The beauty of these cookies is the work is in preparation – the cooking you get to walk away from! Of course there have been a few times when I forgot the cookies the next morning. The people sharing my house took care of them for me…

Ingredients
2 egg whites
OPTIONAL: 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (Cream of tartar helps “stabilize” the egg whites when beaten so they keep their froth. It is not required.)
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup small semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped pecans

METHOD
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2) Using a mixer beat the eggs whites. If you are using cream of tartar add when eggs are frothy and bubbly. Beat eggs until just softly forming peaks.
3) Slowly add the sugar. When all the sugar has been added beat on high for 5 more minutes to create stiff shiny peaks of meringue!
4) Using a spatula fold in the vanilla, chocolate chips and pecans until evenly mixed
5) On a non-stick cookie sheet (use parchment paper on cookie sheet of you have it) drop by the teaspoon full evenly on sheet. You can use tablespoon for bigger cookies but they may not set inside.
6) TURN OFF OVEN
7) Leave cookies in oven overnight (or at least 8 hours)

Makes about 3 dozen cookies (depends on how big you make each cookie!)

OPTIONS
No Cream of Tartar and the egg whites won’t peak for you?
Rule one is never add salt to egg whites. If you did then just start over!
Since Cream of Tartar is essentially an acid – you can use 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice for each egg. It will give the eggs a bit of a lemony flavour so your meringue will be fluffy with a hint of lemon!

Recipe: Ice Cream in a Plastic Bag

Be prepared to have fun! This is an incredible summer recipe to keep every child pre-occupied for a good 30-minutes or so AND they get a nice creamy cold reward for their efforts! Can you say win-win-win?

Ice Cream Ingredients
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons soft fruit
1/2 cup of whole milk
(if you don’t have whole milk use 1/4 skim milk and 1/4 table-cream)

Other Requirements:
1 small zip freezer bag (about 1 pint/.5 litre – roughly 5 inch by 7 inch)
1 large zip freezer bag (about 1 gallon/4 litres – roughly 10 inches by 10 inches)
1/2 cup rock salt
ice cubes (enough to fill large bag half-way)

METHOD
1) Make sure your hands and are clean! (And make sure any children helping also wash their hands!)
2) Open the smaller bag and add the sugar, vanilla and fruit ingredients to the bag. Seal the bag and mix the ingredients together by squeezing and squishing the bag with your fingers.
3) Open the smaller bag and now add the milk. Squeeze out as much extra air as you can and seal the bag tight! Mix ingredients by squeezing and squishing the bag with your fingers.
4) Open the larger bag and add the ice so large bag is half-filled – and then add the rock salt. Hold the top together and give a light shake.
5) Place the sealed “ice cream” bag in the larger bag with the ice-salt mixture.
6) Shake the “bag in a bag” combo for 10 minutes or until the liquid has changed to ice cream.

OPTIONS
Try a variety of different fruits. Ripe bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches and cherries all work well! Be warned: if the bags are not properly sealed you will have a mess. Doing this outside can reduce the scale of the disaster! It takes a lot of shaking to get the chilling effect going and the ice-cream to set. Be prepared to take turns to get this done. Remember the ice-slat mix will get very cold. Wearing your winter mitts can be a good solution – and is a bit of a laugh for the kids!

REMEMBER!
This is a cold recipe – no cooking! So make sure all your ingredients are clean and kept clean!
Before opening the small bag rinse the bag under cold water to remove any salt clinging to the bag.

Garden: Herbs – Chives

Allium schoenoprasum in NH 01.jpg
Allium schoenoprasum in NH 01” by Captain-tucker – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

When to Use:
Chives are best used fresh in recipes. Dried Chives may also be used will have a weaker flavour and less pleasing texture.

Best Compliments: eggs, fish, potatoes, salads, shellfish, sole, soups

Chives are normally snipped and sprinkled on food just before serving for seasoning.

Fresh chives may be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week. Chives freeze well, cut chives with scissors rinse in cool water and dry before placing in freezer bags.

Substitutions: 1 teaspoon chopped green onion tops = 1 tablespoon chopped chives

When to Plant
In early spring as soon as ground is workable. Chives are perennials so once planted will normally come back on their own in the spring.

How to Grow
Chives grow best in full sun or semi-shade. A reasonably fertile soil is required. Chives do fairly well indoors in pots or planters in bright windows. Plant seeds 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart and 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep. Thin when seedlings are 3 inches (8 cm) high to be about 12 inches (30 cm) apart. Chives will spread into clumps if allowed to grow over the years. Chives transplant well.

Harvesting
Chives are perennials and can be harvested as soon as stems appear.

Home and Garden Tips
If you allow chives to go to flower (large purple flowers) the plant will seed itself quite happily! To prevent over-spreading pick off the flowers before they go to seed. The flowers can be eaten in same way as the green stems – and have a similar flavour. You can also rinse the chive flowers in a cool water bath (to remove bugs and dirt!) then shake dry and stuff into a jar. Heat white vinegar until bathwater warm (but not hot – we don’t want to scald the flowers) and pour the vinegar over the flowers. Place plastic wrap over the jar mouth before sealing with the lid. Now place the jar in cool dark spot for 2 weeks or so and forget about it! When you remember the jar strain the vinegar into a clean glass jar. The vinegar should have a lovely light chive flavour, and a delicate purplish tinge. Use in place of ordinary vinegar when making salads.

Garden: Herbs – Basil

“Basil-Basilico-Ocimum basilicum-albahaca” by Castielli – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Basil-Basilico-Ocimum_basilicum-albahaca.jpg#/media/File:Basil-Basilico-Ocimum_basilicum-albahaca.jpg

When to Use:
Basil is best used fresh in recipes. Dried Basil may be used but it does have a weaker flavour.

Best Compliments: cheese, chicken, duck, eggplant, eggs, fish, lamb, liver, olive oil, onions, pasta, pesto, pizza, pork, potatoes, rabbit, salads, shellfish, soups, sweet peppers, tomatoes, veal, vegetables, vinegars, zucchini, tomato sauce

In general, it should be added at the last moment, as cooking will destroy the flavour.

The fresh basil can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer. To store in the freezer blanch the herb quickly in boiling water, remove excess water by gently shaking and patting with a clean dish towel.

Substitutions: 1 teaspoon dried basil = 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil = 1 tablespoon chopped fresh summer savory;
1 teaspoon dried basil = replace with 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, oregano, thyme or tarragon (adding more if necessary)

When to Plant
After all danger of frost. Generally mid-May to early June

How to Grow
Basil grows in full sun or semi-shade. A moderately fertile soil is all that is required. Basil does well in pots or planters and so can be started indoors before being moved outside. Plant seeds 1/2 inch (12 mm) apart and 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep. After seedlings emerge and get first leaves, thin to about 6-8 inches apart (15-20 cm).

Harvesting
Basil can be harvested as soon as leaves appear – start with the young plants from thinning, then pinch leaves as required. Basil does well at new growth on plants.

Home and Garden Tips
To dry basil (or other herbs). When blossoms begin to open, take cuttings during the early morning. Rinse leaves under cool water and discard any damaged leaves. Tie the cuttings with string and hang upside down in the kitchen (or another indoor spot) in an area that is cool and dry and out of sunlight. If you have the room you can also create a drying screen and place in a well-ventilated cool, dry and dark area of your home.
Once dry remove the thicker stems and store the leaves in airtight bottles for later use.