Wednesday, October 12, 2016

CSA Week 18 and Guest Post -Mangels

Things are winding down here, but there's still so much to be done and lots of food in the garden. Despite what appeared to be a heavy frost Monday night, most things survived, except the new beans that were coming along so well. But nothing ventured nothing gained. I was late getting them in the ground.
Tuesdays baskets contained carrots, sugar beets,  a stir fry blend (arugula, tatsoi, mustard greens, chard), sweet peppers, malabar spinach, leaf celery and likely something else I can't remember.
Last week when I send out a note asking folks if they wanted to try the mangels, I knew Monique would be a taker, bless her soul. And even more she wrote a blog post about her adventures in mangels. So if you took mangels as well, here are a few ideas for you.

Mangels, not just food for cattle!
Long known as cattle food for farmers, mangels have been around since the 1800.  Mainly used to feed farm animals as it grows well and stores well.  But it is not just good for farmers, it is deliciously sweet and remains fairly tender even when large. Stores well if kept from freezing and you can eat the greens too!
Linda asked me last week if I wanted to bring some home and try some, so I said why not.  She told me it’s like a beet but not as strong as a red beet.  I tried to find the nutrition facts on mangals during my research but there wasn’t much available online because they say they are not that popular enough to eat.  But I did find out while researching mangels, that you can cook them and freeze them in a vacuumed sealed bag for up to 2 years or in a Ziploc bag for 6-8 months.
So I thought what can I make with these mangels?  

I love using my slow cooker because you can put anything in it to cook and walk away.  So I did some research and found that lots of people cooked their beets in the slow cooker with foil but I am not a huge fan of using foil so I decided I was going to try without.  I put two cups of water in the bottom of my slow cooker with some salt, cleaned the mangels really good to remove all the dirt and cut the tops and bottom off.  I placed two mangels in the slow cooker because that’s all I could fit, set it for 4 hours on high and then left to run errands.  When I returned they were done and ready.  I let them cool a bit so I could handle them while I removed the skin, which was super easy, then I let them cool completely to room temperature.  I decided to make a mangel hummus with some of them and I froze my hummus in small containers so I can use later.  I still had a lot of mangel left so I searched on pinterest and found a chocolate beet cake recipe and substituted the beets for mangels, it was moist and super delicious.  
I hope you enjoy the mangel hummus and find other great ways to cook and eat mangels.

Mangel Hummus
  • 2 cups cooked mangels
  • 1 can chick peas (drained and rinse)
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1-2 garlic gloves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste

Place mangels and chick peas in food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process the mixture for a full 2-3 minutes or until the hummus is super creamy, stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl.  Serve with veggies!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

CSA Week 17 and Farm News

The night temperatures are dipping and things are changing around here, and probably are where you are too.
It rained as well and that was the biggest change of all.
The fall crops I put in popped up and I was able to harvest lots of arugula today from a reasonably small patch, with another patch due to catch up soon.
The mustard greens, chinese greens and radishes I seeded look good, as do the turnips. It is amazing what a bit of rain will do.

As I dug the soil to retrieve the jerusalem artichokes I was surprised though at how dry the soil was underneath. We've got a lot of catching up to do after such a dry spring/summer and lack of snow last winter.

I'm not complaining though, it has been a pretty good season and like most, there have been some things that have done very well, and some things that did not. I'll take a dry season over a wet one anytime.
One thing that has worried me in the garden this year is the appearance of stink bugs . This isn't the first year I have noted them in the garden, but it is the first year I saw them in such numbers and saw the damage they can do. They were tough on the tomatoes, and I lost lots of early fruit to them, as they inject an enzyme into the fruit which liquifies it enabling them to slurp it out. Tomatoes with stink bug damage have obvious mottling and are not saleable or edible. Good thing I planted lots of plants. Buggers. I'll be notifying the Ministry of my trials with them this year as they continue their deadly march northward into Canada, following on the trail of ticks.
From what I can understand they are difficult to stop. Be aware that they like to overwinter in homes, so you may spot them in your home. I know if I see them in here I will not be kind and I'll also be mulling over my strategy to deal with them next year in the garden.

This weeks baskets were pretty full. The lumpy bumpy jerusalem artichokes (sun chokes) made their first appearance for my Tuesday folks. Tomatillos, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, arugula, kale/broccoli shoots, curled parsley, leaf celery, garlic, a few dahlias to cheer you up and possibly something else I have forgotten I added.

Some of you asked for and received mangels and a whole whack of herbs for drying for the winter. The herbs are pleased with the weather right now and doing well.
What to do with the jerusalem artichokes which, incidentally are neither from Jerusalem or in the artichoke family? I tell people to use them as they would potatoes. Roast them, mash them, saute them or of course make a delicious soup with them.
A wonderful recipe for Sunchoke and Garlic soup can be found here.
If you read the preamble to the recipe, you will be made aware that jerusalem artichokes can cause gas, so be aware of that as you begin your adventure with them. Eating them prior to a first date with someone is not advisable.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

CSA Week 13 (14) and Life on the Farm

Mollie is back at school and the wood for the winter is in the driveway waiting to be stacked under my shelter.
Hard to believe it could be September and hard to believe it is still so hot and dry.

Yes, I am a bit tired and every few weeks I'll check online for travel bargains in November. It's nice to dream and have something to look forward to. At this point in the season, I describe my energy level as "crawling towards the finish line", the finish line being the end of the season.
It has been a lot of work this year, and I think the hard work has paid off for the most part. The most disappointing crop for me has been the beans, and why they did poorly is anyone's guess. There have been some, but not nearly what there should have been. I put it down to the drought, but I watered reasonably well, or so I thought.

Now it's time to think about growing for the winter, and time to clear the tomatoes out of the hoop houses and get the plastic ready for the winter.
I've seeded some new items outside, including turnips, kohlrabi, radishes arugula and beans. The days are shortening and the nights are getting a bit cooler and it would be a miracle if the beans made it, but they popped up pretty quickly and the heat is pushing them on. So with any luck, some of these new crops should be in the shares in a month or so.

Newly planted beans-good luck
The last date of my Tuesday deliveries is well into October, the 23rd I believe and Wednesday finishes the week before.
It has been a great group of people I've had in the CSA this year, and I thank everyone for their continued support.
I've been grateful for any and all feedback I have received, because I will tell you honestly, lots of times it is a guessing game. Everyone is different and what is too much produce for one person, is not enough for others. When people came to the open house I held, it was nice to get feedback on certain crops, because I was unsure how they were going over. The consensus appeared to be that papalo was not a hit with most shareholders, but the NZ spinach and malabar spinach were, and there could never be too many tomatoes.
Of course that's why it is good to have get togethers like that because it lets me know if I am on the right track, I can identify mystery items and of course you can see what I have been working all season at.

Very special De Djerba carrots
The baskets today were pretty heavy. Yes, that was one beet in the share, or mangel as it were, a big one and I figured it could stand alone. Also carrots, NZ spinach, chard or broccoli spouts, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, herbs (parsley, sage, basil), small onions, garlic,  and some sort of bean, lima or cowpea or tomatillos. Possibly more.
If you are looking for a quick and easy dish, grab the carrots.
This recipe is one I have made for years and is very simple, but good. Brown a pound of crumbled firm tofu in cooking oil of your choice, I use coconut. Shred a pound or so of carrot and cook with the tofu until softened. Add soy sauce to taste, and voila, a very easy main dish which can be accompanied with a green salad, or of course a tomato salad.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

CSA Week 12 and Summer Tomato Panzanella

This summer has had it's highs and lows, like every other season, every other year.

But some lows have been very low.

One such very sad event has been the passing earlier this month of long time seed saver and gardener Brian Calvert. If you have attended the Seedy Saturdays I organize over the years, you may remember Brian quite well.

Brian managed my seed exchange table for me at Seedy Saturday and perhaps you remember a conversation with him. He came well supplied with seed he had saved from his garden, all labelled and ready to share, and he eagerly told the story of the seed.

Brian was also an avid naturalist, animal rights defender and could tell stories with the best of them. A retired math professor from Brock, he kept his days busy and was known by many.  I think of the many conversations we had, and the many, many events we attended because of common interests.

You will be missed Brian.  I am sure your garden overfloweth.

It is nice to have had a bit of rain lately, but some of it, it seems, is localized to my area.
Good thing too.
I've just planted beans, a long shot I know. Why not though? I've heard two versions of the fall weather, the first being extra mild weather for September and October, and the other that we should brace for snow in early October. So, I choose to go with the first, and have planted 2 types of beans that are supposed to mature in 43 days. Will I be picking beans in October? I doubt it, but why not try?
The other things I have planted are turnips, kohlrabi, and arugula. I expect them to do something. Lettuce too of course, but it seems to have trouble sprouting because yes, the ground is still very dry.

The tomatoes keep coming, yes they do. Todays shares included 3 quarts, lots of different sizes, shapes and colours. Beans of some sort (lima, edamame or cowpea), summer squash, peppers hot and sweet, swiss chard, lettuce, garlic, beets (some of them monster sugar beets) and a smattering of herbs.

What to do with all those tomatoes? My paper, The Hamilton Spectator provide a great recipe tonight, so as originally printed in The Washington Post, this recipe is by Tim Carmen.

Summer Tomato Panzanella

3 cups torn sourdough bread-8 ox loaf
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/4 lbs heirloom tomatoes, bite sized pieces
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
freshly cracked black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Arrange bread on baking sheet, drizzle with half of the oil, toss to coat.
Bake for 15 minutes, until bread is dried, but not browned.
Place tomatoes in colander, sprinkle with salt and let them sit for 20 minutes, tossing gently every few minutes
Transfer the tomatoes to a serving bowl, along with bread. toss.Reserve the tomato juices in their bowl, add garlic, shallots and vinegar to the juices and whisk in remaining tbsp of oil. Season with salt and pepper and pour over tomato bread mixture. Scatter basil over salad and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

CSA Week 11 and Life on the Farm

A bit of rain came, a few weeds grew and I enjoyed my company immensely the last few weeks. Now Sherry has returned to BC, and Izabell to New Brunswick and I realize that I have to buckle down a bit, do a bit of weeding and seeding and pick all those tomatoes by myself.
When in Niagara....

It has been so nice the last few evenings, with the temperature dropping down and finally a bit of relief from the scorching temperatures and the intense humidity.

My sweet boy Bandit cooling off

Indeed when I think back on this summer, I certainly will remember it as the driest I have experienced in the garden, and one of the hottest to work in.

In a nutshell, it has been a lot of hard work to keep things alive and growing. It certainly has been the talk of growers; the drought, the failures and the exhaustion.

In most cases I have succeeded, but not in all.  But there has been a lot of food, and there still is lots in the garden, although some fall crops have not done as well as they should have.

The ground has some nice moisture in it now from our recent rains, and I will be planting more lettuce mix, turnips, fall radishes with coloured flesh, arugula and mustards this week, and hopefully harvesting them in a month or so.

I really enjoyed having my CSA people out last week! Thanks to those of you who came out, and thanks to those of you who responded to my invite. It was great to show people the gardens, and what I have been working on since-wow- as early as January, when I seeded some of the ultra hot peppers. What a great group of people, and I really enjoyed chatting with you.

Percy has the crowd under control

Today's baskets included: tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, onions, garlic, beans of some sort-either fresh or shelling, carrots, radishes, ground cherries, NZ spinach, zucchini or summer squash and a whole bunch of herbs. Rosemary, thyme, basil, broadleaf thyme, mint (mojito), parsley. There might be something else I can't think of right now.

Yes, my friends...the tomatoes will keep on coming for the foreseeable future and it appears most of you are good with that, some of you even picking up extra ones at my CSA night here.

On the weekend, I made freezer salsa with some of my tomatoes. You can find the recipe I used here, but I did modify it to exclude the sugar and coriander, and I used the apple cider version. It is superb, but mine was very hot, and I had the unfortunate experience of splashing some in my eye while I was stirring it while it simmered. Advisable not to do this.

Or try this, from Smitten Kitchen
Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons

3 tablespoons olive oil 
2 cups bread from a French boule, in a 1/2-inch dice, crusts removed 
2 1/2 pounds  whatever good tomatoes you’ve got, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thinly slivered basil leaves, lightly packed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or vegan alternative
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high. Add the bread cubes and stir so that they are evenly coated with oil. Cook cubes, tossing frequently, until toasty on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are toasted, add the tomato mixture and cook them together, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil. Pour into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm with a big green salad, a bean salad and/or a poached egg from a happy chicken.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Guest Post -- Week 2 -- Epic Reunion

Well, it is week two of a reunion of three old friends.  East and west meeting in the centre (pretty much).  We have spent the last 10 days or so laughing, talking, catching up on things that have happened in our lives.  It's been 38 years since we have been together in the same room, so some of the details might have been left out.  We have also been picking vegetables, weeding and gaining some insight into what life is like on a farm.  It's a lot of hard work.  Especially when the summer has been as dry as this year summer has been.

The best part of these two weeks of reuniting - besides just hanging out with dear friends - is the experience of eating what we pick.  Fresh greens, fresh tomatoes (of course), beets, peppers, onions - you name it, we're pretty much eating it.  For me, a meat-eater, eating "vegan" has been a new experience.  And surprisingly, a very nice experience and one I hope to incorporate into part of my meal routine when I get back home.

Linda has a number of CSA customers and part of what we have done this week and last, is help her  prepare the CSA baskets.  This week's bounty included: tomatoes, hot & sweet peppers, edamame beans, carrots/okra, Malabar & New Zealand spinach, garlic, summer squash, radishes, basil, parsley, sage, celery and ground cherries.  A veritable feast for the taste buds.

Last evening she hosted a garden tour for her customers. The long-awaited rain came and went.  (It wasn't nearly enough.)  The sun came out and we were treated to a sunny, lovely evening.  Afterwards, we gathered to chat and snack on dips and crackers.

Below are three of my recipes, two from last evening and one, a family favourite, which also happens to be a Hungarian recipe.

Basil Lemonade                                    

1/2 cup rinsed, lightly packed fresh basil
3 TBSP sugar
4 cups water
Juice of one lemon
Lemon slices

Combine basil and sugar in a small dish.  With a wooden spoon, crush the leaves with the sugar until "bruised" or pasty.
Mix lemon juice and water in a pitcher, add the basil-sugar mixture.  Stir well.  Let sit to fully infuse. Pour through a strainer into glass or another pitcher.
You may wish to add lemon slices to the pitcher or glasses while serving.  Serve chilled.


This is a tried and true family favourite in our house and I am sure in the houses of many Hungarian families.  It is versatile as you na service it over rice, mashed potatoes, or mixed with eggs as part of a breakfast meal.  You can service it without meat, with bacon or with tofu as we have been having this week.  (A spicy, firm tofu works best if that is the route you choose.)

Tomatoes, sliced / diced (which ever is easiest)
Sweet peppers (pale yellow ones works best)  sliced length-wise, seeds removed
Onions, sliced lengthwise
Hungarian paprika (Sweet, smoked or hot - whichever you prefer)
1 TBSP Olive Oil

Saute the onions in oil.  Throw in the tomatoes and peppers, saute until slightly softened.

That's it.

If you choose it for  breakfast meal, you can break and egg or two into it just before it is done.

Beet Hummus

2 cups of cooked chickpeas, drained
1 cup of cooked, diced beets (white), drained
lime juice & lemon juice (about 1/4 cup of each)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dijon mustard (or honey mustard
2 tsp tahini (or to taste)
sea salt & pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into a blender and process until the texture is smooth.

This hummus has only a mild beet flavour and was well-received by those who tried it.

** This recipe was modified because we didn't have all the ingredients the recipe called for, so you'll want to season to your own taste.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Quick Tomato Basil Pasta

While your organic pasta is boiling, whip several cups of tomatoes with four garlic cloves, fresh basil, cayenne, salt & pepper in a high powered blender until mixed but still chunky. Taste to ensure the right balance. Pour into a sauce pan and heat to encourage thickening. Add tin of drained organic cannellini or garbanzo beans. Drain pasta and toss with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt & pepper. Coat with sauce. Grate fresh parmigiana or nutritional yeast and enjoy! (I think this took me 20 minutes from start to finish!!) Side salad and some bruschetta completed this meal. 

Guest post:Roasted Broccoli & Cheese Quinoa Salad

Thanks to Trish who is in my CSA for the following recipe.

 Organic broccoli, washed and rough cut
Avocado oil
Himalayan salt
Fresh black pepper

Lightly drizzle broccoli with oil and toss with salt & pepper. Roast at 325 until still slightly crisp. Cool. 

1 cup organic quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1/2 vegan stock cube

Boil covered until cooked. Cool and add broccoli. Chop 2-3 mild green onions and add them. 

Cashew cheese sauce:

Soak raw cashews (about 1/2 cup) in fresh water for a minimum of 4 hours, drain*
Nutritional yeast (about 1/2 cup but be generous as this makes the cheesy flavour)
Fresh lemon juice (1 tblsp)
Garlic cloves (2-3) 
Himalayan salt to taste
Cayenne (6 shakes) 
Turmeric (5 shakes)

Mix cheese ingredients in a high powered blender with a little water until smooth. Taste and adjust accordingly.  Pour enough over broccoli & quinoa to coat. Make final taste adjustments, chill and enjoy! 

*Soaking the cashews makes a smoother sauce but I've also whipped up this quick salad without soaking and loved every mouthful. 

Guest Post: A Reunion

Thirty eight years ago, three young women, Linda, Izabel and Sherry met during their first year of university. Facebook helped us reconnect about five years ago, and we soon started talking about a reunion. A few years of dreaming became reality yesterday as Izabel from New Brunswick and I from BC arrived at Twig and Tree farm. We're here for two weeks to help Linda pick whatever is ripe and battle the weeds. And talk.

When you're talking about disco dancing, and professors you remember, and pub crawls you went on, and the fun you're going to have together in the coming weeks, picking 100 lbs of tomatoes goes by before you know it.

Linda is a vegan, and Izabel and I are not. But we came prepared to cook for the family, armed with our own favourite recipes that also happen to be vegan. One of my favourite meals is Mutter Paneer, a northern Indian dish traditionally made with green peas and a firm mild cheese called paneer. Tomatoes, onions and a few spices are simmered into a wonderfully rich gravy. Substitute tofu for paneer and the dish becomes vegan. Use chick peas if you don't like tofu. This dish is very mildly spicy, but if you don't like heat, omit the chili pepper and/or cayenne. If you've never tried cooking Indian food, this is a fast, easy place to start.

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Serves: 4 (easy to double)

The recipe has two steps: making a paste of tomatoes onions and spices, then simmering it for 15 minutes. In step two, you add a few more spices and the peas and tofu or cheese. Then you're done.

Step 1: Make the paste

3 medium sized ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 medium to large onion, roughly chopped
1 or 2 small green chilies, chopped (jalapeño or serrano work well)
1/2 inch fresh ginger, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander (omit if you don't like this)
10 to 12 whole cashews
5 black peppercorns
2 cloves
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
1 tsp coriander seeds

Blend all these ingredients until smooth.

Step 2:

Assemble the rest of your ingredients

250 to 300 grams paneer or tofu
1 cup green peas
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp sugar, if needed
a few coriander leave for garnish
salt, to your taste

Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and saute until they splutter.

Lower the heat to medium low and add the tomato/onion paste. Simmer for 10-12 minutes until the oil separates from the paste. The paste will sputter while you're cooking, so have a lid handy to partially cover the pan if it sputters too much. Don't fully cover the pan or you'll have watery sauce. Medium thick is what you're aiming for.

Add all the dry spice powders - turmeric, cayenne & garam masala. Stir well.

If your sauce is too thick, add a little water, and the amount of salt you like. Taste and decide if you want to add the sugar. Add the peas, paneer or tofu and simmer until warmed through.

Boom, you're done. Serve over rice, or with Naan bread. Garnish with a little fresh cilantro, if you like it. So good. Enjoy.

Now the important part of this post is done (food!) please enjoy a few photos taken over the last few days from this beautiful farm.

Ruby, who just wants to eat cat food.

A warm welcome.  That's me under all the blankets and Ellie waiting for me to get up


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Guest post Recipe for Red Curry Vegetables

Thanks to Dina for sending along this yummy sounding recipe to use up some of that zucchini that is floating around out there!

Red Curry Vegetables

1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped 
4-5 small yellow summer squash or zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 large russet potatoes, peeled, cut into tiny cubes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup lightly flavored vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
Fine-grain sea salt, to taste

-Mash the curry paste into the coconut oil until the paste is well-incorporated.  Heat this paste in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute
-Stir in the onions and a couple of pinches of salt and sauté until tender, 5 minutes
-Add garlic, cook another minute
-Stir in the squash, zucchini and potatoes and cook until the squash starts to get tender, a few minutes
-Add the broth and coconut milk. Bring just to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. 
-Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt or curry paste, if needed. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

CSA Week 8 and Life on the Farm

Hot and dry, hot and dry.
That pretty much sums it up.
This time of year I would usually be planting new seeds as soon as I have harvested in a certain area. But I have hesitated this year because getting seeds to pop has been it's own challenge. So the area I dug the garlic from sits and waits, until the forecast looks pretty clear about rain, then I will put in more seed.
Some I will hold off on until the month of September rolls around though. That's when I like to plant arugula as the flea beetles will hopefully have vacated, watermelon radishes and turnips. They grow much better in the cooler weather and I hope by then we are having regular rains.
In the meantime, the garden is producing reasonably well. The tomatoes are coming on, which always makes me happy and the hot dry weather is making them super sweet.
Here are a few veg and garden pictures:

One of my new favourites-Mount Vesuvius's growing.
The malabar spinach is loving the heat
One of the Darbys-Darby Striped Yellow Green
Poona Kheera Cucumber
Ruby checking things out
The baskets were pretty full today. There are many more varieties of tomatoes ripening, a quart was in the shares today, as well as cut lettuce, basils, kale or chard, peppers, beans (if you like them), golden beets, zucchini or summer squash, cucumbers and ground cherries. There may have been more as well.
Although there was no malabar spinach in the shares today, it will reappear. I would like to share a recipe idea that a shareholder sent along to me for when you see it again. The recipe is for a curry using the spinach and you can find it here
Happy eating y'all.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Guest Post-Monique and Vegan Greens Dip

I have pretty great people in my CSA this year, as always. And a few who have come out to help me weed the garden, and chat of course. It's nice and the time just flies by.
I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed Monique's company. She picks up her basket on Wednesdays from the farm and comes a bit early to get some weeding done. She's great company and I have been sending her home with her veggies, but also a whole lot of lambs quarters. 
I'm not short on veggies right now, nor greens, but I really love lambs quarters. They are delicious and very nutritious-read about them here.
If you'd like to try them, let me know. I have lots and lots. Monique made the following recipe with lambs quarters instead of spinach and she tells me it was delish. I bet!
Thanks Monique for everything.

My husband and I found out about Linda at Tree and Twig last year through his father.  We bought some wonderful tomato plants and beans last year. This winter we were looking at her website because I wanted to attend her seed sowing class and saw the food share program and decided we wanted to be part of it.  I mentioned to Linda at the seed sowing workshop that I wanted to come by this summer to help on the farm and she said I sure hope you like picking weeds because there is always weeding to do.  I started picking up my food share in June every Wednesday and noticed every time I went that Linda was in the garden picking weeds.  So a couple of weeks ago I decided to go early to pick up my food share and start help weeding.  I was there for about an hour and it flew by.  They say time flies when you’re having fun.  I had so much fun that I’ve gone back every Wednesday for the past 2 weeks.  And every week I stay a little longer.  I even get the keep what I pull out…haha.  Most of the weeds we pick out are edible and delicious.  I got so much lamb’s quarters last week that I put it in pretty much everything we eat. I still have some from last week and grabbed some again this week so I can start adding it to my green smoothies and try juicing it.  I put it on our eggs in the morning, in all my sautéed greens, and in most recipes that call for spinach I switch for lamb’s quarters.  Below is a recipe that I made yesterday and it turned out to be delicious.  Instead of chopped spinach I substituted chopped lamb’s quarters.  You can also use apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar and olive oil instead of coconut oil.  Also, when it comes to the onion, garlic and greens you can use less or more it really doesn’t make a difference to the recipe.  I always use firm tofu because that’s all I usually have but you can use soft tofu.  I guess you can say this recipe is pretty easy and can be changed to whatever you like.  If you’re like me you follow the recipe exactly the first time and then experiment after with the next batch and never make it the same after that.  I hope you enjoy and remember even weeds are edible! 

Vegan Greens Dip
  • 1 package of tofu
  • ¾ cup raw cashews (soaked for 6-8 hours)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 Tbsp Rice vinegar
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic or 4-5 garlic scapes
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • Salt & pepper

Blend tofu, cashews, yeast, vinegar, 1 tbsp of melted coconut oil, salt & pepper until very smooth

Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil, onion, garlic to frying pan and cook until onions are soft.  Add greens and cook until wilted.  Add blended puree and cook until heated through.  Put in a serving bowl sprinkle with paprika.  Serve with nacho chips or pitas.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Week 7 CSA (or 8) and Life on the Farm

I cried yesterday when it rained. Not tears of anger, frustration or sorrow, but tears of joy.
Sometimes when you are stressed in your life, you don't realize how much until the tide turns.
And yes, the dry weather, drought-like conditions were stressing me out.

In the 21 years of growing on this property, I don't think I have ever experienced such dry conditions, and my watering system has always been more than adequate.  I worried my super deep well would run dry. And then what?

This year I watered initially to help things thrive, but as the drought continued it was just to keep everything alive. 7 days a week, watering constantly and knowing that it would never and could never do what a good rainfall could do.

I am so grateful we received that beautiful rainfall yesterday. It has done so much good, but won't be early enough for some things that were really struggling and stunted.
I am not complaining at all. It is a wonderful reprieve and I am thankful for your rain dances and prayers. It all worked.

The baskets were quite full today. Several heads of garlic, onions, basils, lettuce mix, brassica microgreens, tomatoes, beets, beans, sweet peppers, New Zealand or malabar spinach and zucchini or cukes. Maybe more?

The beans, tomatoes and peppers will keep on coming. The shares will contains lots of beautiful tomatoes this year, and if you get too many, consider freezing them as is. Wash and dry them, pop them in freezer bags and pull them out in the middle of winter to use in sauces, soups or stews. Especially amazing in the winter are frozen cherry tomatoes, which I just pop in a pan with the garlic, onions, some peppers which I freeze the same way-and presto- the most incredible pasta sauce ever.

The following recipe for roasted beans in one I have posted for years when the beans start coming on strong. I hope you like it.

Roasted  Beans

Beans, topped and tailed.
Olive oil
Sea or kosher salt

Heat oven to 450 F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil and lay beans in a single layer on it.
Drizzle them with oil until they are evenly coated.
Cook for about 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to ensure even cooking.
When roasted, remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CSA Week 6 and on the Farm

I haven't been particularly good about writing on my blog this season. My trusted Macbook was in for repairs, expensive ones at that, and well, of course I have been watering. And watering. Too occupied to write I guess.

It sure is dry. It nearly seems like a bad dream sort of dry. Many things are doing well, but only because I am watering as much as possible. Some things are struggling. The corn is starting to tassel and it is only 2 feet high. That's not a good sign.

When I plan how I am going to plant in the spring, I consider a typical year. As my land is somewhat rolling, there are low spots that I anticipate will be too wet for certain crops. Not this year though. Those low spots are the best spots this year. I am also grateful for my clay, which with its' fine particles, is holding onto that moisture unlike a sandy soil.

You can see the effects of he drought as you drive through the country. The big farmers with their soybeans and corn are struggling. I read in the paper that 80% of the soy crop this year is a write-off. I am sure the corn is much the same. What a shame.

At least I can water, and I am much happier to have a dry year than a wet one.

It has been a bit of a difficult month beyond the drought here as we had to say good-bye to my dear piggy Joey, who had a heart attack one very hot day about 2 weeks ago. I know people will miss seeing him when they come to visit the farm, and I am missing him every single day. He was loved.

In the baskets this week was an interesting assortment of veggies. Not all baskets were the same, but there were some common ingredients in them all. Lettuce, fresh garlic heads, radishes, chard,  tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplants, broccoli, artichokes, beets, cucumbers, zucchini, New Zealand spinach, papalo and parsley. I think that covers what you may find.

The beets may have been your more standard fare, or perhaps the beets above.  If you didn't get them this week, you will. The white beets are sugar beets, and when you eat them, you'll know. They are super sweet and good. The yellows are Golden Grex, and are much longer and less bulbous than I figured  they would be. Very pretty though.

Papalo is an interesting herb, similar in flavour to cilantro, but clearly a different look and a stronger taste. This herb is native to Mexico, and is best not cooked. Add it to your salsa in the place of cilantro.

It surprises me when people tell me they don't care for chard. I can admit there is a lot of it in the summer, and my attempt is not to dole it out weekly. But it was so beautiful and big this week, that I added it in anyways.

Here is one way to use up some of that chard, recipe from Laurel's Kitchen. If you are vegan, sub accordingly!

Chard Cheese Pie
6 cups lightly steamed chard, well drained
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
2 eggs beaten
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs

Beat together cottage cheese, lemon juice,eggs and salt.stir a cup of this mixture into the chard and press it down in a well greased 8x8 pan. Spread the remaining cottage cheese mixture evenly over the top and sprinkle on bread crmbs and paprika. Bake for 1/2 an hour or until set. Allow to stand for several minutes before slicing into squares.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

CSA Week 2 and on the Farm

This blog post may be brief, due to the fact I am working on an Ipad, rather unfamiliar territory to me.
Yes indeed, the good less than 2 year old Apple Macbook died  and I am trying to get by on this, but it is testing my patience.
There certainly is a reason I don't work on computers all day and much prefer to be in the garden. It sure has invaded my business regardless though, and I depend on technology a great deal.

The garden remains dry, but I am watering recently seeded crops to get them to pop. Lots is growing well, weeds included, and the routine is weed, water and mulch.

Mulching will be vital this year in helping to retain soil moisture and regulating soil temperatures.
It was a challenge today to get things done and get out the door with the veggie baskets, primarily on account of a chicken named Ruby, Rubes for short.
That girl.
Percy, my orange kitty busted through the screen door into the garage last year so he could come and go at will. ruby was quick to discover the hole and pops in frequently to check in on the cat food sitution. She loves cat food.
Amazingly enough, on Sunday I cleaned out my garage which was quite an undertaking. I have a great table to work on in the garage, and now enough room to assemble the shares, right beside my cooler and my weigh scale.
It really is nice though to work in the garage with the large overhead door open, which presented me with the challenge of keeping Rubes out. Not only was the cat food there to tempt, but also the freshly picked greens would deserve a peck no doubt.
I set up a simple barracade, but she figured that out by hopping over. So I doubled the height of the barricade, and she spent hours assessing the situation, cocking her head this way and that, and bolting
for the door as I walked in and out closing the screen door and the wood door behind me.
That girl. She is a special one.


 The baskets today were spring, even though it is the first day of summer. Lettuce mix, greens (either kale or chard), garlic scapes, greens onions, radishes, cilantro and basil. I hope the cilantro lovers out there are happy because it is one thing I grow I don't really care for, and cutting it was was driving around with that smell in my vehicle. I guess you either love it or hate it.

The good news is that the tomatoes are coming, Stupice of course and from the greenhouse. Soon a nice sampling will appear in the baskets.
My patience has reached an end. Until next week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

CSA Week One and On the Farm

Today was week one of shares for my Tuesday CSA people, and tomorrow is week two for my Wednesday folks.

Indeed it is spring and this is apparent from the basket contents. There is ample lettuce...most of it my favourite variety, Bronze Arrowhead, radishes, greens, (kale, chard, chicory), microgreens, rhubarb and a bit of parsley and basil.

It has taken a whole lot of watering to get to this point.  It is dry, dry, dry.
I am grateful for my clay which holds the water well, but regardless the lettuce takes lots of watering, as do any newly seeded areas.

I do a lot of hand watering because I find it keeps me tuned in well to what is happening in the garden, and I also find it relaxing, a nice way to end the day. The water I use is from a well I had dug many years ago, not the Welland River that I live on. I pump from my very deep well, into my pond which warms the water up, then out into the garden.

I have sent back a few sprinklers this year that have been very disappointing and flimsy, and am awaiting another right now in the mail.  In the meantime, for smaller areas I am using a fantastic sprinkler that I got  from the dollar store. In 15 minutes it totally saturates an area of about 120 square feet and is very efficient. You just never know. As much as hand watering is what I prefer, it is time consuming and many times I just need to be doing something else.

The anticipated rain on Thursday would do wonders. I am really hoping.

The garden is pretty much in, but as crops come off, I continue to plant. Lettuce is seeded weekly as are microgreens. Weeding is in full gear, and I am trying to mulch as much as I can to cut down on the necessity of weeding and conserve moisture.

Today as I scrambled to get things ready for my shares and store deliveries, a few things distracted me. My big orange friend Percy was sitting on the grass twitching his tail and gazing at something he had no doubt caught. As I approached him, I couldn't believe my eyes. It took a few minutes to register, but then it did. This big bruiser of a cat caught a weasel! Weasels are pretty vicious little things, and I know have been responsible for the loss of some of my hens and bunnies in the past. It is sad, but it does worry me to know they are around. One less now though.

Then as I was walking past some long grass, some movement caught my eye. A baby robin with an injured leg, not yet able to fly. Oh, this is so difficult.
But with Percy cruising the area, I had to intervene, and I scooped up the little guy. I hope I made him comfortable in a cage, and I gave him strawberries, which I figured must be okay, because all the other little robins are eating my crop. He ate a good bit, worms too, and I am hoping he can get strong enough to head out on his own. It's hard with baby birds, but I am hoping.

Pray for rain and have a great week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Need Heirloom Tomato Seedlings? Tomato Days 2016, May 21 and on!

For the past three months I have been busy seeding tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and all kinds of wonderful things. And in just over 1 week I begin selling some pretty great seedlings. Next Saturday, May 21st at 8 am I begin selling, and I will continue on all weekend and for at least the next month thereafter.

My organically grown plants are super green and healthy, stocky and strong as they should be. When you receive them they are hardened off and ready to go in your garden, weather permitting.  They are in 3 1/2 pots and most of the plants are 6-8 inches tall (now) depending on the variety.

This year there are more than 500 varieties of tomatoes to choose from....and how do you choose? It is so tough that I struggle with that one myself. There are so many very, very good ones.  I have reds, oranges, yellows, whites, greens, blacks, browns, blues, pinks and purples. There are striped and fuzzy, very large, teeny tiny, early and late. There are excellent paste and canning types in every colour. Do you want that old fashioned taste? Yes, I have that. Something with less of an acid kick? I have that too.

I have grown all of them and many more over the years. Want to talk tomatoes? I am always happy to do that!

When you arrive please pick up a listing with variety descriptions. The descriptions are brief and to the point, and if you need more details, I can help you.

I have many varieties that are so rare they are not available commercially. Some gleaned from years of involvement in seed exchanges or from personal encounters with seed developers are very special to me. They are heirloom treasures indeed.

As I do grow so many varieties and am a small grower, all varieties are limited quantity. So if you are coming out for the first time, expect that Saturday morning there will be a crowd. Many people know exactly what they are looking for and come early to find it.  It is a bit of mayhem. But fun tomato mayhem.

If you just want something great, there are lots of those, thousands in fact. I never run sell out of tomatoes....there are oodles.  I hope you will leave with something that makes your summer sandwiches and salads delightful indeed. Your sauces get it.

In addition to tomatoes, I have much much more. I have a huge selection of hot peppers this year, sweet peppers too. There are eggplants, melons, zucchini and cucumbers, mouse melons, broccoli, lettuce,kales, cauliflower, ground cherries, cape gooseberries, tomatillos, basils and a small selection of flowers. And more.

I will also be selling my seed. I have lots of veggies that are best direct seeded, including radishes, peas, carrots, beets, beans, cuke seed and again, lots more. Even a farm original bean.

I'm always so happy to see return customers and hear about your experiences with the tomatoes. But if you are a new gardener, I can guide you in making good selections and help out with growing advice.

I am delighted as well that there will be other vendors joining in on the Saturday opening day. Again there will be some large potted perennials for sale, coffee and snacks, soaps, alpaca products and possibly a bit more.

I look forward to welcoming you to Wainfleet. ( GPS address: 74038 Creek Rd Wainfleet) I am situated just outside the village of Wellandport. You may park at the third  grassy laneway on the left after the two paved driveways into the church parking lot, courtesy of Riverside Church. Watch for the signs.

Sales are cash or cheque only, I am sorry but I remain low tech here.

See you then!