Author Archive

Our First CSA Share

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Last Thursday we received our first CSA share of the season from Plan B Organics.  Ella and I walked over and picked up our veggies for the week.  It had started to rain but I was determined to walk there, besides, it was just spitting a bit and the pick up depot is only 5 minutes away. Luckily, we hadn’t bought the wagon yet (we have a new one for this week!) and I was able to shield Ella from the rain with the cover on the stroller. Ella didn’t mind the rain one bit. She stuck out her hand and was singing away. Yep, she was singing in the rain. In our half share this week: asparagus, rhubarb, baby spinach, basil, green onions, English cucumber, parsnip, and bok choy. 

So far, we’ve made steamed asparagus, baby spinach salad, pesto, and rhubarb loaf.  I need new ways to make asparagus, I’ve roasted them and steamed them so far.  I think I have a recipe for asparagus risotto somewhere.  Any easy & simple asparagus recipes out there?

It’s Farmers’ Market Season Again!

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Brick Works Farmers Market

Since the start of the outdoor farmers’ market season, Josh, Ella and I have a new Saturday morning routine – we head down to Brick Works Farmers’ Market for some shopping and tasty treats.

Even though it’s still early in the season, the market was already bustling with activities. Farmers selling asparagus, rhubarb (you gotta get there early), wild leek and baby greens; vendors selling organic and heirloom seedlings, specialty cheese, baked goods, handmade chocolates and delicious prepared foods; there were also workshops, live music and activities for kids. It was so nice to be shopping in an open air market, visiting the different vendors and sampling all the goodies.

We had a late start last week and didn’t get to the market until 11. Unfortunately, most of the spring produce were sold out by then. So we just bought some bread from St John’s Bakery and a tomato seedling (red zebra, red with yellow stripes), just in case it doesn’t work out with our own seedlings.

To cure our rumbling tummies, we bought burritos from two different vendors for a taste test: the ultimate breakfast burrito vs. the chorizo burrito. They were both freshly made and stuffed with scrumptious toppings. Josh and I thought they were both delicious. The ultimate breakfast burrito was lighter and zestier; the chorizo burrito was hearty and more substantial. Ella preferred the chorizo burrito, she kept asking for more.

Starting next week, there’ll be a $5 charge for parking at the Brick Works , so I don’t think we’ll be visiting every week anymore. While they do offer a shuttle service from Davisville station and Broadview station, it’s too much trouble when you’re traveling with a one year old.

Here’s a list of farmers’ markets in Toronto (most of them are in our searchable database , we’ll be adding the search criteria “day of the week” soon):

Mondays

Sorauren Park Farmers Market

Sunshine Garden Market

Tuesdays

East York Farmers Market

MyMarket SickKids

Riverdale Farmers Market

Stonegate Farmers Market

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market

Wednesdays

MyMarket Bloor-Borden

Thursdays

Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers Market

Metro Hall Farmers Market

MyMarket East Lynn Park

Sunshine Garden Market

Fridays

Birchcliff Village Farmers Market

High Park Organic Farmers Market

Saturdays

Farmers Organic Market

Green Barn Farmers Market

St. Lawrence Farmers Market

The Village Market, Thorhhill

Brick Works Farmers Market

Etobicoke Farmers Market

High Park Organic Farmers Market

Weston Village Farmers Market

Withrow Park Farmers Market

Sundays

Distillery Farmers Market

High Park Organic Farmers Market

MyMarket Liberty Village

Sprouts update – Week 5

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

McMullen tomatoes - over 3 inches tall

Sweet Basil

Golden Midget Watermelon brown leaves

With the exception of the watermelon, my seedlings are doing quite well.  Most have at least one set of “true” leaves.  The McMullen tomatoes are over 3 inches tall! I’m supposed to pinch back the weaker seedling in each pot, but I can’t bring myself to do it just yet. One more week.

This weekend (Victoria Day Weekend) marks the beginning of the growing season for us in the Toronto area.  I didn’t start my seedling early enough to transplant this weekend, but I will be sowing some carrots, parsnips and peas directly in the garden.

 

 

Yellowing Golden Midget Watermelon Leaves – Help!

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Golden Midget Watermelon yellowing leaves

Golden Midget Watermelon brown and drying leaves

My golden midget watermelon seedlings are not doing so well.  The leaves are looking yellowish, and on one of the seedlings, the first set leaves have started to turn brown and dry.  Has anyone else experienced this?  Is this normal?

 

 

The Challenges of Eating Locally

Monday, May 12th, 2008

We’ve been eating locally (mostly) since the beginning of the year.  Being from Toronto, we are lucky to have numerous year-round farmers’ markets.  A quick search on our resource page shows 19 local food suppliers within 10 km from my house.  And yet, I find it difficult to maintain this local eating lifestyle.  It was easier when I was on maternity leave – Ella and I would have daytrips to farmers’ markets and specialty stores during the week.  Now that I’m back to teaching, I’m exhausted at the end of the day, and I still have hours of housework and lesson planning to do.  The only time we have to shop for grocery is late at night and on the weekends.  The 24-hr Dominion down the street is just so tempting, we shop there more often than we’d like to.  Sometimes, I just don’t have the time or energy to go to the market or the specialty stores.  At the same time, I get frustrated shopping at the big supermarkets. The local food selection there is very limited, and the organics section looks pitiful.  Just last weekend, I had to throw out half a bag of organic onions we’d bought the week before – they’ve gotten rotten and moldy. I don’t know if it’s because the non-organic produce has chemicals to make them last longer, or that the organic produce sits on the shelf for longer, I find the quality of organic produce at big chain grocery store to be of poorer quality.

Anyway, I can’t wait for the new season of farmers’ markets to start and I count down the days (24) to my first CSA share from Plan b Organics.  I look forward to the summer months where I’ll have more time to garden, shop for food and try out new recipes.

What has your local eating experience been like? What are your tricks to “stay on the wagon”?

 

 

Sprouts update

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Sprouts - week 3

Week 3: They are getting bigger.

Getting the Garden Ready – Part 1

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

We’ve had a full week of warm, sunny days here in Toronto.  Our daffodils are blooming, the lily-of-the-valley have come up from the ground, the forsythias and other flowering trees are, well, flowering.  We finally got the hedges in our backyard trimmed last week.  We spent today raking the last of the leaves from last fall, and pulling out many, many dandelions.  Our garden is almost ready for planting.  Josh raked the leaves and the next step is to turn the soil and work in the compost we got for free at the Earth Day celebration at Downsview Park.  Just a few more weeks…

 

 

 

Sprouts!

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Basil Sprout in action!

Only a week after I planted the seeds, almost all the them have sprouted. All of the tomatoes, one of the golden midget watermelons, and most of the sweet basil have sprouts. After the mold incident last week, I was pleasantly surprised that no damage has been done. I’m very excited about the sprouts, actually, maybe a bit TOO excited.

Mini Greenhouse

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I finally got around to planting my seeds over the weekend.  After checking the packages, it turns out that I only have to start the seedling for tomatoes, basils and watermelon indoors.  The rest I should wait until after the last frost and plant them in the garden directly.  I planted the seeds in a mini greenhouse that fits on a window sill.  Since Sunday, I’ve been eagerly checking everyday for sprouts and today, I noticed mold on the watermelon soil!  It’s only day 3 and already I’m having problems.  According to various gardening websites, the mold is probably from overwatering.  So I removed the moldy parts and opened the greenhouse. Hopefully, the mold won’t come back.

The dark side to local eating?

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

I recently read the (UK based) article “How the myth of food miles hurts the planet” from The Observer.  The premise of the article is that the environmental impact of food cannot be simply judged by its “food mile”.  

The author has three arguments. Produce from Kenya is grown using manual labour, thus more environmentally friendly, and  has a smaller carbon footprint than some British mega-farm produce even when you consider the airfreight. Buying local greenhouse lettuce is not really better than importing the field grown ones from Spain – the transportation costs are offset by the greenhouse heating costs. The local apples in August that were picked last fall use  energy to be kept cold for nine months. 

It really made me think about my local eating philosophy.  I think that an important part of eating locally is eating seasonally, and with all things in life – moderation is key.  Our main reason to eat locally is to support our local farmers and to eat fresh and tasty food.  

What’s your reasons for eating local?