here and there

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Canadian Garden

This is the twelfth posting for the Canadian Food Experience project.  The Theme for this blog is the Canadian Garden.

A recent email listed signs that indicated one is addicted to Gardening !  The one I identify with is: When your co-worker shows off her freshly-painted manicure, you proudly present the dirt under your nails.

It is the first week in May and Mother's Day is around the corner and I am so itching to get into my garden, but there is still snow on the ground and more to come!  

There is something so special as the snow melts and everything comes to life.  The seed catalogues that came in the middle of winter have been used for planning this year's garden with eager anticipation! 

My father was always experimenting with different vegetables.  I remember him planting Celery seeds into a framed box in the garden to protect it from the elements.  My father also did winter planting of radishes, lettuces and spinach in a sandy area.  The taste of the early harvest of lettuces, spinach, radishes was so welcome after a long winter. 

This year, my brother had ordered Sweet Potatoes from Vesey's to plant in Northern Manitoba.  Last year, he planted the Asian Long Beans I had purchased for him.  There is no comparison in freshness and taste of these beans to those bought in the Supermarket!

Asian LongBeans in Northern Manitoba

Picking Cucumbers in Northern Manitoba

Jalape├▒os in Northern Manitoba

When I look at my tiny garden plot in the city, I remember my Mom's huge garden on the farm that she planted every year and preserved the huge yield of vegetables by canning, freezing or storing the root vegetables in a root cellar.

Nellie's garden

Excess garden yields were commonly shared or swapped with others for something that may not have been as plentiful in one's garden. Nothing was wasted!

Tons of Pickling cucumbers in Northern Manitoba

My gardens have always been most successful in other provinces, until moving to Calgary. However, every spring, I am optimistic in planting my garden, especially with tomatoes as I try different strategies.  I am usually pleased with the results until I taste a sun kissed tomato from Saskatchewan or Manitoba and weep!  Tomatoes just don't like the cool evening temperatures in Calgary.  Yet, the small yields from my Calgary garden are most appreciated!

In recently years, I have starting growing garlic.  In travelling through the Okanagan Valley, I picked up two garlic bulbs, Persian Rose and Yugoslavian White at a Farmer's Market in Penticton which I planted that fall.

Garlic growing this year inspite of the snow
 Gardening is very Canadian.  I grew up with gardening as a necessity to now being a hobby for me.  

Everyone at this time of the year is talking Backyard gardening! 

Last week a new immigrant from Vietnam was asking me if the tomato that she took from her neighbor's garden and planted last fall would produce tomatoes for her this year!

While on my recent trip to Toronto, the Hotel Bell Hop from India was eagerly waiting for warmer weather to plant his vegetables.  The smile on his face while talking about his garden was full of expectation!

This year I look forward to planting with my grandchild, her first garden.  She is ready to go!

My recipe for this Blog brings many memories when my Aunt from Thunder Bay would visit our farm and make soup using the fresh vegetables from the garden, that she picked that morning.  I remember waking up and hearing her busy in the kitchen as she chopped the vegetables for the soup.

Spring Borscht

as dictated by my Aunt Florence

2 pork chops or a small pork roast 
3 cups of young beets, julienned, use the whole plant 
Use any new vegetables you may have in the garden
carrots, peas, onions, string beans, small baby potatoes
Fresh parsley and dill
1/2 to 1 cup heavy cream
vinegar, salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish with fresh dill

The beauty of this soup is the julienned matchstick sized vegetables and the rich colour and clarity of the broth, not to mention the delicacy and taste of tender young vegetables.  

Place meat in a stock pot; cover with water. Bring to boil; cover pot, turn down heat and gently simmer.  Patiently skim off the soup until broth is clear.  When meat is tender, remove meat from the bone.  Strain the broth through a double layer of cheesecloth.  Add herbs and the prepared vegetables that have been julienned to the meat stock.  Add more water to cover the vegetables.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer until vegetables are cooked. Check vegetables often as young vegetables cook very quickly.  

Finishing touches before serving:

Remove the dill and parsley. Remove soup from the heat, add the cream slowly to the hot broth as you stir it.  Do not let the soup boil. Add a dash of vinegar, season with salt and pepper.  Garnish each bowl of soup with fresh chopped dill.


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