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Pickle Me This

August 24, 2007


August 13, 2007

All the melons I have taken for granted

The garden education continues, and this afternoon my world view shifted. We had harvested our first cantaloupe, minutes off the vine we were each eating half at the table, and it dawned on me how much work this little melon had done to come to life. Not to mention the work we’d done to further that life, and I considered the abundance of energy involved, and here we were about to devour it in mere minutes. I thought of all of the melons before that I’ve taken for granted, and how strange it is that we rarely think hard about what we eat. And the melon even tasted different after that. I think I’ll think harder now. And the fruit was lovely, delicious, and absolutely precious.

August 8, 2007

Golden tomatoes and blue potatoes

Now rereading Carol Shields’s Unless, her masterpiece. I reread this book every summer, an amazing experience that allows one to, for example, pause and ponder the first paragraph for about ten minutes straight. It’s also sad and heartening to be reading this book after having read her book of letters with Blanche Howard in June. I also still maintain that this book is a treatise on novel-writing, which is very exciting seeing as I am returning to my own novel in just a few weeks after this summer of short stories. Anyway, I am enjoying this much the same way I always do, but also differently, of course.

I liked Michael Holroyd’s exasperation with author acknowledgements, as much as acknowledgements are the first part of any book I read. I also enjoyed Holroyd’s sister in law AS Byatt’s treatment of Middlemarch, which you might recall I read for the first time and fell in love with earlier this year. Byatt’s Possession is being “twinned” with Middlemarch for the Vintage Classic Twins Editions, which were brilliantly introduced to me here at dovergreyreader scribbles.

And it’s been nearly a week since I mentioned the garden last– you all must be on the edge of your seats! For your information my husband is now reading Animal Vegetable Miracle and is more obsessed than I was. We revisited the brilliant Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market and brought home tons of wonderful stuff, including blue potatoes and blackberries. We did a harvest of our garden tonight, and brought in two enormous bowls of tomatoes of all kinds– the window sill is crowded. Tomorrow night I am going to attempt a golden tomato sauce.

July 31, 2007

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market

And so the garden continues to churn out baby tomatoes, cucumbers abounding, no critters have yet eaten the melons, in a few weeks we’ll have red peppers. We’re a bit worried about the big tomatoes, which may have been living a bit too close to the bbq lately and just don’t seem to be ripening, but fingers crossed. All goes well. And tonight we went to Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market which is very close to our house, and we were thrilled to find their bounty a-plenty still at six o’clock when we were able to get down there. Brilliant! We got swiss chard, pattypan squash, yellow zucchini, baby eggplant, basil, beets (red and yellow), and corn. How fun is eating local in August? Tonight we had pizza and it was absolutely delicious.

In related news, I’m now getting a bit of Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking on the side.

July 27, 2007

Animal Vegetable Miracle Update

Just like one of my favourite bloggers, I found Animal Vegetable Miracle quite inspiring when I read it last week. And it was quite timely, I thought, that this book came my way right about the time the garden started exploding. The lettuce may have bolted, but we’ve got cucumbers and tomatoes at the mo, and red peppers and watermelon still ahead of that. (Please excuse my rubbish photo, but I forgot to get one while the sun was out). As well this was the June I finally got my act together, and made strawberry jam. Half of which I plan to save until the dead of winter, so we can pull it out and remember what fresh berries tasted like, and I’m going to freeze some sauce made out of our tomatoes so I can do a similar thing. (I do not know how to can yet, and I will wait until I no longer live in an apartment to do that).

And so riding the wave of my blooming garden, and the Kingsolver book, I’ve made a pledge to eat (more) locally. Thinking of small steps, as the book urges. We went to Dufferin Grove Farmer’s Market last week, and I got Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors from the library. We revelled in swiss chard, basil, zucchini and garlic with flavours we’d never given these veggies credit for. When we went shopping at the regular grocery store (which has to happen, unfortunately, as the farmer’s market is only around weekday afternoons and by the time we got there after work, all the treasures were gone) we resolved to only buy Ontario produce, and we got beets and greens, swiss chard again, kale, leeks and zucchini. The fruit, ashamedly, had to come from California. But we did pretty well, and it was fun to try food we’d never had before, and find new recipes instead of the ones we’ve used over and over.

But all of this is a bit lame– I’ve managed to bring my meals only moderately closer to home, and this at the peak of the season. I want to better. First, I want to learn what is in season, and when– the Kingsolver and Madison books are geared to more southern climes. How can I learn about Southern Ontario’s bounty? Are there markets more accessible (though St. Lawrence market is on Saturdays, and I could get down there once in a while)? What are we going to dinner come winter when the only Ontario produce is an icicle? And fruit fruit, we hardly knew you. What if I dare to eat a peach?

All of this and more will be grappled with in future updates, and any advice you could offer me, I would be happy to receive.

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