Gumboot Adventures

gowing and growing green

Checkerboard Apples January 27, 2012

checkerboard apples

checkerboard apples

Local eating means eating a lot apples in the winter. They store well. We like them. They can be apple sauce or apple chips or apple muffins. There’s enough other variety in our menu and enough variety in the way we ‘serve’ apples that no child has ever complained. None the less, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to make apples exciting.

Which is why I love Checkerboard Apples. I love them because my kids love them. And anything that keep my kids convinced that their waste-free, mostly local lunch is infintely better than a packaged alternative is good by me.

To make Checkerboard Apples:

  • Quarter an core the apple.
  • Slice just through the skin of the apple, first lengthwise, then side to side. The effect at this point will be a squares cut into the skin.
  • Carefully, remove the skin from every second square, making a checkerboard pattern.
  • Rub with a little lemon to prevent browning until lunch!

The first time I sent these to school for Asher, he reported a class full of grade one students ogling. What could be better than a class full of six year olds ogling over an apple!

Great uses for apple?  Please comment! Share the apple love.

 

 

Apple Festival October 27, 2011

The kids and I recently decided to have our very own Apple Festival.  You can read all about it at Growing Up Green, my weekly series at www.thriftyandgreen.com. Here’s a little behind-the-scene look at our fun!

We don’t have apples growing yet – next year I hope – so we hit the farmer’s market for a selection of shapes colours and sizes.  Bergandy is always attracted to tiny things! So, crab apples:

Crab Apples

Crab Apples

We laid out our spread, filled bowls with toppings, and dug in! You try getting them to look up after saying go…

Our At-Home Apple Festival

Our At-Home Apple Festival

I thought the kids would gorge on the sprinkles & chocolate, but they surprised me. They always do! That’s half the fun. Bergandy liked sweet apple with sweet honey. Sweet. Asher laughed at the idea of picking a favorite. Between bites  – “Who needs a favorite with all this good stuff!”

Apple Love

Apple Love

Even Weston partook – using any and every apple slice he could get his paws on as a teether! No chocolate sauce for him, though you know he tried his hardest to get into that fun too!

Baby Weston Loves Apple

Baby Weston Loves Apple

After gorging ourselves on 10 – yes TEN – apples, we needed to burn off the honey, caramel and chocolate. What better way than to done matching monster t-shirts and dance around the living room to Monster Mash!

Monster Moves

Monster Moves

Until we collapsed. Here, Bergandy does her very best “dead pose”.

Dead Dance

Dead Dance

 

August 17, 2011

Pesto Pre-Presto

Pesto Pre-Presto

The garden is in full swing and we’re enjoying its goodness at least every day and often at every meal! One of the ubiquitous family favorites at our house is fresh pesto. When the bright flavours hit our pallet, we know that summer has really, truly arrived.

Our pesto recipe is simple and traditional, with a little health zing: kale! A handful of garden fresh kale disappears into the strong flavours of garlic and basil. Around here, only the grown ups actually enjoy kale but since it’s a super food – packed full of nutrients and vitamins – so we sneak it into the kids every chance we get.

Italien Soup w/ Pesto

Italien Soup w/ Pesto

Pesto is great as a pasta sauce. For a quick, healthy, kid-pleasing meal we like to sautee the pesto with cubed tofu for a few minutes, before adding cooked pasta, olives and cherry tomatoes. It’s also perfect dolluped on top of a tomato based vegetable soup like minestrone or Italian Bean soup. At snack time, try pesto spread on rye crackers with fresh sliced tomatoes.

Basil & Kale Pesto Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh basil (leaves, stems, flowers – it’s all good)
¾ cup of olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts (it’s nice to roast these in the pan with a little olive oil first)
1/3 cup parmesean cheese
2 large cloves of garlic
5 kale leaves, off the stem

Directions:
Strip the leafy greens off of the kale stem. Disgard the stem. If desired, pan-roast the pine nuts in a bit of olive oil for a nice nutty flavour.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor.

Puree. Eat. Enjoy.

 

Picking and Pinching August 14, 2011

 

Tomatoes Ripening

Tomatoes Ripening

It’s the time of year when a lot of the work in the garden is either pinching or picking.  To increase production, plants need to be pinched. To maintain continuous production, other plants need to picked regularly. The practice of pinching sends the energy to the fruit, increasing the likelyhood of nice, big, ripe fruit and vegetables. Our tomatoes have been especially needy in the pinching department as they struggle to produce ripe fruit amidst a short growing season and the constant threat of blight.

PINCHING

Tomatoes  – Tomatoes can be pinched in a couple of ways. (1) Once flowering starts, pinch the tops to stunt growth and send energy to fruit production. (2) Especially in wet climates, pinch the lower leaves to prevent the onset of blight. (3) Once fruit production begins in earnest, thin out leaves to send energy to the fruit and to allow the sun to reach and ripen the fruit.

Squash & Pumpkins – If size matters, pinch all but a few flowers to get big, lovely pumpkins and other squashes. If space matters, trim back the vines, unless you’ve trained them up.  Squash flowers are edible and make a nice colourful addition to salad.

Strawberry – Trim back those runners! Strawberry plants should be replaced about every four years. Unless it’s replacement time, trim back the runners to direct the energy to the plant, and to allow enough space for the existing plants to produce well.

PICKING

Peas – Peas require continual picking to keep up their production. In August, the novelty of the peas can wear off as other vegetables come into season. Don’t let the peas become the neglected plant in the corner. Continued love will be rewarded with long lasting production and fresh peas for salad, stews and pesto well into the summer.

Brocoli – Quick, before it flowers! Any remaining brocoli needs to be picked now before it flowers. Leave the plants for a second set of heads ready for harvest later in the fall.

Leafy Greens – Picking a few leaves from each head of lettuce and from the kale, chard, and spinach is key to preventing to bolting and to enjoying fresh sweet salads all summer long.

 

Seaweed for the Garden August 6, 2011

Seaweed from the Beach

Seaweed from the Beach

We spent last weekend camping near a beach covered with washed up seaweed. Seaweed is full of nutrients – reputed to be as good as fresh manure for the earth – so before leaving, we collected a rubbermaid full of seaweed for the garden. The kids collected (and returned) a bucket full of fish from the tidepools.

Chasing Fish in the Tide Pool

Chasing Fish in the Tide Pool

We live on the West Coast, so mulching with seaweed seems like a given, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until now.

Seaweed can be applied directly to the garden as a layer of mulch or it can be added to the compost. A tonic can also be made by filling a barrel half way with the seaweed and adding water. After sitting three months, this is similar to the commercially available seaweed fertilizer formulas.

Impatience and lack of organization negate the possibility of making tonic right now. And as much as I’d love to mulch, I’m not going to for two reasons:

  1. We didn’t rinse the salt from the seaweed with freshwater.  The salt can be harmful to the garden and can kill the worms. In the rainy winter months, the effect is negligible, but during the summer months adding a lot of salt to the garden isn’t a great idea. That said, that’s way too much work for this busy mama!
  2. Apparently seaweed is rich in growth hormone and shouldn’t be applied late in the growing season.  We might mulch with seaweed in the early fall, when the winter garden is just starting and the other beds are replenishing.

So the seaweed is going into the compost. I’ll let you know how that turns out…

Collecting Seaweed

Collecting Seaweed

Collecting seaweed is as easy as anything. The variety of seaweed is inconsequential and many types varieties can be found on most beaches.  The one and only steadfast rule is respect. Seaweed is an important part of the aquaculture and removing it can be harmful to the natural balance of the environment. So,

    • NEVER take live seaweed. ONLY take seaweed from the beach.
    • RINSE the seaweed gently in the ocean to release aquatic organisms back into the water.
    • LEAVE plenty of seaweed on the beach.  Dried seaweed is a home and harbor to many creatures, if you take it all they are left without cover.
 

The Best Salad Dressing July 28, 2011

The Best Salad Dressing in the World

The Best Salad Dressing in the World

We’ve been eating a lot of greens this cool summer.  Which is fine by us, we have the yummiest salad dressing in the “whole-entire world,” courtesy of the magazine Edible Vancouver and the incredible Hollyhock Institute.

Edible printed Hollyhock’s famous dressing in their almost-spring 2011 edition, and it’s been a game changer at our house.  Here it is.  The best salad dressing in the “Whole-Entire World”

Hollyhock Yeast Dressing

As printed in Edible, from Hollyhock Cooks, with Linda Solomon and Moreka Jolar.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

1/2 cup (125 ml) nutritional yeast flakes

1/3 cup (75 ml) water

1/3 cup (75 ml) soy sauce or tamari

1/3 cup (75 ml) apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp crushed garlic

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) Sunflower Oil

Combine the first 5 ing unredients in a blender until they are thoroughly mixed. While still mixing on high, pour the oil in a slow, steady stream. Add  all the oil or r when a desired consistency is achieved. (Honestly, we put everything in the glass mason jar we keep the dressing in, and shake. It’s delicious). When refrigerated, this keeps for 2 weeks.

 

Hey Kids, We’re Growing Kiwis May 27, 2011

Hey Kids – we’re growing Kiwis!

Really? Where?

Growing What?

When I showed them the vines, planted happily in our West Coast garden, the excitement set in.

Kiwis are Good!

I have to admit that despite the fact that our Kiwi plants are currently little stubs with a few leaves, I share completely in their euphoria. The very idea of growing kiwi fruit in our cool West Coast climate is boggling and beautiful. I had planned on apple trees, plum trees, blueberries, raspberries, maybe even grapes – but I had no idea that we could have productive Kiwis. Apparently we can. And here’s the skinny:

Kiwi plants are aggressive woody vines that grow to be about 20 ft. They require strong support and like all fruit, good soil along with love and attention, including regular applications of fertilizer. (Remember, you’re going to eat the fruit, so keep it organic). Kiwi plants on the West Coast are reputed to be productive as early as their second year – though this is variety dependent.

Kiwi plants are dioecious – both a male and female plant is required for fruit production. For the patient guru male flowers have stamens, and the female ones have carpels. For the rest of us, plants without flowers look identical save one distinguishing feature –

Kiwi Plant - Male

The tag. You’ll need one male and one female. And obviously, you need bees and butterflies to make sure that those flowers come in contact with one and other. If not, the plant will need your assistance. And honestly – whose got time for that! I’ve planted our kiwis near a flowering plants that the bees love so fingers are crossed for nature doing what it does best.

I’ll keep you posted!

 

 
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