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 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


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

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.


Salad Greens July 25, 2011

Salad Greens

Salad Greens (and peas, dill & strawberries)

The salad is doing well this year. That’s because it’s late July and yesterday was the first day of “summer” here on the wet wet coast.  Now that it’s hot – and assuming the heat is planning to stick around, the salad will now bolt.  Which means it’s time to eat it all up. Fast.

Until this year, I’ve never had much luck producing sweet lettuce. The heat and dry of summer have always got the better of us and the spring lettuce has consistently bolted early in the year, quickly become woody and bitter. So for the long spring lettuce season, I give thanks.  The peas, brocolli and cabbage are also doing remarkably well with this odd season. To extend the growing of these spring crops in the summer heat, we need to get on top of watering now.  Until this week, we’ve been leaving the watering to the elements. Luckily, the rain barrels are full after a wet spring so we should be able to ward off bitter bolting greens a little bit longer.

It’s also time to sow another round of greens. We’ll plant in the partial shade of some of the bushier veggies to keep these a little cooler and eat them young and fresh during the hot summer, um, weeks.  Strangely, it’s almost time to sow winter greens too – more kale, spinach and crests to go into what will be a covered winter garden in a couple months.


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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