The allotment garden, almost mid-June

I went down to the allotment to weed and put my last few veggies in. Some more tomatoes (these ones are called rainbow, and it looks like they mature into a range of colours, which would be pretty on a plate), some hot cherry peppers, and green and yellow zucchini.

I was probably there for about 3 hours. I also harvested some lettuce (I’ll take a picture of my harvest tomorrow in daylight: the storm was coming in and it was too dark outside to shoot, and I was too bagged to set up some proper lighting). Did lots of weeding – I could always tell when it was mint or dill that was coming up, because there are lots of those volunteering in my garden. Continue reading

Today felt like spring

I look back through my blog, and see that my King Alfred daffodils were in bloom by this time last year. Not this year! But I did start to do garden clean-up today, so they have a tidy space to come up in.

It was about 12C by 2pm, and I went to Hooked and enjoyed a few buck-a-shuck oysters. Absolutely delicious.

There were two from New Brunswick: St-Simon, and Caraquets. Loved these:

St-Simon Continue reading

Yes, there was snow!

I shovelled once on Thursday, and (I think — I lost count) 5 times on Friday.

Here’s my street near the end of the storm (more came down after this photo).

4pm, Feb. 8, 2013

And my back garden yesterday evening, when the sky was almost that perfect sapphire colour, and the streetlights were on in the laneway.




Pat eats a Pawpaw

Pawpaw, paw-paw, so many ways to spell it!

I bought a couple from Forbes’ Wild Food at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market on Sunday.

One’s in the fridge — the other I let continue to ripen.

Was told it should be yellow with brown spots, the way a banana should be when it’s ready to eat.

The smell of the fruit was pineapple-kiwi-banana, but the acid smell decreased as the fruit ripened.


Maybe I was precipitous, but here’s the state of it when I decided to cut it open:



Was difficult to cut open — I couldn’t quite understand why, until I had fully pulled it apart: aha! It has great big seeds that don’t slice easily!



Next step: scoop out the flesh, and separate the seeds from the flesh:



Took a taste. It’s delightful! For people who like to start the morning with a smoothie, this is the perfect ingredient. More protein than most fruit, lots of fibre and minerals. Tasty, but not too strong for first-thing-of-the-day.

Felt like there was an ingredient in my fridge that would complement the flavour, so I added some coconut milk (no sulfites!):


Was very delicious. I read up some more about it on wikipedia, and discovered that it’s not a fruit that can be put in a cool place to store: it doesn’t last long that way. But the flesh of it does freeze well!  Something else for the Smoothie Set to consider.

 I saved the seeds. I’ll take the other one out of the fridge to ripen, now. And I’ll save the seeds from it, too. They’re quite large — reminded me of ackee seeds, but they’re not of the same family.


I don’t know if the climate along the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia will support pawpaws, but there’s only one way to find out… and that’s to give my Dad some seeds! It’s an understory tree, so could potentially grow in his forested area. The one caveat I heard from Lorraine Johnson is that you need three trees to ensure fertilization of the flowers.

Oh. The flowers don’t smell nice — kinda one of those carrion-fly fertilized plants.

We’ll see! Dad, are you in? I’ll give you the seeds at Christmas.

Paw-paws, a fruit of the Carolinian forest

I’d heard of paw-paws. The first place I heard of them was at Sears & Switzer’s acting workshop, where I had been assigned a scene from Crimes of the Heart. Couldn’t find much information about them at that time (this is pre-world.wide.web and yahoo and google).

Heard next about them when Lorraine Johnson was giving a talk at the Brick Works about local foods, native plants, things that we could be doing. Learned that Paw-paws were native to this area, but that you’ve got to have three of them to ensure germination (I thought that strange at the time, but have since learned that some apples have the same requirements). They’re an understory tree, which means they don’t grow to great heights, and they’ll do well in light shade.

The fruit didn’t travel well, and in days prior to refrigeration, tended to spoil quickly.  We’ve been able to overcome these problems, but it’s still not a well-known fruit.

I ran across it last week, as the banner image on the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance website. Aha! Finally, I know what it looks like! Greenish things. Oval. Bruise easily.

Today, at the Leslieville Farmers Market, I went over (as usual) to the Forbes table (I like to taunt them that they haven’t had spruce tips since the spring: I know this makes sense, but I just like to bug them about that). They had a whole bunch of — paw-paws! OK, have run across it enough times now that I must try it.

Bought two, have brought them home. Got them at different stages of ripeness — one getting yellow, some spots. The other is quite green. Apparently you want to eat them yellow with lots of dark spots — like with bananas, that indicates when the fruit is really ripe.

So I need to wait a bit. Maybe tomorrow the first one will be ripe: if so, I’ll photograph it. I’ve heard that the way to eat it is to cut it open and scoop the flesh out with a spoon.

It smells really good — and I’m not a fruit lover. It smells like a cross between a pineapple and a kiwi and a banana — got those acid things going on, and that deep banana thing, too.

Stay tuned!

State of the garden on the last weekend of July

Went again this morning to water and harvest.

Still nothing happening with the eggplants: my dream of growing my own ratatouille this year may not materialize: I haven’t had any more zucchini, either.

But things are happening.

Slowly, my paste tomatoes are moving from green to yellow — and one of them is orange, on its way to red.

Ripening paste tomato

The sweet red pepper continues to get larger, but isn’t showing any signs of color change yet.

Sweet red pepper

Similarly, there’s still just one hot pepper, and it’s green.

hot pepper growing

There were a couple of flowers on the zucchini (both males) but no signs of any baby zucchinis.

zucchini blossom

Early girl tomatoes are still almost white.

Pale early girls

I did pick a couple of sweet millions, though!

Sweet millions ripening

I also harvested some of my mesclun mix, and all of 3 swiss chard leaves. A few more yellow beans.


Anyone want some dill weed? One of the things about not weeding constantly is that I’m finding I’ve got some useful things growing… like some mint (very difficult to eradicate) and dill, which is good for butterflies if no-one wants it.

Dill flower

In search of the most beautiful Caprese Salad

A Caprese Salad is a simple thing: tomato, boccancini, basil, olive oil, and some say balsamic vinegar (some say no).

When it’s fresh, ripe, perfect ingredients, it’s the essence of summer sun and warmth.


Probably the best tasting one I’ve had in Toronto lately was at Lil Baci, which uses imported cheese, and it’s very creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, pairs with tomato in an awesome way delicious.


Because it has so few ingredients, it’s an amazingly graphic, sometimes architectural, salad. I want to capture it as pure art. I’m not there yet.


Here’s a salad that Sandy had when we were in Italy in 2005:


 Here’s one I photographed a couple of months ago:

Caprese Salad

Here’s my photograph from last week:

Caprese redux

 I’m getting closer, but I’m not there yet. Need more precision in my salad building, either get the whole plate or no background, editing details, clarity, clarity, clarity.

Then I saw a really interesting salad at a restaurant Sandy was eating at in Italy last night.

Hmm. Vertical stack. Hmm. different types of tomatoes.

I think I will continue to work on this.