A big mistake I made way back as an early gardener was not paying attention to the soil. I didn’t know any better, mistakenly believing that soil was merely a placeholder for plant roots. I thought fertilizer could be added to soil like a vitamin pill. I cringe when I remember that I once poured liquid chemical fertilizer onto my soil thinking I was doing my plants a favour. My excuse it was a looong time ago. But sadly, this view is still widely held. You only have to see ads for certain instant fertilizers for lawns and gardens to see it in action. We think we ‘feed’ our plants like we are giving them food, but it doesn’t work this way. The relationship between plants and soil is more complicated.
Okay it’s the first day of summer and for many of us that means the grill is getting a good workout; most proteins and vegetables and even fruit that are cooked, charred, or grilled are transformed by cooking on the outdoor grill, especially one that uses hardwood charcoal and is augmented by the addition of aromatic smoking provided by applewood, hickory or mesquite woodchips. Grilling and smoking are the tastes of summer, and, as the saying goes, everything tastes better outdoors (if it is cooked outdoors). In this nice personal essay, Denise Sakai explains why that just might be. By the way, just a reminder, if you use a gas grill it is always a good idea to give it a good cleaning at the start of the season; here’s how.
One of our favourite dishes in the summer is baba ganoush, made from eggplants that have been roasted and smoked on the grill. Baba ganoush is the delicious meze, or appetizer that hails from the Middle East, with minor regional variations in Israel, Syria, Palestine and the other countries of the Levant. Typically the eggplant is roasted, the soft insides are scooped out and mixed with olive oil, tahini, lemon and garlic, a little salt and pepper and maybe garnished with some fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro. Served with fresh cut veggies and warmed pita, it is one of those shared appetizers that disappears all too quickly. Continue »
The beautiful pomegranate has been a part of our culture for millennia. It was used by the Egyptians as medicine, and appears in the mythology and literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans and looms large in Judeo-Christian literature and art as well. Native to the Middle East, South Asia and parts of the Mediterranean, its cultivation has spread through centuries of trading and exploration to Egypt, China, Western Europe and the new world, especially California, introduced there in the eighteenth century by Spanish settlers. Continue »
In warmer weather it is always great to eat outdoors whenever possible, and small shared plates of charcuterie, fresh vegetables, cheeses and olives are always a hit served with a baguette and butter, and accompanied with a variety of fruit; oranges and clementines are great, and sliced apples, red and green grapes, and one of our favourite fruits that make the spread elegant and delicious, fresh figs. Continue »